Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 resolution

Read more poetry.

"At night alone, I marry the bed."

Do you know the poem that's from?

Hint, Anne Sexton wrote it.

So for 2015, I want to read more poetry.

[Answer to question: "Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator."]

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014.  As Iraq is gripped by violence, we look at the whoring and the lying that allowed it to happen.

If you ever questioned the proposition that US politicians are basically crooked and dishonest, let's note two people writing about Iraq today.

Jack A. Smith (Dissident Voice) offers:

The U.S. war against Iraq ended officially December 31, 2011, but it has now metamorphosed into Washington’s air war against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. There are increasing hints U.S. ground troops may be sent in this year. (3,000 American military advisers are already there and 1,500 allied troops are expected soon.)

We can all follow that.

And now here's nutty Dennis Kucinich, former US House Rep:

Establish a US Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. America was led into a war against Iraq, a war which killed over 1 million innocent Iraqis, a war which was based on every manner of deceit. In our name, and with our tax dollars, countless people were either killed, injured or tortured, their homes ruined, the land destroyed. It is time for Americans to know the truth about Iraq and other wars. Let us push Congress and the President to create a US Commission on Truth and Reconciliation.
We must require the highest level of accountability from those who have held the highest positions in our government. Lies which took us into war and established a national security state have separated us from each other, and from the world. Let us reunite in the spirit of truth and justice, seeking the moral high ground and a newer world.

Can Dennis just stop f**king around and lying.

There will not be -- in the next 20 years at least -- a US Commission on Truth and Reconciliation.  Why are you wasting people's time deceiving them?

There are things to focus on and your nonsense is not one of them.

You want a Truth Commission?  How about you tell the American people about the flight you took with Barack?  How about you explain how you got on that plane insisting you were sticking to your guns and not voting for ObamaCare but by the time you touched ground you were breaking your public promise?  Why don't you tell the American people about that conversation?

It would be illuminating.

Not just to show the world self-serving you are, but to explain how politics in the US really work.

Dennis is a disgrace.  I've always felt that way.

Now he's writing of Iraq as if the illegal war is over.  That's offensive enough.

But he's lying to the American people as well.  A decision was made to go war on Iraq.  That wasn't -- though Dennis loves to pretend otherwise -- a decision of just Republicans or of just Republicans plus Hillary Clinton.

It's not going to happen.

And this gets to the core of why I despise Dennis.

In 2004, in Boston, as he let down his supporters -- which really is the constant thread in the public career of Dennis Kucinich -- a young woman approached me crying, feeling he betrayed her and the rest and I comforted by leading her (eventually) in a chant of "F**k Dennis Kucinich!"

Dennis is never serious, Dennis is a con artist.

His runs in the Democrat parties presidential primaries -- which, let's be clear, is not running for president, he's never run for president -- are fake.

They're an attempt to corral people into the Democratic Party (and keep them from going to the Green Party or elsewhere).  After his fake run,  Dennis gives his little fake ass speech, after denouncing the party, urging his supporters to support the Democratic Party.  He's a tiny valve intended to release steam and frustration before all of us on the left are supposed to join hands and march behind whomever the party's decided gets the nomination.

In 2008, Barack Obama 'won' Iowa.

After the early round of the caucus, Dennis instructed his followers to take their support to Barack.

At what point does that little bitch plan to take accountability for that?

I believe Barack's actions in Libya were illegal.  I called them out here.

Dennis did so on Fox News.  But never took accountability for his role in promoting Barack Obama and helping to make him the nominee for the Democratic Party.

Dennis has never, ever run for president.

Don't believe the lies of Amy Goodman.

He's participated -- poorly -- in the Democratic Party's primaries.

Cynthia McKinney ran for president, Ralph Nader ran for president, H. Ross Perot ran for president, Barack ran for president, John McCain ran, etc.

But Dennis never ran for president.

The most he ever ran for was the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

There's a huge difference between that and running for president.

Look at any of his speeches when he repeatedly sought the party's nomination in one cycle after another.

Read the speeches and ask yourself, "If someone really believes that, why don't they run for president?"

Dennis is a fake ass.

He lives to distract.  Maybe because he's so nutty.  Maybe because that's the role he's assigned himself.

But he's worthless time and again.

If he wants to matter, it's not that hard.  Tell the truth about the plane ride.  Explain to Americans how you changed your mind on that plane ride.

He doesn't want to talk about the truth.

Talking about the truth might change the system.  It would certainly upset the apple cart.  So instead, he keeps lying and distracting.

At a certain point, his freak show doesn't even deliver snorts of derision.

At that point, he becomes an embarrassment that the world simply can't afford.

Dennis could have ended the Iraq War at any point.  Any member of the US Congress could have.  Former US Senator Mike Gravel told those truths and the response was John Edwards and Hillary Clinton caught on mike talking about how to purge certain people from the debates.

Real quick, let's see if we're all idiots like Dennis.  Here's the test. Can you  read Ahmed Rasheed and Ned Parker's latest report for Reuters and grasp what they're saying:

As Shi'ite forces push into territories held by Islamic State, many Sunnis have fled for fear of both the Shi’ite-led government and the Sunni jihadists.
Shi'ite leaders insist Islamic State must never be allowed to strike them again, nor return to areas now abandoned.
Shi'ite groups now decide who can stay in a community and who should leave; whose houses should be destroyed and whose can stand.
In one case, a powerful Shi’ite paramilitary organization has started redrawing the geography of central Iraq, building a road between Shi’ite parts of Diyala province and Samarra, a Sunni city that is home to a Shi’ite shrine.

You can summarize the above as Shi'ites clear out an area of the Islamic State and then purge the Sunni elements as well.

So you're not a complete idiot or crazy.

Not everyone can make that claim.

This morning, we noted the article and ethnic cleansing in Iraq.

Crazy Reider Visser  takes to Twitter with his own brand of insanity.

Maybe he thinks he's successfully disputing Ned Parker and Ahmed Rasheed?

As we explained "A crackpot runs AFP, Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor" (June, 2013), this is the 'expert' who was running around the globe insisting the CIA was pretending to be the State Dept and he was being persecuted and hunted and his parents wanted him to get mental help.  As we explained:

The man's a loon.  Read his September 2012 post for laughs.  He's being 'punished' and 'stalked' by the police in his country because . . . he took photos.  He didn't understand it was a crime, he writes, before making a xenophobic remark about the Japanese.  But Reider was done with his country.  He moved to England.  But the Norwegian police followed him there as well!  And continued to harass him.  So he went to the US and, "The Norwegians came after me to the United States as well. Easily recognisable officers of the organised crime unit within the Oslo police even followed me into research libraries where they deliberately sat next to me and made noise in order to disturb my work on Iraq."
Yeah, watch out, in US libraries, for those Norwegian police crime units.

It needs to be noted, and it has been repeatedly here, Reider and Joel Wing and all the little Circle Jerk buddies?

They weren't telling truths.

They were lying.

They were pimping for Nouri al-Maliki -- a thug. They were passing him off as a leader.

He led Iraq, alright, into the brink of destruction.

For all those just so amazed at the violence today in Iraq, so surprised by it, let's drop back for more of the June 2013 entry where we noted crazy Reider:

AFP's gotta be the dumbest and trashiest in the secretarial pool as evidenced by their latest nonsense. Nouri's gone on state TV (which he controls) to say what's happening in Syria is causing sectarian strife in Iraq.  Who knew AFP was also Iraqi state TV?

It must be because all it can do is present his comments in a vacuum, as if to exonerate his own actions and convict the Iraqis.

The most obvious point to make re: Syria is that, if true (it's not), how interesting that Nouri chose not to side with the west on the issue.

What goes on in Syria is not why there is sectarian strife in Iraq.

AFP fails at their job repeatedly acting as a megaphone for whomever's in power.  In this case, we're dealing with a paranoid tyrant.  AFP sends their stenography out over the wires and, in doing so, does tremendous damage.  The press is supposed to be a watchodg not a stenographer.

This is the week that saw Nouri (illegally) kick Kurds out of the Cabinet.  For the record, the sectarian strife Nouri's alarmed about at this second is Sunni v. Shi'ite.  But it takes a lot of never when you conduct your war on the Kurds to, in the same week, insist others are playing sectarian games.  Nouri's always been enabled by a slovenly and unprofessional western press.

In 2010, Nouri agreed to the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.

Now Nouri's a known liar who's failed to keep every promise he's made in his first and second term.  For those who missed Nouri's first broken promise, he was out of Iraq at the time, and only a few months into being prime minister, when the US began putting up blast walls and barricades throughout Baghdad.  An enraged Nouri insisted they were coming down immediately as soon as he returned to Iraq, he even used the words "promise" in the statement.  Of course, Nouri returned and the walls stayed up.  Add "being Joshua with the rams horns outside the walls of Jericho" to a list of the many things Nouri has tried to be but instead failed miserably at.

Nouri only agreed to it because he wanted a second term as prime minister and he never planned to honor it.  Other political blocs thought it was for real -- because the US government brokered it and vouched for it -- and signed on.  If Nouri's having trouble and you're an outlet reporting today, you can't ignore The Erbil Agreement.  Since the summer of 2011, Iraqiya (who won in the 2010 elections), the Kurds (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, KRG President Massoud Barzani, etc) and clric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr have been demanding that Nouri stop postponing and implement The Erbil Agreement as he was supposed to at the end of 2010.

Nouri's failure to implement the contract has disenfranchised many.  When a people stop believing that their voices are listened to, they find means other than conversation to make their points.  What's happening isn't surprising unless you're a stenographer for AFP.   You sort of picture Prahsant Rao and Reider Visser lunching on plain yogurt and lamenting how their thunder thighs will look next weekend in their bridesmaids dresses.

That's how Iraq arrived at where it is today.

A lot of liars.

Over the last few years, a lot of e-mails have come in lamenting tone an language.

To which I say, you can eat my _____.

Honestly, tone?

You're bothered by the tone?

People are dying and you're bothered that I'm angry that a country supposedly 'liberated' has instead been trashed, decimated and poisoned?

As for language?

I've repeatedly noted that I have a very foul mouth.  We are work place friendly.  Which means we are limited to 'swear' words we can use.  My favorite word is four letters long and starts with an "s," ends with a "t" and waves hello via "hi" in the middle.  I can't use that word here.

I can use "whore" and Media Whores Online pioneered calling out the whores.  I wish MWO was still around.

But if you can't grasp how much lying and whoring has taken place on Iraq in the last six years, let's note this:

Alice Fordham has a report for NPR's Morning Edition (link is text and audio) that wants to insist Nouri's trying to bring the Sahwa into the military -- while ignoring what Ned Parker's outlined above and what's taken place for the entire second term of Nouri al-Maliki until right before these elections.
She's providing a wrong impression to listeners.

So what, you say, in 2009, Fordham wrongly thought Nouri would incorporate the Sahwa.

And if that was from 2009 or even 2010, I'd call it out but note that Fordham got it wrong.

Trouble is, that's from the April 18, 2014 snapshot.

At that point, at that late date, you're not just 'wrong,' you're whoring because you're deliberately wrong.  (Fordham was deliberately wrong on other details and we noted in that snapshot.)

Does it matter?

Does any of it matter?

It has to.

Because it's life or death.

If Alice Fordham had done actual reporting, if Joel Wing and Crazy Reider hadn't whored for thug Nouri, Iraq might not be where it is now, where it is today.

Violence had dropped off.

The government in place was imposed by the US government so, political science would argue, there was always a chance of renewed violence when the bulk of US forces left the country.

So violence could very well have increased.  It could have even gotten worse than it is now.

But what bred the violence was Nouri al-Maliki.

And what allowed him to breed the violence was a world that largely looked away, a press that near universally hid the truth -- western press, excuse me -- about what Nouri was doing.

This is a man so hateful that he sent agents of the Ministry of the Interior into Iraqi schools to target gay and thought to be gay men, to stir up hate against these men, to tell the students that these men would kill them, that these men drink blood, etc.  And not just tell the students that.

See, here's what got Nouri in trouble, they had a handout.

When reports first emerged -- in the Iraqi media, please no western outlet touched it -- Nouri's spokesperson insisted the actions of the Ministry were being distorted and nothing of the sort happened.

But there was the handout.

And when Alsumaria and Al Mada got a hold of the handout, Nouri's story suddenly changed from it didn't happen to oops how did this happen.

This is how evil Nouri al-Maliki is.

He deliberately attempted to frighten children of gay men and encouraged them to attack and kill gay men.

It was there in the presentation and, too bad for Nouri, it was there in the handout.

He was evil.

That's only one example.

But this is the man that press carried water for.  This is the thug that Joel Wing and Crazy Reider portayed as respectable and a real leader.

People need to be held accountable for what they do.

And if that means I have to be the biggest bitch online day after day, then that's what it means for however long this site continues.

There are a lot of people willing to prop up thugs like Nouri.

The last six years hasn't seen a lot of attempts -- outside of the Iraqi press -- to defend the people of Iraq.

This week, the American Kurdish Council of California's Delovan Barawri (at Huffington Post) noted:

Yet, while the oppressive Middle Eastern regimes subjugated their citizens, especially the minorities, the global players kept a blind eye on the brutality, often supporting and arming the oppressors. A prime example is the Obama administration's support of the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Maliki, in spite of his dictatorial and marginalizing policies, which ultimately allowed the Sunni regions to turn into breeding grounds for ISIS.

And that's what all the whoring did.

It allowed the White House to support Nouri.

A thug.  Someone who killed protesters.  Someone I believe had a journalist killed (Hadi al-Mahdi).  He certainly had Hadi and other journalists tortured.

And even when this did get coverage by the western media, it was limited coverage.  (Click here for Annie Gowen and Aziz Alwan covering it for the Washington Post.)

This is the thug that when the bulk of US forces departed Iraq, turned Iraq's military tanks onto his political rivals.  And Liz Sly reported on it for western media (Washington Post) but people had other things to do apparently.

So let's not pretend that the Islamic State popped up out of the middle of nowhere and for no reason.

A lot of whoring allowed the despot Nouri al-Maliki to get away with, yes, murder.

And the response to that can be seen in Iraq today.

From time to time, a friend will say to me that they can't believe I called out _____ -- a mutual friend.  Of course I did.  The hurt feelings of a friend don't begin to equal the suffering of the Iraqi people  Those whose actions encourage and prolong the suffering of the Iraqi people probably deserve a little more than hurt feelings over getting roughed up verbally in the global town square that is the internet.

And maybe instead of whimpering and whining, they could take accountability for their part in increasing violence in Iraq?

Grace Slick was right

Grace Slick is now a painter -- a respected one.

She came to prominence with the band The Great Society and then to fame with Jefferson Airplane.  She sang "Somebody to Love" and sang and wrote "White Rabbit" -- anthems of the Summer of Love (1967).

She went on to sing other songs -- some of them hits -- with Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship but would leave Starship to try a solo career only to return to the band and stay with them when they were billed solely as "Starship."  Her vocals during that 80s period helped make "We Built This City" and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" huge hits.

But then Starship imploded and Grace did an album with her old band mates from the Airplane but that was it.

She'd always expressed the belief that aging rock stars look a little ridiculous as they continue to pretend they're still 20-something.

If you saw the Kennedy Center (Dis)Honors, you know just what she meant.

Bruce Springsteen is ridiculous and really needs to sit that tired ass down.

Geezer Rock, I think that's what Grace once called it, has arrived and it's name is Bruce.

