“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to fight "to the end".

Another day in Paradise.

Hyperbole is as plentiful as oil in the the Middle East. It is hard to take seriously a statement from al-Maliki that he will see this "to the end". More than likely, the Iraqi PM may have decided that the time to engage the forces of al-Sadr is when there are still enough Americans around to help. Talk about a tar baby.

Does the US let the Iraqis settle this or do we engage and settle the debate about the US future in Iraq? How does any US president leave Iraq?

Stalled assault on Basra exposes the Iraqi government's shaky authority

By Patrick Cockburn Independent
Friday, 28 March 2008

The Iraqi army's offensive against the Shia militia of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Basra is failing to make significant headway despite a pledge by the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to fight "to the end".

Instead of being a show of strength, the government's stalled assault is demonstrating its shaky authority over much of Baghdad and southern Iraq. As the situation spins out of Mr Maliki's control, saboteurs blew up one of the two main oil export pipelines near Basra, cutting by a third crude exports from the oilfields around the city. The international price of oil jumped immediately by $1 a barrel before falling back.

In Baghdad, tens of thousands of supporters of Mr Sadr, whose base of support is the Shia poor, marched through the streets shouting slogans demanding that Mr Maliki's government be overthrown. "We demand the downfall of the Maliki government," said one of the marchers, Hussein Abu Ali. "It does not represent the people. It represents Bush and Cheney."

The main bastion of the Sadrist movement is impoverished Sadr City, which has a population of two million and is almost a twin city to Baghdad. The densely packed slum has been sealed off by US troops. "We are trapped in our homes with no water or electricity since yesterday," said a resident called Mohammed. "We can't bathe our children or wash our clothes."

The streets are controlled by Mehdi Army fighters, many of whom say they expect an all-out American attack, though this seems unlikely since the US says that an attack on the Shia militias is a wholly Iraqi affair.

In Basra, Iraqi forces have cordoned off seven districts but appear stalled in their effort to dislodge the Mehdi Army fighters. Masked gunmen in some cases have captured or seized abandoned Iraqi army vehicles and painted pro-Sadrist slogans on their armour.

A co-ordinated mortar bombardment struck the main police base in the city beside the Shatt al-Arab waterway and there was heavy shooting in the main commercial street of Iraq's southern capital. An Interior Ministry source said that 51 people had been killed and more than 200 wounded in three days of fighting in Basra. There was an attempt to assassinate Basra's police chief in which three of his bodyguards were killed by a bomb.

Mr Maliki's surprise offensive against the Mehdi Army is likely to have repercussions far beyond Iraq. The Americans must have agreed to the attack though they had previously praised the six-month ceasefire declared by Mr Sadr on 29 August and renewed in February as being one of the main reasons why violence had fallen in Iraq. Although Mr Sadr has said the truce is continuing it is ceasing to have much meaning.

President George Bush praised Mr Maliki yesterday saying he faces a "tough battle against militia fighters and criminals". He said that the Iraqi Prime Minister had taken a bold decision "in going after the illegal groups in Basra".

But the rapid increase in violence may puncture optimism in the US over the "success" of the surge in leading to a turning point in the five-year-long war.

The Green Zone, the heavily fortified centre of American power in Iraq, was wreathed in smoke yesterday as it was struck by rockets and mortars fired from Shia neighbourhoods. In a further blow to the belief that the surge has restored law and order, one of the two Iraqi spokesmen for the Baghdad security plan, which is at the heart of the surge strategy, was kidnapped and three of his bodyguards killed before his house was set on fire. The victim was Tahseen Sheikhly, a Sunni who often appeared with American officials to proclaim the success of the surge.

Clashes are now taking place across Iraq and most of the Shia districts in Iraq. In the middle of last year a Mehdi Army commander said that his militia controlled 80 per cent of Shia Baghdad and 50 per cent of the capital as a whole. This is probably only a slight exaggeration. There has also been heavy fighting in Kut on the Tigris, where 44 have been killed and 75 wounded, and in Hilla on the Euphrates where 60 people died. In past months the Sadrists have been locked in a struggle for Diwaniya, also on the Euphrates south of Baghdad, where they have been fighting police units controlled by Badr, the militia of the other great Shia party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI).

When he first came to power, Mr Maliki balanced between ISCI and the Sadrists but has steadily become closer to the first party and has shown growing hostility to Mr Sadr. The last great battle between the Sadrists and the Iraqi government backed by the Americans was in Najaf in 2004 and was ended by the intervention of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who wanted the Sadrists humbled but not crushed. He also did not want to see the Shia community divided into warring factions. It is possible that the Grand Ayatollah may seek to mediate again but Mr Maliki may find it difficult to compromise after his claim that he will win control of Basra.

The government has about 15,000 soldiers and the same number of police in Basra but this is not a great number in a city of two million. The police are closely linked to the militias and are unlikely to prove a resolute ally against the Mehdi Army.


  1. slimslowslider said...
    "indulging in the time-tested Jewish way of alienating the people they seek to influence"

    why is this douche allowed to soil this site with his stormfront bullsh*t?

  2. Wasn't Stormfront the site that had L Ron Pictures/ L Ron backers?

  3. "How does any US president leave Iraq?"

    Change the mission, change the mission, change the mission.

  4. (You can't hear her screaming, but she is.)

  5. Stay the Course, Stay the Course,
    Stay the Course, Stay the Course,
    Stay the Course, Stay the Course,
    (you can't hear him, but he's being sarcastic)
    You should learn to appreciate Kabuki Theater, Trish.


    Hey, Dude!
    You're Lame!

    Rice hits U.S. 'birth defect'
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that the United States still has trouble dealing with race because of a national "birth defect" that denied black Americans the opportunities given to whites at the country's very founding.

