Friday, February 27, 2009

Nikolai Berdyaev links

Just filing stuff away here....

Wisconsin's State Drink: the Brandy Manhatten

Why Badgers drink Brandy Manhattens.
When I moved to Wisconsin from New Jersey many years ago, I was mystified when, upon ordering a Manhattan, I was served a brandy Manhattan. Soon, I discovered that an old-fashioned was actually a brandy old-fashioned, and that "brandy and Seven" was considered a potable drink.

Fish-fry authority Jeff Hagen, in his acclaimed book Fry Me to the Moon, declares the brandy old-fashioned to be Wisconsin's State Drink. "Milk?" says Jeff. "Forget it. Got brandy?"

For more than 30 years, I have wondered how this came to be. Why brandy? And a related question: Why Korbel brandy? Korbel is only the fourth leading brand in the U.S., yet it has a virtual lock on the Wisconsin market, outselling any other brand by more than two-to-one.

While others pondered the mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the lost island of Atlantis, I lay awake nights wondering, "Why brandy? Why Korbel? Why here?"
There is a the rest here.

Thinking about History

A nice link. I learned from a master at it. Have forgotten much but someday I'll bet back to the study of it.

Tom Dashle ad from 1986

Golden Dome of Samarra

BBC video on the rebulding.
The bombing of one of Shia Islam's holiest sites in 2006 pushed Iraq close to civil war.

Shia militias and death squads reacted violently to the Sunni attack on the Golden Dome of Samarra.

Three years on, the city has been reclaimed from insurgents and work on rebuilding the dome is well advanced, as Jonny Dymond discovered.

Obama and lessons from Hopkins vs Ickes

Charlie Peters and Tim Noah on Hopkin's CWA vs Ickes PWA in creating jobs.

Obama's bet on contractors like Ickes and I fear it's not for the sake of good government but for binding a political alliance Richie Daley style. Hopkins wanted jobs quick and I suspect the best today would have been a FICA tax holiday for a year to get money into working peoples hands fast.

Newbattle at War

A nice local History site,
This site commemorates the men from the Parish of Newbattle in Midlothian who fought and sadly for many, died in the Great War of 1914 - 1919.Well over a hundred men did not return to their villages of Newtongrange, Newbattle , Easthouses , Lothian Bridge and Eskbank, collectively known as Newbattle Parish. Teachers, Plumbers, Police Officers, Bakers but mainly Miners in their hundreds left their peace time jobs and answered Lord Kitchener's call

"Your Country Needs You" - This is their story.
Also finished Peter Hart's The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front. It's based on oral histories taken from Bitish soldiers. Adding a tag for WW1 as 2014 approaches and anticipating many new books and scholarship on the war.

Biden's test and North Korea

This may be the response Biden had in mind to the test of Obama: Be ready to strike and destroy North Korea's missile test

Gotta wonder what Perry is advising Obama now.

SEIU's Andy Stern on Blagojevich

One Democrat who hasn't completely flipped on the Guv,
Stern's union supported disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and one SEIU official was mentioned in connection with a federal corruption investigation. Stern said he has "no reason to believe anyone did anything wrong."

He also said that while he is sorry about the way Blagojevich's career ended, he is not sorry about past SEIU support for him. He said Blagojevich helped child-care and health-care workers in his state, including allowing child-care workers to get health care, training and work supplies.

Friday, February 20, 2009

At Long Last: Illinois Republicans Fight the Status Quo of Corruption

John Powers over at CDO has a round up on the GOP's responses including this petition drive.

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John Kass isn't one of Holder's cowards

A good column today.... Coverage of corruption has hypocritical scent
Watching the Chicago media pack take chunks out of Roland Burris this week—and after taking a few bites out of the lying weasel myself—I couldn't help but wonder:

When it comes to covering corruption, is there a media double standard, one for weak black politicians and another for powerful white guys?
Powerful white guys meaning Daley and Madigan.
The black pols most often skewered by the media are the puppets. The white guys are treated with the respect reserved for the powerful.

Looking forward, to the 2010 general elections, it's clear that Madigan doesn't want the now-leprous Burris leading the Democratic ticket, not if Madigan wants to maintain control of the state House and install daughter Lisa as governor. And if Daley leaves a battered Stroger on the ticket, Democrats may lose to newly minted Republican Paul Vallas.

Now is not the time for deference to the powerful. From now on, when a politician lies, maybe we'll get in their face, black or pink, powerful or weak, puppet or puppet master.
Kass is right.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What's The Rush To Remove Roland Burris?‏

A cross post from Legal Insurrection. Way too many people with stuff to hide. Let the process work and everything revealed.
Roland Burris has offered changing accounts of his communications with emissaries of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the weeks leading up to Blagojevich's appointment of Burris to Barack Obama's open Senate seat. These changing accounts, including an updated Affidavit filed by Burris with the Illinois House impeachment committee, have led to accusations that Burris committed perjury at worst, obstruction of justice at best.

Based on the accusations against Burris, various politicians and newspapers have called on Burris to resign. But what's the rush? If Burris is guilty of a crime, he will be charged and convicted. As of now, he is not even charged. Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Attorney General, is investigating, and if she feels that criminal charges are warranted, I'm sure she will bring such charges.

Perjury can be a difficult thing to prove, and my initial reading of the transcripts is that it may not be so clear cut. By offering a corrective affidavit, Burris may have "purged" any perjury as a matter of law.

Similarly, the U.S. Senate is commencing an ethics investigation. Let that investigation run its course, and if there are grounds and enough votes to remove Burris under Senate Rules, then Burris will be removed. As of now, there does not appear to be evidence of a quid pro quo for the appointment, but let's see what the evidence holds.

The rush to rush Burris out of office is another troubling slide down the road where the mere accusation of a crime leads prosecutors, newspapers, and politicians to demand that office holders resign. If Burris committed no crime, and is not removed by the U.S. Senate, the electorate still gets its vote in the next election cycle, which is less than two years away. If Burris can't convince the electorate, then he will be removed the way politicians normally are removed from office, by popular vote.

The problem with substituting prosecutorial, editorial, and political discretion for the normal electoral process is that such a process is arbitrary. Only those deemed politically unworthy are forced from office. If Roland Burris lied to get into office, what about all the other politicians who lied during campaigns. Should they be removed from office as well?

