Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas shopping thoughts

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  • It's been a busy week for me.

    I usually do music on my last post of the week.

    But let me instead note I thought my child raising days were over.

    I have a wonderful adopted daughter with Mike.

    I'm glad.  He really wanted children, etc., and she's a wonderful daughter.

    But I did not plan to be returning to motherhood of a young child and, as parents can tell you, this is the crazy time to be a parent -- crazy time of the year -- if you celebrate any of the holidays of the month.

    We celebrate Christmas and she's still of the Santa Claus age set.

    Which means the whole shopping thing.

    Add in that I try to be self-sufficient.  That doesn't mean excluding Mike.

    That does mean, he or I will go in search of the toys our daughter wants.

    I had to give up.

    It's too close to Christmas.

    I called C.I. and asked her to get three hard-to-get items.

    I did that Friday morning.  Friday evening, she told me it was done and they were shipped to me.  (I'll get them on Monday.)

    Thank you, C.I.!

    This is not my first time as a mother.

    Earlier, though, I don't remember this shortage.

    I mean, I can remember the Cabbage Patch Kids craze.

    I remember going to the Toys R Us in my area armed with cash and losing out on the rush as the doors opened but giving a man who did grab one $500 for his doll so I could take one home.

    (I didn't have the Nike or shoe issues.  We were a Chuck Taylor, black high top, Converse family.)

    So let me get to my conspiracy theory.

    These favorite toys that you have to struggle for?

    You're struggling in part because they're being under manufactured so that they can create a media event and popularize the toy.

    In this day and age, there should be no manufacturing shortages in the US.

    But that's my complaint/conspiracy guess.

    What I'll close with, as a mother who also shops for grown children, is if you're being driven crazy by whatever fad is appealing to young children today, as soon as they hit their teens, it gets a lot easier.

    In part because they have a different understanding of Santa.  In part because -- Nike shoes, etc aside -- the things they want are basic and readily available -- games, music, clothes.



    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Saturday, December 20, 2014.   Chaos and violence continue, Haider's lies and the press spin gets a little exposure, Ayad Allawi pays a home visit to Jalal Talabani, Barack Obama, continues to avoid Arab media, and much more.



    CNN's Jake Tapper Tweets:

                               Retweeted 235 times

    Approximately 1,000 paratroopers from the Army’s famed 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to Iraq



    And who will they find there?


    To read this week's press, they'll find  R.E.M.'s   "Shiny, Happy People" come to life.


    That's what the press has insisted all week long and what we've disputed all week long.



    "Why would they fight for a government that refuses to respect them? [New Prime Minister Haider] Abadi is just another face on the same Shiite agenda – and the Sunni anger will continue until there is meaningful change in Baghdad."


    That's Sunni Sheikh Mohammad Ramadi (al-Bajan tribe) and we'll get back to him and the article that's the most important one on Iraq this week in a moment.

    But first . . .

    Let's take a moment to reflect on this week, this week of propaganda.

    Where the US State Dept worked overtime in Iraq.

    A first!

    Sadly, the work wasn't on the Iraqi government or diplomacy.

    It was selling propaganda to the press.

    Again, I hope the press got something out of it because all news consumers got was b.s.

    If you've forgotten, the propaganda effort was Haider al-Abadi and his healing touch.

    The rollout started early this week with any outlet the State Dept could corral, blackmail, bully or buy pimping the lie that Haider had brought unity to Iraq.

    The effort was supposed to culminate with the column written for -- not by -- Haider which appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall St. Journal exclaiming that a national identity had been forged for Iraq via the Iraqi military.  For those a little slow on the uptake that would mean, ultimately, by Haider himself since he is commander-in-chief of the military.

    Wow.

    How amazing.

    How wonderful.

    The war is being won!  Soon the US will be able to come home!

    There are some who will believe that nonsense.

    There are idiots all over the world.

    Equally true, to some, this spin is new.

    They were too young to have caught it from 2003 through 2007 when it was constantly repeated.  (And when it constantly proved to be false.)

    But most adults should have caught on.

    And they should have called it out.

    Instead, it was just us.

    And there's gonna come a time when we're not here.  I'm sick of the internet.  I'm sick of writing every day for over ten years now without a day off.

    What was this week's big faux scandal?  The thing that had the Center for American Progress, The Nation, The Progressive, et al up in arms?

    Because it sure as hell wasn't Iraq and it sure as hell wasn't the same corporate media yet again selling lies to the American people about Iraq.

    I hope whatever crap the faux independent media of CAP, The Nation, et al passed off as important at least provided giggles because it provided no substance and had no real point at all.

    (What was it?  Largely it was a propaganda effort to convince you that Senator Elizabeth Warren -- anti-Palestinian rights, Republican until she ran for the Senate, falsely passed herself off as a Native American to benefit in hiring, anti-Iran, etc -- was the one to take down Hillary Clinton. Reality, Elizabeth doesn't photograph normal and her voice will be irritating to most American ears.  The best she could hope for is the same results as another politician who struck Americans as a "freak," Paul Simon.  She's not electable on a national scale for 2016.)


    Some place the cost of the Iraq War at a trillion dollars for US taxpayers.

    If for no other reason, this week's lies of success should matter for financial reasons.

