Laborers on the National Road laboriously crushed and sized stone by hand before spreading it to make a firm surface circa 1825-30.
On March 29, 1806 President Thomas Jefferson authorized the construction of the Cumberland Road, later known as the National Road to connect the Potomac River to the Ohio River. Jefferson, the son of a frontier surveyor, always had his eye on the west and the settlement of the Old Northwest Territory had been a special interest since his plan for organizing the area on regular-sized, mostly square townships was incorporated in the Land Act of 1785. He envisioned the vast area, as well as Kentucky and Tennessee south of the Ohio, as the cradle of his dreamed of agrarian democracy where yeomen landowners would virtuously counterbalance both the commercial and mercantile interests of the Northeast and the plantation elite of the Old South.
Despite land hunger in the east, getting West with the necessary tools, equipment, livestock and provisions to begin a new life was a daunting task due in no small measure the rugged mountains that stood between the navigable eastern rivers and the Ohio drainage. Years of bloody Indian warfare on both sides of the Ohio, further dissuaded settlers even after Kentucky and Tennessee were admitted to the union in 1792 and 1796 respectfully. After Mad Anthony Wayne defeated the British backed Shawnee at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, a tense peace was established. Jay’s Treaty in 1794 eased tensions with the British over borders. In the Treaty of Greenville in 1796, several tribes including the Shawnee, Wyandot, Chippewa, Kickapoo, Kaskaskia as well as bands of the Delaware, Ottawa, Pottawatomi, and Miami ceded claims to a vast area ranging from the Mississippi to Ft. Detroit. Of course, as in all such treaties the authority of various chiefs to cede the land was questionable, as was their understanding of just what they were signing. But the peace encouraged a steady stream of settlers to float down the Ohio from Pittsburg or Wheeling, brining enough settlers for Ohio to be admitted to the union in 1803.
That was the official end of the Northwest Territory, the rest of the land was incorporated as the Territory of Indiana, which would further be subdivided into other territories and states over time. But despite this, vast areas remained unsettled and the threat of new hostilities with the Indians, encouraged by the British remained. Jefferson needed to settle the areas quickly to secure them.
The Cumberland Road was key to facilitating a vast migration. It would stretch from Cumberland, Maryland, the last navigable river port on the Potomac, crossing the Allegany Mountains in southern Pennsylvania reaching the Ohio at Wheeling in western Virginia. For much of the route, the Cumberland Road would follow Braddock’s Road, a rough stump and corduroy military trail hacked out by British Troops and Virginia Militia in 1755 for the campaign to capture Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburg) from the French. That was the expedition in which George Washington saw early military glory, helping negotiate a successful retreat after General Braddock was killed in a devastating ambush by French and Indian forces. But instead of following Braddock’s path all of the way to Pittsburg, the new road would push west to Wheeling, a deeper river port.
Just authorizing the new road was not enough. Jefferson had to haggle with a reluctant Congress for appropriations. Many of his own Republicans doubted that the Federal government had the legal authority to expend funds on internal improvements and Federalists were bitterly opposed to western expansion and to anything that might cause friction with the British. Jefferson was out of office before his successor James Madison secured the funds to begin construction. The first contract for road construction was awarded to Henry McKinley on May 8, 1811. Construction began later that year.
The outbreak of the War of 1812 highlighted the military advantages of the road, as the British supported new outbreaks of Indian warfare across the region. But construction, largely done by back-breaking hand labor and mule teams, was slow going.
The road did not reach Wheeling until 1818. Settlers reaching the Ohio could then load their wagons or their contents onto rafts or barges to proceed further west along the river route. Populations swelled along the river and along major tributaries where flatboats could carry goods against the current by polling, but huge areas of the interior remained largely unsettled due to transportation difficulties.
In 1820 Congress authorized the western extension of the road to St. Louis driving due west across southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois well north of the river. In 1825 the authorized route was further extended to Jefferson City, Missouri. Construction, however, continued to lag far behind route authorizations. The road did not reach Columbus, Ohio until 1833, largely following a primitive trail known as Zane’s Trace. It pushed on to Springfield, Ohio by 1835. The route was now being improved by incorporating the first large-scale application of macadamizing in the U.S. Invented by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam, the process used hand crushed stone spread and pressed as a hard, smooth pavement.