  6. Kevin said...
    This is so very very sad. The desperate need to further the ridiculous proposition that Iran is supporting Sadr against the Khomeinist Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and the Khatamist Islamic Da’wa Party shows how intellectually bankrupt this whole Iraq venture is.

    Sadr is an Iraqi Nationalist who has been, among other things, trying making alliances with the Sunnis (Iraqi Accord Front and the Dialogue Front led by Saleh al-Mutlak).
    The idea that Iran would support him over their own handpicked puppets is just plain stupid.

    Who went to Iran, and fought on the Iranian side during the Iran-Iraq War? (Answer: SIIC (but of course they were then known as theSupreme Council for the Islamic revolution in Iraq) and Da’wa; Sadr stayed in Iraq)

    Who blew the US and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983 under orders from Khomeini? (Answer: Da’wa).

    But to admit the truth that Iran is actually backing its own puppets (Da’wa and SIIC) in the fight against Sadr is to also admit the awful truth that Iraq is now an Iranian client state.

    Now if a President Obama had responded to a Saudi attack by handing Iraq to Iran then the very substantial critical reasoning abilities of the regular Belmont Club commenters (and host of course) would be employed in explaining just what a disaster Obama had created.

    But because many here are so ideologically commited to Bush, the lie that Iran is not supporting its own puppets and instead is supporting an Arab nationalist is the only way to avoid the awful reality that Bush has actually given Iraq to Iran on a silver platter.
    Stay the course, Presidente Jorge can do no wrong.

  7. Same applies at the Border:
    If Gore had been POTUS, the Pubs would never have stood by and cheered as he INCREASED incentives for illegals and DECREASED enforcement against them.
    ...or Drug us backwards against securing the border for 7 years AFTER 9-11.
    Knowing that, AlGore wouldn't even have tried.
    GWB, the multi-tasking pooch-screwer.

  8. Or,
    GWB, the Multi-Pooch Screwer.

  9. Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

    "Cutting off Afghanistan"

    Cannoneer No. 4 said...
    Listen to Your Loggy Toads

    Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics.

    There is a reason Afghanistan is not the main event that has nothing to do with Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeldian malfeasance.

    The loss of Karshi-Khanabad Air Base in 2005 gave Musharraf veto power over what can be logistically supported.

    POL entering at Torkham Gate goes to Bagram. Kandahar's comes in at Chaman-Spin Boldak.

    Hard to fight a war in which you don't control your Line of Communications. The farther you get away from economy of force the more of your jugular vein you offer to the knife.

  10. Colombia offers Farc hostage deal

    Ingrid Betancourt before her kidnap (left) and several years later (right)
    Colombia has offered to release jailed Farc rebels if they first hand over former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages.

  11. Notice the Similarity, the Exquisite Symmetry, in Jorge's Masterful Touch:

    "President George Bush praised Mr Maliki yesterday saying he faces a "tough battle against militia fighters and criminals". He said that the Iraqi Prime Minister had taken a bold decision "in going after the illegal groups in Basra."

    A chill
    ushers in new diplomatic order in Pakistan

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: If it was not yet clear to Washington that a new political order prevailed here, the three-day visit this week by America's chief diplomat dealing with Pakistan should put any doubt to rest.

    The visit by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte turned out to be series of indignities and chilly, almost hostile, receptions as he bore the brunt of the full range of complaints that Pakistanis now feel freer to air with the end of military rule by Washington's favored ally, President Pervez Musharraf.

    He was upbraided at an American Embassy residence during a reception in his honor by lawyers furious that the Bush administration had refused to support the restoration of the dismissed judiciary by Musharraf last year.

    Negroponte once told Congress that Musharraf was an "indispensable" ally, but the diplomat was finally forced to set some distance after months of standing stolidly by his friend. Musharraf's future, he said, would be settled by Pakistan's new democratic government.

  12. Kevin said...
    No Whiskey, it is you who want it both ways. I say that Iran is evil and that they are winning in Iraq thanks to their puppets Da’wa and SIIC.. You say the Iran is evil but that their long-term ideological terrorist puppets are just dandy. Get this, that Da’wa and SIIC are really on OUR side! I have never said that Iran has peaceful intentions; it is you who are saying that their puppets Da’wa and SIIC believe in democracy.

    On many issues you show a keen intelligence, but in believing that Da’wa and SIIC are anything but Iranian stooges, what a fool you are Whiskey, what a fool.

    You have bought these Islamist lies hook, line, and sinker. Do at least this much for me, google the word “Taqiyya”
    And isn’t it strange that on March 2nd, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Bahgdad and met with Nouri al-Maliki, the head of Da’wa and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of SIIC. What exactly do you think they talked about? What ever it was these were the comments afterwards:

    "We had very good talks that were friendly and brotherly," Ahmadinejad said after meeting with Talabani, who greeted him with an honor guard and a band that played both countries' national anthems. "We have mutual understandings and views in all fields, and both sides plan to improve relations as much as possible."

    After a meeting involving Ahmadinejad, al-Maliki and their advisers, the Iraqi prime minister said the visit was "an expression of the strong desire of enhancing relations and developing mutual interests after the past tension during the dictatorship era."

  13. U.S. Takes Lead in Iraq Offensive
    U.S. forces in armored vehicles battle Mahdi Army fighters in Sadr City as offensive begins third day.

  14. "Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting. "
    (shakes head)

  15. And for the Belmont Truthers:

    RattlerGator said...
    It could also be that our supposedly infamous "cowboy," George W. Bush, is about to get his greatest latitude as he exits the Presidency.

    Look out, Iran; Big Daddy may have a parting gift ready for delivery. And Mookie's group, hopefully, is getting the first taste.
    The fun just never stops.

