Friday, October 5, 2012

30 Rock

30 Rock.  The last season.  Thank goodness.

Tina Fey has spoiled Liz Lemmon for a number of people and you can include me on that list.

It's also true that the character jumped the shark (probably early on when she kidnapped that baby).

But as the last season kicked off last night, I was left wondering what was the point?

Everything's a cartoon.  Liz, Kenneth, Jenna, Tracy.

And Alec Baldwin is so oversaturating the market.  I hear him do the Jack voice on NPR, I see him do it on the commercials for various corporations.

It's all just gotten so old.

The only thing that is fresh is Hazel and that's more for the actress than for any thing the show ever gives her to do.

Jenna's bridesmaid was a waste of time. 

That's actually true of the entire episode.

After awhile, when you stop caring about characters (because the writers have), you just want them to go away.

I think 30 Rock may have stayed on TV too long.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Friday, October 5, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State of Iraq claims credit for recent violence, a call is made for provincial elections to be held in April, France calls out the executions in Iraq (102 so far this year), Senators Patty Murray and Carl Levin call on the VA and DoD to work together to address disability evaluations, Ms. magazine gears up for its 40th anniversary, and more.
 
 
Starting in the US with veterans news. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes:
 
 
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, joined with Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services, in sending a letter to the VA and DoD Deputy Secretaries requesting that the Departments work more closely together, as true partners and with greater involvement from senior leaders, to improve the IDES process. The letter also calls on the Departments to set a definitive timeline for completing the review in order to implement meaningful changes. The requests stem from issues identified during GAO's recently completed investigation into IDES.
"I am not convinced the Departments have implemented a disability evaluation process that is truly transparent, consistent, or expeditious. Getting this right is a big challenge – but it's one that we must overcome," said Senator Murray. "I've seen the impacts of a broken system – whether it's from a wrong diagnosis, an improper decision, or never-ending wait times. When the system doesn't work accurately and quickly, or when servicemembers can't get a proper mental health evaluation or diagnosis, it means they are not getting the care they need and they are not moving on to civilian life. While DoD and VA are at a critical juncture, I am confident that by working as true partners and committing to real, meaningful changes, the Departments can improve the system for the thousands of men and women who will be transitioning in the next couple of years."
"I am convinced that the DoD/VA Integrated Disability Evaluation System can be improved to better address the needs of our wounded, ill, and injured service members," said Senator Levin. "This system is too complex, takes far too long, and still has an adversarial aspect that our service members should not have to endure. It will take a concerted effort by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, working together, to bring about needed improvements."
The full text of the letters follows:
October 4, 2012
The Honorable Ashton B. Carter
Deputy Secretary of Defense
1010 Defense Pentagon, 3E944
Washington, DC 20301
The Honorable W. Scott Gould
Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
 
Dear Secretary Carter and Secretary Gould:
 
Essential to the effort of improving the transition process for separating servicemembers is overcoming the challenges confronting the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). Earlier this year, as part of our Committees' ongoing oversight of IDES, the Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing examining the multiple challenges servicemembers still face while navigating this joint program. As was made very clear at that hearing, real improvements could only happen with the "total engagement, cooperation and support of all senior leaders at both Departments …"
Indeed, the ongoing dialogue and Secretary Carter's July 2, 2012, letter to Chairman Murray underscored this very point, affirming the Department of Defense's commitment "to work closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs to examine ways to improve timeliness and effectiveness of the system …" Yet despite the importance of this work, and the Departments' repeated assurances of promising results and progress made, reality has yet to match rhetoric.
It is because of this clear and urgent need for total engagement, cooperation, and true partnership between the Departments that we write to you regarding the recently released GAO report, Military Disability System, Improved Monitoring Needed to Better Track and Manage Performance. Discussing how to overcome the challenges facing the system, GAO recommended that VA and DoD "work together to develop timeframes for completing the IDES business process review and implementing any resulting recommendations."
A timely business process review has the potential to help the Departments analyze each phase of the disability evaluation review process and identify areas where greater coordination and integration between the Departments is appropriate. Such a review can only be successful if the Departments undertake it in a truly collaborative way, evaluating their respective business processes in the context of what is necessary for an integrated system. Further, any such effort must have clear goals and timelines. So while both Departments concurred with the GAO recommendation, the response from the Department of Veterans Affairs was particularly troubling:
Although the Department of Defense (DoD) has been leading the business process review efforts described in this report, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has provided input and support to promote these efforts and will continue to do so to the extent possible. At this time, the full scope or current status of these efforts has not been disclosed to VA. As such, VA recommends that developing timeframes for completion of these efforts should be deferred to DoD.
This response makes clear that true collaboration between the Departments on the business process review has yet to occur. Surely, then, the answer cannot be to drive the Departments further apart by deferring all planning to the Department of Defense. Therefore, we are writing to request from you not only a timeline for completion of the review and implementation of any recommendations, but also that you make this review a truly joint, collaborative effort to improve a broken system. We also ask that you detail the steps you will take to personally ensure the Departments work together as partners in reforming this system and in addressing other joint challenges. As the Deputy Secretaries of your Departments, your leadership is critical in order to create meaningful change for our servicemembers and veterans.
We remain committed to working with you to address the challenges confronting this system, but further delay and a lack of meaningful cooperation is unacceptable and risks jeopardizing the Departments' ability to achieve a truly integrated disability evaluation system that works. Thank you for your attention to this letter and for all that you do on behalf of our servicemembers and veterans.
###
###
Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510
202-224-2834
 
 
 
In Iraq the bombs and bullets never stop igniting and flying. For the month thus far through Thursday, Iraq Body Count counts 40 dead from violence. That's just over four days. And violence continued today. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports 2 Baghdad bombings which claimed 5 lives and left 25 people injured. This was apparently targeting the worshippers of al-Sadrein mosque. Prior to that bombing, violence was already taking place across Iraq. All Iraq News reports 1 person was shot dead in Nineveh Province, to the west of Mosul while a Mosul roadside bombing has left five police officers injured and 2 Zaafaraniya .bombings left four police officers and one bystander injured. In addition, Alsumaria notes an assassination attempt (via rockets) on the Governor of Salahuddin Province Ahmed Abdul Wahid in which two of his bodyguards were injured, and an armed clash in Tikrit left 1 woman dead and four more people injured,
Still on violence, AP notes that the Islamic State of Iraq has posted a message claiming credit for the attack on the Tikrit prison last week that left many dead and injured and resulted in a large number of prison escapees who still remain at large. From the September 27th snapshot:

The latest day's violence includes a prison attack BBC News reports assailants using bombs and guns attacked a Tikrit prison. AFP quotes a police Lieutenant Colonel stating, "A suicide bomber targeted the gate of the prison with a car bomb and gunment then assaulted the prison, after which they killed guards" and a police Colonel stating, "The prisoners killed one policeman and wounded (prison director) Brigadier General Laith al-Sagmani, the gunmen took control of the prison, and clashes are continuing." Kitabat states two car bombs were used to blow up the entrance to the prison and gain access and they also state 12 guards have been killed. Reports note the riot is continuing. Alsumaria reports four guards have died, 1 police officer and the injured include two soldiers and the prison director al-Sagmani. There's confusion as to whether a number of prisoners were able to escape in the early stages after the bombing and during gunfire. Reuters goes with "dozens" escaping which is probably smarter than the hard number some are repeating. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports 5 police officers killed and another two injured -- the numbers are going to vary until tomorrow, this is ongoing -- and state over 200 prisoners escaped with 33 of them already having been recaptured. If you skip the English language media, what's not confusing is why it happened and why it was able to happen. Alsumaria reports that there are approximately 900 inmates in the prison and that many have death sentences. Alsumaria does even more than that. It notes the recent prison violence throughout the country and ties it into the death sentences.
Today All Iraq News notes another escapee has been arrested and estimates 102 escaped. July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards." (They also threatened to attack America on US soil.) AP notes they also claimed responsiblity for Sunday's violence:

As the month of September winds down, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes Iraq witnesses its second deadliest day of the month (September 9th was the deadliest day). BBC (link is text and video) offers, "Civilians were among those killed and injured in the attacks around the capital, but the aim of the attackers seems to have been to kill as many security personnel as possible, wherever they could reach them, says the BBC's Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad." Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) counts 34 dead and 85 injured while explaining, "In and near the Iraqi capital, eight car bomb explosions and gunfire attacks killed up to 25 people and wounded 59 others, according to the police reports." Kareem Raheem, Suadad al-Salhy and Sophie Hares (Reuters) adds, "Two more policemen were killed when a car bomb went off in the town of Balad Ruz, 90 km (55 miles) northeast of Baghdad, and bomb planted in a parked car in al Qaeda stronghold Mosul killed a civilian."
Most reports float al Qaeda in Iraq as the culprit. The Irish Examiner quotes MP Hakim al-Zamili who sits on the Security and Defense Committee stating, "Al-Qaida leaders have no intention of leaving this country or letting Iraqis live in peace. Thus, we should expect more attacks in the near future. The situation in Iraq is still unstable ... and repetition of such attacks shows that our security forces are still unqualified to deal with the terrorists." If the series of assaults were part of the Islamic State of Iraq's Breaking The Walls campaign, they will no doubt claim credit in the next few days. July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards." (They also threatened to attack America on US soil.) They are only one group in Iraq resorting to violence. On the continued violence, Mohammed Tawfeeq offers this framework, "The violence comes just days after dozens of prisoners broke out of a jail in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit. Among those who got out Thursday were several al Qaeda members on death row, according to authorities. The jailbreak occurred when armed men detonated two car bombs at the gates of Tasfirat jail. The explosions triggered clashes with security forces."
 
 
A large number of the escapees were death row inmates. Last month saw protests, sit-ins and eating strikes in Iraqi prisons as prisoners demanded the passage of an amnesty law. Such a law would mean many behind bars would be allowed to leave and return to their families. Nouri al-Maliki's been promising it since 2008 but it's still not been passed. His State of Law has remained the biggest opponent to the bill.
 
 
On executions, KUNA reports "France on Friday condemned Iraq for carrying out six executions on Thursday and reiterated concern over the growing use of capital punishment in that country." Foreign Ministry spokesperson Philippe Lalliot is quoted stating, "This brings to 102 the number of prisoners executed in Iraq since the beginning of the year." As we noted in yesterday's snapshot, "In 2011, there were 670 known executions. Of those, the Iraqi government was responsible for 68 of them. The country with the most known executions in 2011 was Iran which had 360."
 
 
 
Driven by then Justice Minister Robert Badinter's commitment and his speech to the National Assembly the law dated October 9th, 1981 abolished the death penalty in France. This law reinforced France's longstanding efforts to promote human dignity. French law prohibits the removal of any person to a country where they risk the death penalty.
France has signed all international commitments on abolishing the death penalty. Since 2007, abolishing the death penalty has been enshrined in the French Constitution.
 
 
Al Mada reports today on the Ministry of Human Rights declaring this week that the time isn't right to heed the pleas of various organizations and governments and place a moratorium on the death penalty. Of course it's not the right time yet, they've already announced they plan to execute 200 more people this year.
 
 
Meanwhile Alsumaria reports Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling for the newly appointed Electoral Commission to get to work on preparing for the upcoming provincial elections. (He actually stated yesterday that the Commission should hold elections on time; however, provincial elections were supposed to be held in March and that can't happen now so the target date has become April.) Reuters adds that this request comes "despite legal challenges that could end in the dissolution of the commission." They note that the Turkman (the 9th Commissioner added) is a woman which is a correction to what I've stated in the September 25th snapshot. My error, my apologies, "my face is red, I stand corrected" as Prince would say ("U Got The Look"). Reuters notes, "But the body still faces a number of legal challenges from political groups, civil society organizations and minorities who have lodged appeals with the Federal Court. It is not clear when the Federal Court will rule on the appeals." The Federal Court has already stated that one-third of the commissioners must be women. One member out of 9 is not 1/3. From the September 19th snapshot:
 
 

About the only thing that could be passed off as 'progress' this week just imploded. Yesterday, 8 of 9 Independent High Electoral Commission commissioners elected. Alsumaria reported this morning that the Federal Court says the number of commissioners must be increased because women must make up a third of the members. (Not one of the eight was a woman -- an oversight Iraqiya called out -- the only political bloc to publicly call that out.) Al Mada notes that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc was insisting yesterday that if they just make the ninth member a Christian, they'll have all their bases covered. The judiciary begs to differ. They're calling on members -- not a single seat, multiple seats. That means that the Parliament either gets very focused on this or it is highly likely that an election cannot take place in March of 2013. It's starting to look a lot like fall 2009 in Iraq.
 
And that should have been that. The law states women must make up a third of the members. That's not something you can 'massage.' Yet Alsumaria reports the issue is still 'can we get a Turkman on the IHEC?' as opposed to dealing with what the law requires. Is math difficult for the Iraqi government? Is the concept of 1/3 of the members of the IHEC being women a word problem that's difficult to solve?
 
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gets cozier with Iran. Iran's Press TV reports that he met with Iran's Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi and the two gabbed over shared hatred of Israel with Jalal declaring "terrorism in the region would serve the interests of the Israeli regime." Iran's Minister of Defense also met with Saadoun al-Dulaimi from Iraq's Ministry of Defense. Prensa Latina reports, "Iran and Iraq formalized the establishment of the military cooperation in an agreement signed by the defense ministers of the two neighboring countries, it was released here today by a source close to the negotiations." Aswat al-Iraq notes that Nouri met "on Wednesday with Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Wahidi [discussing] cooperation between the two countries to strengthen security and stability to combat terrorism, according to a statement released from al-Maliki's office." If you're thinking, "That's a lot of people meeting over one deal," you do realize why that is, don't you?
 
 
Some outlets wrongly identify Saadoun al-Dulaimi as the Minister of Defense. He is not the Minister of Defense. Iraq has no person in that post. Nouri al-Maliki was required, by the Constitution, to name a Cabinet in 30 days to become prime minister (a prime minister-designate is named and then given 30 days to form a cabinet -- that means 30 days to nominate and get the nominees confirmed by Parilament). That's not a partial Cabinet. If it were a partial Cabinet, it wouldn't be in the Constitution. If you could name half or even just 1 minister and say, "I'll fill in the rest later," it wouldn't be in the Constitution. If this is confusing to you -- and Nouri's online lover, the blond European, has never grasped this -- you can refer to Article 76 of the Iraqi Constitution and pay special attention to the second clause which reads: "The Prime Minister-designate shall undertake the naming of the members of his Council of Ministers within a period not to exceed thirty days from the date of his designation." That's the Cabinet.
 
 
Not a portion of it, not two, not three, the full Cabinet. Nouri was supposed to have formed a Cabinet -- a full Cabinet -- before the end of December 2010. He failed to do that. He refused to nominate anyone for the post of Minister of Defense or Minister of the Interior or Minister of National Security. Just this summer, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." Back in December 2010 and Janaury 2011, the press assured us that the thug would nominate people to fill those posts in a matter of weeks. That did not happen. Back then, Iraqiya labled it a power grab and said Nouri had no intention of nominating people to the posts. They argued it was a power grab. Clearly, Iraqiya was correct.
 
 
In Iraq, the Cabinet is different than in the United States. In the US, let's use the current administration, Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States in January 2009. He was under no Constitutional obligation to name his Secretaries within 30 days. Once he nominated them, the nominations went to the Congress. This is true in Iraq, the prime minister nominates someone and the Parliament votes on whether or not the person will become a Minister.
 
 
Here's the difference that matters. If Barack tomorrow was bothered by Hillary Clinton's performance as Secretary of State, he would convey that to her and ask for her resignation. Hillary would tender her resignation. She's not obligated to but that's what she'd do and what is done. In Iraq, these Ministers have tremendous power -- more than Secretaries in the US -- and if Nouri's unhappy with one, oh well. He can ask them to resign but that's all he can do. And they don't have to resign. Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq is a member of Iraqiya and a Sunni. An ongoing political stalemate turned into a political crisis in December 2011 when Nouri wanted al-Mutlaq gone. al-Mutlaq, who had told CNN that Nouri was becoming a dictator (the incident that outraged Nouri), didn't want to step down. And Nouri couldn't force him. To remove al-Mutlaq, Nouri would need Parliament to be in agreement with him. Nouri could not get the votes needed to strip al-Mutlaq of his post so, after several months, he finally dropped the issue.
 
 
This difference means that, for example, the Minister of the Interior can deploy the federal police as he or she sees fit. If Nouri doesn't like the way the Minister does that, he can argue, he can whine but he can't remove the Minister unless Parliament is in agreement with him. This allows the ministers to have not just power but also security. This means, ideally, that they serve the Iraqi people and not which ever person occupies the post of prime minister.
 
 
If you don't have a real minister (one confirmed by Parliament), they have no protection. Nouri can call them 'acting' all he wants, but he retains control of the ministry -- in violation of the Constitution. He can name Mohammed Tawfeeq as Acting Minister of the Interior but Mohammed would have no power or independence. As 'acting' minister, he has no real power and does what Nouri tells him or Nouri strips him of the 'acting' post ('acting' posts do not exist in the Constitution). That's why it matters.
 
 
Again, Barack Obama is the current president of the United States and was sworn in January 2009. Nouri was named prime minister-designate in November 2010, the following year. During all that time, the three securities ministries have had no ministers. Imagine if Barack had refused to name a Secretary of Defense by the end of 2009? He would be a laughingstock. In fact, the ridicule and scorn over this would not have been pushed back a year. With various wars during his four years, he would be expected to have a Secretary of Defense. Yet Nouri has been allowed a pass. Violence has increased in 2012, up from 2011. And the security ministries remain without leaders.
 
 
Nouri is an incompetent. That was obvious during his first term as prime minister (2006 through 2010). He wasn't the choice of the Iraqi Parliament (the Parliament is supposed to elect the prime minister-designate). He was the choice of the White House. Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House back then. Nouri was so ineffective, please remember, that the Bush White House was forced to draw up a set of "benchmarks" that both Bush and Nouri signed off on. These would be measures by which the US Congress could determine whether or not progress was taking place in Iraq (which would effect Congressional funding of the Iraq operation). This was in 2007. Nouri failed repeatedly.
 
The White House spin became, "Oh, he didn't do this benchmark, but he got started on it." No, these were benchmarks that, in a year's time were supposed to be accomplished.
Not only did they spin in 2008, but those benchmarks still haven't been achieved. The oil dispute between the KRG and Nouri's Baghdad-based central government? KRG President Massoud Barzani did not sign an agreement with the White House to come up with a national oil and gas law. Nouri did. If Nouri's not happy with the contracts that the KRG is signing, that's on Nouri. If he'd passed an oil and gas law in 2007 or 2008 or 2009 or . . . then there would be no problem today.
 
 
The elections -- provincial planned for next year, parliamentary for the year after -- are going to expose another failed benchmark/promise. American L. Paul Bremer implemented de-Ba'athification in Iraq. The Iraq Inquiry in London, chaired by John Chilcot, heard public testimony from one British official after another -- executive branch official, military official and MI6 -- that de-Ba'athification was a huge mistake. Under former president Saddam Hussein, the Ba'ath Party was the defacto party in Iraq. Governement jobs and promotions could result from party i.d., from being in the same political party that Saddam Hussein headed. The US-invasion toppled Saddam Hussein's government and would then oversee the execution of Hussein. That apparently wasn't enough. It was important to drive people out of government office, out of civil service, out of the military, out of the police, etc. You are talking a large number of people. Among other things, they lost jobs.
 
 
Bremer oversaw the White House's de-Ba'athification plan. Bremer maintains that, Colin Powell has whispered to his friends in the press that Bremer was acting on his own -- the public record, including the testimony by British officials in Iraq when de-Ba'athification began, does not support Powell's whispers. But that's how much of a disaster de-Ba'athification is seen as -- Colin Powell's worked the press for over six years now to make sure he didn't get blamed for the policy and to try to argue that there was a winnable war in Iraq but it got screwed up by Bremer and others. This pro-war denial is also seen in Charles Ferguson's ridiculous and reactionary 'documentary.'
 
 
The White House benchmarks of 2007 included what is best explained as de-de-Ba'athification. This would mean bringing Iraqis back into the process -- especially but not just Sunnis. This benchmark was also not achieved. But a bill was proposed!!! Once upon a time! So that's partial victory!!! Right? Wrong.
 
 
By not completing that in 2007 or 2008, you ended up with the Justice and Accountability Commission of 2010. They had no mandate. Parliament believed they had termed out of office (because they had). But Ahmed Chalabi and others suddenly show up and start declaring who can run for office and who cannot. Saleh al-Mutlaq, the current Deputy Prime Minister, was among those who was not allowed to run for office. He was labeled a Ba'athist.
 
 
This commission was used before to influence results (and to target Iraqiya) and it will most likely resurface in the planned 2014 parliamentary elections.
The last parliamentary elections were in March 2010. Nouri didn't win those elections. His political slate, State of Law, came in second. The winner in those elections was the newly created Iraqiya headed by Ayad Allawi.
 
 
Deborah Amos is a journalist for NPR and the author of one of the finest books on the Iraq War, Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East. In addition to that book, she also wrote a paper entitled [PDF format warning] "Confusion, Contradiction and Irony: The Iraqi Media in 2010." From that paper:
 
 
In the 2010, campaign, Maliki's party was primarily a sectarian political list of Shiite candidates with a few Sunni political figureheads. In contrast, Allawi's political coalition was a cross-sectarian list. While Allawi is a Shiite, he headed a party consisting of Sunni political leaders from western and northern Iraq and some Shiite politicians who believed it was time to move beyond sectarian politics if Iraq is to achieve national unity.
In Iraq's short history of free elections, Shiite candidates have a demographic advantage. Shiites are approximately 60% of the population, and Iraqis voted almost exclusively along sectarian lines in the 2005 national elections and the 2009 provincial vote. Maliki also had a media advantage. The state-run national news network did not accept paid campaign advertisements, but freely broadcast extensive reports of Maliki's election appearances and campaign speeches in evening news bulletins. On the eve of the vote, state TV broadcast a documentary highlighting the Prime Minister's visit to security checkpoints around the capital. Maliki is widely credited with an improvement in the day-to-day security in the capital and in the south, but his pre-election inspection of the security checkpoints was seen as a long campaign ad. According to domestic media monitorying reports of state-runtelevision, Al-Iraqiya, Maliki's political coalition received by far the "highest positive coverage" when compared with all other political parties in the campaign.
When it came to the vote, Allawi demonstrated that sectarian voting patterns could be broken. A small percentage of Shiites voted for a party that included Sunnis on the ticket which helped deliver the two-seat lead. Prime Minister Maliki charged widespread fraud and demanded a recount to prevent "a return to violence." He pointedly noted that he remained the commander in chief of the armed forces.
Was Maliki threatening violence? Was he using the platform of state-run media to suggest that his Shiite-dominated government would not relinquish power to a Sunni coaltion despite the election results?
 
 
 
What the thug was doing didn't matter because he had the backing of the White House. Nouri dug his heels in for 8 months refusing to allow the process to go forward. This would have been avoided if a United Nations caretaker government had been put in place as many governments (including the French government) favored but Barack Obama and his administration killed that idea. They wanted Nouri.
 
 
When the voters didn't name your party the winner and the Constitution's clear on what happens and it doesn't benefit you, what do you do?
 
 
The White House trashed the will of the voters and any lessons on the power of the vote or actual democracy. From John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (The Daily Beast):

 
As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
 
 
 
They didn't just back Nouri in the stalemate (which included the White House and State Dept spinning the press), they also staked the US government's reputation on a contract.
Here's why you should never be afraid of the power of "no." Whether you're on a date and just don't find the other person that interesting, whether some suit is trying to get you to sign a contract that doesn't include the details you have asked for, whether it's a rival swearing to later meet you half-way, you say "no" to protect yourself.
 
 
If Democrats had a spine during the Bush years, the US would be better off today and the Iraq War might not have even happened. If they had used the power of no, they could have accomplished so much even when they were the minority party in both houses. Instead, they were scared little rabbits, too meek to stand up.
 
 
The Republicans have stood up to Barack. And you get men like Tom Hayden (who has never liked it when a woman has said no to him ) whining and screeching that Republicans are "obstructionists!" No, they're sticking to their beliefs (something Democrats should be trying not insulting).
 
 
When Iraq managed to set the record for longest time after elections with no government formed (eight months but that record's now been broken), various Iraqis were falling prey to the cry of 'be mature' and 'do what's right for Iraq' and countless other nonsense.
If Ayad Allawi, for example, truly believed that the best thing for Iraq was for him to be prime minister or someone else from Iraqiya to be prime minister, he should have stuck to that and damn the public scoldings.
 
 
But the White House and the State Dept were working the press to soften up resistance on the part of politicians while at the same time they were brokering a contract. The contract became known as the Erbil Agreement (because that's where it was signed). The Erbil Agreement was a contract that would allow Iraqiya to have, for example, the leadership role on a newly created National Security Commission -- an independent one at that. The Kurds? They would get Article 140 finally implemented. (Article 140 of the Constitution determines the fate of oil-rich Kirkuk -- will it be part of the Kurdistan Regional Government or part of the Baghdad-based central government -- and was supposed to be
implemented no later than the end of 2007. That deadline is written into the Constitution. But Nouri, in his first term, refused to implement Article 140.) There were various things that Nouri agreed to do provided he had a second term as prime minister. He signed off on the Erbil Agreement. The leader of all the political blocs did.
 
 
Nouri used the contract to get his second term and then trashed the contract.
 
 
The US government's word is mud in Iraq because of the Erbil Agreement. As Iraq gets closer and closer with Iran, understand that. The US government, this is the White House, this is at the very top, assured various political leaders that the Erbil Agreement (a) was a binding, legal contract and (b) that the US would ensure it was honored. It was obvious to most that it wasn't being honored as soon as Jalal Talabani named Nouri prime minister-designate. That's when Nouri announced that the independent security commission would have to wait. This is what prompted, in the first real meeting of Parliament after the 2010 elections (eight months after) most Iraqiya members to walk out.
 
 
 
Nouri trashed the Erbil Agreement. Month after month went by in 2011 without it being implemented. Finally, in the summer of 2011 Political Stalemate II begins as Moqtada al-Sadr ('rebel cleric' -- a Shi'ite with large support that only grows greater when he is attacked or when he draws a wall between himself and Nouri), the Kurds and Iraqiya begin calling for Nouri to return to and implement the Erbil Agreement.
 
 
He refuses. Fall 2011 sees Sunnis rounded up in mass arrests. There's (false) talk that all US troops will be out by the end of December 2011. The country is very nervous about what might happen next. As most (not all) US troops leave, Nouri announces he wants al-Mutlaq stripped of his post. He also swears out an arrest warrant for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. Tareq is Sunni and Iraqiya. This is when the stalemate becomes a crisis.
By April, major names are in Erbil for a big meet up. They include Jala Talabani (President of Iraq), Allawi, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Moqtada and others. They announce they will move towards a no-confidence vote in Nouri.
 
 
But Moqtada repeatedly stresses that Nouri can stop that vote at any point by returning to the Erbil Agreement. Nouri refuses to honor the contract. Then, in May, as they have the votes necessary to vote Nouri out, Jalal stabs everyone in the back and invents new rules. Jalal then high tails it to Germany for 'a life threatening medical procedure' (in reality, knee surgery). He hides out in Germany for months and finally returns to Iraq at the mid-way point last month.
 
 
Since his return, Jalal has been on a 'listening' tour to try to determine the problem. The problem is and has been clear: the Erbil Agreement is not being honored. Alsumaria notes he met with Ayad Allawi, head of Iraqiya. Al Mada reports State of Law is calling for the National Conference to be held on the 15th.
 
