Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Frank James cries for his hero

Poor Frank James.  I'm sure he wept as he wrote up his NPR report about Vice President Joe Biden's speech in Virginia:

Besides singing the praises of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe at the Northern Virginia event, Biden mentioned Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (favorably) and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (unfavorably). He singled out McAuliffe's Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, by name. Biden even referred to his own wife and his father.

But there was no mention of the president. Nor any mention of health care, aside from a reference to Cuccinelli's participation, as Virginia attorney general, in conservative efforts to restrict women's health care (read abortion rights) in the state. .

Biden's omission signaled how the Affordable Care Act's recent troubles have turned the president's signature domestic legislation from an asset to a liability, if not in solidly blue places like Massachusetts then in purple states like Virginia.

No, Mr. James, Mr. Obama is not popular everywhere.  He is in your heart.  We have received that message from the many embarrassing 'reports' you have filed over the last years.

You are a deeply troubled man.  And deeply stupid as well.

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

Monday, November 4, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri returns to Iraq and picks a fight with Moqtada al-Sadr, everyone's talking about the election law, USA Today attacks Cindy Sheehan, and more.

After visiting DC last week, Nouri's back in Iraq.  If anyone wasn't clear that Prime Minister and thug Nouri had returned, they clearly missed his latest attack on a political rival.

In the past, Nouri's mainly targeted leaders who were Sunni or Kurdish (mainly but not solely).  Today, he went gunning for Shi'ites -- specifically cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

The Iraq Times reports Nouri launched an unprecdented attack on Moqtada today declaring that he's trying to destroy the country, that he knows ("very well knows") who is carrying out the killings and sectarian warfare in Iraq.  All Iraq News adds that Nouri accused Moqtada of joining foreign countries in plotting against Iraq.  Alsumaria notes that Sadr MP Hossein Sharifi responded that Nouri enjoys hurling accusations at rivals to deflect from Nouri's own failures in leadership.

Nouri al-Maliki:  They also remember the honorable Iraqis who firmly and strongly confronted the terrorists particularly al - Qaeda and they also remember the control of Moqtada’s militia that fostered murder, kidnapping and theft in Basra, Karbala, Baghdad and other provinces .

Wasn't that cute of Nouri to bring up militias and to target Moqtada with militia smears.   Neither should happen. As Tim Arango (New York Times) reported last September, Nouri has armed Shi'ite militias to kill Sunnis in Iraq:

In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

That group he's backing?  A rival of Moqtada al-Sadr's.

National Iraqi News Agency reports that Nickolay Mladenov (special envoy in Iraq for UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon) held a press conference today in Kirkuk hailing the "agreement reached between political blocs to pass" an election law.  You may remember Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has insisted that parliamentary elections will take place April 30th.

That would be 53 days late, if we're honest.  March 8, 2010 was when the last parliamentary elections were held.  But if that's what it is, it's what it is.  And the United Nations and the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission are insisting that they will need six months to prep for the election.

So if things are all settled, that's what it is.

But that's not yet what it is.  Ahmed Rasheed and Kevin Liffey (Reuters) point out, "The law could still in theory be challenged in the Iraqi federal court on constitutional grounds."

There's another issue.  People may ignore it, they may not.  If you're unhappy about the law, you probably won't ignore it.  To be legal, the the presidency council has to approve the law.

In 2009, for example, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi shot down a parliamentary election law -- it had been passed by Parliament.  It only takes one of them, the president or the two vice presidents.

And therein lies the problem, Vice President Kudhair al-Khuzaie approved the law.  Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi didn't get a vote (he remains Vice President until the end of his term unless Parliament votes to remove him.  Who else didn't vote?  Jalal.

Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany.  He still remains in Germany.

The Constitution is clear that the vice presidents and president vote.

Well . . . the politcal blocs approve!  The heads of the political blocs approve!  That's what the UNAMI head was celebrating.

So what?

November 9, 2009, Yousif Bassil, Jomana Karadsheh and Mohammed Jamjoom (CNN) reported on al-Hasehmi's veto:

The election law was finally passed on November 8 -- after months of political wrangling -- and it had to be unanimously approved by the country's three-member presidency council -- made up of Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi and al-Hashimi.
A veto is rare because the passage of a law usually means that it has the blessing of all the political blocs.
The Kurds could also present a setback with threats to boycott the vote unless the seat allocations are assessed in provinces with heavy Kurdish populations.
The tussle over the election law reflects the persistent political jockeying among Iraq's three main ethnic groups for power in the upcoming parliament, which will increase in size from 275 to 323 because of population growth.

It would not be surprising for the Kurds to again threaten a boycott (Barzani did that two Sundays ago).  It wouldn't be surprising for some blocs to note the fact that the Constitution is not being followed and if the Shi'ite Vice President is now (informally) the President -- you need to vote on that and, after that, you need to nominate people to be vice president.  Constitution's not being followed at all.

But the United Nations loves it!   They love it!

What a sad, sad moment for the UN.

Iraq has struggled for months to pass an elections law -- Speaker of Parliament al-Nujaifi was even insisting (until last week) that the old elections law could be used if a new one wasn't passed.  That was rejected by KRG President Massoud Barzani.  Yesterday the Iraqi press was reporting on the decision not to increase the number of seats in Parliament.  As Sheikh (Dar Addustour) notes how the issue of three seats buried the bill on Sunday.

Ahmed Hussein and Muhannad Muhammad (Alsumaria) reports today that it's been decided to increase the Parliament from 325 seats to 328.  Alsumaria also reports 310 seats will follow the old laws while 8 will be held for minorities and as many as ten will be compensatory and distributed to Anbar, Basra, Dhi Qar, Babil, Baghdad, Diyala and Muthanna.  Seven provinces competing for 10 seats?  How could that get ugly?  Seven out of 18 provinces -- meaning 11 provinces won't have compensatory seats.  How could that get ugly?

Maybe by people who don't feel it's fair or possibly are bothered by the fact that, as Al Mada reports, the United Nations, not the lawmakers, decided the distribution of the compensatory seats.  Kitabat also notes that the UN determined the distribution of the compensatory seats.

All Iraq News notes that the 9 minority seats are being divided with "five seats for Christians and one seat for each Shabak, [Ya]zidi and Sabean Mandaeans."  How could that get ugly?  Safaa Abdel-Hamid (Alsumaria) reports the Yazidis are very unhappy and announced they will take the matter to the federal court.  And there's more.  The Iraq Times reports Kurdistan Alliance MP Amina Said declared after the vote that the major political blocs are violating the rights of the minorities and she specifically used the Yazidis and the issue of the seat quotas as an example.

All Iraq News also notes:

A Parliamentary source reported to AIN ''The parliamentary seats were distributed as (69) seats for Baghdad, (31) seats for Nineveh, (25) seats for Basra, (19) seats to Dhi-Qar, (17) for Babel, (18) seats to Sulaimaniya, (15) seats to Anbar, (15) seats to Erbil, (14) to Diyala, (12) to Kirkuk, (12) for Salah-il-Din, (12) seats for Najaf, (11) seats for Wasit, (11) for Diwaniya, (11) seats for Dohuk, (11) for Karbala, ten seats for Maysan and seven seats for Muthana province.''

B-b-but! That's based on population!

How so?  Iraq's not had a census since the 90s.   Mustafa Habib (Niqash) observed last June:

Censuses of Iraq’s population are supposed to be held in Iraq every ten years and 2007 was the due date for the last one. However because of the instability and sectarian violence in the country then, it was impossible to hold one. Iraq’s census was postponed again in 2009, and then again in 2010. And it turns out the country’s last census was actually held in 1987.

Back then the population numbered just over 16 million – or 16,335,000 to be exact, according to the Ministry of Planning.  A census-lite was held in 1997 in 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces; the census was not conducted by the central government and it ignored Iraqi Kurdistan. The results of that census indicated there were over 19 million in Iraq.

So, yeah, the totals could cause some irritation because they're not based on population -- they can't be when there's been no census since 1997.

Let's see . . . Nihad Qais (Alsumaria) reports some provinces are objecting to the new law and insisting that it has overidden the rights of the provinces.  Scarier still, Alsumaria reports the Sadr bloc noted there is disagreement over how votes will be counted in various provinces.  AFP explains, "Iraq will hold a general election on April 30 after lawmakers agreed on polling regulations Monday, setting a marker that officials hope could end political deadlock fueling a surge in violence."

