Friday, July 24, 2015

Killer in chief

Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports on Barack:

In a speech Tuesday before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Pittsburgh, President Obama gave an extraordinary picture of his role as “commander-in-chief” of American imperialism. He listed a series of men killed or kidnapped by US Special Operations forces, punctuating the list with the assertion of their current status as either dead or imprisoned in the US.As distributed by the White House, the text reads: “Osama bin Laden is gone. Anwar Awlaki, a leader of the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen—gone. Many of Al Qaeda’s deputies and their replacements—gone. Ahmed Abdi Godane—the leader of the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia—gone. Abu Anas al-Libi, accused of bombing our embassies in Africa—captured. Ahmed Abu Khattalah, accused in the attack in Benghazi—captured. The list goes on.”
Obama made no mention of the fact that Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen, convicted of no crime, judged in no court, but sentenced to death on the sole authority of the president of the United States. Nor did he refer to the subsequent US government murder of Awlaki’s son, an innocent teenager, in another drone missile strike, or the thousands of other civilian victims of US drone warfare across Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

What a proud moment for him -- and for America! (I'm being sarcastic.)

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, War Criminal Tony Blair throws a public tantrum, former US House Rep Barney Frank argues against democracy in the United States, the press continues to treat Hillary's Iraq 'position' as though it's a matter of 2002 when the Iraq War continues to this day, the UN envoy to Iraq is literate enough to read a paper to the UN Security Council -- if not intellectually able to also answer questions, and much more.

War Criminal Tony Blair is having a Barney Frank of a fit.

The neoliberal who destroyed the Labour Party by transforming it into the Thatcher-lite New Labour is having a fit over the possibility that Labour might return to its leftist roots and support Jeremy Corbyn as the next Labour leader.

Matt Dathan (Independent) reports on Tony's latest turn as drama queen:

John Prescott has told Tony Blair it was his decision to invade Iraq that stops people voting for Labour and not Jeremy Corbyn.
Lord Prescott served as Mr Blair's deputy prime minister for the entirety of his 10 years in Downing Street but this morning he lashed out at his former boss's attack on Mr Corbyn.

The BBC adds of Prescott's reaction to Tony Blair's public tantrum:

Lord Prescott said: "I found that absolutely staggering. I have a lot of respect for Tony Blair, I worked with him for a lot of years, but to use that kind of language is just abuse.
"The Labour Party is about the heart as well as the head and to suggest somebody should have a transplant if they are making decisions by the heart is totally unacceptable."
He said Labour had lost a lot of support because of the 2003 Iraq War and said the former prime minister should reflect on that.

Roy Greenslade (Guardian) notes the coverage of Tony's tantrum:

If your heart is with Corbyn get a transplant, says Blair” (The Times, across two full pages); “Blair: if Labour votes with its heart, it needs a transplant” (Daily Telegraph); “Blair tells Corbyn backers: if your heart is with him get a transplant” (Daily Express); “If your heart’s into Jez... get transplant” (Daily Star); and “Blair: it’s just plain daft to back Corbyn” (Metro).

As for Corbyn himself, he appears willing to let Tony stomp his feet in public all by himself.

He told reporters:

Well I think it's very unfortunate that people use these kind of remarks.  Why can't we instead focus on the policy issues that are facing the Labour Party, facing the country, the levels of inequality, the levels of poverty, the levels of under-investment and the need to forward rather than dealing with these personal issues?  It's not -- not a good way to do things.

At his online office, Blair's full tantrum has been posted including this:

So let me make my position clear: I wouldn't want to win on an old fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn't take it.  
We should forever stand for social justice, for power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many not the few, as our Constitution puts it.

But that is not the challenge. That challenge is: how to do it in the modern world.

For Tony, the way to "social justice" "in the modern world" has been lying and illegal war.

Standing on this 'higher ground,' he stomps his feet, screams and cries as he throws his public tantrum.

In his never-ending whine, War Criminal Tony 'forgets' to note Corbyn's blistering criticism of Tony's actions and the illegal Iraq War which include his remarks at the start of the year about "the failure of Parliament in 2003 and since then to hold in account those that took crucial decisions on our behalf, the consequence of which all of us will live with for the rest of our lives and the population of this country and, indeed, of western Europe and the USA are going to live with for many, many, many decades and generations to come.  It was a seminal disaster that happened in 2003."

While Tony's actions have led to the Arrest Blair For Crimes Against Peace campaign, Corbyn's actions have led to his endorsement by the United Kingdom's Stop the War Coalition:

