Friday, May 29, 2015


No, not O'Malley.

Not tonight anyway.

It's theme post and the show I loved most in the 90s was the sitcom Martin starring Martin Lawrence,

All the characters were importnat -- Gina, Tommy, Cole and especially Pam.

Without Tichinia Arnold's Pam, the show never would have been what it was.

And what it was?  Hilarious.

It hit a manic high on any episode where Lawrence also played Sheneneh.

And if we also got Sheneneh's friends Laquita and Keylolo, all the better.

The set was insane -- restraining orders and worse.

But somehow they managed to turn out a hilarious show.

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

Thursday, May 28, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi fears refugees wanting to enter Baghdad might include suicide bombers and worse so he wants to route them to the KRG instead, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest makes a significant TV appearance where he speaks of Iraq, there is still no political solution in Iraq nor any work towards one on the part of the US, and much more.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest made a rather significant appearance on America's Newsroom with Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum (Fox News) today.

Bill Hemmer: You said this week you're confident in the strategy and you just heard Senator McCain and other critics say you don't have a strategy.  In a sentence, what is it?

Josh Earnest:  Our strategy is to support the Iraqi security forces in doing what we will not do for them.  The United States is prepared to train them, to equip them and to back them on the battlefield with coalition military air power as they take the fight to ISIL in their own country.  The United States is not going to be responsible for securing the security situation inside of Iraq.  But we will stand with the Iraqi central government, the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi people as they do. We can also supplement that effort by trying to shut down every avenue of financing that ISIL has.  We can try to stem the flow of foreign fighters to that region of the world to try to shut down the pipeline of people who are traveling all across the world to take up arms alongside of ISIL.  We can work to try to counter the violent, [sic] inciteful  messaging that they're to incite people to carry out acts of violence -- we can try to counter that.  This is a comprehensive strategy and what we're going to see is we're going to see areas of progress -- areas like the success we had in driving ISIL out of Tikrit --

Bill Hemmer:  Okay, okay, okay --

Josh Earnest (Con't): -- we took an ISIL leader off the battle in Syria but there's no doubt that we've sustained some setbacks in Ramadi as well.

Those are stunning remarks on the part of the White House spokesperson when you grasp what happened Monday:  Joe Biden rushing to kneel before Haider al-Abadi and kiss the Iraqi prime minister's boo-boos and wounded pride over the remarks of US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter who,   on State of the Union (CNN) Sunday, spoke with Barbara Starr about the fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State.

Secretary Ash Carter:  What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. Uh, they were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. And yet they failed to fight they withdrew from the sight and uh that says to me and i think to most of us that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and  defend themselves now we can give them training, we can give them equipment, we obviously can't give them the will to fight.

Instead of backing the Secretary of Defense, the White House chose to dispatch Joe Biden on a You've Got A Really Fine Penis, Sir, An Impressive One Even mission to reassure the pathetic Haider al-Abadi.

Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with Prime Minister Al-Abadi of Iraq

Vice President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi today to reaffirm U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIL. The Vice President recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere. The Vice President welcomed the Council of Minister’s unanimous decision on May 19th to mobilize additional troops, honor those who have fallen, and prepare for counter-attack operations. The Vice President pledged full U.S. support in these and other Iraqi efforts to liberate territory from ISIL, including the expedited provision of U.S. training and equipment to address the threat posed by ISIL’s use of truck bombs.


Josh Earnest remarks today sort of negate all the groveling and ass kissing Joe Biden did on Monday.

And  that could be a good thing -- provided this is the new road the White House is taking.  It could be a very bad thing if they intend to stab Earnest in the back a few days on down the line.

They need to be consistent -- one of the traits this administration has struggled to exhibit. 

If the remarks stand, you can be sure pouty Haider al-Abadi will be stomping his feet, his lower lip trembling and jutting out as he sobs and sobs.

He's been indulged more than enough as it is.  

Earnest's remarks are also of interest because they were made on Fox News.

The White House really needs to get over their petty grudges.

Fox News has a huge audience, Barack used to blather on about no red states, no blue states . . . and claim he could work with others.  He wants to be seen as mature then he and his administration needs to stop the attacks.  Fox News is a platform to reach millions of Americans and the White House is a fool to pass up the chance to utilize that platform.

The always ridiculous Nancy Pelosi (I can say it, she allegedly represent my Congressional district) was on Taking The Hill (MSNBC)  days ago speaking with host, Iraq War veteran and former US House Rep Patrick Murphy and insisting that the US was winning the propaganda war on social media and the Islamic State was losing.

There's something surreal about Nancy Pelosi going on MSNBC to insist that the propaganda war was being won -- then again, where else to make such a claim?

If they want to win the spin war, the White House is going to have to engage with the media and that does include Fox News.  

Bonus points to Earnest and the White House for selecting the frame and angle for the appearance (realizing that facing the sun -- outside -- would give Earnest a gravity that he sometimes lacks).  Yes, Josh has lovely eyes.  But forcing him to squint throughout the appearance gave his remarks an appearance of conviction that they might have otherwise struggled to convey visually.

In terms of getting a message out and how they presented the message, Josh Earnest and the White House were a success.

Most probably either nodded along or sighed and shook their head while Earnest spoke.  I doubt many picked up the problem -- the ongoing problem -- with his remarks. 

Let's review them one more time and see if you can figure out what's missing as he explains the White House's strategy or 'strategy' to combat the Islamic State.

Josh Earnest:  Our strategy is to support the Iraqi security forces in doing what we will not do for them.  The United States is prepared to train them, to equip them and to back them on the battlefield with coalition military air power as they take the fight to ISIL in their own country.  The United States is not going to be responsible for securing the security situation inside of Iraq.  But we will stand with the Iraqi central government, the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi people as they do. We can also supplement that effort by trying to shut down every avenue of financing that ISIL has.  We can try to stem the flow of foreign fighters to that region of the world to try to shut down the pipeline of people who are traveling all across the world to take up arms alongside of ISIL.  We can work to try to counter the violent, [sic] inciteful  messaging that they're to incite people to carry out acts of violence -- we can try to counter that.  This is a comprehensive strategy and what we're going to see is we're going to see areas of progress -- areas like the success we had in driving ISIL out of Tikrit --

Bill Hemmer:  Okay, okay, okay --

Josh Earnest (Con't): -- we took an ISIL leader off the battle in Syria but there's no doubt that we've sustained some setbacks in Ramadi as well.

Did you catch it?


I think a number of people did catch it but we'll toss out a hint real quick: Next week, the month of June begins.

Did that help?

Josh Earnest is outlining what the White House will do and won't do in the fight against the Islamic State.  They will help Iraq as it attempts to stand up to the Islamic State, they will do that via war planes dropping bombs -- among other things.  They will also target financing of terrorism and the influx of foreign fighters into the region.


But it was June of last year that US President Barack Obama told the American people that there was no military answer for Iraq's problems, that the only way forward for Iraq was a political solution.

From Barack's June 19th press briefing:

THE PRESIDENT:  Finally, the United States will lead a diplomatic effort to work with Iraqi leaders and the countries in the region to support stability in Iraq.  At my direction, Secretary Kerry will depart this weekend for meetings in the Middle East and Europe, where he’ll be able to consult with our allies and partners.  And just as all Iraq’s neighbors must respect Iraq’s territorial integrity, all of Iraq’s neighbors have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq does not descend into civil war or become a safe haven for terrorists.
Above all, Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq’s future.  Shia, Sunni, Kurds -- all Iraqis -- must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence.  National unity meetings have to go forward to build consensus across Iraq’s different communities.  Now that the results of Iraq’s recent election has been certified, a new parliament should convene as soon as possible.  The formation of a new government will be an opportunity to begin a genuine dialogue and forge a government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis.

Now, it’s not the place for the United States to choose Iraq’s leaders.  It is clear, though, that only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis.  Meanwhile, the United States will not pursue military options that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another.  There’s no military solution inside of Iraq, certainly not one that is led by the United States.  But there is an urgent need for an inclusive political process, a more capable Iraqi security force, and counterterrorism efforts that deny groups like ISIL a safe haven.

[. . .]


Q    Thank you, sir.  Going back to where you see Prime Minister al-Maliki playing a role at this point, you said that it’s a time to rise above differences, that there’s a need for more inclusive government.  Is he a unifier?  And how much clout does the United States ultimately have with any of the leadership in Iraq at this point really?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we still provide them significant assistance.  I think they recognize that, unlike some other players in the region, we don’t have territorial ambitions in their country.  We’re not looking to control their assets or their energy.  We want to make sure that we’re vindicating the enormous effort and sacrifice that was made by our troops in giving them an opportunity to build a stable, inclusive society that can prosper and deliver for the basic needs and aspirations of the Iraqi people.
And at the same time, they are a sovereign country.  They have their own politics.  And what we have tried to do is to give them our best advice about how they can solve their political problems.  Now that they are in crisis, we are indicating to them that there is not going to be a simple military solution to this issue.  If you start seeing the various groups inside of Iraq simply go to their respective corners, then it is almost certain that Baghdad and the central government will not be able to control huge chunks of their own country.  The only way they can do that is if there are credible Sunni leaders, both at the national level and at the local level, who have confidence that a Shia majority, that the Kurds, that all those folks are committed to a fair and just governance of the country.
Right now, that doesn’t exist.  There’s too much suspicion, there’s too much mistrust.  And the good news is that an election took place in which despite all this mistrust, despite all this frustration, despite all this anger, you still had millions of Iraqis turn out -- in some cases, in very dangerous circumstances.  You now have a court that has certified those elections, and you have a constitutional process to advance government formation.
So far, at least, the one bit of encouraging news that we’ve seen inside of Iraq is that all the parties have said they continue to be committed to choosing a leadership and a government through the existing constitutional order.
So what you’re seeing I think is, as the prospects of civil war heighten, many Iraq leaders stepping back and saying, let’s not plunge back into the abyss; let’s see if we can resolve this politically.  But they don’t have a lot of time.  And you have a group like ISIL that is doing everything that it can to descend the country back into chaos. 
And so one of the messages that we had for Prime Minister Maliki but also for the Speaker of the House and the other leadership inside of Iraq is, get going on this government formation.  It’ll make it a lot easier for them to shape a military strategy.  It’ll also make it possible for us to partner much more effectively than we can currently.

Q    Given the Prime Minister’s track record, is he a unifier?  Can he play that role after what we’ve seen play out over the last couple of weeks is brought into play?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think the test is before him and other Iraqi leaders as we speak.  Right now, they can make a series of decisions.  Regardless of what’s happened in the past, right now is a moment where the fate of Iraq hangs in the balance, and the test for all of them is going to be whether they can overcome the mistrust, the deep sectarian divisions, in some cases just political opportunism, and say this is bigger than any one of us and we’ve got to make sure that we do what’s right for the Iraqi people.  And that’s a challenge.

That’s not something that the United States can do for them.  That’s not something, by the way, that the United States Armed Forces can do for them.  We can provide them the space, we can provide them the tools.  But ultimately, they’re going to have to make those decisions.

Nouri al-Maliki's gone.

And that's really it.

Nouri was hideous.  He tortured.  He used the Ministry of Interior to foster hatred and violence towards gay people.  (He sent the Ministry of Interior into Iraq's schools to spread fear.)  He ran secret prisons.  He had people arrested without warrants, he had them held in prisons without due process or court appearances.  Women and girls in Iraqi prisons were beaten and often raped.  He used security forces to intimidate, brutalize and kill peaceful protesters.  He used the military to target his political rivals.  His rap sheet is endless.

