Blogs

Iraqi View of Surge's "Success"

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 7:27 PM EST

_44050854_lastofiraqis416100.jpg

In a recent post on Last of Iraqis, one of the few Iraqi English-language blogs still up and running, blogger Mohammed offers a new perspective on what the U.S. has called success in Iraq. After a November 25th bombing near the ministry of health left his good friend's mom in critical condition, the 25-year-old dentist said he suspected the relative calm of the last couple of weeks didn't mean the insurgents were gone—just that they were pausing to regroup. He wrote, "It seems that the terrorists from all sides were just planning what to do next, they were planning how to overcome the current changes."

With another deadly blast hitting Baghdad today, Mohammed's view of recent developments seems far more accurate than the mainstream American media's. The violence has always been cyclical, and there's no reason to believe things are any different this time around.

Throughout the war, undiluted blogging from Iraqis on the ground has kept American news outlets in check. The BBC has done a roundup of these posts from civilians inside the country every couple of months since January of this year.

—Andre Sternberg

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Supersize Coup - Morgan Spurlock Finds Osama?

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 6:55 PM EST

No one can say for sure, but rumor has it that director Morgan Spurlock, of McMadness fame, has located the elusive al Qaeda leader. Read more over at The Riff.

—Casey Miner

Supersize Coup - Morgan Spurlock Finds Osama?

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 6:50 PM EST

spurlockblog.jpg

It's still only a rumor, but word is that the payoff of Morgan Spurlock's new documentary, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, is, well, Osama Bin Laden. Alt-film blog SlashFilm reports that in February, the Weinstein Co. bought the film after seeing only 15 minutes of footage, quoting the film's director of photography as saying that Spurlock "definitely got the holy grail."

While I find it hard to believe that the irreverent Spurlock actually located, spoke with, or filmed Bin Laden, I'm a little worried about his fate if he did. Our government doesn't take kindly to embarrassment, and if he got anywhere near Bin Laden, Spurlock's contact list alone is probably enough to earn him a visit from Homeland Security. Hopefully, though, when it premieres next year at Sundance this film will do what Sicko did for the healthcare debate and help us shift our energies towards where they're really needed.

—Casey Miner


Mitt Romney, You're No Jack Kennedy

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 6:32 PM EST

George Packer on why Mitt Romney's upcoming "Mormon speech" should not be compared to JFK's famous 1960 "Catholic speech":

Romney's intention is the exact opposite of Kennedy's. He's caught in a trap of his own and his party's making. Romney can't raise the shield of secularism, as Kennedy did, because he is seeking the nomination of a sectarian party that's built on a religious test. He can't stand on any principle at all, secular or religious; instead, he has to win over the Christianists, who make up a large part of the Republican base, even though he belongs to a faith that most of them consider un-Christian. His eternal truth will be: "Hey, we're not that different." He parades his large and perfect family, he reminds us of his spotless personal life, he is dismissive of the possibility of appointing a Muslim Cabinet member, all to immunize himself against the religious bigotry of the voters he's wooing. He's going to do the same thing on Thursday. So no more comparisons with Kennedy, please.

Read the rest here.

Government Can't Get Its Story Straight On Iran NIE

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 6:23 PM EST

George Bush, yesterday:

DAVID GREGORY: When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in '03 had already come to light to this administration. So can't you be accused of hyping this threat? And don't you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?

THE PRESIDENT: ...I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze...it wasn't until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public.

National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley claimed much the same thing on Monday:

[W]hen the President was told that we had some additional information, he was basically told: stand down; needs to be evaluated; we'll come to you and tell you what we think it means. So this was basically -- as we said, this is information that came in the last few months, and the intelligence community spent a lot time to get on top of it.

As implausible as this seems, the Los Angeles Times reports that, according to "U.S. intelligence officials," Bush was telling the truth:

Party With Saddam

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 6:15 PM EST

Fishbone, a ska/funk/metal/rock band that formed in 1979 and has continued to tour and release albums ever since, has a song from their newest CD, Still Stuck in Your Throat, called "Party With Saddam" that is arguably the cheeriest, most hopeful, and most danceable song I've heard about the former Iraqi president.