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, who keeps declaring the death of Iraq (hint: It's not Iraqis), the Yazidis aren't the only religious minority in Iraq, the US State Dept continues to mistake itself for the Defense Dept, a lot of ugly gets aimed at an Iraq War veteran, and much more.

Dar Addustour offers all Iraqis the warm wishes as 2014 turns into 2015 and they hope for peace and prosperity. There are other notes of cheer in the Iraqi media and there are some concerns.  Pretty much the most negative thought is when Khalid al-Quarqghouli (Kitabat) wonders if it's time to see all of Iraq as one big refugee camp?

On the refugee crisis, the UN Tweets:

  • Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports:

    Conflicts in Iraq took a heavy toll on civilians in the country this year, having caused thousands of casualties and displaced more than 2 million people, an official with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday.
    "The ongoing cycle of violence, which contravenes international humanitarian law and has resulted in the continued loss of civilian lives and the destruction of property essential for survival, remains a matter of serious concern for the ICRC," said Patrick Youssef, head of the ICRC delegation in Iraq, in a statement.

    "Most negative" is not to pick on al-Quarqghouli or the opinion expressed.

    It is to provide a context.

    There are serious problems in Iraq -- as a result of the illegal war -- and no one would pretend otherwise.

    But, regardless of the outlet in Iraq, you don't read claims that the country is dead.

    No, for nonsense like that, you have to go to American outlets where you find things like "the year Iraq ceased to exist."  It's penned by CIA contractor/contractee Juan Cole and the fact that TruthDig publishes it really means that 2015 may see the old Ramparts battle -- where one faction accused Robert Scheer of being a disruptive element paid to disrupt paid to disrupt by the government -- re-emerge publicly in Scheer's final years.

    But for right now, everyone should just ponder why it is that Iraqis -- who truly suffer every day -- are not the ones declaring their own deaths.  It's pompous Americans who do that.  Especially pompous ones who supported the illegal war -- as Juan Cole did.

    Let's stay with idiots for a moment.

    Max Blumenthal will probably be named as a stupid ass in the year-in-review.  He won't be the only one.  But it'll be for something different than what we are noting today.

    Blumenthal is among a select few whining about the film American Sniper and its based on Iraq War veteran Chris Kyle,  Kyle was killed (in the United States) in 2013.

    I'm not understanding Max except for the fact that he's clearly trash.

    He's attacking the late veteran and trashing him -- which is something Blumenthal does frequently.  In fact, I have other things to cover in the year-in-review so let's pull it out now and put it on the table.

    Jane Fonda, during Vietnam, was not anti-troops.  She spoke to the troops because she wanted to reach them.  She took part in the GI Coffeehouse movement and many other elements.

    She is wrongly seen as someone who 'spat' on American troops (that myth refuses to die).

    For some on the other side, Jane is a focal point and they try to make her the voice of the left.

    (This despite the fact that, while she can't stop playing aged sexpot and updating the world on her supposed hot sex life -- c'mon, Jane, we know better -- she can't say a word against the ongoing Iraq War.)

    What Jane serves as mostly now is a cautionary tale.

    How far on the left do we go, what is acceptable, etc.

    Here's what's not acceptable: Hating groups of people.

    That's unacceptable.

    And that's all Max Blumenthal has to offer.

    There was some local story about an Iraq War veteran that killed someone or someones.  Max took to Twitter to try to turn into the story of the year.

    When victims of burn pits need help, Max is never there.  Can't use that online presence to help them.

    But when there's something that he thinks can be used to indict the entire body of the US military, he runs with it with like crazy.

    And he's the reason that the right can repeatedly convince people that the left hates service members.

    I support war resisters -- we've covered them more than any other website.  But I've also noted that if I'm going to support those who feel the war is illegal and unethical and wrong, I'm going to support the right of those who feel differently as well.

    Jose or Joanne sent to Iraq by the US government is not the problem and is not the enemy.

    It's amazing that Max Blumenthal can attack a dead man who was sent to Iraq by the US government and did the tasks the US government ordered him to do yet Max Blumenthal can't say one damn word about Barack Obama, US President, and his failure to the end the Iraq War -- remember, that's the 'promise' that got him elected.  (It was never an honest promise and unlike so many temple whores in The Cult of St. Barack, we pointed it out while his lap were flapping on the campaign trail.)

    I got fury in my soul
    Fury's gonna take me to the glory goal
    In my mind I can't study war no more
    Save the people
    Save the children
    Save the country now!
    -- "Save The Country," written by Laura Nyro, first appears on her New York Tendaberry

    I've got fury in my soul and I've got anger.

    None of which I aim at someone who was sent to Iraq.

    I'll blame Bully Boy Bush, I'll blame Barack.

    I'm not going to blame someone who was, in my opinion, betrayed by their own government, misused by the government, etc.

    I fully support the right of any member of the US military to resist the illegal war.  I also support the right to serve in it -- even to believe in it.

    I don't believe in it and I never will.

    But I don't just support people who agree with me and think like me and speak like me.

    And I certainly do not blame those who did what they were ordered to do.

    I am appalled that Blumenthal and his ilk repeatedly attack and blame those following orders and yet protect the ones in power, the ones who give the orders.

    And don't give me your bulls**t that you call out Bully Boy Bush.  It's 2014.  I can't imagine anything easier in the world than calling out Bully Boy Bush.  I also can't imagine anything more stupid since the Iraq War continues and Bully Boy Bush left the White House in January of 2009.

    Big Brave Maxie-Pad Blumenthal can't call out Barack, can he?

    But he can attack those who served in Iraq -- especially if they're dead and can't respond to him.

    I will gladly defend my position -- the war is illegal -- but if I'm calling out someone for their deployment in Iraq, it's because what they personally did amounts to War Crimes.

    That would be Steven D. Green and his ilk who plotted and conspired to gang rape and kill 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and to kill her five-year-old sister and to kill both parents.  They broke into the family's home, they tried to make it appear 'terrrorists' were responsible for their actions.

    These are War Crimes.

    Check our archives, they were called out repeatedly here.

    Maxi can't make the same claim, can he?

    War Crimes?

    Civilians in Falluja, since the start of the year, have been bombed as a means of collective punishment -- these are daily bombings carried out by the Iraqi military.  This is the legal definition of a War Crime.  Max Blumenthal has called that out when?

    So let's not pretend this is about War Crimes because Max clearly doesn't give a damn about War Crimes.

    Chris Kyle was not sent to Iraq as part of the diplomatic corps.  He was trained to be a sniper and he was sent to a war to carry out that duty.

    If you don't like that people were sent to Iraq to be snipers, I don't see why you rail at Chris Kyle.

    You rail at the officials who sent Kyle into Iraq.

    And don't bore us with your empty words against Bully Boy Bush.

    That's about as 'brave' as calling out Tricky Dick Nixon.

    If you're against war, and I am, you call out the people responsible for it.  In 2014, that would mean you'd have to call out Barack Obama.

    Chris Kyle is gone.  He does have a family who is proud of him and they have every right to be.  He did what was asked to do by the government.

    I don't support war.

    But I'm not shocked that someone trained by the government to be a sniper and then sent by the government to Iraq would shoot people dead.  That's not shocking to me and it's not surprising.

    I'm not angry at Chris Kyle or his memory.

    I am angry at the US government and the officials who sent Chris Kyle and so many others into an illegal war.

    I am not a fan of Clint Eastwood's.  I never have been.  I know him loosely and I honestly don't care for him.

    I certainly didn't go on Larry King in the 90s raving about how In The Line Of Fire was a 'feminist statement' -- no, that embarrassing moment came from a woman who's given us far too many embarrassing moment.

    (I'm not referring to Renee Russo who I know and like.  I'm referring to an actress who did not appear in the film.)