LEFT LABOUR MP Jeremy Corbyn, who has been nominated to stand in the Labour leadership campaign, is also the chair of the Stop the War Coalition.
He has been a supporter since we began back in 2001, has spoken on virtually all of our demonstrations big and small, and has been a consistent anti-war voice in parliament.
He was part of the major Labour rebellion against the Iraq war in 2003, and was opposed to the intervention in Syria in 2013.
All of this is great news for Stop the War supporters who can now back him as a principled anti-war and anti-austerity candidate in a contest which was set, until the last minute, to be between three candidates who all espoused a similar message – none of it anti-war.
As well as central role in Stop the War, Jeremy is also involved in a wide range of other campaigns for peace and social justice, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, of which he is vice-chair, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
But Jeremy’s candidacy takes on a much wider significance, because it can be part of rebuilding a left committed to social movements which can provide the antidote to a government committed to pro-war policies and to cutting welfare, including the benefits of some of the poorest in society.
A mass campaign in support of Jeremy should involve meetings in every town and city which echo the policies which he has always followed: peace and justice for all, an end to widening inequality, and opposition to cuts in welfare, rather than warfare.
Such a campaign would galvanise large numbers of people who have previously been involved in anti-war and other campaigns, as well as many young people who have protested against austerity in recent weeks.
The Corbyn candidacy can have the effect of unifying many of the campaigns, and of inserting a clear left voice into the debate about how best to oppose government policies on these questions.
There is a new movement growing against austerity, determined to oppose the new government’s policies. Stop the War is part of the People's Assembly, which called the huge march against austerity on Saturday 20 June that brought 250,000 protesters on to London's streets.
We can all help to build Jeremy's campaign, to make sure that a strong alternative voice to war and austerity gets the hearing it deserves. His candidacy for the Labour leadership can only make the movements for peace and social justice stronger.

How to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Anyone can vote in the Labour Party leadership election, which is now run on the basis of one-person-one vote. The election is not restricted to Labour Party members but open to the new category of Labour supporter. Registration as a supporter costs just £3. Register here » 

While Tony Blair has his tantrum in the UK, Barney Frank has his in the United States.

The former member of the US House of Representatives is attempting to be a columnist at POLITICO -- and anyone's who suffered through one of his charm-free TV appearances would strongly encourage him to pursue a career far, far away from any video cameras.

Barney Frank insisted at POLITICO earlier this week that no one should support Senator Bernie Sanders in his run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.


Because it hurts Hillary.

Barney apparently sees Hillary as the new Judy Garland or at least the latest Britney Spears and insists that the (male) gay community and others should support Hillary -- apparently, support her blindly and support her over the concept of democracy.

Democracy, Barney forgets, is about public debate, public exchange.

Democracy is not a coronation.

He argues against democracy in one statement after another such as this paragraph:

I know that there is a counter-argument made by some on the Democratic left that a closely contested nomination process will help our ultimate nominee — that Clinton will somehow benefit from having to spend most of her time and campaign funds between now and next summer proving her ideological purity in an intraparty fight, like Mitt Romney in 2012 — rather than focusing on her differences with the conservative she will face in the election. But neither an analysis of the current political situation nor the history of presidential races supports this.

Democracy is the issue, not what benefits Hillary Clinton.
And someone needs to remind POLITICO that if Americans want to know how to turn their residence into a whore house or the best way to remove pubic lice from fine linens, Barney's the one to go to.  Certainly, he allowed his lover/sex employee to turn his home into a bordello in the 80s and that scandal is what finally forced Barney out of the closet.
But if America needs lessons in democracy or just advice on it, Barney's among the last people the country would turn to.
We get it.
He's very old.
Hes very ugly.
His middle-section is, at best, 'thickish.'
As a member of Congress, he could (mis)use his power and ignore all of that.
Now he's in the real world, in a youth obsessed country and he's struggling for relevancy.
So he attempts to turn Hillary into Judy Garland and make a (late)life out of worshiping her.
In order to do that, he tsk-tsks "the flood of post-Citizen United right-wing money" while failing to note that Hillary's had her own flood of corporate cash for years.  (She has, in fact, probably been the best corporate fundraiser for the Democratic party -- better than Nancy Pelosi, to be sure, but also better than Barack who's reign of raking in corporate dollars only begins in 2007 while Hillary's started in the 90s and has never stopped.)
He's at his most insane when he attempts to justify Hillary's support for the Iraq War:

True, not on Iraq. Having myself voted against that terrible mistake, I agree that her position on the war is a legitimate concern for those of us on the left. The question then becomes whether this was a manifestation of a general tendency to support unwise military intervention, or the case of her joining every other Democratic senator who had serious presidential ambitions in voting for a war that the Bush-Cheney administration had successfully hyped as a necessary defense against terrorism. While I wish that she, Joe Biden and John Kerry had not been spooked into believing that no one who voted no would have the national security merit badge required to win the presidency, I regard liberal senators’ support for the Iraq War as a response to a given fraught political situation rather than an indication of their basic policy stance — like Obama’s off-again, on-again support for same-sex marriage. (Yes, I am saying that in deciding whether or not to support a candidate with whom I have disagreed on a fundamental issue, I am more at ease if it was a one-time political accommodation rather than a genuine conviction.) Most relevantly for this discussion, she will clearly be for less military spending and intervention than the Republican nominee.

There's is so much there.

1) Hillary's support for the Iraq War did not end with her 2002 vote for it.

And as former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed in his book (Duty), Hillary told him that she only opposed Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' (sending thousands of additional US troops into Iraq in 2007) because she thought it would win her political points with voters -- and that she really had no problem with the actual surge.

2) This is the same lack of courage and ethics that Frank feels led her to support the illegal war with her 2002 vote.

Such cowardly behavior, voting for something just to protect your own seat in Congress, is not the stuff of leadership.

3) She will not "clearly be for less military spending and intervention" than any other nominee -- Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, what have you.

Barney needs to stop fondling his crystal ball and stick to reality.

And the Iraq War wasn't "a terrible mistake."

It was illegal, it is a travesty (an ongoing one) and many other things.

But calling it "a terrible mistake" is putting it so mildly that it doesn't even quality as an objection.

Hillary supported the Iraq War repeatedly.

She needs to answer for it.

And I don't mean in some ghost-written book.

She supported the illegal war.

It continues.

What, if elected president, would she do to address the ongoing war in Iraq?

The press is too cowardly to ask her that when they do manage to get some limited time with her.

And grasp what Barney doesn't, if she won't interact with the press while she's trying to woo voters, a President Hillary would even less responsive to both the press and the voters.

Granted, we've grown silent as a country as Barack has avoided the press.

But when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, we cared (as we did in earlier times) when Oval Office occupants refused to go before the press and answer questions.

And, a reminder, I'm won't vote for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.  (Or Jill Stein or Donald Trump.)  But that doesn't lead me to argue that anyone should refuse to run.

Democracy is about multiple voices, from multiple points on the political spectrum, competing in the public square, making their arguments and cases and allowing the people to decide what speaks to them and what direction or candidate they support.

Jan Kubis is United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy in Iraq.

On Wednesday, he appeared before the United Nations Security Council to read out loud the report Ban Ki-moon had released a week ago.

As usual, Kubis took no questions from the Security Council.

As usual, the appearance was pointless and wasted fossil fuel flying him from Baghdad to the US just so he could read, word for word, a report the Security Council -- in fact, the whole world -- already had access to.

Early on, he read some of the most laughable statements anyone UN envoy to Iraq has ever read to the Security Council:

Iraq’s political process is moving forward, but without the needed vigour. The Government has achieved many successes, and deserves our acknowledgement and support. Prime Minister Haider al‐Abadi is seeking actively to fulfil the promises of the Government’s programme, but not always with success. Political forces that have backed the Government and its programme often cooperate reluctantly, as if the existential threat of ISIL and economic and social difficulties were already matters of the past. The unity behind the creation of the current Government has not yet fully translated into unity of purpose or action. UNAMI has been actively working with all relevant interlocutors, using its good offices to bring views closer.

There are signs of a growing understanding that the time has come for comprehensive political agreements, particularly for, as some leaders have described it, an “historic national reconciliation”. Several plans and blueprints have emerged recently, promoted by key leaders and political forces. Also, the National Reconciliation Commission has developed an action plan, an initiative owned and led by the Government. The so‐called Baghdad Document is currently being widely consulted and will benefit from inputs from all Iraqi components, allowing for further ownership of and inclusion in the process. This could provide a starting point for further consultations, including with different opposition groups. UNAMI supports these processes.

This development is most welcome, although political compromises are urgently needed to accelerate the implementation of the National Political Agreement and Ministerial Programme. In this regard, institutional and legislative reforms remain key to preserving Iraq’s unity, encouraging political reconciliation and defeating ISIL. Regrettably, the absence of consensus has halted the reform process. The national reconciliation legislative package, which includes key bills such as the National Guard, the General Amnesty, and the Justice and Accountability laws, has seen limited progress since my last briefing to the Council. All three bills are currently before the Council of Representatives, but progress has been stalled due to lack of trust between Iraqi communities, and absence of the necessary political will. I have informed my interlocutors in Parliament and in Government that “painful compromises” are needed to ensure these bills are passed, instead of being returned to the Council of Ministers. Iraq and her people do not have the luxury of time. UNAMI continues to stand ready to assist politically and technically to ensure these reforms succeed.

With or without "vigor," where has Iraq's political process moved forward?

There is nothing to point to.

Nothing has been resolved.
But he wants to pretend it is fair and/or accurate to pretend otherwise?
Hillary Clinton needs to be asked about the following -- Hillary and every other politician trying to seek the presidency:

The human cost of the conflict remains far too high. Since I last briefed the Council, UNAMI has recorded a minimum of 1,200 civilians killed and more than 2,000 wounded as a result of armed conflict or terror attacks. UNAMI continues to receive widespread reports of attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, extrajudicial killings, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, forced recruitment of children, wanton destruction and looting of civilian property, and denial of fundamental rights and freedoms. Minorities, women and children continue to be particularly vulnerable to the horrors and indignities inflicted by ISIL. The recent terrorist outrage during the Eid holidays near a Shi’ite mosque in Khan Bani Saad in which over 120 civilians were reported killed and some 170 injured is another tragic witness to this.

Reports are also received of occasional violations committed by elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces and allied groups. The Government and their leaders have reaffirmed that such violations will not be tolerated, and I urge them to continue taking all possible measures to prevent such transgressions and to bring perpetrators to justice.

If Hillary wants to move beyond her 2002 vote, she can start that process by addressing the realities of Iraq today and explaining to the American people what her 'plan' for Iraq is?

Kubis also read this paragraph to the UN Security Council:

With regard to the protection of children, I would like to commend the Prime Minister’s efforts to tackle the issue of child recruitment by ISIL. On 15 June 2015, he held a conference in Baghdad and proposed a series of recommendations, including increased regional cooperation, academic research, the promotion of co‐existence at school, and social media campaigns. He also called upon the Security Council to take a firmer stance on this issue. The UN participated and will be working closely with the Office of the Prime Minister to develop a plan of action.
Would he like to commend him for that?
And what would Kubis like to do with regards to the use of children soldiers by the "Popularization Mobilization Foces" (Shi'ite militias)?
Because they are using children.
And you can find it all over Arabic media and social media.
And Haider al-Abadi's remarks about the Islamic State and children soldiers were slammed the minute they were made -- slammed in Arabic media and Arabic social media -- by critics who pointed out the Shi'ite militias use of children soldiers (while on the payroll of the Iraqi government).

Meanwhile, Margaret Griffis ( counts 106 violent deaths across Iraq.

We've already noted Ash Carter's visit to Iraq -- we may note it in the next snapshot.

We will note the community theme posts of picks for movies to watch in summer:   Stan's "Gone in 60 Seconds," Ruth's "Harper," Elaine's "Salt," Ann's "Sparkle," Kat's "Dr Goldfoot," Marcia's "Star Wars," Rebecca's "the wizard of oz," Trina's "Grease" and Mike's "Short Circuit."

As Wally's "THIS JUST IN! CRANKY'S CRASHING!" and Cedric's "Once it was alright (Farmer Joe)" note, the polling is not going well for Cranky Clinton (as they've dubbed Hillary) and perhaps that explains Barney Frank's hysteric attack on democracy in that bad POLITICO column?


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Short Circuit

I loved the movie Short Circuit.

I loved it as a kid when I took very seriously and would get really scared that Number 5 was going to be grabbed by the government.

I think Ally Sheedy deserves tremendous credit for making you believe in Number 5.

But even now I believe in Number 5.

If you ever loved the movie as a child, you probably do too. :D

There is a sequel.  I didn't care for it as much.

It was just missing something.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, CFR releases a timeline of the Iraq War that struggles with basic facts and events, Haditha is announced as the next target for the Islamic State, some Republicans on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee play politics at the expense of veterans, and much more.

The Council on Foreign Relations has done a very poor timeline on the Iraq War with multiple errors.

For example, slide 16 declares, "December 2005 elections bring the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance into power, and in April 2006, the party names Nouri al-Maliki prime minister."


That tiny sentence has so many lies.

Forget that Nouri is only named after the White House rejects a second term for Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Do we also forget that the Iraqi Constitution defines who names a 'prime minister'?

Do we also forget that Nouri was not named prime minister in April of 2006?

He was named "prime minister-designate."

Check the Constitution if this is too confusing to you.

 Article 73:
First: The President of the Republic shall name the nominee of the Council of Representatives bloc with the largest number to form the Cabinet within fifteen days from the date of the election of the president of the republic.
Second: The Prime Minister-designate shall undertake the naming of the members of his Cabinet within a period not to exceed thirty days from the date of his designation.
Third: In case the Prime Minister-designate fails to form the cabinet during the period specified in clause "Second," the President of the Republic shall name a new nominee for the post of Prime Minister within fifteen days.
Fourth: The Prime Minister-designate shall present the names of his Cabinet members and the ministerial program to the Council of Representatives. He is deemed to have gained its confidence upon the approval, by an absolute majority of the Council of Representatives, of the individual Ministers and the ministerial program.

Fifth: The President of the Republic shall name another nominee to form the cabinet within fifteen days in case the Cabinet did not gain the confidence. 

And then there's nonsense like slide 39:

Parliamentary elections are held on March 7 under stringent security by Iraqi forces. Dozens of explosions rock Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, but voter turnout is over 62 percent. Voter participation is down from 75 percent in the 2005 general elections, as some voters are deterred by fear of violence and doubts about democracy. U.S. officials call the elections a success and an important step toward withdrawing U.S. troops in the summer of 2010. 
More than 6,200 candidates from eighty-six lists participate in the elections, which showcase a power struggle between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite coalition and former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi's cross-sectarian secular list. Some opposition parties make allegations of fraud, but diplomats and UN officials helping to organize the elections maintain there weren't widespread violations.

If you're going to comment on the elections, shouldn't you note that Ayad Allawi's slate (Iraqiya) came in first?

It's not a minor point.

And in what world does any outlet or organization note an election but not note who won?

There are other problems with that but let's' move on to slide 41:

After more than nine months of political wrangling, the Iraqi parliament approves a coalition government forged by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law party and several other factions. The agreement keeps Maliki as prime minister and Jalal Talabani--a Kurd--as president. But a power-sharing arrangement with former prime minister Ayad Allawi--whose Iraqiya party won a majority of seats--never takes shape. Maliki names thirty-four ministers to his cabinet, including rival Sunni politicians, which U.S. officials say reduces the chances that "disaffected Sunnis will split off and resume sectarian warfare" (NYT). But Maliki refrains from naming heads of the defense and interior ministry, appointing himself the interim head and causing concern about a growing centralization of power. U.S. officials cite the acrimonious relationship between Allawi and Maliki as an obstacle to U.S. troop withdrawal and combating terrorism in the country (NYT).

I'm sorry, do we not know how to count?

Apparently, we don't.  So let's go real slow.

The elections were March 7, 2010.

April 7th was one month.

May 7th was two months.

June 7th was three months.

July 7th was four months.

August 7th was five months.

September 7th was six months.