The song is a standard ska romp, and it's catchy chorus goes like this: "We won't see the end / If we party till our colors blend / Party till Saddam's your friend / Never drop a bomb again / All right / We can break the chains / If we party like our blood's the same / Party till we lose our aim / Never shoot a gun again." The song was actually released in Europe in August '06, but after Saddam's death last December, the band has since been inviteded to talk about/perform the song (a crowd favorite) on radio stations. Here's one acoustic performance:

Fishbone's been around for decades (I've seen them live a dozen times), and despite having only two original members, they keep making socially-conscious, energetic, up-tempo music that most of their musical peers probably can't—or just don't want to—keep up with anymore.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Lefty Think Tank Sells Itself on eBay

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 6:02 PM EST

I've never even sold so much as a lamp on eBay, but the owners of a Bay Area think tank are taking the idea of peddling wares online to a whole new level: They're selling the whole damn tank. Their ad reads: "Own This Think Tank: BACVR for Sale on eBay - Perfect Holiday Gift for Political Junkies."

Allegedly the first to do so (eBay did not return my call or email), the Bay Area Center for Voting Research (BACVR) has garnered a few bids, one at approximately $5,100, according to co-founder Jason Alderman.

"You don't need to be an Ivy League professor or a former administration official to run a think tank. There's an enormous number of smart Americans out there that can do this, and this is a great way to solicit their help," Alderman told me at the end of last week.

Can Fringe Anti-Mormon Fundamentalists Bring Down Romney?

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 4:57 PM EST

Don't ask me why, but I'm on the email list of several extreme Christian fundamentalist groups. And lately I've received a couple of warnings from them: watch out for Mitt Romney. He's a Mormon.

On Thursday, Romney is scheduled to give (finally) what's being called his "Mormon Speech." Romney recently said, "I can tell you I'm not going to be talking so much about my faith as I am talking about the religious heritage of our country and the role in which it played in the founding of the nation and the role which I think religion should generally play today in our society."

No one really wants to hear Romney expound on the history of religion in the United States. The issue is whether he can persuade conservative conventional Christians that he, as a Mormon, is as good a Christian as they (and Mike Huckabee) are. Why is he delivering such a speech just weeks before the Iowa caucus? Obviously he and his advisers have decided he has no choice, especially with Huckabee, the former Baptist minister, surging in the polls in the Hawkeye State.

There are Christians who consider Mormonism a heretical cult, but there's no telling if the fundamentalists who are gunning for Romney will have any influence on GOP Iowa caucus-goers, a relatively small slice of Iowans dominated by social conservatives.

One outfit called Godvoters.org has put out an email decrying Romney.

Video of The View: "I Don't Think Anything Predated Christians"

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 3:43 PM EST

I don't want to make this "Poke Fun at Christians Who Say Silly Things" day at MoJoBlog (see here), but I just can't believe this went over the national airwaves.

"I don't think anything predated Christians... Jesus came first." Really, Sherri Shepherd? I ask this because you seem like a devout Christian woman: Have you read the Bible? Because there's this part called the Old Testament. Much, dare I say all, of it predates the part with the Christians.

They should have to issue a correction on tomorrow's show, just like a newspaper.

(H/T Ygelsias)

Deck the Halls with LEDs

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 3:16 PM EST

led-Christmas.jpg

Tis' the season when Bill O'Reilly has been off and running since Thanksgiving, railing against all who dare to secularize Christmas. In the spirit of railing, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss Christmas waste, most notably energy waste. I like a sprightly Christmas tree just as much as O'Reilly (well, maybe not that much), but the energy it takes to light a Christmas tree each holiday season is enough to make you think twice about the tradition.

Robert Balzar at the public utility Seattle City Light estimates that a typical Christmas tree uses about 144 watts of incandescent lights. Let's say you light your tree for five hours a day for a month, that's 22 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy use. On the other hand if you light your tree with new LED lights, you will only use 2 kWhs of energy. Now, 22 kWhs is only 2 percent of the average household's per month electricity use, so admittedly, this doesn't seem like a big difference, but on a citywide scale things start to look more startling. The difference between using incandescent lights and LEDs for the estimated 300,000 Christmas trees in Seattle is as great as 6,540,000 kWhs and $400,000.

The word is already out to many large cities, including Washington D.C. and Boulder, CO, which have converted their city tree lights to LEDs. L.A.'s annual holiday light festival made the switch just this year, and yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg turned on the LED holiday lights at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

—Michelle Chandra