Thursday, November 15, 2018

Are they going to trick us again?

First off, I loved Trina's "Leslie Bennetts writes about something but it's not Joan Rivers ." If you haven't read it already, make a point to.  Great book review.

Okay, I'm a Green.  I wouldn't be upset, though, if a large number of Socialists were elected to Congress.  Or even just a few.  But I'm not really seeing that.  Are you?

I tend to agree with Genevieve Leigh (WSWS):
On November 7, the Democratic Socialists of America’s National Political Committee published a statement celebrating the US midterm elections as a victory for the “left.” The statement begins: “Yesterday democratic socialists fought and won inspiring election campaigns across the country, representing the rebirth of the American socialist movement after generations in retreat.”
It continues: “While Democrats succeeded in taking back a slim majority in the House of Representatives, striking a blow to the extreme right-wing and pro-corporate agenda represented by Trump and the Republican Party, the Senate remains in the hands of Republicans.”
The DSA presentation of the elections as a blow to the right wing and victory for socialism is in blatant conflict with reality, as is the claim that the election of a handful of DSA members and a few dozen DSA-supported candidates has significantly altered the political trajectory of the United States.
Such assertions are belied by the fact that few if any of the candidates supposedly embodying the “rebirth” of American socialism actually identify themselves as socialists, and none of them advance a socialist program. They do not even put forward a serious liberal reform program. All of them are part of the Democratic Party, the oldest capitalist party in the United States, and support its core policies: war, austerity and attacks on democratic rights.
At the top of the list is DSA member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newly elected congresswoman from New York. After winning the primary, in which she buried her affiliation with the DSA, she moved quickly to dissociate herself not only from socialism, but from anything smacking of opposition to militarism, Zionism or the persecution of immigrants.
Within days of her primary victory, she disavowed all “isms,” repudiated previous criticisms of Israel, pledged her support for “border security,” and stood beside Bernie Sanders, nodding in agreement, as the Vermont senator endorsed the Democrats’ anti-Russia campaign. A few weeks later she joined the sickening chorus of praise for Senator John McCain, following the death of the reactionary war-monger (see: “Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders praise McCain: An object lesson in the politics of the pseudo-left”).
As for the other DSA-endorsed candidates cited in the National Political Committee statement, not one of them could be considered genuinely on the left, let alone socialist. Every one of the 12 nationally endorsed candidates ran and was elected as a Democrat. They are for the most part Democratic Party machine functionaries.

I see a lot of fakery but very little truth.

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

Thursday, November 115, 2018.  If you strip away history and context, it's easy to believe almost any government official.

Yesterday, Paul Gibbard appeared on RUDAW.

RUDAW:  You are Canada's first Ambassador to Iraq in 27 years.  Why has Canada chosen to return to Iraq now?

Paul Gibbard: It's a good question.  We've had an office here for a long time  but, definitely since 2016, we've-we've really ramped up our participation.  And that's really part of a broader strategy we have in the Mid East that includes Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.  We've invested about two billion dollars between 2016 and 2019.really in an attempt to respond to the expansion of [the Islamic State].  So, here in Iraq, we've been playing an important role in terms of the coalition against [the Islamic State] -- both on the military side and on the civilian side.  So part of the civilian side that many people may not know about is that we're providing training -- police training, uhm, to uh-uh officers both on community policing and also on the role of women in-in policing.  We also, uh, on the -- something new, uhm, that's been announced, the NATO mission, so that there's a new NATO mission.  

I don't believe Paul Gibbard has looked so dishonest since he spoke of immigration in 2016 and babbled on about "integrating" and how "our survival depends" on that integration.

In the above -- interview is here and they have a transcript -- with RUDAW, Gibbard is provided wide space to run free.  He's never pinned down.

Pinning him down would mean asking, for example, why NATO is needed in Iraq?

Richard Sisk (MILITARY.COM) offers his dictation notes:

NATO has committed to a long-term military training effort in Iraq, where the Iraqi Security Forces are still struggling against pockets of ISIS fighters in several areas despite declaring victory over the terror group nearly a year ago, a British officer with the U.S.-led coalition said Tuesday.
[. . .]
In a video briefing from Baghdad to reporters at the Pentagon, Ghika said the new, open-ended NATO training mission in Iraq would begin early next year and would essentially involve teacher-on-teacher instruction.

"It's going to focus its efforts on the institutional education establishments, such as the National Defense University, the Staff College, the institutional structure of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense," Ghika said.

That is hilarious.  Sisk never heard of context or history but he's still the sweetest cherry in the steno pool.

RUDAW's interview should have required Gibbard to explain who in Lebanon, Jordan or Syria is calling for Canada's "ramped up" participation.  It certainly should have included asking Gibbard why he claims Canada is responding "to the expansion of" the Islamic State since most observers have argued it has contracted, not expanded.  (Previously, they argued it was gone and vanquished -- as we stated repeatedly, that was never true.)

Peter Beaumont (GUARDIAN) reports from Falluja:

Shuhada school sits on what was one of Iraq’s most violent frontlines, in the former Isis stronghold of Fallujah.
The children have to walk along a dirt road, the edges of which are lined with red-painted bricks and skull and crossbones signs that warn of the risk beyond the makeshift border – landmines laid by the extremist group.
Hundreds of the homemade devices are buried in fields, inside war-damaged houses and under roads, forming a densely-packed belt that stretches for 15km and more.
Daily life for the people of Fallujah’s southern neighbourhood of Shuhada is shaped by the surrounding minefields. They dictate where they can live, walk, farm and allow children to play.
One of the first Iraqi cities clawed back from the self-proclaimed Islamic State caliphate, Fallujah is left with the conflict’s lingering and deadly legacy.

As the morning classes end, minibuses and parents on foot arrive to pick up the children. Others leave together in small groups to walk home along routes made safe and marked by the Halo Trust, the British demining charity.

Beaumont discusses his report on TODAY IN FOCUS.

A really informed exchange would require -- yes, Sisk -- context and history.

So Canada wants to train -- and wants to train the Ministry of the Interior.

Basic history?  How many times are Iraq's forces going to be trained, retrained and then retrained again?

Even in the early years of the Iraq War -- when Bully Boy Bush still occupied the White House -- you would find American trainers complaining to the press that the Iraqis couldn't learn.  More likely, they didn't want to.  See Herbert R. Kohl's classic I WON"T LEARN FROM YOU.  Nor should they want to.  Would you want someone who invaded your country to be your teacher?

If you can grasp that, you can apply the needed context.

In the fall of 2011, the US Defense Dept ceded control over the Iraq mission to the US State Dept and State was going to do what?  Anyone remember?  They were going to train the police forces.  There was a new academy built -- US tax payers footed the bill -- and this was going to be so huge.   New to the topic?  Let'd drop back to the December 1, 2011 snapshot:

"Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program?" asked US House Rep Gary Ackerman yesterday. "Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue."
That was Ackerman's important question yesterday afternoon at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia hearing on Iraq.  US House Rep Steve Chabot is the Chair of the Subcommittee, US House Rep Gary Ackerman is the Ranking Member.  The first panel was the State Dept's Brooke Darby.  The second panel was the Inspector General for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen and SIGIR's Assistant Inspector General for Iraq Glenn D. Furbish.  Chabot had a few comments to make at the start of the hearing.  They often echoed comments made in the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing [see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and other community reporting on the hearing included Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ]. But while Senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsey Graham made their comments during rounds of questions, Chabot made his as the start of the hearing in his opening remarks. 
Chair Steve Chabot: Unfortunately, these negotiations failed due to, in my opinion, mismanagement by this White House.  Amazingly, the White House is now trying to tout the breakdown and lack of agreement as a success in as much as it has met a promise President Obama made as a candidate. This blatant politicization calls into question the White House's effort to secure an extension.  Fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of American national security  is at best strategic neglect and at worse downright irresponsible.  And the White House tacitly admits this in negotiating an extension in the first place. I fear, however, that our objective is no longer to ensure that Iraq is stable but merely to withdraw our forces by the end of this year in order to meet a political time line. Saying that Iraq is secure, stable and self-reliant -- as Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough  recently did -- does not make it so.  And to borrow a quote from then-Senator Hillary Clinton , It requires "the willing suspension of disbelief" to believe that withdrawing our forces from Iraq at a time when Iranian agents seek to harm at every turn our country and its allies advances our strategic interests.  Although I understand that Iraq is a sovereign country, I believe there is much more we could have done to secure a reasonable troop presence beyond the end of this year.
McCain was wrongly criticized for not grasping Iraq was a sovereign nation in some press accounts. Wrongly.  McCain grasped that fact and acknowledged it repeatedly in the hearing.  Chabot may have wanted all of that at the start of the hearing to ensure that he was not misunderstood.  In addition, Chabot noted the "reports of obstruction and noncooperation on the part of the Department of State during SIGIR's audit.  This is extremely distressing and, to echo the sentiments of several of my colleagues in the other body which they recently expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, the Department of State is legally obliged to cooperate fully with SIGIR in the execution of its mission; jurisdictional games are unacceptable." In his opening remarks, the Ranking Member weighed in on that topic as well.
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman:  He [Bowen] has testified before other bodies of Congress, he has released written quarterly reports, as well as specific audits and the message is the same: The program for which the Department of State officially took responsibility on October 1st is nearly a text book case of government procurement -- in this case, foreign assistance -- doesn't buy what we think we're paying for, what we want and why more money will only make the problem worse.  Failed procurement is not a problem unique to the State Department.  And when it comes to frittering away millions, Foggy Bottom is a rank amateur compared to the Department of Defense. As our colleagues on the Armed Services committees have learned, the best of projects with the most desirable of purposes can go horribly, horribly off-track; and the hardest thing it seems that any bureaucracy can do is pull the plug on a failed initiative.  How do we know the Police Development Program is going off-track?  Very simple things demonstrate a strong likelihood of waste and mismanagement.  Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program? Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue.
Ackerman went on to note how "the program's objectives remain a mushy bowl of vague platitudes" and how  it had "no comprehensive and detailed plan for execution, there is no current assessment of Iraqi police force capability and, perhaps most tellingly, there are no outcome-based metrics.  This is a flashing-red warning light."

Remember how that ended?

The US government turned over the new facility to Iraq (and other properties).  They did not train any police.  Police members did not show up for trainings they were scheduled for.  The State Dept's entire program was a joke and a waste of tax dollars.  As then-US House Rep Gary Ackerman pointed out, the office of the Special Inspector General knew it was going to fail ahead of time because "senior Iraqi officials . . . show[ed] utter disdain for the program."  Ackerman was correct to argue, "When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue."

It was a clue.  But no one wants to learn.

When the US State Dept was failing with the program who was the Minister of the Interior?

No one.  Nouri wanted to keep the post for himself.

Do we remember that?

You can't learn from history if you can't even remember it.

Now money will again be spent on 'training' and who is the Minister of the Interior?

Oh, right, again there is no Minister of Interior.

That's history.  Want honesty?

Here's honesty: The 'training' was never about training.  It was about spying.  It's still about spying.  That's why the waste of money won't shock the Canadian government anymore than it did the US government.  The 'training' is not about imparting wisdom, the 'training' is about getting intelligence and spying.

Further into the interview, Gibbard starts talking women -- he makes it the thrust of the interview.  Women are important, he insists, to the peace.  And, yes, Iraq has no women in the Cabinet, but they want to encourage.

So many want to encourage.

November 12, UK Political Coordinator to the United Nations Stephen Hickey delivered remarks which included:

We welcome the formation of the cabinet that is well underway and encourage the appointment of the remaining cabinet members in an inclusive manner within constitutional timelines. However, like Poland and the Netherlands and others, we do share the disappointment in a lack of female members in those appointed to the cabinet to date and we would encourage the Iraqi government in its efforts to address this issue and promote the participation and representation of women at all levels of decision-making in Iraq.

[Click here for Hickey's full remarks.]

All this encouragement.  Nothing changes so far, didn't in the past either, but let's keep 'encouraging.'  Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, turned down even the requests of her personal friends to help women in Iraq and stated that the government did not seek the input or participation of women.

What's changed?


If it's me that's driving you to this madness
Then there's one thing that I'd like to say
Take a look at your life and your lovers
Nothing ever changes

-- "Nothing Ever Changes," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her WILD HEART

There's more honesty -- as an aside -- in the following Tweet than in Gibbard's entire interview.

Food for thought...

"As well as trade . . ."

The following community sites -- plus BLACK AGENDA REPORT, Jody Watley and Cindy Sheehan -- updated:

  • Wednesday, November 14, 2018

    Star -- didn't know Brandy was on the show

    No offense to Queen Latifah but she did not draw me to Star.  In fact, her burrowing deeper and deeper into the closet probably makes me not want to watch.  I don't know an African-American woman who doesn't believe Queen is straight.  We all know and we have all accepted it.  So why can't she come out of the closet?  It's embarrassing.

    But the TV was on Empire and Cedric and I then tucked the kids in.  I'm walking back through the living room and there's Brandy.


    Oh, yeah, I'll watch Star for Brandy.

    Moesha?  Yeah, I'll watch for Brandy.

    On the show, she's a shady lady involved with an abusive guy -- Chad Michael Murray.  It's too bad he's abusive because -- even with the character having a wife -- Brandy and Chad have real chemistry.

    Maybe they can pull a Claws and have him chained up in the bedroom like they did Roller?

    This show has been on for three years.  I watched the first episode but it bored the hell out of me and there was too much Queen Closet.  So I never bothered to watch again.  I called up my best friend from high school and said, "Why didn't you tell me Brandy was on this?"  She didn't realize it either.  How did we miss Brandy?

    Fox needs to start promoting Star with commercials featuring Brandy.

    Brandy even sang a song on tonight's episode.

    As long as Brandy's part of the show, I'll keep watching.

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

    Wednesday, November 14, 2018.  A UN official prepares to leave Iraq and issues a string of lies on his way out.

    The United Nations notes:

    In his last briefing as the top United Nations official in Iraq, Ján Kubiš updated the Security Council on the country’s post-election political settlement, commending the “exemplary peaceful transfer of power” between Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his successor, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who was sworn in at the end of October.
    “The new Government intends to start immediately, particularly on the delivery of services and jobs, on reforming and energizing the economy, fighting corruption and administrative red-tape,” he said, calling on the international community for its continued support. “We must not let them down.”
    He noted that during the government formation process, competition and differences had been “largely political and not sectarian,” calling it, “a break from the past.”

    Pointing out that the main negotiations had been carried out by political factions including the influential cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr and Hadi al-Ameri on behalf of their respective Islah and Binaa blocks, Mr. Kubiš said it signified “that all of these primary partners and political forces now share a responsibility for creating an enabling environment for the new government to deliver on its programme, and for its stability.”

    Well he had to praise something, right?

    Peaceful transition?

    Iraq held elections May 12th for a new government.  It's November 14th and the prime minister still doesn't have a full Cabinet -- despite forming a Cabinet being the only requirement to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister.

    Six months after the elections and Iraq still doesn't have a full Cabinet.  22 posts and only 14 are filled.  Empty?  Empty includes Minister of Defense and Minister of the Interior -- the two security posts.

    Six months after the elections.

    PM : We have formed a strong , and we will submit the names of the nominees for the remaining Cabinet posts to parliament soon



    When Nouri al-Maliki failed/refused to have a Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior in his second term, what happened?  Oh, that's right, the rise of ISIS.  ISIS ended up seizing Mosul and other lands, seizing and controlling.

    By all means, let's allow this pattern to be the one to follow.

    At least there's no violence in Iraq right now, right?



    Qatar expresses its strong condemnation and denunciation of the attack in Anbar province western Iraq, which led to the death of 9 people, reiterating its firm stance on rejecting violence and terrorism, regardless of motives and reasons.

    Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) counts 25 dead in Tuesday's violence.

    But, by all means, Jan Kubis, pull your Pebbles.

    I'm out the door, babe.
    There's other fish in the sea.

    And Kunis is out the door but as for those fish in the sea . . .

