Dec 31, 2007

Liberalism IS the best of America

ran across this via Crooks and Liars...

I'm a fighting liberal (Steve Gilliard)

I'm a fighting liberal You know, I've studied history, I've read about America and you know something, if it weren't for liberals, we'd be living in a dark, evil country, far worse than anything Bush could conjure up. A world where children were told to piss on the side of the road because they weren't fit to pee in a white outhouse, where women had to get back alley abortions and where rape was a joke, unless the alleged criminal was black, whereupon he was hung from a tree and castrated.

For the better part of a decade, the conservatives made liberal a dirty word. Well, it isn't. It represents the best and most noble nature of what America stands for: equitable government services, old age pensions, health care, education, fair trials and humane imprisonment. It is the heart and soul of what made American different and better than other countries. Not only an escape from oppression, but the opportunity to thrive in land free of tradition and the repression that can bring. We offered a democracy which didn't enshrine the rich and made them feel they had an obligation to their workers.

Bush and the people around him disdain that. They think, by accident of birth and circumstance, they were meant to rule the world and those who did not agree would suffer.

Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

It's time to regain the sprit of FDR and Truman and the people around them. People who believed in the public good over private gain. It is time to stop apologizing for being a liberal and be proud to fight for your beliefs. No more shying away or being defined by other people. Liberals believe in a strong defense and punishment for crime. But not preemption and pointless jail sentences. We believe no American should be turned away from a hospital because they are too poor or lack a proper legal defense. We believe that people should make enough from one job to live on, to spend time on raising their family. We believe that individuals and not the state should dictate who gets married and why. The best way to defend marriage is to expand, not restrict it.

It was the liberals who opposed the Nazis while the conservatives were plotting to get their brown shirts or fund Hitler. It was the liberals who warned about Spain and fought there, who joined the RAF to fight the Germans, who brought democracy to Germany and Japan. Let us not forget it was the conservatives who opposed defending America until the Germans sank our ships. They would have done nothing as Britain came under Nazi control. It was they who supported Joe McCarthy and his baseless, drink fueled claims.

Without liberals, there would be no modern America, just a Nazi satellite state. Liberals weak on defense? Liberals created America's defense. The conservatives only need vets at election time.

It is time to stop looking for an accomodation with the right. They want none for us. They want to win, at any price. So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?

Other Links of Interest:

American Hero - Navy JAG Andrew Williams stands up against Torture

Dec 27, 2007

Because too many lame ass tattoos just wasn't enough

Note to all you sleeve-tattoo wearing badasses:

You are a dumb shit. And your tattooed head-to-toe-peers are just getting to be
more and more fucking retarded.

Being inked doesn't mean you are a rebel anymore. Covering yourself with tattoos doesnt set you apart anymore. Too many tattoos are like too many facial piercings: It just means you are a pathetic attention whore begging for someone to look twice at you.

I have a tattoo. I have friends who have tattoos. One of my best friends is a tattoo artist who is covered in ink. Some of his tats are cool. But when he's covered in them, you can't really pick out the good artwork amidst all the chaotic imagery.

Plus, as he ages and the ink bleeds out, the tats turn into shit. Of course by that time, maybe you are less concerned with decorating your body so you look bitchin' and more concerned with something besides your appearance. He's not. But he's kind of, well, a drug addict without much of a life beyond his collection of tattoos. And I suppose those tats serve a purpose- maybe they help him find others of like mind by waving his freak flag high.

But hey- instead of painting your body up like every other douchebag in the country right now, what say you forego the "I'm an individual" artwork and- I don't know- maybe develop a personality?

It may be too late to prevent marking yourself up with your biker revlon, but it's NEVER too late to STOP being a dumb shit.


Dec 26, 2007

Dec 24, 2007

Edwards 08

Man of the People

"But Edwards central theme is about us , not about him. He has a crystal clear vision of the kind of America he would like to see in 30 years and how we can get there; all of us together. It's because of the passion in his voice that you feel in your gut as he speaks. It's like going to church and hearing a sermon that has you raring to go out and do something useful. He's the candidate with a clear and powerful agenda that can be achieved. It's not about him. It's about us. He's a champion, not a rock star."

