Friday, January 11, 2013

Java's not a friendly cup of Joe

Big news from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team:

Alert (TA13-010A)


Oracle Java 7 Security Manager Bypass Vulnerability


Original release date: January 10, 2013 | Last revised: January 11, 2013





Systems Affected

Any system using Oracle Java 7 (1.7, 1.7.0) including
  • Java Platform Standard Edition 7 (Java SE 7)
  • Java SE Development Kit (JDK 7)
  • Java SE Runtime Environment (JRE 7)
All versions of Java 7 through update 10 are affected.  Web browsers using the Java 7 plug-in are at high risk.

Overview

A vulnerability in the way Java 7 restricts the permissions of Java applets could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary commands on a vulnerable system.

Description

A vulnerability in the Java Security Manager allows a Java applet to grant itself permission to execute arbitrary code. An attacker could use social engineering techniques to entice a user to visit a link to a website hosting a malicious Java applet. An attacker could also compromise a legitimate web site and upload a malicious Java applet (a "drive-by download" attack).
Any web browser using the Java 7 plug-in is affected. The Java Deployment Toolkit plug-in and Java Web Start can also be used as attack vectors.
Reports indicate this vulnerability is being actively exploited, and exploit code is publicly available.
Further technical details are available in Vulnerability Note VU#625617.

Impact

By convincing a user to load a malicious Java applet or Java Network Launching Protocol (JNLP) file, an attacker could execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system with the privileges of the Java plug-in process.

Solution

Disable Java in web browsers
This and previous Java vulnerabilities have been widely targeted by attackers, and new Java vulnerabilities are likely to be discovered. To defend against this and future Java vulnerabilities, consider disabling Java in web browsers until adequate updates are available. As with any software, unnecessary features should be disabled or removed as appropriate for your environment.
Starting with Java 7 Update 10, it is possible to disable Java content in web browsers through the Java control panel applet. From Setting the Security Level of the Java Client:
For installations where the highest level of security is required, it is possible to entirely prevent any Java apps (signed or unsigned) from running in a browser by de-selecting Enable Java content in the browser in the Java Control Panel under the Security tab.
If you are unable to update to Java 7 Update 10 please see the solution section of Vulnerability Note VU#636312 for instructions on how to disable Java on a per-browser basis.

References



Revision History


  • January 10, 2013: Initial release
  • January 11, 2013: Updated language about disabling Java in web browsers


Can you follow that? 

I couldn't.  I get there's a problem but how to fix it was beyond me.  Cedric read it and tried to do it on our computers.  He had no luck.

We finally called C.I. and felt bad because we didn't realize how late it was.  She was fine with it.  She said give her ten minutes to get somewhere quiet and at a computer and she'd talk us through.

So she did and we uninstalled it in programs and went through all our browsers disabling it as well.  I hope that did it.

I wish I could give you some info on how that happened. My computer knowledge is, hit the button and it comes on.  Say thank you for the miracle.

That's it. 

Now C.I. always says she doesn't know about computers but she does.  She knows a ton about computers.  One time, I was being hacked, I couldn't control anything on the computer.  I was in my blogging template and it was going up and down, up and down and I had other screens open and they were dancing around.  I was freaking out. 

C.I. told me to shut it down and go into safe mode (which I had to be talked through).  Once I was in that, she had me do three or four things and then boot up in regular mode so she could 'dial' in and then she started doing all this stuff on the computer -- screens were flipping, it was something.  And then she said to me, "All done.  You should be fine."  And I never had that problem again.  And if you ask her, she'll say she's not really sure.  Which either really means, it's too complicated to explain or she's just intuitive about computers, I don't know.


If you know a way to disable Java that's easy, feel free to leave the directions in comments.  But do work at disabling it. 

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


Friday, January 11, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq sees another prison break,  Iraqis demonstrate around the country, clerics and political officials issue statements of support for the protesters, political leaders make it clear repeatedly that Iraq is on the wrong path, and more.
 
 
As US President Barack Obama prepares for his second term, the Cabinet faces changes.  Feminist Majority Foundation issued the following today on the departure of the Secretary of Labor:
 
 
For Immediate Release:
January 11, 2013
Contact:
Kari Ross
703.522.2214
 
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and Feminist Majority
Statement on the Departure of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
 
The Feminist Majority Foundation and Feminist Majority salute Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the first Latina to head a major federal agency, for her outstanding accomplishments in fighting for women workers and for all workers.  Solis' leadership was especially important at a time when the United States was facing the worst recession since the Great Depression and women workers were, for the first time, roughtly one-half of the nation's paid workforce.  She brought a unique Latina, feminist, environmentalist and union perspective to the Department.  Secretary Solis made sure women workers were not forgotten as she worked to fight for and support policies to create more jobs.  Never forgetting her own roots, she found passion for, believed in, and valued the common people and their struggles for advancement as well as the importance of the union movement for build the middle class. 
Secretary Solis was always on the front lines fighting for women workers.  She reinvigorated the Women's Bureau, reached out to women's organizations fighting to increase employment opportunities for women and expanded funding for community colleges that service millions of low income women.  In funding programs at community colleges, the Labor Department, as Solis has stated, expanded "employer-specific" job training for millions of people and "transformed" community colleges into an "engine of economic growth."
Ms. Magazined heralded Secretary Solis' appointment with a headline "New Sheriff in Town; the First Latina to Head Labor will Enforce Fair Treatment for all U.S. Workers."  She did exactly that.  The Labor Department, under her leadership, enforced federal contract compliance regulations and wage and hour regulations protecting workers, especially women, people of color, low income individuals, and retirees.  The Department Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs conducted an impressive number of investigations and collected a record amount of back wages for workers who had been denied overtime and leave benefits as well as pay owed them by their employers.  Moreover, the Labor Department under Solis recorded some $5 billion for retirees and their families.
Solis, a role model for equal employment, practiced what she preached.  She recruited and hired women and people of color to top leadership positions in the Department, including her chief of staff, chief economists, and as leaders of top bureaus, agencies and programs of the department.  Solis, in very difficult times, revived and greatly strengthened the Department of Labor's legacy for improving workers' rights and economic justice.  The Feminist Majority and Feminist Majority Foundation look forward to supporting her in new capacities as she continues her work and passion for working women and men as well as economic and social justice.
###
 
After announcing her decision to step down, Hilda Solis offered her thoughts on the position in a series of Tweets including:
 
As the first Latina to head a major federal agency, it has been a great honor to serve as the nation's 25th secretary of labor.
Thank you for your talent & dedication. And thank you to the organizers who ensure workers have a voice on the job and a seat at the table.
We've accomplished much over the last 4 years, but none of it would have been possible without our greatest asset: America's workers.
 
 
In Iraq, many things take place that influence the country's direction.  Also true, events outside of Iraq can impact the country as well.  For years now, the Turkish military has been using war planes to bomb northern Iraq with the stated intent of killing the PKK.  Who are the PKK?     Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."
 
Three PKK members were killed yesterday -- as CNN Mohammed Tawfeeq noted in a Tweet.
 
 
 
 
 
Diane Rhem: Courtney, tell us about these Kurdish activists who were slain in Paris on Thursday.
 
Courtney Kube: Yeah, it wasn't -- at first -- a well publicized story and then it really started to break yesterday in the international media.  There were these three Kurdish exiles that were working in Paris.  They went --
 
Diane Rehm: Female.
 
Courtney Kube: Female.  All young women.  I was astonished, one of them was born in 1988.  I thought, "Wow, how young."  But they went missing the other night.  Their friends broke into their offices and they were found to have been executed.  In fact, the French Interior Minister showed up within hours and he said that they were summarily executed on the site.  So the problem with this is, you know, as in situations like this, there's all differenst sides and people blaming -- one side blaming the other.  The PKK is saying that they believe the Turkish government -- Turkish nationalist -- who were angry at recent talks between Turkey and the PKK who don't want the Kurds to have any additional power, autonomy or rights -- that they did this as a show to break down the talks.  The PKK is -- Or, I'm sorry, the Turkish government is saying that there's infighting between the PKK, that these people, they are the ones who are very militant who don't want talks.  I mean, whatever side ends up being correct, if one of the two, what is clear out of this is that the talks that have just began recently -- Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan just acknowledged them, that they've been speaking to this PKK leader who's been jailed in solitary confiencement for the last decade, that the Intelligence Ministry has been speaking to him to try and broker some sort of an end to the violence.  And those talks are in serious jeopardy over this incident.  
 
 
The three women killed were Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez.  Guney Yildiz (BBC News) offers this analysis:
 
It is the first time that such a senior member of the PKK has been killed in Europe. There has been a tacit agreement between the PKK and the Turkish government that no such high-profile attacks would be carried out against either senior PKK members or senior members of the government.
During the 1980s, there were some attacks believed to be from within the Turkish state against members of the militant Armenian group Asala, but there have been no political assassinations targeting the PKK.
The Paris killings come against the backdrop of fresh peace talks between jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish government. Those talks have not been easy and have opponents on both sides.
The Turkish government says the previous round of peace talks was derailed because of a clash between Turkish soldiers and the PKK in June 2011.
Thursday's killings will make the current negotiations even more difficult, no matter who might be behind the attack.
 
 
Violence continues in Iraq today.  Bombings are getting press attention.  All Iraq News notes a Babylon roadside bombing targeted police officers today.  The Iraq Times, citing a police source, notes police were targeted with a Kirkuk bombing as well; however it ended up killing 1 bystander and injuring another.  Trend News Agency reports a Taj bombing has claimed the lives of 3 police officers.  In addition, Alsumaria notes that a woman's corpse (burned to death) was found dumped in Sulaymaniyah Province.
 

Today's primary focus, however, was on an escape. The Iraq Times reports there has been a Taji prison break with 12 prisoners fleeing -- some of whom are said to have been sentenced to death.  AP states the inmates escaped through cell windows.  Al Bawaba adds, "While sources agree that all of the inmates who broke out of jail on Friday are Iraqi, the number is disputed. An interior ministry official put the number at 12 while a military source claimed there were 16 escapees."  An unnamed military officer tells AFP, "They escaped from Taji prison after they got hold of the guards' weapons.  It could be there was cooperation from the guards."
 
 
Protests continued in Iraq today.   AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted:
 
.@AFP pictures from today's #Iraq demos in Baghdad, Ramadi, Kirkuk and Najaf: http://bit.ly/ZBLn30 
 
 
 
Nouri used the extra-Constitutional Tigris Operation Command to suppress movement in Kirkuk, Alsumaria reports, and the military force prevented people from entering.  They cut off roads in an attempt to stop those marching in Hawija as well.  Demonstration organizer Banyan Obeidi tells the network that the Tigris Operation Command was not present to provide protection but to prevent the demonstrators and to block them."  In Nineveh Province, Alsumaria reports the people turned out following morning prayers and that they renewed their call for the innocent prisoners and detainees to be released and for those officials who have raped and tortured women in Iraqi prisons to be prosecuted.  Nineveh Province is where Nouri has sent the military in an attempt to stop the protests.  But the governor of the province, Atheel al-Nujaifi (also spelled Ethel al-Nujaifi) has refused to allow the protests to be stopped and declared this week, "I am not an employee of Nouri al-Maliki.  I am servant to the people of Nineveh."  al-Nujaifi is the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  He is also in conflict with Nouri who, in 2011, began demanding that al-Nujaifi step down as governor.  Currently, al-Nujaifi is demanding that Nouri hand over a soldier to the province, the soldier raped a young girl.  Nouri's refused to honor the arrest warrant.  al-Nuajifi is also demanding a serious investigation into Monday's protest when Nouri's military ignored al-Nujaifi and the Provincial Council's orders that the square in downtown Mosul be opened to the protesters, the military ignored it and moved in injuring at least four protesters in the process. 
 
 
Omar al-Saleh:  It's the third consecutive week of protests and the numbers are increasing. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Sunni provinces including parts of Baghdad.  But despite the heavy security presence and attempts by the army to prevent people from reaching mosques, many showed up for Friday prayers.  At  Umm al-Qura mosque, politicians and clerics called on protesters to carry on.
 
Rafiaa al-Issawi: I warn the army against being a tool to curb protesters.  I call on you to carry on until your demands are met.
 
Omar al-Saleh:  In Ramadi, the birth place of the protests, tens of thousands continued their sit-in.  They warned Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of using force against them.  In Samarra and Mosul, thousands more demanded an end to what they describe as a marginalization of Sunnis.  They also want the abolishment of an anti-terrorism law which they say targets them.  And the release of Sunni prisoners.   The government's stance is that all demands should be dealt with according to the Iraqi Consittution.  It blames foreign countries of supporting the protesters to ignite a sectarian strife.  
 
Alsumaria reports that cleric and leader of the Islamic Supreme Council delivered a sermon today calling for dialogue among all the parties and refusing to lay the blame on protesters.   Also weigh in?  Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani whose message today, delivered by Sheikh Abdel Mahdi al-Karbalai during morning prayers, was a call for unity and responsibility.  Alsumaria reports he stated that the political blocs are responsible for the current problems and that the politicians and the security services must exercise restraint and utilize wisdom.  He warned against attacking the protesters.  All Iraq News notes that he spoke of the need for government institutions to be independent and to preserve the independence so that no one official could exploit the powers of the government for personal gain.  Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr also weighed in today.  Kitabat notes that Moqtada explained the popular protests in Mosul, Salahuddin and Anbar are not against government but against policies and that it is the right of the Iraqi to speak their beliefs.   He noted that there had been some early mistakes (referring to some slogans and banners in early protests -- they generally expressed the not uncommon belief in Iraq that things were better before the US invasion) but that these are cries to rally the nation.  He stated that Nouri is the one throwing out obstacles.  Alsumaria reports Minister Rafia al-Issawi and Sunni Endowment president Ahmed Abdul-Ghafoor Samarrai showed their support by attending a demonstration in Baghdad following morning prayers.  All Iraq News reports Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq issued a statement today declaring that force should not be used against the protesters.   Others went further.  For example, Kitabat reports Sunni Sheikh Abdul Malik Saadi stated that it is the resposibility of Iraq's rulers to hear the protesters' demands, that it is the right of citizens to exercise their rights, and that the security forces are to provide security and their role is not to target the protesters but to protect them.  The Iraqi people are partners in the country, the Sheikh noted, citizens, military, they are partners.  He called on the protesters to be strong and patient, not to take up arms and he called on the military to protect the protesters.


