Been away so long I hardly knew the place, gee it's good to be back home...
- If you haven't seen the Rush Limbaugh on Pat Sajak show segment, you owe it to yourself to see it. My impression: Rush tries to create angry crowds, and utters astonishment and condemnation when angry moderate crowds get angry. So he has to clear the room.
He also comes off as a self-righteous pretentious twit. People should not have disrupted his show; actually, I know from personal experience that he can be handled in real time politely, truthfully, and he still will get flustered. I actually once called his show, and demolished him way back about that time, being unemployed at the time.
But you have to see that video clip on Crooks and Liars. Would you invite such an oily shill into your living room to discuss politics?
- Speaking of "oily" personalities, Pat Robertson got the boot from the National Association of "Religous" Broadcasters (Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims Hindus, and everybody else who they don't think is a Christian need not apply.)
Oily? Yeah. Check out the Tom Hanks & Dan Akroyd version of Dragnet. Christopher Plummer's character is simply Pat Robertson through and through. It's so close to Robertson's breathy chuckling that he should have sued.
- There has to be a more outré term than "jumping the shark" because Bill O'Reilly's done it. See here, and here, and here, and here and here.
- Don Knotts has died. If we were like the French, we'd have given him a medal or something for all his work as Barney Fife, and the guy who replaced Mister Roper. Not to mention the Incredible Mr. Limpet.
- And now for something completely different. If you haven't read this bit in the International Herald Tribune about Iraq, you should.
The solution to inter-communal conflicts like this is a constitutional deal wherein each party agrees to ironclad guarantees of shared power that deny any the ability to oppress the others. But a large, powerful, U.S.-armed, U.S.-trained, Shiite-Kurd security force makes any such constitutional deal a fiction.
To resolve an intercommunal civil war, as opposed to countering a people's war, implies at least two major policy changes.
First, we must slow, not accelerate, the growth of Iraqi security forces. Even an Iraqi force with Sunni enlistees is a problem if it precedes, not follows, a constitutional deal. Combat motivation is bound to suffer if mixed Shiite-Sunni units are asked to fight Sunni enemies. And the force we can get in the near term may have few Sunnis despite efforts to recruit them. Either possibility aggravates the real conflict.
Second, we must treat the military future of Iraq as a tool for brokering constitutional compromise, not as a quick ticket home for American troops. That is, we must threaten to throw American military power behind either side in today's civil war as needed to compel the other to compromise.
If the Sunnis refuse to compromise, they must be threatened with full U.S. support for a homogeneous Shiite-Kurd army. If the Sunnis do agree to a compromise, they must be promised U.S. protection from communal rivals until a stable power-sharing deal can ensure their security without us.
Conversely, if the Shiite-Kurd alliance refuses to compromise, they must be threatened with abandonment or even U.S. assistance to their Sunni rivals. If they do compromise, they, too, must be promised sustained American protection until a power-sharing constitution is fully implemented.
Today's policy does the opposite. We have promised to remain until the creation of an effective Iraqi security force that Sunnis see as hostile, and we intend to do this regardless of either side's bargaining behavior.
This undermines both sides' incentives to negotiate. For the Sunnis, the national military is coming whether they compromise or not - indeed, compromise merely trades their arms for a piece of constitutional paper backed by a hostile Shiite-Kurd army.
Shiites and Kurds, conversely, fear the Sunnis, but have been promised U.S. protection until and unless they can defend themselves whether they compromise or not. So why should they?
This makes some sense to me. But I suspect that the folks running things aren't going to do this, it means calling a mulligan on previous Iraqi government steps, and besides, the US folks just don't care.