Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Barack offers pretty lies to the UN, security officials are targeted in Iraq today, State of Law announces provincial elections have been postponed, there's a Jill Stein contest, and more.
Fars News Agency reports, "The US consulate in Iraq's Northern city of Kirkuk was targeted by rocket attacks, a source in Kirkuk police announced on Tuesday." In the post-September 11, 2012 era of diplomacy, that attack may actually get noticed. The attack on the US Consulate in Libya resulted in the deaths of four Americans. Maybe Barack will just call today's attacks more "bumps in the road"? More than likely, he and the White House will just avoid mentioning it entirely. Maybe the White House will follow the State Dept's lead and just refuse to hold daily press breifings? There was no press briefing by the State Dept yesterday, there's none today. Is there something confusing about the term "daily press briefing"? Do they really think that Philippe Reines' nasty e-mails to Michael Hastings won't be a topic when they finally hold a press briefing? (For news of those e-mails, refer to Lucy Madison's report for CBS News which is work safe.)
Glen Doherty, Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods died September 12th due to the attack on the US Consulate in Libya. Two weeks later, when another US consulate is attacked with rockets, you don't think that warrants a public response from the US State Dept? Other than both being attacked with rockets, there's nothing similar and, fortunately, no one was hurt in the attack today. But you don't think a rocket attack on a US Consulate merits a word or two from the State Dept?
Apparently not.
Four Americans died. Four. Each one was valued. They are devalued when you name the ambassador and render the others invisible. US President Barack Obama did that today at the United Nations.
That is outrageous. 18 sentences about the ambassador and Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods are reduced, by Barack, to "three of his colleagues." Is someone confused about the job they hold? Barack's not head of the US State Dept, he's President of the United States. Four Americans died, each life had value, each life had meaning, how dare he ramble on for 16 sentences about the ambassador and not even name the other three who died, not even name them.
This wasn't about honoring Chris Stevens, this was about creating a media moment, something that you knew would grab attention. The office of the President of the United States is supposed to be above media moments. Is there not one damn grown up in the administration?
Apparently not because Matt Compton's White House post is all about how "President Obama remembered Ambassador Chris Stevens" and how Stevens "was slain earlier this month in an attack" -- Compton never even does the insulting "three of his colleagues."
This is outrageous and insulting to the memories of Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods. These were prepared remarks. It was intended that Barack would name Chris Stevens and go on about him for 16 sentences. And that wouldn't be a problem if the other three had been so honored but they weren't. They were ignored. Not even named.
Only 14 days after the four died while serving the United States and three are disappeared, not even named, in a prepared speech? Where are the grown ups? What an insult to everyone who works for a US embassy or consulate -- which does include guarding one.
What an insult.
Unlike Doherty, Smith and Tyrone, Stevens has been the focal point of massive media accounts and that's the only reason his name was used in the speech, the hope that it would create a media moment for Barack to look caring and concerned. If you're caring and concerned, (a) you don't need to create that impression (people know) and (b) you don't render three of the dead in the same attack invisible.
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies
Just pretty lies
-- "The Last Time I Saw Richard," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album Blue
In the speech today, Barack noted the Arab Spring:
It has been less than two years since a vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire to protest the oppressive corruption in his country, and sparked what became known as the Arab Spring. And since then, the world has been captivated by the transformation that's taken place, and the United States has supported the forces of change.
We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator, because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspiration of men and women who took to the streets.
We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy ultimately put us on the side of the people.
We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen, because the interests of the people were no longer being served by a corrupt status quo.
We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents, and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant.
I'm sure some will emerge to point out that the toppled Tunisian, Yemen and Egyptian regimes were all supported by DC. I hope a few will point out that the Libyan War was illegal. But who will point out the obvious: Iraq.
Iraqis weren't supported. Iraqis took the street in January 2011 before the Arab Spring kicked off. They were protesting their loved ones disappearing into the 'justice' system. They weren't all young people so it didn't have the glossy blow and, of course, it wasn't in the KRG or in Baghdad when it kicked off so you didn't have the US and other foreign press around to cover it. But it did come to Baghdad and it did come to the Iraqi youth. And the US government -- which still had many troops in Iraq -- didn't help the Iraqi people. When Little Saddam Nouri al-Maliki began having his forces attack the protesters, the White House, the State Dept, the entire Barack Obama administration didn't say one damn word publicly.
Let's drop back to the February 28, 2011 snapshot and this will be a long excerpt but it's needed for the record:

