Friday, August 29, 2014

Helen Thomas, you are missed

CBC quotes Barack from yesterday's speech stating of Iraq:

"I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet. I think what I've seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we're at than we currently are," he said.

I believe the bombs got dropped ahead of the planning.

And that would be on Barack.

I really wish we had a functioning press which would ask needed questions.

I think Helen Thomas would have spoken up.

I think she would have asked something like, "How can you start bombing and killing people when you have no plan?  And when you aren't under attack yourself, how can you legally justify it?"

But Helen Thomas was one of a kind and she's not been replaced.

We miss you, Helen.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 28, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack speaks about Iraq, we note Chris Hill's continued stupidity as he continues to lie about Iraq, over 800 civilians in Falluja have been killed from Nouri al-Maliki's bombings, and much more.

Today on a KPFA newsbreak, Mark Mericle noted:

Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee is one of three lawmakers who have sent a letter to Republican House Speaker John Boehner calling for a debate and a vote on an authorization for the use of military force in Iraq when the House of Representatives returns on September 8th.  In a statement, Lee says that it's clear that the current US mission in Iraq is extended beyond the limited, specific and targeted scope of preventing genocide and ensuring the security of US personnel there.  Lee said the president must seek Congressional authorization before the situation escalates further. She was joined by Democrat Jim McGovern and Republican Walter Jones.  The three were the principle co-sponsers of a resolution that overwhelming passed the House with 370 votes.  It said the president should not deploy or maintain United States armed forces in a sustained combat role in Iraq without the specific authorization from Congress.

Time's Jay Newton-Small explains:

There are some in Congress who are calling on Obama to push through a War Powers Resolution. Article II of the Constitution grants the President the power to defend the country. But Article I gives only Congress the power to declare war. So, what in a post-war-on-terrorism era constitutes an actual war? In 1973, afraid of Vietnam mission creep, Congress passed the War Powers Act, which requires the President to consult Congress 60 days after engaging in hostilities. If you count bombing a foreign country as hostile — as the U.S. did against militants in northern Iraq on Aug. 7 — then the 60 days expires Oct. 7.
Theoretically, if Congress cares about not further weakening its oversight of the President’s ability to bomb whatever country he pleases, lawmakers will move to pass a War Powers Resolution in the next month. Presidents, including Obama, have argued that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. But a turf fight over who gets to go to war is the last thing on Congress’ mind weeks before the midterm elections.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama insisted today that "throughout this process, we've consulted closely with Congress, and the feedback I've gotten from Congress is, is that we're doing the right thing."

He was speaking this afternoon at the White House -- in the suit that gave Cedric and Wally pause.

US President Barack Obama:  Second, in Iraq, our dedicated pilots and crews continue to carry out the targeted strikes that I authorized to protect Americans there and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground.  As Commander-in-Chief, I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland.  Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment.  In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back.  And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission.   Now, ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region.  And that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL.  And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress that they've made so far and forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.  Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners.  I'm encouraged so far that countries in the region -- countries that don't always agree on many things -- increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat that ISIL poses to all of them.  And I've asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat.  As I've said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can -- and we will -- working closely with our allies and our partners.  For our part, I've directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options.  I'll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy.  And I've been consulting with members of Congress and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead.

Barack was several minutes late for the appearance which is strange until you realize he was supposed to begin speaking at four but had been scheduled to meet, also at four, with US Vice President Joe Biden and the National Security Council.  Barack is said to have met for four minutes ahead of the meeting.  A quick four minutes.  And, as he noted in his remarks, he was meeting with them later that evening as well.

"Them" was identified in this White House press release:

Readout of the President’s Meeting with the National Security Council on Iraq and ISIL

This afternoon the President met with his National Security Council to discuss the situation in Iraq, our ongoing efforts to support the Iraqi government, and our comprehensive strategy to counter the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.  The President will continue to consult with his national security team in the days to come.  
 Participants in today’s meeting included:
The Vice President (via secure video)
Secretary of State John Kerry (via secure video)
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (via secure video)
Attorney General Eric Holder
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson (via secure video)
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough
National Security Advisor Susan Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power (via secure video)
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey (via secure video)
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Winnefeld
Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen
U.S. Central Command Commander Lloyd Austin (via secure video)
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan
Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco
Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Caroline Atkinson
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns
White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and Gulf Region Philip Gordon
Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs Katie Fallon
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Robert Stephen Beecroft (via secure video)

Suzanne George, Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council

In an embarrassing article for the Guardian (Barack is seen as torn -- deer in the headlights, little puppy, etc.), Spencer Ackerman does note, "Obama’s national security team convened at the White House Thursday afternoon to discuss the contours of a still-inchoate strategy. Administration officials have recently begun describing Isis in apocalyptic and near-hysterical terms, even as they decline to endorse additional military action against it, a discrepancy that has prompted confusion in Washington and beyond."

Maybe these sketchy meetings explain in part why the 'mission' in Iraq still lacks a mission?

Josh Jordan Tweeted the following today:

  • Pew Poll - Obama approval on the issues: Economy 39-55 Immigration 31-61* Russia/Ukraine 35-52 Israel 37-48 Iraq 35-56* * = all time low

  • Francis Matthew (Gulf News) notes:

    This alarming lack of purpose is reflected in how the world’s superpower is confused about what it is trying to do. President Barack Obama has offered some deeply contradictory messages as he first authorised humanitarian support on a strictly limited basis, but then talked of refusing to allow Isil to continue and the necessity of a long drawn-out struggle.

    It is clear that the growing acceptance of the importance of defeating Isil is creating some very uneasy alliances, as the Iranians and Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria offer to work with the Americans and Saudis. This fits into the new pragmatic search for stability that will dominate the Arab world for the next few years, as regional and world powers work with any non-Islamist who can regain control of a nation state and impose an end to civil war and chaos.

    Here are some Tweets in reaction to Barack's speech:

  • Be fair re: President's admission we have no IS strategy: only been in office dealing w Iraq 6 yrs, Syria for 3, IS took Fallujah in Jan.

  • Where are people getting that Obama is an isolationist? Drone wars, extended Iraq War, stay in Afghanistan until 2024, Syria, Libya, etc.

  • We'll come back to Barack's event later in the snapshot.

    Let's knock out the discussion at the State Dept today in the press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki:

    QUESTION: We talked about – yesterday on Iraq we talked about the situation for – of the Turkmen in the north of the country.

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: Do you have any more information about the supposedly dire situation they’re in and what the United States might be planning?

    MS. PSAKI: Sure. I have a little bit on information. We are very concerned about the dire conditions for the mainly Turkmen population in Amirli as well as the ongoing humanitarian situation throughout northern and central Iraq. We’re focused on reviewing options to assess how we can best help alleviate the situation in Amirli. Our embassy and military personnel at our joint operation centers in Iraq are already working closely with the Iraqi Government to share information and discuss ways to provide relief to those in need, and certainly we’re having ongoing internal discussions as well.

    The Turkmen are the latest in-need in Iraq.

    It's a real shame when the in-need included gay and perceived gay teenagers that the US government couldn't and wouldn't do a damn thing.  Since Hillary was Secretary of State then, should she run for the presidential nomination, let's hope reporters have done their work and are willing to ask her why she failed so many in need?

    And will the in-need ever include the civilians of Falluja?

    We've noted repeatedly that Nouri is shelling civilian neighborhoods in Falluja and has been since the start of this year.  We've noted repeatedly that this is a War Crime and is legally defined as such.

    At what point does the White House intend to object to ongoing War Crimes?

    Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:

    Many of the buildings are damaged or completely destroyed. Anyone who manages to get into Fallujah will see a city that looks as though it’s out of a picture taken just after World War II.

    “Some areas – such as al-Hay al-Sinaie and Nazzal – have been completely levelled,” one of the city’s tribal leaders, Ahmed al-Halbusi, told NIQASH. “It would be almost impossible for people to go back and live in those areas again because they are so damaged. Additionally the Iraqi air force is still shelling those areas even though we have no idea why.”

    Al-Halbusi was now looking after a five-year-old boy named Othman. “His whole family was killed in the Nazzal area,” al-Halbusi explains. “He was playing in his garden and his family were in the house when the house was hit. He was the only survivor.”

    There are dozens of similar stories. The Iraqi army has been attacking Fallujah since the beginning of the year. Every day the army shells the city two different ways – with ground artillery from their camps near the city. One of the major camps is the nearby Mazra camp.

    The people of Fallujah say that this method seems to be fairly ineffective and doesn’t cause a lot of damage. They are far more concerned about the second method the Iraqi army is using: air bombardment.  

    Military helicopters bomb the city too – some of these helicopters are old ones, dating back to Saddam Hussein’s army, and some are new Russian-made machines, received recently. The helicopters often use barrel bombs, locals say. When these land and don’t explode, they try to disarm them.

    Niqash can do a major piece on this, why are they the only ones who can?

    These War Crimes take place every day.

    We used the April 16th snapshot to demonstrate this, covering Nouri's bombings in January, February, March and April.

    Do we need to do that again?

    Spend an entire snapshot documenting these bombings and how many are left wounded or dead?

    Nouri gets away with it because it is often just a few this day and a few that.

    But we've pointed out that, over a prolonged period, these small daily numbers add up.

    Doubt it?

    National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Spokesman for the hospital in Fallujah Dr. Ahmed Al-Shami said on Thursday that the number of the martyrs in Fallujah since the beginning of military operations by more than 8 months amounted to 812 people, while the total number of wounded to 2488 people.
    He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that this is not the final statistics due to the continued bombardment of the city in addition to that a number of the martyrs were buried without arriving to the hospital and the wounded were treated in homes and health centers.
    He added that 16 percent of the martyrs are children and 19 percent of them women, while the injured proportion of children reached 11 percent and women 17 percent. 

    What is the number that will prompt disgust and lead to vocal rejection of Nouri's assault on Sunni civilians?

    The embarrassing UNHCR wanted to whine about 'terrorism' in Iraq.

    What is terrorism but not being safe in your own home?

    Read Mustafa Habib's piece for Niqash -- it's very clear that those civilians in the city are pretty much stuck there.

    They shouldn't have to leave their homes to begin with but now they have no choice.

    And these are the civilians Nouri kills and wounds daily.

    When does this become an issue?

    When the number killed hits a thousand?

    At the end of February, I was speaking to a friend in the administration about these murders -- they are murders, Nouri is a murderer.  And it was just so small, I was told, these deaths, and, besides, the US was working with him on getting a cease fire.  They'd eventually get a '48' hour cease fire.  But Nouri couldn't even honor that.

    I want to know what the magic number is that leads to an international outcry?

    I would have thought, myself, that the fact that these are War Crimes would prompt outrage.


    Very few acknowledge what's taking place.

    What continues to take place.

    And the silence that surrounds it goes to Nouri's enablers.  Patrick Cockburn is only one of many who have been silent.  Nouri has had many, many enablers.

    Take Barack's first US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill.

    Chris Hill was a joke.  A lazy idiot who showed up for his confirmation hearing with his hair sticking out at all angles and food stains on his shirt (see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th one).

    The Pig-Pen Ambassador


    Isaiah captured the moment in  The World Today Just Nuts "The Pig-Pen Ambassador."
    That alone should have raised alarms.

    Hill's answers were even worse than his failure to dress to impress for a Senate hearing.

    And once he became ambassador, he dresses up as a Secret Service agent with some tawdry idiot dressing  as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to spoof the assassination of JFK.

    chris hill

    That's what trashy Chris Hill thinks passes for professional.  (Peter Van Buren  posted the photo to his blog here and here.)

    I'd love to leave Chris alone but he can't stop being a danger to himself and others.

    Gulf News runs Chris' latest crap today.  It opens:

    Nouri Al Maliki’s fitful departure from Iraq’s premiership recalled many other cliffhanger exits by unpopular political leaders. His leaving did not come a moment too soon for the many Iraqis who have laid all of the country’s current troubles at his doorstep.

    Do we see a problem already?

    Sunday morning, we offered "Nouri's not gone yet -- as Falluja civilians can attest."

    Chris is an idiot, over and over he's an idiot.

    When he left Iraq August 13, 2010, he swore to Anthony Shadid (New York Times) that the political stalemate he'd been no help in resolving was nearly over and that a power-sharing agreement "was just weeks away."

    Weeks away?

    Did he mean 12 weeks -- which is also known as three months -- because that's how much longer Nouri drug out the political stalemate.

    The idiot told NPR that Nouri would abide by the results of the 2010 election.

    But Nouri didn't.

    Over and over, Chris Hill has been wrong.

    Now he writes:

    Al Maliki, according to this view, was endlessly divisive, driven by authoritarian tendencies, lacking in elementary political skills, and incapable of leading an army in disarray. But his greatest failure was his inability to grasp that successful governance in Iraq requires reaching out to other communities, notably the Sunnis and Kurds.
    Instead, Al Maliki ordered preventive arrests of young Sunni men, supposedly in anticipation of their defection to terrorist groups, and hounded his political opponents, in some instances driving them out of government (and in one case into exile).

    No doubt, much of this narrative has a basis in fact. But if it were the whole story, the mild-mannered, western-educated prime minister-designate, Haider Al Abadi, would have an easy task in stitching things back together. After all, Iraq’s Sunnis would have every reason to support Al Abadi now that Al Maliki has gone.

    Chris needs to spare Nouri because he enabled him.  Calling him out now is calling out himself.

    If you don't get what a liar Chris -- or Patrick Cockburn or any of Nouri's concubines -- don't listen to me.  I've talked this issue to death.

    Let's instead hear from Barack again.  Here's what he said today:

    Keep in mind we had been in communications with the Iraqi government for more than a year indicating that we saw significant problems in the Sunni areas.  Prime Minister Maliki was not as responsive perhaps as we would have liked to some of the underlying political grievances that existed at the time.There is no doubt that in order for Iraq security forces to be successful, they're going to need help.  They're going to need help from us.  They're going to need help from our international partners.  They're going to need additional training.  They're going to need additional equipment.  And we are going to be prepared to offer that support.
    There may be a role for an international coalition providing additional air support for their operations.  But the reason it’s so important that an Iraqi government be in place is this is not simply a military problem.  The problem we have had consistently is a Sunni population that feels alienated from Baghdad and does not feel invested in what’s happening, and does not feel as if anybody is looking out for them.
    If we can get a government in place that provides Sunnis some hope that a national government serves their interest, if they can regain some confidence and trust that it will follow through on commitments that were made way back in 2006 and 2007 and 2008 and earlier about how you arrive at, for example, de-Baathification laws and give people opportunities so they're not locked out of government positions -- if those things are followed through on, and we are able to combine it with a sound military strategy, then I think we can be successful.  If we can't, then the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS I think is unrealistic.
    As I’ve said before -- I think I said in the previous press conference -- our military is the best in the world.  We can route ISIS on the ground and keep a lid on things temporarily.  But then as soon as we leave, the same problems come back again.  So we’ve got to make sure that Iraqis understand in the end they're going to be responsible for their own security.  And part of that is going to be the capacity for them to make compromises.

    Barack needs to rebuke Chris Hill publicly.

    The White House fired Chris.

    Fired him for cause, in fact.

    Hill was a failure who couldn't hold onto his job.

    Now he's going to be presented as a trusted source?

    We'll close with this,   Zeke Miller (Time magazine) asking Barack a question and Barack's response:

    Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Last year, you said that you believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress.  In response to Chuck’s question you said you don’t have a strategy yet, but you’ll reconsider that going forward.  But why didn’t you go to Congress before this current round of strikes in Iraq?  Do you not believe that that’s the case anymore, what you said last year?  And throughout your career you’ve also said that -- you raised concerns with the expansion of powers of the executive.  Are you concerned that your recent actions, unilaterally, had maybe -- have cut against that?

    THE PRESIDENT:  No.  And here’s why:  It is not just part of my responsibility, but it is a sacred duty for me as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people.  And that requires me to act fast, based on information I receive, if an embassy of ours or a consulate of ours is being threatened.  The decisions I made were based on very concrete assessments about the possibility that Erbil might be overrun in the Kurdish region and that our consulate could be in danger.  And I can’t afford to wait in order to make sure that those folks are protected.
    But throughout this process, we’ve consulted closely with Congress, and the feedback I’ve gotten from Congress is, is that we’re doing the right thing.  Now, as we go forward -- as I’ve described to Chuck -- and look at a broader regional strategy with an international coalition and partners to systematically degrade ISIL’s capacity to engage in the terrible violence and disruptions that they’ve been engaging in not just in Syria, not just in Iraq, but potentially elsewhere if we don’t nip this at the bud, then those consultations with Congress for something that is longer term I think become more relevant.
    And it is my intention that Congress has to have some buy-in as representatives of the American people.  And, by the way, the American people need to hear what that strategy is.  But as I said to Chuck, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.  And in some of the media reports the suggestion seems to have been that we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL, and the suggestion, I guess, has been that we’ll start moving forward imminently and somehow Congress -- still out of town -- is going to be left in the dark.  That’s not what’s going to happen.

    We are going to continue to focus on protecting the American people.  We’re going to continue, where we can, to engage in the sort of humanitarian acts that saved so many folks who were trapped on a mountain.  We are going to work politically and diplomatically with folks in the region.  And we’re going to cobble together the kind of coalition that we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy.  There will be a military aspect to that, and it’s going to be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it may cost some money.


    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Oprah, who knew?

    There are poorly written headlines and then there is this "Oprah Winfrey to play pimp and brothel owner in upcoming biopic."

    So Oprah was both a pimp and a brothel owner?

    I knew she was on drugs at one point early on but I had no idea.

    No, Oprah wasn't a pimp or a brothel owner.  The headline should have read "Oprah Winfrey to play pimp and brothel owner in Pryor biopic."

    How many people will read just the headline and never know otherwise?

    Probably more than a few.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri claims there is a "plan B" to keep him on as prime minister, Nouri verbally attacks a high ranking US official, a new wave of refugees sweeps Iraq, a coalition of something wants increased war on Iraq, and much more.

    Tonight the Washington Post published a column by Anbar Province Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi which notes:

    We are struggling in this war against the forces of darkness, but we are a people who can see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is thousands of miles away. No matter how dim the light, we hope that it will shine brighter every day.

    Iraqis have the right to live in peace. Our young people have the right to enjoy all the wonderful things that life has to offer. And we have a responsibility to give them hope that will empower them to live life to the fullest, to reach out to their counterparts in other nations and to turn away from death and extremism. 

    The Iraqi people are a strong group who has overcome repeatedly the attacks and 'help' from outsiders.  And, of course, they managed to survive two terms under the despot and tyrant Nouri al-Maliki.

    We frequently note he's not gone here and sometimes add that Nouri will only be truly gone when he's in the ground.

    Some e-mails insist that's too harsh.  Nouri's shown a kinder side in recent days and weeks, one e-mailer argued.

    Has he?  Well that certainly erases his sending his goons into middle schools and high schools to liken gay men to vampires and to encourage the students to bully, harm and kill and Iraqi gays they might know.  Right?  And doesn't it wipe away all the Sunni protesters he killed?

    And doesn't it just vanish all the civilians in Falluja he's killed and wounded with his bombing of residential -neighborhoods?  (National Iraq News Agency notes the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods today left 3 civilians dead and seven more injured.)

    And we could go on and on.

    Nouri's a thug.

    I'm not kind to thugs, so sorry.

    And my belief that Nouri's not gone yet -- even though the world press tells us he is outgoing -- gone, gone, gone?

    Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

    Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki said on Wednesday he was prepared to form a new government from among Iraq’s Shi’ite parties if ongoing talks on the shape of the new government fail.
    Speaking in his weekly national address, Maliki claimed that the Shi’ite-led National Alliance—which includes his State of Law coalition, parties loyal to firebrand cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI)—had a “Plan B” in place if Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi was unable to make progress in talks on forming a government with Sunni and Kurdish factions.

    Still think Nouri's packed it in?  Or, and this is a better guess, are you thinking Nouri's actively working to ensure that Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi fails so that he can be named to the position and take 30 days to form a government?

    Mustafa notes the National Alliance says they have no plan B involving Nouri.  Is he lying?

    Most likely.  He usually does, after all.

    But his personal Eva Braun was on Democracy Now! this week and Sunni-hater Patrick Cockburn couldn't stop making excuses for his beloved:

    Well, I think, you know, that Maliki is finished. I think he’s been finished for some time. The question was: Would he fight it out? He had military units that were personally loyal to him, but he found that after the new prime minister had been appointed, the Iranians had turned against him. They wouldn’t support him. He didn’t have any outside political support. His own party was disintegrating or would no longer support him. So I think that the transition will happen.
    But I think what is wrong is to think that—almost everything now is being blamed on al-Maliki, both inside and outside Baghdad, that he was the person who provoked the Sunni uprising, he was the hate figure for the Sunni, he produced an army that was riddled with corruption. But I think that it’s exaggerated, that it’s as if there was a magic wand that would be used once al-Maliki had gone. But there were other reasons for this uprising, for the creation of ISIS—notably, the rebellion in Syria in 2011. This changed the regional balance of power. That was a Sunni rebellion, which Iraqi politicians over the last couple of years were always telling me, if the West supports the opposition in Syria, this will destabilize Iraq. And they were dead right. It wasn’t just al-Maliki.

    He did provoke the Sunni uprising?  I realize it's difficult for Patrick to speak with Nouri's cock down his throat but the Sunnis were protesting in 2011 and were promised by Nouri that corruption ends in 100 days and it was another lie from Nouri.  They took to the streets again as December 2012 rolled around and they ended up being attacked and savaged.

    And Patrick, if you can hear us over the sucking noise you're making, who do you think had Sunnis rounded up and tossed into prison?  The Easter Bunny?

    Who created military forces without the authorization of Parliament?

    The man whose pubes your nose is in.  That's right.

    Because you're a worthless person who hates the Sunnis, you never bothered to report any of this over the years.  That's on you.  Lying about it now won't help you any.

    In yesterday's snapshot, we noted The Progressive published an article on Iraq by Stephen Zunes. With Patrick Cockburn's latest spin for Nouri still fresh, let's see what Zunes has to say on the same topics:

    The biggest division among Iraq’s Arabs, however, is not between Sunnis and Shias but between nationalist and sectarian tendencies within both communities. Under the corrupt and autocratic U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Shia sectarians dominated. This resulted in an initially nonviolent Sunni backlash, which was met by severe government repression. This backlash was eventually hijacked by ISIS, which rid the major Sunni-dominated cities of government control.

    Yeah, that's pretty much the way most of us who've paid attention to Iraq over the last four years feel it went down.  You won't find it in Patrick Cockburn's 'reporting.'  You can find it in our archives.  Over and over. But I don't hate Sunnis and I was never vested in lying for Nouri al-Maliki (or any other official).  Sadly, Patrick Cockburn can't say the same.

    There's so much he can't say -- can't or won't.  You have governments vying to be by Barack's side in the latest wave of the Iraq War.  Paddy Cock Burn got anything to say about that?

    Of course not.

    Jen Psaki, State Dept spokesperson, had to address it and other topics in today's State Dept press briefing:

    QUESTION: We have a story out today that cites officials talking about the United States considering a new humanitarian mission in Iraq. This one would be to the north for the ethnic Shiite Turkmen. Do you have any – anything to share about this? Why is the situation so dire? What’s being planned?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any new information for you, Brad. I will say, broadly speaking, we’re very focused on addressing the humanitarian concerns across Iraq. Obviously, this is something we continue to asses with our Iraqi partners. We’re also working at the same time on an effort to put together a coalition of countries in Europe, in the Arab world, and beyond that who might be able to contribute to taking on the threat of ISIL and the causes that have resulted, which, of course, is some of the humanitarian results that you mentioned.
    And as you all know, there’s many ways to contribute. There’s humanitarian, military, intelligence, diplomatic, and we know this is an effort that is going to require significant focus and all hands on deck – not just the United States, but a range of countries. And you’ve already seen that there are a range of countries that have offered a range of assistance in Iraq, whether it’s humanitarian assistance or other countries who have taken strikes. We’ve seen the efforts of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, and many, many others, who have given assistance. And this is an effort that we think needs to be over the long term to take this on.

    QUESTION: Do you have any – I mean, are you concerned about the situation, particularly of the Turkmen right now, in the north of Iraq?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s a situation we’re watching closely, just as we’re watching any humanitarian situation in Iraq that raises concerns. And as you know, we continue to assess necessary steps to take.

    QUESTION: Are you – sorry, go ahead.

    QUESTION: Just – Said, thank you. Just in terms of the coalition-building, have you anything more to say about other countries that might help on the military side of it?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s really important to note that this is about many areas of contribution. They include military. They include humanitarian. They include intelligence. They include diplomatic efforts. We’re not going to make announcements for other countries, of course, about what they may or may not do. You’ve seen some countries take steps in Iraq to take on the threat of ISIL. Obviously, we’re having conversations with a range – dozens of countries about what contribution they’re able to make.

    QUESTION: Who’s taking on ISIL militarily in Iraq --

    QUESTION: Yeah, besides the Americans.

    QUESTION: -- besides you and Iran, which I assume is not part of your coalition?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, what I mean, Brad, is that obviously there are countries who are all considering what options they can take and they may be willing to take to take on the threat of ISIL, whether it’s Iraq or across borders.
    More on this? Let’s finish this issue. Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Are you aware about the desperate situation of the people in the town of Amirli in north Iraq – northern Iraq?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think as I said in response to Brad’s question, we are watching closely the humanitarian situation in Iraq; that’s obviously impacting many communities. And we continue to assess how we can provide the best assistance. And obviously this is not a short-term effort, this is a long-term effort, which is why it’s so important to work through a coalition of countries in a coordinated manner, with regional and international partners to see how we can address.

    QUESTION: But to help the people of Amirli match the – one of the goals of the President’s mission in Iraq, right – humanitarian relief?

    MS. PSAKI: Certainly, one of the goals is humanitarian relief. You’ve seen contributions we’ve already made. We continue to assess what more we can do.

    QUESTION: Yeah. On ISIL in Syria, you have said that you will not coordinate with the Assad Government because it has allowed a vacuum that has fostered ISIL. That’s still correct?

    MS. PSAKI: Yes.

    QUESTION: Now with the Iranian Government, they have fostered sectarianism in Baghdad, which you said contributed – is a political problem that’s possibly greater than the military problem. They have funded, they have armed, they have trained the Assad Government. And yet, the Secretary has said explicitly we’re open to them playing a constructive role numerous times. Is that a --

    MS. PSAKI: But I think we’ve also said, clearly – and I think the context of his remarks are important – that there’s many ways you can play a constructive role, and certainly supporting a unified Iraqi Government – which I think is what his reference was to at the time – and one that takes into account the views of all parties, is one that many countries can play a productive role in. And if Iran was able to play a productive role in moving that process forward when that statement was made months ago or weeks ago, then that’s something we would certainly support.
    We’ve also talked about our concern about certain kinds of outside intervention in Iraq as well.

    QUESTION: Okay. But in terms of ISIL generally – Iraq or Syria – the comments that he made are not relevant in terms of Iran’s ability to play a constructive role in the military fight against the organization.

    MS. PSAKI: I would encourage you to look back at the context, which I recall was about the formation of a governing – of a government in Iraq, which certainly has moved forward several steps since then.

    David Williams and Jason Groves (Daily Mail) report, "America is poised to ask Britain to support air strikes against jihadi positions in northern Iraq, it was reported last night."  While England plays coy, Australia is apparently desperate to be invited to the ball.  Daniel Hurst (Guardian) reports:

    Australia has signalled its willingness to contribute Super Hornets to US-led air strikes in Iraq, with the defence force “at a high state of readiness”.

    The defence minister, David Johnston, said Australia was yet to be approached to provide assistance other than humanitarian relief, but would continue to talk to the US about steps to preserve civilian life from the threat posed by the Islamic State (Isis).

    And Australians are apparently all in for anything.  Pak Yiu (4BC 1116 Talk) speaks with Neil James the Executive Director of the Australian Defense Association:

    Mr James said an intervention like the one in 2003 is unlikely, but it could be possible.
    “There may be a fair bit of air support to the new Iraqi government but I can’t see a similar type of multinational intervention there was back in 2003.”

    Unlikely . . . but maybe, he says.

    Who's in charge of the war?

    Not the US Congress which can't find a voice one way or the other.

    How about the White House?

    New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd offers this take:

    As he has grown weary of Washington, President Barack Obama has shed parts of his presidency, like drying petals falling off a rose.
    He left the explaining and selling of his signature health care legislation to Bill Clinton. He outsourced Congress to Rahm Emanuel in the first term, and now doesn't bother to source it at all. He left schmoozing, as well as a spiraling Iraq, to Joe Biden. Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, comes across as more than a messagemeister. As the president floats in the empyrean, Rhodes seems to make foreign policy even as he's spinning it.

    Meanwhile National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    A security source in Anbar said on Tuesday that, an unknown military plane bombed a school, which includes a number of displaced people from the city of Falluja, west of Anbar.
    The source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA/ that the school is located amid Kubaisa in Hit district, west of Anbar were bombed by unidentified aircraft, without knowing the size of the losses caused by the bombing. 

    Kitabat reports an American aircraft crashed to the west of Baghdad International Airport -- as they describe the craft, it was a remote control drone. Kitabat also reports 27 corpses were discovered dumped to the north of Baghdad.   And in Baghdad?  Iraq Times notes the corpse of 1 woman and 6 men were discovered throughout Baghdad today.  Alsumaria reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Baghdad, a bombing in a booby-trapped Ramadi home left 1 police member dead, and 1 civilian was shot dead in western Baghdad.  All Iraq News adds 1 health department employee was shot dead in Raibya,  National Iraqi News notes the handcuffed corpses of 2 young men were dumped on the road in Tuz Khurmato.  Margaret Griffis ( reports 168 violent deaths took place in Iraq today.

    As the violence continues, it impacts the country.  Sean Callebs (CCTV -- link is video) reports 1.5 million have been displaced by violence from the Islamic State. Iraq has seen waves of both external and internal refugees throughout the war.  Alsumaria notes the General Secretariat of the Council of Minister Mohammed Taher al-Tamimi is calling for the Iraqi schools to take in the displaced children.

    We'll try to grab the topic of religious minorities tomorrow.  For now, let's return to the topic of Nouri.  He announced the alleged plan B today in his weekly speech.  He did more than that in the speech.

    Among other things, he attacked US Vice President Joe Biden.

    Kitabat notes Nouri accused Joe of attempting to divide Iraq into three separate regions -- Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd.  Al Mada also notes Nouri's "attack" (they use the term) on Joe. All Iraq News notes he called on Joe "to respect the Iraqi people and constitution" -- to which Joe Biden could reply, "You first."

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    A few thoughts on the Emmys

    Reflecting on Monday's Emmys I'm left with how undeserving the whole thing was.

    Julianna's win, for example?

    She's not a bad actress but we saw everything she offers now when she played Carol on ER and isn't it rather strange that ER nurse Carol is exactly the same as a politician's wife?

    Or take Julia's win for Veep.

    Again, the exact same performance in every character she plays.

    Kerry Washington was shut out in a way that no White actress would be if their show was as talked about as Scandal.  And poor Mindy Kalig can't even get nominated but there's tired Edie Falco -- talk about a one-note performance -- nominated yet again.

    The Emmys are a sad circus run by tired ringleaders.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, voices for war aren't shy, but something's got the tongue of the peace movement, In These Times can't take on the Iraq War but can go after Taylor Swift, and much more.

    Justin O. Smith (Daily News Journal) argues for full on war in Iraq to combat the Islamic State.  Citing what's being done to Christians and Yazidis, he writes, "This is genocide pure and simple. America sees it and knows it as genocide, and as such, it is imperative that the U.S. and the world take vigorous military action against ISIS and all possible measures to prevent this massacre of minorities in Iraq. And with more than vigilance and 130 advisors, the U.S. and its allies should send 130 bombers and 130,000 soldiers to run ISIS into the ground, utterly destroy them and kill them mercilessly with extreme prejudice, just as they did entire Christian communities."

    Smith's opinion has a few issues beyond the issue of calling for war.

    He writes, "Obama, ever sympathetic to Sunni Muslims, more than likely illegally and surreptitiously armed the so-called 'rebels' in Syria by late 2011 from Libya, as strong evidence suggests."  I think few Sunnis in Iraq would make the ridiculous claim Smith does.  In fact, let's allow Sunnis to speak for themselves.

    In March of last year, activists in Samarra put their message on display.

    From Samarra من سامراء

    "Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?"

    The following month, Sunnis would be slaughtered at a protest elsewhere.

    April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    Did Barack call for bombings when that took place?

    No, he didn't.

    What he did was further arm Nouri al-Maliki.

    "Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?"

    He couldn't see the Sunnis.  He just didn't care.

    The prime minister of Iraq killed peaceful protesters.  Including children.  Including the child of a father who was present.  The young teen was trying to get his father to safety.  The challenged community in Iraq does not wait for others to do things, they join their brothers and sisters in the street in protests.  And this father was in a wheel chair.  It was chaos as Nouri's forces began firing at protesters and attacking them and the son was attempting to get his father to safety when they were stopped by Nouri's thugs.

    The thugs said one of them was dying and they shot the son when he tried to protect his father by stepping in front of him.  They shot the father then too.  But the son died.

    No one outside of Iraq really seemed to care about that man and the son he lost or about the children shot dead by Nouri's forces at that protest site.

    Barack didn't do a damn thing.

    The BRussells Tribunal cared and carried the account of Thamer Hussein Mousa who lost his son Mohammed Thamer.

    But Barack didn't care, AFP didn't care, AP either, go down the list.

    And Justin O. Smith cares about Christians in and from Iraq.  I don't doubt that he cares.  But someone should have informed him that a large number of those Sunnis are Christians.  The ones targeted, the ones that became part of the refugee population sometime ago.

    Having addressed that aspect, let's note Smith's calling for war.

    Is he right?

    I don't think so and I argue against the US taking violent measures against -- continued violent measures -- against Iraq.

    But Smith feels the way he feels -- and has every right to express what he thinks and feels -- and he's not alone.  The people wanting war are not shy about expressing themselves.

    It's a shame the same can't be said for those on my side of the fence.

    We noted the appalling silence from the various antiwar groups -- we noted it in yesterday's snapshot.  Nothing's changed today.  A.N.S.W.E.R. has nothing to offer.

    And The Nation has dozens of stories on their main pages -- 7 alone are on Ferguson -- but there's nothing on Iraq.

    The Progressive, to their credit, have posted a piece on Iraq.  It's by Stephen Zunes, here's the link.

    Good for The Progressive.

    But they are one outlet.

    What does In These Times offer?

    I've had it with Sady Doyle and had it with her and her faux feminism a long damn time ago.  Elaine's called the idiot out and, as always say, if Elaine's thinking it, I am too.   Ann's also called her out.

    Taylor Swift   was slut shamed by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Michael J. Fox and all our supposed 'feminist' and woman-positive press could do was giggle and and praise Tina and Amy -- two grown women who really should be more worried about their own sex lives.

    Sady Doyle's attacked one woman after another and it's really time she was told, "You are the problem."

    Taylor, you understand, is ripping off African-American culture, according to Doyle.

     Doyle's idiotic b.s. critique is one she got from the 'great minds' of Jezebel.  Here's Doyle:

    Then there’s the song itself, written by Max Martin and Shellback with Swift. Its chorus hinges on the arguably appropriated truism “players gonna play, haters gonna hate.” Which, granted, has become a matter of common usage. Still, it sticks out, especially considering that the song—both musically and lyrically—is a washed-out third-generation copy of Janelle Monae’s breakthrough single “Tightrope,” complete with hand-clap percussion and horn-section hook. Both songs are anti-hater anthems about the power of dance: Where Monae tells us to “dance up on them haters, keep getting funky on the scene,” Swift instructs us that “haters gonna hate … shake, shake, shake it off.”

    So stupid, so ignorant, so embarrassing.

    Players gonna play?

    I believe it was Stevie Nicks -- let's damn well give credit where it's due -- who wrote "players only love you when they're playing."  (And took it to number one, "Dreams.")

    Musicians are magpies -- Madonna's not the only one.

    Every rapper tossing around 'playa' owes some serious props to Stevie Nicks.

    And Stevie?  She owes a debt to the Mamas and the Papas and to Joni Mitchell and others -- and she acknowledges that debt.

    Taylor is 24-years-old.

    Sady Doyle wants to slam her for not being Loretta Lynn:

    Loretta Lynn, a coal-miner’s daughter, sang about growing up in aching poverty, being married as an adolescent  and having four children by the age of 20. She fulminated against cheating husbands, but she also sang a paean to birth control and a rant against slut-shaming. Swift, a stockbroker’s daughter, borrowed some tropes—Georgia, trucks, blue jeans—but stuck to complaining about cheerleaders.

    How dare Doyle slam Swift for who her parents are -- more specifically, who her father was.  How dare you try to define a woman by a man in their lives.

    You are not a feminist, you are a disgusting piece of trash who, sadly, is also stupid.

    Should Taylor, like Loretta, be singing about the pill?

    Maybe she will.

    We are all aware aren't we -- Sady's not -- that Loretta had a hit with "The Pill" in 1975 -- 15 years after she had her first hit song.  15 years after.

    And how old was Loretta?


    Sady is trashing a 24-year-old for lacking the scope of a 43-year-old.

    Only in Sady's small and trashy mind is that acceptable.

    Loretta's a true artist who's more than earned her reputation.  But she built that reputation over decades of work.  Taylor's career has barely started.

    Sady Doyle is deeply stupid.

     If you want to accuse Taylor of borrowing, I think the obvious comparison is Florence and the Machine's "Shake It Out."

    Sady doesn't go there.

    What happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson is tragic.

    The investigation Attorney General Eric Holder is overseeing may find that it was also criminal -- it may not find that.

    But Taylor Swift releasing a video and song isn't the end of the world.

    We already saw how the morality police like Sady condemned Janet Jackson (I love Janet and have known her for years).  They destroyed Janet's career and let's applaud Janet for refusing to grovel.  Justin Timberlake has a career but he groveled, didn't he?

    Janet stood strong.

    But the man got forgotten because what's better in this society than another round of Bash The Bitch?  As Ava and I observed years ago in "Katie Was A Cheerleader:"

    Who knew it was a war crime? Katie Couric was a cheerleader and an army of Beate Klarsfelds are on her trail in an attempt to warn America of this dangerous contravention of the law. We imagine it's only a matter of time before the tribunal is held. The cheerleader as Eichmann, no doubt, sends shudders through the hearts of many women on the left, center and right, since they too may be charged.
    Couric's apparent crime, for some on the left, is saying that Navy Seals "rock." That moment was immortalized in Michael Moore's FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and seems to be the chief piece of evidence that will be introduced when the commentators gather at the Hague.
    For some of the left, though not all, that's at the root of their pursuit of Couric. It's the gift of impunity that allows them to operate in a fact-free environment as they compose the charges against Couric. But those who hear such a statement and nod agreeably are also engaged in the national pastime of bash-the-bitch.
    Bash the bitch is as American as apple pie and rush to judgement, so who are we to complain?
    If it makes us "America haters" to say "Just a minute now" then so be it. Let all the ones partaking in bash-the-bitch wrap themselves in Old Glory, we'll call it the way we see it.
    Here's what we see. A woman's trashed. For what she did?
    Oh cookie, please, it's for being a woman. Read the commentaries. "Cheerleader" is a trumped up charge -- as usual, the true crime is gender.

    Michael Brown's death has provoked strong feelings -- sadness, anger and more.

    And all this is going to get tossed on Taylor?


    Sade Doyle, were she a true feminist, would be defending Taylor and wondering why -- yet again -- a woman is made the ultimate criminal.

    Timberlake rips off Janet's top and it destroys her career not his.

    Robin Thicke traffics in sexism and he and Miley Cyrus perform live on the MTV Awards but it's Miley who's called out, not the old man in the suit and tie looking all creepy.

    There is anger in the country over what happened to Michael Brown.

    The anger's understandable.

    Let's go with, for just a second, that the police conducted themselves as they should in every way, okay?  Even if that's the case, that doesn't change the anger.  Michael is dead and a lot of people are personalizing this loss -- some due to what they perceive as relatable events, commonalities between Michael's lives and their own.

    That's completely understandable.

    It's also understandable that this free floating anxiety will attempt to glom on something else.  In our society, those targets are usually women.

    And this anger could destroy Taylor's career.

    Now if she destroyed her career with her own mouth, so be it.  If she destroyed it by doing the same song over and over, so be it.

    But when she's made to be the target, when "racism" is falsely pinned upon her at a time when the country is riled up?

    That's ridiculous.

    I'm not remember Sady -- are you? -- calling out Ani DiFranco when Ani was planning this year's get-away on a slave plantation.  Are you?


    But because idiots who can't interpret art say Taylor's done this or done that, Sady is ready to attack.

    As an artist, I tend to laugh at most critics because they're so damn stupid (Frank Rich is a stupid columnist and he was even more stupid critic -- he also lied to be 'funny' in his critiques which is even more offensive).

    There were real racial implications in a White woman -- Ani DiFranco -- who'd gone around calling others racist going on to plan a retreat at a slave plantation.  There were racial implications in Ani attacking -- publicly attacking -- those who called her out.  That only cause more anger and forced her to apologize.

    But I don't remember Sady Doyle treading into those waters.

    The difference of course being that Sady worships Ani DiFranco.

    Critics who can't call out their heroes aren't critics at all.

    And women who trash other women to fit in, who see a mob going after a woman and encourage it?

    They're embarrassments and much worse.

    Sady Doyle can play 'feminist' all she wants.  The fact is that she remains male defined in a world of men -- she's getting to the Taylor 'story' by quoting a horror book written by a man when what's she's really saying is Taylor is a monster -- a man made monster -- so if she had any sense, she would have been referencing Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

    But that's Sady, a 'feminist' forever name checking men.

    She's doing real damage.

    When a mob's advancing on a woman, you don't join the mob.

    Not if you want to be a feminist.

    'C.I., we know you're a feminist.  We know.  We know.  Isn't this about Iraq?  Or supposed to be?'

    I do not support attacks on artists and if the artist being attacked is a woman, I feel I have a responsibility to call it out immediately (I've been very lucky over the years with other women having my back when I was being trashed).

    But this actually is about Iraq.

    Not just because Bully Boy Bush used the free floating anxiety over 9-11 to go to war on Iraq -- he let it glom onto WMD lies.  Not just because Barack's doing the same now with IS -- trying to scare Americans into supporting more war.

    And not just because women are the canary in the coalmine when it comes to whether a society progresses or fails.

