Saturday, September 24, 2011

Less and less love






We're going to start in the US because something big happened last night and you might think that with so many people writing online and unable to do any real work of any kind, you just might think they could get the point. But, yet again, they miss it completely. It's hard to believe how collectively stupid The New Yorker and all the rest can be. Last night was a GOP debate. The Republican Party is currently watching to see who they want to support for their party's presidential candidate. This is of grave interest to the stutned left as opposed to the real left. The stunted left can't find a real issue even if you taped it to their ass and let them use both hands.
One of the questions submitted via Google was from Stephen Hill, an Iraq War veteran. He was booed. And for homophobes like Amy Davidson, that's the story. And it's shocking and it's appalling and please vote Democrat!!!!!
Amy Davidson is nothing but a homophobe. If you doubt there are homophobes at The New Yorker, you haven't read very closely. A homophobe looks at a very complex threat to the gays and lesbians and instead reduces it to "mean Republicans booed! Vote Democrat!"
Amy has nothing to offer except, "Teacher! Teacher! They booed! They booed!" As a second grade tattle tale, she's almost gifted but as a grown woman she's an embarrassment. For starters, her little tattles were done yesterday and this morning by others. And I could have called them out then but I didn't take it as seriously until this afternoon when Amy Davidson suddenly 'discovered' the topic and aped everyone else already writing about it.
For those who tremble and sob right now, I suggest you grow the hell up. Anthony Mahchek is an Iraq War veteran, a wounded one. And he spoke at Columbia this year. And he was booed and heckled. It was not the end of the world or even of the end of society. We covered this in "On speaking and being booed in a democracy."
The United States is a democracy. I speak all the time, right after the election (2008) to antiwar audiences, I was booed for refusing to lie that the SOFA meant the war ended in 2011. I was booed, I was cursed. It wasn't the first time in my life and surely won't be the last time. Anyone who gets up to speak better be prepared for that. I have a right to speak, you have a right to boo me. You have a right to speak, I have a right to boo you. If the boos become a problem then something may be done. In most settings, including Columbia, booing after comments is not going to get the booer in trouble. An organized boo, a boo-in, if you will, might result in security doing something because a boo-in would prevent anyone from speaking.
But if you get before an audience -- and I have many, many times -- there's a chance you're going to get booed. If you don't want to be booed, don't put yourself out there.
The veteran took a highly unpopular stand. He was allowed to speak, people were allowed to register their objection.
[. . .]
The outrage, I do want to note, that is being churned is being churned by the Daily Mail and the New York Post. The veteran is not quoted boo-hooing that he got booed. He's been in combat, I don't think he's a cry baby. He's seen a lot worse than a negative reaction to his taking what (he must have known) was an unpopular position.
He obviously believes in his position or he wouldn't have taken it. Why did he face an angry crowd? Because he probably hopes that his remarks would lay the groundwork for them to reconsider. And it might. Or it might make it easier for the next person who speaks out in the same manner. The veteran doesn't seem stupid -- the press does -- I doubt he expected a standing ovation. I would guess his hopes were more along the lines of "I'll plant some seeds and maybe they'll sprout in a few weeks or months."
That's what we all do, regardless of the issue and our position, when we speak out on something that's unpopular. He had every right to speak and those that booed had every right to boo. That's what life is in America. Again, he doesn't seem scarred by it (he may be laughing about the whole thing) or surprised by it. There is no caste system in America. We are all equal. Your opinion is something you can share, but you're not able to pull rank on me and silence my dissent because you did this or that or whatever. That's not how free speech works.

That's fairly straightforward. I would assume most adults and teenagers could follow it. If someone disagrees with you, there's a chance that you will be booed if you speak in public. And someone almost always disagrees with you on something. No one is protectedfrom booing, not a president, not a nun, not a soldier, no one. It's part of the social contract.
Is it good that they booed Anthony Mahchek? Yeah, it is. It shows that they have the strength to disagree if nothing else. And maybe that's true of those who booed Stephen Hill as well? And like Mahcehck, I doubt Stephen Hill shed any tears over it or was surprised that some members of the audience wished he'd hide in a closet for all time. Good for him for getting his question out there.
But Amy Davidson doesn't want to tell you about that.
That seems to be a common element among the press since the 2008 election. Remember how the gas bags just couldn't understand the SOFA? Remember how confusing tht was for them? In November 2008, on Thanksgiving Day, when the White House finally released the SOFA, we were able to figure it out. But then our main concern was the Iraq War not how to spin things for partisan politics. Anyone with even a basic understanding of contract law who took the time to readover the SOFA would have quickly realized it was a three year contract replacing the one year one (the UN mandate). Yes, the SOFA said that all US troops would leave Iraq at the end of 2011. And for those completely stupid, that was the end of it. But there were kill clauses that would allow the SOFA to be killed and that provision about 2011? That was only if nothing replaced the SOFA and the SOFA wasn't extended.
The gas bags misled America on the SOFA. Now they're doing the same on LGBT rights. I'm not in the mood to play.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell wasn't repealed, it was vanished. An important decision on Don't Ask, Don't Tell came from Judge Virginia Phillips of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. She found it unconstitutional. That was her ruling. That ruling needs to stand. As Marcia noted earlier this week, the Justice Department is attempting to get the decision tossed. If the decision is vacated, Stephen Hill's question becomes even more important.
Here's what Stephen Hill asked:
In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I'm a gay soldier and I didn't want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your Presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?
There was booing. And that's all the Amy Davidson's care about. I believe Stephen Hill's concern, however, was about equality in the US military. I don't think his concern was hurt feelings over what Republicans might do. Had that been his concern, he probably wouldn't have asked his question.
Why did complain about the way Don't Ask, Don't Tell was handled? Because there's nothing on the books in terms of a law. As pointed out here repeatedly, Barack didn't sign a law guaranteeing equality. No law was passed on that. Don't Ask, Don't Tell was simply removed from the books. Therefore it could come back under a different president. If it does come back, one thing that would help gay soldiers would be Judge Phillips' ruling which is why the Justice Dept needs to stop trying to overturn the judge's decision. It hurts the Justice Dept not one bit for that decision to stand. It's a historic decision and one that needs to be cited in other cases. If the decision is vacated, stare decis doesn't apply, no precedent was set via the decision. That matters tremendously and for those who never got why, last night's debate pointed it out. From the official Fox News transcript, this is the response from Rick Santorum to Stephen Hill's question.

SANTORUM: Yeah, I -- I would say, any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. And the fact that they're making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to -- to -- and removing "don't ask/don't tell" I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.

We need to give the military, which is all-volunteer, the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient at protecting our men and women in uniform.


And I believe this undermines that ability.


KELLY: So what -- what -- what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill? I mean, he's -- now he's out. He's -- you know, you saw his face on camera. When he first submitted this video to us, it was without his face on camera. Now he's out. So what would you do as president?

SANTORUM: I think it's -- it's -- it's -- look, what we're doing is playing social experimentation with -- with our military right now. And that's tragic.

I would -- I would just say that, going forward, we would -- we would reinstitute that policy, if Rick Santorum was president, period.

That policy would be reinstituted. And as far as people who are in -- in -- I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration, but we would move forward in -- in conformity with what was happening in the past, which was, sex is not an issue. It is -- it should not be an issue. Leave it alone, keep it -- keep it to yourself, whether you're a heterosexual or a homosexual.

I don't want to debate Santorum on this issue. I cleary believe he's wrong and we could play Dumb Ass one step above Amy Davidson and go into all the ways in which Santorum's wrong. But if we're going to be adults and not homophobes, because we're going to pay attention to what he said in relation to what Stephen Hill asked.
Would President Rick Santorum "circumvent the progress that's been made for gays and lesbian soldiers in the military?" And Santorum's answer is: Yes, he would reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell. By his own words. (I actually would guess he'd do far worse. Were he president, I think he would go back to the 1982 directive from Reagan which barred gays from serving.)
How is that possible?
No, the answer isn't, "Because Rick Santorum's an idiot." Whether he's smart or not, he's intelligent enough to grasp what the next president can do: Refuse to allow gays and lesbians in the military.
That might make Rick Santorum a mad genius, that he sees what so many refuse to. This is exactly what we pointed out repeatedly on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. You don't vanish it, you overturn it. If you vanish it, if you just wipe it away, there's nothing to prevent it from coming back.
Congress should have gone with an equality law. The White House didn't want that. And currently the White House wants to destroy Judge Virginia Phillips' ruling -- even as we now know that at least one Republican wanting to get into the White House plans to ban gays and lesbians from serving if he becomes president.
Judge Phillips' ruling needs to stand. And it was a huge, huge mistake on the part of the Congress and the White House to act as if they did something amazing. They didn't. And if you're concern is equality and not scoring partisan points for one side or the other, that's what you address. You address the realities that Stephen Hill and so many others could be facing. But The New Yorker and Amy Davidson want to play you and waste your time. I'm sorry, I don't tolerate or embrace homophobia. I call it out. I did so when Barack Obama put homophobes on stage at campaign events. When an 'ex-gay' preached hate at an official campaign event, I didn't play dumb and stupid. Amy Davidson is a homophobe because she only cares about homophobia when she score points against a Republican. Furthermore, she'll deliberately confuse the issue and waste everyone's time while risking the hard earned rights of the LBGT community in order to avoid addressing the real issue, the real question Stephen Hill was asking which is that Don't Ask, Don't Tell got erased but nothing was put in to protect gays and lesbians in the military from future discrimination.

Until you'r ready to deal with that, you don't need to weigh in on the issue. You're just causing problems. The same way those who insisted the SOFA meant US forces all leave Iraq at the end of 2011. That end is approaching but the US is engaged in engaged in negotitations to extend the US military presence. Maybe had a lot of uninformed idiots not lied and whored, those of us who believed in "OUT OF IRAQ NOW!" would have stayed focused on the issue and troops would already be out of Iraq.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ted loved Barry (Barry did not love Ted)








