FOLLOWING UP ON OUR RECENT INTEVIEW WITH THE VAGRANT WHO GAVE HIS NAME AS "JOE CANNON," THESE REPORTERS WENT TO A JAIL CELL IN L.A. THIS MORNING WHERE A POLICE OFFICER ADVISED US, "CRAZY IS SLEEPING OFF A NASTY DRINKING SPREE."
"CRAZY" WAS INDEED "JOE CANNON" WHO, UPON WAKING AND SEEING THESE REPORTERS, BEGAN INSISTING, "I AM THE MALE SUSAN LINDAUER! I AM A POLITICAL PRISONER!"
JOE CANNON WIPED THE FOAM FROM HIS MOUTH LONG ENOUGH TO EXPLAIN TO US THAT "RACISM IS JUST MY COVER. I AM ACTUALLY AN UNDERCOVER INTELLENGENCE AGENT."
THESE REPORTERS CONGRATULATED JOE CANNON ON HIS ASTOUNDING ABILITY TO HIDE ANY INTELLIGENCE FROM THE NAKED EYE.
"THANKS," JOE CANNON BURPED. "I GET THAT A LOT. SO THERE IS A PLOT TO KILL RONALD REAGAN AND I HAVE TUNNELED DEEP INTO THE LEFT TO FIGURE OUT WHO IS RESPONSIBLE."
THESE REPORTERS EXPLAINED TO JOE CANNON THAT RONALD REAGAN WAS DECEASED SO A PLAN TO MURDER THE FORMER PRESIDENT WOULD SEEM FUTILE.
"HE'S DEAD? DAMN IT! DAMN IT! I BLEW IT! I WAS SUPPOSED TO SAVE HIM! ONLY I CAN SAVE HIM!"
WE NODDED TO JOE CANNON AND MADE TO LEAVE WHEN HE SCREAMED, "DO NOT FLY! THEY ARE PULLING PLANES OUT OF THE SKY!"
JOE CANNON EXPLAINED U.S. AIRWAYS FLIGHT 1549 WAS "A TRICK TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL SAFE. BUT THEY'RE ABOUT TO START PULLING PLANES FROM THE SKY! IN CARSON CITY, NEVADA, THEY HAVE THE DEVICE. IT'S 3 MILES WIDE AND 100 MILES LONG. MADE COMPLETELY FROM LEGGOS. IT WILL SCOOP PLANES, HELICOPTERS AND EVEN THE OCCASSIONAL SPARROW OUT OF THE SKY. IT'S A PLOT. DON'T FLY THE LEGGO SKIES!"
WE NODDED TO JOE CANNON AND BEGAN WALKING OFF AS HE SNARLED THAT WE'D TAKEN "THE BLUE PILL" AND THAT THERE WAS "NO HOPE FOR HUMANITY!"
Turning to US politics, President-elect Barack Obama met with the Washington Post editorial board yesterday. Here for Michael D Shear's text article, here for the sixty-one minute audio. Warning for those listening to the audio, Barack's speaking abilities have not magically improved. Sample: "Uh, obivoulsy military service is uh something we uh honor as a country [. . .] That's going to be something that we uh uh . . ." And four minutes, for those wondering, he takes his first swipe at African-American fathers. Yes, it's Barack singing all his well known tunes. And mixing in a few new ones such as, "It's not something I've said publicly . . . but spending money wisely is not easy." Mostly, the interivew will be remembered as the one where Barack declared War on Social Security. Barack's replied to questions and made vague statements. But, his Love Cult insists, that's just the Nice Guy Barry trying to make nice and get along. He doesn't want to say, "Stupid crooks, Social Security is not going to be chipped away!" Well, actually he does want to say that and he did say that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me press you on this, at the end of the day, are you really talking about over the course of your presidency some kind of a grand bargain? That you have tax reform, health care reform, entitlement reform, including Social Security and Medicare where everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And when will that get done?
OBAMA: Well, the -- right now I'm focused on a pretty heavy lift, which is making sure that we get that reinvestment and recovery package in place. But what you describe is exactly what we're going to have to do.
What we have to do is to take a look at our structural deficit, how are we paying for government, what are we getting for it, and how do we make the system more efficient?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And eventually sacrifice from everyone.
OBAMA: Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game.
Barack was asked about it above. With the Washington Post, he brought it up on his own -- and referenced George Steph's "grand bargain" -- so hopefully even his Love Cult can start to see a few realities. He begins talking about his big "Fiscal Responsibility Summit" that will be held in February and include a motley crew that will "talk about waste." He then seques into Social Security during this response (at approximately 16:14) and states the following:
We're also going to have a discussion about entitlements and how we get a grasp on those. Uh and uh, you know, like i think everybody here is familiar enough with the budget problems to know that as bad as these deficits that we're running up over the next -- that have already been run up -- have been and despite the cost of both TARP and the stimulus, the real problem in our long term deficit actually has to do with our entitlement obligation and the fact that historically uh if our revenues ranged between 18 and 20% of GDP they're now at 16. It's just not sustainable so we're going to have to uh craft a uh what George Stephanopoulos called a grand bargain and I-I try not to use the word grand in anything that I say but uh but we're going to have to shape a baragain. This, by the way, is where there are going to be some very difficult choices and issues of sacrifices and responsibilty and duty are going to come in because what we have done is kick this can down the road. We're now at the end of the road and uh we are not in a position to kick it any further.
Those are right-wing talking points and only the most historically ignorant of Barack's Love Cult will fail to grasp the declaration of war.
