Saturday, July 4, 2015

Extant returned Wednesday

So Halle Berry's show returned Wednesday on CBS and the ratings were down.

Should we be surprised?

I knew it two hours before the episode aired.

A friend mentioned it.  I immediately called Betty and Marcia because we covered the first season.  They had no idea either.

And I was at the CBS website at the middle of June when they were pimping Under The Dome and they didn't have anything about Extant returning on July 1st.

So first thing, if you want to get ratings, promote the damn show.

I would have posted a photo about it returning if I had known even a day ahead of time.

So the show's back.

Should it be?

Kind of.

Sorry.  Others may feel differently.

I think this is going to be a great season.

But I think the raw material for a great episode was present in the season debut but it was a bit pedestrian.

One thing I would have added was better music.

I'm not talking 'tunes,' I'm talking edgy instrumental music to really underscore the tense moments.

And I would've used actual camera angles to create more tension.

The camera work was so awful.  It was as though they'd locked down the cameras and dismissed the cinematographer.

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

Friday, July 3, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq's government prepares to subjugate the Iraqi people via loans from the IMF and the World Bank, Jim Webb announces he's seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, and more.

The Anyone But Hillary Brigade just got another option.

Thursday saw former US Senator Jim Webb declare his intent to seek the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Webb issued a statement which included:

After many months of thought, deliberation and discussion, I have decided to seek the office of the Presidency of the United States.
I understand the odds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money. I know that more than one candidate in this process intends to raise at least a billion dollars – some estimates run as high as two billion dollars – in direct and indirect financial support. Highly paid political consultants are working to shape the “messaging” of every major candidate.
But our country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us. We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process. Our elected officials need to get back to the basics of good governance and to remember that their principal obligations are to protect our national interests abroad and to ensure a level playing field here at home, especially for those who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power. And at the same time our fellow Americans need proven, experienced leadership that can be trusted to move us forward from a new President’s first days in office.
I believe I can offer both.
37We all want the American dream – unending opportunity at the top if you put things together and you make it, absolute fairness along the way, and a safety net underneath you if you fall on hard times or suffer disability or as you reach your retirement years. That’s the American Trifecta — opportunity, fairness, and security. It’s why people from all over the world do whatever they can to come here. And it’s why the rest of us love this country and our way of life.
More than anything else, Americans want their leaders to preserve that dream, for all of us and not for just a few.
We need a President who understands leadership, who has a proven record of actual accomplishments, who can bring about bipartisan solutions, who can bring people from both sides to the table to get things done. And that leader needs to gather the great minds of our society and bring them into a new Administration and give them direction and ask them to help us solve the monumental challenges that face us.
What should you ask for in your next President?
First, there is no greater responsibility for our President than the vital role of Commander in Chief.
2I have spent my entire life in and around the American military. I grew up in a military family. I fought as a Marine rifle platoon and company commander on the battlefields of Vietnam. I spent five years in the Pentagon, four of them as an assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the navy. I covered our military on many journalistic assignments, including the Marine Corps deployment to Beirut in 1983 and as an “embed” reporter in Afghanistan in 2004. And while in the Senate I spent six years on both the Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.
Let me assure you, as President I would not have urged an invasion of Iraq, nor as a Senator would I have voted to authorize it. I warned in writing five months before that invasion that we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world, and that this invasion would be a strategic blunder of historic proportions, empowering Iran and in the long run China, unleashing sectarian violence inside Iraq and turning our troops into terrorist targets.
I would not have been the President who used military force in Libya during the Arab Spring. I warned repeatedly that this use of our military did not meet the test of a grave national security interest, that it would have negative implications for the entire region, and that no such action should take place without the approval of the Congress. The leadership in the Congress at that time not only failed to give us a vote; they did not even allow a formal debate, and the President acted unilaterally. The attack in Benghazi was inevitable in some form or another, as was the continuing chaos and the dissemination of large numbers of weapons from Qaddafi’s armories to terrorist units throughout the region.

5And today I would not be the President to sign an executive order establishing a long-tem relationship with Iran if it accepts Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. This Administration and those in Congress should be looking very hard at the actual terms of this agreement, which we on the outside cannot yet see or evaluate. They should also be questioning whether it is appropriate for such an important agreement to be signed without the specific, prior approval of the Congress.

The current popularity of Bernie Sanders goes to the desperate desire among a significant number of Democrats for someone other than Hillary Clinton.  That the media crowned front runner is polling so high in negatives does not bode well for her.  The negatives could very well increase in six or so months when Americans are actually paying attention to the 2016 races.

Equally true, the media gets bored.

If Hillary is in the lead this early, she's going down.

John Kerry wasn't in the lead at this point in 2003.  Barack wasn't in 2007.

There's no story if every day Hillary is the front runner.

It's highly unlikely the media coverage is going to get 'nicer' for Hillary.

It's very likely that the media will create drama -- that's how that get ratings, clicks and sell publications -- and Hillary's not a candidate who benefits from drama.

She's someone the American people distrust when her negatives are raised.

Her e-mail story will probably be one of the things that most harms her campaign.

She lied publicly at the United Nations.

The lies included that she only carried one device.

If that lie and others are explored by the media, America's going to remember that they loved Bill Clinton but always had a more troubled relationship with Hillary and, most importantly, she's not Bill.

She's not the comeback kid and she's not natural.

The e-mail dumps are making that clear as well as America begins to see just how many protective layers of flunkies are around her.

Bill had friends and Bill had advisors.

Hillary has 'muscle' -- flunkies that exist solely to attack any who question Hillary.

In 2008, you could argue her mistakes in the Senate weren't reflective of who she was.

Then she served four years as Secretary of State where she (a) admitted she's a cheap liar (telling Robert Gates -- as outlined in his book Duty -- that her opposition to Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' in Iraq was political in order to gain her support among Democrats), (b) did the same easy photo ops that she did as First Lady, (c) but didn't do any actual work as Secretary of State and (d) confirmed that she was a blood thirsty War Hawk, advocating for military action in one area after another.

In 2016, 2008 is going to be 8 years ago -- and every one of those years shows in her face.

A fact she grasps which was why she recently attempted to steal Farrah Fawcett's 1984 hair.

hair crimes

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Hair Crimes" noted the hair style.

And for  Farrah, in 1984, it was a new look for a woman who'd pioneered a seventies hair style (one that still hasn't faded completely away).

For a 67 year old running for president?

It was an embarrassment.

Is she an aging sex kitten?

This is why she fails over and over and over.

Everything about her is unnatural, everything about her is forced.

She can't offer one genuine moment.

And American needs to stop making excuses for her.

'Oh, it's because she was attacked by the press when she asked should she have just stayed home making cookies?  Or because of the way they treated her for Travel Gate or Whitewater or . . ."

That's all nonsense.

She has responded to life's events by closing herself off and acting from a position of distrust and suspicion while treating every action as a personal attack.

That's not someone you want in the White House.

We've had that in the White House -- it's name was Richard Nixon.

At this point, she comes with too much baggage and I'm not talking about her scandals, I'm talking about all the muscle between her and the real world.

I'm not voting for Hillary, I've made that clear.

I'm not voting for Jim Webb either, by the way.

Don't misconstrue coverage with support.

If a candidate talks about Iraq, that means we may cover them here based on what's going on that day.

Bernie Sanders, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O'Malley and now Jim Webb are seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Joe Biden may throw his hat in.

The fact that people are still pushing Elizabeth Warren to run and that there are efforts being made to get Kirsten Gillibrand to run go to the fact that Hillary is seen as having already peaked and now entering the fade process -- seen that way by Democratic Party superdelegates who, for the most part, screwed Hillary over in 2008 and really aren't inclined to embrace her (or empower her to strike back) in 2016.

Jim Webb becomes another alternative to Hillary. It's doubtful that he's going to be the last to throw his hat into the race to become the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.

As Bernie, Martin and Lincoln have already done, Jim Webb is making an issue of Iraq (as well as Libya).  Until Hillary can talk about Iraq honestly -- without defensive posturing or hiding behind "I covered this in my book" (that nobody read) -- it will remain a liability for her.

Hillary's 'liability' is far worse for the Iraq people.  Margaret Griffis ( reports 115 people killed in violence across Iraq on Thursday.

And as bad as things are for the Iraqi people, now they'll get worse.

Dominic Evans and David Holmes (Reuters) report that Iraq will be taking an $833,000,000 loan from the International Monetary Fund and $1,700,000,000 in loans from the World Bank.

Uh, paging Antonia Juhasz?

You going to weigh in on this or you going to spend Barack's entire 8 years in the White House being a useless fool?

People should be sounding alarms.

Instead, Iraq's about to lose any hope of autonomy.

Juhasz knows that.  She wrote about it in her 2006 book The Bush Agenda.

But when it's time to notice that there's no real difference between a Bush Agenda and a Barack Agenda, Antonia proves she has no ethics and no bravery and that her alleged concern for the Iraqi people is trumped by her slavish devotion to the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile Reuters notes Iraq's budget this  year is $100 billion with a $25 million shortfall.

There is no need for any loans at all from anyone.

There is a serious need to address government corruption.

Under Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi people's money was misused to pay for Ahmed al-Maliki's fancy cars and fancy digs in various locales (not just the pricey London residence).

Nouri al-Maliki lives like a king which should beg questions of where did the damn money come from?

This is a man who fled Iraq and lived in exile in various countries.

How does he now afford a lavish lifestyle for himself and his family?

(The $4.1 billion Russia arms deal provided Ahmed with even more money and when Nouri turned on an aide and the aide went public, that should have been the beginning of a serious investigation into corruption.  Instead it was just a shrug.)

The indulgence from the press on this obvious corruption is shocking and the only more shocking is the world community's continued desire to look the other way.

Now when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, the US Congress regularly held hearings about the corruption in Iraq -- heard from Iraqi officials on this topic.

But no one cares anymore.

Iraq can't be used as a political point to beat Bully Boy Bush the US Congress no longer cares.

When the Iraqi people are allowed to tell their story and be heard -- whether it's ten years from now or forty years -- it's not just going to be a story about being invaded and physical violence, it's going to be about how their national riches were stolen and how the world community could get outraged by an artifact being demolished by the Islamic State but could also stand silent as the people's treasury was plundered by US appointed politicians.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


 Tori Amos is one of the great singer-songwriters.

She can nail a moment or convey reality better than any singer-songwriter to emerge in the last four decades.

She is truly gifted and truly amazing.

That said, she's also a pretty good cover artist.

She's done great versions of "Landslide" and "Boys In The Trees" and even "Like A Prayer," among others.

But my favorite is her cover of the Rolling Stone's "Angie."

This is just amazing.

I fell in love with her debut album when it came out, Little Earthquakes.

And was thrilled when the ep Crucify came out with six or so songs including this (and also a great cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit").

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, even the UN's undercount of deaths finds June's death toll the highest since last September, Margaret Griffis ( reports nearly 5,000 deaths for the month of June, the refugee crisis continues, Matthew Hoh and Jesse Ventura take on Barack's Iraq War spin, and much more.

Yesterday's snapshot focused basically on an e-mail Hillary Clinton sent and how the New York Times' lazy 'reporting' was distorting the e-mail.

Did it matter that they distorted?

Wouldn't most people have the brains to realize the distortion?

It did matter and clearly most people don't have the brains needed.

Presumably an outlet calling itself "Pink News" wants to accurately report on LGBT issues.

Yet Joseph Patrick McCormick kicks off his nonsense with:

Newly released emails show Hillary Clinton discussed Saddam Hussein’s treatment of LGBT people, calling it “sad and terrible”.

No, you are wrong, you are grossly incorrect.

You should be embarrassed and ashamed of yourself for writing such stupidity.


Two were released.

The first is Cheryl Mills forwarding to Hillary a news report: Ashley Byrne's "Saddam's rule 'better' for gay Iraqis" (BBC News).

The second is Hillary replying:

So sad and terrible.  We should ask Chris Hill to raise this w govt.  If we ever get Posner confirmed we should emphasize LGBT human rights.

The news report is that things were better for Iraq's LGBT community under Saddam.

Bynre writes in the report:

All the LGBT Iraqis interviewed for Gay Life After Saddam maintained that life was easier for them when Saddam Hussein was in power, from 1979 to 2003. 

So if you write, as McCormick does at Pink News today:

Newly released emails show Hillary Clinton discussed Saddam Hussein’s treatment of LGBT people, calling it “sad and terrible”.

You are flaunting your ignorance in the public square and really need to sit your tired ass down.

Hillary did not discuss Saddam's treatment of LGBT people and the article she was commenting on was noting that in the post-Saddam era, life had become very dangerous for Iraq's gay community.

This is what happens when 'reporters' like Peter Baker and Steve Eder get away with lazy and inaccurate work -- it quickly spreads and the truth is distorted.

Today, UNAMI announced the figures for Junes death toll in Iraq.  They go with 1,466 dead and 1,687 injured and those are the number you'll see.  Add 801 deaths for 2,488 deaths from violence (that includes security forces) and  2342 for the injured (includes security forces).

After over a year of criticism, they've made some attempt to include Anbar Province in the body of the report (136 killed and 163 injured).

This is an undercount.

They do not include the civilians in Falluja killed by the Iraqi military bombings of residential neighborhoods, for example.

Even so, AP notes, "The monthly death toll was the highest since last September, and the rise from last month appeared to be almost entirely due to higher casualties among security forces."

Margaret Griffis ( reports, ", using news reports, found at least 3,311 militants were killed and 287 were wounded. Many of these deaths were reported by the Iraqi government, which could be exaggerating its successes. On the other hand, many of the wounded might not have fallen into government hands and therefore are uncountable. In total, 4,777 were killed and 1,974 were wounded during June."

The violence takes place in a populated country with a very young population.  The United Nations notes:

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today said that over the past year in Iraq, it has seen a 75 per cent increase in grave violations against children that include killing and maiming, abduction, recruitment as soldiers, sexual violence, attacks against schools and denial of humanitarian access.
“We could never have predicted that one year on we would be looking at a violent crisis that has affected more than eight million people,” said Colin MacInnes, UNICEF’s Acting Representative in Iraq briefing the press in Geneva from Irbil. This month marks the anniversary of the beginning of the widespread violence across the country.
This time last year, many communities in Iraq, particularly in locations such as Mosul and Tikrit, witnessed violence that displaced people on a scale that caught everyone by surprise. It led to the collapse of the healthcare system, the education system the public safety net. The situation for children in particular was desperate. In the 2014-15 school year more than 650,000 children had received no schooling whatsoever and over three million did not attend a regular school cycle.
“For those children not in school and who did not have services the situation continued to worsen,” said Mr. MacInnes.

The speed and scope of the crisis has been very severe, he continued, affecting both national and international actors. The ability of families to access even basic items was also harshly impacted. Recently nearly 3,000 people from Anbar were being displaced every week. 

The refugee crisis is so great that even the Iraqi government has to acknowledge it in some form.  Andolu Ajansi reports the Ministry of Migration and Displacement is stating that the last 12 months have seen 493,990 Iraqi families displaced within Iraq.  Those numbers are an undercount and they do not include the number of families who have fled Iraq in the last 12 months due to the ongoing violence.

On the internally displaced, Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) reported last week:

Al-Monitor met with people who had been displaced from the towns of al-Alam, al-Dor and Tikrit in Salahuddin governorate who refuse to return for other reasons. Samer al-Douri, a civil engineer from al-Dawr who was displaced to the city of Sulaimaniyah, said that returning to al-Dawr is now impossible in light of the Popular Mobilization Units imposing their control over the areas that were recently liberated.
He added, “We will not be safe even though we ran away from al-Dawr when IS invaded it. The government and the Popular Mobilization Units still deny the return of our families.”
Iqbal al-Ojaili, who was displaced with her family from Tikrit to Sulaimaniyah, told Al-Monitor, “I refuse to return at the government's discretion. I have three boys and their lives are in the hands of a security member. If the latter decides that they are terrorists, it will be over for them.”
Ali Issam, who also fled to Sulaimaniyah, told Al-Monitor that his house in Tikrit had been completely looted. He owned a food store that was burned to the ground. “How do I get back, and where and how will I live?” Issam asked.

Last week, Shalaw Mohammed (Niqash) reported on a refugee camp in Kirkuk:

Omar Sabbah has not left the displaced persons' camp where he is now living for two whole months. Originally from Tikrit, he says that if he wanted to leave, he'd have to walk a long way on an unpaved road. There are no easy ways to get out of here, he complains. “Life in the camps is another kind of prison,” he says. “We can only hope conditions improve in our own home towns soon so we can return there.”
Sabbah is one of around 8,500 people living in 1,800 tents in the Laylan camp for displaced people, about 20 kilometres out of the northern city of Kirkuk.
When he managed to escape the extremist group known as the Islamic State that had control of Tikrit until recently, Sabbah said he'd never expected to end up living in such a remote area.
Although the Islamic State, or IS, group was pushed out of Tikrit Sabbah doesn't think he can go back to the city anytime soon. The city was liberated by a mixture of pro-government Iraqi forces, which also included a large number of fighters from Shiite Muslim militias. These have been both celebrated for their victories and controversial because of bad behaviour after the fighting ended.

Omar knows this only too well. He has already changed his first name to Ammar. In Iraq, it is possible to tell which sect or tribe any person is from because of their names. “The Shiite militias hate the name Omar, which is why I changed mine,” Sabbah explains. “It's going to make it easier for me to return home in the future.”

The above and so much more should result in the US State Dept spearheading a diplomatic mission which would include making a sizable donation to the United Nations' aid programs in Iraq and encouraging other nations to do the same.

Instead, the UN has to repeatedly note that their aid programs in Iraq are in danger due to serious shortfalls in the budget.

They could also foster an environment which would allow for reconciliation and a political solution.  Instead, the State Dept mistakes itself for the Pentagon and when Iraqi officials take tentative steps, there's no encouragement or support from the White House.

For example, National Iraqi News Agency reports that the three presidencies (Iraqi Preisdnet Fuad Masum, Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri and Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi) were supposed to meet tonight:

 A source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The meeting will deal with a number of issues in the forefront will be the national reconciliation and the political agreement document as well as some of the bills that are still waiting for legislation."

He noted that "the three presidencies perhaps, will call to convene a meeting for the political blocs, explaining that there is a consensus among the three presidencies on the need to come out of usual routine meetings and reach clear decisions on the files that are discussed."

Salim al-Jubouri, House Speaker held a meeting yesterday evening with MPs and ministers of the Iraqi forces coalition to discuss a number of important files, particularly the political file and what was achieved from the terms of the political agreement, in addition to the bills that await to be approved in the House of Representatives during its legislative term and laws sent by the Council of Ministers. "/ 

This news is apparently so unimportant to the administration that it can't even get a Tweet from the State Dept's Brett McGurk -- McGurk who Tweets daily on US airstrikes on Iraq.

Were Barack Obama and the White House not being held hostage by the government of Iran, maybe they could address issues in Iraq?

Instead, the wasted time continues.  We were told that all the focus would end in March when a deal was arrived at.

There was no deal.

The White House insisted that by the end of June, they'd have a deal.

June has ended.

Currently, they've tacked on another week.

As former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has repeatedly noted in the last weeks, Iran is not helping Iraq, it is assisting in the hardening of divisions among Iraqis and in inciting ill will.

But that can't be addressed when Barack is held hostage by Tehran.

Some news reports today made the laughable claim that Barack knows how to walk away from the bargaining table.

No, he doesn't.

And when you demonstrate that, and he did last March, you have no power.

That's why tacking three more months to the 'talks' did not result in a deal.

Tehran knows Barack will do anything to avoid walking away.

Tehran knows they're calling the shots.

It's not a debate among equals, it's one group insisting on what they want (Tehran) and another party too scared to end the talks.

And while he continues to allow Iran to take center stage, Iraq suffers every day.

Barack Obama's 'plan' for Iraq doesn't stem the violence, it only adds to it.  The US Defense Dept announced today:

Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, three airstrikes struck land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying two ISIL excavators.
-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL tunnel system.
-- Near Haditha, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying an ISIL building.
-- Near Waleed, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL armored personnel carriers.

None of that steers Iraq towards a political solution.

None of that addresses the very real grievances of the Sunni population, a population targeted under the (mis)leadership of Nouri al-Maliki for years and still targeted by the man who replaced him as prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

In January 2014, Nouri began bombing civilians areas in Falluja (Sunni-dominate Falluja).  These bombings continue under Haider al-Abadi (they are collective punishment which is legally defined as a War Crime).

On Falluja, Rudaw reports:

Airstrikes carried out over the last two weeks by the Iraqi Army against the Islamic State, or ISIS, have been causing heavy collateral damage on the civilian residents of Fallujah, the city's top health official reported Wednesday.

“The random airstrikes carried out by the Iraqi air forces against Daesh [ISIS] gunmen have killed 71 people and wounded 90 others,” Ahmad Shami, head of physicians in Fallujah Hospital, told Rudaw.

Iraqi Spring MC notes today's Iraqi military bombings of Falluja's residential area left 4 children dead and their mother and father injured.

Falluja is only one city in Anbar Province.  Middle East Monitor reports:

The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq denounced what it described as "crimes and flagrant human rights violations" committed in the city of An-Nukhayb in the Anbar province, adding that the area is being emptied of its indigenous people as part of a systematic policy of demographic change carried out by the Popular Mobilisation Forces with the support of the government.
In a statement released yesterday, the association quoted eyewitnesses from the area as saying that on Monday "members of the Popular Mobilisation Forces started to burn dozens of safe homes and houses inhabited by the people of the area. They also attacked the inhabitants by beating them and yelling obscene and sectarian insults at them."

Iraq War veteran Matthew Hoh appeared on Jesse Ventura's Off The Grid today.  Excerpt:

Jesse Ventura:  What do you think of this latest troop deployment?  We already have 3,100 troops in Iraq and now we're sending in at least 450 more to "train local security forces" -- whatever that means.  What do you make of it, Matt?

Matthew Hoh:  Oh, it's completely absurd, Governor.  You know, it's -- What does anybody expect to come out of this?  Except more violence in Iraq, more violence in Syria, more violence where ever we put our troops into the middle of a civil war.  It only benefits groups like the Islamic State or Shia militias that get all riled up because of the presence of foreign troops and basically us trying to pick winners and losers again in someone else's civil war that we had a lot to do with starting, of course. But also too, the other people that make a ton of money off of this, the only other people that benefit, are the defense companies.  And the amount of money that goes into these conflicts is-is just obscene -- particularly when you look and compare it to the declining states of our nation -- how our own schools are failing, our infrastructure is failing, etc. But we are more than willing to send troops overseas to fight in foreign civil wars.  And most of that -- or a good deal of that -- has to do with American defense companies making billions and billions of dollars of it.

Jesse Ventura:  Now Obama said, Matt, that these are not combat troops, they're "trainers."   What the hell does that mean?

Matthew Hoh:  You're talking about putting American troops into the middle of Iraq.  More American troops into the middle of Iraq where we had already lost 4,500 troops, 4,500 Americans in the Iraq War, tens of thousands wounded, 100,000 or more with mental issues, homeless issues, etc. But this notion that they're just going to be trainers is just -- is just a politician trying to sound both tough and safe at the same time.

Lastly,, Trevor Timm explores the topic of civilian deaths at the Guardian.  He's noting the calls for more civilian deaths in Iraq.  We noted this when we reported on the House Armed Services Committee hearing on June 24th.  And you can also refer to the June 4th snapshot as well as in "Iraq: Failed follow ups and whining that bombs aren't being dropped quick enough"

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bernie the xenophobe

Tom Hall (WSWS) reports on fake and shake Bernie Sanders and his xenophobia:

On the basis of this political line, Sanders has aligned himself with openly right-wing figures. One Republican congressman, in supporting Sanders’ 2005 effort, denounced the production of American flags in China. Echoing this sentiment, Sanders in 2011 attacked the Smithsonian Institute, on the occasion of Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington, for selling Chinese-made busts of American presidents in its gift shop, calling on the museum to sell only American-made products.
Sanders, alongside Ron Paul, the right-wing libertarian Republican, sponsored another bill in 2005 calling for the US to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). A spokesman for Paul claimed that thanks to the WTO, which China joined in 2001, “Our trade competitors now have a bureaucratic means to gang up on us.”

Following the favored propaganda line of American imperialism, Sanders’ attacks on Chinese trade are often couched in “human rights” rhetoric. In 1998, he co-sponsored a resolution, which passed unanimously, criticizing China’s human rights record and calling on the president to make Chinese diplomatic missions in the US contingent on the inflammatory demand that the US be allowed to establish a diplomatic office in Lhasa, Tibet.

It really is amazing how so many left and 'left' voices are lining up behind such an ugly xenophobe.

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the New York Times does more bad 'reporting,' they fail to provide the context for the LGBT community in Iraq when Hillary Clinton received an e-mail in July 2009, we note the context, we also note a comment on Posner which may indicate Hillary's frustrations with Barack Obama, and a little more.

Where there is wasted resources and bad reporting, there is the New York Times.

It's a fact the paper never seems to stop flaunting.

The ridiculous Peter Baker and Steve Eder rush forward to remind us of that today in an article about . . .

Well is there a point to it?

The State Dept released some of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

This is a paragraph in the blather Baker and Eder offer:

Her policy priorities come through in the messages as well. In July 2009, when an aide forwarded Mrs. Clinton a message about treatment of gays and lesbians in Iraq, both before and after the reign of Saddam Hussein, she wrote back quickly: “So sad and terrible. We should ask Chris Hill,” the American ambassador, “to raise w govt.”

No policy priorities come through in that paragraph.

They fail to establish anything and seem less like reporters and more like two dishy teens at first lunch.

"So sad and terrible," Hillary wrote.

About what?

Despite being paid to be reporters, neither Peter Baker nor Steve Eder care to share that with the readers.

"We should ask Chris Hill to raise w govt"?


The writers fail to establish what the communication was about or what was going on in Iraq at the time or even why the issue was raised?

Here's the reality piss panties Peter and Stevie can't tell you because they're too busy whoring and lying (for this you left the Washington Post, Peter?), life in Iraq had turned deadly for the LGBT community.

Under Nouri al-Maliki.

Not under Saddam.

Under Nouri al-Maliki.

It's a fact, quit whoring and lying, Peter Baker and Steve Eder.

Human trash is that which covers for the crimes of a thug.  By that definition, Peter and Steve are human trash.

Oh, C.I., you always blame Nouri!

Because I pay attention and I'm not in a coma.

And maybe if others paid attention as well, Baker and Eder wouldn't get away with this garbage.

July 2009 is when Hillary's suddenly learning of "so sad" life for Iraq's LGBT community.

Who's raising the issue?

Not the moronic New York Times, never the idiotic and homophobic New York Times.

But July of 2009 is when Ashley Byrne's "Saddam's rule 'better' for gay Iraqis" (BBC News) appears,

What else was the BBC offering as coverage that month?

From the July 7, 2009 snapshot:

Gay Life After Saddam is a documentary the BBC commissioned which was set to air Sunday, July 5th on BBC Radio 5 Live; however, the Wimbledon Men's Final ran late Sunday and the program has been rescheduled to air Sunday July 12th from nine to ten p.m. (1:00 to 2:00 p.m. PST).  Ashley Byrne did the investigative reporting for the documentary and, at the BBC, Byrne explains, "What is clear, and confirmed by separate evidence from various human rights groups, is that some gay men have been subjected to appalling violent abuse. . . . Gay men inside Iraq have been able to seek santuary in safe houses, thanks to the UK-based Iraqi Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group, which manages them from London.  The documentary team were granted exclusive access to one of the homes on the outskirts of Baghdad".  The people Byrne speaks to maintain it was easier to be a gay Iraqi when Saddam Hussein was in charge of Iraq.  So much for 'liberation' and 'democracy.'  Again, the specail has been rescheduled for this coming Sunday, July 12th. 

Now some whine, 'I'd love to listen but BBC's webpage says it's no longer available.'

How is that my problem?

You didn't pay attention in real time?  How is that my problem?

No, the special's no longer available.  It was six years ago.

But we did cover it in real time and we can offer this lengthy excerpt of the transcript we did of the program:

Aasmah Mir: Since the invasion six years ago a steep rise in sectarian violence has claimed thousands of victims throughout the country but this could just be the tip of the iceberg because murders and attacks against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community are also on the increase but often go unreported. So what is happening to gay people inside Iraq? We've spoken to a range of people -- to those still inside the country and to those who fled to different parts of the world.  The names of victims appearing in this program have been changed to protect their identities.  Researchers from the US-based Human Rights Watch recently spent several months investigating the treatment of gay people in Iraq.
Scott Long: Today we're going to look at a new issue for us --
Aasmah Mir: The director of the organization LGBT program, Scott Long, outlined some of their findings at a briefing in New York.
Scott Long: I'm going to start by reading a testimony, or part of a testimony, from a man we spoke to who was 35-years-old.  He actually developed a severe speech impediment from strain and grief.  This is what he told us: "It was late one night in early April and they  came to take my partner at his parent's house.  Four armed men barged into the house. they were masked and wearing black.  They asked for him by name.  They insulted him and they took him in front of his parents.  He was found in the neighborhood the day after.  They had thrown his corpse in the garbage, his genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.  Since then, I've been unable to speak properly. I feel as if my life is pointless now.  I don't have friends other than those you see.  For years, it's just been my boyfriend and myself in that little bubble by ourselves.  I have no family now.  I can't go back to them."

Aasmah Mir: Back in Britain, I went to see asylum seeker Ali Hilli who runs a group called Iraqi LGBT.
Aasmah Mir: Hello Ali.
Ali Hilli: Hello Ashram, how are you?
Aasmah Mir: I'm fine thank you.  How are you?

Ali Hilli: Good thank you.
Aasmah Mir: Thanks very much for talking to us.
Aasmah Mir: While I was with him, Ali showed me some of the shocking video evidence of torture his group has been collecting. The images he showed me concerned attacks on transsexuals
Aasmah Mir:  People were -- had their heads shaved.  In this video we see one of the victims, his name is Ali also, he was a member of our group in Najaf, a trans person lived all his life as a transwoman.  They took him away.  They had his head shaved.  And they distributed this video everywhere in Iraq and we still don't have an idea
Aasmah Mir: And that's what we can actually see right now, he's sitting on a stool, dressed in female clothes, long hair and someone is shaving his head.
Ali Hilli: Yes and uh it's so degrading.
Aasmah Mir: Yeah.  How do you feel when you watch this kind of video because obviously you probably see a lot of it.  This is the first time I've seen anything like this and, you know, obviously I'm quite shocked by it.  But you, you must see this stuff all the time.  Do you still feel shocked by it or are you almost becoming -- getting used to it in a kind of way?
Ali Hilli: No, I will never get used to atrocities against humanity.  If I see the video for the first time, I'm quite shaken because the only thing that I-I afraid to catch is the moment of death. This is what I-I don't want to see in my life.   I-I can - I can bear anything, I can accept anything but to kill a human?  I just can't.
Aasmah Mir: We were granted exclusive access to one of the so-called safe houses set up and funded and managed by the London-based Iraqi LGBT group.  On the outskirts of Baghdad, in an anonymous street behind heavily curtained windows we found Kassim a man in his late thirties.  Kassim describes himself as a woman in a man's body.  He's had a lifetime of trouble coming to terms with his gender identity.  Kassim's been the victim of violence on several occasions most recently earlier this year
Kassim: One day, um, someone stopped his car by me and he said "Taxi" and I said, "Why?  Why taxi?" Where are you going?  And I said I was going to this certain place.  He took me to an empty house and put a white blindfold on my eyes and then put a gun to my head and I said, "Just give me a time to pray to God before you kill me."  And he said, "I won't give you time to pray."  And he threatened me and I wasn't moving because I was afraid that he would kill me with the gun and then finally he said, "Okay, I'll let you go for this time but your day will come where you will die
Aasmah Mir: Amil's a young Iraqi man whose seeking asylum in London.  A gay friend of his was killed by extremists in Iraq.
Amil: I used to have a friend, he was student with me and they find out he was gay and they kill him and they chop him like a -- like a lamb or I couldn't or I can't - I can't hardly say because it was really awful.  They kill him and they chop it him and they put him in front of the institute, the one I was studying, to show and to scare the people to not be gay or homosexual.
Aasmah Mir: Most shocking of the recent reports to emerge from Iraq is a form of torture used on gay men involving glue.  Hossein Alizadeh is the Middle East and North Africa researcher for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Hossein Alizadeh: The most horrendous form of torture that I have heard and seen is what happened during March and April in Iraq.  Members of the Iraqi Shi'ite militia  al-Mahdi group, they went around posted lists, names of the people who were supposed to be gay and when they arrest them they basically use glue to shut down their digestive system -- the anus. Others who managed to escape go to the hospitals and the hospitals refuse treatment to those people because, again, they look gay or they're perceived to be gay.  So we had numerous cases -- I can tell you about fifty or sixty cases I've heard -- that have been tortured in that way.
Aasmah Mir: Rasha Moumneh is the Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch
Rasha Moumneh: You know some of the gay men have actually talked about internet entrapment, a lot of men would be kidnapped, blackmailed for money.  We've talked to people whose partners have been killed in the most brutal of ways.
Aasmah Mir: And it appears that it is not just people who are gay, bi or transsexual who find themselves the target of violence
Ali Hilli: Anyone who's gay, who looks like gay, or have an effeminate behavior, certain Western dress, we've heard of so many examples of people who were, they were even married with children      
Aasmah Mir: There seems to have been an increase in violence in recent months but according to the London-based Iraqi LGBT the killings and torture go back a long way.  They claim more than 600 people have been executed since 2003.
Ali Hilli: There are so many other areas like villages, little towns, also big cities, we can't have people reach to or investigate about incidents.  Also sometimes security situation is quite very complicated, people can't travel often to check or find out what's happening in certain areas.  So I believe the number is far more higher than 600.  
Aasmah Mir: Gay people are seeking sanctuary from the violence in Iraq in all parts of the world.  At a secret location by the banks of the Seine in Paris we met Omar a twenty year old gay man who just weeks earlier had been facing death in Iraq. A small, slightly built young man, who looks younger than his age, told us his story.  At times clearly traumatized.
Omar: I was arrested and I was in retention and there I found five other gay persons.  We suffered torture.  There was the electrical way -- to use electricity to torture us.  And there's a position where my head is down through my legs -- and  my head is down, it's something horrible.  While you have another mean of torture using the belts -- you cannot imagine -- a normal person cannot imagine such torture.
Aasmah Mir:  I'm Aasmah Mir and you're listening to Gay Life After Saddam on BBC Radio 5 live. So what was life like for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people before the fall of Saddam Hussein
Scott Long: There was no possibility of leading a particularly public gay life. There are reports from Amnesty International that 2002 as Saddam was attempting to sort of shore up his Islamist credentials, before the invasion, he passed decrees mandating the death penalty for prostitution and for homosexual conduct.  We haven't actually seen those decrees and we can't confirm what they contain.
Aasmah Mir: This Iraqi student who wishes to remain anonymous now lives in New York
Anonymous: I had a pretty, you know, reasonable gay lifestyle under the table -- in terms of, you know,  circle of friends, gatherings, get-togethers, we'd get together at homes.  Before the war, there were a couple of bars, a couple of clubs that on weekends are pretty much publicly gay and everybody knew about it and we used to go and hang out there and that's fine as long as we don't take that out in the streets.
Aasmah Mir:  Ali Hilli was a young gay men in Iraq during the 1990s.  He has fond memories of the underground gay scene that flourished without much interference in Saddam's Baghdad.
Ali Hilli: Well we had - we had lots of theater actually plays that we were -- people always have to refer to the gay character which is always taken as a sense of humor in shows.  We used to go to -- to see lots of theaters and plays.  I don't know, for some reason there is always a gay character in these plays and I quite like it because I know some of the actors who are really gay themselves and we enjoy it because they really make the most of it.  They camp it up.  And there were lots of gay famous singers.
Aasmah Mir: Kassim remembers a better life under Saddam    .  
Kassim: Life was good, everything was okay.  There were clubs, cafeterias and we could choose where we sat.  We could choose any place to sit and meet other gays  and frankly compared to the current situation the times under Saddam were much better.
Aasmah Mir: Haider is an Iraqi seeking asylum in England.  He's been living in Huntersfield.  He left Iraq shortly after the US invasion six years ago.

Haider: If you respect yourself and live and you don't cause any problems nobody is going to kill you we didn't hear of anybody being killed because of his sexuality in Saddam's regime. Now after that, everything got worse, everything got fluctuated.  I fled from Iraq in 2003 because of one of the worst experiences I've had in my life. I was kidnapped for 9 days, they took me in a small car and they send me about to a place about half an hour.  I was.  I was eye-folded, they call it.  [. . .]  on the border of Baghdad. One of the officers there, he raped me. And then he said "if you're going to tell anyone from the rest of the gang, I will kill you directly." I was scared.  Just a one meal a day which is not enough. They were always telling us that they were going to kill you.

This is the context that Peter Baker and Steve Eder -- two people who are paid to do a job -- fail to provide.

The above is being covered by the BBC in July of 2009 when Hillary's having the issue raised to her in some form.

"Some form" because the New York Times fails to provide you with any context but it also fails to provide you with what the e-mail to Hillary said.

If you're among the many late to the party, SPOILER ALERT, it gets worse for Iraq's LGBT community in Nouri's second term as prime minister.

That's when he refuses to nominate anyone to head the Ministry of the Interior (over the police) so that he can control the Ministry.  He then sends Ministry employees into Iraqi schools to tell them that gay men are vampires who will drain their blood and kill them, that exposure to gay men will turn the children day, that gay men must be killed.

When word gets out on this and Alsumaria and Al Mada begin reporting on it, Nouri and his flunkies will deny that the Minister of Interior employees said any such thing.

But then Alsumaria and Al Mada get a hold of the hand outs the Ministry employees provided the students with.

Suddenly, the denials (lies) stop because the hand outs make clear that Nouri was trying (and succeeding) to instigate violence against Iraq's LGBT community with a pack of lies designed to frighten young people.

Now we could walk through that time period -- Goodness knows we owned the story in terms of English language coverage.  We were so good at covering it that Jim ends up showing me a US newspaper report and asks me to read it.  I do, I read along and it seems familiar and then the rhythm sets in and I recognize it as my own writing.  It was.  It appeared here word for word (four paragraphs) but that didn't stop a US newspaper from printing it as their own.

We could walk through that time period but, as Ben Taylor sings, "I'm not going to make you cry or break your heart, Girl, we don't have the time" -- "Wicked Way," written by Ben and David Saw, first appears on Ben's The Legend of Kung Folk [Part1 (The Killing Bite)].

But the point is that if you weren't paying attention then, you're exactly the type of person that Peter Baker and Steve Eder are playing for a fool with their article.

They're not even being fair to Hillary.

"So sad," written by Hillary, takes on a different context if you know what was taking place in July 2009.

Let's go over the e-mails briefly.  On July 6, 2009 at 8:33 a.m., Cheryl Mills forwards to Hillary "BBC: Saddam's rule 'better' for gay Iraqis"  Cheryl is rather infamous (thanks to Benghazi) so we'll assume most are familiar with that State Dept figure.

She is forwarding Hillary the BBC report we linked to at the top.  She's been e-mailed it by Richard Socarides.


From Wikipedia:

Richard Socarides (born 1954) is a Democratic political strategist, writer, commentator and a New York attorney. Socarides was named Head of Public Affairs for Gerson Lehrman Group in August 2013. He was a White House adviser under United States President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1999 in a variety of senior positions, including as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Adviser for Public Liaison. He worked on legal, policy and political issues and served as principal adviser to Clinton on gay and lesbian civil rights issues. Under Clinton, he was Chief Operating Officer of the 50th Anniversary Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Socarides also worked as special assistant to Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). From 2000 to 2006, Socarides held senior positions at Time Warner, including at its divisions New Line Cinema and AOL.
Socarides has written extensively on political and legal topics in his regular column in The New Yorker, as well as for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico. He is a frequent commentator on television.
Socarides is a Trustee of the State University of New York (SUNY), appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and of Antioch College, which he attended.

Socarides, who is openly gay,[1] was the founding president of Equality Matters in 2011. He is the son of the late Charles Socarides (1922–2005), a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who was outspoken critic of the American Psychiatric Association's 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In 1992 the elder Socarides co-founded NARTH, in response to the American Psychoanalytic Association's 1992 decision to change its position on homosexuality.

Hillary's full response on Iraq (she moves on to other topics in her reply) is:

So sad and terrible.  We should ask Chris Hill to raise this w govt.  If we ever get Posner confirmed we should emphasize LGBT human rights.

If we ever get Posner?

Apparently, Hillary was frustrated with Barack Obama.

At this point, Posner wasn't even nominated for a post.

It would be two days after her e-mail exchange that Barack would nominate Michael Posner for the State Dept position of Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

At the end of February 2013, New York University Stern School of Business would announce Posner would be joining the faculty the next month.  From that press release:

Since 2009, Posner has served as the top U.S. diplomat on human rights as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to joining the State Department, Posner was the founder and president of Human Rights First, a non-partisan organization working to advance universal rights and American values at home and around the world.

Throughout his career, Posner has focused on the role of business and the private sector in respecting human rights. His experience across industries – from labor rights in the global supply chain, to freedom of expression in the information and communication sector, to security and human rights in the extractives industry – emphasizes that smart companies work to respect human rights not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it helps them manage risk, create markets, and meet the expectations of consumers, investors and employees.

NYU President John Sexton said, “Having Mike join the NYU and Stern faculty as a professor and leader of the first-ever center on human rights at a business school is a powerful signal of NYU’s innovative approach to higher education and commitment to meeting the challenges of the 21st century. Mike’s leadership in the area of business and human rights at Stern is an example of the distinctive value that our global network university can provide.”

“Global businesses are confronting complex human rights challenges that demand approaches that go beyond ‘corporate social responsibility’. We need rules of the road that address companies’ responsibilities to respect human rights in their own operations,” said Posner. The center on business and human rights will convene major stakeholders in the business, academic, NGO, investment and government sectors; conduct academic research; and train business students. Posner added, “The center will seek to answer the hard questions 21st century companies face: What can companies do to respect human rights? What should they do? What are the smartest companies already doing?” Posner will teach at NYU Stern in the Business and Society Program Area beginning in the fall 2013 semester.

Posner began his advocacy career in 1978 and is recognized as a pioneer in the human rights movement. He has played a major role in shaping U.S. policy from inside and outside of government on issues ranging from refugee and asylum law and policy, national security and human rights, Internet freedom, and business and human rights. Before coming into government, he was active in several leading organizations in the field of business and human rights, including the Fair Labor Association, the Global Network Initiative, and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. Posner holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of California, Boalt Hall.

The Guardian's coverage -- unlike the Times' -- of the e-mails noted Hillary's strained/skeptical relationship with Barack during the period covered in the e-mails.

Her "if we ever" remarks could feed into that pattern of frustration.

That's another prospect 'reporters' Peter Baker and Steve Eder missed.

(For those wanting to see the e-mails themselves, click here and they're the top two e-mails -- Hillary's is on top, Cheryl's is below.  Don't e-mail next month and say, 'They're not there!"  When next month's batch of e-mails are released, you may have to search.  I searched "Iraq" and used the dates July 1, 2009 through July 30, 2009.  The e-mails are from July 5, 2009.)

LGBT rights are human rights and should be defended by all.  On that point, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following last week:

NEW YORK (June 26, 2015) — IAVA today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court ruling recognizing the equality of our LGBTQ members and their families. IAVA was the only national veterans organization to support the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and it submitted an amicus brief arguing for overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). We will continue to work with state, local and national policy makers to ensure an equality of benefits and dignity of our membership effected by today’s decision.

Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA has repeatedly received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 98 violent deaths across Iraq today.

The plan was to go over counter-insurgency in this snapshot -- we might do it next time.  You were saved my pontificating on the weakness you convey when you continue to refuse to leave the bargaining table, but we may cover counter-insurgency next time.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


So Tom Cruise is making a new film.

The 52-year-old actor is co-starring with a 31-year-old actress who will be playing his wife.


And what's up with his neck?

It's old man city now.

But if Tom wants to have any fans at all, he needs to start acting with women close to his age -- especially now that he looks so old.

I'm so sick of these actors in films playing opposite women 20 years younger.

Act your age or retire.

And that goes double for Johnny Depp.

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

Monday, June 29, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, a US Congressional delegation visits Iraq, Haider accepts a resignation, Sunni civilians remain targeted by their own government, and much more.

Al Bawaba carries one of today's most important stories:

At least 71 civilians have been killed and 90 injured since the beginning of Ramadan due to the repeated shelling of Fallujah city in Iraq’s western Anbar province, a local medical source said Monday.
On June 23, Anbar’s provincial council called on the Iraqi army to refrain from shelling civilian areas of Fallujah, which is currently held by the Daesh militant group.
Ahmed al-Shami, chief doctor at the Fallujah Educational Hospital, told Anadolu Agency that the hospital’s emergency room had received 71 dead and 90 injured, “mostly women and children,” since the beginning of Ramadan on June 18.

The War Crimes, the never ending War Crimes.

Oh, whatcha gonna do when time runs out on you
Run down, ghost town
Barren pastures all around

How y'gonna explain it to your grandkids
Where did the mountain go
How y'gonna tell them you sold it
Where did the mountain go

-- "Chalice Borealis," written by Carole King and Rick Sorensen, first appears on her Speeding Time

How you going to pretend a decade from now, as the world recoils in horror over the then-past crimes, that you didn't know what was going on?

Yes, the White House pretends not to know.

They have to.

These actions -- the Iraqi military bombing civilians homes in Falluja -- meet the legal definition of War Crimes.

Recognizing them means the White House would have to halt all arm shipments to Iraq.

That's even if you set aside the Leahy Amendment.

Treaties and international law recognized by the US government demands that the shipments be stopped if the government is attacking civilians.

So the White House looks the other way.

What's the American people's excuse?

And let's stop pretending that people don't know.

These bombings began under Nouri al-Maliki in January 2014.

They continue under Haider al-Abadi.

They got a flurry of western media attention briefly -- on September 13th when Haider announced they had stopped.

Then the western press, so silent on the bombings for months, rushed to cover the announcement.

And then fell back into silence when, the next day, September 14th, the bombings continued.

There is no excuse for the silence.

And ten years from now, lots of luck explaining that silence.

The youth can be very unforgiving.

They've often not experienced serious regret.

Things are often very clear cut to them.

And the fact that the left in the United States refused to call out the bombing of civilians in Iraq?

Lots of luck defending your silence then.

For 18 months and counting, these attacks on Sunni civilians, attacks carried out by the Iraqi military, have gone on.

Today, AFP reports:

Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi has “retired” the army’s chief of staff, the most senior officer removed since jihadists overran large parts of the country last year, his spokesman said Monday.

General Babaker Zebari “has been retired” on Abadi’s orders, Saad al-Hadithi told AFP, without providing further details.

All Iraq News, citing a source in the Ministry of Defense, maintains that Zibari is the one who decided to retire and the decision was made "to enjoy retirement because he is getting too old."

Poor Haider, it could have been his big moment.

Could have been.

Dropping back to Saturday's snapshot:

The laughable Haider al-Abadi is in the news again today.  AFP reports:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday that Iraqi forces made an “unauthorized” withdrawal from Ramadi last month, leading to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s takeover of the Anbar provincial capital.

“The withdrawal of the forces from Ramadi was unauthorized -- the orders were the opposite. The forces had to resist, and if they had resisted, we would not have lost Ramadi,” Abadi said in televised remarks.

I seem to recall a similar point made by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and how Haider and various underlings strongly objected to the remarks.
It's becoming obvious, by the way, that Haider is not in charge of the military.

And today, once it was revealed that the resignation was not on the orders of Haider, it just became even more obvious how little power Haider has over the military.

Speaking of little power, the US Defense Dept announced today:

Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 17 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Habbaniyah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL logistics compound and an ISIL staging area.
-- Near Haditha, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit.
-- Near Makhmur, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and three ISIL heavy machine guns, destroying four ISIL buildings.
-- Near Tal Afar, five airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units and three ISIL bunkers, and also struck land features to deny ISIL a tactical advantage. Two ISIL mortar firing positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle were destroyed.

All of these bombings, all these months of bombs dropped on Iraq, and it means nothing in terms of progress.  It's reducing the country to ruins but it's not accomplishing much of anything else.

That's because these strikes were supposed to free up space for the Iraqi government to work on a political solution.

But they haven't done that.

They didn't during Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' and they're not doing it during Barack's air strikes.

Alsumaria reports that Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi met with Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani in Erbil today and the two issued a statement noting that the only way to successfully defeat the terrorists (Islamic State) is via a political solution and process that brings all segments of Iraq to the table and follows the Constitution.

Those who pay attention will note this is very similar to the 2011 through 2012 positions of Allawi and Barzani -- when they joined with many others (including Moqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim) to insist on a political solution.

Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister then and it's a sign of how little has changed under Haider al-Abadi that we're seeing the same summer repeats play out yet again.

Another sign of how ineffective Barack's 'plan' is?  Sgt William Reinier (Fayetteville Observer) reports:

The 82nd Airborne Division took command of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command – Iraq, from the 1st Infantry Division during a transfer of authority ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq, June 28.

Yes, the bombings have gone on so long that it's time for a new US team to take over.

At what point does Barack demand Haider work on a political solution?

He's the one, June 19, 2014, who insisted the only answer was a political solution.

For basically a year now, he's been willing to send US troops into Iraq while looking the other way as no progress is made on the political solution.

He's risking American lives and doesn't have the guts to demand that Haider al-Abadi live up to his side of the effort?

And increasingly, this is resulting in more and more criticism.  La Salle University in Philadelphia's associate professor Michael J. Boyle (at the New Jersey Star-Ledger) notes:

In May, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter caused a firestorm when he noted that the collapse of Iraqi government forces in Ramadi was not due to a lack of manpower or resources, but rather the "will to fight" ISIS. The Obama administration quickly swung into spin mode, calling the advances of ISIS a "setback" but insisting that the territory could be retaken soon. Yet the hard truth is that the recent gains of ISIS have laid bare the flawed assumptions of President Obama's Iraq strategy and the dishonesty with which it has been sold to the American people.

Since September 2014, the United States has engaged in an aerial bombing campaign against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, destroying more than 6,278 targets. The Obama administration rushed back into Iraq by a sense of moral outrage at the horrific abuses committed by ISIS, but its instinctive response – to crush a group described as an evil and a "cancer" by prominent administration officials – did not lend itself to an effective military strategy or produce a long-term plan to reconstruct the Iraqi state.  

The frustration with the White House mounts.

And while it refuses to address a political solution, others in the US government are not shy.

US House Rep Stephen Lynch is part of a Congressional delegation visiting Iraq currently.  Kimberly Atkins (Boston Herald) reports:

“We are trying to help the Sunni who are fighting with ISIS right now,” Lynch said.
But that help will require building a coalition strong enough to take on the terrorist network, a tough task of skillful diplomacy to bring together disparate groups — Shia fighters in Baghdad, Kurdish militia in northern Iraq and Turkish fighters battling ISIS on its border with Syria.
“They have not worked together, these three factions. There is very little trust there,” Lynch said. “But the military experts think they have to work together if they have any hope of beating ISIS.”

Senator Joe Donnelly is also part of the delegation and he tells Brian Francisco (Journal Gazette), "With more than 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and more on the way, I felt it was critical to hear directly from our commanders on the ground and our Iraqi allies Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish about the current strategy. We also discussed what role the U.S. and our coalition partners in the region should play going forward."

Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
I knew when we woke up
You would be leaving
You knew when you left me
It might be too long
That kiss on your shoulder
It's me looking over
Close to your heart
So you're never alone
Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home

-- "Till They All Get Home," written by Melanie (Safka) and first appears on Melanie's Crazy Love

US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard is part of the delegation and she Tweeted the following:

  1. Thank you for welcoming us

Senator Tim Kaine Tweeted:

  1. CODEL was in Erbil yesterday. Met w/Kurdistan Regional Government PM & President

The delegation also includes US House Rep Brian Higgins, Tim McGovern and Peter Welch.

With Margaret Griffis ( counting 157 violent deaths across Iraq today, a political solution is needed even more than a year ago.

Mosul fell over a year ago.  A Parliamentary committee has been tasked with determining what happened.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that Nouri al-Maliki has now twice refused to answer the committee's questions.  Such behavior should probably result in his being removed as one of Iraq's three vice presidents.