Monday, 14 February 2005

The reality of corruption

Mike Hollihan looks at the motley collection of felons and other miscreants hanging around Shelby County’s halls of government today and wonders where the scandal is.

He's read my mind

James Joyner on the interminable Terry Schiavo saga:

While the issue of withdrawing life support is a messy one, I have a rough time getting too upset with the husband, who I consider the real victim in this case. His wife died fifteen years ago but, because of advancements in medical technology and the stubborn resistance of his in-laws to facing the truth, he’s being cast as the villain for simply wanting to pull the plug and get on with his life. He shouldn’t have to divorce a woman who died fifteen years ago in order to do that.

Why the Schindlers have any legal standing in this case is beyond me. Terri was an adult who was legally married. Absent a living will or other document whereby she was able to establish her desires before she entered a vegetative state, her husband is the one who has to make these crucial determinations. Certainly, he is in a better position to know what she would have wanted than the Florida legislature or Jeb Bush.

A tale of two Shiites

Is my brain malfunctioning or is this New York Times account of the Iraqi election outcome actually less pessimistic than this WaPo account?

Of course, the WaPo account spends most of its first half trying to play up the idea that Iran and Iraq (two countries that had a bloody decade-long war in the not-too-distant past) are about to become buddy-buddy, with a generous assist from Juan “Stopped Clock” Cole, then undercuts it completely with this paragraph:

U.S. and regional analysts agree that Iraq is not likely to become an Iranian surrogate. Iraq’s Arabs and Iran’s Persians have a long and rocky history. During the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq war, Iraq’s Shiite troops did not defect to Iran.

On the other hand, the Times finds not an anti-American front emerging between the “pro-Iranian” Shiites and Kurds, but instead a recipe for weak government:

The razor-thin margin apparently captured by the Shiite alliance here in election results announced Sunday seems almost certain to enshrine a weak government that will be unable to push through sweeping changes, like granting Islam a central role in the new Iraqi state. ...

The vote tally, which appeared to leave the Shiite alliance with about 140 of the national assembly’s 275 seats, fell short of what Shiite leaders had been expecting, and seemed to blunt some of the triumphant talk that could already be heard in some corners. The final results seemed to ease fears among Iraq’s Sunni, Kurd and Christian minorities that the leadership of the Shiite majority might feel free to ignore minority concerns, and possibly fall under the sway of powerful clerics, some of whom advocate the establishment of a strict Islamic state.

As a result, some Iraqi leaders predicted Sunday that the Shiite alliance would try to form a “national unity government,” containing Kurdish and Sunni leaders, as well as secular Shiites, possibly including the current prime minister, Ayad Allawi. Such a leadership would all but ensure that no decisions would be taken without a broad national consensus.

I tend to think that the Times is more accurate here, but only time will tell.

Update: On the other hand, Steven Taylor thinks the Times is making too much of “problems” that are really Comparative Politics 101, while Dan Drezner tries to wrap his head around the WaPo piece as well.