Saturday, August 23, 2014

Extant Molly gets too close to the truth

Extant airs Wednesday nights on CBS and stars Halle Berry as Molly, a woman caught up in some form of global -- possibly galatic -- conspiracy.

This week, Molly came close to learning what happened to her in space and what happened to the previous crew.  A man on one of the missions bought a penthouse for a dollar from a dummy corporation.

She sent him the circles (that indicate something -- they were on her belly when she got pregnant in space) and questions and he agreed to meet her.

When she showed up, he'd 'jumped' to his death from the penthouse -- or been pushed.

And as she looked further for answers, she almost got caught by a group of armed men but was rescued by the chief bad guy's assistant.

What's up with that?

There were two episodes this week.  We're grabbing the first one and planning to grab the other one either Monday or Tuesday.

Marcia's long wondered about Molly's husband John and if he's to be trusted.

I'm starting to wonder that too.

At a small dinner party, Molly and John got into it when John began speaking of the need to install a control device on Ethan and she responded "no risk, no reward."

Ethan is the robot John's invented that they raise as their child.  John's bothered because Ethan's suddenly speaking Japanese even though he's not been programmed for it.

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

Saturday, August 23, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue and we explore how the White House blew it in 2010 and has blown it again on Friday.

Pretend you were beat up every day by some other kid.  And the other kid got sympathy while you got scorn.

That's how a lot of Sunnis feel in Iraq and while feelings are neither right or wrong, the Sunnis feelings are more than understandable.

In the anti-Sunni world so many of us live in, Iraq's problems started a few weeks ago.  The last four years didn't matter, the targeting of Sunnis didn't matter.

Friday, a horrifying event took place and if it were known to be carried out by the Islamic State, the White House would be condemning it in strong terms -- as they have so many times before.

AP reports an attack on Imam Wais Village's Mosque has left 65 dead and sixty injured.   RT says it was an attack carried out by a Shi'ite militia and reminds, "In July, Shia armed groups executed 15 Sunni Muslims and hung them from electricity poles in a public square in Baquba. Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces killed more than 255 Sunni prisoners in retaliation for the killing of Shias by the Islamic State."  Jomana Karadsheh, Jason Hanna and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) report it this way, "Suspected Shiite militiamen opened fire Friday inside a Sunni mosque in northeast Iraq, killing dozens in an attack that appeared to derail the formation of a new government -- something world leaders have said is a must if the country hopes to defeat Islamic militants."  Abigail Hauslohner (Washington Post) notes, "It was the single deadliest assault in months on Sunni civilians in Iraq."

The US State Dept issued a statement:

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Washington, DC
August 22, 2014
The United States strongly condemns the vicious attack today on innocent men, women, and children inside a mosque in the village of Imam Wais in Diyala province.  The United States stands with the people of Iraq against this violence, and will continue to support all Iraqi citizens, from all parts of the country, as they work to root out violent extremists from any sector of society, and promote a religiously tolerant, diverse, and unified country, as envisioned in the Iraqi Constitution.  
This senseless attack underscores the urgent need for Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum to take the necessary steps that will help unify the country against all violent extremist groups.  In that light, we note Prime Minister-Designate Al-Abadi’s condemnation and call for unity in defiance of this attack.  We further call on all Iraqi leaders to complete the process of forming a new government on the constitutional timeline, and to stand united against violent extremist groups regardless of their cause or persuasion.  
We express our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of today’s senseless attacks, and call on the Government of Iraq to immediately investigate and bring to justice anyone shown to be behind these heinous crimes.  

Not good enough.

Marie started off strong.

But going with "senseless"?

Some reports have reduced the statement to Marie Harf only using "senseless to describe

"Senseless" isn't good enough.

You don't think the Sunnis have been persecuted in the last years, fine.  But at least acknowledge that they feel they have been persecuted.  (I agree with them.)

The worst attack they've seen in months and the term being run with is "senseless"?

After Thursday's briefing involving US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey used terms like "savagely" and "ruthless" and "barbaric."  And terms like these used over the murder of one person.

And  many people will read and hear of Harf's describing the attack on the Sunnis as "senseless."

People are paying attention.

Maybe not the State Dept or the White House.

In fairness to Marie Harf, she and and the State Dept are supposed to be int he business of diplomacy.

That said, did we all catch John Kerry's statement?

The US Secretary of State used the term "barbaric" in a statement yesterday:

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 22, 2014
Secretary Kerry spoke with the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari today to discuss the situation in Iraq. The Secretary expressed his strong support for the formation of a new government and encouraged the Foreign Minister to press all parties on the need work together and avoid preconditions to expedite the formation of a new and inclusive cabinet.
Foreign Minister Zebari acknowledged the importance of moving quickly with government formation and also expressed his sincere condolences over the brutal murder of James Foley by ISIL. Secretary Kerry offered his condolences to Foreign Minister Zebari for the countless Iraqis from all religious and ethnic communities who have fallen victim to ISIL’s barbaric attacks.
Both leaders recognized that Iraq is on the front line in the war against ISIL and that Iraq, the United States, the region, and the international community must stand together to face this threat. Mr. Zebari welcomed and noted appreciation for U.S. support in combatting ISIL.

'Savage' and 'barbaric' are not diplomatic terms.  I personally recoil when someone uses the terms to describe people (or to describe animals -- but I have no problem with "savage" and "barbaric" being used to describe the weather or, for that matter, the films of Michael Bay). But these are the terms the administration has trafficked in and the world  -- and specifically Sunnis around the world -- are not necessarily going to put on their decoder rings to decipher why DoD is calling Sunnis who attack 'savages,' 'ruthless' and 'barbaric' while when Sunnis are attacked by presumably Shi'ite assailants, the attacks are lamented with a sigh as 'senseless.'

Iraq is in a very unstable state currently.  For the country to come together, all the players are going to have to feel that they are treated fairly and will be treated fairly.

The US-installed tyrant Nouri al-Maliki is hopefully on his way out the door (he's never truly gone until he's in the ground so I'll breathe easy only when a new prime minister is named).  Installing him in 2006 was a mistake on the part of the Bully Boy Bush administration.  (You can use a stronger term than "mistake," I'm trying to move quickly and trying to be as kind as possible  -- or as kind as I possibly can be.)  Barack Obama's administration insisting he remain in 2010 -- after he lost the elections to Iraqiya -- was worse than a mistake.

That spat on the Iraqi voters and also sent the message that elections don't matter and that all the talk of 'democracy' -- from two consecutive US administrations -- was nothing but hollow talk.

Insisting the loser of an election -- a polarizing figure -- get a second term the voters did not give him is not instilling faith in democracy nor does it help democracy take root.

The 2010 decision, ignored by so many in the US, is not a minor thing and will figure greatly in the history of Iraq.  It's also why the violence got to where it did.

Nouri didn't win the election.  His State of Law came in second to Iraqiya.  Though some try to spit polish Nouri and his State of Law, they were a sectarian coalition.  They were a new grouping -- Nouri refused to run as part of Dawa, his political party, much to Dawa's dismay -- and they talked 'security' which was code for "We kill Sunnis."  You can pretend it meant something different the way so many pretended in the 1988 US elections that invoking Willie Horton's name wasn't about appealing to fear and, yes, sending a message of racism.

Siderbar: Horton was an African-American who was sentenced for life -- for murder -- but given passes as part of a furlough program and, on one furlough, he didn't bother to return but did commit a series of crimes. Criticizing the program, as Al Gore had, was not appealing to racism.  Making Horton the poster boy of the program might not have been racism.  No one was lying about the facts involved.  The way the controversy was sold via ads and comments from George H.W. Bush's campaign was an appeal to racism.  And, to be clear, I'm not calling George H.W. Bush a racist.  I have no idea where he stands but would hope he's not. But the thing about racism is that it can be used by a lot of people who aren't racists.  They can do that by trafficking in it or by being silent about it.  They can do it any number of ways.  They can do it by, in 2014, creating a new sitcom for Netflix -- yeah, I'm talking about Jane and Lily's sitcom -- and refusing to cast leads of color -- Martin Sheen has passed for Anglo White his entire career so don't toss out that he's Latino.  There is no reason in the world that two preachy liberal women who are played by Jane and Lily couldn't have married an African-American man. I believe the current president of the United States is the son of an interracial couple.  He's 53-years-old and Jane can't catch up with the times -- the time of 53 years ago?   Instead, the show is an elderly -- yeah, I said it -- white bread White cast and why the 'new' world of the internet needs that is beyond me.  I have problems with the White at the top of the pyramid structure of Orange Is The New Black -- the White 'missionary' teaches every one of color in a manner not that far from a Shirley Temple movie -- but at least Orange does offer a diverse cast.  Jane's show is so White it could be on CBS.  Sidebar in a sidebar: Jane is an active producer of the show with a long history of producing, Paula is producing as well -- Paula, what would you mother say about your all White productions?  Lily Tomlin is a producer.  Why am I not calling out Lily?  Lily is producer to protect herself.  That's all.  Lily's not going into any production where she's going to be at the mercy of others.  She's not an active producer but she's got the title and position to protect her character and her art.  That's why I'm not calling out Lily.  (If her character or performance is a mess, I will call that out when Ava and I review the show.)

Back to State of Law, Nouri used coded messages to appeal to Shi'ites.  By contrast, Iraqiya, led by Shi'ite Ayad Allawi, was a mixed coalition with Sunnis (such as Osama al-Nujaifi, the previous Speaker of Parliament, and former Deputy prime minister Saleh al-Mutlaq) and its success built on the 2009 elections which found the Iraqi people moving away from identities of division and towards a national identity as Iraqis.

That was an incredible shift and one that should have been encouraged by world leaders.  It should have been encouraged and fostered.  2010 was a time of such hope.

Instead, this got shoved aside when the White House decided Nouri must remain prime minister.

If we're all honest for a moment, maybe we can all agree the above US response in 2010 was at least a mistake.

But it got worse.

Nouri didn't win.  Even with his kangaroo court verdict, he didn't win.  So the US brokered a legal contract, known as The Erbil Agreement.  This contract was signed by the leaders of all the political blocs -- including Nouri -- and came after Nouri had brought the government to a standstill for over 8 months -- Parliament wasn't meeting, nothing was happening.  The US officials went to the leaders of various political blocs and told them Nouri could hold out for another 8 months so, be the bigger person, do the right thing for the country, just give him a second term and we'll do it with a contract and since you're giving up a lot by letting a loser have a second term, we're going to write something into this contract for you and the people you represent.  So Iraqiya was promised, among other things, the head of an independent national security body, the Kurds were promised Article 140 of the Constitution would finally be implemented, etc.

The White House swore this contract had their full backing.  November 11, 2010, the day after it was signed, Parliament finally met.  Some idiots and liars say Iran -- in mid-October -- ended the political stalemate.  Big lie.  Parliament only finally met after The Erbil Agreement.  Check the archives, learn  what you're talking about because the lies are helping no one. If it's pride that's forcing them to stick to a lie, let it go.  We all get things wrong.  On this issue, I was an idiot myself and thought the Erbil Agreement was a supplement to the Constitution.  It was not -- I was big time wrong in real time -- it was a circumvention of the Constitution.

Those new to the issue may be thinking, "C.I., a contract was used to settle the elections.  It's no different than the backroom deals political parties used to have in the US during the early part of the 20th century."  Maybe so but those promises tended to stick.

Nouri signed a contract -- a contract the White House brokered and backed -- to get a second term and then refused to honor the contract.  At first, he made it sound as if it would be a few weeks.  By summer 2011, the Kurds, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya were publicly demanding Nouri implement The Erbil Agreement.  He refused to do so.  In March of 2012, leaders -- of the groups just named and other groups including ISCI and its leader Ammar al-Hakim -- began fairly public discussions about what to do.  A big meet-up took place in April 2012.  It was decided they would move to a no-confidence vote in Parliament.  Signatures were collected and all the steps outlined in the Constitution were followed.  As signatures were being collected, Moqtada stated publicly that Nouri could end the effort by implementing The Erbil Agreement.  Nouri refused to do so.

As May was winding down there was hope among many Iraqis that fairness was going to be restored.

Then the petition was handed to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani for him to, as the Constitution dictated, officially present it to the Parliament.  Then a vote would take place.

Never happened.

Under pressure from the White House*, Jalal announced he would check the signatures.  This was a petition signed by MPs (Members of Parliament).  Jalal didn't just ask, "Did you sign it?" He asked, "Would you still sign it if it was presented to you today?"  That's not how a petition works.  But Jalal claimed a number backed out -- wouldn't say who -- and said he couldn't present it to Parliament and 'screw all you people insulting me and members of the press calling me a coward, I'm off to Germany for life threatening surgery!'

It emerged Jalal actually had elective knee surgery.

But it let the coward hide out and avoid the fall out for his decision and action.  He would sneak back into the country in September 2012.  Maybe as a karmic 'reward,'  he suffered a stroke and did end up in Germany.  December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He returned to Iraq in July of this year.

*Iran forced Jalal's hand!!!!!  No.  Iran was not the player on that issue, the US government was.  Iran was the player on the issue of Jalal remaining president.  The US government told Iraqi politicians they had no opinion on replacing Jalal -- he should have been replaced a month after his stroke -- and were staying out of the matter.  The Iranian government did not take a pass.  That is why when Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, First Lady of Iraq, spent almost as much time in Iran as she did in Germany -- she repeatedly darted in and out of Iran to plead with Shi'ite leaders to continue to back Jalal as president despite a health crisis that left him unable to govern or speak.

And we're all clear that he can't speak, aren't we?

He can make some noises but nothing that the public would turn out for.  That's why his big return was a big bust.  A lot of hoopla and no Jalal talking to the public.

The Talabani family lied to -- defrauded -- the people of Iraq who would have been loudly demanding a president had they not been repeatedly told Jalal was recovering and that he'd be back in a matter of months.

The Iraqi people had voted divisive 'leader' Nouri out of office only to have the US insist he get a second term.  The contract that outlined a power sharing government was tossed aside by Nouri and the White House didn't say a word. And then things really got bad.  Which is why the Iraqi people went back into the streets in December 2012 to launch protests that would last over a year.

Nouri's response to the peaceful protests?

He called them 'terrorists' and had his security forces, attack them, arrest them and kill them.

None of this would have happened had the White House not demanded he get a second term.

So now the White House is 'involved.'  Nouri is said to be gone (again, only when he's in the ground).  And it's 'evil' and 'bad' and 'barbaric' Sunnis, to hear the White House talk.

But Friday comes a spectacular attack, apparently carried out by Shi'ites, against Sunnis -- against Sunnis who are at a house of worship -- and the administration can't speak in the strong language they use when decrying Sunni assaults?

The White House swore they would stand by The Erbil Agreement.

When the Parliament finally met, Nouri said The Erbil Agreement would have to wait a little bit. Ayad Allawi walked out.

Remember that?

From the November 11, 2010 snapshot:

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call." 

Empty words from Barack.

The position was never created and the White House stayed silent.

Nouri broke the contract that the White House brokered and the White House did nothing.

It betrayed the people they gave their word to.

And that's especially why the attack on the Sunnis yesterday should have resulted in strong words.

A friend in the administration used to get so ticked off with what I did here -- noting the government of France issuing this or that statement of support or the government of England or both and noting how the US government was silent.

They were just words -- insisted a member of an administration that's offered little more than words since being sworn in back in January 2009.

But words are followed.  The Iraqi press?  Most of them do not have a budget that allows a US correspondent.  So when reporting on US reaction, they are looking to statements and briefings that the administration publishes.  It does matter.  A statement ignored by the US press, for example, may lead on Iraqi TV broadcasts and be front paged on many Iraqi newspapers.

(The same friend now gets it -- it took long enough -- and regularly asks that we note this or that.  When we can, we do.)

Friday's horrible assault was the chance for the US government to show they were not taking sides, that they supported all Iraqis.  That chance has now pretty much passed.

And to be fair to Marie Harf, she is not the entire administration.  She is a spokesperson for the State Dept and, certainly, she spoke more wisely on Friday than her boss (John Kerry) did.

It's a shame John Kerry had nothing to say about the attack on the Sunnis at the mosque.  It's a shame Chuck Hagel had nothing to say -- Chuck without words?  Who knew that was possible?

But what was said and what was not said did register in Iraq.  It's now going to be that much harder for the US to be seen as an honest broker in Iraq -- and at a time when they really need to be seen as that.  Sunnis have not just announced a walkaway period from government talks (hopefully a brief one) but they've also now seen that the US government is gravely concerned when Shi'ites are attacked but less interested when the victims are Sunnis.

the wall st. journal
sam dagher
ben lando
chelsea j. carter

Friday, August 22, 2014

Running Back To You

Tonight we're talking favorite dance songs.

For me, it's Vanessa Williams' "Running Back To You."

I love the beat, yes.

But it also spoke to me as I was ending a really bad relationship so Vanessa's "I won't come running back, I won't come running . . ."

And I loved the "oh"s.

I wish Vanessa would do another album.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, where is the peace movement?, Barack launches more air strikes and more US troops may be headed to Iraq, and much more.

Let's start with Doug Henwood.  His low rated program Behind The News was evicted from WBAI.  He must be very proud of it because he bothered to keep it alive -- listeners be damned.

He has one more week in August.

If Doug doesn't note Iraq next week, he'll have ignored it for two months.  He covered soccer, mind you, on Behind The Gossip.  He just didn't cover Iraq.

Remembering the high horses he and his wife Liza Featherstone were once on, I'm surprised by that.  Doug insulted a friend of mine (now deceased) who was a leftist but supported the Iraq War.  I didn't support the Iraq War and we just agreed not to speak of it.  But Doug got insulting.

Like he cared.

Now I have to wonder if he did?

Two months of shows and not one damn word on Iraq?

I'm sorry, I thought he was an economist.  He did a show on the sluggish job market in the US back in July.  How much has the Iraq War effected the economy?  As it's drained the US treasury?  As it's left the country in debt for generations?

And now Barack is kicking it back up?

That's not worth a story?

Well, Doug, on behalf of my late friend, "You're full of s**."

Doug probably feels like , goodness, he did a show this week on Ferguson!

Yeah, and that's exactly the problem.

White hosts on Pacifica.  They remember race when ever tensions flare. Then they bring on guests.

Why are there so few African-American hosts on Pacifica?  If you don't count the DC station -- and no one does -- where are the African-American hosts?

I would suggest the world really doesn't need White Doug Henwood deciding to give a show over to Ferguson.  I'd suggest that's exactly the problem.  White hosts controlling the Pacifica airwaves and race being a discussion only when the noble Bwana Doug decides to focus on the topic.

Related: I don't support censorship.

And I allow art wide latitude.

I like Dead Prez.  I have no problem with them being on the air -- most of the time.

I don't understand how playing a song encouraging violence is in keeping with Pacifica's mission statement.  I wouldn't care normally but tensions are high in the US and I'm failing to see how playing this helps:

Backseat of the 'lac, big gat in my lap 
Ready for combat, feelin like Geronimo Pratt 
We had the windows cracked, headed up the strip 
Black rag in my hand, don't want no prints on the clip 
Hollow tips cuz we thorough with this shit my ni**a 
This ain't no game, we bang for uhuru my n**ga 
I take a left at the light, turn off the headlights and ride real slow 
Now holla at me when you see the 5-0 (there they go, there they go!) 
Alrite Dirty, yall boys ready? 
We 'bout to turn drive-bys revolutionary 
Look at 'em run, too scared to pull they guns 
Outta shape from them coffees and them cinnamon buns 
This s**t is fun, how I feel when the tables is turned 
Hollow tips hit yah flesh through yo vests and it burn 
That's a lesson you learn, comin strait from the slums 
And it don't stop till we get full freedom!

As art, I have no problem with it.  Were it to be from autobiographical notes, they still turned it into art.  And I love confessional songwriting.  I don't have a problem with it being played on the airwaves of other stations right now but for Pacifica to be playing it right now?

I'm not sure how that fits the role Pacifica early on cast itself in?

It becomes more problematic when the song is used at the end of a program about the killing of Brown.

And if this is supposed to pass for 'strength' and a position we need to embrace?  I thought Pacifica was created by pacifists for pacifists.

Is playing it meant to foster violence?  Stroke hate?

I have no idea.

But it is interesting how there is so much outrage over the death of one man killed in the US.  (Dead Prez released their song in 2004.  It reflects many deaths similar to that of Michael Brown's but it was written over a decade ago.)

The anger stems in part from the fact that the police are supposed to protect.

I'm not calling anyone guilty, FYI.  I'm not following the case and I trust that Attorney General Eric Holder will ensure that there is a real investigation into what happened.  (Disclosure, I know and like Eric.)

But I'm saying one death prompts such huge outrage across the country and even beyond.

Partly, that's because a police officer -- protect and serve -- was the one firing the fatal shots.

The anger is also based on historic patterns of violence targeting African-Americans in the US.

There have been many Micheal Browns and many Michelle Browns -- though African-American women who have been killed or injured are frequently overlooked by communities when it's time for activism.

But Brown wasn't the first African-American to be killed by the police.

So his death is preceded by many more, many millions more would be my guess -- although it's a guess and I don't know if anyone's ever attempted to arrive at a historical number on this.

But here's the thing.

The police are supposed to protect and serve.  (And maybe they did.  I wasn't there and the main reason to have an investigation is to determine what happens.  Plus, in the US, everyone is presumed innocent unless they're proven guilty.)  (That goes for the police officer and it also goes for Michael Brown with regard to the videotape the police released.)

But what's the government supposed to do?

I ask because the US government is bombing Iraq.

Iraqis are dying.

Millions already have just in the last two decades.

Where's the outrage on that?

I'm not taking anything away from the late Michael Brown -- and we ran US President Barack Obama's words on Brown last week.  (I thought Barack spoke wisely on the issue.  We've ignored others 'speaking' -- tea leaf reading -- on the issue.  Stop sending it.  I won't be part of a mob to convict before facts are known.  And I also don't see this site as a place to pour flammable hate onto an already tense situation.)

But I am asking why suddenly Iraqi lives are worth so little?

By suddenly, I mean the apathy of today versus the mood in 2002.

I'm not asking anyone to stop grieving for Michael Brown.

I am asking why we're not able to enlarge our notion of suffering and to call out what's taking place in Iraq.

Some might argue that with Christians being targeted (as well as Yazidis and other minority religions), the American public feels torn.

They're conflicted, someone might argue insisting that they feel something must be done.


But is bombing the only thing that can be done?

If you're worried about Iraqi Christians, for example, shouldn't you be arguing that the US needs to be opening its arms to them -- especially when other countries are announcing they'll be taking in these targeted refugees.

Michael Brown was apparently a very loved person by all who knew him.  His death -- whatever the cause -- is very sad.  But so are the Iraqis being killed.

"They're terrorists!"

Because the people killing them say that?

Civilian have been dying in the US' bombings of Mosul.  The Western press doesn't really care but Americans should.  Their government is killing innocents -- undisputed innocents -- while trying to target what they say are terrorists.

In and out of Iraq, the US government has a long history of killing 'terrorists' who later turn out to be farmers or wedding guests or reporters or . . .

Where is the outrage?

Jane Fonda  is so upset over Michael Brown's death but she can't say a word about Iraqis?  (Well why be surprised?  For all of her concern over race, African-Americans have never figured prominently in any of the films she produced or the TV show she produced -- 9 to 5 -- or in the one that's she's now producing but has yet to air.)

Jane swore silence wasn't an option on Iraq.  She swore that in 2007.  When a Republican occupied the White House.  Today?

Apparently silence is an option.

And I've decided to follow my friend Jane's lead.

I am going to be silent this fall as I speak on college campuses.  Last spring, I wasted a lot of time defending Jane from a campus craze rumor that's spread from Florida to Washington state and back again: Jane got away with her Vietnam activities because she was really CIA.

I denied it.

Now I'm going to follow Jane's lead of silence and just say, "I don't know."

United for Peace and Justice is silent too.  Not about Jane being CIA -- or maybe they're silent on that as well.  But I mean they're silent on Barack bombing Iraq and  Barack's efforts to send more US troops into Iraq.

I guess these days Leslie Cagan's united for something other than peace?

Fox News notes:

The Defense Department reported Wednesday afternoon that U.S. aircraft have conducted another 14 strikes near the Mosul Dam, which Kurdish and Iraqi forces recently re-took from Islamic militants. The latest strikes took out militants’ Humvees and other targets.

A senior U.S. official also told Fox News that military planners are weighing the possibility of sending more American forces to Iraq mainly to provide additional security “in and around Baghdad,” at the request of the State Department.

Even World Can't Wait is silent other than Debra Sweet.  Dennis Loo's written another one of his reactionary rage pieces (he knows just what happened in Ferguson -- stop the investigation, Dennis knows everything!) but he can't stop to think of Iraq, can he?

Tom Vanden Brooks (USA Today) reports:

U.S. military commanders in the Middle East are urging the Pentagon to intensify the air war against Islamic State targets in Iraq, two Defense Department officials said Wednesday.
Top officers at Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, are urging that the list of targets be expanded, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.

Michael Franti used to sing, with conviction, "We can bomb the world to pieces but we can't bomb it into peace."

Where's that voice today?

Today, the world heard from US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who declared:

Given the nature of this threat, at President Obama's direction and the request of the Iraqi government, the U.S. military has provided assistance to Iraqi security forces in order to protect U.S. personnel and facilities and support Iraq's efforts to counter ISIL in addition to providing humanitarian assistance.
American air strikes and American arms and assistance helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces blunt ISIL's advance around Irbil, where American diplomats and troops are working, and help the Iraqis retake and hold-Mosul Dam. A breach of the dam would have threatened the lives of thousands of Iraqis as well as Americans at our facilities in Baghdad and prevented the Iraqi government from providing critical services to its citizens.
The United States led an international effort to address the humanitarian crisis that unfolded at Mount Sinjar. As there continues to be an acute humanitarian need elsewhere in Iraq, the U.S. appreciates the partnership of the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy and Australia and the United Nations in helping provide relief. I expect more nations to step forward with more assistance in the weeks ahead.
Overall, these operations have stalled ISIL's momentum and enabled Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regain their footing and take the initiative. As Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue to take the initiative, the United States will continue to support them.
But addressing the threat posed by ISIL to the future of Iraq requires political reform in Iraq. The country's peaceful transition of power last week was important, and the United States will continue urging Iraq's new prime minister to establish an inclusive government that is responsive to the needs of all Iraq's citizens. A united Iraq will be a more secure and prosperous Iraq.
Political reform will make it harder for ISIL to exploit sectarian divisions. The United States and the international community will increase support for Iraq in tandem with political progress.
The president, the chairman and I are all very clear eyed about the challenges ahead. We are pursuing a long-term strategy against ISIL because ISIL clearly poses a long-term threat. We should expect ISIL to regroup and stage new offenses.

  And the U.S. military's involvement is not over. President Obama has been very clear on this point. Our objectives remain clear and limited -- to protect American citizens and facilities, to provide assistance to Iraqi forces as they confront ISIL, and to join with international partners to address the humanitarian crisis.

Does it sound like the US military is moving on?  Or does it sound like they're staying?

The Defense Dept noted today, "Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 90 airstrikes across Iraq. Of those 90 strikes, 57 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam."

Where's the outcry?

A functioning peace movement would be calling out the bombings?

But a functioning peace movement would also note that Barack's pushing the US back in on the same 'logic' that Bully Boy said would lead to withdrawal.

As they stand up, we will step down.

That was the way Bully Boy Bush put it.

As Iraq's military stood up, there would be no need for the US military and they would fall back to the US.


Barack says that as the Iraqi military stands up, they will receive more US military support.

It's like a never ending cycle.

And now Barack's doing what with the UN?

From what Marie Harf said in today's State Dept press briefing, you'd assume our 'brave' 'peace' 'leaders' would be up in arms.

QUESTION: You think, Madam, this is going to be major discussion of issue at the United Nations upcoming General Assembly meetings, and because who is funding them and who’s arming them and how to stop this new – many people call new face of terrorism or al-Qaida?

MS. HARF: I think it will be. And as we’ve talked about a little bit, the President will be chairing a Security Council session on foreign fighters, particularly Syria and Iraq. I think it will be an incredibly important decision – or discussion, excuse me – around the General Assembly. When you have this many world leaders in one place, I don’t know, quite frankly, how it couldn’t be.

QUESTION: And you think you need major powers with you like China and Russia?

MS. HARF: We need everyone who will join us in this fight against ISIL.

At the Los Angeles Times, Robin Wright asks what the point of the mission or 'mission' Barack has launched is and how success can be measured:

What does "win" actually mean this time around? It's pretty fuzzy right now. We're in that feel-good phase of having helped prevent a genocide. But what's next specifically — and beyond?
An American role is not likely to stop at the Mosul dam, where fighting reportedly resumed a day after Obama said Iraqi forces, with backup from American air power, had reclaimed it.
How long could this mission last, if the Islamic State does not crumble as quickly as the Iraqi army did? I wouldn't bet on weeks. Or even months. This is a new phase in confronting extremism.

Iraq is a new phase but most in the media prefer to ignore that.  It's not 'sexy' enough apparently.  But it's in a new phase and it could get worse or things could improve.

You never asked for trouble but you've got fire that burns so bright… bright
You turn and face the struggle when all the others turn and hide… hide

You hold your head above the waves above the war they try to wage
You are stronger than their hate

Time for you to walk out walk in your own shoes
 -- "In Your Shoes," written by Sarah McLachlan, first appears on Sarah's new album Shine On

The editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor offers:

Iraq took a big step in that direction last week when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was forced to relinquish power, marking the country’s first peaceful transition of power in more than a decade. His tyrannical, violent rule had not only set the majority Shiites against minority Sunnis, it had also set Shiite against Shiite. His own ruling Islamic coalition had come to realize that sectarian-based politics had failed, threatening not only Iraqi democracy but the country itself. A political vacuum had left Iraq open to attack by the militants of Islamic State (IS), the group previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIS.
A newly designated prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, was chosen to counter the threat from IS – precisely because of his ability to work with disaffected Sunnis as well as ethnic Kurds. “The country is in your hands,” whispered Iraq’s president, Fuad Masum, as he charged Mr. Abadi with the task of forming a new government.

Before the April elections, we pointed out that not only did Nouri create the problems but that his continued presence at prime minister provided a common enemy to a variety of groups that, if Nouri weren't prime minister, would find less commonalities amongst themselves and probably splinter.

Shane Harris (Foreign Policy) feels the splintering is taking place:

 ISIS and JRTN aren't natural allies. The former wants to erase Iraq's current borders and establish a caliphate, while the latter has been a largely secular movement that seeks to regain the official power and influence it held before the U.S. invasion in 2003. But they are aligned in their opposition to, and hatred of, outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government. Each side wants him to go, and JRTN recognizes that ISIS stands the best chance of violently overthrowing the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad.
"The Baathists and ISIS had a marriage of convenience at the start of the takeover of Mosul," said Letta Tayler, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch and a former journalist, who has reported extensively from Iraq on ISIS's human rights abuses and persecution of Shiites and religious minorities. "Baathists got muscle from ISIS, and ISIS got local legitimacy through the Baathists."

But now that marriage may be fraying, to the possible benefit of Washington and Baghdad. 

Regardless of fraying or not, the violence continues.  Margaret Griffis ( reports, "At least 31 people were killed and 28 more were wounded. The low numbers, however, are deceptive. The Iraqi military also reported dozens of militant deaths across the country but gave no solid numbers."

Lastly, music.  Last night, community sites focused on a favorite disco song.  So you got Kat with  "Heart of Glass," Elaine with "Lead Me On,"  Mike with "Rock The Boat, Don't Tip The Boat Over," Marcia with "We Are Family," Ruth with "Enough is Enough," Rebecca with "love to love you baby," Betty with "Upside Down,"  Ann with "Love Hangover" and Trina with "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough."  Without disco would the world even have the dance music of today?  One of the queens of dance music is Jody Watley and she's offered "Connecting Through Music. Paradise.."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love Hangover

"I've got the sweetest hangover," Diana coos/sings on "Love Hangover."

It's a big change for her and not just because she wasn't used to disco.  She does a wonderful song.

She turns it into so much and at the midsection, it becomes this party song.

It's one of my favorites to this day.

And our theme post topic for the night is disco songs.

I picked Diana.

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack talks a beheading, then heads off for a round of golf, United for Peace and Justice still can't issue a statement on the bombings, and much more.

This afternoon, US President Barack Obama spoke from Martha's Vineyard.  These are his remarks in full:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL.
Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend.  He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away.  He was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria, and he was courageously reporting at the time on the conflict there.
Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world.  He was 40 years old -- one of five siblings, the son of a mom and dad who worked tirelessly for his release.  Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.
Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers.  Let’s be clear about ISIL.  They have rampaged across cities and villages -- killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence.  They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery.  They have murdered Muslims -- both Sunni and Shia -- by the thousands.  They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion.  They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.
So ISIL speaks for no religion.  Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.  No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.  ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings.  Their ideology is bankrupt.  They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.
And people like this ultimately fail.  They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.
The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people.  We will be vigilant and we will be relentless.  When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.  And we act against ISIL, standing alongside others.
 The people of Iraq, who with our support are taking the fight to ISIL, must continue coming together to expel these terrorists from their communities.  The people of Syria, whose story Jim Foley told, do not deserve to live under the shadow of a tyrant or terrorists.  They have our support in their pursuit of a future rooted in dignity.
From governments and peoples across the Middle East there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread.  There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies.  One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.
Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday.  And we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism, and replace it with a sense of hope and civility.  And that’s what Jim Foley stood for, a man who lived his work; who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings; who was liked and loved by friends and family.
Today, the American people will all say a prayer for those who loved Jim.  All of us feel the ache of his absence.  All of us mourn his loss.  We keep in our prayers those other Americans who are separated from their families.  We will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for.
May God bless and keep Jim’s memory, and may God bless the United States of America.

AP notes Barack went golfing after delivering the speech.  Nelson Sigelman (Martha's Vineyard Times) explains, "Afterward, the motorcade drove to the Vineyard Golf Club where he has played once before on this vacation. His golfing companions were retired basketball player Alonzo Mourning‎, businessman Glenn Hutchins, and Valerie Jarrett family member Cyrus Walker‎, according to the White House."  The speech followed Barack's day in DC yesterday.  AP notes, "The day appeared aimed in part at countering criticism that Obama was spending two weeks on the Massachusetts island in the midst of multiple crises."

B. Christopher Agee (Western Journalism) notes this Tweeted reaction:

Attention , you won't get Barack Obama's attention by beheading Americans. If you hide Obama's golf clubs however, the gloves are off.

Noting the nearness of the November mid-term elections, the editorial board of the Washington Times offers, "If Mr. Obama wants to keep the Senate in his party’s hands, he should put down his driver and putter and think about how to strengthen the economy and make the world quit laughing at us."

Mario Trujillo (The Hill) reports, "House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) suggested President Obama should cut his vacation short in light of the apparent murder of a U.S. journalist by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria."
Barack is not the only leader of a nation on vacation.  David Cameron, for example, is another and he's also been criticized for being on vacation as Iraq melts down.  But, as Polly Mosendz (The Wire) notes, Cameron has ended his vacation:

Cameron offered this statement on his decision, "If true, the brutal murder of James Foley is shocking and depraved." His office announced "[Cameron] will meet with the Foreign Secretary and senior officials from the Home Office, Foreign Office and the agencies to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) terrorists."

Sebastian Payne (Washington Post) also notes Cameron's decision:

On Monday, he defended his decision to go on holiday in language that echoed the White House's defense of Obama's Martha's Vineyard break. “Wherever I am in the world I am always within a few feet of a BlackBerry, and an ability to manage things should they need to be managed,” he said.

But Cameron promised to return if the situation called for it. And on Wednesday, he announced that he had made that decision, saying it is “increasingly likely” that a British citizen beheaded Foley. Upon his return to Downing Street on Wednesday, Cameron has said he will chair meetings on the situation in Syria and Iraq.

The beheading was also discussed at today's State Dept press briefing by Marie Harf.  We'll note this section:

QUESTION: You mentioned the 14 strikes from Central Command around Mosul Dam --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in the last 24 hours. Were those strikes conducted after the video was released or obtained by the U.S. Government?

MS. HARF: It is my understanding that they were, yes. I believe they happened today.

QUESTION: Right. Is there a concern – today as in our time or today as in Iraqi time? I guess --

MS. HARF: Today Iraqi time.

QUESTION: Okay. Is there a concern that these airstrikes – I mean, given the threats that were laid out in the video that were pretty explicit, is there a concern that the continued airstrikes around Mosul Dam on ISIL targets will lead directly to the death of Mr. Sotloff?

MS. HARF: Well, let me make a few points here. First of all, there is no justification for these kind of barbaric acts, period. None. Second, we don’t make concessions to terrorists. The United States Government has a longstanding policy that we feel very deeply about that we do not do that. The President was clear we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. And I would also note that, as I said earlier, ISIL has been willing to kill and rape and enslave anyone who gets in their way, regardless of what country they’re from, regardless of the policies of that country. They’ve been – shown themselves very willing to kill Christians and Muslims and Yezidis and people from all across Iraq and Syria. So again, while highlighting that there is absolutely no justification for this in any way, we have seen them be very willing to kill people – really anyone who gets in their way.

QUESTION: And you call on ISIS, I assume, to release Sotloff, even though --

MS. HARF: To immediate release Mr. Sotloff, yes.

QUESTION: And in terms of the video, was the Secretary and the President – they were briefed on the video. Did they watch the video?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer to that. I’m happy to check. I have not watched the video and don’t intend to.


QUESTION: This horrific event – would this event is going to trigger any kind of assessment of your policy for the last 18 months when the ISIL spread very rapidly without any real check on it?

MS. HARF: Well, I think you’ve seen us, as ISIS – and ISIL now in Iraq – has gained in strength, that we have continued to assess our policy and use the tools at our disposal to work to degrade their capabilities. You’ve seen that with the airstrikes that the U.S. military has taken beginning about a week and a half or two weeks ago now. They’ve taken – I think I have the number here – 84 total airstrikes since August 8th.

So in that vein, we are constantly looking at how we can further degrade their leadership, their financing, their capabilities. We know they’re a threat. We have known that for some time, and that’s what we’ll be focused on going forward.

QUESTION: Would you be able to tell us, is there any regret on your part that the U.S. Government did not take more robust action in Syria to stop ISIL?

MS. HARF: Well, as I said, I think to Michel’s question, I’m hesitant when people say if only we had done X, everything would be different or everything would be fixed. I think we have constantly looked at ways in Syria, in a very complicated situation where there are no easy answers, to improve the capabilities of the moderate opposition to fight not only the regime, but also terrorist groups like ISIL and Nusrah.

So this is an ongoing process here. We are committed to fighting this in the long term. I can assure you we are putting all the resources of this Government – military, diplomatic, intelligence – towards finding Americans who are being held and bringing them home, and towards, in the long term, taking out the capabilities of ISIL, because we’ve seen what they can do. As the President said, there’s no place for this kind of group in the modern world, and that is what many, many people are working on every single day.

QUESTION: So it’s safe to say that you don’t have any regrets? That’s what we should --

MS. HARF: Just not – I think I made very clear what my position was.

Marie thinks she made clear her position.  If she did, that certainly puts her ahead of many others.

By the end of this week, the US will have conducted over 100 bombings of Iraq.

And where's our brave United for Peace and Justice?

Here's their home page.

Well try to remember that in 2007 and 2008, like CodeStink, UPFJ abandoned protesting war to instead campaign for Barack Obama.  In fact, immediately after Barack won the November 2008 election, UPfJ said bye-bye in a post which appeared to mistake the latest coronation of a War Hawk Corporatist with the emergence of a peace leader.

During the war on Libya, UPFJ kepts its trashy mouth shut.  Ditto throughout Barack's ongoing Drone War. They only re-emerged earlier this year so that, come 2016, they can pretend like they haven't taken six years off and instead tell you, as your dear and trusted friend, who to vote for in 2016.

Not one damn word on the Iraq War have they offered in weeks.

Not one damn word.

Not everyone is as pathetic as Leslie Cagen and her cronies.  Iraq Solidarity Association issued the following:

The US once again is bombing in Iraq and threatens the country with a "long-term project". The pretense is to stop the extremist Islamic state (IS) movement and “prevent genocide”. The experience – from the US occupation 2003-2011 and from “humanitarian interventions” in other countries – shows that this in fact means continued war against the people of Iraq, with devastating effects on the civilian population. The true purpose is to secure American interests and strengthen military control of Iraq.
The fact that the United States was forced to withdraw its troops from Iraq in 2011 – and that Prime Minister al-Maliki’s regime was forced to reject the demand for impunity for a remaining continuation force – was a significant achievement for the popular resistance. Since then, the United States has worked to regain military control and to carve up Iraq into smaller, more easily controlled statelets and not least to secure control over the oil production.
It is in that perspective the IS should be seen. It is in fact a creation of the UK, the USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia. That has been well documented and confirmed for instance by secret documents publicised by Edward Snowden. At the Al-Mafraq military base in Jordan the US is said to have gathered and trained 20-30 000 terrorists for the war against Syria and Iraq.
After setbacks in Syria the IS are now concentrating on Iraq, committing heinous crimes and providing an excuse for the US to intervene against the locally rooted resistance movement, which has fought for the unity and independence of the country ever since the 2003 occupation.
The IS are a barbaric, reactionary force, which in no way contributes to the liberation of Iraq from the remains of the occupation. Just like US Vice President Joe Biden, the IS wants to extinguish Iraq as a state. Also Israel now openly wants an independent Kurdistan, i.e. to divide Iraq. Is it a coincident that the US is intervening now, when the IS are attacking Kurdish areas?
The IS are expelling Christians from Mosul. They are expelling Yezidis, Turkmens and other religious and ethnical groups. That is another serious crime against the Iraqi people, but the notion that this can be prevented through intervention of the superpower that lies behind the last decade of ethnic cleansing and displacement is an illusion. This dispossession of people is a continuation of the sectarianism and ethnic cleansing that accompanied the US occupation and the structure that was set up by the administrator of the occupation, Paul Bremer. The US has done nothing to prevent attacks against peaceful Sunnis, or against the popular uprising headed by local leaders. On the contrary, they sent weapons to the al-Maliki regime, weapons used to defeat the popular movement and to bomb Fallujah and other cities. Already a few months ago, UNHCR estimated the number of civil sunni refugees forced to leave their homes in the Anbar province to 450.000.

Once again US President Obama speaks about the responsibility of the “outside world” to prevent a looming genocide in accordance with the R2P (“responsibility to protect”) doctrine. That is an argument that has been used in past conflicts to justify imperialist intervention in violation of the UN Charter. In this case too, that argument lacks credibility. If the United States really wants to prevent genocide – why do they not react sharply against Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in Gaza?
The United States has conducted devastating assaults on Iraq. Cities like Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi, Al Qaim, Samarra, Haditha, Rawa, Baquba, Tal Afar and many more have suffered extensive American bombing. The consequences remain in the form of dead and displaced people, deformed children, ruined infrastructure. Those responsible for these war crimes must be held accountable for their crimes.
Instead of imposing justice, President Obama has shielded the war criminals and continued their policy of war by other means. While the US leaders continue their policy of war with devastating consequences for Iraq and other countries and peoples, they mask themselves as a force for universal good.
The dictatorial regime in Baghdad, appointed through a sectarian constitution dictated by the United States, can never defeat the dark anti-humanitarian forces that IS represent. Only the Iraqi people can liberate the country and re-establish a sovereign independent Iraq. That presupposes a secular, democratic government of national unity, irrespective of religion or ethnicity.
We demand an end to the US war policy and justice for Iraq. The war criminals must be put on trial.
We demand an end to all foreign intervention in Iraq, from IS, but also from the USA, Israel, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
We call for support for the popular demands for respect for human rights – for Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs and Kurds, and others.

Solidarity with the Iraqi people for a free, united and independent Iraq!

In England, Stop the War isn't silent.   Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait hasn't been silent and noted earlier this month:

The U.S. always says it's bombing/selling arms/torturing to “keep us safe” from whatever group it identifies as the most dangerous target of the “war” on terror.  Each time a US president bombed Iraq, from 1990 on, whether the stated reasons were removing Saddam Hussain, breaking a fabricated connection with Al Qaeda, or finding weapons of mass destruction, the actual national security need was always keeping control of that strategic, oil-rich region.
This time, it is complicated. US military domination of the region, from Afghanistan across a sweep to Egypt, has increased the attraction of Islamic fundamentalism as a way of resisting western empire. US occupation in Iraq and support for the murderous, torturing Maliki regime created the conditions by which Iran has been strengthened in the region, and ISIS has gained a following.

By the way, I wasn't ignoring Debra's piece as a mutual friend fretted.  I didn't know about it until tonight.  I love Debra but since she organized a protest against a film she had not even seen, it's been very hard for me to take her or World Can't Wait seriously.  I don't believe in censorship and when you start trashing art, you're trashing my craft, my profession -- probably my religion and I do not take kindly too it.  Many decades ago, I was with a friend watching a small group of people protest the opening of his film -- supposedly it was 'mean' to the Bible or something -- and it had just opened and no one had seen it.  As he said at the time (paraphrase), 'I could take people seeing it hating it and would even be curious as to what points in the film bothered them.  But how do I take seriously people who give up their own time to go out and protest something they haven't even bothered to see?"  You don't -- you don't take those kinds of people seriously.

But Debra is speaking out and I will note her and applaud her for that.  And it's needed because Barack said he was just sending in around 300 US troops -- sending them into Iraq in the last weeks.  There are now a little over 800 that have been sent in the last weeks.  (Not counting Special-Ops.)  Lolita C. Baldor and Lara Jakes (AP) report that Barack is planning to seen about 300 more into Iraq.

At what point do people start objecting?

I'm not seeing the importance in a big topic that Tom Hayden does.  That may mean I'm wrong.  Maybe not. But I will note that he's one of the few who can talk about the last four years in Iraq accurately.  At The Nation, Hayden writes (in his big topic column):

But what Obama doesn’t acknowledge is that the United States might have done far more in support of the Sunnis, instead of tolerating or backing two allies of Iran—Assad and al-Malik—both of whom treated the Sunnis with brutal force and without any hope of peaceful political progress. As for Syria, Obama often criticized the Assad regime, it is true, but hardly with the kind of pressure the United States has brought to bear on Cuba for fifty years. Assad was seen as a lesser evil who was impossible to defeat because of his geopolitical support. But in the case of Iraq, the United States was involved directly with the empowerment of al-Maliki and his repressive Shiite colleagues during two American administrations. Why exactly the Bush and Obama teams accepted al-Maliki is beyond comprehension at this point in history. It might simply have been that al-Maliki was “our guy,” or that US “experts” believed that a fair power-sharing process was gradually underway after a shaky start. Instead, al-Maliki built up his sectarian special forces, army and police, and implemented brutal ethnic cleansing against the Sunnis. By the end of 2006, Baghdad was cleansed of its 40 percent Sunni population, the remaining Sunni enclaves “withering into abandoned ghettos, starved of government services.”(1) With the awareness of American advisers, Shiite authorities began operating as many as ten secret prisons, rounding up Sunnis, and according to a State Department memo, engaging in “threats intimidation, beatings and suspension by the arms and legs, as well as the reported use of electrical drills and cords and the application of electric shocks.”(2)
The repression and exclusion never ended, al-Maliki guessing that the United States would never pull the plug. He even arrested and threatened Sunni political figures in Baghdad, including the country’s vice-president, who fled to Kurdistan.

Nouri al-Maliki is (finally) the outgoing prime minister.  Even as I type that, I'm aware how that could bite me in the butt.  A snake like Nouri isn't truly out until he's dead and buried.

But it appears Nouri is out.  Haider al-Abadi is prime minister-designate which means he has 30 days since Monday of last week to form a Cabinet -- that means nominating people and getting Parliament to vote in favor of them.

Tim Arango and Michael R. Gordon have a report on  al-Abadi.and Nouri:  "There is little in Mr. Abadi’s political history to suggest that he harbors views at odds with the Dawa Party establishment. Even so, interviews with Iraqi political leaders and foreign diplomats paint a more nuanced portrait, with some holding out hope that he could break the mold of Iraq’s recent leaders."  Shashank Bengali treads similar ground at the Los Angeles Times:

Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders all have endorsed the new prime ministerial nominee, veteran Shiite lawmaker Haider Abadi, a member of Maliki's Dawa political party. But observers say that one of Abadi's greatest challenges will be to forge consensus among sects that have grown deeply wary of one another.
"There is an absence of trust, an absence of dialogue, an absence of understanding," said Hanaa Edwar, a prominent Iraqi human rights advocate. "If you don't rebuild that, it's very difficult otherwise to reform the political process."

Mewan Dolamari (BasNews) notes:

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has said that the formation of the new Iraqi government is the last chance for a united Iraq.
He believes that the object should not only be forming the new government, but to also implement new programs and refrain from making the same mistakes as the previous government.
Bengali avoids recent history.  Apparently, more important than any hope Iraqis might have or need is the hope that US readers might need to cling to.  To allow for that, all US involvement in Iraq must be erased.  So Bengali, for example, offers that Iraqis turned against Nouri -- which many did -- while refusing to note that the White House also turned on Nouri.

It is a very rough and delicate time for the country.   Abdulrahman al-Rashed (Al Arabiya) offers a look at the outgoing p.m. and the potentially incoming one:

The appointment Abadi as prime minister brought a wave of optimism because Maliki's departure itself a victory for the political process and for the new Iraqi system. I am confident that if Maliki had managed to impose himself as a prime minister for a third term – as he tried to fight for until the last minute - he would have ended up hanged in one of Baghdad's squares after four years. His end would have been the same as that of the dictators who preceded him. He was a horrific tyrant, and the whole world has seen how he exploited his personal forces and whatever he put his hands on to impose himself and obstruct the naming of Abadi.

Al Arabiya News notes that the Kurds are working with others on forming the next government and have called off their recent boycott:

Infuriated by Maliki’s accusations of harboring terrorists in June following the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) offensive in northern Iraq, Kurdish ministers said they were boycotting meetings of Iraq's caretaker cabinet and authorities in Baghdad and halted cargo flights to two Kurdish cities.

Rumors are that al-Abadi will offer up nominations for his proposed Cabinet this coming Monday.  If so, he'll be at the half-way mark of the Constitutional deadline (30 days to put together a Cabinet).

  • If he does manage to form a Cabinet (full) in 30 days, not only will he meet the deadline, it will be the first time the deadline has been met.

  • Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    More on Nader

    I noted more disappointments with Ralph Nader in "Ralph Nader hates women" which led to an e-mail from a Susie telling me I was just angry because Ralph said he'd vote for Senator Rand Paul over Hillary Clinton if both ran for president.

    Susie, do you pay attention to what you read here?

    I'm a Green.

    I don't rescue the Democrats.

    I could care less who Ralph Nader votes for.

    I do care that he's written a column trashing Hillary and earlier one trashing Bully Boy Bush but chicken s**t Ralph hasn't written one trashing Barack Obama.

    He's a coward for attacking Hillary for policies Barack is over.

    That's like me being pissed that the McRib is only at McDonalds for a limited time each year or so and taking it out on the person taking my order who does not run the McDonalds chain of fast food places.

    Ralph will hold Hillary accountable for what Barack does, he just won't hold Barack accountable.

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

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, public musings over mission creep become more common, the Pentagon gets confused when asked how much the US bombings of Iraq are costing the taxpayers, and much more.

    Yesterday found US President Barack Obama declaring:

    Today, with our support, Iraqi and Kurdish forces took a major step forward by recapturing the largest dam in Iraq, near the city of Mosul. The Mosul dam fell under terrorist control earlier this month, and is directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq.
    [. . .]
    Iraqi and Kurdish forces took the lead on the ground and performed with courage and determination. So this operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together and taking the fight to ISIL. If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States of America.

    And today?

    No speeches to the world today.

    Not on the day that found Lizzie Dearden (Independent) reporting the battle for the dam continues and that, "Government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are trying to push back the militants on the ground around the dam, which is 45 miles from Mosul."  Australia's Sky News (link is text and video) reports:

      Sky's Alex Crawford, at Mosul Dam, said: "We heard firing behind us about 1km away. The president's son said he suspected some hardened IS fighters were in the south of the dam who had not been cleared from the area."
    She added: "They are still clearly holding out and putting up some sort of defence."

    Crawford said she heard heavy machine-gun fire and possibly mortar shelling as well as jets overhead.

    AFP states, "Fighting erupted Tuesday in the area surrounding the dam and U.S. warplanes carried out fresh strikes targeting ISIS, a senior officer in the Kurdish peshmerga forces told AFP."

    At the Pentagon today, spokesperson Rear Adm Jack Kirby took questions from the press.

    Q: Where do the missions -- the airstrikes for Mosul, where do they fit into the two -- the missions the president delineated, protecting humanitarian issues and then protecting U.S. personnel? Because this seems like a classic softening up the opposition, close-air support for invading -- a counter-invading force. Where do -- where do the missions fit? And wasn't that -- this an example of mission creep, albeit maybe accidental?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, let's take the second part first. Mission creep -- you know, this is a phrase that gets bandied about quite a bit, but let's just kind of talk about it for a second. Mission creep refers to the growth or expansion of the goals and objectives of a military operation, that the goals and objectives change, morph into something bigger than they were at the outset.
    It doesn't talk about -- mission creep doesn't refer to numbers of sorties, numbers of troops, numbers of anything. It doesn't refer to timelines. It doesn't even refer to intensity. It's about the mission itself. Nothing has changed about the mission, missions that we're conducting inside Iraq. As I said before, airstrikes are authorized under two mission areas -- humanitarian assistance and the protection of U.S. personnel and facilities.
    The airstrikes that we conducted in and around Mosul dam over the last 72 hours or so fit into both those categories, both helping prevent what could be a huge humanitarian problem should the dam be blown or the gates -- they're just allowed to flood, and also to protect U.S. personnel and facilities. So there's been no -- well, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to say a negative. What I'll just tell you is, the missions are clear. The operations that we're conducting are inside the authorizations for those missions. And we're going to continue to be vigilant going forward. And if there is a need for more airstrikes in conjunction with either of those two mission areas, those two authorizations, we'll conduct them.

    Q: How effective, how crucial were the strikes to retaking the dam? Do you have a sense of that? What -- you know, without those airstrikes, would the Iraqis and Peshmerga have been able to have retaken the dam?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: It's hard to, you know, arm-chair quarterback here a military operation that just wound up. We believe they were critical to assisting in that -- in the retaking of the dam. But I also would -- at the same time -- point to the courage, the bravery, the skill of both the Kurdish forces and Iraqi forces and their extensive cooperation with one another in conducting this operation. Yes, we were a critical part of it, but it was a team effort.

    It was a team effort?  What's Kirby trying to say?  "IS just wanted it more"?

    Before the bad news that the issue of the dam was still up in the air, Barack was preaching Operation Happy Talk.  As Matthew Weaver (Guardian) observes:

    Barack Obama hailed the retaking of the Mosul dam as a symbol of how Isis militants could be defeated by co-operation between Kurdish, Iraqi and US forces. “This operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together and taking the fight to Isil [Islamic State]. If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States of America.”

    On the topic of mission creep, William Saletan (Slate) notes the changing scope of Barack's misadventure:

    On Aug. 7, Obama specified two grounds for military action: to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq and to prevent the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis trapped by ISIS on Mt. Sinjar. Two days later, however, he added another issue: “We have to make sure that ISIL is not engaging in the actions that could cripple a country permanently. There’s key infrastructure inside of Iraq that we have to be concerned about.” Specifically, on Thursday, he authorized airstrikes “to recapture the Mosul Dam,” arguing that its destruction “could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad [280 miles away], and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace.” In Obama’s foreign policy, nation-building is out. But using force to help governments provide “critical services” is in.

    Gordon Lubold and Kate Brannen (Foreign Policy) also address the issue:

    The administration entered the conflict with an aggressive airstrike and airdrop campaign in northern Iraq based, it said, on the need to protect the U.S. personnel in the country and to prevent militants from slaughtering members of the Yazidi religious minority sect stranded atop Mount Sinjar. Then last week, U.S. officials announced that a reconnaissance team that had visited Sinjar discovered that the humanitarian crisis wasn't as bad as first feared, thus removing one of the main justifications for the air campaign. In recent days, the United States has launched a barrage of airstrikes in and around Mosul that appear to be directly targeting the Islamic State, leading many to conclude that the mission is expanding beyond the administration's stated goals and objectives.
    "The administration can call it whatever they want, but semantics aside, they're now waging war," said Stephen Biddle, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. 

    The word games leaders resort to in order to deceive the people they supposedly represent.

    The Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus observes, "Even without American boots on the ground, Obama has entered the United States in its fourth Iraq war. It won’t be over quickly. As the president said, this is going to be a long-term project."

    It's a reality few want to tackle, let alone acknowledge.

    BBC News, noting the United Kingdom's involvement, reported yesterday, "Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said the UK's military involvement in the country could last for 'months', and has revealed that RAF surveillance aircraft are operating there."  However, wire services carry British Prime Minister David Cameron's denial, "Britain is not going to get involved in another war n Iraq.  We're not going to be putting boots on the ground."

    And, like Barack Obama, Cameron thinks as long as he can insist that it's just dropping bombs, it's not really war.

    Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) went in search of someone to make sense of the events:

     Dan Trombly, an Iraq military analyst from Caerusa Associates, a Washington consultancy, said that Tuesday’s defeat showed that the Iraqis had made little progress in reforming their military from the shattered hulk that was swept aside by a much smaller force of fighters from the Islamic State in June.
    “From what we’ve been able to see in Tikrit, ISF has made far too little progress towards building organizational cohesion and professionalism,” he said by email, referring to Iraqi security forces. “The new volunteers seem undertrained and coordination between and within conventional military units and militia forces is insufficient to withstand the pressure of relatively simple guerrilla tactics.”
    Trombly noted that a national military with heavy armor and artillery support, as well as rudimentary air power from a handful of decades-old Iraqi air force jets, should not see an offensive stalled simply because the enemy fought back.

    Read more here:

    The issue of mission creep was raised in today's State Dept press briefing.  Spokesperson Marie Harf struggled yesterday as she insisted it was consistent policy for the US government to attack the Islamic State in Iraq while aiding and arming it in Syria.  Today, she tried to explain how narrow goals being expanded did not constitute mission creep.  Excerpt.

    QUESTION: As you know, the – yesterday the Kurdish forces recaptured the Mosul Dam, and of course they --

    MS. HARF: Working with Iraqi security forces, yes.

    QUESTION: Yeah, working with Iraqi security forces. And of course, that was because of the help that the United States provided from the air.

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: But don’t you – if we go back a little bit and to President Obama’s first statement about Iraq, and he said it – the operation would be limited.

    MS. HARF: To two goals.

    QUESTION: Two goals, yeah.

    MS. HARF: One of which was protecting our people. And as we said very clearly the night the President announced military action, and as we have said multiple times since then, that Mosul Dam is critical infrastructure that if breached, either because ISIS can’t run it or because they take some sort of nefarious action to do so, it would threaten our people and our facility in Baghdad. So we’ve said that from the beginning.

    QUESTION: So --

    MS. HARF: This is very much in line with the goals the President laid out that first night.

    QUESTION: So does that mean the threat is now gone and the United States will stop its operations? Because the Mount Sinjar crisis is almost over, and the advance on Erbil has stopped. The dam is – has been recaptured.

    MS. HARF: Right. And those are all good things. But we maintain the ability to strike at a time and place of our choosing if we believe our people or our facilities are in danger. That applies to Baghdad, that applies to Erbil. So we will continue monitoring the situation. We have a number of assets at our disposal if we feel that any of those people are threatened.

    QUESTION: Do you – don’t you believe that there has been – that limited airstrike that President Obama outlined very explicitly, you’ve gone beyond that now?

    MS. HARF: Not at all, in no way. He outlined two goals for this, one of which was protection for our people. The Mosul Dam, if breached, which – we have no idea if ISIS would be able to or would be willing to actually run it and not do something to breach it, would directly threaten our people in Baghdad.

    QUESTION: How so?

    QUESTION: And – sorry, one more question. Kurdish officials --

    MS. HARF: Because of the massive flooding that would occur.

    Again with the lie that the dam breaking would flood Baghdad?  
    There are over 200 miles between Mosul and Baghdad. In addition, the wave of water would have to have a southeast trajectory and to ignore the bits of river bed it would have to cross over repeatedly to strike Baghdad. 
    The lie re: Baghdad was first popularized by journalist or 'journalist' Patrick Cockburn in 2007 when he cited 'experts' Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus saying there could be "flooding along the Tigris river all the way to Bahgdad."  Neither Crocker nor Petraeus is an engineer and Cockburn was noting a US Army Corps of Engineers report elsewhere so it's strange he didn't go to that.
    Strange until you read the (long) US Army Corps report and grasp that there's nothing in it that backs up Crocker and Petraeus' claims re: Baghdad.  Then you understand why a reporter or 'reporter' would elect to sidestep the issue. 
    The 2007 Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's "Relief and Reconstruction Funded Work at Mosul Dam Mosul, Iraq" notes the letter Crocker and Petraeus wrote in passing but only refers to Mosul being flooded (in three to four hours).
    Well threats of destruction were used to pimp the Iraq War at its start, it's probably necessary to continue to pimp threats of destruction to keep the war going.
    It certainly keeps people from asking questions like "how are we paying for this?"
    At the Pentagon press briefing that issue briefly arose.

    Q: Do you know how much these airstrikes are costing yet? And are they coming from the OCO budget or the base budget?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: You'll have to go to CENTCOM for that. I don't have a budget figure. The operations budget that -- that Central Command and the services have are funding this. There's not a request in for extra funding or anything like that for this operation. I just -- I'd refer you to CENTCOM, though, for more details on that.
    Someone forgot to tell the American taxpayer that the card already maxed out on an illegal war was about to see its credit limit raised just so more money could be spent on the illegal war.
    Someone also forgot to tell Barack the way it works with the Iraq War:  Any time you try to spin success, reality slaps you in the face.

    At this point, they're have been so many 'turned corners' in the Iraq War, the world is left dizzy.

    And the bombs keep getting dropped.

  • The US is on pace to conduct more airstrikes in Iraq this month (204), than in Afghanistan last month (160).

  • Being forced to fight again over the dam wasn't the only major operation attempted today.  Early on, NINA reports, the military announced, "The security forces started today a massive military operation to liberate the city of Tikrit, the center of Salahuddin province, from the (IS)."  After the announcement?

    Xinhua explains what happened:

    Iraqi security forces on Tuesday halted an offensive to retake control of the militant- seized city of Tikrit, the capital of the Sunni-dominant province of Salahudin, due to heavy resistance by the militants, security sources said.
    Earlier in the day, the troops entered Tikrit from three directions, but was forced to retreat after fierce clashes with the Sunni militants, including those who are linked to the Islamic State militants, an al-Qaida offshoot, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

    Heba Saleh, Claer Barrett and Giulia Segreti (Irish Times) note:

    Abu Abd al-Naami, a spokesman for the Council of Iraqi Revolutionaries, which represents some of the country’s Sunni tribes that are fighting against the Iraqi government, claimed that Tikrit had come under attack from the Iraqi army, but that “tribal” and “revolutionary” forces had repulsed the assault. 
    Mr al-Naami, whose organisation insists there is no such body called Isis, added that fighting continued on the southeastern outskirts of the birthplace of executed former president Saddam Hussein. 

    National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 corpses were discovered in al-Hawy, the aerial bombing of Mosul left 6 civilians dead and five more injured, and a Sabea al-Bour mortar and rocket attack left 2 people dead and ten more injured.

    LINKS: International Journal of Socialist Review interviews author and activist Tariq Ali

    What are your thoughts on US President Barack Obama’s commitment of the US to long-term involvement in Iraq, which he claims is a response to the rise of Islamic militants?

    Nonsense. The real reason is to make sure that the US-Israeli protectorate [Kurdish region] remains safe. The aftermath of the occupation was designed to divide Iraq across religious lines. What we are witnessing (as I pointed out a decade ago) is the balkanisation of Iraq.

    Do you agree with Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that the rise of ISIS can be attributed to the failure of the US to help rebels in Syria?

    Another absurdity. The US did help and arm the Syrian rebels via Turkey. They did not bomb Assad out of existence, as they were unsure of the consequences. After all, Clinton, who supported the war on Iraq, should see what happens if you destroy a regime unilaterally. The rise of ISIS in Iraq is because they destroyed all the structures of the old regime. Had they done the same in Syria, we would have had an even worse situation than now, with at least three different wars taking place. Qatar/Turkey/US backing the so-called moderate Islamists, and the Saudis angry that the Muslim Brotherhood is being revived in Syria.

    We'll note Morgan Fairchild's Tweet about Iraq today:

  • 'No' from one Iraq villager triggered Islamic State mass killings via

  • We won't note a discussed death.  It hasn't been confirmed.  There's no need to 'rush out' on this.  If it was your family member, you'd likely be holding out hope unless it was confirmed and the last thing you'd need was the whole world speaking of your loved one in the past tense while you waited for confirmation of life or death.

    Lastly, All Iraq News notes the rumor that Haider al-Ebadi, prime minister-designate, intends to nominate cabinet members next Monday.  If true, that would be a smart move since he has thirty days (starting on Monday of this week) to form a Cabinet -- which requires Parliament confirming his nominees.  Attempting it in 7 or so days would allow him some time to seek out nominees to replace anyone Parliament shot down.

    tariq ali