Topic: Breaking News
Idling at Home and Full Throttle Elsewhere
As of Wednesday, January 11th, news on the domestic front was all rehash, or is that variations on a theme? There was no big news on the congressional scandals, and the media was full of "backgrounders" on Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay. Arial Sharon was not dead, nor was the surviving miner, and there were a few SNL-like "Generalissimo France is Not Dead" stories running here and there. The Alito hearings were in their third day (a reasonable summary here) - Senators Spector and Kennedy got is a shouting match of sorts, the nominee's wife rushed out in tears, but this was a dodgeball game and the nominee dodged most of what was thrown at him. There was lots of posturing and not much substance. There was, really, no substance. The headline of the day was above the Elisabeth Bumiller New York Times item - But Enough About You, Judge; Let's Hear What I Have to Say. It was a day of the expected.
The action was on the international stage, as the day here in Hollywood opened with an email from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, with startling news -
But then, Hallyday has been in a bad mood, given this -
So he's taking his black leather jacket and leaving. That Paris appeals court decision was the last straw?
And now France has lost Johnny Hallyday. One imagines a bit of a collective "Gallic shrug."
The other international news was not so fluffy, as John O'Neil reported in the New York Times - Leading Shiite Says He Will Oppose Changes to Iraqi Charter.
Here's the deal
The whole idea was that the post-election Iraqi government would agree to constitutional amendments that would address Sunni Arab frustration with Iraq's political structure. The Bush speech the day before (here) had a section on how disagreement is really, really bad and the Shiites and Sunni has better stop fighting with each other about all the small stuff. Our position is we're going to get a unified national government over there, an inclusive one - and we've been applying pressure for that. We were just told, by the guys who won, to butt out.
Matthew Yglesias points out here that the SCIRI leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, is basically saying no deal - "the constitution as written passed fair and square in a referendum and he likes the status quo just fine."
Yglesias - "And it seems to me that he's entitled to do so. But if the Iraqi government doesn't want to implement the Bush administration's political strategy in Iraq, then what's the point in extending an open-ended military commitment to that government? If American leaders and Iraqi leaders disagree as to what should be done, as seems to be the case, why not go our separate ways?"
Another view? Ron Beasley - And Let The Civil War Begin.
They're setting up the battle lines -
And the north (Kurds) and west (Sunnis) can go pound sand. There's lots of it there.
So let's see here. One side wins an election filled with questions about the vote count and election fraud of various sorts, and the losing side, formerly in power, is really unhappy. Rather than trying to draw them into a cooperative government where everyone gets at least a little say, and some respect, the winners just cut them out of everything and do what they want, twisting the knife and reminding them of what losers they are. And they do this gerrymandering thing - the real power is in selected regions.
Who do these SCIRI guys think they are, Republicans? Bush, as Rove's man, is surprised by this? They are simply replicating the Republican playbook. They learned from the masters.
Of course, over there, there may be a civil war. As least there will be suicide bombings and other mayhem. Here, the "losers," when they cannot get even thirty seconds on Fox News, will accept the idea they really are losers - or run John Kerry again and prove it. We had our civil war back in the nineteenth century. No more of that.
Ah well, and the there's this -
Right. And the BBC here also provides this timeline -
This was coming.
So there will be lots of turmoil at the UN, and maybe sanctions. There were ten years of sanction on Iraq, and estimates that millions died for lack of medicine and clean drinking water and all the rest, and Saddam Hussein didn't give a hoot, and in fact got rich gaming the sanctions. So this will work?
We may have hoped Israel would take out the Iranian reactors and centrifuges - Cheney hinted again and again, with a sly smile, that might happen - but with Sharon in hospital and not a factor any longer, and the Israeli government in some sort of holding pattern, we may have to do this ourselves. We don't do sanctions happily, and treat the UN as a snake pit of useless, corrupt fools, as everyone saw with this current war against their advice, and with our sending John Bolton there to piss on everyone's shoes. Will we bypass the UN again, after a show of "international cooperation" - and send in the precision bombs?
