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This is What Democracy Looks Like
Today's Note From a Madman
Monday, November 6, 2006
"They've sacrificed for the security of the United States. Without their courage and skill, today's verdict would not have happened."
-President Bush, referring to the almost 3,000 American soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq
Is the president attempting to tell us all that we "sacrificed" almost 3,000 young Americans to set one man to death? One would be hard-pressed to find one single American who think that the death sentence conviction of Saddam Hussein is really worth even one life of even one American.
I have an idea: Let's play the video clip where Bush said the above statement to the mothers and fathers of a slain soldier. let's play it for the wives of husbands as they look at the picture of their KIA spouse. Let's play it for the child who barely even knew Mommy or Daddy. Let's hear what they have to think about the president's insensitive statement.
"My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision and the world is better off for it,"
Just who is better of with an Iraq that is in the midst of a civil war? Which nation is better off with a Shi'ite majority run by militias and death squads? That's right... Iran, a charter member of Bush's Axis of Evil is better off.
Here is a partial ist of who isn't better off:
-Enemies of al-Qaeda, because they now have a live-target training ground where none existed before
Here's a partial list of who IS better off:
-Any and all enemies of the United States
It makes no difference to me whether Saddam gets the firing squad, is hanged or is given a life's sentence for his crimes. And it didn't matter to President Bush back in 2002 either when he gave the Iraqi dictator the option of leaving Iraq before the US invasion? If he was guilty, then why would Bush have made Hussein that offer?
The Bushies do what is only ever politically expedient. Their goals are not world peace or the benefit of mankind, but to simply stay in office. Their want to make their "base" of "haves and have mores" become the "have even mores" have led to failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and right here at home.
Our nation has had to hit rock bottom to be brought to their senses. If the Democrats could somehow get back control of one or both houses of congress, even with votes that will be stolen or lost or undercounted (you get the picture), it will mean that, finally, Americans are getting just a little smarter... maybe.
Maybe with a congress that will ask the tough questions and probe into all of the Bush administration failures we can get to the bottom of all that has gone wring over the last six years. But be aware, the Bushies will call Democrats "obstructionist" as they ask their questions. They will walk out on committee meetings, the likes of which thy wouldn't call themselves as they forfeited their obligation of oversight, and claim "witch hunts".
We have met the enemy and he is ours.
The Barn Door and the Horses
The Shi'ite-led government in Iraq is thinking about allowing the old Baath party members who used to run their country back into their old jobs. Call it closing the barn door after all of the horses ran away, if you will, but it is an idea whose time has come, gone, and now has come again. It is being called a Shi'ite concession to the Sunnis.
All of this is being done by the Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification in an amendment that will soon be sent for ratification. In other words, the Iraqi government is learning all to well what the Bush administration taught them from the beginning: Screw it up so bad that when you finally do fix it, no matter how late of ineffective that fix is, you can call it a victory.
There can be no doubt that this plan for the de- de-baathification of the government is being sought as a way to quell the sectarian civil war that claims much of the nation, with the exception of the Kurdish north. It's a good idea now, which was a better idea when originally thought up by General Jay Garner right after the "Mission" was declared "Accomplished" by President Bush as he landed his jet fighter on the USS Abraham Lincoln. (In fact, President - Lt. - Bush actually didn't land the plane, as his people at first said, but he did get to put on a darn-good-looking flight suit and fake it pretty well.)
There can also be no doubt that the original de-baathification which took place under the micro-managing style of L. Paul "Jerry" Bremmer was a huge mistake. It took many employed Iraqis out of their positions and created chaos in the streets. Teachers, who had to be Baath party members lost their jobs as well as the guys who handled the electrical grids, sewers, and so on. The army was fired and sent on their way, without pay, but with their rifles and a new kind of grudge against the United States which they didn't have before, not in during the war.
Remember that after Bremmer's clearing out of those who knew how to run government, there was seventy percent unemployment in Iraq. That's high even by Bush's numbers.
