CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O'S OBAMACARE WAS NEVER ANYTHING BUT A CORPORATE GIVEAWAY TO BEGIN WITH. IT DID NOT PROVIDE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. IT DID NOT PROVIDE CITIZENS WITH ANYTHING BUT A LEGAL ORDER TO BUY INSURANCE.
A NEW STUDY OUT TODAY ARGUES IT DOES EVEN WORSE -- IT WILL ADD OVER $300 BILLION TO THE DEFICIT.
REACHED FOR COMMENT WHILE EN ROUTE TO A BIKINI WAX, BARRY O INSISTED IT WAS NO BIG DEAL, "WHAT'S A FEW PENNIES? IT'S NOT LIKE I'M GOING TO BE STUCK PAYING THE BILL."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Nine years ago today, Gulf News' Mayada al-Askari observes, was "the toppling of Saddam Hussain's statue by the Americans at Al Firdaus Square in Iraq." In 2004, David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times) reported that the April 9, 2003 toppling of the statue was a psyops operation. Before we go further, we should note that the US government is not allowed to use psyop operations on the American people. In fact, that sort of propaganda is why Voice of America is legally prevented from broadcasting in the United States. It's very telling that the Congress refused to investigate what the Los Angeles Times exposed.
Iraqi civilians didn't topple the statue, the US military did: "And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking."
It was supposed to be the start of democracy in Iraq but there's been no progress. Peter Van Buren, author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the War for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, and former State Dept employee explains at TomDispatch.com:
Sadly enough, in the almost two years since I left Iraq, little has happened that challenges my belief that we failed in the reconstruction and, through that failure, lost the war.
The Iraq of today is an extension of the Iraq I saw and described. The recent Arab League summit in Baghdad, hailed by some as a watershed event, was little more than a stage-managed wrinkle in that timeline, a lot like all those purple-fingered elections the U.S. sponsored in Iraq throughout the Occupation. If you deploy enough police and soldiers -- for the summit, Baghdad was shut down for a week, the cell phone network turned off, and a "public holiday" proclaimed to keep the streets free of humanity -- you can temporarily tame any place, at least within camera view. More than $500 million was spent, in part planting flowers along the route dignitaries took in and out of the heavily fortified International Zone at the heart of the capital (known in my days as the Green Zone). Somebody in Iraq must have googled "Potemkin Village."
Beyond the temporary showmanship, the Iraq we created via our war is a mean place, unsafe and unstable. Of course, life goes on there (with the usual lack of electricity and potable water), but as the news shows, to an angry symphony of suicide bombers and targeted killings. While the American public may have changed the channel to more exciting shows in Libya, now Syria, or maybe just to "American Idol," the Iraqi people are trapped in amber, replaying the scenes I saw in 2009-2010, living reminders of all the good we failed to do.
This weekend, Heath Druzin (Stars and Stripes) offered, "Iraq experts say that recent developments in Iraq and a growing Iranian influence are signs that America's hopes are dimming for Iraq to become the 'beacon of hope' that President George W. Bush had envisioned in a 2005 speech." Felicity Arbutnot (Global Research) evaluates the 'progress' in Iraq the illegal war has brought: "Also since the invasion, the terrorization, whether for relgious reasons or ransom money, score settling or the unfathomable, in a country were people have co-existed for countless generations, has been bewildering. Overnight (literally) Iraq changed from a land where, broadly, the streets of towns and cities could be walked alone, safely, late at night, to a country which awoke to find while families in morgues bearing wounds indicating unimaginable torture. It woke to beheaded bodies chucked on rubbish dumps -- and beheaded fathers and sons dumped on door steps or in front gardens. Iraq also woke to ransom kidnappings, extortion, destruction of homes, premises, businesses -- or their takeover by force."
In Iraq, the political crisis continues. Liz Sly (Washington Post) observes that "the appearance of calm that has endured for four months has come at a price, many Iraqis say, in the form of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's increasingly authoritarian behavior." And she notes, "Sunnis and Kurds, angered by what they see as Maliki's efforts to exclude them from power, accuse the United States of doing little or nothing to restrain his excesses or to press him to implement agreements under which he planned to share power." That latter specifically refers to the Erbil Agreement. So let's provide the recap.
Nouri's State of Law came in second in the March 7, 2010 elections and Iraqiya came in first -- despite the efforts by Nouri to demonize Iraqiya and use the Justice and Accountability Committee to outlaw various Iraqiya candidates weeks prior to the election. Nouri refused to let go of the post of prime minister and, since he had the backing of Barack's White House, he was able to dig in his heels for over months (Political Stalemate I). The gridlock was only ended when all parties signed off on the US-brokered Erbil Agreement. Nouri used the agreement to get a second term as prime minister and trashed the rest of it. That is the beginning of Political Stalemate II (December 2010) which is the country's current crisis. Since last summer, the Kurds have been calling for the Erbil Agreement to be honored. Iraqiya has joined that call as has Moqtada al-Sadr.
Last week, on Thursday, there was supposed to be a meeting, a National Conference. Since December 21st, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for the conference to address the political crisis. Less than 24 hours before the scheduled National Conference was to take place, al-Nujaifi announced that it was not taking place.
Liz Sly notes that some Iraqis are seeing US indiference to whatever Nouri might do. She also notes:
Sunni concerns have crystallized in recent weeks around Obama's nomination of Brett McGurk, 38, a lawyer who has frequently advised the U.S. Embassy but is not a diplomat to be the new ambassador to Iraq. As the chief adviser to Ambassador James F. Jeffrey and former ambassador Christopher R. Hill, McGurk is closely associated with the United States' controversial 2010 decision to support Maliki's candidacy as the better hope for future stability over that of Ayad Allawi, the head of the Iraqiya bloc, which narrowly won the most seats in parliament.
We'll get to Allawi in just a moment. But let's deal with Brett McGurk first.
* McGurk is Barack's third nominee for Ambassador to Iraq. Why have all three been men? Iraq -- not just Iraqi women and girls, all of Iraq -- would strongly benefit from the US putting a woman in that post. When Ava and I argued that to members of then President-Elect Barack's transition team we were shot down with the issue of qualfications. No one on the transition team could think of a single woman in the State Dept or out of the State Dept who was qualified -- in their opinion -- to be Ambassador to Iraq. (So don't give me any of that s**t about Barack being a friend to women. He's not. Press whores and idiots repeat that crap. Those of who have dealt with the administration damn well know better.)
* Three nominees and all of the men. McGurk has no qualifications. He's been a coffee fetcher and little else for men who've been in the post. He only graduated colled (as an undergraduate) in 1999. Not only is the lie that they can't find a qualified woman offensive, so is their desire to put a COMPLETELY UNQUALIFIED PERSON in charge of the mission that they plan to spend at least $6 billion dollars on each year through 2016. It is the most expensive State Dept assignment. How in the world do you justify wet-behind-his-ears McGurk as qualified for that position. He's been in no leadership position, he's got little-to-no-experience in oversight or economics and he hasn't even been a mid-level manager. He is completely and totally unqualified.
* Unqualified was Chris Hill. We established that when we reported on his confirmation hearing. He backed it up with his bizarre behavior in Baghdad. (Naps under his desk? Pray those were only rumors, pray.) Because of the Idiot Hill, Barack had to nominate a grown up -- James Jeffrey. Jeffrey's friends are talking all over DC about how Jeffrey does not feel he's gotten the support he needed from the White House that he spends hours trying to explain to the administration that the sky is blue and they keep asking, "Are you sure it's not a little bit green, are you sure?" McGurk may be pliable but he's not qualified. If Jeffrey is not replaced with an adult, Iraq will likely slide towards authoritarianism even faster.
* Barack Obama was not against the Iraq War. That was a stupid little press lie to sell you a War Hawk. To appease voters in Chicago (when he was in the state legislature) he gave a 2002 speech -- a dumb speech. By the time he ran for the US Senate, he wasn't against the Iraq War. (He told Elaine and I that the US was over in Iraq now so it didn't matter. That's not "anti-war.") But the anti-war vote and sentiment took him to the White House. Why the hell has the Cult of St. Barack allowed him to appoint one pro-Iraq War person after another? McGurk is only the latest example of 'anti-war' Barack giving a plum assignment to someone who was pushing the Iraq War in 2002.
Brett McGurk lacks experience, was wrong about the war, is too immature to be put over a $6 billion a year project and Iraqiya -- the political slate that got the most votes -- doesn't want him. If there was a functioning left -- as opposed to the Cult of St. Barack -- McGurk would be announcing right now that he's withdrawing his nomination to spend more time with his family of hamsters.
Ayad Allawi. The leader of Iraqiya has a column at the Washington Times which opens with:
It has been nine years since U.S. forces removed a brutal tyrant in Iraq at a huge cost in lives and treasure, but already the country is slipping back into the clutches of a dangerous new one-man rule, which inevitably will lead to full dictatorship, and already it is dashing hopes for a prosperous, stable, federal and democratic Iraq. Exploiting the unconditional support of Tehran and the indifference of Washington, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has violated the constitution to consoldiate his own power by using security and military forces to intimidate and oppress political rivals and, indeed, the general population, as manifested in his suppression of peaceful demonstrations in Iraq.
And that's just the opening paragraph. Al Hayat reports that Iraqiya has revealed it is in talks with other blocs about withdrawing confidence in Nouri al-Maliki. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq denies that they have engaged in discussions on replacing Nouri. Speaking for the Moqtada al-Sadr bloc, MP Jawad Hasnawi allows that they have serious problems with Nouri but thinks that talk of replacing him is premature. That said, if requested to, Hasnawi says Moqtada would be willing to step in as a prime minister. At the end of this Al Hayat article, KRG President Massoud Barzani offers his concerns that there are serious attempts by the current government in Baghdad to restore Iraq to a dictatorship.
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