  16. Iraq extends militiamen deadline-BBC

    Mehdi Army fighters remain in control is areas of Basra

    Iraq's government has extended by 10 days a deadline for Shia militiamen fighting troops in the southern city of Basra to hand over their weapons.
    If fighters met the 8 April deadline, originally set for 29 March, they would receive "financial rewards", it said.

    More than 130 people have been killed and 350 injured since a clampdown on militias began in Basra on Tuesday.

    Parliament is due to hold an emergency session on the crisis, which has also brought a three-day curfew in Baghdad.

    Maliki is very serious.

  17. More symmetry:

    In Los Angeles, Mukasy brings in an anti-gang task force, much sturm und drang and general bullshit about busting gang members.

    All the while fellow Kabuki Players Tony Villar and Bratton pretend they really care, when in fact they REFUSE to ask anyone's immigration status, including the ten-time loser that murdered Jamil Shaw a few weeks ago.

    Bratton can be found on YouTube telling a citizen that if he didn't like it (special order 40 preventing police from taking part in ridding the streets of Criminal Illegals) he could leave the state!
    Reconquista accomplished, or as 'Rat would say "we're" just extending our jurisdiction over the Americas.
    Who's "we" whiteman?
    Stabbing reveals disparities in illegals laws - -

  18. But an adviser to Iraqi security forces, who had predicted that the fight in Basra would take 10 days, said it could go on much longer. He also said Iraqi forces were calling on U.S. and British forces for help. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he said he was not authorized to speak with reporters.

    "I think the government can't win this battle without interference of Americans or British," he said. "I think the aid or assistance is on the way." In his view, the Iraqi military needed air coverage and help with logistics and intelligence.

    The fighters "are opening many, many fronts against the army," he said. The adviser said the militia's weapons, some of them made in Iran, are more powerful than those of the Iraqi army.

    So far, casualties in Basra on all sides have totaled about 400 killed and 300 wounded, he said.

  19. It is a shame that an illegal immigrant charged with stabbing a man in the sternum in Montgomery County last August, one month after he was charged with assaulting a teen there, was released on $2,500 bail until his trial.

    Not surprisingly, Milton Calderon-Melendez, a member of the MS-13 street gang, did not appear at his trial because illegal immigrants do not have to follow the law.

    At least that is the message many of our lawmakers send to illegals.

    So you are an illegal immigrant? No problem. We will build you a day-laborer center with taxpayer funds and encourage our citizenry to learn Spanish, so we can plead with an MS-13 gang member not to stab us in the sternum.

    This is not to suggest that all illegal immigrants come to the United States to stab people in the sternum. Some come to the United States to rape and pillage. Others come to peddle drugs. And still others take whatever low-end jobs they can land and exist in a black-market economy.

    It is an outrageous system that keeps wages artificially low in the service and working-class industries
    Alas, it is not the policy of Montgomery County to verify the legal status of those arrested, because that is just not nice...

  20. Al-bob is a vicious racist because he won't learn warm and fuzzy things to say in Spanish to MS-13 members so that they won't dislike us so much.
    Shame on you, Al-bob, get with the program!
    Bend Over!

  21. "What struck me as the best commentary on the Bosnia story came from a poster called GI Joe who wrote in to a news blog: "Actually Mrs. Clinton was too modest. I was there and saw it all. When Mrs. Clinton got off the plane the tarmac came under mortar and machine gun fire. I was blown off my tank and exposed to enemy fire. Mrs. Clinton without regard to her own safety dragged me to safety, jumped on the tank and opened fire, killing 50 of the enemy." Soon a suicide bomber appeared, but Mrs. Clinton stopped the guards from opening fire. "She talked to the man in his own language and got him [to] surrender. She found that he had suffered terribly as a result of policies of George Bush. She defused the bomb vest herself." Then she turned to his wounds. "She stopped my bleeding and saved my life. Chelsea donated the blood.""
    - Noonan

  22. 2164th wrote:

    "Maliki is very serious."

    Of course he is *smirk*

    "U.S. Planes Attack Militia Strongholds in Basra Fighting"

    This little Basra dust-up highlights why we should get out of Iraq. We are being played and we've been played ever since we set foot there. Our purposes are not being served by remaining. We are stuck on the "We cannot afford to lose" meme; the Chinese finger trap. Or, as Trish says "Change the mission" or even as Rat has said many a time "We won, lets go". Whatever spin you want to put on it, it is time to get out of Dodge.

    Bobal wrote:

    "Not let any more of them (muslims) into north America, we could at least start with that."

    Bobal, you are talking about putting about 2 billion people in the need not apply class based on something as indistinguishable as religion. One, it would be easy for someone to lie and once hear exercise their freedom and become a muslim, Two, you are 'prosecuting' people for a thought crime, and Three, not all muslims are the same, believe the same. Just the Sunni Shiite divide should be evidence enough of the difference, not to mention Salafism, Wahabbi, and the lapsed muslim. I personally, have not had a problem with a muslim. A whole family of "them" live across the street from me. They've given me beer (even though he didn't drink any himself). I once, many years ago, worked with a young devout muslim who's main purpose was to go back to Pakistan to attend a Madrassa. I was a teenager, as was he. His uncle had been pushed onto some Subway tracks and broke both his legs. The uncle was pushed because he was a Paki by a couple of teenagers. In my discussions with the kid I was struck by how his religious fervor resembled my grandmother's baptist evangelical mid-western crap that I had to endure when visiting her.

    Bobal also wrote:"Yet, the Bible, for instance, is a wonderful book. One walks a knife's edge, reading it. There's an old saying, if a fool looks in, you can't expect a genius to look back out. It takes work reading the Bible. In my life I've gotten quite a bit of pleasure out of it, but with a lot of help from those that know more than I."

