Some thoughts on this day, the thirtieth anniversary of the death of long-time Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley.
First comes news that our esteemed "President" has determined that the resounding defeat his party suffered in last month's elections was a mandate for an escalation in the war. Funny, here I was thinking it was a pretty clear mandate to start working on getting the hell out. Silly me.
"W" needs to give me a call-- I am the man with the plan. Here's the guy I think they need to put in charge over there: my fellow Chicagoan Aiham Alsammarae, the former electricity minister for Iraq.
Excerpted from the New York Times:
December 20, 2006
Escaped Minister Says He Fled Iraqi Jail ‘the Chicago Way’
By JAMES GLANZ
BAGHDAD, Dec. 19 — In a lengthy phone conversation on Tuesday, the former Iraqi electricity minister who escaped from a Baghdad jail on Sunday ridiculed American and Iraqi officials and said he fled because he did not trust the police and had received a tip that he would be assassinated within days.
The official, Aiham Alsammarae, who telephoned this reporter, said, without offering proof, that he was already outside Iraq after finagling his way aboard a flight at the Baghdad International Airport.
Incredulous Iraqi security and justice officials disputed parts of his account, saying that a figure as recognizable as Mr. Alsammarae could not possibly have slipped onto a flight when he was the subject of a manhunt.
Mr. Alsammarae, who holds dual American and Iraqi citizenship, scoffed at those assertions and said they were made by officials who spent too much time inside the protected Green Zone in central Baghdad and did not understand how the country really worked.
“Those suckers who are sitting in the Green Zone, they cannot go out and see the people they are governing?” asked Mr. Alsammarae, whose unmistakable speech patterns in English reflect his Iraqi and American backgrounds. “This is a joke.
“So why I cannot take the airport? It’s not because I am a smart cookie. Any Iraqi can do it, even if they have 10,000 court orders against him. This is Iraq.”
One fact Iraqi officials could not dispute: Mr. Alsammarae, who had been jailed four months ago on corruption charges stemming from deals made when he was the electricity minister from August 2003 to May 2005, was still free.
If correct, Mr. Alsammarae’s tale of escape would mean that he not only worked his way free of the Iraqi police guarding the jail but also eluded the thousands of Western and Iraqi security forces stationed in the dense maze of checkpoints and blast walls in the Green Zone, which is the fortified heart of the American occupation and the Iraqi government.
When asked how he could have pulled off such an escape, Mr. Alsammarae, who moved to Chicago in 1976 but returned to Iraq just after the invasion, laughed uproariously for 20 seconds. Then, recycling a famous line from an exchange about Al Capone in “The Untouchables,” Mr. Alsammarae said with undisguised glee: “The Chicago way.”
Why should Mr. Alsammarae be put in charge? For starters, if he did indeed elude all of those people, he's demonstrated he's smart enough for the job. And he's obviously learned from his residence in Chicago, "the City that Works." For you non-Chicagoans out there, the phrase has a double meaning to us-- for one, the work ethic is alive and well here. We all work-- some of us two jobs. The other meaning is that in the end, things get done here. Yes, a little corruption here and there, but in the end, the garbage gets picked up, the snow gets plowed-- with one notable exception-- proving that Chicagoans are forgiving of corruption, but unforgiving of incompetence. When Alsammararae was in charge, yes, there was probably corruption, but there was actually electrical service in Iraq. There is very little now, as the New York Times reported yesterday.
Think of the implications of having a Chicagoan in charge over there:
Political Stability-- Our own King Richard the Second, Richard M. Daley has just announced he is running again. His victory, pretty much guaranteed, will mean that his reign will surpass even that of his father. His father, Mayor Richard J. Daley was mayor for 21 years. If Mr. Alsammarae has a son, we can look forward to at least 4 decades of political stability in Iraq!
New Holidays-- Whenever we have a big increase in an ethnic group here in Chicago, we honor them with a new holiday. And who doesn't like a day off of work? Nothing would settle those ol' Sunnis down like a brand new holiday honoring one of their dead heroes. I mentioned our beloved Pulaski Day here in Chicago, to honor the esteemed Revolutionary War hero Casamir Pulaski. God bless that man-- he gave up his life in 1779 so that me and other civil servants in Chicago could have a day off in March every year.
Clear Deliniation of Police Duties-- An example-- during the riot during the 1968 Democratic Convention, Mayor Daley the First famously stated: "Gentlemen, get the thing straight-- The policeman isn't there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder."
An Increase in Democratic Participation-- Here in Chicago, everybody votes-- even the dead. And some citizens get to vote more than once!. To quote "hizzoner" Mayor Richard J. Daley's command to his followers: "Vote early and often."
And of course we know that the snow will always get removed in a timely manner in Baghdad if Alsammarae is put in charge.