Friday, September 05, 2014

Can we talk?

Joan Rivers died.

I'm doing a Thursday post as a result.

I knew Joan very casually and only through C.I. (who knows everyone).

What I remember most about Joan is the way she darted around a room during a party, talking to this person and that person, working the room.

She wouldn't eat.  She'd generally have one drink unless she was there more than 90 minutes.  She'd sip that drink slowly as she worked the room.

I should be clear this was working the room, not kissing up.

She had a genuine interest in everyone and would attempt to speak to everyone attending.

I thought about that when I heard the news of her death because it really goes to why she made an impact.

She really wanted to talk.

"Can we talk?" was, in fact, one of her catch phrases.

She genuinely wanted to talk.  Not to give a speech.  She wanted an exchange.

Now, yes, she wanted the best in any exchange, she wanted to be the funniest, but she wanted an exchange, a connection.

That came through at a party and I think it came through when she was on stage or on TV.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, September 4, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, lies and spin continue, Dianne Feinstein wants war, Prince Charles expresses some concern, and much more.

Russ Wellen, liar or fool?

The Foreign Policy In Focus blogger can never seem to get the facts right.

He's not helped by the fact that he basis his bad article ("Five Ways have aided and abetted the development of the Islamir State'') on Andrew Cockburn's lousy fly-over reporting.  But he has only himself to blame for this nonsense:

The general state of chaos in which the United States left Iraq with, to this day, no strong central government. 

How stupid does he have to be to write that?  Or is he just a lousy liar?

Those of us who actually paid attention to the issue of Iraq over the last years know damn well that Nouri implemented a power grab and did so with no objection from FPIF which had no time for Iraq.  And now it wants to play catch up and, lazy student, uses Andrew Cockburn's (bad and biased) reporting to play catch up.

Is it any wonder that Wellen and Foreign Policy In Focus are fumbling in the dark?

Nouri's corruption did not begin in his second term.

Congress heard repeatedly about his corruption.

In fact, Barack heard repeatedly --

Oh, wait, he didn't.

Had he attended Committee hearings in 2007 and 2008, he would have heard about Nouri's corruption but, of course, he was too busy for hearings, rushing in only when the cameras were present.

His desire to take over the central bank and the courts were already well known.

But when he made those efforts in his second term, FPIF didn't say one damn word.  If Russ missed these events, he'll never find them in Patrick Cockburn's writings filled with lust for thug Nouri.  

Lust for war is something FPIF would rail against if it had any guts.

It has no guts and no spine.

Strolling through the western press on Iraq today is very depressing.

Iraqis still don't matter.

The Islamic State, we are told, are 'barbaric,' vile and many other things.

And the proof?

One American journalist and one American and Israeli journalist were killed.

Their deaths are unfortunate.

But this is the basis for worst terrorists ever?

In fairness to the press, the White House -- both US President Barack Obama and US Vice President Joe Biden -- repeat similar statements near constantly -- that these deaths will be avenged and blah, blah, blah.

Not only does this nonsense erase Iraqis and their suffering from the public history, it also shows an extreme ignorance of history -- from early US history all the way up to at least the Symbionese Liberation Army.

The deaths are regrettable but they're justification for massive military maneuvers?

It's like a retelling of Helen of Troy done in a house of mirrors.

Now I understand why the White House is attempting to sell war this way.

There is a lack of sympathy for (or caring of) Iraqis around the country.  I would hope it was a small segment of the country but it may be larger than I think.  In the last three weeks, we've repeatedly overheard the same conversation in every state. 

One person will argue 'those people' have never been able to get along so 'we' should just let them kill each other and be done with it.  A second person will agree and add that Barack's unable to solve the problem because Muslims don't kill other Muslims.

Barack as Muslim (a falsehood) is popping up yet again.  We'll have stopped for lunch and be eating and someone -- usually Kat or Wally (not often Ava or me) -- will waive their hands, nod their head a direction and indicate we should check out the conversation a table or two over.

Forget that Barack's not Muslim -- it was never worth refuting to begin with.  Turning the focus there and making a big denial leaves the impression that there's something wrong with being Muslim (when there's not).

Focus on the logic: (1) Muslims will kill each other and (2) Muslims don't kill other Muslims.

Over and over we hear this conversation -- over hear it -- and our first thought is always, "Wait, their points don't match up."  But they never seem to realize that, the people repeating these two points never grasp it.

So the larger point here is that many Americans don't care about the fate of the Iraqi people.  For some their short attention span has been exhausted and those MTV reality re-match ups won't watch themselves, after all.  For others, it's that their empathy has been exhausted.

Regardless, that segment (whatever its size) goes a long way towards explaining why the war can't be sold on 'We must help the Iraqis!'

There's also the issue of costs -- financial and blood.

On the financial side, Cristina Alesci (CNN -- link is text and video) declares $7.5 million is how much the Pentagon says US taxpayers are being billed daily for Barack's latest Iraq adventure.

On the blood side, friends and families daily mourn those who died fighting in the Iraq War and those who were wounded in Iraq carry that wound with them always.

Americans really aren't wanting another war on Iraq.

Americans aren't.

The Jewish people are wrongly slimed and smeared.

But it's to be expected when trash like Uri Dromi screech at the top of their lungs for war.  Why the Miami Herald feels Israeli Air Force Reserve Colonel Uri Dromi is worth featuring is a question to put to them.  But the question for precious Dromi is,  "If you want war, your country has a military and then some, try using it."

But, of course, let's be frank, Israel can't use its military.

That's the secret they always hope their Arab neighbors never catch on to.

Using the military on another country would leave Israel open to attack.

It doesn't have the military strength to attack another country and defend itself at the same time. 

So War Hawks like Dromi scream for the US to do the war that they know their own country can't carry out.

Good going, Dromi.

To Americans, you look like a candy ass to scared to  fight your own damn war while, to the Arab world, you feed into every ugly stereotype about Israel.

Also helping Israel look bad?  Anshel Pfeffer and Ha'aretz gloating, "The Islamic State is forcing the West out of its Iraq war trauma."
What, pray tell, will ever force the Israeli government out of their apartheid stance?

Probably more and more people around the world seeing it as a corrupt government illegitimately occupying land that belongs to others.

Harsh words?

I have plenty more.

In ten years online, never felt the need to say them.

If that's how I feel and respond, imagine how those who loathe the Israeli government and see it run by killers intent on genocide will interpret the braying for more war by Israeli voices?

And please remember, if something must be done by the US military to stop indiscriminate killing, first stop may be Iraq but there are a lot of people who will scream second stop should be Israel whose chief national industry appears to be genocide.

Feeding into every ugly stereotype of an ignorant Congress?

US Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Anna Duckworth (KCBS -- link is audio and text) reports on Dianne's lust for war which includes the senator insisting, "If the United States doesn't act, nobody will. I believe they will want Bagdad to be the center of this caliphate. And we have the largest embassy in the world in Bagdad."

So maybe the answer isn't bombing the hell out of Iraq, it's getting the hell out of the country?

Maybe the answer is to stop butting in?

That's why things are where they are now.

Nouri al-Maliki was installed as prime minister by the Bully Boy Bush White House.  After losing the 2010 elections, the Barack White House insisted Nouri still get a second term.

Nouri used that term to destroy the rights of women, to turn his goons loose on reporters and peaceful activists, to target and kill Iraq's LGBTQ community, to terrorize the minority religions and, always, to target, harass and kill Sunnis.

Maybe, Dianne, if the US hadn't 'acted' to keep Nouri prime minister, none of this would be taking place today.

In fairness to Dianne, she will gladly vote for war (always!).  Unlike her colleagues, she'd stay in DC week after week if it meant she could register her approval for war.

Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) reports several members of Congress are hoping for a brief September session and that Barack doesn't raise the issue of war on Iraq or immigration.

We'll note this from today's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Marie Harf:

QUESTION: I’m not trying to make fun of you. I just have one very extremely brief one, and that is the Iraqi Government formation --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- was supposed happen this week. Is it --

MS. HARF: Nah, no, I think we were tracking towards that the 10th or 11th is – as when the deadline is.

QUESTION: All right. Okay, so --

MS. HARF: Deadline. The 30 days.

QUESTION: -- that’s your understanding --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is that it’s still on track?

MS. HARF: Yes, yes, moving forward.


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

It's okay if you've forgotten.  It would appear the White House has as well.

August 11th is when the prime minister-designate was named and that's when the 30 day time limit kicked off.  Barack observed,  "Today, Iraq took a promising step forward in this critical effort.   Last month, the Iraqi people named a new President.  Today, President Masum named a new Prime Minister designate, Dr. Haider al-Abadi.  Under the Iraqi constitution, this is an important step towards forming a new government that can unite Iraq’s different communities."

If Iraq's finally going to follow the Constitution -- they didn't for Nouri -- that means prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi needs to form a Cabinet before the 30 days are up.

The clock is ticking.

How do you move from prime minister-designate to prime minister?

The Iraqi Constitution calls for you to form a Cabinet which means nominating and getting Parliament to vote for each member so you have a full Cabinet.

The point of this requirement?

To demonstrate you have the leadership skills to work with others elected to the Parliament.

If the 30 days passes without a Cabinet, per the Constitution, the President of Iraq is supposed to announce a new prime minister-designate.

The wording of the Constitution is such that you could do a weasel-word interp and say the president could re-name the same person.

But that's not the intent and everyone knows it.

Everyone doesn't know another detail because we have a whorish press corps in the west.

'Outgoing' prime minister (and tyrant) Nouri al-Maliki doesn't want to go and he's announced if the designate fails to form a Cabinet in time, he's prepared to do so and that he supposedly has the suppot and backing to stay in power.

If you think things are bad in Iraq right now, you let Nouri get a third term.

And things are bad.  Xinhua reports:

A suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden car into a police checkpoint and blew it up in kadhimiyah district, northern Baghdad, leaving at least nine people killed and 35 others injured, a police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Two hours later, six civilians were killed and 17 others wounded when a car bomb exploded in Saadoun Street in central Baghdad, the source added.

BBC notes the death toll from the two bombings rose to 20.

National Iraqi News Agency reports s Kirkuk car bombing apparently targeting an alcohol store and leaving sixteen people dead.

That's just some of the violence. 

Blame is placed at the feet of the United States for the Islamic State.  The latest to make that assertion is Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako.  Ishaan Tharoor (Washington Post) quotes the priest stating, "[The U.S.] said it would ensure democracy and the well-being of the people. But 10 years have passed, and, on the contrary, we have gone backward.  There were about 1 million Christians in Iraq and more than half of them have been displaced. Only 400,000 are left while displacement is still rising."

On the topic of Iraqi Christians, John Bingham (Telegraph of London) reports Prince Charles of England has spoken out:

The Prince of Wales has written an impassioned letter to Christians in Iraq speaking of his “heartbreak” at their suffering at the hands of Jihadists.
He condemned the atrocities by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) as “diabolic evil” and spoke of his “fervent hope and prayer” for those suffering in the region.
His remarks came as the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of attempts to drive Christianity out its Middle Eastern birthplace as the biggest assault on the faith in the area “since the invasion of Genghis Khan” in the 13th Century.
The Most Rev Justin Welby joined leaders of churches from the Middle East for prayers in Lambeth Palace and a vigil at Westminster Abbey.