Sunday, January 18, 2015

The New VP Candidate


the new vp candidate  


From August 12, 2012, that's "The New VP Candidate." 


C.I. noted:

 Joe Biden eyes Mitt Romney's just announced running mate Paul Ryan and declares, "Well I just lost the VP swimsuit race." [Note, this went up at 12:01 Sunday August 12, 2012. I've changed the time to 10:35 PM to allow it to stay at the top of the site.] Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.


That was a very easy comic to do because there was some Tumbler or something called "Hey Girl" which was about Paul Ryan being attractive so when he was announced as Mitt Romney's running mate it seemed the easiest thing in the world.

I currently haven't done a comic for Sunday.  I have three ideas.  Only one is really visual.  Sometimes that's the hardest part.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Saturday, January 17, 2014.  Today we look at Iraq in terms of the US zooming in on Cindy Sheehan and how she is us and we are her in all the ways that are beautiful and that are ugly and, mainly, what it likely means for the 2016 elections.


Anyone can comment about movies -- they're a democratic art form.  That doesn't mean they can comment intelligently.

I have no interest in seeing Clint Eastwood's latest film.  I'm not a friend of Clint's, I'm not a fan of his films (as an actor or a director) and I don't care for the war combat genre (whose only real classics for me come from Brian De Palma: Redacted and Casualties of War).  Clint's new film is American Sniper.

I've not insulted it and have no plans to.

It's not a film I'd make or choose to see but it's not shocking that Clint was interested in the topic and I'm sure he told it cinematic manner.  We noted the film in the December 30th snapshot.  And yesterday's snapshot included IAVA's congratulations to Clint and company for their Academy Award nominations.

Good luck to Clint and company and, for those who've missed it over the ten long years Ava and I've covered TV at Third, I prefer comedies.  After comedies, I like a good thriller (Alan J. Pakula was one of the masters and no one does suspense like Brian De Palma). I'm also not interested in sitting through films where women do nothing and are discarded on the sidelines. (In fairness to Clint, the source material for his film meant it would focus on a man's journey and the setting didn't lead to much more for women than what Natalie Wood did in Rebel Without A Cause.)

I say that to explain what has been a 'controversial' position.  (Sadly for the e-mailers, I don't avoid controversy, I court it.)  I have defended the film and Clint's right to make it and that's upset a few e-mailers (who haven't seen the movie but know when their 'leaders' stir up s**t, it's their job to eat it).

My stance is an artistic stance and if that's too much for you maybe you can bury your head in the sand.

Here's a reality you might try grasping: If you didn't view the art, you don't have an opinion on what it says.

Friday, Cindy Sheehan wrote a deeply stupid post not limited to this:


Along with another glorification of the War State (Zero Dark Thirty) winning best film title at the Oscars last year and Hollywood’s long history of working with the Pentagon (or War Department) to make decades of Warnography, I was reminded about an episode in my own history.


First, the Academy has no award for Best Film Title.  Possibly, Cindy means Best Picture?

Best Picture went to Ben Affleck's Argo.

But again, when faux outrage is stirred, the sheep know to eat s**t and swallow.  Kathryn Bigelow was made fair game by a cabal that's worked publicly and repeatedly since their attempt to destroy the Academy Award chances for Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind.  It's cute the way this group operates and how, when they destroy, they get away with it -- or think they do.  But that's a tale for another a day -- and when we had time to trace the group's roots which go back decades.



Instead, we'll focus on Cindy's explanations and fantasies of why a film wasn't made of her life.

I don't have the time -- or interest -- in going into copyrights and authorship and the need for people to sign consent agreements to be portrayed in films -- these are legal issues that clearly escape Cindy and I'm not in the mood to spoonfeed today.

We would get lost in the weeds attempting to explain all that.

We're going to focus on film.

Cindy believes there was a possible plot to prevent her story from being told.  That two different groups of producers were attempting to keep her tied up at two different times so that her story would not be told on the big screen.

She feels this might be possible because no film was made.

It might be possible.

Anything is.


But the basics of film and the industry argue against any conspiracy.

As a woman of a certain age, Cindy's story was always going to be hard for the big screen.

She notes Susan Sarandon was attached -- or at least mentioned --  to the film proposal in 2006 and 2007.

And that's about 10 years after Susan could deliver any real audience at the box office.

That's why Susan's doing films like Tammy (where she's not the lead) and the Lifetime film playing Marilyn Monroe's mother.

I don't mean that as an insult to Susan.  We're talking realities here -- the things Cindy avoided in her post.


Susan was all wrong for the role as well.


Cindy's not stupid by any means but she doesn't project intelligence the way Susan does.

Or the way Jane Fonda does which was Mike Nichols wasn't interested in Jane for the part of Karen Silkwood (Jane had tried to get the film rights for the story on Karen Silkwood) and Meryl Streep played the role instead.


Meryl could have played Cindy.   Again, Cindy's not stupid, she's smart.  But there are types and Susan Sarandon would have been the wrong fit for Cindy.

Back when studios still thought Susan could carry a film -- she couldn't, some actors can't, some very good actors can't,  she starred in Safe Passage.  That's more or less how she would have played Cindy and it wouldn't have worked nor would it have sold tickets.


Susan has tremendous talent and cast her as the woman who unravels the secrets in a thriller or as the seductive vamp or any number of roles and she'll deliver.  But when she plays someone newly awakened it doesn't really work because, like Jane Fonda, her characters are a little bit faster than everyone else on the uptake so you don't buy them as 'awakening' to politics -- though you do buy them 'awakening' to love.


The part could have been played by Meryl (a given) or by Jessica Lange or Sally Field -- and Sally probably would have been the most effective in the role.  The role could have been played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Jodie Foster, Debra Winger, Joan Cusack, Rosanna Arquette, Melanie Griffith, Charlize Theron, etc.  Of the women listed after Field, the only one whose name only would have interested studios enough to consider the film would have been Jodie Foster.

Jodie could deliver an audience large enough to make back the costs of filming and, if she and the film delivered, she could have brought in a much larger audience.

But even with Jodie, working against the film was that the role had already been played by Jane Fonda -- Sally Hyde in Coming Home, Jane won her second Best Actress Academy Award for playing a woman who awakens to the realities of war.

Sally was only one part of the story.  Jon Voight (who won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance) played Ron Kovic with a fictional name.  Bruce Dern and Jane's marriage ends due to the war, Jon Voight's character finds his voice when he loses so many other things, there's the subplot with Vi and her brother and so much more -- including graphic sex scenes (Jane had a body double).  Don't forget the graphic sex scenes.