    Heck that could have been written by any number of muslims with Koran inserted instead of the bible. The Muslim religion seems to have a long and varied history of interpretations of the Koran, by 'learned' folk of course, The Hadiths or something like that they call that body of 'law'. Again, hugely varying interpretations, so wide that some consider other apostates. Reminds me of that Reverend whom McCain sought endorsement from who views the Catholic faith as 'bad'.

    In short, Bobal, what a person does, not what you think they think, or even what they think is what they should be prosecuted for.

  23. Ash: In short, Bobal, what a person does, not what you think they think, or even what they think is what they should be prosecuted for.

    Unless that person is Barack Obama, then you can prosecute him for having a pastor that says God Damn America. And if you criticize Hillary Clinton for taking her child into a sniper kill zone that required a corkscrew landing because it was too dangerous for Bill Clinton to go, then you are just Swift Boating her.

  24. John Robb has a good POV on the fruits of "Success" in Basra:

    The US military is on the US is on the horns of a dilemma in Iraq. Here's why:
    The top level goal of the US military's COIN (counter-insurgency) doctrine, as described in the much ballyhooed manual, is to maximize the legitimacy of the host government. Everything in the manual's doctrine is slaved to that goal. So, under this rubric, Iraqi PM Maliki's attempt to take control of Basra would be completely supported (although there might be some dispute over tactics/methods/timing).

    However, the US military isn't following its published COIN doctrine. Instead, it's following the dictates of open source counter-insurgency. This doctrine, still unarticulated and very far from officially condoned by the US military (policy lags theory and theory lags practice), has a top level goal of stability, even if it at the expense of the host government's legitimacy. To achieve stability, deals or truces are made with non-state groups (formed around strong primary loyalties like tribalism, religion, ethnicity, clan, and neighborhood). The benefits of these deals and truces are clear, if they reduce violence they get a degree of autonomy and in some cases money, weapons, and training. As we have seen over the last year, it works.

    Open source counter-insurgency can work indefinitely if the host government remains passive (although at the cost of a badly functioning hollow state and lots of money). However, if the host government calls the bluff (the gap between "policy" and "practice") and begins to roll back the autonomy awarded to competitive non-state groups, the entire effort will shatter. Maliki is doing this now with his excursion into Basra. As a result, US policy in Iraq is now being gored by the horns of a dilemma. The US appears to be unable to decide which bad option to select: support Maliki and the country collapses into an orgy of violence - or - let him fail and the Iraqi government loses its remaining legitimacy and cohesion.

  25. Brother d-day: . The US appears to be unable to decide which bad option to select: support Maliki and the country collapses into an orgy of violence - or - let him fail and the Iraqi government loses its remaining legitimacy and cohesion.

    If it is possible to "let him fail" then his failure is already baked into the cake, unless you define success down.

  26. IOZ take on Basra:

    " BAGHDAD — American military forces for the first time conducted air strikes on targets in Basra late Thursday, joining Iraqi security forces in trying to oust Shiite militias in the southern port city.

    -The Times

    After five years of this bullshit, it's really remarkable that an artfag living in the slow-flowing provinces of Western PA should be called upon to elucidate martial terminology to people who supposedly dedicate their lives to fighting and reporting on wars, but mine is the land of the Whiskey Rebellion, so, heavy alas though the burden may be, I'll bear it in the spirit of our lost distilleries.

    How the hell do you "oust Shiite militias"? They're militias. Citizens. Not. A. Regular. Army. The motherfuckers live there. They're not visiting from Shiitopia, dropping in for some combat before heading home for dinner. They're not bivouacing. The motherfuckers motherfucking live there. I mean, how do you "oust" them unless you kill all the men in . . . oooohhhhhhhhhhhhh.


  28. We just had another earthquake. The second in as many months.

    As my son says, feels like suddenly nothing beneath you is solid.

  29. "IOZ ...take on...Basra"

    take on - as in individual's perspective individual's interpretation

    and of course, devoid of personal and political ideology (i.e. - just the "facts")

  30. March 28, 2008
    The 100 Year Lie
    By Charles Krauthammer

    WASHINGTON -- Asked at a New Hampshire campaign stop about possibly staying in Iraq 50 years, John McCain interrupted -- "Make it a hundred" -- then offered a precise analogy to what he envisioned: "We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so." Lest anyone think he was talking about prolonged war-fighting rather than maintaining a presence in postwar Iraq, he explained: "That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed."

    And lest anyone persist in thinking he was talking about war-fighting, he told his questioner: "It's fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintained a presence in a very volatile part of the world."

    There is another analogy to the kind of benign and strategically advantageous "presence" McCain was suggesting for postwar Iraq: Kuwait. The U.S. (with allies) occupied Kuwait in 1991 and has remained there with a major military presence for 17 years. We debate dozens of foreign policy issues in this country. I've yet to hear any serious person of either party call for a pullout from Kuwait.

    Why? Because our presence projects power and provides stability for the entire Gulf and for vulnerable U.S. allies that line its shores.

    The desirability of a similar presence in Iraq was obvious as long as five years ago to retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, one of Barack Obama's leading military advisers and his campaign co-chairman. During the first week of the Iraq War, McPeak (a war critic) suggested in an interview that "we'll be there a century, hopefully. If it works right." (Meaning, if we win.)

    Why is that a hopeful outcome? Because maintaining a U.S. military presence in Iraq would provide regional stability, as well as cement a long-term allied relationship with the most important Arab country in the region.

    As McPeak himself said about our long stay in Europe, Japan and Korea, "This is the way great powers operate." One can argue that such a presence in Iraq might not be worth the financial expense. A legitimate point -- it might require working out the kind of relations we have with Japan, which picks up about 75 percent of the cost of U.S. forces stationed there.

