Saturday, January 14, 2017

Who's the idiot at WSWS?

Apparently Brad Lewis.

There was no need for their article attacking Robert Kennedy Jr. (disclosure, I know him).

But they wanted to hop on the 'science would never lie to us!!!' bandwagon.

You know what, it's not science.

It's medicine.

Our knowledge of medicine evolves.

For example, we don't use leeches anymore -- well, there's David Brock.

But for treating disease, we no longer use leeches.

There are medical break throughs all the time.

I love the WSWS readers for pushing back on the article by Lewis.

What's my stance on autism and vaccines?

I'm not a medical doctor.

I'm a psychologist.

So from a personal point of view, I don't know that I'd ever stake my opinion on a position because 'a study was discredited.'

THE LANCET study on deaths in Iraq was 'discredited' and it's an accurate study.

I think the issue needs real exploration.

Until that happens, I'm not picking a side.

I also don't confuse loud mouths worshiping at the groin of corporate pharma with informed discussions.

I like Robert.

He's a good guy.

Trump should put him in charge.

Robert wouldn't shade a study.  He'd do his best to get to the bottom of the issue and do his best to share the results whatever they were.

Now for a lost musical gem, "Snow Queen of Texas" by the Mamas and the Papas -- from their final album PEOPLE LIKE US.

I really enjoy that album more with each year.

I also love "I Wanna Be A Star" and "People Like Us" to name two other tracks.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, January 13, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, the Canadian government won't answer to whether or not their soldiers receiving treatment in Iraq were injured in battle, when do we ever arrive at what passes for 'victory' and much more.

More and more, I think what any occupant of the White House needs is a car with twin 11-year-olds in the backseat, bored, hopped up on Monster and kicking the seat in front of them while repeatedly asking, "Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?"

Are we there yet?

That's one of the most important questions that president-elect Donald Trump will face once he's sworn in as President of the United States.

And someone needs desperately to define where ''there" is.

The Iraq War, or at least this century's installment, started in March of 2003.

Two months shy of 14 years, the war continues and US troops are still engaged in it -- from the air and on the ground.

As a point of reference, WWI and WWII did not last as long -- did not last as long combined.

Yet still the Iraq War continues.

Erik Gustafson (THE HILL) offers four things to remember regarding Iraq.

1) Victory in Mosul does not mean the ISIS threat is over.
2) Young democracies like Iraq are not the place for strongmen.
3) Reconstruction must address the longterm needs of the Iraqi people.
4) Iraq's ability to secure its future is limited by serious economic shortcomings.

A fifth?

Maybe . . . don't take your eyes off Iraq?  Don't ignore it?

Terrorism in Iraq gets far less attention, but Iraq was the site of the deadliest terrorist attack in 2016.

Yep, it does get less attention.

Why is that, Kenny boy?

Because you used your Twitter feed to campaign for Hillary Clinton?

I'm sorry, I thought Human Rights Watch was politically neutral.

Had you just focused on Iraq, maybe it would get the attention it needs.

Had you just Tweeted about HRW's Iraq reports, it might have gotten attention.

But before the election you thought you were slyly promoting Hillary and post-election you've had a tantrum or two.

Maybe if you'd focus on human rights and the work of HRW, Iraq could get the attention it deserves.

If you're part of the problem, that's on you.

So maybe we could also try to avoid dumb assery as well?

The Isis campaign against Iraq’s Shia Muslims is not politics. It’s genocide | Ranj Alaaldin

That's dumb assery.

At best, that's dumb assery.

The Islamic State is a terrorist organization.

As we've long noted, it is not the problem.

The issues in Iraq that allowed it to take root are the problem.

Destroy ISIS today and something will quickly replace it.

I'm not in the mood to be nice about this.

I warned it was coming over and over, day after day and week after week while 'smart' people either ignored what was coming or insisted everything was fine.

Sunnis are persecuted in Iraq.

Stop persecuting them.

Long before the Islamic State took root we were the only ones, here at this website, just us, pointing out the very strange issue around prison breaks: Prisoners weren't being caught.

Why not?

Because they were usually Sunni and the local residents protected and hid them.


Because of the persecution taking place in Iraq.

