Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Don't Sign It, Gov. Kaine!
Like the foul murder-for-hire law on the books in the commonwealth where killers often go to the prison while persons convicted on their say-so get the needle, the Washington Post reports that [t]he House of Delegates voted Friday to expand the use of the death penalty in Virginia by making accomplices and judge killers eligible for execution."
Never mind that every time you turn around there's a news item about an inmate who was wrongfully convicted and then exonerated by DNA evidence. Only a few days ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recounted the sorry tale of Willie O. "Pete" Williams who spent 22 years for a rape he didn't commit.
The legislation to increase the use of capital punishment...comes at a time when other states are considering repealing the death penalty, would make accomplices to a murder and anyone who kills a judge or a court witness eligible for the death penalty. The Senate passed nearly identical versions of the bills earlier in the week.
Of course, DNA hardly matters when a killer snitches and the innocent fall guy gets executed.Indeed, while Virginia legislators were conjuring up ways to out-Macho one another by passing this abominable bill, our sisters and brothers across the Potomac have decided to abolish the ultimate punishment where mistakes are fatal and final.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said yesterday that he plans to work for the repeal of Maryland's death penalty this legislative session. But he and some lawmakers predict that the measure has tough hurdles to clear before it gets to his desk.But hey, don't pay any attention to the Grim Reaper hiding behind the dark curtain. Keep churning out the blood-and-gore laws; and if a kid like Justin Wolfe, who probably was only guilty of dealing a little pot, untimely meets his Maker after being fingered by the real killer, oh well, it's only retributive justice at its finest.
"I've had a pretty consistent position on this," O'Malley told reporters at the State House. "Now that it's salient, I'm certainly not going to try to duck or hide. I would like to see us repeal the death penalty."
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Can We All Just Get Along?!?
Howling Latina just found out that she'd been summarily deleted from two progressive blog sites. One for posting that she thought former Rep. Harold Ford was a sell-out; the other, who knows why.
Unlike a few weeks ago when a conservative blogger posted an image that offended the sensitivities of everyone, writing your thoughts about a political public figure, whether Democrat or Republican, should be fair game.
Fellow lefties, let's not try to make the Virginia blogosphere a community of kool-aid drinkers. Lord knows when Alice of GOTV staunchly supported Miller, several folks, including HL, kinna got more than a little testy with her and after it was all over, she took the venom and snark with great graciousness.
To bloggers who delete my link on their site, please note that HL doesn't give a hoot. She doesn't accept advertisement and strictly blogs for the pleasure of writing and trying to make a difference in political discourse so that progressives can win elections and bring about change that mirrors progressive ideals.
Now, having said that, HL must confess that it took every ounce of restrain to not strike back at the folks who refused to cotton anybody leaving the reservation and calling a spade a spade, or an Oreo and Oreo, as in the case of Ford.
Every person has a constitutionally protected right to an opinion. In the case of HL's low opinion of Ford, just think if someone opted to start deleting links because that person decreed that calling Bennie Lambert a sell-out was beyond the pale.
Please folks, the political season is here and the progressive community desperately needs to hitch every wagon in their blog to the same objective, which is to win, win, win-baby-win!
Bloodthirsty Virginia Legislators
It just makes Howling Latina sick with disbelief. Legislators who tout their deep religious roots in Christianity and their 100 percent pro-life stance cavalierly signed-off on a bill that "would expand the use of the death penalty in Virginia," according to a Washington Post article.
That's right, now even accomplices are eligible for execution if Gov. Tim Kaine signs the bill.
Hmmm, whatever happened to that ol' canard about only executing the absolute worst of the worst?!? So typical of death-row supporters to dupe the public by framing the issue with nightmarish worst case scenarios so they can garner support and add more and more crimes to their long merciless list.
And of course when it comes down to the trial, oops, so sorry, a murder was committed, give him the needle.
Indeed, it's the kind of ruthless and savage legislation that just passed the Assembly that landed a 19-year old kid on death-row from Prince William County, even though he didn't kill anyone.
You ask what happened to the real killer? Oh...he received 48 years in prison for being the first in the cue outside the prosecutor's office.
