Thursday, November 7, 2013

Charlize Theron

Who was "The Female Brando"?

That's our theme post.  I'm breaking the theme just a bit to note it's Charlize Theron.

Everyone else is going with some peer of Brando's.  Theron is too young to be in his peer group.

But in terms of acting, there's no one I think comes closer to being as talented as people say Marlon Brando was.  (I think Marlon was great in three films.  I don't think he was the best actor in films.  For me?  I'd say Jack Nicholson was the best leading man in films.)

Charlize is pretty, lovely and sexy and all of that.

But Monster?

I can't imagine another actress doing that role.

Not as well as Charlize did.

She didn't cheat it, she didn't pretty it up.

She played a real person and made the person seem real.  She's playing a serial killer and not only does she bring the character to life, she makes you understand why and she makes you root for her.

And the scenes with Christina Ricci as her lover?

She doesn't pull punches.

I don't know about you but what the f**k is up with the almost-the-end of the film kiss between Beyonce and Mike Myers in Goldmember?

Watch it sometime and is that supposed to be funny or are they really that awkward kissing?

Charlize and Christina are not awkward at all.  They convey attraction and they make it real and make you care so much.

Charlize is wonderful in so many films but Monster was a once in a lifetime role and she had the guts and the talent to really run with that film.  She's amazing.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 6, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, RAND tries to redeem the failed Iraq War, Iraqis children suffer, journalists are frightened in Mosul, US Senator Dianne Feinstein remains an international disgrace, and more.

The RAND Corporation has been around in the United States for a very long time.  It's hailed as a think tank which is like calling The Brookings Institute a social club.  While Brookings flirts with military worship, RAND has that in its DNA  -- creation of RAND was by the US Air Force with the sole purpose of exploring better weapons.  In 1948, RAND supposedly separates from the government but its work really doesn't change and certainly the usual suppliers feed it (Ford Foundation, etc).  They (after 'independence') popularize the notion of 'winnable' nuclear war.   Where there is propaganda posing as science and thought, you will often find RAND.  The late Chalmers Johnson offered a history of RAND at in 2008 which included:

For example, RAND's research conclusions on the Third World, limited war, and counterinsurgency during the Vietnam War were notably wrong-headed. It argued that the United States should support "military modernization" in underdeveloped countries, that military takeovers and military rule were good things, that we could work with military officers in other countries, where democracy was best honored in the breach. The result was that virtually every government in East Asia during the 1960s and 1970s was a U.S.-backed military dictatorship, including South Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
It is also important to note that RAND's analytical errors were not just those of commission -- excessive mathematical reductionism -- but also of omission. As Abella notes, "In spite of the collective brilliance of RAND there would be one area of science that would forever elude it, one whose absence would time and again expose the organization to peril: the knowledge of the human psyche."
Following the axioms of mathematical economics, RAND researchers tended to lump all human motives under what the Canadian political scientist C. B. Macpherson called "possessive individualism" and not to analyze them further. Therefore, they often misunderstood mass political movements, failing to appreciate the strength of organizations like the Vietcong and its resistance to the RAND-conceived Vietnam War strategy of "escalated" bombing of military and civilian targets.

Now RAND's  published an argument (posing as science) entitled Ending the US War In Iraq.  The full title is Ending the US War in Iraq: The Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq and the authors are Rick Brennan Jr, Charles P. Ries, Larry Hanauer, Ben Connable, Terrence K. Kelly, Michael J. McNerney, Stephanie Young, Jason Campbell and K. Scott McMahon.  It runs nearly 600 pages (the report itself is 344 pages of text).  Former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey writes the foreword.

Jeffrey gets to tell the first lies.  No, not about WMD.  Jeffrey skips the whole start of the war and pretends that its start was as natural as summer turning into fall.  No, his lie is that this 'historical record' is "an independent and objective analysis."  Since when does the US government hand over documentation to groups to let them form independent and objective analysis?

Jeffreys writes:

In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, the United States Forces - Iraq (USF - I) provided RAND access to plans, operations, orders, internal staff deliberations, strategic and operational assessments, and a host of other contemporaneous information on how U.S. forces completed, transferred, transformed, or terminated all activities being conducted in Iraq.  In addition, a RAND research team spent two weeks in Iraq in 2011, interviewing the leaders and staffs of both Embassy Baghdad and USF - I. 

No, that's not the description of independence.  That's the description of the US government hiring someone to craft an argument they want.