For some reality, here's 2008's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science winner Paul Krugman addressing the realities about Social Security on Democracy Now! in December of 2004 (link has text, video and audio):
Social Security is a program which ahs been traditionally run. It looks like a retirement fund, and it is not exactly. What it really is is a government program with a dedicated tax. We take the payroll tax and it's used to pay benefits to retirees. And 20-plus years ago, the commission led by Alan Greenspan said, you know, we are going to have this problem as the baby boomers reach retirement age. We will have a higher ratio of retirees to workers, and we better get ready for it. Social Security, the payroll tax was increased. There were some other things, a small rise in the retirement age set in motion. So that Social Security would run a surplus, which would be used to accumulate a trust fund, and this would tithe us over, some ways into the aging of the population. And that on its own accounting is working just fine. I mean, one of the things that we need to know is that the estimates of the day at which the trust fund runs out, just keep on receding further into the future, because the program is doing so well at running surpluses. So, ten years ago, -people said it was going to run out in 2029. Now the official estimate is 2042. Realistically, it's probably going to go well into the second half of the century. Now how does this become a crisis? Well it becomes a crisis by changing the rules. By saying, oh, well, actually that surplus that we're running because of the tax increase that was designed to prolong the life of Social Security, that's not real. Because it's invested in government bonds which are perfectly good asset, for anybody else, but not for the Social Security administration.
Barack's remarks to the Post's editorial board go beyond troubling. There's no need to decipher them. He brought it up on his own (he also refused to answer questions on the topic -- though he was happy to later say Sponge Bob was his favorite TV cartoon). His words, transcribed with all the "uh"s he is so famous for. It's very clear what he's pushing. And that's why it's on the audio recording that few will listen to and not in the write-up that made the paper (the bits of half-sentences in the write-up are from his dancing around the direct questions on the topic, not from when he spoke at length about it without any prompting).
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Saturday, January 17, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
THIS EVENING, THESE REPORTERS INTERVIEWED A STARK RAVING MAN WITH DROOL ON HIS FACE WHO INSISTED ON BEING CALLED "JOE CANNON."
Q: YOU SCREAM "F**K" A LOT. WHY IS THAT?
"JOE CANNON": I SUFFER FROM ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION AND AM UNABLE TO GET AN ERECTION. I SCREAM "F**K" BECAUSE I AM ALWAYS WISHING I COULD GET IT UP. IT IS VERY UPSETTING TO ME.
Q: YOU ARE A WHITE MAN AND YOUR OTHER 'TRICK' IS TO SCREAM AT AFRICAN-AMERICANS, "YOU ARE A RACIST! YOU ARE A BIGOT!" WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?
"JOE CANNON": I AM A DISGUSTING RACIST. I HATE ANY ONE WHO IS NOT WHITE. I AM A RACIST WITH ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION. MY NAME IS JOE CANNON.
Q: YOU SEEM TO HAVE SOME MENTAL ISSUES?
"JOE CANNON": ALL OF MY PROBLEMS HAVE TO DO WITH MY HATRED FOR BLACK PEOPLE AND MY INABILITY TO GET IT UP. I AM REALLY DISGUSTING. MOST NIGHTS I ENTERTAIN MYSELF PLAYING "WHAT DOES THAT FART SMELL LIKE?" AND THOUGH I AM VERY GOOD AT THE GAME IT TENDS TO DRIVE PEOPLE AWAY. DID I MENTION I HAVE TROUBLE GETTING IT UP?
First off, I know about Stan being trashed by a racist. It will be dealt with tonight. I dictated a long section on it and on the pig's White entitlement but Stan's the one who got trashed and I wanted him to see it first before it went up. (It's always cute when a White person already known online as a racist decides to call an African-American racist.) That section was e-mailed to him and he said use it for the Thursday's "I Hate The War." I will and I will expand it. But I know that people are angry -- it will be addressed.
Today Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker (New York Times) report on the US military commanders contingency plan for Iraq. Last month Bumiller and Shanker reported on the military commanders presenting a partial drawdown of US troops in Iraq on a slower scale than Barack's 'pledge' of 16 month withdrawal (of "combat" troops only). No objections were raised over the timeframe by the president-elect but, in case objections are registered in the immediate future, they've come up with an alternate plan they could implement. This calls for a high of 8,000 a month (more likely four to six thousand) to be pulled. Using the high figure, 48,000 US service members could be out of Iraq (with at least 30,000 of that number redeployed to Afghanistan) in six months. That would still leave close to 100,000 US troops in Iraq. And there is no full withdrawal planned by Barack. That is why he refused to promise that, if elected, all US troops would be out of Iraq by the end of his first term (2012). Of course, Barack also rushed to assure the Times (2007) that he would easily halt any drawdown and rush more troops back into Iraq (and no words to declare this a temporary measure) when he sat down with Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny (see this Iraq snapshot and Third's article and the actual transcript of the interview -- a transcript Tom Hayden should have read before humiliating himself in public, then again Tom-Tom seems to enjoy public humiliation). So the article tells you that the military's preparing for all possibilities . . . except the possibility the American people want (and some foolishly believe Barack ever promised) full withdrawal of Iraq. That is not an option the military even considers. And the report is backed up by the statements Pentagon spokesperson Goeff Morrell made today, "Our military planners do not live in a vacuum. They are well aware that the president-elect has campaigned on withdrawing troops from Iraq on a 16-month timeline. . . . So it would only be prudent of them to draw up plans that reflect that option. But that is just one of the options that they are drawing up." The article bears noting for two additional details. First, as Barack seems determined to make Afghanistan his own personal quagmire, let no one deny alarms were raised ahead of his swearing in:
Even as Mr. Obama prepares for the drawdown in Iraq, some influential Democrats and national security experts have begun voicing concern about his willingness to send up to 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan, where the United States has been at war for more than seven years. They say that Mr. Obama has yet to make clear his overall goals beyond calling for more forces, money and diplomacy in an increasingly violent, ungovernable country that the military says presents even more problems than Iraq.
