Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New laptops

I just got a new laptop today.

A Toshiba.  If you have an insult, silence it.  This was a gift from my girlfriend (lover -- not girl who is a friend).  It was very nice of her.

But I have a few complaints.

First off, it my laptop.

So why do I have to have a password on it to begin with?

It's mine.

If I don't want a password, I shouldn't have to have one.

But if I have to have one, Toshiba, it should be something I want it to be -- not one that has to have a capital letter, a lowercase letter, a number and a special character.

It's my laptop.


Never had one.

The thing was so damn slow.

I texted C.I. knowing she was busy and might not get back to me until the next day.  But she did get back.

She e-mailed me a security program and told me to strip Norton off the Toshiba and replace it with that.  After I did that, she had me go into Internet Explorer and change the home page to Google from a Toshiba home page.

The thing now runs fast.

Prior to those two changes, the speed was the equivalent of dial up.

So those are my beefs with laptops.  (If you have one, leave it in the comments or e-mail me.)

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

Monday, April 20, 2015,  Chaos and violence continue, US Senator Claire McCaskill lies to drum up votes for the Democratic Party, her lies render real efforts by Democrats in Congress invisible, Glenn Greenwald's in a tizzy because of something Maureen Dowd wrote (in passing) about Barack Obama, Haider al-Abadi continues his lying, and much more.

You lie about your personal life, I really don't care.  In fact, I've often argued that the lies people tell themselves as they create a personal narrative are sometimes revealing truth ever would be.

A lie about what our elected government has or has not done?

I really don't tolerate those.

A lot of people whose 'thought process' can fit on a bumper sticker have wrongly declared that there have been more Congressional attention to the 9/11/12 Benghazi attack (that left Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and US Ambassador Chris Stevens dead) than to the Iraq War.

That is wrong.

But the idiots that usually Tweet that crap don't strike me as liars, just misinformed.

So we let it slide.

Past tense.

A US Senator should damn well know better.

Kyle Balluck (The Hill) reports:

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Sunday said the congressional investigation into the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, has “turned into a political exercise.”
“Benghazi has had more hearings, more documents produced, more investigative effort than the entire Iraq War,” the senator added on ABC’s “This Week.”

Now we know Claire's worthless.  When she betrayed women who serve, that was not minor.  We also know she's a liar.

And she demonstrates with that nonsense.

Granted Claire didn't get into Congress until January 2007 -- two months shy of four years after the Iraq War started.  So, since she is an idiot, she might not know, for example, that John Conyers held a hearing on the Downing Street Memo.

And she might not realize that there were Armed Services Committee hearings on Iraq in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.  Hearings in the House and in the Senate.  She might be too stupid to know that the House Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on Iraq during this time or that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did.

And there was the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan which held hearings and offered testimony to Congress -- and Claire does know about that, just pretends not to in order to lie to the American public.  Shame on her.

And let's drop back to the November 6, ,2009 snapshot:

Rick Lamberth and L. Russell Keith were two of the four witnesses appearing before the Democratic Policy Committee today, for a hearing into burn pits led by Committee Chair Byron Dorgan.  Also appearing as witnesses were Lt Col Darrin Curtis and Dr. Anthony Szema.  At the start of the hearing, Chair Dorgan explained, "This is the twenty-first in a long series of hearings that we have held in the Policy Committee to examine contracting waste and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. A number of these hearings have focused on substantial abuse which have put out troops lives in danger.  Some focused just on waste and some on fraud. Today we're going to have a discussion and have a hearing on how, as early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits -- disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. And those burn pits included materials such as hazardous waste, medical waste, virtually all of the waste without segregation of the waste, put in burn pits. We'll hear how there were dire health warnings by Air Force officials about the dangers of burn pit smoke, the toxicity of that smoke, the danger for human health.  We'll hear how the Department of Defense regulations in place said that burn pits should be used only in short-term emergency situations -- regulations that have now been codified. And we will hear how, despite all the warnings and all the regulations, the Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal, Kellogg Brown & Root, made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke." 

That's from Chair Dorgan's opening remarks and you can [PDF format hearing warning] click here to read his prepared remarks (the above is what was stated which differs slightly from the prepared remarks).  You can also visit the Democratic Policy Committee's home page for more information and streaming video of today's hearing should be up there as well. (If it's not up already, it will be up by Monday.)

Today, the Democratic Policy Committee is a joke.

It doesn't exist to help the people but to be a press organ for the Democratic Party in an attempt to sway elections.

But while Senators who actually gave a damn -- Byron Dorgan and Evan Bayh among them -- were a part of the DPC, it held real hearings on Iraq.

