Thursday, February 26, 2009

MP on the run

Marc Santora covers the missing Iraqi MP in "Lawmaker Leaving Iraq Is Detained, Then Freed" (New York Times) and Tina Susman and Raheem Salman cover him in "Manhunt targets Iraq lawmaker whose plane was turned back" (Los Angeles Times). "He" is Mohammad al-Daini who has been publicly accused by al-Maliki's government of various crimes in what can only be an attempt to try him outside a court of law. For the record, law enforcement does not play confessions when announcing suspects. Evidence is introduced in a court of law. Proving how for-show the whole thing is, Santora notes al-Daini was under 'surveillance' and his departure to Jordan could hardly have been unknown. But it wasn't until he was in Jordanian air space that the order came to "turn this crazy bird around, shouldn't have gotten on this flight tonight" ("This Flight Tonight," Joni Mitchell, first appears on Blue). His flight then returned to Iraq and he is now 'missing.' Susman and Salman pick up there noting that there was no arrest of him nor was he taken into custody or detained when deboarding in Iraq. His own security detail greeted him and escorted him from the airport. Now a 'manhunt' is ongoing. (See Rebecca from last night on that and use the link she provides.)

Santora notes:

Not only could the case worsen sectarian tensions, it could stall cooperation between Shiite and Sunni politicians and lead to charges and countercharges against other sitting lawmakers. Already, Mr. Daini's defenders were calling for investigations into leading Shiite members of the government who they claimed were involved in sectarian violence.

Susman and Salman add:

Daini had been associated with Iraq's major Sunni political parties but lately had become an independent in the 275-member body. Ahmed Alwani, a fellow Sunni lawmaker, criticized the way Daini's immunity was lifted and complained that it was not on the agenda and was rushed through. Alwani called it a constitutional violation to order the jet turned around before Daini's immunity was formally lifted.
"I am not defending Daini, but we want the constitution to be applied," said Alwani, adding that there were politicians of various stripes with shady pasts. "We want the law to be applied to all."

Santora notes the dispute over whether or not lifting of immunity can be done with a simple majority or whether it requires a two-thirds majority, as some members of Parliament maintain (al-Daini's was lifted with a simple majority). To the tune of Paul McCartney and Wings' "Band on the Run" . . .

Well, the plain flipped around with a sudden turn as we headed into the sun,
And as we landed the security detail said "I hope you're having fun."
MP on the run, MP on the run
And the Jailer Man and Sailor Sam were searching every one
For the MP on the run, MP on the run, MP on the run, MP on the run

Making the front page of the New York Times is Campbell Robertson and James Glanz' "Falling Revenues Threaten Rebuilding and Stability in Iraq" -- which is actually the weakest of the three articles (yes, the paper has three news articles on Iraq today). Why is it weak? This is Glanz' beat and no reporter -- at any other outlet -- has covered it better or longer than he has. But this article just doesn't make it. Tempting to blame Campbell but most likely the scope is too big. The basics, Iraq has to come up with a 2009 budget. Oil prices falling means a 'shortfall.' Alarmist noises are being made about how the people will have to do without.

Do without?

What do they have?

What are they doing without?

Yes, the reporters mention the lack of potable water -- but you really need to do more than mention that lack. You might try noting that this fall, again, we will see a cholera outbreak in Iraq. You might try noting that there is a measles outbreak currently in Iraq. The people of Iraq have not been served by the puppet government and the article fails by reducing Congressional hearings (plural) to a brief summary and ignoring all of the many reports from the Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction's office.

Instead of getting anything fact-based, we've got an article that wanders from here to there and back again and never really says much of anything.

There is a long history of reports on why the reconstruction failed and never took place. Crazies like Patrick Cockburn ignore that public record, but the New York Times -- with their long history of bowing to official-dom -- is the last one you expect to blow it off.

Laughable statements such as "Wages now take up about 35 percent of the budget" only further go to the problems. Do the reporters expect us to believe billions are being spent on wages? Billions are not being spent on wages. However, every weapon purchase from US industries has to be announced and approved and wages would have to be in the billions to meet what's spent yearly by the puppet government on weapons.

The only strong point is noting that life in the provinces doesn't necessarily have to be worse due to the fact that provincial leaders have tended to sit on yearly budgets over and over. (In that, they mirror al-Maliki.)

Reminder Samid Ali does a round up of regional news at Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life blog each day.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry announces:

25 February, 2009

Foreign Minister Receives Japanese Ambassador

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met in his office on 25/2/2009 Mr. Shoji Ogawa, Japanese ambassador in Baghdad.

During the meeting they spoke about the latest developments on the political position of Iraq and discussed ways of cooperation in all areas and how to encourage Japanese investment in Iraq. The Minister welcomed the presence of Japanese companies to participate in Iraq's reconstruction and develop relations between the two countries at all levels including political and social levels.

Mr. Ogawa stated that official delegations and Japanese companies will visit Iraq soon to develop cooperation between the two countries, the two sides also discussed the opening of the Japanese office of the international aid (JICA) in Erbil to facilitate the process of support, and discussed the participation of Japanese companies in the oil and energy sectors and the Japanese economic delegation visit to Iraq soon. An invitation by the Ambassador was made to Foreign Minister Zebari to visit Japan; the Minister accepted and specified a suitable date during the coming period.

