Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nipples for President!

The Iraqi paramilitary unit that stormed a government complex in Iraq's Diyala province earlier this week usually is directed by the prime minister's office, but was acting without its orders in this case, the Iraqi government said Friday.
Abdul Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman who's serving as the interim commander of police in Diyala, described the emergency response unit as a counterterrorism force that's nominally under Interior oversight but with its own chain of command. The name of its leader and the size of its force are classified, he said.
A spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party challenged the assertion that the unit was acting without orders, days after a prominent member was arrested in one of the raids. "We believe that such a raid could not have taken place unless Mr. Maliki had at least prior knowledge of it," said Dr. Salim Abdullah al Juboori, referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

The above is from Nicholas Spangler's "Diyala raid was rogue operation, Iraqi government says" (McClatchy Newspapers) and it's cute the way he avoids certain issues. For instance the fact that two US helicopters were part of the operation with eye witnesses reporting they were fired on by those helicopters. If it was a rogue operation, how did the US military come to be involved?

A question to keep in mind as you read Ned Parker's "Iraq seeks breakup of U.S.-funded Sunni fighters" (Los Angeles Times) which follows up on Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Iraq Takes Aim at Leaders Of U.S.-Tied Sunni Groups" from yesterday's New York Times:

Amid fears that the Sunnis' treatment could rekindle Iraq's insurgency, the Americans are caught between their wish to support the fighters and their stronger ties to Maliki's government, which has challenged the Sunni paramilitaries in recent months as it grows increasingly confident about its fledgling army.
"We want to have our cake and eat it too, support Maliki and the Sons of Iraq. . . . Maliki wants to make that as hard for us as possible. He wants us to choose him," said Stephen Biddle, a Council on Foreign Relations defense expert who has served as an advisor on strategy to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq. "What it looks like we are getting is a Maliki government that won't behave itself and wants to crush the Sons of Iraq."
The chief U.S. military spokesman here denied Maliki was targeting the Sons of Iraq, or that the Americans were tilting toward the government at the expense of the Sunni fighters.

"Just last week, the prime minister gave his personal commitment to the program," Brig. Gen. David Perkins said. "They are well aware of the sacrifices the Sons of Iraq have made, that they were a critical element in bringing the security situation under control and that it is in their strategic advantage to assimilate them peacefully and orderly into Iraqi society."
Maliki has grown powerful after successful military operations in spring against Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's militia in southern Iraq and Baghdad. His transformation has provided the Americans a partner they can work with as they look for a way to hand over the reins in Iraq, the long-term U.S. goal here.
A Western advisor to the Iraqi government said the U.S. military couldn't stop the Iraqi security forces now even if it wanted to -- they are larger in size and have their own chain of command.

Meanwhile Tina Susman and Caeser Ahmed file "Iraq cleric Muqtada Sadr critical of draft plan on U.S. troop withdrawal" on the reaction to whispers of the draft of a treaty:

At the weekly prayer service in Sadr's Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, chants of "No to the agreement!" rang out through loudspeakers positioned along the street. Worshipers responded with applause and repeated the chant as the service ended and people drifted away.
Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia have kept a low profile since fighting in the spring led the Iraqi military to move into militia strongholds. But though Sadr claims to have revamped his group into an exclusively cultural organization, his fiery anti-U.S. message can rev up supporters and could hurt Maliki's standing if Iraqis see the prime minister as kowtowing to American wishes.

At prayer services across the country, Sadrist preachers said any deal struck with the Americans was a blow to Iraq's sovereignty. In Sadr City, listeners agreed.
"Everyone is talking about how it will really serve the interests of the Americans, not the Iraqis," said Mohammed Fadim, whose well-stocked grocery store overlooks the wide avenue where worshipers knelt side by side in prayer. "Everyone knows the U.S. administration. Once they occupy a country, if they want to make an agreement to stay, 80% of the terms will fulfill their interests."

Sara notes David Lightman and Margaret Talev's "David Lightman and Margaret Talev" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Something about Barack Obama's manner bothers Margaret Cowan.
"There's something egotistical about him," the Sheridan, Colo., retiree said. "It's the way he struts around."
Many swing voters here and throughout the country consider the presumptive Democratic nominee distant, pompous, arrogant, even elitist.
"It's a big issue that he needs to address," said Eric Davis, a professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College in Vermont.
Obama has Ivy League degrees from Columbia and Harvard universities. He's extraordinarily articulate and exudes self-confidence. Those credentials and qualities combine to strike some people as arrogant.
He counters by reminding voters that he was raised by a single mother of modest means and worked as a Chicago community organizer. Those aren't elitist roots.

Aarogance exists in all class strata. More importantly, the term used for Barack would be "social climber" -- a term that denotes someone from a lower strata. And the lies that attempt to pull the heart strings only undercut him all the more. Why does Barack never speak of his step-father? What's with this "single mother" claptrap he always offers? He had a step-father for years. Then he chose to live with his grandparents. It's someone expanding reality to make his 'struggle' seem more difficult -- the hallmark of a social climber. Equally true is that he was ineffective in his brief 'career' as a community organizer (by his own admission) and its at the point that he chucked it all and decided to go to Harvard.

I keep waiting for someone to make the obvious comparison: Iraq Levin's A Kiss Before Dying. If you don't have time for the book, its been filmed twice and the Matt Dillon vehicle should be easily found. Dillon's mother (Diane Ladd) is alive. But that's not good enough for Dillon who claims both parents are dead. Claims they died on a famous plane crash. Using his "orphan" status to argue for the woman he's tricking to be nicer to her father (so that he can get a job working for the man). In the article Jen Psaki, of the Obam campaign, makes the sort of statement that should have her pulled from making statements to the press. Explaining that they are going for smaller venues for Barack, she acknoweldges "we spent a little too much time doing the big rallies" and goes on to mention "Obama's fame." That's not really refuting the He's A Celebrity! charge. It only reinforces it. The reporters mention Greensboro, North Carolina and Barack's stop a market there "where he sample a biscuit, a peach and a zucchini muffin". Zucchini muffin? More importantly, arrogance reeked of that stop. You can turn to page A16 of Thursday's New York Times for the photo by Richard Perry of Barack looking arrogant as he holds half a slice of peach and chews the other half. It's not a wine tasting, Barack. You shove that tiny piece in your mouth (all of it) and you chew. No one's waiting for your ruling. He actually looked like Richard Nixon in the photo. Consider that a telling portent. LBJ is perceived as starting the war on Vietnam (it was JFK) and Nixon kept America there.

This week's photos didn't help Barack at all. Who but a celebrity sports nipple? Someone put the candidate in a t-shirt before he puts on one of his thin dress shirts because America really doesn't need to see a presidential candidate's nipples poking through day after day.

One day's round of photos? You allow that the campaign didn't realize how the thin material would photograph under glaring lights. Day after day? You realize the campaign's either ignorant or using Barack's nipples as a selling point. Nipples for President? Well maybe they can do a mock up poster of Barack starring in The Deep next? But remember Psaki says Barack's "fame" is not his "totality" -- and they wonder why the campaign can't connect with the bulk of working class voters?

We'll close with this from Bruce Dixon's "Hope Is For The Weak" (Black Agenda Report):

No less an historical authority than Oprah Winfrey herself has declared Obama's career to be "the fulfillment of Dr. King's Dream", as if the 20th century Freedom Movement was exclusively about overcoming prejudice without challenging America's empire overseas or her inequalities at home. As usual, Oprah has the establishment message dead-on. For more than forty years, the media have taught and sold an eviscerated history of the Freedom Movement which they have branded as "Dr. King's Dream." According to the authorities, "Dr. King's Dream" was about individual worth, about judging people by "the content of their character" and affording an equal opportunity for all to rise.
Even though Dr. King died supporting a black union in the midst of a militant citywide strike, the media-endorsed versions of his life, of the Freedom Movement, and of "the Dream" (probably trademarked) which the election of Barack Obama will supposedly "fulfill" are never about collective action, or democracy in workplaces. They never mention the right -- won and held by people in most other nations around the world -- to organize and strike without being fired or penalized. Despite Dr. King's prescient warnings that if we did not swiftly end the war in Vietnam and turn our energies to peace abroad and justice at home we would be marching against US wars here, there and everywhere, we will be told in Denver, on the 45th anniversary of "I Have A Dream" that his legacy is being satisfied by the elevation of a black candidate who celebrates empire, who endorses the so-called worldwide "war on terror", who has assured us he will not end the war in Iraq while he, co-signs the Bush threats to Iran and escalates the conflict in Afghanistan, perhaps extending it to nuclear-armed Pakistan.
Despite his African heritage, Obama shows no signs of ending, or even publicly acknowledging the fact that the US has furnished arms and military aid to more than 50 of 54 African nations, making it the most war-torn continent on earth. Thanks in large part to US policies, AK-47s are manufactured nowhere in Africa, but are cheaper there than anywhere else on earth.

From Team Nader:

Next Wednesday, Denver is going to be rockin.
Thousands will be gathered at the University of Denver Magness arena to protest the corporate lockdown on the Presidential debates.
Sean Penn, Val Kilmer, Cindy Sheehan, Tom Morello, Jello Biafra and others will join Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez.
Demanding an end to the corporate control over the Presidential debates.
So, if there is any chance you can get to Denver Wednesday, you can make a donation to reserve your ticket
If you can't get to Denver, no problem.
Free Speech TV will be streaming the event live on the Internet. (Wednesday, August 27, 7 p.m. Mountain time, 9 p.m. Eastern.)
click here to watch.
Also, the Free Speech TV will be broadcasting the event live on Dish Network Channel 9415.
And many local public access channels will be carrying the Free Speech TV feed.
(If your public access channel doesn't carry it, call them and ask them to do so.
Click here for a list of public access channels.)
Anyway, it's going to be an historic event -- protesting the corporate control over our politics -- in the midst of the corporate Democratic spectacle.
So, join us in Denver if you can.
If not, invite your friends over, and dial up the live Internet feed -- or watch on television via satellite or on your public access channel.
Onward to November.

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the new york times
richard a. oppel jr.
the los angeles times
ned parker
tina susman
caeser ahmed
bruce dixon
mcclatchy newspapers
nicholas spangler
david lightman
margaret talev