October 7th was seven months.

November 7th was eight months.

November 10th is when the 'power-sharing agreement' (The Erbil Agreement) is signed.  November 11th is when the Parliament holds their first session and follows the Constitution.

If you count the above, it is eight months and four days after the elections.

Not "after more than nine months."

If you can't even get the dates right, the basic math correct, why the hell should anyone believe a thing in your idiotic slide show?

The Parliament names someone to that post and the person then has 30 days to form a Cabinet which is how they move from "prime minister-designate" to prime minister.

Today, Iraq was finally remembered at the US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson John Kirby.

QUESTION: Yes, please, regarding Iraq.


QUESTION: I mean, I don’t know if you say anything about the F-16. They received a set, a new set of F-16 --

MR KIRBY: Four of them, yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, do you have anything to say about that?

MR KIRBY: Well, I mean, I can acknowledge. I think they had arrival – they had an arrival ceremony for these four F-16s.

QUESTION: And the ambassador was there, I think.

MR KIRBY: Yeah. We talked about this before, that they were on the way to Iraq, that they’re – it’s Iraqi property. And I’ll leave it to the Iraqi Government to speak to when and if these aircraft might be flying combat sorties, but they’re there for the defense of sovereign Iraqi territory. Our role was, of course, meeting the procurement need but also doing some of the training in Arizona.

QUESTION: So the other question regarding the news report today in Washington Post front page that Haditha than any other city can be one of the having the highest dam, and hydroelectric project may fall to the ISIL. Do you have anything? Do you have any assessment of --

MR KIRBY: Well, I’m reticent to get into battlefield assessments here from this particular podium. I would refer you to DOD to speak to conditions on the ground and threats and challenges in that regard. That wouldn’t be appropriate for me to speak to here.
Okay. Well, this will be the shortest briefing in history. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Just one quick question following on his question in terms of the F-16s in Iraq. Is there any agreement that stipulates that – or limits their use in different parts of Iraq, i.e. the Kurdish region or other regions that are – people concerned about their use?

MR KIRBY: I mean, there’s restrictions that are placed on these kinds of sales in terms of how it could be used, but I’m not aware of any restrictions in terms of geographically where it can be used. They are – they belong to the Iraqi Government right now and they’re designed to help the Iraqi Government defend itself and its sovereignty. And what exactly mission parameters that are put on that would be up to the Iraqi Government to pursue. They’re not to be used for sectarian purposes. They’re to be used for the defense of Iraqi territory. And Prime Minister Abadi certainly knows that and will observe that. We’re not worried about that. As for geographic limitations, I’m not aware of any.

The Washington Post report mentioned above is Loveday Morris' "This town has resisted Islamic State for 18 months. But food is running low."  From the article:

The people of Haditha, though, are struggling to survive in a town largely cut off from the outside world. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has singled it out as its next target.
"It’s like we’re not living in Iraq," said one resident, Israa Mohammed, 38, as she waited to receive a rare delivery of food aid last week. "There’s no way in or out. It’s like we are an island in the desert."
The first group of reporters to gain access to Haditha in more than a year found the besieged city in desperate straits. With gasoline more than quadruple the national price, bicycles are a more common sight than cars on its winding streets.

Doctors have fled, and medicines are hard to come by. Electricity flickers on for just three hours a day.

The dire situation in Hadita was noted this month in a Congressional Committee hearing.  From the Wednesday, July 8th snapshot:

Senator Joe Donnelly: I just got back from Iraq with Senator [Tim] Kaine who led our trip and one of the meetings we had was with a number of the Sunni tribal leaders and some of them were from the Haditha area and in talking to them they have said, "We have stood with you. We have faith with you.  But we have people who are now eating grass in our town.  We have no food.  We have no supplies.  And we have been told that the only airlifts that can come in would be on military transport.  Is there anything you can do to help feed our people?"  And so, I wanted to put that before you to see if there's something we can do to be of aid to these individuals.

Donnelly was speaking Tuesday at the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The Committee Chair is Senator John McCain and the Ranking Member is Senator Jack Reed.  Appearing before the Committee were Gen Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs) and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

Donnelly states that he was told, in Haditha, food resources were so low that civilians were eating grass.

Though only in his second year in the US Senate, Donnelly has not racked up  a reputation for lying or misleading.

So it's fairly safe to assume this is what he was told.

Where's the outcry?

We drive our Bitch Moan and Whine vehicles all over the globe over this or that artifact destroyed in Iraq but you have civilians forced to eat grass and no one cares enough to make this a lead story?

Secretary Ash Carter: Well, uh, I'll say something about that and ask the Chairman if he wants to add.  First of all, I want to thank you, Senator Donnelly, also Senator Kaine for traveling there.  We appreciate it.  And on behalf of the 3,550 members of our armed forces that are in Iraq conducting this fight, thank you for taking the time to go visit them this Fourth of July weekend.  The humanitarian situation is yet another tragic consequence of what is going on with ISIL.  It remains one of the coalition's, uhm, uh, uh, efforts as I indicated in my opening statement.  To relieve the humanitarian, that's very difficult to do when there is not order and control on the ground.  And so, uh, this is why we need to get a security situation that's stable, ground forces that are capable of hol- seizing territory, holding territory and governing.  That's the only way to get the humanitarian situation turned around -- either in Iraq or in Syria.  It's very sad.  It's tragic.  And, uh, in the case of Iraq -- as has been noted --  uh, something brought about by the re-emergence of sectarianism in a really tragic way.  Chairman, you want to add anything?