It was so bad that escapees could be hidden.

The Islamic State wanted power -- somewhere, anywhere.

They made Iraq a focus because Sunnis were persecuted.

And that's why they either got support from Sunnis or the Sunni reaction was: This is between the government that persecutes us and ISIS, it's not my battle.

If you missed that sentiment, you missed a whole lot.

And if you can't acknowledge it today, you are a dumb ass contributing dumb assery and no one really needs you at this point.

Maya Mailer (INDEPENDENT) reports:

“Isis is like a mushroom. It was able to grow here, in Iraq, because there is a fertile environment. It didn’t just come from nowhere.” That is what one Iraqi activist told me, with an edge of anger and passion in her voice, when I was in Iraq late last year. She went on to say that Isis could not be – and should not be – eradicated through bombs and fighting. Instead, Iraq desperately needed to embark on a national programme of reconciliation and reform.
“Isis is like a mushroom. It was able to grow here, in Iraq, because there is a fertile environment. It didn’t just come from nowhere.” That is what one Iraqi activist told me, with an edge of anger and passion in her voice, when I was in Iraq late last year. She went on to say that Isis could not be – and should not be – eradicated through bombs and fighting. Instead, Iraq desperately needed to embark on a national programme of reconciliation and reform.

If that's shocking or surprising to you, then let me join you in shock and surprise.

Where the hell have you been?

June 19, 2014, even President Barack Obama stated that the only solution to Iraq's crises was a political solution.

He said that.

And then did nothing to help there.

He started dropping bombs on Iraq.

He put "boots on the ground."

He surged the military.

He just didn't surge the diplomacy.

For the record, it's the same failure Bully Boy Bush made earlier.

Also for the record, we repeatedly made that point throughout 2014 and 2015 and 2016.

But nothing was done.

And there's no reconciliation in Iraq still.

There's no effort to end the persecution.

So defeat ISIS with the military and you haven't defeated anything.

They'll regroup or something else will replace them.

The Mosul slog continues.

It's 88 days since the operation began.

Mosul was seized by the Islamic State in June of 2014.

88 days ago, the liberation or 'liberation' effort began.

The International Organization of Migration notes:

Nearly 13 weeks into the Mosul military operation against the Islamic State (ISIL) – which began on 17 October – over 144,500 Iraqis are currently displaced. The majority are in desperate need of life-saving humanitarian assistance, especially in the cold winter weather and rain.

According to IOM Iraq’s Displaced Tracking Matrix (DTM) the displacement count from 17 October through 12 January stands at 144,588 people. The latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Emergency Tracking figures on displacement from Mosul operations are available at:

This is what success looks like?


National Defence is refusing to disclose details about several Canadian soldiers treated at a military hospital in northern Iraq in recent weeks, including whether any of them were wounded on the battlefield.
The soldiers were among 120 patients who were seen at the medical facility since it began operating near the Kurdish city of Erbil at the end of November, according to figures provided to The Canadian Press.

Again, the question, this is what success looks like?

This morning, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted eight strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Haditha, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Mosul, nine strikes engaged five ISIL tactical units; destroyed five vehicles, three mortar systems, two unmanned aircraft launch sites, three fighting positions, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a vehicle bomb manufacturing and armoring facility, a heavy machine gun, a supply cache and an anti-air artillery system; and damaged 18 supply routes and two bridges.

-- Near Rawah, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle, a command-and-control node and a weapons storage facility.

-- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed a mortar system.

-- Near Tal Afar, three strikes destroyed a vehicle, a vehicle bomb facility and an unmanned aircraft launch site.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

It's past time someone in charge was able to answer the question of "Are we there yet?" with something more than "Not yet."

The following community sites updated:

  • Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Our new Joe Lieberman

    At THE NEW REPUBLIC, Sarah Jones has an important piece which opens:

    Cory Booker is not your friend. 

