I don't know about you, but I'm really getting sick of the hourly updates on the health of Arik Sharon on NPR. He had a massive stroke and assuming he lives through this, he's not going to be Prime Minister anymore, so let's move on. My God, you'd think he was the Pope or something the way NPR is carrying on about every small tidbit of news on his condition. I defiantly got the feeling that if had died last week, we were going to be in store for a round-the-clock Saturnalia of fawning adulation for the "Butcher of Beirut" the likes of which we hadn't heard since the Reagan funeral.
Fortunately, the "Killer of Qibya" is still alive, so we're spared having to hear about what a statesman and man of peace he was (With Lianne Hansen sobbing in the background) for a little while longer at least.
I don't understand why Sharon is getting all this coverage in the first place. Not only is he considered by a large portion of the Middle East, including many Jews, to be a blood-thirsty murdering war criminal, but he's the leader of a country the size of Rhode Island. I don't see what effect his incapacitation or death has on the average American in the long run. Whatever the long term consequences of his unexpected removal from the scene has on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, it certainly doesn't warrant the kind of wall to wall media attention it’s getting.
It would seem to me the death of Fidel would have much larger ramifications for both U.S. foreign and domestic policy, but I wouldn't expect any long expos?s on what he did for the literacy and health care of the average Cuban from NPR. Rather, when he does go, you can be sure we'll be treated to long interviews with Otto Reich on the horrors perpetrated on the Cuban people by "the Monster" and endless coverage of cheering Cubanos celebrating on Revolution Square as they prepare to welcome the returning Yankis with open arms and bouquets of flowers.
Shiites and Sunnis are in agreement: we shouldn't let the door hit us in the ass on the way out!
Speaking of being greeted with happy children with their hands out for American chocolate bars and grateful young women sporting their new pantyhose, the situation in Iraq is pretty much getting back to normal after the relative lull in the immediate aftermath of the Dec. 15th elections. Since that glorious day when 70% (70%!!!!) of Iraqi voters turned out to elect their new theocratic government, we've lost about 55 troops and over 500 civilians have died in a spate of bloody suicide attacks, which have been especially horrific even by Iraqi standards.
Last Thursday, after attacks in Karbala and Ramadi that killed 130 Iraqis, Aziz al-Hakim, the head of Sciri---the political wing of the Badr brigade---blamed the bloodshed on the U.S.! [NYT]It appears, American military "pressure" on the Interior and Defense ministries to stop torturing and killing innocent Sunnis is preventing those ministries from, "Doing their job chasing terrorists and maintaining the souls of innocent Iraqi people," according to al-Hakim. "We're laying the responsibility for the blood of innocents shed in the past few days on the multinational forces." Then he added ominously, "Our people will not be patient for much longer with these dirty sectarian crimes." Of course, Sciri and its band of killers known as the Badr brigade are suspected of some pretty dirty sectarian crimes themselves, but al-Hakim and his buddy Bayan Jabr, the Interior minister and former Badr commander, are only asking for the powers W. has given himself in the war on terror.
I think it’s ironic that W. finds the evidence of secret Interior ministry torture chambers "unacceptable" when he continues to condone just that sort of thing even after signing the McCain anti-torture law. Writing in the margins that he basically doesn't have to obey the law if he doesn't want to, these new "signing agreements" are a sort of modern version of the pocket veto except that in this case the president actually signs it and then, in a new twist, tosses it in the trash.
In any case, yesterday, in a new sign of Iraqi unity, in a call for peace and bridging sectarian differences during the Eid al-Adha season, Harith al-Ubaidi, from the Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front, said Sunnis were "hand in hand" with Shiites against the bombing in Karbala. Well, that's promising, no doubt, but unfortunately after that he said, "We also demand that the occupier get out, because he is the reason behind every crime." At least, all the parties can agree on one thing, we have to go. See, I'm not one of those "defeatists" who, W. said in his speech at the VFW in DC, "Refuse to see anything that's right," in Iraq. Iraqi unity is a good thing, right?
In his speech on Tuesday, W. 'Oh-pined' on the limits of political speech: He said, "In a free society, there's only one check on political speech, and that's the judgment of the American people." I'm not quite sure where he's going with this, but I think he was urging the voters to toss out the bums who dare question his rule, and who are, it naturally follows, giving aid and "comfort to our adversaries." So, in other words, punish anyone who doesn't agree with me that everything is A-OK in Iraq. Anyone who dares question anything I do is a traitor. "Partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil or because of Israel or because we misled the American people," are irresponsible, which is code for 'traitor.'
It's funny he brought up Israel as a reason for going into Iraq; I haven't heard that one lately. In fact it was in September of 2002, before the war, when Phillip Zelikow, one of his top advisors and also former executive director of the 9/11 commission---said in a speech at , "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 - it’s the threat against Israel.” [This blog.]Was W. really talking about Iraq or was just thinking ahead to Iran?
Anyway...you know, I hear a lot about Hugo Chavez over-reaching with his presidential powers and calling his political opponents traitors and according to the mainstream media this is a sign of a "quasi" dictatorship, even though he's been elected twice and has a large majority of popular support, but when W. calls democratic congressmen traitors, which is basically what he'd implied in this speech and says his presidential prerogatives allow him to by pass congress, the rule of law and anything thing else he says it does, that's ok. I don't know, I think there might be some sort of double standard going on here.