The potential meltdown of Wall Street has brought the economy front and center as “the” issue in the closing days of the election cycle. Even Friday’s debate, originally planned to focus on foreign policy, started out on the state of the economy and looming bail-out plan in congress. But Iraq is not about to disappear from the news. If the only measure of progress in Iraq is the raw number of U.S. casualties, then the “surge” be praised, but keep passing the ammunition. Darfur is also out of the daily news cycle these days, but the killing there has hardly abated. Afghanistan does make the headlines, in part because U.S. casualties are rising dramatically this year.

So five years and counting after the shock-and-awe sweep through Iraq and the May Day announcement of “Mission Accomplished” by George W. Bush, the mission continues and the death toll keeps rising. Here is yesterday’s count from al-Jazeera:

Deadly car bombs rock Baghdad

At least 26 people have been killed and dozens wounded after two car bombs exploded in the west of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

A dozen people died and 35 were hurt after a bomb on board a minibus blew up outside a mosque in the city’s Shurta area on Sunday.

A second blast killed one person and wounded another in Hai al-Amil.

Both the attacks took place minutes before the end of the day’s Ramadan fasting period.

A third attack involving a car bomb and a roadside bomb in the central Karrada district killed 12 people and wounded 37, officials said, adding the dead included three policemen and three women.

Earlier, one person was also killed and three wounded earlier on Sunday by a roadside bomb in the capital’s district of Mansur, security officials said.

A Kurdish mayor of a northern Iraqi town was wounded in a separate roadside bombing in Saadiyah near the Kurdish-dominated city of Khanaqin, along with six of his guards, police said.

In John McCain’s world the Iraq war is basically won already, even if troops need to stay there for who knows how long. With all the sabre-rattling about Iran’s nuclear program and his pledge to lead the charge to the gates of hell, get ready for “World of Warcraft” in reality if he wins the White House. Consider that his campaign webpage on “the surge” is under the broader title of “Fighting Islamic Extremism.” Guess what? Saddam Hussein was not an Islamic extremist and there were no al-Qaida fighters in Iraq when the secular dictator was in charge.

Daniel Martin Varisco