    Fresh off a rousing speech against Jeff Sessions’s nomination to become attorney general, Booker voted against an affordable drug proposal from Senators Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders on Wednesday evening. Had it passed, the bill would have created a reserve fund to allow Americans to import inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada. Booker was one of 13 Democrats to reject it, a boon to Big Pharma.
    Booker had earned liberal acclaim earlier on Wednesday for his testimony against Sessions’s nomination:
    “Senator Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requirement of the job—to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of justice for all,” he said. “At numerous times in his career, he has demonstrated a hostility toward these convictions, and has worked to frustrate attempts to advance these ideals.”
    Booker is exactly right about Sessions’s record, and his decision to violate Senate norms is admirable. But his rejection of the Sanders-Klobuchar proposal is the latest entry in a legislative record that should worry progressives.

    Reality, I'm not applauding and Dem for attacking a Republican.  I kind of expect that to be natural.

    I will hold against any Dem who kills proposals that will help the lives of most Americans.

    Cory Booker is a joke.

    He's a tool of Wall Street.

    He's not someone who would be a friend to Americans if in office.

    I think he's the Joe Lieberman of 2017.

    Here's Glen Ford (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) from 2014 on Booker:

    Booker and Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie worked hand-in-hand as preachers of the school charter gospel. Both took credit for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to Newark schools, and, both made sure that charter schools got more than their fair share of the money. By 2016, thanks to both Booker and Christie, charter schools will account for more than a third of Newark’s student enrollment.
    Wall Street is betting on charter schools, because that’s where the most profits can be made. How can a speculator lose, when the public foots the bill while the education corporations reap the rewards? That’s why President Obama, the consummate corporate politician, has acted as chief national booster and bully for charter schools. However, most Democrats draw the line at private school vouchers. Cory Booker would very much like to appear to be a mainstream Democrat – the kind that can win presidential primaries or be tapped as vice presidential running mate. But Booker has never turned his back on the private school hucksters that launched his political career. He will have little choice but to vote in favor of Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander’s school vouchers bill, thus putting himself at odds with most of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate. Booker is likely to start his tenure as Senator in the same place he began his political career – in bed with the most reactionary rich white people in America.

    Teachers should especially be alarmed.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Thursday, January 12, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, the Iraq War continues, big tenting with some is simply not possible, and much more.

    Starting with Conor Friedersdorf.  Conor is a talented writer for THE ATLANTIC -- talented in both thought and writing.  But I'm calling out this piece:

    A large cohort of Americans have reservations about the presidency of Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote by 2.9 million, strikes many who did vote for him as a highly flawed “lesser of two evils,” and has a dismal 37 percent approval rating. These ideologically diverse skeptics must cooperate if they hope to minimize the damage they believe the Trump Administration will do to America if left unopposed. But so far, they are easily divided. In fact, they cannot even refrain from attacking or alienating one another on matters where they are mostly in agreement.
    This self-defeating approach was illustrated earlier this week when Never Trump conservatives who fully believe that Donald Trump is a bully watched Meryl Streep level that criticism. Rather than embracing a rare moment of narrow convergence with a Hollywood liberal, they let the mutual antagonism between their cultural tribes drive their reaction and wound up furiously attacking the actress over perceived hypocrisy. Doing so advanced none of their ends. It was a missed opportunity.

    A large cohort?

    When is that news?

    I and many others opposed Ronald Reagan (and George H.W. Bush -- in fact, the best thing the Bush family ever did was get his son to run for office, it's allowed George H.W. to be seen in a better -- and artificial -- light).  On the other side of the spectrum, the right felt that way about Bill Clinton before he'd even been sworn in.

    What's going on is not new and we need to stop acting like it is --  or that we're novel or original.

    So that's A.

    Let's move to B.

    Conor, you're not the industry.

    I am.

    That speech was inappropriate -- at best.

    This was a lifetime achievement award.  Yes, it was at the tacky Golden Globes which are sold to the highest bidder and always have been.  But it's still an industry function -- one that no one takes too seriously.

    But a lifetime achievement award is supposed to result in a speech of reflection -- ideally on the industry but most often on the individual's own personal career.

    Her speech was hideous.

    Tom Middleton was political in his speech -- granted he won an award -- a competitive award.

    I disagree with him on Sudan.

    I wasn't offended by the position he took or the words he said.

    I was offended by the outrage expressed afterwards.