The truth of the matter is that even as the war grows, with ore and more American troops and innocent Iraqis paying the price with their lives, the Bush administration and that of Nuri al-Malaki still don't know what they're doing. It wasn't a "bad plan" after the invasion, it was "NO PLAN" made for an occupation that has caused the kind of strife we see in Iraq now.
An it was all performed under the early banner of "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED".
A sobering choice of poem for the day before America's most critical election since 1860--deciding whether the United States will survive or fade away like Nineveh and Tyre. (The world, too, perhaps.)
This is a poem about all wars. It was written by Wilfred Owen, the greatest poet of WWI, whom most critics consider the greatest war poet of all time. This 25-year-old British Army Lieutenant was killed in action on Nov 4, 1918, one week before that futile and foolish war's end, in which so many were slain for their rulers' puffed-up conceit, inglorious stupidity, and jingoist lies.
Read it and think of Wilfred Owen's parents, leaving their house on November 11, 1918 to celebrate the Armistice, and the shock and horror of someone handing them a telegram before they reached the street. And of all who grieve for our 2,836 lost young men and women.
Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,--
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
TIME TO THINK BEYOND THE PINK
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.
Throughout October, buildings around Philadelphia and other cities were lit with pink lights to draw attention to breast cancer, because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Yet breast cancer is not the leading cause of death among women (heart disease is), nor is it even the leading cause of cancer deaths among women (lung cancer is).
Do we need to draw attention to breast cancer? Absolutely. But there is another dangerous health issue stalking American women and girls and it has been virtually ignored.
Long before it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October was designated as the month to draw attention to another cause of death and injury among women and girls: domestic violence.
Throughout the entire month of October there wasn’t a single mention of Domestic Violence Awareness in the news. Yet domestic violence effects women just as dramatically as breast cancer–and with equally deadly results. Yet every building with the resources to do so was lit pink for breast cancer. Now it is November and we are no more aware than we were before.
Domestic violence is the verbal, physical and sexual abuse and assault of women and girls by their intimate partners–current and former spouses, boyfriends, dates. Men and boys who abuse their partners do so in many different ways, from calling them names to killing them.
November begins the annual domestic violence “season,” which escalates during the holidays, due to the stresses related to the holidays. Before the year ends, many women and girls will be murdered. Still others will be seriously injured. Not by strangers, but by the men and boys who profess to love them most.
In the U.S., the second-leading cause of death among girls 15 to 18 is murder. Seventy-eight percent of those murders are caused by a boyfriend or intimate partner. One in three women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). According to the DOJ, domestic violence is the most common violent crime in the U.S. Even though the number of women and girls murdered in the U.S. is far less than that of men, there are three domestic violence murders every day in the U.S. and close to half of women and girls murdered in the U.S. are killed by a spouse or intimate partner. In Pennsylvania alone in the past five years there have been 910 domestic violence murders–an average of three a week.
Perhaps no one wants to light their buildings red for an entire month–red for the blood of murdered and battered women and girls–but as a society we must pay closer attention to the crimes that are perpetrated against women and girls just because they are female.
In Philadelphia, where gun, street and drug violence are seemingly out of control, the murders of women in their own homes has gone unnoticed by all but those who work in the field of domestic violence. Women in Transition, the city’s oldest agency dealing with battered and abused women and girls, celebrates its 35th anniversary this month. According to executive director Roberta L. Hacker, the need for the agency’s resources has not diminished over the past 35 years.
“Violence against women and girls has escalated,” Hacker asserts. “You would think awareness and resources would have led to a diminishing of this particular crime against women, but it hasn’t. Domestic violence is on the rise–and the severity of that violence has also increased. We are seeing more shooting deaths of women in domestic violence cases, more cases where women are set on fire in their homes, more extreme cases of violence against women in which women are raped, mutilated and tortured. Unfortunately, our services are needed more than ever. But domestic violence just doesn’t get the attention it needs and deserves. There seems to be an attitude still that the woman is somehow implicated in this crime against her, that when she is battered, it’s because she made wrong choices or did something to trigger the violence perpetrated against her. That’s just not true.”
