We went marching to give peace a chance yesterday, joining another 1100 folks on a rather subdued winding parade through downtown Salem. (Favorite sign: “What is our oil doing under their sand?”) Like the millions across the world who also gathered to protest President Bush’s headlong rush to war, this demonstration will have no impact whatsoever, and that realization is my best guess as to why there seemed to be an undercurrent of hopelessness. The US Congress has already given the president all the authority he needs, and neither the UN nor worldwide protests will present a barrier to the siege of Baghdad.

By early March I expect the US will have launched an attack on Iraq. I have no doubt that we will win militarily, but it is a long-term disaster for the United States, and we will suffer significantly more casualties than the last Gulf war unless we decide to forgo urban fighting. Either way, we will undoubtedly kill thousands of innocent Iraqis, the same as we did last time. This will not endear us to those in Middle East any more than last time.

Since Iraq has nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden (administration attempts to link him to Saddam not withstanding) and since North Korea is firing up its nuclear reactors, it’s fair to wonder what’s going on here. There are much bigger threats than Iraq. I think it has to do with Saddam’s attempt to assassinate Bush Sr. when he visited Kuwait back in 1993 or 1994. President Clinton bombed some Iraqi military sites in retaliation, but I don’t think that was sufficient for Jr. I think he harbors a desire for revenge, and to him this thing with Saddam is personal. You’d like to think the leader of the free world was beyond such pettiness, but hey, this is Dubya we’re talking about.

I wrote last month about my hesitation in re-living my collegiate protest years. I have nothing to add here except to say that it was, if anything, worse than anticipated. I am not in a happy fun place.

Nonetheless, a good distraction does wonders, so ye ol’ Davison clan met this afternoon at Ma and Pa’s, and we had a jolly time. Mom cooked up a great chicken dinner, and the gang toasted my big 3-4 (hey, same as the Steeler defense) in good humor. I even got all the candles out this time around and without launching spittle all over the cake, too. Bonus.

Baby was kicking around a bit here and there, and everybody got the chance to put their hand on Erin’s tummy and be on the receiving end of a boot. (Actually, much to Erin’s delight baby kicked me in the head a few days ago. She was so pleased that I’d swear she’s got a checklist for this kind of thing.) Bret first felt the kid kick last week. This time he did not run away in a panic. Family is a great thing.