Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Selling war

Nonsense like this seeks to reassure us that the latest wave of the Iraq War really isn't war.

Yet if bombs were dropped on us, we would consider it war.

Would and did -- back when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

The nonsense appears at Huffington Post where Arianna Huffington supposedly stands against war.

Arianna's taken a lot of supposed stands over the years.

Huffington Post allows her to take multiple stands at once and everyone's apparently so bored with her, no one bothers to document her contradictions.


"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, September 30, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack redefines civilian casualties, Australia has concern about the legality of the war, and more.


The violence never ends in Iraq.  Yesterday, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counted at least 256 violent deaths for Monday.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report that a "wave" of violence has left "at least 47 people" dead today.

Violence hasn't stopped in Iraq.  Many are starting to register that.

At the Pentagon today, spokesperson Rear Adm Jack Kirby declared:


We've been pretty honest about the fact that military action alone will not win this effort, but that shouldn't be taken as an admission of ineffectiveness, and one of the ways we know we're having an effect is precisely because the terrorists have had to change their tactics and their communications and their command and control.  Yes, they're blending in more. Yes, they're dispersing, and yes they aren't communicating quite as openly or as boldly as they once were. That's a good thing, because if they aren't operating as freely, then they aren't as free to achieve their goals.
That doesn't mean ISIL doesn't still pose a threat. It doesn't mean they aren't still trying and in some cases succeeding at taking and holding ground. No one said this would be easy or quick, and no one should be lulled into a false sense of security by accurate airstrikes. We will not, we cannot bomb them into obscurity.


Kirby was speaking at a press briefing and, during it, he was asked about yesterday's reports that the Islamic State was close to Baghdad.


Q: Can we go back to Baghdad for a minute? Because Iraqi officials are saying now there has been ISIS fighting as close as five miles south of Baghdad. So, understanding everything you said, what does that tell you about ISIS's capabilities and intentions towards Baghdad? What concerns do you have about it? And particularly, what looks to be their moves to get in and around Baghdad Airport?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, we've been watching this for awhile, Barb. It's not -- I understand, I've seen the coverage today that you know, they're within five to eight miles or whatever it is, how it's being reported. We have consistently seen them pose a threat to the capital city.

This is not a new thing. And they'll make an advance and they'll back off. They'll try another way. One of the -- you've seen several of the strikes that we've been doing and the last ten days to two weeks have been to the south and southwest of Baghdad because that's where they've kinda maneuvered to. So, they continuously pose a threat to the capital city, and we continuously, in concert with the Iraqi security forces, are trying to put them back.
But this should come as no surprise to anybody that they have designs on -- on Baghdad, as they have had designs on other cities and other places of infrastructure throughout the country.

Q: How convinced are you that Baghdad can be -- remain safe, that Iraqi forces can hold Baghdad, and that Iraqi forces can hold the airport?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: What I can tell you is -- with certainty is that we're going to do what we can to help Iraqi security forces maintain control of the capital city. As I've said before, they have -- Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad have been performing well. They've stiffened their defenses. They have -- they have not allowed Baghdad to come under a major assault. They've -- they've done pretty well in and around the city.

And as I said, we've been helping from the air put pressure on ISIL.


Q: One last – to press the point one last time, can the Iraqis hold Baghdad and hold the airport on their own without you?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I am -- I am -- there's a lot of things I'm not good at. One of them is predicting the future. What I'll tell you is that we're -- we're watching it very closely. We have been watching it very closely. The Iraqi security forces have been continuing to stiffen their defense around the city. We believe that they've done a good job with that. They'll continue to focus on it.


Obviously, it's a -- it's a city of immense importance to them and to their government. It's clear they share the same sense of urgency about protecting the city, and so I think, you know, we're -- I can't predict anything one way or the other, other than to tell you what I can predict is we're going to continue to work with them and their defense -- their defenses of it.


By the way, while reporters covering the Pentagon could and did ask questions about Iraq in the press briefing, for the second day in a row at the US State Dept briefing, no reporter could be bothered to make time for the topic.

While the useless reporters covering State can't even pretend to be interested in Iraq, it's not that way at the Defense Dept or, for that matter, at the White House.

Yesterday, the first questions Josh Earnest, White House spokesperson, faced were about Iraq.



Q    Thanks, Josh.  The President in his “60 Minutes” interview last night, acknowledged that the United States underestimated what was happening with the Islamic State and also the Iraqi military’s ability to deal with it.  And I know that the President is reliant on the intelligence community and his advisors for those kinds of assessments, but I’m wondering if he sees himself as having any responsibility for that failure to connect the dots there or if he has a role in what happened there.


MR. EARNEST:  Josh, the President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief, and he often talks about how he is the one that is ultimately responsible for protecting the national security interests of the United States of America all around the globe.  There is no question that he relies on important advice from the leaders in our military, from leaders in our diplomatic corps, and from leaders in our intelligence community.  He values the relationship and advice that he gets from leaders among all of those important segments of our government, and in fact, it’s only because of the strong, sound advice that he has received from members of the intelligence community that we have had some success early on in our efforts to combat the threat from ISIL.
One of the things that we talked about earlier this summer is the efforts underway at the Pentagon to develop military options for the President, either in Iraq or in Syria.  And at that time, I talked about how it was important  -- or at that time, I talked about how military planners were relying on intelligence that was being collected and cultivated by our intelligence community to develop a set of targets on which the President could order military action. 
The early reviews, the early assessments of those military operations indicate that the strikes were impactful and effective.  That’s a testament, first and foremost, to the skill and courage of our men and women in uniform, but it would not have been possible without the tremendous ability of members of our intelligence community.



Q    And the President also discussed last night how the Islamic State group has become the more immediate threat even as the United States continues to wish to see Assad go.  I’m wondering if there is anything that the U.S. is actively doing at the moment to work to get Assad to go.


MR. EARNEST:  Well, certainly our efforts to build up the moderate elements of the Syrian opposition will have a very negative effect on the Assad regime’s ability to hold on to power; that as the opposition in Syria is built up, it will succeed in providing a legitimate counterweight to the Assad government, with the ultimate goal of a diplomatic resolution of that situation.  That’s also something the President discussed in the “60 Minutes” interview over the weekend.

There is not a military solution to the very grave problems that are plaguing Syria right now; that ultimately at the core is a political resolution as it relates to governing that country. And building up, fortifying and strengthening the capacity of moderate elements of the Syrian opposition will move us further in pursuit of that goal.


The 60 Minutes exchange where Barack blamed the intelligence community is certainly garnering a great deal of attention.  Tod Robberson (Dallas Morning News) offers:





Obama shifted responsibility to his director of national intelligence, James Clapper: “Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”
I would have enjoyed a time reference to help us understand when this little lapse occurred, because I’ve been going back through some old headlines, blog items, love letters and other correspondence, and by golly, it’s pretty obvious that Obama knew about this an entire year ago. So what was he waiting for?
Take, for example, the letter that Democratic and Republican senators sent to Obama on Oct. 29, 2013 — 11 months ago — warning him that ISIS was taking over Syria and moving into Iraq. This wasn’t speculative on their part. It was a statement of facts that were known at that time and warnings that were already being sounded by Iraq’s then-prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

“The deteriorating conflict in Syria has enabled al-Qaeda in Iraq to transform into the larger and more lethal Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which now has a major base for operations spanning both Iraq and Syria. As the situation in both countries grows worse, and as ISIS gathers strength, we are deeply concerned that Al-Qaeda could use its new safe haven in Iraq and Syria to launch attacks against U.S. interests and those of our friends and allies,” said the letter, signed by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Carl Levin (D-Mich), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).


David Rutz (Washington Free Beacon) adds:



Obama pawned responsibility off to CIA Director James Clapper and others for underestimating the threat in a recent 60 Minutes interview, but intelligence officials have warned Obama about ISIL for months.
The Daily Beast quoted one former Pentagon official saying, “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullsh**ting.”



And for more on the topic, you can refer to the video Bill Roggio's urging people to stream.












  • The bombing's aren't working.

    And the Islamic State is adapting.

    And US strikes keep killing civilians.

    On War crimes, Michael Isikoff Tweeted:








  • Let's stay with War Crimes.  On last week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed included  the legality of Barack's current war actions. We noted some of this in the September 22nd snapshot.  We'll note some more of the discussion now.




    Michael Ratner: So if you look at the attack on ISIS or on the Islamic State we're not using supposedly -- Let's accept for a second we don't have "combat troops" in there -- but the War Powers limitations that you can't go to war without the UN or the Congress still apply.  They apply to bombings.  It doesn't say anything about troops on the ground, it applies to the use of force, to the creation of hostilities or really the use of force. So that is not a distinction.  But Obama is clearly violating this -- as probably every president before him has violated ot.  If we look at what Obama's justifications are he has two justifications that they've sort of articulated -- they haven't articulated well but have sort of said.  One is that the original grant of authority to bomb and go and use force and US troops in Afghanistan -- called The Authorization To Use Military Force -- passed shortly after 9/11  in 2001 which basically said the president could use force to go after the perpetrators of 9/11, those who harbored them or those who aided and abetted them.  That's the authority that the US went info Afghanistan on  and that's the authority which is the equivalent of the Gulf of Tonkin, in my view, Gulf of Tonkin Resolution -- that's the authority that the president has used now  to go into war everywhere.



    Heidi Boghosian: Right.




    Michael Ratner: Not just continue in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has been pushed out, but go into Yemen, to go into Somalia




    Heid Boghosian:  It's like a blank check book that he can use wherever he wants.



    Michael Ratner: Because he claims everybody's affiliated with al Qaeda in some way or everybody's affiliated with 9/11.  And where that really breaks down now is the claim that somehow we can go after the Islamic State based on that.  Because in this case, in the case of the Islamic State, they're actually at war with and have been denounced by al Qaeda.  So they're not part of, certainly not part of any 9/11 conspiracy at all.  They may be in some future time, according to somebody some king of threat to the United States -- although there are a lot of people who think they are not.  But if they are then President should go to Congress and actually get an explicit statue authorizing  the war.  And then he should go to the UN and try and get the Security Council to go and authorize that war. 



    These are not academic discussions.  In Australia, some effort appears to going into determining the legality of Barack's latest phase of war.  Brenda Nichols (The Australian) reports:



    TONY Abbott will not be rushed into ordering airstrikes against jihadist targets in Iraq before a proper legal framework is in place, government sources have told The Australian.
    The sources said the Prime Minister insisted on the most prudent possible approach to such a major step.
    That decision could still be days away.




    The topic led to the following Tweets.



    1. PM Abbott announces RAAF aircraft have started operating over Iraq in support capacity only, refuelling etc. No airstrikes, pending approval
    2. PM Abbott says the Govt has not yet made the final decision to engage in combat but Aust refueller will start flying over Iraq from today

















    wbai
    law and disorder radio
    michael s. smith
    heidi boghosian
    michael ratner

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    Madam Secretary take down

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Now We Bomb Oklahoma"





    I really enjoyed that.  I also greatly enjoyed Kat's "Kat's Korner: Rhino does Carly on the cheap" about Rhino Records' re-release of Carly Simon's first five albums.

    Kat held Rhino accountable for a lousy package while also offering an overview of Carly's art which put it into context.




    "TV: The Boring Madam" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
    Tea is an amazing actress, probably one of the ten most underutilized in the US today.

    But the writers appear so enamored with Tea's skill that they've written showy (and meaningless) scenes that offer no character unless Tea's supposed to be the kid in the class who never put her or his hand down.

    It's not just that she never shuts up (will she ever not get the last word?), her character's also in competition with everyone.  In big scenes and minor scenes, she's forever in a pissing match.

    And forever winning.

    On big matters, she's right.  This includes when two young Americans are arrested in Syria.  The Chief of Staff wants to send the Navy Seals in.  She wants to use back channels.  He railroads her (mainly because she doubts herself briefly -- only she can defeat herself!) and it turns out she was right.  To get face time with the president, she goes around the Chief of Staff and convinces the president to do her back channels. Negotiating with Syria, she tells the man assisting her no to the $2 million request, it will be $1.5 million and it will be food and medical supplies and you tell Syria the world can be a lonely place and . . .

    She just knows everything, doesn't she?

    You don't the half of it unless you watched.

    Two of her staff, one of which is her speech writer, barge in about an innocuous statement she needs to issue.  Though this is their job, she's the one who knows how it should be worded and, not only that, she gets a little dig in about how they are paid to do what she just did.

    Dining with a head of state from a foreign country, she knows it's the time, in front of his many wives, to bring up AIDS and his failure to move on AIDS education.  It's a tense moment but she was right.

    She's always right.

    Meeting, on the street, two tourists from Minnesota, it's not enough for her to let that 'land of a thousand lakes' slide by, she has to correct it by noting it's more like 15,000.

    Is Ms. Know It All an actual character or the winning contestant on this week's Jeopardy?



    That review took me completely by surprise.

    Ava and C.I. really like Tea and I know they were excited by the show.

    But when they saw it, they called it like it is and that's why they are TV critics worth reading.  (That and the fact that they're also great writers with wit and style.)


    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Monday, September 29, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's 'plan' loses its shock value, the Islamic State is said to be closer to Baghdad, Barack pleads intel failure, and much more.



    Who was it that claimed Barack Obama played three dimensional chess?


    Whomever started that lie should step forward and take accountability for that outlandish claim.

    Iraq?  His 'plan' is falling apart for anyone who wants to pay attention.



    Lizzie Dearden (Irish Indpendent) reports:

    According to the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Isil was approaching the Iraqi capital yesterday morning.
    "The Islamic State are now less than 2km away from entering Baghdad," a spokesperson said.
    "They said it could never happen and now it almost has. President Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do. Well you only need to be here a very short while to know they can do very very little."



    B-b-b-ut the plan!  The plan to bomb from the air!  That plan was foolproof, right?


    Wrong.  We noted it would become normalized and it has.

    The effectiveness would never last for weeks.  It only had an element of surprise for so long.

    Kristina Wong (The Hill) reports:

    Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants are adjusting to U.S. airstrikes, making it more difficult to target them, an Air Force general said Monday.
    ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria had previously traveled in columns of vehicles with flags, Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, told reporters at a briefing Monday.
    "They are now dispersing themselves to allow themselves situations to be more survivable, if you will, which requires us to work harder to locate them, and then develop the situation to appropriately target them," Harrigian said.


    If only that could have been anticipated, if . . .

    Wait.  We did anticipate it and we noted it here.

    Is the US intelligence community really that stupid or is the person receiving the intel in daily briefings that struggles with comprehension?


    Dearden noted that Barack admitted to faulty intel.

    Wow.  So Barack might have overestimated the Iraqi military?

    The Shi'ite militia is part of the Iraqi forces -- remains part.  Nouri brought them in -- Tim Arango broke that story in the fall of 2013.

    There's been no effort by the new prime minister to address that even though these militias are seen as death squads -- by Sunnis, yes, but also by other Shi'ites.

    Did Barack miss that fact in an briefing as well?

    Realities like this matter.

    They matter in terms of what any campaign or plan can accomplish, yes.

    Ir matters for safety reasons, it also matters for financial reasons.  Kate Brannen (Foreign Policy) was noting last week that "$7 million to $10 million a day" was being spent by the Pentagon on Barack's 'plan' and that the figure was likely to rise and increase the Defense Dept's 2015 fiscal budget.  And, as Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports) explains, Operation No Name still has no name and the Pentagon gets a bit testy when asked about that fact.


    When asked about facts, Barack Obama just gets confused.


    On Sunday's 60 Minutes, US President Barack Obama repeatedly demonstrated how little he understood of Iraq.  We focused on this section of the interview:

    President Barack Obama: Well, I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria. Essentially, what happened with ISIL was that you had al Qaeda in Iraq, which was a vicious group, but our Marines were able to quash with the help of Sunni tribes. They went back underground. But over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swathes of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos, and attract foreign fighters who believed in their jihadist nonsense, and traveled everywhere from Europe to the United States to Australia to other parts of the Muslim world, converging on Syria. And so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world. And they have been very savvy in terms of their social media. In some cases, you have old remnants of Saddam Hussein's military that had been expunged from the Iraqi military, which gave them some traditional military capacity, and not just terrorist capacity. And this is one of the challenges that we are going to have generally, is where you have got states that are failing or in the midst of civil war, these kinds of organizations thrive. That is why it's so important for us to recognize part of our solution here is going to be military. We just have to push them back and shrink their space and go after their command-and-control and their capacity and their weapons and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters. But what we also have to do is, we have to come up with political solutions in Iraq and Syria in particular, but in the Middle East generally, that arrives at an accommodation between Sunni and Shia populations that right now are the biggest cause of conflict, not just in the Middle East, but in the world.


