Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Other Items

The State Department has warned U.S. diplomats that they may be required to serve in Iraq next year if there are insufficient volunteers to fill job openings there, U.S. officials said.
The possibility of "directed assignments" was first raised last fall, when State projected a shortfall of about 50 volunteers for positions at the Baghdad embassy and other locations in Iraq in 2008. Although those jobs eventually were filled without compulsory postings, the possibility of being forced to serve in a war zone caused deep unease at State.
Diplomats will be invited next month to bid on about 300 positions that will open up next year in Iraq, according to a cable sent to State employees and diplomats last week. With more than 700 State Department personnel, the Baghdad embassy is the largest U.S. mission in the world.

The above, noted by Martha, is from Karen DeYoung's "Diplomats Warned of Possible Mandatory Service in Iraq" (Washington Post) and on the same topic, Elise Labott (CNN) reports:

A similar threat to call up diplomats last year drew fire among foreign service officers. Many of them objected to being forced to work in a war zone, even though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Iraq was the department's priority.
A cable to employees, obtained by CNN, said the State Department would soon begin to identify candidates for jobs at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and other provinces.

[. . .]

In 2007 the issue caused an uproar in the State Department, resulting in a contentious town hall-style meeting in October. One official called the order to serve in Iraq "a potential death sentence."

"I just have no respect for the whole process because you've demonstrated a lack of respect for your own colleagues," said foreign service officer Jack Croddy.

CNN notes Refugee International's new report [PDF format warning, click here] "Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq:"

A leading humanitarian group says Sunni and Shiite militias in Iraq are pulling displaced people into their movements because governments and international entities are failing to adequately address their plight.
Refugees International underscored that development in a report issued Tuesday titled "Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq."
The report says the United States, the government of Iraq and the international community aren't doing enough to address the daily problems faced by the 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis, who have fled homes in war-torn regions to other places in Iraq. Those people find themselves unemployed in their new locations and many times unable to access food and health care.
"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," the report says.

For more on the report (in non-PDF format) see Ruth, Marcia, Elaine, Mike, Kat and Rebecca as well as yesterday's snapshot. [Cedric and Wally take on the low expectations for Bambi.]

Billie notes Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: Opportunity for All Americans" (

Opportunity for All Americans: Today, Hillary discusses her own approach to the presidency that will expand opportunity for all Americans at the Newspaper Association of America’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

New Ad in the Keystone State: Hillary supporters speak out against Sen. Obama's small town America comments in a new TV ad that will air in Pennsylvania...From supporters: "I'm not clinging to my faith out of frustration and bitterness...I find that my faith is very uplifting...The good people of Pennsylvania deserve a lot better than what Barack Obama said...Hillary does understand the citizens of Pennsylvania better." Watch Here.

"A Can’t-Miss Event for Clinton Supporters" in Bristol, PA: Yesterday in Bristol, PA "[t]he gymnasium was filled with red, white and blue signs that read 'Hillary Rocks,' 'Letter Carriers for Hillary' and 'Hillary for President.'... 'The economy is the worse I've ever seen it,' the Bristol resident said. 'Oil prices are bad. She's the one who can do something about that. I've always been a Clinton supporter. They haven’t let me down.'" Read more.

PA Endorsement Watch: Hillary received the endorsement of Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, earning her the endorsement of mayors from Pennsylvania's "three largest cities": "I support her candidacy and ask Democratic voters in Allentown to do the same." Read More.

MT Endorsement Watch: "Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy says he is endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton…[Kennedy said:] 'In Montana, going to church or going hunting is part of our heritage, not something we 'cling to' out of bitterness or frustration...Sen. Obama showed a real disconnect with rural Montana. It might work to look down on us from San Francisco, but it won't sell when he comes back to Montana.'" Read more.

Save The Date: Hillary will appear on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" on Thursday. The program will be broadcasted from Philadelphia and will air at 11:30pm ET. Read More.

In Case You Missed It: West Virginians aren't happy with Sen. Obama's characterizations about the people who live in America's small towns. Read More.

Bambi's not doing well so you've got the usual Bambi campaign surrogates making their usual noise about the topic Bambi was forced to address and then dropped -- that's how to have a conversation? Bob Herbert embarrassed himself yesterday, Mary Mitchell tops him today. Everywhere she looks, she see hateful people. Mitchell doesn't even turn in a column to the Chicago Sun-Times she rewrites the mailing Bambi's campaign sent out. And doesn't re-write it very well. The campaigns may love that but considering all the layoffs going on in the newspaper industry, maybe publishes should pay attention to that when considering who stays and who goes? Mitchell's an idiot for a number of reasons but largely for counseling someone in a national race not to apologize. When you've offended voters, you apologize. It honestly doesn't even matter whether you think you were right. You apologize. He hasn't. The issue's not going away. Kristi Keck (CNN) reports:

Sen. Barack Obama is saddled with a potentially toxic image problem -- that he has an elitist attitude.
[. . .]
Branding a rival elitist is not new in politics. Republicans for years have successfully labeled Democratic presidential candidates as the liberal elite. Portraying their rivals as latte-sipping, sushi-eating insiders, Republicans have connected with some voters by arguing they understand the values important to the everyday person.
"It's a little like when politicians charge politicians with being politicians. It has the same feel to it -- that if it sticks it's because a candidate hasn't handled it well," Westen said.
Republicans painted George Bush's Democratic opponents Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 as elitists who were detached from average Americans, and the strategy worked.
How damaging the blow is, Westen said, depends on the target's response.
"The mistake that Kerry and Gore both made was to let that brand stick to them," he said.
"The only question is whether Obama fights it back and offers a different brand for himself than the brand that is starting to be given to him."

Elitist? Out of touch? In Iowa he asked, "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula? I mean, they're charging a lot of money for this stuff."
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