The burn pit issue was dismissed as a joke, not to be believed.

It was the hearings and investigations by the DPC that made DC and the media sit up and take the illnesses and injuries related to the burn pits seriously.

Claire's as worthless as the DPC today.

None of that matters to her.

The work that so many did doesn't matter to her.

Her own colleagues on both sides of the aisles and she'll stab them in the back in an attempt to sway elections.

When the Democratic Party was in the minority, US House Rep John Conyers did not roll over on the Iraq War.  In June of 2005, he held a public hearing on the Downing Street Memo.  No Republicans would join him.  In fact, not a lot of Democrats in the House supported his hearing either.

But Conyers stood strong and held the hearing.

John Conyers deserves credit for that.

When Claire erases him, Dorgan, Patty Murray and all the many others who asked important questions -- Lloyd Dogget, to be sure -- when all of these are erased, she still doesn't come off smart.

Because her lie is: Republicans have had more Congressional investigations of Benghazi than there were of the Iraq War.

If that were true (it's not) that doesn't really put Republicans (who largely supported the Iraq War) in a bad light.

Saying that Republicans investigate and dig and that Democrats don't isn't really a winning slogan.

Claire's an idiot.  Claire's a liar.

US House Rep John Hall only served two terms in Congress, in the House, but he did more with those four years than Claire's done with eight.

Should Congress have done more on Iraq?


But blame the leaders of the Democratic Party.

It was Nancy Pelosi who vilely and disgustingly threatened John Conyers.  Not with physical harm, no.  But with loss of Committee assignments and loss of backing for future elections.

Nancy Peolosi was a bully to John Conyers.

Someday he may tell the story there.

But many of us already know it.

And we know she pretends to be many things but she's really just an ugly bully who didn't give a damn about the American people or that they were lied to.

Here's Claire's direct quote and then we're moving on because she lied all around this sentence and I'm just not in the mood to fact check an old and ugly whore like Claire on every lie that flies out of her ugly mouth that sits above those chin warts, "Benghazi has had more hearings, more documents produced, more investigative effort than the entire Iraq War."

Again: A lie.

And Claire lies and whores for elections.  Afterwards?  She's not doing a damn thing but trying to scare up votes for the next election cycle.  That's why her work has been so unimportant in Congress but someone like John Hall, a truly brave person, could and did do more in four years than Claire's managed in eight.

Let's stay with recent history for a moment.

A friend of mine was just complaining about how certain gay men think they can be sexist pigs and get away with it because they're gay.

No, they can't.

Maureen often sees "feminized men" -- Al Gore before Barack.

It's her take, you don't have to like it.

But you might try getting honest -- especially as you're crashing down to earth because you're too much of a bitch to ever get ahead -- while you supported the Iraq War, Maureen used her post at the New York Times to call it out.

While you put your faith in Bully Boy Bush -- did you want to suck his cock, Glenn? -- Maureen called him out.

Maureen Dowd has many faults (as do well all) and we've held her accountable when need be.

But if she feels Barack is a "feminized man"?  That's her observation call.  She's an opinion columnist, not a news reporter.

What are you, Glenn?

Just a big old, lazy bitch attacking one woman after another and thinking you can get away with it because you're gay?

Being gay doesn't mean you can attack women without being called on it.  Today, it's Maureen Dowd, at one time it was Hillary non-stop and there's also been Sibel Edmunds -- among many others.  The common thread of these women?  They all speak their mind.

Apparently that's what Glenn fears the most: A woman who won't be silent.

Maureen Dowd's column is about the shifting nature of gender and how its viewed by the public and by those who attempt to shape opinion.

As she explores that with regards to Hillary -- including by focusing on the comments of a 2008 advisor (Mark Penn) -- Dowd offers  one sentence that includes a half focusing on how Barack f-ed with gender in his own 2008 'true self' creation.

And that's just too much for little Glenn Glenn.

WikiLeaks recently offered a leaked Sony e-mail where a person noted what an ass Glenn was.  Normally, something like that might create sympathy but Glenn's been such a pompous jerk that the world just doesn't care anymore.

Long, long ago, I offered that he needed to enjoy the moment because it wouldn't last long.  He didn't and it hasn't.  He's Cornelia Guest tossing on flannel in an attempt to be relevant and current as she tries to barge  into an after party in 1992 only to find that the decades passed him by and rendered him obsolete.

Today, the Pulitzers were announced.  Among the finalists?

