Friday, September 17, 2010

Continued stalemate, continued lies

Iraq's Got Tyrants

From April 25, that's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Iraq's Got Tyrants." Today Alsumaria TV reports that the leaders of Syria and Iran's governments -- Bashar Al Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- will meet to discuss many issues including Iraq's government: "A well informed source in Damascus said last Saturday that Syria tends to nominate Syrian Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki for a second term stressing that Damascus currently wants to form an Iraqi government that encompasses all the components of the Iraqi society disregarding the candidates to Premiership." What's going on?

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and ten days with no government formed.

There Will Be War offers a timeline of Iraq which they believe illuminates the current political stalemate while Falah Mustafa Bakir (Washington Times) offers a series of questions:

However, if the situation remains at a standstill, other measures may be necessary. How long can a state hold out without a government, awaiting consensus? The lack of progress may force Iraq to take some difficult decisions to overcome this crisis and preserve the possibility of a democratic and pluralistic nation.
If all four blocs do not agree, should we consider a government formed by only three blocs? Should Iraq convene a caretaker government and hold a new election in a year's time? Should the Kurdistan Alliance itself consider identifying a compromise candidate?
If the three blocs will not budge and cannot move forward, does the bloc system any longer serve its purpose of representing the Iraqi people in a federal government? The principal blocs all contain a number of moderate parties. If the blocs are not capable of forming a government very soon, is it preferable to bring together the factions of each bloc genuinely interested in forming a government?

Currency Newshound notes

Sources told that the Iraqi List, started negotiations with the Iraqi National Coalition candidate for prime minister, Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi to discuss ways to accelerate the formation of the government, especially since the latter was able to collect 163 votes to ensure victory.
In this context, the MP and leadership in the Iraqi List, a high Nassif Jassim told «Middle East» the existence of such orientations between the list and a coalition of the wise, the Agreement on the formation of a bloc of components of the winners and particularly the Kurdistan Alliance.
The Iraqi List «do not want power as much as you want to change and reform of the files of Iraq’s different, the objectives of the strategy to overcome the elections», confirmed a rapprochement between the United Iraqi Alliance and the list and a common vision to accelerate the formation of the government, «and agreed on the distribution of powers and the formation of a collective leadership body defense Graduate involved in which all the components in the decisions concerning the security issue.
She stressed that the negotiations «are going well between coalitions, and if moved away from the wills of Foreign Affairs will be able to form a joint venture in the coming days».

Meanwhile AAP speaks with US Ambassador to Iraq Jeffrey Bleich:

Mr Bleich said it was important for people to understand that the nature of conflicts like those in Iraq and Afghanistan had changed.
"They're not going to end with surrenders and big ceremonies on ships and ticket-tape parades," he said.
"That's not the nature of the enemy that we're fighting."
The ambassador said the US had learnt much from its activities in the Middle East in recent years and was now focussed on how it should leave and what its expectations were.

File it under 'rebranding' the meaning of "success." Just as Barack 'rebranded' an ongoing war to declare 'combat operations' over and to infer (so very Bush of him) that the war itself was over, now we get new 'definitions' (double-speak) for success. Since Barack gave that idiotic speech August 31st, at least 3 US service members have died serving in Iraq, at least ten injured and September's not even at the half-way mark. In addition, Shashank Bengali (McClatchy Newspapers) offers "Combat's 'ended,' but U.S. still controls Green Zone access:"

As more than one Iraqi has pointed out to me, if Iraqi security forces now control the Green Zone - American forces handed over the checkpoints in a major symbolic move three months ago - why do U.S. military-issued badges still determine who can get in and out?
To many here, the evolving frustrations of access to the Green Zone underscore how the U.S. transfer of security responsibilities to the Iraqis remains very much a work in progress.

Possibly in response to Amnesty International's report [PDF format warning] "NEW ORDER, SAME ABUSES: UNLAWFUL DETENTIONS AND TORTURE IN IRAQ'' issued earlier this week, DPA reports, "Arrest warrants were issued on Friday for 100 Iraqi security officials, in both the police and army, accused of torturing detainees in prisons in the northern Iraqi city Mosul. Senior local official Deldar el-Zibari told the German Press Agency dpa that the officers were being accused of coercing detainees to confessions through 'severe beatings.'"

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Jeanne Cummings (Politico), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate) and John Harwood (New York Times, CNBC) join Gwen around the table while Dan Balz (Washington Post) files a report from Des Moines on the speech Sarah Palin makes to Iowa's GOP. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is
Who Exactly Are the Bums?" This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Debra Carnahan, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Leslie Sanchez and Tara Setmayer on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is on college tuition -- its cost and its worth is debated. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings -- and it explores US combat in Afghanistan, the US role in institutionalizing Afghan corruption; abuse and mistreatment of US seniors at home-based senior centers, Jon Meacham discussing "superlativism" and more. Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

To understand how Bernard Madoff could have done what he did, listen to so-called "mini-Madoff" Ponzi schemer Marc Dreier tell Steve Kroft in his first television interview how he scammed $400 million. | Watch Video

Jimmy Carter
Lesley Stahl speaks to the former president about his new book, "White House Diary," in which he admits mistakes and blames Ted Kennedy for delaying comprehensive health care. | Watch Video

Football Island
"60 Minutes" goes to American Samoa to find out how a territory with a population less than the capacity of a pro-football stadium sends more players to the NFL than any similarly populated place in America. Scott Pelley reports. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio notes. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (begins airing on most NPR stations at 10:00 a.m. EST and streaming online), Diane addresses domestic news with first hour panelists Ruth Marcus (Washington Post), Jake Tapper (ABC News) and Juan Williams (NPR and Fox News) while, on the second hour, she addresses the international news of the week with panelists Tom Gjelten (NPR), David Ignatius (Washington Post) and Elise Labott (CNN).

