Changing positions

 Posted by at 19:57  Iraq, Politics
Jul 202006
 

Jonathan Weisman and Anushka Asthana penned a column for today’s Washington Post entitled “GOP Lawmakers Edge Away From Optimism on Iraq.”

I believe the term used by wingnuts during the presidential campain of 2004 was “flip-flop.” Only it’s different when Republicans do it… somehow, it becomes acceptable.

Faced with almost daily reports of sectarian carnage in Iraq, congressional Republicans are shifting their message on the war from speaking optimistically of progress to acknowledging the difficulty of the mission and pointing up mistakes in planning and execution…

The shift is subtle, but Republican lawmakers acknowledge that it is no longer tenable to say the news media are ignoring the good news in Iraq and painting an unfair picture of the war. In the first half of this year, 4,338 Iraqi civilians died violent deaths, according to a new report by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq. Last month alone, 3,149 civilians were killed — an average of more than 100 a day.

I hope American voters are not as dumb as the Republicans seem to think they are.

Iraqi PM denounces Israel

 Posted by at 16:25  Iraq, Politics
Jul 202006
 

Iraqi Prime Minister Denounces Israel’s Actions

maliki.jpgPrime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq on Wednesday forcefully denounced the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, marking a sharp break with President Bush’s position and highlighting the growing power of a Shiite Muslim identity across the Middle East.

“The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure,” Mr. Maliki said at an afternoon news conference inside the fortified Green Zone, which houses the American Embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government. “I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression.”

The American Embassy did not provide an immediate response…

Prime Minister Maliki’s comments in Baghdad came in response to a reporter’s question about whether the Iraqi government had plans to evacuate Iraqis from Lebanon. After lashing out at Israel, Mr. Maliki said he had asked the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut to help evacuate Iraqis stranded by the Israeli campaign.

His stance is noteworthy because it is a significant split with American policy toward Israel. It has been the Americans’ hope that Iraq would become President Bush’s staunchest ally among Arab nations. The Americans arranged a series of elections that ended up putting Shiite parties in power, and the White House helped boost Mr. Maliki by pushing last spring for the ouster of the prime minister at the time, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Mr. Maliki relies on the presence of 134,000 American troops in Iraq to stave off the insurgency led by Sunni Arabs, who ruled over the majority Shiite Arabs for decades.

The resentment of the Iraqi government toward Israel calls into question one of the rationales among some conservatives for the American invasion of Iraq — that an American-backed democratic state here would inevitably become an ally of Israel and, by doing so, catalyze a change of attitude across the rest of the Arab world.

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Speaking with forked tongue

 Posted by at 15:12  Politics
Jul 202006
 

George W. Bush gave a speech to the NAACP today for the first time since he assumed the presidency. It wasn’t a very remarkable speech — you can read it here. It was designed to get him in and out with as few scrapes and bruises as possible and maybe even get a little applause along the way.

I have to admit, somewhat begrudgingly, that I admire the man. I admire him for being able to deliver the following paragraph without snickering. I also admire God for having the restraint necessary to not strike him with lightning as he said it.

I want to talk about ways to build what the NAACP has always sought — a nation united, committed to destroying discrimination and extending to every American the full blessings — the full blessings — of liberty and opportunity. It’s important to me. It’s important to our nation. I come from a family committed to civil rights. My faith tells me that we’re all children of God, equally loved, equally cherished, equally entitled to the rights He grants us all.

Snicker, snicker.

Iraq goes on

 Posted by at 11:02  Iraq, Politics
Jul 202006
 

From the front page of nytimes.com (images rotate), here’s a U.S. Marine assisting a U.S. refugee in Beirut…

marine_helping.jpg

She seems to enjoy being on the receiving end of the assistance and he seems to enjoy providing it. As it should be.

Meanwhile, the “undeclared” civil war in Iraq continues…

Thousands flee as Iraq violence deepens

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled their homes as sectarian violence has turned ever more bitter since a U.S.-backed national unity government was formed two months ago, official data showed on Thursday.

Iraq’s most powerful religious authority, Shi’ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, joined the United Nations and U.S. officials in raising the alarm over a spike in bloodshed and a form of ethnic cleansing he called “campaigns of displacement”.

The U.S. military admitted violence in Baghdad was little changed despite a major clampdown and the city morgue said it had seen 1,000 bodies so far in July, a slight increase on June.

A day after the United States issued a stern warning to both Shi’ite and minority Sunni leaders to match talk with action on reining in and reconciling “death squads” and “terrorists” from their respective communities, the Migration Ministry said more than 30,000 people had registered as refugees this month alone.

“We consider this to be a dangerous sign,” ministry spokesman Sattar Nowruz told Reuters, acknowledging that many more people fled abroad or quietly sought refuge with relatives rather than sign up for official aid or move into state camps.

The increase took to 27,000 families — some 162,000 people — the number who have registered for help with the ministry in the five months since the February 22 bombing of a Shi’ite shrine at Samarra sparked a new phase of communal bloodshed.

But another schoolroom in Baghdad got a new coat of paint today, and that is what matters most.

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Harkin statement

 Posted by at 02:06  Politics
Jul 202006
 

STATEMENT OF SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA) ON THE PRESIDENT’S VETO OF HR 810

harkin_tom.jpg“I will mince no words about the President’s action. This veto is a shameful display of cruelty and hypocrisy. It is cruel, because it denies hope to millions of Americans who suffer from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, juvenile diabetes, cancer, spinal-cord injuries, and many other diseases and debilitating conditions. Most of all, though, it is simply sad.

“HR 810 would have expanded federal funding to pursue this research. But with a stroke of his pen today, the President vetoed this bill and vetoed the hopes of millions of suffering Americans.

“The President is closing his heart and mind to this fact, and putting himself in the company of people like Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, who told Galileo it was heresy to claim that the Earth revolved around the sun, and not the other way around. Galileo was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

“Let’s be clear, nothing could be more pro-life than signing this bill into law. We all know people – friends or family members — with ALS or Parkinson’s or juvenile diabetes or spinal-cord injury. What could be more pro-life than using the scientific tools that God has given us to help heal them?

“We carefully crafted HR 810 to impose strict ethical standards on embryonic stem cell research. HR 810 would not allow federal funding to be used to create or destroy human embryos. The only embryos we’re talking about using are those that are already slated for destruction.

“Once again, the President has staked out an extreme, ideological position – a position that flies in the face of science and common sense. And he refuses to listen to other points of view, including the pleas of Nancy Reagan. Republican supporters of the bill requested an opportunity to talk to the President, and they were turned down.

“There is an election in November, and we need to know where every candidate stands on embryonic stem cell research. Because we intend to reintroduce this bill in the next Congress. And we intend to prevail.”

Update: BarbinMD has excerpts from Senator Harkin’s speech on the floor of the Senate following George’s veto. He made some powerful and sensible remarks. Well worth reading.

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