All of that and a beautiful, muted look via Haskell Wexler and innovations via director Hal Ashby -- he used sound like no on else before him.

It made for a film.

But The Cindy Sheehan Story, as portrayed in Peace Mom, is a TV movie, if you're trying to pull off the arc of awakening.  Probably starring Meredith Baxter.  It could also be a powerful play if you zoomed in on just the day Casey Sheehan dies and the aftermath on the family -- we're talking the immediate effects.  And that could also make for a powerful premium cable channel movie.

You have to know what the story is and where the story fits because a Lifetime TV movie is not going to sell tickets in theaters.  You're wasting everyone's time delivering a pitch for a TV movie to a film studio exec.

Cindy thinks there might have been some conspiracy.

There was most likely none at all.

Her film never had studio backing -- nor even serious interest from a studio.

Even if it had, there are projects studios get behind which get gutted all the time.  Jodie Foster and Robert Redford were supposed to star in Crisis In The Hot Zone but Redford was a dick and a vain one and Jodie walked.  The film had been in competition with Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman's Outbreak to see which could start shooting first.  That ended when no other name actress wanted to put up with Redford's nonsense.

Films go under all the time, they go from talk to nothing.

They can even be announced -- and advertised -- and then not get made.


faye



That's Faye Dunaway.  Height of her beauty.  Height of her box office.

And she's going to make the film Duet For One.  It's about to begin filming.

Nope.


When it was made a few years later, it would star Julie Andrews.

There was no plot to keep Faye busy, to tie her up, so no one else could use her in movies.

Joan Crawford would leave MGM for, among other reasons, the refusal to allow her to star in The Spiral Staircase despite the fact that she'd optioned the source material.  (A few years later, RKO would make the film and it would be a hit.)  Miriam Hopkins thought she'd play the lead in the film of Jezebel.  She'd played the role on Broadway, she held the rights, Jack Warner led her to believe that handing the rights over to his studio meant she'd star in the film.  Instead, Bette Davis played the role and won her second Best Actress Academy Award.  Bette Davis was led to believe she'd star as Mary Todd Lincoln but when the project moved from development towards filming, Jack Warner refused to greenlight claiming a film that told the truth would be an insult to Abraham Lincoln's memory.

Yentl is a film classic and one that director Barbra Streisand should forever feel proud of.  But as much as the film on the screen is something to be proud of, Barbra's dedication to the project is also something to be proud of. She started working on the project in 1968 and never lost faith in it, never took a "no" as the final answer and, in 1983, the film was reality.

Or look at The Dollmaker.  In 1971, Jane Fonda falls in love with Harriette Arnow's book. In 1974, she meets with the author about making the book.  She's in her grey-listed period -- where politics keep US studios from hiring her for many projects (though she still has a few offers coming in -- she turned down Chinatown and The Exorcist, among others, during this period).  When Tricky Dick resigns and realities have to be reconsidered, studios are interested again and her first leading role is in the box office hit Fun With Dick and Jane (1977).  One hit after another followed and Jane still couldn't get studio interest for the film.  So, as she herself tells it, she met with ABC in 1979, the day after she won her second Academy Award, and she (and Bruce Gilbert) proposed The Dollmaker as a movie of the week for the TV network.  ABC was all for it but there was still the issue of the script.  It would be 1983 before the TV movie was filmed and 1984 when it aired.   (Jane won an Emmy for her performance.)

To get a film made -- for the big screen or for TV or (today) the internet) -- you have to be a long distance runner.

The film frustrations Cindy Sheehan went through don't even qualify as a 1 K fun run.


Let's deal with another aspect and then we'll circle around.

Casey Sheehan died.

That was a huge loss for his family.

As someone who felt her loss was great enough to warrant a meeting with a world leader, I'm not really sure where Cindy gets off insulting Chris Kyle.

Guess what, it's not all about you, Cindy Sheehan.

I've defended Cindy here repeatedly over the years.  She's said nothing to help another mother, has she? She can't identify with Pat Smith's loss?

I've wondered about that.

And now here is she is trashing a dead man because she thinks he's racist -- or says she thinks it.


If only we were all so pure and wonderful like Cindy Sheehan?


The fact of the matter is she needs to lose the judgmental.


There's no reason for her to insult Chris Kyle.

Her view of her son is in conflict with those who served with him.

That's not surprising.

He was put through the same socialization process everyone in the military is.

So I'm not understanding why Cindy's being so awful to Chris Kyle who has a family that misses him dearly.

You're not happy that he shot Iraqis?

I'm not happy that any Iraqis were shot.

But the blame for that, for Americans, goes to the White House (then and now) and the Congress.


Casey Sheehan didn't declare war on Iraq.  Neither did Chris Kyle.

If you're offended by what Chris Kyle did, then you need to take that argument up the chain.

Stop blaming the people and start blaming those in charge.

Chris Kyle broke no law.

He said some mean spirited things about Arabs?

I don't doubt it.

And I'm not stupid enough to assume he came up with those remarks himself.  I'm fully aware that this was part of training, part of the socialization, part of the attempt to create the belief in 'the other' which allows the dehumanization necessary to kill.

Now maybe moon beams shot out of Casey Sheehan's ass like Cindy seems to think.  Maybe they didn't.  But I'm not going to insult Casey Sheehan because I'm opposed to the ongoing war.  And I'm not going to insult Chris Kyle for it either.

I don't expect Cindy to be a saint.  I do expect her to have common sense.

Her post is beneath her and goes to the reality that she has a myth about Casey with regards to Iraq and it's a myth she wills herself to believe.


Chris Kyle.could have been her son but she attacks him and berates him in a post.

She has no humanity to share and can't relate to the family of Chris Kyle on any level.

Nursing a myth takes a lot out of you.

 And let's point out the obvious about her supposed offense regarding what Kyle wrote in his book.

Cindy does a radio show.  If she really cares about the Iraqi people why doesn't she cover Iraq?

If she really cares why, in the year long bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods, has she never devoted an episode to this topic?

These are War Crimes, legally defined War Crimes.

And Cindy's not calling them out, she's not using her forum to draw attention to the thousands of civilians who have been killed and wounded for the 'crime' of being in their neighborhood, for the 'crime' of being in their homes.

This is not the Islamic State.

Grasp that.

This is the Iraqi military bombing Falluja daily.

It started under Nouri al-Maliki.  September 13th, new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi noted how wrong it was -- but stopped short of calling it a War Crime -- it is one, it's the legal definition of "collective punishment" -- and promised the bombings had stopped.  The next day they continued.

So when Cindy's going to talk about that?

I'm so tired of people who pretend they care about this or that but when they've got the chance to talk about something that matters, they don't.

Ongoing War Crimes and no one wants to call them out.  It's pretty much Human Rights Watch, Felicity Arbuthonot and this community willing to call out the War Crimes. (If you call it out or know someone who does, send a link to common_ills@yahoo.com and it will gladly be noted here.)

How damn difficult is for a citizen in, for example, the United States to call out the Iraqi government attacking civilians daily in Falluja?

I don't think it's difficult at all.

But the silence from Cindy Sheehan and others never ends.

Pick any day at random, let's go with June 18th: The bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods claimed the lives of 6 civilians -- two of whom were children -- with sixteen more civilians injured.


So don't come whimpering to me about some 'naughty words' that were used in a book when you don't have the guts, the spine, the compassion, the humanity to call out the year long suffering of Sunnis in Falluja as the military has repeatedly targeted the residential neighborhoods wounding and killing thousands in 2014 alone.


The United Nations refuses to release an 'official' count on deaths in Falluja and that's because they don't want to speak up about the ongoing War Crimes.

The only time they've acknowledged it seriously was when new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced these bombings had ended -- then the UN had praise to offer publicly.  But the bombings didn't end, the UN didn't retract their praise or even acknowledge that the bombings continued.


Iraqi Spring MC notes 3 civilians dead and four injured on Friday from the Iraqi military's non-stop bombing of civilian areas in Falluja.

And these bombings have other impacts as well.


النازحون من منازلهم جراء القصف العشوائي المتعمد من قبل القوات الحكومية على منازل المدنيين. .




As Iraqi Spring MC notes, they add to the ever-growing refugee population in Iraq.


The silence also means others can get away with it.

Today, civilian areas in and around Baghdad were bombed by the war planes in the US-led coalition.

But let's all get upset over what Chris Kyle wrote in a sentence or two in his book.

That is the real crime -- right, Cindy Sheehan?

Not the ongoing bombings of civilians, not the never-ending war.

Yeah, you play strong and proud over your attacks on a dead man who can't defend himself and who might be a little too close to what you fear your son was like in Iraq.

Can your crazy -- can it, market it, sell it, maybe it'll make you rich.

It just won't help end any wars.  But the woman who occupied a ditch in Crawford can't be bothered with Iraq today unless it's to trash a dead soldier.


I don't have time for the crazy.

There are two ways to make The Cindy Sheehan Story -- I said we'd work back to it -- a big screen film.

The first is to deal with the tragedy of those quiet moments when Cindy's alone with her memories and has to realize if the construct she's created about Casey is accurate or not?

That sort of haunting is what got Music Box a greenlight (and when the studio paid Jane Fonda a small fortune not to act in the film and replaced her with Jessica Lange, that was about sexism and age-ism and not a conspiracy).


The other story, the one I urged to the second group of film makers Cindy whines about -- yeah, I'm going to call it whining.  I've been kind when she's misconstrued Rob Reiner who is a friend of mine.  But I'm not going to be kind here.  She's whining and doing so stupidly.  She had two different groups approach her about making a film and she never took the lead and she never fought for it but instead sat back and expected to happen when the reality is over 99% of proposed films never get made and any that do require people to champion the projects and fight.

The other story is about a woman who allowed herself to be used.

This is the reality, not the story Cindy wants to tell.  She likes to, for example, claim she was against Barack from the start.  That's a lie.  It's a known lie.  She was for Barack up until the Democratic Party primaries ended.  Common Dreams is among the websites she left comments on.  She can claim she was trying to destroy Hillary Clinton (his opponent in the 2008 primaries, for those who've forgotten).  Doesn't really matter.  Oh, wait, it does.  Had Hillary been elected president in 2008, the so-called peace movement wouldn't have folded up the tent and gone home.

But the film that would work as cinema is about a woman who really wasn't sure where she stood on the war while her son was alive.  She waivered.  And that's understandable and even something most can feel empathy towards her for.  Then she became outspoken.  This is months before her Crawford, Texas stand.

And then she's in the DFW area at a Veterans for Peace meeting and decides, since Bully Boy Bush is at his Crawford, Texas ranchette, to go down there.

It's decided to start Camp Casey.

And tons of people show up.

Most are grass-roots people who want to end the war.

But there are those who see it as political hay.

And then some anti-Semitic statements Cindy made emerge.

And let's not pretend that they were anti-Israeli government.  They weren't.  They were anti-Semitic.  Doesn't make Cindy a bad person (we won't rush to attack her the way she rushed to attack Chris Kyle), just means she needs to be a little more informed.

And that's really when they have Cindy -- and a detail not often told.

The behind the scenes players -- only some of which she's named -- rush to spin it as (a) she didn't make those comments and (b) even if she did, she's a dumb little home maker so no one should get too upset about it.

August is a dead month for the media and they were happy to let the spin settle and continue to cover the woman in the ditch outside a world leader's home, demanding to speak with him to know why her son died in Iraq.

Partisan bloggers for the Democratic Party took part in the lie that Cindy wasn't opposed to the war, she just wanted an answer.  A blogger named Jude, for example, is someone we broke with over this lie.  Jude was pimping it online -- she was always a Democratic Party house organ and not an individual blogger -- and she wasn't the only one.

And Cindy allowed it.

She walked in the narrow confines she was instructed to.

She wouldn't sell party politics but she would -- and did -- take part in the media creation of "Peace Mom."

And after the 2006 mid-terms, the Democratic Party and their various outlets and organs had no use for her.

She had helped them deliver both houses of Congress to the Democrats.

The political party had used the illegal war to drum up votes.

So if you though they were ending the Iraq War in 2007, you were a damn fool.

They weren't going to end it, not when they had a presidential election two years out that they could win by harnessing the outrage over the Iraq War and turning it into votes.

Cindy betrayed herself in various little ways.

But none of that prepared her for the betrayal she would face from others.

You can make that film as a comedy or as a thriller.  You can use Frank Capra's Meet John Doe as your backdrop -- they share many of the same plot points.

And it's a movie that could put people in the seats because it's not just the story of Cindy, it's the story of American in the last fifteen or so years.

In one way or another, like Cindy, we all did small steps of self-betrayal.  We kidded ourselves that it was for 'the greater good.'  We kidded ourselves that, when we were silent, it was helping the movement.

