Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The treaty hits a road bump (or is it a 'sticky' bomb)

The Iraqi cabinet called Tuesday for reopening negotiations over a draft agreement to keep U.S. forces in this country beyond 2008, but U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates immediately expressed "great reluctance" about more talks.
The apparent stalemate comes just 10 weeks before the expiration of the United Nations mandate that authorizes the presence of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Without a new legal agreement, "we basically stop doing anything" in the country, Gates told news service reporters in Washington.

That's from Mary Beth Sheridan's "Iraqi Cabinet Urges Further Negotiation on Draft Accord" (Washington Post) breaking down yesterday's developments. In the New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin and Katherine Zoepf's "Iraqi Cabinet Wants Security Agreement Altered" focuses more on the threats from Mullen:

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was traveling in Latvia, issued a stark warning to the Iraqis to think hard before rejecting the agreement. In some of the sharpest comments to date from the American side, he said that Iraqi Army and police forces would not be able to counter insurgent and terrorist violence after Dec. 31 without the help of the American military. The Iraqis, he said, "will not be ready to provide for their own security."

Rubin and Zoepf also note Nouri al-Maliki's concerns as pssed on by Humam Hamoudi ("a leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite political party that is allied with Mr. Maliki's Dawa Party"): "The prime minister said what they have given with the right hand they have taken away with the left hand. For example, they said the U.S. forces will withdraw from towns by June 2009 if the security situation permits that, but who will decide that?"

The wording. US treaties are all about the wording as many a sovereign nation or client-state has discovered much too late.

Ned Parker and Saif Hameed's "Iraq Cabinet seeks changes in security pact with U.S." (Los Angeles Times) again try to navigate the political process in Iraq -- the ever changing process since it is not following the any outlined chain of approval:

The slow pace means that an agreement might not be reached before the U.S. presidential election in two weeks and that Iraqi and U.S. negotiators might ultimately forgo a long-term agreement in favor of a more temporary arrangement.
[. . .]
One Iraqi government official who attended the session said the Cabinet would start debating the suggested changes Sunday. He described the new objections as proof that the main factions in the government, particularly Shiites, are reluctant to risk their political future on an agreement that has been assailed by Iran and Iraqi cleric Muqtada Sadr, a rival to the ruling Shiite coalition.
"These are diversionary tactics. We've gone through this before and now we are back to square one," the official said. "Definitely we are running out of time."
The official heaped blame on Prime Minister Nouri Maliki for failing to put his weight behind the draft. The prime minister said a decision on the agreement belonged not to him but the government. Maliki told Kuwaiti journalists last week that he was not sure when the deal would go forward.
The Cabinet session Tuesday crushed lingering hopes that meetings last week involving Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and other Iraqi leaders might marshal the political will to shepherd the agreement through parliament.

As the New York Times report makes clear, Iraqis feel a fast one is being pulled and that includes not only the issue raised of withdrawal and who decides but, as Sheridan notes in the Post, the issue of immunity for US service members:

The Pentagon insists on maintaining jurisdiction over its troops around the world. But, in what U.S. officials viewed as concession to the Iraqi government, they agreed in the draft accord to allow Iraqi courts to try soldiers who commit serious crimes while off-duty and outside their bases. The draft gives the United States responsibility for determining whether a soldier is off-duty.

Bradley S. Klapper's "Car bomb explodes in northern Iraq, killing 4" (AP) covers the issue of the assaults on Iraqi Christians noting that the estimated 10,000 Christians who have fled Mosul since the most recent outbreak of violence are not returning thus far (despite being offered the US equivalent of $865 to return) and that Amr Moussa, Arab League chief, issued a statement noting, "We can't remain silent as brutal crimes are being committed against the Christian Iraqis." Meghan Walsh's "100 join to highlight Iraqi Christians' plight" (Arizona Republic) notes a local demonstration in support of the victims:

About 100 people gathered in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday to advocate for the rights of Iraqi Christians and raise awareness about the religious and ethnic attacks occurring in the region.
Protesters stood in front of Phoenix City Hall, holding signs that read, "Silent genocide: Who will help the Christians of Iraq?" while speakers urged Americans to petition to their state officials to stand up for the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq.
One of the issues at the forefront of the protest concerned "Article 50," which was part of the Iraq Election Law in preliminary drafts but then eliminated. The article was designed to protect electoral rights in the parliament by reserving seats in a quota system for minorities. Protestors are appealing to the international community to demand the article's reinstatement to guarantee voting rights for Assyrian Christians and other religious groups.

Jennifer O'Neill's "Protesters Demonstrate To Raise Awareness Of Violence Against Iraq's Christians" (WBBM780) reports on Michighan's demonstration in Dearborn which had an estimated turnout of 1,000 and notes: "Steve Oshana is Policy Director of the Assyrian American National Coalition. He says the groups are asking Illinois congressmen for support on Assyrian proposals that are currently on the table in Washington D.C." And the Kurdish Globe's "Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani on his visit to Baghdad" notes:

After an eight-day visit to Baghdad, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani today returned to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.
On his arrival at Erbil International Airport, President Barzani held a press conference and talked about the outcome of the meetings he held with other Iraqi officials.
The President remarked, "We will not only protect and defend Kurds; we will also protect all the Iraqi people and the Iraqi constitution which Iraqis voted for," the President said. The President pressed this point, vociferously denying fringe allegations that the Kurds in Mosul are behind the attacks on Christians that have recently drove many from the city. President Barzani classified such ridiculous insinuation as baseless, extremely malacious, and a distraction from the real issue at hand: aiding the Christian families that have been forced to leave their homes out of fear for their personal safety.

In US presidential race news, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney will appear Wednesday October 22nd on NPR's Talk of the Nation and Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. That's today Cynthia's on Talk of the Nation. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Brent notes this from Team Nader:

Ralph's 50th State


Ralph's 50th State .

Ralph Nader today is campaigning in Idaho -- the 49th state he has campaigned in this year.

Tomorrow, Ralph will be in Montana -- fulfilling his pledge to you to campaign in all fifty states this year.

Let’s send Ralph a big thank you and drive home our second to last fundraising widget of the year.

Thanks to you, we’re halfway home.

Just hit $100,000.

Need to drive it to $200,000 by Friday night.

Here is what you can do to drive it home now.

Buy a Nader 08 Buffalo T-Shirt (men’s or women’s).

(Here’s Ralph with Obama Girl wearing her Nader Buffalo T-Shirt.)

We have only 600 left.

At the rate they are selling, they will be gone by Thursday night.

So, if you haven’t bought one yet, buy one now (men’s or women’s).

Thing you can do number two:

Donate $21 to help fund Ralph’s race across Massachusetts on Saturday.

As we mentioned earlier today, Ralph will be campaigning in 21 towns and cities across the Commonwealth in one day.

It’ll be one for the record books.

Donate now to help defray the costs of this historic campaign trip.

And remember, if you give $100 or more now, we'll ship to you our No More Bailouts Package. The package includes two books and a DVD: Gangster Capitalism by Michael Woodiwiss, The Cheating of America by Charles Lewis, Bill Allison and the Center for Public Integrity, and a DVD of our Wall Street rally. (This offer ends October 24, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.)

Let's get it done.

Onward to November

The Nader Team


And this is from Jeff Mapes' "Nader predicts 2-party system's end" (The Oregonian):

Nader is now focusing much of his campaign on attacking the $700 billion financial rescue package that he charged has benefited speculators on Wall Street but won't do much to put the country on solid footing.
"This is the final break of the Washington dam for any respect for the taxpayers' rights," Nader said. "In 1775 there were 13 colonies in America under King George III. Now there are 50 colonies under King George IV and it's the same awful message: taxation without representation."
Nader said he wants dramatic re-regulation of the financial markets and criminal prosecution of many Wall Street figures he charges cooked the books to show inflated profits. And he said he wants to "make the speculators pay for their crimes" by imposing a transaction tax on the sale of financial derivatives to raise money for helping stabilize the economy.
As he has in past campaigns, Nader said he didn't see much difference between the major-party candidates. Both, he said, support corporate interests and he was especially scathing of Obama.
Obama doesn't represent real change, Nader said. "This guy is the biggest con artist in our generation by far."

John McCain is the GOP presidential candidate. Becky notes this from the McCain-Palin campaign:

McCain-Palin 2008 Launches New Television Ad: "Sweat Equity"

ARLINGTON, VA -- Today, McCain-Palin 2008 released its latest television ad, entitled "Sweat Equity."

The ad highlights small business owners from across the country sharing in the same concerns that Joe the Plumber expressed last week that they cannot afford Barack Obama's tax increases seeking to redistribute the wealth by punishing small businesses for expanding and creating jobs. The ad will be televised in key states.


Script For "Sweat Equity" (TV :30)

BARACK OBAMA: I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody.

WOMAN: I'm Joe the plumber.

WOMAN: I'm Joe the plumber.

WOMAN: I'm Joe the plumber.

ANNCR: Spread the wealth?

MAN: I'm supposed to work harder...

MAN: Just to pay more taxes.

MAN: Obama wants my sweat to pay for his trillion dollars in new spending?

WOMAN: I'm Joe the plumber.

ANNCR: Barack Obama. Higher Taxes. More Spending. Not Ready.

JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.

AD FACTS: Script For "Sweat Equity" (TV :30)

BARACK OBAMA: I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody. WOMAN: I'm Joe the plumber. WOMAN: I'm Joe the plumber. WOMAN: I'm Joe the plumber. ANNCR: Spread the wealth? MAN: I'm supposed to work harder MAN: Just to pay more taxes.
  • Barack Obama: "I Think When You Spread The Wealth Around, It's Good For Everybody." JOE WURZELBACHER: "I'm a plumber. You know, I work, you know, 10, 12 hours a day. If I buy another truck and add something else to it, and you know, build the company..." OBAMA: "Right." WURZELBACHER: "... you know, I'm getting taxed more and more." OBAMA: "Nobody likes high taxes." WURZELBACHER: "No, not at all." OBAMA: "Right? Of course not. So -- but what's happened is, is that we end up -- we've cut taxes a lot for folks like me who make a lot more than $250,000. We haven't given a break to folks who make less. It's not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too. And everybody is so pinched that business is bad for everybody. And I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." (Barack Obama, Remarks, Toledo, OH, 10/12/08)
MAN: Obama wants my sweat to pay for his trillion dollars in new spending? WOMAN: I'm Joe the plumber. ANNCR: Barack Obama. Higher Taxes. More Spending. Not Ready. JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.
  • If Barack Obama Could Enact All Of His Campaign Proposals, Taxpayers Would Be Faced With Financing Over $1 Trillion In New Spending Over One White House Term. (Barack Obama's Spending Proposals:, Accessed 8/19/08)
  • PolitiFact Discredits Obama's Claim That His Proposals Are Paid For; Says His Rhetoric Is "Disingenuous." "Until he fleshes out his economic plan considerably more, it's disingenuous to go around claiming his proposals are 'paid for.' And that claim is even more suspect considering that his proposals would leave a larger deficit than would the tax laws currently on the books. We find his claim to be Barely True." ("'Paid For' Without Real Money," St. Petersburg Times' ",", 6/16/08)
  • The New York Times' David Brooks Said For Barack Obama To Fund His Domestic Programs, He Will Have To Break His Pledge Not To Tax The Middle Class. "Both [Obama and Clinton] promised to not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 or $250,000 a year. They both just emasculated their domestic programs. Returning the rich to their Clinton-era tax rates will yield, at best, $40 billion a year in revenue. It's impossible to fund a health care plan, let alone anything else, with that kind of money. The consequences are clear: if elected they will have to break their pledge, and thus destroy their credibility, or run a minimalist administration." (David Brooks, Op-Ed, "No Whining About The Media," The New York Times, 4/16/08)
  • Los Angeles Times: Barack Obama "Has Not Identified New Revenue Sources Or Spending Cuts To Pay For Some Of" His Proposals. "The Obama campaign responds that tax cuts, once enacted, are usually renewed and do not expire. Therefore, they say, Obama can legitimately claim to be recouping money for other purposes by scaling back the tax cuts. Obama has not identified new revenue sources or spending cuts to pay for some of what he wants to do." (Peter Nicholas, "Adding Up The Cost Of Obama's Agenda," Los Angeles Times, 7/8/08)
  • ABC News: Barack Obama Can Not "Pay For Every Dime" Of New Spending He Has Proposed. "Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said during Friday's presidential debate that he would 'pay for every dime' of his spending. But according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, 'without substantial cuts in government spending' Obama's plan -- and McCain's, too --'would substantially increase the national debt over the next ten years.' The Tax Policy Center has estimated that Obama's proposed tax policies would increase the debt by $3.5 trillion over ten years." ("Fact Check: 'Pay for Every Dime'? Not Quite," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog,, Posted 9/26/08)
  • Barack Obama: "I Do Not Make A Promise That We Can Reduce [The Budget Deficit] By 2013." "'I do not make a promise that we can reduce it by 2013 because I think it is important for us to make some critical investments right now in America's families,' Obama told reporters this week when asked if he'd match McCain's pledge." (Nedra Pickler, "Analysis: Obama Won't Try For McCain's Budget Goal," The Associated Press, 7/8/08)
  • Chicago Tribune: Barack Obama Has "No Interest In Eliminating Deficit Spending." "Since winning the nomination, Obama reportedly has been moving toward the middle of the political spectrum. But on the budget, he still sounds left of center, with no interest in eliminating deficit spending." (Editorial, "Failure Of Nerve," Chicago Tribune, 7/8/08)

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