    Alternatively, one might advocate simply bolstering our presence in Kuwait, a choice that would minimize risk, albeit at the sacrifice of some power projection. Such a debate would be fruitful and help inform our current negotiations with Baghdad over the future status of American forces.


    Absolutely, Charles. Now's a good time to begin that fruitful debate over OIF's very raison d'etre. Better late than never.

  31. Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, an 'election' is to be held---

    Mugabe's last stand --The Guardian, Friday March 28 2008

    If tomorrow's election in Zimbabwe was really free and fair, Mr Mugabe would surely be packed off to his luxurious retirement home in Harare. It is a measure of how little faith Zimbabweans have in the electoral process that both Mr Mugabe and the opposition are gearing up instead for a post-election showdown. When the opposition said it was preparing Kenya-style protest rallies, Mr Mugabe responded by saying: "Just dare try it." This is before the first box has been stuffed with ballot papers from dead, fake or improperly registered voters.

    That assumes that an 84-year-old man who has brought his country to penury will be able to cheat and bully his way again to an absolute majority. This is not a foregone conclusion. The effectiveness of rigging depends on the two factors, neither of which is easy to predict. First, the size of the vote against Mr Mugabe could be so extensive that no amount of brute force can alter the result. Second, the rigging could help Zanu-PF's defector Simba Makoni, especially if those votes are split in favour of Zanu-PF for the parliamentary elections and Mr Makoni for the presidential one. Mr Mugabe cannot be confident that his own repressive machinery will not be turned against him. It is impossible to gauge to what extent the same old techniques of intimidation will work again.

    Morgan Tsvangirai, the presidential candidate for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has vowed that his party will not repeat the mistake it made six years ago, when Mr Mugabe stole the election and the MDC stayed rooted to the spot like a rabbit caught in headlights. The MDC has split since the 2002 election, with the more militant faction finding a new candidate in Mr Makoni. For all his past weaknesses, Mr Tsvangirai appears reinvigorated. There has been a surge of support for a man who was badly beaten up by Zanu-PF thugs last year and has endured everything that the regime has thrown at him.

    There are three likely outcomes to tomorrow's poll. First, Mr Mugabe steals the election and everybody is too scared to protest. His misrule continues, as does the pressure building up inside his party, waiting for him to die, or just possibly retire. Second, he steals the election but this provokes a backlash so great that he is forced to hand over to some form of coalition government. Third, he is forced into a fatally damaging second-round run-off. To avoid this he needs 50% of the vote - at time when inflation is running at anything from 100% to 300,000%.

    This is a tall order, even for the most practised autocrat. No other country will come to their rescue. Zimbabweans have to do the job themselves and force the tyrant out.

  32. It's hard to see how things could get much worse in Zimbabwe. But I suppose they can. The old boy is 84years old now. What wonderful things he has done for his country.

  33. There's been a little earthquake activity in Montana recently, too. They had a monster there, back in the 60's.

  34. In that debate, trish would like to hear the peals of laughter as Charles blithely suggests that no one calls for a pullout from Kuwait because our presence projects power and brings stability (apparently not enough of it, however) - rather than that it's a pretty peaceful place to park our lavish, pricey asses.

    So's offshore.

    If nothing could be more wholesomely American than seeking new and grander imperial outposts, we might ask, "Must we have this one?"

  35. Where is Sadr hanging out during all this? Across the border in Iran?

  36. I lived in San Francisco for awhile and just missed one there. The whole earthquake thing is new to me. The last one (and I assume this one) was centered quite aways offshore. Sways the buildings hundreds of miles inland. Can't imagine sitting directly on top of one (earthquake, that is).

    San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake - the fire being a byproduct. The city council of the time, I believe it was, actually forbade reference to the earthquake in later news articles, etc., fearing immigrants from points east would not continue to settle in the city were its chief hazard widely known.

  37. Why bother hiding out? Nobody's going after him unless its his own damn guys. He can always count on being on the Do Not Kill list.

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. He can probably always count on being on the No Custody list as well.

  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. In re Goddamn America:

    It's the expression of unrelieved hatred, rather than just criticism, that people find deeply disturbing, ash. That kind of angry alienation from any positive, concrete achievement on the part of an entire people is...REALLY, TRULY alarming.

  42. Double Standard for *some* People

    Alas, it is not the policy of Montgomery County to verify the legal status of those arrested, because that is just not nice.

    Interestingly enough, all kinds of systems are in place that check on the status of Americans. Are you a poor credit risk? Do you have a bunch of unpaid parking tickets? Did you meet your tax bill last year? What did you buy at the grocery store last week?

    Databases store gobs of personal information on you, and all kinds of people sift through the information to make their evaluations of you.
    Somehow, though, if you are an illegal, it is considered invasive or unfriendly in some localities to check on your status.

    Plenty of native-born criminals would appreciate it if that sort of logic were applied to them

    Let's say police arrested someone on suspicion of robbing a convenience store.
    Would it be inhospitable of police to check on whether there are any outstanding warrants against the person?
    Would it be rude of police to investigate every aspect of the robber's life?

  43. Hey, Hyeana:
    Give us ONE BIT OF EVIDENCE THAT Obama has been "Prosecuted" for going to a racist church for 20 years and sending his kids to racial hate lessons!

    You really get off on buttfucking the English language, don't you?

  44. That's all fine and well Ash, but it's about a generation off. Or more. Jim Crow vanished long ago, affirmative aaction has been in place for years, Oprah is the most popular woman in the universe, and Zimbabwe is where it is really hard times. Things are alot worse there than they are here, and it's to Africa Wright says the primary allegiance lies. Let him utter prophetic denunciations of some of the situations over there.

  45. Blessed is the nation – and cursed


    From Friday's Globe and Mail

    March 28, 2008 at 4:16 AM EDT

    The problem of patriotism really comes down to one question: Are patriots permitted to be critical of their nation, or must they be proud and unquestioning at all times? Once that's answered, the puzzles dissolve.

