Friday, November 5, 2010

Mr Cantor's Neighborhood, China Tells European Countries To Boycott Nobel Ceremonies, Farewell Baghdadiya

Paul Krugman
Eugene Robinson
John Boehner
"Mr. Obama’s problem wasn’t lack of focus; it was lack of audacity. At the start of his administration he settled for an economic plan that was far too weak. He compounded this original sin both by pretending that everything was on track and by adopting the rhetoric of his enemies." - Paul Krugman
"Republicans won big on election day. They say their two big priorities are cutting taxes and reducing the debt. Which is sort of like wanting to lose weight and win 'Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.'" –Jimmy Kimmel
"In Washington today volunteers were washing the mud off Democrats and releasing them back into the wild." –David Letterman

One of the problems I have living out here in the boonies, is that I am so far away from the corridors of power, never getting an opportunity to meet or watch our representatives in Congress. Eugene Robinson picks up and amplifies on what I have previously said about Nancy Pelosi, and why the Republicans chose to set her up as a main villain during the midterm campaigns. In contrast, I have included an opinion piece from John Boehner on what he hopes to accomplish as the next speaker of the House. Nothing earth-shaking, each proposal has been brought up before, then put down by the Republicans. The earmarks are ok, but don't go far enough - all money gotten from lobbyists should be turned over to the general fund and made to help pay off the national debt, none should go to a representative or senator... Boehner's other suggestions are a sop to the Democrats, who have brought them up before, in fact, I thought that all impending legislation is already supposed to be posted on each committee's web site a week before it would go to the House floor...

Eric Cantor has just made the suggestion to have all oversight committee meetings filmed and broadcasted, maybe even featuring an "oversight of the week." Of course, CSPAN already does this, what isn't broadcast is archived and open to the public. Perhaps Mr Cantor wants to host his own show, where he comes in, puts on a sweater, sits down and introduces the oversight committee we are about to see. Call it Mr Cantor's Neighborhood... 

And Now that the midterms are over, we get to watch as leading and not so leading Republicans try to position themselves in a favorable public light, to see who will end up running for President in 2012. Even though Mit Romney is considered a frontrunner, he won't be nominated as long as people are prejudiced that he is a member of the Mormon cult. Did Sarah Palin just throw herself into the ring ?

As the not-so-retired Helene Cooper points out in the NY Times, the mid-terms elections have changed the makeup of major policy committees, for example: "The elections on Tuesday gutted the Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee, paved the way for a pro-Israel Cuban-American to preside over the House Foreign Affairs Committee and removed the most antiwar Democrat from the leading Senate foreign policy committee." Meaning, the next challenges may be over the President's foreign policy strategies concerning Israel, Iran, and Eastern Europe over nuclear non-proliferation.
“Everyone is looking at what his response will be on domestic policy, but he’s lost his ability to carry out anything domestically. The one place he’s got left is foreign policy. After the midterm elections, foreign policy is where he can make his bones.” - George Friedman, of Stratfor
Barack Obama is on his way to Asia, where he is to visit India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea. He is avoiding China, especially since China is being especially sensitive and pissy about its recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the boating incidents with Japan, where one of its fishing trawlers rammed a Japanese coast guard cutter. Obama hopes to present a united front towards China, and maybe they will take up a guarded position once again.

 Because China has lately been going into Europe and making large business deals, they think those governments now owe them. Some embassies have received a letter from Chinese diplomats "encouraging" their countries to boycott the Nobel Prize ceremonies. Bullying is second nature, because it works so well with its own population. All artists who wanted to go to the ceremonies have had their visas canceled, their cell phone service cut off, and security cameras set up around their houses to capture all who go in or out... It's China's small peaceful contribution to dealing with the Peace Prize...

The idea and definition of democracy can take some strange twists, especially in Iraq, where the government recently sought to control criticism by shutting down the Baghdad television studios of Baghdadiya. The station: "a satellite channel that broadcasts out of Cairo, is best known outside Iraq for its reporter Muntader al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush at a news conference in 2008.

Here, the channel has earned a reputation for its feisty news programming, including a morning program that provides an open forum for citizens to criticize the government, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. On Oct. 31, the security forces arrested two of the station’s employees who were accused of working with terrorists, and during a broadcast the next evening the security officials shut off the power in the Baghdad studio and ordered everyone to leave the building."
"They didn’t allow us to take anything, even our glasses or cigarettes, they want to stop us because Baghdadiya is embarrassing to them.”
The incident the government closed them down over is serious enough. When an al-Qaeda group took over a Christian church, Our Lady of Salvation, holding everyone inside hostage, and killing quite a few in the process, the extremists were able to broadcast their demands live over Bagdadiya. The government claims that this was treason, the station claims they called the station and it was a news story: “It’s all politics,” said Najim al-Rubay, the station’s media adviser. “They were looking for any excuse to close us. The government is targeting us for one thing: to bring the reputation of Baghdadiya down.” He defended the decision to broadcast the terrorists’ demands, saying: “It’s information to us. And before we broadcast it we informed the authorities. They did not ask us not to broadcast the demands. Does that make us terrorists?”

The arrests and the forced closing are emblematic of the changing news environment, in which journalists are less likely than in the past to be kidnapped or killed, and more likely to be harassed, jailed or slapped with lawsuits, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which is based in New York. “It resembles a war zone less, and more an authoritarian government that is engaged in efforts to manipulate news reporting,” he said.
“The Americans left us with a fake democracy,” Mr. Rubay said. “But we’re still broadcasting from Cairo, from Damascus. We will never stop.”

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