Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of the week:

  • "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Friday, July 10, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Bully Boy Bush steps in it again, the US government is directly aiding the Kurds, the Defense Dept knows it and the Secretary has testified to this, the State Dept is in the dark, and much more.

    Bully Boy Bush has done a fairly good job of hiding under his rock since leaving the Oval Office in January 2009.  But now he's surfaced in a big way over raking in $100,000 for a speech in 2012.  It's a frightening number for a poor speaker as Wally's "ON THIS ONE, WE BLAME THE VETERANS!" and Cedric's "On this one, we blame the veterans" humor posts noted yesterday.  It's even worse that this a speech to an organization that's supposed to be a charity for veterans, Helping a Hero.  In addition to the $100,000, he also got to travel via a private jet which left the charity with a $20,000 bill for that.  Lucy Stiegerwald ( explained:

    Even among folks who think that ex-politicians raking in millions of dollars from speeches is acceptable, W. charging such a hefty fee to speak in front of people he sent to war rankles. This is good. Even a small dose of shame is good for Bush, and for any other ex-politician who happily earns a tidy profit based on their blood-soaked reputation.
    Soldiers aren’t overjoyed either. ABC quoted Eddie Wright, a wounded veteran who briefly worked with Helping a Hero, as saying “For [Bush] to be paid to raise money for veterans that were wounded in combat under his orders, I don’t think that’s right.” A former spokesperson for the charity countered that Bush had given them a discount on his usual fee, but Politico’s research suggests that that’s not true. Helping a Hero also excused the high prices by saying that W. and Laura Bush had participated in fundraising efforts for them before. So this is what? A way of paying them back? Breaking even? It still doesn’t seem very charitable.

    This is the life of an ex-politician. No matter how much of a cute old cowboy W. appears to be; No matter that he spends more time painting pictures of the Dalai Lama than he does interfering in world affairs these days, he also happens to have earned some $15 million from speaking engagements just between 2009 and 2011. This pales in comparison to heavy hitters like Bill and Hillary Clinton who have earned upwards of $100 million from speeches. Bush’s numbers are still unnervingly high for someone who deserves a prison cell. (Though Clinton has enough Iraqi blood on his hands to stew next door.) 

    Again, the speech was from 2012.  Details of it have only recently emerged.

    The outrage is understandable.

    Senator Patty Murray -- in office as she currently is or years from now when she retires -- would probably be a popular speaker a veterans group might want to book but you really can't imagine her stiffing them with a private jet bill or demanding some six figure salary.

    That's because she's worked hard for veterans.

    I've avoided mocking Bully Boy Bush for some of his events with veterans since leaving the White House and taking the attitude of 'if one veteran enjoyed biking with him, maybe his participation in that event was worthwhile.'  But there have been plenty of chances to criticize his efforts and we've passed.

    Taking $100,000 from a group which is supposed to be raising money to assist and aid veterans is outrageous.  In fairness to Bully Boy Bush, it is equally outrageous for an organization insisting it is raising money for veterans to waste $100,000 on a speaker -- any speaker.

    Again, you can't see Senator Patty Murray doing something tawdry like that but that's because she has a long history of helping veterans.  Yesterday, her office issued the following:

     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    CONTACT: Murray Press Office
    Thursday, July 9, 2015                                                               (202) 224-2834
    Sen. Murray Fights to Protect Services for Homeless Veterans

    Bill prevents changes to VA policy that would cut off thousands of veterans from accessing housing services
    MURRAY: We have a duty to care for veterans, not to create more barriers to care
    (Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced The Homeless Veterans Services Protection Act with cosponsor Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), which would prevent thousands of homeless veterans from losing access to housing services. VA’s proposed changes to the decades-old policy for homeless services would bar access for veterans who served less that than two years continuously, or who had an other than honorable discharge. This bill would ensure that those changes can never take place. Last week, Sen. Murray toured the Randall Apartments in Tacoma, a 35-unit complex that serves homeless veterans. She also met with representatives from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, local housing authorities, and community groups to discuss her new legislation.
    “Our veterans made great sacrifices while serving our country and our commitment to them is especially important,” said Senator Murray. “This bill makes it clear that our country takes care of those who’ve served, and we don’t allow bureaucracy to dictate who gets a roof over their head and who doesn’t.… If we ever hope to end veteran homelessness, we must do everything we can to reach this goal, and I want to make sure that the VA’s policies are moving us in that direction.”
    “As we work towards ending veterans homelessness, it is imperative that we use federal resources to help our servicemembers and their families in need,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. "Many of our vulnerable veterans saw combat and are fighting PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Instead of leaving these veterans out in the cold, we must ensure access to stable housing and other necessary services. This bill would codify VA practices that have proven to be effective in getting veterans off the street and into housing. I commend Senator Murray on her leadership and am proud to work with her on this important issue.”
    The problem arose last year when a legal review concluded that veterans who served fewer than two years or had an other than honorable discharge may not be eligible for benefits such as housing services. As a result, when the VA instituted the policy last year, homeless shelters and providers who receive funding through the VA’s Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program were told to turn away new homeless veterans who didn’t meet the length of service or discharge requirements. Had this policy been fully carried out, this could have resulted in 15 percent of the homeless veterans population being turned away, and in certain urban areas could have been up to 30 percent. Sen. Murray introduced emergency legislation to reverse it, causing the VA to temporarily rescind the policy change.
    The Homeless Veterans Services Protection Act being introduced today will ensure that in the future, veterans cannot be turned away from organizations because they don’t meet certain length of service or discharge requirements and that our country is fulfilling our promise to care for servicemembers and veterans.
    Excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks for the record are below:

    “The Administration set the difficult but commendable goal of eliminating veteran homelessness.  Through tremendous efforts at every level of government, and with the help of community groups, non-profits and the private sector, we have made major progress toward achieving that goal.”
    “But last year, after a legal review of its policies, VA was forced to prepare for a change that would have cut off services to veterans who did not meet certain length of service or discharge requirements, changing policies that homeless service providers had followed for decades. That would be a heartless, bureaucratic move that could have put thousands of veterans on the streets—practically overnight.”
    “As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the daughter of a World War II veteran, I’m proud that the bill I have introduced today would permanently protect homeless veterans’ access to housing and services. This bill makes it clear that our country takes care of those who’ve served, and we don’t allow bureaucracy to dictate who gets a roof over their head and who doesn’t.”
    “If we ever hope to end veteran homelessness we must do everything we can to reach this goal, and I want to make sure that VA’s policies are moving us in that direction. I don’t just believe that the United States can do better; I believe we must do better for those who’ve sacrificed so much for our country.”

    Senator Murray’s remarks for the record are below:

    “Mr. President, today I am introducing the Homeless Veterans Services Protection Act of 2015. This legislation would ensure continued access to homeless services for some of our country’s most vulnerable veterans who are currently at risk of losing these critical services.
    “The Administration set the difficult but commendable goal of eliminating veteran homelessness.  Through tremendous efforts at every level of government, and with the help of community groups, non-profits and the private sector, we have made major progress toward achieving that goal. But we know we have a lot of work to do. Veterans are at greater risk of becoming homeless than non-veterans and on any given night as many as 50,000 veterans are homeless across the United States.
    “This is unacceptable. Our veterans made great sacrifices while serving our country and our commitment to them is especially important. This commitment includes providing benefits, medical care, support, and assistance to prevent homelessness.
    “Two of our greatest tools are the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Grant and Per Diem program and the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program through partnerships with homeless service providers around the country. These important and successful programs assist very low-income veterans and their families who either live in permanent housing or are transitioning from homelessness. The programs help our veterans with rent, utilities, moving costs, outreach, case management, and obtaining benefits.
    “But last year, after a legal review of its policies, VA was forced to prepare for a change that would have cut off services to veterans who did not meet certain length of service or discharge requirements, changing policies that homeless service providers had followed for decades.
    “That would be a heartless, bureaucratic move that could have put thousands of veterans on the streets—practically overnight.  According to some of our leading veterans and homeless groups – including The American Legion, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans – had the policy been enacted, VA would have had to stop serving about 15 percent of the homeless veteran population, and in certain urban areas up to 30 percent of homeless veterans would have been turned away.
    “The veterans community alerted me to this possible change-- and while I’m proud that we prevented these changes in the short-term—it’s very concerning that a legal opinion could be issued at any time to undo all of that. There is good reason to reverse this policy for good. A report from VA’s Inspector General, issued just last week, shows how VA’s unclear or outdated guidance hurts veterans, and how VA’s proposed policy changes work against efforts to help homeless veterans.
    “As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the daughter of a World War II veteran, I’m proud that the bill I have introduced today would permanently protect homeless veterans’ access to housing and services. This bill makes it clear that our country takes care of those who’ve served, and we don’t allow bureaucracy to dictate who gets a roof over their head and who doesn’t.
    “Many veterans struggle with mental illness, substance abuse, or simply finding a steady job-all factors that can lead to homelessness. And veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are increasingly becoming homeless – numbers that will continue to increase in the coming years unless help is available for them.
    “The idea that any of these veterans returning from service could become homeless because of these policies is unacceptable. If we ever hope to end veteran homelessness we must do everything we can to reach this goal, and I want to make sure that VA’s policies are moving us in that direction. I don’t just believe that the United States can do better; I believe we must do better for those who’ve sacrificed so much for our country.
    “Finally, I’d like to thank Senator Hirono for cosponsoring this bill and being a champion of the men and women who have served our country. Thank you.”

    Leah Kennebeck
    Deputy Press Secretary
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

    pm-sigbockyou-tube rssi-icon
    On the topic of politicians, let's drop back to  Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.  The Committee Chair is Senator John McCain and the Ranking Member is Senator Jack Reed.  Appearing before the Committee were Gen Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs) and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

    We've noted Senators Joe Donnelly, Kelly Ayotte and Joe Manchin in Wednesday's snapshot.  We're going to note the line of questioning from two other senators today.  Senator Martin Henirich had some important and basic questions.

    Senator Martin Heinrich: Let me start by saying that, 'surge' or no 'surge,' I think it's pretty clear, at least to my constituents, that the Iraq War remains one of the greatest US foreign policy mistakes of the last century and one that I've hoped we've learned a few lessons from.  I want to follow up, Mr. Secretary, on what Senator Hirono raised.  One lesson I feel that we should have learned by now is that eliminating one terrible Middle Eastern dictator can too often lead to even more brutal influences filling the leadership vacuum.  We've seen that play out too many times.  We've seen that to some extent in both Iraq and Libya.  Should we be concerned that in Syria, a post-Assad reality could create a vacuum that ISIL is far better positioned to fill than any of the other regional forces?  I'm not sure we should be --  I think we should be almost as concerned with forces like al Nusra Front [a splinter of al Qaeda which is operating in Syria].  And if Assad does fall, shouldn't we have more than discussions on the table?  Shouldn't we have a plan to make sure that some amount of governance remains, particularly in Damascus?

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Uh, well, yes, we should and we do.  That is our strategy with respect to the political transition.  Now, uh, I've -- for reasons that are easy to understand, our influence with Bashar al Assad, our -- that is US -- influence is not great and so we are trying to influence those who influence him to remove himself, uh, from the government of, uh, Damascus while keeping intact the structures of governance for the very reasons that you adduce which is we know what happens in these Middle Eastern countries when the structures of government disintegrate and we would like to not see that happen in Syria even though we know that the persistence of Assad at the helm in Damascus  is in fact a fuel for ISIS and others who are fighting him so he needs to go to remove that fuel but we don't want to see the structures of governance go at the same time.  And that is the challenge but that is what we're trying to achieve.

    Senator Martin Heinrich:  Well I think that's certainly the right goal, I just want to make sure we're prepared for that because we've sort of missed that goal in the past and Syria is an enormous country and if we saw it lose its governance capability, the implications for the region and the entire world would be enormous.  Secretary Carter, as you mentioned as well, to be successful on the ground against ISIL, the fight needs to be led by local, capable ground forces.  I don't think we should give in to impatience.  These should not be western forces.  These should not be American forces.  We've certainly heard that from our partners in places like Jordan.  This means we need to place a great deal of importance on training motivated and reliable partners.  And you've gone a little bit over the small number of Iraqi security forces recruited, what those challenges are, the bottle neck related to the vetting process but are there other factors you would attribute for the lack of trainees?  And I guess one of the questions I have related to that is what steps, in addition to the steps that you're taking, what steps is the Iraqi government taking to address this shortfall in order to meet those training targets.we'd like to see?

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Uh, uh, thank you, Senator.  I think in Iraq, the principle limiting factor on Sunni trainees -- which is one of our focus -- our focuses -- has been their belief that the government in Baghdad was not fully supportive of them.  That is the challenge before Prime Minister Abadi.  He says he wants to do that and, uh, that's critical because only Sunnis can take back Anbar [Province], only Sunnis can govern Anbar when it's all over.  So if we are going to wrest Anbar from the likes of ISIL which we must do, we must have Sunnis on our side. And so Abadi is saying all the right things, as the Chairman noted.  We're trying to support him in doing all the right things. And --

    Senator Martin Henirich: Mr. Secretary, I agree with you wholeheartedly in your analysis.  I guess my concern is is Abadi doing enough to begin to generate confidence in the Sunni population in that region?

    Secretary Ash Carter: Uh, I think he is doing everything he personally can.  Uh, I think he is challenged in Baghdad by others who would have it the old way, the sectarian way.  And so he's not able to make everything happen when and as he says.  And we've had some delays and some frustrations as a result of that.  I think things are getting better.  We are getting more trainees.  It was noted earlier that there is some confidence among Sunni tribes that we will help them train, equip them, support them and get them back in the fight -- that there's a future for them  -- not even withstanding the difficulties of multi-sectarianism governance in Iraq.  That's the path we're on and, in the meantime, just to get back to something that Senator [Mike] Rounds said, I-I-I think and I-I said this before, I just want to restate it.  We need to take action to defend ourselves against ISIL, not just in Iraq and Syria, but elsewhere particularly foreign fighters even as we defeat them from the place from which they arose.  They have metastasized now, they aspire to be a global network and we have to fight them where they are.  We can't wait for that.  We need to do that -- and by the way, we do it every day.

    Senator Martin Heinrich:  Secretary --

    Secretary Ash Carter:  We did that just this past weekend.

    Senator Martin Heinrich (Con't):  -- I want to leave you with one last question.  It's a very general one.  You may have seen the POLITICO article from a couple of days ago that examined what it called the "Da-aesh effect" -- and it's sort of a modern example of the ancient proverb that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."  Whether it's Hammas or al Nusra or Iran, there are a number of entities that may be enemies to the US, certainly are enemies of our allies but currently share the same opposition to ISIL or Da'aesh.  What are your thoughts on that observation generally and wouldn't you agree that it's that reality that is part of the reason why this is such  a complicated nut to crack.

    Secretary Ash Carter:  That is the reason why it's so complicated and, again, sectarianism is what brought us to this point so we are willing to -- and we are -- and have  supported elements of the Iraqi security forces that have a very large Shis composition to them but if and only if they're under the direction and control of the government of Iraq.  And there are Shia forces in Iraq that are not under the direction and control and we will not support them because that's sectarianism, that sectarian civil war.  We know what leads down that road and we're trying to stop Iraq from going down that road.

    The hearing was Tuesday.  Wednesday this exchange took place at the State Dept press briefing moderated by Mark Toner:

    MR TONER: Sure thing, Said. Go ahead.

    QUESTION: The fight against ISIS?

    MR TONER: The fight against ISIS.

    QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

    MR TONER: Sure.

    QUESTION: I mean, now that we’ve had time --

    MR TONER: Wouldn’t be a briefing without some discussion on --

    QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

    MR TONER: No, go ahead. I’m sorry.

    QUESTION: No, I just wanted to follow up on some of the things that John said yesterday --

    MR TONER: Yep.

    QUESTION: -- but I (inaudible). He cited that when there is a – basically, implicitly, when there is a will to fight, such as the Peshmerga and the north fighting ISIS and the Kurdish fighters also in the north of Syria fighting ISIS, then we can see the outcome on the ground, that ISIS can be pushed back. Is the implicit suggestion there that the Iraqi army is not fighting or will not fight?

    MR TONER: Not at all. We’ve long said that some of these local fighters have been absolutely integral to combating ISIL. But everything we do is through the Iraqi military and the Iraqi Government, and all the equipping and supplying that we do is conducted through them and with their concurrence. So there’s a recognition, I think, that this needs to be locally owned, if you will; that we need to really build the capacity of local forces, and that includes the Iraqi military itself, to be able to push back and combat ISIL.

    QUESTION: Would that implicitly suggest that you – maybe you ought to give direct aid to the Peshmerga directly – heavy equipment, I mean. Not --

    MR TONER: Yeah.

    QUESTION: -- just rifles and guns and so on, but things like tanks and other battlefield equipment, heavy duty that they can use.

    MR TONER: Well, again, we have been providing some assistance to the Peshmerga, again, through the Iraqi Government. We feel like that’s getting into their hands expeditiously. We don’t feel like there’s a delay mechanism or anything. We feel like that the system currently is working pretty well in terms of getting them what they need. In terms of additional support, obviously, we’re always looking at that, but nothing to announce.

    In his exchange with Senator Kelly Ayotte on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made clear the US was directly arming the Kurds (as were the Germans and others, Carter also made clear).

    Why does the State Dept not know this?

    How stupid and uniformed is the administration that one group doesn't talk to the other and that a spokesperson does not know what's in public testimony?

    This was what Senator Joni Ernst started with in her line of questioning, was the US government arming the Kurds as Ayotte had asked and as Carter had replied.  His only clarification was that they were providing these arms with the consent of the Iraqi government out of Baghdad.

    But with that clarification, he again insisted that they were doing this.

    Ernst had co-sponsored a bill with Senator Barbara Boxer earlier this year to make this direct aid -- with the consent of the Baghdad based government -- possible because Secretary of State John Kerry had insisted in a letter to Congress that they could not legally do this -- this what they are now doing without any new law.

    Ernst pointed that out and pointed out that US President Barack Obama noted in his speech earlier this week that not only would this be happening but they would be expediting the process.

    Let's move on to another issue of she raised.

    Senator Joni Ernst: [. . . ] Sir, considering the fall of the most western part of Iraq to ISIS, that didn't trigger a decision point on the part of the Iraqi government in its commitment to Iraq or  -- I'm just not sure  what else the Iraqi government needs to fail at before the administration changes its strategy and how we support our willing partners in Iraq -- the Kurdish Peshmerga, they are willing partners, they are.  And I think we need to do more for them.  We cannot defeat ISIS in Iraq by continuing to beg, hope and pray that the sectarian Iraqi government -- which is still overshadowed, we've heard it a number of times, by previous prime minister [Nouri al-] Maliki and Iran.  We don't think that they would vigorously defend the Iraqi people equally.  I don't believe they will. But we've talked also about being more inclusive.  That word was mentioned again.  "More inclusive.'  I hear this time and time again.  But what -- I would like a definition of what does "more inclusive" look like and how do we measure "more inclusive"? Gentlemen, if you would address that please.

    Secretary Ash Carter: I-I, uhm, would-would begin by noting the words of Prime Minister Abadi when he was here.  I think he used the word decentralized Iraq.  And that is one in which, uh, there is a central government in Baghdad an integral state of Iraq but there is substantial opportunity for self-determination around the country among Sunnis, among Shias, and among Kurds. It seems to me that's a wise way of approaching what multi-sectarianism means.  I think a, uh, government in Baghdad that allows the different parties there a degree of self-determination to maintain security within their own territory and to govern themselves, share in things like the oil wealth of the country and so forth, that is what he says he is for. And that's the way he described it when he was here in Washington to all of that.  And that is, in my judgment, certainly better than the alternative which is sectarian disintegration -- which could still occur in Iraq.  But I think we all -- looking into that abyss -- know what resides there -- further violence for the citizens of Iraq and further opportunities for groups like ISIL that don't -- aren't preoccupied with the long time welfare of the territories they occupy, they want to use them for further violence. So that is Prime Minister Abadi's definition and I think we're trying to support him in his aspiration to make good on that definition.

    Senator Joni Ernst: Thank you.  General, anything to add there?

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  Just that in the military, what we'll be watching for in terms of the intentions of the government of Iraq and its control over groups that are not directly responsive to the Ministry of Defense is whether there's retribution, whether they allow -- It was Tikrit I was speaking about, I think, Senator.  As these families come back to Tikrit after it was recaputered, we are watching -- and it's worth watching -- on whether they are able to return to their homes or not?  I think the same will be true once Ramadi is recaptured.  And we'll probably be watching how the campaign in Falluja unfolds to ensure that the popular mobilizations forces [Shi'ite militias] propagate a campaign that's not characterized by retribution.and-and dramatic collateral damage.  Those are all things to watch carefully.

    Senator Joni Ernst: And I think we have willing partners there and I think we need to assist those willing partners.

    Lastly, Margaret Griffis ( counts 168 violent deaths across Iraq on Thursday.

    Thursday, July 09, 2015

    I use YouTube

    . . . for new artists.

    I think C.I. or Rebecca first recommended Jack Johnson to me.

    I didn't know him.

    So I went to YouTube to sample.

    I did love his music and quickly went out and got every Jack Johnson CD there was.

    That's still my pattern.

    If a friend suggests a new artist, I'll pull them up on YouTube to get a sense of them and if I don't like them, that's the end of it; however, if they really speak to me, it's time to buy CDs or start downloading from Amazon.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi government sentences more people to executions, the Senate explores what's going on in Iraq, this includes starving civilians in Haditha, and much more.

    Senator Joe Donnelly: I just got back from Iraq with Senator [Tim] Kaine who led our trip and one of the meetings we had was with a number of the Sunni tribal leaders and some of them were from the Haditha area and in talking to them they have said, "We have stood with you. We have faith with you.  But we have people who are now eating grass in our town.  We have no food.  We have no supplies.  And we have been told that the only airlifts that can come in would be on military transport.  Is there anything you can do to help feed our people?"  And so, I wanted to put that before you to see if there's something we can do to be of aid to these individuals.

    Donnelly was speaking Tuesday at the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The Committee Chair is Senator John McCain and the Ranking Member is Senator Jack Reed.  Appearing before the Committee were Gen Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs) and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

    Donnelly states that he was told, in Haditha, food resources were so low that civilians were eating grass.

    Though only in his second year in the US Senate, Donnelly has not racked up  a reputation for lying or misleading.

    So it's fairly safe to assume this is what he was told.

    Where's the outcry?

    We drive our Bitch Moan and Whine vehicles all over the globe over this or that artifact destroyed in Iraq but you have civilians forced to eat grass and no one cares enough to make this a lead story?

    Secretary Ash Carter: Well, uh, I'll say something about that and ask the Chairman if he wants to add.  First of all, I want to thank you, Senator Donnelly, also Senator Kaine for traveling there.  We appreciate it.  And on behalf of the 3,550 members of our armed forces that are in Iraq conducting this fight, thank you for taking the time to go visit them this Fourth of July weekend.  The humanitarian situation is yet another tragic consequence of what is going on with ISIL.  It remains one of the coalition's, uhm, uh, uh, efforts as I indicated in my opening statement.  To relieve the humanitarian, that's very difficult to do when there is not order and control on the ground.  And so, uh, this is why we need to get a security situation that's stable, ground forces that are capable of hol- seizing territory, holding territory and governing.  That's the only way to get the humanitarian situation turned around -- either in Iraq or in Syria.  It's very sad.  It's tragic.  And, uh, in the case of Iraq -- as has been noted --  uh, something brought about by the re-emergence of sectarianism in a really tragic way.  Chairman, you want to add anything?

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  One of the reasons we went to [al-] Taqaddum Air Base [in Anbar Province] -- also locally called Habbaniyah -- is to advise and assist in the Anbar operations center which is where these kind of issues should actually migrate through.  And it's -- You should be interested to know the Iraqis have the capabilities to address that.  They have C-130J [Lockheed Martin transport aircraft], you know state of the art, uhm-uhm -- 

    Senator Joe Donnelly:  I know they do, but they're not.

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  Yeah, well we'll pass it to the guy who's embedded with -- 

    Senator Joe Donnelly:  And you know, when you're hungry?  You're stomach doesn't tell you you want Iraqi food or US food, you just want help.  And one of the bonds created with these tribal leaders is they said, "We've always felt that we could count on you."  

    Dempsey was a bit of a smart ass and there's no way to pretty that up.

    If you caught the tone of, "Yeah, well we'll pass it to the guy," you grasped what a smart ass what he was being.

    How nice for him that hearing of the starvation of others is so removed from anything he's ever experienced that he can make light of it, that he can mock it.

    How very nice for him.

    For those who don't remember how Barack kicked off the latest stage of the never-ending Iraq War, the Yazidis were trapped on Mount Sinjar and without food.

    An air drop of humanitarian items was something we advocated for here.

    Some people thought that the anti-war thing to do was to ridicule the trapped Yazidis.

    All that did was drive people away.

    It's not funny when people are in need, when they're starving.

    Unless you're Dempsey or some other smart ass.

    But with the Yazidis on Mt. Sinjar, Barack didn't just do air drops, he used it to further the Iraq War.

    There's no reason that the US can't do an air drop.

    Dempsey is correct that the Baghdad-based government could help.

    While Haditha is frequently under attack (and, in fact, faced vehicle bombings earlier this week), it is not under the control of the Islamic State currently.

    Dempsey could have cut the smarm and instead explored the lack of compassion on the part of the Iraqi government -- the Shi'ite led Iraqi government -- out of Baghdad with regards to the suffering of Sunnis (Haditha is a Sunni town).

    Clearly, Iraq's (Shi'ite) Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi feels no pressure to send food.

    (The State Dept had to strong arm him in to visiting a refugee camp last week.)

    With them not willing to do so, the US military -- which all over Iraqi air space -- should immediately be dropping food over Haditha.

    Is it hard to do?

    Because the way I remember it, the Pentagon and the White House repeatedly insist that, when dropping bombs on Iraq, these are precision exercises.

    So a bomb can be dropped precisely but there's some confusion over whether food and rations can be dropped precisely?

    Again, the Baghdad-based government knows what's happening and has refused to step in.

    US President Barack Obama repeatedly insists 'we're not taking sides.'

    If you're looking the other way while a town of Sunnis are starving to the point that they're eating grass, if you're not rushing aid to them, you are taking sides, you are taking sides against Sunni civilians.

    And with Barack, Dempsey and countless others insisting this is a 'generational battle,' I don't know that the citizens of Haditha can wait a "generation" for food.  (And Dempsey, in this hearing, defined "generational" as 20 years.)

    We're going to note Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kelly Ayotte for several reasons but chief among them after last moth's House Armed Services Committe hearing.

    We covered that hearing and we were at it.  (See the June 18th "Iraq snapshot," "Barack wants Gulf states to send ground troops int...," and the June 17th "Iraq snapshot.")

    But people who didn't bother to attend read a press report that inflated what Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said, stripped of its context and insisted Carter used his time before the House Armed Services Committee to either argue that Iraq needed to be split up into thirds or that splitting Iraq up into thirds was the goal of the White House.

    This non-issue is what trickled down to the so-called independent media coverage.

    The hearing had many disclosures and one of the big ones was that the White House felt they had enough foreign war planes in their 'coalition' but they wanted foreign countries to send more ground forces into Iraq so that they could assist the Iraqi forces with combat.

    Instead of that being a lead headline or main point, we had to endure nonsense.

    Nonsense may come about again.

    But please note what Carter is saying in his exchange with Manchin and with Ayotte on the subject -- note it before it again gets distorted.

    Senator Joe Manchin: As I go around the state of West Virginia, my little state, you know it's a very hawkish state and a very patriotic state and a lot of veterans.  Speak to all of them, they're confused right now, they really are. What -- and you [gestures to Senator Pete Sessions] you heard the frustration coming out.  But  basically, Iraq is not a united country.  You have the Sunnis, the Shi'ites and the Kurds.  And I think, Secretary Carter, that you've said until they have the will [Carter stated May 24th, of the fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State, "the Iraqi forces  just showed no will to fight"]  -- and I think, Gen Dempsey, you also said the same thing -- until Iraq has the will to fight -- but which group has the will to fight to defend the other group?  And that's where we're having a problem.  And I think it's been said, 'Well if you have a group that's fighting" and the Kurds want to fight "why do we still have to make them go through the Baghdad centralized government in order for them to get the weapons they need to defend themselves and be aggressive?" So they're confused about that, they're confused about, in Syria, trying to  spend the money trying to find  people to train when you acknowledge that we only had sixty of them successful right now with the amount of effort we're spending there.  But yet at that, I think you said you had the Kurds -- Syrian Kurds -- that were fighting. And some things of that sort.  I don't know.  And then I'm asked the question, they said, "We continue to keep trying to train and arm the Iraqis and it seems like all they're doing is supplying the ISIL with the equipment that the Americans are giving them and, you know, when are we ever going to stop giving equipment to the people who won't defend it and fight for it?  So, I guess, are we talking -- at your level, are you talking to the White House about rethinking the whole Iraqi position as far as one centralized government, one Iraq, or maybe a separated Iraq?

    Secretary Ash Carter: I-I-I think we're all aware that it is very difficult to, uhm, govern Iraq in a multi-sectarian manner and so we thought about the alternatives to that.  I think we all have actually for years and I'm sure all of you have as well.  Uh, we are trying to assist Prime Minister Abadi in governing in a different way from the way [Nouri al-] Maliki governed which, as Senator Sessions noted, led to the disintegration of the Iraqi security forces, the sectarian coloration of them, and that's what ultimately led to their collapse in Sunni territory -- 

    Senator Joe Manchin: [Overlapping] Secretary Carter, I think --

    Secretary Ash Carter (Con't):  -- didn't fight for it.

    Senator Joe Manchin (Con't): -- a question also along those lines, they -- I've been asked the question, you just remind me, they said, "Didn't we see signs that Maliki was incompetent, that he would have gone strictly to a sectarian position -- as he did -- not for a strong united Iraq?"  Did we not, with all of the people we've had there, did we not see that coming and could not have averted that from happening?

    Secretary Ash Carter: Uh, I can only speak for myself in that regard and I was not closely involved in it in the time, I certainly had that concern about Mr. Maliki.  And I know that many of you met with him.  I met with him several times and it was quite apparent to me.  Nor Prime Minister Abadi says he has  a different intention which is to govern Iraq from the center but in a decentralized enough way that the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shia each have enough space to-to, uh, uhm, carry on their own welfare in the way that they wish but there is a center, integral Iraqi state.  The -- Uh -- And that is what he says he's working towards and we're supporting him in that regard.  That's why, for example, when we provide arms to the Kurds, we do it with, uh, consent of the Iraqi government in order to indicate that we support the idea of a single Iraqi government in Baghdad but we also want the Kurds in the fight and armed.  And that has not delayed our arming of the Kurds --

    Senator Joe Manchin:  It seems like the biggest problem we have is with the Sunnis and the Shi'ites and then -- .

    Secretary Ash Carter: And the Sunnis and the Shi'ites.  And this is why the -- It's so important to take the time to train a truly multi-sectarian Iraqi force.  There are elements of the Iraqi forces that have that right character.  For example, there's CTS --

    Senator Joe Manchin:  General --

    Secretary Ash Carter:  And-and so our strategy, just to go to the beginning, is to uh-uh-uh train and equip those local forces, they're essential.  Then we can help them -- and it is a "chicken and egg" thing [to Senator Pete Sessions who had raised the chicken and egg issue] -- except that you need to have the capable and motivated ground force -- then we can enable it, rather than to substitute for it --

    Senator Joe Manchin:  Well --

    Secretary Ash Carter (Con't):  -- which doesn't lead to a lasting resort.

    Senator Joe Manchin (Con't):  -- I would think, General Dempsey, it's been pointed out here that we've spent multiple years, ten years plus, a trillion dollars, lost a lot of lives in Iraq  and we had 100,000 troops there at one time trying to train and defend and get them motivated and that didn't work.  And so that's the hard question.  How do you go home and answer that?  How do I go home and answer that we're going to try this over again and maybe we'll do a better job of retraining?  I think that was the frustration you were seeing coming out of Senator Sessions. 

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  Well sure.  I think it's probably worth mentioning that my judgment about how this will evolve over time is that it is a generational issue.  It is transregional, Senator.  You know it is elements of it in Afghanistan, we see it in Iraq and Syria, we see it in the Sinai, we see it in Libya and we can't just focus like a laser beam on one part of it, it has to be pressured across it and so what we're trying to do is achieve a, uh, enduring defeat which means we gotta' work it through partners because they own the -- they have more to gain and more to lose.  And, finally, we've got to find a sustainable level of efforts since I do believe this is a generational level challenge. 

    Senator Joe Manchin:  I just think that-that basically my question would be that, overall, are we trying to defend the British lines that were drawn over 100 years and putting people in a territory that they don't believe that's their country?  I mean, why are we forcing something on people that don't want to accept -- 

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  Well, I'll just follow up with you.  I also share that concern, that the Mid East will never be the Mid East again.

    Senator Joe Manchin:  Yeah.

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  And so everything that I recommend to the Secretary and to the President is recommended with the intention of being flexible enough that we can -- we can build upon it if we do find that inclusive, national unity government in Iraq or not.

    Chair John McCain: I can't help but mention the situation was stabilized after the surge and we had won and we predicted if everybody was pulled out that the situation would descend into chaos.  It is a fact that thanks to Gen [David] Petraeus, the surge and great sacrifice, the Iraq War was won.  And to ignore that in that conversation, Gen Dempesy, is to me intellectually dishonest. 

    Ash Carter is not Robert Gates.

    Former Secretary of Defense Gates was a more clipped type speaker -- Dempsey without the snide.

    He's also not Leon Panetta who is a conversationalist able to discuss any topic freely, off the top of his head without notes.

    Then came Chuck Hagel who was ground down by the military brass and learned CYA -- cover your own ass.

    That explains both how, as senator, he went from supporting whistle blower Sibel Edmonds to silence when it became too controversial.

    It's also how he could depart from his position and the administration with most people unaware of how unhappy and disgusted he was with the aims and focus of the White House.

    If Barack feels Gates and Panetta wrote books that weren't kind to his abilities and leadership, he better prepare himself for Hagel who's the type who sits there and says "Yes, sir" but banks each and every disagreement for a later retelling.

    Ash Carter is not like any of the ones back to Gates.

    He's not a comfortable speaker.

    The easy out on that is you stick to the script (as Hagel did).

    Carter refuse to do that.

    He tries to answer in his own words.

    I grit my teeth every time he says "multi-sectarian government" -- a phrase he's been using since his confirmation hearing (we covered it in the February 4, 2015 snapshot) -- because why would you want that?  Dempsey uses terms like a "unified" government, etc.

    But Carter's creating his own phrases and doing so as he tries to avoid stock answers or scripted replies.

    This means he can be easily distorted.

    That's especially true since he's considering as he speaks and can drop a line of thought mid-point and pick up on another one instead.

    This does not make for smooth 'pull quotes' or partial quotes.

    And he can be easily misconstrued.

    He has never advocated, as Secretary of Defense, in a Congressional hearing for splitting up Iraq.

    Asked about it, he will consider it and will sometimes offer pros and cons.

    That's all he's really done.

    His manner of speaking means you need to pay closer attention.

    And, as someone attending the hearings, I do appreciate the fact that Ash Carter is not sticking to a script and appears to be considering and responding off the cuff.

    Let's move to  some of Ayotte's line of questioning.

    Senator Kelly Ayotte: I wanted to ask you, Secretary Carter, you had said in answer to Senator Manchin that in fact that the arms that we're providing to the Kurds, we're doing so with the consent of  the Iraqi central government.  Does that mean we're doing it directly or we're going still through the Iraqi central government?

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Well, first of all, we're not the only ones.  But we and others basically convey the weapons directly to the Kurds.  But we inform the Iraqi government and get their formal consent to it.

    Senator Kelly Ayotte: So --

    Senator Ash Carter:  So it doesn't delay the arming of the Kurds.

    Senator Kelly Ayotte:  So right now --

    Secretary Ash Carter (Con't): try to stick up basically for the central Iraqi government.

    Senator Kelly Ayotte:  Previously we had heard complaints about it originally going through the Iraqi central government and then to the Kurds so I'm glad to hear that we're directly providing it to the Kurds, letting the Iraqi central government know what we're providing. 

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Mr. [Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud] Barzani was here in town, you may have met with him, a few weeks ago.  And, he, uh, was grateful for what was being provided and he noted that, uh, the delays which is the principle problem that were experienced early on are not being experienced now -- either in the shipment of our equipment or that of others, for example the Germans providing anti-tank munitions which they value very much.  But we are trying to stick up for the principle that Iraq is a single unitary, multi-sectarian state.  And difficult as that may be, that is much preferred to the alternative which is the sectarian disintegration of Iraq.

    Senator Kelly Ayotte:  Let me follow up. So clearly the Kurds are capable and motivated and, at this point, are they receiving all of the weapons that they've asked for?  Because, as I understood it, ISIS at one -- Certainly, unfortunately, ISIS has captured some of the armaments that we left in Iraq -- and some of them heavy armaments.  The Kurds are quite effective but it's hard if you're out-armed.  And are they now receiving -- What have they requested that we're not providing?  And, if so, why?

    Secretary Ash Carter:  I'll let Chairman Dempsey answer that but with -- again, to say, it's not just us.  There are more than 12 nations over all arming the Kurds.  And-and I noted I was with the German Defense Minister [Ursula von der Leyen] over in Germany last week and she, uh-uh, was providing to the Kurds these critical anti-tank weapons -- a kind the Germans make that is especially effective.  So it's not just us.  And the Kurds are an example of what we're looking for -- which is an effective ground force that will stick up for itself, hold together, take and hold territory, and that's why we're providing them with support.

    Senator Kelly Ayotte: So we agree with that.  I think that there's been broad agreement on that.  I just want to make sure that they have what they need.

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  Senator, I'm not aware of anything that they've asked for that we haven't provided.  We probably haven't provided in the quantity that they may have desired -- MRAPs [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles]  for example and we're working to address those short -- those quantity issues.

    "By, with and through the government of Iraq" is how Ash Carter described the process for arming the Kurds in an exchange later in the hearing with Senator Joni Ernst.

    We'll cover the hearing again in the next snapshot.

    Meanwhile, AP notes that 24 people have been sentenced to death by an Iraqi court for the killing of Shi'ite soldiers dating back to June of 2014.

    AP fails to note that there have been no arrests in any of the murders of Iraqi journalists throughout the Iraq War.

    AFP notes all 24 deny they took part in the killings and:

     Some defendants swore they were not even close to Tikrit on June 11 last year, others that they never saw a lawyer.
    "We are still looking at the full details of the case, but the Speicher trial bears the hallmark of unfair trials that have seen thousands of those accused of terrorism in Iraq sentenced to long prison terms or to death," Amnesty International said in a statement to AFP. 

    Margaret Griffis ( counts  175 violent deaths across Iraq today.

    Community posts on movies, Stan's "Pee Wee," Rebecca's on a Prince Charming movie "well it's about damn time!," Elaine's "Why Indie?," Ann's "Goodbye Kitty," Mike's "Ted 2." Trina on Nicholas Cage almost playing Superman "Super Cage?," Kat's "Film nightmare," Marcia's "Jaws," Betty's "Diane Keaton"  and Ruth's "How do you watch?"

    Wednesday, July 08, 2015

    Why Indie?

    Hipsta, PLEASE: here's 12 of the best indie teen movies you need to check out this summer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

    Sometimes the indie films -- even the ones that falter in parts -- succeed just because they are trying, you know?

    It's like it's something different from the assembly line product of all those who read Sy Field books on screenwriting.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Tuesday, July 7, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's 'facts' get challenged, Jill Stein links arms with Hillary Clinton to form Two Candidates Who Won't Talk Iraq, we note the shameful Iraq Body Count, the proposed law for Iraq's National Guard is published, and much more.

    Yesterday, US President Barack Obama spun on Iraq.

    Today, State Dept spokesperson John Kirby tried to re-spin when problems were noted with Barack's 'facts.'

    QUESTION: Iraq?

    MR KIRBY: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Thank you. Just on the President’s statement yesterday at the Pentagon, he mentioned a number of battlefield victories in both Iraq and Syria. He actually pointed namely to seven areas. And what I noticed was that six out of those seven areas were in the northern regions of Iraq and Syria, where basically the Kurds are in control. Can you say the Kurds are your only effective partner on the ground?

    MR KIRBY: What I can say is – and I’m not going to get into military analysis – is that when you have capable, effective partners on the ground against ISIL – indigenous partners on the ground – you can be much more effective against that group. We’ve seen that in parts of Iraq where – whether it’s Peshmerga up in the north or Iraqi Security Forces down in the south, when they are effective, they can have an immense impact on ISIL. And we have seen that in areas in northern Syria with counter-ISIL fighters there. And again, the President detailed some of that and I talked to some of that yesterday as well. They have been effective in certain places and at certain times.

    QUESTION: And, like, the only example really he gave that was outside the Kurdistan regions was Tikrit, which was achieved with the help of Iranian-backed Shia forces. So can’t you --

    MR KIRBY: No, that’s not true. He talked about --

    QUESTION: What else?

    MR KIRBY: -- Mosul Dam, he talked about --

    QUESTION: Mosul Dam was with the Kurdish forces. It was --

    MR KIRBY: He talked about – there’s been other – the Baiji refinery. I mean, there’s been other areas in Iraq. I know where you’re trying to go with this, and what I’m trying to tell you is that you need good partners on the ground. In Iraq, we’re building and we’re working towards helping advise and assist the Iraqi Security Forces so that they can become more capable. And in some ways and in some places and at some times in this fight, they have been very capable.

    In the north in Iraq, of course, there’s been some assistance provided to the Peshmerga, as they have taken the fight to ISIL in northern Iraq. And yes, we have provided some coalition air support to counter-ISIL fighters in the north in Syria. And we’re still trying to get a program stood up to train and equip a moderate Syrian opposition. Now it’s going slow. We talked about this yesterday. I think we all recognize there’s a lot of work to be done. But the whole focus of that effort is to help create additional competent, effective, capable security forces inside Syria that can go after ISIL – could protect their neighborhoods, their communities, and go after ISIL.

    Barack's speech led Mike to name him "Idiot of the week" and to note Barack claimed Baiji on the same  day Rudaw reported "Clashes resume in Baiji after 'great victory'."  Trina offered "Barack wants more war" which emphasized Thomas Gaist (WSWS) report:

    Rather than attempt a legal justification for the war, which has been launched and prosecuted behind the backs of the American people and in defiance of popular opposition, Obama defended his administration’s war policies by boasting of the large kill count achieved by the US-led coalition.
    “It’s important to recognize the progress that’s been made. We’ve eliminated thousands of fighters,” Obama said, underscoring the fact that it has become routine for the American president to speak of “killing” or “taking out” people around the world.
    Obama reiterated the US goal of regime change in Syria, declaring that the US would do more to aid the anti-Assad opposition, and adding that “the only way” to end the civil war in that country was to “transition to an inclusive government” without Assad.
    Noting that he had recently discussed the war against ISIS with Russian President Putin, Obama hinted that Putin was amenable to Washington’s plans to topple Assad.
    He said that the US would step up its counterterrorism operations in countries “from Afghanistan to Nigeria.” This was a signal that Washington will continue its drone strikes, bombings, commando operations and other illegal actions in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries.
    Obama devoted nearly half of his remarks to what he called the fight against terror threats within the United States. He said, ominously, that his administration was “partnering with Muslim communities” in the US and added that “we expect those communities to step up.” This was a thinly veiled justification for continuing government surveillance of the American people and other repressive measures, carried out under the pretext of “protecting the homeland.”
    His remarks followed days of media scaremongering leading up to the Independence Day holiday on July 4. For several days, the networks led their news broadcasts with alarming reports of heightened terror threats, without producing a shred of evidence to substantiate their warnings, while acknowledging that the government had not detected any “credible, specific threats.”
    Obama’s emphasis on the “war on terror” at home made clear that the relentless campaign of the government to sow fear and anxiety among the public in order to justify internal repression and external military aggression would continue unabated.

    Rebecca noted how poorly Barack looked in "barack looks like s**t" while Kat pondered Barack's claims of "Success?" with Kat concluding:

    Today really was Barack's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" moment.
    Did anyone notice?

    Barack's speech was offensive and insulting on so many levels.

    This included his conclusion:

    In closing, let me note that this Fourth of July we celebrated 239 years of American independence.  Across more than two centuries, we’ve faced much bigger, much more formidable challenges than this -- Civil War, a Great Depression, fascism, communism, terrible natural disasters, 9/11.  And every time, every generation, our nation has risen to the moment.  We don’t simply endure; we emerge stronger than before.  And that will be the case here.  
    Our mission to destroy ISIL and to keep our country safe will be difficult.  It will take time.  There will be setbacks as well as progress.  But as President and Commander-in-Chief, I want to say to all our men and women in uniform who are serving in this operation -- our pilots, the crews on the ground, our personnel not only on the ground but at sea, our intelligence teams and our diplomatic teams -- I want to thank you.  We are proud of you, and you have my total confidence that you’re going to succeed.  
    To the American people, I want to say we will continue to be vigilant.  We will persevere.  And just as we have for more than two centuries, we will ultimately prevail.  

    He wants to thank the military but not the American people at large?

    He wouldn't have a job if it weren't for the American people at large.

    He's just another War Hawk who never wore a uniform or carried a gun but wants to pretend like that's the only way to measure patriotism.

    We could offer the fear examples but I really don't care to promote his scare tactics.

    When Bully Boy Bush pulled this sort of thing, he would be mocked and called out.

    We no longer live in such a world.

    That became clear over the weekend when the dreadful Jill Stein announced she was seeking the Green Party's presidential nomination -- presumably so she could damage the party even more than she did in her 2012 run.

    As we noted at Third, "Editorial: The endless joke that is Jill Stein."

    Stein used her announcement speech to take a strong stand against . . .

    talking about Iraq.

    In her silence on the topic, she linked arms with Hillary Clinton, the only other candidate who can't and won't talk about Iraq.

    That's who should be the presidential nominee?

    March 10, 2008, the Green Party issued a statement which included:

    WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders today compared the Green demand for an immediate end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan to the pro-occupation positions of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

    Greens said that party members supported protests planned by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) locals on the west coast on May 1, 2008.

    "Along with the election of Greens to Congress, actions like those planned by ILWU members are what we need to force the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for the US House in Illinois (District 12) <>. "The longshore workers intend to press Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to change their warhawk positions. Like the Green Party, the ILWU has opposed both of President Bush's wars from the beginning."

    The text of the ILWU's February 26, 2008 resolution can be read here <>. The ILWU letter to the AFL-CIO can be read here <>.

    The Green Party of the United States has called for immediate troop withdrawal and impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous crimes and abuses of power, including deception and manipulated intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Greens also favor a sharp reduction in the military budget, shifting funds over to health care, conservation programs, efforts to curb global warming, and other urgent needs.

    "While Democrats have retreated, our own Green presidential candidates -- Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, and Kat Swift -- have aggressively promoted the Green Party's position on the wars and on impeachment," said Dr. Julia Willebrand, co-chair of the Green Party's International Committee <>.

    Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have promised to pull 'combat' troops, but would leave thousands of US military personnel and contractors, including mercenary security firms, in Iraq to prolong the illegal occupation. Republican John McCain would maintain the Bush policy that would extend the occupation for several generations, bankrupting America both morally and fiscally.

    On other war-related issues, Ms. Clinton, Mr. Obama, and Mr. McCain agree (while Greens hold contrary positions):

    Jill Stein's speech was racially tone deaf and insulting.  A White woman, her former running mate in 2012, is going to speak for African-Americans?

    Thanks to so many in this room who are leading the charge - to Cheri Honkala for lifting the voices of black, brown and poor people in the fight for economic justice [. . .]

    And as Ava has repeatedly noted, Brown people?

    Who is okaying this as a term to call Latinos and Hispanics because there was no vote taken on the matter?

    And because what crayons do we next pull from the box to describe Asian-Americans and Native Americans and Arab-Americans?

    "Black" has a long and proud history in the African-American community -- Black Is Beautiful, Black Power, Black Panthers, etc.

    But "Brown" really does seem to be imposed on the Latino community by a number of Anlgo White activists.

    At any rate, it's unclear how White Anglo Cheri is "lifting the voices" of African-Americans or Latinos?

    Equally unclear is how that became her 'job'?

    Cheri and Jill ran an uninspiring non-campaign in 2012 that did much to drive Greens away from the party.

    Ava and I noted Jill's campaign failures immediately after the election in "Let The Fun Begin."  Jill has done nothing to address those criticisms.

    This go round, she does appear willing to take on Hillary.

    As Stan noted of Jill in "The White Bitch Cometh," her entire reason for campaigning appears to be in order to engage in a sexist catfight with Hillary Clinton.  (And, as he also noted, her attacks on Hillary only make the larger voting pool sympathetic to Hillary.)

    In a speech consisting of over 1400 words, Jill Stein never found -- or made -- the time to note Iraq.

    Again from that 2008 Green Party press release:

    "While Democrats have retreated, our own Green presidential candidates -- Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, and Kat Swift -- have aggressively promoted the Green Party's position on the wars and on impeachment," said Dr. Julia Willebrand, co-chair of the Green Party's International Committee <>.

    So why is it that Jill Stein 'deserves' the party's nomination.

    Kat Swift or Kent Mesplay or Jess Johnson would all be a strong choice.  

    (I would have no problem with 2008's nominee Cynthia McKinney running again but due to her experiences in 2008, I seriously doubt she would.)

    And Kat, Kent and Jess have put in their time.

    Jill really is the 'Green' Hillary Clinton.

    She's coming in with a sense of entitlement, insisting she's the only choice.

    It's amazing how the Democratic Party's 'little sister' can't stop emulating it.

    In the Iraq that Jill Stein's 'beautiful mind' (she's so Barbara Bush) can't be bothered with, Margaret Griffis ( counts 231 violent deaths on Tuesday alone.

    Today, Pierre Bienaime (CJR) explores the issue of deaths in Iraq and specifically the infamous Iraq Body Count.  Among other things, the report allows people to once again note Nafeez Ahmed's  "How the Pentagon is hiding the dead" (Medium):

    In this exclusive investigation, Insurge Intelligence reveals that a leading anti-war monitoring group, Iraq Body Count (IBC), is deeply embedded in the Western foreign policy establishment. IBC’s key advisers and researchers have received direct and indirect funding from US government propaganda agencies and Pentagon contractors. It is no surprise, then, that IBC-affiliated scholars promote narratives of conflict that serve violent US client-regimes and promote NATO counter-insurgency doctrines.
    IBC has not only systematically underrepresented the Iraqi death toll, it has done so on the basis of demonstrably fraudulent attacks on standard scientific procedures. IBC affiliated scholars are actively applying sophisticated techniques of statistical manipulation to whitewash US complicity in violence in Afghanistan and Colombia.
    Through dubious ideological alliances with US and British defense agencies, they are making misleading pseudoscience academically acceptable. Even leading medical journals are now proudly publishing their dubious statistical analyses that lend legitimacy to US militarism abroad.
    This subordination of academic conflict research to the interests of the Pentagon sets a dangerous precedent: it permits the US government to control who counts the dead across conflicts involving US interests — all in the name of science and peace.

    And money.  Don't forget money.

    Oh, most did.

    Let's drop back to the June 26, 2014 snapshot:

    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 1681 deaths from violence in Iraq so far this month.  And --

    Oh, goodness.  Only 1681?

    I'm the biggest liar in the world!  I'm the biggest bitch!  I've said the count was at 3,000 and clearly I'm just a damn liar.

    See, here's a screen snap of the count.

    What a damn liar I am!

    Oh, wait.

    I'm not.

    I pay good money for information.  So today when Martha told me an e-mail came in saying take a screensnap of IBC's count immediately and explained why, I told her to reply that I would be hitting their pay pal account with a generous thank you.

    Here's the count minutes before IBC changed it.

    No, I didn't lie.

    But I'm told -- and paid for this information -- that IBC lowered the count under pressure from US officials.

    I paid for it so I'll damn well repeat it.

    And Iraq Body Count may not like that charge being exposed; however, when you drop a count from 3211 to 1681, don't think no one will catch you.

    I'm sure they'll now try to come out with some alternate reason.

    But I believe what I was told.  That source has been consistently honest.

    More to the point, why does IBC drop their count by nearly half with no note?  Why do they try to hide what they did?

    I am told Iraq Body Count was under pressure from US officials to drop their count and agreed to.  That's what I believe happened but I can't wait to hear the fairy tale IBC intends to offer the world -- and, tip, be sure your lie includes a reason for not explaining at your site that you dropped the count.

    IBC never offered a reason for their actions.

    They probably thought it would just fade away.

    But it didn't.

    And it's part of many examples of how the 'independent' IBC actually answers to the US government and does their bidding.

    Today,  Alsumaria published the text for the bill on the National Guard.  The proposed law does note the Sons Of Iraq (Sahwa, "Awakenings" -- a largely Sunni body) as well as tribal fighters, it notes the Shi'ite militias as well.  As written those groupings would be allowed to join the National Guard.  In terms of arms, the law declares the group would be more heavily armed than the federal police but less than the Iraqi army.  It goes into commissions and, as I'm reading it, Sunnis might have difficulty of meeting the criteria since they've been shut out of the process and might not have the one year qualification to be made a Major General.  The Guard itself is put under the Prime Minister in his/her role as Commander in Chief.

    Article 13 outlines some general requirements which include:

    * Both parents must be Iraqi

    * volunteer must be at least 18

    * permanent volunteers cannot be older than 35 and reserve volunteers cannot be older than 45

    * must meet medical requirements (pass physical)

    * no felony conviction (or misdemeanor on moral turpitude)

    In yesterday's snapshot, we again noted the failure of the Parliament to pass the National Guard bill (while they did make time to vote on a new national anthem). National Iraqi News Agency notes that, in addition to the National Guard bill, they also failed to pass a law regarding the Federal Court as well as one regarding the justice and accountability commission.