Friday, January 05, 2018

Prior restraint?

 Well, at least we know the news media is no different than any other occupation. 
Mike Snider (USA TODAY) reports:
CBS News has fired its political director after investigating reports of "inappropriate behavior," the network said Thursday.
Steve Chaggaris had served as CBS News' political director since March 2017 after being hired in 2012 as the Washington-based executive editor for He became senior political editor in 2014.
"In the last two weeks, accounts of inappropriate behavior by Steve Chaggaris were brought to our attention and were immediately investigated," CBS News said in a statement. "As a result, CBS News has severed ties with Mr. Chaggaris for violating company policy, effective immediately."

Last month, Jared Kushner began seeking the help of a crisis-communications firm. Perhaps the White House senior adviser could make a referral for his father in law, too. There’s no scenario in which Michael Wolff’s new book on the Trump administration wouldn’t be a bombshell, but Donald Trump’s strategy for responding to the book seems certain to only increase the scrutiny on it.
So far, the pushback has included an astonishing statement from the president on Wednesday: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” Wednesday night, lawyers for Trump sent Bannon a cease-and-desist letter, accusing him of libel, slander, and breach of confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported, lawyers also sent a letter to Wolff and his publisher, Henry Holt, alleging libel and demanding they “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book.”
There are many areas that I disagree with Donald Trump on. A lot of it, I will write off to him being a Republican.  I’m also extremely left (no to war!).
But I would think we would all realize you can’t halt publication of a book because you don’t like what it says.
  Last month, Jared Kushner began seeking the help of a crisis-communications firm. Perhaps the White House senior adviser could make a referral for his father in law, too. There’s no scenario in which Michael Wolff’s new book on the Trump administration wouldn’t be a bombshell, but Donald Trump’s strategy for responding to the book seems certain to only increase the scrutiny on it.
So far, the pushback has included an astonishing statement from the president on Wednesday: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” Wednesday night, lawyers for Trump sent Bannon a cease-and-desist letter, accusing him of libel, slander, and breach of confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported, lawyers also sent a letter to Wolff and his publisher, Henry Holt, alleging libel and demanding they “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book.”
This isn’t even The Pentagon Papers. (Meaning he can’t cry “National security!” as Nixon tried.)
I don’t think that Donald Trump gets that as US president he has less rights than a private citizen.  This goes beyond being a public figure.  When you’re in the Oval Office, people can basically say anything and declare it political speech.
I think it’s a huge mistake and looks like a tantrum.
This is from someone who, while not a fan, is also not someone weighing in every day on Trump’s latest.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, January 4, 2018.

We are going to again stress the need to please read James Risen's piece for THE INTERCEPT.

As 2017 was coming to close, the Iraqi government began pursuing new ways to persecute the Palestinians in Iraq.   Though largely ignored in the US, there was outcry from the international community.  Iraqi officials may now be feeling pressure.   MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:

The Palestinian Ambassador to Iraq, Ahmed Aqel, said the Speaker of Iraq’s Parliament, Salim Al-Jubouri, has promised him to find a legal formula during the next few days to preserve the Palestinian refugees’ rights in Iraq.
The ambassador met with Al-Jubouri in his office in Baghdad to discuss the issue of Palestinian refugees in Iraq and other issues.
[. . .]
Iraq abolished last month Resolution 202 which gave Palestinian refugees in Iraq the same rights as Iraqi citizens except citizenship, army service and political action.

Will there be any actual effort?  At this point, no one knows.

Today, for example, Hayder al-Abadi served up this Tweet:

PM receives leaders of Iraq’s Christian denominations, says Iraq’s religious diversity is a source of pride & strength, and that the is working with all communities to build a prosperous, fair and equal society for all Iraqis

Photos and empty promises come easy for Hayder.  Follow through?  Not really so much.

Which makes pieces like Jack Watling's "The Remarkable Resilience of the Prime Minister of Iraq" (THE ATLANTIC) puzzling -- unless you remember the long, long history of western journalists doing puff pieces for despots around the world.

Hayder's accomplished so very little but if you're able to ignore the squalor so many Iraqis live in, if you're able to ignore the widows and orphans, if you're able to ignore the government persecution, if you're able to ignore so much, he might actually have accomplished . . . well . . . breathing.  He's still breathing.  Installed by the US in 2014 and he's still breathing.

The biggest howler in the piece?  Hard to say but this one surely ranks near the top:

Taha al Tamimi, a former advisor to the governor of Basra and political advisor to the British government, said that corruption in Iraq extends to its senior-most politicians. Anti-corruption institutions have proved unable to confront senior political figures, but al Tamimi predicted this will change, and that there would be little opposition to serious corruption charges against former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, and some of his allies.

How will it change?

The courts are corrupt.

How is it going to change?

And while I would love to see Nouri behind bars, I don't believe it's as simple or as easy as Taha al-Tamimi portrays it.

Is Nouri corrupt?


He's enriched himself and fleeced the Iraqi government.

But Hayder going after Nouri?

They are from the same political party (Dawa) and Hayder belongs to Nouri's political slate (State of Law).  Hayder's shown no independence from Nouri.  Even in the face of Nouri's attempts to return as prime minister, Hayder seems both inept and oblivious.

Hayder's only 'bragging right' is the so-called defeat of ISIS.  (So-called?  The Islamic State remains in Iraq.)

In May, Iraq's supposed to hold elections.  In four months, Hayder's victory or 'victory' may look even less impressive.

The editorial board of THE CHICAGO TIMES argues for a continued US military presence in Iraq:

The U.S. and Baghdad are stepping up talks about maintaining a U.S. military presence in the country, USA Today recently reported. It’s not known how large an American contingent would be involved, but its role would likely mirror that of U.S. troops in the bid to defeat the Islamic State group — advising Iraqi commanders and providing surveillance and intelligence help. James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and now a foreign affairs analyst, told USA Today that the new contingent probably would be smaller than the current force of 5,500 soldiers.
Keeping American boots on the ground in a part of the world as unstable as Iraq is never an easy decision, but it behooves both Iraq and the U.S. to hammer out a deal. Iraq’s peace is desperately fragile.
[. . .] 
An American military intelligence presence is needed in Iraq to ferret out and neutralize whatever the Islamic State group is up to, whether that be web propaganda or suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad.


The US military has to remain "in Iraq to ferret out and neutralize whatever the Islamic State group is up to"?

Wouldn't that actually be the responsibility of the Iraqi government?

And what's with tasking the US military for everything under the sun?

The US military is trained to wage war.

But it's already been tasked with reconstruction and rebuilding in Iraq.  It's also supposed to have helped democracy take root.

Now we're going to also push off spying duties and bodyguard duties onto the US military?

That's a hell of a burden for a group that returns home only to have to battle for timely treatment from the VA.

And in Iraq?

They get to be the target of the Shi'ite militias that Hayder brought into the government.

KURDISTAN 24 reports:

The head of Iranian-backed militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq recently called on the Iraqi government and Parliament to review the United States’ military presence in the country.
During a ceremony over the weekend marking the anniversary of “victory and liberation” over the US in Iraq, Qais al-Khazali, head of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq Shia militia—a faction within the Hashd al-Shaabi—said defeating America in the country was a victory against the most powerful force in the world.
“We are honored to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the US defeat,” Khazali said while addressing supporters in Baghdad.
“The defeat of the occupier [US] led to the restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty which the US wanted to violate,” he stated, adding the Asaib Ahl al-Haq inflicted damages to American troops “without killing the innocent or relying on suicide bombings.”

The report goes on to note that he is also accusing the US of creating ISIS. Did it? Maybe so, maybe no. We've noted this before and how the lack of a response to it has not helped. But that's for the US image in general. Right here? We're talking about the image in Iraq -- we're talking about painting a bulls eye on the backs of US service members in Iraq. In his ATLANTIC piece, Jack's convinced that Hayder can control the militias. Then maybe he can prove that by getting them to cease making that charge?

The following community sites updated:

Thursday, January 04, 2018

It's a charged term

Hope you saw these Tweets:

  1. You know a healthy political climate has been fostered when Treason accusations get slung around constantly and nobody finds this particularly off-putting
  2. Remember the good old days when it was still considered somewhat gauche to go around capriciously accusing political adversaries of treason

Treason is a serious charge and it is punishable by death.

It would be really nice if some perspective was at play.

It would be especially nice if people could stop using terms like this to tar and feather political enemies.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Tuesday, January 3, 2018.   James Risen tells the truth -- few others do.

James Risen's piece for THE INTERCEPT has many strong passages and is worth reading in full.  It covers many topics, including Barack Obama's war on the press.  Since our focus is Iraq, we're noting this section (but please make time to read the piece in full):

By 2002, I was also starting to clash with the editors over our coverage of the Bush administration’s claims about pre-war intelligence on Iraq. My stories raising questions about the intelligence, particularly the administration’s claims of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, were being cut, buried, or held out of the paper altogether.
One of the few stories I managed to get on the front page cast doubt on reports that an Iraqi intelligence officer had met with 9/11 plotter Mohamed Atta in Prague before the attacks on New York and Washington. But Doug Frantz, then the investigations editor in New York, felt that he had to sneak it onto Page 1. “Given the atmosphere among the senior editors at The Times, I was concerned that the story would not make it to page 1 on a day when everyone was convened around the table,” Frantz emailed me recently. “So I decided that it was too important to appear inside the paper and went ahead and offered it on a Sunday, a day when the senior editors weren’t often involved in the discussion.”
Then-Executive Editor Howell Raines was believed by many at the paper to prefer stories that supported the case for war. But Raines now says he was not pro-war, and that he did not object to putting my Prague story on the front page. “I never told anyone at any level on the Times that I wanted stories that supported the war,” he told me in an email.
Meanwhile, Judy Miller, an intense reporter who was based in New York but had sources at the highest levels of the Bush administration, was writing story after story that seemed to document the existence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Her stories were helping to set the political agenda in Washington.
Miller and I were friends — in fact, I was probably one of her closest friends in the Washington bureau at the time. In the year before 9/11, Miller worked on a remarkable series of stories about Al Qaeda that offered clear warnings about its new power and intent. In the months after 9/11, she and I both scrambled to document Al Qaeda’s role in the attacks and the counterterrorism response by the United States. We were both part of a team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for our coverage of terrorism and 9/11.
But in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, while Miller and other Times reporters were landing a string of big stories that dazzled the editors, I was getting frustrated that so few of my sources in the intelligence community were willing to talk to me about what they thought of the Bush administration’s case for war. I kept hearing quiet complaints that the White House was pressuring CIA analysts to cook the books and deliver intelligence reports that followed the party line on Iraq. But when I pressed, few were willing to provide specifics. Intermediaries would sometimes tell me that they were receiving anguished calls from CIA analysts, but when I asked to talk to them, they refused.
After weeks of reporting in late 2002 and early 2003, I was able to get enough material to start writing stories that revealed that intelligence analysts were skeptical of the Bush administration’s evidence for going to war, particularly the administration’s assertions that there were links between Saddam’s regime and Al Qaeda.
But after I filed the first story, it sat in the Times computer system for days, then weeks, untouched by editors. I asked several editors about the story’s status, but no one knew.
Finally, the story ran, but it was badly cut and buried deep inside the paper. I wrote another one, and the same thing happened. I tried to write more, but I started to get the message. It seemed to me that the Times didn’t want these stories.
What angered me most was that while they were burying my skeptical stories, the editors were not only giving banner headlines to stories asserting that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, they were also demanding that I help match stories from other publications about Iraq’s purported WMD programs. I grew so sick of this that when the Washington Post reported that Iraq had turned over nerve gas to terrorists, I refused to try to match the story. One mid-level editor in the Washington bureau yelled at me for my refusal. He came to my desk carrying a golf club while berating me after I told him that the story was bullshit and I wasn’t going to make any calls on it.
As a small protest, I put a sign on my desk that said, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” It was New York Journal publisher William Randolph Hearst’s supposed line to artist Frederic Remington, whom he had sent to Cuba to illustrate the “crisis” there before the Spanish-American War. I don’t think my editors even noticed the sign.

The same press that the brain dead likes of dabbling Meryl Streep rush to praise is the press that sold the Iraq War.  I'm sick of trash and I'm sick of lies.  Cher lied last week and I did a long response and then didn't post it because it gets really old being the one who has to say, "Wait a damn minute."

But if you missed it, last week, Cher was vouching for her friend Meryl.  Meryl, she insisted, six weeks after giving birth, was observed by Cher -- who apparently was a frozen statue who couldn't move or speak herself -- defending some unknown woman against a man's insult.

As if that would make her silence on Harvey Weinstein acceptable?

But it never happened.

Not when Cher says it did.

People are stupid and I'm so damn tired of being the one to say, "Wait a damn minute."

The period Cher's referring to?

Meryl was in Los Angeles.


She was in England, she was in New York, she was in LA, she was really busy.

