BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS NOT IN THE MOOD. THE CAMPAIGNER IN CHIEF EXPLAINED TO THESE REPORTERS THIS MORNING, DURING A QUICK MAKE UP TOUCH UP, THAT "NOBODY KNOWS HOW HARD I WORK."
"I HAVE BEEN WORKING," HE CONTINUED, "FOR 1,609 DAYS STRAIGHT. THAT'S 4 YEARS, 4 MONTHS AND 28 DAYS. THAT'S FROM WHEN I DECLARED MY CANDIDACY THROUGH TODAY WHEN I GO FUND RAISE FOR HARRY REID AND SOME GUY I NEVER HEARD OF IN MISSOURI. BUT DO I COMPLAIN? DO I WHINE? NO BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT A GLAD HANDER DOES. I WAS ELECTED BECAUSE OF MY CAMPAIGNING AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANTS ME TO CONTINUE CAMPAIGNING. IF THEY WANTED LEADERSHIP, WELL THEY WOULD HAVE GIVEN HILLARY THE NOMINATION."
BARRY O THEN RETURNED TO PRACTICING SMILES IN HIS HAND HELD MIRROR WHILE SINGING, "FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED MINUTES, HOW DO YOU MEASURE, MEASURE A YEAR?"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Today is the 7th of July which makes today exactly four months since elections took place. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government.
Four months later and no prime minister. Four months later and Parliament's only met once -- and then they met for less than 20 minutes. Is that normal? For 'modern' and 'democratic' Iraq, is that normal. We have 2005 as a model so let's walk through. December 15, 2005 was Iraq's previous Parliamentary election. April 22, Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister designate. Four months and seven days later.
And let's remember things were a lot worse in Iraq then. (Violence has never gone away and today demonstrated that yet again.) For example, from the April 26, 2006 snapshot, "The Associated Press notes that '[m]ore than 100 Iraqi civilians or police have been killed . . . since [Jawad] al-Maliki was tapped as Iraq's prime minister designate on Saturday . . .'" From Saturday to the following Wednesday. But a prime minister designate could be named. Not only that, grasp that Nouri wasn't first pick. The first pick was Ibrahim al-Jaafair. But the US nixed that.
Today, it's four months since the election and the political stalemate continues. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR) reports, "It has been four months since the parliamentary elections, and the parties are still bickering over who gets to form a government. Electricity is terrible, the phone networks don't work, and most basic services like water and sewage are patchy at best. Iraq is constantly indexed as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced. And there is still violence, every single day. About 4,400 American service members have given their lives in Iraq. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. Both Iraqis and Americans are still being killed, though in vastly reduced numbers." And the response to that from the US military? Snippy e-mails from US Maj Gen Stephen Lanza insisting that the correspondents are providing negative coverage. Is anyone wondering why the US didn't just change the Constitution and let Bush do is own third term if that's all Barack Obama was going to provide?
Is there a reason that USF (formerly MNF) can't get its act together. It doesn't have a lot of tasks. They don't do patrols, they just issue press releases. That apparently is too much work for them or else they're deliberately trying to distort the body count. From Friday's snapshot:Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD – Two U.S. Soldiers have died in unrelated non-combat incidents. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incidents are under investigation." If that's not the most s**t poor announcement USF/MNF has ever made, I don't know what is. When did the two die? Where did the two die? Why are those details not being supplied? Does anyone supervise these press releases? The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4411. "S**t poor" was actually too mild. The above press release -- the only one issued Friday by USF and none have been issued since on any military deaths -- tells us two US soldiers died in Iraq Friday. Simple enough?Yeah, except there were three. From Monday's entry: "Friday the US military announced two more deaths. The News & Observer notes that one of those deaths was Maryland's 19-year-old Spc Morganne McBeth who joined the military in 2008 and was deployed to Iraq August 17th." That's one of the two deaths announced. Yesterday's entry included: "Friday, 2 US service members died in Iraq. One was Maryland's 19-year-old Spc Morganne McBeth, the other was Sgt Johnny W. Lumpkin who 'died July 2 in Balad, Iraq from injuries he sustained in an incident the day before in Taji, Iraq.' Meredith Armstrong (WRBL, link has text and video) notes that the Columbus soldier is survived by parents Jan and Wayne Lumpkin, a wife (July 4th would have been the couple's ninth wedding anniversary) and three children."Follow that?Two deaths announced on Friday, two fallen identified. Except it's three. The Shreveport Times reports that Sgt Jordan E. Tuttle also died Friday ("in Baghdad of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident"). Is there a reason that the military can't get it right? Is there a reason that a division charged with nothing more than issuing press release can't do their damn job? Or is that they're being told not to?You might think with deaths down compared to previous years, their jobs would be eaiser. But they seem to have a real problem these days doing the jobs that the US tax payers foot the bill for.Spc Morganne McBeth, Sgt Johnny W. Lumpkin and Sgt Jordan E. Tuttle died on Friday in Iraq. It shouldn't be that difficult in this day and age for the US military to announce that there were 3 deaths. All USF does is announce deaths (and issue happy spin). The Defense Dept is the one who identifies the fallen. All they have to do is issue an announcement of a death. Why is so hard for them? This has been repeated issue for USF all year long. You might think at some point Congress would ask one of the many generals parading before it what the deal is.4412 is the current number of US service members killed in the Iraq War -- at least that's the current number as far as we know.