    As the work week came to a close, the Pentagon sotto voice admitted the cost of Barack's latest wave of war, which began August 8, 2014, have already reached $1.02 billion.

    That's four months.

    And US President Barack Obama has said this will last years.

    If for no other reason than cost, this should outrage Americans.

    3 US service members have died in the operation during the four months.  But no one wants to talk about that either.

    What they want to do is sell you lies about 'unity' being built in Iraq by the military.

    They want to point to an oil deal between the KRG and the Baghdad-based government as proof when that's only proof of the power of the Kurds and the leadership of KRG President Massoud Barzani.  (As we've pointed out several time this week already, the US government opposed that deal and prevented it from happening for years.  The strategic importance of the Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq's current battles means the Kurds have plenty of pull and plenty of leverage if they know how to use and Barzani does.)

    There is no unity being built.

    It's the point at the heart of Paul McGeough's report for the Sydney Morning Herald which notes:

    For every area where US military trainers are deployed and weapons and other supplies have been delivered - to Kurdish fighters trying to hold the Syrian border town of Kobane, foir example, and minority Yazidis marooned on Sinjar Mountain in Iraq - there are many Sunni communities in which resentment is rising because there has been no response from Baghdad or Washington to their desperate pleas for help.


    Sunni tribes that do fight the Islamic State find themselves cut off from supplies and support by the central government out of Baghdad. (Not that Shi'ites in the Iraqi military have it much better.  Haider and the corrupt officials rake in money while the Shi'ites in the military depend upon soup kitchen donations from churches just to survive.)

    It's a funny kind of unity the press and Haider sold this week, one where the aggrieved and put upon population still isn't it included.

    David L. Phillips bungles human rights at Columbia University and, at CNBC, writes as if he's tutored by Senator Barbara Boxer:

    Many tribal sheikhs welcomed Islamic State fighters when they first arrived. Iraq's Arab Sunni minority, which enjoyed favor under Saddam Hussein, deeply resented the polarizing politics of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Disenfranchised and marginalized, they saw ISIS as a liberation force.



    More than anything, it's liars like that which make me want to just stop writing online.

    This is from Frederic Wehrey and Ala' Albrababa'h's report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month:

    In the words of one tribal leader, Zaydan al-Jubouri: “We chose ISIS for only one reason. ISIS only kills you. The Iraqi government kills you and rapes your women.”

    Disenfrancshised and marginalized?

    That's a cute way to record torture, murder and rape.

    Every time someone like David Phillips lies, it makes it that much harder for what's going on to be understood -- which is why whores like that lie in the first place, to confuse the issue.

    Barack's 'plan' is not working and it will not work.

    But the hope is if you keep bombing enough for a few years, you'll exhaust the people.

    That's no plan at all.

    For it to make 'sense,' it requires a lot of dirty whores using their filthy mouths to tell lies to confuse people.

    The Sunnis have real complaints, justifiable ones, about a government that targeted them, that raped them, that tortured them and that killed them.

    That, by the way, is the supposed type of government the US was liberating Iraq from.

    Instead, it is the type of government that two consecutive White Houses have imposed upon Iraq.

    In 2006, Nouri al-Maliki was not the choice of the Iraqi people; nor was he in 2010.

    In both cases, he was the choice of the White House -- Bully Boy Bush and Barack both chose to impose him on the Iraqi people.

    That's a reality that needs to be recognized as well.

    B-b-b-b-ut that's the past! Nouri is no more!

    Wrong.

    The thug is plotting his return and the thug is now one of Iraq's three vice presidents.


    Much is made of how, in 'new' Iraq, Haider fired some of Nouri's corrupt officials.


    Less is made of what actually happened to them.

    Back to Paul McGeough's report for the Sydney Morning Herald:

    Mr Maliki also has a powerful personal network – when Mr Abadi sacked 85 former Maliki employees from the Green Zone, including Mr Maliki's son, the former prime minister immediately recruited them to the payroll at the Office of the Presidency.


    They were corrupt! So Haider fired them! And got good press for it!  And continues to!

    But the reality is they're still on the government payroll.

    There was no accountability at all.

    Haider's either an inept coward or he's in on the corruption with Nouri.

    And the highly popular video recording of Haider and Nouri suggests that he's in on the corruption with Nouri and the two are sharing a laugh at both the Iraqi people and the US government.


    All Iraq News notes that Haider met with US Senator Pat Roberts today and that Haider insisted that he will eliminate terrorism throughout Iraq.

    So Haider's going to be the one to put the bullet through Nouri's head?  Because, make no mistake, Nouri al-Maliki is a terrorist and one that needs to be run out of Iraq.

    The inept and weak Haider can't even get Nouri out of the prime minister's residence.

    The only real news coming out of Iraq this week has been about the Kurdish success -- see Al Jazeera, CNN among other outlets or just read Ned Parker's Tweet:







  • Kurdish flags flutter on Sinjar mountain, now freed from siege, says correspondent from the mountain.