Ned Parker and a team from Reuters
For intrepid reports of the disintegration of Iraq and the rise of ISIS, linking the developing catastrophe to a legacy of sectarianism, corruption and violence seeded by the U.S. invasion.

Ned Parker's been in the news cycle for a week now.  Last week, he appeared on NPR's Morning Edition and hosts Steve Inskeep and David Greene explained:

INSKEEP: And he kept working as things improved and then worsened again with the rise of ISIS. He's covered Iraq for most of the past dozen years, and he's now the Baghdad bureau chief for Reuters.

GREENE: But last week, he had to flee the country. He and two other journalists from Reuters had published a story detailing mass looting and arson by Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias that support them.

INSKEEP: One reporter even saw the killing of a suspected Islamic State detainee, captured in the city of Tikrit by federal police. That was the story that Reuters published, which Ned Parker meant to show just how Iraqi forces were retaking Tikrit.

Ned Parker had to leave Iraq for his own safety and for the safety of others at Reuters.

On Thursday, in DC, Iraq's latest thug leader Haider al Abadi tried to make light of it.

Barbara Slavin: And also, one of our colleagues, Ned Parker, recently has left because of threats against Reuters for reporting what happened in Tikrit.  Will you issue a statement in Arabic protecting journalists for reporting what goes on in Iraq.  Thank you.

Haider al-Abadi: As with Mr. Parker, Ned Parker, I've known him for many years.  I heard this story while he was still in Baghdad.  My natural fact, a spokesman for my office has given me a message and he told me Ned Parker feels threatened and asked what sort of threats he had received? We want more information so that I can take action about these people who have threatened him.  I haven't received anything on that, to be honest with you. I asked for protection of his office -- to increase protection of his office -- and we did.  But all of the sudden, I'd heard he left. I know he sent a message he wants to meet me in Washington but unfortunately my program is, uh -- I didn't even have time to talk to my wife yesterday. [Begins chuckling.]  So I don't think I would talk to Ned instead of my wife.

He thinks that's funny.

But as leader of a country, it actually his duty to put off speaking to his wife long enough to find out what happened.

His refusal to do so makes him not only uninformed, makes it appear not only that he doesn't care, it makes him look like the stupid thug he really is.

Maybe one day Iraq will have a prime minister who never fled the country like a coward.  Barring that, maybe they'll have one who did flee but who stresses, "This is a new Iraq and none need fear."

Instead, Iraq just keeps getting cowards who are embarrassed that they fled and who nurse a grudge that bars them from working towards an inclusive Iraq.

Working towards an inclusive Iraq, please remember, is what Barack Obama's whole 'plan' is supposed to be about.

At Foreign Policy, Manal Omar and Sarhang Hamasaeed (Foreign Policy) observe:

Addressing Iraq’s problems at the root means encouraging and implementing more inclusive administrative policies. Obama was right when he said last summer that there’s no military solution to Iraq’s problems, and that, “The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government.” However, a truly inclusive Iraqi state has yet to emerge under Abadi. To do that, Abadi needs to simultaneously create avenues of participation so that the Sunnis can re-engage in the political process more widely, and keep a working relationship with the Kurds by addressing key agreements yet to be fulfilled.
Currently, Abadi has not gained the full trust of Iraq’s Sunni population, who suffered in a post-2003 Iraq dominated by a Shiite-led government. Many Sunni tribes throughout the country have yet to join the fight against IS, especially in Anbar province, which is mostly controlled by IS and other Sunni militant groups. But this dynamic can change if Abadi’s administration is more attentive to Sunni needs during the fight against IS, offering a light at the end of the tunnel for not abandoning the government during the conflict. Granting more autonomy to Sunni provinces, for example, or freeing Sunni prisoners can achieve this. A truly inclusive Iraqi government with an army rebuilt to include Kurds and Sunnis is key to mitigating the Islamic State’s advance and ensuring its defeat.
This cannot happen without Abadi ending the sectarian policies of his predecessor that alienated mostly the Sunnis and Kurds, but some of the Shiites as well.

And he needs to end those policies and work on unity but he's nothing but empty words.  Today, Yerevan Saeed wondered "Can Iraqi prime minister deliver on pledges made in Washington?" (Rudaw) and pointed out the empty claims of Haider al-Abadi:

“Our government has successfully concluded a long-sought, interim agreement with our Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). This agreement provides for a fair sharing of oil revenues and the weapons and support that the Peshmerga forces need to participate fully in the fight against Daesh (ISIS) as a part of Iraq’s security forces,” Abadi added. “We are also restoring relationships with the local tribes in areas threatened or dominated by Daesh. I have met regularly with representatives from the provinces of Anbar, Salahaddin and Mosul.”
While it is true that Abadi signed a temporary deal with the KRG, facts on the ground indicate that the agreement has not been followed by action: the salaries of Kurdish civil servants are still months behind, the KRG treasury is empty, Kurdish officials still complain they lack proper weapons to fight ISIS;  and Erbil is suffering financially from the burden of providing for more than 1.4 million war refugees and internally displaced from Syria and other parts of Iraq who have flooded to Kurdistan for safety.

