Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas and the economy

Not Quite There

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not Quite There" from last night and, I agree with C.I.'s take, this was a very good call to make last night. Isaiah captured it dead on. This morning began with press excitement that Nouri was going to name all but three cabinet nominees but instead of being 3 short, he was 17 short. Isaiah called it very well in that illustration.

I should have asked him to draw me back at the start of November. Why? Christmas shopping.

Every year, I devote the day after Thanksgiving to getting all the gifts purchased. I may have one or two additional ones but that's it. Instead, this year I was sick (sweaty, sick to my stomach, joints aching) and to sick to go out. So I missed that day and it's just been catch up ever since. Also true, my granddaughter is now too old to carry, too big for a stroller and too small to let go of her hand. She's interested in everything and will gladly attempt to go off on her own. So I'm holding her hand and, a year before, I would have been carrying her and whizzing through the store, setting her down only when we got by the next item and she's stay right next to me with no coaxing.

But it's not her fault. And I don't mean to imply that. It's just a difference and it's a good one. It's part of growing. And it goes to a sense of security she has (which I'm thrilled she has) that she feel safe enough to want to explore her surroundings.

I've got at least another two evenings to shop. And that's only because Elaine saw my list this weekend and tore half of it off (she tried to grab the whole thing but I objected) and said she and Mike could help out by picking those items.

Today it was back to Home Depot. If you missed it last time (last week?), I left the parking lot feeling so guilty because there's a toy store in the same lot and I was praying the whole time, "Don't let her see it, don't let her see it." Today she saw it. "Toys, toys, toys." She was so excited. And I blew off the rest of the shopping because what's Christmas if you can't look at some toys with a small child?

Everything was so wonderful in Toys 'R Us to her. The packaging alone was fascinating. They have some big pink backdrop for the Barbie aisle and just that, the pink backdrop, was so pretty. I asked her, "Do you want your room painted pink?" She does so her father's doing that. I don't know when but he said he'd have it done before the end of the month. My four girls weren't pink girls. One, the oldest, like flowers, so we had flowers painted on the walls of the girl's room and we put up wallpaper with flowers in the same room. But it was always white. The boys room was always blue. They wanted blue. And by the time the oldest was 11, he was painting that room. (He's the father of my granddaughter.) He wanted a darker blue and I come back from the store one Saturday and the house smells of paint. I go out to the garage where my husband was working on one of our cars and I asked, "Are you painting something?" No. We looked all over and finally found that he'd painted the boys room. He'd done a great job and had taped up newspaper to the floor and surrounding areas to ensure there was no staining. After that, they generally changed shades of blue at least twice a year. The nursery was a nightmare. I wanted bright yellow about half way through (I have eight kids) because they were wearing me down, keeping up with them, and I thought a warm, bright yellow would make it easier each day. That yellow was a pain in the ass. I hated it. We tried painting over it and it was bleeding through. Not completely but it gave the color on top a false look. I have no idea. I'm not a painter. It was your basic paint (Sherwin Williams?) but it was just strong. We ended up wall papering. When we took that down two or three years later, it was a light yellow and we were able to repaint.

On the economy, Hugh has a strong post at Corrente and here's a sample:

I just heard that shortly before his official announcement of the tax cut deal with Republicans Obama met with a group of "liberal" economists. Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs, Alan Blinder and Robert Reich. With Obama at the meeting were Austan Goolsbee and Jared Bernstein. The meeting was apparently less about them sharing their views with him and more about him trying to sell the tax cut compromise to them.

Stiglitz is good but he tends to stay above the fray. He's not like Dean Baker in the trenches slogging it out every day. Krugman is Krugman, blame the Republicans and whimper at the Democrats. Sachs is or was a neoliberal and his record is spotty. Blinder is, like Krugman, another Princeton type. He's a Fed believer/monetarist although he recently has begun writing on wealth inequality. Better late than never, I suppose. And then there is Reich. He's a lightweight in economics but he's been good on jobs.

Paul Krugman has been a huge disappointment to me. It was his writing on Hillary's health care plan in the primaries that made me come around to re-examing her and supporting her here. And yet no one cheered Barack's fake 'health care' than Krugman. It was appalling to watch (as I noted then) and I knew what was coming because the country's getting what my state already has. It didn't provide health care, it just forced people to buy it or pay fines. Krugman is a huge disappointment.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:

Monday, December 20, 2010. Chaos and violence continue,Nouri has an announcement of sorts, Julian Assange supporters continue to be the biggest liability he has, Amy Goodman continues her war against women, and more.

