Saturday, April 16, 2016

That classless Debra Messing

I've written favorably of Debra Messing here.

But I've never mistaken her for smart and never will.

A smart actress is not Debra Messing.

She's not a woman of immense talents.

Her range is small.

What she can do is make people feel good.

But she refuses do that.

She thinks she's Meryl Streep when she's not got the range or depth for even basic TV drama.

She disowns her only gift, the comedic timing and warmth that brought her fame in WILL & GRACE.

Instead of doing another sitcom, she decides to do THE STARTER WIFE, SMASH and now THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA.

So we always knew she wasn't that smart.

But that nonsense she pulled with Susan Sarandon?

Where she completely distorted what Susan said on MSNBC?

Completely and possibly deliberately distorted?

Debra has no class.

There's a small article on it today at THE LOS ANGELES TIMES:

So why did Sarandon engage Messing on Twitter?
“At first, I engaged with her because I felt like if I said ‘I didn’t say that, just read it,’ it would have stopped,” Sarandon told The Times in Las Vegas this week, where she was in town to accept CinemaCon’s Icon Award. “I don’t want to guess why she kept at it and brought other people into it. If somebody ultimately doesn’t get it, there’s no point in continuing to talk to them. At a certain point, I stopped, because that was clear.”

Again, Debra Messing.  Classless.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, April 15, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue . . . and that's just in the Parliament!

Yes, starting with PARLIAMENT GONE WILD.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi Parliament got wild.

On Wednesday, it got wilder.

And Thursday?

It was off the chain.

AFP words it this way:

Iraqi lawmakers voted Thursday to remove the parliament speaker and his deputies from office, increasing political turmoil as the country battles jihadists and struggles with a financial crisis.
The chaos at parliament is a significant setback for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, overshadowing his efforts to replace the current cabinet and preventing nominees from being brought to a vote.

The lead up to Thursday was an ongoing sit-in (against the list of proposed ministers).  Wednesday had been an emergency session.  Thursday was supposed to see a vote on the list.

Instead, it saw a vote on the Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri.

Mohammad Sabah (AL MADA) calls it a "dramatic" and a "raucous" session.

REUTERS notes that neither Haider nor al-Jabouri showed up for Thursday's session.

In fact, a lot of MPs failed to show up.  That's an important detail.

But those who did show up decided to table the proposed nominees, to table the issue of the three presidencies and instead launch a vote on whether to remove the Speaker.

Ali al-Badri, of the large Shi'ite block the National Alliance, insists the vote was unanimous.

But it wasn't agreed to by all the political blocs.

ALL IRAQ NEWS quotes State of Law Mp Kazem Sayadi declaring that they do not support the vote to remove the Speaker and insisting State of Law is one of the largest blocs in Parliament.

State of Law is the political alliance Nouri al-Maliki started.  Nouri was prime minister of Iraq from 2006 through 2014 and left unwillingly.  He wants to return to the post.

It's said on Arabic social media that he's formed alliances with Ammar al-Hakim (leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) and Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya).

If so, that would be a powerful group banded together in opposition to Haider al-Abadi.

ALSUMARIA reports MP Adnan al-Janabi insists that Saturday should see the Parliament voting on a new Speaker and, oh, by the way, Adnan's declared himself the interim Speaker.

But will such a vote take place?

These days, you can even question whether a session will be held.

But in terms of a vote taking place, the reports of the Speaker being voted out of office, while very dramatic, might not be very realistic.

NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY notes 171 MPs were assembled for the session.

They have 328 MPs so 171 did not reach a quorum.

Without a quorum, no real vote took place.

RUDAW quotes Speaker al-Jabouri declaring, "I have no objections if the parliament wants me to leave my position but the vote was both inconclusive and unconstitutional."

 Pinned Tweet
sum up today: vote removing speaker, likely invalid, leaves parl't w/o recognized legit leadership. Abadi's 2nd cabinet shuffle fails.

ALSUMARIA reports that Haider called on the Parliament to wisdom and patience.

Oh, yeah, he should talk, right?

His sudden push for a new Constitution not only is unconstitutional, it also showed no patient or restraint.

His first effort, began March 31st, outright failed.

Instead of learning from his lesson, he tried to shove through a new list this week.

That's what's caused the turmoil.

ALL IRAQ NEWS notes the comments were in a televised address where he offered that this political struggle "could lead, God forbid, Iraq into turmoil."

As though he were somehow above the fray?

And exactly when was turmoil absent from Iraq?

More to the point, what's going on in Parliament is not that disruptive.

Nouri al-Maliki refusing to step down after the 2010 elections for eight months, thereby refusing to allow a new government to form?

That was disruptive.

This just qualifies as lively politics.

Haider's attempting to replace the Cabinet in a manner that goes around the Iraqi Constitution.

He's calling it a 'reform' and a way to address corruption -- which is also an insult to every member of the Cabinet.

What's really going on?

Erin Banco (IBT) notes one aspect of the issue:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says he is trying to curtail endemic corruption by appointing a new Cabinet filled with technocrats, but his efforts have so far failed: Several of his nominees have refused to accept his appointments and, amid the ensuing chaos, officials are quietly trying to skew the country’s economy for personal gain.
Ayad Allawi, a former interim prime minister under the U.S. occupation and one of the vice presidents whose position was cut by Abadi in 2015, is one of those officials. The recently released Panama Papers have revealed Allawi’s secret offshore accounts and the scope of his connection to one of the world’s largest energy companies, raising questions not only about his current motivations, but also the motivations of his Kurdish and Sunni confidants.  
[. . .]
Although he may not be vying for a leadership position himself, he is looking to put some of his Kurdish allies into power, according to two officials in the Ministry of Natural Resources in Erbil who asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak on the matter. 
If Allawi succeeds, he could get massive financial payouts from energy companies. Many of those companies, including the United Arab Emirates' Crescent Petroleum, have received late payments from the Kurdistan Regional Government. Those companies are also interested in keeping allies in top positions in order to continue to maintain profitable contracts. 

And that's one aspect -- one oil aspect.

Of course, there are others.

We're dropping back to Tuesday because the above is one oil aspect but it's not the only one:

  • After dramatic media hype, PM Abadi & his comrades caged in the Green Zone agreed to continue the etho-sectarian distribution of power

  • It certainly says it all.
    "Dramatic media hype."
    As we noted in last night's snapshot, to push that drama, they had to ignore the pushback which was immediate.
    Our April 2nd snapshot noted at length the various objections to what Haider al-Abadi was proposing.
    REUTERS didn't report it.
    AP didn't cover it.
    But if you read Arabic, you could find coverage from the Iraqi press -- and we did.
    It was obvious immediately that this plan cooked up by the White House was going to fail.
    And it has.
    That hydrocarbons legislation?
    They want it, they want it so bad.
    They being elements of the ruling class in the United States.
    They wanted it when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House.
    And they tried repeatedly to get it.
    Bully Boy Bush even made it one of his 2007 benchmarks -- the passage of that legislation.
    He failed repeatedly.
    As has Barack.
    And bad news -- and, no surprise, unreported by US outlets -- Iraqi officials are calling for the oil wealth to be distributed to the people.
    It's not just Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr -- though he has been the most prominent thus far.
    The story of Iraq's oil is the story the western press is always skittish to cover -- other than how it's doing in the stock market.
    Barack Obama and his underlings tried to present the move as 'democratic' and 'reform.'
    And the western press went along.
    They ignored that the move went completely against the Constitution of Iraq -- both how it was done and what was being proposed.
    They ignored the objections to the proposal.
    They did everything they could to propagandize for the White House.
    But it all imploded.

    ALSUMARIA observes fun and games are to resume on Saturday when Parliament is scheduled to next meet.

    The world waits to see what happens next.

    Meanwhile, yesterday the US Defense Dept announced more bombs dropped on Iraq:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, ground-attack and fighter aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Hit, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL machine gun positions, an ISIL boat, an ISIL boat dock, seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL command and control node and denying ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Kisik, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bunker.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb, and an ISIL storage facility.

    -- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL headquarters and an ISIL financial headquarters and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.

    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas.
    Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed seven ISIL boats and an ISIL mortar position and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike 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.

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated:


    Friday, April 15, 2016

    You will make your own spaces

    Link to headline article

    Even when they're denied to you, you will make your own spaces.

    The world needs to accept that.

    The world also needs to accept that the Kurds will have their own homeland at some point.

    It may or may not come peacefully.

    But history shows that you cannot long deny a people.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS): 
    April 13, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue -- and that's just in the Parliament, threats of dissolving Parliament, bombs dropped, and much more.

    Murtaza Hussain (THE INTERCEPT) reports:

    MORE THAN 90 PERCENT of young people in Iraq consider the United States to be an enemy of their country, according to a new poll.
    After years spent justifying the war as a “liberation” of the Iraqi people, the survey casts further doubt on the success of that endeavor.

    Today the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq

    Attack, fighter and ground attack aircraft conducted seven strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Huwayjah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.

    -- Near Hit, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL machine gun positions and four ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Mosul, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb.

    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike produced inconclusive results.

    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 been carried out daily since August of 2014.

    Again, Murtaza Hussain reports:

    MORE THAN 90 PERCENT of young people in Iraq consider the United States to be an enemy of their country, according to a new poll.
    After years spent justifying the war as a “liberation” of the Iraqi people, the survey casts further doubt on the success of that endeavor.

    And how has this addressed the problem of the Islamic State?

    It has not.

    The editorial board of THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE reminds:

    The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has its own problems, considered largely to be a result of the actions of its Shiite Muslim leadership in monopolizing authority in Baghdad, excluding the 35-percent Sunni Muslims who ruled the country from 1932 to the U.S. invasion in 2003. That piece of unwise religious discrimination is bad enough in itself, but it is joined by serious pushing and shoving among the Shiites themselves.

    The refusal to address the persecution of the Sunnis, the refusal to bring the Sunnis into the government fully is what resulted in the rise of the Islamic State.

    Until that's addressed, time's just being wasted.

    Tuesday, the Iraqi government used their time responding to Haider al-Abadi's call for a new Cabinet -- and it was chaos in the Parliament as some supported Haider's push and others opposed it.

    Things did not improve on Wednesday.

    AP words it this way "Iraqi lawmakers have resorted to throwing water bottles and punching each other."  Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) reports:

    Schoolyard-style chaos descended on Iraq’s parliament on Wednesday as lawmakers scuffled and threw water bottles at one another amid a political crisis that is destabilizing the country.
    In a day of bickering and brawls in Baghdad, more than 100 parliament members signed a petition calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, President Fuad Masum and the speaker of parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, lawmakers said. About the same number are staging a sit-in in the parliament building.

    Saif Hameed and Maher Chmaytelli (REUTERS) report:

    Iraq's parliamentary speaker Salim al-Jabouri may request the dissolution of the assembly after ministers scuffled during a chaotic parliamentary session on Wednesday over a plan to overhaul the government that aims to tackle graft.
    The possibility of holding new elections in Iraq was raised after state TV reported that al-Jabouri was considering the future of the current assembly.
    According to Iraqi constitution, dissolving the parliament requires the approval of the majority of the MPs at the request of one third of the assembly, or the approval of the president at the request of the prime minister.

    How serious could al-Jabouri be?

    That depends.

    He could be dead serious.

    Or this could be a parent bluffing from the driver's seat, "If you kids don't straighten up, I'm turning this car around right now! I'm not joking!"

    Possibly, it's the latter?

    ALSUMARIA reports that his office is denying rumors that he plans to resign.

    One would think if you were really serious about dissolving the Parliament, you'd have other things to do besides refute rumors that you might be resigning.

    But who knows?

    What is known is that the Iraqi Constitution states:

     Article 61:
    First: The Council of Representatives may dissolve itself with the consent of the absolute majority of its members, upon the request of one-third of its members or upon the request of the Prime Minister and the consent of the President of the Republic. The Council may not be dissolved during the period in which the Prime Minister is being questioned.

    Second: Upon the dissolution of the Council of Representatives, the President of the Republic shall call for general elections in the country within a period not to exceed sixty days from the date of its dissolution. The Cabinet in this case is considered resigned and continues to run everyday business.

    We know what general elections are in Iraq, don't we?

    I ask because few seem to grasp that dissolving the Parliament would mean another contest for the post of prime minister.

    That's what general elections are.

    So if the Parliament is dissolved (and the Constitution followed -- always a big "IF" in Iraq), Haider al-Abadi might or might not be chosen to be prime minister of Iraq.

    It's very likely there would be a push to go with someone else.

    Not only does Nouri al-Maliki still covet the post (Nouri was prime minister from 2006 through 2014) but a large number of Shi'ites see Haider al-Abadi as a failure.

    It's only the governments of Iran and the United States that continue to firmly back him.

    The fact that he could lose his post may be why Haider's talking state of emergency.

  • Prime Minister Haider Abadi may declare state of emergency, as chaos rises in political statue.

  • Brawls in Parliament?

    Iraq's seen them before.

    Nothing on Tuesday or Wednesday in the Parliament qualifies as a state of emergency.

    But making such a declaration might be able to temporarily save Haider's job.

    The controversial Zalmay Khalilzad (former US Ambassador to Iraq) has a column at THE NEW YORK TIMES where he offers:

    The Iranians, who usually act as brokers between Shiite groups, have generally been skeptical of Mr. Abadi, whom they regard as too close to the United States. However, Iran has recently opposed unseating the prime minister, perhaps fearing that prolonged negotiations over his succession could drive Shiite parties further apart and divert diplomatic and security resources away from the fight against the Islamic State. Iran might also realize that lasting success against the jihadist group requires addressing Iraqi Sunnis’ concerns rather than encouraging sectarianism.
    The United States has also played an influential role in facilitating agreements among Iraqis in recent years. The United States has had a good working relationship with Mr. Abadi, as Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Baghdad last week affirmed. But officials in Washington are, like their Iranian counterparts, concerned that a political crisis in Baghdad could delay the campaign to retake Mosul from the Islamic State. The political crisis could also derail efforts by the Iraqis to deal with their financial problems.

    Even Zalmay can't pretend there's support among the Iraqi people for Haider to remain in place.

    Meanwhile, Edward Tick writes the editorial board of THE NEW YORK TIMES:

    As a psychotherapist working closely with our military and veterans, I am deeply troubled by your article about a Marine’s death on a secret Iraqi base. I am concerned not only for the family of this fallen Marine, but also for all of us being misled by leadership disguising the realities of war.
    It is tragic enough that another American son has fallen, but when families and the nation are told that he and others are not counted as being deployed in the combat zone because they are on temporary assignment or there less than four months; when the public is told that our Marines are on “fire complexes” rather than fire bases so that they sound safer; when we were told combat operations were over while we are still sending troops to fight and be killed in that same region, we are fed a series of lies.

    Yes, it sounds like the peace movement is reawakening.

    And doing so after years of being in a medically induced coma.  Leslie Cagan and other liars broke up various peace organizations following the November 2008 election.

    They didn't want to challenge or pressure Barack.

    They weren't peace leaders, they were just get-out-the-vote tools for the Democratic Party.

    Now the peace movement is realizing that their 'leaders' were liars with few exceptions (Cindy Sheehan was not a liar and would be high on the list of exceptions -- but if you weren't speaking out like Cindy in the last years, you are on the liar list).

    It's going to be hard for them to assume 'leadership' posts again.

    They're exposed for the tawdry liars they are.

    Thursday, April 14, 2016

    Hillary the nightmare of Haiti

    Theodore Hamm (DAILY BEAST) reports:

    Amid the current upheaval, the name Mirlande Manigat is well worth recalling. As Haiti struggled to dig out from the disastrous 2010 earthquake, Manigat stood poised to become its first elected female president—until Hillary Clinton’s State Department intervened.
    A former First Lady of Haiti and a respected university administrator, Manigat invoked Brazil’s Lula as she ran on a moderately left-wing platform championing universal public education. Manigat, who holds a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, also campaigned in the U.S., detailing at length her vision for Haiti.


    Hillary who believes in voting for women in some show of solidarity worked to defeat a woman?

    And a former first lady at that?

    What happened?

    Among other things:

    In late November 2010, Manigat, a Duvalier-era exile, topped a field of 19 candidates, garnering 31 percent of the vote and setting herself up for a runoff election against the initial second-place finisher, Jude Celestin. A close ally at the time with Haiti’s then-President Rene Preval, Celestin barely edged out Martelly, the popular singer better known as Sweet Micky.
    After the election results were announced in early December, Micky’s devoted supporters rioted for three straight days. Hillary Clinton, in turn, told President Preval that if he didn’t force Celestin to drop out, Congress would cut off aid to Haiti. Martelly soon became the second candidate in the runoff.

    Haiti is in ruins still.

    So much money has been wasted.

    The Clinton foundation did not deliver.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Wednesday, April 13, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi's circus of failures continues, the US State Dept makes clear they (still) prefer the Talabanis to the Barzanis, and much more.

    This morning a Tweet is gathering a lot of attention but it has not been confirmed by any news outlets:

  • HUGE NEWS A Number of Marines killed inside their Base in Northern by shelling.

  • Again, no news outlet has yet reported on a shelling or the death of any US Marines.

    It may or may not be accurate.  We'll note it and move on to the chaos that is Haider al-Abadi.

    March 31st, the US-installed Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi proposed a series of 'reforms' that the US government wanted: A new Cabinet filled with people of his choosing.

    The did not go over well.

    In part because he currently has a Cabinet.

    In part because there are two ways to change the Cabinet.

    First, the Parliament can vote individual members out -- one at a time.

    Second, the Parliament can do a no-confidence vote in the prime minister which dissolves the Cabinet . . . but would also remove the prime minister.

    So there was the whole unconstitutional issue to start with.

    Then there was the sheer audacity of what he was proposing.

    Two of his proposed new members would publicly announce that they were no longer seeking the posts -- and would do so within seven days of his announcement.

    It was not a pretty time.

    Tuesday, he appeared before Parliament to announce, wait, wait, I have a new list.  Forget my March 31st list that I insisted was Iraq's best and brightest! Two weeks later, I have a new list to spring on you!

    It was received worse than the last time around. How dramatic was the whole thing?  ALSUMARIA broadcast a special program on the turmoil inside the Parliament.

    Click here for video of the angry reaction in Parliament.  And here.

    Mohammad Sabah (AL MADA) calls the entire response (sardonically calls?) the continuous birth pains of democracy.

    It could have been more of a free for all had more MPs been present.  IRAQ TIMES counts 245 plus the Speaker.  They note strong words between the Speaker and members of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc.  ALL IRAQ NEWS reports MP Hairth al-Harthy led a sit-in in Parliament calling for immediate action.  He is with the Al-Ahrar Bloc, Moqtada's group.  The photo of the sit-in AL MADA runs shows seven male MPs and nine female MPs seated.  AP notes some Sunni lawmakers also joined in the sit-in.  ALL IRAQ NEWS notes 115 MPs participated at one point or another in the sit-in and that it also included some Kurdish MPs.

    Moqtada is the Shi'ite cleric and movement leader who gave Haider al-Abadi cover to announce his first list through a series of rallies in support of a new Cabinet.

    IRAQ TIMES reports that in exchange for that support, Moqtada was able to name 6 of the 14 proposed ministers.

    Let's hope it was worth it for Moqtada.

    Apparently, others were listening in to Moqtada's conversations with Haider al-Abadi.  IRAQ TIMES notes that sites linked to State of Law have published the dialogue between Moqtada and Haider as a result of their phone conversations being recorded.

    Those paying attention may remember that State of Law led the most public Shi'ite resistance to Haider's proposal of doing away with the current Cabinet.

    State of Law is the creation of Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister of Iraq from 2006 through 2014).

    Meanwhile NINA explains that Kurdish MPs went into a private session to devise a unified front to the proposal.

    IRAQ TIMES notes the whole thing ended without any resolution and with Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri stating they'd vote on the new list Thursday.  However, ALSUMARIA reports that 61 MPs have called on al-Jubouri to hold an emergency session today.  REUTERS reports this morning that the emergency session is currently taking place.

    NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY adds that Citizen Bloc MP Salim Chawki declared that this reviewing the nominees and voting will take time and that Parliament will vote on each one as an individual (and not as one vote for the entire slate).

    No one is commenting on what a revelation the Cabinet proposal is.

    It reveals Haider is uniquely unqualified to be prime minister.

    He proposed that cabinet in the fall of 2014.  Not even two years later, he needs a new Cabinet?

    More to the point, forming a Cabinet is the only requirement for a candidate to move from prime minister designate to prime minister.

    Haider is an all out failure.

    His requests for a new Cabinet demonstrate this.

    Some Sunnis are calling for all three presidencies to be dismissed (Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, President of Iraq) and that would be Constitutional.  It would also be the way this is supposed to be handled Constitutionally.

    Yet the White House continues to shore up the disaster that is Haider al-Abadi.

    Yesterday, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted nine strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Hit, two strikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed 20 ISIL fighting positions, 16 ISIL heavy machine guns, four ISIL rocket-propelled grenade systems, an ISIL anti-air artillery piece and two ISIL staging areas and denied ISL access to terrain.

    -- Near Mosul, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and two separate ISIL headquarters and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL assembly area.

    -- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed three ISIL machine guns and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes destroyed an ISIL staging area 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.

    And now let's note yesterday's State Dept press briefing (presided over by spokesperson Mark Toner) and what it meant:

    QUESTION: I just want to talk about Iraq.

    MR TONER: Great. Happy to talk about Iraq.

    QUESTION: So there’s a KRG delegation here in the United States. Before they get here, the KRG spokesperson said they are here at the request of the United States. I was wondering if the United States has actually invited them to be here. And they are here, obviously, from what they say, requesting for more financial help for the Peshmerga forces, especially when it comes to the liberation of Mosul. That’s my first question.

    The second question: I think it was last Friday when Secretary Kerry was in Baghdad, and it was notably – he didn’t go to Erbil. So the decision not to go to Erbil by Secretary Kerry – how much this decision has to do with the refusal of President Barzani to step down from presidency?

    MR TONER: Well, a couple things. First of all, on the KRG delegation, there is a delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, who’s in – rather, scheduled to be in Washington. I think they arrived yesterday. They’re scheduled to be here till the 15th. They’re going to meet with Administration officials to discuss the economic crisis facing the Iraqi Kurdistan Region as well as humanitarian assistance and, of course, overall U.S. support for the fight against [the Islamic State].

    As to who invited whom, I can’t speak to that, but I know they’re scheduled to meet with several Department of State officials, including Deputy Secretary Tony Blinken, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Joseph Pennington, Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein, and Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall – Sewall, rather.
    In answer to your second question about why the Secretary didn’t travel to Erbil, all I can say is that he was on the ground in Baghdad for a day. Obviously, there are security concerns always when he’s moving about in Iraq. I don’t think it was mean to be – send any signal to the people of the region of – Kurdistan Region, rather – Iraqi Kurdistan Region. We’ve been very supportive of their efforts to combat [the Islamic State]. They have played an absolutely vital role, in fact, within the overall Iraqi command and control structure in pushing [the Islamic State] out of key parts of the country.
    And – sorry – Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk did remain in Iraq, and he also, I believe, met with Iraqi Kurdistan Region officials as well over the last several days. So we’re fully focused on the Kurdistan Region. We’re committed to helping them as much as we can in providing what assistance we can.

    We're going to stop Toner right there because that's an interesting and telling slip.

    And I don't believe Toner's that stupid.

    I do believe he's a liar because he's demonstrated himself to be one repeatedly.

    First off, who's president in the KRG?

    What the hell does it matter?

    Let's be honest.

    The post travels back and forth between two families -- the Barzanis and the Talabanis.

    Part of the reason the CIA's been so successful creating, fueling and backing Goran ("Change'') in the KRG is because of this reality.

    The CIA hasn't had a great deal of success in recent years with political parties overseas.  Goran's emerged as a genuine challenger in the KRG, a true third party.

    And that's because there is genuine resistance on the part of some -- a significant number judging by the most recent KRG elections which saw Goran emerge as the second most popular political party -- to the region being controlled by the two families.

    But at present, that is how the system has been rigged.

    So let's all stop pretending that it matters a great deal whether or not a Barzani is president of the KRG or a Talabani is president of the KRG -- or the prime minister of the KRG.

    Currently, Barazanis are both -- president and prime minister.

    And that's what's so curious about Toner's statement.

    He chooses to bring up a Talabani.  A Talabani is part of the US delegation.

    But he ignores the fact (see the photo above) that Kerry met with a Barzani while in Iraq last week -- Nechervan Barzani who is the nephew of KRG President Massoud Barzani.  The Barzanis control the KDP political party.  The Talabani's control the PUK political party.

    It's curious that Toner failed to note that meet-up or Barzani.

    He did feel the need to, in the same response, note Qubad Talabani.

    Qubad is the son of Jalal Talabani.  Jalal was President of Iraq (not the KRG) starting in 2005.


    Officially in 2014 but the reality is that after December 2012, he was never president -- not acting president.

    December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.

    He remained in Germany well into 2014.  He was brought back only in time for photo ops for the national elections of 2014 -- and that was due to Goran emerging as the second most popular political party in the KRG in the provincial elections (Talabani's PUK ended up in third place).

    Such is the power of the Talabani family that they were able to hold onto the presidential post for nearly 18 months with Jalal out of the country and unable to speak.

    He should have been replaced -- per the Constitution, he should have been replaced.

    It's that kind of corruption that allowed the CIA-backed Goran to find eager supporters in Iraq.

    The State Dept has repeatedly backed the Talabani family over the Barzani family.  Probably because the Barzani family has always wanted US troops in Iraq -- both during the Bully Boy Bush days and during Barack Obama's presidency.

    Toner's elected to choose sides again.

    He can -- and did -- name check Talabani.  And let's note Talabani is Deputy Prime Minister.  Barzani is Prime Minister.

    And while Toner didn't think it was worth noting that Kerry met last week with KRG Prime Minister Talabani, Brett McGurk did Tweet about it:

  • Conferring w/ today in . Key meetings w/PM, Speaker, FM, KRG PM. Focus: uniting forces against .

  • Back to Toner.

    QUESTION: So you’re saying it has nothing to do with the issue of presidency in the Kurdistan Region?

    MR TONER: No.

    QUESTION: Because last time he went to Erbil.

    MR TONER: I understand that. I think it was more a matter of scheduling priorities or scheduling demands.

    QUESTION: And just one more --

    MR TONER: Yes, sir.

    QUESTION: One last thing on the --

    MR TONER: Yes, sir.

    QUESTION: -- KRG delegation.

    MR TONER: Yes.

    QUESTION: Do you have news – financial support of the Kurdistan Region or – I mean, they met with the Secretary in Baghdad and now they are here with a request of more financial help from the U.S. Is there any new humanitarian or military or financial assistance to the KRG --

    MR TONER: I mean, I don’t have anything to announce beyond the 155 million that Secretary Kerry announced when he was on the ground in Baghdad, which is obviously going towards humanitarian assistance for displaced conflict-affected areas. And that’s on top of, I think, nearly 800 million since the start of Fiscal Year 2014. But of course, we’re always looking at ways we can provide more support.

    QUESTION: Thank you.


    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    Graham Nash has a new album coming out

    This is from Kat's "Kat's Korner: Graham Nash Breaks Your Heart Again"

    When you're young you're fearless.  Life seems as though it will last forever.  That's why young deaths tend to shock.

    Around thirty or so, many of us begin to acknowledge some concept that life is not limitless.  Or, for those who believe in reincarnation and/or the afterlife, that this life is not limitless.

    "The question haunting me: Is my future just my past?"

    That's something you ask as you get closer to the end.

    Graham Nash is asking that on his new album THIS PATH TONIGHT.

    The 74-year-old singer-songwriter was a member of The Hollies and of Crosby, Stills and Nash and a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

    To offer some context, I'll quote the great photographer Henry Diltz from Matthew Greenwald's GO WHERE YOU WANNA GO: THE ORAL HISTORY OF THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS:

    Earlier, in '67, I was staying in Greenwich Village staying with The Lovin' Spoonful, and taking pictures of the group, because their producer was my old roomate, Eric Jacobson.  During that summer, Cass [Elliot] came over with The Hollies, about three or four of 'em, and came over to Zal Yanovosky's apartmeant.  She said, "Hey, I want to bring some friends over." And that's the way she was, and she arrived with all these English guys that didn't know anybody, and we had a great little impromptu party in the afternoon, hanging out and telling sotries and laughin,' you know.  A lot of 'instant friends' and Cass, once again, was the catalyst to that.  I met Graham that next day, and I shot an album cover for The Hollies.  And then Cass introduced Graham to David later in L.A., and that was the beginning of the whole CSN thing.  Cass was very instrumental in making those things happen.  Cass was an exceptional person, and a great lady.

    Graham was all over the sixties.

    Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship's classic album BLOWS AGAINST THE EMPIRE?

    From Patricia Kennealy Morrison's 1971 interview with the late Kantner (this interview and other of her rock and roll reporting and reviews are gathered in ROCK CHICK: A GIRL AND HER MUSIC The Jazz &  Pop Writings 1968 - 1971):

    Paul Kantner: I even got Graham Nash to mix it down for me.  I had spent two and a half weeks trying to get it all together, had two-track tapes going up to the ceiling, and Graham came in and did it all in two days.  He did it all with headphones on.  I hated him for it.  But that made the mixed album fantastic for headphone listening, all these little weird things you can't pick up otherwise.  What we want to do next is to have Grace [Slick] and me and Crosby and Jerry [Garcia] and Phil Lesh and Graham and Neil Young and some more people all get in the studio and make a sequel album.

    With Crosby, Stills & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, he wrote songs like "Marrakesh Express," "Teach Your Children" and "Wasted on the Way."

    And, most especially, the classic "Our House" ("is a very, very, very fine house. . .").

    That was about the home he shared with Joni Mitchell.

    From "Our House" to, on the new album, "Back Home."

    It's got a cryptic yet knowing feel to it, aided by an echo dropped on the music track and some great backing vocals.  The song, like others on the album, was co-written by Shane Fontayne.  It's one of ten tracks proper that make up the album (you can also get an edition with three bonus tracks -- the album's released Friday, April 15th, I'm reviewing via C.I.'s advanced copy which just has ten tracks).

    I'm a huge Graham Nash fan (and it was sweet of Kat to quote me later in her review) and can't wait for Friday to get this new album.

    "TV: FOX NEWS SUNDAY, corrupt and shameless" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):

    It was all lies and embarrassments.

    For both guest Barack Obama and host Chris Wallace.

    For example, Barack's been publicly fretting about the Supreme Court and 4-4 ties.  And lying that it's never happened before and try to whip up a frenzy.

    A clip was played of drama queen Barack declaring, "As a consequence, we have a 4-4 tie in the Supreme Court and potentially at least two Supreme Court terms in which this vacancy will remain.  That is unprecedented."

    He's such a drama queen.

    And Chris Wallace failed to call him on that.

    Senate Republicans are saying that they will not vote on Barack's nominee -- generic and right-wing tilting Merrick Garland -- due to the fact that Barack's term is due to end shortly.

    You can agree with that or not.

    But only a drama queen liar would take this stance and try to create a frenzy.

    And even splits?

    It has happened before.

    Just last month, Mark Fahey (CNBC) was attempting to provide reality:

    Being reduced to eight Supreme Court justices after the death of Antonin Scalia doesn't necessarily mean the court is doomed to months of unproductive gridlock. 
    In fact, an evenly split court really isn't anything new. As Justice Samuel Alito pointed out last week, the court has had an even number of justices in the past. Nearly 1 in 5 decisions passed down since 1946 were decided by an even number of votes, according to a analysis.
    Evenly split courts, which are usually caused by a recused justice or a temporary empty seat, are common, making about 19 percent of all decisions. Yet only 5 percent of those decisions have been ties, suggesting that most courts manage to secure a majority one way or another.  

    If there is a tie, there is a verdict.

    The verdict is that the lower court's ruling stands.

    That's what happens in a Supreme Court tie.

    This is not a national emergency or anything to lose sleep over.

    The people of America may speak and force the Republicans to vote on Garland.

    Or they may feel who the hell cares?

    Regardless, this is not a moment to panic.

    But there's the president of the United States lying and trying to create a frenzy for his own personal gain.

    It's cheap and it's tawdry.

    And Chris Wallace refused to call him on it.

    Which was all the more astounding since Barack, in discussing terrorism, defended what Wallace termed his appearance of being "diffident."

    Barack insisted he was attempting to keep things in perspective and not overblow things:

    Well, I think part of it is that, in the wake of terrorist attacks, it has been my view consistently that the job of the terrorists, in their minds, is to induce panic, induce fear, get societies to change who they are.
    And what I’ve tried to communicate is, "You can’t change us.  You can kill some of us, but we will hunt you down, and we will get you.  And in the meantime, just as we did in Boston, after the marathon bombing, we’re going to go to a ballgame.  And do all the other things that make our life worthwhile.  And you have nothing to offer."
    That’s the message of resilience that we don’t panic, that we don’t fear.  We will hunt you down and we will get you.  

    We don't panic.

    Except when we tell you too.

    Except when we're trying to whine about a Senate vote and we want to lie and alarm you in order to get our way.

    Wallace never probed that obvious hypocrisy.

    Ava and C.I. nail it again.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Monday, April 11, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Hillary Clinton's Iraq problems go far beyond her 2002 vote, Haider's unconstitutional efforts to alter the Cabinet hit a snag, the White House objects to Iraqis making any decisions of their own, and much more.

    The lies people tell themselves to sleep at night.

    Some idiots and whores have emerged recently to whine that Susan Sarandon and/or Tim Robbins shouldn't be listened to because, by supporting Ralph Nader in 2000, they gave the election to Bully Boy Bush.

    That's beyond stupid, it's totalitarian and anti-democracy.

    First off, Al Gore didn't lose the vote.

    He lost the recount due to lousy strategy and a refusal to press hard.

    That's on him.

    Second of all, it's amazing that those responsible for Bully Boy Bush being in the White House are not the corrupt justices of the Supreme Court -- who made a one time decision which they insisted could not be a precedent when the entire reason the Court exists is to create precedent -- but Nader voters.

    After the Court, the next group responsible would be those who voted for Bully Boy Bush.

    They're repeatedly forgotten.

    Possibly because there were so many of them and we don't want to allow that their number was so large?

    And somewhere around there you can credit Al Gore -- serial cheater, by the way (and the press knew, I knew going back to 1992) -- who was a lousy candidate who sounded like he was lecturing people and whose voice had this weird dipthong to it.

    His refusal to offer real solutions left many uninspired.

    His decision to address the criticism that he was centrist by making Joe Lieberman -- the right-leaning Joe Lieberman -- his running mate was another uninspired choice in a campaign that offered nothing but soggy efforts.

    Ralph Nader supporters voted for a candidate that they believed in.

    That's never a problem in a democracy.

    That's something that should always be applauded.

    The lie that they cost Al Gore the presidency is b.s.

    Many of those voters would never vote for Al Gore who was an embarrassment to the left.

    More to the point, in a democracy no candidate owns a vote, they have to earn votes.

    Ralph Nader earned his votes, Al Gore earned his, Bully Boy Bush earned his.

    Or should have.

    If people voted out of fear, well they're responsible for being cowards.

    Nader voters didn't cost anyone anything.

    But screaming at them allows you to indict yourself for supporting the corrupt and cheating Al Gore who lacked charisma.

    I supported Al Gore.

    With my vote and my money.


    Back then, I toed the party line.

    Back then, I voted from fear.

    I won't pretend otherwise or make excuses for myself.

    But even during the recounts, I never lied or whored by blaming Nader voters.

    Even as blindly loyal as I was back then, I wouldn't attack people unfairly.

    Nader voters believed in their candidate and the stands he took.

    Their vote was a true vote and they have nothing to apologize for.

    The Supreme Court gifting Bully Boy Bush with the White House did not start the Iraq War.

    The Iraq War was started by Bully Boy Bush and Republicans and Democrats in Congress with the help of a whorish media that wanted further consolidation and was eager to sell a war.

    Today the Democratic Party has returned to 2000.

    They appear to be on the verge of going with an uninspired candidate -- in this case Hillary Clinton.

    Now they can pull out all stops and play the fear card and maybe win in November or come close to it with Hillary.

    Or they could instead go with the candidate who does inspire passion and have an easier race to the White House.

    Hillary is a lousy candidate.

    Is she unqualified?

    Andrea Mitchell was outraged by this charge last week.

    Of course she was.

    Like Hillary and all other women who made it on their backs of their husbands -- as opposed to those who carved out our own way -- Andrea was outraged.

    Oh, how unfair to the Melinda Gates of the world who married their way up the ladder.

    If that's shocking to you, where were you in 2008?

    Go back and read Gloria Steinem's 2008 NEW YORK TIMES column and pay attention on how women most often get to hold elected office around the world.  It's due to who they were married to.  Gloria was right and we applauded the column and quoted from it.

    Is Hillary unqualified?

    That depends upon whom she's running against.

    A first term US senator?

    She was about equal to Barack in 2008.

    But a more experienced member of Congress?

    Then the question arises: What Committee did she chair while in the Senate?  What hearings did she preside over?

    Then you start to grasp how she was little more than a seat holder in Congress and really didn't accomplish anything.

    Which brings us to Secretary of State.

    She was an awful Secretary of State.

    We were supportive of her here when she began that post.

    I supported her for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination around late January 2008 forward.

    I could excuse the Iraq War vote then because it could be a mistake -- as she termed it.

    It could have been.

    But then as Secretary of State, she wanted constant war and it was clear that her vote for the Iraq War was not an error or a one time mistake but part of her DNA.

    More to the point, she failed Iraq as Secretary of State.

    Put that on hold a moment.

    Let's note Trevor Timm (GUARDIAN):

    If there is one thing Bernie Sanders never fails to reference in the Democratic primary, it’s Hillary Clinton’s vote in favor of the Iraq war. He brought it up after answering a question about gun control, he continually references the vote during Democratic debates and he’s made his opposition to the war a cornerstone of his foreign policy. Last week he said, “I don’t think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq,” and on Sunday, he again questioned Clinton’s judgment based on her vote.
    The response from some journalists and Clinton supporters has been to derisively question whether he has any other notes, with a tone of: when is he going to stop complaining about something that happened over a decade ago?
    He shouldn’t stop. If anything, more politicians should be bringing up the Iraq war at every opportunity. The dismissive tone Clinton supporters have taken to the issue belies a callous indifference to the most disastrous foreign policy calamity in our lifetime – a decision that continues to directly affect US foreign policy across the entire Middle East. It is dangerously shortsighted and an insult to the countless people who died as a result. If anything, we should be talking about the Iraq war more, not less.
    Four thousand five hundred members of the US military died in the Iraq, tens of thousands of Americans were injured or maimed, and at least a half million Iraqis died as a result of the decision to declare war (some estimates put it as high as one million), for starters. Should we stop talking about those unspeakably tragic deaths because most happened 10 years ago, or because the majority of them weren’t American?

    Trevor goes on to note Libya.

    And that's part of what I was speaking of above with regards to proving she was war, war, war.

    But why is it everyone goes there?

    Hillary lost my support because of Iraq.

    That's not just her 2002 vote -- or her tenure as Secretary of State proving she was a War Hawk.

    That's her failure on Iraq as Secretary of State.

    She's in trouble over her e-mails.


    Because she'd a damn control freak.

    Because she can't be honest.

    She hid the Travel Gate files (let's all stop covering for her) and she hid her e-mails.

    More to the point, she hid her time as Secretary of State.

    She refused to have an Inspector General the entire time she was Secretary of State, all four years.

    That's never happened since the creation of IGs.

    John Kerry was named Secretary of State, attended a hearing about three months later, was asked about the IG issue and promised the department would have one before the end of the year.

    Less than five months later, they did.

    Because for whatever else his faults are, he does respect the fundamentals of oversight and believe in the basics of democracy.

    Not Hillary.

    She was comfortable with no oversight, she preferred it.

    And it's not just there.

    We attended the hearings that no one wanted to report on.

    What was going to happen in Iraq after the bulk of US troops were pulled?

    Iraq fell into disrepair.

    Some are blaming Barack Obama.

    And you can do that and we can't have that conversation and debate and determine what fault is his and what fault isn't his.

    But what's known -- at least if you paid attention, as we did -- is that with the bulk of US troops pulling out, the baton was passed to the State Dept.

    Ahead of the drawdown of US troops, in October of 2011, the US mission was turned over to the State Dept.

    And what was happening then and in the immediate aftermath?

    If you were a US citizen, you didn't know.

    If you were a member of the US Congress, you asked questions but you still didn't know.


    Because Hillary refused oversight.

    We were at the hearings and over and over we heard the frustration of members of Congress as the State Dept refused to break down the budget request, refused to explain how the money would be spent, refused to explain what State's plan in Iraq was, refused to explain why they were asking for millions to train Iraqi forces when the acting Minister of the Interior had publicly stated that the Iraqi forces would not show up for that training, did not need that training, etc.

    As the US is nearly two years into again training Iraqi forces, what State did in the last 3 months of 2011 and in 2012 matters.

    What Hillary refused to tell the Congress matters.

    She was inept at best.

    She was corrupt at worst.

    Her Iraq problems do not end with her 2002 vote or her support for the Iraq War through 2007.

    To those who pretend otherwise, we'll drop back to the December 1, 2011 snapshot:

    "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program?" asked US House Rep Gary Ackerman yesterday. "Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue."
    That was Ackerman's important question yesterday afternoon at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia hearing on Iraq.  US House Rep Steve Chabot is the Chair of the Subcommittee, US House Rep Gary Ackerman is the Ranking Member.  The first panel was the State Dept's Brooke Darby.  The second panel was the Inspector General for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen and SIGIR's Assistant Inspector General for Iraq Glenn D. Furbish.  Chabot had a few comments to make at the start of the hearing.  They often echoed comments made in the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing [see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and other community reporting on the hearing included Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ]. But while Senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsey Graham made their comments during rounds of questions, Chabot made his as the start of the hearing in his opening remarks. 
    Chair Steve Chabot: Unfortunately, these negotiations failed due to, in my opinion, mismanagement by this White House.  Amazingly, the White House is now trying to tout the breakdown and lack of agreement as a success in as much as it has met a promise President Obama made as a candidate. This blatant politicization calls into question the White House's effort to secure an extension.  Fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of American national security  is at best strategic neglect and at worse downright irresponsible.  And the White House tacitly admits this in negotiating an extension in the first place. I fear, however, that our objective is no longer to ensure that Iraq is stable but merely to withdraw our forces by the end of this year in order to meet a political time line. Saying that Iraq is secure, stable and self-reliant -- as Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough  recently did -- does not make it so.  And to borrow a quote from then-Senator Hillary Clinton , It requires "the willing suspension of disbelief" to believe that withdrawing our forces from Iraq at a time when Iranian agents seek to harm at every turn our country and its allies advances our strategic interests.  Although I understand that Iraq is a sovereign country, I believe there is much more we could have done to secure a reasonable troop presence beyond the end of this year.
    McCain was wrongly criticized for not grasping Iraq was a sovereign nation in some press accounts. Wrongly.  McCain grasped that fact and acknowledged it repeatedly in the hearing.  Chabot may have wanted all of that at the start of the hearing to ensure that he was not misunderstood.  In addition, Chabot noted the "reports of obstruction and noncooperation on the part of the Department of State during SIGIR's audit.  This is extremely distressing and, to echo the sentiments of several of my colleagues in the other body which they recently expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, the Department of State is legally obliged to cooperate fully with SIGIR in the execution of its mission; jurisdictional games are unacceptable." In his opening remarks, the Ranking Member weighed in on that topic as well.
    Ranking Member Gary Ackerman:  He [Bowen] has testified before other bodies of Congress, he has released written quarterly reports, as well as specific audits and the message is the same: The program for which the Department of State officially took responsibility on October 1st is nearly a text book case of government procurement -- in this case, foreign assistance -- doesn't buy what we think we're paying for, what we want and why more money will only make the problem worse.  Failed procurement is not a problem unique to the State Department.  And when it comes to frittering away millions, Foggy Bottom is a rank amateur compared to the Department of Defense. As our colleagues on the Armed Services committees have learned, the best of projects with the most desirable of purposes can go horribly, horribly off-track; and the hardest thing it seems that any bureaucracy can do is pull the plug on a failed initiative.  How do we know the Police Development Program is going off-track?  Very simple things demonstrate a strong likelihood of waste and mismanagement.  Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program? Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue.

