Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Online therapy

Offline, I'm a psychologist.  I don't believe in doing diagnosis of someone I haven't met.  I would not and have not put Bully Boy Bush or Barack "on the couch."  (Although I did meet Barack at a fundraiser before he made it into the Senate.  I have never met Bully Boy Bush.)

I'm not playing psychologist online now but I am about to offer some online advice and common sense.  I started this site many years ago.  Sunny, my wonderful assistant (before Mike and I moved to Hawaii) and my very good friend (who is now Dr. Sunny having completed her education and training!), would go through the e-mails and give me overviews and pass on ones that I should read.  (I did not have the time to read them all myself, sorry.) So I got to know about a lot of readers that way.

One reader we'll call Juan (not his real name) e-mailed today.  My new assistant read the e-mail and told me I probably needed to look at it.  Juan's upset and in a dark place.

I remembered Juan as always upbeat.  I called Sunny to make sure I was remembering correctly.  I was.  I forwarded her the e-mail and she read it and said she's concerned for Juan.

I can't treat Juan, I've never met him face-to-face.

But I can give common sense advice and it's coming now.

Use your $8,000 to get your own place and do it now.

Juan, you are not going to become happy.

Juan's story is this.  He lives in Queens (he doesn't, this is for an illustration) and moved to Albany where he had a friend.  He was laid off and when he told his friend, that he hadn't seen in 7 years, she said, "C'mon up and stay with me.  It won't be a problem.  I need to look for a job, we can both look together."

Juan had $15,000.  He moved.

He moved into hell.

Juan is a person who loves music.  He has the radio or his iTunes playing always.  Gripy is a TV person who blasts NCIS close to 24 7 (I wasn't aware until the e-mail that it was on TV as much as it was) and goes to Law and Order Special Victims Unit or the CSIs when not watching NCIS.

Gripy's t-shirt today was something like "If a man speaks in the forest and no woman is around how does he know he's wrong."

You might smile or even laugh at that.


Gripy has animals, all the males are neutered and she makes statements about how all men should be.

In such an environment, that t-shirt is not funny, it is revealing.

Before he moved, Juan was asked by Gripey for money.  She wanted to get them a place.  So he wired her $1,000 which she insisted was a loan.  After that, she needed spending money while she was selling her condo and could he wire her $500?  He did.

Before he arrived he had given her a $1500 loan.

When he got there, she immediately needed to go shopping -- "and I'll pay you back!" -- so they took the U-Haul he'd brought his things in (she doesn't have a car, nor does he) and went to a super store where she spent $760-something dollars on food and other items.  Then they went to an animal store and she spent $375 (a loan!) on pet food and pet toys (mainly toys).

The Monday after he arrived, he found out about the selling of the condo.  It was in foreclosure.  She got an attorney to work it so she could sale it quickly.  She got $25,000 from the deal (it was worth much more -- but attorney and bank fees reduced the amount).

Before this took place, she needed money for an application fee for the new apartment ($200), then for a deposit ($500), then for a partial rent payment, then for a last month rent payment and, by the way, there were other items she needed.  For example, she drinks three bottles of wine a day, she goes through a bottle of vodka every four days and drinks some hazlenut liquor -- and don't forget the animals!  Five cats and one huge dog.  All, by the way, indoor animals. She also smokes -- cigars! -- so he has to buy a weekly carton.

So she's borrowing for that as well.  To the point that she now owes him almost $5000.

They now have a 2 bedroom apartment but Juan's name's not on the lease.  Gripy said it would have required another application fee.  (If you didn't figure it out, the thousand or so she borrowed before he arrived?  She spent it on who knows what but not on the apartment.)  She won't give him a key.

When they moved in, the cable was not on.  Because she was grossly in debt on that.  So she used his hotspot via Verizon.  Used it to the point that in one week, he'd exceeded his monthly streaming allowance.

Now that the cable and internet are on, she will not give him the password for the internet ("Just use your mobile hot spot!").

He got a little alarm clock radio and if he plays it (for music or NPR) she complains.  But she blasts the TV in the living room and in her bedroom all day and all night.  They never go off. Even when she goes to sleep.

She'd told him she had a ton of friends including ones in his profession and she'd set him up with them to look for jobs.  But when he moved, he never met them and still hasn't.

One of her friends he has met is the cab driver.  He is not her friend and told Juan he can't stand her.  Another friend was a neighbor at the condos who was a teacher.  He came over once and brought Gripy pot (which did not make her happy -- using the pot didn't make her happier).  After he left, she trashed him to Juan.

It's very clear that Gripy has no friends.  Since Juan had last seen her 7 years before, she's put on a great deal of weight, lost her front teeth (top and bottom) in a fight with her sister (the condo's was her sister's but her sister died).

Gripy has a 'friend' named Alex (not his real name).  She is having Alex hang curtains at the new place and hang dressers and other objects on the walls (seriously).  Juan's room is a tiny futon (his head and feet hang over the ends -- he has to sleep in a fetal position).  In addition to that, she has three end tables in there (while she decides where she wants them) two rocking chairs, three regular chairs, four lamps, crates and boxes.

This is supposed to be Juan's room?  To get anywhere, he has to step on the futon and then step across.

She complains when he's online -- she feels ignored.

Alex?  She's paid him $3,000 to do the work he's doing.  It was going to just be $2000 but his wallet was stolen so she gave him an additional thousand.

Alex's five thousand?  He had a dental emergency.  She mentioned owing him all that money, told him to tell her how much the dentist was and she'd pay him back.  She never did.  (Honestly, she never will.)

She is not looking for a job.  She gives Juan assignments every day while she goes out (to wait for Fed Ex, to do whatever).

Remember that first grocery trip and how expensive it was?  That's because, among other things, she eats filet mignon twice a week.  Despite missing six front teeth, Gripy is a snob.

When Juan said, "How about we do hot dogs and mac and cheese" one night, she hit the roof and told him she was not low class.  (When Juan knew her, she had lost her university job -- not teaching -- and had borrowed money to house her pets.  Following that, she was briefly homeless.  But she can put on airs today?)

They live near a McDonald's.  Juan never ate fast food until the move.  (He packed his own lunch and stuck to a mainly vegetable diet for dinners -- fruits for breakfast.)  He goes there every day now at 4 o'clock just to get away.  There, he's met people who are interested in the illegal spying.  (Gripy insists she knew it all along and isn't going to let it bother her.)  There, he meets a woman who is a blogger and reads books.  His box of books went into a storage locker because Gripy told him there wasn't room for everything in the new apartment.

Gripy never reads -- even if he comes in with a newspaper.  She does nothing most of the time except lie on her bed watching TV with her five cats around her and her huge dog (it's supposed to be able to kill a pit bull, the type of dog it is).

He does not watch TV because when he first moved in (at the condo) he would be downstairs and she'd say, "Watch whatever you want, I'm going upstairs."  15 minutes later, she would come down, grab the remote, change the channel and maybe mention a few minutes later, "Were you watching that?"

(She doesn't like sitcoms or anything funny.  Nothing is funny, she insists.)

I could go on and on.  Here's reality, he's never getting back the money she borrowed.  She's never getting a job (and will have run through the $25,000 in a matter of months -- if her niece doesn't find out about the condo sale first and demand half since it was her now dead mother's condo).  He will never be able to get a job until she wants him too.  When the money's down lower, she'll stop demanding that he do this or that and start urging him to get a job to save them both from going under.

All of the above, most people will agree is reason to move.

Now, Juan, hear me on this.  She is using your issues.

Juan was beaten as a child by his step-father.  It started because Juan wouldn't let the man beat up Juan's mother.  For years, Juan stayed there to protect his mom and his brother.  Then his father found out when Juan was in middle school, took the mother to court and got custody.

But Juan grew up walking on egg shells.

Gripy knows that.

She's using explosions and creating them.  She wants to keep him unbalanced.

That's why, for example, she started a conversation about how "As" is the best song of all time, as recorded by Stevie Wonder. When Juan said it was a good song but he probably liked "Superstition" and "Isn't She Lovely" better, she started screaming at him.  This was his first weekend.

Another time, she asked him to name his favorite films.  He listed ten.  She said he hadn't included Schindler's List.  He said he wasn't a fan of Steven Spielberg's work.  She began screaming at him.  She started screaming why didn't he like Spielberg and he replied he didn't and he didn't have to list reasons.  He said he didn't want to fight and could she please just drop it but she only got louder.

When this happens (on many other subjects), he gets very upset and starts wondering if she's going to scream, "Get out!"

He writes he feels bad about thinking about moving because she's a friend.  Recently, she got into a fight on the phone with her brother.  She was so angry she was shaking and her face was red. She saw him looking and started screaming at him.

Juan, she's not your friend.  She's using you.  She's deliberately upsetting you.

Get the hell out.  She'll probably be hitting you up for money again within a month, if not sooner.

You cannot be happy sharing an apartment with that woman (and her dog and her five cats).  The condo had animal hair all over it and it's only a matter of time before the new apartment's that way as well.