In other news, Barbara Lee makes an idiot out of herself here -- and we thought 2008 was the lowest she could go. It's never a good idea to give away everything before you go into a meeting with someone from an opposing branch of government. She disgraces herself and calls into question every principle she ever espoused. The member of the House who voted against the Afghanistan War once wrote:

We must respond, but the character of that response will determine for us and for our children the world that they will inherit. I do not dispute the president's intent to rid the world of terrorism -- but we have many means to reach that goal, and measures that spawn further acts of terror or that do not address the sources of hatred do not increase our security.

Now, because she drank Barack's Kool-Aid long ago, she cries (as George W. once did), "Bring it on!" She should be ashamed of herself and considering how she allowed her "Barack duties" to interfere with her Out Of Iraq duties, she might need to step her ass down from that caucus. I've bit my tongue hoping she'd pull her act together. I'm done biting my tongue. As Kat pointed out long ago, Barbara Lee makes a great show out of appearing to do something; however, Lee never does a damn thing.

She's assisted in that planned weakness by a lot of faux progressives who give her credit for doing nothing. Ask anyone who attends the hearings, she breezes in for her media attention and then rushes right out. It doesn't even matter to her if her 'questions' (speeches) are answered (replied to). And the backdoor deals she made with leadership in late 2007 are going to bite her in the ass.

Related, Andrew Malcolm (Los Angeles Times' Top of the Ticket) seems surprised by this:

However, Obama still lags the audience-drawing power of one President Bill Clinton. Sixteen years ago this week, when there were millions fewer Americans, Big Bill drew nearly 15 million more viewers -- 66.9 million for his first congressional speech in 44.2 million homes for a 44.3 rating.

Because Bill actually excited people and wasn't a media creation. Bill also attempted to do things for the people in the brief time he had a Democratically controlled Congress. A fact forgotten by the losers who pile on. Barack may not have a Democratically controlled Congress after 2010 (he may). If he doesn't, his record will not compare favorably to Clinton's -- not in what he pushed through and certainly not in what attempted. Bill could also speak in a non-robatic, strip-the-gears manner.

Kristoffer Walker is the 28-year-old Iraq War veteran who announced he would not return to Iraq. Green Bay Post-Gazette reports, "Army Spc. Kristoffer Walker is trying to hire an attorney with experience dealing with the military in the wake of his decision not to return to his unit in Iraq." The Spectator (right-wing student newspaper) has an editorial arguing he should go back. We disagree with that editorial but, to its credit, it has a factual basis. It's a real shame that a student newspaper is more concerned with the facts than the editorial boards of the Green Bay Post-Gazette or the Journal-Times. Again, we disagree with the editorial and the conclusions it draws but it doesn't pass spin off as 'fact.'

We'll close with an excerpt from Glen Ford's "A Challenge to ‘Radical' and ‘Pan-Africanist' Obamites" (Black Agenda Report):

An "Open Letter to the People of Zimbabwe," widely circulated on the Internet in February, demands "the U.S., British and other imperialist governments" end economic sanctions against that nation and otherwise keep their "hands off Zimbabwe!" Although honest progressives may differ on the political character of Robert Mugabe's regime - now joined in a power-sharing relationship with the opposition, whose leader's allegiances are likewise subject to dispute - there can be no equivocation about the Zimbabwean people's "right to self-determination and sovereignty without any imperialist interference."
Washington's blatant and longstanding campaign for regime-change must be denounced and resisted in all its manifestations - no ifs, ands or buts. The economic sanctions are, as the letter describes them, "collective punishment of the Zimbabwean people." The signers correctly and "unequivocally denounce these sanctions as war crimes and the officials who initiated them as war criminals."
Well said - but there's a great disconnect between the words and some of the names listed as endorsing the letter. A number of the signers are full-throated, religious-like followers of Barack Obama, one of the "war criminals" that has supported and, as president, extended U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe.
These unabashed Obamites, several of whom I debated at a large forum in Harlem, in December, make a great noise about "imperialists" in general while pledging undying "solidarity" in the struggle against such "criminals," yet in their daily practice labor mightily to absolve President Obama of culpability for his crimes. It requires rivers of obfuscation and oceans of purposeful omission to separate the Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States from the crimes planned and carried out in his office. The perpetrators of this bizarre fantasy - that the "imperialists" are out to get Mugabe, but Obama isn't one of them - deepen confusion among the public, especially African Americans, and make a mockery of true solidarity. In the light of ever-unfolding events, they make themselves and progressive politics appear ridiculous, as they tip-toe around the mountainous facts of Barack Obama's actual presidency - not the wishful one they have invented.

Lastly, Melena Ryzik (New York Times) reports on a memorial service for Odetta Tuesday night at the Riverside Church with Harry Belafonte, Maya Angelou, Steve Earle, Rattlesnake Annie and others in attendance:

Mr. Belafonte gave perhaps the most stirring speech. "The paper would not yield," he said of his effort to write down his remarks. "The ink blurred, because the space left by Odetta could not be easily verbalized."

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marc santora