Any attorney general worth his or her notches on the death-row conveyor belt in Virginia has the power to legally construct a case so that a defendant either faces a death sentence or not, wholly contingent on charges brought. Forget the judge; irrelevant in the ultimate outcome.
That's right, once a Draconian law is in the books, a judge has no authority to reduce the legislated mandatory sentence. Prosecutors have total and absolute power.
Call me a doubting Thomas, but Howling Latina has little confidence in the temperance and wisdom of commonwealth attorney generals when measured against the forbearance and prudence of judges.
We don't need additional legislation that gives prosecutors added power to decide life and death decisions over more and more criminals.
It's obvious by the huge geographic disparity in meting out death-row sentences in the commonwealth that a few attorney generals in Virginia are a little too enamored of the death penalty and seek the ultimate sanction when cases do not warrant it.
Why give them more legal ammunition?!? Gov. Kaine, as a death penalty opponent, please do not sign this venal legislation into LAW!
"Meet the Press"
Other guests on the show will be Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and David Vitter of Louisiana as well as Michael Gerson of the Council on Foreign Relations, former speechwriter for Pres. George W. Bush, and Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institution, former foreign policy adviser to Pres. Bill Clinton.
Howling Latina supposes Huckabee's appearance would have been more of a barnbuster if he'd only waited a few extra hours to announce his presidential exploratory committee on the show.
Yep, it sure takes the wind out of Russert's sails and tease, "Will he make a run for the White House? Find out Sunday.
Sorry Timmie, we already KNOW!
Alberto, You Have Some 'Splaining To Do
Poor little Albertico has been asked by the ranking minority member in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, to explain why the White House is blocking "access to court filings in several suits against the warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency."
In a Friday letter to Gonzales, Specter voiced "deep concern" about what he deemed "extraordinary procedures" allegedly utilized by Justice [according to aNah, there's no conflict...nothing to see behind the curtain, move along.
story by the New York Times].
"If the Times story is correct, the Department of Justice may have a conflict of interest in limiting access to key evidence on national security grounds as a means of controlling the outcome in these cases and obstructing the federal courts in their adjudications," Specter wrote, adding that he had attempted to reach Gonzales by phone before drafting the letter.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine
In the 80s, Pres. Ronald Reagan summarily did away with the Fairness Doctrine after an unfavorable court ruling by darling judges of the radical right, Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia.
And before you could say...what the FCC? right wingbats Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and their ilk unimpededly starting spewing their lies filled with vile on the airwaves.
Well, well, it's a brand new day; and there is a new sheriff in town.
The Washington Post reports that "congressional Democrats [are] prepare[d] to give the Federal Communications Commission its toughest scrutiny in years."
"They've effectively emasculated any public-interest standards that existed" for radio and TV stations, said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.).Rep. Dennis Kucinich is also planning to resurrect the "one-time FCC rule...that requires broadcasters to make time available for the airing of opposing viewpoints" by introducing a bill in Congress that would give back the airwaves to the people--not just the moneyed interest of the Rupert Murdocks and Clear Channels of the world.
Power to the people!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Bush Loses One More Virginia GOPer
Like Sen. John Warner, my congressman, Republican Rep. JoAnn Davis is walking away from the dismal failure that is the Bush's Iraq War.
"The troop surge proposal by the president will only work if the Iraqi government commits to it, and I have yet to see any indication that they will."But gosh, compare that to the crapola spouted by her GOP counterpart a few miles south, Thelma, Thelma.
Not a word about Iraq as she seizes on Bush's lame idea of offering tax breaks to people too poor to buy health insurance without a tax liability to deduct their sham tax exemption in the first place.
It's very good that he's willing to tackle the issue of health care. People don't feel the success of our economy because of the cost of health care."Is Thelma Drake a total dumb butt or WHAT?!?
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Warner & Webb on Right Side of Minimum Wage Fight
Republican Sen. John Warner and Democratic Jim Webb voted for cloture.
Unfortunately, the "Democrats' promise of a quick increase in the minimum wage" was stalled after several Republican senators in blue and purple states up for reelection in '08 foolishly and blindly voted with their red state comrades and denied their constituents their first pay hike in 10 years.