More from Montana Maven

Dec 21, 2007

I link therefore I am

Gore Vidal on Dennis Kucinich

Naomi Wolf on The End of America

More on the Morons

Hill Country Gal invites everyone to Smoke's...

well, sorta... ;)

Murder Incorporated

Nataline Sarkisyan, 17 year old with leukemia dies while waiting for Cigna's approval on liver transplant. Cigna denied the transplant at first. The family, aided by nurses organizations and a netroots effort to protest Cigna, got the company to reverse the decision. But it was too late.

Hey! Cigna gets to keep the money! I wonder if the guy who denied the transplant gets a raise?

How about that free market solving everything, eh? Well, it won't save your child's life, even if she HAS insurance when some corporate accountant decides that they can get away with not covering a lifesaving procedure.

The most comprehensive article is here: emax health
"On Dec. 14, Hilda Sarkisyan was told by the hospital that a healthy liver was available, but because CIGNA had refused authorization, the family would have had to make an immediate down payment of $75,000 to proceed, an amount the family could not afford."
Other news articles concerning the murder by Cigna:
Yahoo news
Crooks and Liars
Daily Kos
Michael Moore

I actually found someone who was calling this news his Christmas feel good story- a man who was defending Cigna's sound business decision to let this "cancer bitch" (his words) die. I won't link to that piece of shit's site, but here's my two cents on the business of insurance:
Yes, it’s a business. And the family paid Cigna to provide INSURANCE, you know, to cover emergencies. And they got shafted by a company that refused to cover its own policies. I hope Cigna loses billions due to this. Well, i won’t have to hope. Cigna will lose plenty in court costs, time spent, and bad publicity. All to save $75,000 grand for the liver transplant.
That is a bad business decision.
Did the family try to get loans? Of course they did! A loan for $75,000 takes more time than it did to protest Cigna and get the company to attempt to take responsibility.
The corporation made the decision to save money by not honoring its policy. They, knowing the full situation of Sarkisyan’s condition, stall for time. A child dies. A corporation is to blame and will be held accountable. I hope this case brings to light the thousands of crimes committed against policyholders each and every day by insurance companies in this country.
This is the state of health care in America. Unfortunately, it is the state of many factors in American life, where corporate crimes make life a hell of a lot harder for the middle class American just so some Daddy Warbucks can pocket more money that he'll pay less taxes on than you or I.
Protests, pressure, lawsuits, and voting out the incumbents and the Republicans who have created this monstrosity of a "free market" system- these are the steps we have to take to correct this situation.
And President Edwards, a man who has fought big business all his life, is the perfect man to get the ball rolling...

Dec 20, 2007

Highway of Blogginess

Targa's Internet Tube has been officially appointed the Highway of Bloginess

Go forth in faith.

Is it friday? Why does it feel like fricking Friday already? Damn Holiduhs crisscrossing my wires.

2007 Dems Vs. Contract with America

Think Progress has my comments banned, has had for awhile- not sure exactly why. I go there almost every day regardless of their distaste for my perspective (heh), they have a lot of good stuff...

Today they had this graph - which shows how much more effective the Democratic Congress has been than Newt's "firebrands" of 1995, even considering the record-breaking filibustering of the Republican defeatists.

It's a little slow today, waiting on the traditional "Christmas Surge" of the stock market at the end of options expiration. Looks like it may not materialize. Et, tu , Santa?

But anyway, give me some cool links to waste time if you run across anything. Email em or leave them in the comments...

Dec 19, 2007

Why Edwards is better than Hillary or Obama, part 256

(okay, maybe one more Edwards post...)

Why Edwards is the Best

As Atrios puts it:

Shorter Candidates:
Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.
Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.
It's just a no-brainer to someone who still believes we CAN Fight the Republicans ON OUR OWN GROUND and Win...
And Win BIG.
Obama and Clinton as President just remind me of Pelosi and Reid.

Tis the Season to be jolly...

(so I guess I'll drop the piss and vinegar, just for a minute)...

A local "Conservative" blogger was ranting Bill O'Reilly-like about the War on Christmas, Pagan liberals who want to take away the season and all the usual bs.. I know every year I shoot down these zealots who want to boil everything in their life down to Us versus Them. In fact, I already did my annual War on Christmas post/rant, I thought I would just reprint my comment on his blog, here. I actually eschew self-control or moderation on this blog most of the time, but hey- I'm in the Christmas spirit- so I think this little comment nicely puts why "Christmas" is more than the birth of christ holiday to millions of Americans...

