Archive for August 24th, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

Well, if the goal was to install an American-style democracy in Iraq, it looks like mission accomplished. Just try substituting “Bush” for “Maliki” and “Republican” for “Shiite” in today’s NYT lead editorial:

Continuing in the Jaafari tradition, Mr. Maliki’s government has fashioned Iraqi security forces into an instrument of Shiite domination and revenge… His government’s deep sectarian urges have also been evident in the continuing failure to enact legislation to fairly share oil revenues and the persistence of rules that bar much of the Sunni middle class from professional employment.

(…)

The problem is not Mr. Maliki’s narrow-mindedness or incompetence. He is the logical product of the system the United States created… It was all but sure to produce someone very like Mr. Maliki, a sectarian Shiite far more interested in settling scores than in reconciling all Iraqis to share power in a unified and peaceful democracy.

….[J]ust about everyone in Washington now agrees that Mr. Maliki has made little effort to advance national unity.

The most recent intelligence report on Iraq, released yesterday, concludes that Mr. Maliki’s government is unable to govern and will become “more precarious” over the next six months to a year.

(…)

[T]he Maliki government prefers to concentrate on fortifying Shiite political power and exploiting the immense oil reserves of southeast Iraq. It is hard to imagine any Shiite government acting very differently.

The resemblance is quite uncanny, really – and NYT doesn’t even mention the Iraqi government’s extended vacation when their presence is needed most.

1 comment August 24th, 2007 at 10:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans

Just A Spoonful Of Racism Helps The Medicine Go Down…

Krugman is full of sweetness and light today, as usual:

So now Mitt Romney is trying to Willie Hortonize Rudy Giuliani. And thereby hangs a tale — the tale, in fact, of American politics past and future, and the ultimate reason Karl Rove’s vision of a permanent Republican majority was a foolish fantasy.

(…)

[S]ome Republicans are trying to make similar use of the recent murder of three college students in Newark, a crime in which two of the suspects are Hispanic illegal immigrants. Tom Tancredo flew into Newark to accuse the city’s leaders of inviting the crime by failing to enforce immigration laws, while Newt Gingrich declared that the “war here at home” against illegal immigrants is “even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

And Mr. Romney, who pretends to be whatever he thinks the G.O.P. base wants him to be, is running a radio ad denouncing New York as a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants, an implicit attack on Mr. Giuliani.

Strangely, nobody seems to be trying to make a national political issue out of other horrifying crimes, like the Connecticut home invasion in which two paroled convicts, both white, are accused of killing a mother and her two daughters. Oh, and by the way: over all, Hispanic immigrants appear to commit relatively few crimes — in fact, their incarceration rate is actually lower than that of native-born non-Hispanic whites.

To appreciate what’s going on here you need to understand the difference between the goals of the modern Republican Party and the strategy it uses to win elections.

The people who run the G.O.P. are concerned, above all, with making America safe for the rich. Their ultimate goal, as Grover Norquist once put it, is to get America back to the way it was “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over,” getting rid of “the income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.”

But right-wing economic ideology has never been a vote-winner. Instead, the party’s electoral strategy has depended largely on exploiting racial fear and animosity.

Ronald Reagan didn’t become governor of California by preaching the wonders of free enterprise; he did it by attacking the state’s fair housing law, denouncing welfare cheats and associating liberals with urban riots. Reagan didn’t begin his 1980 campaign with a speech on supply-side economics, he began it — at the urging of a young Trent Lott — with a speech supporting states’ rights delivered just outside Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964.

And if you look at the political successes of the G.O.P. since it was taken over by movement conservatives, they had very little to do with public opposition to taxes, moral values, perceived strength on national security, or any of the other explanations usually offered. To an almost embarrassing extent, they all come down to just five words: southern whites starting voting Republican.

(…)

But Republicans have a problem: demographic changes are making their race-based electoral strategy decreasingly effective. Quite simply, America is becoming less white, mainly because of immigration. Hispanic and Asian voters were only 4 percent of the electorate in 1980, but they were 11 percent of voters in 2004 — and that number will keep rising for the foreseeable future.