 
Iraq's first feminist magazine was Layla, from the February 11th:
 
 
Al Mada notes a group of women demonstrated in Iraq on Baghdad's Mutanabi Street -- a large number of women from the picture -- to salute Iraq women and the pioneering Iraqi women of the 20th century feminist movement. The women noted the widespread discrimination against women (illegal under the country's Constitution). Dr. Buthaina Sharif made remarks about how the rights of women are a cause for all men and women to share. Dr. Sharif saluted Paulina Hassoun who, in 1923, edited Iraq's first feminist magazine Layla ("On the way to the revival of the Iraqi woman"). She spoke to Iraq's long history of social progress in the 20th century and decried the violence aimed at so many women today. (The UN estimates that one out of five Iraqi women is a victim of domestic violence.)
 
 
Around the world, feminist magazines pop up because feminism is a global movement. No matter how brief or how long the magazines publish, they do make an impact. In the United States, the feminist publication Ms. magazine is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. As part of that celebration, the cover subject is yet again the comic book and TV hero Wonder Woman. And, if you're a Wonder Woman fan or know someone who is, Ms. magazine is offering an 18 x 24 poster of Wonder Woman with every $35.00 subscription -- this is both new subscriptions and renewals and I did ask, if you're subscription is not up for a few months, you can still renew right now if you'd like the poster as a gift for yourself or someone else. It's a lovely poster and destined to become a collector's item just as the first Ms. issue Wonder Woman graced the cover of.
 
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2012
Contact: Danielle Smith, 703-522-2214,
dsmith@feminist.org
Media Advisory
 
 
Ms. Magazine 40th Anniversary Luncheon Celebrating 40 years of Reporting, Rebelling, and Truth Telling
Luncheon is celebrating 40 years and looking forward to a feminist century.
 
When: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Reception, 11:00 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.
Luncheon, 12:30 P.M. - 2:00 P.M.
Program, 1:00 P.M. - 2:00 P.M.
 
Where: National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC
Reception: Holeman Lounge
Luncheon and Program: Ballroom
 
Who: Gloria Steinem, Ms. Magazine Co-Founder & Consulting Editor
Eleanor Smeal, Ms. Magazine Publisher & President, FMF
Katherine Spillar, Ms. Magazine Executive Editor & Executive Vice President, FMF
Bonnie Thornton Dill Ph.D, Chair, Ms. Committee of Scholars
 
 
Media Credentialing:
Media interested in covering the event please contact Ms. Magazine, Danielle Smith, 703-522-2214, dsmith@feminist.org.
###
 
 
 
 
cnn

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Those White people who see racism everywhere

C.I. thanks me in the snapshot so I'll note at the top, "You're welcome and thank you."  I was calling her about a favor for one of my friends and co-workers (she's started a group and was wondering if C.I. could speak to them -- C.I. said, "Absolutely.  Call Dona and see when she can fit it in.").  So I asked if there was anything I could do?

She said, "Ann, have you seen any women weighing in on the debate?  Independent thoughts?  I've got a few for the snapshot this evening but I really can't find any women."

So I said, "No problem, I'll find the women!"

Where the hell were they?

I started out at magazines but there wasn't any woman who felt the need to truth tell at any of the left magazine sites.  So then I went to blogs and hit the PUMA ones first.  In the process, I saw a ridiculous post at Sky Dancing:


Ann Wilson Your comment is awaiting moderation.

As a Black woman, I find the notion that someone calling Barack “lazy” is racist. This post is pretty much meaningless and the sort of thing that makes me roll my eyes and say, “White people.” I came here because I was helping a friend gather reactions to the debates last night and I thought “Sky Dancing, that’s a blog by some of the ones fighting the good fight in 2008.” Instead you’re pushing the notion that to criticize Barack is racist. Barack is lazy. Sununu’s right. That’s why he wouldn’t work with Congress. That’s why he’d rather golf and play basketball. Bush was lazy too.
Everything’s not about racism.
I’m sorry to see that this is what Boston Boomer now has to offer. I remember strong posts by her at The Confluence.
For any wondering, I support Jill Stein and I’m a Green (married to a Democrat). I think a lot of White people thinking they’re proving something — how ‘evolved’ they are? — with their ‘defense’ of Barack. Maybe you’re proving it to each other. But this Black woman’s rolling her eyes and thinking, “Isn’t their something more important they can write about?”
Good luck with your discussion.
If you’re looking for a topic worthy of discussion, last week the New York Times reported Barack’s in negotiations with Iraq to send US troops back in. Or you could explore Michael Gordon’s new book (written with the retired general) about how the White House overturned the will of the Iraqi people and invalidated the 2010 elections in order to give Nouri al-Maliki a second term. How does rejecting a free and fair vote promote democracy? It doesn’t. Again, these are topics worth discussing. Topics that have a body count.
Big Bird? Not so much.



I have no idea if it ever went up, my comment.  I don't really care.  It was read by the site owner at least.

I'm so damn sick of this crap.

And I can I point to the White girls of Sky Dancing that John Sununu, whom they attack, is most likely Palestinian which would be Arab?

They never think about that as they attack him, do they?

But then minorities only appear at Sky Dancing to be attacked.


And is there anything more Cult of St. Barack then lying that John Sununu calling Barack "lazy" is racism?

Maybe the reason Boston Boomer keeps hearing "dog whistles" is because she's a dog?

Just tossing that out there.

So I did find Riverdaughter and passed that on.  C.I. included that and there's Cindy Sheehan and references to Diane Rehm and Andrea Mitchell sites.  But women really sat it out.  I was surprised, for example, that Kimberly Wilder (a one-time Green) had nothing to say about the debates.  (Susan of On The Edge is in the snapshot as well, C.I. had found her already before I started looking.)

I had an e-mail saying, "You're writing about Mary Chapin Carpenter the night of a debate?"  Uh-huh.

I'm sorry, I spent seven months here tracking sexism in who got booked for Talk of the Nation.  I need some time off, thank you very much.

I'm also still trying to figure out which program to track now.  I'm leaning towards Tell Me More.  If you have a different suggestion, make your case in an e-mail.  (Or leave a comment.) But that's where I'm leaning.

But if you want coverage of the debate, be sure to read "America recoiled from Barack last night (Ava and C.I.)" -- and appreciate the power of two truth telling feminists. Well done, Ava and C.I.





This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, October 4, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq executes 6 more people, Jalal continues his listening tour, Barack Obama's campaign accuses Mitt Romney of wanting to go back into Iraq, Congress calls out the administration's refusal to follow the law (with regard to military purchases), tensions continue between Turkey and Iraq, and more.
 