Because it was a make it or break it period for her.  The film career wasn't panning out and the new album had to be a big hit or she'd be dropped.  She was dropped by the label.

That's right, the period Cher was kicking back and relaxing was when her album had just come out and, no, she didn't observe Meryl doing anything.

But the press just repeats these days, it doesn't report.

It may seem trivial.  It's not.

Outlet after outlet elected to repeat the claims Cher made in the Tweet.

No one reported.

If they had, they would have noted that this alleged event occurred, for example, while Cher was under press scrutiny and ridicule for her live concert appearance -- only then it turned out she wasn't singing live on that special.

Every moment of Cher's life at that time was documented because she was pimping that album that failed.  And reporting would have meant sitting there and saying, "This is what Cher claims.  Let's look at the public record and see if it can be backed up."

It couldn't be backed up.

Cher and Meryl are longterm friends so she lied to protect Meryl.

I get that.

But there are so many lies going around.

And it would be so much easier to just tell the truth.

But telling the truth is too hard for too many.

remember when you coined the phrase "Axis of Evil" and argued America should invade Iraq

Who let the Frum in?

The so-called 'resistance' did.

They lap his crotch and treat him like a god.

He's trash and he's responsible for the deaths of so many.

"US-UK intervention offered Iraq a better future."

No, it did not.  Nor, according to Condi Rice in the last years, was that ever the point.

"Sectarian war was a choice Iraqis made for themselves."

Again, a lie from the king of all liars David Frum.

The Iraq Inquiry led by Chilcot in England made many things clear on the record.

And the sectarian split was fostered by the US and UK.  The whole point was to demoralize the Iraqi people and turn them against one another.

It remains the point which is why someone like Nouri al-Maliki -- a terrorist responsible for the deaths of American citizens long before he took his chicken ass back to Iraq -- got installed by Bully Boy Bush as prime minister of Iraq -- and was kept as such by Barack Obama even though he lost the 2010 election.

It was not about spreading democracy.

You don't overturn the will of the Iraqi people -- as Barack did the 2010 election -- if you're attempting to spread democracy.

David Frum should never have been adopted as special pet by the delusional 'resistance.'

But now that they've brought him in, it's up to them to denounce him.

But they won't.

They'll look the other way and ignore everything he does because it really doesn't matter -- not Iraq, not the Iraqi people.  The only thing that matters to them is hissing Donald Trump.

They can't defeat him because they don't want to.  But they can hiss and they can boo.

Lazy and stupid.

Which explains why, in two months, the Iraq War hits the 15 year mark and crowds in the street are not demanding it end now.

From Monday's "2017: The Year of Chicken Little:"

Again, the Iraq War.

It's not over.  It's not ended.

Where are the voices?

Senator Dianne Feinstein stated:

The Administration offers no apparent road out of Iraq. It offers only an escalation plan that keeps growing, and an open-ended commitment to a civil war.

Those words are so accurate.

And they were also accurate March 27, 2007 -- when she stated them.

There is still no road out of Iraq.

There is still an open-ended commitment to a civil war.

Nothing has changed.

Every 'turned corner' leads back to the same exact spot.

Over a trillion dollars has been wasted on an illegal war that has claimed over a million lives.

And Iraq's no closer to democracy, no closer to power-sharing.

The exiles that the US government keeps installing are motivated by vengeance.

Silly Shi'ites who fled Iraq when Saddam Hussein was alive and only returned fater the 2003 US-led invasion.

It's no surprise that they are not accepted by the Iraqi people as legitimate leaders.

Legitimate leaders don't flee a country like cowards and then wait until foreign forces invade to come back.

But the plan is apparently -- the same plan as it has always been -- to back whatever cowards the US government has put in place and to try to hold back the Iraqi people until they're too exhausted and go along with whatever they're stuck with.

15 years of ongoing war and we can't even be as honest today as we were in 2007?

That's not progress.

Nor are the continued lies by Peter Van Buren -- HUFFINGTON POST for latest which includes:

So much for Pax Americana in the Middle East, but at least it was all over.

Until Obama went back. Obama turned a purported humanitarian mission in August 2014 to save the Yazidi people few Americans had ever heard of from destruction at the hands of Islamic State into a full-scale bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq.

We get the lies, right?

First, Barack was sending US troops in back in 2012 -- two years before Petey notes.  Second, it was never "over."

But will he get called out -- no, because they just repeat, they don't report.

I'm so sick of this nonsense and can't believe this is how we're choosing to kick off this year.

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