Friday, September 24, 2010

Upstaging Barack on the world stage

As for our common security, America is waging a more effective fight against al Qaeda, while winding down the war in Iraq. Since I took office, the United States has removed nearly 100,000 troops from Iraq. We have done so responsibly, as Iraqis have transitioned to lead responsibility for the security of their country.
We are now focused on building a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while keeping our commitment to remove the rest of our troops by the end of next year.
While drawing down in Iraq, we have refocused on defeating al Qaeda and denying its affiliates a safe haven.

The above is from Barack's incredibly long winded, incredibly dull speech to the United Nations yesterday. Incredibly wimpy as well, about as embarrassing as Matt Damon's attempt at comedy on the season debut of 30 Rock last night. (Not sure which was more jaw dropping, his attempt to play tears, his attempt to play a player involved with women or his whiny "I want grown up love!") Barack really is the Matt Damon on the international stage, someone the world's slowly realizing isn't at all what was promised and who can no longer carry a picture.

So Barack linked Iraq and al Qaeda. Remember when that used to be upsetting to the nation? Back when Bush did it? But Barack did it. And watch everyone work overtime to ignore the embarrassment. (And before anyone e-mails about the typo in the excerpt, that's a copy and paste from the White House, that typo is their mistake.)

And while Barack wasted everyone's time with another speech that repeatedly referenced himself, England's *Deputy* Prime Minister Nick Clegg is speaking to the United Nations today and the advance word? Gerri Peev (Daily Mail) reports "Clegg will voice a thinly veiled condemnation of the Iraq war" in his speech. Ian Dunt (Politics) quotes from the expected speech: "But our approach will also be hard-headed and realistic. In recent years, we have learned - sometimes the hard way - that democracy cannot be created by diktat. Freedom cannot be commanded into existence." Jon Swaine (Telegraph of London) adds, "While he will not use the word "sorry", Mr Clegg will come close to apologising on the world stage for the war, which he believes was in breach international law, in a speech to the UN General Assembly." The Edmonton Journal looks at that quote and states, "The passage clearly suggest regret over Britain's role in the war against Iraq, which was not explicitly backed by the UN Security Council." Instantly forgettable, Barack's speech is already upstaged in the news cycle and England's second-in-charge is geared to show leadership as the world watches.

[Added: My apologies, I stupidly and wrongly typed "Prime Minister." Nick Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister. And no one's laughing harder at my mistake than my current boyfriend in England. I was an idiot and rushing. Clegg is Liberal Democratic Party. The Prime Minister of England is David Cameron of the Conservative Party. The first time this was pointed out, I said, "Deputy. I'm sure I typed 'Deputy.'" I was sure I had but I had not. My apologies for my huge error.]
Jalal Talabani has already spoken to the United Nations. He did so yesterday and, along with spin, he served up the talking point that all Iraqi officials appearing before the UN in the last few years repeat:

The most important issue his country is facing is ridding itself of the “burden” of Security Council resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, he said, calling for an end to the remaining restrictions in the field of disarmament, wrapping up outstanding contracts of the Oil-for-Food programme, and finding the appropriate mechanism to protect Iraqi money to replace the Development Fund for Iraq and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq.

Meanwhile Joe Davidson (Washington Post) reports, "Now that most U.S. military forces have left Iraq, the American diplomats they left behind face grave security problems that the State Department is ill-prepared to tackle. That's one serious take-away from the testimony of members of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan presented to Congress on Thursday." We may note the hearing in today's snapshot (I attended part of the hearing after panel one of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing yesterday) and we may not. The statements made weren't all that new and the same arguments were made in the Commission's July 12th [PDF format warning] "Special Report on Iraq Transition Planning: Better Planning for Defense-to-State transition in Iraq needed to avoid mistakes and waste." Putting itself into an advocacy role, the Commission risks turning itself into a bigger joke than it already is. But Congress isn't interested thus far in throwing away large sums of money so there's a full-on press to attempt to strong arm them into voting for turning over even more billions to the ongoing and continued Iraq War.

The following community sites -- plus and Uprising -- updated last night:

We'll close with this from David Swanson's "Changing and Facilitating" (War Is A Crime):

Our representatives strive to represent three groups of people: the ones who give them money, the ones who produce cable television news shows, radio shows, and newspapers, and the ones in charge of their political parties including especially the president when he is the leader of their party. In George Mason's view the president was to execute the will of the Congress, and no power of the Congress was more important than that of impeachment. Now Republicans will only impeach Democratic presidents, and Democrats will only impeach Democratic judges. And the executive is largely freed to tell the legislature how to do its job, rather than the reverse.
When Congress is too craven and cowardly to impeach someone or isn't sure what they've done wrong, do you know what it used to do? It used to subpoena people. And it used to take that Capitol Police force that now does such a fine job of beating up peace activists in hallways, and it used to send the police to pick up witnesses who'd been subpoenaed. And when people testified but refused to respectfully answer questions, or acted like our recent attorney general Alberto Gonzales who said "I do not recall" four times a minute during his testimony, do you know what congressional committees would do? They would hold that person in contempt? And do you know where they would hold them in contempt? In a jail cell. During 2007 and 2008 Democratic committees subpoenaed dozens of top members of a Republican administration, including the vice president and the secretary of state, all of whom told Congress to go Dick Cheney itself.
So Congress asked the Justice Department to enforce its subpoenas, and the Justice Department said no. So Congress took it to court and later won. But with one weird and partial exception, not a single one of those subpoenas has been reissued and enforced by either the new Justice Department or by the committees themselves. In fact, the House Committee on Oversight has been basically put out of its misery, and the judiciary and other committees have crawled out of sight beneath the emperor's throne. Congress just impeached and tried a judge for getting lap dances and frozen shrimp, and earlier this year impeached a judge for groping people, but it leaves a judge in a lifetime seat who wrote secret laws authorizing aggressive war and torture. Impeachment has been reserved for sex and Democrats, and the subpoena has gone the way of the dodo bird -- at least unless Republicans get Congress back.
Why don't we ever talk about the problem of Congress handing all power over to presidents? Because both political parties are happy about it, and anything they both want left alone is not news. We have a substantial right to free speech in this country, but a free press is another story altogether. A small cartel of mega media corporations has been given our public airwaves without compensation, and the more information we get from them the dumber we are. When Americans believed lies about the urgent need to attack Iraq, they believed them more depending which media outlet they got most of their news from. I'm not naming any names.

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oh boy it never ends