Gen Martin Dempsey:  One of the reasons we went to [al-] Taqaddum Air Base [in Anbar Province] -- also locally called Habbaniyah -- is to advise and assist in the Anbar operations center which is where these kind of issues should actually migrate through.  And it's -- You should be interested to know the Iraqis have the capabilities to address that.  They have C-130J [Lockheed Martin transport aircraft], you know state of the art, uhm-uhm -- 

Senator Joe Donnelly:  I know they do, but they're not.

Gen Martin Dempsey:  Yeah, well we'll pass it to the guy who's embedded with -- 

Senator Joe Donnelly:  And you know, when you're hungry?  You're stomach doesn't tell you you want Iraqi food or US food, you just want help.  And one of the bonds created with these tribal leaders is they said, "We've always felt that we could count on you."  

Meanwhile, Margaret Griffis ( counts 81 violent deaths across Iraq.

In the US, today could have been a very important day for veterans.  Instead, some members of Congress -- on the Republican side -- elected to play games and mess with veterans.

Senator Patty Murray has worked years to highlight a very serious problem for many veterans.  You are injured while serving.  Your injury may mean you and your spouse are unable to become pregnant.

Now if you're still active duty, if you're DoD and not under the VA, the government will cover efforts at in vitro fertilization.

But if you're VA?  No.

This isn't fair.

And Murray has led the fight for equality and the fight to see that veterans have the same rights and opportunities as anyone else.

Today, she pulled her bill because some members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (on the Republican side) attempted to turn a veterans issue into something else, a vote on Planned Parenthood, abortion and other issues that had nothing to do with helping wounded veterans start families.

Patricia Kim (Military Times) reports:

Murray called the amendments a "partisan attack on women's health," and said her bill, which passed the Senate in 2012 but failed in the House over funding concerns, would have ensured that the nation is doing "everything we can to support veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country."
"I am so disappointed — and truly angry that Republicans on the Veterans Affairs Committee decided yesterday to leap at the opportunity to pander to their base, to poison the well with the political cable news battle of the day, and turn their backs on wounded veterans," she said.
Tillis said the amendments were not intended "to kill in vitro fertilization." Rather, he said he has concerns about veterans who are waiting to receive medical care or are being denied care, including some of his constituents who have diseases related to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
"At some point, it may make sense to add another half a billion dollars for this medical treatment that's been proposed by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, but not until we're absolutely certain that the promises we've already made going to be fulfilled," said Tillis, a freshman congressman.

Oh, it's not worth money to help an injured veteran start a family?

The Camp Lejeune issue?

You want to block a nominee over that?

I'll support you, I'll defend you.  I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, I will support you.

And I have.

I've supported Senator Richard Burr on this issue.  I've defended him here for blocking a nominee or a bill because of this issue.

But I can't support using Camp Lejeune as an excuse for denying other veterans and their families in need.

I can't support.

I can't defend it.

I think it's outrageous and I'm deeply, deeply disappointed in Tillis who I have had favorable impressions of as a result of recent Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings.

He and others chose to play politics instead of standing up for veterans.

If he can't stand up for veterans, he really doesn't need to be on the Committee.

That's something only he can decide.

And I'm not calling for him to be ejected.

But this move wasn't about what was best for veterans.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WSWS continues their coverage of Wesley Clark's remarks

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) notes:

The statements made by retired four-star general and former NATO commander Wesley Clark to MSNBC News last Friday in support of placing “radicalized” and “disloyal” Americans in World War II-style internment camps must be taken as an urgent warning by the working class.
Clark, America’s most prominent political general, was speaking not just for himself, but for powerful layers within the US military/intelligence apparatus and ruling oligarchy who fear the growth of social opposition and are preparing to defend their interests, no matter what the cost.
The event that prompted Clark’s televised remarks was the recent killing of four Marines and one sailor at an armed forces recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Clark’s proposal for mass internment was advanced as a response to the so-called “self radicalized,” “lone wolf” phenomenon—labels that have been applied to a handful of terrorist incidents over the course of more than a decade. The vast majority of such “lone wolf” incidents have involved hapless and, in some cases, mentally disturbed individuals who were set up by FBI and police agent provocateurs.
If Clark’s proposal were implemented, such “sting” operations and subsequent frame-up trials could be dispensed with, as the “self-radicalized” were identified by their thoughts, statements or Internet postings and summarily thrown into concentration camps.
The scale of his proposed response is so disproportionate to the actual threat—which has claimed far fewer victims than mass shootings carried out by individuals who have shown no sign of being “radicalized”—that it is impossible not to conclude that there are deeper and hidden motives and processes at work.

 I'm glad WSWS has done another report on Clark's remarks.

I really think it is one of the big stories of the month and that we should all be paying attention to it.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, protests result from the lack of electricity and from a series of arrests, Barack goes to the VFW to fracture an already divided country, and much more.

In the latest episode of The Real Bitches of DC, Barack Obama addressed the VFW and insisted that those objecting to his precious Iran deal were the same ones who supported the Iraq War.


Because Jim Webb has serious questions about the deal and I thought he was among those calling out the Iraq War.

    1. Obama says those who oppose the Iran deal were the ones in favor of the Iraq war. So does that mean Kerry is conflicted about the Iran deal?

  • Along with the factual problems with Barack's claims, there's also the sheer bitchiness of it.

    Is Barack one of the ones wrong?

    Because he can lie to a lot of stupid people and he can get a lot of whores to go along with him but I will always remember his support for the war in his statements to Elaine and I when he was running for the US Senate.

    You can ride high atop your pony
    I know you won't fall. . . 
    'cause the whole thing's phoney.
    You can fly swingin' from your trapeze
    Scaring all the people . . . 
    but you never scare me 
    -- "Bella Donna," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her album of the same name.

    Again, there are a lot of stupid people and he can easily fool them.

    But the reality is, as Bill Clinton so expertly put it, Barack's opposition to the Iraq War was always as "fairy tale."

    It's no way to sell a policy so most of will laugh at him as he yet again acts the littlest bitch in the world.

    What it mainly does is remind people that Barack's promoting a high risk, low yield treaty.

    Reminds them of how desperate he is.

    But it also serves to harden divisions and lines in this country -- remember when Barack was going to erase those?

    He was going to leave behind the cultural wars and the "Tom Hayden Democrats."

    But all the can do is bring out the bitchery.

    That's what happens when the Hopium has run out completely and the great leader stands before the country exposed as the fraud he always was.

    What else was Barack going to do in 2015, standing before the VFW but show his ass?

    Did you think he was going to talk about veterans homelessness?

    He promised, remember, to end that by the end of 2015.

    Which would be this year.

    This year which has five more months in it.

    Haven't heard anything on that, have you?

    Because it doesn't appear the deadline will be met.

    Well at least he could brag about reducing wait time for veterans at the VA, right?

    We remember that VA scandal, right?

    Christina Littlefield (Los Angeles Times) jogged memories yesterday as she noted:

    Concerns over waiting times for care at VA hospitals erupted in April 2014 after whistle-blowers in Phoenix accused administrators of keeping a secret waiting list to hide delays in treatment -- delays that were so long, at least 18 veterans died before being seen.  Similar problems were found in facilities across the country, and the chief of the VA stepped down.

    Barack couldn't stand before the VFW and brag about fixing that problem because -- well, because he didn't.

    Just a few months ago (April 9th), David B. Caruso (AP) was reporting, "A year after Americans recoiled at revelations that sick veterans were getting sicker when languishing on waiting lists, VA statistics show that the number of patients facing long waits has not declined, even after Congress gave the department an extra $16.3 billion last summer to shorten waits for care.

    Well he's got to have something regarding veterans care to brag about, right?


    As the end of last month, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee and US House Rep Julie Brownley wanted to know what the just-announced VA shortfall meant when August roll around?

    Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson:  We're in a situation where we're going to have to start denying care to veterans because we don't have the resources to be able to pay for it.  And-and that's -- I don't think anybody wants to see that happen.  It will be a very -- a very unpleasant and unsatisfactory situation.

    There is nothing but failure for Barack on the topic of veterans.

    So of course he would use the moment to get bitchy and further divide the nation.

    He is no Abe Lincoln.

    He is instead The Great Divider.

    He fails to argue his beliefs on their strength but instead attacks others with bitchy remarks.

    He should have attempted to win a spot on E!'s Fashion Police instead of attempting to be President of the United States.

    Meanwhile Kristina Wong (The Hill) notes, "The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that an MQ-1 drone crashed in Iraq on its way back to its recovery base.  The confirmation came after pictures surfaced on Twitter of the drone."  Jess McHugh (IBT) adds, "According to U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the drone was flying a combat mission when it crashed, though authorities maintain the plane was not brought down by enemy fire."

    As usual, the US government only admits/confesses when photographic evidence is published forcing their hand.

    No one forced them to provide Iraq with F-16s but they have and are.

    It alarms neocon Max Boot who writes at the right-wing publication Commentary:

    The latest evidence of the administration’s misguided faith in the Islamic Republic is its decision to deliver the first four F-16s to Iraq, which it did just before the Iran deal was signed. Thirty-two more F-16s are scheduled to arrive in Iraq eventually. Assuming that these advanced warplanes are not captured by ISIS (as has been the case with many Humvees, MRAPS, and even Abrams tanks that the U.S. has provided to Iraq), they will be operated by an Iraqi regime that has been thoroughly subverted by Iran’s agents and proxies.
    The most powerful man in Iraq is not the ineffectual prime minister but rather Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force, who (in yet another boost for Iranian regional designs) will be taken off the European and U.N. sanctions lists by the terms of the Iran deal. The second most powerful man is probably his close ally, Hadi al-Ameri, the minister of transportation and head of the Badr Corps, the Shiite militia that has become more powerful than the Iraqi armed forces. As a Sunni politician said earlier this year, “Iran now dominates Iraq.”

    I don't disagree with Max Boot that the F-16s in Iraq now mean Iran has the technology.  Over ten hours before Boot wrote his piece, we'd noted here that the first of the F-16s had arrived in Iraq "Which, of course, means Iran now has access to the technology."

