Friday, February 19, 2016

Shut the f**k up, Hillary


Just days before Nevada’s caucuses, Hillary Clinton took one of her toughest shots at rival Bernie Sanders, questioning the long-time independent’s devotion to the Democratic Party he’s running to lead.
Clinton accused Sanders of attacking the two most recent Democratic presidents — President Barack Obama and her husband, former President Bill Clinton — both of whom remain popular political figures among Democratic voters.

“I just don’t know where all this comes from,” she said, at a televised town hall meeting hosted by MSNBC in Las Vegas on Thursday night. “Maybe it’s that Sen. Sanders wasn’t really a Democrat until he decided to run for office.”

You know what?

I don't want to hear it.

She needs to shut the f**k up.

Let's say she's right, okay?

So what?

She's the one who let Bernie run to begin with.

No, he's not a Democrat.

There were people who lodged objections.

She's the one who wanted a for-show opponent and thought she'd run circles around Bernie, so she okayed his run.

Now she wants to whine?

Too bad.

Chalk it up as another one of her idiotic decisions.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, February 18, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, US House Rep Brad Sherman wants to kill some Iraqi civilians, the Iraqi government prepares to carry out more death sentences and much more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced/boasted/claimed:

Strikes in Iraq
Fighter, ground-attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 12 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed nine ISIL rocket rails.
-- Near Fallujah, one strike destroyed an inoperable piece of partner nation equipment, at the request of the Iraqi government, in order to prevent its capture by ISIL forces.
-- Near Makhmur, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.
-- Near Mosul, one strike produced inconclusive results.
-- Near Qayyarah, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb.
-- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL recoilless rifle.
-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL light machine gun.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

These bombings are supposed to end the Islamic State in Iraq.  No one's ever supposed to think that through or examine it too closely because the 'logic' falls apart quickly.

And once upon a time, US President Barack Obama grasped that.

He knew bombings were not going to defeat the Islamic State.

He ordered bombings to start in August of 2014.  Shortly after, August 11, 2014,  he made some remarks while vacationing on Martha's Vineyard.

US President Barack Obama:  But as I said when I authorized these operations, there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.  The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government -- one that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis, and one that can unify the country’s fight against ISIL.
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.

Where did his common sense go?

The US government has done nothing to address the political crises.

And now some even crazier 'plans' are floated.  As we noted at Third in "Editorial: Congress has a plan for Mosul," US House Rep Brad Sherman's become all about the killing:

Mosul was seized by the Islamic State in June 2014.

The Iraqi government has been unable/unwilling to liberate it.

So all this time later, Mosul remains in the hands of the Islamic State.

But rest assured, Brad Sherman is on the job.

Last Wednesday, during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Sherman felt the need to pontificate to Barack Obama's Special Envoy Brett McGurk.



Brad's bothered, you understand, by the electricity.

Why, he wanted to know, was the Iraqi government supplying civilians in Mosul with electricity?

Brad would just cut it off.

They've been occupied for almost two years.

Could be for two more years more as far as anyone knows.

But it don't bother Brad.

He also didn't understand why more bombs were not being dropped by the US and why, specifically, Mosul wasn't being bombed.

"Civilians!" the world collectively screams back.

Oh, Brad didn't forget about them.

He just doesn't give a damn about them.

Why when France was occupied, he insisted, the allies killed at least 90,000 civilians while they bombed.

Brad Sherman is deeply disturbed.

Some argue the US government has done nothing at all -- or at least nothing to brag of.  Earlier this week, at ALGEMEINER, Joseph Puder argued:

The Obama administration has provided the Iraqi army with military hardware worth billions of dollars. Iraq’s main power brokers are Iraqi Shiite militias, who are loyal to Iran. This raises the question as to why American taxpayers should provide an ally of Iran, and a potential enemy of the US, with such enormous aid.
The Iraqi army’s shameful performance against the Islamic State (ISIS) and its abandonment of vast territory to ISIS, along with the squandering of huge quantities of US supplied arms, brings into question the suitability of the Iraqi army to take on ISIS. The Iraqi-Shiite militias may very well turn against the US in the not-too-distant future. Moreover, some Shiite militias have been shown to be as brutal and blood-thirsty as ISIS.

For those who missed this week's news, the Iraqi forces who are commanded by Baghdad will be thinning out.  Seems the economic crisis or 'crisis' will mean funding will be cut so those who are about to face life without payment will be leaving.

By contrast, as the central government of Baghdad has repeatedly withheld the federal monies from the KRG, the Peshmerga have had to fight without pay.

And most have done it.

Because this isn't Iraqis being sent to Jordan or Kuwait to fight there.

This is about Iraqis taking back their own country.

Or that's how the Peshmerga tended to see it.

It was a battle to save the country.

And, payment or no payment, the Peshmerga were in.

Sadly, the same can't be said for Baghdad's forces.

And Baghdad's forces include the militias who are out of control and who are noted in the following Tweet:

  • Shia militias crimes افضحوا الحشد الشيعي الارهابي قام بصلب رجل سني عراقي واعدامه فقط لان اسمه عثمان

  • Iraqi Sunni man tortured & killed by Shia militias This militias backed by Iran Oh my God painful

  • In other news, the Iraqi government itself cannot stop killing.

  • REUTERS notes that "death sentences in Iraq are often handed down after very brief trials in which defendants are poorly represented, seldom allowed to give evidence and are often tortured into making confessions that are then used against them."

    Amnesty International issued the following today:

    Iraq: Shocking surge in 2016 death sentences tops 90 as ‘terror’ trial closes

    The 40 death sentences handed down today in Iraq after a fundamentally flawed mass trial shows a reckless disregard for justice and human life, said Amnesty International, and brings the total sentenced in 2016 close to 100.
    Iraq’s courts have imposed at least 52 death sentences since Jan. 1, 2016. Today a further 40 individuals were sentenced to death as the verdict of a high-profile anti-terror trial is delivered in Baghdad.
    “For Iraqi courts to hand down 92 death sentences in just six weeks is a grim indicator of the current state of justice in the country,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.
    “The vast majority of the trials have been grossly unfair, with many of the defendants claiming to have been tortured into ‘confessing’ the crimes. These allegations must be urgently investigated and a re-trial that meets international fair trial standard should be ordered.”
    Today’s trial involved 47 individuals accused of involvement in the Speicher massacre, in which at least 1,700 military cadets from Speicher Military camp, near Tikrit, were brutally killed by militants from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) in June 2014.
    Iraq’s Federal Judicial Authority confirmed that 40 people were sentenced to death under the 2005 anti-terrorism law and seven were released due to lack of evidence.
    More than 600 arrest warrants were issued by the Iraqi authorities in connection with the Speicher massacre. The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) went on to announce that it would consolidate all cases relating to the Speicher crimes into one case – opening the door to mass trials. In July 2014, 24 men were sentenced to death by hanging, under the 2005 Anti-Terrorism Law in connection with the massacre.
    “These mass, expedited trials raise serious questions about whether the Iraqi authorities really want to uncover the truth behind these abhorrent attacks, or whether they simply want to create the illusion that justice has been done. Once again we are seeing basic human rights trampled upon as the authorities circumvent fair trials in the name of national security,” said Lynch. Amnesty International is calling on the Iraqi authorities to halt the ratification of death sentences and immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
    Before a death sentence can be carried out, the President of Iraq must ratify it. Former President Jalal Talabani refused to ratify any death sentences leading to a backlog of more than 600 cases.
    Last year, the new President Fuad Ma’sum came under significant pressure from MPs and the public to ratify death sentences, particularly following the Speicher massacre. A Special Committee was set up in the Presidency Office to manage the backlog. In July 2015, Amnesty International called on the Iraqi President to to halt the ratification of death sentences that would pave the way for executions. Many of those sentenced to death have been subject to grossly unfair trials.


    Thursday, February 18, 2016


    SHADES OF BLUE airs on NBC each Thursday night (and has been renewed for a second season!).

    On last week's episode, Harley felt guilty because Woz was convinced Stuart was the snitch.

    For those who don't watch, Woz (Ray Liotta) heads a crooked police squad.  Harley (Jennifer Lopez) is being forced to rat him out by the FBI.

    Stuart isn't the snitch.

    Harley tries to protect him and even gets the FBI to bring him in.

    But he insists he has to see his mother before they take him into witness relocation.

    However, once there, he escapes.

    Harley calls his cell and leaves a message when Tess has told her he's looking for Woz.  She basically outs herself in the message, trying to save him.

    Tess and her husband have sex.  She planned to tell him that she slept with Carlos (which Carlos didn't want her to do).


    She confronted him on cheating and then he apologized, then they had sex and then she whispered "I cheated on you too."

    He responds with a 'huh?'

    She loses her nerve.

    Harley's ex is in prison.  She framed him.

    He beat her but she framed for a different crime.

    He is the father of her daughter.

    Her daughter found a letter from him.

    This forced Harley to leave Woz's side and go to the prison because that's where her daughter was headed to see her father.

    Harley would go on to tell her daughter that the man was her ex but he wasn't the father (she was lying).

    Her daughter bought it.

    But meanwhile, the man who may have done the killings Harley framed her ex for has kidnapped his son in a very long story that I'm not going into.

    But there's a trade between Woz and the crook.

    Woz will give him money, keys to a car and he can leave with his girlfriend if he hands over the kid.

    Crook had no intention of handing over the kid and double crosses.

    He has a gun and is going to shoot Woz when Stuart shows up.

    Stuart tries to save Woz who watches but does not help Stuart.  He does get the kid to run down to the ground.

    Where he bumps into Tess and Harley.

    Harley tells Tess to take the kid to his mother and she goes up to the top of the parking garage.

    She reaches the top right after Woz has pushed Stuart to his death, shot Crook and tossed Crook over the side.

    He lies to Harley and tells her that Stuart shot Crook and, in the fight, Crook fell over the side after Stuart had.

    Harley can't believe innocent Stuart is dead.

    They hug in grief -- well Harley anyway.

    They look down and . . . Stuart's still alive.

    Now for this week's episode?

    Harley has to get to that cell phone message and Woz wants Stuart dead.

    "TV: Shonda Wasteland" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):

    The contempt for the viewers?

    They sense it.

    That's why they've increasingly stopped watching.

    Last week, Chris Rock had a lame commercial where he said the Academy Awards were the only thing Shonda Rhimes didn't control . . . yet.

    Shonda's moment has come and gone.

    She's is yesterday's flavor, as wanted as the avocado green kitchen appliances from the seventies.

    She really has ruined SCANDAL.

    It's amazing that ABC's allowed it to happen.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Wednesday, February 17, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the persecution of Sunnis continues, the lack of a political solution is noted to the UN Security Council, Haider tries to justify the government attacking civilians, and much more.

    Today, the US Defense Dept bragged/announced/claimed:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL mortar system.
    -- Near Mosul, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL supply cache and suppressing an ISIL mortar position.
    -- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL beddown locations, an ISIL command and control node, two ISIL-used bridges, and an ISIL vehicle-bomb facility.
    -- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike destroyed an ISIL tunnel.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

    These bombings have gone on every day since August 2014.

    And nothing's changed in Iraq.

    Doubt it?

    Here's Jan Kubis speaking to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday:

    Persistent political polarization and divisions continue to hamper Prime Minister Abadi’s ability to advance the reform agenda, including in decentralisation and fighting corruption. The Prime Minister’s recent announcement aimed at establishing a more professional Cabinet with members selected on merit, and not on sectarian or political quotas, should be accompanied by accelerated implementation of a genuine political, security and economic reform package. The complex and deepening set of challenges before the country and its people requires that the political blocks finally work together in support of comprehensive and profound reforms, as they did when adopting the budget for 2016.
    Iraq’s persistent and rapidly-deepening fiscal crisis and growing budget deficit, compounded by the security and humanitarian situation and drastic decline in global oil prices, has almost halved the State’s planned income since then, and the Kurdistan Region faces at least a situation as grave as that of Baghdad. Fiscal challenges are also likely to impact the fight against ISIL as a significant number of fighters, notably the Peshmerga, have not received salaries for several months.

    I am mindful that if left unaddressed, such an unsustainable situation may seriously undermine the renewed morale of pro-government forces and confidence of the people, including youth, communities, minorities and IDPs that they can have a future in Iraq. And while the Governments in Baghdad and Erbil must rapidly prioritise and take full ownership over the state finances and reforms, I urge the international community to assist Iraq in overcoming these difficulties through increased technical support and funding, including through lending by international and regional financial institutions. Genuine economic reforms by the Governments in Baghdad and Erbil could pave the way to such financial and budgetary support.

    Kubis is the special envoy to Iraq for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

    He was noting the lack of progress on a political solution, the inability the Iraqi government has with any efforts towards political reconciliation.

    Nothing has changed.

    US President Barack Obama ordered the daily bombings of Iraq in August of 2014.

    Months before that, June 19, 2014, he acknowledged the need for a political solution in Iraq.

    US President Barack Obama:  Above all, Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq’s future.  Shia, Sunni, Kurds -- all Iraqis -- must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence.  National unity meetings have to go forward to build consensus across Iraq’s different communities.  Now that the results of Iraq’s recent election has been certified, a new parliament should convene as soon as possible.  The formation of a new government will be an opportunity to begin a genuine dialogue and forge a government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis.
    Now, it’s not the place for the United States to choose Iraq’s leaders.  It is clear, though, that only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis.  Meanwhile, the United States will not pursue military options that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another.  There’s no military solution inside of Iraq, certainly not one that is led by the United States.  But there is an urgent need for an inclusive political process, a more capable Iraqi security force, and counterterrorism efforts that deny groups like ISIL a safe haven.

    Not getting it?

    Here he is still speaking on June 19, 2014:

    But I don’t think there’s any secret that right now at least there is deep divisions between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish leaders.  And as long as those deep divisions continue or worsen, it’s going to be very hard for an Iraqi central government to direct an Iraqi military to deal with these threats.
    And so we’ve consulted with Prime Minister Maliki, and we’ve said that to him privately.  We’ve said it publicly that whether he is prime minister, or any other leader aspires to lead the country, that it has to be an agenda in which Sunni, Shia and Kurd all feel that they have the opportunity to advance their interests through the political process.  And we’ve seen over the last two years, actually dating back to 2008, 2009 -- but I think worse over the last two years -- the sense among Sunnis that their interests were not being served, that legislation that had been promised around, for example, De-Ba’athification had been stalled. 
    I think that you hear similar complaints that the government in Baghdad has not sufficiently reached out to some of the tribes and been able to bring them in to a process that gives them a sense of being part of a unity government or a single nation-state.  And that has to be worked through.

    Nothing changes.

    The wedge is still the same, the Sunnis are still persecuted.

    Haider al-Abadi's done nothing to address that persecution.

    Last week, Tim Arango (NEW YORK TIMES) reported:

    When Iraqi ground forces and American aircraft began assaulting the city of Ramadi more than a month ago, Ghusoon Muhammed and her family fled to the government’s front line, as did many other Sunni Arab families who had been trapped for months. Soldiers sent her and the children one way, and her husband another, to be interrogated in a detention facility.
    She has not seen him or heard from him since.   She and her children, who will most likely not be able to go home to Ramadi for months given the destruction, have been left to wait in a ramshackle tent camp here in Anbar Province.  She is desperate, and adamant: "The innocent people in jail need to be released!" she said.
    Standing nearby on Sunday was another woman, Karima Nouri.  Her son an auto mechanic, was also taken away by the authorities, and she has had no word about him for weeks.  Ms. Nouri said the government considered civilians who remained in Ramadi to be sympathizers of the Islamic State.

    Are we forgetting that one of the many complaints of the protesters was the disappearance of loved ones, seized by the Iraqi forces and vanished into no one knew where?  For that matter, the seizing of loved ones for no valid reason to begin with.

    We can't forget it because most western outlets never bothered to report it in the first place.

    Even though this led to over a year of continuous protests which kicked off  December 21, 2012.

    This was one of the big issues.

     The issues for those protests were numerous.  Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) summed up the primary issues as follows:

    - End of Sectarian Shia rule
    - the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
    - the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
    - the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
    - the provision of government services to all
    - the end of corruption
    - no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

    The persecution of the Sunnis continues.  It has not been addressed.

    Under Nouri al-Maliki, the US government ignored it.

    From 2010 through 2014, the man Barack gifted with a second term as prime minister destroyed Iraq.  And the US government -- including Barack -- didn't give a damn.

    The Islamic State wouldn't have taken hold in Iraq without Nouri's actions.

    But the US government was happy to ignore it.

    Just like they're happy to ignore Haider al-Abadi's persecution of the Sunnis today.

    Over and over human rights watch organizations have noted what is going on in Iraq.  Most recently, at the end of last month,  Human Rights Watch noted:

    Members of Shia militias, who the Iraqi government has included among its state forces, abducted and killed scores of Sunni residents in a central Iraq town and demolished Sunni homes, stores, and mosques following January 11, 2016 bombings claimed by the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS. None of those responsible have been brought to justice.
    Two consecutive bombings at a café in the town of Muqdadiya, in Diyala province, some 130 kilometers north of Baghdad, on January 11, killed at least 26 people, many of them Sunnis, according to a teacher who lives near the café. ISIS claimed the attacks, saying it had targeted local Shia militias, collectively known as Popular Mobilization Forces, which are formally under the command of the prime minister. Members of two of the dominant militias in Muqdadiya, the Badr Brigades and the League of Righteous forces, responded by attacking Sunnis as well as their homes and mosques, killing at least a dozen people and perhaps many more, according to local residents.

    “Again civilians are paying the price for Iraq’s failure to rein in the out-of-control militias,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Countries that support Iraqi security forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces should insist that Baghdad bring an end to this deadly abuse.” 

    But the White House ignores it.

    And dropping all the bombs will not drive the Islamic State out of Iraq.

    Maybe people don't get that because of the 'reporting' by people like The Whore of Baghdad herself Jane Arraf who pens another ridiculous piece.

    It's supposedly about the lack of reconciliation in Iraq.

    But it's just pulling together talking points from the right wing p.r. firm that's used the Yazidis.

    It's garbage but that's all Jane can offer.

    All those years in Iraq, whoring for Saddam Hussein and then whoring for Nouri al-Maliki and now whoring for Haider al-Abadi.

    Don't forget the CNN position when Jane first made it to Iraq was cover up and don't report anything that would anger the country's leader.

    That's been her operating principle all along.

    Even after she left CNN.

    It's whores like Jane that allow Haider al-Abadi to 'defend' the government persecution of Sunnis.

    Abadi defending AAH militia: ISIS bombing killed many Shia Vs militias killed 6 Sunnis only in the aftermath.

    As Human Rights Watch has noted, these Shi'ite militias are now part of the government.

    And Haider's defending the 'right' of the government to attack citizens.

    He's saying the Islamic State killed more.

    The Islamic State is a terrorist organization.

    It kills.

    It commits crimes.

    A government exists to protect its people.

    When it instead attacks its own people?

    There is no excuse for that.

    Haider also wants the world to know they don't have to worry about the following.

  • Haider's insisting this is no big deal and there's no proof it's fallen into the wrong hands.


    It's probably just being used for a school science project, right?

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016

    Editorial on the Court opening

    Consider this the editorial you weren't supposed to see or the one that got spiked or the one few liked.  We wrote the following with Ava and C.I. for Third and, in the end, the decision was made to go with "Editorial: Congress has a plan for Mosul" instead.  Ava and C.I. and the three of us were the ones saying this was strong enough.  We still think it is and all we've changed is the tense where needed.  For example, when we wrote this, we were expecting both Democrats and Republicans to be arguing over the issue of the Supreme Court nominee.  Now that has happened so we've changed things like "will argue" to acknowledge it's happening.


    Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia has died which provides an opening on the Court.

    US President Barack Obama has already seen two of his nominees for the Court confirmed and now will be in the rather historic position to have nominated three justices to the Court.

    The opening has been met with the usual drama and the usual denial of drama on one side while pointing to the other.

    Reality: This is a free for all.

    That's what democracy is about.

    We fully expected the GOP to argue and make claims that were rather outlandish.

    The thing is, our side never learns.

    Which is how we get Justice Elana Kagan who's no lefty at all.

    And we don't need more centrists on the Court.

    So it's really not the time to be all "Barack, we got your back!"

    Instead, we need to be making noise like the Republicans do.

    This is a public conversation and we need to be out there making it clear that we want a nominee who puts We The People above corporations.

    If you can't do that, just shut the hell up about Citizens United already.

    We need to make clear that this rare opportunity needs to be used wisely.

    Does it mean that Barack's going to nominate Angela Davis?


    But it does mean he may be nudged/forced/shamed into moving a little left of center.

    Just a tiny bit.

    We need to use the same energy we used to nix Harriet Meyer's nomination (by Bully Boy Bush) to put Barack on notice that we want something better than Kagan.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Tuesday, February 16, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the objection to the Bushes continue, there's a new Judith Miller in town, and much more.


    Three kidnapping victims have been released.  Dropping back to the January 21st snapshot for background:

    There's a new development today in the kidnapping of three Americans in Iraq. In fact, there are two new developments.  Background: Sunday, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) broke the news that 3 Americans were missing in Iraq. Monday,  CBS NEWS and AP reported, "A group of Americans who went missing over the weekend in Iraq were kidnapped from their interpreter's home in Baghdad, according to an Iraqi government intelligence official."
    Today, Susannah George (AP) reports that "two powerful Shiite militias are top suspects" in the kidnapping:  Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Saraya al-Salam.

    Now from today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Mark Toner:

    QUESTION: Do you have any more information about the Americans who were released in Iraq today? Specifically, was the U.S. involved in the investigation? Who were they?

    MR TONER: I don’t, and I – and you heard my sigh when I – as you asked me that question, because I understand there’s a lot of interest in this story. First of all, we welcome the release of these individuals. I mean, it’s a huge relief; it’s a good news story. These folks are now on their way home, which is where they should be headed. I don’t – because of the Privacy Act restrictions – none of them signed a Privacy Act waiver, and I know that infuriates all of you. It infuriates me as someone who wants to convey information and talk about the work that was done behind the scenes, but I cannot. All I can say is that we are appreciative of and grateful for the Iraqi Government’s efforts to obtain the release of these individuals, but for any details, I’d have to refer you to them to speak to that.

    QUESTION: Did Iran help at all, since it was brought up by the Secretary?

    MR TONER: I know. I’m aware that he raised that and he acknowledged that. I just don’t have any more detail to offer. Sorry.

    QUESTION: And can you – will you be able to say at one point who you believed was holding them, since there was, I think --

    MR TONER: Sure.

    QUESTION: -- public --

    MR TONER: Speculation --

    QUESTION: -- obfuscation of what the Iraqi police itself said were the prime suspects?

    MR TONER: Again, I mean, the Iraqi Government is under no Privacy Act restrictions.


    From the good to the bad . . .

    THE SCUM ALSO RISES.  Look who's back, Bully's back.  Bully Boy Bush.  We ignore him.  We go about our business thankful that he is no longer in the White House and thrilled to ignore him so long as he hides under his rock.

    He's emerged.

    To demonstrate that he's aged poorly, gained weight and, yes, is balding.

    Dreaming of the pleasure I'm going to have
    Watching your hairline recede
    My vain darling
    -- "Just Like This Train," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her COURT & SPARK.

    And now he's out campaigning for his older brother Jeb who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

    And Iraqis are weighing in, as Loveday Morris (WASHINGTON POST) reports:

    "We are fed up with the Bush family, come on. No more Bushes, please," he said. He recalled George H.W. Bush's "betrayal" when he urged Iraqis to rise up against Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War in 1991 but then did not support them. The death toll reached the tens of thousands.
    "Unfortunately they cheated us," Bayati said, adding George W. Bush was even more damaging in his handling of the fallout from the 2003 invasion. He says he has little faith that any president will improve things for Iraq.
    "They have the problem as Iraq, the same faces coming again and again, the same families, Bushes and Clintons," he said. "They exported a copy of this system to us."

    The Clintons?

    Yes, it's hard to picture Iraqis being too excited over the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton.

    Her husband presided over the death/murder of at least 500,000 Iraqi children due to his imposing sanctions.

    And Hillary's gal pal Mad Maddie Albright, of course, infamously proclaimed the deaths were "worth it."

    CHECK YOUR ZIPPER, YOUR BIAS IS SHOWING.  If you want to be taken seriously as a news outlet, maybe you stop slanting the news?  MEE 'reports':

    Iraq's federal government will pay the salaries of the cash-strapped Kurdish region's employees if it halts its independent oil exports, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Monday.
    Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, facing a financial crisis due to low oil prices, has announced its employees will receive partial salaries until further notice and that months of unpaid wages will be considered loans to the government.

    So the Baghdad-based government has been sitting on the federal money they are supposed to distribute to the KRG and now we miss that fact?

    The Constitution does not allow for Abadi to refuse to pay out the federal monies.

    The issue of the oil?  That can be resolved in a court of law.

    The issue of distributing the federal monies is not in doubt.

    Stanislav Ivanov (NEW EASTERN OUTLOOK) notes:

    Besides, the central Iraqi government has been long sabotaging (in one way or another) the implementation of provisions of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution prescribing a peaceful resolution of situations with “the disputed areas.” They also refrain (using various excuses) from passing a new law on hydrocarbons and are being consistently late with the transfer of budget funds allocated for the development of the Kurdish region, sometimes they transfer insufficient funds and ignore the needs of Kurdish Peshmerga, etc. 

    And DEUTSCHE WELLE observes, "Transfer payments from the central government in Baghdad to the Kurdish regional government have been halted over a dispute. But the Kurdish region needs the money from Iraq as it cannot finance itself, especially because the budget has been strained by the battle against IS and care for refugees from affected areas."

    Staying with the topic of the Kurds, let's drop back to Saturday's snapshot:

    Liar and Barack's special envoy Brett McGurk appeared before Congress this week.

    Special Envoy Brett McGurk:  We will not put a timeline on when Mosul will be liberated, but shaping operations to lay the groundwork for isolating ISIL inside the city have now begun. Kurdish Peshmerga forces two months ago liberated Sinjar, cutting off a highway that feeds Mosul from Syria. This operation was launched simultaneously to the SDF taking al Hawl, and began the bifurcation of northern Iraq from Syria – making it harder for ISIL to move material and supplies. These constricting operations will continue, and set the stage for political efforts to organize and coordinate liberation operations. My visit to Baghdad last week focused on ensuring close cooperation between political leaders, as well as Iraqi Security Force and Peshmerga commanders. Thanks to the great efforts of our Department of Defense colleagues, and our Ambassador in Baghdad, Stu Jones, there is now a joint command center established east of Mosul to synchronize all of these efforts going forward. Mosul will not be a D-Day like assault. Nor will we announce when key events are to take place. But ISIL will feel increasing pressure inside this city -- day-to-day and week-to-week. This slow and steady suffocation is now underway. We are killing ISIL members inside Mosul every week. We are also uprooting their sustainment network and have destroyed the cash storage sites used to pay, recruit, and train their fighters.

    In June of 2014, the Islamic State seized Mosul.

    The Baghdad-based government has been in no hurry to rescue the citizens or liberate the city.

    On the global stage, Baghdad has sported its cowardice for all to see.

    McGurk was appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.  We covered some of the hearing in Wednesday's snapshot and in Thursday's snapshot.

    We'll note this exchange.

    US House Rep Paul Cook: Picking up on that question of the Turks and the Kurds, point blank, is there any hope for a separate homeland for the Kurdistan?  I don' think geography favors it.  But we've disappointed the Kurds so many times and after all of their fighting and everything else, particularly with the pressure with the Kurds -- I just don't . . . I think we're going to betray them once again.  Can you comment on that?

    Special Envoy Brett McGurk:  Well the Kurds -- and I've dealt with my friends, the Kurds, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq for almost a decade now.  And you're right, there's a historical memory of what happened to the Kurds after WWI which is something I think we all have to recognize and be sympathetic to.  Uhm, the Kurds in northern Syria we've developed a relationship with over the last 18 months or so in the counter-ISIL campaign.  I was able to go into northern Syria last week and meet a number of them.  And they have the same -- it's a very similar historical narrative.  Uhm, however, at this moment in time, creating new, independent states is not something that I think would be particularly stabilizing.  So when it comes to northern Iraq, and the Kurds, as I mentioned, I think before something like that can be discussed in a serious manner, first you have to get ISIS off the southern border, it's all jihad-istan on the entire southern border of northern Iraq and the Kurdistan region.  Second, the economic situation has to stabilize.  And, third, the political situation has to stabilize.  So right now, I think the Kurds of northern Iraq, uh, and recognize this.  Nobody is trying to do the impossible and create a unified Iraq that is a glowing democracy.  But a federal Iraq, which is defined in their constitution, which empowers local leaders, empowers the Sunnis in the provinces, empowers the Kurds in northern Iraq, empowers the Shia in southern Iraq is something that's realistic, is something that is in Iraq's constitution and something that we support.

    For those paying attention, it appears the Kurds are about to get stabbed in the back yet again.  And, for the record, the Iraqi constitution also has a measure for independence but when provinces attempt to utilize that the US government suddenly has no interest in defending the country's constitution.

    And for those paying attention, today's US State Dept press briefing and the remarks of spokesperson Mark C. Toner.

    QUESTION: Iraq?

    MR TONER: Iraq.

    QUESTION: I have a question about the recent decision by the Kurdistan region’s President Barzani that the region is going to hold a referendum by November 2016. What is the U.S. Government position on that?

    MR TONER: You’re talking about a referendum for Kurdish independence?

    QUESTION: Yeah, self-determination.

    MR TONER: Yeah. No, I mean, we’ve been very clear, and our policy remains unchanged. We support an Iraq that is unified, federal, pluralistic, and democratic.

    QUESTION: Yeah, but I think we’re all aware of that. That’s not something new. But this is, like, new development. This is, like, almost happening. There is a specific date for that. And I think everybody – everybody knows that what the result of that referendum would be.

    MR TONER: I mean, we – look, I mean, the Kurdistan region has been under tremendous pressure, both economically but certainly from the presence of ISIL [. . .]. We recognize that that has put pressure on the local government, but that doesn’t – and frankly, we’ve been working diligently through Iraqi command and control to provide them with the necessary tools and assistance that they need to fight [the Islamic State]. But that doesn’t change our overall policy that we believe it’s in Iraq’s best interest that it remain unified and democratic.

    QUESTION: Have you tried to talk to the Kurdish leaders, like, maybe to convince them to be patient and --

    MR TONER: I mean, they’re – certainly, we engage with Kurdish authorities all the time and they’re very aware of our feelings about this and our policy about this.

    QUESTION: One more question, sorry.

    MR TONER: Yeah, sure, go ahead. No worries.

    QUESTION: What do think this would have – like, do you think this would have any impact on the war against ISIS given the fact that the Kurdish Peshmerga are, like, the most, like, influential force on the ground?

    MR TONER: I don’t like to address hypotheticals. We’re aware of this referendum. Our position is that we think that Iraq should remain unified in the face of the threat from [the Islamic State]. We believe the new Iraqi Government has made an effort and has made progress in unifying the country and creating a more pluralistic society. Obviously, those efforts need to continue – excuse me. And as you point out, the Kurds have been – Kurdish forces have been extremely effective and brave against [the Islamic State] in every effort that they’ve encountered them, and we hope that that cooperation can continue. And our support for them will continue.

    It was only a matter of time before some idiot at the State Dept thought they had a right to dictate what Iraqis could and couldn't do.

    And the plan, on Saturday, was to wait for it to happen and to walk through on this.

    But we're going a different way instead.

    A friend who used to practice international law (he's now  a judge) raised a more important issue.

    Iraq has no Constitution.

    Passed in 2005, this was a temporary measure.

    The only thing that would make it permanent?

    Implementing Article 140 by, as outlined within the Constitution, December 31, 2007.

    The failure to implement that article means the Iraqi Constitution can be considered voided.




    Anthony Deutsch (REUTERS) insists that "Islamic State militants attacked Kurdish forces in Iraq with mustard gas last year, in the first known use of chemical weapons in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a diplomat said, after tests by the global chemical arms watchdog."

    Chemical arms?

    A single source?


    It's as though Judith Miller has moved over to REUTERS.

    Could the Islamic State have done what they're now accused of?


    They are a terrorist organization.

    But why the need to hide behind an anonymous source.

    And why does it feel so much like propaganda created to inflame?

    And hasn't this reporter being curiously close to a megaphone for the government at other times as well?

    Blissfully unaware, he Tweets:

    1. Exclusive: Samples confirm Islamic State used mustard gas in Iraq - diplomat via


    I wrote these words for everyone
    Who struggles in their youth
    Who won't accept deception
    Instead of what is truth
    It seems we lose the game,
    Before we even start to play
    Who made these rules? We're so confused
    Easily led astray
    Let me tell ya that
    Everything is everything
    Everything is everything
    After winter, must come spring
    Everything is everything

    -- "Everything Is Everything," written by Lauryn Hill and Johari Newton, first appears on her THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL.

    The Iraq War continues and, with it, the violence.  AFP notes that a "technical problem" is responsible for both the crash of an Iraqi military helicopter and the lives of 9 people.

    And the US Defense Dept announced/claimed/asserted/bragged:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Rocket artillery and fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

    -- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed seven ISIL rocket rails and an ISIL weapons cache.
    -- Near Qaim, nine strikes struck an ISIL improvised explosive device facility, an ISIL logistics facility, an ISIL staging area, two ISIL internet cafes, two ISIL headquarters and an ISIL media headquarters.
    -- Near Fallujah, a strike destroyed two ISIL vehicles, two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL weapons cache and three ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Mosul, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL front-end loader.
    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.
    -- Near Tal Afar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bunker.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.