Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Where's the US Ambassador to Iraq

The Aspen Times proclaims in a headline "Former ambassador to Iraq speaks tonight."  They mean Chris Hill.  The pig-pen ambassador, as Isaiah dubbed him,  after his March 25, 2009 confirmation hearing.  (I'm hurrying this morning in part because we've got a new cartoon by Isaiah.)

The Pig-Pen Ambassador

And, like many, you may be alarmed.  Chris Hill to speak at night?  The man who took naps in Baghdad under his desk.  Naps that could last half a day?  However will Hill manage to stay up late to speak?  Worry no more.  Though the headline says "tonight," the brief details reveal the event will be "from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m."  Well, for Hill, that's practically eight p.m. 

Were you to visit the State Dept's Iraq briefing page this morning, you'd find that the US Ambassador to Iraq is James Jeffrey.


But Jeffrey's not the ambassdor.  As Laura Rozen (The Back Channel) observed in June:

The last US Ambassador to Iraq, Jim Jeffrey, left Baghdad earlier this month and formally retired from the State Department in a ceremony last week. His deputy, the Chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Robert Stephen Beecroft, is currently the de facto acting ambassador, conducting meetings that the ambassador otherwise would have. Several Washington Iraq hands consider that the administration may decide to keep Beecroft, a former US Ambassador to Jordan and career foreign service officer, in the job.

 That was months ago.  Well, at least Barack can announce a nominee this week and they can hold a confirmation hearing . . .  Oh, wait.  The Senate is in recess until September 7th. 

Exactly when does Barack plan to nominate someone to be the US Ambassador to Baghdad? 

Maybe he doesn't think it's very important.  We'll beg to differ and our track record on Iraq is a lot better than Barack's.  We dubbed the current situation Political Stalemate II back in 2011.  Now even the UN uses the term "stalemate."  (Political stalemate I was the eight months following the March 2010 elections.)  The US ambassador doesn't use the term . . . but there is no US ambassador.  The State Dept's spokespeople steadfastly avoid the term.

The White House denies a great deal . . .

The Islamic State of Iraq issued a public threat last month on the Iraqi government or 'government' and also on the United States.  But Barack doesn't think we need an ambassador to Iraq right now?

July saw the most deaths in Iraq in two years.  But Barack doesn't think we need an ambassador to Iraq right now?

As we'll go into in the next entry, Nouri's accused of using new techniques to target his political rivals but Barack doesn't think we need an ambassador to Iraq right now?

The Iraqi government grows ever closer to the Iranian government in Tehran but Barack doesn't think we need an ambassador to Iraq right now?

Someone e-mailed the public account noting that I "detested" Bully Boy Bush and I can't stand Barack causing her to wonder, "Are you against all presidents?"

Let me put in terms the Cult of St. Barack might understand:  I don't oppose all presidents.  What I am opposed to is a dumb president.

And what I'm reminded of right now is how Barack's Senate Subcommittee on Afghanistan never held a single hearing because he was so busy campaigning for the US presidency.  Flash forward four years and there's no US Ambassador to Iraq. 

At a time when the Kurds desperately want the US government to act as mediator, Barack can't find a US Ambassador to Iraq because he's too busy doing everything else.

The Iraq War was illegal.  And if Barack had a brain, he would have begun an immediate withdrawal as soon as he was sworn into office -- what he led the voters to believe he would be doing.

Had he done that, it would have said, "This was a mistake, we're getting out."  Instead, he owns the war as much as George W. Bush because he elected to prolong it.  He's still got thousands of US troops stationed around Iraq today.  That's why the Defense Dept starting using the term "drawdown" and not "withdrawal."  It wasn't a withdrawal, it was a drawdown.

The media, so eager for feel-good spin, wasn't compentent enough to explain that to the people.  The network news didn't bother explaining, last June, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has recommended 13,000 US troops stay in Kuwait for the next few years due to the Iraq situation.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, Pacifica Evening News,, The Diane Rehm Show, Chocolate City and On The Wilder Side -- updated last night and this morning:

And we'll close with this from The Bat Segundo Show:

Greetings from The Bat Segundo Show, a cultural radio program devoted to goofy, thoughtful, and informed conversations with the cultural figures and intriguing minds of our time. You can listen to the show at the main site or subscribe through iTunes.
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It may have something to do with Mr. Segundo's recent ban from every beach on the East Coast, but our our attentions have drifted westward in recent months. Karolina Waclawiak talks with us about Polish culture in Southern California. In a comic and candid conversation, the always delightful Jennifer Weiner describes how Hollywood served as her muse. And Jess Walter reveals how Richard Burton's degeneration and "bad writing" helped him to find beauty in Hollywood and Italy.
It isn't just Jess Walter finding splendor within decay. The affable novelist Brian Francis Slattery describes what it's like to push yourself into the greatest possible depressive mode when writing a dystopian novel. And if you're as daring as John Lanchester, you'll place your bets on the financial system collapsing in the not too distant future and write a novel around it.
It might also be sufficiently argued that Andrew Shaffer (aka Fanny Merkin) has also found comic inspiration from decaying literary standards. We learn that he's no stranger to world domination gestures or pescatarian controversy.
Uzodinma Iweala discusses how we can make sense of an epidemic and how recent Western stereotypes have contributed to AIDS awareness in Africa. How does waiting affect our everyday lives? We talk with Frank Partnoy about how misunderstood ideas regarding thin slicing and the comic pause share common qualities. Last but not least, Alix Ohlin discusses her two most recent books.
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The always delightful Jennifer Weiner returns for her fourth appearance on the show, which is the longest, the most wide-ranging, the funniest, and the most forthright. It took us four shows of patient inquiry to get some of the answers, but we discuss Jen’s need for more, her obsession with the New York Times, gender roles, daddy issues, and why ambition is sometimes considered a dirty word for women. (Link to show.)
How do we make sense of epidemics? Author Uzodinma Iweala discusses the importance of oral storytelling, how cultural stereotypes continue to impact AIDS awareness in Africa, needless fear and hysteria, and unexpected parallels between the United States and Nigeria. (Link to show.)
The author of How to Get Into Twin Palms discusses Polish identity, the surprising paucity of Polish restaurant sin Los Angeles, the collapse of bingo parlors in Brooklyn, and the virtues of not talking with people. (Link to show.)
We were very fortunate to meet author Fanny Merkin, who is either a very affluent author of a bestselling trilogy or a guy who wrote a very shrewd parody. This one hour conversation discusses the appropriate gestures for world domination, pescatarians, self-destructive writers, and why it’s sometimes important to wear a kilt. (Link to show.)
The affable dystopian novelist returns to our program to discuss Lost Everything, literary ambiguity, approaching a dilemma from a religious and a secular perspective, the value of human life, and Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. (Link to show.)
We greatly enjoyed talking with the law professor and author of Wait. Our conversation details how experiments with chess players, Jon Stewart’s pause before a joke, and misunderstood incarnations of thin slicing share common qualities about how we wait around and expect magical moments to happen. (Link to show.)
The author of Beautiful Ruins reveals the “trashy” novels he turns to for inspiration, discusses Richard Burton’s dissolution and our growing addiction to technological “hits” in the morning, and reveals how “bad writing” often hits at emotional truth more persuasively than the literary sheen. (Link to show.)
It’s one thing to anticipate a credit crunch before it happens, but how do you plan a novel around it? The author of Capital discusses outlining, using Scrivener, and why people who live in close geographical proximity don’t talk with each other. (Link to show.)
In our ongoing effort to talk with Canadians, we meet up with the author of Inside and Signs and Wonders and discuss how to find a literary voice and stretching empathy (or what remains of it) onto a larger canvas. (Link to show.
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