Saturday, October 29, 2011

4 men, 2 women

The first hour of Friday's Diane Rehm Show (NPR) featured David Corn, Jeanne Cummings and Byron York as the guests. The second hour was Mark Landller, Susan Glasser and Hisham Melhem.

Now Whitney (NBC, Thursday nights) is hilarious. The latest episode was Whitney and Alex arguing over whether or not he used a tone when he argued. So Whitney got Mark to put a camera in their aparement so Alex could be caught on tape using the tone.

"There it is the tone," Whitney said early on. " That tone. Now Whitney I know everything tone. . . . Oh my God, you used that condescending tone. You sound like Al Gore."

And he did sound like Al Gore. Stream the episode if you missed it, it's very funny.

Also funny was this exchange about fighting.

Neal: When we fight, Lily quotes Adelle lyrics and then denies it. She tries to pass them off as her own thoughts.

Lily: I think the real problem is that you know Adelle lyrics.

Okay, Thursday we offered theme posts: Cedric's "Dickless Alter's in love" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! DICKLESS ALTER!" went up last night and others posting last night followed Rebecca and Betty's lead from earlier in the week ("scream" and "Halloween") by doing posts on scary movies in anticipation of Halloween on Monday. Isaiah's "The Unity Campaign" (The Birds), Ann's "4 men and Psycho," Ruth's "The Haunting," Marcia's "The Bad Seed," Stan's "Aliens," Kat's "Mothra vs. Godzilla," Trina's "Horror of Dracula," Mike's "The Omen," Betty's "Brian De Palma" and Rebecca's "empire of the ants."


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


Friday, October 28, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, two more journalists are arrested in Iraq, Iraq's LGBT community in the KRG is targeted, US senators call for the White House to detail their plans for Iraq, and more.
Adam Kokesh: But first, a little background on Iraq where the last accepted agreement for US military withdrawal goes back to the Bush administration because Bush decided to pretend that Iraq was a sovereign country actually going back to when I was in Falluja, there was that hand over of power on June 28, 2004 when Paul Bremer, head of the Coaltion Provisional Authority -- in effect, ruler of the 51st state of Iraq, got tired of being in charge of what could only be described as a clusterf**k and symbolicallly handed over power to Prime Minister [Ayad] Allawi who, by the way, was a former Ba'ath Party member who had been living in exile for 30 years -- perfect qualifications to be an obedient puppet ruler and the "first official head of state since Saddam Hussein." Anyway because of that, there had to be a standard SOFA, or Status Of Forces Agreement, or as it is officially titled in this case, Agreement Between The United States of America and The Republic Of Iraq on the Withdrawal of United States Forces From Iraq and the Organization of their Activities During Their Temporary Presence in Iraq." It stipulated that US military forces would be withdrawn from the cities on June 30, 2009 and that all remaining US military personnel -- except for those necessary for embassy security -- would be withdrawn by December 31, 2011. So that's how it would have gone had, say, George W. Bush gotten a third term or John McCain was elected. But we elected a Nobel Peace peace prize winner, didn't we? Mr. President, reminds us if you will please, what did you say about Iraq when you were running for president?
Barack Obama, October 27, 2007: I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do, I will get our troops home. I will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.
Adam Kokesh: Now if I recall, Obama did kind of follow the Bush plan by stepping down first the occupation of the cities, right? Well here he is taking credit for it anyway.
Barack Obama: I want to say a few words about an important milestone that we've reached in Iraq. Today American troops have transferred control of all Iraqi cities and towns to Iraq's government and security forces. And this --
Adam Kokesh: Now when was that? When was that? Oh, yeah, June 30, 2009. Oh, well, then, he's got to at least have plans to get the remaining 20 to 30,000 or so troops out before the Bush timeline if only to save some face and keep them from demanding the peace prize back, right?
Barack Obama: As a candidate for president I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011. A few hours ago, I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. I reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments. He spoke of the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future. We are in full agreement about how to move forward. So today I can report that as promised the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.
Adam Kokesh: Nope. It turns out that Obama thinks you're that stupid. If he makes a great speech about taking credit for ending the Iraq War, you'll all just grovel at what a great commander in chief he is and forget all about this.
Barack Obama: It is the first thing I will do, I will get our troops home, we will bring an end to this war.
Adam Kokesh: But it gets worse. What if I told you that if Obama had had his way, we would have troops in Iraq even longer? Yeah. Get this, this is the measure of how dumb he thinks you are. He announced the 'withdrawal' on the day that his plans for keeping troops there longer fell through when the Iraqi government rejected his request to allow troops to stay there with immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law. So, in other words, he tried to break his promise but took credit for keeping it when he failed to break it.
Adam Kokesh's Adam vs the Man is posting new episodes at his YouTube account. I'll add that to our permalinks this weekend. Repeating, Adam Kokesh's Adam vs the Man is posting new episodes at his YouTube account. Again, Adam Kokesh is an Iraq War veteran and we're going to stay with the topic of veterans for a bit longer.
Burn pits have resulted in many service members and contractors being exposed to chemicals and toxins that have seriously harmed their bodies. The Senate Democratic Policy Committee held hearings on this issue when Byron Dorgan was the Chair of the DPC. Click here to go to the hearing archives page. A registry is something that Leroy and Rosita Lopez-Torres are now working on. It should be noted that were it not for US Senator Jim Webb, the nation would already have such a registery. In October of 2009, then-Senator Evan Bayh appeared before the US Senate Veterans Affairs Committee explaining the bill for a registry he was sponsoring, advocating for it.
I am here today to testify about a tragedy that took place in 2003 on the outskirts of Basra in Iraq. I am here on behalf of Lt Col James Gentry and the brave men and women who served under his command in the First Battalion, 152nd Infantry of the Indiana National Guard. I spoke with Lt Col Gentry by phone just this last week. Unfortunately, he is at home with his wife, Luanne, waging a vliant fight against terminal cancer. The Lt Col was a healthy man when he left for Iraq. Today, he is fighting for his life. Tragically, many of his men are facing their own bleak prognosis as a result of their exposure to sodium dichromate, one of the most lethal carcinogens in existence. The chemical is used as an anti-corrosive for pipes. It was strewn all over the water treatment facility guarded by the 152nd Infantry. More than 600 soldiers from Indiana, Oregon, West Virginia and South Carolina were exposed. One Indiana Guardsman has already died from lung disease and the Army has classified it as a service-related death. Dozens of the others have come forward with a range of serious-respiratory symptoms. [. . .] Mr. Chairman, today I would like to tell this Committee about S1779. It is legislation that I have written to ensure that we provide full and timely medical care to soldiers exposed to hazardous chemicals during wartime military service like those on the outskirts of Basra. The Health Care for Veterans Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009 is bipartisan legislation that has already been co-sponsored by Senators Lugar, Dorgan, Rockefeller, Byrd, Wyden and Merkley. With a CBO score of just $10 million, it is a bill with a modest cost but a critical objective: To enusre that we do right by America's soldiers exposed to toxic chemicals while defending our country. This bill is modeled after similar legislation that Congress approved in 1978 following the Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam conflict.
In important bill but one that never got out of Committee. Iraq War veteran Leroy Torres and his wife Rosie Torres have continued to battle on behalf of veterans exposed to burn pits and contiuned to educate the nation on the issue. The Torres have a website entitled BURNPITS 360. They are also on Facebook. It's a personal issue, Capt Leroy Torres was exposed to the burn pit on Balad Airbase. They note that a member of Congress is working on the issue.
From: The Honorable W. Todd Akin
Dear Colleague;
Please sign on to be an original cosponsor to legislation that is important to our veterans.  Numerous veterans have suffered serious health problems after exposure to open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. This legislation will establish a registry, similar to the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry.  This is the first step toward providing better care for veterans who have been affected by open burn pits.
This legislation is already supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN).  And the issue of burn pits was recently reported on in the October 24th edition of USA Today (which can be found here) http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/story/2011-10-24/gulf-war-illness/50897804/1
This bill will also be introduced in a bipartisan/bicameral fashion with companion legislation being introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
This bill is scheduled to be introduced on November 3rd, so please contact my office soon to become an original cosponsor.
Sincerely,
W. Todd Akin
Member of Congress

 