You see, the Republicans are "insisting [the minium pay raise' include new tax breaks for restaurants and other businesses that rely on low-pay workers."
Well, it's obvious that Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Saxy Chambliss of Georgia, John Cornyn of Texas, Larry Craig of Idaho, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, Michael Enzi of Wyoming, Lindsely Graham of North Carolina, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Ted Stevens of Alaska care more about giving tax breaks to corporate honchos like Mariott and McDonalds than granting a measly pay raise to the poor saps who do America's dirty thankless jobs.
Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania wisely joined Warner and every Democratic senator in siding with labor and economic equity and justice.
The final roll call was 54-43.
Webb Steals Bush's Thunder
For the first time ever, the response to the State of the Union Message overshadowed the president's big speech,” writes Newsweek. Sen. James Webb (D-VA), “in office only three weeks, managed to convey a muscular liberalism -- with personal touches -- that left President Bush's ordinary address in the dust.”Common GOPers, is this guy something or what?!? Partisan politics aside, praise the holy Lord for touching the hearts of a majority of Virginia voters!
“Webb was given a speech to read by the Democratic leadership. He threw it out and wrote his own. As a well-regarded novelist, Webb has a sense of narrative and human drama. He apparently felt that the boots his son wore in Iraq, which he used to great effect during his successful Senate campaign against Sen. George Allen, might be a bit hokey. So instead, he showed a picture of his father during the Berlin airlift. He then went on to describe taking the picture to bed every night and his family's long record of military service.”
A Real Leader Speaks
Indeed, this former Marine, war hero, and now junior senator from Virginia rocked the House.
In responding to Bush's tired focus-group-tested drivel, Webb admirably displayed his gritty and noble character and provided hope to a disheartened nation and cynical world. Truth before spin.
When speaking of Katrina, can anyone doubt the sincerity of Webb's words?
Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and healthcare for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans.Or when speaking of Iraq?
Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues - those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death - we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.Yes America, the U.S. is still capable of producing courageous, truthful and thoughtful leaders to show us the way back home when as a nation we veer from the righteous path and allow dark forces of fear to guide our moral compass.
Webb's words were both poetic and awe-inspiring. HL is so damn proud of the commonwealth Thank you Virginia voters for electing an absolute moral giant to the Senate.
Friday, January 19, 2007
"Meet the Press"
Pictures from Egypt
Howling Latina and her daughter cruising down the road on their way to the pyramids.
Great Pyramid of Khufu and the smaller pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus).
My sweet grandson in front of a huge pylon.
The Colossi of Memnon which used to guard a mortuary temple for Amenhotep III.
Grandaughter showing some hieroglyphs to grandson.
Visiting the temple complex of Karnak.
An ancient Christian Coptic church in Cairo known as the "hanging church" because it is actually suspended mid-air between two parts of the Babylon wall.
Poor Baptists Are Under Attack!
Rwanda to Abandon Capital Punishment
Monday, January 15, 2007
Jolly, Jolly, Jolly, GOPers Make Democrats Day!
Nope, it seems that Del. Robert G. Marshall of Prince William has a political death wish. That's right, boys and girls, should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, Marshall wants to ban abortions.
Hmmm, sure looks like Marshall just sent a late Christmas present to Mr. Bruce Roemmelt, his likely Democratic opponent this fall.
The Washington Post today reports that Marshall introduced a bill in the House that would ban abortions; you know, just in case the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, all the planets align in a straight line and hell freezes over. With five known pro-choice justices on the Court, this bill is nothing more than pure bullshit and a waste of everyone's time.
Indeed, with a Democratic majority in Congress, it hardly seems likely that a pro-life nominee would actually see the light of day out of Judiciary, much less be confirmed. Gov. Tim Kaine has also publicly stated he would veto such a bill.
The bill proposes that Virginia revert to pre-1973 abortion laws if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Under those laws, abortion would be illegal except if the life of the woman or fetus is endangered.
Oh yea, speaking of brands, with Bush in office, the national Republican brand is in the trash; and with Sen. Jim Webb, Gov. Tim Kaine and former Gov. Mark Warner winning accolades across the state by the media, Marshall is playing with matches like the fire obsessed spawn of pyromaniacal parents who lays waste to everything.
Dangerous stuff; and deadly hubris that could come back to burn GOPers in the fall as each and everyone of them votes on the measure.
Another Lame-Brain Idea from Lingamfelter
That's right, Mr. 'Promises-Made-Promises-Kept' has no problem raising taxes on the working folks from his district by way of toll roads. But heaven forbid his constituents try to nab their rightful share of the over-all budget to build the roads that they need.
Lingamfelter is quoted by the Washington Post with the following sage commentary:
"We need to build some roads, okay?" said Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William), who maintains his opposition to new taxes but agrees that something must be done about transportation this legislative session. Among other things, Lingamfelter is proposing new tolls across the state to pay for improvements.Way to go, Scottie baby! Keep blocking "any plan that calls for higher taxes...to pay for transportation projects" by everyone. Before you know it, Dems will win back the Senate and it'll be time for redistricting in Virginia.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Thank you, Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis
And in a good howling kind of way.
The final tally for the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act in the House was 255-170 with the gentle lady from Virginia breaking ranks with her Republican colleagues and voting for the bill. But not only did Davis vote for the measure but she introduced the bill as well.
Davis has actually introduced a bevy of bills in the 110th Congress that "cover a wide range of issues including the health care, national security, veterans, first responders, interstate waste, and Native American recognition."
The Disabled Veteran Small Business Eligibility Expansion Act of 2007 (HR 6041) would amend the Small Business Act and allow small businesses that are owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans to be eligible for the Small Business Administration (SBA) business development grants in the same manner that small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically
disadvantaged individuals are eligible for the award.
The Veterans Health Benefits Voluntary Option Act of 2007 (HR 5044) would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow an extension of the three year limitation period for filing refund claims to members of the uniformed services whose retired pay in any taxable year is reduced due to an award of disability compensation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This extension could be up until one year after the date of a disability determination.
The Solid Waste Interstate Transportation Act (HR 274), would provide both state and local control over waste imports. The measure would allow local control over limiting waste if a landfill imports under 100,000 tons a year by instituting a "presumptive ban" which would stop imports to a landfill unless that landfill has a host agreement. If a landfill imports over 100,000 tons, the state would have control over limiting imports and would be able to cap percentages coming in.
The State Waste Empowerment and Enforcement Provision Act (HR 70), would amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act to authorize a State to limit, place restrictions on, or otherwise regulate out-of-State municipal solid waste received or disposed of annually at each landfill or incinerator in the State.
The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act (HR 697) would amend Federal law to provide first responders who develop diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, specified cancers and infectious diseases should be presumed to be caused by their job. Also, if a first responder’s disability or death in fire protection activities results from such diseases, it would also be presumed to be the result of injury sustained while performing their job. "First responders put their life on the line and risk injuries and illnesses associated with dangerous substances to save others. We should recognize these risks and provide assistance to them if injury or illness from performing their duties does occur," said Davis.
To Extend Recognition to the Rappahannock Tribe, (HR 5130). This measure would provide federal recognition to the Rappahannock Tribe in Virginia,granting members of the tribe eligibility for all services and benefits the federal government provides to recognized tribes. The service area of the Rappahannock Tribe would include King, Queen, Caroline, Essex, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Richmond Counties in Virginia. "As a former member of the Virginia Council on the Indians, it is important to me that the Native Americans tribes who were here before the English landing at Jamestown in 1607 be recognized and granted receive the proper benefits," said Davis.
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Conforming Amendments (HR 437) would require group health plans to include coverage for post-mastectomy reconstructive surgery. "I strongly support legislation that seeks to improve health care for women facing breast cancer through research and therapy. We know that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States, with 180,000 new cases each year," said Davis. "Research efforts continue to learn what causes it, and find new ways to detect, diagnose and treat this type of cancer."
[T]he Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act (HR 1849) would require group health plans or insurers offering group health coverage that provides medical and surgical benefits to ensure that inpatient and in some cases outpatient coverage and radiation treatment are provided. Under this bill, the plan or insurer must notify patients and their beneficiary about the coverage required under the Act and must ensure that full coverage is provided by the secondary consultations by appropriate specialists to confirm or refute a cancer diagnosis.
