Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Other Items

At the New York Times' blog, Mike Nizza joins the chorus still trying to sell the 'deserter' story about Iraqi forces and, like a criminal with a compulsion to confess, he goes ga-ga over the paper's Dexy Filkins appearing on Charlie Rose's program. He goes so ga-ga that he quotes Dexy and never appears to grasp what Dexy is saying about then and now. Dexy is contrasting the numbers for the recent assault on Basra with earlier times and declares, "In 2004, when they tried to push the Iraqi army into battle, it disappeared. They all defected." Dexy's a sob sister, he's someone who goes silent when the US military brass gives him a sour look, no question. But "defected" isn't a word he's apt to confuse. A deserter walks away. A defector switches sides. To be a defector you have to switch sides because you have to defect to something.

Anyone old enough to remember the Cold War should grasp the meaning of the term of "defector." While Nizza thinks he's shoring up the argument, his quote choice (from Dexy) only undermines his argument and makes the paper look even more pathetic.

For the record, John F. Burns appears on the same program (from last Wednesday) with Dexy and makes clear the difference the paper wants to fudge. He refers to two camps: "People who defected or wouldn't fight." There are two camps. Defectors and deserters are not the same thing. (Dexy's quote finished on the progam with, "all -- all of them.") I have no idea how long Rose keeps the shows up but you can stream it here currently. No transcript but Charlie Rose doesn't believe PBS' mission is to serve all Americans (which would include the hard of hearing and the deaf), he sees it as a way to line his pockets with ever more cash. (Here, here and here for some of Ava and my commentaries on Rose's 'public affairs' program.)

On today's violence, Kim Gamel (AP) reports:

Car bombs ripped through crowded areas at lunch hour in the former Sunni insurgent strongholds of Baqouba and Ramadi on Tuesday as more than 50 people were killed in one of the deadliest days in Iraq in months.
A parked car bomb also targeted a police patrol in central Baghdad, killing four civilians who were passing by and wounding 15 other people, police said.

BBC radio reports the death toll from bombings today in Iraq is now up to at least 70.
Refugees International has a new study, authored by Kristele Younes and Nir Rosen, entitled "Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq". It is PDF format only (click here). Here's a portion of the report's opening executive summary:

Five years after the US -led invasion, Iraq remains a deeply violent and divided society. Faced with one of the largest displacement and humanitarian crises in the world, Iraqi civilians are in urgent need of assistance. Particularly vulnerable are the 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis who have fled their homes for safer locations inside Iraq. Unable to access their food rations and often unemployed, they live in squalid conditions, have run out of resources and find it extremely difficult to access essential services. The US , the government of Iraq and the international community must begin to address the consequences of leaving Iraqis' humanitarian needs unmet.
As a result of the vacuum created by the failure of both the Iraqi Government and the international community to act in a timely and adequate manner, non-state actors play a major role in providing assistance to vulnerable Iraqis. Militias of all denominations are improving their local base of support by providing social services in the neighborhoods and towns they control. Through a 'Hezbollah-like' scheme, the Shiite Sadrist movement has established itself as the main service provider in the country. Similarly, other Shiite and Sunni groups are gaining ground and support through the delivery of food, oil, electricity, clothes and money to the civilians living in their fiefdoms. Not only do these militias now have a quasi-monopoly in the large-scale provision of assistance in Iraq, they are also recruiting an increasing number of civilians to their militias -- including displaced Iraqis.
Since the beginning of the crisis, the Government of Iraq has proven to be unwilling and unable to respond to the needs of vulnerable Iraqis. Although it has access to large sums of money, it is divided along sectarian lines, lacking both the capacity and the political will to use its important resources to address humanitarian needs. As a result, the government does not have any credibility left with Iraqis. The little assistance provided by the government is perceived by most as being biased in favor of the Shiite population, especially when it comes to the delivery of government services such as electricity or food ration cards from the Public Distribution System.
The international community has been largely in denial over the disastrous humanitarian situation in Iraq, and has until recently seen Iraq through the prism of reconstruction and development, and failed to address urgent needs. Only recently has the United Nations issued a common humanitarian appeal for Iraq, recognizing the nature of the situation and the need for all agencies to step up and address humanitarian needs.
Hindered by its political mandate in Iraq, and its lack of access to most of the country, the UN has no other choice than to rely on local partners to reach out to the communities most in need. By taking advantage of the 'balkanization' of Iraq to identify interlocutors who can facilitate access throughout the country, the UN can create a larger space to meet humanitarian needs. Identifying and supporting local, non-governmental organizations that are known and trusted by the communities they serve will also be essential if the UN is to take a more important role in humanitarian assistance inside Iraq.
Ongoing violence in Diyala and Mosul, as well as recent events in Basra and Baghdad, have proven that the situation in Iraq is still too unstable and violent for people to return home. Of those Iraqis who have returned from Syria, most were unable to go back to their homes, as they would likely be attacked again, and had to move into homogenous, sectarian areas. Others found their homes occupied, and were unable to recover them.
While everyone hopes that Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people will be able to return to their homes in the future, the necessary conditions for returns to take place in safety and in dignity do not exist. All relevant actors should discourage returns until the violence subsides and people can receive adequate assistance and protection. In particular, the Government of Iraq should no longer use returns as an indicator of success in stabilizing the country. Returns -- like the rest of the humanitarian situation -- should not be used as a political tool by any of the parties to the conflict.

Turning to US politics, noting it was Obama's "fourth day in a row" of being asked about his insulting remarks about Small Town America, Elisabeth Bumiller and Jeff Zeleny ("McCain Criticizes Obama," New York Times) quote Barack declaring yesterday, "I may have made a mistake last week in the words that I chose." May? He still hasn't offered an apology and that "If I offended you nonsense" is revealed as nonsense with the comment "I may have made a mistake . . ." Why can't he take responsibility for anything? Why can't he ever stand up and offer a real apology? Kate Phillips, on the same page of the paper (A19) has a brief item on a Republican offering an apology (or that's how the article reads) to Obama. Why can't Barack ever apologize? This is now a repeating pattern with him where he can never simply say, "I made a mistake, I am sorry." He has to argue, he has to try to justify, and in the process he reveals the weak kind-of apology he's offered to be insincere. This has happened over and over during the campaign. He offended people, he should apologize. He shouldn't try to justify, he should offer a real apology. That, all this time later, he can't goes to whether or not he's fit to be the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. When the details emerged on Friday, he let it fester. He allowed it to become the topic of the Sunday chat and chews. It is now Tuesday morning and he refuses to apologize. He can whine and people can pretend the issue doesn't matter (it does matter) but he has no one to blame for himself because day five starts today and he has refused to apologize. That goes to his own arrogance. By Sunday, it didn't matter whether he was right or wrong, what mattered was the campaign reaching out to Small Town America and the only way to do that was with an apology. There was none. There still is none. If one comes now, it arrives after polling indicates 54% of Americans found his remarks offensive. By waiting until after that polling came out, any apology risks looking insincere. So Team Obama is left to ponder whether they apologize or not? They made this an issue. Not anyone who reported it. Not John McCain, not Hillary Clinton. The words were stated by Barack and the clean up would have to be done by Barack. It's day five today.

What happened to "rapid response"? Barack is indicating he is one more candidate the Dems will lie to themselves about up to the election day, through election eve and go to sleep election night cursing. He created his own problem and he has refused to address it. Elaine addresses the denial from some on how damaging this is, Rebecca offers the theory that presidential candidates (to be successful) must come off like a character in one of the Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) films, Kat addresses his gloat factor, Mike wonders how Barack meets a billionaire at a party thrown in honor of the billionaire but claims he can't remember the meeting, Marcia explores the damage when the needs of one not promising anything subvert community needs, Ruth notes the power we all have and Cedric and Wally explore (joint-post) the hypocrisy and lies of Panhandle Media. Unrelated but please be sure to read Trina's post Saturday on homeless veterans. I had hoped to note that in yesterday's snapshot but time ran out.

Megan notes Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: Stepped Up Enforcement of Trade Laws" (HillaryClinton.com) which is from yesterday:

Trade Laws: This morning, Hillary renews calls for stepped up enforcement of trade laws at the Alliance for American Manufacturing Forum in Pittsburgh, PA.

Compassion Forum: At last night's Compassion Forum at Messiah College, Hillary said, "I don't think that I could have made my life’s journey without being anchored in God's grace and without having that...sense of forgiveness and unconditional love." Read more and more.

Bringing People Together in Scranton, PA: "Hundreds of people" lined the street in Scranton yesterday to see Hillary. At a press availability, Hillary responded to questions about Sen. Obama's recent comments about small town America: "Democrats have reached out to me to say that we can’t afford for people to believe that the Democratic Party is elitist and out of touch. Because honestly, how do we expect people to listen to us if we don't hear them and we don’t respect their values and their way of life?...We're at a point in America where we need to be bringing people together to help solve our problems...People don't need a president who looks down on them; they need a president who stands up for them." Listen here. Read more.

Pennsylvanians for Hillary: Hillary went door-to-door in the Philadelphia suburb of Drexel Hill yesterday. Said one supporter: "I never thought this time would come. It was amazing." Read more.

A Chat in Pittsburgh: Sitting down for a breakfast interview, Hillary told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "I work hard to be the kind of person that is a good friend, a good family member, a good public servant." Read more.

Spots in the Tar Heel State: The campaign is releasing its second "NC Ask Me" ad...out of nearly 10,000 questions submitted, Tammie Bright of Cherryville submitted the first question selected: "What are your plans on reducing the rising cost of gas?" Watch Hillary's answer here. Yesterday, "Jewel" was released in NC where 91-year-old Jewel Hodges says she supports Hillary because "she had to climb up the rough side of the mountain in life. I saw her take her faith, courage, dignity, and climb that mountain with determination." Watch here.

Hoosiers Canvass in Terre Haute: Yesterday, just two days after the Terre Haute office was destroyed by a fire, volunteers met at the sight to canvass. State Director Robby Mook said, "Our volunteers are resilient in their support for Hillary," calling their continued work "a testament to [their] dedication."

Previewing Today: After the Alliance for American Manufacturing Forum, Hillary attends the Philadelphia County Democratic Dinner in Philadelphia, PA. followed by a "Solutions for the Pennsylvania Economy" rally in Bristol, PA.

In Case You Missed It: Politico explores how "Obama can reveal moments of aloofness or tone deaf reactions that belie his image as the epitome of polished." Read more.

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