Second, after noting what the Status Of Forces Agreement could do, Bumiller and Shanker include the reality: "That agreement, however, can be renegotiated." That's reporting (and this was the report referred to in yesterday's snapshot, FYI). (And so was Bumiller's December report on how the military hopes to fudge troop withdrawals by terminology.) The Status Of Forces Agreement (which al-Maliki calls "The Withdrawal Agreement" when visiting Iran) was one of two agreements. The other was the Strategic Framework Agreement. Vice president-elect Joe Biden left the Senate today. April 10th, as chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Biden explained the two agreements:
We will hear today about the two agreements that the Administration is negotiating with Iraq which were anticipated in the November Declaration. On Tuesday, Ambassador Crocker told us that these agreements would set forth the "vision" -- his phrase -- of our bilateral relationship with Iraq. One agreement is a "strategic framework agreement" that will include the economic, political and security issues outlined in the Declaration of Principles. The document might be better titled "What the United States will do for Iraq," because it consists mostly of a series of promises that flow in one direction -- promises by the United States to a sectarian government that has thus far failed to reach the political compromises necessary to have a stable country. We're told that the reason why we're not continuing under the UN umbrella is because the Iraqis say they have a sovereign country. But they don't want a Status of Forces Agreement because that flows two ways. The Administration tells us it's not binding, but the Iraqi parliament is going to think it is. The second agreement is what Administration officials call a "standard" Status of Forces Agreement, which will govern the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, including their entry into the country and the immunities to be granted to them under Iraqi law. Unlike most SOFAs, however, it would permit U.S. forces -- for the purposes of Iraqi law -- to engage in combat operations and detain insurgents. In other words, to detain people that we think are bad guys. I don't know any of the other nearly 90 Status of Forces Agreements that would allow a U.S. commander to arrest anyone he believes is a bad guy.
We're focusing on the Strategic Framework Agreement, or as Biden put it, "What the United States will do for Iraq." The US Embassy in Baghdad notes that the agreement was the topic of "the inauguaral January 13, 2009 meeting of the Iraqi-U.S. Higher Coordination Committee" which found puppet Nouri al-Maliki and US Secretary of State Condi Rice co-chairing the meeting with participants Hoshyar Zebari (Foreign Minister) , Barham Saleh and Rafi Essawi (Deputy Prime Ministers), Jawad al-Bolani (Interior Minister), Abdul-Qadir Muhammad Jasim (Minster of Defense), Mowaffak Al-Rubaie (National Security Advisor), Sadig Al-Rikabi (Political Advisor) and on the US side Henrietta Fore (USAID Aministrator), Dave McCormick (Under Secretary of the Treasury), Eric Edelman (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy), Ryan Crocker (US Ambassador to Iraq) and Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq). Anyone see a problem?
Where's James L. Jones Jr.?
That's Barack pick for National Security Advisor. Some will argue that, with Condi participating, Hillary Clinton should have been brought in. While it's unheard of for the Senate to fail to confirm one of their own, it could happen. With Hillary or anyone else. So there are some people that it made no sense to invite since they do not have that posts yet. However, NSA is not a post that requires Senate confirmation. James L. Jones was selected by Barack and announced by Barack. That means he is the National Security Advisor. His Iraq counterpart was participating, why wasn't Jones brought in?
The US Embassy in Baghdad announces: "The meeting formally launched the Strategic Framework Agreement process, which will guid U.S. - Iraqi relations. Secretary Rice and Prime Minister Al-Maliki reaffirmed their strong desire to establish a long-term relationship of cooperation and friendship, based on the principle of equality." And how did they do that? How did Condi Rice -- who is out of a job next week -- reaffirm anything long-term for the US? Jones should have been brought into that meeting and for those who want to offer excuses about travel to Baghdad, Condi Rice was not in Iraq January 13th. She was in DC. We'll get to what else she was doing but she and Hernietta Fore were in DC pariticipating via tele-conference. The outgoing administration should have made a point to invite James Jones who will be -- no doubts, no confirmation from the Senate needed -- the next National Security Advisor and will be done transitioning and in that job in less than a week.
If you're conveying longterm relationship, how do you do that with the outgoing administration. For that matter, Robert Gates could have participated in the meeting. (And his Iraqi counterpart did.) Gates is Secretary of Defense and Barack's made him his designate for Sec of Defense. As the only link between the outgoing administration and the incoming one, why wasn't he voted in. Before we go to what Gates did Tuesday, today the Bully Boy of the United States presented a Medal of Freedom to US Ambassador Crocker. Among those attending the White House ceremony (Crocker was in DC for the ceremony) were Condi Rice, First Lady Laura Bush and John Negroponte. Among Bully Boy's remarks were recounting some of Crocker's history of service:
Members of the Foreign Service bring this valor and professionalism to their work every single day. And there is one man who embodies these qualities above all: Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Over the years, Ryan has earned many honors, including the Presidential Meritorious Service Award and the rank of Career Ambassador. Today I have the privilege of honoring Ambassador Crocker with the highest civil award I can bestow: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It has not been bestowed yet. The son of an Air Force officer, Ryan Crocker has never been your typical diplomat. For social engagements, he likes to tell guests, "no socks required." For language training, he once spent time herding sheep with a desert tribe in Jordan. For sport, he has jogged through war zones, and run marathons on four continents. And for assignments, his preference has always been anywhere but Washington. During his nearly four decades in the Foreign Service, Ryan Crocker has become known as America's Lawrence of Arabia. His career has taken him to every corner of the Middle East. His understanding of the region is unmatched. His exploits are legendary. He has served as ambassador to five countries. He has repeatedly taken on the most challenging assignments. The man has never run from danger. As a young officer during the late 1970s, Ryan catalogued Saddam Hussein's murderous rise to power. In 1983, he survived the terrorist attack on the American embassy in Lebanon. In 1998, as the Ambassador to Syria, he witnessed an angry mob plunder his residence. After any one of these brushes with danger, most people would have lost their appetite for adventure. Not Ryan Crocker. In the years since September the 11th, 2001, I have asked Ryan to hold numerous posts on the front lines of the war on terror, and he has stepped forward enthusiastically every time.
Dana Perino noted in today's White House press briefing, "It was a surprise for Ryan Crocker, that he was getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- a surprise, I think, for everybody. But we kept that a secret because he is a very humble person, Ambassador Crocker. And I can't think of anybody more deserving. And I think that it was a fitting tribute to the Foreign Service Officers that the President has put in posts that usually go to political appointees, that something as important as Iraq and Afghanistan, especially in Iraq when it came to having leadership there, especially during those dark days, which I'll get to in a moment, Abassador Crocker was definitely one of the best leaders. And for some of the younger people there, the younger career Foreign Service Officers, I think it was really good for them to see that hard work can be rewarded, and by a President who is very grateful for all that the Foreign Service has done under his watch and that they'll continue to do there. They're consummate professionals. I've had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of them."
