Friday, August 29, 2003
The attack itself was the most squalid of crimes. The attackers, either Ba'athists or Al Qaeda, went right after a soft target and set the bomb off in such a way as to cause maximum civilian casualties. The car bomb exploded right as men were coming out of Friday prayers. Later in the day, after the dead and the wounded had been unearthed near the Ali Mosque, doctors at the local teaching hospital confirmed at least 75 dead and at least double that number wounded. Coalition troops were not involved in the rescue efforts, as the American command had been asked by the clerics to withdraw their forces from the city limits.
What this does do, of course, is increase instability in Iraq in the short run. It will also lead to a spate of vendetta killings, as partisans of Hakim take the opportunity to settle old scores with rival Shi'a. It may also lead to some Shi'a-Sunni sectarian violence, as many Shi'a suspect that Saddam's Ba'athists or the Wahabist fanatics of al-Qaeda had something to do with this. Iraq is not a part of the world where people sit down in an encounter group and talk out their feelings. Nope. Blood will be shed.
However, as with the UN bombing of a week ago, I suspect that even more Iraqis will come forth to identify the local "Saudi" or "Yemeni" who looks out of place in their neighborhood. The Iraqis are going to come to the conclusion that the other Arabs are not only trying to keep them poor, stupid, and enslaved under the boot-heel of fascism, but are also trying to kill them, as well.
A couple of things we need to cover as we head into the weekend.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are thinking of jumping into the race before their protege, Howard Dean, runs away with the nomination. This would be a mistake for Hillary, and I do not believe she will go up against George W. Bush.
Despite his present "vulnerability" (and I put that in quotes deliberately), the President still remains in firm command of the electoral map. Recent Zogby and Newsweek polls showing Bush in the low fifties got Washington Democrats very excited. Then Gallup came out a couple of days ago and showed Bush holding steady at 59%. At this time in his father's term, Bush the elder was dropping like a rock. Not so Bush the Younger. He's got the staying power that his father never had.
If she goes up against Bush and gets hammered nationwide, she becomes damaged goods for 2008. She's a smart politico, and I believe she will hold her tongue for this election.
Meanwhile, in California, Schwarzenegger got pasted by a 1977 interview with Oui magazine, an old porn rag. I'm not sure why people think that this is important. Most Californians will ignore it, save for some of the bluenoses who weren't going to vote for Arnold anyway.
Finally, in a Shiite vs. Shiite affair, someone set of a car bomb near the Ali Mosque in Najaf, in southern Iraq. It killed a prominent Shi'a cleric and will cause more difficulties as the occupation authority figures out what to do with the political fallout from this assassination.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Pilger did several gladhand trips to Iraq back in the Old Days, when Saddam was off building autobahnen to connect one Palace to the other. Here's a sign he got the Potemkin Villiage Tour...
When I travelled the length of Iraq several years ago, I felt completely safe.
I was received everywhere with generosity and grace, even though I was from a country whose government was bombing and besieging my hosts.
One of the things I strongly suspect is that Pilger got the same kind of treatment that Walter Duranty got when he went to the Soviet Union in the 1930's. Duranty was sent to report on the goings on in Moscow for the New York Times, and is best known for his infamous summation of his time in Stalin's empire during the Blood Purge: "I have seen the future, and it works." Pilger did the tour in the Phony Peace era of the 1990's. His inability to see the monstrosity of what was in front of his own eyes is a testimony to the abilities of the Iraqi beauracracy. For men such as Pilger, and to a slightly lesser extent Fisk, there could never be enough Iraqi dead to justify the destruction of a psychotic mass killer such as Saddam. For the European Left has made its decision: the fault lies with the United States and Israel, not the greatest mass killer in Arab history.
It is times like these that I thank the Good Lord that we have a man at the helm who pays little heed to the moral cowards of the day. Men such as Pilger bring to mind Orwell's declaration of early 1941, when confronted by a similar moral question in the person of Hitler:
"To be a Pacifist is to be objectively pro-Nazi."
Meanwhile, the National Organization for Women has chosen to put its considerable energies behind the campaign of one Carole Mosely Braun. I cannot understand what drives white liberal professional women to do something this stupid, given the fact that the Braun campaign's national level of support might be able to fill a phone booth. But there you have it. Anyway, I found the story posted in yesterday's San Jose Mercury News, for anyone who is interested in the doings of the only politician John Edwards is capable of beating.