    In terms of facts, that's incorrect for a number of reasons including the Marines did not quash 'al Qaeda in Iraq.'
    Sahwa/Awakenings/Sons Of Iraq and Daughters Of Iraq turned the tide and did so because they were paid to.  
    Let's drop back to the April 8, 2008 snapshot.  And let's remember Barack had only been serving for three years as a US Senator at the time and had spent the previous year and 2008 campaigning so he missed a lot of hearings and the ones he showed up for in April of 2008?  He was late to them.  People like John Kerry and Joe Biden babied him, babied his little candy ass, let him show up late and immediately, even though it wasn't his turn and rules on seniority required he wait his term, would let him jump ahead of everyone so he could stumble through his questions -- with more unnatural pauses than Sandy Dennis managed in her entire acting career -- and then Barack would rush out of the hearing.  So he missed a lot, a whole lot.
    From the April 8, 2008 snapshot:
     

    Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road.  First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War.  They didn't.  In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September.  When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did. 
    The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly.  (He did so at least 16 times before he was escored out).  The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up.  In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.  These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts."  Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up. 
    How much lunch money is the US forking over?  Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars).  By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month.  $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".  Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies.  What a proud moment for the country.
     I'm being kind right now and leaving it at that but we can quote people from Barack's administration and reveal not only how stupid and incorrect Barack's remarks were but how lunatic his supposed 'plan' is.  We'll probably save that for later this week.
    The White House had to announce that Barack's remarks about Clapper were not meant to imply that he no longer had faith in James I Lied To Congress Clapper.

    Let's stay with Clapper and intel because they've received attention today.
    On The NewsHour (PBS -- link is video, audio only option and transcript) , anchor Judy Woodrfuff spoke with Frederick Kagan, brother-in-law of the State Dept's Victoria Nuland, about Barack's remarks.  Excerpt.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that is the other part of this I want to ask you about, because the president also said that the — he said the intelligence community overestimated the ability and the will of the Iraqi army to fight. What is your take on that?



    FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, I think that there were a lot of warning signs about weaknesses in the Iraqi security forces that good analysts at the Institute for the Study of War had been tracking in 2013 and laying out.
    And there was a lot of desertions. There was a large amnesty that Prime Minister Maliki granted in 2013 which were indicative of morale problems. I’m sure the intelligence community was aware of those. I’m sure that it was aware of the risks.
    I think what Director Clapper was saying was that, from the standpoint of putting a really fine point on it and saying, well, at this moment, ISIS has the capability to do this and the Iraqi security forces will fold, that, they didn’t estimate. But I suspect that in terms of generally understanding the state of play, again, I would be very surprised if the intelligence community had really missed that fundamentally.



    JUDY WOODRUFF: So when the president went on — and I looked — I was just looking at his interview with Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes.”  He said the U.S. left a democracy in Iraq that was intact. He said a well-equipped military with the ability to chart their own course. But he said it was squandered.
    And we have heard this argument before from the administration, their belief, their view and the view of many that all this was squandered by the former Prime Minister Maliki.



    FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, I think the situation that we left behind in 2011 was squandered. I think it was squandered by Maliki and I think it was squandered by President Obama.
    I think that the failure to maintain any kind of U.S. military support for the Iraqis was critical. Among other things, it’s misleading to say that the Iraqi army was actually properly equipped. It wasn’t. It hadn’t been designed to stand on its own. It hadn’t — it had no air support of its own. It had no ability to police its own airspace.
    It had a variety of lax in intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance that everyone had expected that the U.S. would continue to provide. So when we pulled out in 2011, it wasn’t just about pulling out our ground forces. It was about withdrawing from the Iraqi security forces enablers that they had thought they would continue to have and leaving them in a bad condition to deal with the fight that they faced.



    Prime Minister Maliki is Nouri al-Maliki.  In 2006, the Bully Boy Bush White House insisted Nouri be made prime minister.  In 2010, Barack's White House insisted Nouri get a second term.  Tyrant Nouri had US backing until roughly late May of this year.


    Kagan is also the husband of Kim Kagan, historian and head of the War Hawk foundation The Institute for the Study of War.  Jonah Goldberg is also on the right-wing.  In his Los Angeles Times column, he notes:


    "That's true. That's absolutely true," Obama replied. "Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."

    Eli Lake of the Daily Beast contacted a "former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq," who was, in Lake's words, "flabbergasted" by the president's remarks. "Either the president doesn't read the intelligence he's getting or he's bulls—ing," the official said.



    How does Barack repeatedly skirt accountability?

    Blame it on lazy and useless press.

    State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki gave a press briefing this afternoon, the first one the State Dept's done since September 19th.  Yes, we're referring to the 'daily' press breifing.  Despite it having been 10 days since the last press briefing, Iraq did not weigh heavy in the briefing.

    Oh, so it was only the subject of three or four questions but surely --

    No.

    It wasn't a minor issue in the press briefing, it was not an issue.  There were no questions specifically about Iraq.

    Barack's 'plan' is falling apart but the useless and cowardly and cowed press had nothing to say.  They all asked their usual crap ass questions that mean nothing and that go nowhere and pretended they did their job.  They didn't do a damn thing.  I've called Jen and spokesperson Marie Harf for these briefings before.  Let's be really clear that the blame for today rests solely with the US press.

    There is so much to ask about.  Or there should be.

    Patrick Cockburn (Independent) notes today:

     The selection of a new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to replace Nouri al-Maliki last month was supposed to introduce a more conciliatory government that would appeal to Iraq’s Sunni minority from which Isis draws its support.
    Mr Abadi promised to end the random bombardment of Sunni civilians, but Fallujah has been shelled for six out of seven days, with 28 killed and 117 injured. Despite the military crisis, the government has still not been able to gets its choice for the two top security jobs, the Defence Minister and Interior Minister, through parliament.


    Yeah, it takes him awhile to get there.  We've been there for weeks now but at least he noted it, right? (We'll come back to that.)

    National Iraqi News Agency reports Sunday's continued bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left 4 civilians dead and fifteen more injured.

    Yes, new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an end to these bombings three weeks ago.

    No, these bombings have not ceased.

    Yes, this is part of the reason his image has fallen so quickly.

    Tomorrow, if Arabic social media efforts pan out, will see a protest in Baghdad against the new prime minister.

    At Al Arabiya, Dr. Naser al-Tamimi notes the various political failures taking place:

    It seems that the United States has limited the political reform to the issue of replacing the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with some small concessions to the Sunni politicians whose political influence is confined within the Green Zone only. To make matters worse, with the floundering Iraqi army and its weak performance, the influence of these militias has begun to grow and affect all vital organs of the Iraqi state. Even more worrying, the rule of the militias will be further enhanced as it will take time for the Iraqi government to organize the army, consequently exacerbate the fears of the Sunni Arabs more than ever.


    Where are the accomplishments on the diplomatic side?

    They don't exist.

    Despite Barack insisting Iraq needs a political solution, the White House has poured their time and energy into military actions and military campaigns and they have nothing to show to demonstrate that a new prime minister meant a new Iraq, one for all Iraqis.

    We've been noting that repeatedly.  I'll be nice and even say "applause for Patrick Cockburn for noting it today."

    Patrick's trying to join the grown ups table and lest anyone make the mistake that I offered him an empty seat next to me, I didn't.  Patrick's Sunni bias is well documented and established.  I don't care for Patrick.  Tariq Ali is an old friend.  He's attempting a rescue on Patrick's image.  Tariq's fought many battles over the years, I can't recall one as futile.  But for laughs, click here, read Tariq attempting to lead Patrick down the road of rehabilitation.

    He never can get it right, can he?

    Not even with Tariq spoon feeding him throughout the interview.

    The underpinning for the protests that kicked off in December 2012 which lasted over a year?  That was what was happening to women and girls in Iraqi prisons.

    You'll note Cockburn avoids that topic.

    While Patrick Cockburn stumbles blindly down the hall Norman Pollack (CounterPunch) captures the world we live in today:


    America has become unrecognizable, World Conquest in the air we breathe, a POTUS Caligula-like who feigns the persona of Mother Theresa, utterly corrupt in his professions of peace as he rolls out what has become shock-and-awe demonstrations to which the world, under duress, is becoming accustomed. Nothing out of bounds: Tomahawk missiles from offshore, waves of airstrikes, business as usual. Not a drop of hesitation, as lawyers dust off 9/11-era authorization for what is proving a never-ending onslaught, today, terrorists, tomorrow, Russia, the next day, China, then perhaps day after, dissidents, such that remain, in America itself, a rapacious, devouring, demiurge of insatiable conquest-at-any-cost.
    Would ISIS even exist, had not the US sought to control the Middle East ever since the deposition of Mossadegh in Iran, the military build-up and defense of Israel, the American military bases throughout the region, the invasion of Iraq (fill in the in-between blanks, and carry forward to today)? America has not learned that repression breeds resistance, that counterrevolution establishes interconnections among the oppressed, that occupations and spheres-of-influence cannot (thank goodness) be made permanent. In every sense of the word, the US has CREATED what it now calls terrorism, the fruit of unwanted intervention, power politics, installing regimes which do our bidding.


    More truth tellers are needed but that's true in any time period.

    We're a left site.  For those bothered that Pollack is the only left voice quoted -- while right wing Goldberg and Kagan also got quoted -- take it up with someone else.

    I can't put words in the mouths of those who choose to be silent.

    My side, the left, includes a lot of pathetic cowards who can't find their voice because there's a Democrat in the White House.

    If you want to make a difference, look at the left outlets and notice who is staying silent (or the hacks like David Corn who are whoring for this ongoing war now that Barack's in charge of it).  Take notice and remember.  At some point, a Republican will be in the White House again.

    When that happens, these cowards will suddenly find spines and they'll want to beg for money -- because none of them can get real jobs.  When they beg, don't give them a cent.

    Remember how they were cowards or whores.

    Don't support that.

    Let them starve or find real jobs.


    While our brave 'left' leaders can't speak a new poll shares what the US military is thinking.   Andrew Tilghman, Gina Harkins, David Larter, Stephen Losey, Hope Hodge Seck, Michelle Tan and Jeff Schogol (Military Times) report on their poll of service members:


    On the surface, troops appear to support President Obama’s repeated vows not to let the U.S. military get “dragged into another ground war” in Iraq. Yet at the same time, the views of many service members are shaped by a deep ambivalence about this commander in chief and questions about his ability to lead the nation through a major war, according to the survey and interviews.
    The reader survey asked more than 2,200 active-duty troops this question: “In your opinion, do you think the U.S. military should send a substantial number of combat troops to Iraq to support the Iraqi security forces?” Slightly more than 70 percent responded: “No.”





























    Saturday, September 27, 2014

    Anita Baker and Heart

     "What We’re Listening to This Week" (CounterPunch):

    LEE BALLINGER
    Rapture: Anita Baker
    Flood: Moreland and Arbuckle
    Enter the 37th Chamber: El Michels Affair (Fat Beats)
    Lee Ballinger co-edits Rock and Rap Confidential.



    Lee's the only one worth noting because he's the only one noting a woman as equal.

    It's amazing how so many sexists write for CounterPunch -- men and women -- until you grasp that it is one of the most sexist websites online.

    Anita Baker is a one of a kind artist and one who does not get the credit she deserves.

    If she were a copycat, she'd be much better known.

    Instead, she's a true original who broke in when radio was a little less restrictive.

    You don't compare her to some pop tart.  She's an artist in line with Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington and Judy Garland.

    She is one of the greats.  Fortunately, when she released Rapture, the country was in a place where it could recognize artistic genius.


     "This edition's playlist" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):
    Red Velvet Car


    1) Heart's Red Velvet Car.


    2) James Blake's Overgrown.

    3) Prince's Controversy.

    4) Ben and Ellen Harper's Childhood Home.

    5) Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon.

    6) Stevie Nicks' Bella Donna.

    7) Supergrass' Life On Other Planets.

    8) Carly Simon's Playing Possum.

    9) Stevie Wonder's Talking Book.

    10) The Replacement's Pleased To Meet Me.



    What a great list and what a great mix.

    I guess I'll note Heart.

    Heart is Ann and Nancy Wilson.  The two sisters are the backbone and heart of the group.  Others come and go, but Ann and Nancy are there.

    When the group started, the boyfriends, then also in the band, were usually falsely credited with the success of the group because, you know, women don't know anything.

    When the boyfriends left and Ann and Nancy continued the band, it was a shock to some that the band continued, let alone thrived.

    Ann is the front person.  She and Nancy often write the songs (frequently with childhood friend Sue Ennis).

    Had they been men, no one would have ever questioned their talent, their leadership or their ability to rock.

    Their hits are legendary: "Magic Man," "Crazy On You, " "Dreamboat Annie," "Dog & Butterfly," "Barracuda," "Tell It Like It Is," "Straight On," "Never," "Even It Up," "What About Love," "Nothing At All," "These Dreams," "Alone," "How Can I Refuse," "This Man Is Mine," "Who Will You Run To," "There's The Girl," "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You," "Wild Child," "I Didn't Want To Need You," "Stranged," "You're The Voice," "Black On Black II," "Will You Be There (In The Morning)" and more.

    With Red Velvet Car, they had another hit album and reminded everyone that Heart is one of the supreme rock bands working today.




    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Saturday, September 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, US bombing kills civilians in Iraq, Iraqi military continues to bomb residential areas in Falluja, Barack's 'plan' is a bust the same way the 'surge' was, England wants a piece of it and its not the only country that does, Haider al-Abadi's window of opportunity continues to close, and much more.


    Jimmy Carter is the only US president since the start of the 20th century who can't seriously be accused of being anti-Arab.  In actions and words, Carter has done what Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, the George Bushes and so many more haven't.

    So earlier this week, when he spoke publicly, we linked to the video and noted that at least he was raising the issue of civilian casualties which put him far ahead of so many observers of the latest wave of the Iraq War.   We also included his comment regarding boots on the ground with Carter supporting them.

    I didn't try to mind read, didn't try to minimize, we just included them.

    Jimmy Carter's thoughts still carry weight in the Arab world and anyone reading the snapshot could read them and interpret them for themselves.

    There's now confusion over the statements.  But not in the Arab world.

    The confusion comes in the United States.

    In an unsigned 'report' at the Inquisitr (well, would you want to put your name to a pack of lies?), someone (and the outlet) argues (argue) that Carter did call for boots on the ground but he supports Barack's plan.

    That is where the confusion always starts n the last six years -- when members of the press attempt to figure out how to sell disagreement with Barack as "agreement."

    If Carter wants boots on the ground, and he stated he does, he is at odds with Barack's so-called 'plan.'

    Carter is in agreement with some people.  Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, is publicly skeptical of the plan.

    But he says he supports it!

    Dempsey is one of the few speaking who has to speak in code and carefully.  The term is "insubordination."  His testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee -- in full, not pull quotes -- made clear he does not believe the 'plan' is satisfactory or will achieve.

    Robert Gates and Leon Panetta served in the administration as civilians.  Both were Secretary of Defense.  Both disagree regarding boots on the ground.  Former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has publicly expressed his belief that the 'plan' requires boots on the ground.

    I believe Carter's point is more along what Time's Bobby Ghosh was pointing out (on MSNBC) ahead of Barack calling for bombings -- without US troops there to verify, a lot of people could be hurt with US airstrikes and also some Iraqis could use the airstrikes to kill their political rivals and enemies.

    That's what I believe Carter was thinking.

    Believe.

    But I didn't try to decipher him when we noted his remarks.

    We let them stand for themselves.

    But The Inquistr has to bend them, has to reshape them, has to insist that Jimmy is backing Barack's 'plan.'

    No, he's not.  If he's calling for boots on the ground -- and he is -- then he's not backing Barack's 'plan' which (publicly) calls for no boots on the ground.

    The press repeatedly cannot deal with disagreement with Barack so they repeatedly misinform and outright lie to make it appear it's not taking place.

    The press tends to do this to a degree with every president.

    It has nothing to do with 'respect for the office' but everything to do with the press being made up of suck ups who quickly learn and instill what gets in print and what doesn't.  Fawning?  Outlets make time for that?  Challenging reporting?  Oh, it's less common than investigative journalism.


    Let's hold on a second to describe the 'plan' for anyone not paying attention in the last weeks.  The US military will bomb all over Iraq (and now in Syria as well -- Syria is the new Laos) to 'defeat' the Islamic State -- a group of Sunni fundamentalists who have received some backing (in terms of concealment as well as in terms of aiding in violence) by some Iraqi Sunnis as a result of the oppression of the Sunni community in Iraq which includes but is not limited to, false imprisonment, arrests without warrants, arrests of known innocents (arrested because the police couldn't find the suspect so they arrested a mother, or a wife, or a child, or a . . .), torture and rape in Iraqi prisons, etc.

    Barack has repeatedly stated in public that Iraq requires a political solution.

    When he makes those statements, he's referring to the need for a government that is inclusive and represents all Iraqis.  He's basically trying to turn the clock back to 2010 when Iraqis had again (see the 2009 election results) expressed a growing belief in a national identity and a rejection of a country made up of warring sects.  Nouri al-Maliki (with the White House's backing) came close to destroying such a possibility.


    Nouri wanted a third term and Barack (wisely, in my opinion) worked to ensure that it did not happen.

    The whole point of that was so that Iraq could get a new prime minister, a new leader, so that people could have hope that maybe a new Iraq was possible.

    A hope like that doesn't survive months.

    It's either confirmed or it's a fleeting hope that quickly passes.

    Sometimes I get that feeling and I want to settle and raise a child up with somebody
    I get that strong long and then I want to settle and raise a child up with somebody
    But it passes like the summer
    I'm a wild seed again
    Let the wind carry me
    -- "Let The Wind Carry Me," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on Joni's For The Roses


    Passes like the summer.

    And what's happened in Iraq.

    Haider al-Abadi was named the new prime minister.

    Despite not having a Minister of Interior (over the federal police) or a Minister of Defense (over the military) in his Cabinet.

    Just like Nouri.

    Who went four years without filling those slots.  Yes, Americans being asked to support bombings today, Nouri went his entire term without a Minister (Secretary) of Defense.

    Unlike Nouri, Haider has nominated people for the posts.  The Parliament's just refused to confirm them.

    What else has Haider done?

    Well, since the start of this year, back in January, under Nouri's orders residential neighborhoods in Falluja have been bombed killing and wounding thousands of Iraqis.  (Falluja's a Sunni-dominated city.)

    Near the start of this month, Haider announced that the bombings were over, he had ordered it.

    But . . .

    the next day the bombings continued and they continue every day.

    So his words may be different than Nouri's words, but the results are the same.

    He has retained Nouri in the government.

    Even Barack didn't do that.  For all the (accurate) critiques of Barack failing to prosecute Bully Boy Bush and his cronies, Barack didn't make Bully Boy Bush Secretary of State, for example.

    But tyrant Nouri serves in Haider's government as one of three Vice Presidents (the other two are former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and former Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi).

    So Nouri's policies continue, the security ministries continue to remain leaderless and Nouri continues in the government.

    Where's the change?

    Hope's fleeing.  Joni sings "it passes like the summer."


    There are a few new freckles on your shoulders
    The hammock swings lower and touches the grass
    The apples are ripe and the corn is past
    Everyone says summer goes by so fast
    And we just got here
    -- "We Just Got Here," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Have You Seen Me Lately?


    Joni sings it passes like summer, Carly sings summer goes by so fast.

    Friday, NINA reported 3 civilians are dead and nine more injured.  In addition, Iraqi Spring MC noted  Falluja General Hospital received the corpses of 2 children and eight more people who were injured from last night's bombings of the residential neighborhoods.

    And how were Friday prayers in Anbar celebrated?  With more civilian bombings.


    NINA reports:

    Chairman of Anbar provincial Council Sabah Karhot called army troops to focus on the bombing of the IS sites and not targeting residential areas.
    Head of the Council Karhot told the National Iraqi News Agency / Nina / that the city of Fallujah exposed to shelling of rockets and explosive barrels that claims the lives of many innocent civilians.
    The city of Fallujah exposed, daily, to the bombing of the explosive barrels and mortar shells and rockets, and about 12 civilians were killed and injured in today's bombing, which targeted residential neighborhoods in Fallujah. 



    And NINA notes a Friday Mosul bombing by US war planes killed 4 civilians.

    So is Haider al-Abadi a liar or powerless?

    A number of people are saying powerless and noting articles like this one at Kitabat which maintains that Nouri is refusing to leave the palace he's lived in since 2006, the housing of the prime minister.  And that even high ranking members of Dawa (Nouri's political party) attempting or persuade Nouri that he must leave and allow al-Abadi to move in have failed.

    An image is taking hold.  I'm not surprised.

    Right now there's a call on Arabic social media for a massive protest in Baghdad on September 30th against Haider al-Abadi.  If it is large, this will not help his image one bit.

    The window for Haider to make a difference, to show he was different from Nouri, is closing.


    Who will they look to
    So innocent they don't know
    Life, life isn't always fair
    There's always someone who cares
    Who will they look to
    In whose hands will their future lie
    Whose going to tell them stand up again
    Why not, why not give them one more try
    Who will they look to
    -- "Who Will They Look To," written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, first appears on Ashford & Simpson's Street Opera



    The White House spent all these weeks shoring up foreign support for bombings and they did nothing to push on the political scene.

    So it's a failure in the same way Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' is a failure.

    The 'surge' was an infusion of US forces into Iraq and they would address the violence and this would provide time and space for political reconciliations and progress.

    The US military did what they were supposed to.  Their side of the 'surge' worked.  But the diplomatic side was a failure which means the 'surge' was a failure since it was created to address the political issues.

    Likewise, Barack's bombings.

    I never supported them and I don't support them now.  I didn't support the increase of US troops during the 'surge.'  I could have been wrong both times.

    If so, I'd admit to it.

    But the 'surge' failed because the US diplomatic effort failed.

    And the 'bombings' fail in the end not because they're border-line War Crimes (which they are).  The bombings fail because they sucked up all the White House energy and attention and nothing was accomplished in Iraq on the political end.

    Okay, well every day's a new day.  Yes, I know that Diana Ross song as well.

    But if you're thinking the White House will get started tomorrow (which is a business day in Iraq) or even Monday, you might want to rethink that.

    The Iraqi Parliament has just started a two week vacation.  It's the holy period of Eid.

    Nothing's happening.

    Or did the White House think that the whole world runs on their calendar?

    It's apparently 'sexier' and more 'tough guy' to focus on sending troops and bombings but if you're not going to do the really hard work, what's the point?

    That's a question which should have been put to Bully Boy Bush and a question which now needs to be put to Barack.


    "Nouri wanted a third term and Barack (wisely, in my opinion) worked to ensure that it did not happen," I said above.

    You support empire!

    I don't support empire, I support the Iraqi people, I support the rule of law.


    Nouri did not 'win' the 2014 elections.  He did not even 'win' by the definition of 'winning' he gave before the voting started.  To have become Prime Minister for a third term, he would have needed to form a coalition with others.  The National Alliance, the largest Shi'ite bloc, was filled with leaders who did not support a third term for Nouri -- including cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and former Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafarri who is now Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    The western press thought the White House was in the bag for Nouri (as they were in 2010) so they didn't report the voting accurately.  You had to go to the Iraqi press, the Arab press and some European press (not AFP!) to learn what happened on the day of voting.

    Nouri had already worked to suppress Sunni turnout -- which included bombing Falluja before the vote, during the vote, and after the vote.  But on voting day, Sunnis encountered one problem after another in voting.  They were turned away from outside voting centers by Shi'ite militias or Nouri's security forces (Shi'ite militias, at that point, had become a part of Nouri's security forces).  They arrived at other voting centers which were closed.

    Many remained closed all day.

    Some, if enough complaints went in to the UN and to the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq, were opened mid-day.  While a half-open polling station is better than a non-open one, a half-day's worth of voters have been lost (more if they've shared with neighbors that they went to vote and a sign declared the polling station would not be opening).

    It was not a fair vote by any means.

    Even with all of that, Nouri did not manage to win as defined by the Iraqi Constitution.

    He squeaked ahead of others just barely -- or his State of Law did -- but that was it.

    Per the Constitution and per the Supreme Court decision he sought ahead of the 2010 elections but waited until after he came in second to Ayad Allawi to reveal it, Nouri did not win the 2014 elections.

    In 2010, the White House demanded a second term for Nouri after the vote demonstrated the people rejected him.   And after Moqtada al-Sadr's April 2010 vote among Shi'ites demonstrated that even a large number of Shi'ites were rejecting him. (Moqtada's vote was open to all but those voting were mainly Shi'ites.  The turnout was such that it's also true that it was not just Moqtada's followers voting.  Slightly over a million Shi'ites not considered to be Moqtada's followers voted in that special April vote to determine who Moqtada should back for prime minister.)  The White House circumvented the Iraqi Constitution by giving Nouri a second term via a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement).

    That was empire, what took place in 2010.

    This time what Barack did was pull US support for tyrant Nouri -- a man known to run secret prisons where people were tortured -- this was documented -- Ned Parker reported on it at the Los Angeles Times (Ned's now with Reuters).  They shouldn't have supported him in 2010 but Barack was smart, in 2014, in pulling the support for Nouri.  I think it will eventually be seen as one of the smartest and most significant moments of foreign policy during Barack's two terms as US President.



    There's always been a shortage of leaders in this world overrun with copy cats.  That point was made clear yesterday in England.  Matt Chorley (Daily Mail) reports:





    Britain is to join air strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq after MPs voted overwhelmingly by 524 to 43 to back military action.
    Six RAF Tornados are expected to join war planes from the US, France and Arab nations after Parliament staged a six-hour emergency debate on UK intervention.
    David Cameron insisted Britain cannot 'walk on by' in the face of the threat posed by 'psychopathic terrorists'.
    But divisions emerged over expanding action into neighbouring Syria, with Labour leader Ed Miliband insisting a UN Security Council resolution should be sought first, even though Russia and China are certain to veto it.


    Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) explains, "Parliament was recalled by Cameron for the vote on military action in Iraq, which was approved after lengthy debate in the House of Commons and House of Lords. Any proposal to expand the strikes to Syria would require additional action by Parliament, according to the motion."

    And the vote came after various speeches and columns such as this from Simon Jenkins (Guardian): "Islam’s wars are not Britain’s business. We owe their human victims all the aid we can to relieve suffering. We do not owe them our incompetence in trying to recast their politics. That is a task for the Arabs and their neighbours, not for Britain’s soldiers and taxpayers."



    Not all rushed to join Conservative leader David Cameron or centrist Labour leader Ed Miliband in supporting war.  The Scottish National Party refused to support the war.  Michael Settle (Scotland's Herald) reports:


    However, during an impassioned eight-hour debate, the Moray MP yesterday told the Commons that because there was no coherent plan to "win the peace" in the Coalition's motion then SNP MPs would vote against it.
    He said there was "deep scepticism for the potential of mission creep and a green light for a third Iraq war", given what had happened previously in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
    He added: "The motion asks for a green light for military action which could last for years [but] there is no commitment in the motion for post-conflict resolution."


    And it's not just England rushing to join in senseless bombing, Griff Witte and Rebecca Collard (Washington Post) note "Denmark and Belgium also opted to join the fight."

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports of yesterday's violence:


    At least 102 people and 40 were wounded. Most of the dead were killed in today’s airstrikes, but some of them were killed during a concentrated attack on soldiers in Anbar province last week. Details about that multi-faceted attack have been slow to leak out.

    New details have emerged concerning a weekend massacre of soldiers in Anbar Province. Although many questions remain, soldiers stationed at Albu Etha told a discouraging story about being unable to get any help from army commanders or Baghdad before abandoning their post. Fifteen were killed and 40 were wounded. The Anbar assaults also took place in Saqlawiya and Sijr. Both Sijr and Albu Etha have been reclaimed by Iraq forces.



    Good thing Barack's got a 'plan,' right.

    The 'plan' doesn't address the Iraqi military refusing to follow the prime minister's orders.

    And it doesn't address the failure of Iraqi military commanders to provide support.

    But it sure does blow up a lot of stuff and a lot of people.

    So let's all pretend it's a 'plan' and we can also pretend, at least for a few more weeks, that it's a success.