Since Parliament, as All Iraq News notes, quickly closed shop today and announced that they wouldn't hold another session until November 14th, some could argue that they are aware of potential problems. And all of this is what Alsumaria quotes Nickolay Mladenov  hailing as "victorious"?

Let's turn to the issue of violence.  First, let's note a Twitter conversation today:

    1. If even Sunni FSA are considered wahabi,how can anyone tke them seriously.Any Sunni who disagree w/them is considered wahabi
    2. that same girl attacks Maliki and Shahrestani too (both Shia). The Wahhabi remarks are directed at Al-Qaeda in Iraq, not FSA.
    3. Well, even secular FSA (but sunni) are called wahabi. "Shia Sunni bro" is for foreign consumption
    4. I'm not defending them. They & other CT forces are feeding the fuel of sectarian conflict in Iraq w/ their heavy-handed raids.

  • I'm not commenting on Hyader al-Khoei's writing but it would be really good if the press -- as a whole -- would look at the way they cover violence and specifically how they 'report' on violence with regards to Sunnis.

    Yesterday, Iraq saw a great deal of violence.  Iraq Body Count notes 14 killed yesterday.  Some of yesterday's violence got reported today.  We'll note two incidents.  Al Mada notes that a female suicide bomber was caught yesterday before she could blow herself up in front of a primary school.  Kirkuk Now reports a 4-year-old girl, Shilan Salm Hama, was kidnapped outside her Kirkuk home on Sunday.

    As for violence today?  AP notes "Shootings, Bombings Kill 12 in Iraq" and AFP offers "13 dead in north Iraq violence."  Seriously?  Better job done by Press TV notes "Attacks kill 39, injure 52 across Iraq" and by  The Voice of Russia which offers "Iraq attacks kill 3, injure 52."

    National Iraqi News Agency reports a a bombing "near Baghdad car depot" left six people (three were police) injured, a Bahgdad Road bombing "in central Kirkuk" injured one police officer, a Zab bombing claimed the lives of 2 Sahwa with three more injured, 3 people were shot dead and a fourth injured "north of Mosul," a Tikrit car bombing left 16 people dead and thirty-eight injured, a Baghdad grenade attack claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers (three more were injured), 4 military officers were shot dead while in a Mosul taxi, 3 suicide bombers attacked the Riyadh police station and claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left seven more injured, and a Hut roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured.  All Iraq News adds that retired judge Ouff Abdul Rahman was shot dead in Mosul today.   That's 36 dead and over fifty injured.

    As deadly and bloody as it has been, the Iraq War has been a financial windfall for many including the trash that is the Podestas.  Dropping back to the February 13, snapshot:

    Felons rejoice, at his company website, Tony Podesta self-boasts, "Many people in Washington can tell you what just happened to you.  Tony Podesta helps you change outcomes."  The company slogan appears to be -- because it's all over the website -- "we are the podesta group. we deliver." -- "the trash" must have been left off due to a lack of space.  Or maybe with the Podestas, trash is just implied? 
    In the second most popular episode of Charlie's Angels, season one's "Consenting Adults" (written by Les Carter), Farrah Fawcett's Jill lays down some basic truth with Laurette Spang's Tracy.

    Jill:  Okay, let's both stop playing games.  For starters, you can drop the "Tracy."  It rhymes with Stacy and Macy and all those other jive names hookers like to latch onto.

    Hookers and con artists frequently have to change their names -- which one is the Podesta Group?  Wikipedia explains the lobbying group "was founded in 1988 by brothers John Podesta and Tony Podesta and has previously been known as Podesta Associates, podesta.com and PodestaMatton" or, as it's called in DC, "the Podestaphile."

    In February, John Podesta -- the Democrat who helped start the illegal war, signed a contract to profit from the illegal war by representing despot Nouri al-Maliki.  Thursday, Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt (New York Times) reported:

     And to win over a Congress and an American public reluctant to revisit the past in Iraq, he is being helped by a prominent Washington lobbying firm: the Podesta Group, which the Iraqi government is paying $960,000 a year. An Iraqi embassy official said that the group has provided advice on how to get Iraq’s message across to American lawmakers as well as “feedback” on a recent Op-Ed article Mr. Maliki wrote for The New York Times.
    For those unaware of the blood on John Podesta's grubby hands, dropping back to the March 28, 2007 snapshot:

    Interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner (KPFA's Guns and Butter) today, professor Francis Boyle discussed how a 2003 exploration of impeachment by the Democrats was cut short when John Podesta announced that there would be no introduction of bills of impeachment because it would harm Democrats chances in the  2004 election.  Speaking of the measures being applauded by much in the media, big and small, Boyle declared, "It's all baloney.  All they had to do was just do nothing and Bush would have run out of money. . . .  The DNC fully supports the war, that was made clear to Ramsey [Clark] and me on 13 March 2003 and nothing's changed."  John Podesta, former Clintonista, is with the Democratic talking point mill (that attempts to pass itself as a think tank) Center for American Progress -- with an emphasis on "Center" and not "Progress." 

    Here's David Swanson (in 2009, at Democrats.com) discussing Podesta's role in the Iraq War:

    Boyle and Ramsey Clark presented the case for impeachment to Democratic congress members on March 13, 2003, just days before the bombs hit Baghdad. Impeachment could conceivably have prevented over a million deaths. The congress members present accepted the validity of the case, but John Podesta and others argued that it would be better for Democrats in the next election to let the war happen. We saw this same cold blooded calculation, of course, in 2007 and 2008, as the Democrats controlled the Congress and claimed to "oppose" the war while keeping it going. While Clark argued for the political advantage of pursuing impeachment, Boyle declined to address that point, preferring to stick to the facts. Sadly, electoral arguments are almost the only thing most congress members care about, and human life is not even on the list.

    Here's Boyle speaking to Dori Smith (Talk Radio Nation -- link is audio and transcript) from February 7, 2007:

    Francis A. Boyle: We just need one person to introduce the bill with courage, integrity, principles, and of course a safe seat. In Gulf War one I worked with the late great Congressman Henry B. Gonzales on his bill of impeachment against Bush Sr. We put that one in. I did the first draft the day after the war started. So in my opinion there is no excuse for these bills not to have been put in already. In fact, on 13 March 2003, Congressman John Conyers convened a meeting of 40 to 50 of his top advisors, most of whom were lawyers, to debate putting in immediate bills of impeachment against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft, to head off the war. There were draft bills sitting on the table that had been prepared by me and Ramsey Clark. And the Congressman invited Ramsey and me to come in and state the case for impeachment. It was a two hour debate, very vigorous debate, obviously all of these lawyers there. And most of the lawyers there didn't disagree with us on the merits of impeachment. It was more as they saw it a question of practical politics. Namely, John Podesta was there, Clinton's former White House chief of staff, who said he was appearing on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and they were against putting in immediate bills of impeachment because it might hurt whoever their presidential candidate was going to be in 2004. Well at that time no one even knew who their presidential candidate was going to be in 2004. I didn't argue the point, I'm a political independent. It was not for me to tell Democrats how to elect their candidates. I just continued arguing the merits of impeachment. But Ramsey is a lifelong Democrat and he argued that he felt that putting in these bills of impeachment might help the Democrats and it certainly wasn't going to hurt them in 2004.

    So when the right thing could have been done, when the Iraq War could have been stopped before it started, when everything could have been changed, there was John Podesta arguing to destroy Iraq, to destroy the lives of the Iraqi people, so that Democrats could win the 2004 elections?  (For the record, the whore was wrong even when it came to electability: the Dems lost in the 2004 election -- they lost the presidency, the House and the Senate both remained under Republican control with Republicans increasing their seats -- in the single digits, but it's an increase -- in both houses of Congress.) 
    Last week, Nour visited DC and visited, among others, members of Congress, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama.  As we noted at Third in ("If you never got how crazy Nouri al-Malik is . . ...."),  for Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times), the most surprising thing was:

    Facing a deadly resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, President Obama signaled Friday that he would begin increasing U.S. military support for Baghdad after five years of reducing it.
    The new U.S. plan represents a remarkable shift for Obama, whose administration trumpeted the 2011 withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Iraq as a major achievement and has since shifted its attention to other regional challenges, such as Syria, Egypt and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Is there a smaller prick than David Mastio?
    Princess Tiny Meat Mastio gets into a Twitter flare up today and responds:

    1. there's not one bad word about cancer patient. Disagreement is not an attack
    2. just because i don't think white house attacke cancer patient doesn't mean i like . Facts matter.

