Thursday, November 20, 2014


Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Men of NBC" went up Sunday night.

Also Sunday saw Ava and C.I.'s latest.

"TV: The networks cry, "Let them drink piss!"" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Did someone say Truble?

Near the end of last season, Jacqueline Toboni joined the cast of Grimm playing the most mannish female on NBC since Nancy McKeon's Jo of Facts of Life.

Truble is as annoying as a Joe Pesci in drag.   She fails to blend in with the other performers and is instead a shark suit in a field of flannel.

It's bad enough that she's even on the show, this actress who sends audiences fleeing with her mumbling and macho posturing.  But the producers really want to punish the audiences so they've allowed her to have "Grimm powers" (the ability to look at a demon in human form and see them as they really are) while stripping Nick of his "Grimm powers."

At least half the audience would be overjoyed if Nick (David Giuntoli) was stripped regularly -- of his clothes.  But when you start taking away his power, you're undercutting the character and the reason the audience watches.

And the ratings reflect that.

We're seeing another shift in ratings.

The last ten or so years made it acceptable to keep airing a show that repeatedly lost viewers (call it The 30 Rock Pursuit).  Now there's a move to actively work at sending even more viewers fleeing by taking away the very elements that made anyone want to watch a show in the first place.

How long before fed up viewers begin storming the executive suites of Burbank?

Grimm is a show Mike and I used to have on in the background -- especially last season when Dracula aired after it.

I never minded the show and often thought I should pay more attention to it because it seemed promising.

Then came Truble.


She ruins the whole show.  She's the Corrine Brown of acting.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, November 19, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US Democratic Party in the House yet again spits on a veteran, despite objections from veterans groups Nancy Pelosi moves to make Corrine Brown Ranking Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, this is how The Nancy Pelosi story begins its final chapter, as it does she's called out by Jon Stewart,  US senators explore the suicide rate among veterans, and much more.

Senator Bernie Sanders declared this morning, ". . . it's a very difficult hearing because what we are going to be touching on today is what happens to the men and women who come home from war, who have served us with great courage and what happens to them when they return to civilian life."

He is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and they were talking about issues like military suicide.

But let's use Sanders' words as a starting point -- and let's note that Senate Democrats actually do work to improve the lives of veterans.  The same cannot be said for the Democratic leadership in the House.

How bad are things there?

Last week, US House Rep Nancy Pelosi was in the news for denying US House Rep Tammy Duckworth the right to vote by proxy on party positions in the House:

Tammy Duckworth is not only a member of Congress, she's also a veteran of the Iraq War.  Nancy Pelosi chose to 'honor' veterans this week by announcing that a veteran who lost both legs in combat would not be allowed to vote by proxy on the issue of who would hold what office -- for example, who would be the next Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Duckworth is at home in Illinois.  Why doesn't she just fly to DC?
CBS News notes Duckworth "was told by doctor that it was unsafe for her to fly at this stage in her pregnancy."

Last night on Comedy Central Jon Stewart was rightly mocking the disgraceful US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a segment of The Daily Show entitled "Petty Woman" which ended with Jon observing, "And that's how the precedent was set that a woman leader can be every bit as craven as her political male counterparts.  Let me say this, You go, girl.  Seriously, you should go."

Erik Wemple (Washington Post) explains:

His takedown of Pelosi’s denial of a pregnant woman’s vote in House Democratic elections proceeds in merciless fashion. Availing himself of Pelosi’s trail of accomplishments over the years, he documented how she has established herself on key issues that bear on the Duckworth situation. For instance: The National Partnership for Women and Families, noted Stewart, celebrated Pelosi’s advocacy for “working women.” Also highlighted by Stewart: Pelosi said at an event for the Voting Rights Act, “The right to vote must be the cornerstone of our democracy.”
Stewart: “You’re a recognized champion of working women and voting rights.”
From there, the rip was easy: “You rejected, you’re suppressing the vote of a minority pregnant woman who is a wounded war veteran. She is everything you supposedly stand for stuffed into one individual. She is a Democratic demographic tur-Duckworth,” said the host.

Jaime Fuller (Washington Post) notes:

She denied Rep. Tammy Duckworth's request to cast a proxy vote in the Democratic leadership elections. Duckworth was advised by her doctor not to fly to Washington in her eighth month of pregnancy. Duckworth (D-Ill.) also is a double-amputee Iraq War veteran, or, as Stewart put it, a Democratic demographic Turduckworth. The reason for denying the proxy vote? Pelosi said it would set a precedent ... and Duckworth happened to be supporting someone other than Pelosi's chosen candidate for a committee position.

Poor Nancy, it's week two and it's not going away.

Even worse for Nance, it's now her.

This is her to America.

It's as though she tripped at a party and knocked a table over and now every time she waivers a little when she walks, people will giggle.

It's the New Nancy.  Somewhere lower on the evolution scale than Billy Carter or Dan Quayle.

Not a good position to be in when over a third of Democratic members of the House want you gone.

Not a good position to be in when Dems are gearing up for the 2016 elections and can't afford to have a leader be a laughingstock.

And now she has an image as a person who trashes veterans.

Senator Sanders today puzzled about "what happens to the men and women who come home from war, who have served us with great courage and what happens to them when they return to civilian life."

What does happen to them?

Last week, Nancy Pelosi made clear that they will not receive fair treatment, that the work environment will not change to meet their medical needs.

Today, she demonstrated something else:  Their experience means nothing.

Maybe you know of Senator Patty Murray's work on veterans employment?  The Hire A Hero campaign and other programs she's steered and implemented.

Murray and others have worked very hard to stress that veterans have important skills they can offer employers.  In the House, US House Rep Gerry Connolly has stressed the skills veterans have and the need for these skills to be translated into the civilian workforce.

Nancy Pelosi doesn't believe veterans have any skills or insight.

Which is why she used an arcane rule to force US House Rep Tim Walz out of seeking the Ranking Member post on the House Veterans Affairs Committee in favor of Pelosi pet Corrine Brown.

Native-born Corrine Brown struggles with the English language, attacks veterans in hearings (when she shows up for the Veterans Affairs Committee hearings), attacks witnesses, attacks the Office of the Inspector General and so much more.

This is not a new development.

Dona moderated a "Congress and Veterans" roundtable May 13, 2012 about a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing the previous week that we had covered in the community:

Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I. attended the hearing.   Kat reported on it with  "Congress Member Gone Wild" and C.I. reported on it with "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Congress is supposed to provide oversight"  and "Iraq snapshot." 

From the roundtable:

Dona: Thank you, Kat.  That perfectly set up a point I wanted to get to with Ava.  Kat and C.I. reported on US House Rep. Corrine Brown.  Ava, what was your take?

Ava: Brown's an embarrassment.  I can't believe the crap she pulled.  She didn't give a damn about the veterans and made excuses for the VA and lied and misled.  She's an embarrassment, I hope to hell her sorry ass is voted out of Congress.

Dona: She attacked a witness, what was that about?

Ava: Another reason her sorry ass needs to be pulled out of Congress.  The second panel was people who worked outside of the government including Dr. Nicole Sawyer who is a psychologist.  Corrine Brown wanted to show that her bad wigs weren't the trashiest things about her.  She went off on Dr. Sawyer because Chair Miller asked about the comments Shinskeki made.  Corrine Brown cut off the doctor started screaming her head and acting like a crazy woman when usually she just sounds like an uneducated one.

Dona: What set her off?

Ava: The reality was that Shinseki was being critiqued and she wasn't going to have that.  She lied and stated it wasn't fair for the doctor to critique Shinseki.  But, in the first round, when Shinseki was asked about Dr. Sawyer's written remarks, Shinseki offered a critique and Corrine Browne didn't say one damn word.

Dona:  Wally, your take?

Wally: The same as Ava's.  I'll pick up where she left off.  So Corrine Brown cuts off the witness who is answering Miller's questions --

Dona: Brown doesn't even have the floor.  She just barged in while the witness was speaking?

Wally: Correct.  And then after she has her rant, Jeff Miller, the Chair, sort of gives this look like, "Now that the crazy lady is done . . ."  He goes back to asking Dr. Sawyer a question.  Dr. Sawyer is sort of stunned and she replies to Miller's question, starts to, and tries to explain she wasn't trying to offend anyone when Brown cuts her off again and starts screaming her head off about how Miller needs to tell the witness to address her remarks to the Chair.  And it was just embarrassing.  I'm from Florida, Corrine Brown is the Congressional joke of our state.

Dona: So, let's --

Ava: Sorry.  It's not over, Dona.  Miller is attempting to calm down Crazy Corrine.  The hearing's at a complete standstill.  And the crazy woman is insulting Dr. Sawyer, stating she won't listen to Dr. Sawyer because Dr. Sawyer isn't a "doctor."  She calls the woman an "educator."  As an insult.  Miller notes that remark's not going to please educators and Brown doesn't care.  She was just so rude.  If you'd been in that hearing, you would have been shocked that a member of Congress would act the way she did.

Dona: Okay, thanks for that.  C.I., is this typical Corrine Brown?

C.I.: Since January 2009, it has been.  She makes excuses for the VA and rushes to excuse Eric Shinseki's many problems.  I remember an October 15, 2009 hearing on the VA's inability to get checks to veterans -- the GI Bill checks -- for the fall semester and how Corrine Brown was offering excuses for the VA in that hearing too.  That's just one example.  She's disgraced herself.  I have no use for her.

Dona: Kat, closing thoughts?

Kat: The hearing's not going to accomplish anything, the Committe's not going to, until everyone can agree that the veterans are the most important thing.  Corrine Brown was not serving veterans, she's usually not.  When a Republican is in office, there's the pretense that she's tough and will ask questions to protect the veterans.  But when a Democrat's in office, she reveals she's just a partisan and doesn't give a damn about veterans.

And that was 2012.  It's only gotten worse.

The Concerned Veterans of America issued the following open letter today:

Open Letter to Leader Pelosi Regarding Representative Corrine Brown

Dear Leader Pelosi,
I am writing you on behalf of Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) to ask that you reconsider your decision to support Representative Corrine Brown (D-FL) for the position of Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC). Representative Brown in her public statements has consistently minimized and dismissed the deep cultural and structural problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) despite the overwhelming evidence that the VA is failing in its core mission to deliver health care and benefits to our nation’s veterans in a timely manner. Representative Brown even claimed at one point that there were no problems with the VA in Florida, in spite of the fact that the Gainesville VA Hospital that serves veterans in her district had some of the worst wait times in the nation. Clearly, Representative Brown is detached from the reality of delayed and denied health care that veterans around the country face, including many of those in her own congressional district.
Despite the recent VA scandal and comprehensive VA reform bill, hundreds of thousands of veterans are still waiting more than a month for healthcare appointments and hundreds of thousands more are waiting over a year for disability benefits. Additionally, the VA has been slow to fire and discipline employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct and has left in place senior leaders who helped create the toxic culture within the VA. It is therefore essential that the House VA Committee has a Ranking Member who is committed to working to reform and fix the VA and not someone like Representative Brown who is an apologist for the status quo.
CVA highly recommends that the House Democrat leadership considers appointing a reform-minded Democrat to serve as Ranking Member of the House VA Committee. Democrats like Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Rep. David Scott (D-GA), and Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) have all shown a willingness to question the status quo at the VA and support reforms that begin to address the structural and cultural issues within the VA. While CVA does not agree with them on everything, we consider these individuals far better candidates for the position of Ranking Member than Representative Brown and they should be taken into consideration when determining who will serve in leadership positions for the minority on the House VA committee.
For the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans, it is absolutely essential that Congress continue to hold the VA accountable for its misconduct and failures. Placing strong, reform-minded leaders on the House VA Committee is essential to accomplishing that mission.
Pete Hegseth
CEO, Concerned Veterans for America
Army Veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay  

Concerned Veterans for America is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization that advocates for policies that will preserve the freedom and liberty we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to defend.

Corrine's lousy behavior is known by few (her ethical problems have been covered only slightly better).  She's been helped by the fact that very few reporters attend these hearings and those who do often 'report' using the written statements submitted for the record.  They generally miss Corrine Brown's antics.

Veterans groups don't have that luxury.

And they know they can't trust her.

Which is why a number of them publicly backed Walz.  Jacqueline Klimas (Washington Times) notes,  "Mr. Walz’s bid for the ranking member’s post had the backing of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the current ranking member, Rep. Michael Michaud, Maine Democrat.

Corrine Brown isn't qualified to work the counter at Jack In The Box, let alone to be the Ranking Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Again, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders declared this morning, ". . . it's a very difficult hearing because what we are going to be touching on today is what happens to the men and women who come home from war, who have served us with great courage and what happens to them when they return to civilian life."

What does happen to them?

Too often, they don't get the jobs they deserve, the jobs they're experts at.

I don't believe veterans are asking for special treatment, they just want their skills to be recognized.  That's valid.  If you have a degree in something -- veteran or not -- and that goes to a job opening, you expect that degree to count for something.  If you have a work history in a certain field, you expect that to count for something if you're applying for a job in the same or a related field.

These are basic beliefs that most Americans support.

So let's be really clear that it's not just that Corrine Brown is unqualified, it's also that Tim Walz is qualified.


That's the number of years he served in the Army National Guard.

24 years.

And that doesn't count for anything with Nancy Pelosi.

She didn't want him to have the job so the fact that he was more than qualified, had the background and was a veteran, didn't matter at all to her.

When the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives acts that way, it makes all the harder for veterans throughout America to get hired.

24 years of service and Nancy doesn't think he's qualified to be the Democratic head of the Committee.

If Democrats in Congress aren't going to hire veterans, they need to stop giving lip service pretending others need to.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Paul Rieckhoff Tweeted today:

Pressure does work.

Pressure should be placed on Pelosi.

Pressure already is being placed on her from Dems in Congress.

Nancy's made the whole party look like a hypocrite.

The good news is Nancy realizes she went too far.

She thinks a few good words about Walz will end it.

It won't.

But she's sent out spokespeople to assure everyone that Walz will be on the Committee and she values his work.

No, she doesn't.

If she valued his work -- or his experience -- she wouldn't have prevented him from running for the post.

If she valued veterans, she wouldn't be pushing Corrine Brown for the post.

Nancy is now the member of Congress who hates veterans.

She was desperately hanging on to her leadership role and now she's just ensured that these will be her last two years.

She's now harming the Democratic Party.  And high ranking members in both houses are saying she's going to have to go.

Congratulations, Nancy, you've managed to do what your foes have been unable to do.  She's destroyed herself.  She is now toxic in a way she never was before.  "San Francisco Democrat" doesn't terrify most Americans.  But about 30% would oppose her because of that label.

Now that she's established herself as the biggest Congressional obstacle for veterans, life's about to get a lot lonelier.

She is a text book study in how power corrupts.  The Nancy first elected to Congress, even the Nancy of 2002, would never have made the decision to deny Tammy Duckworth a proxy vote or to prevent Tim Walz from running to be the Ranking Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

But that Nancy still had ethics.

By 2006, they were gone.  She spent the first years as House Majority Leader threatening US House Rep John Conyers, bullying him, to prevent him from exploring impeachment against Bully Boy Bush.

From there, it was a long slide into hypocrisy.

And when she had no ethics left, when she had nothing left to stand for, the only thing that mattered to her was holding onto power.

That desire, that corruption, is how The Nancy Pelosi Story ends.

From disgraceful to courageous . . .

Chair Bernie Sanders:  We have two very, very brave women who are with us.  And I cannot express to you my respect enough for their courage because both of these women -- Susan Selke Valerie Pallotta -- have experienced tragedies that are nightmarish for what they've gone through. But what they have chosen to do is to come forward and give us their best ideas in terms of how we can prevent the tragedies that they have experienced from happening to other families.  And we so much appreciate their courage and their willingness to come forward.

He was speaking at this morning's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

Susan Selke's son Clay Hunt and Valerie Pallotta's son Joshua Pallotta were not given the help they needed after they returned to the United States and both men felt there was no hope left and took their own lives.

Clay was deployed in both the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War and he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress.  We say PTS, not the other more popular term.  This is a condition developed in combat zones and under intense pressure which is in fact a coping skill -- a heightened awareness -- that becomes a hindrance in civilian life if treatment or coping methods are not introduced to assist the veteran in recognizing and handling moments which trigger this learned condition.  You can see it as a super power that can be an aid and a benefit -- like Superman's X-ray vision.  But if Superman can't turn off the X-ray vision, then he needs assistance in learning how to.  The stigma needs to be removed from this condition to (a) let veterans know this is a condition, it's not a sickness, it's not a weakness and (b) to encourage them to explore treatments or methods to manage this condition or even skill.

Clay attempted to get assistance from the VA.  But even when he was finally rated 100% on PTS, his mother noted today, the VA just wanted to drug him, "He received counseling only as far as a brief discussion regarding whether the medication he was prescribed was working or not.  If it was not, he would be given a new medication. Clay used to say, 'I'm a guinea pig for drugs.  They'll put me on one thing, I'll have side effects, and then they put me on something else'."

And then Clay moved to a different state.  Which meant a new VA and suddenly a refusal to prescribe medication.  Though he moved in 2010, it would be March of 2011 when he "was finally able to see a psychiatrist."  That's the lengthy delay -- the one US House Rep Corrine Brown has denied and blamed on veterans -- in action.

"We cannot have someone call to get an appointment and be told that they can get one in five weeks when they have a problem," Senator Patty Murray stressed to the VA's Dr. Harold Kudler.

Senator John Boozman noted that 22 veterans a day commit suicide in the United States.  Clay Hunt  and Joshua Pallotta are examples of two veterans who did not receive the needed help and assistance they had been promised.

Valerie Pallotta explained two police officers came to her home at 3:37 a.m., September 23, 2014 and how she hoped they were there with the bad news that her son had been arrested but they were instead there to tell her that her son Joshua was dead.  The suicide has left her and her husband in a constant state of grief:

Our minds are at the funeral home, crying on our son's body as it lays cold.  We are kissing him and hugging him and trying to wake ourselves up from this awful, horrible nightmare.  Our minds are at the Veterans Cemetery in Randolph, Vermont -- the place our son was laid to rest, a place we haven't yet been able to visit.  Our minds are in Afghanistan wishing we could have been there to protect him, to shelter him from the pain he endured for years 
The two women made up the second panel.  The first panel was the VA's Dr. Harold Kudler (Chief Consultant for Mental Health Service), Dr. Caitlin Thompson (Deputy Director, Suicide Prevention) and Dr. Dean Krahn (Deputy Director in the Office of Mental Health Operations).  We'll note this exchange from the first panel.

Senator Patty Murray: I wanted to ask you, we are seeing the suicide rate of middle-aged veterans who use the VA decrease -- you mentioned that.  But [the suicide rate for] female veterans who use the VA has increased by 31%.  What is happening?

Caitlin Thompson: Yeah, thank you so much for asking that, Senator. We are as concerned as you are and trying to better understand that, why that is.  Why the rates of -- rates of suicide among women are increasing as well as that youngest male population.  One thing that I just also want to say is that we also know that veterans use firearms more than non-veterans during -- when they are feeling suicidal.  And we know that women veterans are using firearms at an increased rate than non -- than non-women veterans.  And we know that, uhm, firearms in fact -- If you use a firearm when you're suicidal, there's a 90% chance that you will die.  If you use prescriptions, medications, which is what most women non-veterans tend to use, there's a 3 to 4% chance that you will die because there's that opportunity to reach them before they die --

Senator Patty Murray:  I --

Caitlin Thompson (Con't): -- and so -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

Senator Patty Murray:  I appreciate that response but I think we also have to look at if the VA is meeting women's specific needs --

Caitlin Thompson: Absolutely.

Senator Patty Murray (Con't):  -- and why are they increasing dramatically?  Are the programs not effective? Are they not feeling that they should ask about it?  Is it something else?  This is really concerning to me and it's something I'll be following very closely as well. 

The suicide rate of women veterans has gotten a bit of attention from the press, not that much.  (Probably homeless women veterans are the only group of women veterans that the press has focused serious attention on.)

We're not done with this hearing.

We will cover it tomorrow (hopefully) and Friday (for sure).  But the whole point of covering these hearings is holding them accountable -- the VA officials, the Congress, etc.  And we have followed US House Rep Corrine Brown's repugnant behavior for years now so we do need to weigh in -- and do so at length -- when she is on the verge of being named Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Equally true, I think people should hold their own accountable.  We mock the (former) Australian blogger who blogged daily trashing Bully Boy Bush but never could blog about Australia's Prime Minister John Howard who also sent troops into Iraq.  Nancy Pelosi is my Congressional rep.  It's my duty to hold her accountable.

Back to today's hearing,  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, November 19, 2014                                                        (202) 224-2834
VETERANS—MENTAL HEALTH: Murray Concerned That VA and Local Communities Unprepared to Help Veterans in Crisis
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, attended a hearing to examine mental health and suicide among veterans. According to recent data, suicide rates have continued to increase among female veterans who use VA care and among male veterans ages 18-24 who use VA, the rate has skyrocketed to 79 per 100,000.
“There is no issue as pressing as providing quality, timely mental health care and suicide prevention programs to our nation’s heroes. The problem is familiar to all of us, but the solutions still seem elusive,” Senator Murray said at the hearing. “Just one suicide, just one veteran in crisis, or just one family struggling to make it through is just one too much.”
Senator Murray’s full remarks as prepared:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today. There is no issue as pressing as providing quality, timely mental health care and suicide prevention programs to our nation’s heroes. The problem is familiar to all of us, but the solutions still seem elusive.
“Twenty-two veterans per day die by suicide. Rates have continued to increase among female veterans who use VA care. Among male veterans age 18 to 24 who use VA, the rate has skyrocketed to 79 per 100,000. And finally, according to VA’s access data, wait times for new mental health patients are virtually unchanged -- at 36 days -- over the five months that VA has provided this data.
“Mr. Chairman, I am very concerned about whether VA and local communities are prepared with the resources, policies, and training to help veterans in serious crisis. When our men and women in uniform have the courage to come forward and ask for help, VA must be there with not only high quality and timely care, but also the right type of care to best meet the veteran’s needs. We must demand progress on each of these areas.
“Mr. Chairman, a few months ago we passed a VA reform bill to help veterans get into care.  It included a temporary authority to improve access to community providers for veterans having trouble accessing VA care.  However, a recent report by the RAND Corporation raises serious concerns about whether private sector providers are ready to give high quality care to veterans. It suggests we need to do more to expand use of evidence-based treatments - and much more to help providers understand the unique needs and culture of servicemembers and veterans. The reform bill also included critically needed funds to build and strengthen the VA for the long-term. 
“But there will be more needs going forward. VA must start planning and requesting the necessary resources now, so it will be prepared to meet the growing demand for mental health care far into the future. There is clearly much, much more work to be done. 
“Just one suicide, just one veteran in crisis, or just one family struggling to make it through is just one too much. So I want to take a moment to thank Mrs. Selke, Mrs. Pallotta and Mr. and Mrs. Vanata for being here today. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about these issues. We admire your courage and your strength for being willing to share your stories with us.
“Thank you, and your family, for your service and sacrifice to our nation.
“Mr. Chairman, I hope as we head into a new Congress that stories like theirs will continue to be told as we work together to fulfill the promises we have made to those who have served. Thank you.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

In Iraq, the Kurds should have learned a hard lesson today.  I don't think their leadership did.  We'll cover it tomorrow.

Margaret Griffis ( reports, "A rare bombing took place in the Kurdistan capital of Arbil today. Islamic State militants are suspected to be behind it. At least 114 people were killed there and elsewhere. Another 53 were wounded."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


This is from Workers World:

Lawsuit challenges Mumia-muzzling act

By on November 15, 2014
Attorneys representing political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a lawsuit in federal court in Harrisburg, Pa., on Nov. 10 seeking to overturn a Pennsylvania censorship bill that had been quickly passed in October and then signed into law by outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett.
The Pittsburgh-based Abolitionist Law Center, the Amistad Law Project and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center together filed the first challenge to Senate Bill 508, known as the Revictimization Relief Act. They acted on behalf of Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Human Rights Coalition and two other Philadelphia-area prisoners, Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall and Robert L. Holbrook.
“This law is clearly unconstitutional,”  said Bret Grote, legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center. “The Pennsylvania legislature and Gov. Corbett wanted to use Mumia Abu-Jamal to score political points and passed a law that can’t pass constitutional muster. We’re suing Attorney General Kane and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams before they can sue to keep Mumia from speaking publicly.”
On Oct. 5, two dozen graduates of Goddard College Undergraduate Programs in Vermont heard a pre-recorded commencement address from Abu-Jamal, who had been a student at the college in the late 1970s and earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1996 while he was on Pennsylvania’s death row. His address was played at the commencement despite police intimidation and threats of violence against students and faculty.
Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary John Wetzel acknowledged that prisoners have a constitutional right to phone access and admitted that the state could not prohibit the address from happening.  On Oct. 6, however, Corbett, other right-wing politicians and members of the Fraternal Order of Police gathered in Harrisburg to introduce legislation designed to silence Abu-Jamal and other prisoners.
House and Senate versions of the Pennsylvania bill, which opponents labeled the “Mumia Muzzling Act,” were quickly rushed through the state Legislature.  Corbett signed the bill on Oct. 21 in Philadelphia at 13th and Locust streets, the site of the 1981 shooting of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, for which Mumia was convicted in 1982.
Prior to his conviction, Abu-Jamal was an internationally celebrated, award-winning Black writer and radio journalist, a former member of the Black Panther Party and one-time president of the Black Journalists’ Association.  His writings and commentaries exposed the racism, brutality and corruption of the Philadelphia police department. They are credited with helping to lay the foundation for Philadelphia being one of two police departments indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Abu-Jamal maintains his innocence in the shooting of Faulkner. His case has gone through decades of the appeals process, including a successful challenge to his death row sentence.
Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, which regularly broadcasts Abu-Jamal’s commentaries, told Workers World: “The Fraternal Order of Police is using Pennsylvania politicians to try finish the job they started when police shot Mumia on Dec. 9, 1981.  They railroaded him to death row and held him there for over 30 years.  Yet, because he continues to reach the airwaves with his explosive commentaries, they are now trying through SB508 to take away his First Amendment right to speak.”
This is not the first time Pennsylvania has tried to silence Abu-Jamal. In 1996, after the Peoples Video Network aired “The Prison-Industrial Complex,” a filmed conversation Abu-Jamal had with Monica Moorehead and Larry Holmes of Workers World Party, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections bowed to FOP pressure and banned in-person broadcast media visits for all prisoners.
In 1997, Temple University, threatened with funding cuts by then Gov. Tom Ridge, canceled all Pacifica Radio programming on its radio station because Pacifica’s Democracy Now! program was scheduled to air commentaries by Abu-Jamal.
In 1999, Abu-Jamal successfully challenged an attempt by the state to prohibit him from writing after the publication of his first book, “Live from Death Row.”  He has gone on to write seven more books, published in nine languages, with two more set for publication in 2015.  He has recorded over 3,000 essays, many of which have appeared in Workers World newspaper.
There have been three major documentaries on Abu-Jamal, including “Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary,” currently airing on the Starz network.
The new Senate bill says that if a person convicted of a personal injury crime speaks in a manner that produces “a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish” to victims of that crime — as defined by their alleged victim — a district attorney, the Pennsylvania attorney general, or the victim can sue the prisoner, or anyone broadcasting their words, for monetary damages in civil court.
Nikki Grant, policy director of the Philadelphia-based Amistad Law Project, notes that the legislation targeting Abu-Jamal impacts many other people in prison as well as those who have been released.  Grant says, “The fact that this bill is even on the books makes it less likely that people who have been convicted of personal injury crimes will speak out publicly. These are the people who are already most marginalized in our society.”
“How can the state’s legislators pass and politicians sign the recent law described as the ‘Muzzle Mumia Act’?” asked Abu-Jamal. “They can’t, at least not constitutionally. In order to do so they had to knowingly and willingly violate both the U.S. and state constitutions and their very oaths of office.”

Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

I looked over and over for something to write about and found nothing.  So I'm just highlighting Mumia via Workers World above and the snapshot.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, November 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair gets cheat sheets from the Iraq Inquiry, the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhood continues, the persecution of Iraqi Christians continue, and much more.

Shocking news out of England where the  Iraq Inquiry appears to have come to some conclusions (finally).  The Inquiry kicked off with Chair John Chilcot declaring:

This is an Inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors.  It will consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath.  We will therefore be considering the UK's involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country.

The Inquiry held public hearings starting in November 2009 and concluding in February 2011.

That was nearly four years ago and still people wait for the Inquiry to issue its findings.

Well . . .

It turns out only some people wait.

Some people already know the findings.

RT reports:

Letters containing in-depth conclusions of a public inquiry into Britain’s 2003 Iraq War have been dispatched to the probe’s primary participants. Critics charge that the brutal eight-year war divided Britain and blackened Tony Blair’s legacy.
Under UK law, any individual that faces criticism in a public inquiry must be issued with an official letter warning them of allegations in its findings. They are subsequently then permitted to rebut and counter unsavory or unsatisfactory findings. 

The Daily Mail adds:

In May [UK Prime Minister] David Cameron said he expected the report to be published ‘before the end of the year’.
He added: ‘The public wants to see the answers of the inquiry and I think we shouldn’t have to wait too much longer.’
But just four weeks of the Parliamentary term remain – making it unlikely that it will be published before MPs recess for Christmas.

The big fear politically about the report has been Labour's fear that anchor around the neck Tony Blair will sink them all, that the report -- even if it's a whitewash -- has to hold the War Criminal accountable for his actions and words.

If the report doesn't come out by the end of the year, however, Labour could score points by painting Cameron (of the Conservative Party) as an obstructionist refusing to allow the British people to know the truth.

Space has already been created between the current Labour leadership and disgraced War Criminal Tony Blair.  Demanding the release of the report and painting the Conservative Party as a barrier to the report's release could actually help Labour improve their numbers in Parliament.

As for the discarded Tony Blair?

Dominic Grover (IBT) notes:

Blair continues to be a deeply divisive figure in Britain, due to his decision to back George W Bush campaign to topple Saddam and the controversial "sexed up" dossier, which critics claim mis-sold the need for war to the British people.
France's foreign minister recently said Blair was "not best placed" to issue advice on the Middle East, in light of his track record.
There have even been alleged threats to his life, with terror suspect Erol Incedal accused of plotting an attack on him.
To cap it all, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has chosen to compare the three-time New Labour leader to tyrant Adolf Hitler in a new book.

Despite that, War Criminal Tony feels the world needs to listen to him on Iraq.  The criminal doesn't want to confess, please understand, he just laughably believes he has expertise and wisdom to share.

He has nothing to share.

Blair fancies himself a Christian yet he's never taken accountability for how the Iraq War has destroyed the Christian communities in Iraq.

  • He may not want it but it may beyond his control.

    Some people have a hard time giving up control -- even those who consider themselves servants of a God or god.  John Bingham (Telegraph of London) presents the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby explaining that, "I think there is an answer that says we need to do more where there is really no choice but we also need to be deeply committed to enabling solutions to be found enabling communities that have been there for 2,000 years to remain there."

    If Welby's so worried that Christians may vanish, he can always pack a suitcase and go live there.

    The notion that Christian refugees should not be granted asylum outside the region?

    I'm sorry, would you also go back in time and argue that Jews in Germany and surrounding areas not be granted asylum to safety because Jews might vanish from the region?

    Because it sounds sort of like you would.

    Too much time by 'caring' people has already been wasted with faux concerns about how refugees are vanishing from the region when the reality is that refugees want to leave and find safety.  I don't know how this is confusing and I don't believe that this or that religious leader is honestly puzzled.

    I think people are actively looking to look the other way just as they did during the Holocaust.

    The Yazidis swooped in on the wave of outrage the targeting of Christians had created.  I am not accusing the Yazidis of anything.  I am saying that outrage was building and certain members of Congress were calling out the treatment of the Chaldeans which the US press was ignoring and then the religious minority (Yazidis) were trapped on Mount Sinjar and the press glommed on it.

    It was an important story.  (The fact that Yazidis remain trapped on Mount Sinjar is an important story -- even if the US press can't find it.)  But somewhere along the way, the press -- the US press -- completely missed what was happening to Iraq's Christian community in the last months.

    Margaret Griffis ( reports, "At least 91 people were killed today, mostly militants, and another 24 people were wounded."  In addition, Iraqi Spring MC reports the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhood by the Iraqi military continues -- despite Prime Minister Haider al-Baidi promising September 13th that these War Crimes would end.  Today, 3 civilians were injured in these bombings.

    Moving over to food, Justin Worland (Time magazine) reports, "Iraq’s agriculture minister on Tuesday accused the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) of pilfering more than 1.1 million tons of grain from the country’s northern region and delivering it to militant-controlled cities in Syria."  That news comes as US House Rep Rick Crawford's office issues the following:

    Washington, Nov 18 | Mitchell Nail

    In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-1) and U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today urged protecting American rice producers against unfair business practices in Iraq.

    In early November, the Iraqi Grain Board (IGB) paid $1.4 million more to buy rice from Brazil and Uruguay rather than accept the competitive, lower bid by U.S. rice.

    “Given the considerable investment of resources by the American taxpayer in Iraq, it is critical that the United States be on ‘equal footing’ with its foreign competitors when it comes to the ability to win bids issued by the IGB. Simply deciding to pick winners and losers in bids for Iraqi rice tenders based on arbitrary reasons is not only unfair, it deprives rice farmers in Arkansas — a leader in rice production — and across America of a vital trading partnership with Iraq,” the members wrote.

    A tender to buy 30,000 metric tons of rice closed on Sunday, November 16th. Winning bids are expected to be announced later this week.

    To read the letter in its entirety, click here.     

    We'll close with this from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

    WHAT: Coming off Veterans Day 2014 and a week when politicians and lawmakers touted their support for the veterans community, IAVA urges members of Congress to now step up and take action to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill of 2014. The bill, dropped Monday, was introduced by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
    IAVA Legislative Director Alex Nicholson and Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who died by suicide, will be available for press ahead of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) hearing on Mental Health and Suicide Among Veterans at 10 a.m. outside the hearing room in the Russell Senate Office Building SR-418.
    Susan Selke will then testify before SVAC at 10:30 a.m.

    WHO: Alex Nicholson, IAVA Legislative Director and Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt, Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and died by suicide in 2011

    WHEN: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 10 a.m.

    WHERE: Outside Hearing Room- Russell Senate Office Building SR-418

    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    If piece of s**t John Pilger is going to keep spreading lies . . .

    I'm so sick of people who lie to try to make a case.

    John Pilger   is a piece of trash and has written a column that CounterPunch has published because they have no standards.

    In his column, Pilger lies repeatedly.

    Three years after Julian Assange's lawyer was exposed in court as a liar (the government of Sweden did want to question Assange and his attorney did know that fact before Julian left Sweden), John Pilger repeats the lie that no one wanted to question Assange until after he left Sweden.

    We're going to C.I.'s February 24, 2011 "Iraq snapshot:"

    Not only did they struggle with facts in their paperwork, they struggled it with facts in their presentation. And they got caught lying.  Repeatedly. Bjorn Hurtig has been Julian Assange's attorney for some time and fed the press repeated claims.  Any smart person would have realized that Hurtig, a defense attorney, can say anything to the press and it doesn't have to be true.  Instead, too many put faith in the claims Hurtig has been making since December.  Hurtig bumped up against a judge that wasn't pleased with being lied to.
    Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle's ruling can be read [PDF format warning] here in full.  The big witnesses were Assange's attorney Hurtig and former judge Brita Sunderg-Weitman. The former judge didn't impress Riddle.  After listing the many things Sunderg-Weitman claimed, Riddle notes, "In cross-examination the witness told me she is not an expert in Mutual Legal Assitance.  She confirmed she had no direct personal knowledge of what happened in this investigation before Mr Assange left Sweden. Her evidence is based upon the facts supplied to her by the defence lawyers. [In her proof she said Ms Ny had made no effort to interview him before he left with her permission and knowledge on 27th September.]  She confirmed that if the defence lawyer had told the prosecutor that he was unable to contact the defendant for interview, then the position would be different."  The judge is referring to the fact that before Assange left Sweden, attempts were made to question him.  His attorneys have lied about that repeatedly to the press leading idiots like Naomi Wolf to insist that if Sweden was serious, they would have questioned him before he left the country.  As the court learned (and as Assange's attorney confessed), there was an attempt to question Assange.  Their chief expert offered testimony that she was not qualified to offer.  They brought an expert to the witness stand to give hearsay evidence.  No, that doesn't impress. Check out the following sentence fragments:
    *Overall the witness appeared unclear . . .
    *At first she appeared to avoid the question . . .
    * Again she had difficulty directly answering the question.
    These are just the first set.  The witness did not impress the judge for obvious reasons.  He was bothered by the fact that she didn't know the facts independently and that she relied (unquestioningly) on the defense to feed her information.  This was also an issue with witness Sven-Eric Alhem but the judge noted that, in his written evidence, Alhem had made it clear that he got his information from the defense.
    Then there's the part of the judgment recounting when Hurtig had to admit that there was an effort to interview Assange and he'd been contacted September 22nd about it and agreed to it.  After agreeing to that what happened?  From the judgment:
    In summary the lawyer was unable to tell me what attempts he made to contact his client, and whether he definitely left a message.  It was put that he had a professional duty to tell his client, and whether he definitely left a message. It was put that he had a professional duty to tell his client of the risk of detention.  He did not appear to accept that the risk was substantial or the need to contact his client was urgent.
    It only gets worse.  The judge notes, "Mr Hurtig was asked why he told Brita Sundberg-Wietman that Ms Nye had made no effort to his client.  He denied saying that and said he has never met her."  Right there, you've got a huge problem.  Their star witness has her facts wrong and states she got them from Hurtig.  Hurtig, after being forced to admit the truth, then denies he ever spoke to the star witness.  It gets worse. Confronted with what he wrote down and submitted to the court, Hurtig has to admit "that is wrong.  He had forgotten [. . .] They must have slipped his mind." Slipped his mind?  The judge didn't buy that claim.
    Riddle continues, "He also agreed that it is important that what he says is right and important for his client that his evidence is credible."  The judge then notes that the witness asserted he had a flight to catch, "The witness was clearly uncomfortable and anxious to leave."
    As bad as that is-- and it's bad -- we're not even to the basic findings Judge Riddel offers -- 19 points on pages nine and ten.  We'll emphasize two.  First, here he is on Julian Assange's attorney Hurtig (the one Ray McGovern and Naomi Wolf have relied on when attacking the women who may have been raped):
    10. Mr Hurtig [is] an unreliable witness as to what efforts he made to contaact his client between 21st, 22nd and 29th September (see transcript pages 122-132). He has no record of those attempts.  They were by mobile phone, but he has no record. He cannot recall whether he sent texts or simply left answer-phone messages.
    And point 15 goes along with that:
    15. Mr Hurtig said in his statement that it was astonishing that Ms Nye made no effort to interview his client. In fact this is untrue.  He says he realised the mistake the night before giving evidence. He did correct the statement in his evidence in chief (transcript p.83 and p.97).  However, this was very low key and not done in a way that I, at least, immediately grasped as significant.  It was only in cross-examination that the extent of the mistake became clear. Mr Hurtig must have realised the significance of paragraph 13 of his proof when he sbumitted it.  I do not accept that this was a genuine mistake.  It cannot have slipped his mind.  For over a week he was attempting (he says without success) to contact a very important client about a very important matter.  The statement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court.  It did in fact mislead Ms Brita Sunderberg-Weitman and Mr Alhem. Had they been given the true facts then they would have changed their opinion on a key fact in a material way.
    When your attorney is ruled "an unreliable witness," you and your case have problems.  Now Assange had a respectable lawyer but he wouldn't play the game Hurtig will and that's why Julian Assange dropped him.  Now he's got a lawyer who lied repeatedly to the press and who the jugde caught in one lie after another.

    For John Pilger, three years later, to lie?

    It's outrageous and people should factor in that someone who intentionally lies to you usually lies for a reason.

    When someone is forced to confess in court that they lied, then they're exposed as a liar.

    Only a real piece of trash would repeat -- as fact -- a lie that has been publicly exposed as such.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Monday, November 17, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, a WBUR employee decides to insult the Iraqi people as well as US service members as he badly rewrites history, there's still no move towards inclusion on the part of Iraq's new government, yet the State Dept's decided to fork over millions more US taxpayer dollars to Iraq, and much more.

    In Friday's snapshot we noted US House Rep Tammy Duckworth was being denied the right to vote by proxy on Democratic leadership posts in the House of Representatives:

    Tammy Duckworth is not only a member of Congress, she's also a veteran of the Iraq War.  Nancy Pelosi chose to 'honor' veterans this week by announcing that a veteran who lost both legs in combat would not be allowed to vote by proxy on the issue of who would hold what office -- for example, who would be the next Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
    Duckworth is at home in Illinois.  Why doesn't she just fly to DC?
    CBS News notes Duckworth "was told by doctor that it was unsafe for her to fly at this stage in her pregnancy."

    Amanda Marcotte (Slate) notes today:

    This is a sticky situation. Though the principle of fairness in doling out exceptions is compelling, as Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post points out, Democrats "have framed themselves as the party of working women" and this "does put them in an awkward position," particularly as the Supreme Court will soon be hearing a case over whether or not UPS should have given one of its pregnant employees a temporary accommodation, moving her to light work duty during her pregnancy. Making matters worse, the denial of Duckworth's request might be political. Duckworth supports putting Rep. Frank Pallone on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who objected to Duckworth's request, is campaigning for Rep. Anna Eshoo to get the job instead.

    Let's turn to the topic of Iraq.  Alex Kingsbury usually broadcasts his stupidity on WBUR but today brought it to the Boston Globe:

    The goals of the Iraq surge were spelled out explicitly by the White House in Jan. 2007: Stop the raging sectarian bloodletting and reconcile Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds in the government. “A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations,” then-President George W. Bush said.
    To believe in the myth of the surge is to absolve Iraqis of their responsibility to resolve their differences. It gives the US government an unrealistic sense of its own capabilities. And it ignores the roots of the conflict now stretching from Damascus to Baghdad.

    I've never like little bitches in my life and Alex Kingsbury is nothing but a little bitch.


    That would be American asses who blame the Iraqi people.

    I'm sorry that Kingsbury thinks it's acceptable to rewrite history and blame the Iraqi people.

    First, the 'surge.'  He condescendingly says later in the piece that the lie of a success of the 'surge' lets veterans fool themselves but we need to be honest.

    Let's get honest.

    The 'surge' had two parts.  There was what the US military was tasked with.  There was what the Iraqi government was tasked with.

    People who served in Iraq as part of the US military surge are not fooling themselves or lying to themselves.  They did the job they were tasked to do.

    They did it very well.

    I was -- and remain -- opposed to the 'surge.'  That doesn't mean I have to lie about it.  I'm not an unethical whore -- would that Kingsbury could make the same claim.

    The US military did what it was supposed.

    This does matter.

    It's not academic.

    It matters right now with what's going on and if Kingsbury can't be honest about it, he's not just a dirty whore, he's a dirty whore doing tremendous damage.

    Currently US President Barack is doing a 'surge' in bombing campaigns from the air.  These bombings are killing people -- and not just terrorists -- and they're destroying the country.

    But Barack's justification is that these military efforts are supposed to take on and/or distract the Islamic State allowing the Iraqi government to work towards a political solution.  Barack spent the summer insisting a political solution was the only answer.

    Are you getting why it matters yet?

    I don't doubt for one moment that the US military is capable of carrying out every order they're given.

    They did it during Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' and they're doing it during Barack's 'surge.

    The Iraqi part of the 'surge' did not work under Bully Boy Bush and it doesn't appear to be working under Barack.  Under Barack, a ton of time and attention is being focused on the military aspect and meeting with 30 defense ministers here and there and sending the State Dept's Brett McGurk to meet with defense officials in Jordan and other countries.

    But Brett's State Dept and he -- and other State Dept officials -- should be working on the ground, as diplomats, to attempt to help Iraqi politicians come together and arrive at a political solution.

    There's a degree of blame that can be placed on Bully Boy Bush re the Iraqi part of the surge.

    In 2006, the White House opposed Ibrahim al-Jaffari getting a second term.  He was the choice of the Iraqi Parliament.  But the White House had a number of reasons for which to oppose al-Jaffari (were any of them good? that's another discussion but I'd say overall: No, none of them were good reasons).  The White House insisted upon Nouri al-Maliki.   US officials went to him, prepped him for it and then insisted he be named prime minister.

    2007 is when Nouri agrees to the benchmarks to continue funding -- US tax dollars -- pour into Iraq.

    These benchmarks should have been accomplished before the start of 2008.

    The White House was afraid the Congress might cut off funding and they proposed the benchmarks to measure success.  These were not complex benchmarks.

    But Nouri couldn't pull it off in 2007.

    So the White House (and a whorish press) sought to act as if a law not being passed didn't signify failure if a law had been proposed (but never voted on or voted down).  So there was 'partial' grading by sad little outlets like McClatchy Newspapers.

    In 2008, Nouri couldn't pull off the benchmarks.

    Barack becomes president in January 2009 (he's sworn in) and throughout 2009 Nouri's still unable to get the benchmarks passed -- back in 2007, he agreed he would get them passed. He failed.

    In 2010, still not passed.

    He failed.

    And, in 2010 -- pay attention, this is one main reason we don't blame the Iraqi people -- the country had parliamentary elections.

    Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bested incumbent Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law.  This was amazing.  You could refer to Deborah Amos report and study of the 2010 elections -- we've noted that repeatedly, we've quoted from it repeatedly.  It documents, among other things, how Nouri manipulated the Iraqi military.

    The most important thing about those elections was what it said about the Iraqi people.

    In the 2009 provincial elections, you could see in the votes a move towards a national identity.

    With more voters rejecting Nouri's sectarian ways and embracing the inclusive Iraqiya, the 2010 vote was so important.

    And it wasn't a tiny victory, it was a huge victory for the Iraqi people.

    But Barack Obama decided to stick with Nouri.

    He had US officials broker The Erbil Agreement, a legal contract that went around the Iraqi Constitution and, most importantly, the will of the Iraqi people and gave Nouri a second term.

    Don't you dare blame the Iraqi people for what happened from 2010 to 2014 when they went to the polls and voted for change but Barack Obama decided they'd get a second term of Nouri instead.

    That's not minor.

    And that's not on them.

    So stop insulting the Iraqi people.

    And stop insulting the Iraqi politicians for that time period as well.

    The Erbil Agreement?  A legal contract that political leaders signed off on only after Nouri refused to step down for 8 months following the elction (he had the support of the US government).  They agreed because they wanted the government to move forward (it was at a standstill).  But that contract said, "We give Nouri a second term, we get . . ."  And each political bloc had wants and needs.

    But Nouri used it to get his second term and then refused to honor The Erbil Agreement.

    He took what he wanted, a second term, but refused to honor the promises he made.

    By the summer of 2011, he was being called out for refusing to implement the contract -- called out by the Kurds, by Iraqiya and by Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

    By April 2012, they were tired of waiting, they were tired of asking.  With Shi'ite leader (of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) Ammar al-Hakim and many others, they met and discussed a vote in Parliament of no-confidence.  They gathered signatures on a petition -- per the Iraqi Constitution.  They were then to hand it over to the President of Iraq who would officially present it to the Parliament.

    Throughout the gathering of signatures, Moqtada repeatedly stated Nouri could end the process at any point by implementing The Erbil Agreement.

    During all of this the US government played dumb.  Pretended they didn't broker The Erbil Agreement, pretended they didn't swear this was a legal binding contract with the full backing of the White House, pretended Barack didn't personally call Ayad Allawi after Allawi walked out of Parliament in November 2010 when he (rightly) suspected Nouri was never going to implement The Erbil Agreement.

    Now things got even worse.

    US Vice President Joe Biden used all his persuasion and pressure on Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, to get the vote killed.

    Jalal announced that some people who signed now said they wouldn't sign if the petition was circulated now.

    That's not how it works.  You don't get to retract your signature.  You're not forced to vote no-confidence because you signed the petition, but you're not able to remove your name.

    Nor was Jalal legally able to allow people to remove their names.  Nor was he supposed to 'vet' the signatures.

    He had a purely ceremonial role: Present it to Parliament.

    But Jalal did the White House's bidding.

    He immediately then left Iraq, lying that he had a health emergency and needed immediate surgery.

    Turned out, he went to Germany for knee surgery -- elective surgery.

    Jalal's was karmically punished for his lie a year later when he suffered a stroke that would keep him in Germany and out of the country for nearly 18 months.

    Few things enrage me more than hearing someone say "those people just want to kill each other" or "they don't want peace."

    When have "those people" (Iraqis) been able to determine the outcome of their lives?

    First, the US government (under Bully Boy Bush) imposed Nouri al-Maliki -- a tyrant -- on them in 2006 and then the US government (under Barack Obama) demanded Nouri get a second term in 2010 -- this long after Ned Parker (then with the Los Angeles Times, now with Reuters) had documented Nouri's use of torture chambers and secret prisons.

    Don't blame the Iraqi people.  Don't even blame the Iraqi politicians since more than enough were willing to sign on for a no-confidence vote.

    "Those people"?  "Those people" responsible are Bully Boy Bush and Barack Obama.

    Don't trash the Iraqi people.

    You don't look smart.

    You don't look enlightened.

    You look like a small-minded idiot.

    Bully Boy Bush installed a tyrant and did so largely because the CIA profile of Nouri noted his paranoia and it was thought he could be easily manipulated as a result.  Four years later, Barack kept him because people like Samantha Power insisted that Nouri was providing stability (whatever he provided, it was via terrorizing the Iraqi people) and that the US troop drawdown could take place if Nouri got a second term.

    Never once, did either Bush or Barack make the needs, wants or desires of the Iraqi people the primary focus.

    So don't start blaming people who were victimized by the US government.

    And stop lying.

    This is a lie.

    What follows from the surge mythology is the idea that a few thousand residual US troops could have prevented Maliki from indulging in his worst sectarian impulses, or held off the ISIS rout. 

    It's a known lie to people who bothered to pay attention.

    When did Nouri send the military to surround the homes of Sunni politicians in Iraq?

    After the US drawdown was complete.

    Liz Sly, among others, reported on it.

    Where were you?

    Oh, that's right, thumb up your ass and eyes closed.

    US troops would absolutely have made a difference.

    Nouri held off until they left.

    And I say that as someone who believes -- even now -- all US troops should be out of Iraq.

    But my belief in all US forces out now is not going to lead me to lie or whore or pretend.

    I have integrity.

    If John McCain, US Senator, had won the 2008 presidential election, he might have tried keeping US forces in Iraq throughout his first term (and his second if he'd had one).  Based on his remarks, that is a possibility -- a strong one.

    And, yes, things would be calmer.

    And McCain spoke of a presence similar to what the US has in South Korea -- all these decades after the Korean War.

    I don't pretend to be an expert on Korea.

    But on Iraq?

    All my classes come to bear here as well as personal experience.

    Yes, US troops remaining in Iraq after the end of 2011 (in the thousands) would have led to less violence in Iraq.

    But that wouldn't have solved anything.

    Unless US troops were (or now "are") going to remain in Iraq for multiple decades to come to prop up the government.

    The reason for the violence is the Iraqi people don't have a buy-in with the Iraqi government.

    Most leaders were imposed by the US -- most were exiles who only returned after the US-led invasion.

    A puppet government that worked old grudges didn't prompt a buy-in.

    Barack has said a political solution is the only answer.

    He's 100% right on that.

    But he's not focusing US efforts on that.

    Like Bully Boy Bush, he's more interested in responding to violence with force.

    And the window of opportunity for change in Iraq continues to close.

    There are lessons to learn from the 'surge' of Bully Boy Bush, lessons that apply today.

    It's a damn shame that Alex Kingsbury can't find any.

    Maybe he spent too much time working on his insults of Iraqis and veterans?

    And one more thing, counter-insurgency didn't fail because of US service members, it failed for the reason it always fails -- it's war on a native people. In addition to everything else, it's trickery and deceit and there's nothing 'honorable' about that.

    Before we move to violence, let's get a laugh in.

    Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the Islamic State was neither "a state nor truly Islamic" -- did he follow it with "discuss"?  John Kerry as Mike Meyers' Linda Richmond.

    Let's move to today's violence.  The United Nations News Centre reports:

    A United Nations convoy of three vehicles proceeding from the Baghdad International Airport to the International Zone was hit with at least one explosion this morning, the Organization’s assistance mission in the country reported today.
    According to a statement from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), no UN personnel were killed or injured in the incident and all proceeded safely back to the UN Compound. One of the vehicles sustained serious damage.
    “The unfortunate incident this morning will not deter the UN from continuing its work in support of Iraq and its people, who have lived with violence for too long,” UNAMI chief Nickolay Mladenov said.  

    Other violence in today's news cycle?  Al Arabiya News reports:

    Five members of an Iraqi family who refused to marry off their daughter to a fighter in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been executed by the militant group in a “horrific crime,” Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry said over the weekend.

    In a statement posted on its website Sunday, the ministry said ISIS militants executed the five family members – mother, father and three children – and then kidnapped the 14-year-old girl, taking her to an undisclosed location.

    In some of today's other violence?  NINA reports that the Islamic State hanged a police officer in the center of Falluja.

    Hanging him in the center of Falluja was intended to send a message.

    And this message comes at a time when the current Iraqi government, presided over by new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi isn't working towards a political solution at all.  Reuters notes there is no genuine effort to bring the Sunni tribe leaders in -- the group that made up Sahwa (Awakenings, Sons of Iraq, Daughters of Iraq).  Reuters notes:

    Iraq's robust official spin machine has certainly suggested the Shi'ite-led government and even its militia allies who have few friends among the Sunni tribesmen, are swinging into action.
    But there are few real signs of momentum needed to bury sectarian differences and create a united force to counter IS in Anbar, which it has engulfed steadily throughout 2014 to the point where senior U.S. military officials last month described the situation there as fraught.

    Sabah Karhoot, provincial council chief of Anbar, home to the Albu Nimr, told Reuters there were still enough fighters to take on Islamic State but they needed effective weapons and ammunition from Baghdad.

    Where is the White House?

    What are they doing?

    The Sunni tribe leaders were supposed to have been brought in back in August.

    It still hasn't happened.

    The World Tribune reports, "The State Department has endorsed two Iraqi military requests from the United States as it struggles to recover territory lost to ISIL. Officials said the requests, which amount to nearly $700 million, would include air weapons as well as spare parts for artillery and trucks."

    That's called leverage.

    You don't hand it over.

    You don't agree to it.

    You say, "You want this?  You believe you need it?  Well we need to see movements towards a political solution.  Step one is you bring Sunnis into the process.  Let's see some tribe leaders brought in.  And why don't we revisit some of those issues that led Sunnis to protest non-stop for over a year -- despite being killed by Nouri's thugs."

    That's what you do.

    You don't hand over things and then say, "Okay, now I need you to do something for me."

    They're the ones wanting.  Extract concessions every step of the way.

    Back to the violence, Alsumaria reports that a roadside bombing outside Samarra left 2 police officers dead and two more injured,  a Saidiya roadside bombing left at least two people injured, an Aden roadside bombing left three people injured, two Baghdad car bombings left 5 people dead and twenty more injured, and Baghdad Operations Command announced that they rescued an 80-year-old man who had been kidnapped.

    On the issue of kidnapping, Mohammed Shafiq (Alsumaria) reports Speaker of Parliament Salem al-Jubouri called today for the government to devise an emergency action plan to deal with the issue of kidnapping.  al-Jubouri noted the terror the kidnappings have caused the Iraqi people and the vast amounts of money the kidnappers have been able to make.

     Thursday, Gen Martin Dempsey told Congress that he may suggest US troops be sent into on the ground combat in Iraq -- as "participants" and not "advisors."  Yesterday, Barbara Starr (CNN) reported Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is now floating increased numbers of US troops in Iraq as well.

    Hagel's not the only one singing that tired song.

    Sunday in Australia, Barack joined the chorus.  Tom Allerd (Sydney Morning Herald) quotes Barack stating, "Yes, there are always circumstances in which the United States might need to deploy US ground troop."  Though Barack stated he would not go into hypotheticals,Allard notes that Barack went on to note a hypothetical.  National Iraqi News Agency reports it this way:

    Obama said in his speech in the top twenty conference in Australia: "The United States is working to train Iraqis and may send combat troops if the terrorist organization getting strategic weapons[.]"

    As for Dempsey, NINA reports:

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said that "military force will not eliminate / IS / without an Iraqi national unity and the Iraqi government did not succeed in ending the division between / Sunni and Shiaa / in the country.

    He said in a press statement that "the US military helped the Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga in pulling Iraq away from the abyss and the battle with / IS/ begun to bear fruit against a group of dwarves adopting extremist ideology."

    Dempsey said, " building confidence requires time as well as the US mission that may continue years."

    A US mission that may continue [for] years.