Saturday, May 12, 2007

Changing politics in Iraq

This is interesting. Apparently SCIRI is moving away from Iranian support to follow Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's biggest Shi'ite party on Saturday pledged its
allegiance to the country's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani,
in a move that would distance it from Shi'ite Iran where it was formed.

The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) said it had
introduced significant policy changes and changed its name to the Supreme
Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) -- dropping the word "Revolution".

Party officials told Reuters on Friday that the changes were aimed at giving
the party more of an Iraqi flavour and to reflect the changing situation in the
country since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

They said the party had been close to Sistani for some time, but a two-day
conference on Baghdad that ended on Friday had formalised relations with the
influential cleric.

"We cherish the great role played by the religious establishment headed by
Grand Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Sistani ... in preserving the unity of Iraq and the
blood of Iraqis and in helping them building a political system based on the
constitution and law," said Rida Jawad al-Takki, a senior group member, who read
out the party's decisions to reporters.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKL1221651520070512?rpc=401&



While it's not clear how this will impact the opposition to American occupation, it will increase SCIRI's strength in parliament.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics?

Gallup has asked Americans whether U.S. involvement in Iraq was a "mistake" in seven polls so far this year. Across these more than 7,000 interviews, an average of 57% have said "yes."

AND THEN:

Did the United States make a mistake in sending troops to Iraq? (by age)

Age:

18-29 Yes - 56% No - 41%
30-39 Yes - 48% No - 50%
40-49 Yes - 52% No - 47%
50-59 Yes - 61% No - 38%
60-69 Yes - 62% No - 37%
70-79 Yes - 70% No - 28%
80+ Yes - 69% No - 26%

I'm glad to be in a group that opposes (overall) this stupid waste of my country's heritage, as well as the monetary future of several generations of American citizens.

From that chart, it looks like if'n you're a young person, you sure as hell think it was a mistake, probably because your ass would be the first to go. Second, if you're an older person (40+), then you've probably already served, or are at least wise enough to see what a folly our Iraqi adventure is, so you're also agin' this "war." But finally, if you're among the eldest (70+), then you're a member of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation", and, you're most against the war. Given that those folks fought an actual war against an actual menace, that's not surprising.

It's kind of sad that then 30-39 age group are pro-war, or more correctly, they don't think the US sending troops to Iraq was a mistake. However, folks in that age group probably began to become politically aware during the Ray-gun (and Bush I) administrations, and they've formed their crappy foreign policy views based on the actions of those administrations.

Driving politics


Found this image over at The Peoples Republic of Seabrook,http://intellectualize.org/, and I couldn't resist "borrowing" it. Thanks, Jack.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The car-free mechanic

I've been living car-free for about 11 years now. This was a very simple choice for me, as I simply don't need one. I used to be in the floor covering business, and needed a truck for work. When I got out of that line of work, I no longer needed a vehicle. I can walk, bike, or bus to anywhere in town, and being single I don't have to drive anyone else around. I made this choice for both environmental and economic reasons.
But today, I get to play mechanic. The long-term houseguest's car has broken down, and she needs me to fix it. It's a 1981 toyota with about 300k miles, so there's a number of problems, but the most pressing is electrical. It's kind of weird, because the car is virtually identical to the car my now ex-wife drove when we first started dating (only older now). Luckily, one of my good friends is a real mechanic with a shop nearby, and he's kindly offered the use of a bay at the shop and an array of tools that I don't have (or don't want to dig out. 11 years without a car can bury tools that I've kept but haven't needed). As an aside, my mechanic friend also lives car- free by choice.
So I'm asking any of you readers out there: Would you live car-free if you could? Do any of you live car-free now?

This weeks boobie

The Friday boobie.
My computer issues aren't quite resolved. In fact they're getting worse. Multiple diagnostics point to a hardware component failing, which would be a bad thing. So for both my readers, I may not be able to post much.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Go Cheney yourself

Cheney tells Maliki "it's game time", like a playoff or something. Great wisdom there. So the previous 4+ years were an exhibition game?
Now here's a delightful little rumor:

May 10, 2007 -- WMR has received a third well-placed confirmation that
Vice President Dick Cheney, while CEO of Halliburton, was a client of the escort service of DC Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. In addition, one of Cheney's closest military advisers and friends was also a client of the DC Madam's Pamela Martin & Associates escort service. Cheney used the escort service while he was a part time resident of the posh Ballantrae section of McLean, Virginia.

After intense pressure from the White House and Disney executives, ABC News killed the DC Madam client story after having been given exclusive access to Palfrey's ten years' of phone call records.

http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/

eeew!


I doubt that he'll face impeachment. After telling a senator to "go fuck yourself" and shooting an old man in the face (and getting the victim to apologize), we can assume that he'll get away with a little prostitution hiring.

added: according to Al-Hayat, a lebanese news service, there was a LOT more serious shelling during Cheney's visit than the American press reported.

استقبلته تظاهرات وقذائف على المنطقة الخضراء... وتفجير شاحنة أمام «وزارة
الداخلية» الكردية في أربيل ... تشيني يحض المالكي على مصالحة البعثيين وواشنطن
تؤكد التمييز بين دمشق وطهران

واشنطن , بغداد - جوي
كرم الحياة
10/05/07//

تراهن الادارة الاميركية على المصالحة بين البعثيين وحكومة نوري المالكي، أي على
«المتمردين» السنة، مفرقة بينهم وبين «الارهابيين الأجانب» وتنظيم «القاعدة».
وانطلاقاً من هذا الفهم لخريطة القوى السياسية العراقية بدأ نائب الرئيس الأميركي
ديك تشيني زيارته لبغداد، حيث استقبل بتظاهرات مضادة
نظمها أنصار الزعيم الشيعي
مقتدى الصدر، وبسيل من القذائف انهمرت على المنطقة الخضراء، حين كان مجتمعاً مع
المالكي الذي استقبله بإعلان تعديل وزاري


Basically, the report claims that the mortar barrage lasted more than an hour, with about 40 blasts in or near the green zone. I don't know if it's true, but since this is a rumor based post I'll pass it on.

(dang, blogger doesn't like arabic)

Can we get out of Iraq?

Had a lengthy discussion last night regarding getting out of Iraq where I was basically pessimistic about the chances under the current administration. Simply put, the Cheney crowd aren't going to budge. But today's news from the Iraqi parliament provides another push in the right direction.

BAGHDAD (AP) - A majority of Iraqi legislators have endorsed a bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and demanding a freeze on the number of foreign troops already in the country.

The legislation was being debated even as U.S. politicians were locked in a dispute with the White House over their call to start reducing the size of the U.S. force in Iraq.

The Iraqi bill, drafted by a parliamentary bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was signed by 144 members of the 275-member house, according to Nassar al-Rubaie, the leader of the Sadrist bloc.

The Sadrist bloc, which sees the U.S.-led forces as an occupying army, has pushed similar bills before, but this was the first time it had garnered the support of a majority of legislators.

The bill would require the Iraqi government to seek approval from parliament before it requests an extension of the UN mandate for foreign forces to be in Iraq, al-Rubaie said. It also calls for a timetable for the troop withdrawal and a freeze on the size of the foreign forces.

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2007/05/10/pf-4168971.html



I doubt that shrub and crew will pay much attention, but it may help strengthen congressional willpower. Also noted that Moqtada al-Sadr is driving this in parliament, further strengthening his political position.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

300

Hey, post #300! Have a picture:

Kuwait stockpiles food

Via Cernig, I see that Kuwait thinks shrub is crazy enough to attack Iran.
KUWAIT, May 9 (Reuters) - Iran's neighbour Kuwait said on Wednesday it had prepared emergency food stocks in case a war breaks out in the Gulf amid tension between Washington and Tehran over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Kuwait, which was a launch pad for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, said last
month it would take "precautionary measures" amid concern of prospects of war between Iran and the West.

State news agency KUNA quoted Trade and Industry Minister Falah al-Hajeri as saying Kuwait had secured necessary food stocks to supply the population in case of a war.

"The ministry has prepared a strategic stock of food to be used in case of a war in the Gulf region as a result of the Iranian nuclear file," he said after the government briefed parliament about its preparations.
http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/CrisesArticle.aspx?rpc=401&storyId=L09153999

I still believe that sanity will prevail, and that war with Iran will be avoided. With the disaster of Iraq, attacking Iran is simply not an option.

The Fort Dix Six

Six wackos wanted to attack a military base? Now that's a plan that could work...not. Last I looked, military bases had soldiers. Armed, trained soldiers. These guys have to be idiots to think that they could take their jihad against America to such a target.
I'd take them much more seriously if they planned to attack the defensless. But it's kinda wierd to see the media hysteria as they report on this story.
(posting has been light, as my computer has been having some issues. My tech skills are being tested as I attempt to resolve them.)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Reagan's Diary

Wow, Vanity Fair is publishing excerpts from St. Ronnie's diary. Interesting reading for those with an interest in political history.Here's a sample:

Mon. June 1 • I approved naval maneuvers in Mediterranean waters that
Qaddafi of Libya has declared are his territorial waters. I'm not being foolhardy but he's a madman. He has been harassing our planes out over international waters & it's time to show the other nations there Egypt, Morocco, et al that there is different management here.

Sun. June 7 • Got word of Israeli bombing of Iraq—nuclear reactor. I
swear I believe Armageddon is near.

Returned to W.H. at 3 p.m. More word on bombing. P.M. Begin informed us after
the fact.

Tues. June 9 • Ended day with an N.S.C. meeting re the bombing of Iraq. P.M. Begin insists the plant was preparing to produce nuclear weapons for use on Israel. If he waited 'til the French shipment of "hot" uranium arrived he couldn't order the bombing because of the radiation that would be loosed over Baghdad.

I can understand his fear but feel he took wrong option. He should have told us & the French, we could have done something to remove the threat.

However we are not turning on Israel—that would be an invitation for the Arabs to attack. It's time to raise H—l world wide for a settlement of the "middle-east" problem. What has happened is the result of fear & suspicion on both sides. We need a real push for a solid peace.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/06/reagan200706?currentPage=1


As those who discuss politics with me know, I got to know Ronald Reagan through my father. I have always stated that he was a much smarter, astute political mind than most on the left ever gave him credit for. I disagreed with almost all of his views, but I respected his intelligence and actually enjoyed debating politics with him.
added: But this line isn't quite brilliant:

I walked into the emergency room and was hoisted onto a cart where I was stripped of my clothes. It was then we learned I'd been shot & had a bullet in my lung.

Getting shot hurts.


Nebraska

Once upon a time, the national guard was there to respond to natural disasters. Not anymore:
Iraq War Hampers Kansas Cleanup

Greensburg, Kansas GREENSBURG,
Kan. (AP)
-- The rebuilding effort in tornado-ravaged
Greensburg, Kansas, likely will be hampered because some much-needed equipment is in Iraq, said that state’s governor.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius said much of the National Guard equipment usually positioned around the state to respond to emergencies is gone. She said not having immediate access to things like tents, trucks and semitrailers will really handicap the rebuilding effort.

The Greensburg administrator estimated that 95 percent of the town of 1500
was destroyed by Friday's tornado.

The Kansas National Guard has about 40 percent of the equipment it is
allotted because much of it has been sent to Iraq.http://www.kcbs.com/pages/424076.php?contentType=4&contentId=472199


Just another fringe benefit from shrub's folly.