If the difference here is that Burris lied under oath, then there are remedies -- both legal and legislative -- to address such a lie. Let the process work.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WSJ: Blagojevich and Drinking the Chicago Way

One benny from the Blagojevich tragedy has been stories like this bringing back old memories of a tavern I used to haunt.
But if (im)peaches are going to be at the heart of any Blagtail, it may be hard to beat the Cohasset Punch, a drink that for decades was the essential Chicago cocktail, and whose most notable feature was its garnish: half a canned peach.
And I can vouch for this,
Cohasset Punch built a reputation for being "seductive." Which is to say that the hard liquor at its core was so effectively masked by the sweet and fragrant ingredients that one might easily overindulge. "Harmless looking, pleasant tasting," wrote one correspondent to the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1936 of the punch. After three or four of them, "a pleasant mellowness steals over you, your imagination glows, you discover humor you never possessed." When you finally get up to go, "lo, your legs are merely attached to your body for appearance's sake."
More at the Chicago Bar Project: Ladner Brothers

Prairie Politics

A new blog I started to cover local and Illinois politcs...more about it later.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Obama's mystery trips home

Illinois Review writes,
Would it be possible that this trip home was at the behest of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and the FBI wanting to have, perhaps, an "on-the-record" conversation with the President himself about Blagojevich and the U.S. Senate seat? Is there a White House press corps questioner willing to ask? Maybe before he gets back on Air Force One at 10:00 am this am?

Look, if the Dems start saying we're just too paranoid, our response wil be from now on, thanks to Roland Burris, if it's our fault for not asking the right questions that we don't get "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" we're going to start asking ALL the questions that occur to us.
If not coming home to talk about Burris than maybe Rezko?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Burris and the Rush to Impeachment

The injustice around Blagojevich's impeachment wasn't to Blagojevich rather it was an injustice to the people of Illinois. The House and Senate with lopsided Democratic majorities rushed Rod out the door and the full story's yet to be told. SEIU's Progress Illinois try's to hang fault on Rep Durkin but it's really Tom Balanoff who should have been alongside Burris talking about negotiations with the Gov.

There's plenty we still don't know.

Video of Burris testifying HT Progress Illinois

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gov Quinn it's time to call a special election for Obama's Senate Seat

Dennis Byrne in the Chicago Daily Observer: Now Can We Have Our Senate Election?
Roland Burris has made an ass out himself and us, in no particular order.

The junior U.S. senator from Illinois, a Democrat let it be noted, now admits that he was deeper into conversations with representatives of the disgraced former governor, Rod Blagojevich, about his possible appointment to seat than he first said, under oath.

The admission was made in an affidavit that he had quietly filed with an Illinois House committee on Feb. 5, the same committee that he swore to that no Blagojevich emissary solicited him, at least not more than once, for cash (a $10,000 figure was mentioned) in exchange for his seat. His honest testimony to the committee was a condition demanded by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others for their approval of his appointment.
A special elections the only way. It's time to call for one Governor Quinn.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

David Plouffe makes a “surprise visit” to Azerbaijan? Not so fast! Take a closer look (Updated 02/11)‏

A cross post from RBO

azerbaijanAs RBO first reported February 9, 2009, David Plouffe, PSBHO's presidential campaign manager, arrived in Azerbaijan the day before in what was described by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as a "surprise visit".

Yesterday, February 10, 2009, we learned from Glenn R. Simpson, who reported at the Wall Street Journal that Plouffe was paid approximately $50,000 for his speech, which he plans to donate to "groups that advocate democratization in the turbulent post-Soviet states of the region around the Caspian and Caucasus mountain range."

Plouffe's meeting with about about 50 people was closed to the media.

    Journalists were told to leave the auditorium at Gerb (Western) University before Plouffe gave a speech on the 2008 U.S. presidential election and "the power of democracy."

Maybe, however, Plouffe's speech was similar to this one (52-second sound byte) from "Leadership Lessons from a Presidential Campaign Manager" he gave February 2, 2009, in the Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture at DePauw University:


You can see a brief film clip of Plouffe being assailed by reporters after his speech at the Baku university here. No embed link is available.

Arastun Orujlu, the head of the local Azeri East-West Research Center, "charged that Plouffe's visit served a specific goal," the Azernews blog reports. "'It is impossible that the former head of Barack Obama's election headquarters has come here all the way from America on a purely personal visit. He has a concrete mission.' Orujlu believes that Plouffe had arrived to evaluate the views of the Azerbaijani government and to convey them to Washington which, in turn, 'will be the factors determining US-Azerbaijan relations.'"

We also learned yesterday that his trip to Azerbaijan was arranged by "lobbyists working with a group that has ties to the Azerbaijan government."

    Mr. Plouffe's appearance in Azerbaijan was arranged by a Washington-based lobbying firm called Bob Lawrence & Associates, according to records and interviews. The company lists Azerbaijan among its clients on its Web site. People with knowledge of the speech said the appearance was arranged by the Lawrence firm through Mr. Plouffe's agent, the Washington Speakers Bureau. A person answering the phone at the Lawrence firm said no one was available for comment. A spokesman for the Washington Speakers Bureau couldn't be reached.

At least one Obama supporter is not happy. The Jemal Public Affairs blog commented February 10:

    Does anyone believe that one of the brightest political and media strategists on earth was not aware that Washington lobbyists representing the authoritarian, oli-rich country of Azerbaijan had a hand in arranging his puff visit to Baku? Plouffe owes the 13 million subscribers of Obama for America, including yours truly, an apology for betraying the values of the Obama campaign and for inserting himself into a geo-political world where such visits do more damage than good.

Today, February 11, 2009, we are told by the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Anne Derse, that Plouffe's visit was not a "secret mission".

    "He was just the head of the electoral staff of President Obama. Naturally his visit was coordinated with the US powers but it contained no factors of secret mission," ...

    According to Derse, while being in Azerbaijan Plouffe appealed to the population with a request to take an active part in the regulatory processes.

    "At the same time, this appeal was aimed at the use of democratic technologies, improvement of the voting process", noted the ambassador.

Returning to our original article, RBO wrote that little alarm bells had gone off at the mention of Azerbaijan and a member of the Obama camp in the same news. The RFE/RL media report states:

    The U.S. Embassy in Baku confirmed Plouffe's trip. Embassy spokesman Terry Davidson told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that "Plouffe is coming as a private citizen. The embassy is not in charge of his schedule." [...]

    Local media says he was invited by the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan, which is a pro-government NGO and mouthpiece of the president's office.

    The visit comes one month before a controversial referendum in Azerbaijan to lift the ban on presidential terms, making it possible for Aliyev to continue to serve as president.

    Through an aide, Plouffe declined RFE/RL's request for an interview.

The only other details found in the RFE/RL article were these:

aliyev-ilham-pres-of-azerbaijanIn its February 6 report, RFE/RL said that February 9 Plouffe was "scheduled to speak at Baku's Gerb (Western) University", followed by a meeting with "Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (right) and parliament speaker Oktay Asadov."

Now, with the new information in Simpson's WSJ article, some more alarm bells have gone off with the mention of lobbying firm Bob Lawrence & Associates (BL&A).

Let's take a closer look at this firm. Simpson reports that the "company lists Azerbaijan among its clients on its Web site."

Checking the subscription-only database, RBO found that Bob Lawrence & Associates is a registered lobbyist representing Renaissance Associates SA of Baku, Azerbaijan, on matters of defense, foreign relations, fuel/gas/oil, trade (foreign and domestic), and travel/tourism.

The implu Corporation reports that during 2008, BL&A lobbyied on behalf of Renaissance Associates in dealings with Platinum Advisors and Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates, L.L.C..

That's the official info. Now we turn to Ken Silverstein, who wrote in September 2007 about both the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan, BL&A and Renaissance Associates, when ACSDA "came on a government propaganda mission to Washington."

    As for the ACDSA, its website reveals that the group's projects include cheerleader-type programs like "Baku is a Hero City" (which reeks of Soviet nostalgia) as well as more explicitly political ones, such as election monitoring and polling. In a poll conducted a few years ago, according to a 2005 New Republic story, the ACDSA found that "only 5.9 percent of those surveyed voted for opposition candidate Isa Gambar" when he ran against Aliyev. Yet, the story said, "official statistics gave Gambar 12 percent of the vote, and some foreign observers said that he garnered as much as 40 percent."

Silverstein wrote that BL&A organized the ACDSA visit:

    In reality, the whole affair appears to be a government propaganda mission and delegation members are hardly as exalted a bunch [of human rights activists and free advocates] claimed [by BL&A senior associate Patriced Courtney]. Let's start with Bob Lawrence, which, it turns out, promotes the interests of President Ilham Aliyev but is paid by a cut-out: Renaissance Associates, a pro-government business group based in Baku, the Azeri capital. In 2006, President Ilham Aliyev–who inherited power from his father when the old man died and then got elected in his own right in a rigged vote four years ago–came to Washington for a White House visit. Renaissance advocated for that visit and Bob Lawrence & Associates handled the logistics.

For the October 15, 2008, Azeri elections, ACSDA contracted BL&A, which "assembled 40 prominent Americans, including Congressmen and Congressional staffers, journalists, lawyers and businessmen to observe local polling stations throughout the country."

It seems that everything old is new again. In 2007 BL&A was paid by Ilham Aliyev via cut-out Renaissance Associates to bring the ACDSA to the US. Then, in October 2008 BL&A was contracted to bring US citizens to Azerbaijan. So, this time, who paid BL&A to bring David Plouffe to Azerbaijan -- and for what purpose?

There is another Azerbaijan-BL&A connection of which the significance will soon become clear.

BL&A is also a "Sustaining Member" of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce. According to the CoC website, the BL&A client list reportedly includes:

    Project development activities are undertaken in both the United States and overseas. The firm works regularly with the Departments of Energy, Transportation, State, Labor, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, and Defense; the Environmental Protection Agency; the U.S. Congress; and various international entities such as the World Bank, OPIC, the Ex-Im Bank, and a number of embassies.

Hold that thought and let's continue with RBO's original article.

Here is what others had to say February 9 about Plouffe and his "surprise visit":

Ben Smith at The Politico wrote:

    David Plouffe, who remains a key, unpaid advisor to Obama for America, is writing a book and hitting the lucrative speaking tour -- which is a way that a lucky few can make money on government or campaign work without engaging in the compromises that come with lobbying.

Ken Silverstein at Harper's Magazine commented:

    Barack Obama took office just a few weeks ago and already David Plouffe, his campaign manager, appears to be doing quite well for himself. He's already signed a lucrative book deal, which seems fair enough, but now he's flying off to oil-rich Azerbaijan at the invitation of a pro-democracy front group that works closely with the ruling despot.

azerbaijan-caspian-sea-oil-derricksSo what's the big deal, you ask? We get it. Azerbaijan is "oil-rich", as Silverstein wrote.

The Azerbaijan government writes regarding its exports:

    The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC): transports crude oil 1,760 km (1,093 miles) from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field in the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It passes through Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia; and Ceyhan, a port on the southeastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey."

Bruce Falconer reported July 15, 2008, at Mother Jones on an interview Blackwater founder and CEO Erick Prince granted to the editors and reporters at Military Times. Falconer quoted from an excerpt printed in Army Times:

    Do you work for other countries, or just for the U.S.?

    We do some training work for other countries, some helicopter support and training and maintenance and that kind of stuff. In Azerbaijan, we were hired by DoD to build for them a naval special warfare capability to defend the oil platforms and interdict weapons and drugs and whatever else in the southern Caspian [Sea]...

Falconer adds:

    Let's dig into this a little... The U.S. government has a cozy relationship with Azerbaijan because the central Asian nation borders on the Caspian Sea, which is thought to hold more than 100 billion barrels of oil. Russia and Iran would love to have a piece of it, so the U.S. (joined by every major oil company you can think of) has bolstered ties with an unsavory regime to suit its energy interests. A Blackwater team deployed there in 2004, and like Mr. Prince described, helped train an Azerbaijani martime strike force to protect oil platforms.

Returning to Ben Smith's post we find:

    According to federal records, the Azerbijani government and government-controlled entities, which have major interests in federal energy policy, employ four lobbying firms in Washington, including the high-powered Livingston Group, which is on a $300,000 annual retainer to "maintain contact...with Members of Congress and their staff, Executive branch officians, and non-governmental organizations."

Anupama Narayanswamy reported October 2, 2008, for the Sunlight Foundation:

    With influential lobbyists such as Bob Livingston (right) heading their team, Azerbaijan's government had access to some of the most powerful people in Washington. For instance, at a meeting with Vice President Richard Cheney, Livingston petitioned to add an attaché from the Department of Commerce to the U.S. embassy in Azerbaijan. They have also enlisted Livingston's aid in organizing the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, working with the United States on building an oil pipeline, and getting oil companies including BP to invest in the region. And they've paid well for the service: In the past two years alone the country has spent more than $680,000 in fees and expenses to the Livingston Group.

This brings us to precise the point where those little alarm bells went off when RBO first glimpsed RFE/RL's article on Plouffe's "surprise visit" to Azerbaijan.

The mention of Azerbaijan in any political context immediately brings to mind the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce. No, this is not your typical tourist-oriented CoC.

As the Sunlight Foundation points out, Robert (Bob) Livingston of The Livingston Group is indeed well-connected with the CoC. In fact, The Livingston Group is listed as a Benefactor and Livingston himself is listed as both an associate member and a member of the board of directors.

Next, checking the members of the CoC's Honorary Council of Advisors, something -- or someone -- should jump right out at you. Go ahead. Look below. We'll wait.

  • James Addison Baker III
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • Henry Kissinger
  • Brent Scowcroft
  • John Sununu

brzezinski_zbigniewYuppers! It's Zbigniew Brzezinski (right), former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) and former U.S. Presidential emissary to Azerbaijan to help promote the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

ZBig has backed PSBHO since August 2007 and serves as one of his foreign policy advisers.

Now you can see why the Bob Lawrence & Associates connection with the US-Azerbaihan Chamber of Commerce made that second set of alarm bells go off. It adds another layer to the story.

Zbig and the Government-Industry Revolving Door

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair wrote circa 1999 of ZBig and Azerbaijani oil:

    U.S. oil companies are slavering over vast oil and gas reserves. A whole host of former government officials are helping the oil companies get a foot in the door in Azerbaijan, including former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Zbig is on the payroll of Amoco, the largest US investor in Azerbaijan's oil fields, which could produce 3 million barrels per day by 2010.

    One of Brzezinski's tasks for Amoco is to improve the image of Azerbaijan and its president, Geidar Aliyev. This is no easy feat as Aliyev's regime is guilty of terrible human rights violations. Furthermore, Congress has been much more sympathetic to Armenia, with which Azerbaijan fought a bloody war a few years back.

    But Brzezinski has fallen to his task with relish. The New York Times interviewed him last year when it was preparing a major story on Azerbaijan and he told the newspaper that Aliyev is "a real cool cat". Last July, Brzezinski testified before Congress that Azerbaijan and other former Soviet republics had lived under communist rule for seven decades and should not be expected to establish democracies in a short period of time. (Brzezinski expressed far less understanding about the need to transition to democracy after the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza regime in Nicaragua.)

Arthur Lepic, a French journalist and member of the French section of Voltaire Network who specializes in energy and military affairs, concluded his October 22, 2004, article "Zbigniew Brzezinski: the Empire's Adviser. The outrageous strategy to destroy Russia" with (reposted September 9, 2008, at Dangerous Travels):

    In 1989, Brzezinski quit his job at Columbia University where he taught since 1960 to work on Ukraine's independent status plan. This marks the beginning of his compromise to prevent the resurgence of Russia as a superpower.

Did you catch that? ZBig taught 1960 to 1989 at Columbia University. Barack Hussein Obama graduated from Columbia in 1983 with a degree in political science. Hold that thought.

Lepic continues:

    He also developed a "plan for Europe" that included NATO's expansion to the Baltic republics, a dream that came true when three of them joined NATO in 2002. During the 90s he was the special envoy of the American President to promote the most important oil infrastructure project of the world: the Baku-Tbilissi-Ceyhan pipeline which was his best opportunity to prevent the resurgence of Russia. He has also been, since 1999, the president of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, whose headquarters are located at the Freedom House facility. This position allows him to intervene in peace negotiations between the Russian government and independence fighters led by Mashkadov. However, the truth behind these good will "democratic" activities is to assist independence followers to maintain a war in the area, like the Afghan one, to weaken Russian and to keep it away from the gains of the Caspian Sea.


    Nowadays, Brzezinski is very active in CSIS but he [is] still the brain of the Democrats foreign policy program, something that is quite evident in candidate Kerry and his partner John Edwards's obsession with Russia. Following Mark Brzezinski's advises they chose as their main priority Russia's nuclear disarmament in a moment in which it has recovered the same oil production it had before its demise and is benefiting widely of the current oil prices which has allowed it to double its defense budget. Therefore, Russia's nuclear arsenal is not, as John Kerry says, a present-day threat.

    Kerry's real objective is related to Zbigniew Brzezinski's strategy of Russia's subordination but, from now on, it will be much more difficult to convince the world public opinion of Russia's evil and totalitarianism.Source Therefore, it is necessary to provoke its reaction as was done with the Afghan case in 1979, because Russia will have no problems with its energy supply in the next decades, a real concern the U.S. has. This is why in some recent Wall Street Journal and Novaya Gazetta interviews, Brzezinski characterized Vladimir Putin as "Russian Benito Mussolini".

Where have we heard this US-Russia nuclear disarmament meme before?

Dan Riehl wrote October 15, 2008, on his Riehl World View blog:

    This seems a might strange. Obama has sounded mostly silly for trying to use his student travels to Pakistan to speak to his alleged knowledge of foreign affairs. Yet he is said to have penned his senior thesis on Soviet Nuclear disarmament just a few years before the end of the Cold War thanks to Reagan. Why wouldn't he want to share his great insights with the world?

    Anyone want to guess just how far on the wrong side of History Obama was on that one? I'm thinking pretty far if he's afraid of having it read.

      He barely mentions Columbia, training ground for the elite, where he transferred in his junior year, majoring in political science and international relations and writing his thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament.

MSNBHO reported July 24, 2008:

    His former professor, Michael Baron, recalled in an interview with NBC News that Obama easily aced the year-long class. Baron described the paper as a "thesis" or "senior thesis" in several interviews, and said that Obama spent a year working on it. Baron recalls that the topic was nuclear negotiations with the Soviet Union.

    "My recollection is that the paper was an analysis of the evolution of the arms reduction negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States," Baron said in an e-mail. "At that time, a hot topic in foreign policy circles was finding a way in which each country could safely reduce the large arsenal of nuclear weapons pointed at the other … For U.S. policy makers in both political parties, the aim was not disarmament, but achieving deep reductions in the Soviet nuclear arsenal and keeping a substantial and permanent American advantage. As I remember it, the paper was about those negotiations, their tactics and chances for success. Barack got an A."

Where have we heard this US-Russia nuclear disarmament meme recently?

Now we remember: See RBO's Nuclear disarmament — Obama "yes", Pentagon "not so fast", Congress "skeptical" and John Batchelor's The Bomb Now, both posted February 2, 2009.

Guess we can connect some of the dots as to the why of it all now, can we not?

Then, in early in 2008, we have ZBig quoted in an article by Anar Veliev, an employee of the TURAN Analytical Information Agency (Azerbaijan):

    Azerbaijan occupies a particular place in the U.S.'s plans in this region. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Azerbaijan can be described as the vitally important 'cork' controlling access to the 'bottle' that contains the riches of the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia. An independent, Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan, with pipelines running from it to the ethnically related and politically supportive Turkey, would prevent Russia from exercising a monopoly on access to the region and would thus also deprive Russia of decisive political leverage over the policies of the new Central Asian states."

So, now we have Plouffe -- a key member of the Obama team -- making that "surprise visit" to ZBig's "cork" in the "bottle" Azerbaijan. No apologies for being suspicious. We must all be -- all the time -- and remain constantly vigilant.

See updates on next page.


plouffe-david-at-qerb-universitetinde-muhazire-090209Update 02/09/09 11:25 a.m. ET: First, we have two news reports from Azerbaijan's APA. The first, released at 12:19 Azeri time, reports:

    David Plouffe, Chief Campaign Manager for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign has visited Azerbaijan, APA reports.