    But he has every right as a film maker to make American Sniper and I hope it's a good movie (I won't be seeing it).

    Other people have a right to make films from the same perspective, from opposite perspectives and from anywhere on the political spectrum.

    I raise that point because there are a lot jerks slamming Clint or his film -- not just slamming Chris Kyle -- and yet these same jerks?

    They slammed Kimberly Peirce for Stop-Loss.

    I don't know what world these idiots live in but when an indie director (what Peirce was at the time) gets a film budget from MTV, if any politics are in the movie at all, that's a bonus.

    Peirce didn't go far enough for the malcontents who apparently could have squeezed the money out of MTV and filmed the Camilo Mejia story.

    I think Camilo is a hero.

    (He's a War Resister for those who don't know.  In the US, on leave, Camilo decided not to return to Iraq because the war was illegal.  He had been stop-lossed.  He couldn't be stop-lossed, a fact that the military 'justice' system ignored.  US citizens serving in the US military could be stop-lossed -- their military service extended over their objections.  Non-US citizens could not be.  Camilo wasn't a US citizen at that time.  He tells his story in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.)

    Kimberly made a strong film that has done intense business on DVD, Blu Ray and streaming.

    Instead of accepting it for what it was, fringe elements on the left felt the need to trash the film.

    So these same elements are going to trash a film where the lead character wants to self-checkout (but ultimately doesn't) and they're going to trash a film about US sniper.

    Exactly what range of discussion does this fringe element believe remains for film?

    And exactly who do they think, on the left, will even try to make a film when Kimberly -- an acclaimed independent film director, one applauded by the LGBTQ community -- is attacked?

    You're ensuring that no one wants to make a film against the war because apparently nothing will satisfy you and there's apparently no strong aspect on the left that will tell you to pipe down.

    Clint made a film he had every right to make.

    If you're upset that it's not a peace film or an anti-war film, then you're going to have to accept your own blame because as I remember it, we stood alone in defending Kimberly (yes, I know her, I would have defended her regardless and she made a solid film in Stop-Loss which will have more impact long after the Max Blumenthals are gone -- are thankfully gone).

    Let's move over to the US State Dept which has posted the following by John Allen:

    In early June of this year, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters poured down the Tigris Valley. Multiple cities fell. The northern approaches to Baghdad were exposed to ISIL. Iraq was under siege, poorly governed and alone in the world.
    Six months later, and less than three months since the President called for an international effort against ISIL and I was appointed special envoy to the global coalition to counter ISIL, 60 nations met in Brussels on December 3, 2014, to demonstrate their shared commitment to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. It is an expression of the threat ISIL poses to global security that so many partners came together so quickly to confront this emergency. It is also a powerful testament to the importance of American leadership. No other nation could bring together such a diverse coalition to tackle a challenge this complex like the United States.
    At this first ministerial-level meeting in Brussels, the Iraqi government also demonstrated its commitment to becoming a more proactive partner in the fight against ISIL. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi updated the coalition on the unity government's efforts to take important steps to benefit all Iraqis, including efforts to implement significant judicial sector reforms, and to root out decay and corruption in Iraq's security apparatus. Indeed, in recent weeks, Abadi removed two dozen generals and publicly disclosed the results of a government-sponsored investigation revealing thousands of ghost soldiers on the Iraqi military's rolls. And just days before we met in Brussels, Baghdad signed a critical oil deal with the Kurds on revenue management and oil exports.
    Iraq's continued progress toward reform and inclusiveness will be imperative to the coalition's success. There was recognition in Brussels, however, that ISIL is not solely an Iraqi problem. Nor is it solely a Syrian problem. ISIL is an international problem and demands a sustained international response.
    Under U.S. leadership, the coalition is responding to the global threat posed by ISIL with a coordinated global effort. So far, eight coalition partners are taking part in airstrikes over Iraq. Six nations are participating in strikes in Syria. As of early December, there have been more than 1,200 strikes against ISIL targets. And each time we have coordinated coalition air support with Iraqi forces on the ground, ISIL's momentum has been halted and it is now constantly looking over its shoulder for the next attack.
    While the immediate focus remains to degrade and defeat ISIL in Iraq, we and coalition partners will continue to strike at ISIL in Syria to deny them safe haven and to disrupt their ability to project power. We are having an impact in Syria; we have struck at ISIL's command-and-control nodes, supply lines, fighters and leaders, and military and economic infrastructure and resources in Syria. We have also debilitated ISIL's oil producing, processing and transportation infrastructure. This is critical given that the smuggling and sale of oil provides ISIL with as much as $1 million per day.
    Of course, we cannot hope to defeat ISIL through military action alone. Coalition partners are now in leading roles to stop the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, to limit ISIL's financing, and to defeat ISIL where it can do incredible harm: in the virtual space and marketplace of ideas. Nations as diverse as Morocco, Germany, and Kuwait have helped to steer these efforts. And when millions of men, women and children have been displaced by ISIL's barbarism, dozens of nations have stepped up to make significant humanitarian contributions, and will continue to need to do so, in order for the region to regain stability and for innocent civilians affected by conflict to regain hope for the future.
    Across each of these lines of effort, the coalition's ultimate success against ISIL will depend on our commitment, our creativity and our coordination. We also cannot truly defeat ISIL for the long-term if we do not use this unique moment in history to take action as a community of nations to address the underlying political, economic and social issues that have allowed ISIL's toxic and destructive ideology to flourish.
    This is an ambitious task and generational work. But we take on this challenge with a growing and diverse coalition of partners. If we can remain united in this common effort both to defeat ISIL and to lay the foundations for a more stable Middle East, we will have left a legacy that is far more powerful than the defeat of one intolerant and nihilistic group of terrorists. We will have laid the foundation for a world that is more tolerant, more secure and more prosperous. 

    First off, John Allen is actually General John Allen and I'm confused as to why "General" was left out of the byline the State Dept gave to the article (they do note the title in their end note).  And "special envoy"?

    Where's the State Dept's special envoy?

    Forget the general because he's not part of the State Dept and his column really should have appeared at DoD but Secretary of State John Kerry continues to mistake himself for Secretary of Defense.

    Silly me, when we advocated for him for this post, I thought he actually wanted it.

    I didn't think he'd be Ann Wright (who Barack should have nominated for Secretary of State in January of 2009) or anyone that would really fight for peace, but I did think he'd provide some dignity for the diplomatic corps.  And he's not been a total failure -- for example, Hillary had no oversight her entire four years as Secretary of State -- a point those who want to stop her apparent presidential bid should be making loudly right now.  She went through the entire four years without a State Dept Inspector General.  She didn't want one.  She didn't want oversight.  She thought she was above the American people she served.  There's your talking point to rally against her.  By contrast, John committed to Congress that he would have an inspector general and, within a few months, he did.

    But John Kerry needs to stop acting like he's Secretary of Defense (or, worse, Alexander Haig) and start acting like a Secretary of State.

    And the State Dept needs to stop promoting the military and start promoting diplomacy.

    General Allen has participated in many meet-ups on the Islamic State and each conference has gotten press attention.  But when it's diplomatic efforts, why isn't the State Dept promoting those efforts?  That includes stressing them in press briefings before the conferences take place.

    Let's turn now to religious minorities.  No, not the Yazidis.  They're all over -- didn't we love the photo with Samantha Power? surprised they didn't do a selfie.  Now that they have the right-wing p.r. firm (paid for by US war hawks), they're all over the place.  Still they whine that the Palestinians get more attention.

    Nazwat Shamdeen (Niqash) reports:

    As one activist from the Iraqi ethnic minority, the Shabak, says, all of the other segments of society attacked by the extremist Islamic State group have had attention and aid. However the Shabaks, who have lost all their land and who have been targeted by extremists in northern Iraq for over a decade, complain nobody seems to care about them.

