Earth Hour was created by WWF [World Wildlife Fund] in Sydney, Australia in 2007, and in one year has grown from an event in one city to a global movement. In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour. More than 100 cities across North America will participate, including the US flagships–Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco and Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I think Maliki attended the Bush school of leadership:
Without mentioning the Sadrists by name, al-Maliki said he was "surprised to see that party emerge with all the weapons available to it and strike at everything — institutions, people, departments, police stations and the army."Let's review the bidding:
Al-Sadr's followers have accused rival Shiite parties in the national government of trying to crush their movement before provincial elections this fall. The young cleric's lieutenants had warned repeatedly that any move to dislodge them from Basra would provoke bloodshed.
But al-Maliki's comments appeared to reinforce suspicions that his government failed to foresee the backlash, including a sharp upsurge in violence throughout the Shiite south and shelling of the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, the nerve center of the Iraqi leadership and the U.S. mission.
Iraq policemen surrendering to Mahdi militiamen ... check (wasn't it supposed to be the other way around?).
U.S. airstrikes destroying Basra to save it ... check.
Iraqi leadership clueless ... check.
American leadership clueless ... check.
A lack of Iraqi popular support for an occupier supported government ... check.
A high level of support for insurgents demanding the withdrawal of occupiers ... check.
Yep, sure sounds like Bush leadership. And who in the world could have foreseen it except maybe a bunch of dirty hippies on the internets? (snark intended). Maliki keeps making statements like this:
Despite the mounting crisis, al-Maliki, himself a Shiite, vowed to remain in Basra until government forces wrest control from militias, including al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. He called the fight for control of Basra "a decisive and final battle."Maliki may eat those words. On the other hand, being from the Bush school of leadership, he can certainly find a way to weasel out of such a flat statement after he gets his butt handed to him.
Posted by Greyhair at 1:24 PM
Friday, March 28, 2008
It seems that no one really knows what's going on in Basra. I've read a whole bunch of explanations, but this one from Juan Cole seems the most plausible:
People are asking me the significance of the fighting going on in Basra and elsewhere. My reading is that the US faced a dilemma in Iraq. It needed to have new provincial elections in an attempt to mollify the Sunni Arabs, especially in Sunni-majority provinces like Diyala, which has nevertheless been ruled by the Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. But if they have provincial elections, their chief ally, the Islamic Supreme Council, might well lose southern provinces to the Sadr Movement. In turn, the Sadrists are demanding a timetable for US withdrawal, whereas ISCI wants US troops to remain. So the setting of October, 2008, as the date for provincial elections provoked this crisis. I think Cheney probably told ISCI and Prime Minister al-Maliki that the way to fix this problem and forestall the Sadrists [c]oming to power in Iraq, was to destroy the Mahdi Army, the Sadrists' paramilitary. Without that coercive power, the Sadrists might not remain so important, is probably their thinking. I believe them to be wrong, and suspect that if the elections are fair, the Sadrists will sweep to power and may even get a sympathy vote. It is admittedly a big 'if.'This, my friends, is the face of Iraq nationalism:
A young Mahdi army militiaman.
That's the problem with popular politicians. They're popular because of what they represent. Sadr represents the only viable Iraq national identity that is resistant to the U.S. occupation. His popularity among millions of young, unemployed Iraqi's can't be fought away. I think this action by Maliki will simply weaken his hand and "reawaken" the Sunni awakening councils who are rearming and awaiting their time to retake the country after the Shiites have torn each other to shreds.
Seems to me we're seeing an unfolding of the pre-war predictions by the dirty hippies ..... a continuous civil war unleashed with the Americans in the middle.
Added: Josh Marshall makes a great point. Perhaps Maliki knows that American support may "dwindle" next year after Bush is gone. So this would be the time to get rid of your enemies, while you've got a mercenary force (Americans) in the country to guarantee you won't lose (notice I didn't say win).
Added: Maliki first said there was a three day deadline. Now he's changed his mind and says he really really really means it this time with a ten day deadline .... and they'll
Posted by Greyhair at 9:06 AM
Hey, it works with the Sunni's in Iraq as long as the cash is flowing .....
The WSJ reports that as foreclosures continue to increase, banks and mortgage companies are increasingly finding that homeowners are taking revenge by trashing their homes before handing over the keys. As a result, many are offering homeowners hundreds, or thousands, of dollars "to put their anger in escrow and leave quietly."Bribery seems to be the new morality.
Posted by Greyhair at 8:47 AM
The fighting continues apace in Iraq with Bush happily pointing out that it's a good thing that the Iraqi's are standing up and providing security in their own country. Except, as usual, it's a lie:
The WP off-leads its Iraq story and says there are hints that U.S. troops are more involved in the fighting than military officials let on. One of the paper's correspondents saw U.S. troops in armored vehicles directly fighting Mahdi Army forces in Sadr City while Iraqi units largely stuck "to the outskirts of the area." Throughout the day, "the din of American weapons" could be heard, and the WP pointedly declares that U.S. troops "took the lead in the fighting." So U.S. forces are getting more involved in the conflict even as one American official admitted that "we can't quite decipher" the situation and figure out why the government decided to act now. But there's a growing consensus that Maliki is firing "the first salvo in the upcoming elections," says the official, who then gives us the understatement of the day: "It's not a pretty picture." U.S. military officials insist American troops are merely playing backup to Iraqi security forces, but commanders with the Mahdi Army say they've been fighting U.S. troops for the past three days.Gee. I wonder why the Americans are stepping in?
That's quite an election campaign that Maliki is running. It would appear that the Iranians have thrown al Sadr under the bus. But given Sadr's immense following, he may not simply go away. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone else have an Iraq quagmire (like Iran?)?
Posted by Greyhair at 8:40 AM
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Ya'all remember Democratic Don Siegleman, the Alabama governor who was targeted by Rove and the Justice Department in a scam to get him prosecuted?
11th Circuit Court of Appeals orders former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman released from prison on bond pending the appeal of his conviction.
Posted by Greyhair at 5:46 PM
There's evidence that the Iraqi government's "military" is getting it's butt kicked, and that open warfare is returning to Baghdad. The Green Zone folks have been told to stay under "hard cover". For me that would mean being anywhere but in Baghdad:
Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.Added: Many are wondering why the U.S. is strongly supporting Maliki, the ISCI and Badr Corps who are much more closely allied with Iran than Sadr?
Why, some wonder, is the U.S. closer to the Iran-backed ISCI and Badr Brigades than it is with the Sadrites? Why does this make sense? Two Baghdad political veterans have ruefully pointed out to Abu Muqawama that while Sadr has more popular support, the ISCI crowd have something more valuable: they speak English. One former State Department veteran with whom Abu Muqawama spoke a few months ago pointed out that former Iraq honcho Meghan O'Sullivan was particularly vulnerable to falling under the sway of those politicians who didn't just speak in that confusing gutteral language where they write from right to left in co-joined letters. Ergo: they speak English, so they must be our friends! Hoo-ray, democracy!Sounds about right for the Bush administration.
Posted by Greyhair at 5:40 PM
Atrios notes a quote from a news story about Iraq and asks, "how'd that happen?":
Col. Abbas al-Tamimi, media officer for the 14th Iraqi Army Division operating in the city, said he expected the fighting to escalate. “The gunmen have heavier and more sophisticated weapons than we have,” he said.Gee, I wonder?
Posted by Greyhair at 1:38 PM
William Arkin has a nice post up today about the military's passive-aggressive defiance of administration policy and makes the case that they've given up on Iraq. This question was particularly interesting:
The pause is an admonishment of President Bush for disagreeing with the professional military as to what is best for the professional military. I worry that the military is undermining civilian authority with its passive-aggressive and self-interested approach. Why aren't our two-million-strong military and our half a trillion dollars enough to sustain 160,000 troops in Iraq and fight a mere counter-insurgency?Arkin's answer is that the military knows Iraq is "unwinable" and is simply waiting out Bush's tenure. Sounds about right to me. Wonder how the soldiers and their families feel about being on the firing line during the next year or two?
Posted by Greyhair at 1:27 PM
Thus far, the civil war in Basra is at a standstill. The Mahdi Army still stands and controls most of the region with Maliki's Army (with prodigious U.S. support) still attacking/threatening. Maliki has given the Mahdi's three days. The Kurds are saying, "huh? What's going on?".
The irony is that the Mahdi's will never lose. If they "win" the battle, it's a big win. If they "lose", they simply dissipate, melting into the populace and live to fight another day on a guerilla front. Meanwhile things deteriorate everywhere else in Iraq.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Posted by Greyhair at 1:21 PM
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Glenn Greenwald has a great post up today about the lousy American media coverage of Iraq, particularly of Iraqi attitude towards the American occupation. In Greenwald's post is a segment from the Charlie Rose show where, despite Rose's best attempts, an honest Iraqi reaction peaks through the media veil.