    He will have several meetings organized by Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan during one-day visit. Mr. Plouffe is expected to have a meeting in the President's Office as well.

    Mr. Plouffe is not a member of Obama administration and the Baku visit is of personal character.

The second, released at 15:37 Azeri time, includes a photo slideshow:

    David Plouffe, who served as campaign manager for Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, delivered a lecture at Baku's Western University on the theme "Election in America – formation and management of campaign". APA reports that teachers and students of the university attended the lecture.

    David Plouffe told journalists after the lecture that they had interesting discussions on elections and democracy. Plouffe refused to answer political questions and said it was a personal visit.

    David Plouffe is scheduled to have meetings in the President's Office.

    David Plouffe served as campaign manager for Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Barack Obama called him "the unsung hero of this campaign".

Next, Pundita reminds us in the comments section that in 2005 the Unprez traveled to Russia.

Steve Clemons reported December 20, 2007, that, according to the Obama Campaign, the Unprez traveled August-September 2005 to Moscow and Kiev -- and to Baku in Azerbaijan, which RBO reported in our July 23, 2008, "Obama's Afghanistan 'fairy tale'."

But. Wait. There's more.

On November 7, 2008, Mithridates of the Page F30 blog posted a translated article from the Turkish-language

    Barack Obama, elected as the leader of the United States, is the first American president to have visited Azerbaijan before. Obama came to the capital Baku in 2005 with an American Senate delegation, where he met with the leader of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in the Presidential Palace. Senator Richard Lugar presided over the American delegation in this meeting.

    President-elect Obama carried out the second meeting with Aliyev in Washington in September 2006 as a senator, with the head of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar. Aliyev later participated in a closed meeting in the United States Congress.

But. Wait. There's more.

Ken Silverstein wrote April 25, 2008, at Harper's Magazine about PSBHO's visit to Azerbaijan:

    A reader recently called to my attention to a 2005 Chicago Tribune story detailing a trip to Eastern Europe that Obama took early in his Senate career. At the time, Obama was seeking to establish his foreign policy gravitas and hence joined then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar of Indiana on a trip to inspect weapons sites across the former Soviet Union. "I very much feel like the novice and pupil," Obama was quoted as saying of his relationship with Lugar (a man who gets uniformly positive press, though he easily makes the list of Top Five Overrated Members of Congress).

    One of the stops on the trip included Azerbaijan, where Obama and Lugar met with President Ilham Aliyev. The latter had inherited power from his father two years earlier, won a rigged election, and then crushed protests that erupted in response.

    So what topics did Obama raise with Aliyev? Human rights? Political reform? His government's flagrant corruption and theft of energy revenues? Well, actually the topics he called to Aliyev's attention were "slightly more parochial," the Tribune reported:

      Why is McDonald's having difficulty opening restaurants in Baku [the Azeri capital]? And why is Boeing shut out of selling planes to the state-owned airline? "They are two Illinois companies who want to do business and expand," Obama explained, "but they are having roadblocks." He didn't walk away with a concrete answer. He could, however, report back to constituents that he voiced concern at the highest levels of government.

    Well, I guess this isn't as bad as Hillary Clinton threatening to "totally obliterate" Iran, but it's not exactly inspired foreign policy either. What's perhaps more troubling is that Obama still seems to look to Lugar, who's always been overwhelmingly sympathetic towards the Azeri and other crummy Central Asian regimes, as a sort of foreign policy guru.

But. Wait. There's more.

All has not always gone along smoothly with Obama-Azeri relations. On January 25, 2008, US Azerias Network (USAN) reported (emphasis added):

    Today, the U.S. Azeris Network has made available a second letter, provided below (and both made available in the Action letters section of the, related to the outrage surrounding Sen. Obama's statement [on his website], which insult all Azerbaijani-Americans and Turkish-Americans, as well as the U.S. allies of Azerbaijan and Turkey. Sen. Obama's comments reveal his inexperience and poor judgement, along with unprofessionalism of his foreign and domestic ethnic policy campaign advisors. The inadequate advice under which Sen. Obama made his ill-conceived statement cannot yield positive results as it benefits a relatively small ethnic special interest group at the expense of tens of millions of people worldwide as well as domestically, and two strategic U.S. allies. All Azerbaijani-Americans, Turkish-Americans and their friends can voice their dissatisfaction to Sen. Obama and their local media.

What a difference an election makes:

On November 7, 2008, after the presidential election, Adil Baghirov, USAN co-founder and general director, wrote "President Obama visited Azerbaijan, which promotes his deeper understanding of the geopolitical and geostrategic importance of our country."

    He explained this by the fact that almost all friends of Azerbaijanis in the Congress (both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives), such as co-chairs of Azerbaijani Cocus Congressmen Solomon Ortiz and Bill Schuster, as well as governors and local delegates were re-elected.

    "We also found new friends in the US senate, such as senator [John] Warner. We are glad to the victory of our friends. At the same time, several pro-Armenian and anti-Azerbaijani and anti-Turkish congressmen and senators lost their seats," said Baghirov.

    He especially stressed that for the first time in the US history, Azerbaijani American and USAN member G. Vafai became an official delegate from New York in one of two biggest parties of the country (Republican), which is a great achievement for our network.

Update 02/09/09 11:45 a.m. ET:

Well folks, RBO can tell you that the Unprez met with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev on August 31, 2005, at which time he was presented with the gift of a "Rug, 47'' wide" valued at $100. He accepted it because "Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government."

Update 02/09/09 12:20 p.m. ET: Blogger Marianna reported August 25, 2005, on the Azeri website of

    On August 31, Baku plans to host two of the US republican senators, Richard Lugar and Barack Obama. Azerbaijan will be the last stop in the senators' tour of former Soviet republics: by the end of the month, Lugar and Obama will have completed their trips to Russia and Ukraine. Senators are expected to meet with President Ilham Aliyev and, separately, with opposition leaders. According to "Echo", they will also schedule a trip to observe the recently launched Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in action. In addition, senators plan to attend the drills of Azeri coast guards simulating an operation to prevent the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction. Sounds like an interesting agenda, in light of the latest talks about establishing a US military base in Azerbaijan and following Uzbekistan's decision in July to terminate the use of its airspace by the US military planes en route to Afghanistan.

The "drills of Azeri coast guards simulating an operation to prevent the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction" were most likely a demonstration of Blackwater's training handiwork. Keep in mind that Blackwater has an Illinois operation.

Returning to the subject of nuclear nonproliferation, the Council on Foreign Relations has the transcript, as well as an audio recording, of Challenges Ahead For Cooperative Threat Reduction, presented November 1, 2005, by Sens. Richard Lugar and Barack Obama. Here is what PSBHO had to say about Azerbaijan:

    * * Crickets * *

Did you get that?

