BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
TIRED OF BEING KNOWN AS "THE UGLY ONE," MICHELLE OBAMA'S TRYING TO STEP OUT OF THE LARGE SHADOW CAST BY THE CELEBRITY IN CHIEF AND HAS DECIDED THE WAY TO DO IT IS HEALTH CARE. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT EVEN THE UGLY ARE CHEERED MADLY WHEN HANDING OUT CHECKS, MICHELLE'S DISBURSING LIKE CRAZY.
IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THESE REPORTERS MICHELLE EXPLAINED THAT SHE'S A NATURAL FOR THIS.
MICHELLE OBAMA: LOOK, THERE ARE HUGE FINANCIAL PROBLEMS WITH HEALTH CARE AND I AM UNIQUELY QUALIFIED TO SPEAK TO THIS BECAUSE I AM LIKE A DOCTOR OR SOMETHING: I WORKED FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICAL CENTER!
AND WHEN YOUR HUSBAND WAS ELECTED TO THE U.S. SENATE, YOUR SALARY JUMPED FROM $121,910 TO $316,962.
MICHELLE OBAMA: YES, I DO KNOW HOW TO MAKE MONEY. AND THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH THE COUNTRY'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE MAKING MONEY. IF THEY WERE, THE DEAD BEATS COULD PAY THEIR BILLS. THEY DON'T. I DON'T MEAN TO SOUND CRUEL, THEY'RE NOT ALL DEAD BEATS, SOME ARE JUST ASSHOLES.
LIKE THE ONES, MAINLY POOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS, THAT YOU AND YOUR STAFF REFUSED TREATMENT TO AND FORCED OFF ON OTHER MEDICAL CENTERS BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE INSURANCE.
MICHELLE OBAMA: THANK YOU, YES, THOSE WERE SOME REAL ASSHOLES. IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO GET WELL, YOU SHOULDN'T GET SICK. WHAT A BUNCH OF ASSHOLES.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
This morning the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- Three Multi-National Division-South Soldiers were killed when Contingency Operating Base Basra was attacked by indirect fire at approximately 9:15 p.m. on July 16. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4326. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Shortly after the attack, the Iraqi army gave the U.S. military permission to carry out aerial searches northwest of the airport, the area from where the rockets are thought to have been launched, U.S officials said. Troops chased a car to a house, which they searched. A joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol raided another home. Three Iraqi men were briefly detained, the military said."
Violence rocked Iraq as usual today but a lot of it targeted pilgrims. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) explains the pilgrimage "is expected to fill the streets of Baghdad on Saturday in the first major security challenge for Iraqi military forces" with "a limited curfew" being imposed and "thousands of additional Iraqi soldiers and police officers . . . on the streets". Alsumaria reports, "While thousands of pilgrims have poured in to Al Kazimiya to mark Imam Kazem Anniversary (AS), citizens are complaining about closing main roads which is usually caused by religious occasion." Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) observes, "Despite intensive security, some bombers made it through." Turning to the reported violence today . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded thirteen pilgrims, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded eight pilgrims, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded five pilgrims, another Baghdad roadside bombing which injured five pilgirms, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three pilgrims, a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 pilgrim and wounded six more, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two men, a Falluja roadside bombing which injured nine males who were playing football and a roadside bombing attack on the home of police chief Abdulsalam Khawarm in Anbar Province resulting in the deaths of two of his children and leaving eight more people injured. Reuters notes 1 dead in the Falluja bombing on the football players, a Mosul roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured and a Shirqat sticky bombing injured one police officer.
Reuters notes 1 person wounded in a Kirkuk shooting today and, dropping back to yesterday, one wounded in a Kirkuk shooting as well.
Today on the second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Diane and the Wall St. Journal's Youchi Dreazen, the Washington Post's David Ignatius and Foreign Policy's Moises Naim discussed Iraq.
Diane Rehm: Alright and let's turn now to Iraq and the latest on violence there, David? You had three American soldiers killed Thursday after insurgents fired mortar rounds into a US base in southern Iraq. You've also got problems with the Kurds. You've got lots of issues still going on even as the US is planning its pull-out.
David Ignatius: This was a week, Diane, that reminded us of the underlying fragility of Iraq. We've gotten in the habit of not paying much attention to it. Our troops are pulling back from the cities under the timetable we agreed to with the Iraqis. And-and, these last weeks we saw in these-these bombings and the political conflicts just how easily Iraq could spin back into a very chaotic situation. Take the bombings that happened on Wednesday. By my count, there were about eleven people killed, something like fifty or sixty wounded. But what was striking was that one of the bombs was in Ramadi -- in the Sunni heartland, the area we thought had been stabilized by our counter-insurgency work. Another bomb was in Sadr City. Another was right in the heart of Baghdad, in Sadhun Street. Those latter two were really going after Shi'ites, the first, in Ramadi, was going after Sunnis. More of these bombings are going to again make Iraqis frightened that they can't be secure without militias and then you're back in the sectarian killing game and you're going to start finding fifty bodies -- dead bodies -- every morning in the morgue.
Diane Rehm: At twenty-seven [after] the hour you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. And what's going on with the Kurds, Youchi?
Youchi Dreazen: In many ways, this is the most dangerous aspect of Iraq right now. You've had recently [June 28th] a standoff between Kurdish fighters and Iraqi national army fighters. Last year there was an incident that did not get much attention here in which US drones that were monitoring a similar standoff saw columns of armed Iraqi army soldiers and columns of Kurdish peshmerga racing towards each other. By the account of everyone who was watching it, bruising for a fight, and they stood down only amidst much mediation by US embassy and military -- as was the case here where there was US mediation. And what you have is this very thorny issue about what will be the boundaries between Kurdistan, what will be the boundaries between Arab-Iraq? How will they divide oil? How will they divide Kirkuk? These issues have been kicked down the road again and again and again. And now they're at the end of the road. They have to at some point be resolved. I think what you've seen is, when the US invaded, there was a status quo that existed under Saddam that was toppled, there was a Sunni-led status quo. Then there was a new status quo that was not sustainable where you had fighting between Sunni and Shia Arabs and the Kurds were kind of left off to their own devices in the north. Now you have a new status quo where the Shia-Sunni tensions are much reduced -- the Arab tensions -- and now their focusing much more again on the Arab-Kurdish tensions that were there under Saddam decades ago.
Moises Naim: And the Kurdish prime minister yesterday said that the Kurdish autonomous region was closer to going to war with the central government than ever before, since 2003, since the US invasion. And that points, as Youchi said, to the tensions about the divisions -- federalism, they're trying to find out what is the divisions of authority, power between a centralized government and a regional government. And this is a region that is quite different in its governance, in its function, in its economy, in its politics, than the rest of the country.
Diane Rehm: And the United States population is certainly concerned as is the Iraqi that what if the violence continues to uptick, gets worse? Do troops reinvigorate, US troops? What do you do?
David Ignatius: Well for the administration, I think there's a recognition that, as we reduce our military presence there, it is inevitable that violence will increase. That's accepted. And it's just a price of our getting out. The Iraqis want us out, we want to get out. So some increase in violence, it's understood, will happen. And the question is: Will the Iraqi forces be strong enough to contain it within acceptable levels? And what's-what's-what's your choke point? If you're President Obama and you're seeing ten people die a day, well, what do you say? Suppose it gets up to fifty, what do you - what do you do then? And that's -- it's-it's grisly. But that's the kind of decision I fear that the-the Obama administration going to have to make about Iraq over the coming year.
Moises Naim: It's very hard to imagine that there's a political environment in the United States that will support a massive increase of troops -- of US troops -- in Iraq. The-the line their will be crossed if Iran becomes very influential country in Iraq. If Iranian influence there which it hasn't seemed to be the case but that will be then the-the political base for it.
[. . .]
Diane Rehm: To Charlie in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Good morning, you're on the air.
Charlie: Good morning. I'd like to go back to the MidEast a little bit in terms of I think that Iraq is a lost cause. I think Sadr, Ayatollah Sadr's militia has only stood down under orders from Iran and under realization that the US military would destroy Sadr City. They will res -- they will resurge and they will take over the south and if -- have this very informal reunion with Iran. The Sunnis were bought off with US money and viagra pills for their ancient sheiks -- and that's the truth, not a joke. And the Kurds, our most loyal allies, are the largest tribe, as far as I know, on earth without a homeland. And I'm afraid that they -- especially with the oil money -- do not intend to be left behind this time. I think also I'd like one more comment, on the Gaza situation again. [. . .]
What about Gaza? This isn't the Gaza snapshot. And by bringing that up, Gaza, it's what everyone quickly glommed on after David's initial remarks on Iraq.
David Ignatius: Well, I think the -- it's too early for me at least to say that Iraq is a lost cause. One interesting fact about Iraq is that our greatest potential problem -- which is Iranian influence, Iranian support for extremist militias, like Moqtada Sadr who the caller was referring to, Iran politically is imploding. That threat, the ability of Iran to destabilize Iraq, is, I think, somewhat reduced, I want to say signifianctly reduced -- becuase of the chaose following the election. And I think you can generalize that to potential Iranian clients all ove. Political parties in Iraq that are supported by Iran must be worrying, "Holy smokes our paymaster are in trouble."
As noted in Diane's discussion, things are very tense between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government. Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports, "In separate interviews, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and the region's president, Massoud Barzani, described a stalemate in attempts to resolve long-standing disputes with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's emboldened government. Had it not been for the presence of the U.S. military in northern Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani said, fighting might have started in the most volatile regions." Quil Lawrence (NPR's All Things Considered) reported this afternoon on the tensions quoting Barzani, "Whoever wants to get ahead in Iraqi politics does so by criticizing the Kurds." On territorial disputes and what may have been an attempt by al-Maliki's government to enroach on Kurdish territories June 28th, Lawrence quotes Barzani stating, "Our problem is that we do not believe there is any political will in Baghdad to solve this problem." Gordon Duff (Salem-News) addresses the June 28th confrontation and offers his opinions:
News stories reporting on this conflict conveniently omit Kurdish history. Our NATO partner, Turkey, that refused to allow US troops access to Northern Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, has long been an enemy of our Kurdish allies. If Turkey had joined with the US, the military disaster that led to years of conflict might have been averted. Instead, the US depended on Kurdish armies to defeat Saddam in Northern Iraq.
Reports of Kurdish incursions in and around Kirkuk fail to mention that the Arabs in the region are remnants of Saddam's occupation forces, not residents. The efforts by the Baghdad government to continue control of this Kurdish region is driven by need to control the regions oil revenues and continue to fuel Iraq's massive corruption.
January 31st, 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces held provincial elections. The Kurdish region did not take place in those elections. Their elections take place next week on Saturday. The Economist editorializes on the elections here. UPI notes of the elections, "A quota established by the KRG sets aside 30 percent of the seats for female candidates." In reporting last week, the New York Times offered a very bad dispatch featuring all the US talking points and nothing resembling journalism -- just a concept of "bad Kurds!" which might make a few people feel better but doesn't really inform anyone. And that was their 'big' piece. Jay Garner called it out in a letter to the paper. Garner is interviewed by The Kurdish Globe today and he notes of the KRG that "
Elizabeth Dickinson: With [US Vice President Joe] Biden as the U.S. envoy for reconciliation in Iraq, what priorities should he be pushing for? Jay Garner: No. 1, a referendum on disputed lands, because I don't think you can ever have a stable Iraq as long as you have an unstable Arab-Kurdish border. No. 2, a resolution on the oil law because it's a thorn in everybody's side. No. 3, continue to exert whatever leverage we have on the Iraqi government to get these things done. Anything that happens here, whether it is Kurds versus Arabs or Shiite versus Sunni -- and those are huge flash points -- is not an Iraqi problem; it's a regional problem. It's huge. It's much greater than Iraq, because if it's Shiite-Sunni you are going to have Iranians on the side of the Shiites and you are going to have the Gulf region on the side of the Sunnis. If it's Arab-Kurdish, you are going to have an ethnic war, and lives will be gone and other countries will get involved because they are going to want to shape how it comes out. I don't think the [U.S.] administration wants to pull out in 2011, run for the presidency in 2012, and have this whole damned thing blow up on them, you know? So it is good that [U.S. President Barack Obama has] appointed Biden; it's good that he's made a special envoy; and it's good that Biden is drilling in on this. Biden is a guy that has studied a long time. He is more thoughtful about this than the other people, and I think that's a good first step. But you've got to have some leverage to execute that. So whatever leverage we have left, we need to make sure that those flash points are solved before we leave.
Garner mentioned the oil law (aka the theft of Iraqi law) and Nouri's sending messages on that today. Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports that the Oil Ministry's spokesperson Asim Jihad declared today of talk that unions might stop the British Petroleum and China National Petroleum Corporation oil deal (jointly, they were awarded a contract from the puppet government in the oil auction -- that was the only awarded contract from that auction), "The government will protect the companies." 'At all costs' was left implied.
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