Over the weekend, protesting continued in Iraq as it did on Friday's Day Of Rage. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported that protests continued Saturday with Samarra protesters defying a "curfew to attend the funerals of two people killed during protests" on Friday and that Iraqi forces opened fire on the protesters/mourners leaving eight injured while Basra also saw a funeral for a protester killed on Friday. On Sunday, BNO News reports, protests continued in Iraq with 27 protesters left wounded in Amara City by Iraqi forces. Today, at Baghdad's Tahrir Square, Alsumaria TV reports Iraqis turned out to demonstrate again.
Saturday, Wael Grace and Adam Youssef (Al Mada) reported the disturbing news that after Friday's Baghdad demonstration, four journalists who had been reporting on the protests were eating lunch when Iraqi security forces rushed into the restaurant and arrested them with eye witnesses noting that they brutal attacked the journalists inside the restaurant, cursing the journalists as they beat them with their rifle handles. One of the journalists was Hossam Serail who says that they left Tahrir Square with colleagues including journalists, writers intellectuals, filmmakers. They went into the restaurant where the Iraqi military barged in, beat and kicked them, hit them in the face and head with the handles of their rifles, cursed the press and journalists, put him the trunk of a Hummer. This is Nouri al-Maliki's Iraq -- the Iraq the US forces prop up at the command of the Barack Obama. Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) added that the journalists stated "they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit" and quotes Hossam Serail (spelled Hussam al-Ssairi) stating, "It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists. Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."

In addition, Alsumaria TV adds, "Iraqi security forces released on Friday Alsumaria reporters Sanan Adnan and Idris Jawad in addition to cameraman Safaa' Hatem. Alsumaria reporters were arrested while covering the protests of Baghdad's Tahrir Square. Security forces attacked as well Alsumaria employees Ali Hamed and Muhannad Abdul Sattar who managed to escape." Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported Sunday, "Iraqi security forces detained about 300 people, including prominent journalists, artists and lawyers who took part in nationwide demonstrations Friday, in what some of them described as an operation to intimidate Baghdad intellectuals who hold sway over popular opinion." The Committee to Protect Journalists notes the above and other crackdowns on the press in Iraq (as well as in Yemen and Libya):

["]Security forces prohibited cameras from entering Baghdad's Tahrir Square, where there were thousands of people protesting, according to news reports and local journalists. Police confiscated tapes that reporters managed to shoot in the square, according to Al-Jazeera.

[. . .]
Anti-riot forces also raided the offices of Al-Diyar satellite TV station in Baghdad and detained 10 of its staff members for three hours, according to Al-Diyar's website. In the afternoon, anti-riot police stormed the office for a second time, prohibited the staff from entering the building, and detained at least three more employees.

Niyaz Abdulla, a correspondent for Radio Nawa and a volunteer for Metro Center, a local press freedom group, was assaulted today while covering demonstrations in Erbil. "I was on the air when a plainclothes security officer came and started threatening me," she told CPJ. The officer threatened to call over men to attack her, alluding to a potential sexual assault. "I stayed calm but it was very disturbing," Abdulla said. She added that two of her colleagues had their cameras confiscated while they were covering the demonstration.

In Karbala, anti-riot forces attacked Afaq and Al-Salam satellite channels crews, according to news reports. "They were beaten and cursed at while they were covering the march in Karbala," Jihad Jaafar, a correspondent for Afaq channel told Noun news website. He added that the tapes of the crews were confiscated. ["]

In addition, CPJ's Deputy Director Robert Mahoney is quoted stating, "We are particularly disturbed that a democratically elected government such as that of Iraq would attempt to quash coverage of political protests. We call on Baghdad to honor its commitments to respect media freedom."
Over the weekend, a number of journalists were detained during and after their coverage of the mass demonstrations that took place in central Baghdad's al-Tahrir Square. Simone Vecchiator (International Press Institute) notes:

["]During a news conference held on Sunday, four journalists -- Hussam Saraie of Al-Sabah Al-Jadid newspaper, Ali Abdul Sada of the Al-Mada daily, Ali al-Mussawi of Sabah newspaper and Hadi al-Mehdi of Demozee radio -- reported being handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened by security forces. They also claimed they were held in custody for nine hours and forced to sign a document, the contents of which were not revealed to them.
Aswat al Iraq news agency reported that the journalists will file a court case against the executive authority in response to the alleged violations of their civil rights.
This episode is the latest in a series of repressive measures adopted by security forces in order to stifle media reports about the current political and social unrest.["]

Meanwhile Nasiriyah reports that Maj Gen Qassim Atta, the spokesperson for Baghdad Operations Command is insisting he has no idea about targeting of the media, specifically four journalists being arrested on Friday, and insists there will be an investigation. He's calling on witnesses to come forward . . . so they can be disappeared? This morning Kelly McEvers (NPR's Morning Edition) reported on the attacks on journalists and focused on Hadi Al Mahdi whose "leg is really swollen" and who was one of the four noted above stopped Friday afternoon while "eating lunch with other journalists when soldiers pulled up, blindfolded them, and whisked them away. Mahdi was beaten in the leg, eyes, and head. A solider tried to get him to admit he was being paid to topple the regime."
You may not know it because Iraq, by then, received so little coverage, but journalist Hadi al-Mahdi? He was assassinated September 8, 2011. He had been threatened and harassed by Nouri's goons. Though security tape from outside his apartment should have revealed the killer or killers, that tape vanished. And, of course, no one was ever punished. I don't doubt for a moment that Hadi was killed on the orders of Nouri al-Maliki. Assassinated in his own home.
The US government didn't encourage or support the Iraqi people. The US government did not condemn the attacks on the protesters. The US government did ask several news outlets not to cover the ongoing protests -- which lasted months. Those who ignored the request risked not only US government ire but also physical assault because not even Western reporters were safe covering the protests as summer 2011 rolled around.
Who was doing the attacking? Nouri's forces and Nouri's supporters. And they weren't called out. Some outlets were very helpful to the US government. The New York Times, for example, ignored most of the protests and cast aspertions on the protesters in their Saturday, February 26th report of the first massive Friday protest across Iraq. I suppose it's a shame that those working for both the New York Times and the US government were able to collect only one pay check.
The US government said nothing publicly when Hadi was murdered -- murdered because he believed in core human values and he acted on his beliefs. But the Barack Obama administration never wants to offend Nouri al-Maliki.
Last week, when Senator John Kerry rightly noted that the US has the ability to tie conditions to all the US taxpayer money that flows to Nouri, the State Dept, via Victoria Nuland, immediately shot down the idea. They never want to offend Little Saddam. They stroke Little Sadam, they encourage him, they encourage his efforts to snuff out freedom. Last Friday morning, we noted that the proposal by Senator John Kerry and others on the Senate Foreign Service Committee was correct. By Friday evening, you could already see some results from what John floated. In Monday's paper, the New York Times editorial board would observe, "[. . .] Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was right to warn last week that American aid could be reconsidered if Iraq failed to change course."
This morning, John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" went up at The Daily Beast:

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
Could we discuss the above? Judging by the comments left on the article, no. You have Bush-supporters blaming Barack and Barack-supporters blaming Bush. No one wants to allow their own personal savior might have led them astray.
Here's a little reality for those leaving comments. You who love Barack and swear by him, stop saying the SOFA was the end. (It became the end.  Didn't have to be.)  Why did your beloved Barack try to renegotiate it if it was "a legally binding agreement to withdraw"? It was only legally binding if it wasn't replaced with a new contract. It could have also been extended and remained "legally binding." The problem is that far too many who are far too ignorant of the law choose to weigh in. In November 2008, we explained the SOFA -- Thanksgiving day. We even published it in full. Thanksgiving day. And maybe the press can be forgiven for some of their bad reporting due to the holiday but there's no excuse for the fact that they got it wrong over and over and over. Most US troops are out of Iraq and that's because of the Status Of Forces Agreement that the Bush administration negotiated.
Barack was not elected to pull most troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011. He was not elected to follow the policies of the Bully Boy administration. He made the decision to do that. The only way Barack wouldn't 'own' the Iraq War (true of the Afghanistan War as well) is if he immediately, upon being sworn in, began withdrawing troops. (You may remember, that was his promise -- one he did not keep.) Doing that would have made it Bush's war only. He could have had all the troops out within three months. Yes, it was possible. Bill Richards knew it was, George McGovern knew it was, many people knew it. George knew it because he planned, if elected president in 1972, to pull US troops out of Vietnam -- a larger number of troops, at a faster timeline than what Barack was proposing.
It's Barack's war as well. And billions of US taxpayer dollars continue to flow to Iraq.
"It wasn't America's to lose," huffs Harmlessdrudge and others in the comments. Oh, you're so very wise to make that point today. Golly, jolly, gee, I wish we had made that point. Oh, that's right, we did in December 2, 2004's "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" And we paid attention and are aware that the Barack Obama administration repeatedly backed Nouri over the people of Iraq, over the democratic process, over the ballot box, over the will of the people, over the Iraqi Constitution.
"It wasn't America's to lose" only works if the White House isn't trying to install their choice for leader instead of the people's choice. Do you grasp that or are you really that stupid?
Let's not John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast) because I'm not sure it's sinking in:

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
I'm not sure it's sinking in because, in real time, we were the only ones calling it out. In real time, we were the only ones talking about what a slap in the face this was to the Iraqis who risked violence and had hardships just getting to the polls due to all the security checkpoints they had to pass through. While we were calling it out, Twitter faves like Nir Rosen were blogging at Foreign Policy about how great it would be if -- how did Trashy Nir put it? Oh, that's right, "Frankly this is a rare case where I hope Maliki violates the constitution, acts in some kind of authoritarian way --" You got your wish, Nir, are you happy?
And, at this late date, and after all the US blood and money poured into Iraq, shame on you if you don't know what happened but think you need to weigh in. The time to point out that the US need to back off was when the Barack Obama administration decided, despite the 2010 election results, that Nouri al-Maliki would get a second term as prime minister. The time to cry foul was when the US government brokered the Erbil Agreement to get Nouri that second term and when they promised the Kurds and other blocs that the Erbil Agreement was legally binding and that the it had the US support and approval. It had that long enough for Nouri to get his second term. He got that and trashed the contract, refusing to deliver on any of the concessions he promised -- in the Erbil Agreement -- to make.
And the White House played dumb. Iraqiya (who came in first), Moqtada al-Sadr and the Kurds began publicly insisting that the Erbil Agreement be returned to in the summer fo 2011. A year later, it still hasn't and the US government can't seem to figure out where they stand on a contract they negotiated, where they stand on a contract they gave their word on.
To ignore all that and pretend is to be a willful idiot and apparently there is a grave need to be that in America these days.
We have called out Bully Boy Bush. We've also paid attention to what's taken place in Iraq since January 2009 and you better believe that requires calling out. But some lazy minds seem to believe Iraq goes into suspended animation because they don't think about it or it's not on their TV screens. That's not reality. Reality is that when a US president overrules the votes of a people, that's disgusting. Reality is that Barack did just that and all the crotch sniffing and offerings from the Cult of St. Barack won't change that one damn bit.
We have not argued for US troops to remain in Iraq (though they do -- let's note that because it's very offensive to the families with loved ones still in Iraq when the press repeatedly insists all troops left) but Senator John Barrasso pointed out on CNN today (link is text and video), "What we now know is that his military advisors said leave people in Iraq, 15,000. He wasn't able to accomplish that." And he wasn't able to. He failed at negotiations though they were supposed to be ongoing. (And though some in the administration believe that if he wins re-election this November, that the first thing that will happen with Iraq is new negotiations to put US troops on the ground there.) (To finish out Barrasso's point, his Iraq comments in full, "When he talks about pulling out of Iraq. What we now know is that his military advisors said leave people in Iraq, 15,000. He wasn't able to accomplish that. So right now Iran is flying supplies to Syria over Iraqi airspace. It shouldn't be happening, but it's being done to supply Syrians who are massacring their people. This president has failed on foreign policy.")

Turning to the never ending violence which has at least 9 dead and 26 injured so far today. Alsumaria reports that a Falluja roadside bombing has claimed the life of Mohammed Saleh, an adviser with the Ministry of Electricity, a Falluja car bombing left nine people (eight police officers) injured and a roadside bombing targeted the city's mayor (he surived) while claiming the life of a 2nd grade student and injuring six more. They also note a roadside bombing just outside of Falluja left an alderman and his brother injured. In addition, Alsumaria notes a Mosul armed attack which left 1 police officer dead. Trend News Agency adds Brig Gen Falih Kareem is dead from a Baghdad shooting, an assault on a Baghdad chceckpoint left 2 police officers dead (three more injured), 1 soldier was shot dead in Baghdad (with another left injured) and an armed assault on a Tarmiyah police station left 1 police officer dead and two more injured. AFP states the Tarmiyah assualt involved car bombs, rifles and rockets and that 1 police officer was shot dead in Baquba with three more left injured. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 265 deaths from violence in Iraq for the month so far.

In equally disturbing news, Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that State of Law has announced provincial elections have been postponed. State of Law is thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's political slate. Thursday, July 19th, the United Nations Security Council held a hearing on Iraq. Offering testimony was Martin Kolber, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq.

Martin Kobler: Mr. President, there is no democracy without elections and there are no credible elections without a strong and truly independent election commission. As we speak, my political deputy, Mr. [Gyorgy Busztin], is engaged in facilitation efforts to bring about the formation of a new, Independent High Election Commission which is representative of the main components of Iraq -- including women and children and minorities. The urgent selection of the commissioners is essential for ensuring that the provincial council elections due to take place in March 2013 can be conducted on time. I'm concerned that the ongoing political stalemate is hindering the process however. In recent days, I have discussed with political leaders -- including Prime Minister al-Maliki -- the need for a swfit conclusion of this political process and the need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission. Today, I would like to re-iterate my appeal to all political blocs to expedite the selection of professional commissioners.

Now the March elections are postponed. Are we grasping that Nouri al-Malki cannot oversee a functioning government? The March 2010 parliamentary elections? They were supposed to take place in 2009. Among the things delaying them? Nouri's group refusing to properaly recognize refugees (who had voting rights). You may remember that the March 2010 elections were followed by an eight month political stalemate (ended only by the US-brokered Erbil Agreement which Nouri used to grab a second term as prime minister and then trashed, creating the current and ongoing political stalemate). Iraq is not 'progressing.' The repeated inability to hold scheduled elections on time is more than disturbing. These are not oh-no-an-attack-on-the-Green-Zone-we-didn't-anticipate-that. These are planned events, known ahead of time. With years to plan, there's no excuse for being able to pull this off.

This is a known. This is something UNAMI's been prodding on all year long and before the start of this year. Now it's announced that Nouri's failed government can't even manage to pull off scheduled elections? That they have to postpone yet another scheduled election?

These are the basics of governance and Nouri repeatedly fails. Over and over.

The Independent High Election Commission? What IHEC?

The current commission has had their term extended and extended and extended. And then finally there was the announcement that Iraq had 9 new IHEC commissioners.

Well . . . 8. But they'd get that ninth one. Probably a Turkman.

No one noticed, only in Nouri's Iraq, the problem with the 8. From the September 18th snapshot:

Yesterday came news that 8 people had been voted onto the Independent High Electoral Commission. A vote on the 9th member was blocked by Christian MPs who felt they were not being represented. Alaa Sabbagh (Kitabat) wonders if this commission is going to promote democracy or embrace a dictatorship in Iraq? All Iraq News reports that the Sadr bloc has announced they support a Christian member for the Commission and declare that they are a "respectable part of the country." Kitabat notes that the 8 voted on do not represent minorities. This includes women. Not one woman was voted onto the commission yesterday.

Only in Nouri's Iraq can 8 people be voted in and it not be noticed during the voting that, oops, there's not even one woman. Back to the September 18th snapshot:

Wafaa Zangana (AK News) reports Christian MP Yonadam Yousef Kanna is calling for the number of seats on the commission to be increased since there is now "only one seat for minorities, while the women, Turkmen and Christians were not represented [in the new commission]. The law of the Federal Court stresses the need to represent all parties in the electoral commission, but the presidency of the Council of Representatives violated this law." In related news, an Iraqiya MP tells All Iraq News that there is a conpiracy taking place to ensure that women will not be members of the next Parliament (parliamentary elections are supposed to take place in 2014) and she is calling for a woman to be appointed to the electoral commission so that women's rights will be protected. She notes women make up 65% of the Iraqi population but are barely represented in the Parliament and, at present, not even on the new IHEC.