Also, on Sen. Richard Lugar's official webpage is posted the June 28, 2007, press release entitled "Obama, Lugar Secure Funding for Implementation of Nonproliferation Law. $48 million funding increase to be used to destroy conventional weapons stockpiles, intercept weapons of mass destruction and respond to proliferation emergencies."

    First introduced in November 2005 and enacted in 2007, the Lugar-Obama initiative enhances U.S. efforts to destroy conventional weapons stockpiles and to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction throughout the world. [...]

    The Lugar-Obama initiative is modeled after the Nunn-Lugar program that focuses on weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union. Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) authored the program in 1991. It has provided U.S. funding and expertise to help the former Soviet Union safeguard and dismantle its enormous stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related materials, and delivery systems. Among many accomplishments, the program has deactivated 7,000 nuclear warheads and reemployed 58,000 scientists in peaceful research. Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan are nuclear weapons free as a result of cooperative efforts under the Nunn-Lugar program. They otherwise would be the world's the third, fourth and eighth largest nuclear weapons powers, respectively.

    The Senate Appropriations Committee report language on the Lugar-Obama initiative is as follows: "Materials of Mass Destruction.---The Committee supports sections 10-12 of Public Law 109-472 which strengthens U.S. efforts to interdict illicit shipments of weapons or materials of mass destruction and secure vulnerable stockpiles of conventional weapons. The Committee provides $48,059,000 to implement these programs, of which $10,000,000 is under Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance, $36,059,000 is under the Small Arms and Light Weapons Destruction program, and $2,000,000 is under the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund."

    Lugar and Obama traveled together to Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan in August 2005 to oversee a number of Nunn-Lugar projects. Obama and Lugar introduced the legislation in November 2005.

    Operative sections of Lugar-Obama became law in January 2007. Later in 2007, Lugar and Obama pressed the Appropriations Committee to provide funding for its implementation.

Update 02/09/09 13:00 p.m. ET: In a follow-up to his earlier post on PSBHO's visit to Azerbaijan, Ken Silverstein wrote that he had received some info about the trip:

    The writer included articles that showed Obama had discussed topics with Aliyev ranging from biological weapons to elections (and, of course, "the exploitation of energy resources.") He also met, according to the articles, with other Azerbaijani officials and opposition leaders.

    Which is a fair point and gives a fuller account of Obama's agenda during the trip. On the other hand, Obama as far as I can tell made few public comments in Azerbaijan that were critical of the government. And it's discouraging that he used his personal time with the dictator to lobby for McDonald's and Boeing.

b-azer-090105-former-pres-geidar-aliev-in-background-chitribThe Chicago Tribune photo gallery archive includes a September 1, 2005, photograph of PSBHO ("He stands here with a picture of former President Geidar Aliev in the background.") taken by the Tribune's Pete Souza.

Here's a picture of Sens. Lugar and Obama at the Baku airport, August 30, 2005, taken by Pete Souza.

More updates on next page.

Updates Cont'd

Update 02/09/09 13:40 p.m. ET: So, no sooner than does RBO connect the dots from ZBig and Lugar, nuclear non-proliferation, etc., than do we have an article by Ed Lasky in today's American Thinker -- The Bureaucratic Coup Targeting Hillary and Israel.

    During the campaign against John McCain, Barack Obama tipped his hand when he stated that Jim Jones would be among the three people (Joe Biden and Senator Dick Lugar being the other two) who "have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House".

Lasky continues:

    Pundits speculated about how Obama would deal with a very powerful Hillary Clinton; would she eclipse him, or try to aggrandize her own power and prestige? Her wings seemed to have been clipped somewhat with this evolution. Her prospects of regaining power have diminished.

    One other reason this should surprise no one: during the campaign, Barack Obama relied on advice from Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, two of the more powerful National Security Advisers in history, and has been placing his protégés in positions of power in the Obama administration.

    Clearly, they counseled him to centralize power at the White House.

Lasky then addresses Samantha Power -- and the George Soros' connection:

    Also, Samantha Power has been appointed to an important post at the NSC; she will be in charge of working with multilateral organizations. Power is an advocate of working through multilateral organizations, and seems almost never to have come across one that she finds unworthy of praise and support. Power also has a very close relationship Obama, going back years. They are Blackberry and Basketball Friends Forever.

    We can expect more "cooperation" with a wide range of multilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations and any number of groups sponsored if not controlled by George Soros (who has connections to both President Obama and Samantha Power).

    The increased role of the National Security Council will only serve to enhance Power's influence. Her recent marriage to Cass Sunstein, Barack Obama's close friend from his University of Chicago days and now our nation's regulatory czar, will yield ancillary benefits when it comes to the power-mapping in Washington.

Welcome, Comrades and Comradesses, to George Soros' Open Society Institute website, Azerbaijan. Don't tell us that you're the least bit surprised.

Two commenters on Ed Lasky's posts provide some very interesting insight as to how we got here from there:

Gazinya, Feb 09, 08:37 AM writes:

    It is fascinating to watch all of this. It is like looking at a puzzle with all the pieces face up. First the edges are defined. These are the easiest to find and to place together. Then, with contined glancing at the box picture, one begins to place colors and bits of likness together. Not shapes so much as likenesses. Slowly the puzzle begins to look like the picture on the box.

    The Obama and his co-horts have been campaining with their puzzle pieces face down and are now turning up their faces for all to see. But how is this puzzle to fit into the picture on the box?

Raf from Florida, Feb 09, 06:59 AM writes:

    It's like we've shifted into a parallel universe where evil will now wear the white hat and good and moral people will become pariahs. It's also not surprising to see Soros surface in all this; I, and many others, am convinced that he has been the mastermind and driving force from the get-go. It is truly remarkable how well thought out and ruthless the master plan for total world domination has been crafted. The warning signs were always obvious but the "magnificent" media was able to obfuscate the truth and tout the connived misinformation. It would not have been possible without them and as is said in many old westerns, "they will get what's coming to them". Soros will either totally destroy the public media or absorb it; now that the sniveling media has fulfilled its role he can't have them turning on him.

    We can only sit back and marvel at the destruction of America that is happening before our eyes; political power has shifted so dramatically in favor of evil that there can be no workable short term solution. Isolate yourself with economic and moral shock-absorbers, when the whole thing collapses the unwary will free-fall into oblivion. Hopefully we can sort through the rubble and salvage our lives. (The bitter clingers may be the "last men standing").