Our columnist Bob Patterson sent along this item - Der Spiegel and the German news agency DDP reporting CIA Director Porter Goss asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide "full intelligence cooperation" for a possible air strike on Iran's nuclear and military facilities.
They say Goss, at a meeting December 12th, provided Turkey with three dossiers containing "evidence" Tehran is cooperating with al Qaeda, and information on what "we knew" of the current status of Iran's weapons programs. Maybe we got it right this time.
German security sources, it seems, say Goss assured Erdogan that Turkey would be alerted to any air strikes a few hours before they were launched. And as a carrot, Goss also gave the Turkish government the "green light" to strike the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iran - which would please them.
One never knows. This would not be a move that would raise our standing in the Middle East from its nadir now. (Note: Nadir: c.1391, in astronomical sense, from Middle Latin nadir, from Arabic nazir "opposite to," in nazir as-samt, lit. "opposite of the zenith," from nazir "opposite" + as-samt "zenith". Use as the "lowest point (of anything)" first recorded in 1793.) We're already seen as bullies who smash other people's things to get what we want, or smash other people's things when we feel threatened. And the SCIRI guys, who won the elections in Iraq, friendly with Iran now, would be ticked. We've given new meaning to the word "nadir." Expect a Holy War.
Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz clearly had the idea we'd have our short Iraq war, turn the place over the Ahmed Chalabi and his merry band of Americanized exiles, and be out in six months - and then be able to turn to Iran. That didn't work out.
Now we do something about this Iran problem and tick off the guys we helped to power and who we expect to get Iraq organized, and piss off most of the Shiite nations in the region, and appall the rest of the world - or we don't, and Iran has the bomb.
This is a mess. It's a puzzle with no good solution, and maybe without any solution at all.
On a lighter note, last weekend in Changes (Just when you thought you knew the players and the rules...) you'd find a discussion of this - everyone's favorite born-again, end-times-are-coming, evangelical hyper-Christian, Pat Robertson, and the Israeli government, were developing a Jesus theme park in Israel.
Yes, he said Ariel Sharon has the massive stroke because God was punishing him for the Gaza pullout. Sharon was giving God's land to those Palestinians, and they we're God's people - and God was obviously pissed off. He has some curious ideas about God and Israel. But the theme park was going to happen.
But then, is Pat Robertson's world view really mainstream?
Consider this from Pew Research -
Andrew Sullivan, deep in writing a book on such matters, adds this -
It may be mainstream, but the folks in Israel aren't happy about it, as your see here (AP - 8:14 a.m. ET January 11, 2006) -
But the same day the Rapture Index was up three points, to 154 - the end is near, or nearer, and the Jews who haven't converted are likely to die in great torment! These folks should watch it. Don't mess with Pat.
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta -
Well, yes, sort of. Andrews Sullivan researching his book on these things offers this -
Maybe that helps. Crazy folks on both sides.
In any event, our high-powered Wall Street attorney notes Rick in Atlanta saying, "Seems to me if God didn't like the plan as outlined by Sharon, he should've hired a lawyer to search the deeds in the county courthouse, rather than just smiting the guy and doing him bodily harm."
He says - "But smiting is such good sport these days!"
Rick in Atlanta -
From Wall Street - "I like billable hours, but then I'm on the other side of the equation! God bless America!"
From Atlanta - "Yeah, I had you in mind when I wrote that. I hope I didn't queer the deal; I think you and God probably had a pretty strong case."
Okay. Enough. The Rapture Index just jumped six points. We're supposed to take this seriously.
In any event, while the news in the United States was essentially static, the international news was, shall we say, dynamic.
When Bush and his team came to power five years ago it seems their way of dealing with the difficulties in this sorry world was to shake things up real good and see what happened. So we're finding out what happens. Never a dull moment these days.