Rep. W. Todd Akin

Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011

Department of Veterans Affairs

Based on recent accounts of health maladies of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and a possible link to toxic fumes released in open burn pits it has become necessary to voluntarily track and account for these individuals. 
This registry will ensure that members of the Armed Forces who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes while serving overseas can be better informed regarding exposure and possible effects. This legislation
is modeled after legislation that created the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry.
As drafted, the purpose of the
Burn Pit Registry  (bill text found here) is to:
• Establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for those individuals who
may have been exposed during their military service;
• Include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines applicable to possible health effects of this exposure;
• Develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the
registry;
• Periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pit exposure.
In order to ensure that the Veterans Administration conducts the registry in the most effective manner, the legislation:
• Requires an assessment and report to Congress by an independent
scientific organization;
• This report contains an assessment of the effectiveness of the Secretary
of the VA to collect and maintain information as well as recommendations
to improve the collection and maintenance of this information;
• The report will also include recommendations regarding the most effective
means of addressing medical needs due to exposure;
• This report will be due to Congress no later than 18 months after the date
which the registry is established.
• CBO states that this registry would cost $2 million over 5 years
(2012-2016)
We learned from this country's issues with Agent Orange that the need to get
ahead of this issue is of paramount importance. 
The establishment of a burn pit registry will help the VA determine not only to what extent the ramifications of burn pits may have on service members but can also be of great use in information dissemination. 
If you have any questions please contact Rep. Akin's office at 5-2561 and speak
Visit the e-Dear Colleague Service to manage your subscription to the available
Issue and Party list(s).
Last Friday, Barack gave his big speech and Pfc Steve Shapiro died serving in the Iraq War. His death is one of three deaths in the eight days. DoD announced today: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Sgt. 1st Class David G. Robinson, 28, of Winthrop Harbor, Ill., died Oct. 25 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was assigned to the U.S. Army Support Activity, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For more information the media may contact Maj. Charlie Barrett at Third Army/U.S. Army Central public affairs at 803-885-8875 or charlie.barrett@arcent.army.mil." And they announced Tuesday, "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Capt. Shawn P. T. Charles, 40, of Hickory, N.C., died Oct. 23 in San Antonio, Texas, from a non-combat illness. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. For more information the media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at 254-287-9993, via the internet at http://www.forthoodpresscenter.com , or email query@forthoodpresscenter.com ." The deaths brought the official Pentagon count of US military personnel who have died in the Iraq War to 4485.
Meanwhile, Charles Hoskinson (POLITICO) reports independent Joe Lieberman has joined with 10 other senators (all Republicans) who serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee to call for a hearing on the Iraq withdrawal:

In a letter released Thursday, the senators said the administration has sent conflicting signals on whether any troops would remain in Iraq. While Obama's announcement "apparently ends negotiations between the United States and the Government of Iraq on a long-term training and stability force of sufficient size to protect both U.S. and Iraqi enduring national security interests," the letter noted that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also said the U.S. will continue talks with the Iraqis.

That section of the letter reads:
We note that on the same day the President made his announcement Secretary Panetta stated that the United States could negotiate with Iraq about future training assistance. We therefore also need to understand how any proposed number of U.S. forces involved with the training of Iraqi security personnel after December 31 would be able to effectively accomplish that crucial mission without legal immunity and other protections routinely extended to U.S. military personnel under status of forces agreements world-wide. Given the President's announcement that all U.S. military forces will be withdrawn by the end of the year, our committee should take the lead on establishing the public record on the Administration's plan and ensuring Congress's rigorous oversight of this consequential decision.

If the administration has nothing to hide, if the Democrats on the Committee feel that the administration has nothing to hide, I'm sure they'll schedule a hearing. And if there's no hearing scheduled, if the Democrats ignore the request, that will say a great deal as well. Leo Shane III (Stars and Stripes) observes, "No hearings have been scheduled on the issue so far."
While it is true that the administration suffered a diplomatic rebuff on Oct. 21 when the Iraqi government refused to grant immunity from Iraqi law to U.S. military forces, the U.S. is working feverishly to continue the war through the use of military contractors, i.e., mercenary soldiers.
Obama's announcement was greeted with joy on the streets of Baghdad, where people want nothing more than to be out from under the repressive U.S. occupation. But many have expressed a deep skepticism about U.S. intentions. "I believe that the full withdrawal will be only in the media but there must be secret deals with the Americans to keep some American forces or members of the American intelligence," said Raja Jaidr, a resident of eastern Baghdad. "They won't leave." (Associated Press, Oct. 22)
These suspicions are well-founded. Despite assertions by the U.S. government that its military mission is complete, the fact is that their "mission" has been an almost complete disaster.
Since the invasion in 2003, 1 million members of the U.S. military have been deployed to Iraq, of whom 4,482 have been killed and 32,200 wounded. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been expended while former President George Bush's promise to the ruling elites that Iraqi oil would more than pay for the war has gone unrealized.
For the Iraqi people the war has meant the almost total destruction of what was once one of the most progressive and prosperous countries of the Middle East. The war -- and the economic sanctions which preceded it -- killed millions, devastated the infrastructure and pushed back gains which had previously been made in the areas of women's rights and religious tolerance.
The White House has indicated that an arrangement may yet be worked out to permit some American trainers and experts to remain, perhaps as civilians or contractors. Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a staunch opponent of the U.S. occupation, has suggested Iraq should employ trainers for its armed forces from other countries, but this is impractical for a country using American arms and planes.
Regardless, the White House is increasing the number of State Department employees in Iraq from 8,000 to an almost unbelievable 16,000, mostly stationed at the elephantine new embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone quasi-military enclave, in new American consulates in other cities, and in top "advisory" positions in many of the of the regime's ministries, particularly the oil ministry. Half the State Department personnel, 8,000 people, will handle "security" duties, joined by some 5,000 new private "security contractors."
Thus, at minimum the U.S. will possess 13,000 of its own armed "security" forces, and there's still a possibility Baghdad and Washington will work out an arrangement for adding a limited number of "non-combat" military trainers, openly or by other means.

Al Mada notes that Parliament will hold an emergency session November 3rd. This is the one that Moqtada al-Sadr called for over the weekend. Among the things to be discussed? The status of talks with the US regarding 'trainers.' In addition, Al Mada notes published accounts stating the CIA plans to operate out of base in Adana (in Turkey) from which they will operate drones.

Gavriel Queenann (Arutz Sheva) adds, "The Obama administration wants to provide two currently in-service US Marine Corps attack helicopters, Reuters reported Friday. The highly unorthodox move is being considered as Ankara seeks to exact revenge for a major attack by Kurdish separatists." Today's Zaman notes, "US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow led an interagency delegation to Ankara on Thursday to discuss ways to improve US-Turkey cooperation against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a statement from the US Embassy in Ankara said." Al Mada reports that the Turkish Minister of Defense, Ahmet Davutoglu, has declared that the latest assault on northern Iraq will cease shortly but more will be coming. Today's Zaman notes that Massoud Barzani, President of the KRG, is supposed to meet up with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, in the middle of next month.
Staying on the topic of violence. Yesterday's snapshot noted: "Reuters notes 2 Baghdad bombings have claimed 18 lives and at least thirty-eight are injured." This morning, AP reports that the death toll has risen to 32. Salam Faraj (AFP) reports 3 family members ("Hussein Mutlak, his brother and his cousin") shot dead in Saadiyah with Hussein Mutlak's wife left wounded. DPA notes a Mosul home invasion in which 4 family members were killed and a Baquba home invasion which left 3 family members dead. In addition, Aswat al-Iraq reports that Iraqi journalist Ammar Saleh and US journalist Kameran Gharib were arrested Thursday "for having photography without official permission". Tuesday came news that US journalist Daniel Smith had been arrested. After the news broke, Nouri al-Maliki quickly moved to release him.
In Iraq, the LGBT community has often been targeted. That's been most common in the Baghdad area; however, not exclusive to just Baghdad. Now Michael Luongo (Chelsea Now) reports on a new wave in the Kurdistan Regional Government:

As America prepares to leave Iraq, after an occupation dating back to 2003, a new wave of gay suppression might be under way. According to Ali Hili, chair of Iraqi LGBT, a London-based human rights group aiding queer Iraqis, police recently raided a gay party in Kalar, a small town in Kurdistan, in the north of Iraq, arresting 25 men.
According to a news release from the group, "The men were attending a party at a private house on 15th of September when the police raided the address. After fierce protests against the raid by human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, all but three men have since been released from the city's Garmyan Prison. Several of those detained claim to have been subject to violent beatings while being held in solitary confinement. The authorities in Kalar refuse to disclose the whereabouts of those still in detention, the conditions in which they are held, or the charges they face."
Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of Iraq only loosely under central government control since 1991, has not seen the intense violence of Baghdad and the southern portion of the country, where an estimated 700 or more gay men have been killed by religious insurgents, militias, and other forces.
There are many targeted populations in Iraq including Iraqi Christians. Joni B. Hannigan (Florida Baptist Witness) reported earlier this week:

Despite a growing wave of persecution, one of the first independent evangelical, Bible-believing churches in Iraq has risen from the ruins of an embattled Baghdad --and it is thriving.
In a city still besieged by blackouts and curfews well after the 2003 U.S.-led toppling of Iraq's longtime dictator, the congregation has increased 10-fold from 30 to 300.
*Sammy Thompson, a 42-year-old Iraqi Armenian, who started the church by secretly leading Bible studies in homes -- something he was jailed for during the Saddam Hussein era -- is no longer on the wrong side of the law, but instead faces threats from his own neighbors.
Doreen Abi Raad (National Catholic Register) quotes Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako stating, "The situation is still fragile and not stable. We don't know what will be next with the pullout. We are worried about the security, about our borders and the unity of our country. Who will watch them and protect them? Who will guarantee the unity of our land with the new sectarian mentality? The Iraqi army and police are not well trained. They don't have the appropriate weapons." And Baptist Press notes that Iraqis who converted from Islam believe they must hide their identities, "Whereas Assyrian Iraqis are accepted as Christians by ethnic identity, Iraqi Muslims believe Arabs have no business becoming Christians; it is not possible, according to society and the constitution."