    If the concern now, however, is over the tech, that's gone.  It's too late.

    The deal could be stopped by Congress but stopping it to keep the tech out of the hands of Iran is a ship that's sailed.

    Boot does note concern that the F-16s could be used against the Sunnis, the Kurds and moderate Shi'ites by the Baghdad-based government.

    That's a real concern.

    It's the reason Barack delayed the delivery of the first shipment while Nouri al-Maliki was still clinging to the post of prime minister.

    Should he have delayed it further?


    Also true, the deal was made some time ago.

    Had it continued to be delayed, it would have undermined future US arm sales (which wouldn't have necessarily been a bad thing from my point of view but I doubt Barack or Max would share that opinion).

    The deal could have been cancelled and maybe should have been.

    But barring that, at some point, the delivery had to take place and this week the first F-16s arrived in Iraq.

    Saturday's snapshot addressed how the approach for 'confronting' the Islamic State -- the approach Barack and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi -- is a military failure and will likely remain one.  (I do not favor a military approach.  I was noting that military history argues that this approach will fail.)  At Huffington Post, Stanley Weiss argued today for a military approach involving sending more US troops into Iraq but he also offered that the American people will likely balk at that so three steps remained:

    First, the U.S. should recognize that the Iraqi government speaks only for a third of what was Iraq. Washington should no longer channel our aid and military assistance through Baghdad, which has proven that it cannot be an honest broker. Since 2011, successive Shiite governments have refused to pay the Kurds their share of the federal Treasury, while reducing the flow of U.S. weapons and other support intended for Kurdistan to a trickle. America should continue to support the government in some nominal way.
    Second, we should send military support and aid directly to the Kurds, understanding that such support is an investment in containing the Islamic State from pushing north or east. As I have argued before, the U.S. should finally acknowledge what everyone knows to be reality and recognize an independent Kurdistan as America's most loyal ally in the region outside of Israel.
    Third, we should work with Sunni governments in Saudi Arabia and Turkey to provide training and assistance to Sunni tribes in the center and west of the country, and commit to the safety of Sunni tribes should Iran-backed militias push into Sunni lands.  

    In other news, despite the crackpot claims of Juan Cole, the assault on Anbar continues.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports the Shi'ite militias continue to encircle Falluja -- if not to enter it.

    Further south, Iraqis take to the streets.

    استمرار التظاهرات في البصرة، والمتظاهرون بگرمة علي في المحافظة يقطعون الطرق احتجاجا على تردي الخدمات وانقطاع الكهرباء
  • البصرة: استمرار التظاهرات في البصرة، والمتظاهرون بگرمة علي في المحافظة يقطعون الطرق احتجاجا على تردي الخدمات مطالبين بمحاسبة الفاسدين.

    The Shi'ite majority province (over 90% identify as Shi'ite) is in revolt over the decline and lack of services -- including electricity.

    Last week saw Baghdad declare two public holidays due to the heat.

    Basra is always significantly warmer than Baghdad.

    And the people there are tired of the corruption and other issues that prevent reliable public services.

    They're also tired of Nouri's State of Law (which Haider al-Abadi is a part of) and the 2008 assault only hardened that opposition.

    Electricity is a concern across Iraq.  Nasiriyah reports that Dhi Qar is exploring their electrical crisis in a series of meetings presided over by the Deputy Governor Mohammed Alsoala.

    Oil rich Iraq can't -- won't -- provide its citizens with the needed public services.

    Instead, government officials have siphoned off the billions into their own pockets.

    Where graft is king, the citizens continue to suffer.

    In a possible response to the continued and mounting criticism by Iraqi civilians, there's a new development.  Al Mada reports the Cabinet is proposing that the salaries of the three presidencies (Prime Minister, President of Iraq and Speaker of Parliament) and their deputies be cut in half and

    Whether or not Iraqi public outcry impacted that move, it did produce results in Baghdad.

    Alsumaria offers video of a Baghdad protest that took place on Monday as people gathered to demand the release of artist Namir Abdel Hussein who was arrested in a sweep that included the security forces arresting over 700 hotel workers when the hotels were stormed.

    Why were they stormed?

    The Shi'ite militias are again in charge, that's why.

    And they don't like a Baghdad night life.

    This happened repeatedly under Nouri -- and it was illegal then.

    Now it's happening under Haider al-Abadi.

    But let's keep pretending he's representing some form of change and a new direction for Iraq.

    The Ministry of the Interior, Monday night, announced that they had released the artist as well as the hotel workers.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 206 violent deaths across Iraq.

    Lastly, the politics.  June 19, 2014, Barack declared the only solution for Iraq's crises was a political solution.  And he's done nothing to aid with that.

    The only thing the US government has accomplished in the months since is to alienate the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim.

    Hakim had been a supporter of the US government when Barack was elected.

    Somehow the White House managed to end that in late 2014.

    We noted here that alienating Ammar was stupid.  We noted when he amped his criticism of the US up.  The White House just doesn't care.

    Too bad for them.

    Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports the already powerful Ammar has announced a new alliance with, among others, Moqtada al-Sadr's followers and other Shi'ite groups including Virtue.

    Ammar never needed the White House as badly as the White House needed Ammar.