Only Iraqiya (Ayad Allawi's political slate -- the one that came in first in the 2010 elections and should have been able to form a government but the White House backed Nouri over the choice of the Iraqi people) objected. It wasn't just important because of a belief that the IHEC needs to be representative, it was important because of the law. From the September 19th snapshot:

About the only thing that could be passed off as 'progress' this week just imploded. Yesterday, 8 of 9 Independent High Electoral Commission commissioners elected. Alsumaria reported this morning that the Federal Court says the number of commissioners must be increased because women must make up a third of the members. (Not one of the eight was a woman -- an oversight Iraqiya called out -- the only political bloc to publicly call that out.) Al Mada notes that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc was insisting yesterday that if they just make the ninth member a Christian, they'll have all their bases covered. The judiciary begs to differ. They're calling on members -- not a single seat, multiple seats. That means that the Parliament either gets very focused on this or it is highly likely that an election cannot take place in March of 2013. It's tarting to look a lot like fall 2009 in Iraq.

And that should have been that. The law states women must make up a third of the members. That's not something you can 'massage.' Yet Alsumaria reports the issue is still 'can we get a Turkman on the IHEC?' as opposed to dealing with what the law requires. Is math difficult for the Iraqi government? Is the concept of 1/3 of the members of the IHEC being women a word problem that's difficult to solve?