Now back to Robert Gates. Gates joined Rice, Fore and State Dept Counselor Eliot Cohen in the US State Dept's treaty room Tuesday (the 13th) for a signing ceremony (link has text and video). What were they signing? Don't rush. War Hawk, Neocon and PNAC-er Cohen gave big butt smooches to Gates and Rice and then Rice offered this frightening thought, "I suspect that that means that there are two American universities that may be teaching from this manual." The manual? The counterinsurgency doctrine. Yes, the Pentagon has long practiced that abuse of human rights but Rice is on board as well and they were signing the counterinsurgency guide as well. (The two universities are the ones that gave Gates and Rices their doctorates -- Georgetown and the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies respectively.)
Counter-isnurgency is war on a native people. The last eight years have seen anthropologists, psychologists and psychiatrists betray their fields and training to provide 'skills' on how to defeat a native people. Rice declared, "And this counterinsurgency doctrine and this manual really is a compilation of the experiences that we have had in learning how to fight together, how to work together, and ultimately how to deliver for people defense, democracy and development." Gates added, "I'm honored to sign the Interagency Counterinsurgency Guide today and demonstrate my support for whole-of-government counterinsurgency process. Military efforts alone are rarely effective in counterinsurgency operations. This guide reflects strong efforts by many organizations and individuals to build the soft power capabilities and the coordinating processes within the United States Government that are so central to our counterinsurgency efforts." And if you could read the above without losing your lunch, Fore seemed determined to ensure that your hurled:
And let me add for my two secretaries that it is very important for us in the world of development to have a guide such as this. It's a very complex and challenging area – the work of counterinsurgency. We in development will particularly focus on helping host country governments how they can deal with good governance while having an atmosphere of counterinsurgency. It is very challenging, but country ownership and legitimacy of a government, as well as continuing good governance and democratic reforms, are a very important and integral part. And we will add our highest accolade in that we will use this guide in the field.
That's Henrietta Fore who will thankfully be out of USAID shortly. Condi got off a joke and we'll note it here, "And now to my good friend, Bob Gates. And not only are we both Ph.D.s and former high-ranking university administrators, but we both studied the Soviet Union, which, in case you don't know, no longer exists. And it means that found useful work after that." Some would question whethere the employment was useful to the world.
Counter-insurgency is digusting, vile and goes against democracy. Fortunately, since Hillary Clinton will likely be Sec of State, all the Barack groupies posing as 'independent' journalists can call out the State Dept support for counter-insurgency, right? They can just pretend -- as they did throughout 2007 and 2008 -- that the counter-insurgency 'noteables' were all supporting and advising Barack -- such as Sarah Sewall, Samantha Power and, oh, so many more.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
'CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN' AKA "BULLS**T YOU CAN SMELL" IS APPARENTLY MAKING TIMOTHY GEITHNER SECRETARY OF TREASURY.
THIS COUNCIL OF/FOR/ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, FORD FOUNDATION, RUN OF THE MILL GEEK THAT NEVER HAD AN IDEA NEO LIBERALS ROBERT RUBIN OR LAWRENCE SUMMERS DIDN'T SIGN OFF ON FIRST HAS A FEW MORE PROBLEMS.
AMONG THOSE PROBLEMS ARE PAYROLL TAXES. TIMOTHY DOESN'T LIKE TO PAY THEM. HE KNOWS HE HAS TO PAY THEM. BUT HE DOESN'T LIKE TO AND SO HE DOESN'T.
THE MAN WHO BARACK WANTS TO MAKE SECRETATY OF THE TREASURY REFUSED TO PAY HIS PAYROLL TAXES, REFUSED TO MAKE HIS SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS. PROFESSIONAL APOLOGIST MAX BAUCUS SAYS THESE "WERE HONEST MISTAKES." WHEN IT HAPPENS TO A BIG WIG -- WHO SIGNED PAPERS STATING HE WOULD PAY THE TAXES AND THEN DID NOT -- IT'S AN "HONEST MISTAKE." WHEN IT HAPPENS TO THE LITTLE FOLKS, THE I.R.S. COMES RUNNING AND SHUTS DOWN EVERYTHING.
OR AS TIMOTHY GEITHNER EXPLAINED TO THESE REPORTERS, "I'M SPECIAL. I'M PRECIOUS."
Today Fu Yiming and Gao Shan (Xinhua) remind that a 10-year-old boy disguised himself as a floral vendor to launch a suicide bombing in Tarmiya last September and they note that other children "have been recruited and trained to be suicide bombers". So we will now see the efforts to ban children from public life, right? And flower vendors! And we'll see half-way homes set up for any children that fit Iraq's highly limited means of profiling, correct?
Oh wait, that only happens to women. And let's establish that by turning to two attacks last week. The first on women's rights and the second on the rights of the press. Sunday, January 4th when a bomber -- then identified as a woman -- took their own life and that of at least 40 other people in Baghdad. This was in the midst of a Holy pilgrimage, one that brought people from all over Iraq to the region and from outside of Iraq as well. By Tuesday, 'security' demanded action and, of course, the action just had to be an attack on women. From the January 6th snapshot:
In Iraq, the latest attack on women's rights takes place under the guise of security, always under the guise of security. AFP reports that ALL women are banned "from visiting a Baghdad district which is home to the city's most famous Shi'ite tomb" and why is that? Because of the Sunday suicide bombing which, you may remember, Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) maintained Monday was carried out by a man despite statements to the contrary. So you've got confusion as to the gender of the bomber. But you've also got the fact that no men were banned from shrines and these bombings have been going on for over five years now. Regardless of whether Sunday's bomber was or was not a woman, there's never been a similar effort to ban just men. It's only women that get screwed over and always while being told that it's for the 'security' of all. It's not for security. It has nothing to do with security and when you grasp that this is a pilgrimage and that the pilgrims come from all over Iraq and outside of Iraq, this is blatantly offensive. It is yet another effort to curtail the mobility of women and even in the 'logic' being offered, there's no excuse for it. They have still not established the gender of Sunday's bomber. Dagher and al-Husaini as well as LAT's Usama Redha and Kimi Yoshino provided statements by Iraqis outraged by the lack of security. What you have is a band-aid measure that will not fix a damn thing but the government wants to scapegoat someone and, just like their allies in the US, the Iraqi government will gladly scapegoat women. And Reuters is now reporting: "Initial reports said Sunday's bomber was female, although the government later said he was male." But who's being barred from worshipping? Monday, the United Nation's Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, made a point of condemning the attacks on pilgrims and decreeds bombings like Sunday's "appalling and unjustified crimes." Will de Mistura call out the barring of women from worship or is he only interested in speaking up for the male pilgrims?
