FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS DESPERATELY TRYING TO GET BACK IN THE HEADLINES. SO MUCH SO THAT HE FELT THE NEED TO COMMENT ON A COLLEGE STUDENT'S COMING OUT.
MEANWHILE LICK-HIM-AND-LOVE-HIM BRADLEY COOPER REVEALS THAT ON HIS RECENT WHITE HOUSE VISIT, HE WENT "COMMANDO."
REACHED FOR COMMENT, THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE OF 2012 OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "I WANTED HIM TO SMELL PEEN, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? JUST TO KEEP IT REAL AND ALL THAT."
KEEPING IT REAL, ABC NEWS POINTS OUT, WOULD REQUIRE THE PRESS TO NOTE BARRY O'S MARCH 2008 CLAIM:
I taught constitutional law for 10 years. I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that is what I intend to reverse when I become president of the United States.
BUT THOSE QUESTIONS WON'T COME UP AS LONG AS BARRY O ONLY LETS THE LIKES OF CHARLES BARKLEY INTERVIEW HIM.
"CHARLES!" BARRY O EXCLAIMED TO THESE REPORTERS. "I THOUGHT THAT WAS GNARLS BARKLEY!"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Saturday brought the shocking news that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr was stepping away from politics. Alsumaria reported he released a statement Saturday evening announcing he was closing all of his offices and retiring from all things political. Aswat al-Iraq quoted from Moqtada's staemtne, "I declare that I will not interfere in all political matters, in addition that not bloc will represent us in any position inside the government or outside it or the parliament." Trend News Agency notes that Moqtada has stated "his satellite channel Al-Adwaa and a Quran radio station would remain open." Sunday, All Iraq News reported that Sadr bloc MPs Hussien Alwan al-Lami, Hussien al-Mansouri and Hussien Hamim held a press conference and declared that, in respect of Moqtada's decision, they were resigning from Parliament. World Bulletin notes three more resigned for a total of six MPs. NINA reports it is thought 18 MPs have resigned or will be resigning.
That's not that many. If there were 9 MPs in the Sadr bloc, maybe. But there are forty. Six of the 40 hold Cabinet positions. Al Mada reports there is confusion about nearly everything -- Moqtada's announcement, the meaning of it, supposedly 15 MPs resigning. Kitabat notes that some are saying 18 MPs have resigned.
Some outlets are reporting claims that Moqtada made the decision to retire from politics months ago.
The Sadr bloc employees voted last week for the controversial pension law for MPs -- a law that was seen as corrupt and had caused controversy for over a year now and last week's votes led to massive protests. Press TV explains:
Press TV got in contact with several MPs from the Sadr movement. They were all reluctant to speak about the issue, with some of them saying Muqtada Sadr's move was a surprise to them. Some believe that the move is due to Muqtada Sadr's parliamentarians’ stance on a recent pension law. The law, which has drawn protests, is seen by ordinary Iraqis as a way for politicians to lead a more lucrative life style. It’s said that Sadr's parliamentary representatives were told not to vote on the law, but in secrecy they did any way.
Whether or not the vote on the pension law impacted his decision, it is apparently weighing on his mind. Kitabat reports Moqtada is expected to make a statement tomorrow addressing the issue of the pension law.
The Independent's Patrick Cockburn types:
It is unclear if Mr Sadr’s withdrawal will be permanent or temporary, though a Sadrist official emphasised that it was wrong to use the word “retirement” to describe Mr Sadr’s departure from politics. He added that Mr Sadr’s disillusionment with Iraqi politics went beyond the issues of corruption and excessive parliamentary pay and he was disappointed that so many people “are sympathetic to sectarian policies”. He has accused the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, of playing the sectarian card in the upcoming election by presenting himself as the leader of the Shia community in the face of an attack by the Sunni minority.
That would be an attack on the Sunni minority -- on. But the only thing Paddy's ever on is Nouri's crotch. As usual, he uses his space not to report on Moqtada but to repeat lies and attacks on the Sunni population. His hostility, his bias, is well known. Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) offers a more honest approach:
Although the statement did not give clear reasons for this decision, there were signals alluding to its motives such as “ending corruption” in the name of Sadr's offices inside and outside Iraq, “ending the suffering of the Iraqi people,” disengaging from “politics and politicians” and saving the reputation of the Sadr family, which is revered.