Speaking of Iraq, I suspect that the Administration's counteroffensive is about to get underway. During the dog days, GW is off at the Ranch and other folk are on vacations of one form or another. Meanwhile, reporters have become bored with the high life of beautiful downtown Crawford, Texas, so they'd rather concentrate on Bush's "collapse" of support in the latest Zogby poll (Bush is at 52%, about where Reagan was in, say, 1983). In recent days, however, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and the President have begun the necessary rhetorical groundwork for the defense of the Iraq campaign and the necessity of that campaign in the larger war on terrorism.
Part of the problem is that, since it's August, the Administration allowed the rhetorical initiative to shift to its political enemies. Now that September is here and the campaign season is but a few months off, the Administration should move into high gear to retake the intellectual initiative in the Iraq argument. One of the things that the Administration needs to do is the obvious: reiterate the need for the Occupation and the necessity to reconstruct that prostrate nation. Bush needs to remind the American people that sacrifices in blood and treasure will be needed to make this thing work. Hopefully the Administration will outline the benefits of an Iraqi democracy in the future. The American people will understand if it is explained to them. They are made of sterner stuff than liberals suspect.
One of the things that will help the Administration in the political struggle is David Kay's report on the Iraqi WMD program. There are rumors going around Washington that Kay's report will shut the door on the debate, and leave many Democrats with some explaining to do. As mentioned in one of my earlier blog entries, the connection with al Qaeda is also something that many conservatives are hoping to be revealed.
Then there's Arnold Schwarzenegger.
You just have to love this guy. While not as forbidding as Condi Rice (see above), Arnold has become quite a political figure in these past few weeks. One of the things we are going to see is that the ABC poll that showed Arnold ahead of Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante by over twenty points should become more of a constant, as more Republican and moderate families move Arnold's way.
Right now, State Senator Tom McClintock holds the base vote in his pocket.
Arnold needs them to win. He will also need McClintock to be the good party man and drop out at an appropriate time. That will come, but at a price that Schwarzenegger will have to pay. I've had to deal with some of Tom's base vote supporters on FreeRepublic.com. They are very committed people. They can't abide Arnold right now because he is standing in the way of a "Real" Republican being elected.
It's not that these people despise Gray Davis' misrule of California. That's healthy enough. How would you like it if you had to pay a car tax whose amount had been tripled to nearly a thousand dollars? You wouldn't, I bet. Rather, it's that they follow a brand of "my way or the highway" politics that would be guaranteed to return Davis or his understudy, Bustamante, to office.
But that's the reality that Arnold faces. To nail down this election, Schwarzenegger needs not only McClintock's endorsement, but also his supporters' turnout at the polls. That will only happen when Schwarzenegger's people have made visible concessions that satisfy McClintock's base vote. He will also need McClintock's visible endorsement. For that to occur, Schwarzenegger will need to make two public concessions and one hidden concession. First, McClintock will have to have a voice in next year's budget plan as well as the proposed spending caps that are to be submitted to the California Assembly in December. Second, Arnold must agree to reasonable restrictions on abortion rights, such as a ban on partial birth abortion and parental notification laws, for the base vote to be able to compromise and say to themselves that half a loaf is better than Davis. The latter he has already signalled through various talk-show appearances.
Finally, and this is something that I have a hunch about, there would have to be a "secret agreement". First, McClintock will want his Thousand Oaks State Senate district taken care of when time comes to ladle out the pork. I believe that he'll find that Arnold knows how to do business with those who are willing to do business with him. Second, McClintock will want to try his hand at Barbara Boxer's U.S. Senate seat next year. Base Vote candidates like McClintock look attractive to themselves and their campaign staffs. Part of this is because of the devotion of their supporters. It isn't too long before they start believing that they can be Senators. I'm convinced Tom McClintock will take a shot at Barbara Boxer, and will secure Arnold's promise to campaign with him and get behind him fully.
Can McClintock win in liberal California? I'm not so sure that it's an impossibility anymore. Liberalism as an experiment has failed in that state, and has done so in a grand fashion. The worm may be turning, and California may be back in play for Republican candidates.