Starting with peace news.

There's a chance peace will come in your life please buy one
For sometimes when I am feeling as a big as the land
With the velvet hills in the small of my back
And my hands are playing in the sand
And my feet are swimming in all of the waters
All of the rivers are givers to the ocean
According to plan, according to man.
-- "Peace Will Come (According To Plan)," written by Melanie (Safka) and first appears on her 1970 album Leftover Wine and her brand new album is Ever Since You Never Heard of Me

Thursday a protest held outside the White House (see Friday's snapshot). Friday, Elaine observed, "Don't come asking why there aren't more protests if, when there is a significant one, you don't bother to cover it as significant. A couple of hundred participated on a cold DC day, when it was snowing. That's a lot in my opinion and it's an important protest and a news worthy one." She noted the report by Brian Ward (US Socialist Worker) who concludes his piece with: "The energy of the D.C. protest was high, even though it was snowing and cold. Protesters saw the importance of a rebirth of the antiwar movement, especially since Obama has made the Afghanistan war 'his war.' We need to organize and fight to end the wars and occupations." The Party for Socialism and Liberation explains, "Organized by Veterans for Peace, March Forward!, the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and several other organizations, the actions was the largest veterans-led civil disobedience since the wars began 10 years ago. Veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, World War II and other conflicts were among those arrested. Those arrested included Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition; Mike Prysner and Ryan Endicott, both Iraq War veterans and March Forward! organizers; Mike Ferner, president of Veterans for Peace; and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the famous Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War." Tim King (Salem-News) also reports on the protest and he notes journalist and author Chris Hedges' speech:

Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves.
Hope does not separate us from them.
Hope sees our enemy in our own face.
Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful, hope is what the corporate state which saturates our airwaves with lies hopes seeks obliterate.
Hope is what this corporate state is determined to crush. 'Be afraid' they tell us, 'surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror, don't resist, embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity, buy our products, without them you are worthless, become our brands, do not look up from your electronic hallucinations, no, above all do not think, obey'.

Click here for the OpEdNews page with video of Chris Hedges' speech and a full transcript.
Libbyliberal (Corrente) covered it this weekend and included fast-and-loose Dave Lindorff who swore on Saturday, "And yet, the protest event was completely blacked out by the corporate news media." Not knowing his history, Libbyliberal takes him at face value. But reality and Dave Lindorff are distant relations. From Thursday's snapshot:

Cameron Joseph (National Journal) reports that Daniel Ellsberg was at the White House today "chained to its snowy gates as part of a protest organized by Veterans for Peace [. . .] Ellsberg was one of dozens arrested, the Associated Press reported." David Jackson (USA Today) explains, "It's cold and snowy in Washington, D.C., but that didn't stop protestors from showing up at the White House today to demonstrate against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Police appeared to arrest an unknown number of protestors as they sought to chain themselves to the White House fence." UPI offers a photo essay of the protest by Kevin Dietsch. David Swanson's War Is A Crime offers video of the protest. Paul Courson (CNN) states 131 is the number of activists arrested and cites US Park Police spokesperson David Schlosser as the source for that number. At Stop These Wars (umbrella group for the various groups and individuals organizing the action) it's noted, "131 veterans and others were arrested December 16 in front of the White House. Preliminary gallery of photos here. More to come."

As we noted at Third, "So that's CNN, National Journal, USA Today, AP ad UPI. NPR would include it in hourly headlines." And they all covered it on Thursday while Dave Lindorff served up his (error filled) lecture on Saturday. Thursday on NPR's All Things Considered (link has audio and text), Mara Liasson would observe, "Polls show the Afghanistan War is now opposed by majorities in almost every country that sent troops, including the U.S. Dozens were arrested today outside the White House protesting the war. But Secretary [Robert] Gates made it clear the war is not about to end and that the decision to escalate a year ago was not revisited in the current review." If Dave Lindorff experienced a blackout, it wasn't a media one and maybe he shouldn't drink so much? And then there's Ray-Ray McGovern who shows up today to insist of Thursday's action: "What? You didn't hear about any of this, including the arrest of 135 veterans and other anti-war activists in front of the White House? Need I remind you of the Fawning Corporate Media and how its practioners have always downplayed or ignored protests, large or small, against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

It was covered in the Media -- in the Corporate Media. It's too bad Ray McGovern fancies himself a media critic because that's just another failed task on his resume. I'm all for holding the media accountable -- but unlike Ray McGovern, I hold it all accountable, All Things Media Big and Small. And here's the reality. By refusing to cover it, Little Media (Panhandle Media) ensured that Big Media (Real Media) doesn't have to worry. The protest took place on Thursday. They covered it as much -- and often more -- than Panhandle Media. Ray-Ray doesn't know the first thing about the media and needs to sit his tired ass down. He loves to tell this one story about how NYT published the Pentagon Papers only because they were afraid others would cover it. Well, Ray-Ray, where was Democracy Now's live remote? What, they can bore us to tears with 10 hours of the DNC and 10 hours of the RNC conventions but Democracy Now can't cover the protest? Then there's no reason for Big Media to worry that they'll look foolish for not covering it. Why wasn't Leigh Ann Caldwell filing a report -- not a summary gleaned from AP but an actual damn report? She's FSRN's DC correspondent after all. Click here for Free Speech Radio News' embarrassing coverage. They didn't even give it 80 words and they air on Pacifica aka Peace Radio.

I'm sorry Ray-Ray showed up late to the party and forgot to put on pants, but he's responsible for his own self-embarrassment. Amy Goodman can drag her ass to Mexico for Cancun talks on climate -- that we all know aren't going to accomplish a damn thing -- but the dumbass can't get her ass to DC for this protest? Ray-Ray, Lindorff and the other fools need to stop blaming Corporate Media -- which did cover it -- and grasp that if Little Media was treating like a real story when it happened, it would have influenced coverage elsewhere. That's how it works. People like Ray-Ray don't know a damn thing about the media or how it works and would do well to find another topic to discuss. "Heat" generates coverage. Which is why we didn't scream about the Tea Party here. But The Nation and The Progressive and MSNBC's nightime line up refusing to shut up about the Tea Party gave it heat and it got coverage. If the same outlets had done the same with the protest, it would have dominated Friday morning's news cycle. Why is that?

Ray-Ray can't tell you because he's ignorant of the media. A) It would have provided "heat" to the story and B) the mid-terms. The honeymoon's over with the press. They're looking for stories that reflect that attitudes of America. Barack's honeymoon's over and the left protesting him -- not just penning articles but protesting him? -- that would have fed into the news cycle so quickly and so well -- and the media had already constructed the narrative for it. In fact, that's why it was covered by the outlets that did cover it.

This is the third snapshot we've covered the peace action in -- we've treated it seriously. On the articles now rushing out on the topic, Bradley Manning is innocent until proven guilty. We're not highlighting any article that can't grasp that. As Dalia Hashad notes on Law and Disorder Radio (WBAI today, throughout the country the rest of the week) of government charges in another case, "I don't like to get into the details of these cases because the narrative is controlled by the FBI." We're not linking to articles where the writer's doing the government's bidding by insisting Bradley Manning is guilty as charged -- and doing so when Bradley has never spoken publicly on the charges. Sunday Cheryl Biren (OpEdNews) files the most in-depth report I've seen so far and it has text and videos. We'll note this from it:

Firing up the crowd was March Forward's Michael Prysner. Prysner, who joined the Army at 17, took part in the initial invasion of Iraq. In an earlier report, he explained that he spent 12 months in Iraq doing everything from prisoner interrogations to home raids. He believed that he was going to Iraq to help liberate an oppressed people. He said that he soon realized that his purpose was to be the oppressor and to "clear the way for the U.S. Corporations with no regard for human life."
Now the national director of, Prysner told OpEdNews, "The message is that it is crystal clear that this government is not going to end these wars, the wars that the vast majority of people want to end and the wars that have no purpose other than expanding the reach of Wall Street and oil giants and that is really the main function of US policy."
He concluded that "Because this government is incapable of ending these wars and will not end these wars, the people have to stand up and fight to force these wars to end."
When asked about the efficacy of such actions, Prysner replied, "We don't think we're going to end the war today. We know that. But, these things to do make a difference. We're sending a message to the government that we're not waiting for them to spill out more lies about the war and more falsehoods and we're going to stand up and fight and that we're going to disrupt business as usual." Prysner hopes to bring people into the movement as part of a growing force that he believes will be capable of ending the wars.

At the Indypendent, Ellen Davidson has a brief text report with links to many of her photos of the action. By the way, is it true that despite all Julian Assange's claims to be financially supporting Bradley's legal defense, that WikiLeaks has never given a penny to it? Yes, it is. From the Bradley Mannin Support Network:

Immediately following Bradley's arrest in late June 2010, the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks publicly solicited donations specifically for Bradley's legal defense expenses. In July 2010, WikiLeaks pledged to contribute "a substantial amount" towards Bradley's legal defense costs. Since Bradley's selection of David Coombs as his civilian defense attorney in August 2010, the Bradley Manning Support Network has unsuccessfully attempted to facilitate the pledged WikiLeaks contribution.
"We understand the difficult situation Wikileaks currently faces as the world's governments conspire to extinguish the whistle-blower website," explained Jeff Paterson, Bradley Manning Support Network steering committee member and project director of Courage to Resist ( "However, in order to meet Bradley Manning's legal defense needs, we're forced to clarify that Wikileaks has not yet made a contribution towards this effort. We certainly welcome any contribution from Wikileaks, but we need to inform our supporters that it may not be forthcoming and that their continued contributions and support are crucial."
Donations towards Bradley's defense can be made at -- to either the Support Network for both public education efforts and legal defense, or directly to Bradley's legal trust account.

So despite repeatedly and publicly stating he would be covering the defense cost, Julian Assange has provided not one penny? All these months later, not one penny? Support Bradley Manning notes Bradley has now been held a prisoner for 208 days without trial including December 17th which was his 23rd birthday. That's a lot to put on the shoulders of someone so very young.

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. As Daniel Ellsberg reminded from the stage in Oakland last September, "We don't know all the facts." But we know, as Ellsberg pointed out, that the US military is attempting to prosecute Bradley. Paul Courson (CNN) notes Bradley is a suspect and, "He has not admitted guilt in either incident, his supporters say."

What is it about WikiLeaks that lets all the attention go to Julian Assange? As Ava and I pointed out Sunday, his attorney, Mark Stephens, appeared on Democracy Now! last week and declared:

He's got to raise 200,000 pounds in cash. That's about $300,000. And, of course, the problem with that is that we finished court after banking hours closed yesterday, so -- and getting that kind of money out of a bank, you'll realize that most banks don't carry that kind of money. It's very modest amounts that they carry these days, because we spend most of our money electronically. And, of course, he's being electronically hobbled by Visa and MasterCard, who have stopped the accounts being -- paying money to WikiLeaks.

The way Stephens words it, WikiLeaks is Julian Assange's personal piggy bank. If Steve Jobs were accused of rape, Apple wouldn't be footing the defense bills, Jobs would be. There are all sorts of questions that need answers and maybe that's why those who see Julian Assange as their personal savior feel the need to attack two women who may have been raped? Friday, Margaret Lyons (Entertainment Weekly) pointed out:

On Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Tuesday, Michael Moore mischaracterized the rape accusations facing Julian Assange. People criticized both him and Olbermann, and now the MSNBC host has quit Twitter in a huff, thanks to what he described as a "frenzy." Yep, it's almost like misrepresenting and minimizing rape accusations can get people upset. Feminists -- we're impossible to please

And there's Amy Goodman who, last week, while begging for dollars on air on a Pacifica station began trashing the two women (we called out the 'journalist' who elected to write articles -- plural -- for the Larry F**nt's H**tler). Today the anti-woman, Marxist Amy Goodman decided to allow a 'debate' on the issue which -- as with the issue of the sexism aimed at Hillary which she finally 'addressed' in July of 2008 -- required her to keep her thumb on the scale. Read the garbage intro Amy's written where she insists, "we host a debate between two feminist: Jaclyn Freidman argues the sexual assault allegations shouldn't be dismissed just because they're politicall motivated . . ." No, Jaclyn argues no such thing in the segment that aired. Jaclyn never says the charges are politically motivated. It should remind people of the DNC convention when Goodman LIED and claimed that a Puma woman had said she'd vote for John McCain. As Ava and I pointed out in real time, Goody launched that lie to cover up for Patricia Wilson-Smith who'd been brought on to lie and play the "I supported Hillary but now I'm on board with Barack" game. Wilson-Smith lied and claimed she'd been for Hillary at the start of the process but slowly came to Barack (these conversion stories were part of the training the Obama campaign did) but when Patricia Wilson-Smith couldn't get her way, she got nasty on air and let it slip, WOOPS, that she'd been working on Barack's campaign for a year and a half. In July 2008, she'd been working on his campaign for a year and a half. Which would mean she must have started when he declared in Feburary of 2007. So exactly when did the little liar support Hillary? (Never, she was a fraud all along.) Amy Goodman's a piece of trash. She may have walked off with millions of Pacifica money and she surely wasn't raised poor, but class is something that family could never buy.

So pill popping Naomi Wolf went after Jaclyn Friedman today. And no one pointed the obvious -- Promescuities (Naomi's bad book) brags about Naomi's overnight at the frat and how, the next morning at breakfast, the guys were talking about a woman they gang-raped and Naomi didn't call them out, didn't call the cops, didn't do a damn thing because she was afraid she would be called a -- this is the term she uses -- a "lesbo." This is the woman who's a voice on rape? I don't think so. Naomi tried to pass herself as an expert on rape. Jaclyn Friedman wasn't playing.

Jaclyn Friedman: Wow. First of all, I've also been working with rape survivors for 20 years, and I am one myself. And I can assure you that you do not speak for me or many of us. I, too, have been speaking with rape survivors around the world since this case broke, who have been so hurt and disappointed that someone like you, who understands about the danger of perpetuating myths in the media, would be perpetuating rape myths that hurt all of us. There are so many rape survivors that are up in arms about the way this case has been discussed and the way these women have been disregarded.

For more on 'rape expert' Naomi, we'll drop back to Mary Elizabeth Williams, "This week in crazy: Naomi Wolf" (Salon):

Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Two years ago, when Wolf was criticizing the Bush administration for sex crimes committed at Abu Ghraib, she explained that "having worked at a rape crisis center and been trained in the basics of sex crime, I have learned that all sex predators go about things in certain recognizable ways." That must have been a hell of a crisis center. Because I did not know that all predators are exactly alike. I did not know that gray areas regarding consent do not exist! Thank you, Naomi! And now, in 2010, I did not know that she has the magical ability to determine whether a man is a sexual assailant or just the victim of two angry chicks.

Nobody ever said feminism means the person with the vagina is always right and the one with the penis is always wrong -- unless I just didn't get that version of the Manifesto. And, indeed, throughout her career, Naomi Wolf has been wrong plenty of times. Like, say, this week, when she condescendingly dismissed a rape allegation by comparing it to a guy who "did not notice that his girlfriend got a really cute new haircut -- even though it was THREE INCHES SHORTER." Yes, sex crime and not giving sufficient props for your girlfriend's hairdo are exactly the same, Naomi Wolf. Also, can I just say, on behalf of every person, male or female, who has ever been sexually coerced, victimized or assaulted, one thing? Blow me.

Naomi was acting insane and crazy. At one point, when the story was being spun as 'Well, after he held her down, she agreed to sex with a condom' and Jaclyn Friedman was rightly pointing out, "If she's been held down by someone, she is afraid." Naomi couldn't grasp it and maybe it's the pills she repeatedly pops or maybe just the untreated bi-polar bender she's been on for the last few years that result in her not grasping the issues. Yes, a woman may ask a rapist to wear a condom. That doesn't make it consent. This is not a new issue for feminist (but Naomi's not a feminist) and you can refer to Carla M. da Luz and Pamela C. Weckerly addressing this back in 1993 in the UCLA Women's Law Journal about the Texas case from over a decade ago. The first go-round jurors felt the rape survivor requesting a condom be used was consent for the man who broke into her home to rape her. As the rape survivor testified in court, "Now that it's been established that a condom can save your life in this time of AIDS, in my case and in cases in the future, self-defense does not equal consent." It's a basic that eludes Naomi Wolf even with Jaclyn Freidman explaining, "She was afraid. He had held her down. She was in a state of fear. Many, many women -- this happens over -- you talk to rape survivors. I can't believe you don't know this. Many women are in a state of fear and unable -- they're in panic situation. This is so common as to be laughable."

At Corrente Sunday, Valhalla took on the subject with an in depth overview. And she notes a [not work safe] post by Sady at Tiger Beatdown about all the attacks and threats she's receiving for speaking out against this. Reality, Julian Assange may not have raped the two women or either of them, he may be innocent, they may be lying. Equally true, he may have raped either or both. These attacks on the two women are not helping Julian Assange. And attacking other women for wanting to talk about rape realities certainly isn't helping him. These attacks need to stop.

Sanho Tree (IPS) offers some much needed sanity on WikiLeaks' latest release:

Certainly, some of these cables revealed important issues. Yet you should view these leaks with some degree of caution. Take it from me. In a previous career, I was a diplomatic and military historian, which meant that I spent more than six years reading hundreds of thousands of declassified documents from a variety of sources and many levels of classification.
The diplomatic information WikiLeaks divulged is but one slice of one sliver of information used in the process of policy formation, so the leaks should be viewed in that context. It would be a mistake to take one comment a diplomat wrote in a cable and extrapolate it as a definitive representation of broader U.S. policy. There are important data points in these cables that can help flesh out a narrative. But it's also important to consider what's not in these cables and what others might contain. It's like looking at a mosaic with the majority of tiles missing, obscuring the picture.
WikiLeaks dumped a quarter million "secret" State Department cables with our overseas embassies. The cache didn't contain top secret, limited distribution, or other intelligence products. Nor were cables released from such government agencies as the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, or National Security Council that also play important roles in policy formation and may have strongly divergent views.
Keep in mind the motivations of those who leaked the cables and those who made them public. In this case, what were the motivations behind the WikiLeaks organization in publishing these cables, and were there exculpatory documents they decided to withhold? Only a few thousand messages have been released so far out of some 250,000 cables. Could they be driving a political agenda by releasing potentially inflammatory documents in a particular sequence?

In Iraq, the day began with would he or won't he -- Nouri's spokesperson having declared over the weekend that today Nouri would announce his cabinet nominees. Alsumaria TV started the day reporting, "Iraqi Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh announced that Prime Minister-designate Nuri Al Maliki will announce the new government formation in today's Parliament session." But it's Nouri, so nothing's ever simple and it always comes with a serving of heavy drama. AP, earlier in morning, reported that the announcement was going to be delayed. AP grasps what so many others don't: "Al-Maliki has until Saturday to present his Cabinet under a 30-day deadline imposed by Iraq's constitution. If he does not, President Jalal Talabani will assign another member of parliament to do it." Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News), writing before the delay entered the news cycle (partial or full delay), noted, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will unveil his national unity cabinet today, keeping the security portfolios to himself until a deal is reached with other groups, Abdul Hadi al-Hassani, a member of his parliamentary bloc, said." So what was going on? Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) explained, "Political infighting and last-minute horse-trading delayed the formal announcement of a new Iraqi government on Monday, lawmakers said, as Iraq sought to end a 9-month vacuum created by an inconclusive election."

Earlier in the morning,
Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) was reporting that, according to an unnamed MP, "The announcement of the cabinet will be later this week, mostly on Wednesday's parliament session." But then, Xinhua's Lu Hui filed an update noting that the current plan is for Nouri to announce some of his nominees today. In both stories, Xinhua demonstrates a grasp of the Iraqi Constitution. Example from the one by Hui, "Maliki still has to meet his deadline of Dec. 25 after he has been formally asked by the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to form the country's next government after the rival political blocs approved earlier a power-sharing deal that ended the eight-month political deadlock. According to the Iraqi constitution, Maliki has to form his cabinet within 30 days after his official nomination as PM- designate by the president. The new government and its agendas must win the approval of an absolute majority of the members of the Council of Representatives." So that's AFP (see last night), AP and Xinhua who have actually read the Constitution. Other outlets can't make that claim.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a National Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now nine months, thirteen days and counting. Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explained, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahed of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positions that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to do that from today."

Ayad Allawi's going along with the power-sharing agreement -- so far -- due to the security council position he's been promised in a security council that is also promised. There has been no legislation passed by Parliament to create such a council. Nor is there going to be any move towards that this week. So Allawi is pinning his hopes on what may be as opposed to what is. Maybe he'll have bet wisely. But this is the same Nouri who assured the Kurds in 2006 that their support meant the 2007 census would go through and Kirkuk resolved. And that never happened. He used the same promise this go round and the Kurds fell for it. And then, after he was formally declared prime minister-designate, it was quickly announced that the census to finally take place at the start of December was delayed -- delayed again. But maybe Allawi has some sort of marker no one knows about or some special reason to believe that Nouri -- who has repeatedly double crossed the Kurds -- would never leave him hanging?

Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reported
that opinions are divided among Iraqi politicians as to what Nouri will or won't announce -- if anything -- today. Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) offered an overview mid-morning. So what happened? John Leland (New York Times) reports that Nouri offered up a "skeleton" cabinet naming 25 nominees . . . out of 32 posts. Seventeen remain unnamed. And it's not like this is Nouri's first time doing this. He went through all of this in April and May of 2006. .But Nouri's always been one for the high drama.

While Nouri yet again failed to deliver, Reuters notes Baghdad saw three roadside bombings which left twelve people injured.

We'll cover Don't Ask, Don't Tell (overturned, pulled from the books Sunday) and other things tomorrow. We will continue to make space to call out those who attack alleged victims. And tomorrow, we'll hopefully go into Naomi Wolf the fake voice of rape victims.

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