These signals, in addition to leaks coming from people close to Sadr, pointed to an internal crisis between Sadr and his movement, ranging from Sadr’s loss of confidence in his offices, his associates and the political bodies that operate under his command; the discovery of financial corruption and the use of Sadr’s name in illegal acts, in addition to the fact that some of Sadr’s 40 members of parliament signed the controversial pension law, which provided exceptional privileges to parliament members and senior state officials. That law angered the street and infuriated top Shiite cleric Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, who called on the public not to elect the forces that voted for the law.
But those reasons do not seem to justify Sadr’s major step, especially given that he could have expelled any deputy or figure in his movement without the need for dissolving it. And he could have made significant changes in the Sadrist current’s work and orientations.
Gulf Daily News quotes analyst Ali Ammer stating, "Sadr's decision will definitely play into the hands of Al Maliki in the next election in one way or another." WG Dunlop (AFP) speaks with a number of observers to get their take and we'll note this one:
Sadr “usually backs out of the political limelight when he is physically threatened” or “when the Sadrist movement has to do something politically expedient that Sadr wants to disassociate from,” said Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Of Sadr’s possible return, Knights said: “Nothing is permanent in Iraq except death.”
Abdul Rahman al-Rashed (Asharq al-Awsat) offers:
Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr surprised us when he announced he was quitting politics, urging his followers to also refrain from getting too engaged here. Does his decision imply a secret agreement whereby one of the remaining candidates has a better chance of winning Iraq’s upcoming elections? Perhaps it is part of a deal in which Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki wins because he does not have to stand against Sadr. Perhaps Sadr is angry at his movement’s representatives in parliament, or perhaps it is a tactical decision in the run-up to the elections.
We simply don’t know. But what is certain is that by quitting politics, he has disrupted the calculations and forecasts of observers. Sadr’s many followers will not hesitate to vote in the upcoming elections due to be held in a few weeks. Now that he has quit politics, the question is: Who will his millions of followers vote for? These people are capable of shifting the outcome of the elections.
This isn't Moqtada's first attempt to step away from politics or even his first attempt in the past six months. Last August, he announced he was stepping away from politics. Shortly after, he changed his mind. From the September 12th snapshot:
Turning to Iraqi politics, Kitabat reports cleric and movement Moqtada al-Sadr has finished trips to Lebanon and Jordan and paid his respects to his late father at the Najaf shrine and is now ready to re-enter political life. Moqtada has surprised many by announcing he was stepping away from politics. Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi publicly called for Moqtada to return to politics. Allawi's sentiments were echoed by Iraqis of all sects, not just Shi'ite members of Moqtada's movement. In a statement issued today, Moqtada acknowledged those calls and announces he will heed them.
Some felt the move was a stunt and said so in real time. Whether it was a stunt or not (it felt like a real announcement and decision to me when he announced he was walking away from politics), the move underscores how important Moqtada has become to Iraqi politics and how he could command respect in the role of prime minister. Because of the stances he has taken in the last three years, Moqtada the politician is seen as fighting for the interests of Iraq. That's a huge shift from the early years of the war when Moqtada was seen by many Iraqis as only interested in Shi'ites (and only in fundamental ones at that).
Friday's snapshot noted Nouri has warrants out for various political rivals.
Moqtada's announcement in August followed Nouri declaring Moqtada was responsible for the violence.
Knights (as noted above) said Moqtada usually resigns at times such as when he's physically threatened. An arrest warrant might do that. An arrest warrant or the fear of one might also explain why Saturday's statement by Moqtada included this, "By this decision, I want to end all evils that were committed or may be committed under Sadrist Foundation, inside Iraq or abroad."
Or this could be a bold political step.
This could, for example, be a step towards the post of prime minister. The winning bloc or slate could pick anyone to be named as prime minister-designate. This might be part of a deal not yet exposed which allows Moqtada the chance of being prime minister.
Or it might be about setting him up in an even higher role.
Yes, there is higher than prime minister.
Nouri has been prime minister for two consecutive terms and has used the office to attack many of his political rivals.
Who's the person even a rabid dog like Nouri knows that he better not bark at?
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Moqtada may be angling for that position. The Grand Ayatollah is 83-years-old. His health is always the source of rumors in Iraq.
Moqtada's time in Iran before returning to Iraq a few years ago was spent advancing his religious studies.
This may be Moqtada's move towards the highest office possible in Iraq.
Or he may have just tired of the nonsense.
This December 2013 interview can argue that case (as well as back up those who claim Moqtada made his decision some time ago). He notes frustrations. He notes a refusal, in 2012, to pull together (in the vote against Nouri). He expresses frustrations with the process itself and that even a new election law would not eradicate the problems.
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