Monday, August 19, 2013

More nonsense from The Advocate

your server barack

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Your server, Barack"went up last night.  It's great.

Lucas Grindley isn't. The Advocate doesn't care for lesbians but struggles with being i.d. as a mag just for gay men. Grindley's latest column includes:


So all of that struck me a few weeks ago when the writer of the new NBC sitcom Sean Saves the World described it as "a post-gay show." His show stars out actor Sean Hayes as single dad to a newly teenage girl. And the writer was trying to convince the Television Critics Association that it will be a ratings winner.

The chairman of NBC Entertainment, Bob Greenblatt, had said one day earlier that another NBC show about gay parents, The New Normal, was more "issue-oriented" than Sean Saves the World (which debuts in October). I guess that's why it was canceled after one season.

My husband and I loyally watched The New Normal, which told the story of a gay couple starting a family via surrogacy. One of the prospective dads gets kicked out of a Boy Scouts troop. They make peace with homophobic relatives. And they argue over who will become the "stay-at-home dad." I don't think it was any more "issue-oriented" than my own life.

Oh my God.

I just mean, Oh My God.

In my best Bonnie Franklin.

White boy, wake up.

For most Americans, the male character to wanting to breast feed is nothing they can relate to.

 And that's just one episode.  (Where he tries to 'breast feed' -- via a device -- at a food establishment after he and women dance to that awful song "Milk Shake.")

As for issues, why was every episode an attack on Republicans.

Did it ever end?

If that's your life, you have a sad life.

I'm an out lesbian -- and, word, if I heard someone trashing me for being gay, I wouldn't just tip-toe away the way Grindley does. 

My days are not spent hating Republicans.

I've got a busy life.

Goldie's brother -- the most prominent African-American male on the show -- is ridiculed for being a Republican.

Ellen Barkin's awful character and so much more.

As for "issues," I believe the elderly harpy Ellen Barkin ensured that problem with her awful Twitter feed.  She should have used that time getting more work done since in the scenes with Marlo Thomas, Marlo looked so much younger than Barkin and Marlo is easily 15 years older.

Sean Hayes is not going to do 'political.' He's going to try to do funny.  He's one of the people behind Grimm and Hot In Cleveland.  He wants to make an entertaining show.  Good.  I am political.  I don't need it in sitcoms -- especially when they drop funny to be preachy and didactic.

The New Normal could have been a great show.  But (a) I couldn't stand the political bickering and (b) couldn't stand Ellen Barkin.

If you can't get how that show ran off viewers, you too may be stupid enough to write for The Advocate -- if you're a male that is.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, August 19, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protest leader Haitham al-Abadi is assassinated,  Nouri wants a third term, Hoshyar Zebari wants to lie, Matthew Rothschild can't stop whining that he was arrested after police asked him to step aside and he refused, while Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda has every right to complain after being the latest victim of a White House enemies list, and more.

Let's start with stupidity because I'm really not in the mood.  Matthew Rothschild went on Democracy Now! today to whine about his arrest.  Remember, it's all about him, he is the story, there's nothing more important in this world than what happens to Matthew Rothschild.

He really needs to stop whining and coming off like the little bitch that he is.  Here's reality, he was told to step away in the middle of an arrest.  He didn't.  He argued with the police and he got arrested for obstructing justice. The charge may or may not stick.  But it's not shocking that it happened.

Display your press credentials, maybe make a point to speak to the police before arrests happen -- you were there to report, right, so you should have spoken to the police about what was happening, right?  And, sorry, crackpot, you don't attempt an interview with the police while they're in the middle of an arrest.

Again, the charge may stick, it may not.  But it's not the end of the world or even a transition point to a larger story.  Ava and I took this nonsense on in yesterday's "Media: Fantasies and Fancies in place of Facts" and how pathetic of Amy Goodman to have brought Matthew onto her show when she still hasn't made time to tell her viewers and listeners that Barack sent US troops back into Iraq or other things that actually matter.

The interview was worthless and so was the guest.  It hit the all time low with this:

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the quote of Time magazine’s senior national correspondent, Michael Grunwald, who tweeted, "I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange." WikiLeaks responded for Times editor-in-chief Tina Brown to fire Grunwald calling for Assange to be killed. [Correction: WikiLeaks says they have written to Time magazine to call for the firing of Michael Grunwald. Tina Brown is not the editor-in-chief of Time magazine. She’s editor-in-chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast.] Your quick response?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: He should be fired. No reporter, no journalist, no pundit, who has any respect for the First Amendment, should beg for the killing of a whistleblower.