"The Christian Deconstruction Alliance"? ... I am laughing out loud as I read this ridiculousness. It is silly to be dismayed at "Happy Holidays" which, truly is an accurate representation of all the myriad celebrations which encompass this season.

A more devout christian might desire to distance themself from the greed of this holiday. Christians may indeed celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of year, instead of in Spring, as most biblical scholars understand Jesus was born. But most of this holiday/s has its roots in the centuries predating Christ and from areas that my ancestors come from, - Scandinavia, Germany, Ireland, as well as all the other areas of the world that celebrated in the dead of winter to usher in the new year and the warmer seasons.

The religions of jews in the middle east are not a universal one for Americans. Real christians understand that scripture even warns against the yule and winter solstice celebrations. Certain early American christians reviled Yuletime and did not allow it, such as the Puritans. Eventually the roots of those yuletide celebrations won out over the real ban on this holiday.

If you want to celebrate the birth of Christ, do it sir. But do not continue to perpetuate the myth that the oldest historical holidays that currently make up "Christmas" were for the birth of a jew in the middle east a mere 2000 years ago. Do you have a christmas tree up, decorated with trinkets and lights? A wreath? Is your family giving of gifts and telling your children about Santa Claus? Realize that these trappings are NOT of a christian nature. If you value this Holiday for ONE reason and one reason alone, and it appears you do- then you need to rail against christmas trees, materialism, and the commercializing of Jesus that is occurring right now - NOT at people who are correct in wishing you "Happy Holidays".

My children will celebrate the birth of Jesus at this time of year AND we will celebrate the Yule, both longstanding family traditions. We will enjoy home and hearth, love and family and joy for what little we have. And we will pay homage to the ultimate teaching of Christ: Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards man.And if I accidentally say "Happy Holidays" Instead of "Merry Christmas" (I use the term interchangeably) and an old sourpuss like you wants to huff away like a Scrooge, I'll scratch my head in wonderment and walk on, unperterbed. It's christmas,after all! Time to make merry, not grump about.

Unless something major happens, I probably won't blog anymore til after the Holidays are over. My sons are coming into town and I will be busy being Superdad with the whole family together. So everyone have a good one... Happy Holidays You Pagan Liberal Bastardos! And Merry Christmas you Fundie Jew Zeus Freaks!

Dec 18, 2007

Improper Breast Depictions

My hometown, ever mindful of the dangers of showing boobies, especially boobies doing what God (or perhaps... Satan!?) intended - has banned two works of art depicting breasts and breastfeeding at a local art event at Buddy Holly Center. (Lubbock = Mecca of the Arts! or, er, perhaps I should say, congregation of the arts so as not to offend the christian brethren).
Wow, arresting Chippendales dancers last year pales in comparison to this.... Of course, with Lubbockites, you never know what they are offended by exactly. Upon speaking to my fellow conservative, high morally upstanding fellow Lubbockites (... I am starting to refer to them as "Bubba-ckites") I have amalgamated their righteous indignation into one response, to save time and trouble...

For future reference, this Bubbackite pseudoynym will be "Sam Houston, defender of the West Texas Way."

So, Sam (pronounced the proper Lubbock way, with 3 syllables) why did you demand these breastfeeding pics be taken down?

Sam Houston Responds:
You damn lefties are trying to corrupt the good morals of this here community by showing women doing pagan activities like feeding kids from their bare breasts!
How many jobs will be lost if all women start breastfeeding? How many formula manufacturers in China will go out of business, causing the commies to spend less money buying up the U.S. dollar and be forced to funnel that formula money into Iran's nuckleer program?
If every child gets healthier by breast feeding instead of being raised on synthetics then Pharmaecutical companies will lose a ton of money! And every time a U.S. corporation loses a dollar, the terrorists win!
Ya'll need to unnerstand the bigger picture out here! No red-blooded West Texas man wants to see a woman's boobies doing something as unnattractive as feeding some rugrat. Breasts should be only shown in glossy magazines in the bottom of our sock drawers, for a man's privacy in his own home. Or at private stag parties in the basement of the Lubbock City Council's chambers, away from the eyes of split-tails who may be offended by such imagery which God intended only for men of strong character.
I do, however, like the fact that the women is bare-foot in the picture- that part is good Primitive Baptist doctrine . But other than that, its purely porn-aw-graffy! I ain't never been so fired up since they tried to put idols of Zeus blowing the wind on ever overpass in town! Damn heathens! Don't make me get my rope out, now.
So, there you have it. The Sam Houstons of Lubbock strike again in the name of decency and keeping images of women safe from perverts.