    Ackerman went on to note how "the program's objectives remain a mushy bowl of vague platitudes" and how  it had "no comprehensive and detailed plan for execution, there is no current assessment of Iraqi police force capability and, perhaps most tellingly, there are no outcome-based metrics.  This is a flashing-red warning light."

    And we can do that all day, with one hearing after another.

    Because some of us were paying attention.

    Some of us do care about Iraq.

    Barack continues the war on Iraq.

    Michael S. Schmidt (NEW YORK TIMES via HOUSTON CHRONICLE) notes the recent death of Staff Sgt Louis F. Cardin in Iraq:

    It was the second time a U.S. service member had been killed in Iraq since President Barack Obama resumed military operations there nearly two years ago.In the days after Cardin's death, U.S. military officials were forced to disclose why he and the Marines were at the base, how Marines would be used in the future and how many U.S. troops were actually in Iraq. The new information illustrated how the conflict had quietly expanded far from the public's view, and raised questions about Obama's pledge to keep U.S. troops out of combat there.
    "Just because the commander in chief says there won't be combat doesn't mean that will be the case," Cardin's brother, Vincent, a former Army infantryman, said in a telephone interview. "It doesn't take much for someone to launch a rocket and start a fight when you're in someone else's country. If that's not combat, I don't know what is." 
    From the beginning, Cardin's mission in Iraq was secret.

    William McGurn (WALL ST JOURNAL) observes tonight;

    Are Marines combat troops?
    In Barack Obama’s world, the answer is apparently not—not even when they are on the ground exchanging fire with the enemy. This is the fiction supported by Hillary Clinton and largely unchallenged by any of the three Republican candidates for president.
    A recent headline in the Marine Corps Times summed it up this way: “Marines in Iraq technically not in combat but still getting some.”

    Welcome to Mr. Obama’s hidden war. 


    Today, the White House issued the following:

    Readout of Vice President Biden’s Calls with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani

    The Vice President spoke separately today with the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider Al-Abadi, and the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, to reaffirm U.S. support for Iraq and the Iraqi people's ongoing fight against ISIL. The Vice President conveyed continued U.S. support for a unified, federal, and democratic Iraq, and encouraged close cooperation between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government as they take steps to strengthen political unity and economic stability. The leaders underscored the urgency of sustained progress in the fight against ISIL and cooperation to liberate Mosul. The Vice President noted ongoing U.S. efforts to mobilize assistance for Iraq's economic recovery. The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq.

    Whenever Iraqis want to decide their own fate, there's the White House rushing in to say "no."

    Fear that Iraqi politicians would eject Haider al-Abadi as prime minister forced Secretary of State John Kerry to go to Iraq last week.

    Heaven forbid Iraqis ever determine their own fate.

    REUTERS reports:

    Iraq’s parliament is unlikely to vote on a new Cabinet lineup proposed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in an attempt to curb corruption after lawmakers said Monday the dominant political blocs would name their own ministerial candidates.
    Abadi last month presented parliament with a list of 14 names, many of them academics, to free the ministries from the grip of a political class he has accused of using a system of ethnic and sectarian quotas instituted after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to amass wealth and influence.

    REUTERS reports that . . . but leaves out that this was a US-backed plan and that it went around Iraq's Constitution.

    Also, are we supposed to be surprised by the reaction of Iraqi politicians?

    Maybe if we were counting on REUTERS which only just discovered the objection.

    But the April 2nd snapshot noted:

    AL MADA notes that the proposed Cabinet was greeted earlier this week by a statement from KRG president Massoud Barzani who declared Haider's proposal had no importance and that it was long ago cleared there was no true partnership in the current government.
    What's really amazing is how little objections to Haider's proposed Cabinet is covered by the international press.
    There was an election in Iraq today.  Ammar al-Hakim was re-elected as the leader of the (Shi'ite) political body the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.  And ISCI issued a statement that any political reforms (the Cabinet) should not weaken the law or increase political differences.
    ALL IRAQ NEWS notes Ammar issued a statement as well when he noted reform did not equal proposing a new Cabinet.
    Ammar held a press conference today where he expressed surprise by Haider al-Abadi's proposal to reform the Cabinet.  This as NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY reports that there is strong division in Parliament over Haider's proposed Cabinet with some likening Haider's proposals to the start of a "dictatorship."
    Meanwhile AL MADA notes that the Kurds continue to demand 20% of the positions on any new Cabinet while Haider's nominees are facing criticism from Sunni political blocs.
    But it's the Shi'ite criticism that's emerging and the most vocal.  IRAQ TIMES notes State of Law MP Kazem al-Sayadi has declared that, no way, no how, will any former member of the Ba'ath Party sit in the Cabinet.
    In addition, ALSUMARIA reports that the Coalition of National Forces are also voicing objection to Haider's proposal with MP Khaled Mafraji declaring that what Haider has done is both incorrect and illegal.
    As if Haider's proposal didn't have enough problems to face, it's already minus one.
    NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS AGENCY reports Nazar Muahmmad Salim al-Numan withdrew his name from consideration on Friday.  Haider had nominated him on Thursday to be the Minister of Oil.  He stated he was withdrawing his name due to a "lack of political consensus."
    IRAQ TIMES notes additional criticism of Haider's proposal -- MP Ghaida Kmbh has come out against Haider's proposal to eliminate some ministries and combine others.
    This was supposed to be an easy move.
    But someone in the US government forgot that there are no easy moves in Iraq.

    So today's 'news'?  Only a surprise if you weren't paying attention.

    The US bombings of Iraq continued today with the Defense Dept announcing:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter, ground attack and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 24 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Huwayjah, a strike destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle and three ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Fallujah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Hit, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL mortar system and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Kirkuk, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL fighting position, five ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL supply cache.

    -- Near Mosul, eight strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and five ISIL communication facilities and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL boat.

    -- Near Qayyarah, three strikes destroyed two ISIL boats and an ISIL vehicle and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    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.