The Spectacle Blog

President Paranoid Still Missing

By on 1.31.06 | 12:14AM

Iran President Ahmadinejad remains out of sight and unlocated by routine signals intelligence at the beginning of the second week of mystery.

Meanwhile the Basiji, the bully boy militia attached to the revolution, begin national defense exercises in Khuzestan, the province neighboring Iraq in the south, also scene of the terror bomb blasts last week, at the city of Ahvaz. The national defense exercises are not terror related. The exercises are more practice to repel airborne assault, and also practice to engage in urban fighting.

These national defense exercises resemble the crude, panicky, lumbering exercises practiced by Iraqi forces during the chatty decade of paranoia between Gulf I and Iraqi Freedom. (See 1997 Harrison Ford vehicle "Air Force One" for a glimpse at the Iraq obsessed national security apparatus of the Clintonistas.)

Quick observation at this point in time is that Iran is major league spooked. Spooked enough to launch diversionary strike? Spooked enough to keep Ahmadinejad in the genie's bottle that birthed him?

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Perm 5 Agree

By on 1.30.06 | 9:09PM

The five permanent (i.e., veto-holding) members of the UN Security Council agreed tonight in London to transfer the Iran issue from the IAEA to the Security Council. This agreement, which includes both Russia and China, will not immediately trigger a sanctions debate. Apparently, the introduction of resolutions and debate on them will be withheld until the March IAEA report.

This is a major step on Iran. The Perm-5 agreement, which does not guarantee votes by Britain, France, Russia or China for sanctions, nevertheless is a major blow to Iran. It puts more diplomatic pressure on the mullahs, and reduces to finite terms the otherwise infinite flow of Euro-diplomacy. The UN won't do anything decisive or effective, but at least the clock is running on Iran. What Iran may do in response to this vote will tell much about how the next round will go. It is entirely possible that Iran will strike -- economically or through its terrorist proxies -- in answer to this vote. The more reckless Iran gets, the shorter their time will, ultimately, be.

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Off the Deep End

By on 1.30.06 | 7:17PM

In my article on Ted Kennedy and the Alito nomination, I suggested that the senior senator from Massachusetts may not care enough mount to filibuster. Clearly I was wrong. But Kennedy's complete meltdown tonight takes his madness to a whole new level. So what's his method? A few theories:

-The nuts on the left needed a compelling performance, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style. But a filibuster sufficiently pleased them. So the breakdown wasn't necessary.

-He needs it for re-election this year. But this one doesn't wash either: the highest percentage an opponent has ever garnered was 41 percent -- Mitt Romney in 1994.

-Kennedy really believes this stuff. I doubt it. If he did, he would have been this exercised about it every day from late October until now. No, this is a last-minute break. So unless I'm missing something, that leaves one possibility:

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Restore Their Meds, Please

By on 1.30.06 | 6:28PM

So my plan for the Kerry minibuster on Alito has failed, and the good guys won. The collateral damage amongst the hyperlibs - especially their bloggocracy - is hysterical as well as hilarious. But they're going farther than usual. Now, at least among the Lord of the Flies Boys at DailyKos, they're apparently calling for violence:

In every case, the warriors in those wars suffered immense setbacks, repeatedly so, and found it hard to get the politicians to speak up and stand up for them. Eventually, however, because they refused to surrender, and because they took the fight beyond the electoral arena, they won. We will, too.

Wow. The KosKidz and others are also talking about Dems who voted for cloture in terms both obscene and threatening. They're a marvel to behold.

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Guns or Butter?

By on 1.30.06 | 5:43PM

That should read, "Nukes or Butter?" If you compare the EUnuchs' reactions to a Saudi boycott of Danish products to their continued dithering on Iran, you should conclude that the nations of shopkeepers of Europe are following in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers. Their fathers appeased Hitler. Their grandfathers, the Kaiser. Now they're appeasing Ahmadinejad.

Unfair comparisons are one fuel of politics. And it’s hard to be fair to Europe/> when it’s in one of its moods. Which is practically all the time.

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Drone War and its Discontents

By on 1.30.06 | 5:04PM

It is impossible to escape the impression that the LA Times commonly uses false standards of measurement against the military undertakings of the United States. That newspaper, for which it was not good enough to be against the troops, turns out to be against the drones, too.

The final graf in this vaguely agonized stand epitomizes its tone of mournful disapproval with a wistful coda: "The CIA does not even acknowledge that such a targeted-killing program exists, and some attacks have been explained away as car bombings or other incidents. It is not known how many militants or bystanders have been killed by Predator strikes, but anecdotal evidence suggests the number is significant."

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Cloture on Alito

By on 1.30.06 | 4:48PM

72 Yea, 25 Nay

UPDATE: Roll call here (I'm pretty sure the bit about the Rear Admiral under "Nomination Description" is a mistake, which for all I know will be fixed by the time you click through).

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Dr. Z Rapping

By on 1.30.06 | 3:18PM

Bump on the noggin rapper Dr. A Zawahiri is back on air with talking points for Pelosians and Deaniacs.

Am eager to see this crosscut with Sheehan campaign against less than limber Dianne F. in California.

The puzzle for historians will be how George Bush would have done so well without enemies as wildly predictable (we have been waiting impatiently for the Sony camcorder shipment to reach Waziristan since the Jan 13 missile strike took out Dr. Z's MTV son-in-law and his editing skills) as Al Q and the cobra-hissing Dr. Z.

This excerpt from whining jeremiad that is specially dreamy, everything we want in Goebbels-deriviative fantasies of cherry blossoms and bile:

"Butcher of Washington, you are not only defeated and a liar, but also a failure. You are a curse on your own nation."

This is the day before the SOTU roll-out. Call for rewrite! Draft 25. Get Dr. Z's curdling lip in there!

Am I deaf? Is this the sound of box office? Roll file film, go to Arabic croaking, underline: defeated, liar, curse.

The RNC does not earn this luck. It is the hot streak of being on the gun side of history.

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Woodruff, the Muse, the Reaper

By on 1.30.06 | 2:36PM

Have walked Nativity Square wearing a flak jacket and a mobile phone during the siege of '02, have ridden in a HUMVEE without armored doors on the Philadelphi route in Gaza during Hamas/Islamic Jihad attack, have darted along the alternate route at the Jordan River wire, through the minefields, at sunset, to avoid the IDF patrols and the fleeing Al Aqsa gunmen from another attack on the West Bank, have entered Hebron several times in an unarmored vehicle with only a pistol armed guide and my mobile phone and blackberry to walk the Casbah and puzzle, have stood on Masada at noontime on the second day of the Iraq operation, expecting Iraqi incoming from H3 - all this is true, all this was reckless and vainglorious and inexcusable. If anything negative had happened, not only would I have expected condemnation from my sponsors, not only would I have deserved the fury of my family (who did not accede to risking the family unit before Dad departed to be Mr. War Correspondent), but also there would not have been one cent of life insurance cent available because of the clear violation of the war zone warnings. Will I do similar again? Likely.

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Defending Democracy

By on 1.30.06 | 1:36PM

To argue, as David Yerushalmi does, that Hamas's victory shows "the fallacy of the democracy thesis," one would have to first establish that the Palestinian Authority is a democracy. It isn't just yet; as Glenn Reynolds is fond of repeating, democratization is a process, not an event. If, as Yerushalmi speculates, Hamas proceeds to "eliminate any real democratic limits on tyranny by simply eliminating or reducing to a caricature the democratic institutions," then the democratization process will have failed. But Hamas's victory shouldn't scare us off from the goal of completing that process.

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