"We'd be having, from my perspective, circular conversations because we just do not know what's going on in Baghdad," declared the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen, today.
He and US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta were appearing in DC this morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mullen's comment was disturbing and if you're not getting how that is so, let's note what came immediately before it.
Senator David Vitter: What's the minimum number in your opinion would be required for them to protect themselves? I mean, that's where you start.
Adm Mike Mullen: But inside how much training am I going to do, who's going to do it -- again -- assuming we're going to do this -- where's it going to exist? It depends on where it is in the country. It's different west than it is north than it is south or in Baghdad. It's just not -- it's just not -- I know people -- others, you -- would love to have me get a number out there -- I --- Honestly, it's just -- It's not determined yet. It really does depend on what we're going to do. And where we're going to do it. And how often we're going to do it.
Senator David Vitter: Okay. Well I guess I'm just a little frustrated, Adm, because on our side, on the US government side, we're part of the political leadership so I'm asking for that advice as we have that -- as we have that discussion.
And that's when Mullen declared, of that discussion, "We'd be having, from my perspective, circular conversations because we just do not know what's going on in Baghdad." As Vitter noted, Congress is part of the government, Congress should be involved in these discussions. But they're shut out of the loop.
The Bush administration did that with the Status Of Forces Agreement. They not only refused to follow the Constitution's mandate on advise and consent on treaties, they refused to provide the Congress with a copy of the SOFA. When Congress finally began addressing elements of the SOFA, they were doing so via a translated copy from the Iraqi side of the negotiations. The White House kept the US Congress in the dark until after the Iraq Parliament passed it, at which point the White House released the SOFA publicly on their website (Thanksgiving Day, 2008).
For those who have forgotten, this refusal was called out by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. Among the more prominent names calling it out were Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
And yet now, as the US government and the Iraqi government are in negotations about extending the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011, the two senators who once objected to keeping Congress out of the loop on Iraq have decided that, as President and Vice President, they don't want the US Congress having any input or even knowledge of the negotiations.
It is almost October. December 31st all US troops (not including those shoved under the umbrella of the US Embassy in Iraq) might be out. That's certainly what Americans expect to happen because they've been told that's what would happen. Maybe they won't care about a broken promise?
Today the Los Angeles Times editorial board argued that withdrawal is more a state of mind than an actual action so 5,000 or less US troops remaining in Iraq is a-okay with them. And one minute they're decrying the deaths of nearly 5,000 US troops in the Iraq War in one sentence but in the very next sentence they declare that continued war is a-okay provided "the force were kept small -- 5,000 or so". So 5,000 is a big number except . . . when it's not? Clearly logic is not a prerequisite for serving on the paper's editorial board. And the editorial is saying that a pledge during a campaign, a promise to the public and even bad reporting from almost every outlet (and that includes the Los Angeles Times) telling Americans since the end of November 2008 that the SOFA meant US troops had to leave by the end of 2011 doesn't matter. Accountability apparently is no longer a concern of the press.
As noted, Committee Chair is Carl Levin. Senator John McCain is Ranking Member. Both attempted to garner answers and specifics were never forthcoming.
Senator Carl Levin is the Chair of the Senate Arms Committee. He attempted to get some idea of how many troops might or might not be staying.
Chair Carl Levin: But putting that aside, in terms of a mission in Iraq, would you agree that we must be careful to avoid keeping a large number of troops in Iraq as being, number one, inconsistent with the agreement that President Bush has entered into [the SOFA] and, number two, that it could unleash some street demonstrations which possibly could result in instability but that whatever we are negotiating should be at the request of the Iraqis and we should be very careful in terms of the numbers that we might negotiate?
Adm Mike Mullen: I think -- I think we have to be very careful about the numbers. I -- For me, at a very high level, the most critical part of this is to get the strategic partnership right as the Secretary [of Defense Leon Panetta] testified and that we really are in the middle of negotiations right now with respect to what do the Iraqis want? And what, quite frankly, can the Iraqi political leadership deliver? And, as the Secretary said, there has been no determination and no decision at this point.
Chair Carl Levin: And the issue is not what the Iraqis want, the issue is what we believe is going to be appropriate, if any, after they make a request --
Adm Mike Mullen: Well actually.
Chair Carl Levin: It's our decision, is that correct?
Adm Mike Mullen: I - I think it will be, certainly, but that's part of the negotiations.
Chair Carl Levin: Of course. Secretary Panetta, do you want to add anything to that in terms of continuing training mission in Iraq?
Secretary Leon Panetta: I - I - I think it's important that - that the whole purpose of these negotiations is to listen to what - what is it that they need, uh, in order to ensure that they can provide security, in order to ensure that they can deal with the threat of terrorism, in order to ensure that they can take the steps necessary to be able to deal with security threats within their country. We've gotta' -- We've gotta' take the -- Listen to their needs, take them into consideration, indicate what can be provided in order to meet those concerns and then, obviously, through a process of negotiations, arrive at, you know, what - what is that going to look like? And that's the process that's going on nonw. And clearly it's not going to reflect the numbers that we've had there in the past but, uh, it - it -it does have to meet their needs. That's what's being negotiated by Gen [Lloyd] Austin as we speak.
Chair Carl Levin: Senator McCain?

Ranking Member John McCain: Well, Secretary Panetta, I don't want to waste the time of the Committee and my questioning but the fact is that one of the reasons why this has been delayed as much as it has is because the Iraqis wanted to know what our assessment was as to how many troops should be there and that has not been forthcoming. And it's very difficult for them to make a decision without us making input into what those needs are. And if we are basing it all on Iraqis' needs, that, to me, is an incomplete picture because we need to know what America's national security needs are as paramount reason for leaving American troops in harms way. Adm Mullen, do you believe that US forces should remain in the disputed territories of northern Iraq as part of a post-2011 mission?
Adm Mike Mullen: Again, Senator, I think certainly that is a very, very contentious area and it's --
Ranking Member John McCain: Do you believe or not believe that we should have --
Adm Mike Mullen: I think -- I think the security posture in that area has to be such that that doesn't, in any way shape or form, blow up. It is a very tough area and the exact composition of how that should happen, uh, is a product of these negotitations.
Ranking Member John McCain: So --
Adm Mike Mullen: And quite frankly, I've --
Ranking Member John McCain: So you'll not give your opinion --
Adm Mike Mullen: Sir, sir --
Ranking Member John McCain: -- as to whether we need to have a residual peace keeping force in northern Iraq in post 2011?
Adm Mike Mullen: There have -- There -- There -- Quite frankly -- and very recently -- there is still a very contentious debate about that issue.
Ranking Member John McCain: I understand there is a debate. I was asking you for your opinion.
Adm Mike Mullen: That's an issue that a security force is going to have to be there to resolve, yeah. It's composition, uh, is, I think, to be determined.
Ranking Member John McCain: Well every number that I've heard and been briefed on is at least 5,000 troops would be needed in that area, US troops, to prevent what has already been a very volatile are and if we weren't there would have already been conflict.
[. . . McCain takes the conversation to Afghanistan for a series of questions.]
Ranking Member John McCain: Finally, again back to Iraq, Mr. Secretary, it's not a training mission in the disputed areas. It's a peace keeping mission. So if you're confining it all only to training mission than you have got the complete picture of the security risks in Iraq that I have.
While visiting troops in Iraq in July (see July 11th snapshot), Leon Panetta made a serious of comments that were seen as gaffes. One wasn't a gaffe and that's become ever more clear. Panetta falsely linked 9-11 and Iraq. Panetta was widely called out in the press for this. His statements before the Committee today were often just as false and reactionary. His big theme, he pimped it three different times during the hearing, is that the Iraq War cannot just wind down because strides need to be made in Iraq and not to achieve those would be an insult to the dead.
He declared that the worst thing about it would be leaving the impression "that somehow all of this was in vain."
It was in vain in terms of its stated goals. In terms of creating a new market for corporations it's been a success. In terms of stealing Iraqi oil, it may yet be a success. But Leon Panetta has entered major reactionary territory taking him far from his center-left roots.
And, he better accept this, the American people have already determined that the Iraq War was not worth the cost.
The idea that approximately 4,480 Americans have died in the Iraq War so the US must remain in it is nonsense and it's insulting. Those lives lost are lost. That's very sad, it's very troubling. It does not excuse forcing other Americans to continue to die. To pretend that we cannot learn from mistakes is a rejection of the human experience and Leon Panetta was insulting, rude and crass. How dare he use the dead to shore up his weak argument. It was shameful and calls into question not only where he stands today but also whether or not he's fit to serve as Secretary of Defense.
Allegedly, Barack Obama as president meant change. But there's been no change with regards to war (except Barack embraces a little tighter). Today was one of the most embarrassing and shameful days for the administration. Barack may be able to take comfort in the fact that none of it resulted from a comment or comments he made, but that doesn't change the embarrassment or the shame.
If Leon Panetta feels that leaving Iraq will mean dead Americans (John McCain was the only one who ever noted the pain and struggle of Iraqis as more than a fleeting aside -- wait, Lindsey Graham did as well, he praised the Iraqis who had fought with Americans and noted that many had died during this war) died in vain, maybe he should tender his resignation, contact DynaCorp, grab a gun and head on over to Iraq as a mercenary?
But to insist that, because 20 or 30 people died walking into a fire that they were told would be a beautiful meadow, we must therefore keep sending people into that fire or the 20 or 30 dead was in vain, is an illogical argument devoid of any recognition of our greatest ability: The ability to learn from our mistakes.
The Committee was clearly (and rightly) bothered by the refusal of the administration to keep them informed on the negotiations or to bring them into the negotiations. We'll note this section of the hearing.
Senator Lindsey Graham: You're not going to tell me the number, I understand why you're not going to tell me the number. But we're going to talk about Iraq in terms of our strategic interest. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it that Iraq end well in terms of our national security interests?
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: It's -- it's certainly an 8 and above.
Senator Lindsey Graham: Okay. So let's look at it in terms of 8 and above. The resourcing for an 8 and above situation should be robust but reasonable. And Gen Ray Odierno says that we don't want a too large a force, I agree. The Iraqis want to take over but they need our help. If you looked at the Kurdish-Arab dispute as a potential failure point in the future of Iraq, where fighting could break out, Adm Mullen, how would you rate that as a risk?
Adm: Mike Mullen: High.
Senator Lindsey Graham: Okay, if you look at the construct you have of peshmerga, Afghan [Iraqi] security force and American soldier forming a new brigade or company, that construct is paying dividends, isn't it?
Adm Mike Mullen: Yes, sir, it has.
Senator Lindsey Graham: They call it the Lion's Brigade. So what I would ask you to do the next time you sit down and look at the number of troops to make sure the fault line does not crack because we've got a plan to integrate the peshmerga, the Iraqi security forces. And we're the referee. Over time, we're going to build a transition force that will be more stable. You said something, capacity and capability is as important as numbers. And I agree with that but there's a time in military engagement where numbers do matter. We're at the point now where capability matters. So my point about 3,000 -- and I know that's not the number -- intelligence gathering. What ability do the Iraqis have to gather intelligence on their own? Compared to us?
Adm Mike Mullen: I-I would describe that as one of the gap areas that they clearly need to work on. It's not none but it's an area that they certainly have --
Senator Lindsey Graham: But they dont have close to what we have and, if you want to keep Iran at bay, the more we know about what Iran's doing better off the Iraqis are, is that correct?
Adm Mike Mullen: But, Senator Graham, I don't think we should make them us either. Yes, they need to improve but --.
Senator Lindsey Graham: But we have a national security interest field in Iraq, right? So it's in our national security interest to know what's going on in that country. So when you look at the fault line of the Kurd-ish Arab dispute, you look at the fault line, you're looking at capabilities they don't have, when you look at their air force, training their army and having a force protection plan for our diplomats, the numbers begin to add up. And all I'm saying is, would you feel comfortable with a member of your family serving in a force of 3,000?
Adm Mike Mullen: I would -- I have confidence that whatever -- If -- assuming there is a number -- That force protection will be -- will be, uh, that our force protection will meet of whomever might be there --
Senator Lindsey Graham: One last question --
Adm Mike Mullen: So in that regard, yes.
The White House keeps the Congress out of the negotiation process. Their puppet Nouri al-Maliki mirrors their behavior. The Associated Press reports that Osama al-Nujaifi, Speaker of Parliament, held a press conference today in which he announced that Nouri al-Maliki has provided no information to Parliament about US troops remaining in Iraq or even about the capabilities of Iraqi forces. Nouri was designated as the sole negotiator in discussions with the US government to keep US forces in Iraq beyond 2011. As the commander of the Iraqi military, it is incumbent upon Nouri to deliver a report on readiness to Parliament.

Recommended: "Iraq snapshot"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's all over now, Barry Blue








"As many of you know," declared Senator Patty Murray today, "my father was a World War II disabled veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he suffered during the invasion of Okinawa. I grew up watching his struggles with the knowledge that he had sacrificed for our nation and that he asked very little in return. Then later in my life -- during college -- I worked as an intern in the Seattle VA hospital, providing physical therapy to Vietnam veterans who came home with the visible and invisible wounds of war. Those personal experiences have given me not only a very real understanding of the consequences of sending our service members into combat, but also a sense of the obligation we have to care for them when they return." Murray was speaking this morning in DC at a joint-hearing held by the Senate and House's Veterans Affairs Committees. Murray is Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The primary witness appearing before them was the American Legion's National Commander Fang Wong. Also appearing were the American Legion's Tim Tetz, Michael Helm, Verna Jones and Daniel Dellinger. Helm addressed proposed post office closings when asked (and Ava will be cover that Trina's site tonight).
Wong testified that the American Legion strongly opposes the recommendation that premiums for TRICARE be increased. He reminded that US President Barack Obama spoke to the American Legion last month at their 93rd Annual National Convention and swore "that the budget would not be balanced on the backs of veterans." Wong noted that this promise would be broken if TRICARE premiums were increased -- as the proposal Barack presented to the nation on Monday recommended -- for military retirees because "military retirees are veterans."
In an exchange with US House Rep Timothy Walz, Wong called out reports and reporters who referred to "medical and retirement benefits earned by military personnel as social welfare. I resent that. We're not here looking for handouts. We earned those rights and you folks should protect those rights." On employment, he noted that the government says 'Hire veterans, hire veterans!' to private industry; however, approximately 80% of all veterans who now work in the federal government work can be found in the Dept of Defense, the Dept of Veterans Affairs or Homeland Security.
US House Rep Silvestre Reyes noted the "tough budget times" the US is in "but like you [Wong], I feel we should take care of the veterans first and foremost" and he then noted he had "signed on" to a piece of legislation on veterans identification cards, a piece of legislation he felt had good intent, but now he's found out that "there's a proposal to charge the veteran for that identification card. I don't agree with that." Wong went with a joke instead of addressing the issue. He had many laughing out loud (proposing Congress mandate that all veterans join the American Legion). But maybe addressing the issue, even only in a "I personally think . . ." manner would have done a better job of representing veterans' interest?
From the hearing, we'll excerpt this section.
Senate Committee Chair Patty Murray: I really appreciate your attention and focus on the employment of our returning heroes and I know Chairman Miller and I are both working on this. I wanted to ask you, you mentioned mandatory TAP and of course seemless transition. Do you hear a lot from your membership about the lack of certifcations service members receive? That their resumes don't show the true breadth of their skills they have learned in the military?
Fang Wong: Madame Chairman, I was fortunate to serve on the Department of Labor Advisory Committee for a couple of years and at that particular period of time TAP was one of our major concerns. We actually conducted field trips by the committee members to various military installations to see how it worked. And what we find -- this is a couple of years back -- at that time was that TAPS really needs some standardization and repackaging because we find that depending on what installation and service that you attend, they - they do different things. The - the instructions presented were really outdated and the things that they stressed mostly, perhaps it's not really close to what the service member really needs. There were some service that required mandatory -- I believe the Marines Corps is the only service that requires mandatory training. A lot of the other posts? I went to Fort [. . ] the Army post and basically it's open, you should come; however, if you're not there, it's okay. That type of atmosphere. The committee I served with, we spent a lot of time studying that and we make a lot of recommendations to the Secretary and I guess to Congress that we should do something with TAP and get some standardization because we find out from a lot of success stories of service members that we have opportunity to interview and talk to that TAP, if used properly, actually helped them prepare. The thing about that is when we take in inductees and volunteers into the service now days, DoD and the government, we, the tax payers, spend millions and millions of dollars to train them to be a professional soldier. And when the time for them to change the uniform and go back to the civilian world, perhaps we're not spending nearly as [much] time or attention to prepare them back to the civilian world where they could seamlessly go back to a normal life. Of course, you know anybody that ever served in the service, especially those great men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, nothing will ever again be normal when they go back to their world. But we should do what we can to prepare them and make sure that they get the benefit. And a lot of time, with TAP, I beliee we were not providing the opportunity or providing the tools where they could easily equate what they performed, what they were trained in the military as to what's out there in the civilian world for them. And the civilians license and agency, the certification agency, they're throwing -- I'm not saying they're bad but they're throwing road blocks up there and saying that unless you are getting this piece of paper, you're not qualified. You know, when we -- when we entrust 18, 19, 20 year-old young men and woman that volunteer to serve for our freedom, we entrust them operating machines, planes, tanks that cost millions, million, millions dollar, how can we tell them that you're not qualifed? We have to understand one thing, when the government trained this particular individaul, he or she, to me, is the most disciplined, most learnable most qualified individual because one thing that we need to understand: They love this country. That's why they serve. And we owe it to them that we do everything we can to make sure they will have a good job, they will have a good career.
Senate Committee Chair Patty Murray: Thank you, I really appreciate that. I have a number of other questions but we have a lot of members here so I'm going to turn it over to Chairman Miller.
House Committee Chair Jeff Miller: If I could just follow on with the TAP issue, Friday I was the reviewing official at Paris Island, the end of 13 grueling weeks I'm sure for some young Marines, very grueling, right? It's my belief and I want to know if you share the same belief and you talked about TAP needign to be revamped and changed, 13 weeks to make a Marine or the other boot camps, I mean I don't -- I don't think that just having them in classroom for a day or two or however long the TAP program is enough. Do you think there's a way that we can convince DoD to give a substantial amount of time at the end of the service and I know that service member is focused on really one thing and that is reuniting with their family, getting on with their life. But this TAP program is so important to that individual to prepare them for that transition. And I'd like to know what you and the Legion think about the possibility of making it a not only mandatory but a longer program?
Fang Wong: Mr. Chairman, maybe we're talking about two separate issues here. We were looking at TAP. Tap basically, they were provided to members separating from the service. And most of the time it happens at an installation. And you're right, the members will go there for maybe a week and TAP is maybe part of that one week transistion, training or orientation. What we learned, again, I refer back to the administriaton or the committee, and what we learned in a lot of institutions, they will provide the TAP training a lot sooner anybody who wants can sign up for it as then that way they can get the basic information. And then, as they're getting close to the separation day or the retirement day, they will be reinvited back. By that time, they will have the time in between to learn or figure out what he really needs or what she really needs, and able to ask some more direct questions or recieve more direct help from the instructor. And that when we interviewed some of the recently separated members, they indicated that helps a lot whereas you cram in one day, half a day and the end and the service members have a lot more on their mind to worry about that they don't have time to sit down and allow that to sink in and realize how important in preparing the resume and preparing himself or herself to be interviewed and that may not be the top priority of them. So give them an opportunity to come back. And so we do it sooner and then give them the opportunity to come back, I think that would be more helpful. The other scenario I can see is like when we are moving soldiers back from the war zone, a lot of them, we let them go home real quick. And they may still have service obligation left, but we release them and there's different opinions about how do we separate them? We ask questions: Are you okay, do feel anything different? Things like that. And we have to bear in mind, when you're young, you serve and you're away from your loved ones for a long tif that is the only gate or opportunity that stands between you and your family, I'll bet 99% of the time, that soldier will say, "No, no, no. I just want to be with my family." And so I don't know how to fix it. I don't know whether we should keep them a little bit longer or make it mandatory but that is something we need to look forward to.
At the end of the hearing, Mark Begich used his time to note that Alaska has 77,000 veterans which he stated was the highest per capita of any state.
Turning to Iraq where there's a new president, Tareq al-Hashimi. Actually, Dar Addustour explains, the Sunni vice president is actually the acting president while President Jalal Talabani is in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly. Though the president may have (temporarily) changed, Nouri and Political Stalemate II remain the same.
Starting with Nouri and his petty nature, yesterday's snapshot noted that MP Sabah al-Saadi was denying there was an arrest warrant sworn out against him and he was stating that Nouri al-Maliki was targeting him, that Nouri was deliberately keeping the three security ministries vacant in an attempt to seize more power and that Nouri was willing "to sell Iraq to maintain his hold on power." The situation continues to develop. Al Rafidayn reports that the Parliament received an arrest warrant for al-Saadi yesterday and the charges are threatening national sovereignty and integrity." They also remind that al-Saadi previously lodged the accusation that Nouri had forced Judge Rahim al-Ugeily out as Chair of the Integrity Commission. These are not separate stories. Nouri filed a complaint against him for those charges. Making those charges, Nouri insists, threatened national sovereignty and integrity. Nouri is demanding that parliamentary immunity be lifted.
The story doesn't end there. al-Saadi held a press conference. Al Mada reports that the press conference revolved around a document which revealed a plan to kill a number of members of Parliament "including me personally" as well as journalists and tribal chiefs. Numerous people have received the document including the Ministry of the Interior and security officials in various provinces; however, no one informed al-Saadi of the threat against his life. Dar Addustour notes that any such vote on lifting al-Saadi's immunity has been pushed back to Monday. Among those criticizing Nouri's move? Moqtada al-Sadr. Aswat al-Iraq quotes al-Sadr stating that the warrant is part of "building a new dictatorship" and "we suggest to Premier Maliki to stop these moves for the Iraqi reputation, because political action is build on partnership, not demotion."