Hacker explains that if a stranger assaulted a woman or girl the way the men and boys these women are intimately involved with do, there would never be a question as to where the blame for the attack lay. But in domestic violence cases, Hacker notes, there is still misperception and stigma–the woman is not seen as a victim, so much as a participant.
“It’s like date rape,” said Hacker. “Women who are victims of domestic violence are seen as somehow bringing the crime on themselves. But as with date rape, that’s simply inaccurate and wrong. There’s no excuse for domestic violence.”
The statistics on domestic violence are shocking and affect women of all races, ages and economic status equally and all women are equally vulnerable to violence from an intimate partner (a spouse or boyfriend).
In June, Phillies pitcher Bret Myers was arrested and charged with assaulting his wife on a downtown street in Boston. At first Myers denied the allegations, but there were several witnesses to the assault, including those who called police. After several weeks of controversy, during which Phillies management dismissed the charges as insignificant, Myers was benched and forced to get counseling. But Myers had played in Boston the day after the assault–to overwhelming boos and catcalls from the crowd.
Like many wives who are assaulted by their husbands, Myers’ wife Kim withdrew the charges.
Singer Whitney Houston has long been in the news for her volatile marriage to rapper Bobby Brown. Brown had assaulted her on several occasions, but Houston often either declined to press charges or withdrew the charges after Brown was arraigned.
These incidents should have drawn attention to domestic violence for more than the standard news cycle, but they did not.
Nor did the notorious murder trial of Scott Petersen for the murder of his wife Lacey, who was eight-months-pregnant at the time of her murder, become a focus for domestic violence awareness. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), murder is the leading cause of death among pregnant women and women who have just given birth. In addition, more than half a million pregnant women are assaulted by their partners each year. So while the Lacey Petersen murder received intense media attention, it was by no means an anomalous case.
More than 600,000 women reported being victims of non-fatal violence by an intimate partner in 2004, the most recent year for which there is DOJ data on such assaults.
In addition, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, nearly 25 percent of American women have reported being raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse or boyfriend.
One in three women and girls also have reported being stalked by a former partner or boyfriend. Stalking is often a precursor to violence and sometimes murder of a partner or former partner (70 percent of women who file for an order of protection against an abusive partner are assaulted by that former partner).
As Hacker suggests, domestic violence is on the rise. The DOJ reports a 20 percent increase in domestic violence reports in the past decade. Such violence takes a toll on more than just the individual battered woman or girl.
Domestic violence is expensive to society as a whole. While more than 50 percent of battered women report having an injury, only about 20 percent of women who have suffered a domestic violence assault seek medical care for those injuries. However, most seek medical care at hospital emergency rooms for those violence-related injuries. The overall costs of domestic violence assaults are estimated to be $7 billion annually: the cost of medical care services, counseling and lost wages.
Nor does domestic violence only affect adult women. According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, approximately one in five female high school students has reported being physically and/or sexually abused by a boy she has been dating. Another ten percent of high school-age girls reported having been forced to have sex against her will by a boyfriend or date. Close to half of all teenaged girls reported knowing a peer who had been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. Nor do the schools themselves protect girls from being abused by boys. In 2004, there were nearly 10,000 incidents of rape or other types of sexual assault in public schools in the U.S.
Just as girls are also victims of domestic violence and intimate assault, children in the homes of battered women are also at risk for violence. A national survey of more than 6,000 American families indicated that half of men who assaulted their wives also abused their children.
More than half of female victims of domestic violence live in households with children under the age of 12. Numerous studies assert that close to 10 million children have witnessed some form of domestic violence each year.
Social service agencies state that being witness to domestic violence in the home is a significant factor in whether a boy will grow up to abuse his partners and children and whether a girl will grow up to be a victim of abuse or abuse her own children.
Recent child murders in Philadelphia were also related to domestic violence. The majority of child murders are by boyfriends and spouses of women who are being abused, as was the case in the notorious child abuse death of Portia Bennett in Philadelphia. Thus working to stop domestic violence against women would also reduce child abuse and child murder.