He's hedging his bets, unwilling to commit to full inclusion for all Iraqis and he's most likely doing that because he's uncertain of what the future of Iraq could be.

Emma Sky (Slate) notes that the inability to see an inclusive future allowed some Sunnis to
get cozy with the Islamic State to begin with (in response to the threats to the Sunni community from Nouri al-Maliki):

The conflict in Syria seemed to be re-enforcing sectarian narratives in Iraq. I asked him about ISIS, or the so-called Islamic State or Da’ash, as it was called in Arabic, the successor to al-Qaida in Iraq, which had taken control of one-third of the country. “Da’ash is only around 8 percent of the insurgency,” he said, as if quoting some scientific research. “But they have a big media image. For now, we allow them to be out at the front. We don’t want to show our faces.” He went on: “We will fight alongside Da’ash until we have overthrown Maliki—and then we will get rid of Da’ash.”
I told them they were deluding themselves if they thought they could use the fanatical Islamic State against Maliki and then defeat it afterward. The Baathists were fighting for power within Iraq whereas the Islamic State disputed the very legitimacy of Iraq as a state. Had they not seen what had happened in Syria? Among the Syrian rebels, it was the most extreme salafi groups that had attracted funding and recruits and were wiping out others.

“Iraqis,” I responded, “are good at coming together against someone they don’t like. The ‘moustaches’ and the ‘beards’ have come together against Maliki,” I noted, referring to the Baathists and the Islamists. “But what is your vision for the future, once Maliki is gone? What is the vision that you have for Iraq?”

The political solution demands an inclusive Iraq.

As someone who majored in poli sci, I probably should point out that there's another solution that could result in calm: Killing every non-Sunni in Iraq and around Iraq.

If you're unable to work with one another, that is your only other solution to end the conflict: Mass genocide.

It's a crime against humanity but let's be fair to Haider al-Abadi and note that (final) solution.  He won't be able to play with it as he does now -- he's overseeing a low-level genocide.  But if that's the option he's pursuing, he should come right out and announce it.

It would mean losing all international support and it would mean risking being put on trial for War Crimes but if that's why he's not attempting a political solution, he should be honest about it.

That would force world leaders who currently cozy up to him and hold his hand to reject him or be willing to stand with him on trial for War Crimes.

Let's go back to Thursday's snapshot:

Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory: [. . .] But piggy backing on the last question about Ned Parker, I was just wondering if you could briefly comment as to your take on the current state of press freedom within Iraq?  And also, in terms of going and taking action in response to Parker's being chased out of the country, what steps are you planning -- or are there any steps planned to institute protections for international press covering your country?  During your address, you said, and I quote, "A free society needs a free press."  And so I was just wondering if that would extend to foreign press as well?

Haider al-Abadi: Well I think if you look at the Iraqi press first, I think they're free to criticize.  I think that number one   institution which is being criticized in Iraq is the government.  We don't even reply to them.  We don't do anything. I drop charges against all-all media.  But I ask the media to have their own self-discipline.  That's important.  The media shouldn't be free to accuse others falsely.  They should respect freedom of others.  Freedom of speech is there but -- We need facts. But I refuse so far -- and I hope I continue on that -- you never know what office does.  Office usually corrupts people, right?  But I hope it doesn't corrupt me.  We keep on respecting the freedom of the press, we keep on protecting it.  As to the foreign press, as far as I know, there's no limitation on them, no restrictions.  They're free even to go to our --within our military unit.  I think we went to that extent to allow free reporting from the fronts.  I remember when the US army was there in 2003 [that's when Haider returned to Iraq after decades of exile in England], they had embedded journalists and they were restricted to what they were reporting.  I very much respect that.  I hope I can have that power to do that but unfortunately I cannot do it now.  It's so free, the situation in Iraq.  Now I'm not sure if Mr. Parker, why he has left.  To be honest with you, I didn't have the story from him.  He wrote something to me.  I cannot see why he left.  Was he really threatened?  Or he felt he was threatened?  I know some -- some Facebook thing and social media has mentioned him in a bad way but the-the thing I've seen -- in actual fact, they were condemning the government in the first place, not him.  They were condemning me as the prime minister to do something about it -- rather than him.  I know some of these, they want to use these things to just criticize the government in the same way when they accuse the coalition of dropping help to Da'ash or accuse the coalition of killing Iraqis falsely.  In actual fact, what they're trying to do -- trying to criticize the government for its policies. They don't want the government to seek the help of the coalition -- international coalition or to work with the US.  But to -- I think me, as prime minister, the safety of the Iraqi people, the interests of the Iraqi people is number one [. . .]

He was a little honest there, wasn't he?  In his hopes to curtail freedom of the press, in his hopes to move towards an embed program that is answerable to him.

It's amazing no one wants to touch on that.

On the subject of Ned Parker, An editor at the Los Angeles Times who's a friend called Sunday to correct me on something I had gotten wrong over the last few days.  I'd noted that April 8th, Haider al-Abadi made public remarks attacking journalists.  Ned Parker had noted remarks Haider made attacking journalists as well but said they took place Thursday, April 9th.  From Saturday's snapshot:

It was a threat.
And it wasn't read calmly or in an amused manner.
It was a threat.
The only thing that confuses me about the Huffing Post piece is why two whores have their name on it?
For those of us attending Thursday's event, we're well aware that the whores 'writing' is nothing more than repetition of the crap Haider churned out.
It's a shame the whores weren't there.
They could have been rebuked the way Haider was.
Despite Luay's whoring, Ned Parker did not leave Iraq blaming prime minister Haider al-Abadi.
He wasn't even aware of it which is why Ned has the date wrong.
He thinks the verbal attack on journalism took place on Thursday.  It took place on Wednesday.
As the only   person in the world who reported on Haider's public attack on journalism -- yes, that's me -- I damn well know when it took place.

Ned Parker was not aware of it when it took place.
He had many other things to focus on that day which included doing his job -- he edited reports that day -- and also enduring the attacks on television.

On Wednesday, April 8th, in Anbar, Haider launched on attack on the press. His office even published a press release on that on the 8th -- in Arabic only.  A little trick they do when they don't want the west to know what Haider's doing.  Haider's office issued a release defending Ned Parker on April 11th -- in English only.  They like to keep that from non-English readers in Iraq.  It's a little trick they play.

While that attack took place, Ned wasn't referring to that.  My friend explained that Ned was talking about Haider's remarks at an April 9th event.

I was wrong and my apologies to Ned Parker for that.

Haider did two days of attacking the press:  April 8th and April 9th.

My apologies to Ned Parker for saying he had the date wrong.

He did not have the date wrong.  

Two days of attacking the press and Haider has been allowed to get away with his nonsense.

We're going to give lying Haider one more day to follow up on something and then we'll denounce him for lying yet again -- and press stooges for believing his empty words yet again.

US State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf plays the world as if it were a stooge.  Here she is today:

QUESTION: When the Iraqi prime minister was here – and in the past I asked also this question. The investigation of the looting and human rights violations by the militias – have you seen any or does he provide any evidence that he conducted investigation or arrested some people for that?

MS HARF: Well, he’s certainly spoken up very publicly about how this is not – any of those reports are unacceptable. They need to be fully investigated. I’m happy to check with our folks and see if there’s more of an update on that.

Nothing's happened there, nothing ever does.  Didn't under Nouri al-Maliki either.  His 'investigations' never resulted in published findings let alone arrests.

Let's wind down.  Trudy Rubin has long covered Iraq.  In her latest column (Boston Herald) she notes:

So now is the moment of testing for Iraq’s political leadership and for Obama’s strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat the jihadis.
“This is the moment when we and the Iraqis have to decide what is next,” says Crocker. “I hope it will be Anbar without Shia militias. Anbar is doable. The stakes are pretty high, enough to make this administration recognize you can’t win by withdrawing from the battlefield.”
Let’s hope Crocker is correct. Let’s hope the president isn’t too distracted by the nuclear talks with Iran, where he looks to be conceding too much too fast on sanctions relief to Tehran. If ISIS makes further gains in Iraq, it will further undercut the U.S. negotiating hand by making U.S. efforts and airstrikes there look feckless.

The surprise for me in the column was that Ryan Crocker has joined James Jeffrey in the critique of the Obama administration's failure regarding Iraq.

Crocker has every right to his opinion and to express it.  It's just amazing that two US Ambassadors that served during Barack's presidency have now denounced the administration's policies and this isn't considered news.

Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 161 violent deaths across Iraq today.

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