Last night in Denver, the Democratic Party's presidential candidate Barack Obama debated the Republican Party's presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a corporate event that Jim Lehrer moderated.  Shut out of the debates were prominent third party candidates Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson.  Last night, during the debate, Democracy Now! expanded the debate (audio, video and text) by airing questions and the responses from Barack and Mitt and then allowing Jill Stein and the Justice Party's Rocky Anderson to respond and debate.  Barack is, of course, President of the United States.  Mitt is a former governor.  Rocky is a former mayor.  Jill is a medical doctor -- in other words, if you were in an emergency, you'd be smart to choose Dr. Jill Stein -- that might need to be a campaign button because the country isn't doing well.  Amy Goodman noted that Gary Johnson was invited to her expanded debate but had turned down the offer.  Here is a section of the expanding the debate coverage on jobs:
 
AMY GOODMAN: As Democracy Now! expands the debate, we put that question, "how would you create more jobs," to the Green Party's Dr. Jill Stein.
DR. JILL STEIN: Thank you, and thank you so much for expanding this debate tonight, as you so often do, Amy, here on Democracy Now! So, first just want to acknowledge the crisis is not getting better. We still very much still have a crisis in our economy. One out of two Americans are in poverty or living at a low income and heading towards poverty. About 25 million people are either jobless or working in jobs that do not pay living wages. There are millions of people who've lost their homes, approximately 8 million. There is no end in sight to the foreclosure crisis. And we have an entire generation of students who are effectively indentured servants, who are trapped in unforgiving loans and do not have the jobs to pay them back with unemployment and underemployment rate of about 50% among our young people.
So, we very much need new solutions. What we hear, really, from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are essentially a rehash of where we have been not only for the past four years, but certainly for the eight years before that. We're hearing more about deregulating business and Wall Street, as if we didn't have enough problem from that already. We're hearing more about more tax breaks for the wealthy, and we've seen tax breaks continue over the past many decades across all sectors of the tax code to where the wealthy are not paying their fair share now. We're hearing more about energy, dirty energy.
So, we are calling for a Green New Deal modeled after the New Deal that actually got us out of the Great Depression. They created approximately 4 million jobs in as little as two months. So, there is a lot that we can do if we put our mind to it. We're calling for jobs created at the level of our communities that are nationally funded and which put decisions in the hands of the community about which kinds of jobs they need both in the green economy and meeting their social needs, that would be focused and controlled locally, but funded at the national level.
AMY GOODMAN: Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, how to create jobs?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, President Obama would like us to ignore what is happening is past four years. Granted, he came into a tough situation, but we have to consider that during the last 43 months we have had more than 8% unemployment. It is the only time in this nation's history that we have had a president that has presided even over three years of over 8% unemployment. The fact is, that those 43 months of over 8% unemployment during President Obama's term is four months more than all of the months of over 8% unemployment from 1948 until President Obama's inauguration. He talks about recovery, all the new jobs. The fact is, that in the downturn, 60% of the jobs lost were mid skill and mid paying jobs, and only 20% of the new jobs during the so-called recovery are of that category; the mid skill and mid paying jobs.
Most of the jobs are low-paying jobs, these new jobs he brags about are in retail sales and food preparation. So, there are things that have been proven in our history to work. We could have put in place, and it needs to be put in immediately, a WPA Works Progress Administration kind of program where we are investing in the future by building up our nation's rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, putting people to work. In the WPA project they 8.5 million people to work. We could be putting 20 million to 25 million people to work and making that kind of investment in our nation's future.
We need to renegotiate the outrageous free trade agreements and make sure they are fair trade so that we're not discriminating against those employers who want to hire the United States workers and also we need to get a handle on health care costs, because there are a tremendous competitive disadvantages because of the cost of health care in this country.
 
 
The same questions received real answers when the invitation list became more inclusive.  Something to remember if you watch the rest of the debates on the corporate-sponsored, corporate-owned debates on the corporate networks and the semi-corporate PBS.
 
What most Americans saw last night was the debate between Barack and Mitt only.  As Ava and I noted this morning, Governor Romney mopped the floor with President Obama -- the latter coming off petulant and bitchy.  As if to prove our point, Barack began making comments about Big Bird today that were, yes, petulant and bitchy. The Los Angeles Times takes a reading of  reporters and journalists (and Tom Hayden) and we'll note this from it, "Doyle McManus: Bottom line: Romney won. The question now is whether Romney can turn one good night into four good weeks."  CNN and ORC International's poll found 67% of those watching the debate said Mitt wonCindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) offers this analysis, "Blue Tie went first and went on a long rant on how his presidency has basically been a failure at this, but of course, blaiming (with some verity) the Red Tie that went before him.  However, give Blue Tie another four years with failed policies and things will get better this time, he swears on a stack of holy Federal Reserve Notes.  ("I really mean it this time, Baby").  Then Red Tie talked a lot about "middle income" people. Both Ties talked a lot about the "Middle Class."  Well, the term "Middle Class" is a ruling class diversion from the fact that the USA has the widest (and growing wider) income disparity in the so-called industrial world.  That's an inconvenient fact that the Scoundrels
don't want us to know, now isn't it?"
 
Let's note some other reactions to Barack's performance last night.  Doug Henwood (Left Business Observer) shares:
 
First, Obama's personality. In an earlier life, I spent a lot of time studying the psychoanalytic literature on narcissism. It was all part of a study of canonical American poetry, where I thought that the imperial grandiosity of the American imaginary could be illuminated by examining its underlying narcissism. But all that is by way of saying I'm not using this term recklessly. I think there's a lot of the narcissist about Obama. There's something chilly and empty about him. Unlike Bill Clinton, he doesn't revel in human company. It makes him uncomfortable. He wants the rich and powerful to love him, but doesn't care about the masses (unless they're a remote but adoring crowd). Many people seem to bore him. It shows.
 
 
That's a text link, but if you'd like to hear Doug in audio form, he continues to host Behind The News which now broadcasts Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time on KPFA (click here for KPFA archive  and here for the LBO archive -- which doesn't have the full show yet but will in a few days). Susan (On the Edge) also notes Henwood and she shares this opinion of Barack's performance, "In my view, his performance last night is a reflection of how he deals with Republicans in Washington. He doesn't really fight when attacked; he folds like a lawn chair. The reason he does that isn't so much to appease them than it is he truly is one of them."  Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch) add, "It was clear Obama, ill-prepared and perhaps on a sedative himself, was not expecting much in the way of competition.  Typically reserved and aloof in front of the bright lights and big cameras, Obama was cool to the point of frigidity.  Lost without his teleprompter, Obama stumbled over his talking points on numerous occasions."  At The Confluence, Riverdaughter notes:
 
The left blogosphere is all atwitter today and heading for the fainting couch because Mitt kicked Obama's ass last night. Did this meme come from the campaign-blogger meeting this morning?   I'm guessing the last thing Obama's campaign wants is for blue collar women to show up at the polls.  I mean, isn't what all of those "Romney is a bad dude who doesn't care about you" exercises have been about all summer and into the fall?  The Obama campaign seems fairly desperate to suppress the blue collar womens' vote because those women want nothing more than…
… for someone to kick the s[**]t out of Obama.
And last night gave them hope.
That's what it's all about, isn't it?  Those lady voters, and by this, oh best beloveds, he means the former Clintonistas who were royally screwed by Obama last time, they're too genteel for all the aggressive behavior that Mitt displayed last night?  Oh, my, I think they might have the vapors. They're delicate, fragile flowers and unfit for such improprieties.  It's not decent!  We shall whip them into a frenzy of condemnation.  We shall use their more civilized nature to reign Romney in.  He won't be allowed to do that next time, nosiree.
 
 
A discussion of the debate took place on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR -- link is audio and transcript) with Diane and her guests USA Today's Susan Page,  Washington Post's E.J. Dionne and National Review's Ramesh PonnuruAndrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC -- link is video) has a discussion of the debate with Tad Devine and John Feehery.  It would be really great if MSNBC could treat Andrea's show like a real one -- it is their strongest program -- she also had a segment with Ruth Marcus among others but lots of luck finding the video of that.  For debate coverage in the community, refer to posts by Mike, Elaine, Marcia, Ruth, Betty, Stan and Cedric and Wally.
 
Last night's debate was about domestic issues. 
 
Domestic issues include jobs.  Domestic issues include national laws. 
 
Was Jim Lehrer aware that the White House is in violation of the law -- violation of the law and practice that's been in place since 1941?  Was Lehrer aware that the White House has allowed the US military to fill their orders with Chinese goods?
 
Yesterday the US House Veterans Affairs Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a joint-hearing.  Appearing before the Committees was the American Legion -- chiefly National Commander James Koutz.  In addition to yesterday's snapshot, Ava covered it at Trina's site with "The VA never solves a problem,"  Wally covered it with "Today's veterans' hearing" at Rebecca's site and Kat explored it with "House-Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing."  Wally's report included:
 
An issue that some may see as minor was brought up by US House Rep Michael Michaud.  I don't see it as minor.
He reminded everyone of how there was uproar in the summer over the fact that the American athletes at the Olympics were wearing outfits that Americans didn't make.
Did you know our army wears uniforms that are not 100% American made?
 
And that brings us back to yesterday's hearing and we'll pick up with Michaud.
 
 
US House Rep Mike Michaud:  When you talk about uniforms made in the USA, I read an article -- I left you a copy, I know you haven't had a chance to read it yet -- but I'm not the only person who's upset with what's happening with our military today. I was reading an article in the Air Force Times [by Jeff Schogol] where it says "Master sgt. says no to Chinese-made boots." He was issued a pair of Chinese-made boots. He made a stink about it. He ultimately did get American made boots. He was sent to Afghanistan. And over in Afghanistan, he was given a uniform -- the Army Operation Enduring Freedom camouflage uniform -- he asked for a pair of required boots, the tan boots. Well guess what? He was issued a pair of Chinese-made boots once again. In the article, you will see where the Master Sgt at the end, and I would like to quote it, what the Master Sgt said. And I quote, "This is about patriotism. This is about the Berry Amendment set forth over 60 years ago. This is about American soldiers wearing our country's uniform made by Americans." And I couldn't agree more with the Master Sgt. At a time when our nation is divided and the discourse in Washington, DC is extremely negative, it seems to me that with the outrage of our athletes wearing Chinese-made uniforms [at the summer Olympics] that this is one issue that we can all agree on. Even both candidates who are running for president of the United States are criticizing one another about not being tough on China and both campaigns are talking about making sure more things are stamped with "Made in the USA." Well there's a way we can get tough on China, increase things Made in the USA and to make sure that our American soldiers are not treated as second class citizens, that they have the best. That's what they're fighting for, this country, United States of America. And I find it extremely concerning because this issue is not an issue that needs Congress to act. It's not an issue that we need a regulatory agency to address. It's an issue that's already the law. So my question to you is: What is the American Legion's position? Do you believe that our soldiers who are putting their lives on the line each and every day for us, should they be wearing clothing made in the United States of America?
 
 
 
James Koutz: The answer is yes. The American Legion believes that [stops for applause to die down]. I'm sure the American Legion and the American people believe that all equipment should be made in the United States of America. And there you go again, talking about jobs. Put the Americans to work making boots. That'll provide jobs here at home.
 
 
US House Rep Mike Michaud: Well I want to thank you very much, National Commander, and just for the record, I know Congressman Duncan Hunter who is a Republican colleague from California, he and I are writing a letter, we encourage our colleagues to sign that letter, to the administration, requiring them to comply with the intent of the law and it's unfortunate that we have to do that. And hopefully, we'll see some changes in that regard.
When the discussion is jobs and when you're speaking to the Commander-in-Chief of the military and when the military is in violation of the Berry Amendment and Congress is calling that out, you probably need to bring that up in the debate.  Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) reports on how veterans and veterans groups feel they were ignored in the debate last night.
 
 
Today, there have been attempts to spin the debate.  Matthew Boyle of the right-wing Daily Caller reports:
 
 
After President Barack Obama stumbled his way to a loss in the first presidential debate on Wednesday night, Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse took to MSNBC to try to spin criticism back in the direction of Mitt Romney with what appeared to be a fabricated claim.
"He wants to go back to war in Iraq," Woodhouse said of Romney during a Thursday morning appearance on MSNBC.
In response, Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told The Daily Caller that Woodhouse's statement wasn't true.
 
 
The Daily Caller remains a right-wing organ and not a news outlet.  It does that, in part, because it's to busy churning out quick 'posts' to do journalism.
 
If I were a reporter covering a false charge that a candidate supposedly wanted the US military to go back into Iraq, I think it would be incumbent upon me to mention that the one making the charge (that would be Barack's campaign) is actually representing the candidate who is trying to get more US military back into Iraq.
 
Dar Addustour reports on the US military that remains in Iraq -- with a headline of how the Pentagon refuses to withdraw them -- noting that they did not leave during the supposed full withdrawal of US forces in December 2011 and that they have instead been working with implementing security and assistng counter-terrorism forces.  The article notes that despite a lack of Congressional funding for October, the Pentagon has juggled monies to find enough funds to cover the costs through January 1st.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that the US Embassy inside the Green Zone is cloaked in mystery and that no one can tell you the number of employees -- civilian or military.  Grace points out that despite the lowering of the US flag over Baghdad in 2011 and the announcement that, after 9 years, military operations were ending, the US government, in fact, kept US troops in Iraq after the supposed withdrawl of December 2011.   An Iraqi MP on the Security and Defense Committee tells Grace that they are sure there is a much larger number os US troops in the Embassy and that the Iraqi government does not know how many US forces remain in Iraq.  An MP with Sadr's bloc says that the US military is there for logistic support but also states that the Iraqi government has no idea of the actual number of US troops on the ground in Iraq.  The article ends reminding that all US forces were supposed to leave Iraq at the end of 2011 . . . but didn't.  Last week,  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
 
 
I have no idea why The Daily Caller missed that obvious point.  As we wrap up the debate section and move into the Iraq section, a big thank you to Ann who helped track down debate commentaries worth including in this snapshot.
 
Today was one of those days where Iraq was judged worthy of asking about in the US State Dept's daily press briefing -- Victoira Nuland is the spokesperson:
 
 
QUESTION: Victoria, Iraq?
 
MS. NULAND: Yep.
 
QUESTION: I was talking to an Iraqi official about the incident of bringing the Iranian cargo airplane, for instance, and he told me the following: That they are cooperating – but they have requested from you, time and time again, for logistical support, equipment, and so on, to be able to do that, and actually, it has fallen on deaf ears. Could you tell us – and he said that the Embassy has actually made a case before the Administration, but nothing has come of it. Could you tell us about the current status in a situation like this, when the Iraqis ask for aid and equipment to conduct activities that you request them, and that is not delivered?
 
MS. NULAND: Well first, Said, let me say that, as you know, we're fully supportive of the Iraqis asking these Iranian flights to come down, be inspected, et cetera. I can't speak to what you're asserting, which is that we've been asked for help and we haven't provided it. Let me check on that. It doesn't sound right to me. Okay?
 
QUESTION: Continuing with Iraq: September was probably one of the bloodiest months of all time. Tell us about the status of your diplomatic operations in Iraq and the status of the confirmation of Mr. Beecroft.
 
MS. NULAND: Mr. Beecroft was confirmed as Ambassador a couple of weeks ago, so he is – my understanding is he's back in Iraq, fully empowered, with --
 
QUESTION: Is he in Iraq?
 
MS. NULAND: My understanding is he was taking a couple days off with his family in California, but then was headed back to Iraq. I think he's probably arrived there. Ambassador Beecroft, we call him now. Yeah.
 
QUESTION: You called him that before, too. He was the Ambassador in Jordan.
 
MS. NULAND: Yes, of course.

 
 
 
 
That would have been the perfect opportunity for Nuland to have credited Senator John Kerry.  She's apparently quick to call him out but not willing to give him credit.  (Kerry and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee making clear they were willing to pull US funds from Iraq forced Nouri al-Maliki to beging inspecting the planes headed for Iran.)
 
 
Tensions continue between the governments of Iraq and Turkey.  Hurriyet Daily News notes, "Iraq's Cabinet has recommended Parliament abrogate treaties permitting foreign forces in the country as the Turkish government submitted a motion to extend cross-border operations against members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)."  The Tehran Times quotes Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh stating that the Turkish warplanes and land efforts by the Turkish military "contradicts the principles of good neighborly relations." Namik Durukan (Al-Monitor) reminds that Tuesday "the Iraqi cabinet decided to annul all agreements that enabled the presence of foreign troops in Iraq. The decision will directly affect Turkey, which has been maintaining bases in Northern Iraq since the 1990s."  Hurriyet adds:
 
A verbal agreement was formed between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds in 1995-1996, when massive joint military operations were launched by the Turkish army and Iraqi Kurdish groups against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), to allow Turkish forces to establish a presence in northern Iraq. On Oct. 2, the Iraqi Cabinet condemned the Turkish government's motion to extend cross-border operations against militants in northern Iraq. Iraq's Cabinet suggested that Parliament should abrogate treaties permitting foreign forces in the country, after the Turkish government submitted a motion to extend cross-border operations against the PKK.
 
 
 

Meanwhile, Alsumaria reports that today the Ministry of Justice announced the executions by hanging of another six people.  This brings Iraq's reported total for 2012 to 102.  Meanwhile the so-called Ministry of Human Rights insists it is not the time for Iraq to implement a moratorium on the death penalty despite international cries for just that.  There are serious questions about Iraq's justice system including the right to a fair trail and the use of forced 'confessions.'  Just the use of forced 'confessions' should be enough to make people support a moratorium.
As Human Rights Watch pointed out at the end of August:
 
 
Human Rights Watch has previously documented the prevalence of unfair trials and torture in detention, particularly in national security and terrorism-related cases.
"There is no doubt that Iraq still has a serious terrorism problem, but it also has a huge problem with torture and unfair trials," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The lack of transparency around these convictions and executions, in a country where confessions that may have been coerced are often the only evidence against a person, makes it crucial for Iraq to declare an immediate moratorium on all executions."
Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because it is unique in its cruelty and finality, and is plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.
 
 
UN Special Envoy Martin Kobler:  Mr. President, Iraq retains the death penalty for a large number of crimes.  I therefore reiterate the call by the Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon] and the High Commissioner of Human Rights for the government of Iraq to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to their abolition.  I welcome that the authorities of the Kurdistan Region continue to implement a moratorium on carrying out executions which has been in place since 2007. 
 

There's no moratorium on violence, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "A car bomb exploded near an Iraqi army convoy in Baghdad on Thursday morning , killing at least four people and wounding 11 others, police said." The Irish Examiner notes the death toll has risen to 5.  Trend News Agency offers, "The attack occurred in the morning when a booby-trapped car went off near a convoy of sport utility vehicles (SUV) used by an Iraqi private security firm, in Baghdad's western district of Mansour, the source said on condition of anonymity."  In addition, Alsumaria notes an armed attack in Tikrit claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, 2 corpses discovered outside Tikrit (shot dead, both were Sahwa and they were brothers -- aka "Awakening," "Sons of Iraq"), 1 assailant/suspect shot dead at a checkpoint to the nort of Tikrit,  and at least 22 arrested in mass arrests today.


Al Mada notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with Hamid Majid and others heading a delegation of the Communist Party yesterday.  The discussion was the ongoing political crisis and stalemate.  It was part of Jalal's listening tour.   All Iraq News notes that the Communist Party issued a statement after the meeting stressing their support for Talabani and his efforts.  The meetings are ceremonial and can't serve any real purpose.  It's not as though the 'stumbling block' isn't known: the Erbil Agreement.  Nouri signed the US-brokered contract.  It gave him a second term as prime minister after the voters decidedly did not.  In exchange for the second term, he was supposed to provide certain things for the blocs.  He used the contract to grab his second term and then refused to honor the contract.  That is what created the current political stalemate.  This is known and has been known for over a year now.  There really isn't a need for a listening tour.


Jalal's a joke.  Alsumaria has him saying that political parties need to be flexible.  That's nonsense.  Nouri didn't 'win' a second term as prime minister.  He wasn't 'flexible.'  He threw a tantrum and, with the White House supporting him, brought Iraq to an 8-month standstill (Political Stalemate I).  And the White House didn't support the Constitution.  The White House didn't support the Iraq people.  The White House didn't support democracy.

Nouri wasn't 'flexible.'  Now the blocs have to be flexible?

I believe they were 'flexible' when they surrendered to the Erbil Agreement giving Nouri a second term.  No one asked the Iraqi people if they wanted their votes tossed aside.



That was 'flexible' enough.  It's time for the Erbil Agreement to be honored.  And since the White House staked the US government's word on that contract, it is past time for the White House to call for it's implementation.



Lastly on 'flexible,' let's remember that the White House tried to big-boy Jalal out of the presidency.  They tried to give it to Ayad Allwai.  Jalal wasn't 'flexible.'  He blew them off.  Maybe Jalal really doesn't have standing to ask others to be 'flexible'?




Jalal's not the only one meeting.  All Iraq News notes that Ibrahim al-Jaafari (head of the National Alliance) and Ammar al-Hakim (head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) met today.  For what reasons?  Apparently to discuss facial tissues and tissue boxes -- check out the picture, I'm counting five tables (including the one with the lamp) and each one has a tissue box on it.  Did Kleenex sponsor the meeting?  All Iraq News also notes that al-Hakim held court in his office in the weekly cultural forum insisting that something must be done about the security situation and noting that last month saw the deaths of 365 people in Iraq with another 683 injured.  This may make Ammar al-Hakim the only political figure in Iraq to note the death toll from last month.  Dar Addustour notes that the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler issued a statement decrying the increased violence and calling on the government to address the root causes of the instability.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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