That's embarrassing.  No, not Amy's mistake and I actually have more respect for her that she owned this one.  Mistakes happen, they are not the end of the world.  We all know Tina Brown (of Vainty Fair fame and The New Yorker and Talk infamy), fewer people know of Martha Nelson (editor-in-chief of Time).  I think WikiLeaks made a mistake in calling for the firing but Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks and it's less a concept of free speech for them and more personal.  Matthew Rothschild is a supposed proponent of free speech.

Michael Grunwald's an ass and is rightfully being mocked and called out for his idiotic statement.  He's not the first to make such a statement.  I can remember many times when similar remarks were made.  (What about when New Republic writer made the disgusting bunker bombing remarks about Arudhati Roy?)  And if you find these remarks offensive, you can call them out -- as people are doing with Grunwald's remarks.  But free speech is not, "Fire them! Fire them!"

We need to drop back to Thursday's snapshot now:

Yes, Bradley did say he wanted to start a debate on counter-insurgency.  Too bad for Bradley, most people weren't up to it - -hadn't been for over a decade.  How did counter-insurgency become 'respectable'?  The Carr Center at Harvard and places where other academic whores gather.  Review Adam Curtis (BBC News) 2012 report and marvel over how counter-insurgency went from being so reviled during the Vietnam era that the US military disowned it, to staging a comeback in the 00's.  It took a lot of silence for that to happen and you can look to The Nation magazine which refused to call it out (I'm not forgetting Tom Hayden's piece -- I'm also not forgetting that it first appeared elsewhere and that in all the years that have followed no one at The Nation bothered to ever weigh in).  Look to The Progressive magazine which never called it out.
Excuse me, The Progressive wasn't just silent.  We often note Samantha Power blurbed the military's counter-insurgency manual.  I never would have known that were it not for the ad for the military's manual that ran in The Progressive.  So the magazine didn't just remain silent, it accepted money to promote war on a native population.

I had a nasty e-mail about that passage from a Progressive-er who wanted to tell me that the magazine has to accept all kinds of ads.  Thank you for telling me what I already know.  I've stated here (twice) and since the 90s in discussions with friends in publishing, that if I ran a magazine we'd take all ads but hate speech (the only ad we've called out here as not worthy of print was one The Nation ran during the Bully Boy Bush years which was grossly anti-Muslim and nothing but hate speech).  We'd take booze and pot, nicotine and Depends, there would be no, "Oh, we can't take that."  Except for hate speech.

The counter-insurgency manual ad, try to grasp this idiots at The Progressive, isn't an issue except for the fact that you made money off counter-insurgency but refused, for 13 years now, to call it out.  The left position has always been that counter-insurgency was wrong.  The Nation was calling it out (Peter Rothberg) in the '00s.  That stopped when they found it was being used in Iraq.  (They also stopped spelling it "counter-insurgency" -- as it had always been spelled by the press -- and instead going with the US military's "counterinsurgency spelling.)  You took money to run that stupid ad?  Fine.  If I ran The Progressive, I would have taken the ad too.  But I also would have written repeatedly to explain what counter-insurgency actually was and to call it out.  As I have here repeatedly.  David H. Price and Tom Hayden are the only other Americans who have repeatedly sounded the alarms about counter-insurgency in the last years.

I just visited The Progressive website.  What do I find streaming?   (And I just did a screensnap, Matt Rothschild, so don't try to scrub or we'll use the screensnap at Third of Sunday and really make something of it.)  Why, look, it's an ad, in favor of the Keystone pipeline!  And it's sponsored by?  The American Petroleum Institute!  You can't get less left than that.

But get this through your thick heads, staff of The Progressive,  before you e-mail me again, I don't care.  You're a magazine on the verge of going under but even if you were successful, I wouldn't care what ads you ran.  And if I ran your magazine, we'd accept all ads but hate speech.  If you could pay for the ad -- and it wasn't hate speech -- we'd run it.

What I objected to was that you failed to call out counter-insurgency.  Not that you took the ad for the manual -- which used Problem From Hell Samantha Power's blurb as a pull quote.  The ad could and should have been a starting point for a discussion on counter-insurgency in the magazine.  That you failed to do so means you profited from counter-insurgency,

I'm not surprised this reality is one you struggle with when your editor and CEO claims to back and support free speech but when someone makes a stupid remark, the response is, "Fire him!!!!!"  I don't want him fired.  I want everyone to know that Grunwald is an idiot and supports targeted killings and to factor that in before they weigh his latest 'opinion.'  To me, his idiotic remarks are wonderful in that they are now a warning label that should follow all of his suggestions and opinions around from now on.  I would love to know every journalist who supports the use of Drones to kill innocents.  So now it's NPR's Tom Gjleten and Michael Grunwald.  Good to know. 

