Bloggers on Sadr's temporary disbandment of the Mahdi Army.

Bloggers on Sadr's temporary disbandment of the Mahdi Army.

Bloggers on Sadr's temporary disbandment of the Mahdi Army.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Aug. 29 2007 6:39 PM

Mahdi Takes a Holiday

Bloggers discuss the six-month suspension of the Mahdi Army, Hillary Clinton's mysterious megadonor, and the second anniversary of Katrina.

Mahdi takes a holiday
: After a round of vicious Shiite-on-Shiite fighting in Karbala this week, Mutqada Sadr announced Wednesday that he's suspending his militia, the Mahdi Army, for six months. Sadr says there will be no more sanctioned attacks against the Shiite Badr Organization or U.S. troops in that time period. Bloggers aren't sure this means much, given that a lot of Mahdi violence is no longer under the control of Sadr.

Elrod at the Moderate Voice is pessimistic: "This is not the first time Sadr has found himself trying to control a militia fragmenting into dozens of uncontrollable factions. Past efforts to reign in rogue elements have failed, as the logic of the streets encourages ad hoc militia activity and not centralized military action. My guess is that this latest effort to gain control over the militia - by declaring cessation of all military activities - is an effort to identify who really is a rogue element and then try to purge them."

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Conservative Utah Rattler agrees: "This could be further indicative of the ongoing fracture of the Mahdi, where it appears that there may be some elements who don't appreciate Iran's influence in the organization. It may also mean that Sadr has lost control and is attempting to regain it. If so, the next few months will tell, my bet is that his force is fractured enough and Iran has built enough influence therein that attacks won't really subside."

Or does the move have more to with the success of the surge? "It's difficult, if not impossible, maintaining discipline when Sadr and his top generals are hiding in Tehran," says Gary Gross at California Conservative, who continues: "Bit by bit, it's getting more difficult for Democrats to deny that the surge isn't working. If the Iraqi Parliament is able to pass an oil revenue sharing plan when they return, it'll be apparent to the American people that political progress is being made."

But liberal blogger D-Day asks: "Anyone realizing how dangerous this is? It opens up yet another front of the civil war, this one an intra-Shiite scuffle. There are competing interests, basically warlords, jockeying for power throughout Iraq, which has devolved into a set of tribes. No leader can impose any will on the country. In this environment, even talking about a 'political solution' is ridiculous."

Read more about the Mahdi moratorium.

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Hsu-in for scandal: Norman Hsu is a top fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton, having generated more than $1 million for her presidential campaign. But, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, he may be using the names and addresses of false donors to contribute money to Democratic coffers and skirt campaign finance rules. And the Los Angeles Times reports that Hsu is a wanted man in California. Bad news for Hillary.

Mary at the conservative Freedom Eden thinks Hillary can't spin her way out of this one: "If Hillary and her people are so stupid when it comes to fundraising, can she really be trusted to run the country? If she's so willing to tolerate corruption in her campaign, what does that say about the sort of leadership we can expect from Hillary?"

Highlighting one family whose members have donated $45,000 to Democrats through Hsu, Clinton-bashing Hot Rodham Blog pieces together this part of the puzzle: "So far what we have is a family of limited means donating an extraordinary amount of money (considering their income) to Hillary Clinton and in smaller part to other Democrats, that lives in a house that was once listed as Mr. Hsu's home address, which makes that connection very obvious."

But liberal Jeralyn at Talk Left says the claim by the LAT that Hsu is a fugitive means little: "Norman Hsu's legal troubles occurred back in 1991. They bear no relationship to the fundraising he's been doing for Hillary, Obama and others now. He may well not have understood he was pleading guilty or agreeing to a jail sentence. That's not unusual. I won't be surprised if he goes back to California now to try to vacate the plea and sentence. If his plea wasn't knowing and voluntary, with appreciation of the consequences, he might be successful, particularly if he was pro se in that case… I still see nothing wrong with Hillary, Obama, Kennedy or the others allowing Mr. Hsu to fundraise for them."

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Read more about Hsu.

Katrina remembered: Today is the second anniversary of the onset of Hurricane Katrina. Bloggers remember the devastation of New Orleans.

The contributors at Blogging New Orleans discuss volunteer efforts, Gov. Blanco, and post some memorable photos. And they have questions. "Just wondering, how far behind is the recovery? Really, how much is left? At Katrina+5 will the rebuild/tear down be complete? When those levee systems are 'finished' and I feel safe enough to think about buying house in this city, will that be the end of the recovery?" asks Mike Schleifstein.

Michael Tomasky at liberal newspaper the Guardian's Comment is Free calls it "the week that sunk the Bush presidency, and deservedly so. What a tragedy that one of America's greatest cities had to sink as collateral damage."

Maybe it's not all the politicians' fault. "I would have to say the single largest failure that has crippled recovery is the failure of the insurance industry," writes guest blogger Margie Kieper at Beyond Katrina, "--first, the failure to pay on existing insurance policies, and then, raising policy rates to insanely high levels, leading to huge profits in 2006, and preventing rebuilding from commencing."

Read more about Katrina two years later.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.