    This month thousands of fish turned up dead in Iraq.  Is it pollution?  No one knows.  But that didn't stop Kunis from insisting to the United Nations that Iraq is "a success, a positive story, in a region marked by many negative trends and developments."

    A success?  A positive story?

    Kunnis loves to lie.

    إستمرار تسجيل حالات التسمم بالماء الملوث في قضاء "أبي الخصيب" في محافظة ؛ حيث تسجل المراكز الطبية من 100-200  حالة يومياً، وسط تجاهل من قبل حكومة للمشكلة.

    That's IRAQI SPRING MC noting that the people drinking the water in Basra continue to be hospitalized.

    Kubis attempts to lie as he has one foot out the door, trying to justify his failed term (Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert will be replacing him).

    In local are continuing to see 100 to 200 new cases of contaminated water daily in Abul Khasib district, whilst the Iraqi government is completely ignoring the problem

    And, Kubis, why are they protesting in Basra?  Over the water, yes.  Also over the lack of jobs, the corruption, the poverty . . .  Who but Kubis would try to sell that as progress and success?

    residents, who have been protesting to demand services and jobs, are disappointed with the new for not appointing any minister from Basra and call for the establishment of a Basra .

    Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera responds to a recent FOREIGN POLICY article:

    True that South has long been neglected & is in a mess. But not true that “the whole world” is focussed on rebuilding North . Ask the thousands of families in etc whose homes were bombed to dust & have received zero help.  

    Meanwhile the weather remains an issue in Iraq.  Right now, it's the rain.

    Main streets in Baghdad and cities in the southern and central provinces in Iraq ;are drowned due to rainwater which shows the corruption on the infrastructure projects.

    The infrastructure has been allowed to decay (and it's been harmed by US bombings as well).  This despite the fact that the rainy season in Iraq means flooding and deaths.  In Sadr City (a section of Baghdad), for example, heavy rains mean standing water at least knee level.

    In Basra, a young girl died because of the rains.

    Iraqi girl falls into a street drain and dies because it had no cover. This is what happens when Western governments give foreign aid to a corrupt government. This is Basrah, the oil rich and wealthy city in Southern Iraq. No ISIS here, just corruption.



    Killed by rain -- and corruption.  Don't forget the corruption.

    But Kunis sees only success as he completes his term.  Which leaves the rest of us to wonder, how bad would it have to be for him to see failure?

    Failure is what most will see, if they're honest.  Kunis is apparently unwilling or unable to be honest.

    Bashdar Ismaeel (NEW ARAB) offers:

    More than 15 years have gone by since the highly contentious invasion of Iraq. 

    After the war, many had hoped to usher a new chapter, based on ethno-sectarian inclusion, democracy and prosperity, that could serve as a beacon of light for the greater Middle East. But the country quickly became bogged down by sectarian bloodshed, animosity, ubiquitous political wrangling and marginalisation.
    During this period, Iraq has witnessed many false dawns and a range of excuses for the lack of stability, nation-building or improvement in standards of living. These have included the need to eradicate the imprint of Saddam Hussein and Baathism, navigating the rocky transition to Iraq's new democratic path, the US withdrawal in Iraq, foreign meddling, and most recently, the costly and deadly fight against the Islamic State (IS).
    In the meantime, Iraq continually tops the charts as one of the most corrupt states in the world.
    As new Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi works overtime to finalise a cabinet that can appease Iraq's fractured political divide and the many parties vying for power and influence, it is time for Iraqi politicians to take a long look at themselves, take accountability and finally deliver, instead of continuing to seek out excuses for Iraq's failures.
    Iraq's recent parliamentary vote and historically low voter turnout sent a clear message from the public, one of fatigue and frustration with years of broken promises, sectarian policies and dwindling standards of living.
    Ironically, while Iraq sits on one of the largest oil reserves in the world, and is the second largest OPEC producer, many places such as Basra have seen basic services and the standard of living decline, culminating in mass protests in recent years.
    While the battle against IS took centre stage from 2014, a factor often overlooked is the sectarian policies and the continuous disenfranchisement of the Sunni population that helped fuel their eventual rise.

    The following community sites updated: