Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hillary loses the debate

So the debates.

Hillary's Cult of Eunuchs loved it.

So she must have won, right?

LAT thinks so:

Hillary Rodham Clinton had three big tasks to accomplish in Tuesday night's debate: Reassure the Democratic establishment, draw contrasts with Sen. Bernie Sanders and deter Vice President Joe Biden.
As the post-debate reviews rolled in Wednesday morning, it was clear that she had succeeded with the first two. Whether she achieved the third goal should be known within days.

I think they're forgetting the ick factor.

Hillary was a know it all type -- though she lied and got facts wrong throughout -- and that doesn't play well.

She's someone you might be able to stomach smashed but she's not anyone you'd want to have an after work beer with, if you get the difference.

She was too know it all.

She was too Tracy from ELECTION -- remember in 2008 when that was raised?

So she was her usual show off and pompous self.

And the Eunuchs love that.

But it turns off a lot of people.

So does Hillary.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the cholera cases increase, Hillary Clinton's war mongering continues to haunt her, and much more.

Wearing a ridiculous outfit that made her look alternately like a Puritan as well as someone who forgot her witch's hat, Hillary Clinton snarled and bellowed throughout tonight's Las Vegas debate.  The pan collar was a ridiculous as her responses.

The debate was a huge joke as Anderson Cooper (moderator) played favorites and allowed Hillary to set the agenda repeatedly.  He was her water boy and she ordered him around throughout the debate.  That's not going to help her image or his.

At the heart of her failure in tonight's debate was not her 2002 vote for the Iraq War but her refusal to ever take accountability for it.

You saw a liar supreme, the equivalent of a cheating spouse who feigns remorse when caught but intends to keep on cheating.

Hillary voted for the illegal war and continued to support it until the majority of the American people had turned against it.

She's never apologized for that vote.  She's offered mealy mouthed words and, when offered in person, she's done so in a rude and dismissive manner.

The Iraq War continues to this day.

To this day she continues to refuse to take accountability.

At the debate, her rivals for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination refused to allow her to wall off the topic the way she generally does.

So Hillary was left to resort to pre-planned sound bytes.


That became obvious as she introduced her latest 'defense' for her lousy 2002 vote: Barack picked her anyway!

"Well, I recall very well," she huffed, "being on a debate stage -- I think about 25 times with then-Senator Obama debating this very issue.  After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State.  He valued my judgment and I spent a lot of time with him in the Situation Room going over some very difficult issues."

What a liar.

Barack selected many War Hawks for his administration.

Why did he select Hillary?

To keep his enemies close.

He might not have been re-elected in 2012 if Hillary had made a run for the nomination that year -- it might have left him wounded.

He knew the best way to shut her (and Bill) up was to offer her a role.

He knew the best way to stomach her was to give her a role that would keep her out of the country as much as possible.

If he trusted her judgment on Iraq, he wouldn't have removed Iraq from her and made Joe Biden and Samantha Power the leads on Iraq.

Equally true, she left the State Dept with a lengthy  travelogue but no serious accomplishments.

The story of her life, she always pushes her way to the front when cameras are around but she never can point to any accomplishments.

We're going to note a lengthy section of the debate -- this is the Washington Post's transcript:

COOPER: I want to go to Dana Bash. Dana?

BASH: Governor Chafee, you were the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war. You say Secretary Clinton should be disqualified from the presidency because she voted in favor of using force in Iraq. She has since said that her vote was a mistake. Why isn't that good enough?

CHAFEE: Well, we just heard Senator Sanders say that it's the worst decision in American history. That's very significant, the worst decision in American history, I just heard from Senator Sanders.
So, as we look ahead, if you're going to make those poor judgment calls, a critical time in our history, we just finished with the Vietnam era, getting back into another quagmire -- if you're looking ahead, and you're looking at someone who made that poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- I know because I did my homework, and, so, that's an indication of how someone will perform in the future. And that's what's important.


BASH: Secretary Clinton, he's questioning your judgment.

CLINTON: Well, I recall very well being on a debate stage, I think, about 25 times with then Senator Obama, debating this very issue. After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State.
He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him...

(APPLAUSE) the Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues.
You know, I -- I agree completely. We don't want American troops on the ground in Syria. I never said that. What I said was we had to put together a coalition -- in fact, something that I worked on before I left the State Department -- to do, and yes, that it should include Arabs, people in the region.
Because what I worry about is what will happen with ISIS gaining more territory, having more reach, and, frankly, posing a threat to our friends and neighbors in the region and far beyond.
So I think while you're talking about the tough decision that President Obama had to make about Osama bin Laden, where I was one of his few advisers, or putting together that coalition to impose sanctions on Iran -- I think I have a lot of evidence...


BASH: Senator Sanders -- Senator Sanders, I want to bring you in here. My question for you is, as a congressman, you voted against the Iraq War. You voted against the Gulf War. You're just talking about Syria, but under what circumstances would a President Sanders actually use force?

SANDERS: Let me just respond to something the secretary said. First of all, she is talking about, as I understand it, a no-fly zone in Syria, which I think is a very dangerous situation. Could lead to real problems.
Second of all, I heard the same evidence from President Bush and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld about why we should overthrow Saddam Hussein and get involved in the -- I would urge people to go to, hear what I said in 2002. And I say, without any joy in my heart, that much of what I thought would happen about the destabilization, in fact, did happen.
So I think... 

BASH: All right.


SANDERS: I think the president is trying very hard to thread a tough needle here, and that is to support those people who are against Assad, against ISIS, without getting us on the ground there, and that's the direction I believe we should have (inaudible).

COOPER: But, Senator Sanders, you didn't answer the question. Under what -- under what circumstances would you actually use force?

SANDERS: Well, obviously, I voted, when President Clinton said, "let's stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo," I voted for that. I voted to make sure that Osama bin Laden was held accountable in Afghanistan.
When our country is threatened, or when our allies are threatened, I believe that we need coalitions to come together to address the major crises of this country. I do not support the United States getting involved in unilateral action.

(UNKNOWN): You're at work with our allies.


COOPER: I'm gonna bring you all in on this. Governor -- Governor O'Malley, Secretary Clinton...

SANDERS: I don't believe that any...


COOPER: Secretary Clinton voted to authorize military force in Iraq, supported more troops in Afghanistan. As Secretary of State, she wanted to arm Syrian rebels and push for the bombing of Libya. Is she too quick to use military force?

O'MALLEY: Anderson, no president -- no commander in chief -- should take the military option off the table, even if most of us would agree that it should be the last option.
What disturbed people so much about -- and I would agree with Senator Sanders on this -- leading us into Iraq under false pretenses and telling us, as a people, that there were weapons of mass destruction there was -- was one of the worst blunders in modern American history.
But the reason why people remain angry about it is because people feel like a lot of our legislators got railroaded in a war fever and by polls. And I remember being at a dinner shortly before that invasion. People were talking at -- and saying, "it'll take us just a couple years to rebuild democracy," and I thought, "has this world gone mad?"
Whenever we go -- and contrary to John Quincy Adams' advice -- "searching the world for monsters to destroy," and when we use political might to take a -- at the expense of democratic principle, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt our (inaudible).

COOPER: Does she -- does she want to use military force too rapidly?

O'MALLEY: I believe that, as president, I would not be so quick to pull for a military tool. I believe that a no-fly zone in Syria, at this time, actually, Secretary, would be a mistake.
You have to enforce no-fly zones, and I believe, especially with the Russian air force in the air, it could lead to an escalation because of an accident that we would deeply regret.
I support President Obama. I think we have to play a long game, and I think, ultimately -- you want to talk about blunders? I think Assad's invasion of Syria will be seen as a blunder.

COOPER: Governor O'Malley, just for the record, on the campaign trail, you've been saying that Secretary Clinton is always quick for the -- for the military intervention. Senator -- Secretary Clinton, you can respond.

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I...

WEBB: Anderson, can I come into this discussion at some point?

COOPER: Well -- yes, you'll be coming in next, but she was directly quoted, Senator.

WEBB: Thank you. I've been standing over here for about ten minutes, trying.


WEBB: It's just -- it's gone back and forth over there.

COOPER: Secretary?

CLINTON: Well, I am in the middle, here, and...


Lots of things coming from all directions.

WEBB: You got the lucky (inaudible).

[I'm taking out Hillary's flapping gums and will explain why in a second . . . ]

COOPER: Senator Webb, you said as president you would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was, in your words, "inevitable." Should Secretary Clinton have seen that attack coming?

WEBB: Look, let's start -- I've been trying to get in this conversation for about 10 minutes -- let's start with why Russia is in Syria right now. There are three strategic failings that have allowed this to occur. The first was the invasion of Iraq, which destabilized ethnic elements in Iraq and empowered Iran. The second was the Arab Spring, which created huge vacuums in Libya and in Syria that allowed terrorist movements to move in there. And the third was the recent deal allowing Iran to move forward and eventually acquire a nuclear weapon, which sent bad signals, bad body language into the region about whether we are acquiescing in Iran becoming a stronger piece of the formula in that part of the world.
Now, I say this as someone who spent five years in the Pentagon and who opposed the war in Iraq, whose son fought in Iraq, I've fought in Vietnam. But if you want a place where we need to be in terms of our national strategy, a focus, the greatest strategic threat that we have right now is resolving our relationship with China. And we need to do this because of their aggression in the region. We need to do it because of the way they treat their own people.

COOPER: Senator...

WEBB: And I would say this. I've been waiting for 10 minutes. I will say this.

COOPER: You're over your time as of now.

WEBB: I will -- well, you've let a lot of people go over their time. I would say this...

COOPER: You agreed to these debate rules.

What rules, Anderson?

That the subject is Iraq and Hillary switches it to Syria and you don't redirect her or challenge her?

That you let her run the debate?

Others don't get to speak and you're providing her even more air time?

That was embarrassing.

Anderson Cooper and CNN should be embarrassed.

Hillary did what cheap liars always do when they're caught, try to change the subject.

And Anderson let her.

Where was her plan for Iraq?

She has none.

The cheap trash from Illinois helped destroy Iraq.

Pressed on her vote for war, she changes the topic to Syria and Anderson too entranced with his own reflection on a monitor to insist she stay on topic and answer the question.

If you're not getting (a) what a failure Anderson was or (b) what an avoider Hillary was, let's note this section:

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, on the campaign trail, Governor Webb has said that he would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was inevitable. Should you have seen that attack coming?

CLINTON: Well, let's remember what was going on. We had a murderous dictator, Gadhafi, who had American blood on his hands, as I'm sure you remember, threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people. We had our closest allies in Europe burning up the phone lines begging us to help them try to prevent what they saw as a mass genocide, in their words. And we had the Arabs standing by our side saying, "We want you to help us deal with Gadhafi."
Our response, which I think was smart power at its best, is that the United States will not lead this. We will provide essential, unique capabilities that we have, but the Europeans and the Arabs had to be first over the line. We did not put one single American soldier on the ground in Libya. And I'll say this for the Libyan people...

COOPER: But American citizens did lose their lives in Benghazi.

CLINTON: But let -- I'll get to that. But I think it's important, since I understand Senator Webb's very strong feelings about this, to explain where we were then and to point out that I think President Obama made the right decision at the time.
And the Libyan people had a free election the first time since 1951. And you know what, they voted for moderates, they voted with the hope of democracy. Because of the Arab Spring, because of a lot of other things, there was turmoil to be followed.
But unless you believe the United States should not send diplomats to any place that is dangerous, which I do not, then when we send them forth, there is always the potential for danger and risk.

COOPER: Governor O'Malley?

WEBB: Can I...


"I'll get to that"?

Anderson says, "But American citizens did lose their lives in Benghazi."

And the liar Hillary responds, "I'll get to that."

She never does.

Yet again Anderson Cooper fails.

This is classic Hillary.

She and only she was Secretary of State.

State refused requests for beefed up security.

Four Americans died -- she can't even name them.  Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Chris Stevens.

Actually, in some public appearances, Hillary indicates more than four died.

At any rate, she says she'll get to the dead Americans -- in tonight's debate -- but never does.

Because it's not about the dead Americans to Hillary, it's about her will to power (Nietzsche, "A living being wants above all else to release its strength; life itself is the will to power."), it's about her struggle to make herself front and center on everything.

Four dead Americans matter to her as little as the Dallas police officer that died protecting her in 2008 while she campaigned for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

She's never bothered by these deaths, she's never haunted by them.

The 'lessers' must give their lives for inevitable coronation.

And that's why the people of Iraq and the foreign soldiers sent into Iraq (some of whom died, some of whom left injured) never matter to her.

It's all about the road to Hillary's success.

And that's the churlish aspect she presented on the stage throughout tonight's debate.

The War Whore Clinton was quick to insist that whistle-blower Ed Snowden "face the music" during the debate while yet again making clear that she believes she herself is above both criticism and the law.

She is Richard Nixon reincarnated, nothing less and certainly nothing more.

Throughout the debate, she did something weird with her mouth -- a health problem or a manifestation of her inner rage -- and repeatedly used a finger pointing gesture -- neither of which made her look rational or sane.

It's little surprise that Slate's online poll currently finds 78% of voters declaring Senator Bernie Sanders the winner of the debate while only 18% felt Cranky Clinton won.

Over a million Iraqis dead as a result of the illegal war Hillary supported and the violence never ends.  Today?  Alsumaria reports 1 person was shot dead in front of his central Baghdad home,  3 corpses were fished out of the Euphrates River while a woman attempting suicide by drowning in the river was grabbed by police, 1 person was shot dead in eastern Baghdad, and 1 person was shot dead in Tuz.  NINA adds that the Iraqi military announced they killed 6 people in an Anbar Province airstrike, a PUK source states that 6 members of the Islamic State were killed in a Sinjar battle, 1 corpse was discovered dumped in the streets of Baghdad and 1 person was kidnapped in Tuz.

In other developments, Dave Boyer and Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times) report:

Iraq has begun bombing Islamic State fighters with the help of a new intelligence center operated by Russia, Iran and Syria, a cooperation that is raising concerns in Washington about the threat to U.S. interests in the region.
The center has been operational for about a week and already has provided intelligence for airstrikes on a gathering of middle-level Islamic State figures, Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the Iraqi parliament’s defense and security committee, told Reuters on Tuesday.

In a possible response to that news, Xinhua reports that US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter declared today, "We [the Pentagon] are not able to associate more broadly with Russia's approach in Syria, because it is wrongheaded and strategically shortsighted."

Elsewhere, Outbreak News Today notes that there are now 1,263 confirmed cases of cholera spread out in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces and that the ways of addressing the epidemic include "distribution of bottled water, water kits, hygiene kits, bleaching powder and chlorine tablets; establishment of water distribution points [. . .]"  Rudaw notes that figure, 1,263 confirmed cases, was updated today by a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Ahmed Rideni, who announced, "Up until the night of Monday, October 12, the number of infections of cholera in Iraq reached 1,430, out of which one person died."

Lastly, we've been noting the fading influence of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for some time now (most recently, September 25th). The International Crisis Group's Joost Hiltermann has an interesting essay at The New York Review of Books entitled "Iraq: The Clerics and the Militias."  In it, he notes various factors and the result:  "Sistani's ability to influence the direction of the country is tenuous." And a friend at The Nation asks that we highlight Andrew J. Bacevich's "Iraq and Afghanistan Have Officially Become Vietnam 2.0."


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

That disgusting Bernie Sanders

Your eyes will roll, your stomach will rumble in disgust, as you read Patrick Martin's latest on Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

I'll note Bernie because I've written more than enough about Hillary of late:

Sanders, for his part, embraced the White House Mideast policy wholeheartedly in an interview taped Friday for broadcast on NBC’s Sunday program “Meet the Press.” He told interviewer Chuck Todd, “I think what the president has tried to do is thread a very, very difficult needle. And that is, keep American troops from engaging in combat and getting killed there. And I think that is the right thing to do. So I think we continue to try to do everything that we can, focusing primarily, by the way, as bad as Assad is, focusing on trying to defeat ISIS.”
While opposing the use of American ground forces, at least for the present, Sanders was enthusiastically in favor of soldiers from other countries “engaging in combat and getting killed” in the wars in Syria and Iraq. “I believe very strongly that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, you know what?” he said. “They’re going to have to get their hands dirty as well. They don’t like ISIS? Let them start putting troops on the ground.”
This exchange followed:
Todd: Gulf War one, we got them to pay for—do you think we should be doing that?
Sanders: I think it’s more than pay.
Todd: You want to see them put blood and treasure?
Sanders: Yeah. That’s exactly right.
After expressing the desire that Arab soldiers fight and die in Syria (doing the “dirty work” for US imperialism), Sanders went on to declare his support for another Obama policy: assassination by drone-fired missiles.

Bernie's 'change you can believe in' only if you're brain dead.

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

Monday, October 12, 2015.  Chaos and violence continues, politicians gear up to spin, the KRG remains in turmoil, and much more.

Tuesday night, candidates for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination debate in Las Vegas.

People say a lot when they want the job, yeah
Lining up sideways around the block
"It's not for the money" she say to you
Almost convincing herself that it's true
"I'll take care of your dog when you're away"
"I don't mind working Saturdays"
"When you wanna work I'll work with you", she say
"And I'll go on working when you wanna play"
"Nothing gonna hurt you when I'm around"
"I'll keep my eyes wide open and my nose to the ground"
"I'll be like a mama with a baby cub"
People say a lot when they want the job
People say a lot when they want the job, yeah
People say a lot when they want the job
-- "People Say A Lot," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her album THIS KIND OF LOVE

Hillary Clinton, for example, has been making promises that  the editorial board of USA Today and Stephen Stromberg (Washington Post) find hard to believe since her new found objections to the TPP trade deal and the Keystone pipeline are so far from her previous positions and, back in June, Jake Tapper (CNN) offered "45 times Secretary Clinton pushed the trade bill she now opposes."

The former Secretary of State is facing serious competition from Senator Bernie Sanders who Alex Griswold (Mediaite) notes has stated that, unlike Hillary, his positions have remained "consistent."

Patrick Frye (Inquisiter) offers, "With the 2016 presidential candidates planning for the Democratic Debate, 2015 promises to be interesting since Bernie Sanders may bring up Hillary Clinton’s war record during the Democrat’s presidential debate being hosted by CNN. In return, Clinton will have to convince Democrats that making her the United States president has a reason or goal, although it’s uncertain whether or not she will have to dance around questions based upon the infamous email server incident."

And, indeed, he's been circulating his remarks from October 2, 2002:

Mr. Speaker, I do not think any Member of this body disagrees that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, a murderer, and a man who has started two wars. He is clearly someone who cannot be trusted or believed. The question, Mr. Speaker, is not whether we like Saddam Hussein or not. The question is whether he represents an imminent threat to the American people and whether a unilateral invasion of Iraq will do more harm than good.
Mr. Speaker, the front page of The Washington Post today reported that all relevant U.S. intelligence agencies now say, despite what we have heard from the White House, that "Saddam Hussein is unlikely to initiate a chemical or biological attack against the United States." Even more importantly, our intelligence agencies say that should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he might at that point launch a chemical or biological counterattack. In other words, there is more danger of an attack on the United States if we launch a precipitous invasion.
Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the President feels, despite what our intelligence agencies are saying, that it is so important to pass a resolution of this magnitude this week and why it is necessary to go forward without the support of the United Nations and our major allies including those who are fighting side by side with us in the war on terrorism.
But I do feel that as a part of this process, the President is ignoring some of the most pressing economic issues affecting the well-being of ordinary Americans. There has been virtually no public discussion about the stock market's loss of trillions of dollars over the last few years and that millions of Americans have seen the retirement benefits for which they have worked their entire lives disappear. When are we going to address that issue? This country today has a $340 billion trade deficit, and we have lost 10 percent of our manufacturing jobs in the last 4 years, 2 million decent-paying jobs. The average American worker today is working longer hours for lower wages than 25 years ago. When are we going to address that issue?
Mr. Speaker, poverty in this country is increasing and median family income is declining. Throughout this country family farmers are being driven off of the land; and veterans, the people who put their lives on the line to defend us, are unable to get the health care and other benefits they were promised because of government underfunding. When are we going to tackle these issues and many other important issues that are of such deep concern to Americans?

Where I'm confused is what the hell did Bernie ever do afterwards?

Or, for that matter, now that the US-led coalition is again dropping bombs on Iraq, where the hell is Bernie?

Oh, wow, in 2002, he spoke out?

I did too, Berns.

And I've spent my time since continuing to protest this ongoing illegal war.

What have you done, Bernie?

Ignored veterans issues -- as Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee -- to promote acupuncture?


What a proud moment for you, as a scandal was killing veterans, you were off pimping your pet projects.

Since August of 2014, Barack Obama's 'answer' for the crises in Iraq has been to drop bombs.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Attack, bomber, fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 18 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the government of Iraq:
-- Near Baghdadi, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Bayji, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, destroyed an ISIL fighting position, and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Fallujah, one strike destroyed an ISIL anti-air artillery piece and an ISIL tactical vehicle.
-- Near Kisik, one strike suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun position.
-- Near Mosul, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Ramadi, seven strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL trench, three separate ISIL vehicle borne improvised explosive devices, two ISIL front-end loaders, an ISIL building, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL home-made explosives cache, denied ISIL access to terrain and wounded an ISIL fighter.
-- Near Sinjar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed and ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Tal Afar, one strike struck and destroyed an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Waleed, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

What's Bernie's response to that?

Hillary voted for the Iraq War and she's never addressed that.

She's offered mealy mouthed statements when pressed in public and her ghost written book offered a laughable account.

But she's never been held accountable for what she supported, for what she wanted.

The US is deeply in debt because of the Iraq War.

As for her change in positions, it's possible that she has had a change of heart.

I doubt it.

And it doesn't really matter.

She's pandering.

Bill Clinton pandered too.

But the difference was, he stood by what he said.

Hillary never does.

She offers promises and she never keeps them.

We'll address one in the next snapshot (one on Iraq).

But with the debate looming, it's a good time to remember what Carly says in "People Say A Lot," "Well it's a full time job to be a hypocrite."

Moving over to Iraq, Reuters reports that the Speaker of the Kurdish Parliament, Yousif Mohammed, was prevented from entering Sulaimaniyah -- where protests have been taking place by KRG government employees (including teachers) who are not being paid.  Reuters notes that Mohammed is a member of Goran (Change -- political party) and that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (the head of which is KRG President Massoud Barzani) have accused Goran of statements that have incited violence.

Let's deal with the issue of the KRG presidency first.

Massoud Barzani's ongoing presidency  remains a source of conflict.  The president of the KRG has been president for as long as the Constitution allows plus two years that the Kurdish Parliament voted to allow him (the vote took place in 2013).

Sunday, Goran (Change) joined the critics by insisting that he was fighting for personal power (in his fight to continue as president) and not fighting for the Kurdish people.

The PUK has made similar charges but are less easy to take seriously. (For example, Saturday  All Iraq News reported that PUK MP Farhad Qadir is insisting that the issue of who will be president of the Kurdistan Regional Government has been blocked by the KDP.)

Just as Barzani (and his family) control the KDP, Jalal Talabani's family controls the PUK (the current president of Iraq, Fuad Masum, like Jalal, is from the PUK party).

Goran is supposed to be the party of change.

Created with CIA seed money and assistance, the party emerged from nowhere and yet managed to replace the PUK as the second most popular party in the KRG.

The two-year extension came out of the June 30, 2013 meeting and perhaps it was foreshadowing that the session of the Kurdish Parliament erupted in violence with MPs fighting one another?

Barzani wants to remain president.

It's hard to see how he thinks that possible.

The above opinion was voiced earlier and resulted in over 200 e-mails accusing me of "turning on" (to cite one popular phrase) Massoud Barzani.

I haven't "turned on" anyone.

We're the critic here, we're not a fan newsletter.

Barzani, my opinion, is a more effective leader than Jalal Talabani ever could be.

Which is why he should step down.  Jalal was too clingy and refused to step down when a stroke left him unable to do his job.  For over a year, he hid out in Germany and clung to the presidency.  He's part of the reason Iraq fell apart.

Massoud Barzani should show the leadership that Jalal refused to.

If you've agreed to step down -- as was the case when the two year extension was voted on -- then you need to keep your word.

He can attempt to rally people to support his son, the current prime minister, for the job and I wouldn't say anything.

But for him to try to hold onto a position he agreed to vacate?

Barzani has been a very strong leader.

I can understand him or his supporters being nervous because the KRG is in a delicate position currently.

I don't believe a Talabani could rescue the KRG and feel, based on Jalal's past weakness, that they'd probably make things worse for the KRG.

But the next president could be a Barzani (just not Massoud) or a member of Goran or from some other political party.

Massoud Barzani has accomplished a great deal which is another reason he needs to step down.  He should not allow his legacy -- which is strong -- to be turned into "The Man Who Didn't Know When To Leave."

Loveday Morris (Washington Post) sums up the issues as follows:

At the center of the crisis is a political standoff between the dominant Kurdish Democratic Party, or the KDP, and the rival Movement for Change, or Gorran. The KDP accuses Gorran of fomenting a week of violent protests in which KDP offices have been attacked and at least five people have been killed. Gorran, in turn, says the KDP has flouted the democratic process to stay in power.

The Kurdish leadership also is struggling to maintain internal stability as a crippled economy has delayed salary payments to government employees and discontent is mounting. Meanwhile, the legitimacy of Iraqi Kurdistan’s leadership is also under question, with President Masoud Barzani accused of illegally extending his term after it expired in August.

Violence continued in Iraq today -- the US coalition continued bombing the countryside, for example.  In addition:

  • New content at Third:


    Sunday, October 11, 2015

    Idiots of the week

    Apparently, the idiots of the week are us, the American people.

    First up, a number of us are all on Justin Bieber's junk.

    But even sitting on it, we can't tell how small it is.

    I've got a cock.  Justin's got a peen.  Thing, fluffed (NSFW photo here), doesn't even extend past his nuts.  It's small, boys and girls.

    He's a very tiny boy.

    Then there's the effort to pretend the TPP is a good thing.  It's not.

    But some Americans believe it is.

    You should watch the WikiLeaks video here.

    About the only good news was Ward and Mae returned to the forefront on ABC's MARVEL Agents of SHIELD.

    Mae was shown taking care of her father but knowing she had to return to help the team.

    Ward was full on evil working to weed out the weak in HYDRA.

    Ward and Mae really are too important to leave off the show.

    I could take a Colson free episode (I could really take one of those!) but you can't sideline Ward and Mae, the show needs them way too much.

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

    Saturday, October 10, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the PUK political party appears willing to stir up and incite in the KRG, Congress discusses the Ashraf community, concern is expressed over exactly how long Haider al-Abadi will remain prime minister of Iraq, and much more.

    Wednesday, former US Senator Joe Lieberman declared, "I will just say briefly that the very fact of this hearing is important today because the greatest because the greatest enemy of the people in Camp Liberty is invisibility."

    What was talking about?

    The Ashraf community.

    Background:  As of September 2013, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of 2013, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1, 2013 -- two years ago.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported back then that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

    Those in Iraq remain persecuted.

    Lieberman was testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday (we covered part of the hearing in the Wednesday's Iraq snapshot).  Senator John McCain is the Chair of the Committee, Senator Jack Reed is the Ranking Member.  Lieberman was one of three witnesses appearing before the Committee.  The other two were  retired US Gen James Jones  and retired US Colonel Wesley Martin.

    The topic was the Ashraf community still trapped in Iraq at Camp Liberty.

    Senator Jeanne Shaheen: [. . . ] and to our witnesses for testifying to what I also believe is a travesty and that we have not lived up to the commitments that we have made to the people who are now at Camp Liberty.  I was in Iraq back in 2009 and we heard about this issue.  And I've had a chance to see the video -- a video of one of the attacks on Camp Liberty and the people being murdered.  So I think it's an area where we need to do much more to address what has happened there.  And I don't understand why people who have relatives here are not able to come and join their relatives and be resettled in America.  So I guess I appreciate that I'm asking you all for a subjective analysis of why the resettlement has been so slow.  But is it just beauractric foot dragging?  Is it because it has not risen to the level of some of the people at State who can make it happen to put pressure on Iraq to release the residents of Camp Liberty?  Or is there something else going on?  And General Jones or Senator Lieberman, I don't know if either of you have a perspective on that?

    General James Jones: Senator, I don't know the answer to that.  All I know is that for the last several years, things that look like they're finally going to move are replaced by another obstacle. The-the delisting of the MEK [a decision then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made under pressure from the US courts] would be the end of it but it was replaced by another listing [a  designation by the Dept of Homeland Security classifying the MEK as "third tier" -- a listing that is in violation of the court order served on then Secretary of State Clinton] -- that was, somewhat, in my view arbitrary.  But it has served to delay the process even more.  I don't think the Iraqi government has been particularly helpful.  They-they play cat and mouse with the residents.  Sometimes they deny food, they deny protection, they turn off the water, they don't take out the trash or garbage for days on end.  It's just a constant problem.  But I really think that the real answer is for someone in authority to just make a decision, "Enough, we're going to do the right thing.  We made a commitment to these people.  We didn't live up to it. It's time to finish it."  And I think it's that simple.  It's a humanitarian gesture. I frankly don't care what the Iranians think about this.  I think it's the right thing to do.

    Senator Jeanne Shaheen:  Senator Lieberman, one of the things I have heard from relatives of people at Camp Liberty that they're very concerned about is this requirement that they renounce MEK and concerned about what that might mean in the future and if somebody could use that and come back to address their ability to come back and live in the United States?  I've not had anybody explain that to me adequately why that is something people are being requested to do.  Have you had anybody explain to you why that's so important?