After the first lie of 'independent' analysis, the lies just come tumbling out of Jeffrey.  Such as here:

With U.S. assistance, Iraq has been given an opportunity for a sovereign and stable future, possessing the tools necessary to maintain internal security and the foundation necessary for external defense. The United States and Iraq should continue to work together to develop a government that is answerable to its people and their elected representatives, with a growing economy that is capable of continued growth and development.
This partnership is the same the United States seeks to share with all nations governed by principles of freedom, that respect the rights of their citizens, and that ensure the benefits of this freedom for all. This is the future the United States desires with Iraq. It is a future of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This opportunity has come at great cost and sacrifice, both by the people of Iraq and all who have served there. It should not be squandered. 

Those are pretty lies, but they're still lies.

You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies, just pretty lies
-- "The Last Time I Saw Richard," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Blue

James Jeffrey became US Ambassador to Iraq solely because Barack Obama's hand picked golden boy wasn't golden.  Turned out that was a coating of urine on Chris Hill.  Every petty move, every 'analysis' was deeply, deeply wrong and Hill was and remains deeply stupid.

Little Chris went to Iraq and didn't have the brains or sense even to not insult Iraqis in front of Iraqi staff.  He ran them into the ground and did so in front of Iraqis.  He was known for his bi-polar spiral, his office naps and his petty attacks on Gen  Ray Odierno who Chris Hill was deeply jealous of -- a jealousy that led him to whine to the White House that the press liked Odierno better and the White House responded to Chris' tantrum by telling Odierno to stop speaking to the press.

For those who've forgotten, Odierno was the top US commander in Iraq.  That is who Chris Hill was jealous of and attempting to sideline.

Odierno also had common sense -- another skill set absent in Chris Hill.

As March 2010 parliamentary elections approached, the US press did what it always does, acted as lackeys to the White House.  And so you got all these ridiculous stories about how Nouri would 'win' and get a second term, win by a huge majority.  The US press (and much of the Western press) offered fluff, the Arab press outlets were reporting on Nouri's bribery efforts.   (At its most basic, the man who never took the time to bring the Iraqi people drinkable water was especially fond of bringing them large amounts of ice in trailers in the lead up to the election.)

Nouri had been appointed as Prime Minister in the spring of 2006 not because he had any support from the Iraqi people -- most didn't even know his name at that point -- but because he was the choice of the Bush administration.  (The White House had nixed Ibrahim al-Jafaari -- Parliament's choice -- which was part of the reason the elections took place in December 2005 but no one was named prime minister-designate until April 2006.)  He was a failure.

He did nothing to improve electricity, water or any public services.  He took part in cutting and gutting the ration-card system and what rations your card could allow you to receive free for yourself and your family.  This wasn't popular.  Of course it wasn't.  Why would people used to getting basic food staples for free be happy when then staples were greatly reduced.?  Of course they wouldn't.  And this was taking place during not only war but also during increased poverty.  It was not a smart move.

It did make many (the World Bank, for example) outside of Iraq happy.  To the Iraqi people, it was just more evidence of how the country lacked a leader and instead had a US-installed puppet who danced for others.  The fate of the Iraqi children today damns Nouri as a failure.  Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) explores the status of the children and notes:

In addition to this, there are an increasing number of homeless children in Iraq. According to statistics, one out of every eight Iraqi children is displaced. They are usually exploited and sent to beg in the streets or to work under harsh conditions and sometimes even used as prostitutes. They are often exposed to physical or sexual abuse, and cases have been reported where they have been exploited to carry out terrorist acts. When children involved in terrorist acts are arrested, Iraqi law does not take into consideration their special situation. They are punished  with sentences similar to those passed on adults, which often entail many years of imprisonment.
On another note, high rates of child labor in Iraq have been registered and some studies have shown that there are nearly 100,000 children in the Iraqi workforce. Moreover, 83% of Iraqi children have worked for their families on a permanent basis, without receiving any wage. Children usually work under dire and harmful conditions such as in garbage collection, brick and steel factories and farming. However, Article 29.b.3 of the Iraqi Constitution specifies that “economic exploitation of children shall be completely prohibited. The state shall take the necessary measures to protect them.” Yet, state institutions are not efficiently combating this phenomenon for many reasons, including the preoccupation by the government with issues of maintaining security and fighting terrorism. The emergence of widespread child labor in Iraq is furthermore an issue of utmost difficulty to deal with. In many cases, children are the breadwinners for their younger siblings and have no one else to rely on.