VHG, Feb 09, 06:28 AM writes:

    But I also think this betrays Obama's plan to relegate the Clintons to the bottom of the dem heap. I think Obama will fire Hillary within the year and she will go. Since Obama has all the donor lists for Clinton now, he doesn't need either of them, and the dems would love to be rid of the two. There's more going on here than you think. It's not just centralized, but it's getting Hitlerized and Stalinized under our noses! This is all happening while the focus is on that ridiculous "stimulus package". This is NOT America any more.

Dave St John, Feb 09, 04:22 AM writes:

    What a succinct recap of a very involved subject! Obama has intertwined several very strong players in Jones and Clinton et al with the possibility of a real internal clash not too far down the road. He is very clever at this. The centralization of this kind of power in the White House may make the president feel empowered for now, but when these folks start going head to head with one another, its going to call for a strong leader to step in and calm the waters. Not an Obama strong suit.

    You can't hire race horses and have them just graze in the pasture all day.

Also see Global Voice's Online's post Obama Campaign Manager in Baku for more current coverage links.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Aiham Alsammarae back in Iraq أيهم السامرائي

He's talking with Richard Dreyfuss in The Nation. Amazing where a guy doing it the Chicago Way can pop up.

Picture is Alsammare, Blagojevich, and Auchi at that dinner at the Four Seasons. The dinner Obama can't recall if he attended.

وهو يتحدث مع ريتشارد درايفوس في حياة الأمة. المدهش فيها الرجل القيام به شيكاغو الطريق يمكن البوب. الصورة Alsammare ، Blagojevich ، واوجي في ذلك العشاء في الفصول الأربعة. العشاء أوباما لا يمكن أن يذكر ما اذا كان حضر.

Blagojevich as anti-hypocrite Pol

Or my accurate, a Pol who embraced his inner dirtbag. It's true. From TNR by Jacob Gershman: Crazy Like a Fox,
Ironically, Blagojevich was aided by the notorious reputation that preceded his indictment. Illinois was already quite familiar with his old-school backroom antics. "I come out of the alleys of Chicago politics," he told The New York Times. "That's a tough place. The politics there is not motivated by idealism or high purpose. It's nuts and bolts, and you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. I came up that way." Blagojevich was liberated from the charges of hypocrisy that tormented politicians like Eliot Spitzer, who cracked down on prostitution rings, and Larry Craig, who fought against gay marriage. In his interviews, Blagojevich came across as a man clearly comfortable in his own skin. Blagojevich, in the words of Miller, "embraced his inner dirtbag."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

E J Dionne: Obama Losing Stimulus Fight to Defeated GOP

E J writes GOP kicking Dems because...
They have done so largely by focusing on minor bits of the stimulus that amount, as Obama said in at least two of his network interviews, to "less than 1 percent of the overall package." But Republicans have succeeded in defining the proposal by its least significant parts.
So why did Dems include such goofy minor bits in such a bill if they thought it so critical? Why risk it? Dionne may think the GOP defeated but Dems clearly not ready for prime time.

William Perry and Iran

Maybe Perry met with Iranians on Obama's behalf last year, and now he's saying this as of a few weeks ago,
"If North Korea and Iran cannot be contained, we face the real danger of a cascade of proliferation" of nuclear armed-states, he said. "Indeed, I believe that today we are clearly at the tipping point of nuclear proliferation. And if the world does tip, it will be irreversible and dangerous beyond the imagination of most people."
Troubles me far more than the economy. Given the Zinni fiasco I worry this administration not up for it.

Zinni to Iraq: guess not

Looks like Obama called Zinni to congratulate him on the appointment as ambassador to Iraq before it was pulled.

Trib: State legislator wants William Ayers fired from UIC

Today's Trib,
State Sen. Larry Bomke, a Springfield-area Republican, wants Ayers removed from his university post under a proposal that says anyone who has committed an act of violence against the governments of the United States or Illinois cannot work at a public university.

Ayers could not be reached for comment. But his wife and former Weather Underground member, Bernardine Dohrn, called the bill "obviously, patently insane."
So where's the insanity with it?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Paul Vallas's return

This will be good! From the Sun Times,
Paul Vallas is ready to run again. "Cook County is broken, and I like fixing things that are broken."

The speed-talking, reform-minded maverick who was CEO of Chicago Public Schools under Mayor Daley, then lost the 2002 gubernatorial primary to Rod Blagojevich by just 25,000 votes, went on to make a national name rescuing school districts in Philadelphia and New Orleans.

Now, he told the Chicago Sun-Times, he is coming home for good at the end of the year to run for president of the Cook County Board in 2010.

Not as a Democrat, which he has been all his life, but as a Republican.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Daschle's five million

Daschle’s Financials Show $5 Million In Two Years…Without Lobbying
Thomas A. Daschle has had his financial details released, explaining how he managed to make $5 million within two years, without becoming a lobbyist.
According to the Office of Government Ethics, Daschle has been making millions by traveling across the country, holding seminars and lectures, as well as private advice, to insurance companies, healthcare facilities, real estate agents, energy firms, and other large corporations.

“Daschle is the quintessential Washington story. You leave a powerful position, and you leverage it to make a fortune,” Melanie Sloan, the director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, explained.

“It would be hard for Obama to fill his administration without ever turning to someone like that. That said, these are the kind of Washington insiders that Obama campaigned against.”
Really...isn't it about time for a Change? America's void of selfless public servants?

Sadr City Voting

A truely amazing picture via Gateway Pundit. Not the Sadr City of one year ago either.

An Iraqi soldier and a resident escort an elderly woman into a polling station in Baghdad's Sadr City January 31, 2009. (REUTERS/Kahtan al-Mesiary)
Hat Tip Tom W.

Daschle's Taxes

If you're in public life, you ought have enough horse sense to be wary of "gifts". The petty greed of these appointments on the part of sophisticated people who should have known better is pretty astounding. From ABC's Political Punch,
In a speech to his fellow Republican House members, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., compared Daschle's issue with the tax problems that hindered the confirmation of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and those of Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who is embroiled in a controversy over payment of taxes on a beachfront villa in the Dominican Republic.

"A pattern is developing," Cantor said. "The pattern is solidified. ... It's easy for the other side to sit here and advocate higher taxes because -- you know what? -- they don't pay them."

This is the second Cabinet nominee of President Obama's to face questions of tax malfeasance. Geithner paid more than $34,000 in taxes during his vetting process for income earned at the International Monetary Fund. Earlier, Commerce secretary nominee Bill Richardson withdrew his name from consideration after reports of a federal investigation involving whether his office engaged in "pay to play," a charge Richardson denied.

Hamid Majid Moussa, after the sons of our people participated Arshm election: Elections is to determine

Google translation of the Iraqi Communist Party statement on the elections.

Not easy being a Marxist in Iraq. A tiny party in Iraq, and Marxists in the rest of the world would gladly just turn their backs on their Iraqi Comrades in the name of anti-imperialism. The Left has a nasty way of eating their own.
Baghdad Mata:

هنأ سكرتير الحزب الشيوعي العراقي حميد مجيد موسى أبناء شعبنا بمشاركتهم الواسعة في انتخابات مجالس المحافظات التي جرت اليوم السبت 31 / 1 / 2009، وواصفا اياها بـ "العرس الجماهيري الكبير"، مضيفا انها "الفرصة الثمينة التي توفرت للتعبير عن إرادته وقناعته في اختيار ممثليه في مجالس المحافظات". Congratulated the Iraqi Communist Party secretary, Hamid Majid Moussa, the broad participation of our people in the provincial elections that took place on Saturday 1-31-2009, and describing them as "the great mass wedding," he said, adding it was "a precious opportunity, which was created to express the will and conviction to choose their representatives in provincial councils. "

جاء ذلك في اتصال هاتفي مع "ماتع" بعد وقت قليل من إغلاق صناديق الاقتراع، موضحا أن "هذه الانتخابات مهمة، ليس باعتبارها استحقاقا قانونيا ودستوريا فحسب، وإنما باعتبارها حدثا سياسيا هاما يعتمد على نتائجه الكثير من آفاق المستقبل في البلد. وقد جرت على مراحل، فالمرحلتان الأولى والثانية - الدعاية الانتخابية والتصويت - قد أنجزت اليوم وبشكل طبيعي وبظروف أمنية جيدة نسبيا، رغم الكثير من التحديات والصعوبات، وحصلت أثناءها ثغرات ونواقص لا يمكن تجاهلها، فمنها ذات طابع إداري كالنقص في معلومات سجل الناخبين الذي أتعب الكثير من المواطنين، وحرم قسما من فرصة التصويت، ومنها تجاوزات محدودة وخروقات من بعض الكيانات السياسية والمرشحين الفرديين في الدعاية داخل مراكز الانتخاب، وفي التحريض ضد البعض، والضغط لصالح مرشح أو آخر، والتأثير على الناخبين وقناعاتهم"، مشددا أن هذه الممارسات "ينبغي تجاوزها ووضع الضوابط لمعاقبة مرتكبيها ومنع تكرارها" وأضاف الرفيق أبو داود "كما هناك بعض التصرفات غير الجيدة من مسؤولي بعض المحطات باتجاه التضييق او تحديد نشاط المراقبين وممثلي الكيانات الذين يرومون مراقبة الانتخابات بشكل حرّ لضمان نزاهتها وضمان صيرورتها بشكل قانوني وسليم، وأيضا ظهرت صعوبات كالتي واجهت المواطنين في الوصول إلى مواقع التصويت وهي صعوبات لوجستية ينبغي توفير الظروف المناسبة لمعالجتها بتحاشي ابعاد مراكز الاقتراع عن مناطق سكن المواطنين". This came in a telephone conversation with "Mata" shortly after the polls closed, saying that "these elections are important, not as a legal and constitutional entitlement, but as an important political event depends on the results of many of the prospects for the future of the country. There have been phased , The first the first and second - election campaigns and voting - has been completed today and is a natural and relatively good conditions of security, despite the many challenges and difficulties, and obtained during the gaps and shortcomings that can not be ignored, include a decrease in the administrative record of the voter information, which a lot of tire citizens, and denied a the opportunity to vote, including limited and the excesses of some of the violations of political entities and candidates in the individual polling stations within the propaganda, and incitement against the other, the pressure in favor of the candidate or the other, and to influence the voters and convictions, "stressing that these practices" to be overcome and the development of regulations to punish the perpetrators and to prevent recurrence "His companion, Abu Dawood," as there are some good behavior, however, officials from some of the stations to determine the direction of tightening, or the activity of observers and representatives of entities who wish to control the elections to ensure free, fair and ensure that it becomes legal and proper, and also have faced difficulties such as those of citizens in access to voting sites, a logistical difficulties for appropriate conditions should be addressed to avoid polling stations away from areas of residence of citizens. "

وأكد سكرتير الحزب بأنه "يمكن القول ـ رغم هذه التجاوزات ـ أن أداء المفوضية العليا للانتخابات في هذه الجولة كان أفضل من سابقاتها كما ان التعليمات أدق مما كانت عليه، وهذه كلها ينبغي أن تلخص بدروس كي نتلافى في المستقبل الثغرات ولكي تكون مسيرتنا الديمقراطية أوثق وأكثر أصالة وأدق تعبيرا عن رغبات المواطنين، في كل الأحوال نحن بانتظار نتائج الفرز لكي نستكمل تقييمنا لما حصل في الأيام الماضية". The secretary of the party that he "could say, in spite of these excesses, the performance of the Electoral Commission in this round was better than its predecessors as the instructions accurately than it was, all should summarize the lessons in order to avoid gaps in the future and our democracy in order to be closer and more genuine and more accurate expression of the wishes of citizens, in all cases we are awaiting the results of screening in order to complete our assessment of what happened in the past few days. "

أما عن شعوره الخاص بمشاركته في هذه الانتخابات، فقد أوضحه قائلا: As for his private participation in these elections, it was pointed out by saying:

"انه يوم كبير بالنسبة لي، واعتقد حينما يذهب المرء لأداء واجبه الوطني يشعر بفرح غامر لأنه يساهم في تقرير مصير البلد باختيار الأفضل الذي يمثله في إدارة شؤون المحافظات، والتي ينبغي أن تكون كلها في خدمة أبناء الشعب وتقدم هذا البلد". "It's a great day for me, and I think when one goes for the performance of national duty and joy is overwhelming as it contributes to self-determination for the country to choose the best represented in the administration of the provinces, which should all be in the service of the people and the progress this country."

Bill Foster's 1,400 year long Civil War in Iraq and yesterday's Iraqi Elections

AP Photo Dallas News

Congressman Bill Foster (D-Emanuel) on what he saw as a hopeless Civil War last July. A War where the United States should have abandoned allies below.
As firm as I am about our obligation to our troops, I am troubled about their continued presence in Iraq. While we continue to referee a 1,400-year-old civil war there, Al Qaeda is regenerating along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. It is long past time to begin to redeploy and rebuild our forces. Our presence in Iraq and the Administration's management of the conflict is diminishing our ability to fight our true enemies, and it is preventing us from addressing needs here at home.
You gotta wonder who's giving Foster advice now on Pakistan/Afghanistan now, and what those so quick to give up hope for Victory are prepared to give up on now.

Basra, New Baghdad and the Iraqi Elections

Pics from MNF-I's website. The Iraqi Policeman is in New Baghdad. The GI and kids in Basra. I was in Baghdad a year ago this Feb and Basra was no place for a GI to stroll then.

A big change.