Dec 17, 2007

Why Edwards IS The right person for the job

I believe John Edwards is the best candidate for the Presidency out of all the candidates, on either side. Since before the November elections he's been campaigning for the right things- getting us out of a war that is dragging our country down, fixing the economy for the average American instead of pandering to the superrich, and promoting healthcare for all.

Is it bad for every kid in America to get healthcare? Some hyperventilate as they screech "It's socialism! It's communism!" Who the hell cares what label you put on keeping the youth of your country healthy and intact? Does anyone REALLY think that America cannot afford this? Ridiculous! As Republicans waste a record number of billions starting wars and giving money away to corporations and terrorist rogue nations like Israel, the true strength of our country is being bled out in the heart of every city in America.

Hillary Clinton is not going to work to effect change to our current corporatist system. John Edwards can and will. And he won't be busy making backroom deals with corporations and giving AIPAC whatever they want while he's getting our country back on track.

John Edwards is my choice for President in 2008. And I hope that for the sake of our country that he becomes your choice as well.

Bill Boyarsky of Truthdig gives us more reason to understand what Edwards stands for and what he's actually talking about, while Clinton and Obama simply spit talking points.

Full Truthdig Article


John Edwards’ words at the last Iowa Democratic debate sounded so out of tune with this year’s campaign discourse—and so sensible and important—that the man might as well have been campaigning on another planet.

“Somewhere in America tonight,” he said, “a child will go to bed hungry. Somewhere in America tonight, a family will have to go to the emergency room and beg for health care for a sick child. Somewhere in America today a father who has worked for 30 or 40 years to support his family will lose his job.” [To see the December debate, in multiple parts, go to and search on “Iowa Democratic debate."]

His talk of hunger, poor medical care and working people’s fear of sudden middle-age unemployment provided a bracing touch of reality in a campaign where the media are stubbornly occupied with matters irrelevant to American life


The real question is why so few reporters were paying attention to what Edwards had to say about the economy, health care and job insecurity in a nation where economic conditions have become a prime concern.

I focused on what Edwards had to say as I prepared to take off for Iowa to cover the campaign. I talked to people who had been observing the campaign coverage to see if they shared my outrage at a media seemingly intent on trivializing the election.


But outrage appears to be the wrong tone for the Iowa caucuses, whose main function is to serve as sort of a quarter pole in the presidential campaign horse race and which are held in a state untypical of the highly populated urban and suburban centers where most Americans live.
That impression was reinforced the day before the Democratic debate when moderator Carolyn Washburn opened the Republican debate by announcing: “We’re going to focus on issues Iowans say they want to know more about. We won’t talk a lot about issues like Iraq or immigration. They are important issues no doubt but Iowans say they know where the candidates are coming from on those.”

My first reaction as I watched her on television was to marvel at Washburn’s sense of entitlement. What qualifies her and her colleagues to place Iraq and immigration practically off limits when the candidates have yet to plumb the depths of these two extremely complex subjects?

My reaction was reinforced the next morning when The New York Times’ Monica Davey reported from the small town of Storm Lake, Iowa, where immigrants have found jobs at Tyson Meat Packing and other places. She wrote that almost all of the people she interviewed “said they considered immigration policy at or near the top of their lists of concerns. ...”

Such immigration from Mexico and Central and South America is driven by homeland poverty and lack of opportunity. These are conditions related to the impact of the new and heartless global economy on jobs in places as far apart as Asia, Mexico and Iowa. As Edwards put it earlier this month: “Trade deals can create jobs, but they can also cost us jobs. They can bring down prices, but they can also hold down wages. The question I will ask about each trade deal is simple: All things considered, does it make most regular families better off or not?”

He was speaking about job losses such as the ones Washburn’s own paper, the Des Moines Register, reported on in October when reporter William Ryberg covered the closing of the Maytag appliance plant by the new owner, global power Whirlpool: “Iowa history was written in tears, hugs and goodbyes Thursday as the Maytag washer and dryer factory ended production in Newton. The town of 15,000 was home to the Maytag brand for 114 years.”

I don’t see these tears, hugs and goodbyes in much of the campaign coverage.


"reporting about Edwards “also requires reporting about these multidimensional problems” associated with poverty. “Poverty,” she said, is a very difficult thing to report.”