You may remember a Tweet from a journalist mocking of high school students not long ago for protesting test scores. As we noted earlier this week, the students were successful in their protest and the scores have been changed. Al Sabaah reports today that 50% of graduating students benefit from the decision. Clearly the protest had a huge impact and although US outlets ignored it and ignored all the turmoil over the scores, for weeks this was huge news in Iraqi media. Friday protests continue. Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Tens of demonstrators in Tahrir square, mid Baghdad , denounced governmental random arrests, calling for national reconciliation. Aswat al-Iraq correspondent at the square said that tens of demonstrators denounced the arrests made by the security forces against ex-Baath Party members and military officers."
In part in response to the targeting of people in Nouri's 'Ba'athist' witch hunt, Salahuddin Province's council voted to go semi-autonomous yesterday. Alsumaria TV reports on the vote today and quotes the province's Secretary General Niyazi Oglu explaining, "The council's declaration is due to the fct that the central government is not granting Salahuddin province the constitutional and legal powers of provincial councils stipulated in law number 21 of the year 2008. The government is alo depriving the province from its share of financial allocations according to provinces pre-fixed vocational degrees while the province is subject to marginalization and arbitrary arrests without legal reasons. Iraq's centeral government is allowing appropriation around Imam's shrines in Samarra for confessional reasons, which is leading to demographic changes in the city that contradict with the Constitution's provisions." Aswat al-Iraq adds, "National Alliance MP Ahmed Habeeb described Salahuddin province declaration is 'not sufficient', pointing out that the aim of such move is to press the centeral government for more privileges." In related news, Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) reports that Anbar Province was the site today of a major protest against the "campaign to arrest former military officers and members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath Party" and, in addition, "thousands demonstrated in towns and cities across Salahuddin province, including Samarra, Shirqat and Tikrit".
Press TV reports, "A senior Iranian cleric says the billions of dollars Washington spent on killing civilians in Iraq belonged to the 99 percent who are now protesting in US streets today." Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati is quoting stating, "The 99 percent (of the US nation) have stood up against the one percent. It is not in your (US officials) interest to consider the benefits of the one percent and suppress the 99 percent." Occupy Wall Street protests have taken place across the US and the cry is for the 99 percent to come together against the 1 percent. In Wednesday's snapshot, we noted that Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was participating in the Occupy Oakland action when police responded to peaceful protest with tear gas, bean bags and other projectiles and it was apparently that action which left Scott Olsen with a fractured skull and requiring hospitalization. Peter Henderson (Reuters) reports that Olsen was "awake and lucid" on Thursday. Kathy Pacconi, Scott's aunt, is quoted stating that when he came to, "I believe he knew his mom and dad were there, and tomorrow he'll be really happy to see his sister, Melissa, because they are really close. Hopefully, he'll start to improve with her visit." Will Kane (San Francisco Chronical) reports that Scott's friend Keith Shannon stated Scott "is expected to make a full recovery" although currently, "He's awake but can't talk. He can write but his spelling is off." AP reports that Oakland's interim police Chief Howard Jordan held a press conference today in which he declared that police responded with a low level of force -- apparently the criteria to upgrad that would require the use of live ammo?
Lastly, community note, Cedric's "Dickless Alter's in love" and Wally's "" went up last night and others posting last night followed Rebecca and Betty's lead from earlier in the week ("scream" and "Halloween") by doing posts on scary movies in anticipation of Halloween on Monday. Isaiah's "The Unity Campaign" (The Birds), Ann's "4 men and Psycho," Ruth's "The Haunting," Marcia's "The Bad Seed," Stan's "Aliens," Kat's "Mothra vs. Godzilla," Trina's "Horror of Dracula," Mike's "The Omen," Betty's "Brian De Palma" and Rebecca's "empire of the ants."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

4 men and Psycho

The first hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), the guests were Robert Kimmitt, Mark Weisbrot and Sudeep Reddy. The second hour was Robert Frank.

Monday is Halloween. My favorite movie to watch is the Psycho remake.

Sorry, I love that remake. Anthony Perkins always struck me as strange and obviously so.

But the remake had Vince Vaughn who is cuddly and adorable and you really don't want him to be the hero. I also think Anne Heche and Julianne Moore do a great job and it's Viggo Mortenson's first great performance.

So I'd rather watch Gus Van Zandt's Psycho instead of Alfred Hitchcock's, sorry.

And how about when Anne's taking the shower and Vince is jerking off? A lot more honest than the original.

With the original, Tony's a creep. Sorry. Maybe just because I saw him over and over growing up in Mahogany. Vince Vaughn is a great villian.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, October 27, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, 18 dead in Baghdad from 2 bombings alone, Nouri's crackdown continues, a province wants independence, we look at the GOP candidates with regards to Iraq, and more.
We were going to avoid the GOP and their statements on the 'end' of the Iraq War because it hasn't ended. We're not big on false impressions but we're also not big on the people promoting false impressions. As long ago noted, VoteVets is a Democratic Party organ. That's all it is. Ashwin Madia is the perfect fake face for a fake group. Madia shows up at Huffington Post to survey statements on the Iraq War by the GOP presidential contenders and deem all crazy and stupid. He ignores Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul. Reminder: All the people he quotes buy the notion that the Iraq War is ending. That's not reality. And "all" include Madia.
We'll start at the end of his list with Herman Cain. "I can't for the life of me understand why you'd tell the enemy what you're going to do and when you're going to do it. That's just not common sense, I'm sorry." I have no idea there and will say Madia probably made the right call based on the fact that that's the entire quote from the original news report. As reported, Cain's remark makes no sense. (Again, that may be due to his not being quoted in full.)
Michele Bachmann: "And while we're on the way out, we're being kicked out by the very people that we liberated . . . And to think that we are so disrespected and they -- they have so little fear of the United States that there would be nothing that we would gain from this." That's from Face The Nation (CBS). Here Madia plays people for fools. He tells you what Bachman 'means' when he could have quoted her in full (instead of using elipses). Madia argues elsewhere in the piece about the "power" of Moqtada al-Sadr. If Madia believes he has all that power, then it's not a huge leap to feel that he has "so little fear" that the US is being disrespected. I could make a joke here about Bachmann but won't. Instead, I'll note that her opinion isn't uncommon in America.
Madia lumps Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum together because they both speak of how Iran has allegedly increased power. Madia wants to insist that was always the case. Well if that's the case, then the two candidates would be correct.
Mitt Romeny's called Barack's claims an "astonishing failure" because he didn't secure an agreement to continue the occupation. Rick Perry also feels things are being risked by Barack's claims and argues "The President was slow to engage the Iraqis and there's little evidence today's decision is based on advice from military commanders." Let's deal with Perry first. Perry's lying or stupid because of that statement? Seems like Perry's statement is an awful lot like Roy Gumtan's "Did Obama engage as U.S.-Iraqi troop talks faltered?" (McClatchy Newspapers). White House response to the article is here. (I have not commented on either the story or the White House response.) So if Perry's wrong, so is McClatchy. Now for Mitt Romney. His long quote ends with, "The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq."
Madia huffs, "Rick Perry and Mitt Romney seem to take the position that withdrawal is a diplomatic failure that contradicts the advice of military commanders. As an aside, neither Romeny nor Perry have offered any evidence that our military commanders want an indefinite presence in Iraq." Seem to take the position? That is their position. Offer proof? Well they could go with the open testimony Senator John McCain has put on the record in hearings.
But in terms of what the military in Iraq wanted, we don't know because our government refuses to tell us. Ava reported on the House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations hearing October 12 at Trina's site. Here's the key exchange:
Chair Jason Chaffetz: Ambassador Vershbos, let's talk about the number of US troops, what the Iraqis are requesting or authorizing. How many is the president authorizing?


Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Mr. Chairman, no decisions have been made, uh. Discussions are still ongoing, uh. On the nature of the relationship from which would be derived any --


Chair Jason Chaffetz: So the number of 3,000 to 4,000 troops that we here, is that accurate or inaccurate?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: As I said, there's a lot of things going on in these discussions which predate the announcement of October 4 when the Iraqi leaders took the position they're taking regarding no immunities so obviously the discussions now have taken on a different dimension so beyond-beyond that I really can't say because nothing's been decided. The shape of the relationship will be determined in part by how this issue of status protection is-is addressed. So it's a work in progress. Even as we speak discussions are taking place between our ambassador [James Jeffrey], uh, the commander General Austin, and Iraqi leaders. So it's really difficult to give you more than that today.


Chair Jason Chaffetz: Now there was a report that General Austin had asked for between fourteen and eighteen thousand troops. Is that true?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Again, I-I can't comment on internal deliberations. A lot of different ideas have been

Chair Jason Chaffetz: Wait a second, wait a second --

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: --tossed around in the last few

Chair Jason Chaffetz: -- do you know what the actual request was?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Uh -- the military leadership was asked to provide a range of options and they've done that and that was the basis on which we engaged the Iraqis and now the discu --

Chair Jason Chaffetz: Do you know what General Austin requested?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: I can't talk about that in an open session, Mr. Chairman. It's classified.

Why is it classified? Hmm. Jon Huntsman was ignored in the article. This is the statement he issued in response to Barack's speech:
On the occasion of the announcement that U.S. forces will withdraw completely from Iraq by the end of the year, we should take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We are forever grateful for their service to America, and are eager to welcome our troops home.
President Obama's decision, however, to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration's failures. The president's inability to reach a security agreement leaves Iraq vulnerable to backsliding, thus putting our interests in the region at risk. An ideal arrangement would have left a small troop presence that could have assisted with the training of Iraqi security forces and vital counter-terror efforts.
Before we go further, you can support the Iraq War and want it to on longer, you can be opposed to it (at the start or at any time) and feel that it needs to continue, there are many, many options. We were always kind to Thomas E. Ricks about his opinion which was the war was a mistake but that if the US left it would cause turmoil and violence so the US needed to stay.
It is very likely that the US departure -- today, tomorrow, whenever -- will see turmoil and violence. Our take is that it's a puppet government put in place, a number of exiles put in charge of Iraqis, and that when the US is no longer able to prop it up, the Iraqi people may well try to take it down and replace it with real representatives. When an occupying power leaves a country, there's always the chance of violence or revolt. But our take is that day comes whenever the US leaves and staying isn't going to change that.
While we were kind to Thomas E. Ricks, he was attacking one person after another -- what a great speaking tour he must have had! -- for insisting (rightly in my opinion) that the US needed to leave Iraq. He lacks the ability to see beyond his point of view.
I'm not sure whether Ashwin Madia lacks the ability or if he doesn't care to utilize it because he's having so much fun with his tribalism. But there are any number of sincere reasons for feeling Barack's 'end' is wrong. (Sincere doesn't mean 'right.' We have opposed the illegal war from the start here.)
1) Prestige.
This is what Michele Bachmann is most likely getting at. Barack's end has no prestige and, yes, may project weakness on the world stage. Bully Boy Bush was a mad dog on the world stage and while it can be demonstrated that his actions and behaviors harmed goodwill towards the US and actually made the United States less safe, it's also true that his nutty behavior, his instability, may well have prevented attacks on the US.
My opinion: The illegal war was always going to be a failure due to the lies needed to support it and continue it. The only way you save your country from mass embarrassment is by having the honesty to tell the truth when you do end a war like that. Barack isn't really ending the Iraq War so his speech based on lies was never going to acknowledge how wrong and illegal the Iraq War was.
2) Iraqis.
You can be concerned what happens to Iraqis who were collaborators with foreign powers, you can be concerned with Iraq's LGBT community which has long been targeted, you can be concerned with Iraqi Christians or any religious or ethnic minority, you can be concerned with how Sunni and Shi'ite engage . . . There are any number of humanitarian reasons a person might have to argue against what Barack presented in his speech.
3) The US did not win.
That's very difficult for a number of Americans to deal with. Any politician reflecting that same denial will most likely pick up a number of votes -- how many, I don't know, but those people exist. For these people the war was a sports event that did not play out until the end but got halted due to rain. This is the group that will spend years arguing that the US could have won but that the government forces the troops to fight with their hands tied and that if the US had the 'guts' to use nukes or whatever else, the war would have been won. This group will never, ever admit that the Iraq War was illegal or toy with the concept of just wars. For some, they can't see beyond the immediate so logical avenues are closed. For others, there's a belief that their country must always be number one, must always be victorious, must always be right. (And I'm sure there are other groupings in that as well. There were among the Vietnam revisionaries as well. Peter Hart's calling out a stepping stone to revisionary history in this critique of Richard Engel.)
4) I thought you were getting lunch.
The American people were lied to and told the war would pay for itself. It will cost over $6 billion dollars, probably more like $15 billion when all the costs are in (that includes caring for wounded veterans). Some people, not all, sit down at the table and order up something, love it while they're eating it and then when the bill shows up, uh-oh, that's suddenly too much money to spend. Having spent billions and billions with nothing to show for it, some Americans, experiencing buyer's remorse, are going to feel, "Wait, can we stay there long enough to figure out how our country benefits from this."
5) Iran
I don't put a great deal of weigh into Iran is now tight with Iraq!!!! A lot of people do. The US military, the White House, etc. That GOP presidential candidates worry about this is not surprising. The Bush Administration and Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) encouraged the country to worry about Iran incessantly. (And Barack's administration has encouraged that.) Iran tops the 'enemies list' largely due to the fact that, of all the White House's enemies, the country's leader is youngish and apparently healthy (contrast that with other popular White House targets such as Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea). The reason the Cold War lasted so long was because so many Americans were willing to buy into it. I don't think human behavior has changed a great deal in 40 or so years nor do I believe that we had, on a national level, an honest reflection that allowed us to see as a people how misguided the Cold War was. Meaning those feelings are still out there and a politican can tap into them very easily. (I'm not accusing any of the politicians listed above of being insincere. I don't know any of them, I'll assume all are sincere.)
Why don't I think Iran's a big area of concern? I could be wrong, I often am. But you've got still unsettled borders and you've got water issues. Those are problems for any two neighbors. When you add in that the Iranian regime is seen as more repressive than most Iraqis would want, there's another problem. (Both the 2009 provincial elections and the 2010 parliamentary elections can be seen as a rejection of fundamentalism and sectarianism and as a desire for a national identity.) In addition, you have past conflicts with Iran. At present, I think Iran and Iraq sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g is a fear related belief and not a reality based analysis. I could be wrong or events could change the way the countries interact.
We're not horse race central. I'm not interested in the US presidential election (vote for who you want or don't vote, I don't care, there's no litmus test here). I had avoided the Republican presidential contenders comments because the Iraq War's not ending. But now that they're being cherry-picked and slammed for their comments, we've weighed in once and that's it. But I'm really tired of it and if we weren't taking on media beggars in our piece Sunday, Ava and I would be taking on a certain comedic 'genius' who is yet again be looking with the facts.
Not all seeking the GOP presidential nomination fell for Barack's spin. As noted before,
Mary Stegmeir (Des Moines Register) reported US House Rep Ron Paul told a town hall over the weekend that the US isn't walking out of Iraq anytime soon, "I predict we will be very, very much involved in Iraq. I think it will be unstable for a long time to come, and we will continue to spend a lot of money in Iraq." Matched up against Barack Obama, he would be able to claim that, he, unlike Barack, never voted to continue the war. While Barack arrived in the Senate to late to vote on the 2002 authorization (Ron Paul voted against it), Barack did manage to vote to continue the Iraq War over and over and over. Ron Paul's also called for the US to leave Afghanistan. He's opposed Barack's illegal Libyan War. Barack's a War Hawk. At present, of those seeking the presidential office, Ron Paul's the only one with a voting record that demonstrates he is not a War Hawk.
Since political races in the US are generally about little else besides money, let's stay with the topic of big bucks. Charley Keyes (CNN) reports, "The mystery of $6 billion that seemed to go missing in the early days of the Iraq war has been resolved according to a new report." Keyes is referring to a new report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction entitled [PDF format warning] "Development Fund For Iraq: The Coalition Provisional Authority Transferred Control Over Most Of The Remaining DFI Funds To The Central Bank Of Iraq." Table 1 explains where the money being addressed came from -- most from "Proceeds from Oil Exports" ($11,362,662,000) with "Oil for Food" being the second biggest source ($8,100,000,000). Tony Capaccio and David Lerman (Bloomberg News) add that the $6.6 billion earlier said to have been lost is not lost and was not lost. Really because that's kind of one-side reporting.
Yes, the SIGIR did assert that $6.6 billion was missing months ago but the government in Baghdad had an official response and that's really not noted in the US coverage today. From the June 22nd snapshot:
Today Al Mada reports that Parliament's Integrity Commission has officially notified the United Nations in writing that they would like their assistance in finding out what has happened to the $17 billion they saw was lost in reconstruction funds (the money is Iraqi money from the oil-for-food program). The article reminds that the Development Fund was set up by the UN and overseen by L. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority. In another article, Al Mada quotes Integrity Committee member Jawad Alshahyla stating that the $17 billion is a preliminary number and it may increase as a result of additional information. He also states that prior to contacting the UN, they had notified Nouri al-Maliki's office and the Ministry of Finance. Dar Addustour notes that the original figure -- provided by the US -- was $6 billion and says that it's urgent the money is found -- possibly due to the fact that Iraq's 2012 budget has a shortfall of at least $12 billion dollars (they budgeted close to $100 billion for 2012 and are set to be short at least $12 billion). Last week, Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) reported that $6 billion was missing in food-for-oil money that was supposed to have been used for reconstruction. Mu Xuequan (mu) points out that even if the money did end up stolen, "the CPA issued an order granting immunity to the U.S. personnel and institutions working in Iraq after the 2003 invasion."
Sunday Al Jazeera reported (link has text and video), "Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi parliament speaker, has told Al Jazeera that the amount of Iraqi money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7bn - three times more than the reported $6.6bn. Just before departing for a visit to the US, al-Nujaifi said that he has received a report this week based on information from US and Iraqi auditors that the amount of money withdrawn from a fund from Iraqi oil proceeds, but unaccounted for, is much more than the $6.6bn reported missing last week." AFP notes Osama al-Nujaifi intends to raise the issue while visting DC this week. AP notes al-Nujaifi has a meeting schelued with US Vice President Joe Biden today. Eamon Javers (CNBC) adds, "The New York Fed is refusing to tell investigators how many billions of dollars it shipped to Iraq during the early days of the US invasion there, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction told CNBC Tuesday. The Fed's lack of disclosure is making it difficult for the inspector general to follow the paper trail of billions of dollars that went missing in the chaotic rush to finance the Iraq occupation, and to determine how much of that money was stolen." Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) explains, "The Federal Reserve claims that since the account was from the Oil for Food account the SIGR is not entitled to know anything about the account. Fed officials said they would continue to cooperate in the investigation, without disclosing what appears to be the only useful information they might have."
And while US outlets are running with the lowest figure, in Iraq they remember. Dar Addustour notes the amoung was $17 billion and then that a 'decree' has been issued in the US that the lost money is found but where is the "documentations to support that the money was disbursed" and they point out that the US has "acquitted its own leaders" while questions remain. John Glaser (Antiwar.com) has questions about all the Iraq money the Federal Reserve had and has:
The issue of the tens of billions of dollars -- at least that portion of the total which has been made public -- being sent to Iraq for what the US and Iraqi governments call reconstruction and then being lost, stolen, unaccounted for, etc. is indeed a criminal level of recklessness and negligence. But another aspect of these shady giveaways is perhaps more fundamental. At the beginning of the Iraq War, the US government secretly commissioned the New York Federal Reserve to create money in order to covertly fund the war and the newly-crafted client regime in Iraq. The American people were not informed, Congress was in the dark, and the total amounts and the beneficiaries involved are to this day being kept secret.
This clandestine collaboration of unaccountable public-private institutions colluding to facilitate warfare and secure profits in the process understandably leads to questions of the legitimacy of these institutions. The Federal Reserve system has long been tied to the most egregious genre of violence perpetrated by the state, that is war. Yet hardly any support in Congress exists to impose restrictions and accountability on the Federal Reserve, and the institution itself seems entrenched beyond the grip of those most affected by its policies. Both Americans, and Iraqis.
"President Barack Obama said last week that American troops will empty out of Iraq by New Years 2012," Russia Today noted yesterday. "That doesn't mean, however, that the United States' presence will vanish completely." They then note that the CIA will remain in Iraq and:
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor added yesterday that the talks between the militaries of the two nations will discuss how to implement a strong security in Iraq "that meets our mutual interests." He notes that tactical exercises and "regular coordination" might be on the table, but that US forces will not be permanently based in Iraq.
That decision comes, however, after the United States has invested around $2.4 billion in posts in Iraq, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. Currently the US embassy in Baghdad is home to 1,000 civilian officials and troops over the course of 21 buildings in 100 acres.
"This American embassy is massive," former Reagan administration official Paul Craig Roberts tells RT. "It's still there. It's huge. There is nothing like it on the face of the earth. It must have some purpose. So we can't really say that the Americans are not going to continue to control Iraq from behind the scenes."

Even without the presence of U.S. troops, America's footprint in Iraq is immense. In addition to the fortress near the site of Saddam Hussein's palace, two additional, $100 million buildings are slated to be built outside Baghdad as mini-embassies in the north and south of Iraq. Iraqis know that U.S. troops acting as trainers will still be in Iraq, both as a permanent presence of less than 200 and as an undetermined presence of U.S. troops permanently stationed in neighboring countries. In addition to these troops and embassy personnel, a large and robust force of CIA agents are presumed to be on the ground. As one of the largest contingencies of foreign personnel in any sovereign nation, it is no surprise that Iraqis refused to bargain away their right to enforce their own laws by giving our troops immunity from prosecution.

The use of a huge personnel force, with a large number of private contractors, has even stoked the ire of some Republicans. Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, in a recent letter to President Obama expressed his dismay at the drastic increase of contractors as a private army in Iraq. "The American people have a right to know the past, present and future status of private security contractors in these regions," Mr. Issa wrote. Taken a step further, the American people have a right to know that our stated withdrawal is far from a true withdrawal of our presence from Iraq.

And Sam Biddle (Gizmodo) raises important issues with regards to the CIA and drones as he speaks to Global Security's John Pike:
"UAVs provide a persistent surveillance capability that satellites do not," Pike explains, giving the government more reason to keep them flying over Baghdad long after american soldiers have been shipped home. The war on terror is indefinite and sprawling, with every inch of the globe a potential target. The near future of Iraq -- especially post-occupation --will be a shaky one. The CIA doesn't want shaky futures. "Any area where we feel the government doesn't have effective control of its territory, and [it] can't be solved via law enforcement -- that's why we have drones." Iraq has no air force. Iraq's ability to prevent itself from harboring enemies of the CIA is dubious. This gives America's drone fleet a self-justification to fly ad infinitum, and for a smaller war of distant humming and craters to continue as long as the CIA wants.
Al Sabaah reports Interior Ministry flack Adman al-Asadi he has stated that 'trainers' really aren't needed but any that are used will not be paid for by Iraq. He insists the costs will come out of billions the Congress has granted for expenses such as housing. He noted that there are thousands of mercenaries in Iraq and that Blackwater's been replaced by Triple Canopy (among others) and that the US Embassy provides cover for it.
Al Sabaah reports Nouri al-Maliki met with Mohammad Karim Khalili who is vice president "of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan" and Nouri bragged about how he had battled terrorism and "succeeded" as a result of having built up the security forces. Nouri forgot to credit his most important weapons -- false charges and forced confessions. Currently, he's launched another witch hunt against opponents and is, yet again, labeling them 'Ba'athists!' He's usually successful deploying the B-bomb. The only time there's been significant pushback was when he attempted to label the Friday activists protesting in Tahrir Square as 'Ba'athists.' He quickly realized that even the B-bomb has some limits.

Al Sabaah reports that the crackdown is ongoing and the government claims it has arrested 75% of the 'Ba'athists' so far (over 500 arrested, they brag). Sounding a great deal like Hogan's Heroes' Col Klink insisting, "We have ways to make you talk," Ministry of the Interior flack Adnan al-Asadi declares that "We have eyes and ears allowing us to detect a plot of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Ba'ath Party." And to apparently make it sound even more of-the-moment, al-Asadi adds there is PKK involvement in the plot as well. What's worse? The lie or that fact that Nouri and company clearly thought it would be easily believed?

Well puppets don't get picked for their brains. Nor do thugs and Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr supported the measures taken by Iraqi minister of higher education to demote some universtiy personnel who were connected with the former Baath Party, as stated by his office." Did he? Well if they're 'Ba'athists' and 'dangerous' why were they demoted? Aren't they going to pollute the campuses just by being present?


But back to those eyes and ears al-Asadi was claiming, Al Mada reveals that the government is stating their source for the 'tips' about the alleged Ba'athist plot to take over Iraq came from the Transitional Government of Libya. The so-called rebels. A number of whom were in Iraq killing both Iraqis and US troops and British troops, several years ago. And supposedly prepping to rule Libya currently so you'd assume they had their hands full.


Tim Arango (New York Times) maintains that "secret intelligence documents" were discovered by the so-called 'rebels' that provided a link between Libya's late president Muammar Gaddafi and Ba'ath Party members and that Mahmoud Jibril made a trip to Baghdad to turn over the info. Jibril was acting prime minister who stepped down October 23rd. (We're back to when puppet regimes meet!) One would have assumed he had other things to focus on. It's also curious that this 'rebel' would have 'learned' after the fall of Tripoli of a plot. Curious because, unlike a number of 'rebel' leaders in Libya, Langley didn't ship Jibril in from Virginia, he was Gaddafi's hand picked head of the National Economic Development Board (2007 to 2011). One would assume he would have been aware of any big plot long before the so-called rebels began the US war on Libya.
The crackdown and targeting likely fueled a major event today. AFP reports, Salahuddin Province's council voted for the province to become semi-autonomous like the KRG (the article says "autonomous") and the measure should now go before the voters of the province so they can register their desire. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the move, in a 20 for and zero against vote, "is expected to spur Anbar, the neighboring mostly Sunni province, to follow suit. Probably not a good day to be predicting Nouri successfully completing his term (which ends in 2014) -- when will the Oxford students learn, when? And it's not a good day to be claiming that "security in Iraq good" or, worse, "very good."
Reuters notes 2 Baghdad bombings have claimed 18 lives and at least thirty-eight are injured. They also report 1 police officer shot dead in Baghdad, a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured, a second Baghdad roadside bombing left four more people injured, a third Baghdad bombing left three people injured (two were police officers), an Iskandariya motorcycle bombing claimed the lives of 1 adult and 1 child and left two more people injured, a Jbela roadside bombing injured one person, 1 coprse was discovered in Mosul and, dropping back to yesterday, a Samarra grenade attack killed 1 Iraqi soldier, a Mosul armed conflict ended with 3 'militants' being killed, and a Kirkuk sticky bombing injured one person. In addition, there was a Basra house raid in which 6 Sadrists were arrested by "Iraqi security forces backed by U.S. forces."
mcclatchy newspapers
laith hammoudi
al sabaah
al mada
dar addustour
the new york times
tim arango

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

5 men, 3 women

The first hour of today's Diane Rehm Show (NPR) featured Jim Tankersley, Ken Vogel, Jonathan Smucker, Michele Pendergast, Corryn Freeman and Joshua. And for the second hour, Maria Tatar, John Glavin and Jillian Finkle.

Meanwhile, in an answer to a question: Yes.

And you really need to read Andre Damon's (WSWS) report:


US President Barack Obama unveiled a small expansion of the government’s mortgage modification program Monday that would help a handful of homeowners refinance their homes, while subsidizing banks behind the scenes. The program, unveiled after the Senate voted down Obama’s jobs bill, is one of a series of toothless economic proposals Obama is pushing in order to strike a populist posture in the 2012 election campaign.

Obama announced the program at a photo-op at a family home in Las Vegas, Nevada, after concluding a $1,000-per-plate fundraising luncheon with the city’s casino and hotel kingpins. The next day, Obama was off to Los Angeles to attend two additional fundraisers with Hollywood celebrities and media executives.

The White House claimed that up to one million people would benefit from the program, with an average benefit of only $2,500 a year, a drop in the bucket. If the Obama Administration’s previous foreclosure assistance programs are to be any guide, only a tiny fraction of this number will see any benefit. According to the Washington Post, “To date, administration programs have permanently reduced the debt of just one tenth of 1 percent of underwater borrowers.”


Read it in full. This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, October 26, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's rounding up opponents, Gareth Porter embarrasses himself in his rush to glorify Barack, Barack has a 'senior moment' on The Tonight Show, Gates gives Bush all the credit, Turkey continues assaulting Iraq, and more.
How stupid are they? That's the question for the day. We've got stupidity on Antiwar Radio, we've got stupidity on NBC's The Tonight Show.
Let's start with late night. For the record, I didn't support Ronald Reagan, I didn't vote for him, I campaigned against him and generally refer to him as the Great Satan. So why am I noting that if Reagan had said what Barack Obama said on The Tonight Show last night, the media would be all over Reagan?
Chatting with Jay Leno like a braless starlet, The (brainless) One was asked of Hillary and yammered away about his cabinet.
Barack Obama: The entire national security team that we've had has been outstanding. And it's not just rivals within the Democratic Party. My Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, is a Republican.
Jay Leno: Right.
Barack Obama: He was a carryover from the Bush Administration. He made an outstanding contribution.
Bob Gates is the US Secretary of Defense? If Reagan had prattled on like that, I wouldn't be the only one calling him senile. But it was Barack and no one's supposed to comment on this "senior moment," no one's supposed to note that the boy in the bubble is so out of it he forgets that Gates left that post at the start of July. (Leon Panetta has been in the post since then.) If you can't stomach gushing, click here for the Washington Post's transcript (also has video you can stream). While Barack was gushing about Gates last night, Gates wasn't giving Barack any credit last night.
We've noted Sig Christenson many times before and noted Christenson's a straight-forward reporter. I bring that up before someone says, "The reporter must have gotten it wrong!" Anyone can, but that's really not Christenson's style. Reporting for the San Antonio Express-News, Christinson notes Gates held a press conference at Trinity University yesterday: "Gates said the status of forces agreement negotiated under then-President George W. Bush included a timetable for U.S. troops leaving Iraqi cities, a drawdown to 50,000 troops and an end to combat operations."
No, it didn't. I'm not in the mood to spoon feed on this point -- a point we've made repeatedly excepting only when a friend got it wrong on NPR and I thought, "I've addressed this point enough." -- so you'll have to play One Of These Things Is Not Like the Other all by yourself but not all of that's the SOFA. Some of that's Barack. Gates should not only know what the SOFA says, he should know which was Barack. And I'd expect him to credit Barack for the part that was Barack Obama's. (Quickly, cities is Article 24, section two of SOFA; end to combat operations can be presumed to Gates referring to the SOFA expiration date, however, it most likely refers to the pulling of 'combat' forces by Barack Sept. 1, 2010 and that was Barack and not the SOFA; as for 50,000, there's no way to be generous, the SOFA doesn't say a damn word about dropping down to 50,000. Again that would be US President Barack Obama and you'd think Gates would know that and would credit him with it.)
Moving on. Can little boys keep their hands out of their pants in public? Where are their parents? Did no one tell them not to do that in public?
You have to wonder that as you listen to Gareth Porter make a fool out of himself (yet again). Speaking to Scott Horton (Antiwar.com) who hung on every word and possibly a better posture would be to question unless this is Fan Boi Radio?
Gareth Porter: Well I know that this marks the end of the fiction that the United States could actually have a longterm presence in Iraq in -in Iraq which was of course the, uh, the aspiration of the Bush administration and then, you know, despite the campaign promise by Barack Obama, the national security state again prevailed on Obama to try to maintain a significant US military presence. Uh, they put a lot of pressue on him to do that. Uh, and in the middle of last year, 2010, it appeared that they had gotten the White House to go along with the scheme [. . .]
We'll stop there. 'Poor little Barry O, under pressure from the national security state.' I cannot believe Scott Horton swallowed all that. That's very telling.
Gareth Porter: Well I know that this marks the end of the fiction that the United States could actually have a longterm presence in Iraq in -in Iraq [. . .]
First off, Gareth, the US does have a longterm presence in Iraq right now, it's called the US Embassy in Baghdad and all of its consulates throughout the country. Second, Special-Ops will remain in Iraq, that's known. Third, the CIA will remain, that's known. Fourth, about 160 US soldiers will be under the State Dept's command. Fifth, about 150 US soldiers will remain in Iraq for 'arms sales.' Sixth, the White House has revealed that Marines will be guarding the diplomatic outlets. How many is not known. Seventh, some members of the Air Force are remaining. Eighth, negotiations are ongoing. Ninth, Kuwait, Jordan and others are planned staging areas. In fact, Press TV reports today, "The US is negotiating with Kuwait about moving some equipment and troops to the Persian Gulf state. Washing is also holding talks with Turkey about deploying sensitive sensors, drone, and other equipment used in Iraq at the Incirlik airbase, promising to assist the Turkish government in fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party."
It is unexpected to hear spin on Antiwar Radio. At a time when Antiwar.com has already noted negotiations are ongoing, has already noted the huge amount of contractors, this is really sad.
Instead of challenging Gareth's spin, Scott launches into a discussion about 2004. Scott Horton needs to be booking actual journalists like James Denselow or John Glaser to speak. Not people who really aren't allowed to speak honestly of Barack without threat of losing their pay check.
Maybe we should just be glad that a conviction finally kept pedophile Scott Ritter off the show? A conviction that's standing despite today's appeal for a retrial -- 'Not fair,' whined Pig Ritter, 'that my two other arrests for being a pedophile were brought in this case about my third pedolphile arrest!' Judge Jennifer Harlachar Sibum disagreed. Carol Demare (Albany Times Union) reports the 50-year-old pedophile has been sentenced "to up to 5 1/2 years behind bars in a Pennsylvania state prison" and that Judge Harlachar Sibum "also said Ritter met the criteria as a sexually violent predator and will have to register in Pennsylvania as a sex offender."
Yeah, these are the people who embraced the pedophile, remember? Yeah, they've got a great record.
As for Antiwar Radio? Corporate crap couldn't be worse than that broadcast with Gareth. In fact, NPR did a better job discussing Iraq yesterday on The Diane Rehm Show than Antiwar Radio. Ann picked this statement as her favorite exchange of that broadcast:
Phyllis Bennis: The agreement that was signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki was very clear, as Nick Burns said earlier, about withdrawing all troops and all Pentagon-paid contractors. It left a huge loophole, big enough for tanks to drive through, about contractors who would be paid by another agency, for example, the State Department. And that's why we're seeing now this race by the State Department to sign off on contracts with, what we're hearing, up to 16,000 new contractors who will do the same things as the contractors have been doing throughout these eight years, which is very worrying. Because there have been so many crimes committed with no accountability, they are not legally provided with immunity by a U.S.-Iraqi agreement, but they have not been held accountable in the Iraqi system. And there have been these terrible incidents of killing civilians at checkpoints, et cetera. There's no particular indication to think that's going to end, nor is there any likelihood that the flood of money that has so corrupted the government -- so many government officials inside Iraq is going to end anytime soon. So I'm not persuaded that it's going to turn into Switzerland. I don't think anybody thinks that the case. But I think that this is a moment where, for the first time in more than 20 years, Iraq will have the chance to figure out how it wants to run its country, whether or not that includes the current government remaining in power.
Rafe Pilgrim (OpEdNews) notes how tempting it was to believe Barack's Friday announcement, especially if you didn't listen closely:
How many of his hopeful audience missed the "mention" that unspecified thousands of American "civilian contractors" would be "maintained" in Iraq? This is the side deal between him and Maliki to fool both of their peoples. Those "contractors" will not be filling potholes or doing horticulture. They will be weaponized and on ready alert status to do whatever soldiers and black-ops are commanded, at incidentally many times higher cost per trooper than an honestly declared American soldier.
I personally did not catch a statement on air-base privileges. Such will be there.
Now to our State Department's presence: The US will maintain three (or four?) major "diplomatic stations," including the embassy in Baghdad, the world's largest of any nation's, which accommodates 4500 personnel. Diplomats, clerks and chaplains? I would suppose not. And in the meantime, there is a boom of American construction in Iraq, and no one knows, or rather admits to knowing of what.
Pew Research Center's latest study finds that a number of Americans rank the Iraq statements by Barack as news . . . behind the death of Muammar Gaddafi . . . and behind the animals released from the zoo in Ohio . . . and behind news about the presidential election . . . and behind the news of the economy.
The way things are going, the Cult of St. Barack's going to be offering animal sacrifices before the year ends. In yet another blow to the White House spin, Al Mada is reporting that the US is planning to keep 5,000 troops in Kirkuk province. Alleged discussions on this proposal are said to have taken place last week in Parliament's building (but not with all blocs in Parliament).

Turning to the latest crackdown in Iraq, some estimates have 350 Iraqis arrested since Saturday for allegedly being "Ba'athists" (a once dominant political party in Iraq). Dar Addustour cites a security source who states the number is 400. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "1074 arrests were made over the past two weeks in Babylon on orders issued in Baghdad. . . . Is there a prison big enough for the whole of the Iraqi people?!" Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The Provincial Council of north-central Iraqi Province of Salah al-din has refused on Wednesday to hand over a number of detained former Iraqi Army officers and former ruling Baath Party members to the Baghdad security forces, considering the measure as 'illegal and not supported by legal arrest warrents,' the Council's Deputy Chairman, Sabhan Mulla Chiad, announced today."
Al Mada reports that the Interior Ministry is stating that they had credible evidence that these people were plotting a coup. Did they have that? Who vetted it? Because they don't have a head of the ministry. Nouri's never done his job. Nouri al-Maliki, to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister in December 2010 was supposed to, per the Constitution, form a Cabinet -- that means nominating ministers and having Parliament vote them in. But what does the country's Constitution matter when you have the US government running interference for you?


So Nouri was made prime minister despite not meeting the Constitutional requirements. (So the US government sent the message to the Iraqi people that votes and the Constitution both didn't matter. Good job!) And press flunkies assured us that Nouri would name ministers for Interior, National Security and Defense in a matter of weeks. Over ten months later, they've never been named. ("Acting" ministers are not real ministers. They have no protection, they serve at Nouri's whim and Parliament did not confirm them.) So when the Interior claims they had credible evidence, that's Nouri claiming they did. Nouri known to scream "Ba'athist" at the drop of a hat to discount his political rivals. The Great Iraqi Revolution adds, "Media sources confirm that Maliki is using his influence through his self appointed Acting Ministers of Interior and Defence to flex his muscles in concurrence with the American withdrawal in a pre emptive attack to isolate voices that refuse the new dictatorship in the New Iraq under the pretext of anti Baathism and anti Saddamisim!!"
Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Al-Iraqiya Coalition, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, has called on Iraq' Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stop the current detention campaign and the sacking of university professors, according to its statement on Wednesday." The statement includes:
Al-Iraqiya has met at the office of Dr. Saleh al-Mutlaq to discuss the recent detentions campaign and the list of discharges against leading Iraqi professors by the Ministry of Higher Education. [. . .] We also call on the Iraqi Judiciary and the security bodies not to lean to the pressures of certain political forces and to safeguard its independence and specialization, assigned by the Constitution and current laws.

Violence and other news has distracted from Political Stalemate II. To end Political Stalemate I (the eight months plus of inaction and gridlock that followed the March 7, 2010 elections), the political blocs met up, in Erbil (in November 2010), (along with the US) and hammered out a deal. That deal is known as the Erbil Agreement. It promised to resolve the disputed Kirkuk (who will control it, Baghdad or the KRG) and to do as the Constitution outlines, it promised that a new, independent security council would be created and Ayad Allawi (whose political slate Iraqiya came in first in the elections) would head it and that Nouri would remain prime minister despite his political slate (State of Law) coming in second. There were other deals made in the agreement as well. All parties agreed and the press hailed it as a breakthrough moment.

Nouri used the Erbil Agreement to remain prime minister and then trashed it. The Kurds (minus the CIA-backed Goran) have objected to Nouri's attempt to rewrite the oil law and his failure to follow the Erbil Agreement. They are calling for it to be re-instated. (Also making that call about the Erbil Agreement: the National Alliance and Iraqiya.) After many meetings internally, the Kurds hammered out what they wanted to stress in a face to face. Al Rafidayn reports that face to face took place yesterday between Nouri and KRG President Barham Salih and Salih also met with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and stressed that the problem is not a Kurdsih one, it has to do with the political system and the way decisions are being made. In addition, Iraqiya's Saleh al-Mutlaq lodged a complaint over Nouri's arresting of college professors on the claim that they are Ba'athists. Al Mada refers to the complaint airing as an angry altercation, a quarrel of words. Nouri reportedly stormed off in anger. Back to the meeting between Nouri and the KRG president, Dar Addustour reports Salih and Nouri came to an agreement on the fact that the problems needed to be resolved.
Let's stay with Nouri and his 'justice' by providing an update. From yesterday's snapshot:

Dar Addustour has a breaking news report this evening that American journalist Daniel Smith has been arrested in Baghdad by Iraqi forces (the arrest was Friday). If the report is correct and the name is correct, this is most likely Daniel Wakefield Smith who in addition to text reporting is also a photojournalist (not to be confused with retired US Army Col Dan Smith who has offered commentary and analysis on the Iraq War). Dar Addustour is the only one reporting the story currently and they say that there is confusion regarding what he was arrested for with some saying it was for the Friday protests in Baghdad (covering it or participating in it? that's not explained) while others are saying he was arrested for spying on Iraqi officials.

This morning Aswat al-Iraq is reported:

The American Reporter, Daniel Smith, detained in Iraq since last Friday, has been released on Wednesday by Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who allowed him to continue his reporting from Baghdad, according to a statement by the Prime Minister's Press Freedoms Center's Director.
"Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki decided on Wednesday morning to release the American Journalist, Daniel Smith, and to allow him continue reporting from Iraq, in response to demands by our Center and other journalists," Ziyad al-Ujeily told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Last Friday, when he was arrested, Reporters Without Borders released the following statement of concern:

Reporters Without Borders continues to be concerned about the dangers for journalists in Iraq, where there have been series of attacks and acts of intimidation against media personnel this month.

In one of the latest cases, unidentified gunmen fired on Al-Iraqiya TV reporter Abd Al-Hasan Al-Rukaabi as he was driving between the southern city of Nasriyah and the nearby town of Al-Refai on 19 October. He was injured in the neck after abandoning his car to escape the shots but, after being treated in hospital, doctors said he was in no danger.

Aged 50 and the father of eight children, Rukaabi has worked for Al-Iraqiya since 2003. He said he did not know the motive for the murder attempt, which the police are investigating. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to ensure that those responsible are identified.

Soldiers raided the home of Al-Sharq reporter Khalil Al-Alwani in Fallujah (in the western province of Anbar) on 17 October. In a statement, Alwani said the raid was carried out illegally, without a court order, with the probable aim of arresting him in connection with articles about everyday problems in Anbar, where the rate of violent crime and murder has become alarming. The authorities denied having anything to do with the raid.

Journalists and activists staged a peaceful demonstration in Fallujah the next day to demand an investigation into the circumstances of the illegal raid. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to begin the investigation at once in order to shed light on what happened and to guarantee Alwani's safety.

TV executive Hoshyar Abdallah was arrested by a court in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, in northern Iraq, on 1 October on a charge of defaming former Kurdish water resources minister Abdul Latif Muhammad Jamal for accusing him of corruption. He was released two days later on bail of 145,000 dinars (90 euros). Abdallah heads KNN, a Sulaymaniyah-based TV station affiliated to the Kurdish opposition movement Change.

Reporters Without Borders urges the Iraqi authorities to put a stop to the abuses against media personnel and to guarantee their safety under the law for the protection of journalists that was adopted last August. Iraq continues to be a dangerous country for journalists.

Journalists have been targeted in Iraq throughout the illegal war -- and often they've been targeted by the US so Iraqi government officials can always assert that their own attacks were nothing but learned behavior. Violence continues in Iraq today. Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing claimed 2 lives and left sixteen injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left two people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured, a Jurf al-Sakhar roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and left two more injured, an Iskandariya bombing claimed 2 lives and, dropping back to last night, that a Jurf al-Sakhar military checkpoint was attacked resulting in the deaths of 2 Iraqi soldiers with another injured, 1 person was shot dead outside his Mussayayb home and Sheikh Safa Jasim's Hilla home was bombed resulting in the death of his wife and son with three other sons and Sheikh Jasim left injured. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports the Mosul car bombing was actually 2 car bombings and that 9 people were killed. The Tehran Times adds that a bombing on the border of Iraq injured nine Iranian pilgrims traveling by bus. In addition, the Turkish military's assault continues on northern Iraq. Peter Kenyon reports on it today for NPR's Morning Edition.

KENYON: Ibrahim Dogus, editor of a London-based Kurdish newspaper, told Al-Jazeera's English Channel that it's only natural for the PKK to try to exploit the diplomatic rift between Ankara and Damascus.
IBRAHIM DOGUS: It will be plausible for PKK to take advantage of deteriorating relations between Syria and Turkey, between Iran and Turkey. But the best thing that the Turkish government could come up with is a resolution to the Kurdish question within Turkey. Turkey tries to deal with Palestine. Turkey tries to deal with Somalia. Turkey tries to deal with all over the world now. But when it comes to Kurdish politics, they always look for other international forces or countries to blame for.
Alsumaria TV reports, "Hundreds of Turkish soldiers sieged a village in Al Imadiya District, northern Dahuk, eye witnesses reported on Tuesday. Citizens called upon authorities to intervene in fear of turning the village into a battlefield." They quote resident Fawzi Ibrahim stating, "These forces have caused a state of panic among villagers." Grasp how this plays in Iraq because, despite a lot of silence from Nouri and his Cabinet, it doesn't play well. The Great Iraqi Revolution observes, "Turkish armored vehicles cross the border into Iraq heading towards PKK camp inside the Kurdistan territory and combs the area for rebels before it withdraws back to Turkish soil. Not the first time this happens. Violation of the integrity of the Iraqi sovereignty amidst silence of the Iraqi government and sometimes its blessing." And that's not a minor sentiment. Who ever you are, in whatever nation-state you lived, you would take kindly to another country sending its military in. (Even more so if, like Iraq, you have been attacked and occupied for the last 8 years.) And that's before you consider Iraq's complicated relationship with Turkey. Rachael Cloughton (Independent) notes one issue:
A crisis awaits Iraq following Turkey's extensive dam building project, claims Azzam Alwash, the director of one of the country's largest non-governmental environmental organisations, Nature Iraq. Yet little attention is being give to his proposed methods to avert catastrophe.
By 2050, Iraq is predicted to receive only 25% of its former water supply due to the ambitious Anatolia project being embarked on by Turkey. This project includes the building of 22 dams and 19 power plants in the southeast. Historically, Iraq once received between 60 billion to 90 billion cubic meters of water from the Tigris and Euphrates. This is expected to drop to less than 25 billion cubic meters in less than 40 years' time.
Rivers flowing from Iran contain too much saline, rivers that should be flowing from Turkey are often circumvented via dams. Meanwhile Murat Yetkin (Hurriyet Daily News) reports that the Turkish military's General Necdet Ozel gave a written interview: "First, with the latest wave of attacks the PKK is aiming to destroy government authority in towns near the Iraqi border to establish a power of its own; second, Turkey had no joint security operations with Iran against the PKK but has intelligence and legal cooperation with it; and third, Turkey was happy with the intelligence it is sharing with the United States on PKK presence in Iraq but wants more." Serkan Demirtas (Hurriyet Daily News) reports that Turkey is pleased with surveillance data from the US that it will continue to receive* but that they still expect to be provided with their own drones (provided by the US) and that Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet in Istanbul November 2nd to discuss issues. How is the US guaranteeing Turkey that it will continue to provide it with intel? Oh, that's right, the CIA's not leaving Iraq. Meanwhile, if you wonder why the Turkish press is so one-sided on the issue, it goes beyond what you might expect and includes governmental retaliation. Reporters Without Borders notes today:

As well as a spate of trials and cases of prolonged detention, journalists are now the target of government directives. Journalists who cover Kurdish issues critically continue to be accused of supporting the separatists by officials who cite the war on terror as their overriding imperative. And concern is growing that the government is trying to control coverage of its offensive.

Jailed for an interview?

The Turkish judicial system continues to treat the publication of interviews with PKK members as terrorist propaganda, even if they are accompanied by commentary that stops far short of praising the PKK.

Nese Düzel, a journalist with the liberal daily Taraf, and his editor, Adnan Demir, for example, are being prosecuted for two April 2010 reports containing interviews with former PKK leaders Zübeyir Aydar and Remzi Kartal. A prosecutor asked an Istanbul court on 14 October to sentence them to seven and a half years in prison. The next hearing in their trial is to be held on 9 December.

Click here to read their alert in full. Turning to the US, Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) sends out this SOS:
If you live anywhere near Oakland, California, or have friends or relatives who do please tell them that they need to take action today. Their democracy has been threatened. American democracy has been threatened due to their police and their government.
Yesterday morning, police wrongfully raided and destroyed two, peaceful, Occupy Oakland encampments. That was the first big problem. People went to make their voices heard at the library at 4pm, and police were oppressive and wrong. All through the night, police followed, hovered, struggled, tear gassed, shot with bean bags, and otherwise abused a whole crowd of peaceful folks, in the effort to suppress a message, and keep people from expressing their belief in the right to assemble.
Wait, today's passed! You can show up at 14th and Broadway for as long as Occupy Oakland continues (barring the activists moving to another site). You can show your support tomorrow. In fact, if people are really trying to send a message, what would send the strongest message would be each day's turnout being larger. What happened last night? Adam Gabbatt (Guardian) reports Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was taken to Highland hospital with "a fractured skull and brain swelling" -- apparently from a projectile launched on the activists by the police. Gabbatt quotes photographer Jay Finneburgh stating, "This poor guy was right behind me when he was hit in the head with a police projectile. He went down hard and did not get up." You can click here for Adam Gabbatt's live blogging of Occupy Oakland. Occupy Wall Street issued a statement today which includes:
Today at Occupy Wall Street we are looking across the country to the city of Oakland, where last night our fellow Americans were subjected to violence at the hands of their own government for exercising the constitutional freedoms their government is sworn to protect. Last night police forces violently raided Occupy Oakland, arresting 85 people and brutalizing many peaceful participants, using excessive physical force, tear gas, and dangerous projectile rounds.

Peaceful Protest is An American Birthright, Not a Crime

Among those injured is Scott Olson, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. Olsen is in the hospital with a fractured skull.
"Scott is in stable but serious condition as the neurologists decide whether to take him into surgery or the ICU," said Joshua Shepherd, a friend of Olsen's. "Oakland Police Department fired a tear gas canister at his head, fracturing his skull."
Video of the incident with Scott Olsen: http://tinyurl.com/3vqlsv3
It is unconscionable that American government officials would sanction the use of such extreme force against peaceful citizens.
Occupy Oakland has been a public forum, set up on public land, concerned with critical public issues about the nation's financial crisis, consolidation of wealth and power, and the ability of citizens to meaningfully participate in the democratic process. This brutality carried out on the orders of city government, sends a chilling message to those who want to engage in civic processes to work for social change.
Over a month ago, we went to the doorstep of Wall Street to say "enough!" That message has resonated across the country and around the world. Occupy Wall Street continues to build, and a national movement of peaceful occupations and civic engagement has sprung up in every corner.
Public officials must listen to the grievances of this popular movement. It is absolutely unacceptable to attempt to dissuade civic engagement through the use of brutality, repression and retaliation against movement participants. This is America. All Americans have the freedom to peacefully protest our government. That right defines who we are as a country and a people, and when it is denied, all of America is the poorer for it.
The Mayor of Oakland -- and mayors and city governments across the country -- should get on the right side of history and honor all Americans' freedom to peacefully assemble and to civically engage.
The retention and expansion of political power is the central task of every ruling class throughout history, no matter what their ostensible ideological orientation. Dictatorships, democracies, and everything in between all share this common trait: it is the organizing principle at the core of the policymaking machine, the brain behind the brawn. The various ideological explanations offered by these elites for their actions are invariably self-serving and ultimately irrelevant rationalizations: for example, the old Communist elites pretended to be working toward the establishment of the communist system worldwide, but in fact were devoted to the creation of "socialism in one country," i.e. feathering their own nest. In the West, political leaders insist their goal is the spread of liberal democracy and its alleged economic benefits, but the reality is that they're more concerned with their campaign treasuries and their poll numbers: the old mottoes of the Anglo-Saxon ruling class, which upheld the principle of "noblesse oblige," are so timeworn and tattered that no one even bothers to invoke them any longer.
The politicians, in short, are in it to stay in it: they are in the business of acquiring and keeping power, and that is what motivates them in all matters foreign and domestic. The "national interest," the "world revolution," the peculiar destiny afforded us as sainted beneficiaries of "American exceptionalism" -- all these disparate brands of ideological snake-oil, boiled down to their essence, are just naked self-interest colored with various shades of rhetorical mumbo-jumbo.

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