Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Margaret Kimberley breaks it down

From Margaret Kimberley's latest at BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

The Democrats are making news after being sworn into the 116thCongress as the majority party in the House of Representatives. The media give great attention to the increase in the numbers of women, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Muslim members, and of course Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The first ever Palestinian-American member made news by calling president Trump a “mother f**ker.” But as a character on an old television commercial asked, “Where’s the beef?”
Nancy Pelosi is up to her old tricks, this time with the Pay Go provision which prevents Democrats from spending more money than the government takes in. But only three members, Ocasio-Cortez, Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard, voted against the rule which included the Pay Go provision. The rest went along to get along, as Democrats move ever further to the right in order to please their corporate donors and the unlikely plan of getting Republican votes.
At the midway point of the Trump presidency the Democrats have nothing to show in the way of meaningful resistance. The Women’s March has been exposed as a fraudulent get-out-the-vote effort that was dispatched soon after the mid-term election. Now the Democrats have been reduced to using curse words in what passes for opposition to Donald Trump.
Trump’s shutdown of the government in the dispute over the border wall is an opportunity for the Democrats to show their mettle. But they can’t fight what they never really opposed. They may call it a fence or a barrier or some other euphemistic term but they have voted to support the same thing over the years. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama requested and got funding for border walls in the past. They are boxed in by their own past misdeeds and now present nothing but acquiescence to right wing tropes and call themselves a resistance force.

Nancy Pelosi accomplished nothing when she was last Speaker of the House.  It's doubtful that she'll accomplish anything now.

That's because she refuses to inspire.  It's as if she's allergic to the notion.  She could call for Medicare For All, for example.  It would be a popular call, it's what the people want. But Nancy is not about the people -- never has been -- she's about where the big campaign money comes from.

It's why she can't embrace any populist idea or any notion of making life better for the average American.

She only delivers to those with the big bucks. 

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, January 9, 2019.  Another surprise visit.

In Iraq today, another unannounced visit.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Iraq in an unannounced stop on his Mideast tour meant to promote the White House's hard-line position on Iran.

The Iraq War, the ongoing Iraq War, hits the 16 year mark in two months and still US officials have to make "unannounced visits."  All these years later.

ABC avoids reality by allowing Elizabeth McLaughlin and Conor Finnegan to insist, "The president visited Iraq, also unannounced, the day after Christmas, saying the U.S. still could use bases there for operations in Syria."

They have all been unannounced.

Biden makes surprise trip to Iraq


As US president, Barak Obama made one visit to Iraq in his two terms (eight years).  Guess what?  It was unannounced.

Obama Makes Surprise Visit To Iraq

CBS News

Bully Boy Bush?

Background: Bush's Surprise Visits To Iraq, Afghanistan

CBS News

And, yes, it was also true of Afghanistan.

Obama makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

Washington Post


Get it yet?  If not, here's the BBC's Becky Branford:
Almost every visit by a Western figure to a warzone since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has been done without warning.
US President Barack Obama made regular unannounced visits to Afghanistan, as did Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair to Iraq.
Earlier this year Secretary of State John Kerry turned up in Somalia, a war-ravaged state currently waging an armed campaign against al-Shabab Islamist rebels - with reports suggesting even Somali officials believed a more junior US official would be attending.
But clearly these leaders - and their advisers - judge that the advantages of paying these visits outweigh the attendant security risks, both in terms of boosting morale of personnel overseas and in giving the leader in question a PR lift.
For those attempting to provide 'context,' grasp that there was a world before President Donald Trump (and there will be a world after him).  Back to Pompeo:

Reports: On Mideast trip, Pompeo makes unannounced Iraq stop
Pompeo in reassurance mission to Iraq over US Syria pullout plans

Pompeo Makes Surprise Stop In Iraq During Mideast Trip To Rally Allies

AP notes:

 In Baghdad, Pompeo met with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, President Barham Salih, Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim and Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi.
Pompeo and the Iraqi officials made no statements to the media.

The US State Dept issued the following this morning:

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 9, 2019

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino:‎
Secretary Michael R. Pompeo met today with Iraq’s Council of Representatives Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi and members of the Council of Representatives Foreign-Relations Committee. The Secretary emphasized U.S. support for the long-term bilateral partnership, anchored by the Strategic Framework Agreement, and the necessity of supporting Iraq’s democratic institutions, economic development, energy independence, and sovereignty. Secretary Pompeo emphasized the U.S. commitment to addressing Iraq’s security challenges, including the continuation of our security partnership with Iraqi Security Forces. 

Nick Wadhams (BLOOMBERG NEWS) maintains:

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Wednesday, which appeared partly aimed at patching up relations strained during Donald Trump’s surprise visit last month.
The U.S. president upset Iraqi lawmakers when he visited troops at the Ain Al-Asad base west of Baghdad but didn’t meet with the country’s new prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, though the two leaders did speak by phone.

If that was the point of the visit, it doesn't appear to have been very successful:

Iraqi Council of Representatives’ Foriegn Affairs Committee met today and called for reviewing US-Iraq relations following Pres Trump’ “uncoordinated” Visit to Iraq’s Anbar Province last month. If US Gov fails to handle Iraq file properly, it may lose it.

Again, if that was the purpose of the trip, it doesn't appear to have been successful.  But when has the US government ever delivered success in Iraq?


Well, that's not fair of me.  They have helped Big Business make tons of money off the lives of Iraqis because -- blood stained or not -- greed requires dollars, dollars and more dollars.

I'll tell you who is *really* unhappy at the thought of pulling out of Syria and Afghanistan. The contractors and the generals connected to the contractors. $$BILLIONS$$

Iraqi persecution of Sunni men helped to transform Al Qaeda in Iraq into ISIS. Now Iraq is doing it again--collective punishment of Sunnis that may help transform ISIS into ISIS 2.0.

He's linking to this report by Kristen Keo and Mara Revkin (WASHINGTON POST):

In Iraq, the government’s harsh counterterrorism strategy, which is widely perceived as collectively punishing the Sunnis, is generating new grievances that could increase local support for an Islamic State 2.0. More than 19,000 people have been detained on terrorism-related charges since 2014. Over 3,000 have been sentenced to death in rapid-fire trials that are sometimes decided in less than 10 minutes. Convictions are often based on thin and circumstantial evidence, the testimony of secret informants, or confessions induced through torture, making it easy for innocent people to be falsely accused and unfairly punished.
These injustices are fueling anger, and with it, a new wave of violence. Since 2016, the average number of Islamic State attacks in Iraq — including suicide bombings and targeted assassinations — has risen to 75 per month. In August, U.S. and U.N. reports estimated that the number of Islamic State fighters active in Iraq and Syria might exceed 30,000.
In our working paper based on an original household survey of over 1,400 Mosul residents — the Islamic State’s former de facto capital in Iraq — we identify two serious flaws in the government’s approach to prosecuting and punishing individuals accused of joining or supporting the Islamic State. First, it is unwilling to recognize variation in the severity and voluntariness of “collaboration.” Second, it relies heavily on unproven criminal justice and counterterrorism theories.

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