Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The treaty revisions

Among other things, the amendments would give Iraqi authorities the right to determine whether a U.S. service member was on- or off-duty when he or she committed an alleged crime outside American bases, where such an American would be tried. It also would allow authorities to inspect all U.S. cargo entering the nation.
Iraqi politicians see the changes as a way to preserve Iraqi sovereignty.
The amendments were made to "preserve the basic principles and the sovereignty of Iraq and its supreme interests," said government spokesman Ali al Dabbagh in a statement. The government, Dabbagh said in an interview on an Arabic satellite news station, has no "third option."
U.S. officials have described the original draft agreement, which would replace the United Nations mandate for U.S. military operations in Iraq, as "final," and the Iraqi amendments are likely to push negotiations between Iraq and the U.S. to an impasse.
In Washington Tuesday, senior U.S. military officials said that while they were unaware of the proposed changes, the Pentagon very likely would reject them.

The above is from Leila Fadel's "Iraq revises draft troop deal; U.S. likely to reject changes" (McClatchy Newspapers) on the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. If something is not in place by January 1st or US forces will have to withdraw. There is the treaty that the White House wants and there is the UN mandate (there has also been talk of an oral agreement between al-Maliki and the Bully Boy but no one took that seriously). Mary Beth Sheridan and Karen DeYoung's "Iraq Seeks Changes to Security Pact" (Washington Post) covers many aspects including an abridged summary/background on the UN mandate but we'll zoom in on the White House:

Bush administration officials have said repeatedly that the current text of the document, concluded just weeks ago after nearly eight months of difficult negotiations, reflects the limit of U.S. concessions. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that the administration had not yet examined the new Iraqi proposals but that the bar for changes was "very high."
"We think that the door is pretty much shut on these negotiations," Perino said. The bilateral agreement would replace a U.N. mandate that expires at the end of this year. Failure to conclude the deal by then would put the next U.S. administration in charge of further negotiations with Iraq.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the State Dept also weighed in Tuesday via Robert Wood's press briefing. Wood repeatedly refused to comment on press reports and insisted that "formal notification" would be needed before he could comment on amendments to the treaty (he also stated "formal notification" would be needed before he could comment on Syria closing down a US school and cultural center and pretty much the same regarding the Mexican drug cartel monitoring DEA operations). It was so bad that Wood was even asked, "Is it now the line from the State Department that you will not comment on anything until after you’ve gotten formal notification of it?"

While the US attempts to push through a treaty, China's Xinhua reports Won Tae-jae, Defense Minister of South Korea, declared earlier today that all his countries troops would be leaving Iraq "by Dec. 20 this year." And especially pay attention to this: "Part of the South Korean troop's equipment will be donated to Iraqi forces and the rest will be shipped back to the country via a cargo ship by early next year, he said." Which the US could easily do as well and, as was proved to the world with Georgia's hasty exist when tensions flared between its country and Russia, US troops could be out of Iraq in the first 100 days of the next US administration.

Damien McElroy's "Iraqi military will be crippled without new security deal, warns general" (Telegraph of London) reviews some of the strong-arming, blackmail tactics the White House is using and also notes:

Behind the scenes angry confrontations have taken place over Baghdad's backtracking on the deal. All three Iraqi military services – army, navy and air force – remain crucially dependent US training and support.
Without an agreement America would cut off $6.3 billion (£4 billion) in bilateral aid and halt $10 billion (£6.4 billion) of military sales.
Washington cast doubt over intelligence sharing, the employment contracts of 200,000 Iraqis and the servicing of military vehicles.
Failure to adopt a Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) with America – and Britain – by the end of the year would mean the foreign troop presence in Iraq constituted an illegal occupation under international law. John Hutton, the Defence Secretary, launched British negotiations on a recent visit to Iraq.
An extension of the UN mandate set up after the 2003 invasion is now likely but that route has been jeopardised by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's calls for an amended right to prosecute coalition members accused of breaking the law. America has said it would veto a resolution containing that provision at the United Nations Security Council.

And Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes that the changes sought by Baghdad include killing the clause that allows Iraqis to ask the US to remain in their country past 2011.

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Marci notes this from Team Nader:

Nader Radio Ads Hit the Airwaves


Nader Radio Ads Hit the Airwaves .

Today is a big day for Nader/Gonzalez.

Thanks to you, beginning today — our radio ads will air in 22 markets in 12 states.

Click here to listen to the 30 second version and 60 second version of the radio ads.

Today through election day — the ads will run six times a day on radio stations in the following areas:

  • Upstate New York
  • Northern California
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Connecticut
  • Oregon
  • Florida
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia

Please forward these radio ads to your address book, friends and family.

Also, we’d like to move these ads into as many markets as possible.

We can make it happen.

But we’d need to raise a boatload of money.

And soon.

So, if you haven’t given yet, please donate whatever you can to Nader/Gonzalez today.

Our goal is to hit $4 million by election day.

We’re about $190,000 away.

So, let’s crank it up.

And help drive our last widget upward to the finish line.

Onward to November.

The Nader Team

PS: Remember, if you donate $100 or more, we will ship to you the hard cover 40th Anniversary edition of Unsafe at Any Speed — Ralph’s historic expose of the American automobile industry — autographed by the man himself. It was the book that launched the American consumer movement and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. This autographed edition is bound to become a rare collector’s item after the election. So, get it now. Only a limited number left. (This book offer ends November 4, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.)


And Staci notes this from Team Nader:

From the Road


From the Road .

For the last three weeks, I have been traveling around the country talking to college students about Ralph Nader and the state of our democracy.

As far as I can tell, there are two main camps of college students: the disillusioned and the illusioned. The disillusioned students have had too much of George W. Bush to try anymore. They know how bad things are and they listen to Nader’s solutions patiently, but in the end they want me to risk-proof reform, show them that it is inevitable and will require nothing from them. If not, they are not interested. Their classic cop-out is a compliment: "I admire your idealism. We need more people like you.”

I tell them I don’t want their admiration. I want their effort. I agree that we need more idealists, and that they could start by adding their names to the list. These disillusioned students are responsible for their self-fulfilling prophecies; they are sure nothing will change and—surprise—nothing does. They take comfort in the fact that a cynic is always right.

The second group of students is illusioned. At first this sounds better than the alternative, but in fact it is much more dangerous. These students have seen eight years of Bush, concluded something was wrong, and decided Barack Obama was the solution to all ills. They have not experienced a ‘hope and change’ campaign before, and they don’t want to know how those words panned out in previous elections. They are the victims of branding campaigns that have co-opted their powerful idealism, cored out the substance, and replaced it with aesthetic rebellion.

Ironically, it was at the most liberal campuses—places like Eugene, Oregon—where I had the hardest time getting a crowd. On the streets, kids were busy modeling the appropriate hippie chic, but the spirit of the sixties had gone underground. The whole thing recalls how corporations marketed the punk image to pad the bank accounts of the very establishments punk had been fighting. In the end, punk was largely assimilated by an industry that used the anger aesthetic as a front for more of the same.

The Obama campaign has waged another bloodless brand revolution, getting college students to happily give up their real power in exchange for the image of it. College campuses, for all our accolades, are not nearly the bastions of progressivism for which we give them credit. Instead, they are largely haunted by the illusioned, who do their own part in creating the reality they are criticizing.

Luckily, there is a third camp of college students. These are the realist-idealists. They are realists because they understand the gravity of the situation: they know that America failed us before Bush and that it will fail us again unless we reclaim it. They know that the reality of human suffering is not changed by pretty words and slick strategies. And they know that it is much more realistic to fight for what they want than to accept something they don’t—that a hope not based in fact is not hope but complacency.

They are idealists because they haven’t been convinced that the personal is not the political. They believe that the ethics governing their personal interactions should be the ethics governing our public interactions. They are idealists because they understand how hard they will have to work and how much they will have to risk to get their country back. But mostly they are idealists because they don’t just want the politics of justice and restraint. They want the politics of mercy and joy. They do not accept the technocratic dialogue of bureaucracy. They want the rhetorical revolution of a robust democracy, where we talk about why things really happened and how we might have been responsible. They are idealists because they are sick of an American myth that allows for violence, hubris, and hypocrisy. They are realists because they want the American real.

These students are familiar with Decoy Democracy. They know that press has been traded for publicity, that politics has been replaced by punditry, and that the media is in the business of reality creation instead of news reporting. They know that voting and debates don’t make a democracy. They know when politicians use piecemeal reforms to distract them from politics as usual, and they know that solidarity with an invented demographic is not as important as solidarity with workers, reformers, and the poor.

I know because we’ve talked about all these things, and I know it because these students are rising up. They will be here after the election, and the one after, and the one after, howling in the streets. So enough of illusions and disillusions, branding and myths. Here’s to realist-idealists for the American real.


Ashley Sanders
The Nader Team


John McCain is the Republican presidential candidate, Sarah Palin is his running mate and Becky notes this from McCain - Palin '08:

JUST WORDS: Obama's Four Tax Plans In Four Days

ARLINGTON, VA -- Today, the Obama-Biden campaign has outlined their fourth tax plan in just four days. Now they are saying that those making between $150,000 and $250,000 would not see their taxes increase or receive a tax cut. Under that formulation, is Barack Obama still giving a tax cut to 95% of American people? Has Barack Obama been giving the American people straight talk on the campaign trail when he says if they make less than $250,000 a year they would receive a tax cut? Check out below Barack Obama's ever-changing tax plans:

DEFINITION #1: The Obama-Biden Campaign Says Families Making $250,000 A Year Or Less Would See A Tax Cut

In July 2008, Barack Obama Said: "If You Make $250,000 A Year Or Less, We Will Not Raise Your Taxes. We Will Cut Your Taxes." (Barack Obama, Remarks, Powder Springs, GA, 7/8/08)

In August 2008, Obama Economic Policy Adviser Jason Furman Said That Barack Obama "Would Cut Taxes For Almost All Of The Families Making Less Than [$250,000]." FURMAN: "Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the op-ed today makes a very important point that, while Barack Obama would not raise taxes for any family making below $250,000 -- in fact, it would cut taxes for almost all of the families making less than that -- Senator McCain cannot make a similar promise for his tax plan because, for the first time in history, he would make families pay taxes on the health insurance that they get from their employers." (Obama For American, Press Conference Call, 8/14/08)

In October 2008, Governor Ted Strickland (D-OH) Delivered The Democrat Radio Response Saying That Those Making Less Than $250,000 Would See Lower Taxes. "He'll restore the middle class by cutting taxes for small businesses, and for 95 percent of workers and their families, including 5.7 million in Ohio. If you make less than $250,000, you won't see your taxes go up one single dime. In fact, your tax rates will be lower than they were under Ronald Reagan." (Governor Ted Strickland, Democratic Radio Response, 10/4/08)

DEFINITION #2: On Saturday, The Obama-Biden Campaign Releases A New Ad Bringing The Threshold Down To $200,000 From $250,000

In New Obama Ad -- "Defining Moment" -- The Threshold For The Obama Tax Plan For Families Seeing A Tax Cut Is Lowered From $250,000 To $200,000. OBAMA AD: "The Obama Plan: Families Making Less Than $200,000 Get Tax Cut." (Obama Ad, "Defining Moment," 10/25/08)

Barack Obama: "If You Have A Job, Pay Taxes And Make Less Than Two Hundred Thousand Dollars-A-Year, You'll Get A Tax Cut." (Obama Ad, "Defining Moment," 10/25/08)

DEFINITION #3: Yesterday, In An Interview With A Scranton, PA, News Station, Joe Biden Said That Only Families Making Under $150,000 Would Get A Tax Cut

Joe Biden: "Spreading the wealth was not--he was talking about is all of the tax breaks have gone to the very, very wealthy. For example you have right now, this year, under the old tax policy that was just that was put in by George Bush, people making an average 1.4 million a year, good people, decent people, patriotic they're going to get an $87 billion tax break. What we're saying is that $87 billion tax break doesn't need to go to people making an average of 1.4 million, it should go like it used to. It should go to middle class people -- people making under $150,000 a year." (Joe Biden, Interview With WNEP Scranton, 10/27/08)

· Watch it here:

DEFINITION #4: Today, Contrary To What Barack Obama Is Telling The American People On The Campaign Trail, The Obama-Biden Campaign Said Those Making Between $150,000 And $250,000 Would Not A See A Tax Increase Or Tax Cut

Today, Obama-Biden Campaign Aides Said That Those Making Between $150,000 And $250,000 Will Actually Not See A Tax Increase Or A Tax Cut. "Biden aides say his comments were actually consistent with Obama's tax plan -- people under $150,000 get a cut, and people making up to $250,000 stay the same." (Mark Murray and Mike Memoli, "$150,000 Vs. $250,000," MSNBC's "First Read" Blog,, Posted 10/28/08)

Vernon notes this posted by Matt Lira to the McCain - Palin blog:

New Web Video: Time to Rally

As John McCain and Governor Palin travel the country, one thing is abundantly clear - people are excited about this team of mavericks. Be sure to visit your state page here on to find out how you can volunteer and attend events in your area.

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