    This is an industry function so the nonsense of some people about: Oh, his show was streamed in Sudan, he's so shocked?

    Just sit down.  You're allowed to watch, but guess what, at the end of the day you're not part of the industry.

    Which is why you made such idiotic Tweets and attacks.

    Working of a film or TV set is removed -- unless you tape in front of a live studio audience.

    You have no idea what the effect will be, what the reach will be.

    It's very easy to think of one massive glob: "the audience."

    Tom, at an industry function, was making a very solid point and he got shamed for it.

    Biggest problem, I would argue -- as someone who has repeatedly championed Tracee Ellis Ross for an Emmy -- is that Tracee's wonderful speech and her award for BLACKISH got lost.

    Julie Louis Dip**it did not deserve five consecutive Emmys for joking her way through the same series.  There's no character there.  There's no inspiration.  But five Emmys in a row?

    I'm sorry Tracee has not gotten the attention she deserves.

    Meryl wanted to whine because Hillary didn't win.

    Sorry, Conor, Hillary is not the second coming of FDR.

    Nor was Barack.

    And objecting to Meryl's ahistorical bulls**t will always be valid.

    As someone who's written about The Drone War and the spying, Conor, I'd think you'd understand why things can't be wished away.

    As for our need to resist Donald Trump?


    Donald Trump is qualified to be president.

    He met all the Constitutional qualifications and the voters approved him.

    He's fit.

    Will he be a good president?

    I don't think so.

    But that's how I operate.

    I never had a problem on auditions because I went in with the attitude of "I'm going to bomb" and I left with the attitude of "I bombed."

    Ask anyone and they'll tell you that.

    That freed me up from a lot of stress and a lot of worry.

    Didn't worry about their expectations, just went in and did what I wanted.

    So I don't expect that Trump will be good.

    I know the man and I don't like him.

    As a person, I've known him for some time.

    I did not vote for him, I would not vote for him.

    But with all that said, I'll wait for him to do something as president before I start protesting him.

    And I'll protest him the same as I would anyone else in the White House.

    I will call him out as I did Bully Boy Bush, as I did Barack Obama.

    The president is a public servant.

    The press, fey lap dogs that they are, will treat these people like kings or gods.

    They're not.

    We'll call him "Donald" because that's his name.

    He works for us.

    And if he does a poor job -- which is what I expect, but I could be wrong -- I'll call Donald out.

    But, no, I'm not an idiot like Meryl Streep who is going to pretend that the last eight years have not been hideous -- hideous in terms of wars, in terms of drone killings, in terms of illegal spying, in terms of a war on the press and whistle-blowers -- or that we lost something wonderful when War Hawk Hillary wasn't named president.

    Conor then goes on to talk about the post-inauguration march.

    A White woman and her daughter were gong to attend but are not now because on of the leaders, who is African-American, feels that African-Americans have suffered and that White people new to suffering should grab a spot at the back of the line and listen.

    Conor frets over identity politics.

    He thinks the bumper sticker "Yes We Can" is so much better.  Look, Conor, "Yes We Can" didn't even really work as a Pointer Sisters song in the seventies -- and I love the Pointers.

    The African-American woman?

    I'm not going to call her out.  I feel the same way regarding the peace movement.  All of you dirty whores -- that includes Meryl -- who couldn't say a word in the last 8 years better not try to push your way to the front of the line.

    That's what the African-American woman is saying with regards to racial discrimination: Where have you been and, more importantly, you're sudden interest doesn't allow you to commandeer this march.

    I understand what's she's saying.  I don't think it's identity politics.  I think it's about the life she's lived and the struggle she's had and I think calling that "identity politics" trivializes what she and others have lived through and experienced.

    I also understand the White woman's objection.

    Her notion was that this was a march against Trump and she wants to be against Donald -- as does her daughter.  She hears that message and, no surprise, feels she doesn't want to participate.

    It's not an inclusive message.

    But it's not an inclusive march.

    Conor's acting like all those loons who thought if they kept repeating OCCUPY WALLSTREET they could hop on that bandwagon and ride it to their own personal nirvana.

    They tried to co-opt it.

    The march isn't defined.

    One reason the march isn't defined is because people don't know what Donald will do.

    People have been encouraged to protest before he takes office.

    That's never a smart thing to do.

    They're going to be the Sour Grape Kids as a result.

    By failing to wait for some action to protest, they're just people against Donald and the press, in a year or two, will be noting that they've objected since before he became president, that they aren't critic but just haters, etc.

    I have friends who are participating and, since they're friends, I wish them luck.  But since they're friends, I also honestly state, "I think the action's a little ridiculous."

    I think the African-American woman is right to try to carve out some sort of platform or message beyond "We will resist."  She's protesting over what she feels were derogatory remarks and disrespect that Donald has shown so many during the campaign.  That's why her attitude is that those who have not lived in fear their whole life should not think they're going to be center stage at this protest.  I get that.  I also think if the protest followed her intent it would actually have meaning.

    Instead, it's a useless, watered down assembly.

    Conor wants us to big tent.

    Like Hillary and the necons did in 2016?  Shall we also hold hands with David Frum?  Maybe do some heavy petting with Henry Kissinger?

    Exactly where do we draw the line?

    So many different kinds of people 
    Trying to be the same 
    "No way," baby 
    He said "Baby, baby, there's no way" 
    If we could start again 
    Well, who knows 
    Have we really changed? 
    Some say we have 
    Reflecting our past 
    Who can say? 
    Who can say? 
     Races are run 
    Some people win 
    Some people always have to lose 
    Oooh, yeah
    -- "Races Are Run," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on the album BUCKINGHAM NICKS

    Stevie's song still applies today.

    And for the last eight years -- no matter how much a Meryl Streep tries to pretend otherwise -- it's the Iraqi people who have lost due to a war started by the United States that continues to this day despite Barack insisting, as he campaigned for president in 2008, that he would end the Iraq War.

    In Iraq, thousands of terrorism's victims go unnamed via

    Moni Basu (CNN) writes:

    Throughout the morning, the death toll kept rising: 100, 115, 140. It would be many weeks before the final count would be known: 382.
    Among all the terrorist attacks of 2016 worldwide, the Karrada bombing on July 3 stood as the year's deadliest.
    And yet to Westerners accustomed to news reports about violence in Iraq, it would be just another bombing in which the numbers, not the victims, would be front and center. Media outlets would report what happened, who claimed responsibility and how many were killed and injured. And then the world would move on. 

    And then the world would move on.

    Like the shallow and detached Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes.

    AP notes, "In its annual report, the London-based Iraqi Body Count reported that 16,361 civilian Iraqis died in 2016, with the northern province of Nineveh the worst hit at 7,431 people killed. The Iraqi capital, Baghdad, was next with 3,714 civilians killed, the research showed."

    It does matter Conor.  And these people's lives mattered.  They aren't here anymore.  The very least the rest of us can do is stop lying that the Iraq War ended.

    A lie that's all over Twitter.

    Barack didn't end the Iraq War.  He actually made it worse.

    In 2010, the Iraqi people had enough of Nouri al-Maliki.

    Even with Nouri's bribes and well documented dirty tricks (such as refusing to allow some candidates to run and such as refusing to simplify voting in order to depress Sunni turnout), he still lost.

    Ayad Allawi won.

    He should have been named prime minister-designate.

    Nouri refused to step down.  For over eight months after the election, Iraq was at a stand-still.

    Instead of backing the winner, Barack had the US broker a contract (The Erbil Agreement) that nullified the votes of the Iraqi people and gave Nouri a second term.

    That's on Barack.

    And it gave Nouri and his paranoia the ability to persecute everyone.  He had military tanks circle the homes of members of Parliament who were Sunni or who disagreed with him.  He ordered a pre-dawn raid of the home of one Sunni MP and the MP's brother was killed in the raid.  He refused to follow the Constitution and packed a kangaroo court to declare Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi a terrorist and  him to death (six times sentenced to death).  Barack never uttered a word -- certainly not about the witness who died from torture or any other detail of the ridiculous trial -- ridiculous and illegal.

    Nouri was disappearing the Sunnis.

