In a White House that had virtually forgotten what good news looks like, the past few weeks have been refreshing. A Republican won a much-watched special congressional election. President Bush recruited a Wall Street heavy hitter as Treasury secretary. U.S. forces killed the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. And now the architect of the Bush presidency has avoided criminal charges.
The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a big one. That guy has been responsible for so much violence in Iraq, it’s great seeing him bite the dust.
With Zarqawi dead, a new Baghdad government in place and Rove freed from prosecutor’s cross hairs, the White House hopes it can pivot to a new stage in which it is no longer on the defensive. In recent weeks, under new Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten, the White House has tried to do more to set an agenda, moving aggressively into the immigration debate and agreeing to join direct talks with Iran over its nuclear program under certain conditions.
Anyway, Bush made a “secret” visit to Iraq yesterday. Some think he may be laying the groundwork for troop reductions in Iraq. I don’t really see that though. To me it seems to be more of a pep-rally sort of thing. Bush was there letting everyone know that we need to stay until the job is done. Or at least until the Iraqi forces are able to handle the insurgents on their own. Even when the Iraqi forces are ready, we should still maintain a military force in the country, just to ensure the job is done right. It’d be terribly depressing if the country fell into a civil war or something once the U.S. packs up and leaves. In my eyes, we need to have a decent number of troops there for the next 50 years, just to protect our investment. “Our investment” being the nation of Iraq itself, not their oil.
Flopping Aces has some nice pictures and a video. Hot Air also has the video and a link to the transcript from Bush’s speech.
Iraqis are voting in what some say is the most important election yet. The Sunnis, who boycotted the parliamentary election in January ’04, are expected to turn out in droves for this election. 1000 or so Sunni clerics issued fatwas urging their followers to participate in this election.
More than 1,000 Sunni clerics issued a religious decree, or fatwa , urging their followers to vote, rallying what is expected to be a massive turnout by Sunnis, who widely obeyed the clerics’ instructions to boycott parliamentary elections in January.
UPDATE: Brian at Iowa Voice has an update noting the apparently spetacular success of the Iraqi elections. It’s estimated that up to 15 million Iraqis voted! The CIA World Factbook estimates the population of Iraq to be about 26 million. That number coming from back in July 2005, so it’s pretty recent. That’s 57% voter turnout, but all of those 26 million aren’t registered voters, so, I dunno. Really, there can’t be much more than 20 million Iraqis of the age to vote. That puts the voter turnout close to 75%, I’d say that’s a pretty impressive show.
The last few weeks there’s been many commercials airing, urging voters to turn down a proposed city-owned telecom bill. I was all for it, being that we don’t have many good options for internet service here in Iowa. This should provide some more options eventually for Iowans.
Voters in 17 Iowa cities voted for the proposal, allowing cities to build their own telecommunications companies. This will really piss off Mediacom.
DES MOINES, Iowa — Voters in 17 cities are giving their local governments the right to form their own telecommunications company.
Supporters went to the polls Tuesday night and sent a message to companies like Mediacom and Qwest, which helped fund a $1 million campaign blitz against the measure.
Cities such as Dubuque, Mason City and Waterloo can now start their own cable, telephone and Internet systems and potentially charge less than other companies.
On the other hand, 15 cities voted against the the proposal. One of those cities being Nevada, where I usually reside. Nevada is currently served by Iowa Telecom for phone service, they’re our only option for non-voip phone service. Mediacom is the only cable provider. Both companies offer broadband, but Iowa Telecom’s is piss slow and Mediacom offers basically no upload speeds.
Residents of 32 Iowa communities delivered a split verdict Tuesday on whether their cities should seek a role offering cable television, Internet and other telecommunications services.
Totals showed 17 communities passed the measures to form communications utilities and 15 defeated them. In the Des Moines metro area, proposals failed in Altoona, Carlisle, Norwalk and Windsor Heights.
The proposal was defeated in Nevada and six other communities served by telephone company Iowa Telecom. “I think it shows that (voters) just took the time to research the issue,” company spokesman Dan Eness said. “They realized a municipally owned telecommunications utility was not in the best interest for them.”
OK Dan, you wouldn’t just say that simply because you’re an Iowa Telecom employee would you? Of course not. I should thank the Des Moines Register for getting thoughts from mostly Mediacom or Iowa Telecom employees, that’s super!