As the road inched west, however, political support eroded. Internal improvements became a hot button issue between the two emerging political parties, the Whigs who claimed roots in the National Republican program advocated by Madison and Jacksonian Democrats who opposed such federal spending as un-constitutional. The Democrats were getting the upper hand in Congress and even the Whigs were split with the remnants of the Old Federalists still opposing anything that enabled western expansion.
By 1835 the portions of the road east of Wheeling were turned over to the individual states through which it ran. Connecting with a series of existing roads to Baltimore, the states operated the route as a turnpike toll road called unofficially the National Pike.
The road was also being made obsolete. The Erie Canal, which opened in 1825, became a new, easier and cheaper gateway to the west via the Great Lakes. Immigrants from New England, New York, and Pennsylvania suddenly streamed west rapidly filling the northern parts of Ohio, Indian and Illinois as well as Michigan, Wisconsin, and even far away Minnesota. The explosion of railroad construction beginning in the 1830’s also made roads seem obsolete for long distance travel.
The last Federal appropriation for the Road was passed in 1838. Two years later in 1840 Congress failed to renew appropriations by a single vote. That vote, ironically, was cast by the great Western champion of internal improvements, Henry Clay himself. Large stretches of the road in southern Indiana and Illinois remained unfinished. The road and routes were turned over to the states. Indiana and Illinois largely finished work on their sections as far as Vandalia, Illinois.
In 1927 much of the surviving road was incorporated into the new U.S. Highway 40 or that highway closely parallels the old road. Today portions of Interstate 68 in Maryland and Interstate 70 in Pennsylvania follow old route. Around Columbus, Ohio old stone mile markers can still be seen along U.S. 40.
In a contemporary cartoon Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison is depicted defending an escaped slave woman with violence as a slave catcher rides on the back of Daniel Webster.
The infamous Fugitive Slave Act was passed by Congress on September 18, 1850. It was one part of a larger Compromise of 1850 meant to ease tensions between slave and Free states. It did not work. In fact attempts at enforcement of the law enraged many northerners who would otherwise have been content to let slavery be out of sight and mind in the South.
A Fugitive Slave Law had been in the Federal statutes since 1793. It was an enforcement provision for Article 4, Section 2 of the Constitution, which required the return of runaway slaves and was passed at a time when slavery was still legal in most states on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. But one by one northern states had abandoned slavery. Within the next decade the last slaves set to be freed in some gradual emancipation plans would be freed. Many Northern states had fairly sizable populations of Free Blacks. Southern states, however, with the introduction of a wide spread cotton economy were more dependent on slavery than ever and the end of the international slave trade had cut off a supply of fresh bodies from Africa and the Caribbean.
Slavery was not only disappearing in the North, public opinion was swinging against it, particularly in New England and those states carved from the old Northwest Territories that were heavily settled by the New England diaspora. Many states had taken actions to blunt the enforcement of the 1793 law. Several states had enacted Personal Liberty Laws by which a captured Negro could demand a jury trial where the claimant would have to prove that he or she was legal property. This was to prevent free black in the North from being kidnapped and taken south to be sold into slavery—a common practice among slave chasers. Other laws forbad state and local official from rendering assistance to slave chaser or the use of local jails to hold them. This practice was upheld by an 1842 Supreme Court decision, Prigg v. Pennsylvania, which essentially gutted enforcement of the 1793 law in much of the North
Beyond legal barriers, there was growing popular resistance to Slavery which manifested itself in the network of the Underground Railroad which actively assisted fleeing slaves to reach either Canada or settle in relatively safe portions of the North under assumed identities. In several cities, citizens actively interfered with slave catcher. All of this, of course, infuriated the South.
Other issues were also inflaming North/South tensions, principally whether slavery would be extended in the vast territories obtained in the Mexican War. The South wanted all of the land opened to slavery—or failing that something like an extension of the Missouri Compromise line that would allow territories to the south eventually be admitted to the Union as slave states. They even hoped to possibly divide Texas into two or more states and break off Southern California somewhere north of Los Angeles. That would give the South and slave holding Border States control of the Senate, and by extension the Federal government itself.