Back in July, when Kobler addressed the UN Security Council, it was already past time for the IHEC members to have been selected. Two months later all they have to show for it is 8 members and they fail to include women so the court says they're going to need more than 9 commissioners?
We'll note Kobler's lastest remarks tomorrow. As we were noting yesterday regarding Glenn Glenn and The Three Faces of Eve, when you can't make your case on the facts, you resort to insinuation. Iran's Press TV and Kevin Zeese try to make the case on the MEK and doe so with 'facts' like this one from Kat's BFF Kevin Zeese, "The MEK was defined as a terrorist group by the Bush administration because it was --" Okay, wipe the foam from your mouth -- that is foam, right? -- Kevin. The Clinton administration put the MEK on the terrorist list. Know your facts before you speak. And here's another though. While it may be good to go on Iranian television to present a face of America other than the government, it's really not smart to go on Iranian television and speak the Iranian government's party line. Just not smart. It'll keep you on that network, yes. It won't allow you to be seen as a voice of peace. I'm also confused why an alleged voice of peace would appear on Iran's state television considering the government's attitude towards gays and lesbians -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had quite a bit to say on that subject -- none of it educated, enlightened or aware -- while speaking to Piers Morgan (CNN). Since Kevin Zeese makes the decision to go on Iranian state TV and repeat and endorse the Iranain government's outlooks and since Kevin can't condemn the targeting of the LGBT community in Iraq -- never had time for it -- we know why he's so comfortable being cozy with the Iranian government. Thanks, Kevie.
Let's stay on the topic of mindless idiots. Can you tell I'm pissed? At the alleged Moderate Voice, Walter Brasch wants to whine about Republicans:
And now the Republicans have blocked the Veterans Job Corps bill in the Senate. That bill would have provided $1 billion over five years to hire 20,000 recent veterans by giving them priority in jobs as first responders. It would also have provided career advisers for the veterans. That bill would have helped not just veterans, but all Americans by strengthening fire, police, and first aid/paramedic assistance.
The vote in the senate was 58–40 to pass that bill. But, typical of Republican obstructionism, it failed. Although there was a clear majority, the bill failed because the Republicans used a technicality in Senate rules to force a higher standard–requiring 60 votes, not a simple majority, to pass the appropriation.
The premise is a lie. We were asked to note a press release last week and I rejected it because we don't put up known lies here. The press release insistead bad Republicans blah, blah, blah Veterans Job Corps bill blah, blah, blah. I'm not interested in your lies or you attempts to use human lives as partisan props in your election struggles.
He [Harry Reid] whined on the Senate floor yesterday about the potential delay (but strangely avoided Rand Paul as he went after Mitch McConnell). He wasn't concerned with the nomination of Beecroft, he was talking about a delay in the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012. The bill was introduced by Bill Nelson and co-sponsored by Patty Murray. We support the bill and have noted it many times here. If it's so important to Harry Reid, maybe it should have come up a lot sooner. In other words, if this bill that Harry Reid is now whining about -- whining that it could be delayed -- was so important, maybe they shouldn't have waited until July 24th to introduce a bill? According to the White House blog, to a blog post by Matt Compton, Barack gave a speech on the need for a veterans jobs corps act February 3rd. Who was draffing their feet? Who was delaying? February 3rd, Barack's calling for one and no Democrat in the Senate bothers to pick up the ball until July 24th?
Walter Brasch wants to thunder -- at the so-called Moderate Voice -- about Republicans blocking this so-important bill. If it was so damn important, then it should have been introduced before July 24th. We are aware -- maybe we're not, maybe we're all idiots like Walter Brasch -- that August saw senators out of DC as they returned their home states, right? Are we aware that the Senate didn't return until September 10th? The schedule was proposed in 2011. The schedule was known when Bill Nelson introduced the bill. If it was important to Democrats -- and not just something to bitch, moan and whine about -- they would have introduced it earlier. Are you aware that Senator Richard Burr -- a Republican -- worked years and years before finally, in August, the Senate passed and the President signed into law the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act?
What was controversial about providing needed assistance to service members and their families who became sick due to exposure on a base the US government had sent them to? But it took years. Meaning if you really want a bill passed -- and you better believe Bill Nelson and Patty Murray know this -- you don't wait until the last minute to introduce it. When you introduce at the last minute, you're usually doing so because you don't want it to pass and you're hoping to use it against the other side.
My political party is Democrat, not Hypocrite, so I can't join in this reindeer game where we throw facts out the window and pretend like the Republicans are hideous, mean and awful just because they wouldn't be rushed into a bill. I'd add further that the Democrats better hope the Republicans don't get pissed off. If they do, they need to go the House Veterans Committee and ask, "What did you learn this year in your hearings?" Because some of the veterans legislation that Dems pushed and Dems passed didn't work out quite the way it was supposed to and there's been no rush to fix it.
Those things happen and I'm not going to pretend that there was malice towards anyone or disrespect of veterans intended by Democrats. It's part of the process and if you're half-way intelligent (even I can make that low-level mark), you know these things happen. By the same token, if you're half-way intelligent, you know a big bill needs a lot of selling and a lot of prep work so the Dems really shouldn't be attacking Republicans over this vote.
Jill Stein is the Green Party's presidential candidate and her campaign notes:
Time Magazine columnist Joel Stein is offering a unique opportunity for Jill Stein supporters near southern California. He wants to share and pay for (!) lunch with someone who rejects the politics of fear in favor of the politics of courage - in other words - someone who plans to vote for Jill Stein.
To enter this contest all you need to do is make a minimum donation of $3 to the campaign and write a few sentences about why you think you should be the winner. The best response will win the contest. And just so you know, Joel will write about his lunch experience in his Time magazine column and may even use a quote from you.
To enter the contest, just donate $3 or more by Friday 9/28 at midnight PST. Click here to donate.

There's no doubt this lunch will be memorable and hilarious as Joel is one of the wittiest writers of this generation. Good luck!

Here's his pitch . . .

Dear Person Who Cares Deeply About Others,

Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's campaigns have raffled off dinner with a celebrity to encourage contributions to their campaigns. The Republicans offered dinner with Donald Trump, while the Democrats had dinners with George Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Wintour and Michael Jordan.

Jill Stein has decided to offer an even more exciting experience: Lunch with me. Joel Stein. A Time magazine columnist. Who promises to listen to you ranting on and on about the corrupt American political system without interrupting you. And I'll even write a column about it in Time magazine. With your name in it. And maybe a shortened quote of one of your rants.

Better still, when you tell your fellow Green friends about it, and you say my name quickly enough, they will think you had lunch with Jill Stein.

I will take you and a guest for the most expensive lunch in Los Angeles you can think of, since I know that you will probably just order the salad and dessert.

Just like for the Obama and Romney raffles, "a donation of $3 or whatever you're able to give today will automatically enter you for the chance" to have lunch with me.

Good luck. See you at Café Gratitude,

Joel Stein