Monday, March 15, 2010

'They know the channels ... had their favorite candidates as did the newspapers'

Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports that Nouri al-Maliki is busy attempting to form power-sharing coalitions. She leaves out the fact that were it not for the media presenting him as a 'winner' (when results are still unknown), he wouldn't be able to do that. She leaves out the part where the Western press goes from observers to participants. On this week's Listening Post (Al Jazeera), Richard Gizbert observed, "As they scan their new media landscape, Iraqis are under no illusions about what they see. They know the channels covering the elections had their favorite candidates as did the newspapers." And presumably all Iraqis following the Western media were clearly attuned to the fact that the elections was being thrown to Nouri. As the Western media has rushed to portray him as the 'winner' (as early as last Monday for NPR -- before even any tally -- partial or otherwise -- was released), the message was sent to Iraqis that the US government wants Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister. Is that true? It doesn't matter. It's the message. In Iraq, the political parties control the media. As they watch Western media and see it mimic their own (as opposed to doing what reporters should have done which was to have covered other stories and not engaged in the horse race and gas baggery), they will conclude that the US media represents that country's government.

And look who shows up this morning to tell us that only 20% of the votes have been counted: Quil Lawrence on NPR's Morning Edition. But with only 20% of the votes counted, NPR still wants to insist that Nouri is in the lead. With 20% of the votes counted. And they want to be considered journalists. And Ron Elving wants to brag on air about the 'brilliant' job they do in Iraq. Keep kidding yourselves.

NBC's Richard Engel was back in Iraq for the elections. Last week, he blogged at MSNBC:

None of the guests at the villa thought Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would win enough votes to form a new government on his own. Everyone agreed that he will have to join his main rivals in a coalition. But how? When? Who's in? Who’s out? How will it play out? No one knew, but everyone was happy to speculate.
After four hours, I was stuffed -- and twitching from so much coffee -- and utterly confused. One thing, however, was clear: it will take weeks, or more likely months, to put together a new government.

For those suffering MSM damage and thinking that voters are electing a prime minister, read further in Engel's post where he walks through the process. He may need to do that for several reporters in the US. Alsumaria TV notes the European Union's delegation from parliament is led by Struan Stevenson who states that they will present evidence of "widespread fraud" in the Iraqi elections. Marc Santora and Stephen Farrell (New York Times' At War blog) share photos of ballot counting and video of Santora inside while ballots are counted. Jill Lawrence (Politics Daily) offers her reaction to the elections:

My eyes didn't get all dewy when Iraqis held their parliamentary elections. Others were moved by inspirational scenes, thrilled that we had bestowed the gift of democracy on a nation that seems, at last, to be taking to it. I found myself trying to remember exactly where "democracy" was on the evolving list of rationales the Bush administration used to justify the war (#3? #4?), and entertaining a series of dark thoughts about the 4,400 lives and $711 billion it's taken us to get this far.

Byron Williams (San Jose Mercury News) also notes the deaths as well as the predictions of 'slam dunk,' et al:

But our focus as a nation is currently on other matters, namely the economy. Many of those who supported the scant evidence offered by the previous administration, vowing not to question and criticizing those who did, have moved on. They now find themselves in tenuous economic circumstances so there is no time to examine the lessons learned in Iraq.
President Barack Obama has been no help in this area.
Last year, newsman Jim Lehrer asked the president whether Iraq was worth the American lives lost and wounded, as well as the Iraqis who have been killed?
The president responded: "Well, you know, I don't want to look backwards. As you know, I opposed this war, I did not think it was the right decision, but I don't want to in any way diminish the enormous sacrifices that have been made by our men and women in uniform."
The president's response, though consistent with the statements he made on the campaign trail, ultimately served as a popular codependent when America desperately requires the tough love of truth to move forward.
How can a war effort that is fiscally irresponsible and grossly inaccurate in its preliminary suppositions be allowed to escape official scrutiny of its own government?

The attempts at revisionary history continue and Allison Kilkenny continues to distinguish herself as one who stomach the nonsense. Last week at Truth/Slant, she took on Thomas Friedman and today she takes on Ross Douthat:

Things are just more complex than all that. "The narrative of the Iraq invasion, properly told, resembles a story out of Shakespeare," writes Douthat. But here, he appears to be conflating the complexity of the war's players with the initial Grand Lie itself.
There are no shades of gray when it comes to the Bush administration's lie that Saddam had WMDs. Douthat tries his damnedest to "complex-up" the ether: Nothing was the same after 9/11, Dubya didn't know what he was doing, George H.W. let things "fester" in the Middle East too long, Saddam was a real bad guy!
That doesn’t change the fact that the lie is a lie, and a bad thing. Trying to rationalize the Saddam-Al Qaeda link postmortem is called revisionism. And it's not -- as Douthat writes -- "reductionism" or "glib scapegoating" to hold public officials accountable for their actions, particularly when they are the illegal actions of the Bush administration. "Bush lied, people died" isn't just a catchy slogan. It's the truth.
Douthat confuses this non-complexity with the real complexity of human participants in wars. Soldiers themselves are not monoliths, and he uses the characters in "The Hurt Locker" to portray his point. (It's weird he's using two fictional films to make his point as opposed to interviewing real-life people, but for the sake of sticking with the film theme, I'm playing along).

In Iraq today, the violence continues. CNN reports a Falluja bombing outside a "municipality building" which claimed 7 lives and left thirteen people injured. Meanwhile Abdu Rahman and Dahr Jamail (IPS) report on Iraqi women:

Under Saddam Hussein, women in government got a year's maternity leave; that is now cut to six months. Under the Personal Status Law in force since Jul. 14, 1958, when Iraqis overthrew the British-installed monarchy, Iraqi women had most of the rights that Western women do.
Now they have Article 2 of the Constitution: "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation." Sub-head A says "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." Under this Article the interpretation of women's rights is left to religious leaders – and many of them are under Iranian influence.
"The U.S. occupation has decided to let go of women's rights," Yanar Mohammed who campaigns for women's rights in Iraq says. "Political Islamic groups have taken southern Iraq, are fully in power there, and are using the financial support of Iran to recruit troops and allies. The financial and political support from Iran is why the Iraqis in the south accept this, not because the Iraqi people want Islamic law."
With the new law has come the new lawlessness. Nora Hamaid, 30, a graduate from Baghdad University, has now given up the career she dreamt of. "I completed my studies before the invaders arrived because there was good security and I could freely go to university," Hamaid tells IPS. Now she says she cannot even move around freely, and worries for her children every day. "I mean every day, from when they depart to when they return from school, for fear of abductions."

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Fall On Your Swords For Prince Barry" went up last night. The e-mail address for this site is