Saturday, June 24, 2006

Instahoglets 24th Jun 04

Wherein Newshog continues to be a drop in the ocean of opinion on various stories, both big and small. Lying Bastard Fatigue sets in so easily, and now that they have a whiff of power the Dems cause almost as much of it as the Repugs do.

  • Heard about the clampdown in Baghdad? The new PM there has announced a state of emergency in the city after violent clashes. What you may not have heard if you only follow the tame American media is that the clashes concerned were a three-way free for all. Sunni insurgents vs US/Iraqi army units then the Shia al-Mahdi militia arrived and started shooting at all and sundry. This just outside the Green Zone. There goes the pretense that this much-vaunted security operation was going to be a last corner to turn.

  • Meanwhile, even the Iraqi national security advisor is perpetuating the myth, so beloved of both Demlicans and Republicrats, that the US can withdraw from Iraq if it can just make the streets safe again. Welcome to the Satrapy of Iraq, folks - the coalition cannot withdraw until the Iraqi military can not only hold its own against an insurgency or militias but also present at least some deterrent to a full-blown invasion by a neighbouring nation like Syria or Iran. That's an essential part of true sovereignty and anything else is smoke and mirrors. There are NO plans right now to give Iraq that military or anything close to it and the present plans won't be looked at until at least 2010. Them's the facts, get used to them.

  • In Afghanistan too, despite the largest anti-Taliban offensive there since the invasion, things head from bad to worse. Afghan President Karzai is getting increasingly anxious for his position because US-led forces are more interested in airstrikes and soot-em-upos than in actually convincing common Afghans that the new order is a better option than the resurgent Taliban who have the tacit support of Pakistani intelligence. You see, it remains true that there are 20,000 Taliban and Al Qaida trained militia in just the Pakistani city of Karachi, so killing 600 or so Taliban cannon-fodder along with a whole slew of civilians just isn't going to cut it. Doing something about the way Afghanistan has been sidelined for money and support by the Iraqi debacle just might.

  • Blah3 - an excellent group blog I heartily recommend - has the big question on the "Miami terror plot". They ask "is there any there, there"...and I have to say I don't think there was. The whole thing was an FBI construction, with even an FBI official admitting that the plotters were "more aspirational than operational." The guy they thought was an Al Qaida operative giving them all their big ideas and promising money was an FBI operative. Oh, and it looks like they were some mixed-up bunch of homegrown cultists rather than Islamist extremists.

    To call the administration's press spin on these arrests careless and cynically xenophobic fearmongering is, I fear, to use inadequate language in describing their motives... but I try really hard not to use a lot of profanity in blogging.

  • Paul Harris at the Guardian nails it : "A culture of fear has entered into American public and private life, especially because there is a lot of money to be made out of it." A must-read analysis of some uncomfortable truths about 'fraidy-cat America and the people making moolah from terrah.

  • Utterly unmentioned by the tame US press as they support Bush's rhetoric of confrontation with Iran is the story of moderate Hashemi Rafsanjani's efforts to do an end run around Ahminutjob and the hardliners by positioning himself to become the next supreme leader when the post is vacated by the current incumbent, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    Maybe, just maybe, America would do well to wait and see if what appears to be an indigenous moderate groundswell in Iran bears fruit - rather than working to forcibly hand power to a bunch of Chalibi-like expatriates who often seem to have money as a major motivating factor or to an avowedly Maxist/Islamist terror group with a leader who thinks he is the new Moslem Messiah. Just an idea.

  • Ah well, at least there's good news - Richard Perle is pissed. Given his record, anything Perle thinks is a bad idea is probably worth trying.

  • Smintheus builds on his excellent work concerning GOP "Cleaner" David Laufman's nomination as Pentagon IG in a close look at the way Pat Roberts is blocking completion of the Senate's report on the use of intelligence in the run up to the Iraqi war. One of Laufman's tasks is surely to make certain anything embarrassing is buried forever. (Of course, Roberts is refusing to even begin any investigation of the reliability of intelligence about Iran's supposed nuclear weapons program until the Iraq report is done. So expect a "cleaned" report three years after the bombs drop yet again.)

  • Here's a fun one, yet another episode of Muppets in Powerrrrrr. Abramoff in the news again as AP tells a sordid tale of "pay per view" politics. Grover Norquist and Karl Rove also get namechecks as the tale unfolds. Seems Jack told all and sundry - in emails that the AP now has - that contributing to Grover would get them access to Karl and thus to other administration figures. Both Grover and Karl deny it, of course.

  • Over in the UK, we have the unusual and embarrassing spectacle of a wannabe leader moving further to the Right because of his own boss rather than because of the opposition party. Check out this excellent analysis from "urban drift" blog. Some of it sounds ominously familiar for American readers.
    Triangulation means the betrayal of the core party supporters on the left. They are vulnerable because they have no choice but to vote for the party, while of course the party has much to gain by way of votes from the middle in moving rightwards...Would non-voting be a rational response? The theory says no. It predicts that the firm left voter is trapped into continuing to vote for the party as it would be irrational to vote for other party and hence usher in an abhorrent government...It would be rational not to vote...only if the difference in utility arising from the two parties' agendas in government is smaller than the loss of utility from said party’s failure to implement promises.
    How much confidence do you have that the Dems will implement their promises (implied and overt) on foreign aggression, on social compacts and poverty alleviation, on rolling back the President as King meme? How much do you think they will end up just like the Republicans? C'mon, be honest.

  • There's a lot of noise about the Bush administration's secret program to tap into international bank transfer data. I don't know enough to say for sure that the program is illegal under US law, although Arlen Specter seems to think it probably is. However, SWIFT transfers are run from Belgium, and I suspect it is an unwarranted (literally) invasion of privacy under European human rights laws.

    However, the Counterterrorism blog points out that it isn't exactly new news and has been on the UN website since 2002 - and that Al Qaida changed their tactics at least that long ago so that they wouldn't get caight by the program.

    Which begs a couple of "why did Bushco want it kept quiet if it was already a matter of public record?" and "if they aren't using it to spy on Al Qaida who are they using it to spy on" and "do the Malkinite hordes mindlessly cheerleading Dick Cheney about the NYTimes breaking national security by re-reporting four year old news feel stupid yet?".

    P.S. I haven't said a word about the various goings on centered around the Kos/TNR feud yet. That's because I can't quite figure out how to say what I want to without just writing "DUMBASSES" over and over again. I just don't see an upside for the Dems on this one, no matter who is in the right or by how much. Maybe later.
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