Saturday, March 29, 2014

Peter Berg, comb your f**king hair!

I'm so sick of the PSA actor-director Peter Berg does for the USO.

I hate the USO?


I think it has done great work historically.  In fact, I think it's way past time that we got a solid documentary on the USO.

I hate Peter Berg?

No, I think he gave a very nuanced, layered and sexy performance in The Last Seduction.  I think that is one of the all time great film noir movies.

So why does the ad tick me off?

Run a damn comb through your hair.

He looks like a bum and it looks disrespectful.

Why would you do that?

He needs a shave, he looks greasy and his hair's all over the place.

He completely undermines everything he says with his I-just-got-home-and-it's-4:30-in-the-morning-and-I'm-flat-out-drunk.

By the way, Lucy Walton has a great interview with Iraq War veteran Kayla Williams.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, March 28, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, reaction continues to multiply to Barack Obama's attempt at revisionary Iraq War history, the American Legion has a problem with women veterans, and much more.

We'll start with Congress.  In yesterday's snapshot, we covered some of the Wednesday joint-hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Kat covered the hearing in "When stupid talks to stupid (Congressional hearing)" and Wally covered it in "Rural veterans (Wally)."  The House Committee Chair is Jeff Miller, the Ranking Member is Mike Michaud (Wally covered Michaud in his post).  The Senate Chair is Bernie Sanders.  The Ranking Member is Richard Burr who was not present.  Senator Johnny Isackson acted as Ranking Member.

The testimony came from the Veterans Service Organization The American Legion -- and the testimony was mainly presented by National Commander Daniel Dellinger.  We'll note two more who accompanied him as we note the three questions Chair Bernie Sanders had.

Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders:  Right now there are tens of thousands, mostly women, who are taking care of disabled vets -- in some cases 24-7 under great stress and this is just not easy to do.  Some of us would like to see the Caregivers Act that we passed for the 9-11 veterans be extended.  I would like your feelings on that.  Should it be extended to all generations of veterans?

Daniel Dellinger:  We do agree with your assessment on that, Mr. Chairman.  It needs to happen.  Our -- actually our Veterans Rehabilitation Committee Chairman [Ralph] Bozella has been looking into that and I'd like to ask him to give some comments on that.  

Senate Chair Bernie Sanders:  Thank you. Mr. Bozella?

Ralph Bozella:  Thank you, Commander, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman and members.  The Caregivers Act is the three pieces: the primary, the general and the family.  And, as you stated, Mr. Chairman, the current way that it works is that with this new generation The Caregiver Act of the OIF and OEF is where the lion share of the funding is going.  And what we would really like to see is that funding extended to the general and the family portion with the understanding that all veterans who need that care should be given the same financial resources to have that done in their homes.

Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders:  Thank you.  Second issue I'd like you to comment on, historically VA has covered dental care for service related problems.  You have an oral problem?  They're there. But for veterans who have dental problems that are not service related, there really is no care.  Do you think we should begin the process through a pilot project or whatever expanding VA health care into the area of dental care. 

Daniel Dellinger:  We definitely agree with the assessment also because as we all know if you -- if you -- dental hygiene directly relates to-to the body which in turn would-would alleviate some infections and also improve the overall health of your body and would also -- should actually decrease the amount of treatments necessary for veterans.  

Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders: Finally, one of the last things I want to touch on has been that some 2300 men and women have come home with wounds that make it difficult or impossible for them to have babies and have families. And some of us believe that the VA should help with in vitro fertilization, with the adoption process, to give them the opportunity -- if they want -- to have families. Is that a sensible proposal to you, Mr. Commander?

Daniel Dellinger:  We've been looking at that.  That was part of your bill.  And we actually do not, at this time have a resolution on that.  I'd like to turn this over to our legislative because they've been looking into this since your bill was introduced. 

Brett Reistad:  Senator, Mr. Chairman, indeed this is something that we are taking a look at.  There are a lot of different issues associated with costs and types of procedures that would take place if this were something that the government funded.  Uh, we anticipate that this is something that we will have a stance on at some point in time upon further study by our organization.

Okay, let's get real.  For those late to the party, "your bill," the comment by Daniel Delligner, refers to the last week of February when there was a vote.  Thursday, February 27th, Senator Patty Murray (who is the Senate Budget Committee Chair and was the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair prior to Sanders) went to the floor of the Senate to make an incredibly strong argument for why this was needed.  Late Thursday, as noted in the February 28th snapshot, the vote was shot down in the Senate.

And if you're as stupid as The American Legion hopes you are, that's not just where the story ends, it's also where it begins.

Poor American Legion.  Last week of February and they can't just pull an opinion out of their ass.

That's what they hope you believe.

But thing is, it didn't start there.

When Senator Patty Murray was the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, she introduced  S. 3313, The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 to address this issue.  She explained it at a June 27, 2012 Committee hearing (we covered that hearing in the June 27th and June 28th snapshots). 

And am I mistaken or did Dellinger not tell the same two Committees September 10, 2013 that they'd place a special priority on health care for female veterans (I'm not mistaken, my notes show that he said they had a task force which did research from November 2012 to April 2013 which "focused on women veterans' health care").

So the point here is this has been proposed since 2012.  The American Legion has refused to take a position on the issue.

And let's note something else about Commander Dellinger.

Did MST stop?

Did Military Sexual Trauma vanish?

Last time he gave the American Legion testimony, he could give lip service to the problem.  If it's too much for you, maybe you should step down.  I'm looking at my notes and when Fang Wong was National Commander of the Legion, he could address MST.  It's really strange that Delligner came in so recently with so many promises and none of them are being met.  If the Legion finally has the Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Wong noted (September 21, 2011 to the joint-hearing of the Veterans Affairs Committees) that they would be hiring one, the Legion doesn't value the position very much.  I can see endless men and two two or three token women (like the "historian") as I flip through the Legion's webpages of various 'officers' or 'officials' or whatever b.s. titles they give themselves.  I don't see the Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator.  In in those miles and miles of elderly White men occupying one position after another, I don't see anything that young veterans can relate to.

Now I know at one point in 2011, the Legion had Amanda Leigh in that role -- while also making her hold down the post of Assistant Director of Veterans Affairs &  Rehabilitation Division.  And if you search the Legion's website for her, you'll see they haven't noted her since 2012.  So is she gone?  Is the position gone?  Seems like if you have a Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator, you note it at the website.  Like maybe on your "Women Veterans" page.  If the position still exists, how is any outreach taking place when a female veteran visiting the website would never find out about it?

Dellinger's doing a lousy job.  Wednesday, he read a long statement -- which didn't note MST once in the 18 pages -- and then had no little to no knowledge of what he had just read.  It was embarrassing.

I don't have any respect for the current leadership because they show no respect for Congress (or the people's dime) by showing up and thinking they can b.s. their way through a Congressional hearing and (b) they show no respect for women.

To be clear, there are a huge number of issues facing veterans.  Stating publicly that you have no position?  Many do say that -- some because their membership has no position, some because they don't want to get in the middle of a Congressional squabble.  And I can respect that.  I can even respect someone coming out against a needed measure.  But the American Legion didn't just play the 'oh, we don't know' card this week, they've played it since 2012 and you're being played if you buy for a minute that this was a new issue for them.  And it wasn't a 'new' issue in 2010 when the American Legion representative (attorney) for a veteran didn't show up in court to represent them -- do we want to go there, because I can go there.

So let flow the hydrants
And we'll dance in the spray
And we'll wash our dirty laundry
In the alleyway
-- "Put Your Love Out In The Street," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Playing Possum

The American Legion has a really sad record on the in vitro issue.  And maybe women veterans need to be aware of that when they're looking for a VSO that will serve them.  15 typed pages.  Single-space.  That's how long Dellinger's opening remarks were (he didn't get to read it all but was told it would go into the record).  Yet he never mentioned MST.  Not one damn time.

Women veterans need to know that.

Women veterans need to know that the American Legion is not a friend to them.

And if that truth hurts, Dellinger, maybe it's time the AL started delivering on all the public promises they've made to women veterans in the last three years.

In Iraq, another journalist has been killed.  All Iraq News reports that Wathiq al-Ghadhanfari was shot dead in Mosul.  He had hosted "a TV program over the history of Nineveh at Mosul local TV stations" and he was "also the candidate of Motahidon Alliance chaired by Speaker" of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.

At today's US State Dept press briefing, Marie Harf declared:

 We are deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding his death and we call on the Government of Iraq to conduct a full investigation into the incident and to hold the perpetrator of this criminal act to account. The killing of any innocent is to be deplored. The murder of a journalist is a particular affront because it strikes at a fundamental pillar of democracy.

Oh, wait, she didn't.  That was her on Monday when a Voice of America/Radio Free Iraq employee was killed.

How did she open today's briefing?  "Hello. Happy Friday, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a few items at the top, and then we will open it up for questions."

Happy Friday, Marie!

Good for you for making it clear to Iraqis that the US government doesn't give a damn about Iraqi reporters or Iraqis at all.

That's really not the message the diplomacy arm of the US government is supposed to send but, hey, Marie was honest.

Why try to pretend that deaths matter in Iraq when the White House so clearly doesn't give a damn.

Hadi al-Mahdi?  Unlike the propagandist shot by the Peshmerga on Saturday, Hadi al-Mahdi was assassinated, he was murdered.  He was a reporter, he was an activist.  He called out Nouri al-Maliki -- something western journalists generally refuse to do.  Hadi had the guts, Hadi had the courage and he was shot dead in his own home.  His killer -- most likely following Nouri's orders -- was never found.  You know outside his apartment?  There are surveillance cameras.  Guess what?

No footage.  For the time of his murder, there is no footage.

But let's pretend this wasn't a government hit.  Let's pretend like something other than Nouri could have both (a) ordered Hadi assassinated and (b) ensured that the cameras were off during the murder so no one could see the assassin arriving or leaving.

The day of Hadi's death?

The US State Dept didn't say one damn word.

Didn't have anything to say the day after either.

And today they didn't care about Wathiq al-Ghadhanfari.

But, "Hello. Happy Friday!" right back at you, Marie Harf.

Doubt Wathiq's family feels it was a happy Friday but that doesn't really matter to the State Dept, now does it?  Doubt the victims of Nouri's shelling of Falluja residential neighborhoods with have a "Happy Friday!" either.  NINA notes 2 civilians are dead and thirty-nine injured from today's shelling.

These are War Crimes but "Happy Friday!," Marie.

In other violence, RT notes fighting in "Anbar province has left at least 30 people dead and injuring 50 others."  National Iraqi News Agency reports Baghdad Operations Command says they killed 2 suspects in Latifya, rebels "blew up a strategic bridge in Hadeetha district western Anbar province" and rebels "blew up a second bridge in Ramadi city center of Anbar province."  Alsumaria reports 1 suicide bomber was shot dead in Mosul, the corpse of 1 truck driver was found near a farm in Dohuk, 3 Baghdad bombings killing 2 people and wounding eight, a Baghdad car bombing left one person injured, a Mousl fight left 3 dead and two injured, and, dropping back to last night, an Iraqi soldier was injured in a roadside bombing near Baiji.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 905 violent deaths so far this month.

April 30th, Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections.  Tuesday brought the news that the entire board of the Independent High Electoral Commission was submitting their resignations.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports the commissioners say there are three possibilities:

1) Parliament passes some form of immunity that would bar the commissioners from being prosecuted for their decisions regarding who can run for office.

2) The election law itself can be modified.

3) The elections can be cancelled. 

All Iraq News reports Iraqiya's Hamed al-Mutleq states the elections must not be postponed.  The leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim has stated Parliament should refuse to accept the resignations.    Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor) reports:

Many were convinced that the government had succeeded in using the judiciary to target its political opponents after the 2011 indictment of former Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and after similar charges were made against a former finance minister, Rafi al-Issawi, in December 2010.
This perception has grown in the weeks leading up to the legislative elections scheduled for next month. The Electoral Judicial Committee has barred participation by a number of would-be candidates known for their harsh opposition toward Maliki. For example, the committee ruled that Issawi is ineligible because he faces arrest warrants stemming from corruption and terrorism charges and because he has refused to appear in court to defend himself. 
Based on a complaint by Hanan al-Fatlawi, a parliamentarian in Maliki’s coalition, the committee also voted to ban a parliamentarian from the Sadrist movement, Jawad al-Shahaili, because he has been accused of embezzlement. Although the same committee overturned decisions prohibiting Sabah al-Saadi and Mithal al-Alusi, both anti-Maliki deputies, from running, it did not change the prevailing belief that most of the time, the judiciary sides with the government. Maliki’s opponents provide another example as evidence — the acquittal of Mishan al-Jubouri on charges of corruption and financial support for terrorism. Jubouri is a former Maliki opponent who recently became his ally.
The problem surrounding qualifying for elections is primarily due to the interpretation of a clause in the electoral law that provides that a candidate must have a record of “good conduct.” This clause has allowed Maliki’s coalition to challenge some potential candidates because they had been accused of crimes.

On Iraq,  Bitch magazine notes:

Award-winning filmmakers Sabine Krayenb├╝hl and Zeva Oelbaum have a passion for telling the stories of trail-blazing women who are often overlooked by historians. Their latest project is Letters from Baghdad, the story of Gertrude Bell who drew the borders of Iraq after World War I and founded the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities which was ransacked in the 2003 American invasion. You can support Letters from Baghdad on the project’s Kickstarter page. [] 

Gertrude Bell and her Iraq work are considered by some to be part of the problem -- a colonialist imposing borders on a foreign land.

Speaking of colonialists, Wednesday, US President Barack Obama made a fool out of himself as he attempted to justify and re-sell the illegal Iraq War.

It is true that the Iraq War was a subject of vigorous debate – not just around the world, but in the United States as well. I happened to oppose our military intervention there. But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.

His lies are still causing a stir.  Let's note some of today's Tweets on the topic.

  • Everything Obama has said on Iraq makes me want to dig my own eyeballs out do you understand

  • Emperor Obama claims a referendum in Crimea worse than illegal war which has killed c1m people. Does he think we're all total cretins?

  • Dear fans, Please explain why Obama would DEFEND our invasion of Iraq. Thanks.

  • Obama Suddenly Defends U.S. Invasion [Annihilation] of Iraq - Mainstream Media Shrug

  • James Schlarmann (Political Garbage Chute) wonders, "Uh, guys?  What kind of high-powered, supermegahardcoreholy***damneds**t halluciongen would I have had to take wherein I would find myself hearing President Barack 'I Am Not George W. Bush' Obama defending the U.S. invasion of Iraq?"  Nebojsa Malic ( asks, "Whatever possessed Mr. Obama to say that 'even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system' when this was clearly not the case, and Bush II’s war was prosecuted without UN approval, without even NATO approval, but by an ad-hoc 'Coalition of the Willing'?"  Sheldon Richman (CounterPunch) calls out the lies:

    [Barack;]We ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.

    The war indeed ended in 2011. But let’s not forget that before (most of) the troops left, Obama begged al-Maliki to let U.S. forces stay beyond the deadline set in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Al-Maliki — who didn’t need the United States when he had Iran in his corner — demanded conditions so unacceptable to Obama that most forces were withdrawn as scheduled. (SOFA was signed by Bush, but that doesn’t stop Obama from claiming credit for “ending the war.”) The U.S. government continues to finance, arm, and train al-Maliki’s military, which represses the minority Sunni population.

    Jonathan Cohn (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Trees) points out,  "Obama also conveniently forgets how he wanted to extend the troop presence, but such negotiations broke down because of Pentagon demands for immunity for such troops--a demand clearly in violation of Iraq's sovereignty." Paul Craig Roberts (Dissident Voice) offers, "Obama recently declared that Washington’s destruction of Iraq–up to one million killed, four million displaced, infrastructure in ruins, sectarian violence exploding, a country in total ruins–is nowhere near as bad as Russia’s acceptance of Crimean self-determination. [. . .]  Who can possibly believe that Obama, whose government is responsible for the deaths of people every day in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, cares a whit about democracy in Ukraine."

     RAZFXPro (News From A Parallel World) offers:

    It’s come to this, an American President taken such leave of his senses that, while a domestic audience is presumably comforted, the rest of the world struggles to find language sufficient to describe his arrogance and flagrant dishonesty.

    America did not seek to ‘work within the international system.’ To the contrary. Denied the support of even most of its traditional allies, the U.S. forged what it clumsily termed a ‘coalition of the willing,’ giving the astonishing destruction we rained on an innocent and essentially defenseless population a rhetorical fig leaf which fooled no one excepting U.S. news commentators and maybe some school children.  

    Jessica Desvarieux files a report for The Real News Network (link is transcript and video).  Excerpt:

    YANAR MOHAMMED, PRESIDENT, ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN'S FREEDOM IN IRAQ: Sovereignty for whom? I think he's talking about the 275 or 300-something parliamentarians who are living inside the International Zone. (And that's the new name for the Green Zone. It's not "Green" anymore.) It's only the sovereignty for those people. And they have the whole wealth of Iraq, while the people are suffering. And there's a number that was produced by the UN reports: almost 38 percent of the Iraqi people are living under the poverty line. Sovereignty for whom?

    DESVARIEUX: Many questions still remain for the people of Iraq after, almost 11 years ago, troops toppled the government of Saddam Hussein and brought to power the Shiite government of al-Maliki.

    Iraqi labor organizer pointed out how the U.S.-backed al-Maliki government is more concerned with amassing wealth and seizing resources, and it aims to crush organized labor movements and remain in power.

    FALAH ALWAN, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION OF WORKERS COUNCILS AND UNIONS: The new government, busy with how to redivide the wealth and how to seize the resources of the society and how to spend mountains of dollars and gold--and this corrupted government, supported directly by the U.S. government.

    The new Iraqi authorities, despite the tragic situation in Iraq, they want to impose a new legislation, which enable them to be in power and [incompr.] in power by controlling the so-called elections and to issue new labor laws to control the workers and prevent them from expressing their demands and their interests, and keeping the old laws of Saddam, which would prevent the workers from organizing themselves, from holding strikes, from negotiating, from calling for their interests. All--we can talk about the tragedies day and night.

    Francis A. Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and, most recently, United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.  Boyle explains:

    In March 2003 the United States launched an illegal and criminal war of aggression against Iraq based on false pretexts, a Nuremberg Crime against Peace. The United States destroyed Iraq as a functioning state and effectively carved-up Iraq de facto into three mini-statelets that are at war with each other today, killing an estimated 1.4 million Iraqis in the process. Suicide bombings in Iraq continue to be a fact of everyday life. By comparison, the Russian annexation of Crimea was almost bloodless.

    Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's  "How Change Happens: The Immigration Uprising" (Truthout):

    This is only the most dramatic action of a wave of activity around the country, in which community and labor activists, and now deportees themselves, have refused to quietly endure increased immigration enforcement.  They are mostly young, deriving much of their inspiration from the Dreamers who forced the administration two years ago to begin providing legal status to some of those who'd otherwise be deported.  These activists refuse to wait for Congress to enact its immigration reform proposals, and in fact many reject them as fatally compromised.
    Two weeks ago hundreds of people inside the Tacoma Detention Center launched a hunger strike against its private operator, Geo Corporation, demanding better conditions and a moratorium on deportations.  Activists, who have held vigils outside the center for years, now gather every day to support those inside.  A week later the strike spread to another Geo facility in Texas.  According to Maru Mora Villapando of Latino Advocacy in Tacoma, in both locations the company has isolated the strikers and in Tacoma threatened to force-feed them.

    Monday, we'll cover more of Nickolay Mladenov's UN Security Council testimony.  I'd hoped we'd continue to that today (and I think I said so in yesterday's snapshot) but there's just not room.

    jessica desvarieux
    the real news network

    Thursday, March 27, 2014


    I asked my assistant to find me the easiest e-mail question that I could blog about tonight.

    Leslie won the lotto.

    Her question was about movies.

    I prefer comedy films to anything.  I like to laugh.

    My all time favorite is The Apartment.  That film, directed by Billy Wilder, stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.  I've probably watched it more than any other film.

    Strangers With Candy is another comedy film I've seen many times.  Mike loves it.  (I like it as well.)  So we watch it all the time.  It's in our player right now, in fact.

    After comedy films?

    I'd say my third favorite is foreign films.  I like foreign films a lot -- yes, even with subtitles.

    But what leaps ahead of them but is below comedy films would be documentaries.

    No offense, but I think I prefer art and cultural documentaries to, for example, political documentaries.

    I recently watched one with Mike on the rise of pulp novels during the Great Depression.  I found it fascinating.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Wednesday, March 26, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, Barack lies about Iraq, Amnesty International reveals Iraq executed even more people in 2013 than in 2012, the Parliament moves to provide the election committee with more powers (and immunity) and much more.

    Let's start with the big lie from US President Barack Obama today.  Speaking in Brussels today, as he attempted to sell war on Russia, Barack declared that what's going on in Ukraine is nothing like the illegal war in Iraq and the illegal war was benign and helpful:

    It is true that the Iraq War was a subject of vigorous debate – not just around the world, but in the United States as well. I happened to oppose our military intervention there. But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.

    It was not a subject of vigorous debate in the US.  Those of who spoke out were told to "shut up."  If you wanted to hear an argument against going to war on Iraq, your best chance was catching Janeane Garofalo or Michael Moore on Fox News. Fox would attack the guests, so praise for Janeane and Michael for going into the lion's den -- but they would allow the guests to express their views.

    Elsewhere, people were just shut out.  And worse.  We've noted the journalist who left the Dallas Morning News and is at another daily today but remembers full well that orders went out to attack the anti-war critics. Sheryl Crow was attacked and slandered by the paper, said to be unworthy of her Grammy nomination.  Why did the music critic write that?  Why did she lie by arguing that instead of Sheryl being nominated a baby pop tart should have been nominated?  Pop tart wasn't even eligible for a nomination because she had nothing to be nominated for -- the Grammy rules aren't secret and that includes the eligibility time period.   She attacked Sheryl because she was under orders.  In the local pieces, others were under orders as well. Which is how the local columnist attacked protesters in Dallas and compared their actions to treason.  This was a hippie and a stoner.  But he marched to the orders he was given.

    I can do that on seven other daily newspapers, we're using the Dallas Morning News because its actions were in part an effort to continue to have the government allow it to skirt FCC regulations over ownership in local markets.

    Yeah, Big Business profited from the Iraq War.  The FCC was used to help sell the war and that is one of the many things that's buried today.

    So Barack's a damn liar. There was no vigorous debate.  A month before it started, in fact, the day after liar Colin The Blot Powell lied to the United Nations, "case closed" was the phrase the media began using.

    Aaron Blake (Washington Post) reports on Barack's remarks and we'll note two comments to Blake's article:

    Then get out, as requested by the puppet governor we installed.



    Sorry, but this has stunned me into speechlessness. Not one country sanctioned the US for invading a sovereign country on a phony pretext, destabilizing it, occupying it, setting up an American govt....

    And not one country ever sanctioned the US for its torture of suspects.

    The US doesn't need to annex that which it occupies and then controls through puppet regimes.

    This was totally unwise. 

    Jason Ditz ( is on a streak this week.  Yesterday he wrote something (we noted it in the snapshot) that I've already nominated for "Truest statement of the week" at Third and, writing today about Barack's nonsense remarks, Ditz cuts right through the nonsense:

    “America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory,” Obama insisted, going on to praise Iraq as a “fully sovereign state” that “could make decisions about its own future.”
    Which is to say the US forced a puppet government into power before it left, despite Prime Minister Maliki losing the last election, and put in place an election system so crooked that even the Maliki-appointed election commission resigned en masse yesterday rather than take part in April’s planned vote.

    Barack's refusal to note the lies that the US government told to start the Iraq War is understandable when you think of all the lies he and others in the administration (Secretary of State John Kerry, for example) have told to try to sway the public to support a war with Russia.

    Everything Barack said above was a lie.

    It is true that the Iraq War was a subject of vigorous debate – not just around the world, but in the United States as well. I happened to oppose our military intervention there. 

    We've noted there was no vigorous debate.  Equally true, his claim to oppose the illegal war?  Only before it started.  Once it started, he was on board.  I know because he told Elaine and I that when he was running for the Senate (and we left the fundraiser immediately and didn't give his campaign a dime).

    But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. 

    Lie.  The United Nations provided no approval of starting a war.  The statement that a second resolution would be sought was dropped when the US government learned (by illegal spying on UN representatives) that they didn't have the votes necessary, they started the illegal war anyway.

    We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain. 

    Actually, the US government did and does.  The illegal war was about markets -- that includes the oil market.  The illegal war 'opened' the oil wells in Iraq.  The country's being polluted as it tries to pump out as much oil as possible.  There are pools, lakes, of oil in Iraq, on the surface, polluting the land, ensuring that less and less of it can be used for farming.  Iraq's giving the world cheap oil and, in the process, destroying itself.

    Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.

    We already quoted Jason Ditz addressing the nonsense of a 'fully sovereign' nation.  So let's deal with 'we ended our war and left Iraq to its people' instead.

    The US drawdown out of Iraq was completed by the end of December 2011.  The US military called it a drawdown, not a "withdrawal."  It wasn't a withdrawal.  Not only did every US service member not leave Iraq at that time (Ted Koppel was the only one to report this in December 2011), but approximately 15,000 US troops were re-positioned to Kuwait.  And, almost a year later, at the end of September 2012, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

    Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

    Barack's such a liar and he gets away with it because so many embrace lies.  We'll come back to that at the end of the snapshot.  Right now we'll note the immediate effect of Barack's latest nonsense.  Julianna Goldman and Mike Dorning (Bloomberg News) report, "As Obama spoke, U.S. stocks fell, erasing earlier gains, on investor concern that the conflict may escalate. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 0.3 percent to 1,859.76 at 3:19 p.m. in New York, after earlier climbing to within three points of its record closing level reached March 7. "

    Let's note some Tweets on Barack's nonsense:

  • Anger, Disbelief as Obama Defends US Invasion of Iraq: President Barack Obama delivers ...

  • Barack Obama was against the Iraq war, before he was for it.

    1. When you didn't think Obama could get any worse, but then he did. Apologist for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

  • Anger, Disbelief as Obama Defends Bush's Iraq Invasion while denouncing Putin's invasion of Crimea-Ukraine

  • Today, Obama criticized Russia's invasion of Crimea, saying the US only "intervened" in Iraq and did not "annex" it. Two wrongs, no right.

  • Obama overlooks destruction US has wrought upon Iraq. "We ended our war & left Iraq to its people."

  • There's a lot to cover on Iraq today so let's move to "Death sentences and executions in 2013."  Amnesty International issued their latest report on executions.  Click here for an Amnesty video presentation.


    The report notes "an alarming rise in executions in Iran and Iraq."  Here's a section on Iraq:

    For the third year in a row, a stark rise in executions was reported in Iraq . At least 169 people were executed, an increase of more than 30% over the known total for 2012 (at least 129) and the highest figure since 2003. The vast majority of executions in recent years are believed to have followed convictions under Article 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, Law 13 of 2005. This includes a number of nationals of other predominantly Arab states. The law covers, in vague terms, acts such as provoking, planning, financing, committing or supporting others to commit terrorism. The government claims that the death penalty is needed to confront the high level of attacks by armed groups against civilians. There is no evidence to support the position that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime or attacks. The security situation in the country has actually worsened in recent years. No executions have taken place in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since 2008.
    Amnesty international recorded at least 35 death sentences in Iraq, including one woman. Most were imposed for murder and other killings, but others for non - lethal crimes such as kidnapping or "belonging to a terrorist group". The real figure is likely to be much higher , as many death sentences are not reported. According to an Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights report published early in the year, criminal courts had pronounced more than 2,600 death sentences between 2004 and 2012, or more than 280 per year on average. Death sentences are often handed down after grossly unfair trials, during which prisoners do not have access to proper legal representation . "Confessions" are frequently extracted through torture or other ill-treatment, which according to credible reports can include electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, being suspended from handcuffs, beatings on the sole of the feet ( falaqa ) and with a cable or a pistol butt, and use of a drill.

    Grasp that this is the Iraq Barack was bragging about today.  Back to the report:

    In statements in September and October, the Iraqi Ministry of Justice stated that all death sentences were reviewed and confirmed by the Court of Cassation before executions took place. However, the generally paper-based procedure does not provide a genuine review, as defendants are limited to written submissions  and the court regularly fails to address t he issue of contested evidence such as "confessions" allegedly made following torture and other ill-treatment , and subsequently withdrawn . Hundreds of prisoners are on death row with their sentences ratified by the Presidency, the last formal step before implementation . Executions are often carried out in large groups, and at very short notice. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated in reaction to the execution of 21 prisoners on the same day in April that the justice system in the country was "too seriously flawed to warrant even a limited application of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time. Executing people in batches like this is obscene. It is like processing animals in a slaughterhouse."

    The good news never really emerges out of Iraq.  Yesterday brought the news that the entire board of the Independent High Electoral Commission was submitting their resignations -- 35 days prior to expected parliamentary elections April 30th:

    Jason Ditz ( provides context,  "IHEC’s complaints roughly mirror those of the last election, that the Maliki government is trying to use the electoral law’s ban on candidates of “ill repute” to ban potential rivals en masse." 

    Ken Hanly (Digital Journal) observes, "The existing electoral law allows for candidates of 'ill repute' to be barred from running for office. The De-Baathification laws which prohibit candidates associated with Hussein's old political party are also used to disqualify candidates. Critics claim that the Maliki government is using these laws to ban any potential rivals particularly Sunnis. The Sunnis already feel marginalized in the Shia majority government and radical Sunni groups including some associated with Al Qaeda are rebelling against the government."  "Ill repute," by the way, also includes any candidate who is gay or suspected of being gay.

    All Iraq News notes the al-Ahra bloc's Mushriq Naji accused Nouri and his State of Law of having interfered with the work of the IHEC.  Alsumaria reports that, in his weekly speech today, Nouri al-Maliki blamed the Parliament.  He stated Parliament overstepped its bound and said the UNHCR did as well.  He declared the board's resignation should be immediately accepted.  By contrast, Nihad Qais (Alsumaria) reports Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is calling for the commissioners to reconsider their resignations. Iraq Times notes he conveyed this message today in a meeting with the IHEC board chair.

    So where do things stand currently?    All Iraq News notes that the planned press conference the IHEC was supposed to hold today was postponed.  But apparently, the meeting with Osama al-Nujaifi was productive.  Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

    Iraq’s parliament is set to issue a resolution giving the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) judicial immunity following its decision to resign this week, in a bid to preserve its independence and impartiality.
    In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Iraqi parliamentary rapporteur Mohamed Al-Khalidi said: “Parliament is moving to pass a resolution granting judicial immunity to the IHEC,” adding, “This will put it in a comfortable position, particularly following the council of commissioners’ decision to resign en masse.” 

    The US Embassy in Baghdad released the following today:

    March 26, 2014
    The United States fully supports Iraq’s democracy and democratic institutions as defined and established in the Iraqi Constitution, specifically Article 102, which provides for the independence and neutrality of the Independent High Electoral Commission.

    Ensuring that upcoming parliamentary elections are held on schedule is of the utmost importance and we commend the IHEC for its work in preparing for these elections under difficult circumstances. These preparations have ensured that there is no basis for any delay in the elections as scheduled for April 30. We urge the commissioners to continue this important work, to ensure elections proceed as scheduled, and affirm that the United States will stand behind the full independence of IHEC over the weeks and months ahead.

    Did you catch it?

    The IHEC announces their resignations and cite interference.  The US Embassy issues a statement . . . urging the IHEC "to continue this important work" but fails to call out those who have undermined the IHEC.

    The Arab Summit wrapped up today in Kuwait.  Sylvia Westall, Amena Bakr, Rania El Gamal, Sami Aboudi and Kevin Liffey (Reuters) note, "Arab leaders, at loggerheads over inter-Arab issues including Egypt and Syria, offered little evidence of progress after a two-day summit in Kuwait on Wednesday."

    Last night, Elaine noted the first day of the summit:

    As Sylvia Westall and Amena Bakr (Reuters) report the Arab Summit kicked off in Kuwait. Among those attending were Qatar's Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.
    March 12th, Thug and Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki gave an interview to France24 in which, among other things, he attacked Qatar saying it was responsible for terrorism in Iraq.
    Gulf News notes:  "Without naming Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, he criticized what he says were attempts to sideline entire segments of that Arab nation."
    Hamza Hendawi (AP) elaborates

    Tamim criticized the Iraqi government for discrimination against the country's Sunni minority, which often complains of being excluded from power amid domination by the Shiite majority. Iraq saw a wave of Sunni protests the past year, and Sunni extremists have seized control of the western city of Fallujah.
    "It's about time for Iraq to emerge from the vicious circle of violence and differences," Tamim said. "That cannot come about through the sidelining of entire segments of society or accusing them of terrorism if they demand equality and inclusion."

    Read more here:

    It must be hard for Nouri to be so incompetent and unloved.
    He thinks he can steal a third term.  Maybe he can.  Barack helped him steal the second term.
    But the Iraqi people don't want him.
    Eight years and he's failed to improve the lives of Iraqis.
    It's time to send him packing.

    Nouri's assault on Anbar Province continues.  He's had a little new 'success' with regards to targeting civilians.  NINA reports the military's shelling targeting Falluja not only left five people injured but also set afire a power plant -- burning over 50% of the plant.

    In other violence,  National Iraqi News Agency reports Baghdad Operations Command announced they killed 2 suspects,  then Baghdad Operations Command announced they killed 6 more suspects1 person was shot dead in south Baghdad (Mada'in), former Brigadier General Fa'iz Abdu al-Rahman was shot dead in Baghdad,  3 grenades thrown in Mosul left thirty people injured, a Mosul battle left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead,  and 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad ("riddled with bullet holes in his head").  Alsumaria notes a Tikrit car bombing left 3 people dead and six injured, and 1 elderly man was shot dead in Mosul.

    March 8, 2014, International Women's Day, Iraqi women protested in Baghdad against Nouri al-Maliki's proposed bill which would allow father's to marry off daughters as young as nine-years-old, strip away the need for consent to sex,  and would strip custodial rights from mothers.  The State Dept only commented when pressed during a briefing.  The White House -- despite pretending to support women -- has still had no public statement.  Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers explains:

    Reaction from a wide cross-section of Iraqi society has been swift and scathing, with many protests on International Women’s Day and a plethora of criticism from journalists, members of Parliament and even Shia religious leaders. Resistance has in part been driven by anger over what many Iraqis see as yet another sectarian measure but also by a deep, if too often ignored, concern over deteriorating women’s rights—and the fear that the bill is just the tip of the iceberg.
    The Council of Ministers’passage of the Jaafari law highlighted the short shrift Iraq’s government has given to women’s eroding rights, amid political instability and mounting sectarian violence. Some have also claimed that the uproar over the proposal is a distraction from Iraq’s “real” problems. But given that violence, absence of the rule of law and political sectarianism show no sign of waning in Iraq, when would be the “right” time to talk about the abysmal state of women’s rights in the country?

    Isobel Coleman (Foreign Affairs) writes about the bill today:

    In some respects, the timing of the bill is curious. When it was first introduced last October, the Council of Ministers seemed likely to table it until after the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 30. But the council’s approval of the bill on February 25, and the introduction of companion legislation establishing special religious courts, can be viewed only as political pandering to conservative Shia parties and voters in the run-up to the vote. Parliament must still approve the bill for it to become law, but the move has added sectarian tinder to a highly volatile, and increasingly violent, political situation.
    But sectarianism is not the only problem. The shocking prospects of Iraqi child brides as young as nine, legally sanctioned marital rape, and restrictions on a woman’s ability to leave her own home have also caught headlines around the world. UN officials have denounced the legislation, as have civil society groups such as Human Rights Watch. And they should continue to do so. International bodies, including the United Nations and the World Bank, which recently signed a loan agreement with Iraq to finance important infrastructure improvements, should express their unambiguous concerns. The United States should also be unequivocal in denouncing the bill. Nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch should continue to track the issue closely.

    In the US, Jonathan Schell passed away today.  His passing should give many pause.  The journalist accomplished a great deal during the Vietnam era.  AP writes about his death here. Jonathan died long ago.  Sorry.  I knew him.  He was coward in the '00s.  He 'protested' the Iraq War.  But he wouldn't write about it.  He tried, he was knocked down.  He didn't pursue it then, he just whined.  As a writer of his stature, he could have pushed back against the power structure.  He didn't.  His output was embarrassing for the last 14 years.

    Probably time for the elderly to wake the hell up.  What you did during Vietnam?  You can't coast on it through life.  There are serious issues going on right now and if you're too much of coward to speak out, then just take your tired ass of the public stage.  If you can't find your voice in the midst of  The Drone War, with manufactured efforts to attack Syria, the effort to manufacture consent for war on Ukraine, the illegal spying and so much more, you have nothing to say.  You're just a coward sitting on a past that helps no one today.  I know the excuses, the justifications.  Guess what?  Class of Vietnam?  You're most likely not going to outlive your excuses.

    Jonathan's death should be a wake up call to all 70 and above who consider themselves leftits or an 'activst, author and actress' because you will be dead soon and you will be remembered not for something you did 40 or more years ago but for the coward you went out as.

    I knew Jonathan very well.  I'm personally sad that he passed away.  I'm sadder that he made his life so useless by cooperating with the Katrina vanden Heuvel faction which puts electing Democrats above humanity and justice.  I knew Tony Benn and we spent a long time on his death.  Because he fought to the end.  He wasn't a coward.  Tony Benn's death was a real loss.

    In The Russia House, Michelle Pfeiffer's Katya declares, "I hope you are not being frivolous with me, Barley.  My life now only has room for truth."  It's a shame so many on the left over 70 seem to think they've got 50 or more years ahead of them and can lay low until a Republican's in the White House and then emerge to pretend they care about the Constitution, human rights and so much more.

    Vietnam Generation (and others on the left), should read closely what Glenn Greenwald's wrote yesterday at First Look about how Barack announced he would release photos of detainee abuse and the 'left' applauded but then he retreated from that position and the 'left' applauded:

    Now, obviously, the people who had been defending Obama’s original pro-transparency position (which included the ACLU, human rights groups, and civil liberties writers including me) changed course and criticized him. That’s what rational people, by definition, do: if a political official takes a position you agree with, then you support him, but when he does a 180-degree reversal and takes the exact position that you’ve been disagreeing with, then you oppose him. That’s just basic. Thus, those of us who originally defended Obama’s decision to release the photos turned into critics once he took the opposite position – the one we disagreed with all along – and announced that he would try to suppress the photos.
    But that’s not what large numbers of Democrats did. Many of them first sided with Obama when his administration originally announced he’d release the photos. But then, with equal vigor, they also sided with Obama when – a mere two weeks later – he took the exact opposition position, the very anti-transparency view these Democrats had been attacking all along when voiced by Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney.
    At least for me, back then, that was astonishing to watch. It’s one thing to strongly suspect that people are simply adopting whatever views their party’s leader takes. But this was like the perfect laboratory experiment to prove that: Obama literally took exact opposition positions in a heated debate within a three week period and many Democrats defended him when he was on one side of the debate and then again when he switched to the other side.
    [. . .]
    That’s when I fully internalized that many Democrats literally had no actual political beliefs other than we support Obama in everything that he does, even when he takes precisely opposite positions in a three week period [. . .].