Cheering for the stick

Mrs. Dog has been blessedly and comfortably out of the loop on this whole cartoon riots thing. It came to her attention for the first time yesterday when I was telling her about the Bennett/Dershowitz column (and TBogg’s excellent post about the same.)

And she said “I get the feeling that there are commentators and pundits who, y’know,if you were to poke a muslim with a sharp stick, they’d cheer for the stick.”

I think she’s on to something.

I believe the words you’re looking for

are “spinning out of control.”

Iraq’s most powerful Sunni Muslim party quit talks to form a new government Thursday after reprisal attacks for the bombing of an important Shiite mosque.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called on his countrymen to extinguish the “flames of division” and President Bush denounced Wednesday’s mosque attack as “an evil act.” A U.S. military spokesman said the bombing clearly bears “the signature” of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Amid reports of more than 100 killings since the attack — with many Sunnis among the dead — the Sunni Accord Front announced it is leaving political unity talks after meeting with Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Seven US soldiers killed since yesterday, and, according to which news report you read, either 47 or 100 civilians have been killed in reprisal killings.

Juan Cole has the most detailed coverage,

Shiites came out in the thousands all over the Shiite south on Wednesday to protest. Quoting Sunni Arab spokesmen, the wire services are saying 75 Sunni mosques have been attacked, with two burned to the ground and 3 Sunni clergymen assassinated, with 6 Sunni Arabs dead altoghether in the violence.

In the southern city of Kut, AP says, 3,000 protesters came out to rally against the United States and Israel.

AFP says that 10,000 people in East Baghdad converged on the office of Muqtada al-Sadr, chanting against “Wahhabis” and America.

AP also describes some of the other violence:

‘ Large protests erupted in Shiite parts of Baghdad and in cities throughout the Shiite heartland to the south. In Basra, Shiite militants traded rifle and rocket-propelled grenade fire with guards at the office of the Iraqi Islamic Party. Smoke billowed from the building.

Shiite protesters later set fire to a Sunni shrine containing the seventh century tomb of Talha bin Obeid-Allah, companion of the Prophet Muhammad, on the outskirts of the southern city. Police found 11 bodies of Sunni Muslims, most of them shot in the head, in two neighborhoods of Basra, police Capt. Mushtaq Kadhim said. Two of the dead were Egyptians, Kadhim said.

Protesters in Najaf, Kut and Baghdad’s Shiite slum of Sadr City also marched through the streets by the hundreds and thousands, many shouting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans and burning those nations’ flags. ‘

The hardline Shiite Mahdi Army has come out of Sadr City and is all over Baghdad. They are clashing with Sunnis in Basra.

What a smashing little war.

The view from a local:

No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isn’t good at all. I don’t think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. There’s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan…

Several mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere. Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere.

People are scared and watchful. We can only pray.

Experts: Whole world “pretty much gone to shit.”

I was home sick all day yesterday and spent most of the day migrating from MT to WordPress. In the early part of the day, though, I wasted some time trying to photoshop the above headline into a screengrab of the front page of the BBC news page.

I just can’t think of anything good to say about the situation in Iraq. When you’ve lost even Bill O’Reilly, you’ve lost the idiots who would sign on to anything so long as they got to “look tough” to somebody.

e p o n y m o u s had this same chest cold for about two weeks (wonder where I got it…) and he got kind of depressed, too. Must be something about feeling run down and having trouble getting a deep breath that is making me kind of existential.

Bedtime for Benzo

I have been debating about whether or not to write this post all day, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Several people who I respect have commented on how wacky Mary Matalin was on Tim Russert’s show last weekend, but at least one person was very specific about what he thought was wrong with her.

Arianna had this to say:

And then there was the black Asian pajama top to match the black eye makeup and the scarlet red nails to match the scarlet red lips. It was impossible to watch her without thinking of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. And then there was her manner, which was so incredibly nasty that it was hard to focus on her ludicrous talking points.

I certainly noticed all of that, but my friend, who I will dub Agent MercedesBenzo, said “Did you see the balloon hands?” I didn’t know what he was talking about, so he explained it to me. Agent MB is a recovering person- he has recently gotten clean of drugs, and he was particularly fond of prescription meds. He told me today that people using benzodiazepines will often make fairly distinctive hand movements- sort of fluttery and floaty. From the article linked to above about Benzos: “The benzodiazepines are a class of drugs with hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, amnestic and muscle relaxant properties.” They include Haclion, Xanax, Valium, Atavan and Klonopin, among others.

Behavior of persons under the influence of Benzodiazepines are described as slurred or erratic speech patterns, lack of inhibition and impaired judgement, and in certain users, aggressiveness, irritability, hostility, impulsivity and increased excitement. (and, according to Agent MercedesBenzo, balloon hands.)

From Arianna:

to get the full effect, you had to see not just what Mary said, but how she said it. She was dripping with contempt and sarcasm, parroting anything said by the other panelists in a teenage sing-song imitation complete with the liberal use of air quotes.

Agent MB watched some of Matalin at Crooks and Liars and said “Holy cow, that woman’s on drugs. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. It made me want to climb the walls.”

Well, isn’t that interesting?

Who’s the pinhead now?

Fascinating.

Bill O’Reilly suggested that the United States “hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible” because “[t]here are so many nuts in the country — so many crazies — that we can’t control them.” O’Reilly has previously called those advocating immediate withdrawal from Iraq “pinheads” and compared them to Hitler appeasers.

I am sure that the Magnificent Bloviator will find some way to rationalize both his change of heart and his derogation of Cindy Sheehan. Fucking putz.

So, I fixed the place up a bit… whaddya think?

I got tired of wondering who was trying to comment and was getting batted down by the MT blacklist. I know that The Fixer was having trouble, and I always deeply value his input, so I made the change to WordPress. I kinda dig it. Some of the controls are very different from MT, so I am feeling my way through it.

Other reasons for the migration:

  • People were telling me that white text on a black background was hard to read for very long.
  • I was getting kind of bored with the name Yelladog and the same old look.
  • Spam comments were still getting through and legitimate comments weren’t. That’s no good.

    The migration was a snap, thanks to Dreamhost’s One-Click WordPress Installer. So far, so good. I have been doing the blog equivalent of walking through the house flicking lights on and off, so if something was one way ten minutes ago and now isn’t right, just give it a minute. I am sure I broke it or something.

    Let me know what you think!

  • Tears of a clown

    One of the great things about reading Norbizness is that about once every couple of days, out of the swirling miasma of funny captions, well-considered DVD reviews (of all those movies you keep meaning to see) (but probably won’t), obscure Simpsons references and funny pictures of Houston’s fattest baby, comes an insight like this:

    The outrage is semi-misplaced, however. The country of origin shouldn’t be the main issue; it should be the continuing privitization of governmental functions for the benefit of large multinational companies, after wandering around in a noncompliant, unsafe haze for several years.

    See, it’s the not the heat, it’s the stupidity.

    I think it’s that he’s had a few extra years of living in Bush world, what with being a Texan and all, so he has some special insight into what it means to have all of government’s services outsourced to the President’s (and Veep’s) hand-selected pack of cronies, criminals and creeps.

    Oh, and wonder of wonders…

    A letter came in the mail today informing me that my MRI (which was last week, as you may know) is now Pre-Certified!

    After spending most of yesterday on the phone with the insurance company, I feel compelled to reference Arthur C Clarke’s famous quote: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. (see also: IRAQ INVASION and KATRINA.)

    So, my joy at having saved myself $1800-$2000 is kind of tempered by the knowledge that if I plan to get my shoulder treated, I can look forward to more of the same.

    All joking aside

    This could get really, really, really bad.

    Then real disaster struck. The guerriillas blew up the domed Askariyah shrine in Samarra. The shrine, sacred to Shiiites, honors 3 Imams or holy descendants of the Prophet. They are Ali al-Hadi, Hasan al-Askari, and his disappeared son Muhammad al-Mahdi. Thousands of Shiiites demonnstrated in Samarra and in East Baghdad, against this desecration.

    The Twelfh Imam or Mahdi is believed by Shiites to have disappeared into a supernatural realm (just as Christians believe in the ascension of Christ) from which he will someday return.

    Some Shiites think his second coming is imminent. Muqtada all-Sadr and his followers are among them. They are livid about this attack on the shrine of the Mahdi’s father.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a firm believer in the imminent coming of the Mahdi. I worry that Iranian anger will boil over as a result of this bombing of a Shiite millenarian symbol.

    Both Sunnis and Americans will be blamed. Very bad.

    An all-out Iraqi Civil War is so bad on so many levels. Maybe a million people would die. US troops would have a hell of a time just getting out of the way and back the US. Then the world’s sixth largest oilfield would be a combat zone. There’s no upside to this at all.