    He would give an order to arrest Habib Hammid (made up name for this example).  There was no arrest warrant.  His forces would go to Habib's home.  Habib's not there.  But his son or daughter is or his wife or mother or . . .  Whomever is home gets taken away.

    There was no arrest warrant.

    Not even for Habib.

    Now the person they've grabbed disappears -- maybe into one of Nouri's many secret torture cells.

    Or if it's a woman or girl and she ends up in one of the prisons (as she waits for a trial that may or may not ever come), she can be tortured and raped.

    Barack had no problem with that.

    Finally, in 2012, Barack's feelings were miffed.  So when Nouri called him after the November 2012 US election to congratulate him (Barack), Barack refused the call.

    That's taking a stand, big boy!!!!!

    It would be two more years before Barack would tell Nouri that it was time to step down.

    And that's when Barack would start publicly sending troops back in.

    So let's all stop pretending Barack ended the Iraq War.

    It did not end.

    For those not getting it, this morning the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted eight strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Beiji, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle.

    -- Near Huwayjah, two strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL-held buildings and a command and control node.

    -- Near Mosul, five strikes engaged three ISIL tactical units; destroyed three fighting positions, three ISIL-held buildings, two heavy machine guns, two mortar systems, a command-and-control node, a vehicle bomb factory, a vehicle bomb, an ISIL unmanned aircraft, a supply cache and an artillery system; and damaged 24 supply routes and an ISIL-held building.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

    It should be clear, even to Meryl, that the Iraq War has not ended.

    Even to Meryl.

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

  • Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    I pick the corporate media

    Were doing theme posts.

    Who/What was the most disappointing in the last 8 years?

    My choice?

    This is EPIC! Watch Anderson Cooper caught LYING to his audience to protect Hillary. CNN is the very essence of

    The corporate media.

    In 2016, they made no pretense of how horrible they thought Donald Trump was, of how journalistic standards needed to be tossed out the window because they thought he was so horrible . . .

    They weren't impartial.

    C.I. warned repeatedly that this behavior was not hurting Trump, that it was created sympathy for him.

    She even noted how she was feeling sorry for him and she loathes Donald Trump.

    The media refused to play fair.

    I've never seen anything like it.

    Even when the media openly titled for Barack in 2008, it wasn't as bad as this.

    Here they went out of the way to destroy the GOP candidate.

    I've never voted for a Republican nominee for president and I doubt I ever will.

    But I was still appalled to see how the media played favorites.

    We always need to remember that what they do to the other person, they can do to us.  We need to call it out when we see behavior like that.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Wednesday, January 11, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, the Mosul slog continues, US troops may remain in Iraq beyond the defeat (if it happens) of the Islamic State, Barack cries in public during his farewell speech, I defend Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and more.

    We're starting with the issue of when I know someone.  I have not written once of Joe Biden's wife.  I may after Joe's out of office and she's in private life.  I have nothing but praise for her.  But if I ever wrote about her here that would mean if something went wrong I might have to call her out.

    I still consider Bob Filner a friend.  I am so sorry for the women who were hurt by him.  I hope their lives are better today not that they've spoken out.  I would have loved not to have to ever mention that Bob harassed those women.  But I wrote about him and when, to my shock, those revelations came out, we covered it.

    Nothing like that would have happened with Joe's wife but the press loves to create drama so I've avoided mentioning her here in case they went to town on her.  That way I could always respond to someone who knows me, "I've never mentioned her name before, why would I now?"

    And though I like Joe, he's Vice President, and I've torn him apart here.  He's also gotten praise here but when he was wrong -- or my opinion was he was wrong -- we didn't put on the kid gloves.  I didn't try to be nice like The Cult of St. Barack did with their personal savior.

    If he did something idiotic -- or John Kerry -- they got called out.

    I know RFK Jr.  I've disclosed that before.

    Were he to serve in any capacity on a commission or panel on vaccinations or oversee a study, it would be a benefit to the nation.

    I get that this a country where historical amnesia is instilled.

    I get that the corporate press will always go along with big business -- whether it's Big Pharma or Big Tobacco.

    As someone who has spent decades doing fund raising on the issue of autism, I am aware of and versed in the debate on vaccines.

    My role is to gather money for research and treatment of autism.