Staying with violence, yesterday at least 6 pilgrims were reported dead and 37 wounded. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) explained the pilgrimage is "to commemorate the martyrdom of Iman Musa al Kathim on July 8." It continued today -- both the pilgrimage and the violence. Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) notes 28 dead today from a suicide bomber and sixty-three more injured. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) supplies the details explaining a bomber took his/her own life in Adhamiyah and 38 pilgrims (eight-one injured) and that a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of police Maj Abdulrahman Sabeeh, a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded three Iraqi soldiers, a Baghdad suicide bomber took his/her own life and that of 1 police officer (two civilians injured and two soldiers injured), two Baghdad roadside bombings claimed the lives of 5 pilgrims (thirty-five more wounded) and another Baghdad roadside bombing wounded six pilgrims, another Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 6 lives and left forty-five wounded, and two other Baghdad roadside bombings injured eleven. Timothy Williams and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report, "Shiite pilgrims are frequent targets of Sunni insurgent groups, and this year Iraqi security forces ordered several major roads and bridges closed and banned bicycles and motorcycles in the capital to try to safeguard the marchers. Some 200,000 security force members had been assigned to patrol streets, check cars and search pilgrims at they walked along streets to the shrine." Note that the pilgrimage has not ended, it continues tomorrow. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) explains, "About 1 million pilgrims from many parts of Baghdad and other provinces are expected to gather near the Imam Mussa al-Kadhim shrine in Baghdad's northern district of Kadhmiyah for the annual commemoration of the death of the seventh of the most sacred 12 Shiite Imams." BBC News offers a photo essay on the pilgrimage. And what do the pilgrims talk about? Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) reports:
But conversation along the pilgrims' path has centered on how bickering between Iraq's politicians since the March 7 election has damaged expectations, and raised fears of greater insecurity.
"It's the daily talk of the people: politicians and forming a government. Every day," says Mr. Jassim, sitting on the floor of the tent, as volunteers offered him cold packets of juice, bottles of water, and a plastic dish of rice with orange-brown sauce.
Ned Parker and Nadeem Hamid (Los Angeles Times) add an attack on a Falluja police checkpoint left 2 police officers dead.
The war the world never wanted (as evidenced by the massive protests before the start of the illegal war), the illegal war that was sold on lies, continues. And so do the lies. Press flacks with bars on their shoulders hassle the press, an Oval Office Occupant rushes to assure the people that things are better than before and the corner has been turned. All the Dems once in congress who scorned and sneered at "success" in Iraq now, from the White House, promote the laughable claim that there is "success" in Iraq.
If the people were confused by all the smoke and mirrors, it would not be at all surprising. However, yesterday Rasmussen Reports released results from a poll (plus/minus 3%) where Americans were asked whether or not they believed that the US military endedcombat operations at the end of August? 33% of respondents -- snorting hope,apparently -- say yes. 59% -- that would be a clear majority -- say no. They werealso asked how history will view the Iraq War. 36% say as a failure, 33% say as asuccess and 31% just don't know. The 33% figure took a hard hit from March when41% were saying the illegal war would be seen as "a success." This isn't surprising because, as Thomas E. Ricks has long pointed out, the military does not have a pacifist wing. And Saturday Tim Arango (New York Times) explained US combat missions in Iraq will not be ending in August. He spoke with a group of US soldiers in Mosul currently "hunting terrorists and covertly watching an Iraqi checkpoint staffed by police officers whom the soldiers say they do not trust." Arango explains that combat missions ("hunting insurgents, joint raids between Iraqi security forces and United States Special Forces to kill or arrest militants") will be renamed "stability operations." Michael Gordon (of the Times) attempted to point out to then-candidate Barack Obama that these were indeed combat missions. But apparently pretty didn't come with brains. The International Herald Tribune featured an important letter Tuesday:
Former President George W. Bush sent U.S. troops streaming into Afghanistan supposedly in "hot pursuit" of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. It didn't take long, however, for him to recast the war as a much more general fight for the forces of good.
Then Iraq caught his eye, and he lost interest in either winning the Afghan war or ending it via diplomacy.
Unfortunately, that left the U.S. military stuck there.
Even more unfortunately, the Democrats haven't found the fortitude to fight for an end to the increasingly pointless conflict.
Already there are hints that President Barack Obama's much-touted 2011 withdrawal date may slip. If that happens we can forget about withdrawal before January 2013; after all, there'll be an election to consider.
And by 2013, who knows what other reasons will have been found by Mr. Obama, or by his successor, to stay.
If America's political leadership won't find a way to end the fighting, the children and grandchildren of today's U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan may be serving there as well.
Eric B. Lipps, New York
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