Statistically female bombers really are not an issue (August 21st, LAT was reporting that "the number has jumped to 30" for the year 2008 -- still not a huge number) but if Iraq's so alarmed, well maybe they should pay more money? "Awakening" Council members are also known as Sons of Iraq and they do have Daughters of Iraq but they pay them over 20% than they do men. If they are saying female bombers are just so earth shattering and such a great threat, maybe they shouldn't have been so sexist and cheap? Maybe they should paid women doing the exact same work the exact same amount? And "they" is the US. The US military set up that pay scale, the US military endorsed and embraced sexism.
The Iraqi government (al-Maliki) knew the Sunday bomber was not a woman. They knew it before the implemented they attacked women's rights to worship. There was no 'security' improvement by destroying women's rights. It did give the appearance of 'movement' at a time when Iraqis were loudly and publicly criticizing the puppet government's inability to protect them. "Look, we did something!" Nothing that helped, but they did it. And where was the press? Where were they?
Did they call out the attacks on women's rights? No and they never do. Few bothered to even report the ban on women. Those did bother to report it never saw this ban as anything other than 'security' and never questioned why women -- not a large part of bombers in Iraq to begin with and the Sunday bomber was a man --were being targeted. There were no editorials in the US. There were no efforts to speak to Iraqi women's rights organizations. There was no effort to explore. It was just taken for granted that women are so damn unimportant in the world's eyes that if they're denied their right to freely worship, that's just the way it is.
Contrast that with the attack on the press. Friday's snapshot included this: "Kim Gamel (AP) reports that other 'laws' are being pressed. Specifically the puppet government has issued a 14-page conduct code for reporters -- Iraqi and foreign -- that they will need to sign 'in exchange for permission to attend this month's provincial elections, riaisng concerns among media analysts that independent coverage could be undermined'." The following day, Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Katie Nguyen (Reuters) reported: "Media organisations who flout the Communications and Media Commission's mandatory code of conduct could be landed with a fine, have their equipment confiscated or be forced to make a public apology, said a document obtained by Reuters on Saturday. . . . Media organisations could have their licences revoked if they fail to pay any fines, according to the document." The press amplified the story by covering it, they spoke to Reporters Without Borders for quotes, to journalists for quotes, to journalistic unions for quotes. And by Sunday? Crisis averted! Gamel provided an update: Iraq will no longer require reporters to sign a contract in order to cover the January 31st provincial elections and the 14-page contract is being tossed. In an interesting development not really noted, Kimi Yoshino (Los Angeles Times) quotes Judge Qassim Hasan Abodi stating, "These are not our regulations. All we ask is that the media be neutral, transparent and objective. This is the only thing." Yoshino doesn't identify the body that Hasan's with, just notes it's over elections ("head of Iraq's election commission") -- he is the head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission. That is the UN backed body (UNAMI works with them) and the claim being made on Friday -- when the story of the contract and the penalities broke -- was that the IHEC had pushed that. No, they didn't. It was al al-Maliki.
Now examine the above. The press goes along with the attack on women's rights but comes to life when the rights of the press are attacked. That goes to how little importance is placed on women's rights and the refusal to grasp that there is no democracy without equality. As important as a free press is to democracy, so is equality. Currently, a slaughter is goingo n in Gaza and in some of the critiques of the press -- blistering, as they should be -- a point may be lost. It's not, "Oh, look at the idiot who can't report!" What those calling the sorry and distorted coverage of the assault on Gaza are doing is believing in and advocating for the power of a free press. If the press does not matter, then it wouldn't matter what the press reported. What those critiquing the current coverage of that crisis are doing is advocating for a free press and acknowleging the power of the press -- and doing so much more than many members of the press ever do.
Above you have two examples of attacks on freedoms. The first attack, on women's rights, meant nothing to the press and they barely covered it. So the attack continued and laid the groundwork for future attacks. In the second case, the press responded and the attack was repealed. That is the power of the press.
Today Alissa J. Rubin and Sam Dagher (New York Times) report the latest attack on women's rights in Iraq: Somehow, no one can figure out how, the rights of women to be represented with 25% of the seats in the January 31st elections just fell by the wayside. No one can figure out. It just, in all the talks and discussions, somehow, no one can figure it out, it just dropped right out. Oops. The reporters explain, "Early versions of the law, which governs the election of Iraq's 18 provincial councils, included a firm guarantee that women would have at least 25 percent of the seats -- the same percentage mandated by the Constitution for the numbers of women in Parliament. In the male-dominated Arab culture, the framers of the Constitution and the Americans who were involved in drafting it thought that the quota was necessary to ensure that women would be represented.
But the provincial election law was changed several times, and the quota language was gone by the time it went to the Presidency Council, whose approval is needed for it to become official. It went back to the Parliament with several unrelated changes and was published in early October. The lack of a strong guarantee for women's council seats has begun to gain widespread attention only in the last few days." And good for Rubin and Dagher but find that topic at any other outlet. Find one example in the US of the press using their power to amplify. You can't. As this snapshot is dictated, no news outlet except for the New York Times is covering it. The Houston Chronicle does make it a sidebar online to a Los Angeles Times article that, frankly, says nothing. The LAT article is all over the place (and doesn't mention women at all) but apparently that passes for 'universal' and attacks on women -- unlike attacks on men or attacks on the press -- is some sort of esoteric topic that's just not worthy of coverage.