Based on her reading of campaign coverage, Garber sees a strain of cynicism in the way the press corps views Edwards. “The consensus was that he was too rich to be advocating for the poor, a pretty boy. All that attention to his haircut.”

But a cynical press doesn’t dwell on how he got rich. His wealth was earned in courtrooms as a plaintiff’s attorney, fighting for those abused by corporations, insurers, physicians and others.
I wondered what would have happened to Robert F. Kennedy in the hands of today’s reporters. He was rich. He was handsome. His father made the family fortune in a rough and tough way. Bob Kennedy would have been made to look conniving by the irony of 21st-century political journalism.

Instead, the journalists covering Kennedy in 1968 accepted him for what he was—a man shaped by tragedy who had a remarkable empathy with the nation’s downtrodden.
Despite his good haircut, he probably would have been elected president if it hadn’t been for an assassin. If Edwards loses the nomination, I hope it is because he failed to sell his ideas rather than because of damage inflicted by stories about his wealth and haircut.

Vote your conscience and vote for the future of America. Some people out there believe that they are entitled to a better life than most Americans. They believe that the middle and lower classes of America add nothing to our country. They, the true elitists, believe that their money and status make them special and that the rest of us are mere chattel.

The Hillary Clintons of the U.S. will not lift a finger to change this perspective. Our blood, sweat and tears make their easy lives possible. They fail to comprehend that further erosion of the middle class will eventually destroy the country, including their own palatial estates. The doom of the middle class will be a precursor for their own.

The last chance for salvation are those few powerful and influential people who understand this, and are working to change things NOW. John Edwards is one of these people. If our country is to not only survive, but prosper, we need officials that not only can change things, but realize the immediate necessity of such change.

Blue Herald has MORE:
Update: Dodd manages to make it back and block Harry Reid's FISA immunity bill, but Obama and Hillary are still serving themselves instead of doing their jobs as Senators.

Military "Mutiny" against White House treason

The only ones who can stop the war now are the troops and their officers. The weak-willed servants of the almighty dollar in congress won't do it. Here are several articles and organizations that concern the military's growing rebellion against George Bush's occupation of Iraq...

Troops refuse to patrol

Courage to Resist

Winter Soldier

Generals Speak out against Iraq War

Appeal for Redress

Military Families Speak out

And here's a Mother Jones article that elaborates on the current situation in Iraq :

Dec 14, 2007

One is the loneliest number


Common sense held hostage

CNBC is full of shit
... but you know this.

Forced to watch this shit in my office, day in, day out, I have decoded almost every nuance of their doublespeak and mass marketing manipulation - from the ridiculously transparent- closet Nambla member Larry Kudlow- to the few who actually sound like they know something at times. And don't even get me started on that mental midget Kramer.... sheesh.

And this week, the morons on CNBC have reached a true depression of market commentary. I found this gem about CNBC's spin doctors by Kevin Duffy via Financial

Beam me up

Kevin pretty much nails it. What the CNBC audience of amateur investors doesn't know is that the market, by and large, isn't moved by every fricking news item that pops up hour by hour, the way that the CNBC cheerleaders portray it. But oh well, got to keep the rubes throwing their money into the market so the bigtime money managers can lap it up.

Another good article is there - an interview with Ron Paul. You wouldn't know it from reading liberal blogs (like this one? ha!) but Ron Paul is, in my opinion, the most knowledgeable of all the candidates concerning economics. That said, my vote is going to John Edwards. PERIOD. Ron Paul shares some of Edwards' viewpoints, but Ron Paul's drawback can be summed up as the drawback of all the Republicans, as Markos put in his Newsweek column recently:

In his first Inaugural Address, Ronald Reagan remarked that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." While the quip has provided Republicans with a cheap slogan for two decades, the philosophy behind it is beginning to box them in. If they govern effectively, they invalidate their own antigovernment ideology. And when you elect people who believe that government won't work, you shouldn't be surprised when government stops working.

I want someone who believes that Goverment CAN FUNCTION and can do a better job of its governance, and this is NOT accomplished by giving corporations even more free rein over American life. This is not accomplished by dismantling OSHA and EPA. We in the financial field know this as an absolute truth:


Regulation and Governance is what made America successful for so long. Free Market, my ass! Without proper regulation and governance, America is doomed. And prime Example #1 is the past seven years and this clown:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The interview with Ron Paul is a good one. Anyone who does any actual background on him can see that he has a very impressive record. In a better country, losers like Guliani and Huckabee would be laughed out of the race. Hillary wouldn't stand a chance as the liberal candidate with her poor voting record and Edwards would be leading, followed closely by Gravel and Kuc.

But we live in a country where our wits, our courage, and our common sense are being held hostage by terrorists (and no, I don't mean the turban wearing kind).

I Link, therefore I am:
Viet Not
Told ya so

TOO GOOD TO MISS : "It's a Blunderful life!"

Dec 11, 2007

Shifting Sands in the hourglass

Sunni vs. Shia- How Al Qaueda lost Baghdad, the story behind the Sunni Militias, and why momentary peace in Iraq bodes ill for the occupation...

Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 by The Independent/UK

Only One Thing Unites Iraq: Hatred of the US
The Americans will discover, as the British learned to their cost in Basra, that they have few permanent allies

by Patrick Cockburn

As British forces come to the end of their role in Iraq, what sort of country do they leave behind? Has the United States turned the tide in Baghdad? Does the fall in violence mean that the country is stabilising after more than four years of war? Or are we seeing only a temporary pause in the fighting?American commentators are generally making the same mistake that they have made since the invasion of Iraq was first contemplated five years ago. They look at Iraq in over-simple terms and exaggerate the extent to which the US is making the political weather and is in control of events there.

The US is the most powerful single force in Iraq but by no means the only one. The shape of Iraqi politics has changed over the past year, though for reasons that have little to do with “the surge” - the 30,000 US troop reinforcements - and much to do with the battle for supremacy between the Sunni and Shia Muslim communities.

The Sunni Arabs of Iraq turned against al Qa’ida partly because it tried to monopolise power but primarily because it brought their community close to catastrophe. The Sunni war against US occupation had gone surprisingly well for them since it began in 2003. It was a second war, the one against the Shia majority led by al-Qa’ida, which the Sunni were losing, with disastrous results for themselves. “The Sunni people now think they cannot fight two wars - against the occupation and the government - at the same time,” a Sunni friend in Baghdad told me last week. “We must be more realistic and accept the occupation for the moment.”

This is why much of the non-al-Qa’ida Sunni insurgency has effectively changed sides. An important reason why al-Qa’ida has lost ground so swiftly is a split within its own ranks. The US military - the State Department has been very much marginalised in decision-making in Baghdad - does not want to emphasise that many of the Sunni fighters now on the US payroll, who are misleadingly called “concerned citizens”, until recently belonged to al Qa’ida and have the blood of a great many Iraqi civilians and American soldiers on their hands.

The Sunni Arabs, five million out of an Iraqi population of 27 million and the mainstay of Saddam Hussein’s government, were the core of the resistance to the US occupation. But they have also been fighting a sectarian war to prevent the 16 million Shia and the five million Kurds holding power.

At first, the Shia were very patient in the face of atrocities. Vehicles, packed with explosives and driven by suicide bombers, were regularly detonated in the middle of crowded Shia market places or religious processions, killing and maiming hundreds of people. The bombers came from al-Qa’ida but the attacks were never wholeheartedly condemned by Sunni political leaders or other guerrilla groups. The bombings were also very short-sighted since the Iraqi Shia outnumber the Sunni three to one. Retaliation was restrained until a bomb destroyed the revered Shia al-Askari shrine in Samarra on 22 February, 2006.

The bombing led to a savage Shia onslaught on the Sunni, which became known in Iraq as “the battle for Baghdad”. This struggle was won by the Shia. They were always the majority in the capital but, by the end of 2006, they controlled 75 per cent of the city. The Sunni fled or were pressed back into a few enclaves, mostly in west Baghdad.

In the wake of this defeat, there was less and less point in the Sunni trying expel the Americans when the Sunni community was itself being evicted by the Shia from large parts of Iraq. The Iraqi Sunni leaders had also miscalculated that an assault on their community by the Shia would provoke Arab Sunni states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt into giving them more support but this never materialised.

It was al-Qa’ida’s slaughter of Shia civilians, whom it sees as heretics worthy of death, which brought disaster to the Sunni community. Al-Qa’ida also grossly overplayed its hand at the end of last year by setting up the Islamic State of Iraq, which tried to fasten its control on other insurgent groups and the Sunni community as a whole. Sunni garbage collectors were killed because they worked for the government and Sunni families in Baghdad were ordered to send one of their members to join al Qai’da. Bizarrely, even Osama bin Laden, who never had much influence over al Qa’ida in Iraq, was reduced to advising his acolytes against extremism.

Defeat in Baghdad and the extreme unpopularity of al Qa’ida gave the impulse for the formation of the 77,000-strong anti-al-Qa’ida Sunni militia, often under tribal leadership, which is armed and paid for by the US. But the creation of this force is a new stage in the war in Iraq rather than an end to the conflict.

Sunni enclaves in Baghdad are safer, but not districts where Sunni and Shia face each other. There are few mixed areas left. Many of the Sunni fighters say openly that they see the elimination of al Qai’ida as a preliminary to an attack on the Shia militias, notably the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr, which triumphed last year.

The creation of a US-backed Sunni militia both strengthens and weakens the Iraqi government. It is strengthened in so far as the Sunni insurrection is less effective and weakened because it does not control this new force.

If the Sunni guerrillas were one source of violence in 2006 the other was the Mehdi Army, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia nationalist cleric. This has been stood down because he wants to purge it of elements he does not control, and wishes to avoid a military confrontation with his rivals within the Shia community if they are backed by the US army. But the Mehdi Army would certainly fight if the Shia community came under attack or the Americans pressured it too hard.

American politicians continually throw up their hands in disgust that Iraqis cannot reconcile or agree on how to share power. But equally destabilising is the presence of a large US army in Iraq and the uncertainty about what role the US will play in future. However much Iraqis may fight among themselves, a central political fact in Iraq remains the unpopularity of the US-led occupation outside Kurdistan. This has grown year by year since the fall of Saddam Hussein. A detailed opinion poll carried out by ABC News, BBC and NTV of Japan in August found that 57 per cent of Iraqis believe that attacks on US forces are acceptable.

Nothing is resolved in Iraq. Power is wholly fragmented. The Americans will discover, as the British learned to their cost in Basra, that they have few permanent allies in Iraq. It has become a land of warlords in which fragile ceasefires might last for months and might equally collapse tomorrow.

Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, Patrick Cockburn was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book on his years covering the war in Iraq, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.

Dec 10, 2007

Sun, set.

The Futility of Faith

This life so crippled that I can't stand,
And God on High, with no command
Angels futile and Devils impotent as well,
And to think that I was once afraid of Hell...

Seek not your soul, it does not exist-
Meaning and truth are ideas that do not persist
Each moments experience is its only reward-
Let passion be your shield, pleasure be thy sword.

And Love? That lofty goal so pure-
is no more than some charlatan's cure.
I realize now, and understand all too late
Faith in heart will not change your animals fate.

that is it, no moral here,
my search ends as my own worst fear.
I know of nothing more to say or write-
and these words- my life, no matter how slight...
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"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
"Philosophy alone can boast (and perhaps it is no more than the boast of philosophy), that her gentle hand is able to eradicate from the human mind the latent and deadly principle of fanaticism."
(from Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)
It appears the easiest way to destroy a nation of tyrants is to let the tyrants rule... I give "free market capitalism" 15 more years of shelf life at the rate which they are eviscerating the country's resources, manufacturing, and economy. A investment insider, and multi-millionaire entrepenuer told me this today:
"It will be like the 1900's. The middle class will be gone, they will all be migrated into the ranks of the poor. The poor won't care. They've never had shit, not having shit then won't be any more painful than it is today. The wealthy will be fine. You want to survive? Get as much money as you possibly can, because you'll need it. Get it now and you can leave the country later."
- a sentiment that I am sure is shared by many of our wealthiest Americans.
Hmmm. Maybe if the government collapses and the four horsemen ride on America, all the christians will rush to Israel to beg for Jesus to come save them? We can only hope. Isn't there some passage in the bible that will convince them that salvation lies in the land of Moses?
Buy a gun. Buy two. Because with what I know of Christians, the ones who aren't chasing the rapture will be trying to steal what little is left here in America. I could live with a return to a less decadent, less greed-driven society. Maybe once there's nothing left to steal, rape, or destroy, they will move on to the next victim of "Democracy".
also from Gibbon's Decline:
"A warlike nation like the Germans, without either cities, letters, arts, or money, found some compensation for this savage state in the enjoyment of liberty. Their poverty secured their freedom, since our desires and our possessions are the strongest fetters of despotism."
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