    In that capacity, I need to show respect -- not have tantrums in public like Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes.

    There are many people with many strong opinions on this topic.

    I do not have a strong opinion on vaccines.  But I do listen to those who insist that they do not cause autism and I do listen to those who insist that they do.

    I get very tired of these 'science' devotees -- they don't know science but maybe listened to a Rooster Teeth podcast -- whose lives have not been effected reel off this or reel off that.

    Cigarette smoking is probably on the way out.  (I smoked for years.  I miss it every day.)  If the known truth about cigarettes had been put out long, long ago, less and less people would smoke today.  We've have less cancer deaths, less this, less that.

    Are we getting the full truth on the vaccines?

    I don't know.

    I don't presume to know.

    One of the largest donor families, with regards to autism, has been split down the middle by this debate.  Both the parents and the adult daughter care deeply about this issue.  I do not believe either the parents or the daughter (I know both and have raised from money from both) are crazy or idiots or uninformed.  They care passionately about this issue.

    You can't work on this issue and work with everyone if you're taking sides.

    That's the reality.

    And I've sometimes said, "Why are men weighing in" on abortion "it's a woman's body."

    Similarly, I'm tired of the fake scientists weighing in -- and those are the people with no skin in the game and no scientific background.  But they want to mock a Jenny McCarthy or whomever.

    I'm sorry, who in your family is autistic?

    (I do have family members which is why this is a cause I've worked on all my life.)

    If no one is, how about you stop insulting people?

    Let's say for the sake of argument that Big Pharma's been completely honest and that your dumb little podcasts that you listen to truly did give you a doctorate in science and you're now an expert.

    Let's say that.

    So what?

    If you're such an expert you should be fully aware that beyond your science is the reality of what families have to live through are effected by autism.

    If the group that believes vaccines caused it are completely and 100% wrong, so what?

    You're not the one who has a child with autism.

    You're not dealing with that stress and those fears.

    To you it's all abstract.

    To them it's reality and very personal.

    So maybe you can just stop talking about an issue that doesn't effect you if all you have to do is slam someone who is suffering?

    Robert Kennedy Jr. is a very wise person.  I think of him as a friend but I think I would see him that way regardless.

    As someone willing to question -- "skeptic" the press hisses, as though it's a bad thing -- his serving on a panel/committee/whatever would give it an authenticity that it wouldn't otherwise have.

    He's also seen as honest -- for good reason.

    I don't believe he would lie, he would be forthright.

    I'm very angry that someone who could do so much may now be denied that chance because a lot of idiotic loudmouths won't shut the hell up.

    If you don't have someone with autism in your family?

    Just close your mouth and sit down.

    This issue doesn't effect you and you cannot begin to know the struggle that so many families have with it.  And many of them believe vaccines are safe (and they may be) and many believe that vaccines aren't safe (and they may not be) and there's a middle that doesn't know what to think and a section that doesn't want to think about it at all.  Those are the people that matter in this discussion because they are dealing with these issues.

    In other words, the Whoopi Goldbergs of the world -- idiots paid to pontificate despite having no ethical framework to speak of (pro-torture Whoopi wants to talk about ethics?) -- need to turn their motor mouths off because this does not pertain to them.

    It is an explosive issue within a community and if you're not part of that community don't speak for it.
    If you're not living through it, it doesn't effect you and you do not what you're talking about.

    You haven't had to see some beautiful boy or girl who, for whatever reason, has been divorced from the world we want to be a part of.  You haven't had to ask yourself, "Why?"  Or "Did I do something wrong?" Most importantly, "What can I do now to help my child/brother/sister/etc?"

    As far I'm concerned, the only crackpot in this discussion is Mia Farrow who claims one of her children was autistic (I know which one) and that she cured him via the color red.  I'm not joking about that.

    That's a crackpot.

    (As always, Mia's stories supposedly about other people are really stories that glorify herself -- fantasies she hopes will be repeated when she dies and lead to her beatification.)

    In my role, I cannot take a position.  To do so would impact fund raising and further a split in a community.  And that's not, "I cannot take a public position."  I don't even tell a friend like Elaine where I would fall on the spectrum.