Nouri was then -- and is now -- known for his dramatic statements (threats?) that never pan out.  In his first term, when Iraqis were still willing to give him a chance, they realized how little his words meant.  His first big stand took place when he was out of Iraq.  The 2006 summer violence was on the rise.  The US military began putting up more Bremer Walls (barricade walls) throughout Iraq.  Nouri insisted that the walls would immediately be removed.  He got back to Baghdad . . . and the walls remained.

In 2008, he oversaw an attack that the Bush White House wanted -- in Basra and in Sadr City in Baghdad -- an attack on Shi'ites.  In Basra, record numbers of Iraqis self-checked out of the Iraqi military.  Prior to that, he'd already overseen a 'sectarian war' (the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007). While the US press gas bagged over that two year period, they focused on b.s. like the 'surge.'  This was an injection of US forces into Iraq, a 'surge' in the number of them.

The US press wanted to pretend that they were focused on that.  The whores didn't even get that right.  The 'surge' was part of the benchmarks -- a set of goals that Nouri's government would meet in order to continue to receive US tax dollars, US military and so much more.  The 'surge' was supposed to take the Iraqi emphasis off dealing with violence and give them the ability to focus on the needed political.

The 'surge' was a failure.  Yes, the US military did their job.  But the benchmarks were never met -- not in 2007, not in 2008.  The surge was a failure.

Even the reduced violence can't be solely attributed to the increased number of US troops on the ground in Iraq.  The increase came when Iraqi refugee rates had already skyrocketed.  The ethnic cleansing killed off many and led many more to flee the country.   Ahmed Maher (BBC News) reports on one family who fled in that period:

They are Sunni Muslims and say they received an ultimatum to leave their house from Shia extremists who have been spreading fear among Sunnis living in the al-Zubair district of the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
The father showed me a scrap of paper with few words written on one of its corners.
It was a threat to kill his family if they did not leave the area where he was born 45 years ago.
"'I don't care if I'm dead or alive. I care about my children," he said. "They could be kidnapped and killed, as has happened with many families."

"We were displaced then in 2007. We went to Syria as refugees and returned last year. We thought that sectarianism had ended but it seems we had illusions."
The mother told us that they were taking the threat seriously because they knew of other Sunnis who had been either shot dead or had left Basra for their own safety in recent months.
She said was so concerned about her children that she had stopped them from going to school or even playing football in front of their house.
"We won't feel peace of mind until we leave this district," she added. 

In addition, you also had the fact that groups (mainly Sunni) who were attacking the US military and its property were now being paid $300 a month in US dollars to stop attacking.  (US taxpayers had no say about this program and, in fact, only learned of it after its start up.)

This and much more was the lead up to the 2010 elections.  Nouri and his ilk tried out a brand of hate in the 2009 provincial elections.  The Iraqi people rejected it.  This was confirmed in the 2010 elections -- they didn't want continued sectarianism.  They wanted their country back, they wanted a national identity returned.  The message from the 2009 and 2010 elections was one Iraq.  This is also the thread of the 2013 provincial elections. You could argue it's the point of Al-Iraqiya's launching a Baghdad youth camp.  Al-Shorfa reports today:

"The camp brings together about 200 young men and women from different sects, religions and ethnicities who will focus for a whole month on promoting the culture of dialogue and peaceful co-existence and discussing new methods for combating terrorism and extremism," organisation director Hassan Dwai said.

So it was no surprise in 2010,  that despite bribery, voter fraud and control of much of the Iraqi media, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law did not win a landslide in 2010.  They also didn't win period.  Not even when Nouri stamped his feet demanding a recounting and publicly floating that he wouldn't see the vote as legitimate if he was not crowned the victor.

Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi won.

And should have been named prime minister-designate.

But Nouri refused to step down.

We didn't bring up Odierno earlier just to name check.  Even with the US press spin -- which included NPR's  Quil Lawrence declaring Nouri a winner before the vote counts were completed -- Odierno knew what was going on.  He raised the issue, before the elections, of what happens if the Iraqis vote and vote for another group -- not Nouri's State of Law -- which means a new prime minister but Nouri refuses to step down.

Ahead of the 2010 vote, Odierno was playing the possibilities and the White House response was to insist it wouldn't happen.

It happened.

Odierno was right and the White House was as idiotic as Chris Hill. The US press largely ignored this.  To its credit, the British press took seriously the eight month period where Nouri brought the government to a standstill.

