Friday, June 30, 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Keep on fighting

Okay, so a majority--none of them Bush appointees, and one of his appointees disqualified--put the kabosh on Bush's patently illegal Gitmo operation; and the Senate, by one vote--the slimmest margin on such a vote in history--refused to launch a flag-burning constitutional amendment into the state legislatures, where it was certain to gain the requisite 34 approvals. Two wins for the good guys.

These are significant victories, but when viewed against the entirety of current events, tiny. These decisions should enflame Bush's adversaries, embolden them, not satisfy them, not at all.

What can I say?

Here's a summary of Rassmussen Reports' polls (usually a bit skewed toward the conservatives, but it's a fine bellwether) on various issues as responded to in several selected states. I'm chagrined to admit that I lived for five decades in Arizona--apparently to no effect, because its numbers show an astounding adherence to stupidity, as bad in some categories as Texas and Nebraska.

It's not the only reason I moved to California--the beach is the main reason--but it sure solidifies my staying away from that horde of rednecks.

Now understand: I have many friends and family who are liberal, clear-thinking Americans and who live in Tucson. But the Phoenix area--it's a pit of reactionary evil, and it dominates the politics of the state. With Senators like Kyle and McCain, what can I say?

Pyongyang, Paris, Baghdad

Some of us old farts remember the years--at least two--of negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea in Pyongyang that led to the eventual standoff in the Korean "conflict"; and the interminable period of meetings between the U.S. and North Vietnamese in Paris that led nowhere and resulted in our troops finally bolting Saigon. Thousands of civilians and soldiers on all sides of the wars died while these talks were being held, with endless wrangling (there was a weeks-long negotiation over the shape of the conference table in Paris, recall) and posturing by diplomats and politicians. As fruitless and meaningless as these negotiations were, however, at least the U.S. was, to a greater or lesser degree, involved in them, presumably striving to advance U.S. interests.

Well, it looks like we're now entering a similar phase in Iraq, with al-Maliki and others on behalf of the government trying to end the strife with the multifaceted opposition to the present state of Iraq. The difference, of course, is that we're pretending that Iraq is a sovereign nation, empowered (ha ha) to strike its own bargains to that end, and so we must control the negotiations secretly, even if it keeps the conflict going. For an obvious example, we've made al-Maliki change his tune on amnesty for insurgents who've killed American troops, the effect of which has been to so weaken the reconciliation plan that it's unlikely to have any impact.

So--now we've created a war the end of which is beyond our control except through indirect, secretive string-pulling; and which we're willing to continue to save face. If I were a parent of a kid killed in Iraq, I'd be outraged. In fact, simply as an American, I'm outraged.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Why don't we have public media, or any media, like this?

This BBC analysis of the Bush administration's "reconciliation" posture in Iraq is succinct and incisive. No quotes from "administration sources," no "critics say" quotes, either. Just plain insight and straightforward presentation of the Republicans' hope that through the smoke and mirrors, conflicting messages, assuaging assurances, they can hornswoggle the Americans for one more election cycle.

Well, duh

was my first reaction to this US general Chiarelli's observation that when our troops kill Iraqi civilians, it fuels the insurgency. But I do indeed like his phrasing.

``We have people who were on the fence or supported us who in the last two years or three years have in fact decided to strike out against us. And you have to ask: Why is that? And I would argue in many instances we are our own worst enemy,'' Chiarelli said.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Am I missing something?

Isn't there something so wrong with this graph--forget about the other outrageous indexes of economic inequality in the U.S.--that it defies any explanation except contempt for those who are economically or politically powerful?

I've been waiting

for the Sunday talk shows' reaction to al-Maliki's "reconciliation plan"--which in repeated statements by the Iraq government (which I've followed on this blog) proferred amnesty to Iraqi insurgents who'd killed American troops. But now it appears that as finally submitted to Parliament, the plan so softens the amnesty provisions as to make them ineffective. Juan Cole says that Bush pressured al-Maliki to delete the amnesty provision--the only place on the web that I could find that so suggested. In any event, the talk shows were, as always, silly and redundant.

Update: The NYT noted the absence of the amnesty plan, but finessed the issue of its deletion from earlier descriptions of its effect. Note that it's our ambassador, not an Iraqi official, who's quoted about the absence of amnesty for Iraqis who killed Americans. If such a provision, which may indeed have helped quell the violence in Iraq, was deleted because of pressure from the US administration, then the word "puppet government" could not be more apt.

More discussions of amnesty are here, here and here.