Hmmm, what's going on here?!?
Even though Howling Latina remembers from the past that Davis did not vote for CAFTA or the ill-fated Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of '06, Davis as recently as last year supported building a fence across the US-Mexican border, Bush's warrentless electronic surveillance and cutting funds for poor students and keeping the tax cuts for the fat cats on the books.
Davis is a cancer survivor and a Pentacostal Christian. Perhaps the brush with her mortality opened her to the light that Christianity is more than worrying about people's sexual orientation and abortion. A central tenet of the faith is to provide comfort for the least of us.
In any event, the bills Davis introduced in Congress are good bills; and they should be supported by both Republicans and Democrats.
"Meet the Press"
The plan hinges on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki keeping his personal promise to the president that he will do everything he can to halt the bloody conflict. Past history is not too promising.
Russert will also interview four key senators about the president's proposal to escalate the troops and whether or not they plan to support him.
Presidential candidate Sen. Chris Dodd, D-CT., Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Sen. Joe Leiberman, D/I-Ct., Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Sen. Jon Kyl, R-AZ., and Foreign Relations Commitee member Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-NE will weigh in with their thoughts.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Like Goode -- Like Miller - RABID!
Like Congressman Virgil Goode, it seems that for Miller, the seminal issue is making sure that the neighborhoods remain nice and safe for white folks. Manassas, Virginia and America are under siege by gasp, 'Latrinos' and 'Abba-Dabbas.'
Oh dear, how to preserve our so-called Christian heritage for white folks only?!?
Taking a page right out of the GOP racist book of wedge issues, Miller initially ran for public office because he was appalled that his white neighbors were moving away.
Miller, who grew up in Fairfax County and moved to Manassas with his wife in 2000, didn't like what he saw and was stirred to run for City Council. "My wife and I loved our neighborhood," he said. "But we were dismayed at the number of our peers who were moving out of the city. And it all came back to overcrowding and [English as a Second Language courses] in the public school system."Yep, it was all that overcrowding at the Mall, McDonalds and Baskin Robbins!
And pledging to do something about all them illegal foreigners, Miller rode to town and victory on a horse called "anti-crowding ordinances" that will tie the city with "costly court battles for years."
Yes, Manassas taxpayers, your hard-earned $$$$ at work. And all because Manassas City Council with Miller leading the cavalry approved an ordinance that restricted who could live in one's home to "immediate relatives, even if the total number was below the legal occupancy limit."
Manassas is being investigated by the Justice Department for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act, and civil suits are likely to follow. Complaints against the city have also been lodged with the Department of Education by parents who say city schools illegally disclosed confidential student information to zoning inspectors.To illustrate the harebrained decree, if five cousins wanted to live in a 5,000 square foot house, too bad. Under the ordinance, they would be breaking the law, and neighbors were encouraged to turn them in like the good ol' days of Gestapo Germany or Communist Soviet Union with a handy-dandy 1-800 hotline.
Miller "was very adamant in his concern for the impact of illegal immigration," said council member J. Steven Randolph (I). "That was one issue in which his leadership moved the council quicker than it might have moved otherwise. Some of the rest of us were taking a more cautious view."
Just can't wait to see what pearls of wisdom and insight Miller brings to the table to fix the nightmare of transportation for poor Northern Virginians who sit in traffic for hours and hours each day!
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Harriet, We Hardly Knew You...
Looks like all those pesky rumors about the White House lawyering-up with expectations of lots and lots of aggressive oversight from a Democratic Congress are true.
Well, we can't have a humdrum attorney in charge of the legal defense for the indefensible.
The John Warner Non-Story
Warner's Virginia seat was thought to be a safe one, but with victory by Democrat Jim Webb -- some would say it was more of a loss by Sen. George Allen -- Warner is now uncertain of whether he's willing to put himself through what is sure to be a bruising battle.