    My role is to fund raise and to try to help heal the divide -- not to solve it, I'm not a scientist.  But to try to help heal it so that, for those of us involved personally, there's a space where we can show respect for everyone regardless of their viewpoint.

    Robert could do a great deal to heal this divide and he could do a great deal in many other ways.

    I am disgusted by the tabloid press -- NYT, that includes you -- and their nonsense attacks.

    I rarely write about autism here -- but have a standing offer to anyone in the autistic community -- regardless of where they are on the spectrum of beliefs -- that if they want something published they can e-mail it or, if they know me personally, they can hand it to me, and will go up without me weighing in.  A friend is being treated very poorly by the press and this is an autism issue so I'm weighing in.

    I am taking Robert's side on his decency, his honesty and his character.  I am praising him for his ability to question.  I am not saying his views are my views but I am saying he has the personal integrity to go by truth and if truth doesn't support his personal views, he's not going to lie about it. (And if truth backs up his personal views, he's not going to lie about.)

    I think he is the ideal person and the tabloid press needs to back the hell off because all they're doing is preventing a voice that could heal from helping.

    Turning to the Mosul slog . . .

    It's day 85 of the operation to liberate or 'liberate' the city seized by the Islamic State in June of 2014.

    AFP reports, "Iraqi forces have retaken at least 80 percent of east Mosul from the ISIL Takfiri group, the spokesman of the special forces spearheading the campaign said on Wednesday."

    So in about 20 more days, Mosul will be liberated?

    Uh, not so slow-fast.

    AP reports:

    A top Iraqi commander told The Associated Press that the operation to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group could be complete in three months or less.

    "It's possible" that Mosul will be liberated in in that time frame, Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday evening. However, he warned it is difficult to give an accurate estimate of how long the operation will take because it is not a conventional fight.

    AP goes on to note that the Iraqi government (Hayder al-Abadi) claimed awhile back that the operation would be done at the end of 2016.  That didn't happen.

    AP fails to note that the original end-date, before the operation started, was to be before the US presidential election.  This was to be the October surprise to deliver the election to Hillary.

    POLITICO'S Mark Perry reported at the start of August that Barack was planning to start the battle to retake Mosul in early October and, "If Mosul is retaken, it would both mark a major political triumph for Barack Obama and likely benefit his party’s nominee at the polls, Hillary Clinton, undercutting Republican claims that the Obama administration has failed to take off the gloves against the Islamic State."

    Yeah, that failed too.

    Barack failed at his promise to end the Iraq War as well.

    He delivered a farewell address last night.

    1. No tears for the families murdered by US bombs.

    It was notable for his crying.

    But not for the people he killed, for his wife.

    There was a time when a sitting president did something like that, people would question his mental state.  This will no doubt be written off as another charming moment from Barack.

    Niles Niemuth (WSWS) observes of the speech:

    As with every address Obama has delivered over the last eight years, his speech in Chicago was full of clich├ęs, his rhetoric padded with empty phrases and delivered with a false gravitas, signaled by his trademark pursed lips and affected whisper.
    The speech was rife with contradictions, the starkest being the juxtaposition of Obama’s boasting of the great social progress achieved by his administration and his warning of threats to American democracy arising from ever-growing social inequality and economic insecurity.
    The president declared: “If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history… if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11… if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens—you might have said our sights were set a little too high.
    “By almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.”
    He made no attempt to explain why, given this impressive record of social progress and foreign policy success, his party was routed in the elections and the billionaire demagogue Donald Trump was preparing to succeed him in the White House.
    A basic component of the answer, of course, is the grotesquely false rendering of his record and the state of American society as he leaves office. Hardly a week goes by without a new report on signs of extreme social crisis or ever-more obscene levels of wealth among the financial elite. Just in the past month, studies have been published showing the first decline in US life expectancy in 23 years, plunging pay for young adults, a 72 percent surge in deaths from synthetic opioids, and home ownership rates at historic lows for young people.
    Other surveys have documented a $237 billion increase in the wealth of the world’s richest 200 billionaires, driven largely by the US stock market boom under Obama, and an acceleration of the transfer of wealth from the bottom half of the US population for the top one percent.