Whether you think Occupy was a movement or not, the lack of criticism -- serious criticism -- allowed whatever it was to peter out quickly and Occupy is no more despite the hopes and dreams of a bunch of elderly radicals in NYC.

But we did that in the peace movement or the anti-war movement.  We pretended it was okay that those with divided loyalties -- at best (you can't serve the peace movement and a corporatist, War Hawk political party at the same time) -- were in the forefront.

We created our own free speech pens and sat out so much time in them.


It set the stage for the next presidential election, "2008: The Year of Living Hormonally (Year in Review)."

A time when all good Democrats must not call out Barack for putting homophobes on stage at campaign events, a time where all good Democrats must not note that after the Iraq War started in 2003, Barack was a public supporter of it -- yes, 'anti-war' Barack got on board.


We 'built' that.  And we created the stage for the events Joan Didion so aptly described (link goes to New York Review of Books podcast):

What troubled had nothing to do with the candidate himself.
It had to do instead with the reaction he evoked.
Close to the heart of it was the way in which only the very young were decreed of capable of truly appreciating the candidate. Again and again, perfectly sentient adults cited the clinching of arguments made on the candidate's behalf by their children -- by quite small children. Again and again, we were told that this was a generational thing, we couldn't understand. In a flash we were sent back to high school, and we couldn't sit with the popular kids, we didn't get it. The "Style" section of The New York Times yesterday morning mentioned the Obama t-shirts that "makes irony look old."
Irony was now out.
Naivete translated into "hope" was now in.
Innocence, even when it looked like ignorance, was now prized.


By then, some had begun speaking out.  Cindy was among those.  But she and I and many, many others helped set the stage for what came after by biting our tongues when we should have been speaking out.  By thinking silence on an issue meant helping the larger issues.

I've known all my life Naomi Klein was the child of a war resister.  I know Naomi's father and knew him before she was born.

But as Naomi refused -- refused -- to speak out on war resisters, I stayed silent for years.

She had no right to.  She owed it to the community to speak out, to pay it forward.

And yet she'd plug her books and plug her articles and act ditzy on Al Franken's radio show ('Oh, you can't say s**t on the radio in America? Giggle, giggle, I'm practically a bra-less starlet!').

At one point when I said I was going public, it was conveyed to me that Naomi feared going public would mean she would lose entry to the United States, be put on some sort of list.

That was nutty but okay, I bit my tongue.

And I did it far too long.  When there was serious media attention on war resisters in the early days, I should've outed Naomi as a child of a Vietnam war resister, an American who went to Canada.  That would have forced her to address the issues in all the interviews she was giving, it would have raised the profile of war resisters, it would have put a human face on it and it would have argued: 'Canada, you have a figure of global prominence in Naomi Klein and you have her as a citizen because you welcomed war resisters in the past.  Do so again.'

We all lied and that's how we arrived at the point we're at now.

And we're still lying because people don't want to tell you how Hillary probably wins if she runs for president.

She wins because we're so f**king ugly on the left now.

We're an eye sore.

Large segments of the country are repulsed by it and this allows the neoliberals to argue that we need to drop the 'purity tests' and we need to be 'rationale' and Hillary's the candidate for us and blah blah blah.

The pendulum swings back and forth not because the country is bi-polar but because the middle and the apathetic (which does comprise the bulk of the United States population) grow outraged over the excesses of the right when they're in power and over the excesses of the left when they're in power.

Both segments seem to think they have a right to dictate to the American people how they should live their lives and the voters reject that repeatedly over and over.

We could have stood for something beyond partisan politics in the last six years but we didn't.

And now it's likely Hillary Clinton in the White House or a Republican and, honestly, aren't the two really just the same damn thing?




 

Read on ...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Taxer



the taxer


From August 8, 2012, that's "The Taxer."  

C.I. wrote:


Harry Reid, decked out like a second-rate Joan Rivers, snaps, "Can we talk? Mitt Romney never paid taxes.  Maybe in Kenya!  I'm a taxer!  Look how the press treats me!  They love my crazy ass!"  Donald Trump adds, "That's one crazy cross dressing f**ker."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

I want to talk about the Joan Rivers aspect.

This comic makes me realize that I've probably referenced her in one way or another in about 20 comics over the years.

I was a big fan.

If she was on TV, I'd watch.

I had her comedy album as well.

I thought she was hilarious and she was one of the comics I always made a point to check out.

Last year, she died and she is missed.

But one thing I'm sorry about is that while I loved her and praised her work, I never realized what an influence she was on me.

So I just want to say thank you to the late Joan Rivers not just for all the laughs but for the impact she had on my humor.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 
Saturday, January 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Americans oppose ground troops in Iraq in a poll the press ignores, Juan Cole slimes the military, and more.



Cher weighs in on Iraq:



The damage was done and the damage continues.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) notes 139 violent deaths in Iraq yesterday with 21 more injured.


How is Barack's bombing campaign (passed off as a 'plan') reducing violence?


As we ponder that, let's move over to note how it's always interesting what gets attention and what doesn't.  Everyone and their dog (that would be the Christian Science Monitor) weighed in on the poll regarding the number of Republicans who believed (wrongly) that WMD (one of the false reasons given for the illegal war on Iraq) were discovered there.  We covered the poll in Wednesday's snapshot but we covered it: "32% of Democrats in the US and 51% of Republicans wrongly believe WMDs were discovered in Iraq."  Though many outlets used the poll -- which has issues that should question some of the validity of the results -- to do another slam book post on Republicans and Fox News, that 32% of Democrats believe the lie is telling.

A few wanted to insist that the bad New York Times article was responsible.

No.

One report can't do that.

Not even if it's amplified.

The issue is no one was held accountable.  When no one's held accountable, the message is no one needs to be held accountable because no one was wrong.

You go into Jack In The Box and order fries, walk out the door, look in the sack and discover they gave you onion rings, you can walk back in and they will take accountability for their mistake and give you the fries you ordered.

One of the reasons given for the 'need' to go to war on Iraq was that Iraq had WMD and was seeking out Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Uranium or some such nonsense.

And these reasons have not led to accountability.

Except maybe for Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson.

Joe is the former US Ambassador to Iraq who exposed Bully Boy Bush's lie about the yellow cake uranium and he was held accountable for that truth telling by the BBB administration which went on to illegally out his wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative.  (Thanks to his father, Poppy Bush, it is illegal for a US government official or employee to out a CIA operative.  It is not a crime for others to do so.  Which is why columnist Robert Novak committed no crime -- a fact that David Corn -- in his never ending eagerness to suck the phallus of the CIA -- frequently was confused over.)

So Joe and Valerie suffered.

Cindy Sheehan and others across the US suffered as they saw their family members perish in the Iraq War or return home wounded.

The American people -- for many generations -- are suffering -- and will suffer -- as a result of the financial debt the illegal war has created.

But despite all the suffering and consequences being doled out to various people, the ones who lied were never held accountable.

Colin Powell is treated as 'respectable' by the media despite his public lying.  He's far from the only one.

And let's not forget that his cuddle buddy, Lawrence Wilkerson, was given free reign by the media (especially MSNBC and Democracy Now!) to rewrite history and present Colin Powell -- human filth since Vietnam -- as a victim and a truthful person.

When no one's held accountable for lying, when there are no prosecutions for deceiving the American people and starting an illegal war, people will assume the lies were true.

But, as usual, that was too much for the media in this country to address.

Heaven forbid we address the glaring lack of accountability.

And heaven forbid we address a real poll -- one whose methodology raises no questions.

See there were two polls that had to do with Iraq that were released this week.

And if you wanted to slam book Republicans and Fox News, you focused on the questionable one (and generally ignored the 32% of Democrats who believed the lie of WMD found).

And if you support war, you'll continue to ignore the other poll.

57% of Americans oppose sending US troops into combat in Iraq.  (Yes, they are already in combat.  Dropping bombs from planes is combat and, throughout the US Air Force's history, people have long received decorations for those combat missions.)

57% oppose.

That's a majority.

That, however, wasn't big news this week.

A search of even Antiwar.com doesn't even turn up a report or citation.

The poll was conducted by the Brookings Institute -- a centrist organization not known for pacifist sentiment.

It was released on Thursday.

I missed it until a friend at Brookings asked why I wasn't noting it.

Antiwar.com probably missed it for the same reason.

But what about the MSM which usually can't stop presenting Brookings as a "trusted voice."

One poll offered easy scorn towards a group of Americans -- a group of Americans that many in the MSM look down upon, let's be honest.  And they glommed on that poll -- and zoomed in on the results they loved about the people they dislike (Republicans) while ignoring the results on their kindred (Democrats).

But a poll that speaks against what the administration wants?

That poll receives pretty much no attention at all.

Shibley Telhami, who conducted the survey, notes, "If airstrikes are not enough to stop ISIS, 57 percent of Americans oppose sending U.S. ground troops into Iraq to fight the Islamic State.  On the other hand, 53 percent of Republicans favor sending ground troops."

That the number for Republicans is only 53% is rather amazing.  It's also a number, if peace activists were familiar with it, that could be worked on.

You better believe that the War Hawks are aware of the poll.  You better believe they'll be working to lower the 57%.

You better believe that includes the White House.

As far back as June, US President Barack Obama (rightly) insisted that the only answer for Iraq's crises was a political solution.

But the US government hasn't focused their efforts on that, have they?

Instead, the DoD and the State Dept -- and the State Dept -- have focused on roping in other countries to join in the bombings and pressuring these countries to put troops on the ground -- whether they're billed as 'advisors' or what have you.

The White House hasn't been able to get the ground forces it needs.

As we've noted before, many State Dept efforts on this have been greeted with foreign officials responding, 'Why should we be sending in combat forces when you government isn't?"

This repeated reaction from officials in other countries forced the White House to show its hand last month.


That's when they sent US Secretary of State John Kerry to argue, December 9th, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Congress must pass an authorization for Barack's actions in Iraq and Syria and that this legislation must include that Barack can send US combat troops into Iraq.


Secretary of State John Kerry: However, while we certainly believe this is the soundest policy, and while the president has been clear he's open to clarifications on the use of U.S. combat troops to be outlined in an AUMF, that does not mean we should pre-emptively bind the hands of the commander in chief oo  or our commanders in the field -- in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee. 


Barack wants ground troops in Iraq.

Or, if you're an idiot like Ray McGovern, a rogue John Kerry wants them!

His Hips Are Plenty Wide To Hide Barack!

Who knew?

John has such a narrow frame.

But just as Barack hid behind Hillary's skirt during his first term, he now hides behind John's rather bony ass.

And a lot of liars and idiots are willing to go along with that nonsense and pretend that when Kerry goes before the Senate -- and sends his written remarks, his opening statement, 48 hours before appearing -- the White House is caught by surprise that Kerry's asking for ground troops.

Not only are they caught by surprise but poor little Barack can't even stand up to John.

Not only that, Barack's unable to tell the press he rejects the call for ground troops.

He's a prisoner!

Do men like Ray McGovern portray Barack as such a weakling because it lets them get off on their sexual fantasies where they're strong and important and rescue the damsel Barack?


There were two polls this week.

One led to mockery.

Which one is really important in 2015?

Which one matters right now as the White House wants Congress to give them the right to put US forces into combat in Iraq?


That would be the poll the press ignored, that would be the Brookings poll.

Something else that matters is Asa Fitch and Ghassan Adnan's report for the Wall St. Journal which notes thug Nouri al-Maliki is still plotting to return as prime minister.

After finally being forced out of office in August (though he continues to refuse to leave the prime minister's house), Nouri al-Maliki continues to plot and conspire.  Haider al-Abadi, Iraq's current prime minister, is seen as weak and not all that different from Nouri when it comes to sectarian positions.

We'll note this from the article:


Mr. Maliki still harbors major political ambitions of his own, say insiders such as Ali Dabbagh, who worked as Mr. Maliki’s spokesman in his first term as prime minister but now opposes him.

“Maliki is still dreaming, and this is going to kill him,” he said. “I think finally he should accept the reality. This is politics and this is like a wheel, down and up, and you are down. I don’t think that anybody would allow you to come up—ever.” 

That's Ali al-Dabbagh.

We used to mock Ali in the snapshots, note what a liar he was for Nouri and how the day would come when Nouri would turn on him (as Nouri turns on everyone).

That came with the $4 billion weapons deal with Russia.

The deal was corrupt (on the Iraqi side).  Nouri's son was one of the many profiting from the deal.

As the corruption was exposed -- in the Iraq press -- Nouri began looking for fall guys.

Ali al-Dabbagh fled the country (and his post as spokesperson) when Nouri attempted to scapegoat him.

al-Dabbagh feels safe enough now not only to return to Iraq but also to publicly criticize Nouri.

That criticism won't go unnoticed by Nouri, a petty man who will nurse a grudge like it's a bottle of vintage scotch.



Juan Cole was an Iraq War cheerleader -- he also cheerleaded the assault on Libya.  Friday morning we noted his latest nonsense and we'll continue that conversation briefly by noting this, "Sharif was about to go to Iraq in 2005, himself, to fight Bush's troops there."  I realize that the nomad lacked basic education in his formative years and never really took courses in US history and civics but the military is not the military of an individual, even if that person is occupying the Oval Office.

In a column where he blames Bush repeatedly, attacks him repeatedly, for him to then type "Bush's troops"?

Now he can mock them, he can ridicule them.

But he can also face the fall out.

And that fall out should include his stupidity in assuming that the US troops belong to any Oval Office occupant.  They are not toys, they are not possessions.

They are also not the ones calling the shots.  How easy it is to attack a group of people -- especially ones who do not make policy.


Turning to the issue of veterans, Senators Patty Murray and Johnny Isakson deliver a win to veterans.  Senator Murray is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Senator Johnny Isakson serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee as well.  Senator Murray's office issued the following:





For Immediate Release                                                      CONTACT: Murray (202) 224-2834
Friday, January 9th, 2014                                                                                        Isakson (202) 224-7777
Top U.S. Army Official Fixes Retirement Benefits Issue After Calls from Murray, Isakson
 
In a November letter to Army Secretary McHugh, the Senators called for immediate reversal of previous policy
  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) applauded U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh for reversing a policy that caused a significant number of Army officers to retire at a lower rank and lose significant retirement benefits, as much as $1,000 per month for the rest of their lives.  

 
Under the now-reversed policy, a significant group of Army captains and majors (former non-commissioned officers who were recruited for Officer Candidate School after September 11, 2001) were forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank, instead of their rank as officers, as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB).  In November, the Senators sent a letter to Sec. McHugh calling for this change. The new policy will result in a significant increase in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more, or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.   

 
“I heartily share your concern regarding those officers…who were informed they must retire in their previous enlisted grade,” Secretary McHugh wrote to the Senators.  “I am pleased to inform you that…I have waived the minimum requirement for those officers, allowing them to retire as officers without regard to the number of years they  have in active commissioned service.”  
 

The full text of Secretary McHugh’s letter can be viewed HERE.  
 


"These brave men and women answered the Army’s call to duty not just once, but twice, and I applaud Secretary McHugh’s swift action to correct this policy and ensure we fully honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes,” Senator Murray said. “I'm grateful to my friend and colleague, Senator Isakson, for joining me in this fight.”
 
“I am thrilled Secretary McHugh responded quickly and is taking the steps necessary to rectify this situation and allow these deserving men and women to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation,” said Isakson, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
  

Read a one-page summary of the issue here.

 
Under the previous Army policy, a soldier must have served at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer.  Soldiers who served 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers, were retired at their highest enlisted rank. 

 
During the “Grow the Army” effort, the Army dramatically increased the number of officers commissioned via its Officer Candidate School (OCS).  The Army expanded to a post 9-11 peak of 570,000 soldiers in 2010 and is currently executing an end strength reduction designed to shrink the Army to 450,000 soldiers.  Many of those OCS graduates are now being forced to retire through the E-SERB process as the Army shrinks.  Officers with more than 18 years active service are screened by E-SERB and those selected will be forced to retire on the first day of the month following the month they reach 20 years of service. These former non-commissioned officers stepped up and volunteered for OCS at a time the Army badly needed officers and served honorably for between 6 and 7 years, but many were being retired at enlisted ranks they had not held in years. 

Senators Murray and Isakson were joined in sending their initial letter by: Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bernard Sanders (D-VT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
 
###
Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834










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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dirty Debbie

dirty debbie


 


From August 5, 2012, that's "Dirty Debbie." 

C.I. wrote:


Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with flies buzzing around her head, declares, "This election should not be about defeating Barack Obama.  Or about how dirty and greasy my hair is.  Close your eyes and see a recovered economy and a Debbie who bathes and washes her hair."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.


Okay, I added the flies buzzing around -- but have you caught her on TV?

Her hair is dirty and greasy.

And her face usually looks greasy as well.

All I added to the effect were the flies.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"




Saturday, December 27, 2014. Chaos and violence continue, US Senator John McCain travels to Iraq, the Speaker of Parliament asks the US to arm Sunni tribes to fight the Islamic State, we look at Sahwa, and much more.



The Washington Post's David Ignatius looks back on 2014 in terms of Iraq in a column which notes, "The problem, the tribal leader argued, was that because the United States was working so closely with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, Sunnis in Anbar doubted there was any U.S. commitment to giving them more power. Without this political commitment, weapons and even Apache gunships would be of little use."

He's referring to Sahwa.

Also known as "Awakening," "Sons of Iraq" (and it's female counterpart "Daughters of Iraq").

Sahwa's a complex issue that many want to turn simplistic.  I'm not referring to David Ignatius, I'm referring to cheerleaders on various sides.

Sahwa was a US government plan to get Sunnis fighters -- resistance -- to big-tent it in Iraq.

By 2007, the Awakening movement was finally getting traction.

However, for over a year prior the US government repeatedly claimed success there when there was no success and many in the press ran with articles about this great new movement that did not exist.

On great.  Some tribal leaders were like any other people on the face of the earth -- the mixture of positive attributes and faults.  But equally true, some leaders of Sahwa -- at least two noted ones -- were mafia.  Iraqi mafia.  One, in fact, making big money in the cement industry.

That's part of it too and you can't talk about the history and be dishonest.

That's the leadership.

David Petraeus was a US general who was the top commander in Iraq. By 2008, a number of things were going on in Iraq resulting in a reduction of violence.

Sahwa was one component.  Another was the 'surge.'

The 'surge' is something I have a real problem with.  As late as 2010, I could hear someone on my side (the left) talk about the surge and dismiss it completely and think we could disagree and that was that.  But the reality is, as the years have shown since, this is not an area where people are honest or thoughtful.  This is a knee-jerk area with a lot of uninformed stupid people.  If that seems simplistic, so does, in 2014, saying "The surge didn't work!"

I opposed the surge, check the archives.  I called it out when it was proposed.  I called it out when it was started.  I said it would be a failure.


I was half-wrong and I was half-right.

The surge was two parts.