    Take Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, who said: "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback." That's Position 1. Candidate John McCain's wife, Cindy, took Position 2: "I have and always will be proud of my country."

    It's odd that no reporters put Cindy McCain on the spot, named dubious things the U.S. has done, like its genocidal assault on aboriginals, and asked: Are you proud of that? Michelle Obama is the one they keep saying has dug her and her husband a big anti-American hole, one she still hasn't got past.

    But under Position 1 - criticism allowed - her words imply she is a true patriot, and one with a generous spirit. She didn't wait for solutions to what presumably blocked her pride in the past: like failure to deal with the ongoing problems of race in the U.S. She was ready to be proud on the fairly flimsy basis of reactions to her husband's campaign. She's not just a patriot, she's an optimistic one. Under Position 1, the patriot test is: Does she continue to want to be proud of her nation, while demanding it live up to standards. By that test, she is a patriot with no hole to climb out of, and so probably is her pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has taken a lot more stick than she has.

    What did he say that anyone could object to on patriotic grounds - that the chickens are coming home to roost in events like 9/11? That's just foreign policy analysis, stated metaphorically. You can disagree, but it isn't unpatriotic. Or: "The government ... wants us to sing God Bless America. No, no, no, God damn America ... for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human." That is utterly in the Judeo-Christian tradition. According to the Hebrew prophets, God consigned his beloved chosen people to exile for allowing social injustice, allying with evil nations - i.e., shabby foreign policy - and religious infidelity. (The black church in the U.S. has always had a preferential option for the Old Testament parts of the Bible.) Another way to put Position 1 is: You cannot say, Blessed is the nation, unless you can also say, Cursed is the nation - they go together under love of nation. As political philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote: "There can be no patriotism without permanent opposition and criticism."

    She said that in 1963, under fire from other Jews for her book Eichmann in Jerusalem. She was a lifelong Zionist but critical of the direction Zionism had taken. In fact, Jews often split into the two positions over loyalty to Israel. It's odd how that, too, has now been woven into U.S. politics. Candidates for president are required to show unquestioning allegiance to Israel as much, or more, as to the U.S. The same is becoming true in Canada.

    Of course, we also have unique Canadian versions of unthinking patriotism. When the "loyal" opposition criticized the handover of detainees by our forces in Afghanistan despite possible torture, Stephen Harper and his instruments replied: Why do they criticize what our troops do? Why do they care more about the Taliban than our brave Canadian soldiers? Got that - it's unpatriotic to ask if our country did anything to be ashamed of?

    Hannah Arendt also wrote about Judah Magnes, a Zionist pioneer and founder of the Hebrew University. "Being a Jew and a Zionist, he was simply ashamed of what Jews and Zionists were doing." The sense of shame is what can save the honour of the group and the nation. It is what Position 1 patriots provide. If there are no patriots capable of shame for what is done in the nation's name, so there is only praise and pride everywhere, then patriotism easily slides into stupidity and worse.

  46. Montgomery County is the Berzerkely of the Mid Atlantic. As was once said (albeit for different reasons) of South Carolina: Too small to be a nation, too large to be an insane asylum.

  47. "White Man's Greed"
    Obama's very first service at Wright's church was ... controversial.
    By Mickey Kaus
    Updated Friday, March 28, 2008, at 3:35 PM ET
    On his radio show yesterday, Hugh Hewitt played excerpts of Barack Obama reading from his autobiography, Dreams of My Father. In one, Obama remembers a sermon by Rev. Jeremiah Wright:

    [T]he pastor described going to a museum and being confronted by a painting title Hope.

    "The painting depicts a harpist," Revernd Wright explained, "a woman who at first glance appears to be sitting atop a great mountaintop. Untill you take a closer look and see that the woman is bruised and bloodied, dressed in tattered rags, the harp reduced to a single frayed string. Your eye is then drawn down to the scene below, down to the valley below, where everywhere are the ravages of famine, the drumbeat of war, a world groaning under strife and deprivation.

    It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks' greed runs a world in need, aprtheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere ... That's the world! On which hope sits."

    And so it went, a meditation on a fallen world. While the boys next to me doodled on their church bulletin, Reverend Wright spoke of Sharpesville and Hiroshima, the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House. ... [E.A.]

    Sounds ... controversial! Keep in mind: a) Obama isn't disapproving of this sermon. In the book he weeps at the end of it; b) Demonstrating that at least some blaming of "white greed" for the world's sins--which Obama now criticizes-- isn't an exceptional topic for Rev. Wright in a few wacky sermons ("the five dumbest things") that Obama may or may not have missed. It's at the quotidian core of the Afrocentric philosophy that Obama says drew him to the church; c) Indeed, in his big March 18th race speech Obama reads the passage from his book that describes his emotional reaction to this very sermon (his "first service at Trinity")--how it made "the story of a people" seem "black and more than black." d) This is also the sermon that gave Obama the title of his next book, The Audacity of Hope. e) The "profound mistake" of this sermon is not that Wright "spoke as if our society was static"--Obama's analysis on Feb. 18th. The problem is that "white folks' greed" is not the main cause of a "world in need."

    I'm not saying voters shouldn't cut Obama a lot of slack on Wright's anti-white fulminations. But the Senator should have spoken up publicly against the semi-paranoid "white greed" explanation a long time ago, no? And he could show a little humility. Again, this wasn't the occasion for him to be lecturing everyone else. ...

    Update: On The View, Obama suggests Wright has sort of apologized:

    "Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying at the church," Obama said Thursday during a taping of the ABC talk show, "The View." [E.A.]



