Friday, May 25, 2018

The election story the corporate media won't cover



On Tuesday, candidates with links to the military or intelligence services won all four of the Democratic primary contests in which they were running. These results mark a significant advance in what amounts to the takeover of the Democratic Party by the national security apparatus.
In the Sixth District of Kentucky and in three Texas runoff contests, in the 21st, 23rd and 31st Congressional Districts, candidates running on their records in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan defeated more traditional Democratic candidates, one backed by the party establishment and three linked to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.
The most high-profile contest came in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes the city of Lexington, the state’s second-largest, and a dozen nearby counties. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray had the backing of most of the party establishment after he entered the race, but he was defeated by former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, the first woman to fly an F-18 fighter jet in combat, who was backed by veterans’ and women’s groups and raised more than $2 million through a series of Internet ads that focused on her military combat role.
 
 
Yes and she also attacked Gray with lies.  She boo-hooed and whined with her War Hawk veteran fan club that Gray had attacked her service – his commercial opened thanking her for her service.  But she lied and then professional liar Ted Lieu got involved. 
 
She’s a mess. 

Back to Martin:

There has been virtually no discussion in the corporate media about the significance of this rising force in the Democratic Party, or the critical role that a military-intelligence “faction” would play if the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in November. In that event, a group of two or three dozen Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans and intelligence operatives would hold the balance of power in Congress.
Instead, the focus of media coverage has been the rise of women candidates, and particularly minority women, including the two most prominent winners on Tuesday: Stacy Abrams, who won the Democratic nomination for governor of Georgia, and Lupe Valdez, who won the Democratic nomination for governor of Texas. Both will be considerable underdogs in the fall campaign, with Abrams facing the winner of a Republican runoff between Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and Valdez challenging incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
According to the corporate media, the gender of these candidates—which they share with half the human race—is more important than the law-and-order demagogy of Valdez, the former sheriff of Dallas County, or the right-wing political record of Abrams, who led the Democratic minority in the Georgia state legislature, making a series of deals with Republican governors and legislative majorities.
 
It’s a real shame that this very important aspect of this election cycle has been overlooked (intentionally) by the corporate media.  It just goes to demonstrate yet again that they report what is wanted (by the powerful) and not what is needed (by We The People, the masses).  Remember that the next time that idiotic (and ugly) Meryl Streep starts yammering away about the importance of the press.  Or ask the dumb idiot for some examples.
 
I saw a movie with my daughter (and Elaine) and I don’t remember it (I was tired) but the previews included MAMA MIA II.  Was Meryl in the preview?  Barely.  The daughter’s in the preview a lot.  And so is Cher.  My daughter wants to see it, so we will.  I hope the preview is indicative of the film – a lot of the daughter, Pierce Brosnan and Cher.
 
Cher really woke the theater up.  You could feel this charge and women saying, “Oh, I love Cher.”  Casting Cher in the film was probably the smartest thing that they did.
 
(And, yes, my daughter knows Cher.  She’s got several Cher dolls – including some that go back to the 70s.)

I don’t get the attraction to Meryl.  She’s plain at best in terms of looks and she’s always like someone who is trying really hard to be the best actor in a high school production but comes off mannered and ridiculous.
 
The closest I’ve ever liked her was in SILKWOOD but that was just due to her scenes with Cher.  I love DEATH BECOMES HER but that’s Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis film, they own it.
 

“Do you think you can remember where you parked the car?”  I always laugh at that especially.  Goldie Hawn is one of the funniest women in film.  She’s a legend.  


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


Thursday, May 24, 2018.  The war goes on even as one of the people who used to protest it dies.


Joan Wile has passed away.  We've long noted her here.  Sam Roberts (NEW YORK TIMES) offers:


Joan Wile, a former songwriter and actress who in her 70s weaponized the power of grandmotherhood by organizing a nine-year-long weekly vigil by fellow venerable protesters against the war in Iraq, died on May 4 in Nanuet, N.Y. She was 86.
The cause was complications of diabetes, her son, Ron Wasserman, said.
Ms. Wile had written letters and marched against the war, but it was a horrific photograph in Time magazine — of a 12-year-old Iraqi boy who had been burned and lost both arms and whose family had been killed by American bombs — that galvanized her to do even more.



Or even less.  We noted Joan here regularly.  She was a nice person with a very limited vision.  Her loss will be personal for those who knew her.  Pretending that it's a blow of any sort is pretending that what she did mattered.  I'm not speaking out of turn, I shared that with her long before she gave up on protesting (with the wars still ongoing):


By late 2012, though, the weekly gathering had dwindled to fewer than a dozen. By then, past 80 and with Barack Obama, a more sympathetic president, in the White House, Ms. Wile decided to call it quits.



Joan's activism didn't matter because her vision was so limited.  She was always looking for some man to save her.  In 2007, she became convinced that Barack was just that man.  That led to loudest exchanges between us because I refused to put several pieces she wrote up here.

In 2007, I was not supporting anyone.  In January of 2008, a little after Joe Biden dropped out, I decided to support Hillary because Clintons are poll driven and that might mean they'd heed the people.  Hillary's vote for the Iraq War was an issue but so was Barack's telling Elaine and I (when he ran for the US Senate) that US troops were in Iraq now and it no longer mattered (protesting the war).  A choice between two War Hawks, I went with the one who could be influenced.  (Hillary would go on to stand with MoveOn in Congress  and MoveOn would repay her by . . . endorsing Barack.)

I had no problem with criticism of Hillary when it was equal to criticism of Barack.  That didn't happen with Joan.

The pieces in question were disgusting.  Not pornographic, just disgusting.

They were skits of Hillary in bed with Bill.

Would she do the same to Barack?  Of course not, but she would ridicule Hillary as a woman in 2008 and claim this was fair and the way to go.  It was sexist and it was offensive.

Joan could be very smart but she could also be a fool and, as a fool, she just knew some man was going to come along and save her.  Didn't happen in her real life but she was raised to believe in fairy tales and was forever a princess waiting for a Prince Charming to show up.

Privately, she shared her huge disappointments in Barack with me beginning around mid-2010.  But she refused to make those public.  She knew the drawdown in Iraq was not a withdrawal and called that out privately.  She wouldn't do so publicly.  When I'd ask her, she'd insist she was focused on other things -- such as The Occupy Movement.

And I'd say whatever and move on.  But then, in 2012, she was back to her old tricks -- trashing Mitt Romney to justify voting for Barack.

Barack was a "huge liar" and "the biggest disappointment" (I'm quoting one e-mail there) but she wouldn't call him out.

That's not a peace activist.  That's a whore for a political party.

I liked Joan and she knew that.  I found her actions to be ineffectual because they weren't about change and they weren't about truth.  She knew how I felt.  Her book GRANDMOTHERS AGAINST THE WAR: GETTING OFF OUR FANNIES AND STANDING UP FOR PEACE is a strong book, it's just a shame she couldn't live that.

I recommend the book.  I recommend her strong sense of humor and her heart which was able to care about so many.

But she circumvented her own activism and I don't recommend that. On a personal level, her death is very sad.  But that's it, her activism actually alternated between banging your head against a wall and sticking your head in the sand.

No one is going to save us, we have to save ourselves.  We need to stand on our feet and demand change.  Joan wasn't able to do that.


Gray-haired, relying on walkers and canes, they turned out every Wednesday for nine years to protest United States involvement in Iraq. Their founder was Joan Wile, who died at 86.
 
 





Here's the last piece she wrote that we fought over.  Link goes to OPED NEWS, I refused to post it here.  It's from 2015 and calling Hillary out for the Iraq War.  I call Hillary out for it, so what's the problem?  I've also called Barack Obama out for it.  Joan never did.  He was president and she knew he didn't end the war.  She wasn't comfortable calling him out but she would call Hillary out.  I told her it was a double standard and I didn't want to play that game.  I believe that after that back and forth she didn't ask for us to post anything she'd written again.


The Iraq War continues.



Breaking: At least 4 dead and 15 injured after a suicide bombing in Baghdad, Iraq.
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AP's Murtada Faraj notes that the death toll is now 7 (eight, really, the suicide bomber is also dead) and that sixteen more people were left injured.


The British Embassy in Baghdad strongly condemns this morning’s terrorist attack in Shula . We extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the victims, their families and friends. The timing of the attack in Ramadan reflects the callousness of terrorism.
 
 


Elsewhere, XINHUA reports, "Three civilians and two Islamic State (IS) militants were killed in clashes between the IS and the security forces in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, the Iraqi military and a local official said on Thursday."


At NIQASH, Mustafa Habib provides analysis of Iraq's recent elections:

The morning after the preliminary announcements about who had won and who had lost in the Iraqi elections, it was clear that Iraqis did feel as though there had been a major political change. The senior politicians who had been in charge of the country for the past decade and a half had seen their popularity wane. Supporters of the winning parties came out on the streets to celebrate their victory.
Controversial Shiite Muslim leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, whose name has been associated with sectarian violence in the past but who has been undergoing a series of transformations over the past few years – most notably in his opposition to Iranian interference in the country – was ranked first in preliminary results.

The country’s sitting prime minister Haider al-Abadi came third. And this was a surprise to everyone, even Iraqis themselves. Al-Abadi’s popularity has only increased over the past few years. He is known as a man who has tackled several difficult challenges, including a security crisis sparked by the extremist group known as the Islamic State and a financial crisis that had the potential to bring down the government. He is so popular in Iraq, that he was the favourite before the elections and it seemed strange to many that he only managed to get third.
Second and third place were taken by, respectively, the Fatah alliance, which is the political body born out of some of the Shiite Muslim militias who volunteered to fight the Islamic State, or IS, group, and the coalition headed by a former, and much more unpopular, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Both of these bodies are known for a closer association with Iran.    
Senior politicians, who are perceived as having big personalities, also lost. For example, al-Maliki is often referred to as a strong and forceful leader, something Iraqis have liked. But he won over 700,000 votes in the 2014 elections and only managed an estimated 91,000 this year.
Further along in the queue were Sunni Muslim parties and the Iraqi Kurdish parties; there were no real surprises here with groups headed by Ayad Allawi and Osama al-Nujaifi winning seats and the two major Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, doing best with voters in their own region.  
Allawi is another one of those charismatic politicians who lost a lot of support; he garnered over 407,000 votes in both of the last two elections. This week he seems to have had only around 46,000 supporters.

But really the most dramatic developments occurred among the formerly unified Shiite Muslim politicians. “Those results are a shock and a surprise for the bigger parties but in fact they are a completely normal reflection of the country’s widespread discontent with those who ruled before,” suggests Faeq al-Sheikh Ali, an MP from a smaller, liberal party.


And Fehim Tastekin (AL-MONITOR) offers:


There are reports that Sadr wants to create a new coalition with Abadi and perhaps Hakim. If that works out, Sadr may have to ease his anti-Iran position. Sadr, who spent more than three years in self-imposed exile in Iran while his Mahdi Army was fighting against the US forces in Iraq, can't fully exclude groups like Fatah that are considered instruments of Iranian political interests. Nobody expects Iranian strongman Gen. Qasem Soleimani — a top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force — to easily agree to withdraw Iran from Iraqi politics. There's a rumor that Iran is trying to persuade Abadi to form a coalition with Ameri and Maliki to block Sadr's aspirations, but Sadr appears to have beaten Iran to the punch by negotiating with Abadi.
The United States, which invested in Abadi in the elections, is now facing an interesting test. Sadr’s visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — two of the countries leading the anti-Iran front — in July and August, respectively, might be an important signal that US policy in the region is evolving.
Sadr's unexpected formation of relationships with US allies could indicate an easing up of Americans' anti-Sadr positions, which they have held since former US President George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003 and sought to eliminate the cleric. This is turn may well dilute Sadr’s fervent anti-Americanism.
Sadr’s apparent rapprochement with the Gulf actually might have compounded Sadr’s distrust of Turkey. In the ongoing Gulf tensions, Turkey’s firm support of Qatar against the Saudis and the UAE has soured relations with those countries. But Sadr could soften his position when it comes to Turkey. The first significant sign of such a possibility is that Turkey’s ambassador in Baghdad, Fatih Yildiz — who had been waiting a long time for an appointment with Sadr — was invited to meet after the elections. After the meeting, Yildiz said, “I found an opportunity to talk with Sadr in a friendly atmosphere."


