Saturday, April 03, 2010

A while longer

So I've been on another of my unplanned hiatuses (hiatusi?) and of course my hit count, not high in the best of times, has dropped accordingly. The truth is, I'm in another of those dark periods - I feel discouraged, tired, and overwhelmed. Mostly discouraged.

I keep thinking of the things I wanted to comment on but couldn't find the energy. Like a final post mortem on the health care bill, including expanding on the fact that now that the bill has passed, now a number of its supporters are acknowledging its shortcomings, some for the first time, and now media outlets have started to mention that a significant part of the opposition - a third by some measures - was because the bill was too weak. (Or was it true that they honestly didn't realize it, they just never thought of it? Which is worse, conscious corporatist deception or blinding stupidity?)

I especially wanted to respond to this bit by Josh Marshall, which argues
that the key condition of political success is almost always a genuine willingness to lose well. ...

A genuine willingness to lose means just that: you might lose. You might lose big.
I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. But I want to know - and wanted to consider at some length - why when that same sentiment is expressed by say, supporters of a national health care system (or even single-payer) or a third party candidate for office, they will be dismissed by all good "serious" people (including Josh Marshall) as "unrealistic" if not ridiculed as "believing in magical ponies," condemned as "helping the other side," or, in some cases, denounced as "stalking horses."

I also said nothing about the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In fairness to myself, I'm not sure just what I could have said beyond what I had written a few weeks earlier, but I did want to write something about the role of armed private contractors there - and never did.

I also wanted to discuss the Iraqi elections, especially the giddy response among "serious" people to - assuming it holds up - the squeaking victory of Ayad Allawi's slate over that of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. It was the end of sectarian rule! The "quintessentially democratic" expression of "unexpectedly sophisticated" voters!

Which of course it wasn't; those who are saying that sectarianism and tribalism are no longer issues in Iraq sound to me pretty much the same as those who declare "racism is dead" in the US. And in much the same sense: In each case, the influence of the forces in question may have waned some, but they are still potent. :cough: teabaggers :cough:

And I wanted to try to puzzle out the logic of those who are predicting a dramatic shift in power in Iraq based on the idea that the oh happy day pro-American Allawi will put together a coalition of his grouping, the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, and the Kurds and oh my! You have a multi-ethnic, multi-regional government combining Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds and secular parties and religious parties that shuts out Maliki's pro-Iran bloc and it's the best thing ever! A total justification of the war!

Except - not only is Sadr pro-Iran (so much so that he's now living there) but both his grouping and Maliki's are dominated by Shiite religious parties. Without Sadr, Allawi can't form a government. So precisely what is the advantage to Sadr to enter a coalition with secular Sunnis when simply by saying no he can force Allawi to the side and make a coalition with Maliki's bloc (and some Kurds) to maintain a government dominated by religious Shiites? Especially when Maliki's bloc and Sadr's bloc had an informal agreement before the election to do precisely that? I find it hard to see what Allawi could offer Sadr that would be that much better - or better at all - than what Sadr could get just by sitting on his hands.

In fact, if appears to come down to the simple hope that Sadr, who apparently detests Maliki (the feeling is mutual), will simply refuse to work with him or that his bloc will make demands Maliki would not accept, leaving an alliance with Allawi his only option.

We'll see - but what can't be denied is that Moqtada al-Sadr is in the position of kingmaker in Iraq. And I'm still not sure what Allawi could offer him that would be acceptable to his own bloc and to the Kurds other than "we're not Maliki." I doubt that would be enough.

And there was, of course (Of course!) the news about CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

Anyway, those are brief mentions of things I wanted to write about at length - but I lack the spirit. And I suspect it remain that way for a few more days anyway.

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