Today's Blogs

Jaafari Agonistes

Bloggers analyze the mounting efforts to nix the presumptive Iraqi prime minister. They also deplore the cemetery protests of Fred Phelps and get very romantic about cyber-supremacy in the United Kingdom.

Jaafari agonistes: The nonratified re-election of Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari is facing strong opposition from a coalition of minority groups composed of secularists, Sunnis, and Kurds, all seeking his replacement by a more amenable Shiite candidate. Recently, Dr. Barham Saleh (the “Scoop” Jackson of the Kurds) has been inveighing against the widely disliked once-and-future premier to such popular movers as Ayatollah Sistani and Muqtada Sadr, whose 11th-hour support in the February elections gave Jaafari his single-vote victory over the chief rival within the Shiite establishment, Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

Iraq native Omar at the pro-war blog Iraq The Model observes that Jaafari’s recent trip to Turkey—a country whose beleaguered Kurdish diaspora population is even larger than that of Iraq—has only amplified the minority parties’ disdain for his premiership: “The Kurds, Sunni and seculars will still have a chance to force the [United Iraqi Alliance party] to replace Jafari because their votes are necessary for approving the cabinet. What really worries me here is that the UIA knows this mechanism which is stated in the constitution yet they refuse to change their mind which makes one suspect they have no intention to compromise and they want to do some arm-twisting telling the others to ‘either accept Jafari or face the danger of halting the entire political process.’”

At the pro-war Big Lizards, Japanese blogger Sachiko ab Hugh offers an excellent précis of the polarization within and between Iraq’s main political parties. She advocates nominating as the prime minister Abdul-Mahdi, a more secular and universally liked figure: “If the UIA withdraws al-Jaafari and substitutes Abdul-Mahdi, he would likely sail through with little opposition. This would unify Iraq behind the nascent government, surely the best response to the bombing of the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra – likely engineered by Zarqawi in order to shove Iraq into civil war.”

But leftist Juan Cole at Informed Comment thinks the anti-Jaafari agitation pulls from a ragbag of the pol’s inconvenient allegiances: “Jaafari is… unacceptable to the United States because of his close ties to Iran and his socialist tendencies (he recently expressed admiration for Noam Chomsky and wondered if Noam would come visit Baghdad).” (Mahdi, Cole has elsewhere stated, would be more in tune with Washington’s hopes for a sovereign Iraq because he advocates the privatization of public industry.)

The motley reasons for stumping to oust Jaafari are one the signal problems of proposing a replacement candidate known for putting “unity” before party. Time.comonline columnist Tony Karon addresses the Sunni grievance: “The Sunnis dismiss Jaafari as too sectarian and unwilling to make concessions to accommodate their interests; most recently he was fiercely denounced for his government’s failure to protect Sunnis from a wave of a violent retribution for the bombing of a Shi’ite shrine two weeks ago.”

Read more about the putsch against Jaafari.

Get outta Dodge: Fred Phelps, the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, has been leading his large family in protests  at funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers. Phelps’ plaint is that such men and women died fighting for a country that doesn’t do to homosexuals what Saudi Arabia or Iran does to them. There’s not exactly a rapture over this hate-spewing paterfamilias in cyberspace.

Melesse at Nabokov Blues is characteristically appalled: “The funerals of fallen servicemen and women, or murdered college stundents, are not locations to persue a political agenda. It is a time to leave a grieving family alone with their loss, no matter how much one disagrees with the politics of this country, of war, or ‘choices’ in sexuality.”

Nick Aster, Gawker Media’s Web designer, writes on his personal blog Thoughts on Things: “My always optimistic take on it is that this kind of idiot will help to discredit the religeous right in general, and in the long run make reasonable religeous Americans come to their senses.”

Another testament might be worth perusing by Phelps and his brigade, argues self-published novelist Kevin Myrick: “Ironically, they are using an American ideal to attack the whole - free speech and the freedom to peacably assemble are the American ideals that these protestors, while misguided, are using to protest, but they attack the whole idea of democracy and tarnish the Constitution every time they arrive at a funeral with their signs and their yelling.”

Read more about Phelps’ protests of dead soldiers’ funerals.

Coaxial killed the TV star: Britons now spend an average of 41.5 days a year surfing the Internet—more time than they spend watching telly, according to thisDaily Mail report. Insert starry-eyed “the revolution will be streamed” boosterism here.

Evan Coyne Maloney, who made those heavily downloaded “protesting the protestors” shorts during the lead-up to the Iraq war, writes at brain terminal: “This means that establishment media audiences will continue to become fragmented, and that there is a tremendous opportunity for distributing new content online. The traditional gatekeepers will find fewer and fewer people lining up at the gates.”

Marcus at the democratic socialist blog Harry’s Place indicates the new media tipping point in terms of British pop cultural nostalgia: “Readers of a certain age may remember a children’s TV programme named: Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead?… It seems like Britain is doing just that.”

Read more about the U.K. net tendency.