    “We are the forgotten victims of the extremists,” says Mohammed Abbas, a political activist and member of Iraq’s Shabak ethnic minority. “All the parts of Iraqi society that have been attacked by extremists from the Islamic State group have gotten a lot of media attention. Except us,” he complains.

    Abbas says that almost all of the land belonging to the Shabaks is now gone. “Even the Yazidis still have the Shikhan district, north of Mosul, which remained untouched by the Islamic State and the Christians still have the city of Qosh. Both those areas are under the control of the Iraqi Kurdish military. But we don’t even have any land anywhere to bury our dead anymore,” Abbas concluded wearily. 

    Previously there were an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 members of the Shabak ethnicity in the northern province of Ninawa where the Islamic State, or IS, group has wreaked so much havoc. The Shabak, who mostly lived in about 50 towns and villages in a crescent slung over the Ninawa Plain, are often Muslim and mostly Shiite Muslim. There are also some Sunni Muslim Shabaks too. Some consider themselves closer in ethnicity to Iraq’s Kurds while others consider themselves to be more aligned with Iraq’s Arabs.

    Even the Iraqi Christians have taken a back seat to the Yazidis.  In fact, not even the annual attention -- limited attention -- Iraqi Christians receive from the press at Christmas matched the non-stop Yazidi coverage.  But again, they've now got a p.r. firm and they've got representative paid to travel to the US, Canada and England to advocate for war.

    Trudy Rubin (syndicated columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer) has long covered Iraq and she focuses on Iraqi Christians in her latest column which includes this:

    The number of Chaldeans (whose church dates to the early Christian era), and of members of other ancient Iraqi Christian sects, has plummeted in recent years amid repeated attacks by Shiite and Sunni Islamists. But the most terrible blow came this year, when Islamic State terrorists sent 200,000 Christians fleeing from their historical heartland in northern Iraq, including the city of Mosul, leaving it empty of Christians for the first time in 1,600 years.
    "As I speak, the process of the eradication of Christians in Iraq and throughout the Middle East continues," the Detroit-based Chaldean Bishop Francis Kalabat told a Senate hearing this month. Ten years ago, he said, there were more than 350 churches in Iraq, but today there are fewer than 40. Many were bombed and destroyed, especially in the historically Christian villages of the north. Community leaders estimate that the Christian population has dropped from more than a million to fewer than 400,000, many of them internal refugees.

    "The United States has a unique role and obligation in this conflict," Kalabat added in a stunning indictment, " ... because the plight of Christians in Iraq today is a direct result of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003."

    There will be a snapshot tomorrow.  It will probably be very brief.  After it goes up, our year in review content will start going up.

    Monday, December 29, 2014

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus is so not funny

    The Old Navy ads.

    I could take Amy Poehler's and even laughed at them.

    Especially when she was the judge or the fast food worker.

    But now the ads feature Julia Louis-Dreyfus and they are awful.

    In one, she gives a donkey to her family members and the whole premise is not funny ('I have tons of boyfriends' or whatever she says).  The new one may be even worse.

    She lacks a sense of timing and her vocals are awful.

    Amy played it crazy and with intense energy.

    That made the bit work.

    Julia is playing it laid back and comes off not like a mad shopper but like a bitch.

    A bitch to her family (uncaring about everything including allergies) and just a bitch in general.

    So the message is: Bitches shop at Old Navy?

    They need to bring back Amy for the ads.

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

    Monday, January 29, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack Obama doesn't believe the Iraqi people have had enough 'skin in the game,'  the Iraqi military 'liberates' Sunni areas by burning down Sunni homes, and much more.

    Before we get to Iraq, Kia Makarechi (Vanity Fair) explains:

    President Barack Obama declared the 13-year war in Afghanistan officially over on Sunday, praising the troops and claiming that Americans are safer for their efforts. In Kabul, General John Campbell folded the flag of the International Security Assistance Force, and unfurled the flag of a new mission, Resolute Support.
    But while the administration would like to characterize this as a victory, the end of a conflict, it’s more of a re-branding. More than 10,000 United States troops will remain in Afghanistan, and just over one month ago, the president secretly expanded their 2015 combat mission to include fighting with the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, or other insurgent groups. The expansion of duties, which was first reported in The New York Times, also allows for the use of American manned aircraft and drones. Some 4,000 NATO troops will also remain in Afghanistan next year.

    If only there'd been that kind of honesty with regard to the Iraq drawdown -- which didn't end the war and, look around, hasn't ended US military involvement in Iraq.

    At today's US State Dept press briefing, moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke, the following exchange took place.

    QUESTION: Okay. So first on Iraq, yesterday, General Allen told Der Spiegel that an Iraqi ground offensive will occur when the time is right. What is your current assessment of Iraqi forces, and do you have an update – a timetable for any kind of ground offensive? And a separate one on Russia/Syria.

    MR. RATHKE: Well, of course we are engaged with Iraqi forces to help improve their capacity. We’ve already seen Iraq take the initiative in places like Sinjar, where now the siege has been broken, and in a variety of other places where they have taken the fight to ISIL. I’m not going to get ahead of their decisions about further military activity, of course. That’s – that is something that one wouldn’t want to telegraph, and it’s also a question for the Iraqis to decide first and foremost.

    Well that's good to know.

    Better to know would be reality.

    It wasn't the Iraqi military that "we've already seen . . . take the initiative in places like Sinjar."  Sinjar was the Peshmerga.  They are not part of the Iraqi army.  They are the Kurdish elite force trained and based in the Kurdistan Region (northern Iraq) and answerable to the Kurdish government.

    That's reality.

    The US government knows it -- Rathke damn well should -- because there have been stand offs regarding disputed areas in Iraq -- stands offs between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army.

    Do you think just because the US government pretends otherwise -- and because some stupid people in the US nod along -- either side in Iraq has forgotten it?

    They haven't.

    The Peshmerga has always had their act together.

    When Shi'ite militias became a recognizable problem in Baghdad, the Kurds offered to send the Peshmerga in.  Baghdad didn't want that, the Shi'ite government in charge of Iraq did not want that.

    But from the beginning of the Iraq War, the only functioning military in Iraq has been the Peshmerga.

    I don't understand how pretending that reality hasn't taken place helps anyone.

    Now the Iraqi military has had some limited successes -- both with the help of the Peshmerga and all by themselves.  But what happens after?

    Isabel Coles (Reuters) reports:

    Like dozens of other communities in Iraq, this small Sunni settlement in northern Salahuddin province’s Tuz Khurmatu district has been reduced to rubble. In October, Shia militiamen and Kurdish peshmerga captured the village from the Sunni militant group ISIS. The victors then laid it to waste, looting anything of value and setting fire to much of the rest. Residents have still not been allowed to return.
    “Our people are burning them,” said one of the Shia militiamen when asked about the smoke drifting up from still smouldering houses. Asked why, he shrugged as if the answer was self-evident.

    Well, it's something.

    It's nothing you can build on.

    It's something only fool would bill as a "success."

    But it's something -- something very disturbing and troubling..

    And that destruction taking place on a smaller scale it mirrored by the nonstop bombings of Iraq, from the air, that the US is leading.

    The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted excitedly about the bombings.

    But while dropping bombs on Iraq may give Brett trouser lift, it does damn little for the Iraqi people.

    A point this response to Brett makes clear:

    A few weeks ago we noted the significance of Moqtada al-Sadr insisting the Americans needed to get out of Iraq.  Alsumaria reports today that MP Abdul Karim Abtan, speaking on behalf of the National Coalition, has declared the Americans have destroyed Iraq with the Iraq War and that they are using the excuse of the Islamic State to continue to "ruin" Iraq.  Another MP with the coalition, Nayef al-Shammari, goes further, insisting the US needs to get out and that Iraqis have set aside their differences (yeah, that's a stretch) and can now defend Iraq without any help from the US.

    State of Law is thug Nouri al-Maliki's coalition.  Alsumaria speaks with State of Law MP Abbas al-Bayati who also expresses harsh words for US efforts.  Those words include likening the US to the Islamic State.

    That's not how US President Barack Obama sees it -- or how he tries to sell it.

    He did a lengthy interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep (which Morning Edition is airing in three parts) before he and his family went to Hawaii to celebrate Christmas.  This section hasn't aired yet.  (And NPR has video as well as audio of the interview.)   Part one aired today.  Part two airs tomorrow.  Part three on Wednesday.  The excerpt hasn't aired yet.

    [Steve Inskeep:]  Just to wrap this up with this idea that you began with, of doing things that you want to do rather than ...

    [President Barack Obama:]  Yeah.

    [Steve Inskeep:]  ... have to do, has your limited response to ISIS in Iraq and Syria been driven in part by a sense that this is a very dangerous threat, but not the biggest problem the United States faces in the world, and you do not want to be distracted from far bigger things going on elsewhere?

    [President Barack Obama:]  I think we can't underestimate the danger of ISIL. They are a terrorist network that, unlike al-Qaida, has not limited itself to the periodic attack but have aspirations to control large swaths of territory, that possess resources and effectively an army that pose great dangers to our allies and can destabilize entire regions that are very dangerous for us.
    So, I don't want to downplay that threat. It is a real one; it's the reason why I've authorized, as part of a broader 60-nation coalition, an effort to fight back and to push them back and ultimately destroy them.
    But it's not the only danger we have. America is probably as well-positioned for the future as we've been in a very long time.
    We've created more jobs since I've been president than Japan, Europe and every other advanced nation combined. Our energy resources, both conventional and clean energy resources, put most other of our competitors to shame.
    Demographically, we've got a young population, in part because of immigration. We've got the best universities in the world; we've got the best workers in the world. Our manufacturing base has come roaring back, led by the auto industry but not restricted by it. Our deficits I've cut by two-thirds.
    And so, if you look out towards the future, America is in a great position and our military is more capable than any military in history. We don't really have a serious peer, at least on the conventional level, although obviously Russia is a significant nuclear power.
    The question then becomes, all right, how do we play those cards well? Part of it is attending to immediate problems like ISIL; part of it is making sure that we are firm in upholding international norms as we have been in Ukraine; part of it is managing short-term crises that could turn into long-term disasters if we're not attentive, like Ebola. But ultimately, the thing that is most dangerous for the United States is us not tending to the very sources of our strength.
    So, it is true that when it comes to ISIL, us devoting another trillion dollars after having been involved in big occupations of countries that didn't turn out all that well — I'm very hesitant to do that, because we need to spend a trillion dollars rebuilding our schools, our roads, our basic science and research here in the United States; that is going to be a recipe for our long-term security and success. And what we've also learned is that if we do for others what they need to do for themselves — if we come in and send the Marines in to fight ISIL, and the Iraqis have no skin in the game, then it's not going to last.

    So that's the problem?

    Iraqis didn't have any 'skin in the game'?


    Considering the bombings alone, one would assume Iraqis had skin in the game, organs in the game, limbs . . .

    The sacrifice the Iraqi people have made is tremendous.

    And they didn't scream to be invaded.

    The illegal war was imposed on them.

    'Their' government was imposed on them.

    Most were like Nouri al-Maliki, thugs who fled the country decades before, agitated for war on Iraq and only returned after the US invaded.

    The American Kurdish Council of California's Delovan Barawri (at Huffington Post) offers:

    Yet, while the oppressive Middle Eastern regimes subjugated their citizens, especially the minorities, the global players kept a blind eye on the brutality, often supporting and arming the oppressors. A prime example is the Obama administration's support of the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Maliki, in spite of his dictatorial and marginalizing policies, which ultimately allowed the Sunni regions to turn into breeding grounds for ISIS.

    Oh, that's right.

    Barack did back thug Nouri.

    In fact, in 2010, Iraqis went to vote.

    Who was the winner of that election?

    Ayad Allawi.

    Not second place Nouri.

    How did Nouri end up prime minister after losing the election?

    The US government brokered a legal contract to give him a second term (The Erbil Agreement).

    Iraqis voted out Nouri yet Barack imposed Nouri on them.

    Skin in the game?

    And Nouri began targeting the Sunnis even more.

    They were harassed, they were beaten, they were falsely imprisoned, they were raped and they were murdered.

    By the Iraqi government.

    And Barack wants to talk about not having skin in the game?

    The thug he gave a second term to insisted on keeping Sunnis out of the process.

    That's what makes you feel you have no "skin in the game."

    What a dishonest interview.

    And Steve Inskeep has demonstrated yet again that he doesn't understand Iraq, he doesn't care about the Iraqi people and he shouldn't be allowed to address the topic.

    Give it Renee Montagne or a guest host but don't let Steve mess it up year after year as he has done.

    In other news . . .

  • News that should have been expected and anticipated, Suadad al-Salhy (Al Jazeera) reports Sunni tribal leaders are considering asking Iran for help in the fight against the Islamic State.  They conveyed this possibility in a weekend meeting with John McCain.

    One of the repeated criticisms of the Iraq War is not that it's illegal (though it is and was).  Instead, domestically in the United States, there has been much hand wringing among the chattering bobble heads that appear on the Sunday Chat & Chews about how the US has only succeeded in pushing Iraq closer to Iran -- mere decades after the two countries were engaged in a war -- one that still is a touchy subject on both sides.

    The Shi'ite led government of Iran has been very helpful to the Shi'ites of Iraq and has sent death squads into Iraq to take on the Sunni population.

    The US government's refusal to arm the Sunnis (which follows the Baghdad-based government's same refusal) may now lead even the Shi'ites to move closer to Iran.  (The Kurds were always close to Iran and, during then-President Jalal Talabani's inability to perform his job for the last 18 months of his tenure, First Lady Hero was constantly in contact with the government in Tehran and made many trips into Iran.)

    Meanwhile, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:

    A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew himself up among mourners inside a funeral tent on a farm about 12 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, according to police.
    At least 21 people were killed and 35 others injured at the funeral in al Taji, a mostly Sunni district, officials said.

    In addition, The National reports 17 pilgrims were killed and another thirty-five wounded by a Taji suicide bomber.  Alsumaria notes a home bombing south of Tikrit left 3 security forces dead and thirteen more injured, and the corpse of an engineer was found dumped in Kirkuk



    Saturday, December 27, 2014

    A whole lot of fools including Ralph Nader

    Ralph Nader's a f**king idiot who needs to shut his mouth.

    The little bitch can't call out Barack at all.

    What a useless bitch Ralph Nader is.

    The link goes to his column of b.s. about how great the 'improved relations' with Cuba will be.

    Not for Cubans, you dumb ass.

    Why doesn't he dry up and die already?

    He has spent the last six years apologizing for Barack and acting like a little whore.

    He had more guts in 2008 when he was running for president.

    He's just a stupid little whore who sold out his name and legacy by refusing to take on Barack.

    He's just a whore.

    Ralph embarrassed and shamed himself yet again.  By contrast,  "Margaret Kimberley nails it" (as Ann noted) in a column which included:

    Even supposedly serious thinkers succumbed and revealed more about their own fantasies than any insight about Cuba. Liberal pundit David Corn could only think of his stereotypes in a startling missive posted on twitter. “Cuba's a swell place to visit. Beaches, rum, baseball, music. It'll be great for more USers to visit-& that could counter repression there.” If there were a prize awarded for truly stupid twitter posts, Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin should win with these words, “Obama spoke with Raul Castro yesterday. The ice is melting. Mojitos for all!”
    It is difficult to know where to begin in analyzing such nonsense. It isn’t clear what Corn means by repression, but surely the presence of Americans having fun has never made people safe anywhere in the world. As for Benjamin, anyone whose response to a foreign policy decision includes references to a cocktail should be ignored now and forever.

    Add Ralph to the list of idiots.

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

    Saturday, December 27, 2014. Chaos and violence continue, US Senator John McCain travels to Iraq, the Speaker of Parliament asks the US to arm Sunni tribes to fight the Islamic State, we look at Sahwa, and much more.

    The Washington Post's David Ignatius looks back on 2014 in terms of Iraq in a column which notes, "The problem, the tribal leader argued, was that because the United States was working so closely with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, Sunnis in Anbar doubted there was any U.S. commitment to giving them more power. Without this political commitment, weapons and even Apache gunships would be of little use."

    He's referring to Sahwa.

    Also known as "Awakening," "Sons of Iraq" (and it's female counterpart "Daughters of Iraq").

    Sahwa's a complex issue that many want to turn simplistic.  I'm not referring to David Ignatius, I'm referring to cheerleaders on various sides.

    Sahwa was a US government plan to get Sunnis fighters -- resistance -- to big-tent it in Iraq.

    By 2007, the Awakening movement was finally getting traction.

    However, for over a year prior the US government repeatedly claimed success there when there was no success and many in the press ran with articles about this great new movement that did not exist.

    On great.  Some tribal leaders were like any other people on the face of the earth -- the mixture of positive attributes and faults.  But equally true, some leaders of Sahwa -- at least two noted ones -- were mafia.  Iraqi mafia.  One, in fact, making big money in the cement industry.

    That's part of it too and you can't talk about the history and be dishonest.

    That's the leadership.

    David Petraeus was a US general who was the top commander in Iraq. By 2008, a number of things were going on in Iraq resulting in a reduction of violence.

    Sahwa was one component.  Another was the 'surge.'

    The 'surge' is something I have a real problem with.  As late as 2010, I could hear someone on my side (the left) talk about the surge and dismiss it completely and think we could disagree and that was that.  But the reality is, as the years have shown since, this is not an area where people are honest or thoughtful.  This is a knee-jerk area with a lot of uninformed stupid people.  If that seems simplistic, so does, in 2014, saying "The surge didn't work!"

    I opposed the surge, check the archives.  I called it out when it was proposed.  I called it out when it was started.  I said it would be a failure.

    I was half-wrong and I was half-right.

    The surge was two parts.

    (1) Bully Boy Bush was greatly increasing the number of US troops in Iraq and (2) this was being done so that a 'diplomatic surge' would take place -- violence would be reduced and the US troops would be leading on that to allow the Iraqi politicians to focus on the always spoken of but never achieved "political solutions."

    The US military did what they were tasked with.

    They succeeded.

    I don't know why some on my side have a problem admitting that.

    Check the archives, I said it wouldn't happen.  I was wrong.  I have no problem admitting that.

    But part one, the success, was supposed to create the space for part two and that never happened.

    This is a really important point because it's not just history from a few years back, it applies to today when Barack Obama is doing the same thing that Bully Boy Bush did, focusing on the military aspect and just assuming the political will fall into place all by itself.

    At any rate, the reduction in violence came about for three reasons.  The surge and Sahwa were two of those reasons.  The third reason was ethnic cleansing.

    Many still want to call it a civil war.

    It wasn't and we didn't play like it was in real time.

    Baghdad was 'cleansed' and went from an integrated city to one that is predominately Shi'ite.

    The bulk of the external refugees of this period were Sunnis.  The bulk of the dead were Sunnis.

    You can play it off as 'civil war' for however many decades before you're comfortable admitting the US government's role in it.

    But that's why violence began to decrease: Sahwa, the surge (the military aspect, the only success) and ethnic cleansing.

    The reduction in violence was such a success that it distracted from the political failures which included Nouri al-Maliki -- then prime minister of Iraq and forever thug -- being unable to meet the White House defined benchmarks for success (which Nouri agreed to and signed off on).

    To sell the continuation of the illegal war, April 2008 offered a week of  The Petraeus and Crocker Show, where the then top-US commander in Iraq Petraeus and then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified to Congress repeatedly.  By focusing on violence, they tricked the bulk of Congress (or maybe the bulk of Congress was in on the con? -- certainly some were) into talking about that and ignoring the lack of progress on the political front.  (US House Rep Lloyd Doggett was the only one who, that entire week, used his questioning time to bring up the issue of the failed political benchmarks).  We were at all the hearings that week and we'll drop back to April 8, 2008 for  that day's snapshot:

    Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road.  First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War.  They didn't.  In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September.  When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did. 
     The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly.  (He did so at least 16 times before he was escored out).  The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up.  In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.  These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts."  Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up. 
    How much lunch money is the US forking over?  Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars).  By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month.  $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".  Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies.  What a [proud] moment for the country.

    Crocker's entire testimony can be boiled down to a statement he made in his opening statements, "What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible."  Which would translate in the real world as nothing has really changed.  During questioning from Senator Jack Reed, Crocker would rush to shore up the "Awakening" Council members as well.  He would say there were about 90,000 of them and, pay attention, the transitioning of them is delayed due to "illliteracy and physical disabilities."  

    Sahwa was paid to stop attacking US equipment and US troops -- that was the order Petraeus repeatedly gave that week and where he placed the emphasis.

    Could the movement exist without buy-offs?

    If the payments stopped would the movement stop?

    In 2008, I believed it wouldn't.

    I was hugely wrong.

    During that week, Senator Barbara Boxer noted the millions being spent on this program and wondered why the US government was footing the bill and not the oil-rich government of Iraq?

    This took both Petraeus and Crocker by surprise and, realizing they a potential nightmare on their hands, they basically rewrote policy while testifying by insisting they could and would raise that with the Iraqi government.

    Which was Nouri.

    Nouri loved Iraqi money.  Loved it so much, he took it home and played with it.  Also known as embezzlement and theft.

    But while he'd grab it for himself (and for his crooked son), he wasn't keen on using it to better Iraq.  Which is why there was no improvement to Iraq's crumbling public infrastructure under Nouri -- despite his serving 8 years as prime minister.

    He also didn't want to pay Sahwa.

    But, more than money, his problem was that they were Sunnis.

    When the US insisted on coward Nouri in 2006 -- insisted he become prime minister because the CIA analysis on Nouri argued his paranoia would make him an easily controlled puppet -- they pretty much doomed the country.  (Barack sealed the doom by insisting, in 2010, that Nouri get a second term as prime minister even after he lost the election to Ayad Allawi.)

    Nouri was back in Iraq not out of love for the country.  Love didn't cause the coward to flee either.  He hated Sunnis and he wanted revenge.

    And though he was being told by the US government that he'd have to pay Sahwa and that he'd have to incorporate them into the Iraqi forces and into the Iraqi government, he had no intention of doing so.

    And, in the end, he didn't.

    The press kept trumpeting that he'd put them on the payroll and then, a few months later, the press would begrudgingly admit that, oops, the US was still paying them.

    Then they just weren't getting paid at all.

    But still the Sahwa continued to fight and defend areas.

    I was completely wrong that it was just for money.

    Sahwa gave many rank and file a sense of purpose and a belief in a new Iraq.

    And not only did they continue even when not paid, they continued when they were targeted by Nouri.

    They were arrested, they were killed, they were harassed -- not by the rebels they were fighting but by Nouri and his thugs.

    Nouri termed them "Ba'athists" and "terrorists" and much more publicly.

    In August, when Haider al-Abadi replaced Nouri as prime minister, there was supposed to be a sea of change. For Sahwa, it's largely been a desert of stillness.

    As we noted Friday morning, US Senator John McCain was in Iraq and scheduled to meet with Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri.  Anadolu Agency reports they did meet and that Jubouri asked for the US to arm :100,000 Sunni tribesmen living in four regions that are controlled by the ISIL."

    From McCain's Twitter feed:

    McCain supported the surge, supported Sahwa and supports the current phase of the never-ending war (while having some qualms over its execution), so he was most likely receptive to the request and will convey it to other members of Congress and the administration while also supporting it.

    But this can't be seen as an "Iraqi government request."

    Yes, the Speaker is Iraqi.

    So is Haider al-Abadi.

    Haider's made no such request.

    Haider is Shi'ite.

    Salim al-Jubouri is Sunni.

    He is one of the two highest ranking Sunnis in the government.

    The Joel Wing crowd is deeply stupid so, since we're doing a remedial here, let's explain that statement.

    Currently, the two highest ranking Sunni officials are Salem and Osama al-Nujaifi.  Osama is the former Speaker of Parliament and currently one of Iraq's three vice presidents.

    Saleh al-Mutlaq is a Sunni.  He is Deputy Prime Minister.  He was that in Nouri's second term as well.  From time to time, the Wingers tried to portray Saleh as the highest ranking.


    He's the lady in waiting.

    He's the runner up at Miss America.

    The post of the Speaker is part of the "three presidencies" (check the Iraqi Constitution) -- the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker.  That alone gives the post tremendous powers.  There's also the power of being in charge of the Parliament -- a power that scared and frightened paranoid Nouri so much that he repeatedly attempted to turn the Parliament into two houses.

    (He failed.)

    So that's the power of the Speaker.

    On the vice presidents, someone will immediately insist, "The presidential post is only ceremonial."

    That's really not true.

    Jalal Talabani was a lazy fat ass who refused to do any real work.

    For the sake of this discussion, we're zooming in on just one issue.

    Jalal is opposed to the death penalty.

    He spent his two terms as President of Iraq speaking about how he opposed it.  Never explaining it or advocating for it or working to win people over to his side.  He'd just declare he opposed the death penalty and take the easy applause which globally greeted his bare minimum statement.

    As president, he had to sign off on the executions for them to take place or allow one of the vice presidents too.

    Jalal never stopped an execution.

    He had the power too.

    He could say no to one or to all of the executions.

    He failed to do so despite being so against the death penalty.

    In March 2010, Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections.


    The vote was supposed to have taken place sooner.

    In the fall of 2009, however, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi looked at the proposed election law and argued it did not properly factor in Sunni refugees.  So he blocked the bill, which had passed Parliament.  And he blocked it from going forward until he got concessions he wanted.  Which is why the parliamentary elections didn't take place at the end of 2009 but took place in March of 2010.

    This infuriated the White House and upset their planned roll out -- elections in 2009, 'combat forces' out in 2010, the bulk of US forces out of Iraq at the end of 2011 as part of the 'drawdown,' etc.

    But Tareq had the power as Vice President.

    Saleh has none of these powers as Deputy Prime Minister.

    Yet the Winger set and a large part of the American press felt the need to lie and portray Saleh as the most important Sunni official.

    A solid argument could be made that Saleh also ranks below any Sunni who has been confirmed by the Parliament to head a ministry (provided the ministry has actual funding -- the Ministry of Women continues to have funding issues which appears to indicate Haider al-Abadi has as little respect for women as did Nouri).

    So while current Speaker of Parliament al-Jubouri has tremendous power, unless Haider joins the call, this really isn't a request from the Iraqi government but from one part of it.

    Haider's refusal to join this call goes to how he's not really different from Nouri.

    He's not as stupid as Nouri -- but few people are as stupid as Nouri and no one is probably ever going to be more stupid than Nouri al-Maliki.

    So he's avoiding openly antagonizing the Sunnis or the Kurds or Iraq's neighbors.

    But he's also not doing much at all to help within Iraq.

    Sahwa will fight in Anbar.

    If Sahwa's armed and the order is given to go into Falluja, they will.

    That's really not in doubt.

    By contrast, the thugs in the Iraqi military currently over Falluja?

    They're cowards and they're criminals.

    They're Shi'ites who are too chicken into Falluja and think they look 'strong' by bombing the cities residential areas.  They're bombing civilians.  This is Collective Punishment.  It's a legally defined War Crime, the United States recognizes it as such and, as long as it continues, the US government is breaking the law -- that's Barack -- and can be put on trial for War Crimes because Barack is collaborating with  a government that is knowingly bombing civilians.

    In the past, Barack wouldn't have to worry.

    Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, LBJ, et al (leave out Jimmy Carter) all acted with impunity and didn't think too much about War Crimes -- either their own or those of regimes that they collaborated with.

    There was an arrogance that the military and the economy of the United States afforded its leaders.

    The world has changed and is changing.

    For a US president, Barack is a young man.  (Hillary, if elected, would be a very old president by contrast.)  Provided his health holds out, he could live for many decades more.

    And if he succeeds with his 'trade' treaty and ships even more US jobs out of the United States, that means the country will be even weaker economically.  Who knows where it will stand in 20 or 30 years.  But if it continues to slide, the arrogance so many US presidents have had just might get stripped away and they might find that -- like leaders of tiny countries -- they too can be paraded in front of the Hague for War Crimes.

    Arming Sahwa is pretty much a necessary step. Even the White House knows it's needed.  But they're trying to walk Haider up to the point where he can see the need for it as well.

    Thing is, they've been walking him on that treadmill for months and, if he hasn't seen it already, he's not going to.  Which is why you tie it to something that he wants.  X for agreeing to arm the Sunnis.

    Diplomacy is longterm work, no question.

    But Iraq has a very short period of time right now.  Haider was supposed to represent change and he's largely failed to do that.  The window to show he's not Nouri is closing.  He needs to have what one State Dept official calls a "come to Jesus moment" -- and he needs to have it really soon.  Especially if Barack intends to continue with the plan to move on Anbar in February.

    As everyone waits for February (or later), the violence continues in Iraq.

    Fridays' violence?

    The Latin American Herald Tribune notes a Sinjar mortar attack left 6 Peshmerga dead and eleven more injured.

    Alsumaria reports a Muqdadiyah mortar attack left 1 police member dead and one civilian critically injured, another Muqdadiyah mortart attack (on a market) left three people injured, and 2 corpses -- a man and a woman -- were found dumped on the streets of Kirkuk Province.

    The refugee crisis in Iraq just continues to grow and that, too, reflects poorly on Haider.  Loveday Morris (Washington Post) examines the crisis from various points and we'll note the issue of the Kurdistan Region:

    Ismail Mohammed, the assistant governor of Dahuk province, said that the Kurdish province, once one of the smallest in Iraq by population, is now the fourth-largest because of the influx of displaced people. He conceded that the Kurdish regional government has been able to provide little help as it wrangles with the central government in Baghdad over its budget. He hopes that will change as the country’s new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, improves relations with the Kurdish authorities. He complained that the United Nations has been slow to act.

    The Washington Post offers a graph here on displacement. Deborah Amos has long covered the refugee crisis in Iraq. and she has a report for Saturday's Weekend Edition (NPR -- link is audio and text).  She is the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East which, see "2010 in books (Martha & Shirley)," was this community's choice for book of 2010.   In addition, Dalshad Abdullah (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

    Approximately two million Iraqi citizens, mainly from the country’s central and western governorates, sought refuge from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in 2014, an official from the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration told Asharq Al-Awsat.
    In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, director of Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration office in Erbil Alia Al-Bazzaz said: “The number of [Iraqis] displaced to the Kurdistan region, from the provinces of Anbar, Diyala and Salah Al-Din, has reached approximately two million. The majority of them are in Dahuk, while others are located in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.”
    [. . .]
    Zarkar said that Baghdad is not providing sufficient aid for the displaced Iraqi citizens, calling on the central government and UN to help refugees in the city.

    the washington post
    david ignatius