As Greenwald says, if Americans could see only one piece of video, this would be it. The look on Charlie Rose throughout the interview, and the resignation on his face at the end says it all for any thinking person.
Posted by Greyhair at 10:29 AM
Digby has a great post of up about American militarism, particularly detailing McCain's penchant for following in the neo-con Vulcan footsteps, that I think bears reading.
This graf particularly caught my attention:
The FT article indicates that Europeans are seriously concerned that the US is going to cement its reputation as a rogue superpower by electing McCain. That should be out primary concern above all else in November. Electing McCain will definitely make this country less safe as the rest of the world comes to realize that they are going to have to band together to contain us. Even our allies are skeptical of our motives and a powerful country always breeds suspicion. But there has now been enough distance from 9/11, and Iraq has been such an epic cock-up, that there can be no more question: if the American people validate this policy again, we will have told the world "bring it on." I don't think that makes us stronger or safer, do you?We've already seen evidence of this in the "Eurozone" with economic counter forces.
Like it or not, a clear eye view of American history is rife with rampant aggression. The home of the free and land of the brave is visualized in an image that certainly contains a gun. If the U.S., in it's cultural fear of it's own shadow, continues to indulge that violent side of our natures, someone (or a bunch of someones grouping together i.e. China, Iran, Russia, the Europeans) are going to take on the job of "containing" us.
And rightly so.
Posted by Greyhair at 10:14 AM
"The cease-fire is over; we have been told to fight the Americans," said one Mahdi Army militiaman, who was reached by telephone in Sadr City. This same man, when interviewed in January, had stated that he was abiding by the cease-fire and that he was keeping busy running his cellular phone store.As usual, our crack administration is blaming Iran. Of course, never mind that Iran has much closer ties to the current Iraqi leadership than it does al Sadr. Like John McCain, they all wear rags and are pretty much interchangeable.
Added: Here's an easy-to-follow primer on what's happening in Iraq.
Posted by Greyhair at 10:09 AM
This seems to be the crux of the current Democratic debate:
"You're going to spend this whole summer - and lots of money and time and effort - trying to convince people that whoever isn't eventually nominated, isn't electable. That's a heck of a hole to climb out of come the first of September. What's been going on for the last 90 days just gets worse and worse as the summer goes on."I don't think it's totally true yet, but I believe that as time goes forward it gets more and more true. At some point, party heavy weights are going to have to step in and say basta. And it's highly likely that the recipient of the message will be the Clintons, who may not take it so well.
-- Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), quoted by The Politico.
Posted by Greyhair at 10:01 AM
Here's Krugman on the most recent social security trustees report:
The latest report of the Social Security Trustees is out. I think the key message is what has happened to the estimate of actuarial balance — the difference between projected outlays and projected revenues over the next 75 years. This is the thing that’s supposed to get steadily worse as time goes by, as the 75-year window contains ever fewer years in which the baby boomers are in the work force, paying payroll taxes, and ever more years when the boomers are out of the work force and collecting benefits.
In fact, however, the actuarial balance has been improving rather than worsening. It’s now better than it’s been since 1993. What this tells us is that projections made in the mid-to-late 1990s were, in the light of subsequent revisions, way too pessimistic.
Moral: Social Security’s financial problem is relatively minor. It doesn’t deserve the emphasis it receives from most pundits.
Posted by Greyhair at 9:51 AM
It looks like our very own John McCain is fudging a bit on campaign spending! I just got this via email from Markos and Jane Hamsher:
Dear Friend,Go get em'!
John McCain's campaign spending is breaking the law. He elected for public funding when his campaign was having trouble. But now that he is the presumptive nominee, he is, by his campaign's own admission, around $4 million over his legal spending limit.
I just did my part to stop McCain from breaking the law by signing the official FEC complaint against him.
Please help out by adding your name here:
Posted by Greyhair at 9:05 AM
News you're unlikely to hear on CNBC, Bloomberg or the new Faux business channel:
The WSJ says that recent problems in the markets suggest that we might be in the midst of a "lost decade." The stock market is at the same level it was nine years ago, and many think the period of decline is far from over. Stocks are often referred to as the best long-term investment, but the truth is that over the last nine years, investors would have gotten a bigger return out of Treasury bonds.
Posted by Greyhair at 8:57 AM
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Reading some of today’s news, it suddenly struck me: we’re living in the age of the anti-Cassandra.Boy, isn't that the truth!
Cassandra had the gift of prophecy — she saw, correctly, what was coming — but was under a curse: nobody would believe her.
Today, our public discourse is dominated by people who have been wrong about everything — but are still, mysteriously, treated as men of wisdom, whose judgments should be believed. Those who were actually right about the major issues of the day can’t get a word in edgewise.
Posted by Greyhair at 10:30 AM
Let's do some supposin' for a minute ....
Suppose you're an Iraq insurgent leader. Let's suppose that it's your goal of attaining power, hopefully all of it, in Iraq. Let's suppose that one of the larger obstacles to your goal is the U.S. army that is propping up the current corrupt government. Let's suppose you set on a strategy of waiting out the U.S. while reloading given your knowledge that the U.S. is likely to withdraw in 2009, after Presidential elections.
Now. Let's suppose that you carefully watched a preening cock-of-the-walk John McCain visiting Iraq last week loudly proclaiming impending victory due to the hugely successful "surge", ballyhooing how "peaceful" Iraq has become, and a commitment to continue occupation of Iraq for 100 years. Coincident with the observation, you also happen to notice that the U.S. media has swallowed to Kool-aid on Iraq and is busily covering such earth shaking stories as Ashley Dupre'.
What would you do?
If I sensed there was genuine momentum to continue the occupation in Iraq, I might actually start to insure that Iraq returns to the headlines in the U.S.
Posted by Greyhair at 10:12 AM
The New York Times leads, and the Washington Post off-leads, word that in a videoconference with the top commander in Iraq and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, President Bush was presented a plan that would put a stop to any further troop withdrawals after July.So the "surge", which was to allow a period of time for political reconciliation, is going to result in a net gain of troops permanently stationed in Iraq. And political reconciliation? Zip. Meanwhile, the Mahdi army is getting a bit itchy around Iraq and violence is on a upswing.
Of course, the fundamental flaw is the notion that the escalation caused a reduction in violence. Any reduction in violence that has occurred is a combination of more U.S. troops resulting in an insurgent dispersal, paying off the Sunni's, everyone reloading, and a likely decision by insurgents to lay low until an impending U.S. withdrawal.
Who knows what result Bush's decision will have on the ground in Iraq, but make no mistake that a civil war is going to happen in Iraq ..... sooner or later. To me the only important question is just how many Americans will be in the crossfire.
Posted by Greyhair at 9:25 AM
Monday, March 24, 2008
The LAT goes above the fold with a large picture that reefers a package of stories inside the paper marking the grim milestone that was reached in Iraq yesterday when a roadside bomb pushed the American death toll in the five-year-old war to at least 4,000. Four U.S. soldiers died in that attack on a deadly day when more than 60 Iraqis were killed and the highly guarded Green Zone in Baghdad came under heavy attack. The NYT, which also fronts the story, says that the "intensity of the violence added to the sense that insurgent and sectarian attacks had been on the rise in recent weeks," while the WP is more direct and says yesterday's events "marked an escalation of violence."And just what is there to show for it?
Posted by Greyhair at 9:25 AM
Is this really any surprise?
USA Today leads with police agencies across the country reporting that witnesses of violent crimes are often refusing to cooperate with investigations, which is decreasing the number of solved murders. An FBI spokesman says criminals have been successful in creating "a climate of fear" that leads witnesses to prefer silence in order to prevent retaliation.As Michael Moore pointed out in Bowling For Columbine, the current culture of the U.S. is based on fear. The media perpetuates it and now politicians fuel and exploit it. Is it any wonder that criminals would jump on the bandwagon and successfully use intimidation? Put another way, when was the last time you saw people doing the right thing in the face of intimidation popularized in our culture?
Posted by Greyhair at 9:21 AM
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Go read why Reverend Wrights comments are, at a minimum, no big deal, and why Democrats are showing guts in running their candidates.
I haven't listened to all the comments of Reverend Wright. But I've been to an impassioned sermon led by fundamentalist preachers who use overstatement as a technique for motivation. As with most issues, Wright's comments seem to be essentially true, while hyperbolic.
All his sermon's have done is highlight the different definitions of patriotism ..... meaning those who approach patriotism as "my country can do no wrong" versus those who understand human fallibility and that America ain't (and never has been) perfect, but continue to aspire to the ideals.
Posted by Greyhair at 5:50 PM
We've sure seen a lot of ink, and airwaves, spilled over Reverend Wright and Obama. But how about the nutbar John Hagee and John McCain?
Posted by Greyhair at 10:25 AM