Of course, there are two groups of protesters in Iraq currently.  First you have the vast group of thousands of  legitimate protesters asking for a better Iraq and then you have the tiny bands of Nouri's goons who sometimes make it into the 'hundreds.'  Both were out today.

The tiny faux group registered the most in Najaf.  Let's call them the Pat Boones.   A sign of how small they are?  All Iraq News notes "dozens."  But then few want to be an ass kisser.  Visit any high school and ask for a show of hands if you doubt it.  The Pat Boones are demanding that things stay the same and that mass arrests continue.  Aswat al-Iraq adds that they are calling "for boycotting Turkish and Qatari companies.  They found support from State of Law MP Ali Mirza who called for his "government to deny work for Turkish and Qatari companies, as well as reviewing diplomatic relations in order to cut off relations with them."  Press TV notes a small turn out in Basra as well.
 

By contrast, Kitabat notes "tens of thousands" of real protesters turned out forllowing Friday prayers.   Alsumaria notes thousands marched in Salahuddin Province to show their support with the Anbar Province protesters who are demonstrating and continue their sit-in.   The outlet notes that local officials, religious scholars and tribal leaders are part of the demonstrations and that the demands include the release of the innocent prisoners and detainees, the prosecution of those who have tortured or raped Iraqi women in the Iraqi prisons and detention centers, and for the government to change its current course.  Salam Faraj and Jafia Abduljabbar (AFP) report that protests took place in Ramadi, Samarra, Mosul, Tikrit, Adhamiyah and Ghazaliyah and "Protesters also blocked off the highway linking Iraq to Syria and Jordan for a 20th day in western Anbar province, while in the northern city of Kirkuk, hundreds of protesters waved banners and raised flags".  Patrick Markey and Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) observe, "Three weeks of mass protests reflect deep discontent among Sunnis who say Maliki's Shi'ite-led government has marginalised their minority community, increasing worries Iraq may slide back into the sectarian violence of its recent past."  The World Tribune notes, "The protesters blocked a highway to Jordan and Syria, which halted trade and passengers to and from Iraq."
In one of the more surprising moments of unity today, the KDP and PUK declared their support for the protesters.  The Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan are the two big political parties -- political rivals -- in the KRG.  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (currently receiving medical treatment in Germany) is the leader of the PUK while Massoud Barzani is the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq) and the leader of the KDP.  Alsumaria reports the two parties came together today to make a joint declaration of support for the protesters and to insist that the course the country is on is wrong and unacceptable.

The Iraq Times reports that Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya (political slate that came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections) held a press conference today to talk about the crisis that has led to demonstrations throughout Iraq.  He noted that Iraqiya and he himself had been sounding alarms for some time about what was taking place.  He noted the policies (being implemented by Nouri) were dividing the country and he called for unity to protect Iraq.  Iraqiya won in 2010 as part of Iraq's rejection of sectarianism.  This trend could be seen in the 2009 provincial elections as well.
 
This embrace of a national identity could have been fostered, could have been encouraged.  The US government refused to do that.  There was more concern in the Obama White House that Nouri al-Maliki get a second term than that the voters in Iraq be listened to, that the Constitution be honored or that democracy be assisted.  The White House backed Nouri who threw a tantrum which lasted over eight months as he refused to allow the Iraqi government to move forward.  While he dug his feet in refusing to allow a new prime minister to be named, Barack had the US government spend their time in Iraq trying to force the various political actors to accept a second term for Nouri.  Since he didn't win the election, the Constitution couldn't allow this.  So the White House came up with the Erbil Agreement to get around the voters and the Constitution.  The Erbil Agreement was a legal contract that the White House assured political leaders was binding and that it would have the US government's full support.  In the contract, political leaders agree to allow Nouri to have a second term as prime minister.  In exchange, Nouri agrees to allow various things to happen such as he agrees to implement Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution -- a census and referendum will be held in Kirkuk to determine who has claim to the disputed area. 
 
The things he agrees to in this contract are largely things he was already supposed to do. Article 140, for example, is the Constitution and he was supposed to have implemented that no later than the end of 2007 -- it's written into the Constitution, that date.  From 2006 to 2010, Nouri had every opportunity to implement Article 140.  He refused to do so.
 
Why in the world would the Kurds (who see Kirkuk as their region) believe Nouri would now implement it?
 
Because the White House voched for the contract.  The White House swore -- US Vice President Joe Biden personally gave Iraqi President Jalal Talabani his word -- that the Erbil Agreement would be followed, the US government would insist upon it.
 
In addition to the White House insisting they would back the contract, the White House also used shame on the Iraqi politicians.  For over eight months, no government had been seated.  An election took place, no one was seated from it.  It was the record at that time.  It was embarrassing and the White House played that angle and they also told the various political blocs that Nouri had no intention of stepping down so the stalemate could go on for months more.  'Be the adult,' the other political blocs were told, 'and let Iraq move forward.'
 
So they signed this contract (November 2010) and immediately after Nouri was named prime minister-designate.  This is November.  Nouri immediately cancels the planned census for December 2010.  It's just temporary, he insists.  And these other things he's supposed to do, it's too soon, but he will do them.  Ayad Allawi and Iraqiya called him out but the press rushed to cover for Nouri.  Even when Nouri couldn't name a Cabinet in 30 days, the press covered for Nouri insisting in January 2011 that he would name a Minister of Defense, a Minister of National Security and a Minister of Interior in a matter of weeks.  Yet back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."    That's still true. 
 
Nouri didn't follow the contract.  He used the Erbil Agreement to get his second term and then trashed it.  By the summer of 2011, that was obvious to Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Iraqiya who were publicly calling him out for his refusal to follow the Erbil Agreement.  And the US?  Silent.  Forgotten and ignored were all the promises that the Erbil Agreement was a binding contract and that the White House would stand behind it.  It's not only destroyed the way political leaders see the US government, it's harmed Iraq, denying democracy, making a mockery out of the Iraqi Constitution and telling voters that they don't determine who rules, the US government does.
 
 
For more on that, you can refer to John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):



Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
 
 
Today in DC at the US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked about Iraq and we'll note this.
 
 
QUESTION: Victoria, the schism within the Iraqi coalitions and political forces and so on is getting wider. And in fact, you talked about the Sunni/Shia divide in Pakistan. It's also getting quite obvious in Iraq. Some people are calling for the government to dissolve. Some people are calling for the parliament to dissolve. Maliki's saying that he's collected 130 names from the parliament to call for a new elections or dissolve it and so on. Are these just parliamentarian machinations, or are the they the birth pangs of democracy, or are we seeing the country being split along sectarian lines?
 
 
MS. NULAND: Well, we've talked about this quite a bit over the last few weeks, if not even before Christmas. Obviously, we're concerned about increased political tensions inside Iraq. We have continually met with people on all sides, calling on them to exercise restraint, to respect the right of peaceful expression, to talk to each other, to engage in a broad national dialogue on the issues that divide them, and particularly that all parties ought to avoid any actions that subvert the rule of law or that provoke ethnic and sectarian tensions or risk undermining the significant progress that Iraq has made or the Iraqi constitution, which is obviously very carefully and delicately balanced. So we will continue the advocacy efforts in that direction that Ambassador Steve Beecroft makes every single day with Iraqis of all stripes.
 
 
Any US governemnt official pontificating about "rule of law" looks like an idiot to Iraqis because the White House disregarded the Iraqi Constitution and the will of the voters to keep Nouri prime minister.   As for US Ambassador Stephen Beecroft, All Iraq News reports he visited the office of Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Thursday and that he and al-Hakim discussed the need to preserve calm and not escalate the current crisis."
 
 
 
 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Whitney rediscovers funny

Ann, Betty and Marcia here: The Whitney bloggers.


We're doing a joint-post tonight.  Whitney airs on NBC each Wednesday night.


Season one was the best and the show quickly became our favorite on TV.  We started blogging because it was always under attack and it was rather clear that the people attacking it were not watching the show.


So we became the Whitney bloggers. 


And season two of the show started.  The first episode?  We were just glad the show was back on.  We missed Neal but were happy.


Then every episode was a fight between Whitney and Alex.  They fought and fought.  And there was no time for Mark, Roxanne and Lily. 


It was not a good show.


It was so bad that we were of the opinion, by the fourth episode, that they could go ahead and take the show off the air if this was how it was going to be.


Last week, the show finally returned after its long winter hiatus.


The episode was funny.  We liked it.  We wrote about it: "The return of Whitney," "Whitney," "Whitney"

We hesitated to praise it too much because there had been four unfunny episodes and we didn't want to get played where we praise its big return only to find out the next week that there was no return and the episode was a fluke.

Last night's episode was very funny.  So funny that we really do think Whitney is back and the show's back on track.

Whitney herself was funny.  Her character has a heart issue.  And she dismissed it and had since she was 12.  It was the Whitney we knew and had grown to love.

The episode was significantly better.  We had subplots.  Thank goodness.

Lily's boyfriend?  We finally met him.  He broke up with Lily after she accidentally sold him on the idea of breaking up with her.  That's the Lily we knew and loved.

Mark was irritating and winning, the combination that made us like him to begin with.  He and Roxanne are still nibbling around the edges and have yet to go out on a date but the sparks are there.

And it was just a great show.  Instead of offering three different perspectives, we were talking on the phone and decided, let's just do a joint post.  So all three of us are declaring Whitney to be back, the humor is back, the characters you love are back, the characters who love each other are back.




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


Thursday, January 10, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, State of Law starts another fist-fight in Parliament, the Minister of Youth and Sports refuses to testify before Parliament, a new poll on Iraq contains very disturbing numbers, a tone-deaf or anti-Semitic group doesn't help Hagel's chances to become Secretary of Defense, more people on the left get vocal about the nomination, and more.
 
Emily Swanson (Huffington Post) reports on a Huffington Post - YouGov poll which found 52% of those surveyed think the Iraq War was a mistake (31% say it wasn't) and 55% say it wasn't worth fighting (27% say it was) -- the poll has a plus or minus 3.7% margin of error.  Those aren't good numbers.  If you doubt that, visit the Podesta Brothel that is Think Progress and you'll see them covering the poll -- sort of.  The best figure (still disappointing) is the 55%.  So they work that in but ignore the 52%. It's very dishonest of them to grab the 55% and not note the 52%.  Neither figure is a good one but the 52% is more important.
 
It's more important not just because it's the lower number but also because of the questions asked.  52% of those surveyed say the Iraq War was a mistake.  That number should be much higher.  I'm not speaking of my personal opinion yet.  I'm speaking of attitudes in surveys.  Respondents, in the history of modern polling, are more apt to say a war or conflict was a mistake than they are to say it wasn't worth fighting.  Why?
 
Mistake goes to government.  Fighting goes to the service members.  People are more comfortable calling out decisions by the government than calling out rank-in-file members of the military and when you get to the issue of "fighting" and it's value or worth, for many Americans, you are evaluating what the military on the ground did or did not do.
 
Maybe the public has changed or maybe the wording was different or maybe they just got a non-representative sample. I would love for that to be true because the numbers themselves are disturbing.
 
The Iraq War is not over.  Analyzing the deaths, the number injured and the incidents of violence for 2012, Iraq Body Count concluded, "In sum the latest evidence suggests that the country remains in a state of low-level war little changed since early 2009, with a 'background' level of everyday armed violence punctuated by occasional larger-scale attacks designed to kill many people at once."  So let's bust that little myth first.  Second, US troops did not all leave.  Some 15,000 moved over into Kuwait (and at least 13,000 of them remain).  They were stationed there because of Kuwait's proximity to Iraq -- so that they could be quickly ordered back in.  'Trainers,' Marines guarding the US Embassy staff, Special-Ops, etc. did not leave and remain in Iraq.  In fact, the number of US Special-Ops in Iraq increased in the second half of 2012.  September 26th, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:
 
Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.
 
Or as William Rivers Pitt (Truthout) put it last month, "if you think we're not still at war in Iraq, I can introduce you to some military families who are still posting love-you-be-safe letters to that particular delivery code."  So that should explode myth two.
 
 
The Huffington Post - YouGov poll?  I'd love for it to be wrong but it's backed up by another poll, one on Bully Boy Bush who has increased his approval rating by 12% just by leaving office.  We covered that on January 2nd and noted:
 
There are a ton of reasons to continue focusing on Iraq here in the US.  But if people only care about themselves then maybe now some on the left who've argued it doesn't matter (including two friends with The Nation magazine) will wake up?  We've gone over what could happen repeatedly in the last years.  We did so at length August 20, 2010 in "The war continues (and watch for the revisionary tactics."
If you're old enough, you saw it with Vietnam.  That illegal war ended with the government called out for its actions.  And some people -- a lot in fact -- just moved on.  The weakest of the left moved on because it wasn't 'polite' to talk about it or it wasn't 'nice' or 'can't we all just get along' and other nonsense.  Others talked about things because they didn't care about Vietnam, the Vietnamese or the US service members.  And, after all, they had a peanut farmer from Georgia to elect, right?  And bit by bit, year by year, all these lies about Vietnam took root.  The press turned the people against it!  The US could have won if the military's hands hadn't been tied!  All this nonsense that, back when the public was paying attention in the early to mid-seventies, would have been rejected outright by the majority of Americans.
Jane Fonda explains in the amazing documentary Sir! No Sir!, "You know, people say, 'Well you keep going back, why are you going back to Vietnam?' We keep going back to Vietnam because, I'll tell you what, the other side does. They're always going back. And they have to go back -- the Hawks, you know, the patriarchs. They have to go back because, and they have to revise the going back, because they can't allow us to know what the back there really was."
And if you silence yourself while your opponent digs in on the topic, a large number of Americans -- including people too young to remember what actually happened -- here nothing but the revisionary arguments.  Jane's correct, the right-wing always went back to Vietnam. They're at fork in the road probably because, do they continue to emphasize Vietnam as much as they have, or do they move on to Iraq.  Victor Davis Hanson's ready to move on to Iraq.  He's not the only one on the right.
And on the left we have silence. 
And that is why revisionary tactics work.  It's not because revisions are stronger than facts.  It's because one side gives up.  And the left -- check The ProgressiveThe Nation, etc.* -- has long ago given up on even pretending to care about Iraq -- about the Iraq War, about the Iraqis, about the US service members.  [*But not In These Times -- they've continued to feature Iraq about every six months.  Give them credit for that.]
 
We're seeing again what happens in silence.  When we're silent on the left, when we silence ourselves, we lose and we lose big.
 
I'm going to toss out some poll numbers to illustrate how bad the results of The Huffington Post - YouGov poll is.  The easiest way to find these numbers is to refer to Polling Report and scroll down. 
 
In December, 2011, as most US troops were being taken out of Iraq (what the Pentagon rightly called a drawdown, not a "withdrawal"), there was a CNN - ORC Poll which asked, "Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?"
 
The results?  66% opposed.  31% favored.  From 66% opposed in December 2011, the against-the-war opinion has dropped to 52%?
 
That's not good news.  That's why the Podesta Bordello ran from that figure.  We can't run from it.  Running from the topic of Iraq has led us to this point where at least 10% opposition to the Iraq War has vanished.  (At least 10%?  I'm factoring in the potential margin of error.)
 
On the left, we're silent.  Very few of us acknowledge Iraq today.  If we do, it's a sentence or two.  Or we're using the Iraq War to praise some politician.  We're not talking about the realities, we're not covering the birth defects, we're not interested in the continued struggle, the abuse of LGBTs, the rape and torture of women in Iraqi prisons, go down the list. 
 
On the left, we convince ourselves that we have something better and more important to do.   That's not happening on the right.  On the right, they're covering the continued tragedy that is the Iraq War.  They're covering the results of it.  They're talking about.  They're addressing it.
 
This is what happens one side is silent.  This is not new.  This is not novel.  Here, we have discussed this concept since at least 2005.  We warned about it while the US military was involved in 'combat operations.'  We warned about it when Barack, echoing Bush's 'major combat has ended' b.s., declared that combat operations were over.  We've warned about it.  That's not because I'm a genius.
 
That's because this is what happens and it happens over and over.  Know the patterns.  They do repeat unless you break them.  That's not just therapy, that's history. 
 
I was standing here shaking my head in silence until the friend I'm dictating this too just asked, "Are you still there?"
 
Which is a question with a number of answers.  Yes, we are still here (the community, visitors and me).  And this is exactly why we are still here.  You cannot talk away from this topic without repercussions.  And we're seeing that right now.
 
While I was being silent, however, I was thinking of how many years it took to rewrite Vietnam, how many movies (The Deer Hunter, Sylvester Stallone's awful films, and so many, many more), how many books, how many columns, on and on.  It is a cottage industry, the revisionary history of Vietnam.  People have made big money there.
 
By contrast, they haven't had to work that hard on Iraq.  They certainly haven't put in the same amount of time that their cohorts did on Vietnam.
 
According to The Huffington Post - YouGov poll, only 52% think the Iraq War was a mistake.  In ten years, that's going to be nothing.  In ten years, if the silence from those of us on the left continues, those numbers will be reversed with 52% (or more) arguing the Iraq War wasn't a mistake and basing that on the fact that the left doesn't care enough to object to and refute the lies, doesn't care enough to cover the damage.
 
Every day the sun rises.  If every day, a large group of people make it their life's work to insist that the sun doesn't rise every day and no one bothers to refute it, despite the fact that sun rises every day, you will find public opinion registering the belief that it doesn't.  It may be a very small number, but you will find it in the polling.  If the one group continues to insist for years that the sun doesn't rise every day, and the other side continues to greet that claim with silence, you will see that small number rise in consecutive polls.
 
That's not because people are stupid or because people are dumb.  Most people are very busy with their lives, children, job, school, just surviving, whatever.  And if they try to follow what's going on in the limited amount time that they can devote to 'current events' and political 'discussions' but all they hear is one side, it doesn't matter what that one side says, a number of people will accept it as truth.
 
That will happen because it is repeated over and over.   Joseph Goebbels was a Nazi which means he was an idiot.  People praise him or cite him for his assertion: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.  The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."  Let's just deal with the first sentence.  (And I'm talking about what an idiot Goebbels is here.  I'm not comparing War Hawks on Iraq to Goebbels.  I don't generally make Nazi comparisons as a rule.)  "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."  Goebbels didn't do the work required. 
 
It's not telling a lie or spin that helps it succeed.  It's this taking place in a vaccuum with other opinions absent.  Not because of fear.  There is no fear today in the United States that if you call the Iraq War a mistake you will end up harmed or punished or shunned or whatever.  There's no liability, there's no loss or potential loss at present.
 
The lie succeeds not just because it's being repeated and not because the government suppressing truth but because those of us who know the Iraq War was wrong are silencing ourselves. 
 
That example of the rising sun?  People have limited time.  It's not just that they hear, via the media, the claim that the sun doesn't rise every day.  It's also that they're media trained.  Meaning, in the US we expect that truth is presented as fact.  Truth requires nothing but to be said.  Media training in the US tells us that 'controversial' or 'disputed' issues require balance.  So when the only one speaking is from one side, to the average American media consumer, that person must be speaking the truth because no one's there objecting.  Surely, if this person claiming that the sun didn't rise every day was wrong or even just potentially wrong, there would be another voice and it would point out that the person was wrong.
 
Media training in the US, and we're all trained in it regardless of rejection, embrace or indifference, allows revisionary history to take root when one side falls into silence.
 
"Mistake." Some may argue that the term isn't concrete and even point out that a few opposed to the Iraq War have insisted it not be called a mistake, that's it's a crime, that the actions of the United States government were criminal.  I believe Bush committed War Crimes, so I can certainly understand that point of view.
 
Was that point of view at play in the poll? Could be.  Maybe that explains the low 52% figure?
 
But then there's the 'worth it' issue with 55% saying it wasn't worth it.  CBS News did a poll in November of 2011.  They used charged questions.  They asked about worth and used worth measured against the loss of US lives.  To me, that's perfectly fine, wars cost lives, let's be honest about it.  But to others, that's a charged question.  They asked about worth twice.  In the other question, it was basically the same, but the invoked Saddam Hussein's name.  By invoking Hussein (again, charged question), they were able to signifcantly alter the responses.  Saddam Hussein, former leader of Iraq until the US invasion, was seen as a madman (probably true) and much worse. 
 
Respondents told CBS the war was not worth it, by 67%, when asked about the loss of American lives.  However, when Saddam Hussein's name was invoked, this same group of respondents, changed their answer. It went from only 24% saying it was "worth it" to 41%.  The 67% saying it was not worth it dropped to 50% when Saddam Hussein's name was invoked.  Same group of people, same survey.  Not a follow up, not a month later.  Same people, same survey, same phone call.
 
If you go to the raw date for the Huffington Post - YouGov poll, you find the question without charged language:
 
All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting, or not?
 
Worth fighting . . . . . . . . 27%
Not worth fighting . . . . . .55%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . 18%
 
 
Invoking Saddam Hussein's name in 2011, CBS News was able to knock 17% points away from the group saying the Iraq War was not with it.  Without invoking Saddam Hussein's name in 2013, Huffington Post - YouGov is able to knock 12% points off the group saying "not worth it."
 
That should be disturbing to all who opposed the Iraq War.  The shift in the second question ("worth it") appear to back up the numbers -- or the veracity of the numbers -- for the poll's other big question (Iraq War, mistake or not).  And the poll about Bush that found he was basically soaring in approval ratings also go to a trend that may be emerging.
 
Iraq isn't a topic that ever should have been dropped in the US.  Set aside the US military (service members died and were wounded there, service members spent time there, it's part of their lives).  On a cost basis, there should have been continued interest.  A ton of US tax payer money went into that illegal war.  The US government is in a supposed crisis right now because it needs a ton of money.  Hmm.  Let's keep pretending the two aren't connected.
 
There's also the very real impotant detail that Iraqis are people.  They're not an image on the TV screen.  When you stop watching, they don't cease to exist.  When you stop watching, violence still continues. 
 
There was never a good reason to walk away from Iraq.  But the bulk of the left did it and did it to enshrine Barack Obama.  We're seeing the effects now.  Here's some cold, hard truth: Barack Obama no longer matters.  He won't matter again until he dies.  Then he'll get a state funeral and people will cry and mourn and endlessly gasbag.  But he doesn't matter right now.  He's in his second term.  What matters right now, and DC watchers know it, is who sets themselves up for a future?  Not just a future run for president.  But who's going to be the Judas (or the George Steph, if you prefer)?  Who's going to be the one who goes from low level assistant we never heard of to the press favorite who gets credited with everything?  That's what people are watching for now. 
 
Barack's story is over.  He was the 44th US President.  He was elected to two terms.  Think about your grade school history.  The story is over.  (Barring a sex scandal or a reality TV show.)  Congress and White House staffers are now the ones who will achieve or fail. 
 
So maybe grasping that, The Nation or The Progressive or Pacifica Radio or some left outlet can suddenly start to rediscover Iraq?  Iraq matters not only in terms of history and what was.  It also matters in terms of the next big US war.  And when opposition to the Iraq War is so small today -- as demonstrated by the poll -- then the US government can have any war it wants.  And I'm not saying anything the White House or a future White House isn't already aware of.
 
 
Iraq was slammed with violence today.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) counts 12 dead.  All Iraq News reports that the President of the University of Diyala, Abbas al-Dulaimi, survived an assassination attempt when his motorcade was targeted with bombings resulting in the deaths of 2 bodyguards with three more left injured.  They also note a roadside bombing in central Baghdad left one employee of Parliament injured.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports  a Baquba home invasion left 1 Iraqi military officer dead while the homes of two Sahwa members were bombed killing both men.  AFP notes a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 3 lives and left eleven people injured.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports the death toll from the Baghdad car bombing has risen to 5 and the number injured is fifteen.
 
Through Tuesday, Iraq Body Count counts 84 dead from violence in Iraq so far this month.  In their analysis of 2012, they explained the meaning of violence in 2009:
 
We first noted in our 2009 analysis that our six-monthly data for the year 'may indicate that the situation is no longer improving', as it had done dramatically in comparison to the height of sustained violence in 2006 - 2008.  This was borne out by data for 2010 and then 2011, during which the years the levels of violence, as measured in the number of civilians killed annually, were almost identical."
 
 
We're not done with the violence yet.  There was a fist-fight in Parliament.  How does the Iraqi government expect violence to decrease in Iraq when MPs think threats and violence are the tools to resort to? 
 
In addition, you'd think Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law would advise all of its members on conduct and how their actions can reflect poorly not only on themselves but also on the political slate State of Law all the way up to the prime minister (Nouri).  But over and over, year after year, State of Law MPs keep throwing punches in Parliament.   Already this week, there's been one fight.  Today, State of Law takes to the Parliament to defend their title: Nouri's Neandrathals.  All Iraq News explains Parliament was supposed to be questioning Jassim Mohammed Jaafar (Minister of Youth and Sports) when State of Law MP Abbas al-Bayati decided to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee by starting a fight with Bahaa al-Arajil of Moqtada al-Sard's parliamentary bloc.   Tuesday, it was State of Law's Ali Alfalh starting a physical fight in Parliament. 
 
Maybe it's time to stop referring to "sessions" of Parliament and instead use the term "rounds."  That'll be helpful at the end of the year, for example, when they can proclaim that Parliament had 152 rounds in 2013 and that, in those rounds, State of Law picked 112 fights.
 
 
Because of the fight, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi had to call a one hour recess.  They never did get to question the Minister of Youth because, like so many of of Nouri's people, he failed to show up despite being summoned before the Parliament.

Why question the Minister to begin with?  Charges of corruption and the fact that a sports center in Basra has access to and receives three times the amount of electrical power the rest of the entir province receives.    Jassim Mohammed Jaafar is a Turkman and he's also with Nouri's State of Law. He owes Nouri because he ran, in 2010, for a seat in Parliament but didn't win.  State of Law named him to the Parliament using one of the two compensation seats they received.  Kitabat notes that Parliament is considering bringing corruption charges against him.

Al Mada reports the Kurdistan Alliance is in preparation for questioning Nouri before the Parliament but they expect him to attempt to use the federal court in an attempt to get out of appearing before Parliament.  In case that doesn't work, State of Law is gathering signatures in an attempt to remove Osama al-Nujaifi as Speaker of Parliament.  They have 130 currently.  All Iraq News notes MP High Nassif  has issued a statement declaring that Nouri is in violation of the Constitution and she disputes his claim to a mandate noting that a mandate would come from the people and the prime minister is elected by the Parliament.  The article also notes that the bill on the three presidencies was read yesterday in Parliament.  The bill seeks to limit all three to two terms.  Currently, the Constitution limits the President of Iraq to two terms.  The three presidencies are the Presidency, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament.  The proposed amnesty law was supposed to have been read today as well.  Alsumaria notes the reading has now been kicked back until Monday.  All Iraq News reminds that an amnesty law is one of the demands by those engaged in the ongoing protests.


Dar Addustour writes about Nouri's speech yesterday attacking the protesters.  He said that Iraq's too young for protests.  He called on the police to arrest protesters, declared they were being paid by foreigners and floated that they should have to pay $100 to protest.  You'll note the silence from the White House on the protests.  If the State Dept mentions them today, no doubt, it will just be to provide Victoria Nuland with another chance to smear them.  Kitabat reports Nouri sent at least two military brigades to Anbar Province yesterday to target the protesters.

While Nouri pushes violence (isn't that always his answer), All Iraq News notes that Iraqiya is holding a meeting today to discuss the protesters demands and the refusal of the government to recognize these demands.  Iraqiya is headed by Ayad Allawi.  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is also with the Iraqiya political slate.  They came in first in the March 2010 elections and would have gotten the post of prime minister were it not for the White House's refusal to let anyone but Nouri be prime minister. 
Despite all that went on in Iraq today, it wasn't at an issue to be raised or addressed at today's US State Dept press briefing.  Nor was it an issue yesterday.  The press in the US is happy to continue to ignore Iraq.  The Bush administration's Meghan L. O'Sullivan was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman for the Council of Foreign Relations.  It's a wide ranging discussion.  We're going to note her comments on the protests:
 
Prime Minister Maliki's challenges right now are not so much with parliament, but more with Iraq's political elite. The prime minister has managed to alienate most of the elite, even while remaining popular with many ordinary Iraqis. Early elections are, in fact, one of the demands of the political groups opposing Maliki who want nothing more than to replace the prime minister. This could be achieved either through early elections or a vote of no confidence in the prime minister. Some would settle for a pledge from Maliki that he will not seek a third term in office.
The vote of no confidence route was tried last summer and failed, largely because the Sadrist bloc backed away from their pledges to support the ouster. Maliki, in provoking the Kurds, the Sunnis, and the Sadrists (who are Shiites) all simultaneously, may have pushed his luck too far this time. [However,] the chances of these groups staying united in parliament long enough to conduct a vote of no-confidence is still unlikely, not least due to the inevitability of Iranian counter-pressure.
In theory, the street, more than parliament, could be the source of political pressure on Maliki, but this would require the Sunni movement merging with a robust Sadrist street movement. Although there have been efforts over the past days to broker this marriage, much history and suspicion lie between the two groups, making an effective merger a challenge. Moreover, most Iraqis, after decades of trauma, are not disposed to take to the streets to change their government, when (unlike the other "Arab Spring" countries) elections provide an option.
 
 
On the above?  Those are her opinions and her opinion is also highly anti-Moqtada al-Sadr.  I raise that specifically because she claims Moqtada killed the no-confidence vote.  I'm sure she has some source she can cite to back that up.  But that source really doesn't carry weight with me.  We followed that story in real time, Sadr's bloc was appalled that the no-confidence vote was called off.  In adddition, there was no rupture between Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi and Sadr or between KRG President Massoud Barzani and Sadr.  If Moqtada had been the cause, Allawi and Barzani would have distanced themselves to a noticeable degree.  They did not.
 
Jalal Talabani was visited by the US government and the Iranian government before suddenly declaring the no-confidence vote was dead.  Jalal's spoken very little about the vote pubilcly since announcing it was off.  However, he did give one interview where he was clearly angry and on the defensive regarding the no-confidence vote.  In that interview, he noted a Shi'ite figure who had pushed for the no-confidence vote only to turn on it.  Jalal spoke about that and said this person was the first one to raise the issue of a no-confidence vote on Nouri with him.
 
He identified that person and it wasn't Moqtada al-Sadr.  Jalal called out Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.  So based on Jalal's only public comments on the matter, based on the reaction of the Sadr bloc, based on the reactions of Allawi and Barzani, I don't see where you get that Moqtada called it off.  (Equally true, she's asked a question which states Moqtada is calling for an Arab Spring.  That's incorrect.  Moqtada has warned of an Arab Spring.  He has not called for it.)
 
 
 
I don't know Moqtada.  Friends at the State Dept scoff at the 'new' Moqtada.  I can only judge by what's reported of his remarks and his actions.  I think it's really silly to proclaim Moqtada unchanged.  In 2010, as we noted then, he wanted to be prime minister.  He's presented himself in a leadership position ever since.
 
That's not "I am the leader of Shi'ites."  Yes, he is.  He's also a cleric.  But he's building a movement whether people want to recognize that or not.  I would hope that it would be movement which would results in positives for the Iraqi people.  I don't know that it will or that it will go further.  But to ignore the changes he's brought about?
 
That's ignorant because you're miss exactly what does happen in Iraq.  We refer to him as "cleric and movement leader."  That's in part because of his change in tone.  (I'm still surprised he didn't get more coverage for his visit to Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad last Friday.)  But it's mainly because the reality is that he is a leader and not just in Sadr City and parts of Basra. 
 
Are his appeals to Christians and Sunnis and Kurds just attempts to curry favor.  Maybe, maybe not.  But what matters is what he does with them.  And what's he's done so far has been beneficial to Iraq.  2012 saw Moqtada as the voice of the people.  He fought for them with regards to the food-ration card system (which Nouri tried to do away with) and he fought for them with regards to the oil surplus and how the Iraqi people would benefit from that money.  A friend at the State Dept asked -- good question -- whether I would judge Moqtada the same if Nouri hadn't gone so crazy in 2012?  I think so.  I don't think I'm doing a by-comparison judgment. 
 
And again, I can't vouch for Moqtada's soul and I'm not trying to.  I'm also not trying to get him elected or appointed to any post.  I'm just trying to convey in each day's snapshot what the big themes and events were that day.  You can think the 'new' Moqtada is insincere or playing a game or whatever.  But if you're not at least admitting that it is a different Moqtada al-Sadr than a few years back, you're missing the point.  (The State Dept friend pointed out that I have increased coverage of Moqtada in the snapshots at the same time that the too-quick-to-embrace-Moqtada press has suddenly tossed him to the side.)  (Also, disclosure and reminder, for several years now, an MP with the Sadr bloc has e-mailed this site.  The MP makes an impassioned case for Moqtada all the time.  Check the archives, it didn't effect me in the past.  Maybe the MP has worn me down?  I don't think so.)
 
 
In the US, the burnpit registry is now law.  We'll cover that in tomorrow's snapshot.
 
There are many different groups that support Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense.  It's a shame that the anti-Jewish section is so quick to grab the spotlight.   As James Besser (Jewish Week) noted at the start of 2011 when US House Rep Gary Ackerman publicly rebuked them, "J Street has become such a lightning rod in Jewish politics."  The controversial J Street has no launched a campaign that is, at best, tone deaf and, at worst, anti-Semitic.  "SMEAR A BAGEL, NOT CHUCK HAGEL" is a petition with a questionable headline.  J Street is seen as anti-Jewish by many in the Jewish community (and, yes, the fact that Jews are a part of J Street doesn't change that perception).  Chuck Hagel is seen by some as anti-Semitic.  And to promote Chuck, J Street decides the way to go is to argue, "SMEAR A BAGEL, NOT CHUCK HAGEL."
 
What's the most famous film scene that a bagel has to do with? 
 
It's the scene that resulted in film's first Jewish superstar.  Barbra Streisand won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her film debut as Fanny Bryce in William Wyler's Funny Girl.  Fanny Bryce was a Jewish comedian, a singer and actress.  "My Man" was her signature song and she was famous for voicing Baby Snooks on the radio.  Though Carol Burnett and Anne Bancroft were considered for the lead in the Broadway play, it was pretty much a given that Bryce needed to be played by a Jewish woman.  After her success on Broadway (and in London), Barbra would perform the role on film, one of the most famous Jewish womein in the world during the first half of the 20th century would be played by the most famous Jewish woman of the second half of the 20th century.  The bagel scene (script by Isobel Lennart) involves Barbra as Fanny Brice, Frank Faylen as Keeney and Lee Allen as Eddie.
 
 
Keeney:   You've got to face facts.You don't look like the other girls --
 
Fanny Brice:  I know but --
 
Keeney:  You've got skinny legs.  You stick out.  And you are out!  Eddie.
 
Fanny Brice:  I'm just trying to tell you something.  Why don't you give me a chance?
 
Eddie:  I'm sorry, kiddo.
 
Fanny Brice: I do a terrific time step.  Look.
 
Keeney:  Out.  Out.
 
Fanny Brice:  Look, Mr. Keeny, suppose all you ever had for breakfast was onion rolls. Now all of the sudden, one morning, in walks a bagel.  You take a look at it and you say,  "What is that?" Until you tried it.  But that's my trouble. 
 
Keeney:  What's your trouble?
 
Fanny Brice:  I'm a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls!
 
She then launches into "I'm The Greatest Star" (written by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill).  Long before that scene, bagels had a Jewish connotation. In New York City in 1956, Dorothy Parker was asked about her time on the West Coast by Maroin Capron (Paris Review) and Parker responded:
 
Hollywood money isn't money.  It's congealed snow, melts in your hand, and there you are.  I can't talk about Hollywood.  It was a horror to me when I was there and it's a horror to look back on.  I can't imagine how I did it.  When I got away from it I couldn't even refer to the place by name.  "Out there" I called it.  You know what "out there" means to me?  Once I was coming down a street in Beverly Hills and I saw a Cadillac about a block long and out of the side window was a wonderfully slinky mink, and an arm, and at the end of the arm a hand in a white suede glove wrinkled around the wrist, and in the hand was a bagel with a bite out of it.
 
 
Parker's narrative above is mean to insult a gaudy person representative of a gaudy business.  Take away the bagel and there is no story, it's a key image in the story she's painting (whether you agree with the image or not).
 
So when you say "Smear a bagel" some may see your slogan as  "Smear a Jew, not Hagel."  Again, when you're a group some see as anti-Semitic and you're promoting a nominee some see see as anti-Semitic, your campaign has a problem, a built-in hostility. And when you promise to send (unrequested) bagels to a Jewish man (William Kristol)?  Even more so. J Street would be wise to think up a new slogan.
 
 
Allen Ruff (The Progressive) discovers Hagel's environmnetal problems -- including his being a member of Chevron's board of directors:
 
 
Currently a member of the board of directors of Chevron, Hagel led the charge in 1997 to block ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement that would have committed the US and other industrial nations to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Hagel-Byrd Resolution, co-authored by the coal-friendly Democrat, West Virginia's Robert Byrd, argued that the Kyoto failed to include developing countries and posed barriers to US economic expansion.
On his way through the revolving door to higher fame and fortune, Hagel announced in September 2007 that he would not seek a third term in the Senate. While his current mainstream biographies note that he happens to teach at Georgetown, they somehow consistently miss mentioning that he might have to give up his current position on Chevron's board.
 
 
Urvashi Vaid (The Progressive) is championing Michele Flournoy. For reasons that we've gone over before (what the job actually entails), Flournoy would be a better choice than Hagel and might even be a solid choice on her own.  (She does have the youth -- she's 14 years younger than Hagel -- and passion the job needs.)  Vaid points out:
 
Chuck Hagel?
An anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-women's rights, anti-environmental, pro-defense contractor Senator with a 0% rating from Human Rights Campaign and an 11% rating from the NAACP.(3)
A guy whose election to the Senate from Nebraska involved the electronic ballot counting company he started tallying up the votes.
Hagel made his fortune by owning and selling electronic voting systems, and the company he founded has seen its optical scanning systems be dogged by claims of faulty tabulation.(4)
Hagel's a guy who has operated with no public oversight or scrutiny as co-chair of the powerful and ultra-secret President's Intelligence Advisory Board for these past three years.
His Senate votes on issues important to service members are contradictory: He opposed repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, but now says that he supports lifting the ban; he voted against allowing women service members access to abortion; he voted for the Iraq invasion but then came around to opposing the war; he opposed the nomination of long-time gay Democratic leader Jim Hormel as ambassador, but he apologized to Hormel a few weeks ago.
 
On Hagel's anti-LGBT record, Matthew Rothschild has an audio commentaryEli Lake (Daily Beast) has an article on Hagel where he basically calls Hagel a flip-flopper and the push back on that is great.  'People change their minds!' insist the Hagel groupies.  About things like this:
 
It was August 1998 and Washington was embroiled in President Clinton's adultery scandals. Chuck Hagel, though, had his eye on the next president. So he asked George W. Bush if Hagel could meet with him at the governor's mansion in Austin, Texas. Karl Rove, then a top adviser to the governor, says he remembers Hagel flying to Austin after Rove politely tried to dissuade him from the trip because the governor's schedule was crowded.
Hagel flew to Austin anyway. In a meeting with Bush, Rove says, the freshman Nebraska senator gave the governor his personal endorsement for the 2000 election cycle. Bush said he appreciated the senator's endorsement, but asked him to keep it quiet for the time being, according to Rove, because the governor had not yet announced he was running. After the meeting, Hagel flew to Omaha, Nebraska, and told a group of agricultural executives that he was urging Bush to run. The story was covered in the August 10 edition of the Omaha World Herald, and Hagel briefly became one of the first major politicians to endorse George W. Bush for the presidency.
But the Hagel endorsement didn't last long. A few months later, when fellow Vietnam War veteran Sen. John McCain announced his own run for the presidency, Hagel gave his endorsement to McCain. "He wanted to be a big guy and talk to the paper," Rove said. "Then when McCain became a credible candidate he just flipped. That's Hagel: mercurial, focused on doing it his way."
 
That's Chuck Hagel.  That's the Hagel who wasn't trusted by his peers -- Democrats or Republicans -- in the Senate because he was inconsistent.  That's Hagel.  'I want to endorse you.'  Can you wait? 'No.'  Then, months later, he's announcing he's endorsing someone else.
 
 
cnn

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