Ayad Allawi, by the Constitution, by the Iraqi people, by rules of democracy was supposed to become prime minister of Iraq.  Instead, the White House brokered a contract (The Erbil Agreement) to go around the law, the voters and the spirit of democracy in order to give their puppet Nouri a second term.

So Jim Jeffrey is a joke, a liar and much more for writing this nonsense:

With U.S. assistance, Iraq has been given an opportunity for a sovereign and stable future, possessing the tools necessary to maintain internal security and the foundation necessary for external defense. The United States and Iraq should continue to work together to develop a government that is answerable to its people and their elected representatives, with a growing economy that is capable of continued growth and development.
This partnership is the same the United States seeks to share with all nations governed by principles of freedom, that respect the rights of their citizens, and that ensure the benefits of this freedom for all. This is the future the United States desires with Iraq. It is a future of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This opportunity has come at great cost and sacrifice, both by the people of Iraq and all who have served there. It should not be squandered. 

If that seems overly harsh, I don't like liars.  And what took place in 2010 is why Chris Hill was fired and James Jeffrey was made the new US Ambassador in Iraq.  When you're lying in the foreword, you know the report itself will never strive for accuracy.

By the way, page 76 of the text 'deals with' the 2010 elections -- by noting that they were supposed to take place in January 2010 but didn't due to the failure to pass an election law in time.  Instead, the report tells you, the elections were held in March.  And that's about it for the report and the 2010 elections.  Those elections and The Erbil Agreement have cause the many political crises currently in Iraq.  Nouri used The Erbil Agreement to get a second term and then refused to honor his promises made in the contract and the White House -- which swore the contract had the full backing of the US government -- and this is what has created the political crisis and fueled the increased violence.

How can RAND pretend to explore the violence and fail to note that the violence follows the Iraqi people's vote being overturned by the US government?

Because it's not a real report.  It's just propaganda.

There are a few facts in those many hundred pages.  There are many more fudged facts and outright lies.  But that's because the propaganda piece is supposed to sell you on how if US forces had stayed in Iraq, things would be perfect.

This thread (message) runs throughout the 'report' but may become most clear on page 310:

However, the withdrawal of U.S. troops ended sustained training programs. The departure of USF - I also dep rived the ISF of irreplaceable enablers, particularly in such areas as logistics management, intelligence support, ISR, maintenance support, and airspace control. The ISF will need several more years before it can undertake these missions effectively on its own. Furthermore, OSC-I and the three training programs served as the core of an ambitious expansion of military cooperation quickly ham - mered together after the October Iraqi decision not to grant immunity to U.S. military personnel, resulting in the departure of U.S. forces two months later. In addition to the traditional OSC-I functions listed earlier, this cooperation was to include continued U.S. Naval Forces Central monitoring and protection of Iraq’s oil export terminals and economic lifeline in the Gulf, various types of counterterrorist cooperation and  intelligence sharing, USCENTCOM exercises, and U.S. facilitation of closer military- to-military relationships between Iraq and its neighbors. This plan was laid out to an appreciative Prime Minister Maliki in December 2011 during his visit to Washington. The expansive plan relied not only on OSC-I but also on DoD, USCENTCOM, U.S. Special Operations Command, the Intelligence Community, and DoS DS programs and resources to provide a broad range of assistance. In addition, the aforementioned plan to have U.S. military personnel continue monitoring the CSMs remained an important operational element of this holistic approach. According to Ambassador Jeffrey, much of this plan has been implemented, albeit with significant modifications.

Modifications?  They immediately go to the police program and how it would have been a success if the State Dept had followed up on it.  Where in the report is the fact that the Iraqi government didn't want it?

We covered the November 30, 2012 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the MiddleEast and South Asia in the December 1st snapshot and noted that Ranking Member Gary Ackerman had several questions. He declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the [police training] program? Interviews with senior Iaqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis sugest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that might be a clue." 
That's not noted in the report.  But noting that the Iraqi government didn't want it undercuts the theme of the 'report.'  Maybe RAND could have been 'independent' (they never want to be) by speaking to former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen?

I have no interest in saving Barack Obama.  The Drone Warrior can stand (or fall) on his own.  But the conclusion's focus on Barack's promises and how they 'harmed' Iraq are the groundwork for the case for "Iraq War good and US won."