(1) Bully Boy Bush was greatly increasing the number of US troops in Iraq and (2) this was being done so that a 'diplomatic surge' would take place -- violence would be reduced and the US troops would be leading on that to allow the Iraqi politicians to focus on the always spoken of but never achieved "political solutions."

The US military did what they were tasked with.

They succeeded.

I don't know why some on my side have a problem admitting that.

Check the archives, I said it wouldn't happen.  I was wrong.  I have no problem admitting that.

But part one, the success, was supposed to create the space for part two and that never happened.

This is a really important point because it's not just history from a few years back, it applies to today when Barack Obama is doing the same thing that Bully Boy Bush did, focusing on the military aspect and just assuming the political will fall into place all by itself.

At any rate, the reduction in violence came about for three reasons.  The surge and Sahwa were two of those reasons.  The third reason was ethnic cleansing.

Many still want to call it a civil war.

It wasn't and we didn't play like it was in real time.

Baghdad was 'cleansed' and went from an integrated city to one that is predominately Shi'ite.

The bulk of the external refugees of this period were Sunnis.  The bulk of the dead were Sunnis.

You can play it off as 'civil war' for however many decades before you're comfortable admitting the US government's role in it.

But that's why violence began to decrease: Sahwa, the surge (the military aspect, the only success) and ethnic cleansing.

The reduction in violence was such a success that it distracted from the political failures which included Nouri al-Maliki -- then prime minister of Iraq and forever thug -- being unable to meet the White House defined benchmarks for success (which Nouri agreed to and signed off on).

To sell the continuation of the illegal war, April 2008 offered a week of  The Petraeus and Crocker Show, where the then top-US commander in Iraq Petraeus and then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified to Congress repeatedly.  By focusing on violence, they tricked the bulk of Congress (or maybe the bulk of Congress was in on the con? -- certainly some were) into talking about that and ignoring the lack of progress on the political front.  (US House Rep Lloyd Doggett was the only one who, that entire week, used his questioning time to bring up the issue of the failed political benchmarks).  We were at all the hearings that week and we'll drop back to April 8, 2008 for  that day's snapshot:




Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road.  First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War.  They didn't.  In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September.  When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did. 
 The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly.  (He did so at least 16 times before he was escored out).  The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up.  In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.  These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts."  Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up. 
How much lunch money is the US forking over?  Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars).  By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month.  $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".  Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies.  What a [proud] moment for the country.

Crocker's entire testimony can be boiled down to a statement he made in his opening statements, "What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible."  Which would translate in the real world as nothing has really changed.  During questioning from Senator Jack Reed, Crocker would rush to shore up the "Awakening" Council members as well.  He would say there were about 90,000 of them and, pay attention, the transitioning of them is delayed due to "illliteracy and physical disabilities."  


Sahwa was paid to stop attacking US equipment and US troops -- that was the order Petraeus repeatedly gave that week and where he placed the emphasis.

Could the movement exist without buy-offs?

If the payments stopped would the movement stop?

In 2008, I believed it wouldn't.

I was hugely wrong.

During that week, Senator Barbara Boxer noted the millions being spent on this program and wondered why the US government was footing the bill and not the oil-rich government of Iraq?

This took both Petraeus and Crocker by surprise and, realizing they a potential nightmare on their hands, they basically rewrote policy while testifying by insisting they could and would raise that with the Iraqi government.

Which was Nouri.

Nouri loved Iraqi money.  Loved it so much, he took it home and played with it.  Also known as embezzlement and theft.

But while he'd grab it for himself (and for his crooked son), he wasn't keen on using it to better Iraq.  Which is why there was no improvement to Iraq's crumbling public infrastructure under Nouri -- despite his serving 8 years as prime minister.

He also didn't want to pay Sahwa.

But, more than money, his problem was that they were Sunnis.

When the US insisted on coward Nouri in 2006 -- insisted he become prime minister because the CIA analysis on Nouri argued his paranoia would make him an easily controlled puppet -- they pretty much doomed the country.  (Barack sealed the doom by insisting, in 2010, that Nouri get a second term as prime minister even after he lost the election to Ayad Allawi.)

Nouri was back in Iraq not out of love for the country.  Love didn't cause the coward to flee either.  He hated Sunnis and he wanted revenge.

And though he was being told by the US government that he'd have to pay Sahwa and that he'd have to incorporate them into the Iraqi forces and into the Iraqi government, he had no intention of doing so.

And, in the end, he didn't.

The press kept trumpeting that he'd put them on the payroll and then, a few months later, the press would begrudgingly admit that, oops, the US was still paying them.

Then they just weren't getting paid at all.

But still the Sahwa continued to fight and defend areas.

I was completely wrong that it was just for money.

Sahwa gave many rank and file a sense of purpose and a belief in a new Iraq.

And not only did they continue even when not paid, they continued when they were targeted by Nouri.

They were arrested, they were killed, they were harassed -- not by the rebels they were fighting but by Nouri and his thugs.

Nouri termed them "Ba'athists" and "terrorists" and much more publicly.

In August, when Haider al-Abadi replaced Nouri as prime minister, there was supposed to be a sea of change. For Sahwa, it's largely been a desert of stillness.

As we noted Friday morning, US Senator John McCain was in Iraq and scheduled to meet with Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri.  Anadolu Agency reports they did meet and that Jubouri asked for the US to arm :100,000 Sunni tribesmen living in four regions that are controlled by the ISIL."

From McCain's Twitter feed:





McCain supported the surge, supported Sahwa and supports the current phase of the never-ending war (while having some qualms over its execution), so he was most likely receptive to the request and will convey it to other members of Congress and the administration while also supporting it.

But this can't be seen as an "Iraqi government request."

Yes, the Speaker is Iraqi.

So is Haider al-Abadi.

Haider's made no such request.

Haider is Shi'ite.

Salim al-Jubouri is Sunni.

He is one of the two highest ranking Sunnis in the government.

The Joel Wing crowd is deeply stupid so, since we're doing a remedial here, let's explain that statement.

Currently, the two highest ranking Sunni officials are Salem and Osama al-Nujaifi.  Osama is the former Speaker of Parliament and currently one of Iraq's three vice presidents.

Saleh al-Mutlaq is a Sunni.  He is Deputy Prime Minister.  He was that in Nouri's second term as well.  From time to time, the Wingers tried to portray Saleh as the highest ranking.

No.

He's the lady in waiting.

He's the runner up at Miss America.

The post of the Speaker is part of the "three presidencies" (check the Iraqi Constitution) -- the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker.  That alone gives the post tremendous powers.  There's also the power of being in charge of the Parliament -- a power that scared and frightened paranoid Nouri so much that he repeatedly attempted to turn the Parliament into two houses.

(He failed.)

So that's the power of the Speaker.

On the vice presidents, someone will immediately insist, "The presidential post is only ceremonial."

That's really not true.

Jalal Talabani was a lazy fat ass who refused to do any real work.

For the sake of this discussion, we're zooming in on just one issue.

Jalal is opposed to the death penalty.

He spent his two terms as President of Iraq speaking about how he opposed it.  Never explaining it or advocating for it or working to win people over to his side.  He'd just declare he opposed the death penalty and take the easy applause which globally greeted his bare minimum statement.


As president, he had to sign off on the executions for them to take place or allow one of the vice presidents too.

Jalal never stopped an execution.

He had the power too.

He could say no to one or to all of the executions.

He failed to do so despite being so against the death penalty.

In March 2010, Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections.

Why?

The vote was supposed to have taken place sooner.

In the fall of 2009, however, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi looked at the proposed election law and argued it did not properly factor in Sunni refugees.  So he blocked the bill, which had passed Parliament.  And he blocked it from going forward until he got concessions he wanted.  Which is why the parliamentary elections didn't take place at the end of 2009 but took place in March of 2010.

This infuriated the White House and upset their planned roll out -- elections in 2009, 'combat forces' out in 2010, the bulk of US forces out of Iraq at the end of 2011 as part of the 'drawdown,' etc.

But Tareq had the power as Vice President.

Saleh has none of these powers as Deputy Prime Minister.

Yet the Winger set and a large part of the American press felt the need to lie and portray Saleh as the most important Sunni official.

A solid argument could be made that Saleh also ranks below any Sunni who has been confirmed by the Parliament to head a ministry (provided the ministry has actual funding -- the Ministry of Women continues to have funding issues which appears to indicate Haider al-Abadi has as little respect for women as did Nouri).

So while current Speaker of Parliament al-Jubouri has tremendous power, unless Haider joins the call, this really isn't a request from the Iraqi government but from one part of it.

Haider's refusal to join this call goes to how he's not really different from Nouri.

He's not as stupid as Nouri -- but few people are as stupid as Nouri and no one is probably ever going to be more stupid than Nouri al-Maliki.

So he's avoiding openly antagonizing the Sunnis or the Kurds or Iraq's neighbors.

But he's also not doing much at all to help within Iraq.

Sahwa will fight in Anbar.

If Sahwa's armed and the order is given to go into Falluja, they will.

That's really not in doubt.

By contrast, the thugs in the Iraqi military currently over Falluja?

They're cowards and they're criminals.

They're Shi'ites who are too chicken into Falluja and think they look 'strong' by bombing the cities residential areas.  They're bombing civilians.  This is Collective Punishment.  It's a legally defined War Crime, the United States recognizes it as such and, as long as it continues, the US government is breaking the law -- that's Barack -- and can be put on trial for War Crimes because Barack is collaborating with  a government that is knowingly bombing civilians.

In the past, Barack wouldn't have to worry.

Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, LBJ, et al (leave out Jimmy Carter) all acted with impunity and didn't think too much about War Crimes -- either their own or those of regimes that they collaborated with.

There was an arrogance that the military and the economy of the United States afforded its leaders.

The world has changed and is changing.

For a US president, Barack is a young man.  (Hillary, if elected, would be a very old president by contrast.)  Provided his health holds out, he could live for many decades more.

And if he succeeds with his 'trade' treaty and ships even more US jobs out of the United States, that means the country will be even weaker economically.  Who knows where it will stand in 20 or 30 years.  But if it continues to slide, the arrogance so many US presidents have had just might get stripped away and they might find that -- like leaders of tiny countries -- they too can be paraded in front of the Hague for War Crimes.

Arming Sahwa is pretty much a necessary step. Even the White House knows it's needed.  But they're trying to walk Haider up to the point where he can see the need for it as well.

Thing is, they've been walking him on that treadmill for months and, if he hasn't seen it already, he's not going to.  Which is why you tie it to something that he wants.  X for agreeing to arm the Sunnis.

Diplomacy is longterm work, no question.

But Iraq has a very short period of time right now.  Haider was supposed to represent change and he's largely failed to do that.  The window to show he's not Nouri is closing.  He needs to have what one State Dept official calls a "come to Jesus moment" -- and he needs to have it really soon.  Especially if Barack intends to continue with the plan to move on Anbar in February.


As everyone waits for February (or later), the violence continues in Iraq.

Fridays' violence?


The Latin American Herald Tribune notes a Sinjar mortar attack left 6 Peshmerga dead and eleven more injured.

Alsumaria reports a Muqdadiyah mortar attack left 1 police member dead and one civilian critically injured, another Muqdadiyah mortart attack (on a market) left three people injured, and 2 corpses -- a man and a woman -- were found dumped on the streets of Kirkuk Province.


The refugee crisis in Iraq just continues to grow and that, too, reflects poorly on Haider.  Loveday Morris (Washington Post) examines the crisis from various points and we'll note the issue of the Kurdistan Region:

Ismail Mohammed, the assistant governor of Dahuk province, said that the Kurdish province, once one of the smallest in Iraq by population, is now the fourth-largest because of the influx of displaced people. He conceded that the Kurdish regional government has been able to provide little help as it wrangles with the central government in Baghdad over its budget. He hopes that will change as the country’s new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, improves relations with the Kurdish authorities. He complained that the United Nations has been slow to act.


The Washington Post offers a graph here on displacement. Deborah Amos has long covered the refugee crisis in Iraq. and she has a report for Saturday's Weekend Edition (NPR -- link is audio and text).  She is the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East which, see "2010 in books (Martha & Shirley)," was this community's choice for book of 2010.   In addition, Dalshad Abdullah (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

Approximately two million Iraqi citizens, mainly from the country’s central and western governorates, sought refuge from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in 2014, an official from the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration told Asharq Al-Awsat.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, director of Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration office in Erbil Alia Al-Bazzaz said: “The number of [Iraqis] displaced to the Kurdistan region, from the provinces of Anbar, Diyala and Salah Al-Din, has reached approximately two million. The majority of them are in Dahuk, while others are located in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.”
[. . .]
Zarkar said that Baghdad is not providing sufficient aid for the displaced Iraqi citizens, calling on the central government and UN to help refugees in the city.














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