Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mr. President, how are those Methodists doing in Iraq?

Well, after blowing two deadlines and failing to come to a consensus, some of the delegates to the Iraqi constitutional convention have reported out a draft constitution -- rejected by the Sunni delegates -- on which the Iraqi National Assembly has failed to vote. (Pause just for a moment to quaerie, how does this porcess constitute the legislature "writing a draft constitution" as required under that August legal instrument, the great "Transitional Administrative Law"?)
The product of this, shall we say, somewhat disorderly process is, predictably, an epic cock-up. The document is riddled with internal contradictions. No law shall contradict the "undisputed laws of Islam" (sharia), yet no law shall contradict the "principles of democracy." Gee, when a document declares sharia to be a matter "undisputed," while also offering some sort of ritula obeisance to "the principles of democracy," one can be forgiven for wondering which one wins in a fight between the "undisputed laws of Islam" (elsewhere declared to be a "fundamental source for legislation") and the mushy, loosey-goosey, hippie-dippie "principles of democracy"? And of course the draft contains various forms of accellerant for the already at-least smoldering civil war by, for instance, allowing for an Iran-supported shi'ite superstate in the south. To top it all (because there really aren't enough fuckups in this misadventure), our man in the Green Zone, Zalmay Khalilzad,* is suggesting that this turkey should be subject to further tinkering before the October (!) referendum. (Good thinking, Zalmay. Yes, by all means, let a thousand discrepant drafts bloom! How in the hell will the punters even know what draft they're voting on, one wonders?)

Excellent work by the administration. Props all round.

*Khalilzad, by the way, was heavily involved in the Reagan Administration's amazingly forward-looking idea of arming the mujahadeen in Aghanistan. Khalilzad then crowed about the "victory" that was soon to usher in the Taliban on the Op-Ed page of the Washington Post through an oily piece of propaganda called, "How the Good Guys Won in Afghanistan." (Gee, the punchline is already written!) Given how things turned out there, I think the old Medal of Freedom is too low an honor for this rube once he gets done thoroughly fucking up in the Green Zone. Chimpy should nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize, I would think.

Now let's take a trip to the Dr. Pangloss files, shall we, to see what our fearless leaders previously said about this grand experiment in democracy?

In response to Tim Russert's question of February 8, 2004 -- "If the Iraqis choose . . . an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that . . . ?" -- our Prognosicator-in-Chief said:
They're not going to develop that. And the reason I can say that is because I'm very aware of this basic law they're writing. They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.

I remember speaking to Mr. al-Hakim here, who is a fellow who has lost 63 family members during the Saddam reign. His brother was one of the people that was assassinated early on in this past year. I expected to see a very bitter person. If 63 members of your family had been killed by a group of people, you’d be a little
bitter. He obviously was concerned, but he — I said, you know, “I'm a Methodist, what are my chances of success in your country and your vision?” And he said, “It's going to be a free society where you can worship freely.” This is a Shiia fellow.

Ahhh, a "Shiia fellow" assured Resident Bush that Iraq is going to be "a free society where you [a Methodist] may worship freely." Sure, so long as your freedom in no way "contradicts Islamic law."

What, me worry?

And dig Rumsfeld, running with the Administration meme on April 24, 2003:
[I]f you are suggesting how would we feel about an Iranian type government, with a few clerics running everything in the country. The answer is, that ain’t gonna happen, I just don’t see how that’s going to happen.

(In the same interview, Rummy also wheeled out the old "pockets of resistence" line as well.)

Missed it by that much!

For his next press conference (if his handlers ever allow another), Chimpy could do worse than crib his script from Voltaire. Just imagine David Gregory as Candide.
"Well, my dear Pangloss," said Candide to [Pangloss], "when You were hanged, dissected, whipped, and tugging at the oar, did you continueto think that everything in this world happens for the best?" "I have always abided by my first opinion," answered Pangloss; "for, after all, I am a philosopher, and it would not become me to retract my sentiments; especially as Leibniz could not be in the wrong: and that preestablished harmony is the finest thing in the world, as well as a plenum and the materia subtilis."
(Cf. Bush's Press the Meat appearance, supra, containing this lovely nugget: In response to Russert's query "Why do people hold you in such low esteem?" President Flightsuit responded, in pertinent part, "I think that people — when you do hard things, when you ask hard things of people, it can create tensions. And I — heck, I don't know why people do it. I'll tell you, though, I'm not going to change, see? I'm not trying to accommodate — I won't change my philosophy or my point of view." Hmmm. Perhaps he reads more than we credit him for.)

He read it this way just to make it more challenging.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

As if we didn't have enough to worry about

Rising temperatures are apparently drawing us close to a humongous earth-fart that will accelerate the pace of global warming. From the Guaradian (via Susie Amdrak):

Warming hits 'tipping point'
A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.

Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

Taking out my trusty calculator, I estimate that this will be roughly equivalent to the result of having 1 million Denny Hasterts talking simulataneously for 20 minutes.