Very quickly, didn't realize this was actually a community issue until I was in the e-mails this morning, the NFL.  We're not a sports site.  I'm known for going to see a movie during the Superbowl.  But because it's becoming an issue (and apparently will be in the gina & krista round-robin) here's my take that's being asked for.

There is no censorship.  They can wear a pin to protest if they want.  But in terms of kneeling at a televised game, it's not happening.  I'm not surprised.  Football isn't a sport, it's big money for big business.  They lost millions viewers last year which was millions of ad dollars.  This is not a response to Donald Trump's comments, this is a response to greed.  They don't want to lose money -- the owners, the broadcasters, the advertisers.  Football players -- many of whom are paid tons of money -- are being told by their employers that they cannot kneel on the clock.  Most people paid by the hour have even less rights when they're at work.  This decision was gong to be made and I'm surprised they waited that long.  No one's being told what they can say in an interview or anything like that.  There are serious issues out there.  If this is one to you, work on it.  To me, it's not a serious issue.  It's not the ongoing war or the homophobic Simon Rosenberg trying to slip back in as a respected voice (remember when only Rachel Maddow stood up to him on AIR AMERICA RADIO? I do, it's the one moment I'm always proud of her for).  Sports is entertainment.  I doubt ABC would let David Muir kick off a newscast by first taking a knee.  I don't applaud the NFL decision but I don't see it as surprising or worth marching for.  Again, that's my opinion, feel free to disagree.  If you do, take action.


The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and DISSIDENT VOICE -- updated:





  •  

  • Thursday, May 24, 2018

    That out of control DOJ

    Okay, second post for tonight.


     
    Not having watched the talk shows on MSNBC, I wasn’t aware that people like Senator Dianne Feinstein were going around spewing ignorance and claiming that the Justice Department and/or FBI was independent.  It is not.  It is part of the executive branch – which is why some were bothered decades ago when RFK became AG.  JFK had made him AG and he reported to JFK so it was seen as some as nepotism.  (I don’t see it as such.  I think an AG works closely with a president and two brothers – or two sisters or two siblings – should make a strong team.)  Anyway, Sexton notes:
     
    This is just a sampling of powerful Democrats with national-level megaphones who are hellbent on spreading historically and constitutionally illiterate positions in order to prevent greater transparency of the DOJ. As the disclosures about spying on the Trump campaign mount, there is a commensurate effort to effectively mislead the public about not just the facts of Russia-Trump collusion, but who gets access to those very facts based on the very structure of our government.
    [. . .]
    With that in mind, the constantly shifting explanations for why information should be kept from Congress in particular are more than suspicious. Add to this the brazen shift in narrative from “there was no spying to on the Trump campaign” to “of course there was spying on the Trump campaign” and you have a federal law enforcement bureaucracy that is in danger of losing the trust of the American people.
    Despite the Democrats’ current pretenses, DOJ is not the foundation upon which our Republic was built. In fact, few things would be a more clear and present danger to liberty at home than a prosecutorial wing of the government that only answers to the political whims of the moment. The president has every right to request an inquiry into the conduct of the DOJ, and if his actions demand correction, the Congress can impeach and remove him from office. That’s the system we have, and it hasn’t changed just because Trump won an election.
     
     
     
    It seems really confusing for some reason.  It’s clear cut and it always has been.  It appears that people are deliberately attempting to confuse.  People are trying to confuse because they have so much to cover up.  Didn’t vote for Donald Trump but even I can see he’s not gotten a fair break and he’s been targeted by the press and elements of the government.

    Rebecca's "time for ending russiagate and getting accountable" makes some good points and so does Elaine's "Jonathan Turley" -- hope you read them both.


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

     
    Wednesday, May 23, 2018.  The Hobby Lobby of 'journalists' is in a bit more hot water.



    Can we get a MeToo! going to defend the people?  We really need one.

    Completely in awe of the work does on her podcast, Caliphate. Equal parts chilling and eye opening. If you haven’t checked it out, you should.
     
     

    '

    Are you in awe, Joshy?  Well what a piece of trash you must be.

    Continue to be fascinated by and her podcast. Certainly someone to emulate as an journalist.
     
     



    Dylan, at your university, do they not teach that theft is wrong?



    Just finished listening to the most recent episode of (#6). Any hope that I had that Abu Huzayfah might be lying is slowly disappearing...although I'm ready for a potential plot twist. Great reporting, riveting story. Just wish I could binge it!
     
     


    We can't expect JM Davis to worry about theft, she's too busy seeing a war as something she wishes she could "binge" on -- yes, she truly is that stupid.

    Now we warned you, for over a year, we warned you that Rukmini Callimachi was trash, that she was a thief and that she was worse than Judith Miller.


    We warned you.  And we mainly did so because antiwar Glenn Greenwald couldn't stop slobbering over her at his Twitter account.

    Well Glenn-Glenn's moist mouth may have finally dried up.

    Today his publication, THE INTERCEPT, is finally finding the issues others of us have already spent time on.


    Her theft which is at the basis of her wowie podcast that trash like Tommy Vietor can't stop praising.


     
     
  • There is only one problem. She is accused of stealing those documents.
     
     
  • From fleeing terrorist oppressors? That's not theft, that's called "investigative journalism."
     
     
  • How about from the Iraqi government? 'Investigative journalism' just got a new definition. To Steal important documents of a terror organization without the permission of the "democratically" elected local government.
     
     
  • Michael Ongstad Retweeted Rukmini Callimachi
    Except:
    Michael Ongstad added,
     
     
  • Except, "there is no record, Oral or written, of any Official permission from the Iraqi Army or defense ministry to give these documents away".
     
     
    Here is how your "investigative journalist" responds when she has no proof to defend her claim.
     
     



    We warned you.

    Maryam Salem (THE INTERCEPT) reports:




    About a week after the piece was published, Farhan emailed Callimachi to ask if she got permission from Iraqi government officials to take the documents, and if she got consent from the people named in the files to publish their names. Farhan didn’t hear back, so she worked with two legal scholars to launch a petition calling on the Times to rethink its use of the documents. The removal of the documents violates international law, the petition authors wrote, calling for them to be returned to Iraq and warning that failure to do so would set a “dangerous precedent for the plundering of material and cultural heritage in conflict zones.” This wasn’t the only academic protest. In early May, Judith Tucker and Laurie Brand of the Middle East Studies Association published an open letter to top editors at the Times,  decrying the “myriad legal, professional, ethical, and moral issues” arising from Callimachi’s story.
    [. . .]
    In their letter to the Times, Tucker and Brand of the Middle East Studies Association said the Iraqi state alone had a right to the documents. “It is only legally designated representatives of the Iraqi state, and certainly not foreign journalists,” they wrote, “who should control the disposition of any documents found in circumstances like those in which Ms. Callimachi and her team operated, in accordance with Iraqi law and regulations governing public records.”
    [. . .]
    Tucker and Brand of the Middle East Studies Association in their public letter to the Times, wrote that the removal of the documents from Iraq with no clear plans to return them “once again empowers outsiders to unduly influence, or even control, the narration of Iraq’s history.” They accused the Times of having “no right to possess or retain these materials,” adding that possession of the files “is not a matter that you or Ms. Callimachi or any other non-Iraqi or non-Iraqi institution is entitled to decide. These materials belong to the Iraqi people.” Their letter also warned that it would be unacceptable for the Times to make the cache publicly available because doing so could endanger the lives of Iraqis named in the documents. This particular warning was in response to the Times publishing copies of about a dozen ISIS documents, including unredacted versions of a tax form, a citation for a teenage boy found to have violated ISIS rules, and a birth certificate.
    Callimachi told The Intercept that the Times is working with an outside partner to digitize and publish the documents online. She directed further questions to a company spokesperson. Danielle Rhoades Ha, the vice president of communications at the Times, did not specifically respond to The Intercept’s questions, sending a statement instead. “The New York Times recovered documents that otherwise would have been destroyed or simply abandoned,” she wrote. “Previously Iraqi security forces had been burning documents they discovered. … In every case, Times reporters were being escorted by Iraqi security forces who assisted in the collection and preservation of the documents.”
    But did those forces have the authority to give those documents away? Saad Eskander, the former director of the INLA, said they did not.

    “The 2016 Law on the Preservation of Records, which I personally drafted when I was the Director General of INLA, states clearly that all types of official and semi-official papers should be administrated by INLA,” he wrote in an email to The Intercept. “This Law also covers records made by Iraqi NGOs. So the above mentioned Iraqi Law does not grant any civilian or military entity the right to decide the fate of Iraqi records, let alone permitting their removal from the country.”



    Again, we warned you.

    Rukmini Callimachi is far worse than Judith Miller.  In fact, she's the Hobby Lobby of so-called 'journalists.'


    March 3, 2017, she typed, "Sometimes I feel embarrassed by the extent of Iraqi hospitality."


    She certainly should.  She certainly should.


    Today, NPR's MORNING EDITION reports that the US government is hopeful that the huge win in this month's elections by Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr will not mean that US troops.  The report plays Moqtada's spokesperson Sheikh Saleh al-Obeidi declaring, "If the American troops are here in order to train Iraqis, help Iraqis according to certain details accepted to both governments it is accepted by Moqtada al-Sadr."

    Now the US government always claims it was about training.  For example, here's the US Defense Dept this week:


    The coalition training effort in Iraq is all about “making a good force better,” said Italian army Brig. Gen. Roberto Vannacci, the deputy commanding general for training for Operation Inherent Resolve's Joint Forces Land Component Command in Iraq.
    Iraqi security forces continue to press the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by rooting out and destroying pockets of ISIS terrorists in the country. From the nadir when ISIS was knocking on the gates of Baghdad, Iraqi forces have taken on the terror group and liberated almost all of the territory the group once held.

    The trainers of the coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve gave Iraqi security forces the training they needed to expel the violent extremist group, Vannacci said during a video teleconference from Baghdad to reporters in the Pentagon.  


    But it is combat.

    Tom O'Connor (NEWSWEEK) notes:

    The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) said Tuesday that it only planned on staying in Iraq as long as it was welcome after an opponent of foreign military presence won local elections.
    The remarks come after a political bloc—comprised of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, communists and others—managed to secure the plurality of votes in last week's Iraqi election, raising uncertainties for the future of the U.S. and other foreign militaries helping local forces battle the remnants of ISIS in the war-torn country. Italian army Brigadier General Roberto Vannacci, who serves as deputy commanding general for training the joint land forces component of the coalition, said there has been no change in policy yet, but if there was, it would be up to political leaders at home. 
    "We are here by the request of the Iraqi government. And regardless of who won the election, I think that if this request will continue to be addressed to the coalition, the coalition will remain," Vannacci told reporters during a weekly press briefing at the Pentagon Tuesday.


    But for all the pretense of just waiting to see what happens, behind the scenes?  The US government is very anxious.  REUTERS reports:

    The United States has contacted members of a political bloc headed by former foe Moqtada al-Sadr after his parliamentary election victory put the Shi’ite cleric in a strong position to influence the formation of a new government, a top aide said.
    [. . .]
    Dhiaa al-Asadi, a top Sadr aide, said there had been no direct talks with the Americans but intermediaries had been used to open channels with members of his Sairoon alliance.
    “They asked what the position of the Sadrist movement will be when they come to power. Are they going to reinvent or invoke the Mahdi Army or reemploy them? Are they going to attack American forces in Iraq,” he told Reuters.
    “There’s no return to square one. We are not intending on having any military force other than the official military force, police forces and security forces.” 



    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated: