27 November, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

What fucking discourse? Everybody's off eating themselves into oblivion, arguing with conservative relatives, and giving thanks, it seems. I've got a thimble's worth of political news for those of you who just can't get enough, and some fun stuff to compliment your turkey hangover.

What am I giving thanks for today? That some of my favorite political bloggers only took part of the day off. Among an abundance of other things, which I shan't bore you with here.

We have a new SOFA:

Just 10 days ago, Iraq's cabinet overwhelmingly approved a security agreement with the U.S. that calls for a withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 2011. The measure then went to the Iraqi Parliament for approval, but success was not a given.

As it turns out, it passed rather easily.

Iraq's parliament approved Thursday a security pact with the United States that lets American troops stay in the country for three more years.

The vote in favor of the pact was backed by the ruling coalition's Shiite and Kurdish blocs as well as the largest Sunni Arab bloc, which had demanded concessions for supporting the deal.

Iraq will hold a referendum on the SOFA, allowing their war-weary populace to vote on whether to keep the Americans about or kick us the fuck out, leading Hullaballoo's dday to make an incisive observation:
It is, however, interesting that the Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, politicians throughout the Parliament, and now every individual Iraqi will have a chance to weigh in on this security agreement with the United States, yet basically one "decider" in this country is allowed to do so.

We are, however, a shining city on a hill, so that balances things out.
That's right. Iraq has a better handle on democracy right now than we do. Outstanding. Our work there is finished.

Instead of forcing our tender attentions on Iraq, it might be a good idea to actually, you know, start doing something useful about fighting terrorism. It seems some terrorist organizations have no problem with escalating the "war:"

Terrorist attacks are not, tragically, entirely uncommon in India, especially this year, but the events in Mumbai have been on another level of magnitude.

Indian police commandos rescued some hostages on Thursday as standoffs continued against heavily armed militants who a day earlier had swept into Mumbai, India's commercial capital, in a shocking series of coordinated and bloody attacks.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a televised address that the attackers probably had "external linkages" -- the first official indication that the authorities were likely to blame outsiders.

The hooded gunmen, firing automatic weapons and throwing hand grenades, attacked at least two luxury hotels, the city's largest train station, a Jewish center, a movie theater and a hospital.

The Mumbai police said Thursday afternoon that the attacks killed at least 101 people and wounded at least 314. It was not immediately clear how many hostages were freed in the commando operation or how many were still being held.

This year, the more routine terrorist attacks in India have featured bombs left in public areas. The coordinated, well-orchestrated attacks that began yesterday were executed by young men with machine guns, who brazenly made no effort to hide their identity. The LA Times speculated that the attacks "required a previously unseen degree of reconnaissance and planning," leading some experts to suspect "the likely involvement of experienced commanders."

But it's not at all clear that India's dealing with an external group. This atrocity may be homegrown:

There's now evidence that the attacks were carried out by indigenous militants and motivated purely by rage at Hindu-supremacist atrocities inside India rather than being part of an international Al Qaeda plan of attacks or Pakistan's strategy of "foreign policy by terror proxy". Blake Hounshell notes:

Today's horrific attacks in Mumbai were claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen...A group calling itself the "Indian Mujahideen" has claimed responsibility for attacks in a number of different cities over the past several months. The Indian Mujahideen sent a warning in September expressing anger over recent raids by the city's antiterrorism squad (ATS). Today's message from the Deccan Mujahideen appears to be identical...

And what might they be pissed about?

Christine Fair, senior political scientist and a South Asia expert at the RAND Corporation... believes the attacks could be "yet another manifestation of domestic terrorism" that has its genesis in a longstanding institutional discrimination against Muslims.

"There are a lot of very, very angry Muslims in India," she said, "The economic disparities are startling, and India has been very slow to publicly embrace its rising Muslim problem. You cannot put lipstick on this pig. This is a major domestic political challenge for India."

Invading countries isn't going to solve the issues that lead to terrorism. Changing the conditions that breed it and treating terrorism as a law-enforcement issue will do far more. It's a good thing we have a President-Elect incoming who understands nuances, and not McPalin, who would probably call for war on India and condemn Ms. Fair for making sexist references to Sarah Palin.

Of course, some folks aren't as grateful for our new president and the complete repudiation of the insanity of the last eight years as others. Saxby Chambliss, in fact, is counting on Palin's star power and easily-frightened ignoramuses to get him back into Washington:

Sarah Palin will spend part of Sunday and most or all of Monday, campaigning for Senator Saxby Chambliss, in his bid to keep his seat from the strong challenge of Jim Martin. This move on the part of the Saxby campaign is being widely perceived as one to use her ability as a "closer," that is - somebody who can cinch a deal.

Certainly, Palin has proven she can make her base base salivate. And many appearances by her in the Southeast United States during September and October drew huge, enraptured throngs.

I'm sure Saxby's campaign will love throwing scraps of red meat out to the crowds greeting Palin. But her rabid stump style might just as well drive undecided voters toward Martin.No doubt, the group plowing a lot of money into Georgia right now, the National Republican Trust PAC, has sent her the talking points she will use Sunday and Monday:

Barack Obama is just one seat away from TOTAL CONTROL Obama will enact crushing new taxes to pay for immediate citizenship for 15 million illegal aliens Obama is getting ready to enact a RADICAL AGENDA

This should be highly entertaining. I just wish we could focus on, y'know, actual important issues in this country rather than another round of ZOMG the commofascistscarybrownsocialibruls iz taking over!!11!eleventyone!11!!! hysteria from our resident rubes.

Still... at least she makes for some good LOL moments:

Happy Thanksgiving from the Bush administration:

And, finally, what I'm giving thanks for right at this moment:

A President who knows the true meaning of compassion and competence. If you need your heart warmed, go and view that photo diary. My deepest, most heartfelt thanks to the people who made this moment possible: Yes, we could, yes, we did, and yes, we will. Together.

Happy Thanksgiving, my darlings.

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