Saturday, May 08, 2004

Well, isn't that precious...

The Sunnis and Shias have joined together to demand that the post-June 30 governance be controlled by a group other than one chosen by the US or the governing council. A truly independent group, just like--could it be?--democracy.

I wonder how Tribune Bremer and his boss, Bush, will react to this. Could they handle Iraqis chosing their own form of governance? We have less than two months to wait until we find out.

More Bad News for Bush

The News for Bush just keeps getting better and better. Or worse, depending on your perspective.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Sick, sick, sick

I watched Rummie and the generals at the House hearing. Imagine. They actually had the gall to say that these hearings--that is, the fact that the US, through its congress, was holding these hearings in public and so forth--would send a strong message to the rest of the world that we are a worthy nation, a strong and principled democracy, able to air its dirty laundry on such a sensitive subject and vow to correct the abuses.

As I say, imagine the gall. These abuses, the photos, the hearings, never would have been aired at all if the Pentagon had anything to say about it, nor would Bush/Cheney or the Army have taken any action except perhaps in secret. All of the last week's activities arose only because the CBS program, Sixty Minutes II, televised the photos, and Sy Hersh was about to publish a detailed expose in the New Yorker magazine. In fact, the underlying Army report that detailed the abuses, as well as the photos, were buried in the Pentagon for months before, suddenly, all of Rummie's fake "democracy" became necessary.

The status of the United States in the world

is well depicted by the recent vote in the General Assembly opposing Israel's unilateral actions in the Middle East. The vote was 140 to 6, critical of Israel. The US was one of the 6. The other five? Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau. Oh. And Israel.

Rummie and the brass hats

are sitting side by side before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The witnesses came armed with charts and timelines, gave muffled waffles/responses to muddled questions/speeches by the Senators. This quickie hearing won't do much except provide the media with grist for their presses and screens. It's not likely to resolve the questions, which will linger and, if all goes as usual, will simmer all summer, boiling over occasionally as new revelations are made and are processed by the media and the world.


April Jobs report

For the second month in a row, the Labor Department has reported that job creation in the US has jumped above experts' expectations, including, even, a small addition of jobs in the manufacturing sector. It's possible that this means that the economy will continue to recover throughout the summer. This is good news for Bush, bad news for those of us who oppose his re-election. (I recognize this tension, BTW, which not too many of us liberals acknowledge is inherent in our position).

Does this mean that Bush is unbeatable in November? Almost. Bush's only significant liability may therefore be foreign policy, Iraq in particular. It's possible that with Iraq in such turmoil, and with the related scandals still roiling, he could be done in by foreign policy alone, but there's not much precedent for that. True, the war in Viet Nam caused LBJ to quit (hence we'll never know whether he would have been re-elected), but Nixon was re-elected during the worst of the Viet Nam conflict.

One thing might change this prospect: A powerful campaign by the Democratic candidates, Kerry and his veep, causing a groundswell of positive support. Could that happen?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Not exactly the party line

The Iraqi general who's been appointed by us to handle Fallujah for us says our troops should forthwith pull back--all the way to the United States.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

A view of Kerry's "problem"

Many of my Bush-hater buddies are, like me, dismayed at John Kerry's performance so far in his campaign to unseat the entrenched, well-funded incumbent. I've got a whole essay, so far not reduced to writing, on the subject. But this quote is a good start.

"The result, as some of his supporters concede, is that [Kerry] comes across as just a generic Democrat. No one can finish the sentence 'I support John Kerry because...' except to say '...he is not George Bush.'

"If the election is just a referendum on Mr Bush, none of this may matter. Mr Kerry is raising huge amounts of money—a record $55m in the first quarter—which may be all that is necessary if the Republicans defeat themselves. But there are big risks to running a message-free campaign. It could depress Democratic turnout. It lets Mr Bush define Mr Kerry. And if he wants to fulfil the Democrats' pledge to 'take back the country', and seize the political initiative, Mr Kerry will need a governing strategy on inauguration day. To do all that, he needs to start imposing what he stands for on the party. That is the opportunity fast disappearing."

The way it is in Iraq, now and then

This Iraqi blogger reacts to a post that paints "pre-war vs. post-war" difference, pointing out, for example, that the claim of the high school attendance by girls is the same as it was before the US invasion.

Oh boy, oh boy

The prisoner abuse issue is becoming a "what did the president know and when did he know it?" question. The press loves this kind of thing ever since Watergate. It's pretty clear there was a report about prisoner abuse in both Iraq and Afghanistan that circulated to the White House many months ago, and the Congress is pissed off about being left out of the loop, so there may be some traction to the issue, even public hearings.

It could arise to a mini-Watergate summer. Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Troops Reprimanded for Prison Abuse

OK, everybody can relax about the torture of Iraqi prisoners. The troops have been reprimanded. I guess they're just excitable boys. Yahoo! News

Hamill "escapes"

I'm not denigrating the conduct of the truckdriver who found his way to US Army troops, and thereupon to freedom. But two items have been reported that color the story. First, when, upon his "rescue," he was asked if he was hungry, he said, "No thank you. I've already eaten." Second, he'd already escaped once--a day or two before--and when he didn't find any US Army troops to pick him up he returned to his place of captivity and waited for another chance.

Is this another Jessica Lynch thing?

Sunday, May 02, 2004

The latest litany of outrages and embarrassments

The systematic abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US military; the statement by Tribune Bremer, as head of a commission investigating terrorism, that the George Bush's administration wasn't paying attention to terrorism; the ongoing deaths of US soldiers; the "strategic retreat" of the US from Fallujah; the criticism of US treatment of Iraqis by the Brahimi--can Bush somehow spin all of this away, cause the public to shrug all of it off somehow? God, if he can, we're doomed.