In our piece, Ava and I noted Matt needed to know the figures on the recall vote before citing them.  We also noted:

 Rothschild clearly struggles with other realities.  Despite the (small) ongoing protests against [Wisconsin Governor Scott] Walker, his approval rate was 48% with 46% disapproval.  Rothschild may want to portray Walker as hugely out of step with Wisconsin but the polling does not suggest that's the opinion of the state's citizens.
That doesn't mean Walker's good or great.  It does mean that despite running off national readers with their near exclusive focus on Wisconsin, The Progressive has failed to communicate effectively to the people of Wisconsin on what they see as Walker's faults.

 He still fails.  He ticks off a laundry list at one point to Amy Goodman -- issues where Walker's stand is firmly opposed by me yet I don't feel upset or angry.  I just feel like, "Why isn't he backing this up with stories and facts."  Oh, that might distract from him trying to get us on his side by fear mongering that Walker's going to run for president. Can he shut up with that damn talking point?

Taking on Frank Bruni and Maureen Dowd's most recent columns, Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) observes today, " In our view, it's inane to be writing about the 2016 campaign at this point. We will suggest that, when columnists do so, they show us they don't care about anything happening now, in the year 2013."  Agreed.  Rothschild had a segment to make the case against Walker and failed.  He managed to chat about himself and his 'tragedy' of an arrest.  He just didn't have time to make a valid case against Walker.

I don't doubt that Walker is someone I would never vote for if he ran for president (or if he ran for statewide office in California, I don't live in Wisconsin).  I don't doubt that I would oppose every policy he stands for.  But Rothschild still can't make that case because he's lazy.

The Koch brothers, that's what Matt's got?  How stupid.  Beyond a small fringe -- probably even tinier in Wisconsin -- no one gives a damn about the Koch brothers.  But you go to that, stupid and lazy, because you don't want to do the work required.  You short-hand your 'critique' it by going to the Koch brothers.  This is America, grow up.  Being wealthy is not a crime and most Americans would love to be wealthy (especially in this crappy economy).  You are communicating nothing by demonizing the Koch brothers.  You need to start addressing how Walker's policies and decisions are harming the people of the state or you need to find another topic.  You've been covering this for years and you go on Democracy Now! -- to an international audience -- and all you can offer is "Koch brothers!" and try to scare them with what might happen in 2016 (a presidential run by Walker!!!!).

Ava and I noted the protests against Walker were small in our piece Sunday.  Matthew Rothschild wants to 'correct' that in his interview today,  "The protests haven't dwindled; they've quadrupled, and sometimes as large as 250 people, when there were, you know, less than 40 people there before."

250 people?  That's not large.  These protests against Walker have been going on since before 2012.  Millions and millions of dollars have been poured into the state from outside groups to agitate against Walker.  You wasted the money because you never grasped that ticking off a list of faults is not explaining why Walker shouldn't be in office.  You failed and you continue to.

And 250 people?

Thousands turn out every Friday in Iraq and have for eight months now and you've not written one damn word about that but in a state that currently has 3,399,169 registered voters and 5.7 million citizens, you want to pretend that 250 people is a large protest?  No wonder you struggle, your actions cause you to be laughed at.  250 is 0.004% of 5,709,843.  That's what you've got protesting currently, 0.004 of the state's population.  No, those aren't large protests.

But they do beg a question.  When Iraqis risk real arrests that include torture, when they risk being killed, when they are followed from the protests by Nouri's forces, when they are killed in their homes,  why has the so-called Progressive magazine refused to cover them?  Again, these protests have been ongoing since December 21st.  Friday, is the eight month marker.

In the worst example of Nouri and his forces attacking the Iraqi people, there is the Tuesday, April 23rd massacre of the sit-in in Hawija by Nouri's federal forces.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.  UNICEF informed the world that 8 of the dead were children and twelve more children were left injured. But The Progressive hasn't been interested in that.  Matty Rothschild gets a slap on the wrist Thursday and Matty writes a column in which (as Ava and I noted) "he refers to himself with 'me' or 'I' 37 times."  And he goes on KPFA's Living Room to whine about his arrest and he goes on Democracy Now! to whine about his arrest.  But he's not said one damn word about the slaughter of the peaceful protesters in Hawija.

While Matthew can write about himself -- in the guise of 'progressivism' -- and yack about himself, he can't show interest in a massacre in Iraq.

It was The BRussells Tribunal, not The Progressive, which brought the world the testimony of Thamer Hussein Mousa who survived the massacre in which his son Mohammed Thamer was killed:

When we heard about the peaceful protests in Al-Hawija, taking place at ‘dignity and honor square’, I began attending with my son to reclaim our usurped rights. We attended the protests every day, but last Friday the area of protest was besieged before my son and I could leave; just like all the other protestors there.
Food and drink were forbidden to be brought into the area….
On the day of the massacre (Tuesday 23 April 2013) we were caught by surprise when Al-Maliki forces started to raid the area. They began by spraying boiling water on the protestors, followed by heavy helicopter shelling. My little son stood beside me. We were both injured due to the shelling.
My son, who stood next to my wheelchair, refused to leave me alone. He told me that he was afraid and that we needed to get out of the area. We tried to leave. My son pushed my wheelchair and all around us, people were falling to the ground.
Shortly after that, two men dressed in military uniforms approached us. One of them spoke to us in Persian; therefore we didn’t understand what he said. His partner then translated. It was nothing but insults and curses. He then asked me “Handicapped, what do you want?” I did not reply. Finally I said to him, “Kill me, but please spare my son”. My son interrupted me and said, “No, kill me but spare my father”. Again I told him “Please, spare my son. His mother is waiting for him and I am just a tired, disabled man. Kill me, but please leave my son”. The man replied “No, I will kill your son first and then you. This will serve you as a lesson.” He then took my son and killed him right in front of my eyes. He fired bullets into his chest and then fired more rounds. I can’t recall anything after that. I lost consciousness and only woke up in the hospital, where I underwent surgery as my intestines were hanging out of my body as a result of the shot.
After all of what has happened to me and my little son – my only son, the son who I was waiting for to grow up so he could help me – after all that, I was surprised to hear Ali Ghaidan (Lieutenant General, Commander of all Iraqi Army Ground Forces) saying on television, “We killed terrorists” and displaying a list of names, among them my name: Thamer Hussein Mousa.

I ask you by the name of God, I appeal to everyone who has a shred of humanity. Is it reasonable to label me a terrorist while I am in this situation, with this arm, and with this paralyzed leg and a blind eye?

Thamer Hussein's story more than tops Matthew Rothschild's weak-ass whine.  But The Progressive won't cover it.  It's too bad Hussein didn't host a Pacifica radio show or run a left US magazine with a tiny circulation.  If he had, he would be able to make the tiniest grievance into 'news' the way Rothschild and others do.

 Today in Iraq, another member of the protest movement is assassinated. "Gunmen assassinated, late last night, Haitham al-Abadi, one of the organizers of the demonstrations, in his home in Rifai area west of Mosul."  Iraqi Spring MC notes that he had been threatened by government forces.

Of course by government forces.  Who kills protesters?  Fellow citizens who disagree with their stance may yell at them as they pass but who kills protesters?  It's usually the government.  Take the US, who killed 4 Kent State University students and left nine more injured?  Angry professors?  Nope.  It was the US government (the Ohio National Guard was the weapon the US government used).  What happened August 28, 1968 in Chicago?  The government, via the local police, attacked protesters.  Protests take place around the world and when protesters are targeted with violence, the trail of blood usually leads back to the government.

In January of this year, Shafaq News reported:

Civilian activists confirmed on Saturday, that demonstrators of Mosul gave three days for Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki as a respite to respond to their demands, threatening from civil disobedience if he rejects these demands.The civil rights activist, Haitham al-Abadi said in an interview for "Shafaq News", that "the crowd gathered in the main central area of Mosul gave the central government a maximum period of three days to respond to their demands," stressing that “they threatened to resort to civil disobedience if the government did not respond to these demands."
He explained that "the civil disobedience would lead to the closure of shops and street in addition to other measures", Abadi preferred not to disclose it now.
Abadi added that "he was subjected to beating a few days ago by unknown men because of his activity in Ahrar Square", adding that "hundreds of people came out today to protest near the building of Nineveh province, heading to Ahrar Square in the center of Mosul."

Today Shafaq News reports:

“An armed group assassinated activist Haitham al-Abadi in Ras al-Jadaa area in central Mosul, after they opened fire and shot Abadi dead immediately,” the source told “Shafaq News”.
Abadi was exposed a few months ago to a threat, before being beaten by unknown people.
He was known by his activity within the Liberal Square protesting against the policies of the government in Baghdad.

The Iraq Times adds that the assassins used automatic weapons.  Qatar News Agency notes, "A police source in Nineveh said that gunmen killed Haitham al-Abadi in his home in Rifai area west of Mosul, adding that one of the tribal elders, who was with him in the house, was wounded in the attack."

In other violence today,  National Iraqi News Agency reports 3 Shabaks were shot dead in Mosul, a Tuz Khurmato bombing claimed 3 lives and left eight injured, a Mosul home bombing left 1 police officer dead and six members of his family injured, a Baquba roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left another injured, 1 police officer was shot dead in downtown Mosul, 1 civilian was shot dead in Mosul, a Hilla bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured, and an armed attack in Rashad left 8 rebels deadAlsumaria adds a Hawija bombing left two police officers injured.  Xinhua reports "a child and a civilian were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol at al-B'aj area, some 120 km west of Mosul, a local police source said" and "seven policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb hit their patrol in the city Dujail, some 60 km north of Baghdad, a local police officer told Xinhua."

