Thursday, June 21, 2018

Addressng important issues

Bruce A. Dixon (Black Agenda Report) notes a problem in the Green Party:

At the time of its formation 14 years ago the GP black caucus submitted a list of 100 names and email addresses of black Greens across the country who wanted to enroll in this caucus. I’ve attended a few meetings over the last several years, and it’s a big meeting if a dozen people dial in. Lazily drawn caucus bylaws somehow approved by the GP require black caucus members to register as Greens or independents in their home state, despite the fact that 18 states, AL, AR, GA, HI, IL, IN, MI, MBN, MO, MT, NC, ND, SC, TN, TX, VT, WA and WI with just over half the nation’s African American population provide no means of partisan or “independent” voter registration. As near as anyone can tell, the black caucus, which last year demanded the entire GP steering committee resign because of alleged election hijinks, has failed to conduct the yearly elections its own bylaws require in two, three or more years. The caucus doesn’t report its meeting notices, its meeting quorums or share any membership data with the party, but it reserves the right to address – more precisely to Mau-Mau the party in the name of Black America. The party assigns no duties or responsibilities to the caucus and it acts accordingly at the whim of its purported officers.
Thanks to tokenism born of white liberal guilt, the black caucus has become a stronghold of opportunism, a virulently anti-democratic cancer at the heart of the Green Party. Some of its unaccountable and opportunistic characteristics may be shared by the party’s other identity caucuses too. I’ll be party to a complaint filed before the GP accreditation committee this weekend requesting the immediate suspension of the black caucus, the stripping it of its national committee votes, censure of its apparently unelected officers, and a minimum six month party-wide discussion of whether and how it can be reorganized.
For the umpteenth time, if there was a GP internal journal or discussion forum worth the name I’d have written this there months ago. But there ain’t no such thing yet. Maybe this will help spur others to create such a thing. And this is national left politics too, the left being much bigger than the Green Party. We mustn’t be afraid to let this bigger left see what we’re doing to fix our broken places and make ourselves a more fit instrument to carry on this fight. So it’s on.
Honest conversations are the only way to change.  If we're going to be a better party, we have to be willing to address these issue -- or else end up as bad as the Democrats and the Republicans.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2018.  Iraq's failed legal system gets worse, Turkey announces they have 11 bases in Iraq, and much more.

May 12th, Iraq held elections.  Over a month later, they've decided to recount all the votes.   No, this is not how a functioning -- or even just an emerging -- democracy handles elections.  Nor does it instill a feeling of fairness -- or, for that matter, pride -- among voters.  But the US government has a lot of money to toss around and the Iraqi legal system is full of crooks who are on the take which explains how the Iraqi Supreme Court reversed its own position today.  REUTERS reports:

Iraq's top court upheld on Thursday a law mandating a nationwide recount of votes in a May parliamentary election but ruled that the cancellation of overseas, displaced, and Peshmerga ballots was unconstitutional.
Iraq, OPEC's second largest oil producer, faces political uncertainty after the election, which was marred by a historically low turnout and allegations of fraud.

The farce becomes even more sick.  This is akin to presidential debates in the US.  After third party candidate John Anderson made it into the 1980 debates, the two dominant parties threw a hissy fit and the League of Women Voters walked.  As the League noted on October 3, 1988:

"The League of Women Voters is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter," League President Nancy M. Neuman said today.
"It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions," Neuman said. "The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."
Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns' agreement was negotiated "behind closed doors" and vas presented to the League as "a done deal," she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.

Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called "outrageous" the campaigns' demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.
"The campaigns' agreement is a closed-door masterpiece," Neuman said. "Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates' organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands."
Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
"On the threshold of a new millenium, this country remains the brightest hope for all who cherish free speech and open debate," Neuman said. "Americans deserve to see and hear the men who would be president face each other in a debate on the hard and complex issues critical to our progress into the next century."

Neuman issued a final challenge to both Vice President Bush and Governor Dukakis to "rise above your handlers and agree to join us in presenting the fair and full discussion the American public expects of a League of Women Voters debate."

The debates were never the same again and now you have some candidates receiving questions ahead of time, you have 'moderators' playing favorites and interrupting some candidates when they are speaking, you have nothing that really challenges the candidates or gives the American people any true insight.  Miss American contestants are asked tougher questions than presidential candidates these days.


The country's outgoing 328-seat parliament voted on June 6 in favour of the manual recount of all the 11 million ballots after allegations of irregularities in the electronic voting system.
MPs had also sacked a nine-member Iraq's Independent High Elections Commission that oversaw the process and replaced the body with judges. The recount process began shortly after the judges took over leadership of the commission. 

The court was tasked with ruling on the matter after the law amendment was challenged by Iraq's president, the election commission chief, and a Kurdish party.

The Supreme Court has just legalized Parliament's unconstitutional actions.

Last week, THE ECONOMIST noted how the latest actions were harmful ("Iraqis are souring on democracy'') and they noted:

WHAT would politicians the world over like to do when they lose an election? Annul the results and burn the ballots, of course. In Iraq such dreams come true. On June 6th outgoing MPs voted to hold a recount of Iraq’s election and sack the head of the electoral commission. They were furious that a populist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, won the poll, held in May. Then, on June 10th, a warehouse in Baghdad containing a million ballots went up in flames. Firefighters claim to have saved most of them, but the equipment for counting the votes was destroyed.

This was not about the people, this was about the sour grapes of the candidates and the US government being appalled by how well Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr performed.

In addition, XINHUA notes that "the court rejected the decision to cancel the votes of Iraqis outside Iraq, the votes of the displaced people inside the country and the votes of the security members in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, saying that such cancelation must be carried out after scrutinizing the votes in the polling stations with allegedly witnessed fraud and irregularities."

Some will try to see a silver lining in the fact that Sunni votes will increase because the Court has also disallowed the exclusion of some overseas votes which was taking place.  Iraqis of every stripe have fled Iraq -- a mass exodus that continues to this day.  Sunnis do make up a significant portion of the refugees, yes.  But equally true, Shias who were part of any of the exit waves dubbed the "brain drain" are going to be leery of supporting various Shi'ite parties having left the country when Shi'ite militias changed the fabric of daily life in Iraq.  The Court also disallowed the exclusion of some votes by the internally displaced and some Kurdish votes as well.

Again, some will try to see this as a silver lining.  It's not.  It's not even a silver plated lining.  It's tin foil, at best.

Some Kurds are thrilled.

Some fairly fresh news from Iraq. 1/ the local council of Khaniqin wants Peshmerga and KRg security to return to the city
The federal court says cancelling the the results of the elections in region and outside and these of the displaced people is unconstitutional
The federal court endorses the manual count of the votes

And while they may be entitled to rejoice, in the larger picture, this is awful.  (A) It prolongs the formation of a government.  (B) It sets a precedent where all counts can be overturned in the future by losers in Parliament who are unhappy with the results.  (C) It makes clear that the citizen's vote is not the final answer but instead it's how politicians massage the vote.  (D) It goes around Iraq's Constitution which is supposed to be the supreme law of the land.  (E) Iraq's already shaky legal system takes a hit.  We could go on and on.  In no way does the Court's decision help or foster democracy.

has leadership crisis. -By the end of June, Iraq enters a constitutional quagmire. -Militias clash with ISF challenging the state on both security and political levels. -Low turnout, elections’ results are highly contested, & burning of ballot boxes undermines results.

We quoted from FOREIGN POLICY"s article on the elections and Moqtada earlier this week but they continue to Tweet about it so we'll note the Tweets for any who missed it:

The man I once fought in Iraq is now the person I hope will save that country, argues U.S. soldier Michael D. Sullivan
Many American soldiers have fought against Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr and his forces. Michael D. Sullivan did too. But now, he says, he has newfound hope for Sadr and Iraq. Here's why:
Michael D. Sullivan says Iraq's election has left him "with a feeling I’ve rarely experienced in all of my years in Iraq and certainly one I would have never thought I’d associate with Muqtada al-Sadr: hope."

If you're not getting that this is about overturning the results, all last week the present prime minister Hayder al-Abadi made a big deal about how all blocs would meet up and have a discussion.  As ALL IRAQ NEWS reports today, it wasn't going to be all blocs -- Hayder never invited Moqtada.  The bloc that got the most votes was to be excluded.  These moves have always been about sour grape losers overturning the will of the Iraqi people.

Staying on the topic of Iraq's failed legal system for a minute more, Human Rights Watch notes:

Iraq’s judiciary should change its approach to dealing with detained foreign women and children who are accused of affiliation with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Human Rights Watch said today. Since January, Iraq has proceeded with rushed trials against foreigners on charges of illegal entry and membership in or assistance to ISIS without sufficiently taking into account the individual circumstances of each case or guaranteeing suspects a fair trial.
Most foreign women are being sentenced to death or life in prison. The Iraqi justice system is also prosecuting foreign children, ages 9 and up, on similar charges, and sentencing them in some cases with up to five years in prison for ISIS membership and up to 15 years for participating in violent acts.
“Iraq’s ‘one size fits all’ approach to women who traveled to live under ISIS or to children whose parents brought them along is producing unjust outcomes in many instances,” said Nadim Houry, Terrorism/Counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch. “Iraqi justice should take into account their individual circumstances and actions and give priority to prosecuting the most serious crimes while exploring alternatives for lesser ones.”
Human Rights Watch attended the trials of seven foreign women and three foreign children. Human Rights Watch also spoke with relatives of detainees and some of the lawyers representing them, and reviewed media reports of trials of at least 72 foreign women. The prosecuted women are from a number of countries, including, Turkey, Russia, France, Germany, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Most of the foreign women and children held in Iraq belong to a group of more than 1,300 foreigners detained by Iraqi forces last August during the battle for the ISIS stronghold of Tal Afar in the northwest of Iraq. A security source told AFP news agency that the group was composed of 509 women and 813 children, though the overall number of foreign women and children in detention is believed to be higher based on information from sources close to the penitentiary system in Baghdad.
In September, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated in an interview that most of the women and children were not guilty of a crime, and that his government was “in full communication” with their home countries to “find a way to hand them over.” But Iraq appears to have changed its approach and starting in January 2018, proceeded to prosecute women and children ages 9 and up. Meanwhile, the women and children are detained in overcrowded conditions.

A relative of one woman held with her 2-year-old child for months in an airless leaking cell near Mosul with about 25 other women said: “The food they were getting was barely enough to keep them alive. Many were sick but no doctor ever came to see them. One of [her fellow] inmates gave birth right in the cell.”

Earlier this week, the ridiculous International Red Cross declared that "the battle is over" in Iraq "after years of fighting.''

Proving how out of touch they are, the violence continues and the US continues to bomb Iraq.  In addition, on Sunday, according to the US government, Israel bombed Iraq as well.  So much for the battle being over.  Iraq is also bombed by Turkish war planes.  On that topic, YENISAFAK reports, "Turkey has 11 temporary military bases in northern Iraq, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Thursday."

11 bases?

When Turkey was publicly claiming the right to have one, it was a serious issue to the Iraqi people -- as well it should have been.  A foreign country setting up bases?  Hayder al-Abadi publicly declared that they had to leave.  But they didn't leave, did they?  And now they are bragging about the 11 bases they have in Iraq.

Hayder al-Abadi is supposed to be prime minster of Iraq. How does he answer to the Iraqi people on this?

It's bad enough that he's allowed Turkey to continue bombing northern Iraq -- he will -- from time to time -- offer a meek denunciation of these bombings, but 11 bases?

We're going to wind down with a section of  Justin Raimondo's latest at ANTIWAR.COM:

No one is allowed to dissent from the official Establishment line: that’s the new dispensation in the media, and it is being enforced by the political class, which has launched a series of smear campaigns against anyone who dares question the conventional wisdom. Anyone who questions the veracity of the media, starting with our President, is deemed an “enemy of democracy,” because the media is supposed to be the foundation stone of a free society.
But what happens when the media becomes an instrument in the hands of Power, a weapon in the arsenal of a Deep State intent on exercising its veto over our democratically elected government?
That’s a question fake-“libertarian” Conor Friedersdorf doesn’t want you to even contemplate. Why? Because then, like Tucker Carlson, you’d be “hurting America.” That’s right, folks: “Tucker Carlson is Hurting America Again”! Yes, again!
Oh, when will they make it stop?
How and why is this hurting happening? Well, it seems Tucker stepped over the line by giving his audience the sort of advice I’ve given my readers time and time again:
“Last week, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, or else the eponymous populist demagogue that he plays on TV, declared on Tucker Carlson Tonight, ‘If you’re looking to understand what’s actually happening in this country, always assume the opposite of whatever they’re telling you on the big news stations.’
“He has previously hosted TV shows on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS.”
That last paragraph is supposed to clue you in to Carlson’s hypocrisy, and yet it will no doubt seem to the non-hysterical reader that Tucker’s experience in those vales of confirmation bias gives him some insight into how they report the news. And then there’s the snarky implication that Carlson doesn’t really believe what he’s saying – after all, how could anyone doubt the Russia-gate conspiracy narrative? Why, nobody at The Atlantic does! – and he’s just “playing” the “eponymous populist demagogue” on TV.
First of all, let’s dispel the aura of intellectuality that Friedersdorf exudes: “eponymous” doesn’t mean what he thinks it means, and the word has absolutely no applicability here. See for yourself. So why include it? Because Friedersdorf is a complete and total phony, and always has been. He’s a pretentious careerist who, in taking on the assignment given to him by Jeffrey Goldberg, former Israeli prison guard and editor-in-chief over at The Atlantic, shows us what a third-class writer he is.

Most of the piece consists of quotes from Carlson, supposedly contradicting his present skeptical view of the “mainstream” media. Yet this misses the point – deliberately, one can’t help thinking – being made not only by Carlson but by some of the few remaining rational pundits on the left who are disturbed by the weaponization of journalism as a sword in the hands of those who would slay the President. There’s been a sea change in the content and tone of the “mainstream” media, which has given up all pretenses of objectivity and lent itself to partisan purposes.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated:

  • Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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    I can still fondly recall the heady days of 2016 when the notion of the Clinton Foundation being under FBI investigation was denounced as a wild conspiracy theory

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

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018.  The Red Cross betrays again and it's a day to think about refugees.

    The US chapter of the Red Cross has been plagued with scandals.  For those thinking, "Well at least we can trust the International Committee of the Red Cross," think again.

    After years of fighting in , the battle is over. But life still remains a daily struggle for the 11 million people still in need of assistance in the country.

    I'm sorry, ICRC -- who appears to have dropped the "Red Crescent" -- when did foreign troops leave Iraq?  Oh, right, not yet.

    And when did the violence stop?

    Oh, right.  Not yet.

    AFP reports today that the Islamic State has kidnapped 30 people and that they have killed 7 farmers or shepherds.  IRAQI NEWS adds, "Three truck drivers were killed two days ago in a military attack launched by Islamic State on a road between Baghdad and Kirkuk."

    On the topic of kidnappings, Margaret Griffish (ANTIWAR.COM) notes that kidnappings by ISIS have increased "in recent weeks" and that Mosul alone has seen at least 46.

    Last night, the Senate voted 85-10 to give the US military $716 billion -- its biggest defense budget outside the height of the Iraq War, in 2019 dollars

    Meanwhile former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki plots.  ALSUMARIA reports that Nouri is said to be scrambling frantically to put together a proposal that would have other blocs joining his State of Law -- the intent being for him to again become prime minister.  ALL IRAQ NEWS notes that the current prime minister, Hayder al-Abadi, met with Iraq's president Fuad Masum and the two were in agreement that any obstacles to the formation of a new government should be overcome.

    May 12th, Iraq held elections.  First place went to Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, second place to the militia.  Since then some have whined for a 'do over.'

    Learn how to teach about modern Iraq with our new podcast episode! Dr. Muhamed Almaliky joins us to discuss what the 2018 elections suggest about voters' wishes, while Nicholas Ristaino explains approaches for cultivating an understanding of modern Iraq.

    Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr announced an alliance with the head of the militias Hadi al-Ameri meaning the two biggest vote getters now have a coalition.  This would explain Nouri's desperate scramble to thwart them since their alliance has slowed/stopped the cry for a do over.  It's now been a month and 8 days since the elections and still Iraq remains without a new leader.  ASHAR AL-AWSAT notes:

     As the countdown starts to the end of Iraq's parliament term on June 30, fears that the country might enter into a state of constitutional vacuum arise, leading to chaos and opening the door to various possibilities.

    In the meantime, various political parties rush towards the formation of the "largest bloc,” to stay in power for the next four years.

    Iraq’s President’s Advisor Amir Kanani suggested that "violation of the constitution will take place instead of a constitutional vacuum as rumored.”

    He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the constitution refers to the existence of the authorities and the organization of its functions and powers.

    “The absence of one of the authorities is a violation of this constitution, “including the disruption of the work of parliament or the termination of its work ahead of schedule, contrary to the constitutional mechanisms.”

    It's an interesting article but one that ignores Iraq's post 2003 history.  For example, in 2010, elections were held in March but it wasn't until November that a prime minister-designate was named and December that a government was formed.  That political stalemate resulted from the refusal of Nouri al-Maliki to step down.  It was only ended when the US negotiated The Erbil Agreement which allowed the loser (Nouri) to have four more years as prime minister.
    Michael Young (CARNEGIE MIDDLE EAST CENTER) notes the views of several commentators on Moqtada al-Sadr and we'll include this one:

    Loulouwa Al Rachid | Co-director of the Program on Civil-Military Relations in Arab States at the Carnegie Middle East Center
    There is no doubt that Muqtada al-Sadr’s narrow victory in Iraq’s May 12 legislative elections poses a serious challenge to Iranian influence in the country, but also one that remains manageable for Tehran. Building on his immense personal popularity and his credentials as heir to a prestigious Arab nationalist and Iraqi nationalist clerical dynasty, Sadr has increasingly upped his populist rhetoric against Iran. His followers immediately celebrated their victory by chanting, “Iran out, out! Baghdad remains free.” Since then his aides have echoed the widespread resentment against Iranian interference, stressing the unchecked flow of Iranian imports, to the detriment of whatever is left of local Iraqi production. They have also accused Iran of a Machiavellian plan to destroy Iraq’s youth by inundating the neighboring southern governorates with drugs. Add to these accusations the still unresolved issues of water, oilfields, and border settlements between Iraq and Iran and the balance of Iraqi politics could possibly tilt in favor of Tehran’s enemies, including the United States and its Gulf allies.
    However, Iran also knows the Sadrist movement intimately, having militarily and ideologically trained most of its commanders since 2003. The Iranians have in the past kept the movement under control through a ruthless policy of divide and rule, with some of the most prominent Sadrists defecting to become the new leaders of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces. The lack of discipline within the Sadrist movement, in particular the absence of credible middle-ranking cadres, and the poor performance of its parliamentary bloc in the past only make Iran’s task of containing the Sadrists easier. And if Muqtada al-Sadr resorts to his favored tactic, namely street politics and militia threats, Iran could unleash its own proxies against him. After all, they are organic heirs, albeit illegitimate ones, of Muqtada’s late father, Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, who was murdered by Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1999.

    , thousands of families throughout the world are forced to flee for their lives every day. stands & supports the lives of by providing adequate & durable to those , & assist them to their upon return.

    In the US, many will use the moment to ponder immigrants attempting to enter the US via its southern borders.  That's a very limited view of refugees.

    If you voted for the Iraq sanctions and the subsequent invasion of Iraq, if you supported the three bombs an hour dropped by the crooner Obama but are now crying in congress and parliament over separated children in America, then you are a hypocrite. That’s all.

    Exactly.  The US-led Iraq War created the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948.  That crisis only grows.  Some time and thought today should be given to Iraqi refugees.

    - hosts 1.3M IDPs and refugees. We are committed to our rights-based policy that sees refugees and IDPs given the same rights as their host communities. Nevertheless, there are enormous strains on the KRG’s ability to provide full services for all
    The Kurdistan Regional Government appeals to the donor countries, UN Agencies and international NGOs to invest in the sustainable and rights-based model that the KRG has adopted. Visit to learn more about the KRG refugee response @Kurdistan

    The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and Jody Watley -- updated:

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