And we'll close with this from the Michigan Green Party's John Anthony La Pietra's office:

John Anthony La Pietra for
Fairer, Better Elections
Secretary of State * Green Party
386 Boyer Court * Marshall, MI 49068

News Release: September 15, 2010

La Pietra Welcomes Posting of Sample Ballots
by State Website -- But "There Are Still a Few Bugs
in the System" of Informing Voters and Candidates
Last Week, Bureau of Elections Told Candidates
to Confirm or Correct Campaign Links at Voter
Information Center by "Wednesday, September 17, 2010";
A Week Later, There's Been No Correction of
Non-Existent Deadline Date -- or Even Notice
to Candidates that Sample Ballots Can Now Be Checked

One of the first things John Anthony La Pietra -- the Green Party of Michigan’s candidate for Secretary of State -- did after turning on his computer this morning was browse to the Michigan Voter Information Center (MVIC) to see if the system was ready yet to show him a sample ballot.

It was -- but when he clicked on his own name, MVIC's link took him to the wrong Webpage. So apparently, as he told the Bureau of Elections, "there are still a few bugs in the system" of informing voters about candidates.

John was relieved at first when he saw the ballot for Marshall City Precinct 2 on his screen. It meant he had a chance to meet a mistaken deadline set in a memo last week from the Bureau of Elections.

In the memo, the Bureau told all state- and federal-level candidates they had to check links from sample ballots to their campaign Websites by "Wednesday, September 17, 2010" or else corrections couldn't be guaranteed.

Of course, there is no such date as Wednesday, September 17, 2010.

"My best guess is that someone made what my sister calls a 'word-process-O'," John says. "They edited a memo from 2008 telling candidates the same thing -- but when they changed the year to 2010, they forgot to change the date number."

John pointed out this problem and others to the Bureau on the 9th, the same day he got the memo. And he asked the Bureau to "reconsider the deadline and change it if necessary, take responsibility for the situation, and give candidates both enough notice and enough time to make sure the voters are fully and accurately informed."

Bureau staff responded the next day -- Friday, September 10 -- explaining that the ballot-generating system also needed information about local candidates and proposals, and that was still coming in from county clerks. The response estimated that ballots would be "available early next week."

The same afternoon, John thanked the responders for that information -- and renewed his request for an update on the impossible deadline. Getting no further response, he made a point of checking the MVIC site to see if it had started working yet. No luck there either -- until this morning, when he saw his name displayed on the sample ballot . . . with a link.

And then the good luck was tempered when he found out that the link took him to his personal homepage, not his campaign homepage.

So, considering that the deadline the Bureau meant to set might well be today, John reported the problem -- and asked again for action on resetting a deadline.

"I renew my call on the Bureau to inform all candidates immediately of a new, extended deadline for reviewing their campaign links. My first thought on that extension would be that if the Bureau gets notices out today by USPS and e-mail and makes next Monday (September 20, 2010) the new deadline, that might do the most to make up to candidates for the delay and the confusion while affecting the Bureau’s own schedule as little as possible."

John acknowledges and welcomes other signs of progress. One of MVIC's menu buttons, which used to send browsing voters to the list of primary-election candidates, now properly links to the list of candidates for the November 2 general election.

But there was still at least one more problem with John's sample ballot: it had no link at all to the Website of another Green Party candidate -- Harley Mikkelson of Caro, running for governor on a ticket with Lynn Meadows of Ann Arbor. The omission is puzzling, considering that a link to is included on the general-election candidate list.

"At least people who click on their MVIC ballotsand go to my personal homepage can find another link there to my campaign homepage," John notes. "Right now, they don't have any direct path to find out about Harley and Lynn."

And time is of the essence -- both because voters are losing more and more of the opportunity to find out about all their choices this fall, and because the Bureau's mistaken deadline means candidates may be running out of time to confirm or correct Weblink information on MVIC's sample ballots.

But John will keep working with the Bureau -- and candidates -- to get full and accurate information to the voters. "Because, after all," as he told the Bureau in today's e-mail, "it is the voters we’re all trying to inform -- theirs is the paramount interest here, not ours in any of our other roles."
John’s campaign home page is at

His personal home page is at

The original September 7 MVIC memo is posted at

and John’s correspondence with the Bureau of Elections since then is at

To contact John’s campaign for Secretary of State, please e-mail

or call 269-781-9478.

For a list of 2010 Green Party of Michigan candidates, please visit

or contact GPMI at 548 S Main St; Ann Arbor, MI 48104; 734-663-3555.

# # #

For further reference:
The general-election candidate list is at

The gateway page for MVIC is at,1607,7-127--51051--,00.html

and the online center’s main page is at

MVIC’s “Candidate Information Links” page, which now correctly links to the list of general-election candidates, is at,1607,7-127--51051--,00.html

The homepage for the Harley Mikkelson for Governor campaign is at

The e-mail address for this site is