In addition, AFP reports Iraq's Ministry of Justice has announced 17 executions (bringing the total for the year to at least 67).  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets:

AFP's WG Dunlop Tweets:

  1. violence update: More than 3,500 people killed, over 9,200 wounded so far in 2013 figures

Through Sunday, Iraq Body Count counts 481 violent deaths so far this month.

Friday's snapshot noted Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari's speech (and one of the answers to a question) at the Center for Strategic and International StudiesThe Center for Strategic and International Studies has posted video and audio of the DC event.

 The first question asked was, "Your excellency, what are the safeguards you're implementing now to ensure that Iraq does not slide back to the bad old days of 2005  through 2007 especially in light of the merging of al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda in Syria?  And how would that figure into a new SOFA [Status Of Forces Agreement] security agreement so to speak without introducing troops on the ground, boots on the ground?"  Zebari blathered away about 'the surge' (2008) and other nonsense for three minutes and forty seconds before declaring:

Now there is no plans to have a new SOFA.  We have concluded the SOFA, it's done. It's over.  We have another agreement, the Strategic Framework Agreement, that's a longterm, that defines Iraq - United States relations for many years to come.  And under this there are joint-commissions on security, on diplomatic, political issues, on services, on energy, on cultural things.  I have attended the fifth meeting of the Joint-Coordination Committee on Political and Diplomatic with Secretary Kerry yesterday at the State Dept.  So this is an indication that this is going on but, under the SFA, I think there is room for more security cooperation between Iraq and the United States.

Hoshyar Zebari lied by omission.

Before asking questions, each person identified themselves.  I'm not interested in calling the person out so I've omitted his name.  But  this is no longer just about the fact that,  December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed and the fact that we covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- stressing the joint-patrols (US and Iraqi) it allows for.  It's not about that the ignorant press doesn't know about the US Congressional Research Service report by Kenneth Katzman entitled "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights:"

General [Martin] Dempsey's August 21, 2012, visit focused on the security deterioration, as well as the Iranian overflights to Syria discussed above, according to press reports.  Regarding U.S.-Iraq security relations,  Iraq reportedly expressed interest in expanded U.S. training of the ISF, joint exercises, and accelerated delivery of U.S. arms to be sold, including radar, air defense systems, and border security equipment. [. . .]
After the Dempsey visit, reflecting the Iraqi decision to reengage intensively with the United States on security, it was reported that, at the request of Iraq, a unit of Army Special Operations forces had deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence, presumably against AQ-I.  (These forces presumably are operating under a limited SOFA or related understanding crafted for this purpose.)  Other reports suggest that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) paramilitary forces have, as of late 2012, largely taken over some of the DOD mission of helping Iraqi counter-terrorismf orces (Counter-Terrorism Service, CTS) against AQ-I in western Iraq. Part of the reported CIA mission is to also work against the AQ-I affiliate in SYria, the Al Nusrah Front, discussed above.
Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi.  The five year MOU provides for:

* high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges
* professional military education cooperation
* counter-terrorism cooperation
* the development of defense intelligence capabilities
* joint exercises

The MOU appears to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing its mission to its full potential.  The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises.

Joint-exercises.  It's not about that.  Now they should know, they're reporters.  But they're dumb reporters, really dumb ones.  So let's allow that their stupidity allowed them to make it to Friday, August 16th without ever knowing the above.

That still doesn't excuse their ignorance on Friday.  Not when the State Dept issued a statement on Thursday which included:

Both delegations emphasized their commitment to close and ongoing security cooperation, noting in this regard the Memorandum of Understanding on security cooperation signed at the Defense and Security JCC in December 2012, the inaugural U.S.-Iraq Joint Military Committee (JMC) hosted by U.S. Central Command in June 2013, and the more than $14 billion in equipment, services, and training purchased by Iraq for its military and security forces through the Foreign Military Sales program. Both delegations pledged to enhance this cooperation in pursuit of their joint interests in denying terrorists a safe haven anywhere within Iraqi territory.

And guess what?  That was one of two statements the State Dept issued noting the Memorandum of Understanding.  Here's the other State Dept press release from Thursday, in which the Dept noted:

At the December 2012 JCC, Acting Defense Minister al-Dlimi signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Security Cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense. This agreement represents the strong military to military relationship between the United States and Iraq, and provides mechanisms for increased defense cooperation in areas including defense planning, counterterrorism cooperation, and combined exercises.

You go to ask questions from Zebari about Iraq on Friday and can't even familiarize yourself with the documents the State Dept issued the day before?  That's too much work for you?  Then maybe your employer should assist you in finding another job.

Hoshyar Zebari lied.  And he got away with it because the press was too damn lazy to do their work.  It goes beyond stupidity to the careless manner in which they 'report' and their lousy work habits.

We'll return to the Friday event later this week (hopefully tomorrow) for at least one more issue.

Thursday, the US State Dept held a background briefing on Iraq.  This was the most important question asked.

QUESTION: Good. One of your five pillars, you mentioned the democracy piece of this, and you mentioned the parliamentary elections next year. I have a quick question related to that and then a larger question on Iraq and stability in the region. But on the democracy piece, did you all talk to the delegation today or have you been talking about the efforts to term limit the presidencies to two terms, which I think would include Prime Minister Maliki, who has gone back and forth on this issue several times. Has that come up?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That was not a topic of discussion, at least in these meetings.

QUESTION: Do you know where they stand on that? I mean, do you think that Maliki is going to not try to seek a third term?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think this will really heat up, I think, in the fall as coalition building starts, and that’s when we’ll know a little more. I think right now, and what we’re trying to do with the Iraqis is say before you really get into the heat of the political season, the silly season that we also have here every four years, let’s take the next three – two to three months to focus on getting some concrete things done, and one of them was revenue sharing, for example. And that’s really where we’re trying to focus the efforts before we get into the 2014 election season.

Nouri is an abject failure.  He is the reason for the increased violence.   Back in July 2012, 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."  That remains true and that's on Nouri.  (It's also on Barack but we don't have time to review that today.)  As Ayad Allawi rightly noted in real time, this was a power grab and Nouri had no intention of appointing people to those posts.  (Nouri nominates, Parliament approves.  Once Parliament approves, the person has the appointment unless they step down -- or die -- or unless Parliament votes to strip them of the appointment.  Nouri cannot fire any Minister which is why he has refused to nominate people to head those ministries and instead created 'acting' ministers -- this allows him to control them -- and it is unconstitutional.) All Iraq News noted last week:

 Mouaed al-Oubaidi, the leader within the National Reformation Trend headed by, Ibrahim al-Jaafary, called the government to expedite nominating the security ministers.
He stated to All Iraq News Agency (AIN) "The ministers of the Interior and Defense Ministries must be nominated, but the ministers must not be acting ones."

Nouri's security failures have, yet again, made the leaders of other political blocs uncomfortable. 
NINA noted that Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim met with Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq today to address the breakdown in security.   National Iraqi News Agency reported:

The head of the Iraqiya coalition, the Secretary-General of the National Accord Movement, Iyad Allawi said "the commander in chief of the armed forces, Nouri al-Maliki shirks from responsibility trying to blame political partners, in managing the security file."
Allawi said in his personal account on / Twitter / that "after all these bombings al-Maliki Manipulates in words, trying to find justifications and shirks himself from responsibility and blame others."

In 2006, Nouri was imposed on them by the Bush administration (the Parliament wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari).  In 2010, Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections and the 'front runner' (in the western press) Nouri was supposed to win by a wide margin.  But instead, Iraqiya won.  But the Barack administration backed Nouri and brokered an extra-constitutional contract, The Erbil Agreement, to give Nouri the second term that the Iraqi voters didn't. Nouri used it, in November 2010, to get his second term and insisted that he would implement his contractual promises made in the agreement in a matter of weeks.  Ayad Allawi walked out of that meeting of Parliament and only returned due to promises from US President Barack.  (One of the things Nouri agreed to in order to get his second term was that Allawi, whose Iraqiya won the 2010 election and should have had the post of prime minister, would be named to head a new national security commission which would be fully independent.  That body has still not been created though, in 2010, Nouri swore it was just weeks away.)  By the summer of 2011, Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Iraqiya -- representing a significant amount of the Iraqi population -- were demanding the Nouri implement The Erbil Agreement.  The White House, which had sworn it was a legally binding contract and one that had their full support, played dumb and refused to pressure Nouri to abide by his promises.

Let's go back to Friday's DC event with Hoshyar Zebari.

Wallace Hayes:  Hey, Wallace Hayes, independent consultant, and I wanted to give you an opportunity.  A lot of people here feel like there's been a lack of political reconciliation in Iraq and that it's been US policy to support The Erbil Agreement which has not been implemented in Iraq.  And I think following up on Mr. Rogin's question, why should -- I'd like to give you the opportunity to explain, why should the United States sell arms to Iraq when, in fact, many people believe the lack of political reconciliation is contributing to some of the violence today?  Thank you.

Minister Hoshyar Zebari: Thank you.  Political reconciliation is really the key issue for Iraq, for the stability of Iraq.  And I think that all the key leaders believe that this is the way forward with the hydrocarbon law, with normalizing relations, with Saudi Arabia, with Turkey.  I mean all the questions have been pointed questions about the core issue in Iraq.  So the political reconciliation is moving.  It's not stagnant, really.  I mean, look at the representatives of the Sunni community, let's say.  Or from al-Iraqiya Parliamentary blocs. Now they are represented in Parliament, they are represented in government.  They may feel they are under-represented or marginalized.  This is a fair call.  We could do more about that definitely.  But really the lessons that came out of this local (2013 provincial elections which have now been held everywhere but the three provinces of the KRG -- which plans to hold them next month -- and in Kirkuk which Nouri has blocked from voting over the wishes of the United Nations and Iraq's Independent High Electoral Committee].  Many people feel that the could do with majoritarian democracy or political majority government,  that one group or one sect can win all over and run by themselves, it proved they couldn't.  They could win but they could not govern.   And I think everybody realizes and recognizes that there has to be an inclusive democracy, non-sectarian democracy for this country to have any future.  

What a load of lies.  And note, he won't address The Erbil Agreement.  (Another reason Kurds are ever more disgusted with Zebari -- Zebari is a Kurd, for those who don't know.)

As for the 'lesson' of the 2013 elections?  I'm sorry, that was the lesson of 2010's parliamentary elections and we noted it here when the data came out.  We noted that Iraqis were reaching for a national identity.  That thread was evident in the 2009 provincial elections and it became more pronounced in the 2010 elections.

In 2013, what we'd already noted became glaringly obvious as Nouri's State of Law again failed to meet press expectations (international press; the Iraqi press knows full well how unpopular Nouri is) and did dismal.

Iraqiya's represented in Parliament?  Yeah, and it should be.  It won, besting even State of Law, the 2010 parliamentary elections.  So, yeah, they should be in Parliament.  But they're not in the Cabinet.  They walked out over Nouri's attacks on the Sunni community and his inability to implement The Erbil Agreement and power-sharing.  As Michael Jansen (Gulf News) has observed:

Ever since Nuri Al Maliki became prime minister in 2006, Sunnis have been sidelined and marginalised. Sunnis hoped the situation would improve after the 2010 election which was won by the secular coalition formed by the Iraqiya party led by Ayad Alawi. This did not happen because he was bypassed as the choice of prime minister and promises to empower his party were not kept.
Maliki took the levers of power into his hands by retaining control of security ministries and operating his own militia as well as the armed forces and police. He also recruited mainly Shias into these bodies. By excluding Sunnis – particularly Sunnis who had joined the Sahwa or Awakening units formed by the US occupation forces to deal with Al Qaeda – Maliki deprived Iraq of the most useful tool against Al Qaeda which, since the US departed in 2011, has revived and flourished.

Nouri broke his word and now he's a liar.  No one should trust him in Iraqi politics again.  Nor should they ever trust the US government will keep their word since they've refused to demand that Nouri implement The Erbil Agreement.

The hope on the part of the White House became that, come 2014, parliamentary elections would be held and they could just be silent because Nouri wasn't going to run for a third term.  He told AFP that in February 2011.  (We said he was a liar, we were right.)

Despite the lack of success in his two terms, Nouri wants a third term as prime minister.    All Iraq News reported last week State of Law MP Mufeed al-Baldawi insists that they will address this in parliament's next term. NINA noted last week, "The parliamentary Al-Ahrar /Liberal/ bloc within the the Sadrist trend stressed in a statement today that the definition of the mandate of Prime Minister, is not subjected to political bargaining but to the election and constitution conditions. Al-Ahrar bloc also stressed the Sadrist movement would stand in the opposite side and rejects the tenure of Al-Maliki the post of Prime Minister for a third term."  Alsumaria added Sadr bloc MP Jawad Alshahyla has stated that they will not allow Nouri to extend his current term and that new leadership is needed and must be elected leadership.     Sami Moubayed (Gulf News) explains:

Al Maliki’s second bid is to extend his own term by an additional eight months. The official pretext is that there was a delay in forming his cabinet after the election. Al Maliki contends that his cabinet has not completed its legal mandate. Earlier this year, MPs tried to pass legislation limiting a premier’s tenure to two terms. It was squarely defeated by Al Maliki’s Iran-backed State of Law Coalition. Al Maliki has already been in power for eight years, the longest-serving prime minister in Iraqi history. It seems that he wants to be around for a while.

Nouri wants to extend his term by eight months.  His argument is that he didn't get those eight months.  That's because Iraqiya won the election but Nouri refused to vacate the office or his palace and brought the country to a stand-still for eight months (political stalemate) until, via The Erbil Agreement, second place Nouri was given a post he did not win.

No, there should be no extension.  Iraq needs to start holding elections on time.  Nouri caused the stalemate and he should just accept that but the history of post-invasion Iraq is the history of every bowing to the wishes of cry baby Nouri.

 Iraq Times notes a new poll finds 83% of Iraqis consider Nouri a failure as a prime minister.  Michael Jansen (Gulf News) points out, "Shias have also lost faith in the Maliki government’s ability to deliver safety from the bombers. Maliki’s credibility is plunging and with every bombing, his approval rating drops further."

And a call goes out to Moqtada al-Sadr.  Already Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has called for cleric and movement leader Moqtada to reconsider his announced decision to step away from politics.  Alsumaria reports that members of his movement are calling for him to reconsider as well.   All Iraq News adds, "A number of prominent figures within Sadr Trend met in Najaf province on Monday and they urged Sadr to resume his political activities because Iraq is in need for him in this current stage."

As all of the above takes place, Iraq remains without a president.  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 currently.  All Iraq News reports that Jalal's doctors say they are currently treating him for a bladder infection.  Jalal's biggest accomplishment as president may have been getting Nouri to reign in some of the crazy.  With Jalal out of the country, Nouri's let his paranoia run free and the country suffers greatly as a result.

 From liar Nouri to the liars in the US White House.  White House deputy spokesperson Josh Earnest, asked about the nine hour detention in London of David Miranda yesterday, responded:

This was a law enforcement action take by the British government and this was something that they did independent of our direction.  As you would expect, the British government is going to make law enforcement decisions that they determine are in the best interests of their country.  There was a heads up that was provided by the British government, so this was something we had an indication was likely to occur.  But it is not something that we requested and it was something that was done specifically by the British law enforcement officials there.

This happened because the US put Miranda on a watch list.  Why else would the British government call the US government about this?

Miranda's not a US citizen.  He hadn't traveled to London from the US (he flown in from Germany).

 There's no reason, use your brain, to advise the White House, to offer a heads up.  None was offered to the government of Brazil -- despite that being David Miranda's country.  The heads up came due to Barack Obama placing David Miranda and his partner Glenn Greenwald on a watch list.

As noted above, I'm not in the mood today.  People need to find their spines and start calling out Barack.  People need to be using their brains and asking why Miranda was detained and why, as soon as he was detained, the US government was given a heads up?

It's past time that people started speaking up. Personal note:  That means certain actresses who, though over 70, feel the country needs to see their nipples when they go on Jimmy Fallon.  Put on a bra.  You're not sexy, you're an elderly woman in a bad wig who (a) young kids are laughing at and (b) there's something very sick about this need to be seen as sexy -- Shirley MacLaine's journalist friend first nailed you on and it's especially true three decades after that.  Show a little self-respect. No one needs your 21st century version of Arlene Dahl.  If you've got anything to offer it's calling out the government for spying. Next time I discuss this, I'll be more more detailed and I won't do it as a blind item.  You need to start speaking out or you need to stop talking.  No one needs another Arlene Dahl.  No offense to Arlene, but she has had nothing to offer to a national discussion.  You want to be (aged) cheesecake?  Go for it, but grasp that it's not just me or just Shirley that's laughing at you.  You're turning yourself into a joke.

I'm not in the damn mood.  Maybe because I'm a bitch?  Maybe because I had surgery today and -- as always -- refused all pain killers?  Or maybe it's because people who need to be doing something are doing nothing?  Maybe it's all three.  But I do feel the third is the main reason.

What happened to David Miranda is disgusting, shocking and outrageous.  Glenn Greenwald's "Detaining my partner was a failed attempt at intimidation" (Guardian) details the basics of how his  partner, David Miranda, was held at London's Heathrow airport for nine hours when he was just supposed to be arriving there from Berlin before catching a flight to Rio de Janeiro.  He was held for all that time under Schedule 7 of the British Terrorism Act 2000.  How was he able to be held?  The US government has put Glenn and his partner on a watch list that they've shared with allied countries.

And that's why the White House got a heads up.

 This needs to be called out and called out loudly.  Those who are silent in the face of an enemies list can't say, "Well Nixon put me on one!"  Nobody gives a damn if you're not going to speak out today.  Shame on you.

And shame on the ridiculous  Gloria Steinem planning to accept a Medal of 'Freedom' from the War Criminal Barack?   See "Editorial: Little Gloria, hypocrisy at last."

Glenn Greenwald is not a saint.  I've never claimed he is.  But he is an American citizen who, for the 'crime' of reporting (outstanding reporting on the illegal spying on American citizens), is now on a White House enemies list which has led to his partner David Miranda being harassed.  There is no excuse for that.  And there is no excuse for providing cover to this criminal White House or the criminal who occupies it.



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