Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Moqtada's let someone else stand up first strategy

In Iraq, the political crisis continues and if Nouri al-Maliki was attempting to figure out who was backing him, he'd have to scratch Moqtada al-Sadr off the list.  Alsumaria reports that the official expressed position of the bloc is that if a national consensus forms around an alternative to Nouri, they will support that candidate; without a consensus on who should hold the post, they will not join in a no-confidence vote; that the survival of Nouri in the post of prime minister is not a required goal on their part; and that the Sadr bloc wants the political crisis resolved.  The position isn't a complete walk away, it's also not anything resembling support.

The Sadr bloc is aruging if others will do all the work, they'll support it. Moqtada didn't support Nouri in 2010 until intense pressure from the government in Tehran forced him to go back on his public promise to support only those who met with the approval of his followers.  The Sadr bloc voted for everyone but Nouri. Alsumaria notes Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman is stating Nouri can't be toppled because he has the support of the National Alliance.  State of Law is a part of the National Alliance.  So is Moqtada.  So is the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.  Those last two, if Nouri loses a portion of their upport, can result in his losing his post.  Al Sabaah notes that Iraqiya's Hamid al-Mutlaq is stating that calls of a no-confidence vote are just attempts to force a resolution to the political crisis.  Meanwhile Dar Addustour notes that a planning meeting for a national conference is supposed to take place this evening.

There was an endless set of meet-ups to plan for the national conference eventually called for April 5th.  For those who've forgotten, that conference ended up being called off at the last minute on April 4th.  Alsumaria adds that the United Nations today called for Iraq to resolve the crisis (the UN calls it a "political impasse") by utilizing the Constitution to address unresolved issues.

In other news, the Journal of Turkish Weekly reports, "Iraq's Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi said on Monday that Turkey's worrying about its neighbor country (Iraq) did not mean interference in its internal affairs."  What's going on?  Nouri's war of words with the Turkish government.  As Kat noted last night, Reuters is not even attempting to pretend they are impartial in their coverage.  Nouri called Turkey an enemy state and attacked the leadership -- this was a continuation of earlier attacks.  Turkey responded.  Somehow Reuters turned that into Turkey attacking poor, little Nouri.  In the real world, the Journal of Turkish Weekly notes, "Iraqi Parliament Speaker Usama Nujayfi has said that continuous contacts and meetings were necesary for removal of the deficiencies in Turkey-Iraq relations."

Someone needs to pull Nouri aside and explain to him that he and Tehran can be besties all he wants and then some but that's not going to mean a great deal to Iraq's other neighbors and when he starts a war of words with one, he makes Iraq look unstable.  Nouri's public image continues to be the biggest threat to a successful Iraq.

Several e-mails ask what the hell has happened to Robert Fisk?

I have no idea.  He's now written at least his third article on Iraq this month.  They've all been embarrassing although I think his telling us how he really, really liked someone who most know was a spy for the occupation and was very 'helpful' to Nouri al-Maliki during the 2006 and 2007 period was Fisk's most embarrasing moment.  Let's pretend that he didn't know what everyone else does, okay?  That still leaves the lies and lies in that article.  That British citizen he was writing of is in and out of Iraq all the time, has been for years,  has a family in England, so Fisk's b.s. portraying that piece of trash as noble was beyond embarrassing.  At this point, I honestly don't give a damn as to why he's become a whore, I just know that Robert Fisk is a whore and we don't link to him.  He'll write another 750 page book that the world will avoid and he'll make claims about the insights to be found in it.  The book will be as worthless as all the previous volumes.  I have no idea what his problem is and don't give a damn.  When someone he pretended to care about -- in print -- needed attention, he wouldn't give it.  I know because the women's family contacted a number of websites -- including this one -- asking for help on the issue.  I was glad to help and we covered it.  And Robert Fisk remained silent.  Despite once pretending he was highly interested.  Despite the fact that when he finally could have helped, he had nothing to offer.

Again, he means nothing to me and I don't fret over why he's turned out the way he has.  It's his legacy he's trashing.

In the latest story, Robert Fisk wraps his lips around Nouri's tiny penis and tells you that Tareq al-Hashemi's bodyguard was said, by Tareq ("claims"), to have been tortured to death.  Then he backs up Nouri.  He never notes Amnesty's call for an investigation, he never notes the photos of the body or what the family of the man who died says.  He's not interested in that.  It's also apparently too much to ask that he note the secret prisons.  Oh, wait.  The great powerful Robert Fisk never broke those stories.  It was Ned Parker of the Los Angeles Times who broke those stories repeatedly.   Fisk didn't even bother to note them in real time.  And now?  He's just interested in showing Nouri just how talented his mouth is.  Again, its his legacy he's trashing.  He's an embarrassment -- more so than at the height of the Iraq War when he was making excuses for Thomas Friedman -- remember that?   If you're offended and feel betrayed by Robert Fisk, grasp that's nothing compared to what Iraqis who thought he gave a damn about them and their country feel.

In the US, Senator Patty Murray Chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office
Monday, April 23, 2012 (202) 224-2834
Chairman Murray Applauds OMB Clarification that VA Programs will Not Be Affected by Sequester
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, applauded a confirmation from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will not be affected by potential cuts from sequestration provisions included in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The OMB clarification comes after Murray wrote to GAO seeking clarification of a legal ambiguity in the Budget Control Act as it pertained to veterans. As a member of the Senate leadership and Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Murray worked during negotiations over the BCA in the summer of 2011 to protect veterans programs from potential cuts. 
“I worked to make clear during negotiations on the Budget Control Act that veterans programs were off the table. As we all know, our veterans have already sacrificed so much, particularly over the last decade as they have borne the burden of fighting two wars. 
“Meeting the tremendous challenges the VA faces is going to take sustained and stable investments in the care and benefits our veterans have earned. I am pleased this legal ambiguity has been cleared up. Our veterans deserve the peace of mind it helps to provide.”

The following is the letter Senator Murray sent to the GAO seeking clarification on this matter:
February 16, 2012
The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548-0001
Dear Mr. Dodaro:
In recent months, concerns have been raised about the effect of sequestration on veterans health care. These concerns are the result of a legal ambiguity created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). Should sequestration under the BCA occur, the exemptions and special rules of sections 255 and 256 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended, will apply. Section 255 exempts all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs from sequestration. However, section 256 allows a maximum 2 percent reduction in budget authority for VA health care. The interaction of the BCA’s legislative language with these existing provisions created a legal ambiguity that must be resolved if sequestration is imposed.
Though I remain confident that this legal question would be resolved in favor of exempting all VA programs, I am writing to request a formal legal opinion regarding this matter. I appreciate your attention to my request, and I look forward to your response. 


Patty Murray

Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct

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