Thursday, December 25, 2008

al-Mashhadani speaks

Inside today's New York Times, Riyadh Mohammed and Timothy Williams offer "Iraq Parliament's Ex-Speaker Blames Infighting for Ouster" which is about a press conference the now former Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani gave yesterday. Among other things he announced his bloc (National Dialogue Council) would withdraw from the the Iraq Consensus Front and that his resignation was imposed upon him "as part of a plot by several parliamentary blocs to depose Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's Shiite-led government." The paper speaks with him after the press conference and he tells them, "They are hoping that after my resignation, it will be easier for them to dismiss Maliki."

The reporters then offer an al-Maliki spokesperson saying otherwise. And that's supposed to cover it.

That's supposed to cover it?

The rumors that this would take place -- al-Mashhadani stepping down and a Parliamentary push of some sort to weaken or uninstall al-Maliki -- have been flying around since last week and members of the US State Dept do take it seriously. Since it has been a pressing issue, one worth discussion and pondering to them, you'd think the reporters might be able to find or or two who could speak off the record.

It's really important with regards to this story because otherwise is is just another lunatic claim from al-Mashhadani. Is al-Mashhadani a lunatic? I don't know the man. But the New York Times has spent the last two years attempting to portray him as such. So with nothing but "Mashhadani says . . . but al-Maliki's spokesperson says . . ."? Most readers of the paper who trust it (a decreasing number on both categories) will assume, "Oh, it's that crazy man piping off again! Honey, remember when he was boo-hooing and hiding at his father's? He was about to be kicked out of Parliament so he went into hiding -- a grown man -- at his daddy's!!!! Oh, what a loser." That is the portrait the paper has painted. (And, no, al-Mashhadani was not hiding at his father's in the summer of 2006 while Parliament was on breat. Despite the paper's reporting, he was on a diplomatic mission to Jordan.)

At Babylon & Beyond (LAT's blog), Kimi Yoshino offers:

Mashadani, meanwhile, vowed to return to parliament in nine months, saying that the Iraqi people would choose the "real leader." The temperamental speaker has become known for his outbursts, which include slapping another lawmaker and cursing during parliament sessions.
In his parting news conference Wednesday, Mashadani praised his colleagues for building "a respectable Democratic parliament which surprised the whole world" and at the same time harshly criticized members who own five houses but live at a hotel inside the heavily guarded International Zone.
"How many hospitals and schools could be built in Iraq using this money?" Mashadani said. "There must be a genuine parliament reform."

And Ernesto Lonondo reports the latest on the US Forward Operating Base Callahan in "U.S. Prepares To Hand Over Baghdad Base" (Washington Post):

On Christmas Eve, the few soldiers still there spent the day packing, emptying rooms and carting out boxes. Bulletin boards are bare. The dumbbells and workout equipment have been schlepped away.
Less than a week before the new year, which will usher in a largely undefined era for U.S. troops in Iraq, the military is preparing to hand over Callahan to the Iraqi government. It will be the first major base in Baghdad to be returned. The government has demanded that U.S. combat troops pull out of Iraqi cities by next summer.
The U.S. military plans to shut down by then five of the 13 large bases it operates in the capital, as well as the 15 combat outposts there that are occupied solely by U.S. troops.

Today is Christmas for those celebrating and consider this an 'under the online tree' bonus. Margo Howard and Roger Ebert wrote a hilarious (and true) piece for wowOwow entitled "Margo Howard and Roger Ebert Say to Erica Jong: Take a Vow of Silence, You're no Norman Mailer." It ran October 31st and was one of those things that I would have liked to have included but there was never time. Prepare to laugh and enjoy the craziness of Jong and others. It's probably better to be linked to now to really get the hysteria. Disclosure, I've never liked Erica Jong. Julia Phillips was far too nice to Jong in that book. On a personal level, I've always felt Jong needed to bathe before attending public events -- she can do whatever she wants to on her own time, in her own world, but no one needs to be stuck seated down wind of her in public -- or that was the case in the seventies when she was a momentary and minor media celeb. Erica Jong's one of those 'women libbers' -- as opposed to feminists -- whose heart always belongs to her choice of Daddy. Which is why Anais Nin could have -- and did -- bust her ass to get breaks for the supremely untalanted Jong and Stinky rewards that by . . . writing a book about Henry Miller. It's apparently too much to expect that an allegedly pro-woman female writer actually write about a female artist. So I greatly enjoyed the piece and laughed at all the named nutsos. And here's a helpful hint for the holidays, when you have to go to a doctor for drugs because you're so caught up in the election, you really need to consider Betty Ford. Had it been leaked that any of the candidates were on drugs due to election nerves, they would have been laughed out of the race. The same should be true of their supporters. Again, use the link, enjoy. Oh, and any drive-by that wants to defend Naomi Wolf with, "Well actually the truth is . . ." Naomi Wolf gave up her right to truth when she lied repeatedly during the election. She's publicly humiliated herself and that will only become more clear as that endorsement of Barack (posted everywhere online) haunts her throughout the next four years. It was a nice little fantasy for Naomi, too bad it wasn't based in reality but maybe it got her off one lonely night?

(Yes, we are full of holiday cheer here.)

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