Baby's bad day







In the US, Kevin Douglas Grant (Global Post) reports on Iraq War veteran Lt Dan Choi:

But his time in Iraq began to turn Choi's mind against the American war effort there. Corruption and mismanagement of the rebuilding process was rampant, and as a member of the Commanders Emergency Response Team (CERP), Choi himself had the authority to vet and authorize contracts with almost no oversight. He often paid cash.
"Every week I would fly from Green Zone to the 'Triangle of Death' area and then pass out money," Choi explained, his ready smile on display. "I'd have a million dollars in hundred-dollar bills in my backpack. I was like, 'Wow, I have more than my life is worth.'"
By May, two major forces in Choi's life were waging war on his psyche. On one hand, he had a military career he was fully dedicated to. On the other hand, he had met the love of his life but most of his inner circle still didn't know he was gay. So he started telling them.
"That was probably the hardest time," Choi said. "Being in the military with a boyfriend that I wanted to marry. I thought, 'How am I going to be able to keep being in the military this way?"

Dan Choi joined the fight for equality and became a public face for the movement and what may have still been, for some people, an abstract notion. The courage he demonstrated and the courage of others in the movement is why Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been overturned.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a response to the Reagan administration. With the military having failed in the courts to kick out a man for being gay (Sgt Leonard Matlovich whom US District Court Judge Gerhard Gessell ordered the Air Force to reinstate in the fall of 1980), the Reagan administration showed their usual vindictive nature and responded with a 1982 Defense Dept directive forbidding gays and lesbians from serving and this combined with the increased homophobia resulting from fears over the emerging AIDS crisis and a packing of the courts with conservatives resulted in a harsher climate where discharges based on sexuality became policy and legal recourse appeared to have vanished. From Rachel Martin's report today for Morning Edition (NPR -- link has text and audio):
STACY VASQUEZ: I like to say that I'm a government-certified homosexual.
MARTIN: Vasquez was a 30-year-old Army sergeant first class when she was discharged under "don't ask, don't tell." Someone claimed to have seen her kissing a woman at a gay bar, and that was the end of her career.
VASQUEZ: Yeah, it ended right in front of my eyes that day. That was a hard day.
MARTIN: But it was the beginning of her very public role in the movement to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." She became an activist, appearing with Lady Gaga at the Video Music Awards.
LADY GAGA: My friend Stacy here was discharged after 12 years in the Army, and it's...
MARTIN: And giving countless speeches calling for an end of "don't ask, don't tell."
VASQUEZ: How many veterans do I have in the audience? Raise your hand. Yeah, raise them proud.
Gays and lesbians (and bi-sexuals) were demonized throughout the 20th century. They were seen as mentally ill, as sick, as stunted, etc. This was taught to generations not as hate or ignorance but state of the art science. In addition, beginning with silent films, Hollywood studios worked overtime to churn our stereotypes of what a gay man or a lesbian woman was in order to allow their gay actors and actresses to remain above public suspicion. All of this came together to make gays and lesbians both targets and pariah. The story of the 20th century is the story of many movements towards equality. And one thing to remember about the prejudice of past generations -- whether it was against sexuality, race or gender -- it was not taught as hate or fear (though that's what it actually was by the insitutions teaching it), it was taught as state of the art science. People who thought a race was inferior or a gender or person based on their sexuality were often up on the 'science' of their day.
For gays and lesbians, many credit WWII service with helping strides to be made as men and women who might have stayed in the areas they were born in instead relocated and were able to form diverse communities that helped refute the 'scientific' claims of the day. New York City was one city a diverse community formed and went up against the earlier movements which saw itself as a little more refined although it was a lot more closeted and a lot more self-loathing. The WWII group was boisterous and not caught up in the trappings of the upper class which allowed for a vibrant movement to develop. The 60s saw Stonewall most famously but many other efforts as well and one of the areas targeted was psychiatriaty to get homosexuality out of the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] as a mental disorder. This was successfully lobbied and a huge step for future legal issues. Throughout the battle for equality, there would be foes (Anita Bryant, anyone?) who would emerge and attack. Which is why a Dan Choi is so important (and why coming out is). Decades of demonizing gays and lesbians left a false image. Studies on acceptance and tolerance in the 90s repeatedly found that those most likely to know someone who was gay or lesbian were more likely to be accepting or tolerant.
So Dan Choi is part of a movement that's gone on in this country for over a century and, on the military aspect, he follows other leaders who put a public face on the issue like Margarethe Cammermeyer who was forced out in 1992 for revealing in 1989 (during a security clearance interview) that she was a lesbian. Her story and others were bubbling up in the media and then came the October 27, 1992 murder of Petty Officer Third Class Allen R. Schindler Jr. by his military colleagues and it became a big campaign issue in 1992. Bill Clinton campaigned for the presidency that year with the pledge to allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military. Then Joint Chief of Staff Colin Powell was having none of it and made highly homophobic statements repeatedly and with Senator Sam Nunn and others in Congress -- and in the Democratic Party -- went along with these attacks and began making efforts to turn Reagan's 1982 DoD directive into a law, Clinton came up with the compromise of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (During this period, the press fanned the flames of homophobia -- it was far from an 'enlightened' press and still suffering their self-inflicted third degree sex burns resulting from their prurient and pseudo-moralistic coverage of Madonna's Sex book, Body of Evidence film, "Justify My Love" video and Erotica album),
This was supposed to stop the witch hunts and allow gay people to serve. The deal was you didn't talk about your personal life at work and the military could no longer ask you if you were gay. That deal was never really followed as it was supposed to have been and, in addition, being in the military for most is not a job you leave. You live in a military facility or on a ship or whatever. When do you get your personal life away from that? In addition, we've come far enough as a society to see that as crumbs and grasp that it's asking someone to deny who they are and force them in the closet and imply there's something wrong about who they are by asking them not to talk about it.
At American Progress, Crosby Burns offers his take on the historic nature of today. Iraq War veteran Nicolaas Koppert shares his story at NPR (text only):
I thought a life in the closet was something I could do, something I had to do in order to be happy. I was dating girls and laughing along with jokes that should have upset me, just to be one of the guys. I didn't want to be gay, in fact, I hated it. It felt like it made my whole life more difficult than my fellow soldiers.
I thought it wasn't fair that I had to be this way. I wondered why I was the only one in my company that was this way, or even if I was the only one. I've seen the worst of war but I know I would never have the courage to come out to my battle buddies. We were within eyesight of each other 24/7 but they thought they were seeing a straight guy.
Tim Mak (POLITICO) reports Dan Choi plans to re-enlist and states that military benefits will not be extended to the spouses of same-sex couples, "There is time for some well-intended criticism here -- the parties that have been going on. I think they misrepresent the meaning of this event. People who believe that discrimination is somehow all erased will have a rude awakening." And sadly, no law insisting on equality has replaced Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (Which is why the Ninth Circuit decision was needed despite the administration's successful efforts to overturn it.) A law could have been put in place declaring equality. Barring that, allowing the Ninth Circuit decision to stand would have allowed a precedent to be set and stare decisis to provide protection. Tony Lombardo (Marine Corps News) reports:

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays from serving openly will be stripped from the military's rulebook on Tuesday. The occasion could pass quietly. President Obama and the Defense Department have no plans for press conferences or major addresses, and DoD stopped enforcing it in July.
But for gay Marines, official repeal will be a historic day, comparable to the moment 63 years ago when President Truman ordered the services to end racial segregation.

NPR's Rachel Martin reports on the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Morning Edition today. This is a day of pride for the LGBT community who still have battles to fight for full equality. One non-gay man who deserves applause today is former US House Rep Patrick Murphy. He has a column at Huffington Post where he writes of the struggle. He doesn't take his proper credit in that post and is far too modest. He notes he came into Congress in 2007 with the plan to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He does not go into how he was humored and misled. At one point, he was told that Senator Ted Kennedy would be leading the effort in the Senate and when he repeated that publicly, we noted here that it was a lie and that Ted was far sicker than the public knew and that it was terminal. Murphy was jerked around repeatedly. And then came the 2010 elections and he lost his seat. He could have washed his hands of the matter. But he didn't. He kicked it into overdrive, called in favors and, with the help of others who supported repeal, was able to get repeal voted on in both houses of Congress. Murphy is running for Attorney General in Pennsylvania.

The more than $1 trillion in defense "savings" that the White House claims is based on a projection the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) put out last March, which found that war costs would top $1.7 trillion over the next ten years. However, that projection was never meant to accurately forecast the costs of the wars over the next decade. The report just took this year's costs for Iraq and Afghanistan ($159 billion) and added inflation for every year in the future.

In other words, the CBO number was the projection if the United States kept the current number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan until 2020. However, nobody ever thought that was the plan. The CBO was required to do the math that way, as they do with all such projections.

At today's White House briefing, reporters were quick to point out that Obama never planned to keep that many troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next ten years. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jack Lew's response was to point out that the House GOP had used the same faulty logic in Paul Ryan's budget plan.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Suffer for him, won't you?