Today,  David Romano (Rudaw) revisits Nouri's second term to note:

Regular readers of this newspaper will be quite familiar with the story of how the Jihadis of the Islamic State (ISIS) made a comeback in Iraq. It is a story of broken promises and complete alienation of the Sunni Arab community in the country, combined with the chaos in neighbouring Syria (which is also related to the disenfranchisement of the Sunni Arab community there). The recent fall of Ramadi and the destruction of the important Baiji refinery, despite all the military assistance to the Iraqi government, highlight the need for a political strategy to complement the military effort in Iraq. To understand the outlines of the needed political strategy, we need only remember key factors that led Iraqis to their current crisis with ISIS. 
[. . .]
The Sunni Awakening Councils went unpaid after being transferred to Baghdad’s responsibility. Despite winning a plurality of the votes in the March 2010 general election, the majority Sunni party of Iyad Alawi was denied their right to try and form the next government. Instead, an increasingly authoritarian and power-centralizing Prime Minister Maliki remained in office. Promises to share power with Alawi’s party, the Kurds and others were never fulfilled. When leading Sunni Arab politician and Vice-President Tarek al-Hashimi reacted to Mr. Maliki’s policies and supported Sunni efforts in Diyala and other governorates to form their own region (and thereby carve out some autonomous space vis-à-vis Baghdad), the Maliki-controlled judiciary put out an arrest warrant for him on “terrorism” charges. This was only two days after the withdrawal of the last American troops in December 2011. Arrest warrants for other leading Sunni politicians, such as Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi, soon followed.  Sunni Arab popular protests were met with brutal repression. In short, the trust that moderate Sunni Arab Iraqis had shown by trying to cooperate with the new regime and play by the rules was betrayed.

Nouri's being gone is a good thing.

But he was leaving, for those who have forgotten, in order to give Iraqis a sense that there was change.

When the man who replaced Nouri -- Haider al-Abadi -- continues the policies?

There's no change.

And there's no effort, no diplomatic effort, on the part of the United States.

It's almost a year since Barack made those remarks.

But there's been no real work on a political solution.

And they have taken sides, the White House has taken sides.  By refusing to arm all three major groups in Iraq -- Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd -- the White House has taken sides.

They also took sides when they refused to meet with Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi and former Minister of Finance Rafe al-Issawi earlier this month when the two Sunni politicians were in DC.

One of the highest ranking Sunni in the Iraqi government will be in DC shortly and, as noted in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke, at least he will be invited to the White House.

QUESTION: On Iraq --


QUESTION: -- do you have any information about the visit of the Iraq parliament speaker next week to Washington?

MR RATHKE: Salim al-Jabouri --


MR RATHKE: -- the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, will visit the White House and will meet with Vice President Biden on Friday, June 12th. The speaker will also have a meeting with Secretary Kerry at the State Department during his stay. Vice President Biden and the Secretary also will welcome Speaker al-Jabouri to discuss a range of issues, including the U.S. strong and continued support to Iraq under our Strategic Framework Agreement, the collective campaign to degrade and destroy ISIL, and the status of ongoing political initiatives to address the needs of the Iraqi people. 

The Speaker of Parliament is Salim al-Jabouri and you can argue whether he or Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi has more power (al-Nujaifi is the former Speaker of Parliament) but the two are the most powerful Sunnis in Iraq's national government.

(Saleh al-Mutlaq is one of Iraq's many deputy prime ministers.  It's a lady-in-waiting post, not one with real power or leadership.  Salim presides over the Parliament which grants him many powers while Osama's granted powers include the ability to halt any bill that passes Parliament.)

The White House has not focused on aiding a political solution.

That's only surprising if you fail to grasp how they indulged Nouri and looked the other way throughout his crimes and abuses.

As Ryan Crocker, former US Ambassador to Iraq, told Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy), "Our inaction since 2011 -- and I mean political inaction more than military -- leads us to today."

BRussells Tribunal notes The Stockholm Appeal from the I.A.O.N. which is calling for real solutions:

The Stockholm Appeal from the I.A.O.N.:

Stop military intervention in Iraq under any pretext!

After decades of sanctions, war and occupation, attempts to dominate and control Iraq continue. The destruction of the country´s infrastructure, its army and its middle class has left a failed state that leaves its people in social misery and chaos. This has resulted in the collapse of the health and education systems, the weakening of the social fabric and the collective memory and national identity of the Iraqi people. Foreign plans to divide Iraq threaten its very existence as a state.

1. The failure of the US-led occupation to achieve their goals has been followed by another war with massive bombings of civilians and the infusion of enormous amounts of military weapons.

2. The regime in Baghdad which resulted from the imposed sectarian Bremer constitution is incapable by its very nature of achieving the inclusiveness of the different ethnic, religious and political groups that is required to guarantee Iraq´s continued existence.

3. Outside interference and support to sectarian militia and terrorist groups has further worsened internal conflicts, giving birth to criminal ruling groups. It has led to serious violations of human rights and has caused widespread suffering for civilians.

4. The government policies of massive imprisonment, torture, forced displacement and the exclusion of many from the political process have together provided fertile ground for all forms of extremism and terrorism.

5. Millions of refugees have been caught between the US-led bombing and the attacks from the government and its militia allies as well as from the terrorist attacks by ISIS. A humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions continues to worsen with widespread sectarian ethnic cleansing .

We re-iterate our stand that peace cannot be restored until the underlying causes of the conflict have been dealt with. The Iraqi people continue to resist foreign domination. Only their unity can guarantee the sovereignty of Iraq and defeat of terrorism and separatism. Only their efforts can guarantee good relations with all their neighbours based on strict non-interference in each other´s internal affairs. Iraq is not a pawn to be offered in regional or religious conflict. Its sovereignty and independence must be respected.

In the present situation, our efforts should be intensified and co-ordinated to:

- spread information about the underlying political nature of the conflict and demand an end to all foreign intervention.

- support the efforts of the patriotic forces for unity against sectarianism and terrorism where all Iraqis are treated as citizens of one country rather than members of specific communities.

- mobilize international efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.

- demand an end to the bombing and military intervention in Iraq under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

- demand  justice for the victims and accountability by those responsible for the crimes committed and their responsibility for reparations and the reconstruction of the country. The UN must uphold international law.

We call upon all anti-occupation, anti-war and peace loving people to maintain and continue solidarity with the people of Iraq and their struggle for an independent, unified and non-sectarian Iraq.
Stockholm May 24, 2015

In other signs that there is no political solution in Iraq today, Margaret Griffis ( notes, "Baghdad has asked the Kurdish government to allow 20,000 refugees from Anbar province to relocate there because they will not be allowed into the capital. The fear is that terrorists will be hidden among the displaced."

First, you have citizens of Iraq being denied the right to enter their own capitol.

Second, if Haider al-Abadi really believes there's a threat of terrorists being in with the refugees, why would he insist the KRG take them in?

In what world does that make sense?

'We can't let them into Baghdad because they might be bombers but how about you take these possible bombers into the KRG because it doesn't matter if Erbil gets attacked or Kurds get killed."

That's what it sounds like.

And it sounds like Haider's placing a premium on one group of lives (Shi'ite) while arguing that Sunni lives (the refugees) do not matter nor do the Kurds.

There is no unity in Iraq under Haider al-Abadi -- not even a pretense of unity.

There is continued violence.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 227 violent deaths across Iraq today.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Not impressed by the renewal news

Netflix has renewed Grace and Frankie for a second season.

I'm kind of lukewarm to the news.

No offense to Miley Cyrus, but when the show runner is crediting the renewal to a Tweet by Miley, I think she has just devalued the entire show and all the work that went into it.

Does she really believe the show was only renewed because Miley Tweeted?

If so, she needs to quit immediately so that someone who actually can make a show worth renewing can take over Grace & Frankie.

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, War Hawk Tony Blair is bloodied in the public square, the Ramadi effort's already becoming a joke, the State Dept tries to spin for failure, and much more.

War Hawk Down!

He helped start an illegal war and he destroyed New Labour's reputation sending the party into a downward spiral in one election cycle after another including one just weeks ago.  But Tony Blair refused to read the writing on the wall until now.  AAP reports War Criminal Blair handed his letter of resignation over to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and he will no longer be the Middle East envoy for the Quartet group.  Lindsey German, with the UK's Stop The War Coalition, tells AAP, "Tony Blair's legacy remains: a devastated and war-torn Iraq, a Middle East in turmoil, and a much more dangerous world.  We will continue to campaign against the aggressive foreign policy he championed and for him to answer charges of war crimes."

Journalist Robert Fiske (Dawn) offers an analysis of Blair's failure in his post:

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – Blair’s appointment was an insult.
The man who never said he was sorry for his political disaster in Iraq simply turned up in Jerusalem four years later and, with a team which spent millions in accommodation and air fares, managed to accomplish absolutely nothing in the near-decade that followed.
Blair appeared indifferent to the massive suffering of the Palestinians – he was clearly impotent in preventing it – and spent much of his time away from the tragedy of the Middle East, advising the great and the good and a clutch of Muslim dictators, and telling the world – to Israel’s satisfaction – of the dangers represented by Iran

At today's US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Jeff Rathke attempted to spin Tony's failures by insisting that "we certainly value Tony Blair's contributions."  Pressed to cite contributions, even spin machine Rathke faltered.

QUESTION: So you assess his tenure over the past eight years as a successful tenure by the Quartet? Have the goals of the Quartet been achieved under the sort of the auspices of Envoy Blair?

MR RATHKE: Well, I think the Quartet’s goals haven’t been achieved, of course, because we’re working towards a two-state solution in which Israel lives side-by-side at peace with a Palestinian state. So until that’s achieved, I don’t think any of us can say that we’ve succeeded.

Last week, US President Barack Obama made a fool of himself publicly by attempting to minimize the fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State with Barack insisting this was not a loss.  In those footsteps follow Rathke who praises Blair's so-called "contributions" while being unable to cite any and insisting that the state of not succeeding is something other than "failure."

Jeff Rathke  also noted, "Secretary Kerry will then travel to Paris, France on June 2nd to lead the U.S. delegation to the Counter-ISIL Coalition Small-Group Ministerial. Coalition partners will review progress on the full range of our shared efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL, while affirming our support for Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi campaign against ISIL."

Oh, John's got strut around like he's Secretary of Defense again, is he?

John Kerry has done a pathetic job as Secretary of State.

Hillary was bad in every way except morale.  Bad for the department.  But she did use the post as non-stop self-advertising with photo-ops here and photo-ops there.   She never really accomplished anything in any of those non-stop, heavily covered global stops around the world but she certainly gave visuals that suggested she must be doing something.

John can't even promote himself.

As for the disaster that is Haider al-Abadi, France 24's Leela Jacinto observes:

When he replaced the disastrous Nuri al-Maliki as prime minister last year, Haider al-Abadi represented the hope that his predecessor’s sectarian way of doing business would end and that the new chief would be able to draw his disgruntled Sunni citizenry into the national fold.
But poor Abadi is looking more like the Viceroy of Baghdad than the prime minister of Iraq these days.  Of course he would have preferred to rely solely on the Iraqi security forces. But let’s not waste time on that so called, once-great Arab army. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was dead right in his assessment of the Iraqi security forces showing no will to battle ISIS, White House damage control notwithstanding. I haven’t seen a great Arab army winning any wars in my lifetime. But I hear, from history books, that they once roamed this earth.
These days, we have great Arab militias, which become even more powerful and even more destabilizing with time and battlefield victories. 
And that, for Abadi -- a suave civilian politician raised in Baghdad’s affluent Karada district by his mother of Lebanese origin before moving to Britain to start an engineering business -- is a ticking bomb. The militias could present a threat to Abadi’s authority and if they do, all bets are off on how he will manage or weather that storm.  


Some elements of the current storm may be human-made.  This exchange took place during today's State Dept press briefing.

QUESTION: All right. I have two questions. One is about Ramadi. There are reports about Iraqi special forces retreating from the city because they received instructions from someone close to former Prime Minister Maliki or Maliki himself. Are you aware of those reports?

MR RATHKE: I’m not familiar with those reports. I don’t have any comment on that.

Nouri's long been said to be plotting -- and he always will until he's in his grave.  He wants to come back.  He has leaders loyal to him still in the ranks of the Iraqi military.  Is that why the militia is so much more effective than the Iraqi military?

It's a question worth pondering -- unless you're the US State Dept.

On the fall of Ramadi, Araw Damon and Hamdi Alkhshali (CNN -- link is text and video) offer an insider's account -- one Iraqi solider -- of what happened on the ground.

The administration continues their attempt to spin failure as success with regard to the Iraqi forces.  Today, it was the US State Dept's turn.

QUESTION: Iraq. Can we go to Iraq?


QUESTION: Okay. Very quickly, can you just sort out all this confusing statements coming from every which way on the role of the Iraqi army, how they conducted themselves during the fall of Ramadi, and so on? Today another person from the Pentagon saying that basically they cut and run. There are statements that are really contrary to that. Just walk us through what is the U.S. position. Is the Iraqi army or the Iraqi Security Forces worthy of all the support, and both material and training and all these things, that they are getting if they – every time there is a confrontation with ISIS, they just fall back?

MR RATHKE: Well, I think we talked about this a bit yesterday as well. Let me just start --

QUESTION: The story just will not go away.

MR RATHKE: Let me just start, though, with the situation on the ground. We are encouraged by reports that Iraqi forces have begun to consolidate and reorganize and counterattack on ISIL around Ramadi. We also welcome the news from Prime Minister al-Abadi on the counteroffensive, and we’ll continue to offer support to our Iraqi partners as they work to push ISIL out of their country.
Now, as for a battlefield assessment, you can talk with the Iraqi Government. We, of course, from our part in the coalition, are supporting the Iraqi Government with airstrikes in conjunction with them on targets, ISIL targets in Anbar and in other parts of Iraq. Now, the question that you’ve asked about the – we’ve always said that our strategy in Iraq, which is a – on the one hand it has a military component, also has non-military components. But the strategy, the military strategy relies on a well-equipped and well-trained partner on the ground. So we are, of course, helping to provide them with the capabilities they need and the support so that they can win this fight, and we’re supporting them to that end.

That would have been the perfect opportunity to ask Rathke to illuminate the world on what exactly the administration has been doing to help with regards to the "non-military components" of the so-called Iraq 'strategy'?

It was June of 2014, after all, when Barack publicly declared that only a "political solution" could solve Iraq's crises.

And yet the US has done nothing with regards to that.

They've offered no leadership, they've offered no encouragement.

They've refused to open the diplomatic toolbox and use the carrot and stick method where you say to Haider al-Abadi, "You want more weapons?  Okay, bring the Sunnis into the government as full partners."

You may or may not remember but the benchmarks that Bully Boy Bush's White House set in 2007 included an end to de-Ba'athification.  Nouri al-Maliki promised to do that but never did.  Not in his first term and not in his second term.

Sometimes he gave lip service on the issue but he never did a damn thing.

Haider's really good a lip service.

But he's also failed to follow up.

Though they avoided that issue, at least the press didn't rush to swallow Rathke's spin.

QUESTION: But the United States has been training an Iraqi armed forces for the past 12 years at least – 12 years, not at least – for the past 12 years, spending a lot of money and a lot of training and so on. But looking back, even when there was the Awakening and so on, it was really the American forces that did whatever fighting there was. So there is no record of this army that you have trained and spent so much time and effort at, standing up and doing what it’s supposed to do. Why do you think that is?

MR RATHKE: Well, I think if you look at quite a few places in Iraq, you see where Iraqi forces have been successful in pushing back and in pushing ISIL out of territory that they previously controlled. There are certainly areas where ISIL has made gains in recent days. Ramadi is, of course, one we’ve talked about, as well as Palmyra, in Syria. But if you compare this to nine months ago, when ISIL was on the offensive in many places in Iraq, we also see places where they’ve been forced to retreat; they’ve lost areas that they used to dominate from Babil to Diyala, also Nineveh and Kirkuk province. So ISIL has been defeated at Mosul Dam, at Mount Sinjar, also in Tikrit. So there are – I think there have been a lot of areas – populated areas where ISIL had been in control and has been pushed back.

QUESTION: Sorry to belabor the point, but even the examples that you cited – Tikrit, Babil, and the north and so on – it was either the Peshmerga or the popular committees, the Shia militias and so on in Tikrit and other places. There is no – I mean there’s no stark example that says this national Iraqi army has stood its ground, is there?

MR RATHKE: Well, again, we take a view of that, Said. We – if you look at those areas and others where the Iraqi forces have pushed ISIL back, we see a much different picture, and we see the Iraqi forces committed to defending the country.

QUESTION: You haven’t seen that the counteroffensive has actually begun yet, have you? You said something to that effect earlier, but they’re still regrouping. They haven’t actually started going back into Ramadi, have they?

MR RATHKE: Well, for a battlefield analysis, I’d refer you to my colleagues at the Pentagon or to the Iraqi authorities --

And we'll stop him there to note all he does is give battlefield analysis.

He's not talking diplomacy, he's not talking State Dept efforts.

Like so many other idiots currently serving in the State Dept, he has confused his department with the DoD.

We'll note this Tweet:

. on Iraq: "We need to adapt our strategy"

Jen Psaki was a State Dept spokesperson until recently.

We've called her out and we've also noted that she didn't rely on spin the way so many others did.  Victoria Nuland was a non-stop lying machine.  Until her Urkaine phone call exposed what trash she was, we stood pretty much alone here on the left in condemning her.  All the faux left had to know what she 'worked for Barack' (she was supposed to be working for the American people) and they didn't want to know anything else -- didn't want to know that Icky Vicky had been Dick Cheney's advisor and a cheerleader for the Iraq War and married to a neocon -- in fact married into the most prominent neocon family.

We called her out repeatedly.

We didn't have to call out Psaki as much.

But if Rathke's looking for a role model in his efforts as spokesperson, he should aspire to Psaki's efforts.

As for the Ramadi effort?  Jason Ditz ( points out, "One day into their much-hyped offensive against the ISIS-held city of Ramadi, Iraqi troops and their allies have stalled almost immediately, with reports that the troops entered the grounds of the university, but were unable to retake it."

In other news, AFP notes, "State TV said the paramilitaries had renamed the campaign 'Labeyk Ya Iraq' (At Your Service Iraq) Wednesday. A spokesman for the paramilitary groups, known as Hashid Shaabi, said both names had 'the same meaning'."  The issue came up today and Rathke demonstrated how ineffectual the State Dept truly is.

QUESTION: -- Roz asked you about the name of the operation, which is --


QUESTION: -- “Labaik Ya Hussein,” which is really a call on the prophet’s grandson, who was also saintly among the Sunnis but it has – in this particular case, it has sectarian connotation. Do you have any reaction to that? The Pentagon stood against it.

MR RATHKE: Well, I think I was asked about this yesterday, and I gave a response. So I don’t have anything beyond what I said yesterday.

QUESTION: They changed the name today.

MR RATHKE: Well, yes, I’m aware of those reports. But Said’s question was our point of view about the name.

QUESTION: Do you have reaction to them changing the name?

MR RATHKE: Well, I’m aware of the report. We’ve said that anything that heightens tension is something we would be concerned about. But that was – yes, Roz.

QUESTION: So you don’t --

QUESTION: Let’s --

QUESTION: You don’t have any reaction?

MR RATHKE: Well, I think, again, this announcement yesterday if – it was my understanding it wasn’t an official announcement about this name.


MR RATHKE: So I think there’s been a clarification of that.

QUESTION: The new one, or whatever --


QUESTION: I mean, does it matter to you guys?

MR RATHKE: Well, what we’ve always said in our support for Prime Minister Abadi is the central element of our strategy and his strategy is to govern Iraq in a way that is nonsectarian and that brings Iraq together. And so it’s consistent with that, that we would want to see – avoid anything that would raise sectarian tensions.

Moqtada al-Sadr, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader, slammed the original name as divisive and destructive but the US State Dept can't figure out where it stands?

Let's not forget that they and others in the administration were quick to slam a YouTube clip -- that they lied and called a "film" -- and to declare it destructive.  But when they need to speak up about the actions -- life and death -- of a group of militias (thugs), they fall silent?

As Leela Jacinto noted, "Naming an operation by saber-rattling Shiite militias into the disgruntled Iraqi Sunni heartlands 'Labalik ya Hussein' is like waving a red rag at a bull.  And this bull, I fear, could charge straight into ISIS's arms."

QUESTION: Well, let’s set aside whatever it is the Shia militia are calling this counteroffensive. Let’s talk about their behavior. Both the Secretary and General Allen have in recent months condemned their behavior once they liberated certain parts of Iraq, basically engaging in sectarian violence and alleged human rights violations. Sine you stressed from the podium yesterday that these militia are acting on orders from Baghdad, has this Administration made it very clear to Abadi’s government that human rights violations by these militia will not be tolerated and should be actively discouraged from the very beginning?

MR RATHKE: Well, our point of view on this hasn’t changed. We believe that Iraqi forces have to make concerted efforts to protect local populations and property and to secure the human rights of all Iraqi citizens, indeed, as guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution and as the Prime Minister himself and other Iraqi leaders have pledged. So our point of view on that remains the same, and we talk regularly with our Iraqi counterparts about those issues.

QUESTION: But I’m asking whether there’s a particular emphasis given that there are so many people who are trying to get out of Ramadi and who basically are being told that unless they have family in Baghdad that they’re not going to be allowed to leave Anbar province and cross over Bzebiz Bridge – I knew I was going to get that wrong – to try to get to Baghdad and to try to get to safety, in part because they’re afraid of potential repercussions by these militia.

MR RATHKE: Well, again, our point of view on this is as I just stated it. We believe that Iraqi forces have to make every effort to protect local populations and to protect the human rights of Iraqi citizens.

QUESTION: So what happens if they – if such violations do happen? What can the U.S. do to make certain that those responsible are held accountable?

MR RATHKE: I’m not going to speculate about things that haven’t – you’re talking about things that could happen in the future. I’m not going to speculate about that. But the – this is an important, important issue and one in which we remain in contact with our Iraqi counterparts.
Go ahead. 


The White House can do nothing.

And it has done nothing.

When Tikrit was over run with militias and War Crimes took place, where was the US State Dept?

Making excuses.

Always making excuses.

Never pressing for reform.

Never calling out abuse.

Never calling out crimes.

Even the DoD was calling out the abuses.  Even Barack's special envoy John Allen was calling them 'unhelpful.'

But the State Dept stands for nothing.

They have a mission statement, they just don't follow it:

Department Mission Statement
The Department's mission is to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere. This mission is shared with the USAID, ensuring we have a common path forward in partnership as we invest in the shared security and prosperity that will ultimately better prepare us for the challenges of tomorrow.
          --From the FY 2014 Agency Financial Report,
         released November 2014

Hillary Clinton spent four years as Secretary of State trotting around the globe and smiling for cheesy photos of easy and meaningless photo ops.

John Kerry can't even accomplish that.

A functioning administration would be using the State Dept for diplomacy.

A functioning Congress would be demanding the State Dept testify as to what exactly their role is in Iraq.

And every member of Congress would cut off Brett McGurk or whomever when they began talking about military actions.

They would say, "You are not in the Defense Dept.  We're asking you to testify about your department's efforts."

Instead, they let McGurk babble on about what DoD is doing.

Yet when they ask him a question about DoD, he begs off, insisting he's not with the Defense Dept so he can't answer.

This after building his testimony solely around the actions of the DoD.

John Kerry should be called before the Congress to defend his Dept and justify their non-action.

As for Ramadi and refugees, Tim Arango (New York Times) reports

With new waves of civilians fleeing violence in Anbar there are now more internally displaced Iraqis, nearly three million, than there were at the height of the bloody sectarian fighting that followed the American invasion, when millions of Iraqis were able to flee to Syria. That door is closed because of that country’s own civil war. And now doors in Iraq are closing, too, worsening sectarian tensions as the Shiite authorities restrict where fleeing Sunnis can seek safety.
[. . .]
Rather than seizing on the crisis as an opportunity to win Sunnis, a minority in Iraq, to the government side, the Shiite authorities in Baghdad have acted in a manner, critics say, that has worsened the country’s sectarian divide, risking the alienation of young Sunni men in particular by restricting their movements within the country.

These are the issues that Jeff Rathke and the State Dept pretend don't exist or can't be seen.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 174 killed in violence across Iraq today.


jason ditz

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My weak ass party


Monday, Kat's "Kat's Korner: Buffy Sainte-Marie's unwelcome return" went up as did Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Winning."

Is there anything more pathetic than Barack?

Actually, there is.

My weak ass political party.

The Green Party no longer even pretends to be about anything.

We got the most interest in our party when we took a stand against the Iraq War.

These days we have nothing to say about it.

Or, it turns out, any foreign issues.

These are all the 'news' pieces my party put on the national website this month:

Ohio Green Party views with disappointment the acquittal of Officer Brelo 26 May 2015 90
Miami Protesters Lead the Charge in Anti-Monsanto Groundswell 24 May 2015 147
Arizona Green Party will hold next state meeting in Flagstaff on Saturday, May 30, 2015 23 May 2015 165
Michigan Greens Support New Fracking-Ban Petition Drive 22 May 2015 146
Michigan Greens Oppose HB 4540's New FOIA Loophole for Pipelines 19 May 2015 163
Three Pennsylvania Ballot Access Rules Declared Unconstitutional as Applied to Green and Libertarian Parties 19 May 2015 149
Upper Hudson Green Party seeking candidates 19 May 2015 119
Greens Designate Syracuse Candidates 18 May 2015 153
Green Party to Democratic U.S. Senators: Don't reverse defeat of fast track for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal 14 May 2015 1058
Upcoming Green Party State & Local Conventions 13 May 2015 478
Green Party hires new fundraisers 11 May 2015 305
Ballot Access Drive 11 May 2015 460
Caroline Lucas increases Brighton Pavilion majority six-fold in UK election but party falls short in other targets 08 May 2015 236
Statement of Howie Hawkins, former Green Party candidate for Governor, on Cuomo Announcement of Minimum Wage Board for Fast Food Workers 08 May 2015 278
Arizona Green Party to hold annual meeting 25th Anniversary Celebration 08 May 2015 279
Registration for Massachusetts Green Rainbow party Convention is now open! 07 May 2015 354
The Green Party will hold its 2015 Annual National Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, July 23-26 06 May 2015 289
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker makes Prince Edward Island political history in Canada 05 May 2015 326
May 4th 1970, a parallel to 2015? 04 May 2015 278
Green Party's James Lane pushes platform on May 1, Law Day 02 May 2015 256
Schenectady, NY Greens announce member meeting 01 May 2015 233
Green Party of Pennsylvania supports May Day USA march and rally 01 May 2015 286
Spring Issue of Green Pages now available

With the exception of England, we had no interest beyond our shores.  And there, we were only interested in an election.

We don't even care about the Palestinians these days, to judge by the 'reports' we offered this month.

We're naval gazers.

And that's no way to grow a party.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter tells some truths, the White House then stabs him in the back for it, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi insists that liberating Anbar Province "is so close," and much more.

Mark your calendars, Ammar Al Shamary (USA Today) reports, "Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday that 'the liberation of Anbar is so close'. "

So close -- closer and closer
Feel your body next to mine
So close -- closer and closer
closer and closer and closer
I lose all sense of time 
I want to stay here for the rest of my life
I want to stay here for the rest of my life
-- "So Close," written by Bill Wray, Rob Mounsey and Diana Ross, first appears on Diana's Silk Electric album.

And it may take the rest of our lives.

It certainly won't be "so close."

Anbar isn't a city, it's a province.  And while Ramadi feel to the Islamic State this month, the province itself has been under IS de facto control since spring of 2014.  The 'success' of Tikrit this spring was no 'success' at all.

The mission to retake the city from the Islamic State was supposed to be quick and last less than a week.  It took them weeks just to get into the city itself.  And today?

Tikrit is empty.

Not thriving.

Refugees who fled the violence of the Islamic State refuse to return for the same reason that others fled the 'liberation' -- the Shi'ite militias (thugs) were looting and terrorizing.

And Iraq's prime minister responded how?

After denying the War Crimes were taking place, after photos surfaced proving that they were, Haider announced that from this moment forward those breaking the law better stop.  Starting now.  He's not kidding, mister.  Right now.

No one was ever punished for anything despite the fact that the thugs were quite happy during their crime spree -- as demonstrated by their broad smiles in one photograph after another.

Yeah, photographs.


And yet no one was punished.

Even with photographs of the guilty, Haider and his forces were unable to figure out what the criminals looked like.

Tikrit was a failure in every way.

It revealed that the Iraqi forces were not ready for combat.

It also revealed that the Iranian help was no real help at all.

Despite -- or maybe because -- Iranian Quds Force ommander Qasem Solemani calling the shots, the mission faltered week after week and the Iraqi forces were only able to move forward (and into Tikrit) as a result of Solemani leaving and the US military dropping bombs from war planes.

So claims by Haider al-Abadi that liberation of Anbar Province -- the entire province -- are "close" are probably as dubious as every other claim the fool has made.

That includes, but is not limited to, when he tried to big boy on the international stage last fall by announcing that he had 'intelligence' on terrorist attacks on NYC's subways.  Though the White House was indulgent, as always, on their child-like idiot, others -- especially NYC officials -- felt no obligation to treat crazy Haider with kid gloves and he returned to Iraq with the howls of laughter still echoing in his ears.

With that record dogging him, Haider wants to announce that not only is he initiating a mission to 'liberate' Anbar Province but that liberation is very close.

Hamdi Alkhshali, Nick Paton Walsh and Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) report, "Iraq forces have launched a major military operation to liberate Iraq's Anbar and Salaheddin provinces from ISIS, Iraqi state media and a key Shia militia group said Tuesday, a little more than a week after the militant group overran Anbar's provincial capital, Ramadi."

So the Iraqi forces are launching an operation --

Well, Iraq military adjacent at any rate.  Ben Kamisar (The Hill) words it this way, "Iraqi-allied forces have launched a new offensive to retake two major provinces from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to local media reports."  Simon Tomlinson (Telegraph of London) notes, "A spokesman for Iraq's Shi'ite militias boasted that the operation launched to retake the province from the Islamic State will 'not last for a long time' and that Iraqi forces have surrounded the provincial capital from three sides."

The Shi'ite militias -- noted for their abuses and their criminal actions -- are taking part in the action in Sunni Anbar?

No, they're leading it -- or saying that they are.  Reuters reports, "Iraq's Shi'ite militia announced on Tuesday they had taken charge of the campaign to drive Islamic State from the western province of Anbar, giving the operation an openly sectarian codename that could infuriate its Sunni population." And the codename is Labaik ya Hussein to ensure that sectarian tensions rise even further.  AP explains that the phrase "refers to a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the most revered figures of Shiite Islam."  Joshua Keating (Slate) elaborates further:

The Shiite militias have named the Anbar campaign “Labaik ya Hussein”—a slogan honoring the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad whose defeat and beheading in 680 A.D. is one of the defining moments in the history of Shia Islam and the schism between the Shiites and Sunnis. The name is not exactly designed to assuage the fears of Sunni locals who see the campaign as an Iranian-backed Shiite takeover. It also plays into the hands of ISIS, which portrays itself as fighting on behalf of Iraq’s beleaguered Sunni population. 

Zee News words it this way, "Iraq`s Shi`ite paramilitaries announced on Tuesday they had taken charge of the campaign to drive Islamic State from the western province of Anbar, giving the operation an openly sectarian codename that could infuriate its Sunni population."

AFP reports, "The Pentagon has expressed disappointment over a decision by Iraqi militias to impose an explicitly Shia name for a military operation in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, saying it could aggravate sectarian tensions."  Zee News words it this way, "Washington: The Pentagon on Tuesday said it was "unhelpful" for Iraq`s Shi`ite militia to have announced an openly sectarian code name for the operation to retake the Sunni city of Ramadi and added that, in the US view, the full-on offensive had yet to begin."

And these steps make the news at the same time that Iraqi Spring MC notes that  southeast of Baquba, Shi'ite militias have burned ten houses and are telling people they must leave their village.  The same outlets rushing to repeat the Baghdad propaganda shy from reporting those actions.

Eric Schmitt gets taken to the woodshed by Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept) who notes Schmitt's column passing as 'reporting' argues that the US is being too 'kid gloves' in the fight against the Islamic State in order to keep civilian deaths down.  Greenwald notes that Schmitt ignores civilian deaths and that there were outlets he could have turned to:

Among that evidence is the data compiled by, a group of independent journalists with extensive experience reporting on that region. Last week, the group reported:
To May 13th 2015, between 587 and 734 civilian non-combatant fatalities had been reported from 95 separate incidents, in both Iraq and Syria.
Of these it is our provisional view — based on available reports — that between 370-465 civilian non-combatants have been killed in incidents likely to have been conducted by the coalition.
A further 130-145 claimed deaths attributed to coalition airstrikes are poorly reported or are single-sourced, while an additional 85-125  reported fatalities resulted from contested events (for example, claims that the Iraq military might instead have been responsible.)

Is anyone in charge?

Clearly Haider al-Abadi isn't.

Is the White House?

Is it just going to continue to fund and arm Shi'ite thugs who terrorize the Sunni population?

One grown up is Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.  On State of the Union (CNN) Sunday, Barbara Starr interviewed  Carter who spoke of the fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State.

Secretary Ash Carter:  What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. Uh, they were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. And yet they failed to fight they withdrew from the sight and uh that says to me and i think to most of us that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and  defend themselves now we can give them training, we can give them equipment, we obviously can't give them the will to fight.

This was not a controversial call.  It was a description of what had happened.  But there are some who can never tolerate truth.

Al Jazeera reports that Iraqi MP Hakim al-Saumili threw a snit fit insisting the United States bore the brunt of the blame because they did not furnish Iraq with "good equipment, weapons and aerial support."


Were the Iraqi forces fighting to protect a US city?

No, they were fighting to protect their own city.

Anything a foreign government does is extra.  

If you can't get your own act together, that's on you.  Quit being such a whiny little bitch and blaming everyone else for your failures.

And that's the lesson Haider and his supporters need to learn to face.

But like an overindulgent parent, Barack refuses to allow Haider to learn accountability.  So Joe Biden was rushed in to kiss the boo-boo as the White House announced on Monday:

Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with Prime Minister Al-Abadi of Iraq

Vice President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi today to reaffirm U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIL. The Vice President recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere. The Vice President welcomed the Council of Minister’s unanimous decision on May 19th to mobilize additional troops, honor those who have fallen, and prepare for counter-attack operations. The Vice President pledged full U.S. support in these and other Iraqi efforts to liberate territory from ISIL, including the expedited provision of U.S. training and equipment to address the threat posed by ISIL’s use of truck bombs.

Not everyone rushed to indulge Haider's tantrum (or to stab Carter in the back).  Matt Stout (Boston Herald) reports

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter was “absolutely right” when he said Iraqi forces lack the “will to fight” the surging Islamic State, U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch told the Herald yesterday, but the South Boston Democrat warned that Iraq can’t expect the U.S. to commit more troops to “do the fighting that their young people should be doing.”
Lynch, one of Congress’ most frequent visitors to war-torn areas in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the U.S. has “created a moral hazard,” where people “in this region think that we’re going to come in and fight their war for them.”

And Kristina Wong (The Hill) reports, "The Pentagon doubled down Tuesday on Defense Secretary Ash Carter's criticism of Iraqi forces, saying that local troops 'chose to withdraw' from the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Ramadi."  Al Jazeera adds, "Iraqi forces in Ramadi had held a 10-to-1 numerical advantage over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant when the pro-government troops retreated in the face of an ISIL offensive over a week ago, Pentagon sources told Al Jazeera on Tuesday."

Margaret Griffis ( counts 223 violent deaths across Iraq today.

In the United States, Monday was Memorial Day -- a day that gets shorthanded as Veterans Day II.  It is about sacrifice and, specifically, about remembering those who died while serving.  The White House elected to 'honor' the day and the dead by stabbing Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in the back.  The White House also elected to yet again spin on US forces stationed in war zones.

IAVA's Paul Rieckhoff wasn't silent about that nonsense:

  • Hmmmm. So, it's all over? Tell that to our troops still serving there. And in Iraq.

  • Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  We'll close with this from Bacon's introduction to his latest photo essay "Streets of New York: Kids"

    I was a little boy when we left New York City for Oakland.  My father always said we'd become transcontinental migrants so we could live in a better place to bring up a family. I knew there were other reasons too, even at the time.  He'd been blacklisted and couldn't get work.  Their friends were getting called up before the UnAmerican Activities Committee.  I guess my folks were a little scared, and who wouldn't be.

    But I always wondered if I would have turned out different growing up in New York.  Now when I go back I look at the children I see in the street and think -- that could have been me.  I remember going to PS 125, and feeling abandoned when my mother left me there on what must have been my first day.  I remember her bundling me up in a snowsuit later that winter, before we left.

    Kids are kids.  But the ones I see in New York now have a combination of child aspect and adult aspect.  Maybe they grow up fast.  They seem happy enough, but not always.  I see them a lot with questions in their faces, not too sure about this adult world they're faced with.  Then they're funny and aggressive, trying to figure it all out.

    kristina wong