The Spectacle Blog
Report from Nigeria that the rioting is politically directed sectarian mass murder. The Muslims resent that the Christian Obasanjo won't go. The killing is with machete and stones and petrol, just like the Rwanda tales. The killing is widespread north and east. Obasanjio's authorities cannot control the killing or the fear, and as many as ten thousand are in hiding from marauders.
Meanwhile MEND has cut production from the Niger Delta by 20%. And there is no answer. Without Nigeria light sweet crude, the world demand is on a dire diet.
Of all the tributes I've read to Don Knotts maybe the nicest was by the New York Times' television critic Virginia Heffernan, who displayed nothing but human appreciation for a beloved American performer, who died last Friday at 81:
"He was absolutely flappable. No one had a better tremor or double-take, and with his unmistakable homeliness...he didn't bother to play the wise fool; he wisely stuck to just the fool....
"He was a generous performer who likes to share the stage, and he thrived in duets, teams, variety shows, ensembles.,,,
"As Barney, he satirized swagger and self-importance....Mr. Knotts, over and over, was willing to play the desperate, pathetic low-man-on-every-pole. He did it so well...that his talent for abasement became a source, paradoxically, of great authority."
She ends by noting that once he even got to play the hero, "saving the day" in one Andy Griffith show when, "playing an achingly melancholy song on his harmonica, he leads a dangerous goat, which has swallowed dynamite, out of town."
Some will call it gutsy, many will call it reckless (I lean heavily toward the former, btw). In a move which will surely drive the Communist Chinese absolutely BatGuano, Taiwan President Chen Shui Bian has mothballed Taiwan's National Unification Council which was set up in 1990 "as an attempt to convince the Chinese authorities that Taiwan was committed to reunification."
Keep an eye on this...could get dicey and wind up being a real test of our commitment to our friends on Taiwan.
How can the Shi'a south survive on its own except as a satrapy of Tehran? If Moqtada al Sadr is really interested in poodle duty, wouldn't he have dropped the charade by now? It strikes me that anyone hoping to shear off the south and make of it a private fiefdom would have to first provoke and then endure and finally win a civil war of secession. This is not only a difficult process to complete from start to finish but also a costly and weakening one. This is something the Confederacy had a tough time managing -- and that without a comparatively vast and gogglingly covetous next door neighbor looming over the battlefields.
Actually, I think he's looking to rule a partitioned piece of Iraq. The more senior Shia - Sistani among them - realize the difficulties of keeping Iraq together are potentially worth it for them. Sadr and his ilk are willing to sell out the north and center to keep the South for themselves. High risk, high potential payoff strategy.
Jed, it's entirely possible that Sadr has something vicious and unconscionable up his sleeve. And it's difficult to take calls for peace at face value from a guy who ran around killing Americans until it became more trouble than it was worth to him. But query whether al Sadr would rather have a chance at running the government of an Iraq whole and at peace or a guaranteed place at the top of a Shi'a army tasked with surviving a civil war. Query whether al Sadr aspires for purely religious reasons to be a permanent stepstool for Iranian overlordship.
He spreads the blame all around: to the apparently xenophobic overreaction among Democratic and Republican quarters, and to the White House for perhaps "unleashing the dogs of anti-Arab prejudice," and then botching the PR last week.
He also reports that Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is suffering heartburn from the news. As much as I like Thune (he's genuine and affable in person), he continues to disappoint. Remember the fit he threw over BRAC last year and then withdrew support for the Bolton nomination? I know the Great Plains states lean populist, but once in a while their representatives should exercise some sensible leadership.
Calls for calm in Iraq emanating from Moqtada al-Sadr last week are being viewed by some as good news. What they ignore is the fact that Sadr, while calling for peace, ordered his militia to stop wearing their trademark black getups. He sending his people underground, which may well mean the terror campaign we haven't seen from him before is about to start in earnest. Could mean other things as well, but this guy calling for peace is the rough equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde decrying lousy bank security.