"It isn't that Allen lost, it's how he lost, that has to trouble Warner," says a Republican political consultant who has worked in Virginia. "The far-left wing of the party was so aggressive in Virginia with guerrilla tactics, Web attack ads and blog posts, that Warner has to look at all that and wonder if it's worth that kind of fight. He's had it comparatively easy in the past few races. Does he want to fight for what amounts to a minority seat?"
Howling Latina, a blogger who "far-right" wingbats no doubt brand a "far-left" blogger, just recently sent an e-mail to Warner reaffirming her loyal support and promise of future vote.
The anonymous "Republican political consultant" is simply some bullshitting spinmeister wanting to frame the Allen loss as the handiwork of some left-wing conspiracy.
Unlike racist Allen, Warner doesn't have to worry about his past; no dark skeletons from a sister's memoir or old photos with KKK members. No championing of every cockamamie Bush policy; in other words, a conservative senator with an independent thinking mind.
Warner is from the old genteel wing of the Republican Party. Allen is from the spin, spin, spin, lie, lie, lie GOP wing without a ticking brain cell inside his 'bubba' skull.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Our Man in Washington
In the dictator's curses against "the Americans" and "the Persians," it is impossible not to hear echoes of the time when Hussein was the one who wrote Iraq's history. For years, the Reagan administration gave him military and intelligence support to keep the hated Persians from defeating his outnumbered forces in the Iran-Iraq war. In 1983, Donald Rumsfeld was dispatched to visit Baghdad as a special envoy; he smiled broadly as he shook the tyrant's hand.Any reading of old news articles shows that America was largely nonplussed when Saddam was our friend; and the latest attempt to rewrite history into one neat story arc with the U.S. as the good guys is simply not supported by facts.
Robinson notes that "the dark, remorseless, unflinching cellphone video of [Saddam's] execution...tells an alternate history, one that is neither tidy nor hopeful -- and that demonstrates, not just by its content but by its very existence, that forces other than the current beleaguered government intend to be the final authors of Iraqi history. "
Instead of the impartiality and transparency of the International Criminal Court where international norms would have ruled the process, the sham trial of Saddam was filled with inequities from the dismissal of a judge for showing 'excessive' courtesy and civility to Saddam to murdered defense counsel and anonymous witnesses.
Howling Latina does not deny that Saddam was a brutal ruler that quashed dissent through brutal means; her secular point is that America did not squirm at this fact when it was convenient for them to remain friends with Hussein.
The Irish Times best summarizes the heart of the disreputable and disgraceful saga.
Yes, Saddam's legacy as well as our own.
There is no dignity in legal execution, as countless tales of prolonged final agony in the brutal US system remind us. But a state purporting to espouse democratic values which manifests what many will see as the thuggery that Saddam embodied will undermine further its little credibility.
Today President George Bush continues to take counsel on where to go next in the morass that Iraq has become. And again he will be hearing from those like Vice-President Dick Cheney who said the invasion could be done with the minimum of troops and who are now calling for a "surge" in US troop numbers ahead of a handover to the Iraqi authorities. Neo-conservative wishful thinking will not make it so any more than repeatedly insisting that the court which condemned Saddam was a model expression of an emerging democracy made it so. Saddam's legacy will be yet more spilled blood.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Division Over Saddam's Execution
Although for HL the swiftness in carrying out the sentence that denied justice to the Iraqi Kurds is a side issue since state-sanctioned murder is the key for her, Iraqi Kurds have to feel more than a little betrayed by the Iraqi puppet government. No historic record for posterity to record and judge.
Recently, Juan Cole of Salom.com wrote an excellent article identifying the stakeholders of the sordid Iraqi past with exceptional analysis and context.
[H]e was accused of the execution of scores of Shiites in Dujail in 1982. This Shiite town had been a hotbed of activism by the Shiite fundamentalist Dawa (Islamic Call) Party, which was founded in the late 1950s and modeled on the Communist Party. In the wake of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini's 1979 Islamic Revolution in neighboring Iran, Saddam conceived a profound fear of Dawa and similar parties, banning them and making membership a capital crime. Young Dawa leaders such as al-Maliki fled to Tehran, Iran, or Damascus, Syria.
