Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sometimes you just have to laugh

For instance, when you read the opening sentence of Karen DeYoung's "Congress Moves to Set Terms for Pakistan Aid" (Washington Post): "Just as it did with Iraq, Congress is moving toward imposing benchmarks that the Pakistani government must meet to qualify for billions of dollars of U.S. military assistance." What benchmarks did Congress ever enforce?

Not a damn one.

If they had, no funds would have gone to Iraq. This is the White House benchmarks from 2007 that DeYoung's referring to. They were not achieved in 2007 or 2008 and have, thus far, still not been achieved in 2009. Yet the money continues to pour into Iraq.


There's really no point in them if you impose them and then forget them. (And for easy graders who want to insist "Provincial elections!" -- only 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces held them so far. They were all supposed to hold them and Kirkuk was supposed to participate.)

The do-nothing Congress . . . did nothing. Over and over. Iraq disregarded the benchmarks and still got money. It disregards (present tense) the benchmarks and still gets money. It gets away with refusing, four months after ejecting their Speaker of Parliament, having anyone in charge and still they get money.

There is no accountability.

If you want to laugh some more, this time at 'reporting,' read this garbage by Kevin Sullivan (Washington Post) and, for reality, check out Laura King (Los Angeles Times). Reality goes beyond the fact that the ad Kev's all ga-ga on, the Turkish ad featuring a lookalike of Barack, actually mocks the US. Turns out the 'Barack' says of a Turkish bank (so reliable) , "If only our banks were like this one." Whore a little and they throw you in jail, whore a lot and they make you king as Bob Dylan might sing it. From King's article:

Obama's planned visit to Turkey beginning Sunday night, his first as president to a predominantly Muslim country, is being greeted with eagerness and excitement here -- but also with a trademark dose of prickly nationalism.
The stopover is viewed with pride as an affirmation of Turkey's importance as a bridge between East and West, a moderate and strategically positioned NATO ally with the ability to mediate with hard-line Muslim governments. For a partnership bruised by the perceived highhandedness of the Bush administration, particularly during the run-up to the Iraq war, the visit is also seen as a much-needed balm.
"Maybe Turkey needs the U.S., but no one should forget for a moment that the U.S. definitely needs us too," said Emrah Goksu, a 24-year-old student watching the crowds go by in Istanbul's Taksim Square.

If you want to see a populous nation turned into a group of extras who exist as a backdrop for the US, read Kevin's bad article.

The New York Times has nothing in the international news section on Iraq. We could go to town on what they want to call 'news' in the international section but that works into something Mike and I were already setting aside for Third.

ADDED: C.I. note: Correction, Rod Nordland "Ex-Blackwater Workers May Return to Iraq Jobs" ran on A4, it was under Gigantor's ugly photo. Elaine addressed the article Friday night. My apologies.

Wisam Mohammed and Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) report that gays are being targeted in Baghdad, with four corpses discovered March 25th and 2 gay men were murdered Thursday "after clerics urged a crackdown".

Yesterday's snapshot included this:

Let's drop back to the US Defense Dept report [PDF format warning] entitled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq March 2009" which we were discussing yesterday. The report went out of the way to lavish the provincial elections held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces on January 31st. You had to go deep to find out 'irritating' facts such as only 51% of Iraqis voted (many -- largely Shia -- have lost faith in the process as a result of the ones elected in 2005 having done little; Sunnis boycotted the 2005 elections and had they done the same this year, the percentage would have been even lower). Deep in, it did note that "no party won the majority of votes in any province. As a result, most of the 14 prvoinces where elections were held will face a period of complex coalition-building before they can form governments."

You need to remember that, that there was no majority and that DoD said a "complex coalition-building" effort will take place. With that in mind, Anthony Shadid's "In Iraq, Political Ambiguity" (Washington Post):

One belonged to Karim Hussein, known as Abu Maarouf, who holds sway in the outskirts of Baghdad, the kind of place where a skittish soldier can be seen carrying an assault rifle in each hand. The Shiite-led government, he said, is out to destroy the Awakening, the name for Sunni fighters and former insurgents who joined hands with the U.S. military. "Not only the government, but the American forces, too," he declared.
The other view belonged to Ahmed Abu Risha, brother of the slain founder of the Awakening. That same government, he said, was absolutely right to crack down on the fighters in Baghdad and arrest their leader. "No one is above the law," Abu Risha said.
Politics in Iraq have long been facilely described as a competition among Sunni Arab, Shiite Arab and Kurd. Divisions have long beset each community. But as Hussein and Abu Risha's views suggest, at no time since the fall of President Saddam Hussein six years ago have politics been so fluid and old assumptions so discredited, with traditional alliances crumbling and new ones emerging in the wake of January's provincial elections. Iraq's politicians are trying to forge the grand coalition that can deliver victory in national elections by January.

For some strange reasons, Shadid also includes the following -- and does so as a rah-rah: "In a visit unimaginable a year ago, Iraq's Sunni vice president visited a hospital this week in the Sadr City section of Baghdad that is the stronghold of Sadr's militia." Golly, Tone, does the man have a name? Why, yes, he does, Tariq al-Hashimi -- a detail left out of the report. Now when the US press regularly ignores candidates who actually ran in the provincial elections to focus on al-Maliki, that's bad. When a vice president of Iraq is mentioned without being named, we're into some troubling xenophobia. But, more to the point, want to rah-rah, Tone? To do so, you have to leave out those prickly little things the rest of us call facts, right?

Right. Yes, Tarqi al-Hashimi visited Sadr City, a hospital there, last week. Wednesday in fact. And, if you can put down the pom-poms, Tone, how about telling us what happened during that visit? Oh, right, an attempt on al-Hashimi's life via a rocket attack. Guess that doesn't make for the ez-breezy Cover Girl type concealer, eh?

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