    Tom Maguire is on the case, noting that Obama has now left the rarefied air of transracial elevation and entered conventional political BS-land, given that there is no evidence of any sort of Wright apology (though maybe now one will be produced) or a previous Obama inclination to leave the church. ... Meanwhile, Perry Bacon of WaPo tries to figure out which "controversial" or "objectionable" sermons Obama heard. Again, I don't think this is necessary. Wright's sermon at Obama's very first service, highlighted in his book and his 3/18 speech as an epiphanal moment, was controversial and objectionable enough. And it didn't make him leave the church. It made him join the church. At least a bit of self-criticism seems in order. ... [via Instapundit and

  48. What the hell, ash? You've posted it three times.

  49. hmmmm, sorry 'bout that! dunno how that happened. It did click to post kinda funny. I'll get the trash can going.

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. I've heard and read stuff like that before, ash. From unreconstructed marxists. It's just revolting, parallel universe bile. As it happens, however, they weren't Americans.

  52. Sure would make a perusal of the Reverend's personal library an interesting afternoon.

  53. LarryD said...
    In Capt'n Ed's comments section about the film, RushBaby pointed to Frontpage Interview’s interview with Bill Warner, the director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam:

    "Let’s examine the ethical basis of our civilization. All of our politics and ethics are based upon a unitary ethic that is best formulated in the Golden Rule:

    "Treat others as you would be treated.

    "The basis of this rule is the recognition that at one level, we are all the same. We are not all equal. Any game of sports will show that we do not have equal abilities. But everyone wants to be treated as a human being. In particular, we all want to be equal under the law and be treated as social equals. On the basis of the Golden Rule—the equality of human beings—we have created democracy, ended slavery and treat women and men as political equals. So the Golden Rule is a unitary ethic. All people are to be treated the same. All religions have some version of the Golden Rule except Islam.

    "FP: So how is Islam different in this context?

    "Warner: The term “human being” has no meaning inside of Islam. There is no such thing as humanity, only the duality of the believer and unbeliever. Look at the ethical statements found in the Hadith. A Muslim should not lie, cheat, kill or steal from other Muslims. But a Muslim may lie, deceive or kill an unbeliever if it advances Islam.

    "There is no such thing as a universal statement of ethics in Islam. Muslims are to be treated one way and unbelievers another way. The closest Islam comes to a universal statement of ethics is that the entire world must submit to Islam. After Mohammed became a prophet, he never treated an unbeliever the same as a Muslim. Islam denies the truth of the Golden Rule.

    "By the way, this dualistic ethic is the basis for jihad. The ethical system sets up the unbeliever as less than human and therefore, it is easy to kill, harm or deceive the unbeliever."

    3/27/2008 02:25:00 PM

  54. so Bobal do you think that we should "Treat others as you would be treated." but not if they are Muslims? How should we identify these people so that we know how we should treat them? Arm bands? Some sort of pin? A hat? :-)

  55. It all might be a moot point. The most Amazing Numbers I've ever seen.

    Petrosun starts Commercial Operation. Expects to get 4.4 Million Gallons of Oil, and 110,000 lbs. of biomass (enough for another 4.0 Million Gallons of Ethanol from 1,100 Acres.

    Freak'in Amazin!

  56. That is amazing Rufus. I wish I had some money I could invest, I'd go for some of these companies.

    If I was out to ensnare the world in a totalitarian system, Ash, I wouldn't expect to be treated with kid gloves. I'd probably be surprised, too, at how much funding I could find, and lawyers to take my case, right here in the USA.

  57. I'd make elected officials and all appointees wear hats. Big, colorful outrageous Dr. Seuss hats. Not a hat of shame, no. A hat of mirth. For every one.

    No better encouragement to stop taking them seriously.

  58. Speaking, you know, of identity hats.

  59. Sure would make a perusal of the Reverend's personal library an interesting afternoon.

    That would be interesting. Probably find the works of Louis Farrakhan, in there somewhere. Books about AIDS and conspiracy theories. Maybe books on speechmaking. "Why The White Race Is Destined To Disappear" "Mythmaking 101" "Body Language, Language, and Delivery"

  60. "How To Sucker White Liberals"

    "Canada: Land of Opportunity"

  61. "How To Incorporate Your Business As A Tax Free Church"

  62. Hey, how come Muzzies are never embarrassed by their coreligionists? Or Commies for that matter.

  63. Different rules apply to them, Mat. And,they're so misunderstood too.

  64. Bobal: "By the way, this dualistic ethic is the basis for jihad. The ethical system sets up the unbeliever as less than human and therefore, it is easy to kill, harm or deceive the unbeliever."

    Yeah, all those unbelieving Shi'ites are being killed by believing Shi'ites this week in Basra,

  65. Senator Craig burns the midnight oil for us Idahoans, even though about 80 percent of us wanted him to resign--

    An update on issues important to
    Idaho, the West, and our Nation
    from U.S. Senator Larry Craig enews March 28, 2008 Volume VII, Number 6


    In Idaho, water is a limited resource that we fight over because it is truly the lifeblood of the West. It gives us recreation, power, irrigation and waterways. Water is vital to Idaho, which is why water is the first topic in my current series of editorials about "Idaho Necessities."

    With the remarkable amount of snow we have seen this winter, you may think that Idaho is in the clear, but water is a complicated issue. An unusually warm spring would turn above-average snowpack into above-average spring runoffs. The key to avoiding potential flooding, and utilizing this vital resource to its maximum, depends on our water infrastructure system.

    Unfortunately, many of Idaho's aging local water facilities are struggling just to keep up with new and ever-expanding federal regulations, and this places our communities at risk. I have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to be ready to minimize the damage.

    For assistance in upgrading or replacing aging infrastructure, many small communities depend on another limited resource—federal appropriations. During two recent Senate hearings, in the Environment and Public Works Committee and in the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, I addressed these issues with the Administrator of the EPA.

    In my editorial, Water, Water Everywhere —But Not a Drop to Drink, I outline the common-sense suggestions I offered to Administrator Johnson to help our communities manage our most precious resource.
    about the Idaho Snow Survey from the USDA
    Water, Water Everywhere—But Not a Drop to Drink
    with your views on important issues and priorities


    In light of water shortages and the energy crunch, should the Teton Dam be rebuilt?

    A) Yes

    B) No

    You may prefer to open the online eVIEWS ballot directly in your browser:

    On March 7, subscribers were asked:
    Should the Humane Society be held responsible for delaying the release of the meat processing plant video tape?

    A) Yes [63%, 166 votes]
    B) No [37%, 97 votes]

    Meet Stella

    Southwest Idaho is home to 16 species of raptors, including this falcon named Stella, who visited me in Washington, DC this month.

    Event Details

    “Every American child will owe an additional $27,000 in taxes under this budget as the gross debt climbs by $2 trillion over the
    next five years. ”

    -Make Your Check Payable
    To Uncle Sam,
    March 14, 2008

    More news from the U.S. Senate:

    • Craig Seeks Full Funding of Rural Schools Act -03/26/08
    • Craig Announces Student Congress Selection -03/26/08
    • Craig Says 2nd Amendment Means Americans Have Right to Gun Ownership -03/18/08
    • Make Your Check Payable To Uncle Sam -03/14/08
    • Craig Decries Tax and Spend Budget Passed by Senate -03/14/08
    • Svinicki Headed to Nuclear Regulatory Commission -03/14/08
    • Craig Promotes Housing Stimulus Package -03/07/08
    (Craig says right to privacy in restrooms is mainstay of our system-bob)

    Listen online
    to my interview last week on KFXD Radio with Jon and Chris

    Youth Delegates travel from Idaho
    These are a few of the students who came to Washington, DC as Youth Delegates for the National League of Cities from Caldwell, Nampa and Idaho Falls. We discussed their concerns about school safety and general transportation issues affecting Idaho.
    Learn more about the delegates and see the full group photo.

    Privacy Policy Office Locations Contact Me Forms Library Search my website

  66. Dick Morris

    Hillary’s list of lies
    By Dick Morris
    Posted: 03/25/08 05:04 PM [ET]
    The USA Today/Gallup survey clearly explains why Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is losing. Asked whether the candidates were “honest and trustworthy,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won with 67 percent, with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) right behind him at 63. Hillary scored only 44 percent, the lowest rating for any candidate for any attribute in the poll.

    Hillary simply cannot tell the truth. Here’s her scorecard:

    Admitted Lies

    • Chelsea was jogging around the Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (She was in bed watching it on TV.)
    • Hillary was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. (She admitted she was wrong. He climbed Mt. Everest five years after her birth.)
    • She was under sniper fire in Bosnia. (A girl presented her with flowers at the foot of the ramp.)
    • She learned in The Wall Street Journal how to make a killing in the futures market. (It didn’t cover the market back then.)

    Whoppers She Won’t Confess To

    • She didn’t know about the FALN pardons.
    • She didn’t know that her brothers were being paid to get pardons that Clinton granted.
    • Taking the White House gifts was a clerical error.
    • She didn’t know that her staff would fire the travel office staff after she told them to do so.
    • She didn’t know that the Peter Paul fundraiser in Hollywood in 2000 cost $700,000 more than she reported it had.
    • She opposed NAFTA at the time.
    • She was instrumental in the Irish peace process.
    • She urged Bill to intervene in Rwanda.
    • She played a role in the ’90s economic recovery.
    • The billing records showed up on their own.
    • She thought Bill was innocent when the Monica scandal broke.
    • She was always a Yankees fan.
    • She had nothing to do with the New Square Hasidic pardons (after they voted for her 1,400-12 and she attended a meeting at the White House about the pardons).
    • She negotiated for the release of refugees in Macedonia (who were released the day before she got there).

    With a record like that, is it any wonder that we suspect her of being less than honest and straightforward?

  67. hardeharhar

    Wright is Crucified On A Cross of Gold

    G-Damn America! G-damn greedy white people! G-damn country of two separate peoples!

    hehehe--a gated community no less:)

  68. None of this middle class crap for Reverend Wright. But he should know, Jesus hated hypocrites.

    While it is not uncommon for an accomplished clergyman to live in luxury, Wright’s retirement residence is raising some questions.

    “Some people think deals like this are hypocritical. Jeremiah Wright himself criticizes people from the pulpit for middle classism, for too much materialism,” said Andrew Walsh, Associate Director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life with Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

  69. "FOX News has uncovered documents that indicate Wright is about to move to a 10,340-square-foot, four-bedroom home in suburban Chicago, currently under construction in a gated community."

    What are the gates for? To keep the white man out?

  70. What do you want to bet he hires some illegal help?

    Calling Jeremiah--

    Mark 7:5-7 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

    Matt 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

    Matt 23:27-29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

    Matt 23:5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men."

  71. And a little handy spending money, too--

    But further investigation with tax and real estate attorneys showed that the church had actually secured a $1.6 million mortgage for the home purchase, and attached a $10 million line of credit, for reasons unspecified in the paperwork.

  72. Science educator Roy Gould and Microsoft's Curtis Wong give an astonishing sneak preview of Microsoft's new WorldWide Telescope -- a technology that combines feeds from satellites and telescopes all over the world and the heavens, and weaves them together holistically to build a comprehensive view of our universe.

  73. Hayduke walks. Our local Hayduke was freed when the judge ruled that the deputies didn't have a search warrant for the search of his lean-to in the National Forest. An appeals court have upheld this ruling today. In the National Forest, you can call your tent home.