    The right winger got one thing right, facts do matter.
    And USA Today might need to explain why they've overstaffed their editorial board with conservatives?  It's not commonly known but I can make it real common and in the current environment it would probably mean USA Today would take a real hit in circulation.
    Shall we go there?
    Maybe we will.  For those who missed it, today Princess Tiny Meat launched an attack on Cindy Sheehan (he was behind other attacks previously when he was at the Washington Times).
    Princess Tiny Meat insists (in the brief text -- he failed to post the video, apparently Princess Tiny Meat went limp again -- get us microscope and we can confirm that):

    Instead of focusing on issues where an increasing number of Americans agree with her, she's disappeared into fringe politics. First she ran on a socialist party's ticket for vice president as actress Roseanne Barr's running mate. Now she's running for governor of California. Want to know more about how that's going? Take a look at the video answer above from Forum Editor David Mastio.

    How dare he?  First off Cindy's success in 2012 was important in my state, California. The
    Barr - Sheehan ticket is part of the build up of the Peace and Freedom Party.  It may be 'just a third party,' but it's among the parties that help California to offer real choice to voters.  We're not just  two political parties.  That's something Cindy can be proud of. Fringe politics?
    The environment is fringe politics?  Organizing people to take the lead in their communities is fringe politics?  Being opposed to killing is fringe politics?
    Yes, she's running for the governor of California.  That's a great thing.  She's running on the Peace and Freedom ticket.  That may mean nothing to you but maybe you don't live and vote in California?  In which case maybe you should take your big nose out of elections you can't vote in?

    Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.png: Understanding that third party candidates do not often win, what do you hope to achieve by running for governor of California?
    Cindy Sheehan: First of all, unfortunately third party candidates NEVER win for high level state or federal offices, and now since Prop 14 passed, it is even harder. Having said that, in 2008, I ran as an independent against Nancy Pelosi and I came in second. In California, I think I may have a good chance to advance to the general election and hopefully force the other candidate, (Brown, ?) to debate me and bring up the issues and solutions to more people.
    Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you plan to spread your message throughout the state?
    Sheehan: We already have many Californians who have volunteered to host the campaign with fundraisers and town hall meetings. I am going to ride my bike as much as possible to highlight the need to drastically cut our dependence on fossil fuels and to transition to clean, renewable, and sustainable forms of energy — also to highlight the need for cheap and comprehensive public transportation and infrastructure improvement.
    Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow would you rate Jerry Brown's performance as governor? What would you do differently than him?
    Sheehan: Well, since I am challenging him, I would rate his performance as poor. He is in the pockets of so many special interests, like oil and privatized prisons, that he is not looking out for the interests of everyone in this state. I would hold dozens of town hall meetings to talk to the people of this state about their struggles and community-based solutions and work with the people to put their needs first and foremost. Instead of destroying education, I would put a revival of our public school system as one of the most urgent things we need to do.
    Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIf elected, how would you work with a legislature hostile to your agenda?
    Sheehan: By getting the people involved in the process. It’s the only way we can do it.
    Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhich past California governor do you most admire?
    Sheehan: I majored in US History at UCLA and was focusing on California history, so I admire someone who ran for governor, Upton Sinclair, more than anyone who actually was elected. Our EPIC campaign is modeled off of his. But if I had to pick one that was actually governor, I would say, populist-progressive Hiram Johnson. May I also say that it’s way past time that California elected a female?

    I'm sorry.  None of that sounds crazy, fringe or niche to me.  I doubt it will to most potential voters.  That doesn't mean she'll get their votes (it doesn't mean she won't).  It does mean she's a serious candidate and how trashy the USA Today offers a blog post putting her down and wanted to offer a video doing the same but they're too damn stupid to know how to post a video at USA Today. 
    How sad that this is how they greet a woman running for governor -- by attempting to ridicule and trash her.