Iraqi Bloggers at Home and Abroad

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From BBC News:

“Here’s a snapshot of some of those still writing from inside Iraq – and some of those who have left.”

The links in this BBC article are to a list of blogs run by Iraqis living in Iraq and some Iraqis who have fled to other countries. They give you a window or even just a glimpse into the day to day lives of Iraqis and what they have endured and continue to endure from their own words, from pictures, and their own perspectives. Perhaps if we had more stories of the real impact and consequences of this war in Iraq, told in pictures and words from Iraqis themselves, along with actual photographs of the caskets of American soldiers coming home and those who have suffered disabling injuries (all of which show the REAL cost of this war), then perhaps this war would come to a swift and sudden halt.

¡Ay! ¡Caramba!

Is it possible for a nation’s Congress to finally stand up to its president?

Well, yes …

… in Mexico.

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) — Mexican President Felipe Calderon vowed to “transform Mexico” in his first state of the union address today by boosting tax collection and continuing a military assault on drug traffickers and organized crime.

His state of the union address to the nation was the first ever delivered from the National Palace and not before Congress. Opposition legislators yesterday refused to allow Calderon to speak in Congress, where he submitted a written report on the state of the nation to comply with a constitutional requirement.

Calderon’s decision to deliver his speech from the building that houses the Finance Ministry underscores the political tensions that still linger after last year’s contested presidential race. At the same time, the president’s willingness to change venue placates the opposition just as Congress resumes its ordinary session tomorrow.

TPZoo commenter juancristobal reports that:

Yesterday, according to Mexican laws, he handed in written form the document to the Pres of the Congress (excuse my lack of knowledge on political terms). When the Pres of the Congress was about to deliver its speech, the TV signal died. It was already known that the Pres of the Congress was about to deny accepting the document for reasons that have to do with electoral fraud and that Pres Calderon is not considered, according to her, the legal Pres of the Mexican Republic (I concur).

So, what the media did was to cut off her speech allegedly due to TECHNICAL problems. Everything else was broadcasted.

Different hurricane, way different president

In James Lee Burke’s latest novel, which is set in and around New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, I ran across an intriguing reference to how President Lyndon Johnson responded when Hurricane Betsy flooded New Orleans in 1965. A little searching online found a fascinating New Yorker article, here: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/10/03/051003fa_fact

LBJ flew into New Orleans the next day. The entire article is well worth reading, but this particular section is very striking:

In the Ninth Ward, Johnson visited the George Washington Elementary School, on St. Claude Avenue, which was being used as a shelter. “Most of the people inside and outside of the building were Negro,” the diary reads. “At first, they did not believe that it was actually the President.” Johnson entered the crowded shelter in near-total darkness; there were only a couple of flashlights to lead the way.

“This is your President!” Johnson announced. “I’m here to help you!”

The diary describes the shelter as a “mass of human suffering,” with people calling out for help “in terribly emotional wails from voices of all ages. . . . It was a most pitiful sight of human and material destruction.” According to an article by the historian Edward F. Haas, published fifteen years ago in the Gulf Coast Historical Review, Johnson was deeply moved as people approached and asked him for food and water; one woman asked Johnson for a boat so that she could look for her two sons, who had been lost in the flood.

“Little Mayor, this is horrible,” Johnson said to Schiro. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.” Johnson assured Schiro that the resources of the federal government were at his disposal and that “all red tape [will] be cut.”

The President flew back to Washington and the next day sent Schiro a sixteen-page telegram outlining plans for aid and the revival of New Orleans. “Please know,” Johnson wrote, “that my thoughts and prayers are with you and the thousands of Louisiana citizens who have suffered so heavily.”

The Affluent Society

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

J.K. Galbraith

What surprises me most about US politics, is the belief of many Americans that, war or no war, terrorism or no terrorism, natural disasters or no natural disasters, at least the economy is healthy. And as long as the economy is good, your life will be good.

Really?

There is this little problem about the housing market, subprime lending, the financial markets. Oh, and there is the deficit, of course. Lousy infrastructure all over the place. Working poor by the millions. Increasing gap in household income. Millions without health insurance. Millions without proper pension plans.

Here are some problems that are already hurting the US economy and/or may well turn into major crises soon: Continue reading

Book Report: Imperial Life In The Emerald City

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Of all the books and articles that I have read about the war in Iraq, nothing has impacted me more, painted more vivid pictures, or made things more clear to me than this book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. This book was a ride from start to finish and I couldn’t put it down from the very first page.

There were so many opportunities to do things right and make a huge difference to the people of Iraq after the fall of Saddam. There was a window that was slowly, and it seems to me, methodically shut. That part became very clear as I got deeper and deeper into the book. You can’t help wondering if the plan WAS to fail – while going through the motions of establishing a free and democratic Iraq. Every time someone absolutely qualified and experienced came in with energy and good ideas, they would be frustrated at every turn and then suddenly replaced (often with little or no notice) with some clueless, inexperienced, out of their depth Bush loyalist.

The total lack disconnect with the Iraqis and lack of interest or caring for their living conditions and plight is glaring. Chandrasekaran shines a light on the waste and the corruption. There are too many OMG moments (as you lay the book down in your lap and shake your head) in this book to mention here. You can’t read this book without coming away with a different understanding of what the intentions of this Administration have been from the very beginning.
This is an amazingly well written book. I highly recommend it.
Continue reading

UK military critical of American approach in Iraq

How come we don’t have a shadow cabinet in this country? At any rate, the shadow foreign secretary has called for an investigation into the war.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6891682,00.html

Major General Tim Cross, the most senior UK officer involved in the post-war planning, said that Washington’s policy had been “fatally flawed”.

He also insisted he had raised serious concerns about the possibility of the country sliding into chaos with Donald Rumsfeld – but the then-US defence secretary “dismissed” the warnings.

Gen Cross’s comments, in an interview with the Sunday Mirror, emerged after the former head of the Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, branded the American approach “intellectually bankrupt”.

Katie Couric Admits to Being a Fluff Brain

From ThinkProgress:

Katie Couric is currently doing her usual hard-hitting journalist shtick from Iraq. Speaking with Bob Schieffer this morning on CBS’s Face the Nation, as well as babbling Gen Petraeus’ talking points, said the following:

“Well, I was surprised, you know, after I went to eastern Baghdad, I was taken to the Allawi market, which is near Haifa, which was the scene of that very bloody gun battle back in January. And, you know, this market seems to be thriving. And there were a lot of people out and about. A lot of family-owned businesses and vegetable stalls.

And so, you do see signs of life that seem to be normal. Of course, that’s what the U.S. military wants me to see, so you have to keep that in mind as well. But I think there are definitely areas where the situation is improving.”

Der.  Nice afterthought, Katie.