Northerners, on the other hand, wanted to exclude slavery from all newly organized territories and keep Texas and California unified, with the understanding that California would enter the Union as a free state, balancing slaveholding Texas.
President Zachary Taylor, a hero of the Mexican War and himself a Louisiana planter and slave holder, stood with the North in opposing the extension of slavery. His Whig party was becoming unraveled over the issue. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, a borderer state Whig who had long dreamed of the Presidency, set out to craft a compromise early in the year. But with the president of his own party in opposition, the compromise fell apart in the Senate.
When the new session of Congress convened in March Democrat Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Massachusetts Whig Daniel Webster—Clay’s long time rival for party leadership—advanced a modified version of Clay’s compromise proposals. It varied from Clay’s failed version mostly in the disposal of the thorny issue of Texas. The new version was mostly crafted by Douglas and incorporated the Democratic platform principle of Popular Sovereignty—that residents of. Territories should be able to decide by voting whether or not slavery would be allowed—for the two proposed Territories carved from Texas claims—Utah and New Mexico. Mormon controlled Utah would definitely opt to be a free territory, and everyone knew that it was unlikely that sparsely populated New Mexico which was totally unsuitable to a plantation economy, would elect to allow slavery. California would be admitted to the Union undivided as a Free State.
Debate was fierce. Most northern Whigs led by William Steward of New York were bitterly opposed because the package did not include Wilmot Proviso, a long sought provision that would have permanently banned slavery from territory acquired as a result of the Mexican War. Even though no new slave Territories or States were created, the application of the principle of Popular Sovereignty left the possibility open in the future. They were also outraged by the inclusion of the Fugitive Slave Act.
On the other hand Southern firebrands led by John C. Calhoun were just as voraciously opposed because they did not get the division of California or any new slave holding Territories. They also had to give up the continuation of the slave trade in the District of Columbia, although slavery itself would be preserved there.
Numerous alternative plans were advanced and beaten back. Douglas and Webster, with the support of Clay, had to stitch together a Senate majority from Northern Democrats, moderate Southern Democrats, and Southern Whigs. The opposition was split between to extremes, Northern Whigs on one hand, and Southern intractable on the other.
The compromise got a boost when Taylor died suddenly and his Vice President Millard Fillmore ascended to the White House. Fillmore was one of Webster’s few Northern Whig allies and supported the compromise. Douglas separated out five separate bills from an original omnibus bill, and carefully crafted narrow majorities for each, with each bill getting support from a slightly different combination of forces. It was precarious, but it worked.
The bills, passed independently between September 9 and 20 and quickly signed into law by President Fillmore included:
· The admission of California as a free state.
· The abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia.
· The organization Territory of New Mexico (including present-day Arizona) and the Territory of Utah under the rule of popular sovereignty.
· The enactment of Fugitive Slave Act requiring all U.S. citizens to assist in the return of runaway slaves.
· Acceptance of Texas’s ceding of much of its western land claims in exchange for of $10 million to pay off its national debt.
Douglas and Webster thought they had crafted a compromise which saved the union. Instead, they reaped the whirlwind, especially because of the onerous provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act.
The Act made any Federal marshal or other official who did not arrest an alleged runaway slave liable to a fine of $1,000. Local law enforcement were required to arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave on no more evidence than a claimant’s sworn testimony of ownership. The suspected slave could not ask for a jury trial or testify on his or her own behalf. Anyone aiding a runaway slave by providing food or shelter was subject to a six month imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Officers who captured a fugitive slave were entitled to a bonus or promotion for their work. Slave owners only needed to supply an affidavit to a Federal Marshal to capture an escaped slave and since a suspected slave was not eligible for a trial to prove his status, many free blacks could be being conscripted into slavery.
Outrage in the North, particularly in New England was fierce. Daniel Webster, the political hero of the region for more than 40 years, was excoriated as a traitor. The hand of Abolitionists, a previously despised minority, was greatly strengthened. Some Abolitionist even contemplated a Northern secession from the union in response to the Act and the still open possibility of the extension of slavery into new territories. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson flirted with the idea.
Citizens of Boston and other towns organized to oppose slave catchers and interfere with their work in every way possible. Handbills were circulated warning Free Blacks that the local police were cooperating with slave catchers under the law.
Politically, the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law spelled the end of the Whigs as a national party. Northern Whigs swung to the new Free Soil Party and four years later into the new Republican Party alongside anti-slavery Northern Democrats. Southern Whigs were re-absorbed into the Democratic Party from which most of them had originated. But the Democrats were riven by sectional conflicts themselves.
Whatever “peace” might have been bought fell apart four years later as the future of Kansas turned on the principle of Popular Sovereignty leading to a local civil war as slave holders and Free Soilers rushed to the territory to attempt to control the Territorial Government.
From a modern perspective, it is useful to compare the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act to the recent Arizona anti-immigration legislation which the right wing would like to make national. There are many parallels including requiring local police to act on mere suspicion, and the denial of detainees of adequate rights to prove their status, thus inevitably leading to the detention deportation of legal immigrants and even citizen. And citizens aiding suspected illegals would be criminalized themselves. Which is why draconian anti-immigration laws may prove just as divisive to the nation as the Fugitive Slave Act.
Chris Reichert is sorry, truly and deeply sorry. Mortified even.
A few days ago he was exercising his First Amendment Rights at one of those Tea Party events that have become as routine as shattered NCAA brackets. This particular shebang was outside the Columbus, Ohio offices of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH15) shortly before the Health Care vote. But Reichert and his pals were not the only concerned citizens on hand. Sizeable numbers of enthusiastic supporters of reform were also on hand. Some yelling back and forth ensued, not much of it polite.
60 year old Robert A. Letcher, with Parkinson’s disease, wasn’t doing much yelling. But he did sit down directly indirectly in front of a large gaggle of Tea baggers holding a sign explaining that he had the disease and needed health care. This infuriated the other side. Video captures a large man leaning over Lectcher screaming at him that “If you’re looking for a hand out you came to the wrong end of town. You have to work for what you get here.” Suddenly Reichert, spiffy in a crisp white shirt and tie emerges from the crowd and starts throwing dollar bills at the man, mocking him as a beggar. As someone else yells “Communist!” he realizes there are cameras rolling he quickly recedes back into the crowd.
But not fast enough. Video of the incident was soon on local and national TV and went viral over the internet. It became a symbol of how vitriolic and—to use the gentle words of tsk-tsking anchors—how “uncivil” the health care debate had become.
Of course it did not take too long for Reichert’s identity to be revealed.
At first he denied he was the man in the video. "I wanted this to go away, but it won't and I'm paying the consequences,"
In the cold light of day Reichert told a Columbus Dispatch reporter, "I snapped. I absolutely snapped and I can't explain it any other way…He's got every right to do what he did and some may say I did too, but what I did was shameful. Reichert said. "I haven't slept since that day.”
Ya know, I believe this guy. Oh, sure his politics suck. But on any given day he is probably a nice, hard working family man. Probably goes to church, contributes to charity, help’s old ladies across the street. Under normal circumstances he would never taunt an obviously disabled man.
He says he “snapped.” What happened is that he became a classic victim of mob mentality. As the rage built around him, he felt it rising in his own gut. He felt empowered. He felt righteous. The vitriol of the mob flowed through him. He was its instrument. Now he’s sorry, truly sorry.
So, I suspect, were a lot of members of lynch mobs in the past. That’s what makes the cynical campaign of hate being whipped up by the Republican Party—and yes that once Grand Old Party now owns it—as well as by Tea Party ideologues and fringe loonies, so dangerous. They are unleashing a mob made up by a lot regular guys like Chris Reichert. And they cannot control the raging beasts it produces. Inevitably someday soon at one of these hate fests some poor mope is going to do something far worse than throw dollar bills at a sick man.
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
Yesterday morning I noted a message from a Facebook friend that:
No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.
In the next couple of hours the same message popped up from other friends, many of whom were not directly connected. I updated my status. All through the afternoon more and more friends were doing the same. These folks included the usual political types and included many of liberally inclined Unitarian Universalist acquaintances, but also just a cross section of folks I have known over a long life.
There were many positive comments to the posts, and “likes.” Of course there were a few negative comments, some of them quite harsh and paranoid. But they were overwhelmed by a wave of out-of-no-where grass roots activism.