When Saddam visited Dujail, Dawa agents attempted to assassinate him. In turn, he wrought a terrible revenge on the town's young men. Current Prime Minister al-Maliki is the leader of the Dawa Party and served for years in exile in its Damascus
So as one can clearly see, the butcher of Baghdad didn't suddenly wake up one morning and decide he wanted to wipe out an entire town or a whole ethnic group because they didn't deserve to live, or he didn't like them; no concentration camps or experimental labs with Shiite or Kurd twins.
Indeed, for more context on the subject, here are a few paragraphs from a Nov. 30, 1982 Washington Post article on the subject:
Cole is right when he says that Saddam's execution "look[s] to Sunni Arabs more like a sectarian reprisal than a dispassionate trial for crimes against humanity. " And in talking to more than a few expats in Egypt, it looks that way to Westerners as well.
The secular government of Iraq is imposing strict security measures on the Shiite religious majority to guard against an Islamic revolution while at the same time sprucing up mosques in a bid to win Shiite loyalty.
The secret police continues to arrest and execute members of the Shiite Dawa Party on charges of planning urban guerrilla attacks, according to Iraqi government officials. Dawa seeks to promote a religious upheaval similar to the one in neighboring Iran, but the number of its bombings has dropped sharply since a major clampdown that included mass deportations of Shiites in 1979 and 1980.
Iranian radio broadcasts regularly urge Iraqi Shiites to rebel, and Iran's Army is seeking to invade Iraq and bring it the revolution by force in the two nations' 26-month-old war. Such a change would seriously threaten the stability of Saudi Arabia and other pro-Western Persian Gulf Arab oil states, but Western and Asian diplomats report that the Iraqi government appears to be strong enough to contain any unrest unless Iran wins militarily.
The Iraqi government, dominated by members of the Sunni rather than the Shiite branch of Islam, also is trying to buy the Shiites' support by renovating their shrines and providing them with improved social services.
New Italian marble tiles, funded by the government and President Saddam Hussein personally, brighten the courtyard around the gold-domed mosque here housing the tomb of the prophet Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law, Ali. Shiites in particular revere the shrine, because they believe that religious authority has passed down a line of succession going back to Ali and his son Hussein. Iran's Shiite leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, prayed at the mosque daily during 14 years that he spent in exile here. Iraq accused Iran of bearing much responsibility for the spate of terrorism, and the series of attacks fueled tensions that helped lead to the
Diplomats say the secret police have succeeded in infiltrating the party and arresting many militants. Baghdad residents say there has not been a major terrorist attack since August, when a car loaded with explosives drove into the lobby of the Planning Ministry and blew up, killing or wounding dozens.
The crackdown three years ago included deportation of tens of thousands of persons
of Persian, Shiite origin. Conservative estimates say that 40,000 people have been forced to leave the country in the past five years, while some responsible sources say that the number is well over 100,000."[...]The government has been careful to include the Shiites in its ambitious development plans. The provincial governor in Najaf boasted of a $200 million cement project and several 400-bed hospitals built recently. New water, sewage and electricity facilities have been constructed in the poor Shiite district in the capital of Baghdad that previously was called Al Thawra but now has been renamed Saddam City in honor of the president.
That's right, lifelong Republicans from deep red states are ready to vote for Hillary Clinton, yes, Hillary, because of the mess Bush has made in the Middle East, which Saddam's execution is simply the latest manifestation.
Remember, around the time Saddam killed his fellow countrymen for which he was tried and found guilty for crimes against humanity, Rumsfeld was visiting "Baghdad as a friend of the Reagan administration to shake the hand of Saddam Hussein and offer America's help against the ayatollahs during the Iran Iraq War."
Wonder ye my conservative bloggers why the howling outrage from this death penalty opponent at the hypocrisy of the Bush administration about crimes against humanity after a previous wink and a nod from our own U.S. government?!?
The dark truth of our involvement in arming Hussein is not even about Democrats or Republicans. During the Cold War years, every president shared the same foreign policy imperative of siding with the enemies of our then number one enemy: the Soviet Union.
Both political parties were wrong. Two, or three, or four wrongs never make a right; and as a nation, we now pay the tragic price for our previous folly.