Saturday, May 26, 2007


Someone signed me up on the email lists for Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter. I'm assuming it was a prank, as my political views are pretty clear:

I confronted the person I thought was the most likely suspect, who laughed. He did think it was a great prank, and began signing his left-wing friends up, and signing his right-wing friends onto Dennis Kucinich and Hillary Clinton's email lists.

So, readers, is this a good prank? Or is it rude?
p.s. I'm finding both Hunter and Tancredo quite amusing.

A late Friday Boobie

Sorry for the delay. Tech central is working full time on my glitch.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

system crash

Sorry about the lack of posts-my computer seems to crash within minutes of logging in to blogger. I'm working on it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New propaganda

So the Cheney wing managed to spew some more anti-Iranian propaganda. Planted in the Guardian:
Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.

"Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government].",,2085195,00.html

This is ridiculous. Juan Cole shoots the whole thing down in one paragraph.

I suppose I have to link to this silly article by poor Simon Tisdall in of all places, The
, whom someone is using to push a sinister agenda. Yes, its sources are looney in positing a coming offensive jointly sponsored by Iran, the Mahdi Army and al-Qaeda. Anyone who reads IC regularly will see immediately holes in this story. At a time when Sunni Arab guerrillas are said to be opposing "al-Qaeda inMesopotamia" for its indiscriminate violence against Iraqis, including Shiites, we are now expected to believe that Shiite Iran is allying with it. And, it claims that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are shelling the Green Zone. The parliament building that was hit to day by such shelling is dominated by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and its paramilitary, the Badr Organization. Who trained Badr? The Iranian Revolutionary Guards. And they are trying to hit their own guys . . . why? By the way, the US has 16,000 suspected insurgents in custody. Tisdall should ask how many of them are Iranian. (Hint: close to none. What, do they just run faster than the others?) The article even traffics in the ridiculous assertion that Iran is backing hyper-Sunni,
Shiite-killing Taliban in Afghanistan. Why not just cut to the quick and openly
say that Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei is in reality . . . Satan! It really
is discouraging that Tisdall didn't report instead on what crazy things the US
military spokesmen in Iraq told him. US military spokesmen have been trying to
push implausible articles about Shiite Iran supporting Sunni insurgents for a
couple of years now, and with virtually the sole exception of the New York Times, no one in the journalistic community has taken these wild charges seriously. But The Guardian?

P.S. not much posting-the old computer seems to need the sledgehammer treatment.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

al-Sadr the moderate?

I've posted before on the possible role of Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq's future. My bar-buddy "Ducky" often accuses me of being enamored of al-Sadr, but I'm not. I do try to look objectively at the Iraqi political landscape, and I see al-Sadr as a likely victor. Via Cernig,, this article from the WaPo seems to agree. Note that he's no longer "radical".
The 33-year-old populist is reaching out to a broad array of Sunni leaders, from
politicians to insurgents, and purging extremist members of his Mahdi Army militia who target Sunnis. Sadr's political followers are distancing themselves from the fragile Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which is widely criticized as corrupt, inefficient and biased in favor of Iraq's majority Shiites. And moderates are taking up key roles in Sadr's movement, professing to be less anti-American and more nationalist as they seek to improve Sadr's image and position him in the middle of Iraq's ideological spectrum.

"We want to aim the guns against the occupation and al-Qaeda, not between Iraqis," Ahmed Shaibani, 37, a cleric who leads Sadr's newly formed reconciliationcommittee, said as he sat inside Sadr's heavily guarded compound here.

"Our retreating from the government is one way to show we are trying to work for the welfare of Iraq and not only for the welfare of Shiites," said Salah al-Obaidi, a senior aide to Sadr. He said the time was "not mature yet" to form a bloc that could challenge Maliki, who came to power largely because of Sadr's support.

I don't see al-Maliki lasting much longer. His support has fractured in the face of the ongoing violence. al-Sadr has a huge base of support amongst the Shia, and if he can build a working relationship with the Sunni's he'll be Iraq's next leader.
Sadr senses an opportunity in recent moves by Sunni insurgent groups to break
away from militants influenced by al-Qaeda, and in the threats by the largest Sunni political bloc to leave the government, which opens the possibility for a new cross-sectarian political alliance, his aides said.

If the sectarian war can be stopped, if the Mahdi Army and Sunni insurgent groups can join hands and break al-Qaeda in Iraq, there will be less reason for U.S. forces to stay, said Shaibani, wearing a black dishdasha, a traditional loose-fitting tunic, and
clutching a Nokia cellphone during an interview in late April. "The American
argument is we can't have a timetable because of al-Qaeda," he said. "So we're
going to weaken al-Qaeda for you."

Sadr's political followers have had informal talks with Sunni politicians and insurgent groups in the past month. "We think there is some possibility to have a closer relationship," said Hussein al-Falluji, a legislator in the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni political bloc.

Abu Aja Naemi, a commander in the 1920 Revolution Brigades, said Sadr's representatives have had informal discussions with his group.

The Sadrists, like most Sunnis, are against the idea of creating autonomous regions. They share concerns over the fate of the contested oil-rich city of Kirkuk, division of oil revenue and the need for Iraq's constitution to be amended.

It would be an interesting quirk of history if the "anti-American" al-Sadr ended up helping create an environment that allowed America to withdraw from Iraq? As always,, has the best coverage.

Sudarsan Raghavan of WaPo reports that Muqtada al-Sadr has made a major political shift. He is said to be purging from the leadership ranks of his Sadr II Bloc
any extremists who target Sunni Arabs in general as opposed to "al-Qaeda." He is
reaching out for a political alliance with Sunni Arabs of a nationalist sort, and deserting the ineffective al-Maliki government. He may well be maneuvering
to have a Sadrist PM succeed al-Maliki if the latter's government falls, though
sources close to him say any such Sadrist government is a ways off. reports in Arabic that the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila), Shiite rival to the Sadrists, has also been negotiating with the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni
fundamentalist) in hopes of forming a new pan-Islamic political block.

Flynt on Falwell

This was an interesting take on Jerry Falwell from Larry Flynt in the LA Times:
THE FIRST TIME the Rev. Jerry Falwell put his hands on me, I was stunned. Not
only had we been archenemies for 15 years, his beliefs and mine traveling in different solar systems, and not only had he sued me for $50 million (a case I lost repeatedly yet eventually won in the Supreme Court), but now he was hugging me in front of millions on the Larry King show.

It was 1997. My autobiography, "An Unseemly Man," had just been published, describing my life as a publisher of pornography. The film "The People vs. Larry Flynt" had recently come out, and the country was well aware of the battle that Falwell and I had fought: a battle that had changed the laws governing what the American public can see and hear in the media and that had dramatically strengthened our right to free speech.

King was conducting the interview. It was the first time since the infamous 1988 trial that the reverend and I had been in the same room together, and the thought of even breathing the same air with him made me sick. I disagreed with Falwell (who died last week) on absolutely everything he preached, and he looked at me as symbolic of all the social ills that a society can possibly have. But I'd do anything to sell the book and the film, and Falwell would do anything to preach, so King's audience of 8 million viewers was all the incentive either of us needed to bring us together.

Everyone was shocked at our victory — and no one more so than Falwell, who on the day of the decision called me a "sleaze merchant" hiding behind the 1st Amendment.
Still, over time, Falwell was forced to publicly come to grips with the reality that this is America, where you can make fun of anyone you want. That hadn't been absolutely clear before our case, but now it's being taught in law schools all over the country, and our case is being hailed as one of the most important free-speech cases of the 20th century.

No wonder that when he started hugging me and smooching me on television 10 years later, I was a bit confused. I hadn't seen him since we'd been in court together, and that night I didn't see him until I came out on the stage. I was expecting (and looking for) a fight, but instead he was putting his hands all over me. I remember thinking, "I spent $3 million taking that case to the Supreme Court, and now this guy wants to put his hand on my leg?"

Soon after that episode, I was in my office in Beverly Hills, and out of nowhere my secretary buzzes me, saying, "Jerry Falwell is here to see you." I was shocked, but I said, "Send him in." We talked for two hours, with the latest issues of Hustler neatly stacked on my desk in front of him. He suggested that we go around the country debating, and I agreed. We went to colleges, debating moral issues and 1st Amendment issues — what's "proper," what's not and why.

In the years that followed and up until his death, he'd come to see me every time he was in California. We'd have interesting philosophical conversations. We'd exchange personal Christmas cards. He'd show me pictures of his grandchildren. I was with him in Florida once when he complained about his health and his weight, so I suggested that he go on a diet that had worked for me. I faxed a copy to his wife when I got back home.

The truth is, the reverend and I had a lot in common. He was from Virginia, and I was from Kentucky. His father had been a bootlegger, and I had been one too in my 20s before I went into the Navy. We steered our conversations away from politics, but religion was within bounds. He wanted to save me and was determined to get me out of "the business."

My mother always told me that no matter how repugnant you find a person, when you meet them face to face you will always find something about them to like. The more I got to know Falwell, the more I began to see that his public portrayals were caricatures of himself. There was a dichotomy between the real Falwell and the one he showed the public.

He was definitely selling brimstone religion and would do anything to add another member to his mailing list. But in the end, I knew what he was selling, and he knew what I was selling, and we found a way to communicate.

[Larry Flynt, L.A. Times]

While I found Falwell hateful and Flynt shameless, it's interesting that the two could accept each other and form a bond.