    Senator Joe Lieberman: I have not.  First, Senator Shaheen, let me thank you for the leadership that you've shown on this matter. You've been a real great advocate for the people in Camp Liberty and I know their families and friends appreciate it a lot.  This requirement of renouncing membership in an organization that is no longer considered a threat or a terrorist organization by any means -- and really there are questions of whether it should ever have been on the list of terrorist organizations seems to me to be very unAmerican.  It's like a -- it's a belief test. It seems contrary to the First Amendment.  And the truth is that there are a lot of people there in Camp Liberty who've had a long history with the MEK.  As I mentioned, they're-they're freedom fighters.  I mean, they were against the Shah [of Iran] for part of the revolution and then they turned against the Ayatollah because they replaced one dictatorship with a worse dictatorship.  So I have never -- to what extent members of Congress can to push the State Dept to explain that or really to rescind that because it's an unfair obstacle and you've made a good point: It's going to raise insecurity in the minds of people coming into the country that somehow this is going to come back three, four, five years from now and they may be subject to deportation. I-I would say to you, Senator King, the State Dept if they were here now would not question the promises made to the residents of Camp Ashraf and then Camp Liberty.

    Senator King?

    Lieberman was referring to an earlier and lengthy exchange that took place which included King noting that no one from the administration was present to testify.

    Senator Angus King: Several times you gentlemen used the term "the US made assurances," the term "solemn promise,""guarantee," and Col Martin, you mentioned a card.  What did that card say?  I'd like to know specifically: what assurances were delivered, by whom and when?

    Colonel Wesley Martin: Yes, sir.  This was the protected persons status under the Geneva Convention.  And I have a copy of it.  If you give me a second, I can find it real quick.

    Senator Angus King: Well I'd like to know what is says.

    Colonel Wesley Martin:  Okay. 

    Senator Angus King: What I'm searching for here is what are the assurances specifically and who delivered them and when.  I think that's a fair question given that seems to be the premise of this discussion.

    Colonel Wesley Martin: "This card holder is protected person under the agreement of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Should the assigned person" uh, it's a little blurry "should an incident occur, we request that the person contact the [US] military police brigade."  And then it goes on the agreement that they made: "You are being offered your release from control and protection in exchange for your promise to comply with certain regulations."  And it clearly states they are protected, they will not be -- they will not be arrested, they will not be harmed.

    Senator Angus King: What did they have to do?

    Colonel Wesley Martin: And what they had to do, sir, is go ahead and sign an agreement --

    Senator Angus King: That's when they were moved from Ashraf to Liberty?

    Colonel Wesley Martin: No, sir. That was a whole set of different promises.  If I may, sir, Senator McCain, [holding clipped stack of papers], if I could, I'd like to make this submitted for the record.

    Senator Angus King: Well you can make it for the record but I want to know who made assurances -- 

    Colonel Wesley Martin:  Yes, sir.

    Senator Angus King (Con't): -- and what those assurances were.  And saying they were protected person under the Geneva Convention isn't a promise that the US will take you in.  I just want to understand what the promise is that we're being urged to honor.

    Colonel Wesley Martin:  Yes, sir.  I understand.  The first one is they would be protected and they would remain at Camp Ashraf.  That was 2004. That was with the US State Dept in agreement with the United States Dept of Defense and [then-Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld was the person that finally approved it -- but working with the State Dept.  The person that issued those cards, working with the Embassy, was US Brigadier General David Phillips --

    Senator Angus King: But it is your position that this Geneva Convention of being a protected person constitutes a solemn promise of the United States to look after these people indefinitely? 

    Senator Joe Lieberman: Part of this was -- correct me, Wes -- that these people gave up their arms.  They were disarmed.  And that was part of a post-Saddam [Hussein] policy in Iraq.  Gen Odierno was actually involved in some ways -- not at the higher level he ultimately reached -- but he was on the ground in these negotiations.  I'll tell you, Senator King, to me one of the most compelling -- I've had it happen two or three times -- most compelling moments in my own understanding -- or getting more understanding of what happened here was to hear leaders of the US military -- including Gen Phillips, but that includes people on up who were Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time standing up and saying at a public meeting, 'We made a promise to these people and we broke it.'  I mean -- 

    Senator Angus King: Well all I'm looking for was what was the promise, when was it made and who made it?  Perhaps you could submit that for the record?  That's what I'm interested in.

    Colonel Wesley Martin:  We can do that, sir.

    Senator Angus King: I'd appreciate it.

    Colonel Wesley Martin:  And matter of fact, I just did.

    Senator Angus King: The other -- the other piece that I want to follow up on is that I'm a little uncomfortable with this hearing because we don't have anyone here from the administration.  I'm old enough to realize that they're are always two sides to every story and you've made a very strong case.  In fact, the case is so strong, you have to wonder why isn't this -- what wasn't this taken care of some time ago?  And there must be some reason and I would like to hear -- perhaps, Mr. Chairman, we could solicit the comments of the administration, the State Dept or the Dept of Homeland Security to determine why this hasn't been dealt with?  I'm just -- Again, I'm not taking any side here but I-I-I'm uncomfortable not hearing both sides of the situation.

    Colonel Wesley Martin:  Yes, sir.  If I may, Congressman Dana Roehbacher offered them the chance of what you speak of. I would be at the table along with Colonel Gary Marsh and a representative of the State Dept.  They refused. I would love to sit at a table in front of you ladies and gentlemen and go through the issues with the US State Dept.  Every time we have made that offer, they've refused.  Earlier your question was the promises, the series of promises, especially in 2012 from [Secretary of State's Special Advisor on Camp Ashraf] Dan Fried that these actions would be taken to get them out of harms way.  He came to us.  And General Jones was on the phone calls as well as myself, [former FIB Director] Louis Freeh, [former Pennsylvania] Governor [Tom] Ridge, [former Governor of Pennsylvania] Ed Rendall, [former Governor of Vermont] Howard Dean and many others -- and [retired General and former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Hugh Shelton and others actually.  And 'we will do this, we will do this.'  And even one of the promises: "We're going to be out at that Camp on a continual basis."  And I have that one in writing in this packet.

    Senator Angus King: Well I understand.  And I understand that the circumstances have changed because of Iran's influence in Iraq at this moment and that that raises the level of, as you said, stress in this situation and, perhaps, urgency.  I fully understand that.  I just want to get some of the details and some of the background.  And I want to understand why -- if it's so obvious -- we should do this that it's not being done.  

    King's time had run out.  Committee Chair McCain attempted to clarify a point.

    Chair John McCain:  I will just mention, Senator, that we have been trying for years to get the State Dept to react -- correspondence, meetings -- every method that I know of besides a Congressional hearing -- to try to get this issue resolved and these people who are now in greater and greater danger what we promised them.  And, I've got to say Colonel Martin, you didn't exactly describe it.  That was in return for -- That guarantee was in return for their giving up their weapons and in giving up their weapons we said we would guarantee their safety and gave them, under the Geneva Conventions. But that doesn't mean anything other than that the United States used that as a rationale for guaranteeing their protection.  And it's been going on now for years and -- Go ahead, General, go ahead, please.

    Gen James Jones:  I just wanted to say that we have worked diligently with the administration on a regular basis, on a daily basis.  All of Colonel Martin's reports have been sent both to the National Security Council and the State Dept.  And there are three of us at the table but it's part of a larger group including six former Ambassadors, a former Director of the FBI, a former Attorney General, 8 five-star generals, one former Speaker of the House, four former governors, six members of Congress, one White House Chief of Staff, 

    Some may have been bothered by McCain's clarification/lecture. But at least it wasn't like his September 29th outburst during an Armed Services Committee hearing when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was not prepared to get too outraged (publicly, anyway) over cyber propaganda aimed at US (or 'US' -- most are offshore) companies when the US is doing the exact same thing.  This prompted a loud lecture from McCain that "glass houses" is not an argument for doing nothing.  (Which, for the record, is not the point Clapper was making.  He was attempting to say both sides engage in corporate espionage and he wasn't willing to grandstand on the topic as a result.)

    One of the moments from the hearing that should especially be noted?

    Colonel Wesley Martin:  [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-]Abadi, as I mentioned before, is very weak.  And this is a golden opportunity for the United States to pressure him into allowing the residents to leave and for us to bring all the residents here. As I mentioned, there are enough families throughout the United States, we can absorb all of them. And when you think of all the torment and all the horror  they have had to go through for the past three, four years especially --  well since 2009 -- and yet they still remain loyal hoping that we will be able to do something to lift them out of that tyranny.  It's time to bring them out.  And it's only a matter of time before the fight between [former Iraqi prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-]Maliki and al-Abadi is going to come to a head.  And I fear Maliki has the strong support of the militias, Abadi will be out.

    On the struggle between Haider and Nouri, J. Matthew McInnis (National Interest) offered this near the end of last month:

    Following Abadi’s August 9 decision to eliminate Nouri al-Maliki’s position as vice president (which still needs judicial approval), Maliki made a well-publicized visit to Iran, meeting with Supreme Leader Khamenei’s senior foreign policy advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati and other Iranian officials. The prime minister is rightly worried that Tehran is plotting a Maliki restoration, perhaps by using the Iranian-aligned Iraqi Shia militia groups under Soleimani, such as Khataib Hezbollah, that are deepening their grip on large parts of the Iraqi’s security forces amidst the government’s campaign against ISIS.

    The violence never ends in Iraq.

  • | Sunni Iraqi Preacher Abdelmalek al-Saadi: Iraqi fleeing Sunni cities in not from Daesh only but also from coalition missiles

  • In addition, AP reports that a Husseiniya car bombing left 8 people dead and "nearly two dozen" injured. Isabel Coles (Reuters) notes 3 people are dead in the third day of protests in the Kurdistan Region which also saw "several offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)" torched.

    The KDP and Goran (Change) are the two main political parties in Iraq following the last KRG elections.  The once might Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has slid to three.  That slide may be why the PUK is making statements that seemed time to inflame the outrage (which is over the lack of payment of government employees -- as a result of Baghdad continuing to withhold the KRG's percentage of the national budget).  All Iraq News reports that PUK MP Farhad Qadir is insisting that the issue of who will be president of the Kurdistan Regional Government has been blocked by the KDP.

    Not all protests have turned violent.  Outside of the KRG, the Friday protests continued.