That would make George W. Bush a very happy man.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Everybody loves Ann Coulter.
I read Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. It was an interesting read. The text is much stronger as it attempts to buttress Nixon's work to root out Soviet Spies during the Truman years. As it gets to the Tailgunner, Ann becomes a good recorder of events, but is a tad too strident. And she does tend to throw in too much Bill Clinton for her argument's own good.
However, all in all, it's a good read and surprisingly enough, may give scholars the excuse they need to do a real history of McCarthy.
Good on Ya', Ann!
Meanwhile, Arnold has pulled ahead in a KTLA poll, an internal Republican poll, and appears to be in lead in an ABC poll that was recently taken. Arnie has had a good week, and the papers are starting to look at Bustamante's contributors. Of course, others are wondering why the Davis campaign is holding back the pictures of Arnold buggering Ru Paul. The fact that there might be no pictures of Arnold doing such a thing has been lost on the chatterers.
We have arrived at 138 soldiers killed in Iraq from all causes since May 1, a fact that the media has chosen to trumpet during their press jihad agains the President.
The more I read infantry mail, the more I think that our guys are doing a fabulous job. They hold the jihadists in more contempt than I do.
I would mention that Dowd does more handstands and icky-poos about Al Qaeda infiltrating Iraq in this morning's Times, but then you'd have to go over to the site and actually read what the old battleaxe is going on about today. I wouldn't wish that on Hitler.
Monday, August 25, 2003
One who might be skeptical of the poll, but would probably disagree with Fund, is our very own Common Tator. Using the public polls as his baseline, Malone posits that Arnold is on the horns of a dilemma and wants McClintock to bail, quickly. Malone believes, however, that if McClintock left the race, single issue Republicans would stay home and conceivably throw the race to Davis outright.
An important thing to note is something that Fund brought up. Arnold is beginning a two million dollar per week media campaign. McClintock can't begin to touch that. Tom is a Boy Scout running in his first nationally covered election. Most conservatives think he is the Second Coming of Ronald; but even the Risen Christ would need several million dollars a week to win in California, loaves and fishes notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, Bustamante needs to convert the wampum that the Indian Gaming industry has given to him into campaign cash without arousing the suspicions of Good Government liberals at places like the Sacramento Bee (as opposed to the craven liberals at the Los Angeles Times, who will cover up for him....). Bustamante is basically a small time political gigolo, unlike Governor Davis, who really knows how to pimp (the Governor used 60 million dollars to beat up on hapless Bill Simon last year...).
The problem for Cruz, as Fund rightly perceives, is that his surprising frontrunner status brings him one thing he wanted, conflict with Davis, and one thing he didn't-scrutiny. The last thing Cruz would want to have revealed is his connections with the Tribes, who he's been shilling for lo these many years.
That's all for now. Don't forget to click on Chief Wiggles and read some of his stuff.
Today, I am honored to post a link to Chief Wiggles, a intelligence officer serving in Baghdad. To get a decent perspective of what things are like from the Troopers point of view, the Chief's Place is a good site to stop by and read the dailies.
You can find the link to Chief Wiggles on the left.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Well, following up on various rumors and Elvis sightings, it appears that most of the dark-lanternists at the CIA and other spook agencies worldwide have nailed down Usama bin Laden's wherabouts. Apparently he's hanging in the Pakistan's forbidding Northwest Frontier provinces. The Guardian of Manchester and London has run a rather interesting story. Those interviewed by the reporter indicate that bin Laden's location is ringed by a 120 mile ribbon of tribesmen whose loyalty he has rented, with a smaller circle of tribal elders guarding an interior line close to him. He's hard to get to, so the U.S. and the Pakistanis have agreed to put him off for now while the U.S., the Pakistanis and the rest of the allies take apart the middle management sector. The story can be found here , in this past Saturday's edition.
Actually, this story is nothing new. The Guardian is basically dressing up an old story and giving it new currency with additional interviews. Most folks who believe bin Laden to be alive (I have my doubts, as well) have figured that he would take refuge in the Northwestern Frontier as long as he could. Bin Laden purchased the loyalty of the local tribes, and he's extremely hard to get to as a result. However, in the end even he will be betrayed, probably by someone he trusts. Such people find themselves very much alone at the end of days.