RAND doesn't care about Barack (I don't either).  They're primary concern is making war "good."  That's not my concern either.  I don't think we need more wars of choice in this world.  For the left, the issue is going to be what they do.  Do you stand up for peace and note that the instability in Iraq today is a result of a White House -- a Democratic White House -- overturning the will of the people?  Or do you ignore that and keeping singing from the hymnal "How Great Barack Art"?

You can't do both.  It's a mixed message.  Except for the idiot and lackey Bill Moyers, the left long ago grasped they couldn't carry LBJ on their shoulders and carry a message of peace.

More importantly, how long can Americans maintain the lie.  This is the internet age and US power is on the decline.  Those two things alone will make it difficult for even the best for Barack to keep the lies alive.  In the Arab world, they know exactly what happened to Iraq and it's discussed freely and openly in the press.

Here's just one example today, Omar al-Sharif (Arab News) observes:

Al-Maliki is not the only culprit. The Obama administration had a one-way strategy on Iraq when it took over in 2008, to execute a hasty plan to withdraw its forces and reach closure to a contentious, messy and costly war. To achieve this goal it had forsaken a parallel political path. It sided with Al-Maliki, who was a seen as strong leader, against moderate opponents in the aftermath of a controversial election. It watched on as Al-Maliki hunted down his political rivals and implemented a sectarian agenda. It looked the other way as he moved closer to Iran and alienated his country from its Arab neighbors. It did little to protest the government’s attack on free media and its attempts to undermine parliament and the judiciary. Even before Al-Qaeda became a problem for him, Al- Maliki’s self-serving policies had divided the country’s Shiite and alienated the Sunnis while encouraging the Kurds to sever ties with Baghdad.
In fact the US is as responsible for Iraq’s misfortunes as Al-Maliki. With his government now on the verge of collapse, he has come to Washington seeking help. In reality Al-Maliki is driven by his desire to maintain an ironclad hold on power and nothing else. His visit to the White House is an attempt to secure US support for him as he seeks a third term in office. It is shocking that the Obama administration has missed this opportunity to force Al-Maliki to commit to national reconciliation and to a new political process. Washington had failed to send a message of hope to Iraq’s beleaguered citizens.

Dropping back to the January 2nd "Iraq snapshot:"

There are a ton of reasons to continue focusing on Iraq here in the US.  But if people only care about themselves then maybe now some on the left who've argued it doesn't matter (including two friends with The Nation magazine) will wake up?  We've gone over what could happen repeatedly in the last years.  We did so at length August 20, 2010 in "The war continues (and watch for the revisionary tactics."
If you're old enough, you saw it with Vietnam.  That illegal war ended with the government called out for its actions.  And some people -- a lot in fact -- just moved on.  The weakest of the left moved on because it wasn't 'polite' to talk about it or it wasn't 'nice' or 'can't we all just get along' and other nonsense.  Others talked about things because they didn't care about Vietnam, the Vietnamese or the US service members.  And, after all, they had a peanut farmer from Georgia to elect, right?  And bit by bit, year by year, all these lies about Vietnam took root.  The press turned the people against it!  The US could have won if the military's hands hadn't been tied!  All this nonsense that, back when the public was paying attention in the early to mid-seventies, would have been rejected outright by the majority of Americans.
Jane Fonda explains in the amazing documentary Sir! No Sir!, "You know, people say, 'Well you keep going back, why are you going back to Vietnam?' We keep going back to Vietnam because, I'll tell you what, the other side does. They're always going back. And they have to go back -- the Hawks, you know, the patriarchs. They have to go back because, and they have to revise the going back, because they can't allow us to know what the back there really was."
And if you silence yourself while your opponent digs in on the topic, a large number of Americans -- including people too young to remember what actually happened -- here nothing but the revisionary arguments.  Jane's correct, the right-wing always went back to Vietnam. They're at fork in the road probably because, do they continue to emphasize Vietnam as much as they have, or do they move on to Iraq.  Victor Davis Hanson's ready to move on to Iraq.  He's not the only one on the right.
And on the left we have silence. 
And that is why revisionary tactics work.  It's not because revisions are stronger than facts.  It's because one side gives up.  And the left -- check The ProgressiveThe Nation, etc.* -- has long ago given up on even pretending to care about Iraq -- about the Iraq War, about the Iraqis, about the US service members.  [*But not In These Times -- they've continued to feature Iraq about every six months.  Give them credit for that.]

And this is when revisionary begins.  You either fight for the truth or you fight to glorify Barack.  You can't do both and the latter means the Iraq War will be seen as "good" in a matter of days.  Supporters of the illegal war will be relentless in their propaganda.  Presumably Libertarians will not be caught up in a Barack Venus Flytrap.  But the left needs to reject it as well.

Jane talked about going back and going back.

And when a Republican's in the White House?  Jane's a glorious little activist.  But she's not been going back and going back on the Iraq War -- can't even mention it today -- or Vietnam while Barack's been in the White House.

Jane, thank you for making yourself useless.  In your five years of silence revisionary has won.  You have made  the bulk of your life's work useless.

If anyone's confused, yesterday Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) wasted more time on nostalgia.   (See Ruth from yesterday.)   Among the nonsense, reality briefly breaks in when Peter Kuznick brought up actual facts -- which really matter -- Goodman had no response but to rush to change the topic and ask Oliver about the next film he'll be directing.

Peter Kuznick:  For example, he recently called for a 13-year commemoration of the Vietnam War, in which we’re going to reposition our understanding of the Vietnam War. And that’s very, very dangerous. A recent poll showed that 51 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds now think that the Vietnam War was worth fighting, see the Vietnam War as an American interest. Those people our age, about 70 percent say the Vietnam War was a mistake or even worse. But the fact that younger people are not learning history and are seeing the Vietnam War in more positive light is symptomatic of what Oliver and are concerned about, that people’s understanding of history is distorted in such a way as to perpetuate the trends that we find very, very objectionable.

Staying silent on war because a Democrats in the White House?  It's done great damage.  As Jane and others have silenced themselves over the last five years, Iraqis have died, Libyans have died, a war on Syria has been gearing up and The Drone War has slaughtered so many.  All your silence did was let the revisionary voices win out on Vietnam.  How shameful and embarrassing.  Your silence makes future wars easier to sell to the American people.  But let a Republican get into the White House and suddenly you're going to be vocal. We don't need fair weather peace activists.

Back to the RAND 'report,' page  381:

The transfer of effective capabilities for security was fundamental to the success of the transition. The U.S. experiment in Iraq would likely have been condemned as a failure if, following the departure of U.S. forces, insurgents had toppled Iraqi political institutions or even had the insurgency returned to its 2006–2007 levels. Therefore, USF - I greatly emphasized appraising transitional security challenges; accelerating training and equipping efforts; and mitigating the threat that al-Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqi Sunni extremists, and Iranian-backed Shi’a extremists posed to give ISF the wherewithal to succeed on their own (see Chapter Six).
In that paragraph, truth leaks out.  Briefly.  Nouri had to stay in power for the US government to save face.  So the Iraqis who protested or voted otherwise?  They had to be neutralized -- be a legal contract like The Erbil Agreement or by bullets.

In that paragraph, you get the US government's justification for destroying any chance of democracy in Iraq and for backing a thug like Nouri who runs secret prisons and torture chambers.

Nouri breeds violence.  He thought scaring the country would let him win on his 'law' platform.  But it didn't.  And it hasn't provided security for anyone in Iraq outside the Green Zone.  Al-Monitor reports today on the continued attacks on journalists in Mosul:

The majority of correspondents of satellite channels, newspapers and news agencies in the troubled city work under pseudonyms, while many of them are careful not to make provocative reports, which would provide factual information about the situation in the city, for fear of reprisal.
Many editors complain about the reticence of some of the city’s correspondents, who fail to obtain detailed information about the security situation. However, they do not pressure them because they fear for their lives and do not wish to put them at risk.
A well-informed source in Ninevah province told Al-Hayat that few Iraqi reporters residing in the province use their real names in work. However, they take preventive measures to avoid being targeted by insurgents.
“Some of the journalists change their address every now and then. They hide the truth of their work and pretend to have other jobs. They do not work at their office and prefer working from home,” the source said.
The source also confirmed that investigative reports are usually done by journalists from outside the city, who usually visit for short periods of time. They receive some help from local journalists, who provide them with a certain amount of information.

In the first five days of the month, Iraq Body Count counts 109 violent deaths.  Today, the sixth day of the month, violence continues.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left six people injured, 2 Falluja bombings left an Iraqi military officer and an Iraqi soldier injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing left four people injured, another Kirkuk bombing targeted police and left six of them injured, a Salam suicide car bomber took his/her own life and the lives of 4 police officers with another ten police left injured, a Dijail grove bombing left dead a husband and wife (farmers) and three of the wife's sisters were left injured, a Ramadi bombing has left 3 Sahwa injured, and an Abu Ghraib bombing left six people injured.  Of the Salam suicide bombing, AP notes the death toll has risen to 7 with fourteen injured.   AFP adds, "In Baghdad, a policeman was shot dead while on patrol in the city of Sadr, while two roadside bombs in the capital left three others dead, including an anti-Qaeda militiaman."

Turning to the US and the topic of the ongoing illegal spying, Julian Zelizer (CNN) offers:

In a period of crippling partisan warfare that continually brings Washington to a standstill, the leadership of both parties seem to have easily reached bipartisan agreement that the existing national security programs should be left alone.

But these arguments miss the importance of accountability in our national security operations. The notion that citizens should just trust the government to do the right thing on national security poses too many dangers.
The United States has a long history of national security agencies, sometimes with presidential concurrence, misusing their authority and power to harass American citizens. This was the case in the 1960s, when Democrats and Republicans used government institutions to intimidate and harass social activists who were fighting for causes such as civil rights and to protest the war in Vietnam.
With the approval of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the FBI obsessively wiretapped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., with the goal of finding evidence of the role of communism in the civil rights movement. What it found instead was information about his personal life as well as the background of top advisers that could be used against the movement if its demands caused too many problems. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover leaked information to the press and to King's opponents.
A congressional report later found that the program sought to "discredit Dr. King and to 'neutralize' him as the leader of the civil rights movement." Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon agreed to have authorities bug and infiltrate anti-war activists. The administration spread damaging allegations and information to the media and to supporters of the war with the goal of rendering the activists illegitimate, and nurtured distrust and animosity within the movement so members would turn against each other.
In 1975 and 1976, Idaho Sen. Frank Church conducted shocking hearings into the operations of the CIA and published a detailed report that revealed the agency had been secretly engaged in activities such as the attempted assassination of foreign leaders and illegal intelligence gathering of American citizens. Congress imposed new regulations and created a court to monitor their activities. In the end the regulations proved to be weak and since 9/11 they have essentially been rendered useless.

What we know about the illegal spying, we know due to whistle-blower Ed Snowden.  Information Clearing House has a CNN video of Ray McGovern explaining Ed didn't not take an oath to a government or a country, he took an oath to obey the Constitution.  In his latest column, Norman Solomon takes on Senator Dianne Feinstein's inexcusable defense of illegal spying:

Last Sunday, on CBS, when Feinstein told “Face the Nation” viewers that Edward Snowden has done “enormous disservice to our country,” it was one of her more restrained smears. In June, when Snowden first went public as a whistleblower, Feinstein quickly declared that he had committed “an act of treason.” Since then, she has refused to tone down the claim. “I stand by it,” she told The Hill on Oct. 29.
Days ago, taking it from the top of the NSA’s main talking points, Feinstein led off a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed piece with 9/11 fear-mongering. “The Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the United States was highly organized and sophisticated and designed to strike at the heart of the American economy and government,” she wrote, and quickly added: “We know that terrorists remain determined to kill Americans and our allies.”
From there, Senator Feinstein praised the NSA’s “call-records program” and then insisted: “This is not a surveillance program.” (Paging Mr. Orwell.)
Feinstein’s essay -- touting her new bill, the “FISA Improvements Act,” which she just pushed through the Senate Intelligence Committee -- claimed that the legislation will “bridge the gap between preventing terrorism and protecting civil liberties.” But as Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Trevor Timm writes, the bill actually “codifies some of the NSA’s worst practices, would be a huge setback for everyone’s privacy, and it would permanently entrench the NSA’s collection of every phone record held by U.S. telecoms.”

Treason's a really serious charge and should never be bandied about.  When a talk show host makes the charge, I roll my eyes and worry about the state of the country. When a US Senator does?

Dianne is the oldest member of the Senate.  It is clearly time for her to step down.

If Ed was guilty of treason (he's not, this doesn't qualify), then Dianne would need to explain why she hadn't brought such charges against him.

She's an elderly woman in a bad wig with a husband who has other interest (yeah, I went there, read between the lines).  It's past time her tired ass left the Senate.  She's too old to govern, she's lost her capacity to follow even the basic news.  There needs to be a push on this because Democratic leadership in the Senate is alarmed by her and a strong public push on the need for Dianne to leave would not make her decide to retire but it would help with an effort to push her out as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.


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