Those numbers are the reason Karl Rove was so eager to reach out to Hispanic voters. But the whites the G.O.P. has counted on to vote their color, not their economic interests, are having none of it. From their point of view, it’s us versus them — and everyone who looks different is one of them.

So now we have the spectacle of Republicans competing over who can be most convincingly anti-Hispanic. I know, officially they’re not hostile to Hispanics in general, only to illegal immigrants, but that’s a distinction neither the G.O.P. base nor Hispanic voters takes seriously.

Today’s G.O.P., in short, is trapped by its history of cynicism. For decades it has exploited racial animosity to win over white voters — and now, when Republican politicians need to reach out to an increasingly diverse country, the base won’t let them.

Well, there’s a happy ending, at least. But how sad is it that racism (and sexism, and homophobia) are the sugarcoating to make the Republican agenda more appealing? I’m picturing something like this:

PROSPECTIVE REPUBLICAN VOTER: I don’t see how any of these tax cuts benefit me – I don’t make that kind of money. And it looks like you’re always taking my employer’s side instead of mine.

REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We hate blacks, Mexicans, women, and gays.

PROSPECTIVE REPUBLICAN VOTER: Okay, I’m in.

(Also, you will be relieved to know that Rudy is not taking this threat lying down. He’s hired Scott Howell & Company to do his media – they’re the folks responsible for the racist “Harold, call me” ad in Tennessee.)

6 comments August 24th, 2007 at 07:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Immigration,Politics,Racism,Republicans,Romney,Rudy,Sexism,Teh Gay

Awful Idea Of The Week

Wolf ‘n’ Ware:

BLITZER: I don’t know about you, but I keep hearing suggestions from some influential elements out there that what Iraq really needs is a strongman, someone not necessarily like Saddam Hussein who was a thug and a killer, but someone, let’s say, like a Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan or a Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

WARE: Well, look, Wolf, you know, what we’re talking about here is essentially what’s dubbed the Musharraf option, precisely what you’re talking about, putting a strongman in place.

Now, this is something that was – has been talked about and mooted (ph) since even before the invasion. It’s now known that that was the CIA’s preferred option for regime change. They said coup d’etat. Cut off the head, put in our own guy and then cut out the cancer of the Iraqi Baathist apparatus as we go.

I certainly know very influential special forces commanders and other leading generals here in the country who have been pushing for solutions just like that since way back in 2004.

Gee, I guess Wolf and Ware must be too young to remember the Shah. There was a strongman that we installed and supported, and look how that turned out. I guess it was good for the U.S. for a while, but by propping him up against the wishes of his people, we made a peaceful change in Iran impossible.

More to the point, because the Shah was supported by (and loyal to) the U.S., all of the Iranian people’s hatred for the Shah got projected onto us as well, and Iran became our mortal enemy. Backing Saddam against Iran didn’t exactly help much either.

On the other hand, once we left Vietnam and let it choose its own government free of our interference, it turned out pretty okay, and ended up becoming our friend. Go figure.

The moral is, you’re better off just letting people choose their own damn government, be it by vote or by revolution. Trying to rig the game in your favor inevitably makes the final outcome much, much worse.

2 comments August 24th, 2007 at 06:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,Media,Republicans,Wankers

Not Entirely Sure Why, But…

ballardst2007018331824.gif

…Today’s Ballard St. just cracks me right up.

1 comment August 24th, 2007 at 11:52am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

This is an odd one. I’m on the first page of search results for if you were to have a stroke, in which region of your brain would tou prefer the brain damage would be? why?

I can honestly say that this is something I had never considered…

August 24th, 2007 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

More NMAI B&W Photoblogging

More from the National Museum of the American Indian. More W than B, really…

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August 24th, 2007 at 07:15am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: NMAI,Photoblogging,Washington DC


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