Sunday, a US soldier died in Iraq. The Dept of Defense hasn't identified the fallen as I dictate this but KRGV and Valley Central's Action 4 News both report it is Estevan Altamirano (citing his family) of Edcough, Texas who was a 1999 graduate of Edcouch-Elsa High School, the father of five and his survivors include his wife. According to the Washington Post's Faces of the Fallen data base, 414 other service members from Texas have died in the Iraq War (there are eight pages with 51 on each page, when you click on page eight, there is no ninth page but there is "next" which contains 6 additional service members -- 8 x 51= 408 + 6= 414 and the search criteria was "Iraq" for theater and "Texas" for state/territory.) Many of the fallen of the current wars come from rural areas and small towns. The 2010 census found the population for Edcouch to be 3,161 and 97.8 Hispanic It's in the southern county of Hildalgo .
As noted Thursday, with no release of death announcements by DoD, the Pentagon's official death count of US military personnel in the Iraq War rose by 2 this month (before Sunday's death). The Pentagon has not corrected their numbers. I asked a friend at DoD about it on Friday. The official message back today is, "The numbers are the numbers." Are they correct? "We have issued no correction." Which would mean adding one to the count, the number of US military personnel who have died in the Iraq War thus far stands at 4480. (Add 4,421 from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to 58 from "Operation New Dawn" -- new name for the Iraq War and then add 1 for Sunday's death.)
Is Tom Hadyen drunk or crazy? "You're going to laugh so hard," swore a friend (one of many women the married Tom came onto the 80s who was shot down -- as a general rule, those of us with money rejected Tom while women who thought he might be a stepping stone hopped in bed). I didn't laugh. I can't take the sounds of spit washing around in a mouth repeatedly combined with lip smacking. I'm glad Matthew Rothschild conducted the interview (for Progressive Radio) by phone because I'm sure he'd have been covered with spit otherwise. Tom goes to a subject that we are not touching here but doesn't it seem like he went there to try to ensure Barack gets re-elected? Yeah, it did. He has no shame. He will play with anything, toy with any topic, no matter how violent and what might result to get his way. It's disgusting. Barack supporters would do well to keep their distance from Tom Hayden. When not raising that, he lied and distorted -- and Matthew let him -- about the man who shot US House Rep Gabrielle Giffords. Mainly he paraded his own vanity. No one's ever been obssed with Tom (nor ever more interested in Tom than Tom himself is interested in Tom). But the moment that was saddest (I wish I could have laughed as many women did listening to the ass speak) was when he declared, "I've spent the last two years, I'm sure the White House doesn't like it, just hammering on Afghanistan, Iraq, the . . . [long list of issues] and the only thing I can see is my persistent pressure gradually turning him around." Yes, Tom, it was your persistent pressure, it was all you. (He struggles with words throughout and Matthew has to correct his terms elsewhere in the interview. Again, was he drunk?)
That would have been it on Iraq, that aside. The interview had gone on for over 24 minutes and despite Tom's claims of his persistent pressure and despite his idiotic Ending the
War in Iraq book in 2007 (pillars? I think Tom's got a penis fascination), he ran away from the Iraq War long, long ago. More frightening is that he ran away from reality as well. What planet does Tom now live on?
Tom Hayden: If he -- if he just took the 47,000 troops out of Iraq, which we're waiting on pins and needles what is he going to do? That would mean 50 billion dollars that could go straight to job creation in the US.
Matthew Rothschild: I'm willing to bet you he leaves most of those there --
Tom Hayden: No! He won't!
Matthew Rothschild: -- if he can get the Iraqi government to agree.
Tom Hayden: He won't. It'll be between 47,000 and zero. But it's an insane policy and he knows it. He -- he's not in control of the whole situation. I mean, the insanity is Bush and the American government installed a pro-Shia, a pro-Iran regime with torture chambers in Baghdad and now is being asked by Saudi Arabia to leave some troops behind, uh, to counter-balance Iran in the conflict between -- the regional conflict between Saudis -- Saudis and Sunnis. If I was a soldier, and I have a close friend who is in Iraq fighting, uh, uhm, I-I would not want to be pinned down in the crossfire between sectarian uh forces with 10,000 or 13,000 of my buddies. So that's the argument against. Save money, get the troops out, and, you know, don't go to bat for Saudi Arabia in exchange for oil, fighting against a regime that the United States installed so the-the-the issue in Iraq isn't over. The argument remains. We shall know in a month!
Oh my heavens. How he slurred his words. If he wasn't drunk, he needs to get to a doctor to check and see if he's had a slight stroke.
Tom -- whom Barack derided on the campaign trail last go round "Tom Hayden Democrats," remember? -- just knows what's in Barack's heart: "But it's an insane policy and he knows it." He then insists, "He -- he's not in control of the whole situation." Oh my goodness, the conspiracy theories never cease from this nutcase.
He is the president of the United States. Everything he's done, he's meant to do. He may not have anticipated this or that response, but he decided his own actions. I am so sick of the groupies who can't grow the hell up after all this time.
I believe when Tom was slurring "Saudis and Sunnis" what he actually meant was "Shi'ites and Sunnis." He's always been obsessed with Saudi Arabia. Not over human rights issues but over his paranoia of Arabs. (I've written before of that as has Elaine.)
But let's move to this stupidity: "I mean, the insanity is Bush and the American government installed a pro-Shia, a pro-Iran regime with torture chambers in Baghdad and now is being asked [. . .]" Tom Hayden, how drunk were you?
The Bush adminstraion installed a pro-Iranian regime, yes. They refused the choice of Iraq for prime minister and insisted upon Nouri al-Malik in April of 2006. Yes. But, Tom, what happened in 2010?
The lesson of the 2009 elections (provincial elections and I'm speaking of the ones at the start of the year so that excludes the KRG which held their provincial elections months later) was that the Iraqi people were rejecting sectarianism and embracing a national identity. Not that surprising, the sectarian divide was largely encouraged by the US -- Laura Flanders documented this repeatedly in 2004, 20005 and 2006 on her Air America Radio programs The Laura Flanders Show and Radio Nation with Laura Flanders. Many Iraqis would explain that the first thing Americans would ask them was if they were Sunni or Shia and that really wasn't their first thought. The theme of the 2009 elections was repeated when Iraqis voted in March 2010. Even after Nouri stamped his feet and got votes tossed out, even after he whined and threw a tantrum and was given votes he didn't earn to shut him up, Iraqiya still came in first. Iraqiya was the non-sectarian slate. You could be Sunni or Shi'ite or anything and be a part of Iraqiya. Well, you couldn't be Sunni in many cases and run for office. If you did, Nouri had you disqualified by insisting you were a Ba'ahtists. But Iraqiya was about a national Iraq identity. And this is what Iraqis voted for.
After the numbers were juggled for Nouri (who'd already abused his position to try to influence the outcome prior to the elections -- including kicking out popular Iraqiya candidates), the US government had a choice: They could back the Iraqi people or they could go against them.
The Iraqi people, you know, the group Tom Hayden forgot in all of his remarks about Iraq?
The US government wasn't concerned with the Iraqi people either. You had an element within the CIA -- which Leon Panetta ignored and did not advocate for -- who wanted Ayad Allawi. (Not a big surprise, Allawi was a CIA asset for many years.) You had an element of Big Oil and business that wanted Adel Abdul-Mahdi (until he resigned recently, he was Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President). A group of what we'll call 'East Coast intellectuals' who had some sway over the White House argued for Ammar al-Hakim and used as one of their talking points that his youth (he's 40-years-old) would be a plus and signifiy a fresh start in Iraq and "a new Iraq" (that's a direct quote from their talking points). (Ammar al-Hakim heads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.) No one argued for a Kurdish prime minister. Possibly due to the fact that Jalal Talabani had already made clear he wanted to remain president of Iraq. (Talabani is a Kurd.) There were various factions within the administration.
Samantha Power in her role of foreign policy guru for Barack (she's been that since he was in the Senate) and as National Security Advisor insisted upon Nouri al-Maliki. Nouri, she pointed out, was already agreeable to extending the US military presence beyond 2011. If they brought in someone new, he might promise that he'd extend it but would he? They knew Nouri would because he had so many times before and he'd already agreed on the oil law (see theft of Iraqi oil). (I'm presenting her argument, I am not agreeing with it. I think Nouri's the king of the double cross.) Due to her position of primacy on foreign policy with Barack for so many years, she was able to overide everyone -- including Cabinet heads and Joe Biden.
It would be easy to say that the White House based their decision on self-interest. But the truth is it wasn't just Samantha Power's option that was about self-interest. All of the options were about self-interest. No one ever spoke of a strong Iraq, no one ever spoke of the Iraqi people.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"