  • Apparently, the US government felt a little left out of the praise circle so they took to insisting their own variation of me-too! which was probably most breathlessly transcribed by Luis Martinez (ABC News), "Three senior ISIS leaders have been killed in recent weeks by U.S. airstrikes inside Iraq, including the terror group’s right-hand man, the Pentagon confirmed."  But it's not really that important.  AFP points out:


    The Pentagon has hailed the deaths of several top leaders of ISIS, but experts say this is far from enough to cripple what has proven to be a resilient organization.
    U.S. officials say airstrikes have killed several senior and mid-level jihadis including Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, the right hand man of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, dealing a serious blow to the group’s operations.
    But analysts warn that disruptions of this type are often fleeting and that the U.S.-led coalition needs to look beyond its military campaign to weaken the group that has become the world’s most feared jihadi organization since proclaiming a “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq six months ago.
    “Eliminating key leaders is a means to disrupt plots and degrade capabilities. But they do not defeat or destroy terrorist organizations,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA agent and adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama who is now a leading terrorism expert.



    There is no plan.  There's only one bungle after another from Barack.

    And still the violence continues.  Al Jazeera reports, "Iraqi authorities say bombs targeting commercial streets and an army patrol have killed 12 people around Baghdad."  All Iraq News notes 17 people were executed by the Islamic State in Tikrit, and a Beji battle left 13 Islamic State fighters dead.

    Let's move over to Ayad Allawi, the person who won the 2010 elections and would have been prime minister if the law had been followed but Barack wanted boy toy Nouri to get a second term.

    Allawi's Tweeted:






    National Iraqi News Agency notes he paid a visit to Jalal Talabani on Friday.  The noted shut in remains grossly obese and unable to speak beyond grunts and a few rasps.

    While he was President of Iraq,  Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remained there until after his term expired in the spring of 2014.

    Only in corrupt Iraq could someone unable to fulfill their duties remain in office for a year and a half.



    And only someone as corrupt as Jalal could remain in a hospital for nearly 18 months without losing a single pound.  Anyone else would be forced, by doctor's orders, to limit their consumption of food and be forbidden to consume empty calories but Jalal was fed only the best in sugar riches goodies while he was being 'treated' for his stroke.  Some Talabani family members privately point out that not only did the grossly obese Jalal not lose any weight during his lengthy hospital stay but that he actually put more pounds on.  That sort of non-medical oversight might explain some of his inability to truly recover from his stroke.



    Visiting sick beds is only part of Allawi's duties these days.  He's also been tasked by Iraq's President Fuad Masum to work on the issue of reconciliation with the Sunni community. And we bring this up not because of the Thursday international meet-up that received no press coverage in the west but because of Haider.


    Who has Haider tasked to do the same?


    The answer, of course, is no one.

    So the ceremonial post of president has someone interested enough in reconciliation to task a vice president to work on the issue while the person actually in charge of Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, can't be bothered with the issue?

    The results of that show -- for all the world to see.

    Another thing on show?

    Barack's left his zipper open and his xenophobia is showing for all the world to see yet again.

    Marwan Bishara (Al Jazeera) notes Barack has only sat down with one Arab journalist for an interview and that was back in 2009.  With Barack ordering various US military efforts in the region -- The Drone War, the continued Iraq War, etc. -- it really is beholden upon him to reach out to Arab media.  Bishara notes:

    As the Obama administration intensifies US air strike and deepens the US' military involvement in the region, President Obama has a moral responsibility to talk to the nations at the receiving end of American power.
    For example, as the commander-in-chief, Obama needs to clarify the objectives and duration of the ongoing US military operations in Syria and Iraq and the reasons why he secretly signed the order to expand American military operations in Afghanistan in 2015 to include fighting the Taliban. 
    Like many in the region, I am puzzled by the president's claim that US foreign policy is driven by the principle "right makes might", and I would love to hear a few answers regarding the specifics of how US military deployments square with his vision.
    The president has rightly insisted on more than a few occasions that military solutions are not sufficient to deal with the threat of extremism and terrorism which implies, among other things, the need to win "hearts and minds".
    That requires direct communication with the most fragile and alienated elements of the Arab and Muslims societies that are prone to extremism.

    If the president truly believes America is a force of good even when it acts poorly; that America's objectives are to help the helpless minorities, to mediate peace, and to empower those who root for democratic and prosperous societies in Arab and Muslim lands, then all he needs to do is answer the questions on people's minds.
















    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    It's not enough but its something


    James K. Sanborn (Marine Times) reports:



    But with 34 active duty Marine suicides in 2014 and two weeks left in the year, suicide remains a serious problem throughout the Defense Department.
    "During the holiday season, leaders at every level need to re-engage and identify those who will benefit from the many resources available in order to help eliminate suicide from our ranks," reads Marine administrative message 648/14, signed Dec. 14 by Maj. Gen. Michael Regner, the staff director of Headquarters Marine Corps.
    The new MARADMIN serves as a reminder of current resources available to those who are struggling as well as the duty of Marines and their commanders to watch out for each other.



    It's something.

    It's not enough.

    But it is something.

    It be great if the Senate would join the House in passing the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act.

    Even that wouldn't qualify as enough.

    But it would be something.


    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Wednesday, December 17, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue,  the targeting of religious minorities continues, look which senator refused to call it out, a lot of spin on Iraq insists things are improving, reality argues otherwise, and much more.



    We'll start with a letter senators have sent to Secretary of State John Kerry.  From Senator Roger Wicker's office:

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, today led a bipartisan effort calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to assist religious minorities facing persecution in Syria and Iraq, such as Christians and Yazidis, to find refuge in the United States. The Senators also urged the State Department to provide these minorities with better access to U.S. humanitarian aid.

    “The oppression of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq has led to an unspeakable humanitarian crisis,” Wicker said. “Tens of thousands have had to flee their homes to seek sanctuary from the Islamic State – whose savage treatment of these people is well-documented. The United States has historically protected minorities facing similar circumstances. We should do so again now.”

    “We have an obligation to stand up for human rights,” Brown said. “The U.S. has pledged humanitarian assistance for relief in Iraq and Syria, and that should include refugee assistance for persecuted religious minorities facing persecution.”

    The Senators’ letter specifically calls for “the creation of a Priority 2 (P-2) group under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for religious minorities from Iraq and Syria.”

    This new classification would provide a process for Christians, Alawites, Druze, Yazidis, and others to be considered for resettlement in the United States. In the past, this designation has been used for groups of humanitarian concern, including religious minorities from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and Iran.

    Wicker and Brown were joined in their letter by Senators Dan Coats, R-Ind., Carl Levin, D-Mich., James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Thune, R-S.D., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

    The full text of the letter:

    December 16, 2014

    The Honorable John F. Kerry
    Secretary of State
    2201 C Street NW
    Washington, D.C. 20520

    Dear Secretary Kerry,

    We write to encourage you to take expeditious action to protect Christians and other vulnerable religious minorities from the unprecedented level of violence in Iraq and Syria.

    The creation of a Priority 2 (P-2) group under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for religious minorities from Iraq and Syria would provide a structured process for Christians, Alawites, Druze, Yazidis, and others to be considered for resettlement in the United States. This designation has been used for groups of humanitarian concern, including religious minorities from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and Iran.  Although the Administration has announced that it will create more places for Syrian refugees, we have not stated that religious minorities such as Christians will be considered for admission to the United States.

    Religious minorities also have difficulty accessing humanitarian assistance due to the hostility and discrimination that they face from other citizens, including other refugees.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has acknowledged that religious minorities avoid camps for this reason. As such, we encourage you to direct the U.S. Agency for International Development to ensure that religious minorities have sufficient access to the nearly $2 billion in aid that the United States has pledged for humanitarian relief efforts in Iraq and Syria.

    Religious cleansing has reached historic levels in the Middle East.  Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian rebels, and terrorist groups have targeted religious minorities for violence.  In Iraq, Christians, Yazidis, and Mandeans have lived in fear of terrorist groups for the last decade.  Now, the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has openly vowed to end the existence of religious minorities in the Middle East. Accordingly, we urge you to act swiftly to help protect religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Senator Roger Wicker
    Senator Sherrod Brown
    Senator Dan Coats
    Senator Carl Levin
    Senator James Inhofe
    Senator John Thune
    Senator Marco Rubio
    Senator Rob Portman
    Senator Mark Kirk




    You notice anything?

    I did immediately.

    Where's the Senate fraud?

    Where's Rand Paul?

    Where's God's personal friend Rand Paul?

    In the December 10th snapshot, we noted the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing which featured Rand Paul's embarrassing grandstanding and his incessant caterwauling about Syrian Christians (while ignoring Iraqi Christians).

    We called it because it came off fake ass.

    And I could have been wrong in that call.


    But where's Senator Rand Paul's signature on the letter?

    Staying on the topic of fake ass, the Wall St Journal's round up of corruption reporting includes one on Iraq:

    Iraq’s prime minister is quoted saying he’s willing to be assassinated, if that’s what it takes to effectively fight corruption. (NY Times)


    That's from Tim Arango's report we've noted already this week.


    Haider al-Abadi only looks more ridiculous when he makes statements like that.

    In 2016, the United States will vote on a new American president.

    That person will be sworn in during the month of January 2017.

    And that person (and his or her family) will move into the White House.

    You can find similar situations in other countries with elected leaders.

    Where does Haider al-Abadi live?

    Not in the home of the prime minister.

    In August, he was named prime minister.

    But the previous one refuses to vacate the home.

    Thug Nouri al-Maliki continues to live in the home of the prime minister.

    Haider, that's corruption.

    Nouri is not the prime minister and he needs to vacate the home immediately.

    Haider's either too much of a chicken or in league with Nouri.

    (A video of the two emerged last week that records how close the two actually are.)

    Tim Arango's article notes Nouri continues to occupy the residence of the prime minister.

    The Iraqi people foot the bill for that housing occupation.

    That's corruption.

    And if Haider can't even weed that out, lots of luck seeing him punish those officials who've stolen money from Iraq (that would also include Nouri).

    Tim Arango's article also noted Nouri's plane but insisted he'd surrendered the private jet.

    No, he hasn't.

    It's parked at Baghdad International airport but it's not been handed over -- and this point has been firmly established repeatedly by both Iraq Times and Kitabat.

    I have no idea whether or not Ibrahim al-Jaafari is a fake ass but he's a joke.

    In December 2005, Iraqis voted.  No one was named prime minister-designate for months because the Iraqi Parliament wanted to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari to the post but Bully Boy Bush and his administration didn't want that.  They didn't care for al-Jaafari, they feared his personal militia, didn't want him to have a second term as prime minister, etc.

    So they forced the pockmarked faced thug Nouri off on Iraq.

    Ibrahim never really stood up to Nouri in the eight years that followed despite the hopes of Ibrahim's followers that their leader would discover a spine.

    Now Ibrahim has a post.

    Foreign Minister!

    Yeah, it is a huge step down.

    All that's left below it is parking valet.

    Hoshyar Zebari held the post for 8 years.  It's photo ops and nothing more.


    Xinhua reports of Jaafari:

    Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government has been in power for only months' time, and the city of Mousl is still in the hands of the IS militants, yet Iraq has made "great" progress in political reforms and the security situation is improving, he said, adding that the IS terrorists have started to pull back.


    That's a sweet little dream.  It's not reality but fairy tales have lulled many at bedtime.

    In the real world, Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) notes:

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is boosting its presence in Iraq’s restive Al-Anbar province in a bid to turn Baghdad’s attention away from the liberation of Mosul, a senior Iraqi military commander said on Wednesday.
    The senior Iraqi military officer, who spoke on the condition that his name and rank would not be disclosed, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the battle for Mosul, which government forces are presently gearing up for, would be “critical” to the defeat ISIS. Mosul, the provincial capital of neighboring Nineveh governorate, has been under ISIS control since June.

    “We can say that the fate of ISIS is tied to the result of the battle of Mosul, more than any other battle, whether in Iraq or Syria,” the officer said. 


    And AFP reports, "ISIS militants forced Iraqi forces to retreat Wednesday after fierce fighting in the city of Beiji, close to the country’s biggest oil refinery, a local official and tribal leader said."




  • And then there's this:




  • The link goes to a Reuters report by Ned Parker and Ahmed Rasheed who are both strong reporters and have many Iraq bylines to point to with pride.

    I wouldn't include the latest article on a list of pride.

    Six paragraphs before what the picture captures is touched on?

    And an article that buries the main point?


    In addition, there's what reads like the acceptance of murder.

    Suspects who are tortured -- which is what Parker and Rasheed are reporting though they refuse to name it -- and then murdered?  That's not democracy.  And if you can't report what's happening, if that's beyond your scope, you pick up the phone and dial Dr. Who's It at Generic University who teaches on ethics and human rights and get a quote from him or her explaining how repugnant and offensive the slaughter of suspects is.

    If the thugs had done the same thing in Iraq to a collie and it had been reported, I believe there would be global outrage.

    How sad that when it's done to humans, there's an acceptance and willingness to move on to the next topic.


    At the Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer observes, "In Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has failed to achieve any of the goals we set when we first invaded. Both countries are consumed by violence and terror. This is the very definition of defeat. Yet even President Obama, who did not launch these wars, seems reluctant to end them by saying simply, “We can’t win, so let’s admit it and withdraw.” Whatever the reality, Americans do not like admitting that we can lose at anything. Yet persisting in lost causes weakens us as a nation. Our enemies gleefully wear us down while our friends lament our shortsightedness."






     


    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    How low can Ro go?

    TV Newser reports:

    Only 13,000 viewers in the key A25-54 demo tuned into Ronan Farrow‘s MSNBC show Monday during the 1pmET timeslot. The last time MSNBC was under 13,000 for the timer period was back on Feb. 17, 2005 when the network drew 11K viewers in the key demo.


    So he's a failure like his mother.

    Or, for that matter, his grandmother.  Maureen O'Sullivan had a successful film career (unlike her daughter) but she bombed on NBC's Today show.  So it's fitting that her grandson would bomb on MSNBC.


    You think MSNBC's going to wait until after Christmas to give Ro-Ro his heave ho?

    Better question, what idiot thought Mia's fey son could handle a hard hitting political show?

    New content at Third:




    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Tuesday, December 16, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government remains in no rush on assisting Iraq, the Sunnis don't have to choose between an Iraqi government that targets them and the Islamic State, the so-called Human Rights Ministry of the Iraq government spins a fantastic tale they can't back up (watch to see who runs with it as fact), US Senator Tom Coburn is called out by veterans, and much more.

    The White House pretends they're doing something -- anything -- in Iraq.

    Not only is their no plan, there's no sense of urgency.

    From today's Pentagon press briefing by spokesperson John Kirby.


    Q: John, thanks.
    Could you bring us up to date on Iraq? The flow of troops that are going to be going in now that the funding has been approved? Can you give us an idea of sort of the pace and over what time period can we expect to see those -- that additional -- those 1,400?


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: The Iraqi train and equip fund, as you know, is part of the NDAA. It has not been signed yet into law. That said, we do know it's -- we're grateful for the support that we got from Congress, and we know it's coming.
    There have been no -- they are -- we are still working through sourcing solutions on all of or as many of those troops as possible. So, no troops have been given orders to go yet, nor have any actually started the process of deploying. But the sourcing solutions are being worked out.
    And as I said last time, General Austin has taken advantage of resources that he has in the region already to begin to set the stage for that. So, he's done a couple of things. He's got a small number that are already doing some advise and assist operations and missions. They're in Anbar, a small number, 50, 60, something like that.
    And then he has another nearly 200 or so that are beginning to -- to build out the infrastructure and set the conditions so that when we fall into those four other locations to do more hands on training with Iraqi brigades, they'll -- they'll be ready.
    So, while no training has started yet, no formal training, we are doing advise and assist in keeping with that program, and are getting ready and setting the stage for the trainers that will follow. And I would like to add, you know, as I said before, that many other nations are -- are planning to contribute trainers as well. This won't be a U.S. mission.


    Q: But what's the target? I guess at least, you know, general target date for when that training -- the troops might be in and the training might start?


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not aware of a specific date on the calendar, that it will be ready to start, and I -- my guess is it won't be a shotgun start, Lita. We'll -- we'll start it when and where we're able to over the next few months.
    But I think it's going to be a period of several months before we're actually ready to, you know, to get it launched and get it going.


    Q: Several months for the first -- for the beginning of it?



    REAR ADM. KIRBY: I think so. I think so. But again, we'll -- we'll keep you updated. As I said I would last week, we'll keep you updated as -- as we know. And certainly when units are deployed, you'll know because we always inform you and the public about that. So once we're in that -- at that position, we'll -- we'll be able to talk to it.


    Do that, keep us updated.  On how, some day real soon, the administration's start date will arrive.

    Boot licker Roger Shanahan (Interprter) thinks time is a luxury the US government has:


    In Iraq, the US finds itself in the rather unusual situation where ISIS has all the watches but the Coalition has all the time. While ISIS consists mostly of Iraqis, it also has a growing number of foreign fighters in its ranks. If the Shi'a-dominated Iraqi forces who were in charge before ISIS swept in were seen as occupiers in the Sunni heartlands, the rule of ISIS is now starting to be viewed as something similar, and perhaps worse.


    The Coalition does not have all the time -- no one does.

    The reality is, as DoD has admitted, the Islamic State has now adapted to the bombings.  That's the whole 'plan' so to pretend the US is in the lead with 'all the time,' is just ridiculous.

    It's also ridiculous to assume that the Islamic State is going to send Sunnis into the arms of the Shi'ites.

    Nothing the Islamic State is doing is that shocking to the Sunnis.

    It's frightening to the rest of the world but, for example, raping and torturing women?

    Real sorry you just woke the f**k up today but the Sunnis have been dealing with that for years.  It was one of the main things fueling the protests that kicked off in December 2012.

    But Barack Obama was still playing footsie with thug Nouri al-Maliki so the world looked the other way.

    But Sunni women and girls were being tortured and raped in Iraqi prisons and jails.

    And when it did become a big issue in Iraq -- and only in Iraq because US Senator Barbara Boxer and all the other fake asses suddenly worried about Iraqi women -- Nouri's response was a for show release or 'release' of a few women.

    And the western press that did cover the for show incident were far too squeamish and delicate when it came to rape to even properly cover that.

    We can go down the list piece by piece, the offenses of the Islamic State currently (in a few isolated areas they control) and the widespread offenses by the government of Nouri al-Maliki for eight long years.

    The alleged difference between the two -- the Islamic State and the government of Iraq -- that boot lickers like Rodger see aren't necessarily seen by the Sunnis.

    Barack kept chirping "political solution" which didn't mean what so many fools seem to think it did.

    It meant a Sunni buy-in of the government.

    That required massive changes.  Rodger thinks a new prime minister was the trick.

    No.

    Rodger's a stupid idiot.

    We said, before Nouri was forced out, that a new prime minister would not be the answer but would provide Iraq with some time to rebuild, a restart.

    And we didn't just say that when Barack stopped backing Nouri.

    We said it before the April parliamentary elections.

    A new prime minister provided a brief chance to restart, to show a new Iraq.

    Haider al-Abadi has been prime minister since August and he's done damn little.

    Don't throw out the Kurd and Baghdad oil deal.  Not only is it a victory for the Kurds but that wasn't really the issue.

    So when Brett McGurk stroking himself before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the oil deal, he's not just lying about the 'victory,' he's lying about what it means.

    Because of Massoud Barzani, KRG president, the Kurds are getting much of what they want.

    But they weren't going to split off anyway, not this year or next.

    The clear priority was the Sunnis.

    But there's been nothing -- oh, wow, a minister post -- tossed to them.

    They've been lied to.

    Haider insisted, September 13th, that the bombing of Sunni homes in Falluja by the Iraqi military was over.

    Nouri started those bombings in January of this year.

    Daily, these bombings have resulted in Sunni civilians being wounded and killed -- and their homes turned into rubble.

    Haider said September 13 that the bombings were over.

    And September 14th, they continued.

    And they continue to this day.

    The only promise he made to the Sunnis and he failed to keep it.

    Asharq Al-Awsat reports today:

    Reconstruction in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, large parts of which remain under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters, will cost more than 18 billion dollars, a local official said on Tuesday.
    Arkan Khalaf Al-Tarmouz, head of the Anbar Reconstruction Committee, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS remains in control of more than 85 percent of territory in Anbar, adding that there has been large-scale destruction across Iraq’s largest province in the fighting between ISIS and government forces.

    “Initial estimates indicate that 40 percent of Anbar’s cities have been destroyed, including major infrastructure and residential areas,” Tarmouz said.


    The bulk of the destruction is coming from the the militaries (Iraq, US, etc) and not the Islamic State.  The Islamic State flies no planes over Iraq, drops no bombs from the air.


    But idiots like Rodger don't just miss that point, they miss the reality that it's not an either/or world.  Sunnis can continue to reject that Iraqi government that attacks them and they can also reject the Islamic State.

    People can, and sometimes do, have two enemies.

    While dumb asses like Rodger ignore reality, others don't.  Noting the efforts to build a Sunni military component, Susannah George (Global Post) also notes the reality of Sunni and Baghad-based government relations:


    When the US announced its intention to support Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State (IS), it did so on the condition that the government undergo serious reforms to reach out to the country’s Sunni population, who were severely marginalized under the sectarian rule of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.


    US-backed legislation to create an Iraqi “national guard” — first proposed in September — was aimed at diluting Sunni support for IS by promising Sunni fighters, including tribal forces, weapons and supplies from Iraq’s central government. A former Iraqi National Guard force was absorbed into the army a decade ago.

    It was hoped that these groups would recapture the Sunni areas held by IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in western Iraq.


    But with the Iraqi government failing to make headway in the fight, and the national guard legislation languishing in parliament, the US has begun to work behind the scenes to train and prepare to arm Iraq’s Sunnis on its own.


    There isn't all the time in the world.

    Well there is all the time in the world for Rodger to make an ass of himself.

    But in terms of Iraq, time is limited.  The window for Hadier to show change is closing quickly.

    On the issue of the US training forces, let's go back to today's DoD briefing:



    Q: Back on Iraq, could you give us more details about the train -- training program of the Iraqi forces? How many U.S. members will be involved in that program? And also, if you -- if you -- if you are aware of any contacts between this building, the U.S. military, and the Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq.


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: Okay, Joe, hold on a second. So we talked about the fact that we don't have a -- you know, we don't have the -- to Lita's question, we don't have sourcing solutions on the -- the 1,500 additional. And remember, it could be up to 1,500. It may not be 1,500.
    But the way it'll break down -- and I think I actually put this out when we initially announced this. So you'll have roughly, for the advise and assist mission, about 630 roughly. Again, it may not go that high. Some of those will be enablers. They'll be people that do logistics command and control, intelligence support.
    And then you'll have in the building partner capacity mission, the training mission, about 870 of those. Again, those numbers are flexible because we may not go up to that 1,500. The training hasn't begun yet. Again, my -- I think -- I think I dealt with the status when I answered Lita's question.
    On your other -- on your other question, there's been no direct -- from the few advisers that we have out in Anbar, there's been no direct involvement with Sunni tribal leaders from them. Now, they are advising Iraqi leaders. And one of the things that we're working with Iraqi leaders on is to encourage their outreach to Sunni tribal leaders. But there's been no direct contact out there between the very small number of advanced advisers we have there and Sunni tribal leaders. I -- that said, now, in the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq out of Baghdad, which is -- has had a footprint there since 2011 when -- when we ended our combat operations there in Iraq, they have had some contact with -- as -- as the due course of their duties, they have had some contact with tribal -- Sunni tribal leaders in that part of -- of Iraq. But there's been no direct advising, assisting, training of Sunni tribal leaders.


    Q: But that -- excuse me. Just to follow up, there is a plan to arm the -- the -- the tribal -- the Sunni tribes...


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: It is something -- it is something that we've been in discussion with Iraqi leaders about, and we've stressed the importance of inclusiveness here with Sunni tribal leaders.


    Q: But I mean, there is a U.S. plan to equip and arm the tribes in Iraq.


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: No, as we said before, that that could be one iteration of the plan further down the road. But it wasn't going to be the out -- at the outset. The outset is to train Iraqi brigades, nine, and then three Pesh brigades. That's the focus at the outset.
    We have opened the door. We've said it could be possible that later on down the road, there may be an equipping program or a part of it that would include some equipping of -- of Sunni tribes. But that was something that hadn't been decided yet. It was something under discussion, and we just aren't at that point right now.


    Q: (inaudible) in a briefing at CENTCOM for several reporters here from the Pentagon, the CENTCOM leadership there told us that it was up to the Iraqi government to reach out to the Sunni leaders and not the U.S.
    Is -- is the U.S. going to be involved in -- in trying to revive a Sunni awakening? Or is this going to be up to the Iraqis to do?


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: No, Jim, it's, as I said to Joe, this is something we want the Iraqis to do. And we're not in direct communication and coordination with Sunni tribal leaders right now. We want the Iraqis to do that. And frankly, that's part and parcel of the whole advise- assist mission itself is to help them be more inclusive, to be more comprehensive, and to be better at -- at what they're doing in terms of defending their own people out there in Anbar.
    So, there's no plans right now for a -- a new awakening, as you saw during the -- during Operation Iraqi Freedom. We want the Iraqis to do this. But we are encouraging that. We have been encouraging that. We were encouraging Prime Minister Maliki to do that before he left office.


    Q: Since -- since the Sunni -- since some of these Sunni leaders have already made it clear that they still don't trust the Iraqi leadership in Baghdad, do you see a role for the U.S. to serve as some kind of middle man, a mediator?


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, you know, now you're asking a question that may be better put to my colleagues at the State Department. I don't see a U.S. military role in that regard. Again, we want to advise and assist them to be more inclusive and for them to be better at what they're doing. And that's where the focus is on, is helping them get to that point where they're more inclusive of Sunni tribal leaders.


    Q: Following up on that, what was Secretary Hagel's assessment of the Iraqi progress on the front that Mick has been asking about, about how well the new government is doing reaching out to the Sunnis?


    REAR ADM. KIRBY: Sure. I think the secretary, as he said to you guys when we left Baghdad, he came away from those meetings encouraged that Iraqi leaders understand the importance of doing exactly that, Julian, of being more inclusive and reaching out to the Sunni tribes.

    But the secretary also understands that that requires some energy and some -- and some leadership out there in Baghdad. And again, he's encouraged that they -- that they understand the need for it and that they will exert that leadership. But he knows that this is -- you know, some -- for -- this is a new government, so this is new ground that they have to -- that they have to tread.


    MEE carries a write up which opens, "At least 150 women who refused to marry fighters belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group have been executed in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, the country's Ministry of Human Rights reported."


    Do you believe it?

    Anyone who presents it as fact should be a question mark in your judgment.

    The so-called Human Rights Ministry in Iraq is a propaganda front.  That was true under Nouri, it's been true since Nouri.

    They make statements rejecting claims of abuse by the government that news outlets uncover, that Human Rights Watch uncovers, that Amnesty International uncovers.

    They've yet to expose any crimes committed by the government.

    These days they concern themselves with what they say are the actions of the Islamic State.

    The story may very well be true.

    But it's coming from a propaganda outlet.

    When did these events happen?

    There it gets sketchy.

    Okay, where did they happen?

    Supposedly in Falluja.

    Where the Iraq government is not in control.

    So where did the details come from?

    And the numbers?

    At best, the ministry got some gossip they couldn't confirm.

    But would the Islamic State, if they wanted 'jihad' brides, really target visibly pregnant women?

    They're fundamentalists.

    And yet we're supposed to believe, from the Ministry, that the Islamic State didn't just go after women to force into marriage, they went after pregnant women.

    Extreme fundamentalism sees women as property to be taken by men.  Women have little standing in that view.  In one of the few times, with those types of people, when women do have stature?  When they're pregnant.

    The story doesn't ring true.

    The story was clearly not verified by the Ministry or the Iraqi government -- nor could it be.

    But it is part of an ongoing effort to create alarm by the Iraqi government.

    If the Iraqi government's looking for false tales maybe they could revisit the 90s lie about babies being tossed out of incubators?

    From Iraqi government tales to US government Tweets, US Vice President Joe Biden issued the following today:





    Congrats to my close friend, Tony Blinken, the new Dep. Secretary of State. Admired in every corner of the world. -vp

    98 retweets 123 favorites




    We'll close with this from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:


    PRESS CONTACT
    Gretchen Andersen
    Press Secretary
    Tel: 212-982-9699

    press@iava.org



    Washington, D.C. (December 15, 2014) – Due to the action of one U.S. Senator, critical legislation that would address the epidemic of veteran suicide was today blocked in the Senate. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), which spearheaded the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, blasted Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) for objecting to passage of this vital legislation that would support the veterans community. The legislation, unanimously passed last Tuesday by the House, is named after Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Clay Hunt, a Marine who died by suicide in 2011.


    “As parents who experienced the pain of losing a veteran to suicide, it is shocking to see this bill blocked because of one lone Senator’s agenda,” said Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt. “Too many veterans are facing the same bureaucratic red tape Clay confronted years ago, and they are looking to our elected leaders for hope. While throughout this process we have been so thankful for the widespread and sincere support from our Congressional leaders, today, once again, vets like my son were failed. I am grieving thinking of those young men and women who will be delayed receiving help because of this inaction. The VA’s mental health care system needs urgent change as more veterans die from suicide than on the battlefield, and Senator Coburn’s action today just delays that reform.”



    “It’s a shame that after two decades of service in Washington, Sen. Coburn will always be remembered for this final, misguided attack on veterans nationwide. It’s sickening to think another 22 veterans will die by suicide today and every day we fail to expand mental health care for our vets. While we appreciate the many Senators who have stood up to support our bill and our nation’s veterans, we join them in expressing our dismay that Senator Coburn would block this fiscally responsible bill,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “While we recognize Senator Coburn’s reputation as a budget hawk, clearly the minor cost of this bill would have a tremendous payoff to help save lives in our community. This isn’t about spending new money – it’s about honoring the commitment we owe to the men and women who put on the uniform. With the suicide crisis continuing, it is unconscionable for a lone Senator to block a fair vote and for Congress to leave Washington without dealing with this crisis. This fight is not over because the suicide crisis is not over. If it takes 90 days for the new Congress to re-pass this bill, the statistics tell us another 1,980 vets will have died by suicide. That should be a heavy burden on the conscience of Senator Coburn and this Congress. Have no doubt, we will be back with reinforcements when the next Congress arrives.”


    IAVA and its members do appreciate the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. IAVA also thanks the Senate sponsors of the bill, Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), as well as all those who signed on to support the measure. A total of 21 co-sponsors — 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats — supported the Clay Hunt SAV Act.



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


    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.