    It's also because Sady and In These Times believe she took on the war in her bad column:

    Tensions were escalating in Iraq; on August 19, the terrorist group ISIS beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley. Even soft news and entertainment sections were dominated by death and pain, as seemingly everyone even vaguely related to the entertainment industry reacted to the unexpected suicide of Robin Williams. Several outlets published corresponding public-service pieces about self-harm and depression. The outcry over the abuses in Ferguson, in particular, had become so urgent that President Obama left his vacation to give a live-streamed speech about both Ferguson and the US military involvement in Iraq.

    Sady's garbage, in the minds of In These Times, passes for Iraq 'commentary.'

    And, maybe for In These Times, that is Iraq commentary?

    Iraq is on fire and Sady Doyle's busying herself handing out torches and pointing at Taylor Swift while screaming, "Get her!"

    There was apparently no screaming on Monday when US Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraq's Prime Minister-Designate Haider al-Abadi:

    The White House
    Office of the Vice President

    Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi

    Earlier today, Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi.  The Vice President and Prime Minister-designate discussed ongoing military actions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).   The Vice President observed that Iraq’s political progress to date has already brought about greater regional and international support and that efforts to form a new government are an integral component of Iraq’s broader fight against ISIL.  Dr. Abadi underscored to the Vice President his intent to quickly form a new government that is inclusive of all segments of Iraqi society and that is prepared to take concrete steps to addresses the concerns of all of Iraq’s communities.   The Vice President emphasized his support for these efforts and the importance of all leaders working together to form a new government as soon as possible.

    And maybe similar efforts could help Iraq?  Instead of brainstorming on that, the 'answer' from the White House is more military action.  Elissa Curtis and Benajmin Landy (MSNBC) note the refugee crisis is expected to only get worse.  Well how has bombing ever stopped the growth of refugees?  They generally increase the refugee population.

    Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reports:

    The Pentagon warned on Tuesday that Islamic State (Isis) militants have global aspirations, ratcheting up already dire US rhetoric against the jihadist army that has overrun much of Iraq and Syria.
    “Quite frankly, we’re not turning a blind eye to their global aspirations as well,” said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

    Isis has not conducted attacks outside of Iraq – its gestation ground – and Syria, where its successes brought it global attention. Its own rhetoric imagines a global Islamic caliphate, obliterating man-made borders, but its capabilities – which include access to oil wealth – fall significantly short. 

    A huge threat -- supposedly.  WMDs were a huge threat once upon a time too.  Some of us refused to be frightened senseless.  Others went all in on the fear, let it consume and control them.  Where are the voices of reason?

    At the US State Dept press briefing today, spokesperson Jen Psaki faced a few questions related to Iraq including this:

    QUESTION: Why are you so concerned all of a sudden now about a threat to the United States potentially emanating from ISIS in Syria when the march of ISIS through Syria and then through Iraq has been underway for quite a long time now? The reports of dozens of Western – people with Western nationality fighting among them have been out for months. I mean, what’s different? Is there some kind of new or proximate threat that causes you to be concerned about this?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad, I think anybody who looks at the situation in Iraq and Syria – the threat from ISIL – would say that they have gained strength over the last six months, that things have certainly changed in that regard. Obviously, we monitor and have long monitored very closely whether or not ISIL will seek to develop plots aimed at the West, beyond the geographic area where they have been operating in Iraq and Syria. And we’re actively, of course, consulting on that and working on that.
    But it’s important to note that they, of course, have threatened to attack the homeland. We take those threats very seriously, and I think what you’re seeing here is a response to our growing concern about the counterterrorism threats. This is not new this past week. Neither is our response to it. I would point you back to the President’s speech at West Point where he talked about a $5 billion counterterrorism fund and our efforts to increase assistance to the Iraqis over the past six months. But certainly, we’ve seen an increase over the past months.

    QUESTION: But why not act much earlier than now, then? I mean, why – if the threat’s been there for months, you’ve seen it for months --

    MS. PSAKI: I think I said an increase over the past several months, and we have taken steps over the past several months in order to address it in different varieties. But our sole strategy here is not the potential for airstrikes. I think you saw General Dempsey speak to that. Obviously, there are a range of options that the President can consider and will consider.

    Are some feeling the White House is suddenly seeing alarm where they didn't before?

    Tom Ridge and Howard Dean pen a column together for the Chicago Tribune.

    With the help of Iran's Quds force, al-Maliki brutally repressed popular protests across Iraq that demanded basic rights for Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities. He hunted down tribal leaders, made arrests and carried out executions, all with Tehran's complicity. That reversed the gains made in 2007, when Sunnis played the most crucial role in driving al-Qaida out of Iraq. It also demonstrated the kind of brazen sectarianism that gave rise to the Islamic State, which many U.S. analysts say represents a new, direct threat to U.S. interests.

    The former Secretary of Homeland Security and the former Governor of Vermont feel Iraq has a moment right now, however fleeting, to move beyond the current crises if the next prime minister sets the correct tone and pursues inclusion.

    We'll close with this:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Contact: J.T. Johnson
    August 26, 2014
    office - 703-522-2214
    cell - 202-681-7251

    WHEN: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    WHERE: Online
    WHAT: Pop Quiz for Equality

    -- Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920, but it was a right that took decades to realize. This landmark Amendment institutionalized every person’s right to participate in the electoral process regardless of sex, and now it’s time to use the priceless power of the vote to advance another crucial amendment for women’s rights: the Equal Rights Amendment.
    This Women’s Equality Day, the Feminist Majority Foundation is taking this important anniversary in the fight for women’s suffrage to continue building momentum around the Equal Rights Amendment with an online quiz testing voters’ knowledge of the ERA.
    The Equal Rights Amendment will finally cement equal rights under the law – for all – for the first time ever in the United States Constitution. Now it’s time to make sure voters know what the ERA is all about, and how they can be agents in the fight to ratify the ERA right now!

    • The Illinois state senate approved the ERA by a 60 percent majority in 2014. The Illinois House could vote to bring the US one state closer to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment in the 2014 November veto session. Illinois would become the 36th state. We need 38.
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    • Now, in Nevada, a leading state legislator is contemplating introducing a resolution to ratify the ERA in 2015.
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    Take the quiz and join the conversation all day long: Follow @majorityspeaks, @femmajority and #WED2014 all day for reasons to ratify the #ERANow!

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