“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."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nouri al-Maliki Making Progress in Iraq

By all indications Nouri al-Maliki seems to be consolidating power and control in Iraq. in the last several months the Shiite militias, al-Qaida and Iran have felt his teeth.

In recent weeks, Iranian officials have complained that Iraq’s Shiite-dominated leadership is bowing too much to Washington. The Iranians are getting testy over Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s crackdowns in the past two months against Iranian backed Shiite militiamen. Tehran is appalled at the accusation that they are accused.

On Thursday, an Iranian diplomatic convoy approached a bridge leading to a Shiite shrine in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah and was shot at by Iraqi forces.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint on the bridge exchanged fire with the convoy’s guards in an argument that broke out when most of the Iranians refused to produce identification cards. This happened while Maliki has been personally supervising an Iraqi operation in Mosul which has rounded up and arrested over 1100 suspected al-Qaida sympathisers and operatives.

Tehran Lambastes US for (attempted?) Assassination of Iranian Diplomats in Iraq

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran blamed the United States on Friday after at least three of its diplomats were wounded in a Baghdad shooting, saying the Americans are encouraging attacks on Iranians in Iraq.

Iran issued a declaration on Friday condemning the attack against four of its diplomats in Iraq, calling the shooting and wounding of its embassy personnel in Baghdad an "assassination attempt".

The Islamic Republic accused US agents for carrying out a criminal action, and reiterated, "Occupation and terrorism are the two main factors of insecurity and instability in Iraq."

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hoseini blamed "distrustful" US security measures for contributing to such incidents.

For the official, the slack and suspicious attitude of the US forces in security affairs has brought about increasing insecurity and nationwide concern.

Hosseini stressed that occupiers have the main responsibility for the security of diplomats and political and international centers established in Iraq.

"The onus is on the occupying forces to ensure security of embassy personnel in Baghdad. The distrustful safety measures taken by US military forces in Iraq have become a serious cause for concern as it is stoking instability in the country," Hosseini said.

"The Islamic Republic is determined to launch extensive investigations on the assassination attempt and will pursue the incident through Iraqi officials," Hosseini added.

The attack was carried out by a group of armed men against two vehicles taking Iranian diplomatic staff to the district of Kadhimiya, where they would visit the Imam Mussa al-Kazem shrine.

The action coincided last nigh with statements against Iran by US President George W. Bush during his Israel visit.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry report said unidentified gunmen in northern Baghdad fired on two SUVs carrying five employees and a driver - all of whom were transported to an Iraqi hospital for treatment.

The US military on Friday said the Iraqi Army found four wounded Iranian nationals in a vehicle near Baghdad on Thursday, and that the Iraqi police are investigating.

Col. Jerry O'Hara, a US military spokesman refuted Iraqi press reports that indicated American forces were involved.


  1. That is one ugly son of a bitch.

  2. Excuse me; I meant to say, "Butt" Ugly.

  3. However, on further reflection, I think I really meant to say, "Butt-F**kin Ugly Sunnofabitch."

  4. Maybe him and Kahlid Sheik Mohammad can star in their own beefcake calendar.

  5. Iran will continue to push and provoke. As long as the US is in Iraq, the Iranian line will be "Iraqi Stooges." Of course, everything would be all right if the Iraqis were Iranian stooges.

  6. If Obama is elected, the first order of business will be convincing him that some people are simply bad (as in evil.) Their interests are antithetical to our interests. They do not subscribe to the same morality and ethics and are not bound by the same honor code. In other words, they cannot be trusted.

    So how does one "talk" to people like Ahmadinejad or Chavez?

    With a big stick and an absolute unfailing, unhesitating will to swing it.

  7. Just looking in but it is a quiet day around here or is it just me?

  8. Sometimes we take time out to meditate Habu, otherwise know as 'quiet time'.

    I agree Whit. Alas Obama will be as hard to talk to as Ahmadinajad. Hopoefully all it will take is four years for the folk to wake up.

    He's going to actually have to do stuff like lower the price of gas, food, etc and pull off the impossible like keeping things together in the mid east without any big stick. Ain't gonna happen.

  9. Talking about cattle ranching--

    Sun 05.18 >>
    Host George Knapp (email) welcomes former cattle rancher turned vegetarian and food safety activist, Howard Lyman. --

    'The Mad
    Cowboy' is on C2C tonight. I've heard this guy before, and if things are as bad as he says, I think we'd all be dead now, and unable to listen to him.

  10. The democrats have themselves all tied up in Knots

    Maybe it will go to the convention, even yet.

  11. bob:
    did you get that camera? Also, you may need to get extra cards. Here's some pretty good deals.

  12. Got the camera. I sent you a few pics of Clinton in Missoula.

    The Ship of Shame from our friends the Chinese has finally arrived in Zimbabwe, to be used to repress the people, what's left of them.

  13. Razor wire goes up atop border fence in San Diego

    Federal authorities in the past have avoided using fortifications with such negative symbolism. Hundreds of miles of barriers going up in other areas have had to meet "aesthetically pleasing" federal design standards.

    Critics say the new approach is inhumane and could leave illegal immigrants bloodied.

    Border officials in San Diego say it was necessary and already is proving effective.

  14. critics say it disregards immigrants' safety

    Not if they don't try to cross.

  15. bob:
    I didn't get your pics. It may be that they are too large to email and the email didn't actually go through.

  16. Nikon D60--spendy but probably worth it, long desired.

  17. bob said:
    "not if they don't try to cross."

    That's exactly what I thought when I read that the critics say it can leave them bloody.

    I say "bloody hell, look what this country has come to."

  18. hmmm--I have been having trouble with e-mails. I'll--ask my daughter!

  19. After you have transferred the pics t o a directory on the computer, right click on a picture and select send to>email recipient. You'll see a dialog box where the default is to "make the pictures smaller."

    You can highlight several pictures at once and then right-click.

  20. Of course, when you're at the EB, you can also click on the Orange B at the upper left and learn the steps to post them yourself.

  21. They were making a big deal about the judges' decision in California allowing same-sex marriage last night on KGO, saying it was a matter of 'equal protection of the laws'. Well, under the old way, as a hetero, I was equally barred from marrying a man, just like the gay fellow.

    The opposition in California has or is in the process of submitting enough signatures to put the matter to a vote of the people again, this time as a state constitutional amendment, which, if passed, would trump the ruling of the judges. I don't know if it requires a simple majority, a super majority, or what, to make a change in the constitution in California. The pundits are saying it is good for McCain, in any event, as it will probably bring out some voters who otherwise might have stayed home.

  22. Right, I kinda tried that--will get together with my helper and try it again.

  23. And if it's equal protection under the laws in th KGO sense, then I'm back to my fictional desire to marry my sister. All that is stopping me are some outdated cultural ways from long ago.

    This is a slippery slope and I hope the voters of California put an end to it.

  24. The death toll in China is estimated at more than 50,000.
    With more bodies discovered, the confirmed death toll rose to 32,476, the State Council, China's cabinet, reported. The injured numbered more than 220,000.

    Many bodies lay by roadsides in body bags or wrapped in plastic sheeting, as authorities struggled to deal with the sheer number of corpses by digging burial pits and working crematoriums overtime.

    The World Health Organization warned that shortages of clean water and warmer, humid weather in Sichuan province — which bore the brunt of the earthquake — were ripe for epidemics. It urged officials not to be distracted by the false belief that corpses were a health threat.

    I'll never forgive the bastards that made Hurricane Katrina such an issue.
    Katrina timeline:
    Sunday noon. LA govt announces evac order
    Monday: Katrina strikes NOLA.
    Monday at dusk: first helicopter video.
    Tuesday: Levy break floods NOLA.
    Friday: Everyonehas been evacuated.

  25. Whit: Of course, when you're at the EB, you can also click on the Orange B at the upper left and learn the steps to post them yourself.

    I'm still looking to get my job back as a deputy barkeep here at the EB. One post a day on a wide variety of topics. I don't even need to go through OJT and it would solve the shaky email situation.

  26. Bobal: And if it's equal protection under the laws in th KGO sense, then I'm back to my fictional desire to marry my sister.

    Bobal, the more you talk about your fictional desire for your sister, the less fictional it becomes for me. :-)

  27. This camera's got more buttons than I can list. It's got one in a place where I don't see how either God nor man can reach it. You'd have to have a toothpick to move it.

  28. Bobal, give it to a lady qualified to perform surface mount soldering. You harvester drivers have your place, and we have ours.

  29. There's a little button here called the 'diopter adjustment control'--which sounds kinda dinosauerian--located right behind the eye piece, imposstible to get to. It must do something, or it wouldn't be there, I'd think, but I'm not sure what it does.

    On the other hand it's got neat little symbols--lady in hat, clouds, flower, athelete,etc. that I can understand.

    If you are taking a picture of a flower, you put it on 'flower'.

  30. I'd be happy to see some of T.'s posts.

  31. An Iraqi court has sentenced an al Qaeda leader to death for the March murder of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho.

    The Iraqi Central Criminal Court imposed the death sentence on Ahmed Ali Ahmed, known as Abu Omar, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement, Reuters reports.

    Mosul Archbishop Rahho was abducted on February 29 after gunmen attacked his car and killed his driver and two guards. His body was found in a shallow grave two weeks later.

    Bishop Murder

  32. Congratulations on the barkeep job, Bob.

  33. We're trying to set bobal to chronicle his great trans-continental journey this summer.

  34. A-ha. That's why all the talk of the cameras.

  35. re: bobal's new Nikon 60.

    As we say here in the south, "You caint hide money."

  36. Obama's making progress in Portland, Oregon

    As we say here in the south, "You caint hide money. :)

    On the other hand, we drive an old used car, eat at McDonald's and don't turn the air conditioner on till the sweat drips.:)

  37. Many residents complain of heavy-handed army tactics.

    "These guys don't care about anything," Lalo Lucero, 44, a former migrant worker in New Mexico, said as he watched soldiers detain a neighborhood youth. "They came into my house without a warrant, searched through everything and told me to sit on a couch and not say anything."

    The army's public relations office did not reply to requests for comment. But authorities have tried to improve the troops' image by blanketing Ciudad Juarez with pictures of a soldier manning a machine gun and the slogan "We Are Here to Help You."

    Army Tactics

  38. Here's a simple internet symbol you might want to save for future use--

    ........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...')
    ..........''...\.......... _.·´

    from the comments in the Portland, Oregon story.

  39. sam found a jem

    "It's almost like a military fight," said Jayson Ahern, the deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "I don't think that generally the American public has any sense of the level of violence that occurs on the border."
    In Ciudad Juarez, police have been given assault rifles -- they used to just carry pistols -- but also are instructed not to patrol streets alone. More than 100 of the city's 1,700-member force have resigned or retired since January.

    Soldiers are also in the cartels' sights. The Zetas, an infamous group of soldiers who became drug hit men, strung banners above highways with slogans such as "The Zetas want you -- we offer good salaries to soldiers," and taunts about low army pay.

    The conflict has become a battle for loyalty on several levels.

  40. Obama said McCain has benefited from a Republican nomination process that ended early while the Democratic race continues. He said the attention both candidates receive will grow more intense as the race settles into an Obama-McCain contest.

    "It's very understandable that the press has focused on myself and Senator Clinton because it's been a pretty exciting race," Obama said. "The fact is that the press will submit him to the same scrutiny they are giving to me."

    "People will lift the hood and kick the tires with John McCain, just like they do with me," he said, who traveled Sunday with his wife, Michelle.


  41. Here's a couple more--

    | |
    | |
    |>~ | |
    /'\| |/'\..
    /~\| | | | \
    | =[@]= | | \
    | | | | | \
    | ~ ~ ~ ~ |` )
    | /
    \ /
    \ /
    \ _____ /
    | (( +==)) |


    . ............_. ,-´``;
    . . . . . . . . . .,`. . .`-----´..
    . . . . . . . . . .,. . . . . .~ .`- .
    . . . . . . . . . ,´. . . . . . . .o. .o__
    . . . . . . . . _|. . . . . . . . . . . . (#)
    . . . . . . . _. ´`~-.. . . . . . . . . .,´
    . . . . . . .,. .,.-~-.´ -.,. . . ..´--~` OBAMA 2008
    . . . . . . /. ./. . . . .}. .` -..,/
    . . . . . /. ,´___. . :/. . . . . .
    . . . . /´`-.|. . . `´-..´........ . .
    . . . ;. . . . . . . . . . . . .)-.....|
    . . .|. . . . .´ ---........-´. . . ,´
    . . .´,. . ,....... . . . . . . . . .,´
    . . . .´ ,/. . . . `,. . . . . . . ,´
    . . . . .. . . . . .. . . .,.- ´
    . . . . . ´,. . . . . ´,-~´`. ;. . . . . ..,=======,
    . . . . . .|. . . . . ;. . . /__. . . . . . .......... . . /
    . . . . . /. . . . . /__. . . . .). . . . . . . ..... . . /
    . . . . . ´-.. . . . . . .)----~´. . .. . .\______/
    . . . . . . .´ - .......-`

    People must put in a lot of time on these.

  42. via JPOST

    'US must condition friendships on efforts to stop Iran'
    Pelosi said the US needed to be more "proactive" in saying to the countries of the world - including Russia, China and the Muslim countries in Asia - that "one of the pillars of US foreign policy is to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to anyone."

    The US needed to make it clear to everyone, including the Europeans, that their polices on this issue would be a term of friendship with the US, and a measuring stick of benefits they could derive from that friendship, she said.

    The US cannot stop nuclear proliferation alone, Pelosi said, adding that "if these weapons proliferate, they are a threat to everyone, not just to the US, and not just to Israel."

  43. via Jpost

    'We have no moral obligation to Israel'

    The directors of OMV, the largest oil and gas company in Central Europe, were asked uncomfortable questions on Wednesday about the moral and financial propriety of the €22 billion deal OMV signed in April 2007 to produce liquefied natural gas from Iran's South Pars gas field.
    OMV sees time as an ally and is waiting for "political change in the USA," Ruttenstorfer said in response to questions about sanctions against Iran at the stockholder meeting.
    He declined to comment on whether OMV's gas deal would violate the US Iran Sanctions Act, which prohibits large energy investments in Iran and spells out penalties for conducting more than $20 million of annual business in Iran's energy sector.

    OMV spokesman Thomas Huemer told the The Jerusalem Post that "OMV as a company does not have a moral responsibility toward a particular state."

    OMV principal shareholder (31.5%) is the Austrian state.

  44. Nancy said something that made sense?

  45. Bob,

    Upload them pics to picasa. You can set the collections as private or public according to need.

  46. Well I got them on Picasa but can't figure how to get them here, Mat. I'm an idiot at this stuff.

  47. eg.

  48. "They understand that to build and then to expand a majority you can't have — in a diverse country and a diverse party — a one-size-fits-all template for a candidate," said Bill Galston of the Brookings Institute and a former chief domestic adviser to President Clinton.

    "Once a party breaks through in a previously unavailable district, they then really focus hard on pouring reinforcements into the beachhead, trying to hold it against what no doubt will be a carefully targeted onslaught [by the opposition], and doing that means paying some really specific attention to district-level needs of these new members."

    House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland also downplayed the political differences between his new Southern colleagues and the rest of the Democratic Caucus, saying they all share the party's concern over fiscal responsibility and balancing the federal budget.

    Whistling Dixie

  49. Here's your socialist future folks--

    OBAMA: 'We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK'...


  50. The New York Post reports that the Obama campaign's external online director, Scott Goodstein, emailed Ray Noland, telling him that "we think what you're doing expresses the true emotion of the campaign." The Post also reports that a mural made by graffiti artist "Kofie'One" is now in L.A.'s Generation Obama headquarters.

    But whatever small confidences the campaign has doled out, for most of the radical/progressive artists their Obama ministry is a labor of love. The artists believe that Obama really does represent something new in American politics.

    For the Bolshevik-constructivist, skate-punk crowd, he is the one they've been waiting for.

    Let a Thousand Posters Bloom

  51. A soldier used the Quran -- Islam's holy book -- for target practice, forcing the chief U.S. commander in Baghdad to issue a formal apology on Saturday.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, flanked by leaders from Radhwaniya in the western outskirts of Baghdad, apologized for the staff sergeant who was a sniper section leader assigned to the headquarters of the 64th Armored Regiment. He also read a letter of apology by the shooter.

    It was the first time the incident -- which tested the relationship between U.S.-backed Sunni militiamen and the military -- was made public since it was discovered May 11.

    Military Apologizes