She hates the world, Juan, you love life.  You will never be happy there and she will continue to mess with your childhood issues.

You say you've got about 8 thousand left, use it to get an apartment and find a job.  Get the hell out while you still can.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, August 13, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri gets criticized for the violence, Ayad Allawi calls on Moqtada not to leave political life, spying in America continues, Heidi Boghosian has a new book exploring it, we address issues the spying raises and that past US government spying raised, and more.

Let's start with a new and notable book, a book worth reading. 

Law and Disorder Radio  is a weekly, 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).  It addresses civil liberties issues, government abuses and more.  Heidi is the Executive Director of The National Lawyers Guild (the link with her name goes to that site) and the author of a new book.  She's also Queen of the Zeitgeist.  Doubt it?  Dropping back to the September 24, 2010 snapshot:

Meanwhile Jason Ditz ( reports, "The FBI is confirming that this morning they began a number of 'raids' against the homes of antiwar activists, claiming that they are 'seeking evidence relating to activities concerning the material support of terrorism'."  Karmically, the news breaks on the same day that the National Lawyers Guild issues a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." .In her intro, Boghosian notes, "To know that the United States is undergoing a highly orchestrated curtailment of personal and political liberties, one need not look further than police treatment of protesters in the streets. Those who speak out against government policies increasingly face many of the same types of weaponry used by the U.S. governmen tin its military operations."

In 2010, she was right there with a report on spying just as the news of government spying broke.  And in the midst of revelations about Barack's illegal spying on Americans, Heidi's book   Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance was released last week.   (And discussed on yesterday's Law and Disorder Radio  with plans for a longer discussion of the book to take place in three or so weeks -- yesterday's discussion is excerpted in yesterday's snapshot.)  From Heidi's new book:

The FBI's counterintelligence programs (COINTELPRO) brought shame to the reputation of the bureau, and for good reason.  The covert and manipulative programs sought to destroy influential and effective leaders of civil rights and other political movements, as well as other politically active individuals, through a series of insidious immoral, and frequently illegal actions. Operations aimed at "neutralizing" critics of government policies included defamation, libel, assault, poisoning, entrapment, and even assassination.  COINTELPRO illustrates the ease with which domestic intelligence initiatives can escalate to warlike counterintelligence maneuvers, employed unlawfully and with total impunity, accountable to no branch of  government.  
An FBI wiretap of the Black Panther Party headquarters in 1970 revealed that actress Jean Seberg was pregnant, and not by French writer Romain Gary, her estranged husband.  An FBI memo noted, "Jean Seberg has been a financial supporter of the BPP and should be neutralized.  Her current pregnancy by [name deleted] while still married affords an opportunity for such efforts."  In addition to giving money to the Panthers, Seberg had spoken out against U.S. war policies and racism.  The bureau's leaks that she was carrying the child of a Panther resulted in news headlines such as A BLACK PANTHER'S THE PAPPY OF A CERTAIN FILM QUEEN'S EXPECTED BABY.  On August 7, Seberg tried to kill herself by taking an overdose of sleeping pills; on August 20 her baby was born prematurely and died.  For the next several years, Seberg grew depressed, attempted suicide each year on the anniversary of her baby's death, and finally succeeded on August 20, 1979.

As I've noted before I knew Jean Seberg.  When I hear people today say, "I have nothing to hide," my honest thought is, "Oh, you poor, little idiot, you don't have a clue."

The government doesn't need to know your personal business at all.  But when it has known, it has generally abused that knowledge.  They learned of Jean's pregnancy via a phone call Jean made.  And they went after her.  And the reality of that is still not honestly told today.

That's not a slam at Heidi.  When I heard the book would mention Jean, I got an advanced copy because I wanted to see if Heidi bought into the revisionary lies -- lies only possible because Romain is dead.  No, Heidi doesn't.  She stays on the factual path and good for her.

But the reality no one wants to talk about -- the reason Joyce Haber, a gossip columnist, is trashed and falsely made into the bad guy -- is because Jean's pregnancy resulted in the full weight of the US government being brought down on her, an American citizen.

The FBI passed a tip to Haber's editor who passed it to Haber without telling her where it came from but while vouching for the source.  (The editor, Bill Thomas, may not like that reality being know but the tip is in Joyce's files and it includes his handwritten note vouching for the source.)  Haber ran a blind item.  In May of 1970.  Not a big thing, Haber ran blind items all the time.  The only one really 'harmed' by the item was possibly Jane Fonda since the item could have described her in the minds of most Americans who knew she had lived in France and married a French man.  Jean Seberg was in many big films and a celebrity but her personal life was not as widely known (and followed) to the degree that Jane's was.  Even now, the events of Jane's day to day life are more widely known than that of most other actresses.  Jane's personal life has always resulted in the public's interest and the press' coverage.  Those who followed coverage of actresses in 1970 might also have concluded the item was about Barbara Hershey, Mia Farrow or some other actress identified with social causes.  But, again, for most Americans who read the blind item, the obvious choice would have been Jane Fonda because she was the biggest name and the most widely covered (and publicly active in the Native American Movement as well as in the Black Panther Movement).

Jean tries to take her life in August.  That's a result of Edward Behr and Newsweek.  Behr is the one who writes a 'report' for Newsweek in August that states Jean Seberg is pregnant by a Black Panther.  It's not a blind item: "She and French author Romain Gary, 56, are reportedly about to remarry even though the baby Jean expects in October is by another man -- a black activist she met in California."

And unlike Joyce Haber's blind item, Newsweek is all over the country and in public and school libraries including Jean's home state of Iowa where her parents live and where she's now branded an "adulteress."  And the Des Moines Register reports on the Newsweek item (they didn't on the Haber item).   Jean was not embarrassed that the world would think she was having a child by an African-American male -- a point that is often missed.  (And the man was actually Latino -- and not a Black Panther or an American -- or in America.)  She was not even thinking, "This will destroy my career!"  She was appalled that her personal life was being exposed to the world and specifically to members of her hometown and to her parents.  Adulteress.  I've been called far worse but I don't give a s**t and never have.  Jean didn't splash her personal life in the papers.  And being called (the judgmental) term of "adulteress" in 1970 could bring shame to someone's family.

There was no reason for Edward Behr to print that.  First off, it wasn't true.  (The father was an activist in Mexico.) Second, true or not, Romain was publicly the child's father and Newsweek and Behr had no business stepping into that issue -- there is such a thing as right to privacy and there was no 'right to know' or 'need to know' with regards to who the father of her baby was.

And Romain Gary sued Newsweek and wrote "The Big Knife" for France-Soir blaming Newsweek for the death of the child.

How does this get missed?

Because Jean wasn't just targeted by the FBI.  That's the little secret that leads to the lies of "It's Joyce Harber!"  Behr and Newsweek were doing the bidding of the CIA.  Newsweek frequently did the bidding of the CIA -- a reason so many of us don't give a damn if that piece of trash publication goes down the toilet.  Behr was in France.  The CIA ran the smear operation against Jean overseas, not the FBI.

Jean was an American citizen.  Her life was in France.  She returned to the US only for a film role or to visit her family.  She was not Jane who was on college campuses, in GI coffee houses and all over the country.  Jane was targeted and she did not deserve to be, no American does for exercising their First Amendment rights.  But my point here is that Jean was very minor in the US -- both in terms of her actions and in terms of her films.  (Even now, she's most famous for the French new wave classic Breathless.)

Yet the US government used information on her, misinformation, to try to destroy her.  The FBI and the CIA, under Tricky Dick, went after her and tried to publicly humiliate her while she was in the advance stages of her pregnancy, fully aware that their actions might result in a miscarriage.

So when someone today insists, "I don't have anything to hide," they're being foolish. 

Under both Barack and Bully Boy Bush, there have been attempts to spy on foreign diplomats.  Under Bully Boy Bush, it was an attempt at the United Nations.

From Friday's snapshot:

KPFA broadcast the (brief) press conference live during Living Room and guest host Kevin Pina and guests Shahid Buttar (Bill of Rights Defense Committee) and Marcia Mitchell (author of The Spy Who Tried To Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion).  Buttar weighed in first on the press conference.

[. . .]
 Kevin Pina:  Now of course Katharine -- just to remind people, Marcia, Katharine was -- tell us who Katharine Gun was.

Marcia Mitchell:  Katharine Gun was a British secret service officer working for GCH2 which, as we know, is NSA's prime partner in the surveillance business.  And she was at her computer on the morning of January 31, 2003 during the debate about the legitimacy of invading Iraq.

Kevin Pina:  Now this is in the United Nations Security Council debate.

Marcia Mitchell:  Yes.  And she then saw on her computer from our NSA, from Frank Kosa, from the NSA inviting GCH2 to join in an illegal spy operation against members -- specific members of the UN Security Council -- those who had the swing vote as to whether or not we would have a new resolution to invade Iraq.  And those who were supporting the resolution, specifically Bush and Blair, were very passionate about getting this because they were concerned about Resolution 1441 which allowed inspections was not sufficient to allow invasion.

Kevin Pina:  So Katharine Gun basically blew the whistle on an NSA--

Marcia Mitchell:  Absolutely.

Kevin Pina (Con't): -- surveillance program on members of the United Nations Security Council who had the swing votes to approve  a US-sponsored resolution to invade Iraq.

Marcia Mitchell:  Right.  And the reason given in the message that Katharine read was to influence these voters to the US way of thinking.  And that message indicated that they would not only be doing not only the business offices of these UN security members but really their personal lives as well.  So what we were looking at really is high stakes blackmail.  This was a way to get information on these six men to get them to vote on behalf of the US-UK position.

In 2003, the US government was prepared to spy on and blackmail members of the UN Security Council to get them to vote for war on Iraq.  If they wanted to start a war on that scale again, and now having all this stored data on Americans phone calls and e-mails, what makes you think they wouldn't use it against American activists opposed to war in order to try to shut them up?

That's not possible?  The US government would only attempt to spy and blackmail foreign diplomats?  If you really believe that then Heidi Boghosian's Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance is not only an excellent book, it's also a must read.

 And to those who say they have nothing to hide, uh, excuse me, who ever said the US government was an honest broker when it came to smear campaigns.  J. Edgar Hoover authorized the FBI to smear Jean.  He appears to have believed she was pregnant by a Black Panther.  But the CIA spied on Jean in Mexico.  They knew of that affair.  They also most likely knew the man was the father.  That didn't stop them from spreading what they hoped was the more damning rumor: Jean pregnant by a Black Panther!  (As opposed to Jean pregnant by a Mexican activist -- which wouldn't alarm as many Americans in 1970.  The Black Panthers was a domestic movement, so an activist working in another country would appear 'exotic' and Lucy and Ricky and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez had long ago made most Americans comfortable with White and Latino coupling.)

Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints, guest host Kevin Pina spoke with the ACLU's Kade Crockford about the ongoing spying.

Kade Crockford:   The notion that the government may in fact already be collecting all of this data about every single one of us and holding onto it just in case it wants to dip into someday.  And I would simply say to anybody who trusts Barack Obama to do the right thing, and thinks that this isn't such a big deal because they voted for the guy and they think he's pretty cool, what do you think about President Rick Santorum having access to information about when you got an abortion or about when you got, you know, you're getting gay married or any host of other, completely harmless activities which some future president might find a good reason to harass you or to send some G-men to your house spy on you or in fact, even worse.

(You can also listen to that broadcast via this Flashpoints Radio Tweet.)

I don't care for Juan Cole but a KPFK friend asked me to note Ian Masters' Background Briefing which aired in place of Connect The Dots Monday Morning -- the friend pointed out that this was a discussion on Iraq and there hasn't been a lot of that on Pacifica Radio in some time.

Ian Masters:  And according to the United Nations, 1057 Iraqis were killed and 2326 were wounded in attacks in July which makes that the highest casualty figures since 2008.  Are we to assume that the Sunni - Shi civil war that Gen [David] Petraeus was supposed to have ended with his surge, is that resuming or could it resume?

Juan Cole:  No, it's a different phenomenon now.  In 2006 and 2007, you had a civil war which was pursued on the ground and it involved ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from Shia neighborhoods and vice versa.  And you had as many as 2500 people killed per month in that period. Now that ethnic cleansing has happened and a lot of neighborhoods are fairly monochrome and you have to drive for awhile to find somebody of the other sect if you wanted to kill them and so what's going on now is a guerrilla war.  It's low intensity conflict by guerrillas, by cadres who are blowing things up.  They're interlopers to the places -- like the Shia neighborhoods that were blown up Saturday.  The people who blew them up don't live there, they came from elsewhere.  So it's not a civil war, it's a guerrilla war.

That's Cole with the CIA disinformation, thank you.  First, just this morning, we noted, "These mass arrests target Sunni populations.  If you don't get that, find your average lazy reporter covering Iraq who will repeatedly reduce violence to 'attacks on Shi'ites' even when other groups -- including Sunnis -- are being attacked."  I should have included CIA contractors in that sentence.  Second, Tuz Khormato was singled out by several outlets (such as EFE)  as the site of Saturday's worst attack and it's 70% Turkmen.  And what of Mosul?    Michael Martinez and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported Saturday, "In Mosul, at least eight people were killed and 12 others were wounded in two separate explosions in the city. Mosul is a largely Sunni city about 400 kilometers, or 248 miles, north of Baghdad."

Again, Iraq is not helped by reporters (and CIA contractors) who refuse to recognize violence targeting non-Shi'ites.   That's enough of that.  (To listen, you have 88 days.  Here for the KPFF archives, it's under August 12's programs and under "Connect the Dots.")  Good for KPFK for an attempt to discuss Iraq.  I'm not really sure who they could bring on these days. Most 'experts' on Iraq are like Phyllis Bennis -- completely not paying attention so, as they rush to catch up, they miss key details.   Others -- the grinning fool, you know who I mean -- are too busy offering White House propaganda and extolling Barack to address Iraq honestly.  But if you're going to bring on the CIA contractor, why not bring on Brookings Kenneth Pollack.  Better yet, Kenneth Katzman does the research for Congress (via Congressional Research Services) on Iraq, so bring him on.  I have also strongly suggested Iraqi reporters Sahar Issa and Laith Hammoudi who are both more than qualified to address what is taking place in Iraq.

In complaints to Pacifica Radio friends, we have touched on the fact that part of the lack of Iraq discussions has to do with the inability of most left outlets to follow Iraq.  (Robert Dreyfuss is a known idiot to any real lefty.  We do not and will not forget his roots -- and his bad 'reporting' so frequently makes it impossible to forget his roots.)  So we will applaud KPFK and Ian Masters for attempting a discussion but we will bemoan the fact that a CIA contractor was the best they could do.

Today, the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Tribune notes the escalating violence:

“We did not rise against the Shia,” one Sunni told a British newspaper, The Guardian. “We have lived with them for centuries. We rose against the government which puts our men in prison unfairly and abuses our human rights. That should stop. We will either live in dignity or die in dignity.”
Hussein was a Sunni but considered himself a secularist; there was ample evidence he was cruel to anyone he considered a foe. The Sunnis, long a minority in Iraq, now believe that the Shiites, who felt powerless during Hussein’s rule, are taking liberties with their newfound political advantage and thus inviting the bombings.

You can't discuss the security situation without discussing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who has held the post since 2006.    Back in July 2012, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  That remains true and that's on Nouri.  (It's also on Barack but we don't have time to review that today.)  As Ayad Allawi rightly noted in real time, this was a power grab and Nouri had no intention of appointing people to those posts.  (Nouri nominates, Parliament approves.  Once Parliament approves, the person has the appointment unless they step down -- or die -- or unless Parliament votes to strip them of the appointment.  Nouri cannot fire any Minister which is why he has refused to nominate people to head those ministries -- this allows him to control them -- and it is unconstitutional.)   Deutsche Welle speaks with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs' Guido Steinberg:

The escalation of violence in Iraq has played out in the context of a long-simmering power struggle between Sunnis and Shiites. Maliki has attempted to establish a dictatorship - at the Sunnis' cost, Steinberg said.
"Sunnis are fighting against their exclusion," Steinberg said. Arabic Sunnis comprise about 20 percent of Iraq's population, he explained, while Shiites comprise about 60 percent.
When Maliki, who is a Shiite, came to power in 2006, he declared that his government would be non-sectarian. He was not supposed to select a cabinet on the basis of their religion or origin, Steinberg said.
However, over the years, Maliki became increasingly autocratic. Officially, the government is made up of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. But Sunni representatives were systematically stripped of power, with critics legally persecuted.
Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi had to flee in 2011 after being accused of killing Shiite officials. He was convicted in absentia and sentenced to death.
Maliki has violently repressed peaceful Sunni protests. Under his rule, the army killed more than 40 Sunni protesters in April 2013 clashes in the town of Hawija.

That analysis echoes Michael Knights' from last May for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

The Iraqi government has tried to deflect blame for its own failing on the Syrian uprising, arguing that it was suffering from the spillover of violence next door. But that excuse doesn't hold weight -- security improvements had already ground to a halt before the Syrian crisis began in spring 2011. Nor can the upswing in violence be ascribed solely to ancient Sunni-Shia hatreds: The embers of sectarianism were stoked back into life by the Baghdad government's unwillingness to meet demands for an end to the collective punishment of Sunnis for the crimes of the Baathist regime.
But the real driver of violence in Iraq is arguably Baghdad's over-centralization of power, which came too soon and was infused with sectarian paranoia. The United States was initially wary of this danger: The formula of all-inclusive power sharing -- muhasasa in Arabic -- was a cornerstone of U.S.-led policy in Iraq until 2008, and the United States also made sure that the principle of administrative decentralization was baked into the Iraqi Constitution. This policy reflected a powerful truth -- that post-Saddam Iraq was not ready for a political system with absolute winners and absolute losers.
But starting in 2008, Maliki re-centralized power, leaning on an increasingly narrow circle of Shia opponents of the previous dictatorship. And like all successful revolutionaries, this clique is paranoid about counterrevolution and has set about rebuilding a version of the authoritarian system it sought for decades to overthrow. Maliki's inner circle dominates the selection of military commanders down to brigade level, controls the federal court, and has seized control of the central bank. The executive branch is rapidly eclipsing all checks and balances that were put in place to guarantee a new autocracy did not emerge.
The root of Iraq's violence is thus not ancient hatreds between Sunni and Shia or Kurd and Arab, but between decentralizers and recentralizers -- and between those who wish to put Iraq's violent past behind them, and those determined to continually refight it. The demands that have been consistently stated by the Kurdish and Sunni Arab anti-Maliki opposition could not be clearer. First, the opposition demands devolution of fiscal authority to the Kurdistan Regional Government and the provinces, encapsulated in a revenue-sharing law that will provide a formula for the proportion of the budget allocated to the KRG and provinces. Second, it demands the implementation of the system of checks and balances on the executive branch -- particularly by empowering parliament and ensuring an independent judiciary. Third, it calls for a comprehensive truth and reconciliation process that provides justice for those damaged by Saddam's regime, but stops short of collectively punishing Sunnis.

Some argue the Washington Institute for Near East Policy is a Zionist apparatchik, FYI.  Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor via Global Research) offers:

Maliki has exploited the failures and gaps of this system to create a shadow state that is loyal and responsive to him. He managed to maneuver this system and build strong personal influence within the security institutions, armed forces, independent institutions and Iraq’s judiciary. In an oil-dependent country like Iraq, the executive branch tends to become stronger than the legislative branch because it manages more resources and more complex networks of patronage. But these measures have only intensified political conflict while failing to make the state more efficient.
Divided between Maliki’s camp, whose authoritarian disposition is increasing, and his rivals’ camp, whose only alternative is more “apportionment” politics, the political elite is evidently out of touch with the demands of average citizens. Maliki accuses his rivals of doing everything to hinder his government; his rivals say that the failure is caused by his policies. Their contest is more about finding a scapegoat and less about identifying new ways to address the state’s failure.
The problem overrides this short-sighted dispute among opportunistic politicians. It is rather about the way Iraq’s economy is working and the way in which the lack of strong institutions affects a responsible and wise management of the wealth. The Iraqi constitution stipulates: “Oil and gas are the Iraqi people’s property,” but the true story is different. According to the UN Development Program, 75% of Iraqis identified poverty as the most pressing need, 79% of households rated electricity as “bad” or “very bad,” and only 26% of the population is covered by the public sewage network. This, despite Iraq’s GDP growth from $20 billion in 2002 to $128 billion in 2012, thanks to growth in oil production, which accounts for 60% of GDP and 90% of government revenue.

Alsumaria notes the National Dialogue Front's Haider Mulla is calling for a withdrawal of confidence in Nouri.  That's what needs to happen.  Nouri's ways are not working.  Nouri has provided seven years of failure to Iraq.  All Iraq News notes Mulla stated, "We had notified the serious monopolization policy adopted by Maliki in running the Ministry of Defense and Interior as well as the Intelligence Department, thus the violence across Iraq demonstrated our worries.  Maliki is fully responsible for the bloodshed and the escape of all criminals after proving the involvement of top officers in the process of the jailbreak of Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons."  In addition, Ayad Allawi Tweeted today:

  1. After countless strings of bombings, the PM callously gives speeches of false justifications shirking responsibility & blaming others

On violence, Al Jazeera observes:

As violence continues to surge in Iraq, one Google doc is keeping track of the country's death toll. For the past year, Agence France-Presse (AFP) has listed all reported casualties from attacks across the country. Each day, reporters update a public spreadsheet with body counts based on statements from officials. 
Though actual figures vary between news agencies, the spreadsheet paints a grim picture of increased violence in the country. August 10 was Iraq's deadliest day of the year, with at least 91 killed and more than 300 wounded in a series of bombings during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Iraq Body Count has and continues to track and count deaths.  Al Jazeera is reporting on a project started by Prashant Rao.  We praised it when it started.  It was needed and remains needed. If you doubt that, one effect it has had is to force the Iraqi government to stop grossly under-reporting deaths.  They were often more than 100 off (sometimes as high as 250).  Since Prashant Rao's project began, the under-counting by the government has become much less severe and, for July, was actually close to accurate. From Prashant Rao's Twitter account:

  1. It's grim, but someone has to do it: tracks casualties in Iraq, and has posted about our Google Doc:

 All Iraq News notes 2 Tikrit bombings have left 1 Sahwa dead, 2 civilians dead, one Sahwa injured and thee civilians injured, a third Tikrit bombing has left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead (three more injured)2 suspects were shot dead in Nineveh, a Baghdad car bombing has left 3 people dead and fifteen injured, a mortar attack in Sulaimaniya has left 2 people dead and seven more injured, and a fourth Tikrit bombing has claimed 2 lives and left a small child woundedPETRA notes the Baghdad bombing was outside a mosque. EFE adds, "A car bombing in Al-Mada'in, a town located 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Baghdad, killed at least five Shiites and wounded 15 others near a mosque.  The bomb was detonated as Shiite worshippers emerged from the mosque after noon prayers." They also note a bombing in Kikruk's Al-Riyadh has left 3 police officers dead and four more injured.

And WG Dunlp (AFP) Tweeted:

Last week, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr floated his retirement from political life.  Today All Iraq News reports Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi is publicly calling for Moqtada to reconsider his decisions, "The decision is a loss for all Iraqis.  We call all national forces and MPs within Sadr Trend to persude Sadr to reconsider his resolution in order to prevent sides that are conspiring inside and outside Iraq to destroy Iraq national unity.  The family of Sadr has a glorious history in fighting injustice and the family involved many figures who built wide reputation for them in supporting  justice and combatting corrupted regimes."  Moqtada leaving political life would be good news for Nouri.  Moqtada has more authority than Nouri whose family history is less glorious and who fled Iraq and, like a coward?, only returned after the US invaded.  Moqtada remained in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's time and only left -- during the war -- due to a bench warrant the US and Iraq were holding and planning to execute at some point.  Moqtada's also seen as more honest.  Most importantly, Iran supposedly told him in 2010 that if he would support Nouri for prime minister, the Iranian government would dictate that various Shi'ite political leaders support Moqtada when Nouri's term expires. Tensions remain between Nouri and Moqtada and between their groups -- State of Law and the Sadr bloc.   All Iraq News quotes from Sadr Trend MP Eqbal al-Ghurabi who states:

 "The Sad Trend is the one that made Maliki as the Premier of Iraq and the one that advises Maliki where the Sadr Trend does not need any advices from Maliki."
"Sadr's history is full of honest Islamic resistance," she added, assuring that "The Sadr Trend always helps and supports the citizens especially the poor."
She called "Maliki to keep his advices for the security files and stop interference in others' affairs."

 Moqtada's next move is unknown.  What is known is that  Michael E. Ruane (Washington Post) writes the most idiotic article on Iraq today.  The news will make many in Iraq happy, the Iraqi Jewish Archive will be returned to Iraq:

The trove, named the Iraqi Jewish Archive, was found by U.S. troops on May 6, 2003, in the bombed-out headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Hussein’s secret police — who had, among other things, busily gathered intelligence on Iraqi Jews.
Most Jews had fled Iraq years before in the face of the violence and intimidation of the mid- to late 1900s, leaving behind the last traces of their rich 2,500-year history there, Archives officials said.
With the consent of Iraqi authorities, the material was brought to the National Archives for conservation later in 2003, Hamburg said.
But the project stagnated, according to a State Department official, as Iraq descended into insurgency and sectarian bloodshed, and it was not clear who in the Iraqi government would be the contact for the project.
“They wanted it back,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely about the negotiations. “But we wanted guarantees that it was going to be taken care of.”

Why is the article stupid?  It notes that Iraq was pro-Nazi in WWII and the 200,000 members of the Jewish community was decimated, etc.  Why are these documents going back to Iraq?  This is colonialism, it's not modern.  By modern standards, we grasp that governments do not have the right to these documents.  The Jews were an oppressed people in Iraq, a targeted population from WWII and immediately after.  When the US-led illegal war started, a still thriving Iraqi Jewish population was destroyed and less than five Iraqi Jews are said to be left in the country today -- the population fleeing due to threats of violence and being targeted with violence because they were Jewish.

In what world does the Iraqi government have the right to these papers?  In a colonial world and time when the rights of the minority populations didn't matter to world leaders.

The article/report refuses to address cultural issues, to speak to anthropologists about who has the right to these papers, etc.  It's a stupid article by a person who thinks one-sided is the way to go.

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