Thursday, June 21, 2012

The ongoing, Nouri-created political crisis

Alsumaria reports Nouri has another poll -- it's funny how the Iraqi outlets can always identify Nouri's polls as his but others -- NPR's Quil Lawrence for example -- struggle with that reality.  There's no margin of error listed for the poll . . . apparently because Little Saddam makes no error.  (Without a published margin of error, a poll isn't scientific.)   Asked if they believed a national conference could solve the political crisis, Nouri gave 7% of respondents or 'respondents' an "I don't know," 23% a "yes" and 70% a "no."  Not only does the poll fail to offer a margin of error, it's results reflect Nouri's own resistance to a national conference which, I'm so very sure, must be a coincidence. 

Iraq is in the midst of an ongoing political crisis that can easily be explained: Nouri broke a contract.  That contract is the Erbil Agreement and if the US press had done it's job everyone reading right now would be nodding their heads and saying, "Oh, right."

But though breathless in their November 2010 coverage of the Erbil Agreement, they now either can't recall it or else can't recall the name.

In March 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  Despite using the Justice and Accountability Commission* to disqualify political rivals and force them out of the race, Nouri's claims and 'polls' that showed his State of Iraq winning by a huge margin did not come true.  Not only was there no huge win, there was no win for State of Law at all.  The newly formed Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, won.  The US press loves to add "by only two seats!"  No, they didn't win by seats.  Seats in the Parliament were what was awarded.  They won by votes.  And vote totals do not allow the whores of Nouri to make it look as close so instead they note "only two seats!" As though that makes Iraqiya's win illegitimate?  Reality, you only need to win by one vote.

The results meant no first shot at forming a cabinet for Nouri who so desperately wanted a second term.  So he threw the entire process into gridlock and was able to do so with the backing and support of the US White House.  The US press was really something to see.  As Iraq set the record with eight months of gridlock, they excused it, laughed at it, minimized it.  A stark contrast to their hadn wringing and hysterics in November 2000 following the US election whiere they insisted a 'clear winner' must be known immediately and that Al Gore should do the 'noble' thing and call Bully Boy Bush the winner.  For those who've forgotten or were too young to remember, Gore v. Bush went before the Supreme Court and, even with that, did not last months.  A US president isn't sworn in utnil the last third of January.  But throughout November, it was hysteria and alarm from the US press. 

Maybe they wee confessing to not believing that the US had a strong democracy?  Iraq's process -- which doesn't begin to resemble a democracy -- is far more fragile.  But there were no calls for Nouri to step aside.  The press echoed the Obama administration line because there's no real independence in the press.  His sychophants did not serve him well because Baack owns Iraq forever more as a result of his refusal to support the election results, to support the Iraqi people, to support a stab at democracy, to support the Iraqi Constitution.

Nouri was already known to run secret prisons and torture.  It's amazing how he repeatedly has gotten away with, "That prisson is closed!  It's been closed for months!"  The man's been repeatedly found to run secret torture cells and his response is, "They're closed now!"?  Oh, okay.  As long as they're closed now. 

Yet the White House backed him.  They lied to other political blocs and that's why the US image is growing worse in Iraq.  Not only did they back Nouri in his gridlock, they worked overtime to force the other blocs to give second place Nouri the results he'd have if State of Law had come in first: a second term as prime minister. 

They lectured the blocs (other than State of Law) about putting Iraq first.  The same pressure wasn't placed on Nouri who had caused the political stalemate.  Nouri and the White House counted on the fact that Nouri could throw a tantrum longer than the blocs could tolerate his tantrum.  They were right.

So the US government brokered the Erbil Agreement.  It would give Nouri a second term as prime minister in exchange for various concessions on Nouri's part.  The US government assured the political blocs this was a binding agreement.  People signed off on it  -- including Nouri.

That was November 2010.  Nouri used it to get a second term and then trashed the contract.  He refused to honor his promises.  That was obvious by all but the intentionally dense US press by December 2010. 

It's six months away from two years that the current political stalemate has existed.  In the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr began publicly demanding Nouri honor the contract.  He responded by targeting Sunnis and Iraqiya.  By December 21, 2011, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi began calling for a national conference to address the political crisis.  Even the terminally weak Iraq President Jalal Talabani joined the call.

Nour isnisted no way.  Nouri and State of Law attacked the notion.  By February, they had a new argument: The Arab League Summit is March 29th!  They can't hold a national conference before that!

The weekend before the summit, Jalal tried to pretend he had some power.  He announced that the national conference would be held April 5th.  Nouri -- worried about his image as the world press arrived in Iraq -- quickly echoed that so as to appear that all was smooth and fine.  The world press went home and April 4th it was suddenly announced there would be no national conference.

Nouri has worked to kill the conference repeatedly.  The US press hasn't been interested in that either.  During this long drawn out stalemate, another secret prison scandal emerged.  Nouri again claimed, "That prison was closed!" No, it wasn't.  Even had it been, that wouldn't have excused its existence or the torture that took place in it.

Which is probably why the whole issue is avoided, right?

Mental midget Fred Kaplan put on his tin foil hat yesterday to smear those who question Little Saddam as wanting to benefit from the oil.  No, it didn't make much sense.  Over the years, Fred Kaplan rarely has made sense.  But that's how immature the US press has become -- and how cowed: They don't have the strength to stand up for the will of the people or that votes be honored.

Nouri's already in campaign mode.  He's finally going to spend almost a billion -- almost -- on power generators. (AGI: "The US service company Weatherford International was awarded a $ 843 bln contract for the building of six production centers in the Eni Zubair deposit in Iraq.") Of course, they will primarily serve the oil fields in southern Iraq.  Iraq brings in billions in oil revenues each year but all these years later -- and Nouri first became prime minister in 2006 -- they still lack potable water and reliable electricity.

And this was the issue that brought Iraqis into the streets in 2011.  But the press wasn't interested in that.  The New York Times, you may remember, attacked the protesters in a sotry filed on the same day that Nouri attacked the protesters -- arrested them, abducted them, tortured them.  The press is a little too eager to identify with Nouri.   As Nouri's attacks continued, the protesters discvoered just how little the 'world's eyes' would be on them.  While the press worked overtime to energize the proceedings in Egypt, they ignored what was taking place in Iraq.  Few even bothered to report (CNN did report it) when Nouri's forces began preventing the press from covering the protests in downtown Baghdad.

AP reports that al-Nujaifi has declared Nouri must face the Parliament for questions. Alsumaria adds that Ayad Allawi declared today that there are committees forming for the questioning of Nouri before Parliament. 

Yesterday's snapshot covered the Tuesday House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.  The Committee issued this news release Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held an oversight hearing entitled “Reclaiming the Process: Examining the VBA Claims Transformation Plan as a Means to Effectively Serve Our Veterans.” At the hearing, the Committee learned that VA has yet to completely implement a comprehensive transformation plan to provide veterans with a paperless disability claims process that relies on accuracy the first time a claim is submitted.
“Various initiatives have great potential, but despite repeated promises, the backlog continues to grow,” stated Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “In addition, the rate of accuracy and processing time has remained stagnant. Since 2009, Secretary Shinseki has promised to ‘break the back of the backlog.’ Instead, three years later, the backlog has grown by half a million claims.”
The hearing focused on VBA’s transformation plan, which centers on the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), a program that is supposed to digitize disability claims and make the process more timely and accurate. Yet, only a handful of Regional Offices are using VBMS to help process claims with full roll out scheduled later this year. VA has consistently referred to VBMS as the cornerstone of its transformation process.
VA’s main partner to digitize veterans’ claims is the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Their contract with VA expires next week and NARA officials cited the need for an estimated 4,000 additional employees to address the current backlog.
VA announced earlier today that the backlog increase due to the processing of retroactive Agent Orange claims has been largely addressed, and that should free up claims processors around the country. As of today, however, VA’s backlog stands at 839,028 claims, of which more than 55% have been pending more than 125 days.
In addition, the Committee continued to question VA on its justification of exorbitant bonuses to well-paid senior executives who oversee the worsening claims process, especially in light of today’s tough economy and tight fiscal climate.
“Secretary Shinseki estimates that more than 1 million veterans from Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom are expected to enter VA. What will happen to the backlog then? Will veterans be stuck in the system indefinitely? It is time for VA to uphold its responsibility, to our veterans and to the American people, to break this cycle of unproductively and deliver the benefits that VA was created to provide,” said Bilirakis.“Every one of these claims represents a veteran and their family patiently waiting, not just a stack of paper on a bureaucrat’s desk. Technology should and must be used as there is a lot of innovation in the marketplace today to address many of these issues. But technology alone is not the silver bullet, and it is clear to me it will take continued oversight and pressure from Congress and veterans before VA turns a corner.”

I'm in a hearing right now and opening statements are about to be over so I need to be taking notes.  We'll try to cover Tareq al-Hashemi among other issues in today's snapshot.

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