The phenomenon was not limited to my small circle. It was sweeping Facebook and Twitter as well. It got noticed—by Time.com, MyDD, WireTap Blog among others. Even President Barack Obama’s own Facebook Page gratefully acknowledged the swell of support. At my last visit to his page his entry had generated 72,791 “likes” and 6,970 comments.
Yet this did not originate with him or Organizing for America, issue advocacy groups like Health Care for America NOW!, or the vast activist network of MoveOn.Org, although participants in all of those are undoubtedly involved. No one has yet identified the first post. But it has spread on its own simple power.
People are tired of the screaming, lying and bullying, and of the vacillations in Congress and in the White House. They want their voices heard. And in this simple, dramatic way they have—if only for a moment—drowned out rants of Faux News, the Orwellian double speak of insurance industry shills, the obstructionism of the incredible shrinking Republican Party.
Good for us.
HEALTH CARE REFORM BILLS
Truth and Fiction
Current American Issues
Information Seminar Series
Jane Hansen, Family Nurse Practitioner
David Borris, Illinois Main Street Alliance
Hal Snyder, M.D.
John Gaudette, Illinois Director, HCAN
America's health care system is a disaster causing vast amounts of suffering and unneeded expense. Now is the time to work together to correct its' many flaws, however myths perpetuated by the health industry itself appear to be derailing this process by creating confusion in the public discourse. We have assembled a panel of experts to help sort fact from fiction. Jane Hansen who holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA in economics from Wellesley will begin the evening by presenting an overview of the current health care system. This will provide a better understanding of the present health care crisis facing our country. David Borris, proprietor of Hel's Kitchen Catering, will address the need for reform in the health care industry to assist small business owners. Dr. Hal Snyder is a volunteer organizer with Health Care for America Now who has studied the various bills in Congress. He will dispel the many myths circulating throughout our country and tell the truth about the reform legislation and what it will do for us. Illinois Director of Health Care for America Now John Gaudette, will explain what's happening in Congress and how we can have a say in the outcome. If you have questions regarding the pending legislation in Congress, please join us.
McHenry County College Conference Center
Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Sponsored by Pax Christi, The McHenry County Peace Coalition,
Carolyn Quinn (nor relation to the governor) attended two events this week that I would have loved to attend, but had to work instead. Work is the curse of the activist class. I have made the trip to Springfield several times and would have loved to hear the scuttlebutt about how next year’s races are shaping up. But more important would have been the chance to stand up for Healthcare Reform right here in Crystal Lake. That event was organized by a local outfit stitched together from local Tea Baggers, Minuteman anti-immigration zealots, and paranoid gun worshipers. In McHenry County that makes them as respectable as the Bishop’s wife. The Northwest Herald, an editorial opponent virtually any reform breathlessly covered the event. So did conservative blogger Cal Skinner who had been promoting the event.
This week I attended 2 events, both held in the bubble of their own opposite ends of the political spectrum. The Democrats held their annual Governor’s Day rally at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Lots of rah-rah, go Democrats stuff. The Patriots United group held an event they billed to the media as a town hall meeting in Crystal Lake but denied to attendees that it was any such thing. “This is the regular monthly meeting of a private entity,” according to a woman who sold me a ticket. The moderator of the event announced that that they were nonpartisan. According to their website they are purely libertarian. Nonpartisan my eye.
Here is my take on the two.
Gov. Pat Quinn
Gov. Pat Quinn: “When [JFK] said, 'A rising tide lifts all boats, notice he did not say a rising tide lifts all yachts”
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, Keynote Speaker at the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association (IDCCA) brunch before the Fair rally: “We believe in public policy solutions. While they are the party of 'Nope' - we are the party of ‘Hope.’”
Congressman Manzullo consulting with insurance lobbyist Ryan Brauns. The platform principles of Patriots United an allegedly “nonpartisan” group were in plain view. I approve of the transparency-just not the principles...
Cong. Don Manzullo (R-IL16): “This 1000+ page of legislation is designed to put private insurance companies out of business and drive medical doctors into other professions.”
Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley and a vice president of Centegra Health System, McHenry County’s near monopoly hospital system: "Speaking as a former lawyer, the proposed bill is purposefully vague - which is legalspeak for 'We can do whatever we want.'" "What's primarily wrong with the [healthcare reform] bill is that it doesn't address tort reform; not one word about tort reform in the document.”
Gov. Pat Quinn: "The stronger our people, the stronger our state. What the people need to be stronger right now is jobs."
Gov. Chet Culver: “On the first day of drivers' ed. you learned that if you want to go backward you put it in ‘R’ and if you want to go forward you put it in ‘D.’”
Cong. Don Manzullo: “The number of MDs who have been driven out of business because they cannot afford to pay for malpractice insurance is outrageous. The should not have to fear losing everything in the blink of an eye.”
Mayor Aaron Shepley: “Medicare does not pay very much relative to the cost of hospitals' expense. What makes people think they should get to have a baby for a $10 co-pay?”
Ok. Here are my questions to these politicians:
To Gov Quinn: You hit the nail on the head in terms of what I need to be stronger right now is a job. While I see progress toward new jobs in construction, green job training and car sales, I don't see so much progress for most people in my generation which represents the biggest chunk of the population. We are too young to retire and too old to start a new training from scratch. What do you propose to help us?
To Gov Culver: Great job helping the people of Iowa to learn how to move their politics Forward into Drive. Loved your rousing speech. But can I see the map of where we are going with all this hope and drive with a capital D? Is our president the only one with a map?
To Cong Manzullo: Good thing small business has you on their side. Good thing you don't want to see doctors, insurance companies and pharmaceuticals driven out of business. What about workers like myself who barely make enough money to pay bills and are in the same boat of not being able to afford insurance? Are you okay with it that people like me should have to fear losing everything in the blink of an eye? Are you okay with millions of people whose business is their home being driven out of that business?
To Mayor Shepley: Great to know my mayor is not intimidated by a legal document / proposed legislation. I like to see how you printed it on both sides of the page and organized it into a binder. Less waste of paper and energy to make that paper. No need to be overwhelmed by words just because there's a lot of them. As a teacher, I’m with you on that. My kids could read a thousand page book in 6th grade. Happily. And they don’t get paid $500/hour to do it…
So, since you don't approve of people getting Medicare because it costs the hospitals too much, and you don't approve of Medicaid because poor people are basically welfare queens or illegal immigrants who ‘don’t deserve” it: Will the city of Crystal Lake now provide healthcare to people who need strep throat tests, mammograms, measles vaccinations, TB tests, swine flu vaccinations or other needed treatment? It would be good to tell my neighbors who lost everything including their job, their insurance and their house - all in the blink of an eye - that the mayor of Crystal Lake has a plan to take care of them so they won't overburden the hospitals or the taxpayers.
The Democratic Party of McHenry County will host a special presentation on organizing to demand comprehensive health care at the regular meeting this Wednesday, July 15 at 7 PM at the McHenry County Farm Bureau, 1102 McConnell Road in Woodstock.
“This is an opportunity to learn how to ‘think globally and act locally’ to demand comprehensive health care reform,” said County Chair Kathy Bergan Schmidt.
The program will be led by former McHenry County resident and Party member Jessica Palys, now the Federal Issues Organizer for Citizen Action/Illinois. She will outline the campaign by Health Care for America NOW! (HCAN) to organize support for comprehensive health care reform that “will provide coverage we can afford, comprehensive benefits we can count on, choice of a private or public health insurance plan, and equal access to quality care.”
There will also be discussion of the crisis in health care in McHenry County as the state budget stalemate threatens community health agencies servicing thousands of clients.
The meeting is free and open to the public.
For more information contact the party at 815 788-9540 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Could it be? The pontificators think it’s just a bargaining ploy. The neo-imperialists of the present maladministration are breaking out in hives and flop sweat. Barack Obama must be smiling. The Iraqi government is threatening to show American and other international forces the door when the United Nations mandate expires at the end of the year. That would cut the Gordian Knot and allow the new President a quick, clean Exit from the quagmire.
Here is what Leila Fadel and Mike Tharp reported for McClatchy Newspapers:
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki raised the possibility that his country won't sign a status of forces agreement with the United States and will ask U.S. troops to go home when their U.N. mandate to be in Iraq expires at the end of the year.
Maliki made the comment after weeks of complaints from Shiite Muslim lawmakers that U.S. proposals that would govern a continued troop presence in Iraq would infringe on Iraq's sovereignty…