Clearly, domestic violence is a major public health issue. Yet despite its prevalence, domestic violence does not garner the same attention as other forms of violence in the U.S. There are stigmas, taboos and cultural issues inextricably linked to domestic violence and those must be eradicated.
During the recent spate of homicides in Philadelphia, for example, there were several egregious cases of domestic violence murder, including the arson killing of a mother of five by her husband. In another case, police officers witnessed a man dragging the dead body of his common-law wife out of their South Philadelphia home to dispose of the body.
At no point, however, has the Mayor or any other city official made a statement about the escalation of domestic violence cases in the city or ways in which the city can address this epidemic. The Philadelphia Police Department receives 100,000 domestic violence calls each year, yet there is still only one shelter for battered women in the city.
Understanding domestic violence is a first step toward stopping it. Domestic violence often begins with a man or boy attempting to control his female partner–telling her what to do, how to dress, who she can and cannot spend time with, isolating her from others, accusing her of infidelities. If the woman/girl does not follow the “rules” set by her partner, he will often begin the physical violence by shoving her, pushing her, slapping her.
Physical abuse always escalates. Once a man/boy has crossed the line to physical violence against his partner, the violence gets more intense. Shoving turns to slapping turns to punching. Soon a woman has bruises, then sprains, then broken bones. Physicians are trained to recognize the signs of domestic violence, but if a woman refuses to prosecute the perpetrator, nothing can be done.
Education about domestic violence must begin in the schools. Girls and boys need to be taught that it is never okay to hit a partner, never okay to use verbal assaults and belittling, never okay to force sex on an unwilling participant. Girls and boys need to be taught how not to be perpetrators or victims.
There also must be intervention in families where violence is the norm. If all a child sees and experiences is violence between a couple, that is what he or she will grow up to believe is normal. And the cycle of violence will continue.
Law enforcement also plays a role in domestic violence awareness and prosecution. Assaults by spouses and other partners must be treated the same as assaults by strangers. Until that happens, men and boys will believe they have license to abuse their female partners.
Women also play a significant role in their own protection. Women must not allow their men to verbally attack them, physically assault them or pressure them for sex. And if they are assaulted, it is essential that they treat the assault as they would an attack by a stranger. When Kim Myers and Whitney Houston–or any woman–refuses to press charges against their physically abusive partner, they send a message to all women and girls that it’s okay for a husband to assault his wife.
Domestic violence impacts more households than breast cancer. It impacts society far more deleteriously through the cycle of family violence that is passed on from generation to generation. It costs society money and lives. Domestic violence makes women second-class citizens and perpetual victims caught in a cycle of escalating abuse that can and does result in murder.
We can’t wait for next October to think beyond the pink. We need to draw attention to domestic violence now, particularly as the season of spouse abuse is upon us.
Everyone can work to prevent and end domestic violence. Begin with peace in your own home–setting an example of peaceful resolution to problems will help ensure that your children do not become abusers or victims. Then spread the peace. Report domestic violence if you know it is happening; one-third of Americans say they know someone who has been abused. Pay attention to how your teenagers are treating their girlfriends and boyfriends–stopping domestic violence before it becomes a pattern is essential. Know the signs that a woman/girl is being abused: long sleeves or heavy make-up to hide bruising, withdrawal from family and friends, change in temperament.
There are no excuses for domestic violence: it is a violent crime. It’s time to think beyond the pink–not only in October, but every month of the year. The lives of women and girls–and their abusers–are being ravaged by domestic violence. We can end domestic violence, but only if we acknowledge it.
resources for abuse in Philadelphia:
Women in Transition: 215-564-5301/215-751-1111
Bi-lingual abuse hotline: 215- 235-9992
Congresso de Latina hotline: 215- 291-8742, 215- 739-9999
Women Against Abuse: (215) 386-7777
Women Against Abuse Legal Center: 215- 686-7082
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
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