What might life be like for Iraqi women today if the press had treated the repeated attacks on their rights as worthy of reporting? Maybe we wouldn't have today's 'In some small areas in Iraq, women can drive again!' stories. Because if these attacks on women were called out and not treated as 'oh, that's the culture,' women never would have lost their right to drive in Iraq or been pushed into wearing garb they didn't wish to. If the thugs the US put in charge of Iraq had known that they would be held up for the ridicule they deserved by the press over these attacks on women's rights, you damn well better believe that they would have cut it out, they would have stopped their attacks on women if only to avoid risking their puppet masters cutting off funding. Instead we got this b.s. nonsense that these were 'cultural' responses. No, they weren't. Iraq was a highly advanced country. It was not Afghanistan. The point Ava and I were making in February 2007, when we reviewed a bad TV show (Jericho), still applies and women reading better grasp that. No one's going to give you a damn thing but they will gladly rob your rights. And that's not just in Iraq or Afghanistan. We've seen it in this country. Susan Faludi did a wonderful job documenting the backlash during the Reagan era (and, hello, we're back in another Reagan era and Ms. magazine has made clear it will be just as pathetic now as it was then -- for those who missed how pathetic it was during the first Reagan era, you can refer to Faludi's Backlash for how Ms. actively underminded women's rights and standing). But that was nothing compared to an earlier backlash in this country. No, not the backlash after WWII when Rosie the Riveter was forced out of work (and that is covered in Faludi's book), the backlash that began with the Great Depression, the one no one ever wants to talk about. Choose any industry, and you'll find women high in the chain. That would end quickly. Let's talk film a second. Women were directors. Women were studio heads. Women were screenwriters. Women were producers. Come the depression, it's all over now, baby blue.
It's amazing that Naomi Klein has yet to call out Barack's conservative economic statements and programs because the Shock Doctrine does not refer just to violence that allows an economic programs to be pushed through. It also includes economic violence that allows economic programs to be pushed through. (Naomi's book, while wonderful, merely popularizes theories that have been in place for many, many decades. The reading the book has been given is a very safe one and one that tells domestic readers in the US, "These are things that happen over there!" That is not the case and that is not the case only when it comes to a 9-11 or Pearl Harbor.) Barack's economic plan has rightly been called out for ignoring women. But by whom? Which male identified 'progressives' have bothered to say a damn word, which male identified 'progressive outlets' have bothered to raise an objection? None. The Nation hasn't done a thing. The Progressive hasn't done a thing. Because women can always be thrown overboard. It's not just in Iraq and women need to start grasping that. The failure to do so is why each geneartion of the women's liberation movement has to reinvent the wheel.
What's taken place in Iraq is the backlash in flip-card fashion. It's happened very quickly. Just last year, it was 'okay' to talk about institutionalizing widows. Prisons pretending to be halfway-houses were okay because, when you lose you husband, what better way to grieve than removed from your home, you friends and your family and locked away? That truly was presented as the 'answer' to female suicide bombers. Round up the widows and lock 'em away. Repeating, female suicide bombers do not make up the bulk of the bombers in Iraq. They are not the majority, they are a statistically insiginificant number. And they may be inflated as many later reports have proven when female bombers turn out not to be. (And often the excuse is given that someone must have been dressed as a woman! No, just as likely is that, not having any clues, a scapegoat is needed and what looms as the ultimate threat since the beginning of time to some men: Women.) But because a small number existed, it was time to propose locking them away.
The female suicide bombers result in alarmist headlines (here for US News & World Reports) because, "Oh goodness! It's a woman!" As if Pirate Jenny was an obscure character from a never heard of play? As if Pirate Jenny doesn't have her roots in any revolution (including the American revolution). But, "Oh no, it's a woman!" So when a female bomber executes a bombing, it's a big deal to the press. When a man does, it's a single sentence and there's no hand wringing or pondering WHY????? It's obvious why and the one's pretending otherwise are the same ones pretending that something good can yet come from this illegal war. And it's pretty obvious that there is HUGE sexism involved in the coverage. This summer Time offered up "The Mind of a Female Suicide Bomber." I'm sorry, are female bombers unheard of in illegal wars and occupations? They become the norm. And pretending otherwise is not only historically ignorant and sexist, it's damaging to anyone's grasp of what is actually taking place on the ground in Iraq. They're attempting to make it some sort of pathological sickness in the minds of some woman when this is a natural response to a people occupied, under attack and prevented from self-governance. There's nothing pathological about it. Historically, it is a common response. Mythologically, even more so. Will Time next offer us "The Mind of Areto"? Was there any difference in Areto attempting to avenge the murder of Hippolyte and Iraqi women today attempting to avenge the murders of their famillies? Aztec mythology includes many similar examples, such as La Llorona who acts to avenge the murders of her children. It's really disgusting that we rush to pathologize a normal response on the part of women that has been historically charted and culturally taught. The sickness is not inside the women in Iraq who decide to wear a bomb, the sickness is the illegal war and continued occupation and you have to historically and culturally ignorant or else a liar who hopes others are historically and culturally ignorant to push these women's responses off as something unheard of and completely unexpected.
Today we are told that young boys are becoming suicide bombers. We do not get, "WHY!!!! WHY!!!!! OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!" coverage. We do not get talk that they should be put away for 'security.' Naomi Klein rightly noted Iraq was the experimental lab where all the US kooks could test their theories. She failed to note that those theories included the attacks on women and on women's rights. A huge failure, a huge omission and until women start writing as if their rights are as important as men's, don't expect very many men to ever make that case.
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BARACKA JOINED SUCH NON-LUMINARIES AS DAVY BABY TEETHED BROOKS, WILLIAM NEOCON IS GOING TO GET YOU KRISTOL, AND GEORGE WILL.
JUST GEORGE WILL?
TOO BLAND FOR A NICKNAME.
MS. MAGAZINE COVER GIRL BARACKA ENTERTAINED THE FELLOWS WITH A FAN DANCE WHILE SINGING "I'M JUST A GIRL WHO CAN'T SAY NO" FROM THE MUSICAL OKLAHOMA.
Moving over to medical care. Yesterday's snapshot noted, "The CBS Evening News reported (link has text and video) on PTSD December 26th and noted, 'There were 115 military suicides last year, and 93 through just August of this year'." Suicide among the military is in the news today. Starting with Marines and dropping back a bit to when Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported on the 2004 Marine suicide rate (reported Feb. 25, 2005) noting it had increased by 29%, that 31 Marines had taken their own lives and 83 more had tried to do so. Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) reports there are 41 "possible or confirmed [Marine] suicides" for 2008. As Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) points out, none of the 2008 numbers are final yet. Zoroya tells Army combat soldier and Iraq War veteran Josh Barber's story of taking his own life because the "smell of death" couldn't be escaped and grieved over his PTSD and the military's being unable/unwilling to treat it. Zoroya explains, "Marines and combat veterans who have killed themselves in recent years, at a time when the Pentagon has stretched deployments for combat troops to meet President Bush's security plans in Iraq. The Marine Corps reported 41 actual or suspected suicides in 2008, a 20% increase over 33 in 2007. In 2007, the Army counted 115 suicides, the most since tracking began in 1980. By October 2008, that record had been surpassed with 117 soldier suicides. Final numbers for 2008 have not been released. Suicides among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans doubled from 52 in 2004 to 110 in 2006, the latest statistics available, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)." This comes as the Defense Dept and the Dept of Veterans Affairs is in the midst of their multi-day Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Annual Suicide Prevention Conference in San Antonio (through the 15th). Michael Tolzmann (Defense Media Activity) notes that Dr. Loree K. Sutton (Army Brig Gen) explained that "toxic leadership" creates stigmas "that can kill" such as when "[a]n Army staff sergeant who had lost Soldiers in the war zone was called a coward, a wimp and a wuss form a leader when he mentioned he might need psychological help."
Meanwhile Iraq War veteran Nathan Ryan Smith is AWOL in the US. Scott Michael (ABC News) reports he is "charged with kidnapping, rape, arson and tampering with evidence." Michael quotes a rape victim stating he allegedly told her, "I have killed several people in Iraq. I'm crazy in the head, and if I get caught by police I will come looking for you and kill you." Ian Demsky (Tacoma's News Tribune) reported last week that court records describe the police involvement beginning as follows:
Police responding to a missing persons report Jan. 1 found the woman they were looking for. Her body bore the signs of torture. Rope burns on her arms were "deep and distinct." She had scratches on her back and sharp red lines running across her chest. There was blood inside her coat and on her pants.
The officers took her to Tacoma General Hospital.
She told police she had been walking to the store when she noticed a silver pickup truck with a canopy pull into the parking lot behind her. A man got out and shouted for her to come to him. He then grabbed her and choked her unconscious.
She said she woke up in a strange room. She was naked and her arms and legs were bound with plastic zip-ties. She tried to free herself, but a male voice told her, "If you fight, you'll die."
Her abductor held a butcher knife to her face and promised she'd go home if she cooperated. He picked her up by the ties and carried her to another room. She told police she saw Army patches in a windowsill.
She said she was dropped onto a bed, gagged, sexually abused and raped. She told police she was tortured with a device hooked up to a battery.
When the man was done, he let her get dressed. She said he told her he'd kill her and her family if she told anyone.
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Monday, January 12, 2009
AS USUAL, EACH DAY BRINGS ANOTHER CAVE FROM PRESIDENTIAL-ELECT BARACK OBAMA.
GUANTANAMO, HE DECLARED THROUGHOUT HIS CAMPAIGN FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION, WOULD BE CLOSED UNDER A PRESIDENT BARACK.
HE HAS A 'PLAN' THAT WILL CLOSE IT DOWN IN APPROXIMATELY 12 MONTHS. BUT THE PRISONERS WILL NOT BE RELEASED. HE WANTS TO CREATE A NEW COURT SYSTEM TO HOLD THE PRISONERS. WHY A NEW COURT SYSTEM? BECAUSE THE 'EVIDENCE' AGAINST THEM WON'T HOLD UP IN A COURT OF LAW. IN OTHER WORDS, BY THE U.S. LAW, THEY CANNOT BE FOUND GUILTY. INSTEAD OF RELEASING THEM, BARACK WANTS TO CREATE A NEW COURT SYSTEM.
FOR THOSE KEEPING SCORE ON THE HOME VERSION, THAT WOULD BE GUANTANAMO II.
NO THAT'S NOTHING YOU CAN BELIEVE IN. IT IS BULLS**T YOU CAN SMELL.
"Clearly putting a 'Mission Accomplished' on a aircraft carrier was a mistake," said the Bully Boy of the United States at the White House today in what he billed as "the ultimate exit interview." That was a mistake, when he was asked to identify them, he threw that out. The Iraq War itself? "And when the history of Iraq is written," declared the ahistorical Bully Boy, "historians will analyze, for example, the decision on the surge. The situation was -- looked like it was going fine and then violence for a period of time began to throw -- throw the progress of Iraq into doubt. And rather than accepting the status quo and saying, oh, it's not worth it or the politics make it difficult or, you know, the party may end up being -- you know, not doing well in the elections because of the violence in Iraq, I decided to do something about it -- and sent 30,000 troops in as opposed to withdrawing. And so that part of history is certain, and the situation did change." What's certain is that he continues to misrepresent what was taking place (including Moqtada al-Sadr's cease-fire/truce) at that time.
"Mission Accomplished," he wanted the world to know was a mistake. Abu Ghraib, by contrast, was "a huge disappointment during the presidency." Not a mistake, not a crime, just "a huge disappointment during the presidency." He found also label the lack of WMDs in Iraq "a significant disappointment." In fact, let's note that passage of his remarks -- and the question had been about mistakes: "There have been disappointments. Abu Ghraib obviously was a huge disappointment during the presidency. Not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment. I don't know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were -- things didn't go according to plan, let's put it that way."
Let's not. Abu Ghraib isn't a disappointment, it is a WAR CRIME. And the criminals were never punished because they went straight up the chain of command. As for WMD -- what's one supposed to think about his statements today? Presumably, he means that since he lied about WMD ahead of the illegal war, he's "disappointed" that none were found and that's due to the "rationale" for the illegal war. But some will rightly point out that the construct of his response indicates he wishes WMD had been in Iraq. In which case, that would have meant what for the US service members sent there? Or is that more thinking than Bully Boy is capable of?
By the same token, he should have been forced to walk out his mistake a little further. He said, "Clearly putting a 'Mission Accomplished' on an aircraft carrier was a mistake. It sent the wrong message. We were trying to say something differently, but nevertheless, it conveyed a different message." He's referring to his May 2, 2003 padded-crotch strut across the USS Abraham Lincoln below a banner proclaiming, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED." If the banner was a mistake, was it a mistake to blame others for it? Was it a mistake all along or just when he got caught out? When did Bully Boy believe it became a mistake? John Dickerson (Time magazine), November 1, 2003:
Asked at a news conference whether the "Mission Accomplished" banner had been prematurely boastful, the president backed away from it, saying it had been put up by the sailors and airmen of the Lincoln to celebrate their homecoming after toppling Saddam's regime.
Not long afterwards, the White House had to amend its account. The soldiers hadn't put up the sign; the White House had done the hoisting. It had also produced the banner -- contrary to what senior White House officials had said for months. In the end, the White House conceded on those details, but declared them mere quibbles. The point was, they said, that the whole thing had been done at the request of the crewmembers. Even that explanation didn't sit well with some long-time Bush aides. "They (the White House) put up banners at every event that look just like that and we're supposed to believe that at this one it was the Navy that requested one?" asked a senior administration official. Others remember staffers boasting about how the president had been specifically positioned during his speech so that the banner would be captured in footage of his speech.
Mission Accomplished? Reuters notes at multiple bombings in Baghdad today and that incoming US vice president Joe Biden has landed in Iraq. We'll come back to that but first let's turn to peace news to wipe away the smell of the Bully Boy. Military Familes Speak Out plans a February sixth through ninth action in DC entitled "The Change WE Need:"
President Elect Obama opposed the war in Iraq before it started, calling it a "dumb war." But he and his advisors have also said that they plan to spread the return of combat troops from that "dumb war" out over sixteen months and to keep tens of thousands of other troops on the ground in Iraq indefinitely.
So from February 6-9, MFSO will be traveling to Washington to bring the new President and new Congress the message that it is long past time to bring all our troops home from Iraq. The four days of events will include:
Watch for more details in the days to come!
March 21st, A.N.S.W.E.R. will be among those sponsoring the "Bring the Troops Home Now" March on the Pentagon:
Tragically, the criminal occupation of Iraq will not be over even by the sixth anniversary of the start of the war in March 2009. People around the world will be marching together on the sixth anniversary in the strongest possible solidarity with the people of Iraq demanding an end to the occupation of their country.
Marking the sixth anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq, on March 21, 2009, thousands will March on the Pentagon to say, "Bring the Troops Home NOW!" We will also demand "End Colonial Occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Everywhere" and "Fund Peoples' Needs Not Militarism and Bank Bailouts." We will insist on an end to the war threats and economic sanctions against Iran. We will say no to the illegal U.S. program of detention and torture.
To endorse the March 21 March on the Pentagon, click here. To sign up to be a Transportation Organizing Center, click here.
While millions of families are losing their homes, jobs and healthcare, the real military budget next year will top one trillion dollars--that's $1,000,000,000,000. If used to meet people's needs, that amount could create 10 million new jobs at $60,000 per year, provide healthcare for everyone who does not have it now, rebuild New Orleans, and repair much of the damage done in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost for the occupation of Iraq alone is $400 million each day, or about $12 billion each month.
The war in Iraq has killed, wounded or displaced nearly one third of Iraq's 26 million people. Thousands of U.S. soldiers have been killed, and hundreds of thousands more have suffered severe physical and psychological wounds. The U.S. leaders who have initiated and conducted this criminal war should be tried and jailed for war crimes.
On the topic of violence, Sunday the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle in eastern Baghdad at approximately 8 p.m. Jan. 10. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin." Today the US military announced: "A U.S. Solder died as a result of a non-combat related injury near Samarra, Iraq Jan. 11. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." The death brings to 4225 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
Over 1.5 million Iraqis have died since the start of the illegal war. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing and a car bombing at eight this morning that claimed 3 lives and left ten people wounded, a Baghdad sticky bombing fifteen minutes later that claimed 1 life and left another person wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing forty-five minutes later which claimed 1 life and left three people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing one hour later that wounded four people and, one hour later, a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and left three people wounded. Al Dulaimy also notes a Mosul sticky bombing targeting al-Hadbaa National List's Faris Sinjari -- they are among the political parties in Mosul competing for seats in the provincial elections scheduled for January 31st. BBC has video on today's violence.
Moving to Iraqi politics but starting with a US example. Willam Brockman Bankhead was the Speaker of the US House of Representatives for over four years. He died unexpectably of a heart attack on September 15, 1940. (For those unfamiliar with Bankhead, he was the father of Tallulah Bankhead.) The following day, Sam Rayburn became Speaker of the House. The following day. December 23rd, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was forced out of the Speakership of the Iraqi Parliament. The week prior he had stated he was resigning. He attempted to take that back but a large number wanted him gone as Speaker and had wanted him gone for some time with repeated public efforts to oust him. It is now January 12th and they have still not appointed a new Speaker. Today Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that the Parliament will address the issue on Saturday and they expect to continue discussing it. Saturday -- when they do not expect to make a decision -- will be the 17th. It will be almost one month later. Repeating, when US House Speaker Bankhead unexepectedly died in office, he was replaced by Speaker Rayburn the next day. Repeating, al-Mashhadani was wanted out by many (in the summer of 2006, believing whispers, the New York Times reported he would be out of the post shortly). Despite all the planning to oust him, despite the fact that it was not a surprise, nearly a month later and they have yet to name a replacement. Sam Dagher (New York Times) reported yesterday, "According to political agreements, his successor must be a Sunni Arab, as part of a codified effort to help Iraq's Sunni minority feel it has a voice in government. But disagreements over the choice led to more walkouts from the main Sunni political coalition, Tawafiq, on Saturday, weakening the bloc before crucial provincial elections scheduled for the end of January and raising the possibility of street protests by outraged Sunnis. The dispute may also keep Parliament from passing any legislation until a speaker is chosen and confirmed." Kimi Yoshino and Ali Hameed (Los Angeles Times) added, "The defection came just a couple of weeks after five Sunni members from Mashadani's party, the National Dialogue Council, withdrew."
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