Friday, August 19, 2016

Al Gore the saint?

Al Goe the saint.

Never saw it when he was v.p.

Never saw it when he was campaigning for president.

Never saw it period.

David Barouh (COUNTERPUNCH) calls the myth into question:

One persistent justification for “lesser evil” voting, the continuing vilification of Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign, and the relevance of that justification for this coming election is the notion that but for Nader’s candidacy, Al Gore would have been president instead of George W. Bush, and that “we would not have had Iraq.” What this notion is based on is a mystery, especially given the virtual certitude with which it is asserted. But aside from the impossibility of knowing the outcome of an event that didn’t happen, what evidence there is indicates that it’s not true, that had Gore been elected president, he would indeed have undertaken that disastrous invasion.
On September 23, 2002 in San Francisco, six months prior to the Iraq invasion, Gore gave a major address in which he roundly criticized “the course of action recommended by President Bush” and offered his alternatives. Yet for all his criticism, Gore supported in principle Bush’s determination to invade Iraq.
Gore criticized Bush’s timing in changing the focus of the “War on Terror” away from Afghanistan, Bush’s belligerence, and his distain for the European allies, but then said this:
Nevertheless, Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction.
Why? Because…
Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power. Moreover, no international law can prevent the United States from taking actions to protect its vital interests, when it is manifestly clear that there is a choice to be made between law and survival.

Gore clearly accepts the claim of Iraq’s WMDs, and offers a legal justification for an invasion.


Like many, he appeared to later oppose it because Bully Boy Bush was pulling it off.

Not because he thought it was wrong.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, August 18, 2016.  We look at racism and sexism in the US presidential elections, Moqtada makes a major statement, and much more.

Racism and sexism, when do they matter?

When Democrats run a woman or when they run a man of color.

That becomes more and move obvious.

Democratic websites like DAILY KOS rightly earned their racist images in the '00s prior to Barack Obama declaring his intention to seek the Democratic Party's primary nomination.

If you doubt it, check their archives.

Look for an incident like Teri Schiavo (first time her name has appeared here).  Rev. Jesse Jackson came out on the 'wrong' side and oh did his race suddenly matter as 'lefties' rushed to tear him apart.

And now Hillary's running so the same group of 'lefties' who tore her apart in 2008 not for her beliefs or actions but for her gender are suddenly running around screaming "sexism!" at everything.

Last night, Betty took on the idiot NEWSWEEK 'writer' who penned the latest cry of sexism "Of course it was a White girl #WhiteKnowItAll."

Where was the idiot in 2008?

I know where Betty was -- she was calling out sexism.

Her site had been a comic online novel up until that year's primaries.  All the sexist attacks made her drop that format completely to take on the sexism.

So Betty really doesn't need to hear from some spoiled and vapid little girl dithering on about so-called sexism.

In 2008, Marie Cocco was the only journalist regularly calling out the non-stop sexism:

But I do wonder why a candidate [Barack Obama] praised for his rhetorical gifts talks about women in the way that he does. During the primary campaign, he said Hillary Clinton launched political attacks on him "periodically, when she's feeling down." He called a Detroit reporter "sweetie" when she was trying to ask him about job creation. Now he has incorporated a myth created by the right -- that women who seek late-term abortions should not be allowed to do so if they are "feeling blue" -- into his own lexicon. And this is enough to make me see red.

Sorry vapid NEWSWEEK writer, you were no where to be found.

In 2008, as Barack's speech writer posed groping a cut out of Hillary, Dee Dee Myers pointed out in "Favreau's Sexist Photo Is No Laughing Matter" (Vanity Fair):

What's bugging me is his intention. He isn't putting his hand on her "chest," as most of the articles and conversations about the picture have euphemistically referred to it. Rather, his hand--cupped just so--is clearly intended to signal that he’s groping her breast. And why? Surely, not to signal he finds her attractive. Au contraire. It’s an act of deliberate humiliation. Of disempowerment. Of denigration.
And it disgusts me.

And what happened?

Jon Favreau went on to the White House.  He gave a private apology to Hillary.

And Hillary accepted it.

I'm sorry?

You claim your campaign in 2008 and today is about women?

You claim that you will be an inspirational figure.

And yet this sexism doesn't require an apology to women, just to you?

Oh, Queen Bee.

Anyway, where was our NEWSWEEK idiot then?

No where to be found.

And they never are, not when it counts.

And all this is brought up because of Gideon Resnick's frat boy piece at THE DAILY BEAST entitled "The Wilde Beliefs of Ajamu Baraka, Jill Stein's Green Party Running Mate."

If you think the African-American male is crazy, call him "crazy."

But "wild"?

As in "savage."

Seems to me that the slovenly frat boy Resnick is knowingly playing with coded language.

Little Giddy tries the smear by association tactic.

For example, he says Kevin Barrett is a "Holocaust denier."

Is he?

I don't know.

Apologies to Kevin if that's not accurate.

What does that have to do with Ajamu?

Ajumu contributed an essay to a book edited by Kevin.

I don't have time for additional writing (or even this writing) but if I knew Kevin and he had asked me for a chapter, I would have contributed.  I only know him from PACIFICA RADIO and the topic of the Holocaust has never been addressed in any of his appearances.

I'm not real big on smear by association to begin with.

Giddy then stops sniffing his arm pit long enough to attack COUNTERPUNCH -- that website has always presented a wide range of opinions and has always had more worth reading that THE DAILY BEAST could ever hope for.  But how strange that this website and newsletter -- started by Ken Silverstein, the late Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair -- which has published millions -- yes, millions -- of articles is cherry picked for one 'mean to Israel' piece by Little Giddy.

Little Giddy clearly wants to take a moment from picking at his ass crack and then sniffing his fingers -- a break at least long enough to go after the African-American man who has "wild" thoughts.

Thoughts clearly are the real crime.

How dare, Little Giddy huffs as though he can't quite squeeze that turd out of his butt, this African-American man question claims -- why this "reportedly" is what happened -- according to the CIA.

Then with a loud plop, Little Giddy suddenly ends his rambling.

You've heard of the pajama blogger?

With Little Giddy, we've just me the toilet blogger.

Remember to wash your hands, Little Giddy.

Baraka was on CNN last night with Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.  One of the topics raised was the Middle East.  Rebecca Savransky (THE HILL) reports:

"We need a new kind of offensive in the Middle East, because bombing terrorism and shooting terrorism is not quelling terrorism. It's only fanning the flames of terrorism, the misery and the poverty that drive terrorism," Stein said Wednesday during a CNN town hall.
"We are calling for a new kind of offensive, a peace offensive for the Middle East, that begins with a weapons embargo."
Stein said the U.S. and its allies are supplying the majority of the weapons to the fighting forces in the Middle East, so the country can initiate a weapons embargo.
Stein said that ISIS does not meet the threshold of posing an "imminent threat" that calls for use of force. She said the terrorist group is "not about to launch a major attack against our country."

Maybe the next time Little Giddy feels a major bowel movement coming on, he could tackle what Jill's calling for?

Anna Giaritelli (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) picks her own nits over Iraq:

Green Party nominee Jill Stein claimed during a Wednesday night town hall that U.S. forces killed 1 million people during the Iraq War and occupation.

"Since 2001 we have killed a million people in Iraq alone, which is not winning us the hearts and minds in the Middle East," Stein told an audience member during the CNN town hall.

Really, Jill said US forces did that?

Strange, Anna, because your quote does not support that.

If she said it and you're quoting her, you should have quoted those remarks.

"We" is not US forces.

"We" is the US led war on Iraq which began in 2003 and, before Bully Boy Bush left the White House, had already resulted in the deaths -- per the study published by the medical journal THE LANCET -- of over a million Iraqis.

That study was carried out in the same manner the United Nations carries out its own.

The Bully Boy Bush White House rushed to discredit it but in scientific circles it has not been discredited.  Among the left it has not been discredited.

Excuse me, let me speak for the true left.

Those of us in the true left accept that scientific study.

Some of the 'left' which only adopts positions to attack the GOP may no longer accept the study since Bully Boy Bush is no longer in office -- you know, the way they were outraged by illegal spying under Bully Boy Bush but are okay with even more invasive illegal spying under Barack?

And please don't state the IRAQ BODY COUNT again unless you're going to note (a) as we have how it changed numbers at the request of the State Dept and (b) where it gets its funding.

Thanks, Anna.

In the real world, there's a major moment of news:

A step forward: Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for end to violence against LGBT people in Iraq

In their statement, Human Rights Watch notes:

State and non-state actors in Iraq should heed the prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s July 2016 statement banning violence against those who do not conform to gender norms.
  Since early 2009, Human Rights Watch has documented kidnappings, executions, and torture by militia groups, including al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, of gay men and men perceived to be gay. The killings have continued unabated.
“Finally, the head of one of the groups whose members have carried out serious abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Iraq is condemning these heinous attacks,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “We hope this will change behavior in successors to the Mahdi Army and other ranks, and spur the government to hold accountable those who commit these crimes.”
A Human Rights Watch report found that in early 2009, Iraqi militia members began a wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of men suspected of homosexual conduct, or of not conforming to masculine gender norms, and that Iraq authorities did nothing to stop the killings. The killings began in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a Mahdi Army stronghold, and were then replicated by members of militia groups in many cities across Iraq. Mahdi Army spokesmen promoted fear about the “third sex” and the “feminization” of Iraqi men, as well as suggesting that militia action was the remedy.
In 2012, militia members opened a second wave of attacks on people categorized as part of the “emo” subculture, styles that critics associated with heavy metal music, and rap. In early February 2012, signs and fliers appeared in the Baghdad neighborhoods of Sadr City, Hayy al-Habibiyya, and Hayy al-‘Amil that threatened people by name with “the wrath of god” unless they cut their hair short, concealed their tattoos, maintained “complete manhood,” and stopped wearing so-called “satanic clothing.” Similar posters appeared in other neighborhoods, also listing names.

Is Moqtada sincere?

Who knows but the statement itself is news.

Mike's "Important story at ICH" went up this morning and the following community sites updated:

  • iraq

    Tuesday, August 16, 2016

    Joni Mitchell

    Joni Mitchell's made two picks today.

    Passenger (Mike Rosenberg) picked this track for his playlist at SHORTLIST:

    That's from BLUE and the next one is from THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS.

    Field's Pete Brewis, at THE GUARDIAN, goes with this track:

    Joni Mitchell – The Jungle Line

    When pressed for an answer, I’ll say The Jungle Line is probably my favourite Joni Mitchell track. It’s not really like anything else. It sounds like both the invention and end of a genre. Acoustic, Moog-riffing, Burundi-drum sampling poetry rock! Leaving aside the arrangement (if that’s possible), the song itself is a great example of what she’s capable of. The structure is definite but unconventional; melodies echo each other and seem to leap through the chords. The lyrics are great, too. Metaphors aren’t always easy for me to swallow, but this picture of city as jungle as Rousseau painting is smart, beautiful and rare.

    Those are great songs.

    The Joni song on my mind these days would be "If I Had A Heart" from SHINE.

    I really love that song.

    "TV: Charlie's Pose" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):

    We wonder why people are okay with THE CHARLIE ROSE SHOW?

    It moves further and further from reality and, despite airing on so-called public television, it alternates between flat out ignoring We The People and reviling them.

    In fact, the Bonnie Raitt episode featured David Brooks, gas bag for THE NEW YORK TIMES.

    And David Brooks was calling a segment of America's youth sanctimonious.

    That's right, David Brooks, of all people, was calling other people sanctimonious.

     And Charlie just nodded along.

    Ava and C.I. took on Charlie Rose -- and that's their conclusion.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Tuesday, August 16, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue but all goes on hold as we have to address Hillary Clinton and Iraq -- no, not the 2002 vote, that's the least of War Hawk's problems.

    Don't you just love journalism?

    If it weren't for 'reporting' they'd all be up on morals charges.

    Trump now attacking Obama for pulling troops out of Iraq - a war he said he never wanted to fight (except when he wanted to fight it)

    Don't you love little Zeke and his lying brood.  Two-bit whores who stick their bare asses in the air to figure out which way the wind's blowing?

    They use Iraq to beat up Donald Trump.

    As though he voted for it?

    As a member of Congress, he voted for it?

    As though he occupied the Oval Office and continued it?

    It's cute the way Zeke puts on his fishnets and slings that ass over to the nearest street corner.

    At least Zeke could probably score a few bucks others (say David Corn) couldn't score ten cents for a half-and-half on prom night.

    When the media wants to attack Donald -- and make no mistake, they are attacking him.

    In fact, let's pause a moment to note James Petras' "Can Coups Defeat Elected Governments?" (DISSIDENT VOICE).

    Never in the history of the United States, has a President and Supreme Court Judge openly advocated the overthrow of a Presidential candidate. Never has the entire mass media engaged in a round-the-clock one-sided, propaganda war to discredit a Presidential candidate by systematically ignoring or distorting the central socio-economic issues of their opposition.
    The call for the ouster of a freely elected candidate is nothing more or less than a coup d’état.
    Leading television networks and columnists demand that the elections be annulled, following the lead of the President and prominent Republican and Democratic Congressional and Party leaders.
    In other words, the political elite openly rejects democratic electoral processes in favor of authoritarian manipulation and deception. The authoritarian elite relies on magnifying tertiary, questionable personal judgement calls to mobilize coup backers.
    They systematically avoid the core economic and political issues which candidate Trump has raised – and attracted mass support – which challenge fundamental policies backed by the two Party elites.

    That's only one example.  Those concerned with fairness are appalled by the media's behavior.

    When the media wants to attack Donald, they treat Iraq as a fixed moment.

    They act as if everything from the 2002 authorization vote (Hillary Clinton remembers that, she was for the Iraq War) to today has been one static moment.

    It hasn't been.

    Can someone criticize Barack Obama for the withdrawal of troops?

    This is America and we have free speech.

    But more to the point, I'm opposed to the Iraq War and have given a strong chunk of time to doing my part to raise awareness and end this illegal war.

    Did I applaud Barack's withdrawal?

    No, I did not because there was a drawdown, not a withdrawal, and because unlike good with his mouth Zeke I'm aware that Barack began sending US troops back in right before the 2012 election.  I know that because Tim Arango reported it for THE NEW YORK TIMES and quoted the then-top US commander in Iraq.

    Let's note what Tim Arango reported:

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

    You may have missed it because of Jill Abramson.

    Before she was fired in disgrace, Jill spent her time 'saving' Barack.

    Reporters were repeatedly frustrated by the way she killed their stories or ordered them rewritten to the point that they went from strong reporting to tired and dull pieces.

    This was true throughout her tenure as executive editor but especially true in 2012 because, as she repeatedly explained, it was an election year.

    So the news that Barack had sent US troops back in did make the paper in September of 2012.

    It was just buried in the middle of a report on Syria.

    Fired and billed as a racist (yeah, she is one), Jill now dwells in her own version of purgatory (penning puff pieces on Hillary Clinton for THE GUARDIAN).

    That's the thing about whores, they may escape the cops but reality always busts them.

    There was no withdrawal.

    The Pentagon rightly termed it a "drawdown."

    Ted Koppel, as it was taking place, explained on both NBC and NPR, that the US would keep a remaining military presence in Iraq.

    Whores like Jill worked overtime to ignore that.

    I noted here, repeatedly, that Barack needed to immediately withdraw US troops and needed to so so because, the minute troops were gone, Iraq was going to be a mess.

    By doing it immediately, he would be able to say, "This is what American citizens wanted."

    He didn't do that.

    He didn't even do what he promised in his campaign.  (Hillary was making the same promise, for those who've forgotten.)

    What he did instead was tinker.

    The Great Barack could of course fix things, right?


    So he tinkered and played and made it his own war.

    The press loves to whine that the date for 'withdrawal' was from Bully Boy Bush.

    In doing so, they ignore that the US government negotiated for a longer term stay both before and after the drawdown.

    I was at the hearing that the press turned into "McCain Got Mean!!!!"

    John McCain and Leon Panetta were laughing in the second round of that hearing but the press had already left and wanted to focus on that as opposed to Leon's remarks that the US government was still -- post-drawdown -- in talks about US troops presence in Iraq.  [If you missed that 2011 hearing, see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" -- excerpt below from the November 16th snapshot -- and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ].

    The press treats Iraq as static because it benefits their political heroes.

    It doesn't benefit the truth.

    But that's how empire works.

    Do you really think, at the height of the British Empire, reporters were telling the truth about how this was being done to enrich a few?

    Reporters are whores, they just usually fail to satisfy the customers -- so they're bad whores.

    And they so pollute the system that when a few real reporters try to cover a story there's no way not to make mistakes.

    It was way too was way too tough...
    On this she had not bargained
    But she was like some missionary dancing to the beat of some
    man's ancient drum
    And she tries hard to tell this story...but it's a hard one to tell
    She consults her book of Miracles...
    Cry...and the wind says fly on
    Well now you're on your own
    You're back out on the road again for a million reasons
    Well you're back out on the road again
    And you try to tie together some connections...
    You get some ribbons and some bows and get back out on the road again

    -- "Juliet," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her album THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR

    It's a hard story to tell.

    But Jeff Gerth (PROPUBLICA) and Joby Warrick (WASHINGTON POST) team up in an attempt at it:

    A week before the last U.S. soldiers left his country in December 2011, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to Washington to meet the team that would help shape Iraq’s future once the troops and tanks were gone.
    Over dinner at the Blair House, guest quarters for elite White House visitors since the 1940s, the dour Iraqi sipped tea while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke of how her department’s civilian experts could help Iraqis avoid a return to terrorism and sectarian bloodshed.
    Iraq would see a “robust civilian presence,” Clinton told reporters afterward, summing up the Obama administration’s pledges to Maliki. “We are working to achieve that,” she said.

    Less than three years later, the relatively calm Iraq that Maliki had led in 2011 was gone. The country’s government was in crisis, its U.S.-trained army humiliated, and a third of its territory overrun by fighters from the Islamic State. Meanwhile, State Department programs aimed at helping Iraqis prevent such an outcome had been slashed or curtailed, and some had never materialized at all.

    It's a strong article.

    It's also an incomplete article.

    It paints Hillary correctly as wanting a US presence in Iraq.

    Where it fails is rushing to the White House slashing the program -- and the why of it.

    As 2012, progresses, the White House walks further and further away from Iraq.

    That's 2012.

    In October 2011, the State Dept takes over the US mission in Iraq.

    Where is that in the article?

    And where in the article does it note the 2011 performance of the State Dept to Congress?

    Congress is over the money.

    And Congress wanted to know what the US mission in Iraq was.

    Have we all forgotten that?

    We can offer dozens of hearings that we covered in real time but let's go to the December 1, 2011 snapshot which covered the November 30th hearing of the  House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East ans South Asia.  The State Dept was represented by Brooke Darby.

    US House Rep Gerald Connolly: Madame Deputy Assistant Secretary, welcome. Is it your testimony here today that the State Dept is fully committed to transparency and accountability with respect to any and all programs it has oversight and responsibility for in Iraq?

    Brooke Darby: We take our responsibility for accountability and cooperation with all of the  audit entities, with Congress very, very seriously.

    US House Rep Gerald Connolly: No, ma'am, that was not my question.  Is it your testimony that you're fully committed to transparency and accountability with respect to those responsibilities?

    Brooke Darby: We are absolutely committed to accountability.

    US House Rep Gerald Connolly: Full accountability?  Full transparency and accountability?
    Brooke Darby:  I'm not sure -- I'm not sure how you define that so . . .

    US House Rep Gerald Connolly:  Well I guess I'm not sure why you avoid the word.  That was my question and you've ducked it three times.  Are we or are we not, is the State Dept committed to full transparency and accountability to the tax payers in the United States and the people who served in Iraq or not?

    Brooke Darby:  We absolutely are accountable to the tax payers, to our Congress and to all of the oversight bodies who are looking into how we are spending our dollars, whether our programs are achieving success.  We are absolutely --

    US House Rep Gerald Connolly:  Alright. I'll sort of take that as a commitment. 

    This was characteristic of Hillary's tenure as Secretary of State.  The Congress was unable to get answers -- especially ahead of the transfer of Iraq from a DoD-led mission to a State Dept-led one and in all the time that followed that transfer.

    It was in that 2011 hearing that this important statement was made:

    Ranking Member Gary Ackerman:  He [Bowen] has testified before other bodies of Congress, he has released written quarterly reports, as well as specific audits and the message is the same: The program for which the Department of State officially took responsibility on October 1st is nearly a text book case of government procurement -- in this case, foreign assistance -- doesn't buy what we think we're paying for, what we want and why more money will only make the problem worse.  Failed procurement is not a problem unique to the State Department.  And when it comes to frittering away millions, Foggy Bottom is a rank amateur compared to the Department of Defense. As our colleagues on the Armed Services committees have learned, the best of projects with the most desirable of purposes can go horribly, horribly off-track; and the hardest thing it seems that any bureaucracy can do is pull the plug on a failed initiative.  How do we know the Police Development Program is going off-track?  Very simple things demonstrate a strong likelihood of waste and mismanagement.  Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program? Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue.

    This was before Barack began slashing.

    As for slashing of the police program that took place in 2012, that program (see above) was a State Dept failure and the Iraqis had told the US government that they wouldn't be participating (and still the State Dept wasted money on it).

    In May of 2012, Tim Arango's "U.S. May Scrap Costly Efforts to Train Iraqi Police" appeared. With the scoop,  Arango reported that the police training program has already cost US taxpayers $500 million since October alone and was an utter failure with Iraqis having ceased attending training on US facilities and Americans unwilling to train the Iraqi police on Iraqi facilities due to safety concerns.  Arango's article forced the State Dept and spokesperson Victoria Nuland to address Iraq in their daily briefing (here for transcript and video):
    QUESTION: Yeah. Iraq.
    MS. NULAND: Yeah.
    QUESTION: I realize this was addressed by the Embassy yesterday, but I just want to get from here -- you know what I'm talking about, yes? -- in terms of the elimination, or reported elimination, of the Iraqi police training program. This -- the report said that it was being considered that the whole program could be -- could vanish, that it could go away. The Embassy, while it denied that, didn't say that it wouldn't be substantially cut or whittled down to a mere fraction of what it originally had been planned to be. Can you just clarify what exactly is -- what are the plans for the police training program?
    MS. NULAND: Well, first let me clarify we have no intention to cancel our police training program in Iraq. What we are engaged in, in collaboration with the Iraqis, is a right-sizing exercise for this program along with all of our programs. As you know, we are absolutely committed to, first of all, supporting Iraqi self-reliance. So if they tell us they need less support, we are going to downsize. And in this case, they are asking us to continue the advisory and training program but to downsize it, and also to saving the U.S. taxpayer money wherever we can.  So I can't give you a final size for this. We are in the evaluation process now, working with the Iraqis. But we do anticipate we're going to be able to downsize it considerably while continuing to be able to support the Iraqis on the police training side.
    QUESTION: Okay. This is the second time in -- since the beginning of the year that this particular publication has written something about the Embassy which you had a serious dispute with. Both times it has been cast -- the reports have cast these reductions or slashing of personnel as serious miscalculations by the Administration in terms of its Iraq policy. What's your feeling about that, that characterization of it?
    MS. NULAND: Well, again, it's important to appreciate that we are in a new phase with Iraq. We're in a phase where it is up to the Iraqis to decide precisely what kind of footprint they want by foreign support, foreign countries offering support, offering assistance in the context of their overall approach to their sovereignty. So we very much need to respect that this is a collaborative decision how much support they want on the police training side.  So we're trying to be in step with their increasing self-reliance. We're trying to do this in a negotiated, phased, managed way. But we're also trying to make clear to Iraqis that we think we have valuable training, valuable advice to offer, as we do to some hundred countries around the world. So we're going to work this through, but I think folks need to get on the program that we have a sovereign Iraq who's going to make its own decisions about how much outside support it wants.
    QUESTION: All right. So you agree or disagree with the characterization that this is -- that this represents a serious political -- or a serious policy miscalculation?
    MS. NULAND: Well, of course I'm going to disagree with that. Thank you.
    QUESTION: Was the report correct that the Administration has spent $500 million so far on the police training program?
    MS. NULAND: I don't have the total amount here, but as you know, we've been involved in police training from the beginning of the Iraq operation, as far back as 2003. I can take the question if it's of interest to you to sort of tote it all up. But we were involved in police work ourselves, police training for the Iraqis from the beginning, the standing up of their own professional police forces. I don't think anybody in that country wanted to submit themselves to the old Saddam-ite police, so it needed a bottom-up work and cleansing. So --
    QUESTION: One other thing. The report alleged that much of the training provided by the United States, and in particular by the State Department since the departure of the U.S. military from Iraq, was not helpful to the Iraqis, that it consisted of retired or late-in-their-career American state troopers telling war stories about how they conduct their activities in the United States. And it cited one anecdote in which it said that the two key indices of someone possibly going to -- planning to launch a suicide bombing were: one, that they would withdraw a lot of money from the bank; and two, that they'd go out and get drunk. And it suggested that those were perhaps not very apposite indicators for Iraq where: one, a lot of Iraqis don't have bank accounts; and two, a lot of Iraqis don't drink. Do you -- how do you address the criticisms in the story that regardless of how many millions were spent on this, that the training wasn't actually all that useful?
    MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, I'm not going to get drawn into parsing the anecdotes in a story with which we took considerable issue, both in its macro assertions and in many of its details. We had considerable difficulties with that story, as the statement from Embassy Baghdad made clear.  With regard to the integrity of the police training that we do -- we have done in Iraq over these many years, we stand by it. The Iraqis have a new, modern, more democratic police force largely as a result of the support of the international community led by the United States. I'm obviously not in a position to speak to every individual involved in this, but all over the world we rely on the expertise of retired officers from the United States, from other countries, who are willing to participate in these training programs. And they participate on the basis of their experience in democratic law enforcement, not to hang around and tell inappropriate war stories. So we stand by the program. And if you'd like more on the numbers, et cetera, we can get you a separate briefing.
    QUESTION: Can I just -- the last one this?
    MS. NULAND: Yeah.
    QUESTION: Just given the severity of the differences that you had with this, has there been any contact between the Department or anyone -- any senior officials in the Department and the editorship of the publication in question?
    MS. NULAND: Well, I'm not going to get into our discussions with the --
    QUESTION: Well, have you asked for a correction or clarification or --
    QUESTION: Or a retraction?
    MS. NULAND: We have made absolutely clear in our public statements and in our messages to that publication how we feel about the story.
    QUESTION: But does that mean that you've asked for a retraction or a correction or some kind of -- I mean, after the first one, you demanded one. And you were quite open about it, and you got one.
    MS. NULAND: Yeah. I think we're still working on that set of issues.

    I'm real sorry that the Mikas and David Corns and other lazy ass whores don't want to know what happened in Iraq -- didn't pay attention in real time and don't care enough to do the research today.
    But we've covered Iraq every damn day.
    And Hillary has a great deal to answer for.
    And Iraq has not been static.
    This has been tried, that has been tried, this has been dropped, that has been dropped.
    Donald Trump, his remarks on Iraq, are not the problem.
    The inability of the bulk of the press to process and inform themselves is the problem.
    The press refuses to make Hillary answer for Iraq and that is a problem.
    And you can believe that US troops should have been withdrawn and disagree with the way Barack eventually did it.
    I do.  I argued he needed to do it even faster than he promised so that when Iraq went into turmoil he could say the American people wanted this.
    And Iraq was always going to go into turmoil because the US military had been used to prop up puppet governments.

    Monday, August 15, 2016

    A few thoughts on cultural trends

    I wish I had something amazing to say here.  I'm mainly blogging because Jim informed me of how many reads C.I.'s Saturday Iraq snapshot has had.  She really struck a nerve with this one because a lot of people are responding.

    So what to say?


    Is that the name of the new Jonah Hill film?

    No interest in seeing it.

    It looks like a pro-corporate message.

    Since WWII there have been three youth movements that valued realism over corporations and money.

    First were the beatniks.

    They valued poetry, of course, and they believed in a simplified look and amplified brain.

    Folk music would never have gotten the push it did without them.

    Then there were the hippies.

    The hippies rejected war and capitalism and corporations.

    They were about self-exploration.

    They were about music and peace and love.

    They invented their own cultural icons and clothing.

    We didn't see anything like that again until the 90s when grunge came along.

    All three movements produced major art and real music.

    The popular music of the 00s and the 10s honestly strikes me as something from the Eisenhower era.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Saturday, August 13, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the refugee crisis continues, video posted by the Iraqi government appears to indicate White Phosphorus is again being used in Iraq, Cher goes on a tear, and much more.

    Let's start with US politics.


    Oh, I'm sorry.

    We started with US stupidity.

    I forgive Cher a lot because I ragged on her ass in 1992.

    I'm embarrassed about it now.

    And have been for many years.

    But maybe I shouldn't be?

    Maybe I should just forget it?

    Clearly Cher has.

    See, in 1992, I supported Jerry Brown in the primaries and when Bill Clinton won the nomination I supported him.

    And of course Cher supported . . .

    Blow hard H. Ross Perot.

    In 1992, I was deep in the belly of the Democratic Party (or maybe just up its ass) and felt personal offense that someone would decide to vote for anyone that wasn't a Democrat.

    I ragged on Cher.

    To her face.

    By the early '00s, I just didn't care who you voted for as long as you were voting for someone you could believe in.

    I like to think I progressed from the 90s.

    So that would mean . . . Cher regressed?

    Apparently so.

    Now people were in uproar -- in this community -- when Cher called Sarah Palin a c**t.

    I wasn't.

    It's not a word I used.

    But others were and we had to change the slogan at THIRD from a Cher quote to a Tuesday Weld quote.

    I found the whole thing to be nonsense.

    Because I know Cher.

    And have known Cher for decades.

    And Cher calls women the c-word all the time.

    She's done it her whole life.

    Progressive Cher has a really insulting mouth when it comes to women.

    But of all the things I've ever heard her say against any woman, nothing is more insulting than Cher's insult of Jill Stein above.

    A vote for Jill Stein is not a vote for Donald Trump.

    And at least I had the brains and class, in 1992, while ragging on her to her face, not to claim that a vote for Perot was a vote for Bush.

    I like Cher.

    Check the history, I've defended her over and over.

    When THE NEW YORK TIMES attacked her, we defended her.

    But I will not defend her claim that a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Donald Trump.

    That's idiotic, that's stupid and certainly undemocratic.

    She can play Vote Nazi all she wants.

    Here's a reality about the corporate Democratic Party.

    They had two choices after the 2000 election.

    They felt that voters for Ralph Nader cut into their votes.

    So they could (a) attempt to shame Nader voters or (b) move to the damn left.

    They didn't move to the left.

    They're corporate whores -- and that's true of the GOP as well.

    Stop supporting fascists or "extremely careless" warmongering wall st shills with poor judgement (Iraq War)


    And it's really sad to see Cher applaud them for that.

    Come Back To Reality, Cherilyn, Cherilyn.

    She used to have a lot more sense.

    No one owns your vote except you.

    In the United States, you choose how to use your vote.

    If you're happy about your vote, whomever it's for, great.

    That's what we should aspire to.

    But your vote has to be earned.

    If no one earns it, you shouldn't give it away.

    Hillary took her vote seriously . . . when she voted for the Iraq War.

    Clinton led majority of Senate Dems to support Iraq War, said it was "indisputable" Iraq had WMDs. Neocons now support her.

    If Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Jerry White, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trumps earns your vote, I'm happy for you.

    I'm happy for Cher that she's thrilled to vote for Hillary.  I've defended her here this year on that.

    I will not, however, defend her attacks on other people being happy about whom they plan to vote for.

    Jill Stein is a valid choice for some.

    She honestly hasn't earned my vote yet.

    I'm glad Ava and I went to the Green Party convention in Houston and reported on it ("Media: The ignored political party convention").

    But I'm still not hearing specifically about Iraq.

    I haven't given all this time to Iraq -- an ongoing war -- to settle for any candidate who is offering generic statements.

    Jill may yet win my vote.

    Someone else might.

    But if no one wins my vote then I will not be voting for the office of president.

    And if the weak candidate Hillary Clinton should lose, that's on her and the Democratic Party.

    And shame on anyone who, if that happens, allows the blame to be pushed off on the voters.

    We need a country for The People.

    The triangulation of the 90s was a failure.  All it did was unleash corporate greed and free up the war impulse among a bunch of politicians who never saw war and never will.

    As the Democratic Party has moved further and further away from FDR, it's lost voters and enthusiasm.

    And each cycle becomes telling us we have to vote Democrat out of fear.

    Fear doesn't cripple me.

    If I'm afraid of something, I confront it.

    It's why I rejected the whole THE SKY IS FALLING hysteria that followed 9/11.

    Others embrace fear and find safety in it.

    It's why the country is so screwed up today, so many people have allowed themselves to be led around the nose by fear.

    Fear gives us The PATRIOT Act, it gives us illegal spying, it gives us hatred of Muslims, it gives us so many vile things.

    I'm not going to embrace fear.  Sorry.

    RSVP: Watch Jill + Ajamu on at 9pm ET, 8/17! Attend a viewing party: 📺


     That's Wednesday.  I'll try to catch it.  Hopefully, Jill will address Iraq.

    She's not hiding from the topic at least.

    Not the way the White House is.

    Prayer as 18th Airborne gets ready for deployment to fight ISIS in Iraq.


    The week started with  ARMY.TECHNOLOGY.COM reporting, "The US Army has announced the deployment of additional troops to support Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq for the next phase of the fight against ISIS." AP declared it was 400 more troops.  IN CASE YOU MISSED IT observed:

    Last month, President Obama raised the “cap” on the number of ground troops in Iraq to 4,647. This cap has become something of a running joke, as the Pentagon has repeatedly admitted to having well more troops than that. Most recent estimates have over 6,000 US ground troops in Iraq already, before this new deployment.

    So how many US troops are now in Iraq?

    As they used to say at the end of the old Tootsie Pop commercial ("How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?"): "The world may never know."

    Douglas Ernst (WASHINGTON TIMES) reports:

    Reporters are coming up empty handed in their attempts to obtain precise figures as to how many U.S. troops are on the ground in Iraq and Syria.
    The Pentagon supplies the public with its Force Management Level (FML) for deployments to Iraq and Syria, which consists of full-time troops. FML data puts the total number of troops in Iraq at approximately 3,800 — with another 300 in Syria — but it does not include the number of temporary troops in the region.

    Kristina Wong (THE HILL) notes:

    The issue has become a sticking point, with critics pressing the Pentagon for more transparency.
    Some worry that officials are hiding the deepening U.S. involvement in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
    The pressure for the Pentagon to release the actual troop numbers comes as the administration faces questions from both parties about the strategy to fight ISIS and with no signs Congress is close to a deal on a war authorization.

    Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) explains, "Part of this is a function of the 'cap' negotiated with the Iraqi government, as not disclosing the figure has allowed the Pentagon to keep secret exactly how far above that cap they've already gone, while allowing the Abadi government a bit of face-saving."

    We were rightly outraged when Bully Boy Bush hid the coffins of the troops coming back from Iraq.

    We should be just as outraged at Barack Obama for refusing to provide the numbers of troops going into Iraq.

    We should also be paying attention.

    And we need to pay attention what's being dropped on Iraq in the name of liberation.

    The soar in birth defects in areas like Falluja directly stem from the US government's use of White Phosphorus and other illegal agents.

    Today, Iraq's Ministry of Defense posted this video:

    Two Tweets have noted what you're seeing in the video.

    During liberation of villages south of Qayyarah in someone CJTFOIR or IqAF used something what looks like WP

    VIDEO: What appears to be incendiary munition used by Iraqi AF or US-led coalition in


    Only two Tweets.

    You may remember that, in the Bully Boy Bush years, the US government insisted no White Phosphorus was used -- until they were forced to admit, long after, that it was.

    Does White Phosphorus suddenly become acceptable just because Barack's in the White House?

    I don't think so.

    Back in 2014, Thomas Gaist (WSWS) explained:

    In a report presented at the University of Michigan last Wednesday, “The epidemic of birth defects in Iraq and the duty of public health researchers,” Dr. Muhsin Al Sabbak, a gynecologist from Basra Maternity Hospital, and Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicology researcher, reviewed the ever-growing mountain of data showing that rates of cancer, child cancer and birth defects (BD) have reached historically unprecedented levels in Fallujah and other Iraqi cities since the 2003 US invasion.
    The presenters argued that the extreme levels of pathological genetic anomalies in Iraqi cities, documented by numerous studies, are being generated by a hellish mixture of nano-particularized heavy metals and other toxins generated by the US military occupation and heavy bombardment of Iraqi cities.

    Levels are now much higher than those recorded among survivors of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the presenters said, citing various studies conducted during the past decade.
    [. . .]
    In cities most heavily impacted by the war and occupation, such as Fallujah, Basra, and Hawija, the population is experiencing “high and persistent” levels of exposure to these toxic metals, Savabieasfahani said. They are used in the manufacture and firing process of the US military’s bombs, bullets, and explosives.
    Exposure to heavy metal nano-particles generated by exploding munitions is a main cause of the rise in CBD and child cancer, Savabieasfahani’s report argued. The nano-particles are inhaled and work their way into internal tissues such as the lymph nodes. The levels steadily build up over time because the body does not eliminate the particles, Savabieasfahani said.
    “The heavy metals are more toxic than the depleted uranium,” Dr Savabieasfahani told the World Socialist Web Site. “Titanium, magnesium, lead and mercury are all heavily used by US weapons producers,” she said.
    Heavy metals are known to wreak havoc on the human genome, damaging the DNA of egg and sperm cells, Savabieasfahani said. Prenatal exposure to metals causes brain damage, and high titanium levels in children in these areas are strongly correlated with neurodevelopment disorders.
    “Cancers are skyrocketing in Iraq. Leukemia is rampant, and rates of numerous genetic pathologies are continuing to rise,” Savabieasfahani told the WSWS.

    “The numbers we have currently are probably underestimations. Poor women in many of these cities do not report birth defects because of the associated social stigma,” Savabieasfahani said.

    And the refugee crisis continues in Iraq.

    Up to 70% of women and kids live in the tents, not knowing when they can return home


    2-yr-old Shireen from Ramadi stands in her family's tent in a displacement camp near Baghdad,


    One of the richest countries in the Middle East.

    Yet Baghdad does next to nothing to assist the refugees.

    These are issues that must be addressed for anyone attempting to win my vote.

    The following community sites updated: