Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Ripper


From February 11, 2020, that's "The Ripper."  C.I. noted:

Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Ripper."  Nancy Pelosi rips apart her copy of Donald Trump's speech and declares, "They call me The Ripper."  Fawn Hall of Ollie North infamy responds, "Actually, I understand they call you a number of things.  But they called me The Shredder."  Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.

I really think we've seen the worst behavior from Nancy Pelosi for several years now.  It's been disgraceful and not fitting of someone holding the post of Speaker of the House.  I think she's lost some of her awareness and sanity.  I thinks he needs to retire.  Even if she doesn't, she's damaged her own image and it's not going to recover.

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

Friday, September 24, 2021. No, the White House did not censor a transcript.  And other topics.

Yesterday, at the White House press briefing, a reporter shouted a question at Jen Psaki as she was leaving the podium.  An e-mail to the public account maintains that the official White House transcript is censored.  No, it's not.  She had concluded the press conference.  She was still in the briefing room and walking away from the podium.  I'm not trying to cover for her, I'm just trying to honestly note what happened.

Stream the video below, you can just go to 44:12, actually.  

If the White House had censored the transcript, that would have been huge news.  That's not what happened.  

Jen Psaki has concluded the press conference and said thank you.  She is picking up her briefing items when one man shouts something and a female reporter is overlapping with 
"Question on Hunter Biden if" and by "if" she's already headed towards the door.  The press briefing is over.  She has said "thank you" and began her exit.  Had she turned around and come back to the podium, the remarks would  need to be part of the official transcript.  But she doesn't.

The transcript isn't censored.  If it were, I'd be noting it here.  If it were I'd be horrified at what an administration had been done but, honestly, I'd be happy on one level because that would be news and it would force the outlets ignoring the story to actually cover it.  

But that's not what happened.  If you're being told it is what happened -- the e-mailer claimed he saw the report on FOX NEWS (which is why I have used FOX NEWS' broadcast of the press conference, by the way, so no one can claim that the briefing was edited by the White House) -- then you are being lied to at worst.  At best? Someone unfamiliar with the procedures has made a faulty call and is repeating it without realizing that.

It's perfectly fine to say Jen walked away.  The look on her face indicates she's not thrilled by what's being stated.  I don't think it's fair to say she walked away from the question because she's walking away and has her back to the room before the "if" is spoken.  

But, no, the White House did not censor the transcript.

I don't know who the woman trying to ask at the end is.  I do wonder why she waited until then to attempt to ask a question?  I would've interrupted many times before including during the ending nonsense about drive time and blah blah blah restrictions.  I would've said something like, "Yeah, Jen, you've covered that and you've already told us you have nothing new so what about the revelations that Hunter Biden's laptop has now been confirmed and what about your Tweet back in October insisting that the whole thing was a lie and a smear and" blah blah blah.

And that's how I would've asked it.

Which is the other thing people aren't getting.

I'm going to mention Jill Biden.  I know Jill and I try to make this an off limits space because Jill's always been kind to me and I like Jill.  When she started defending Hunter -- she did it once -- after the election, I immediately called that out here and her by name.  I stated she has every right to say, "Hunter's my son" (she raised him -- do not e-mail the public account telling me she's not his mother, I don't care for your attitude on that, that's a whole issue of stereotypes and nonsense re: Mom is only the birth mom b.s. that I thought we were beyond), she was perfectly in her rights to say "I love him" and either "I hope it's not true" but that was really it.  Anything further needed her redirecting the question along the lines of, "What I can tell you about is . . ." and then sharing some memory.  

I commented that's how she had to respond and if she did anything else she was opening the door to any type of question on Hunter and on the criminal investigation.  She can't open the door a little and then slam it shut.

But, as we noted then, it's even more restrictive on Joe Biden.  Joe's not allowed to speak if asked this question.  He can say, "I love my son."  He probably should say that.  But he needs to immediately follow that with, "As the head of the executive branch, I can't comment on an ongoing criminal investigation."  And he can't.  It would be an ethical lapse and an abuse of his position and his power.

So if I wanted something from Jen, I would frame it around her Tweet last October.

Just asking her about the laptop is most likely going to result in, "I cannot comment on an ongoing criminal investigation that the FBI is conducting."  That's accurate.  But she can be asked about her Tweet.  That's not part of the criminal investigation.  That goes to her own judgment -- and if she's the White House spokesperson, questions about her judgment come with the territory.  

She might blow off the question, she might try humor (something riffing on, ten months after I make a statement, I -- like most people -- know a little more than I did ten months before), she might try to stick to "I can't comment on an ongoing investigation."  

It would be a mistake to fall back on that last one if she's being asked about her Tweet.  Her Tweet goes to judgment, not to the investigation.  

It would be great if the press could function.  That does mean asking Jen about the new revelations regarding the laptop.  And asking her about it? That means doing so during the press conference. That briefing lasted over 40 minutes.  Stream the whole thing and realize how many times she's not answering a question despite speaking on and on.  (That's not slamming her, that's the role of the spokesperson.)  There were many times when someone could have jumped in and asked that question.  They didn't need to be called upon.  Just say, "Yeah, Jen, you've covered that, now about Hunter Biden's laptop --"  And then you have a question asked during the briefing and on the record.  

That's not what happened.

If it were, we'd be blasting the White House right now.  We'd be asking who okayed the altering of the transcript.  

If you're being told that happened, it's not what happened, that's not what happened.

Glenn Greenwald discusses the latest with Tucker Carlson below.

Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to e-mails obtained by The Post.

The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.

“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the e-mail reads.

An earlier e-mail from May 2014 also shows Pozharskyi, reportedly Burisma’s No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.

The blockbuster correspondence — which flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claim that he’s “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings” — is contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer.

The computer was dropped off at a repair shop in Biden’s home state of Delaware in April 2019, according to the store’s owner.

Other material extracted from the computer includes a raunchy, 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter, who’s admitted struggling with addiction problems, smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images.

The press ignored the contents, Facebook and Twitter censored THE POST.  If you go back to the way we covered it in October and November of last year, you'll note we refuted the claim of "hacking" over and over.  And we did that because that was one of the lies being used.  "We're not censoring the story, we just don't report the contents of something when it was hacked."  First off, lie.  Second of, it wasn't hacked nor was the laptop stolen.  If I take one of my guitars in to be restrung (which I honestly do from time to time, I hate putting on new strings myself) and I don't pick it up, it's not my guitar.  It's not someone's job to hold onto my guitar for six months or more.  They have limited space and if I haven't paid for the work done, it's no longer mine.  Hunter left his laptop to be repaired.  He never paid the bill and he never picked it up.  At that point, the computer repair shop owned the laptop.  They were not 'hackers.'  They were not thieves.  

Those are basic facts and it felt like we were having to repeat that over and over here back then.  

Glenn's compiled a video report of what the media did in terms of censoring the story.

He's also covered that terrain in text form:

A severe escalation of the war on a free internet and free discourse has taken place over the last twelve months. Numerous examples of brute and dangerous censorship have emerged: the destruction by Big Tech monopolies of Parler at the behest of Democratic politicians at the time that it was the most-downloaded app in the country; the banning of the sitting president from social media; and the increasingly explicit threats from elected officials in the majority party of legal and regulatory reprisals in the event that tech platforms do not censor more in accordance with their demands.

But the most severe episode of all was the joint campaign — in the weeks before the 2020 election — by the CIA, Big Tech, the liberal wing of the corporate media and the Democratic Party to censor and suppress a series of major reports about then-presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. On October 14 and then October 15, 2020, The New York Post, the nation's oldest newspaper, published two news reports on Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine and China that raised serious questions about his integrity and ethics: specifically whether he and his family were trading on his name and influence to generate profit for themselves. The Post said that the documents were obtained from a laptop left by Joe Biden's son Hunter at a repair shop.

From the start, the evidence of authenticity was overwhelming. The Post published obviously genuine photos of Hunter that were taken from the laptop. Investigations from media outlets found people who had received the emails in real-time and they compared the emails in their possession to the ones in the Post's archive, and they matched word-for-word. One of Hunter's own business associates involved in many of these deals, Tony Bobulinski, confirmed publicly and in interviews that the key emails were genuine and that they referenced Joe Biden's profit participation in one deal being pursued in China. A forensics analyst issued a report concluding the archive had all the earmarks of authenticity. Not even the Bidens denied that the emails were real: something they of course would have done if they had been forged or altered. In sum, as someone who has reported on numerous large archives similar to this one and was faced with the heavy burden of ensuring the documents were genuine before risking one's career and reputation by reporting them, it was clear early on that all the key metrics demonstrated that these documents were real.

Despite all that, former intelligence officials such as Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led a group of dozens of former spooks in issuing a public statement that disseminated an outright lie: namely, that the laptop was "Russian disinformation.” Note that this phrase contains two separate assertions: 1) the documents came from Russia and 2) they are fake ("disinformation"). The intelligence officials admitted in this letter that — in their words — “we do not know if the emails are genuine or not,” and also admitted that “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.” 

The new discussion taking place (by some, many in the media remain silent) resulted from Ben Schreckinger's new book  THE BIDEN'S: INSIDE THE FIRST FAMILY'S FIFTY YEAR RISE TO POWER.  He discussed the book with Krystal and Saagar on BREAKING POINTS below.

In related news, Jerry Dunleavy (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) reports:

Hunter Biden boasted of having "access to the highest level” in China, according to emails of his business contacts published on Thursday.

The alleged claim by President Joe Biden's adult son was discussed in a Jan. 28, 2015, email obtained by Business Insider from Democratic donor Sam Jauhari to Saudi business tycoon Sheikh Mohammed al-Rahbani, as the men tried to put together a plan to free Libya’s many billions in frozen funds. 

[ADDED 9/24/21 11:34 PST, since this morning when this originally posted, Jonathan Turley has weighed in.  Please read his analysis.]

Moving over to Iraq . . . 

A piece of the ancient Gilgamesh tablet has been returned to Iraq.

The tablet likely would have remained in the U.S. had the Hobby Lobby-owning Green family not put it in their Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. It caught someone’s eye while on display, and the feds began investigating. Authorities seized the tablet in 2019.

Iraq’s electoral commission aims to announce the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10 within 24 hours, they announced on Thursday following a voting simulation.
“The commission has committed itself to announce the results of the elections within 24 hours,” the head of the electoral commission Jalil Adnan Khalaf said at a press conference. “Yesterday's simulations were to ensure that.”

24 hours later?  As opposed to the usual week or so?  That would be something if it happened.

The early elections are only taking place because of the brave protesters. The October Revolution  kicked off protests in the fall of 2019 and forced the prime minister to step down and early elections to be announced.  As ARAB WEEKLY notes, "Tens of thousands of Iraqi youths took to the streets to decry rampant corruption, poor services and unemployment. Hundreds died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds."  This is what forced the resignation of one prime minister and has led to national elections which are supposed to take place October 10th.  (Members of the Iraqi military will vote October 8thTwo election simulations have been carried out by the IEC and the third and final one will take place September 22nd.)    that the candidates for Parliament include 951 women ("close to 30% of the total number of candidates") who are running for the 329 seats.  Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) has reported Jeanine Hannis-Plasschaert, the Special Representiative in Iraq to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, declared that Iraq's "Female candidates face increasing levels of hate speech, violence, and blackmail intended to force them to withdraw their candidacy." 

Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) counts 3,249 people in all seeking seats in Parliament  BROOKINGS notes this is a huge drop from 2018 when 7,178 candidates ran for office.   RUDAW is among those noting perceived voter apathy, "Turnout for Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election is expected to be a record low, with a recent poll predicting just 29 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots." Human Rights Watch has identified another factor which may impact voter turnout, "People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote.  The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office."  Another obstacle is getting the word out on a campaign.  Political posters are being torn down throughout Iraq.  Halgurd Sherwani  (KURDiSTAN 24) observes, "Under Article 35 of the election law, anyone caught ripping apart or vandalizing an electoral candidate's billboard could be punished with imprisonment for at least a month but no longer than a year, Joumana Ghalad, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told a press conference on Wednesday."  And there's also the battles in getting out word of your campaign online.  THE NEW ARAB reported weeks ago, "Facebook is restricting advertisements for Iraqi political parties and candidates in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections, an official has told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site."

THE WASHINGTON POST's Louisa Loveluck Tweeted: of how "chromic mistrust in [the] country's political class" might also lower voter turnout.  Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) also notes, "Experts are predicting low turnout in October due to distrust of the country’s electoral system and believe that it will not deliver the much needed changes they were promised since 2003."  Mistrust would describe the feelings of some members of The October Revolution.  Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) notes some of their leaders, at the recent  Opposition Forces Gathering conference announced their intent to boycott the elections because they "lack integrity, fairness and equal opportunities."  Distrust is all around.  Halkawt Aziz  (RUDAW) reported on how, " In Sadr City, people are disheartened after nearly two decades of empty promises from politicians." 

After the election, there will be a scramble for who has dibs on the post of prime minister.  Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has 90 candidates in his bloc running for seats in the Parliament and one of those, Hassan Faleh, has insisted to RUDAW, "The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage."  Others are also claiming the post should go to their bloc such as the al-Fatah Alliance -- the political wing of the Badr Organization (sometimes considered a militia, sometimes considered a terrorist group).  ARAB WEEKLY reported, "Al-Fateh Alliance parliament member Naim Al-Aboudi said that Hadi al-Amiri is a frontrunner to head the next government, a position that can only be held by a Shia, according to Iraq’s power-sharing agreement."  Some also insist the prime minister should be the head of the State of Law bloc, two-time prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters do not agree and have the feeling/consensus that,  "Nouri al-Maliki has reached the age of political menopause and we do not consider him to be our rival because he has lost the luster that he once had so it is time for him to retire."

The following sites updated:

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    Saturday, August 28, 2021

    Impeach Me If You Can

    impeach me if you can

    From January 22, 2020, that's "Impeach Me If You Can."  C.I. noted:

    Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Impeach Me If You Can" shows Adam Schiff in pursuit of Donald Trump.  Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.

    Was there ever a bigger loser and a bigger lair than Adam Schiff?  I don't think so.

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

    Friday, August 27, 2021.  Afghanistan fever still inflicts corporate media while the same media tries to sell Iraq as a success.

    Sarah Chayes is the person who should be on the talk shows passed off as news programs is you're going to talk Afghanistan.  Amy Goodman made a few seconds for Sarah yesterday.  Yes, that is a criticism.  Not really sure why she gets short changed to bring on Jeremy Corbyn or, for that matter, any politician.  She was on the ground in Afghanistan for years.  She is a trained journalist so she knows how to speak in such a way that the audience understands her -- meaning she's not tossing out references that will go over the heads of listeners or viewers -- if she's referencing something, she's explaining it.  But while Sarah knows about journalism, Amy still struggles with comprehending the term.  Here's an excerpt of the brief segment:

    SARAH CHAYES: And I was on the ground, you know, starting about — I was in Kandahar maybe a day or two after the city fell, meaning the Taliban regime at the time fell. And well into 2002, there was basically no one home at the U.S. Embassy. There just was nobody there. People would rotate in on two-week deployments. No one spoke a local language. We couldn’t figure out what was going on. And it wasn’t until later that I realized that, by early 2002, personnel were all pivoting already to Iraq. So, I think that’s the first thing you have to understand.

    And secondly, that, therefore, the U.S. personnel that it was — that Afghanistan matters were largely left to were members of the CIA. And they had a history in the region which really involved a very close partnership with the Pakistani military intelligence agency, the ISI. And what I came to understand is that the Taliban did not emerge spontaneously in Kandahar, as we often hear. And this is work that I did over the course of years, interviewing both ordinary people who lived in Kandahar and lived across the border in Quetta, Pakistan, as well as some of the main actors in that drama, who became friends of mine. The Taliban were concocted across the border by the Pakistani military intelligence agency and sent across the border. There was a negotiation process — and we’re talking 1994 now, 1993 and 1994 — with the local mujahideen commanders. And that process was, in fact, led by none other than Hamid Karzai. So, when I learned that in the early 2000s, I was pretty gobsmacked, because I realized that sort of the individual that the United States government had chosen to lead a post-Taliban Afghanistan was the very person who had brought the Taliban into Afghanistan in the first place and who had served as their ambassador-designate to the United Nations, as late as 1996.

    And so, I would — you know, I would just raise some questions with what Obaidullah was telling you, because his family retained very close links with the Pakistani military intelligence agency throughout. And I found myself almost smiling when he said, “How do I reconcile the two me’s? And maybe that’s a way that Afghanistan can reconcile its own internal divisions.” And I want to say, “Boy, I’m sorry, but that’s called being a double agent.” And I really think that that family, in particular now — I can’t speak to him, because I don’t know him personally, but the family right now is playing precisely the role that he was playing on your air, which is to present a kind of moderate and acceptable facade in order to get the international community to reengage and open the money spigots once again.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: If you could just clarify, what do you think the alternative is? What do you think the international community should be doing?

    SARAH CHAYES: Reserving judgment. And I certainly do agree that the money spigot is the only leverage that the international community has left. But I also think that the role of the Pakistani military government in all of this really needs to be taken into account. And it’s one of — I mean, I have, and have had, a number of very consistent criticisms of the way the United States has handled this from the start, the first being this absolutely inexplicable, I want to say, persistent relationship with Pakistan, when the Pakistani government, as I say, organized the Taliban in the first place, organized the Taliban resurgence, harbored Osama bin Laden, and, you know, in the midst of all this, provided nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea. I mean, it’s just difficult to quite understand why that country continues to be considered an ally.

    And then, secondly, of course, was the behavior of those Afghan leaders that we, the United States, kind of put forward toward their own citizens, and the role of U.S. officials and U.S. development organizations in reinforcing and protecting and enabling, I mean, just an unbelievably corrupt and abusive governmental system, so that, you know, my Afghan friends, who were not in university — they were ordinary villagers in and around Kandahar — they just didn’t know what to make of it. It was like, “Look, the Taliban shake us down at night, but the government shakes us down in the daytime.” And so, I would say that, in my experience, even among very conservative Kandaharis, it was not so much an ideological issue. It was not so much that the United States was an invading country, at least certainly not in the first years. My neighbors were saying, you know, that they were sick of being abused by their own government, and they were sick of the international or Western role in propping up that government, and they wanted a government that was acting in their interests. And that was where their frustration with the Western engagement came from.

    When she refers to Goody's other guest Obaidullah Baheer, Sarah's being rather kind.  Not only is he questionable because of his family, he's also questionable because of his links to the CIA which will, no doubt, make Amy come under even more scrutiny for how she allowed foundations to purchase DEMOCRACY NOW! with grants and how the show that has made her millions has become an outlet for US government propaganda.  

    Obaidullah Baheer is not an honest broker and, were Democracy Sometimes an honest broker, they never would have had him on.  He works through the panic talking points that demonstrate that the US intel community is still at war with the presidency.  And Goody Whore is right there serving along side them while posing as a journalist.

    Sarah has much to say.  I doubt I would agree with 100% of it but (a) I would be interested in hearing it and (b) I would surely reflect on anything I disagreed with her on.  It's a shame that she's brought on for what was little more than a soundbyte.  But she can't be counted on to stick to the script so she clearly will not be given the airtime that her expertise warrants.  

    Where I think we would disagree would be on the issue of Joe Biden's actions this month.  And I will give her the compassion award (I'm not being sarcastic) without even hearing her remarks.  I'm not a compassionate person in the face of an emergency.  I'm practical -- and you can say "cold" (people turn to me in an emergency) -- and I don't see this ending differently no matter what plans were made or taken.  The airport was bomed yesterday, there was gunfire, there was this, there was that.


    Andrea Mitchell's practically having an orgasm on air as she tries to spread fear.

    But the reality is that this is what happens.  This is what would happen.  3,000 more US Marines on the ground on Thursday? They might have mitigated some of the violence, they might not have.  They might have increased the violence as a result of their presence, they might have become targets as a result of their presence.  

    I want Andrea out from behind a desk from now on when she's on air because I honestly don't trust where her hands are when she starts her frenzy fear nonsense.

    If you look at the situation coldly (and I can be very cold, no question), there's not much that 'fine tuning' could have done to change what's taking place and it's probably best if Americans can admit to that.  Best for this moment and best for our future.  

    Another huge talking point for Andrea is the Americans trapped! Trapped! Trapped in Afghanistan!

    So let's note this from the US State Dept briefing Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave on Wednesday:

    SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon.  I’d like to give you all an update on the situation in Afghanistan and our ongoing efforts there, particularly as they relate to U.S. citizens, and then I’m very happy to take your questions.

    Let me begin with my profound appreciation for our diplomats and service members who are working around the clock at the airport in Kabul and at a growing number of transit sites to facilitate the evacuation of Americans, their families, citizens of allied and partner nations, Afghans who have partnered with us over the last 20 years, and other Afghans at risk.  They are undertaking this mission under extremely difficult circumstances, with incredible courage, skill, and humanity.

    Since August 14th, more than 82,300 people have been safely flown out of Kabul.  In the 24-hour period from Tuesday to Wednesday, approximately 19,000 people were evacuated on 90 U.S. military and coalition flights.  Only the United States could organize and execute a mission of this scale and this complexity.

    As the President has made clear, our first priority is the evacuation of American citizens.  Since August 14th, we have evacuated at least 4,500 U.S. citizens and likely more.  More than 500 of those Americans were evacuated in just the last day alone.

    Now, many of you have asked how many U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan who want to leave the country.  Based on our analysis, starting on August 14 when our evacuation operations began, there was then a population of as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave.  Over the last 10 days, roughly 4,500 of these Americans have been safely evacuated along with immediate family members.  Over the past 24 hours, we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely.  We will update you regularly on our progress in getting these 500 American citizens out of Afghanistan.

    For the remaining roughly 1,000 contacts that we had who may be Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan, we are aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day through multiple channels of communication – phone, email, text messaging – to determine whether they still want to leave and to get the most up-to-date information and instructions to them for how to do so.  Some may no longer be in the country.  Some may have claimed to be Americans but turn out not to be.  Some may choose to stay.  We’ll continue to try to identify the status and plans of these people in the coming days.

    Thus, from this list of approximately 1,000, we believe the number of Americans actively seeking assistance to leave Afghanistan is lower, likely significantly lower.

    So we're talking less than a thousand people.  One more point, these bobble heads on TV screeching that we don't leave anyone behind.  That's actually a slogan of the US military.  It has nothing to do with private US citizens who elect on their own to go into a war zone to make money.  

    Again, I'm cold.  I'm sorry, if I'm an American citizen in a country that the US is occupying and they announce a pullout, I'm getting out of the country right then.  I'm not rushing around shopping for souvenirs or pondering what to pack and what to leave or do I have time for highlights before I head to the airport.  If this had been a surprise withdrawal announced after the fact, that would be different.  This was known to be coming, Joe was discussing it publicly in July.  If you're a functioning adult who doesn't have the sense to step away from the fire, you are probably going to get burned.  That's reality.

    A lot of Americans went to Afghanistan to make money.  Corporations paid very well -- more than the US military paid service members.  Well that payment was so high due to the risks involved.  We're seeing those risks right now.  

    We're also seeing something much worse than online bullies or trolls, the corporate media.  Scary and blood thirsty.  Ben Burgis (JACOBIN) observes:

    A long series of pundits have settled on the same response to this dilemma: keeping some American troops in Afghanistan long-term would be fine and nothing like a “forever war,” since the United States has permanent military bases all over the world.

    Here’s Eli Lake — a columnist for Bloomberg and a “National Security Journalism Fellow” at the Clements Center:

    GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini hit a similar note. Bret Stephens said pretty much the same thing in the New York Times, focusing on America’s seventy-one-year presence in Korea. Andrew McCarthy worked a version of the same sneer into the National Review, joking that if we were to keep troops in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, we might as well rebrand World War II as “World Forever War II,” since the United States still has bases in Germany and Japan.

    None of these pundits seems to feel any need to explicitly spell out the argument they’re gesturing at with these sneers: that America’s supposedly peaceful long-term military presence in these other countries discredits what the antiwar left says about “forever wars” in the Middle East.

    As far as I can tell, their implied line of reasoning goes something like this:

    1. The antiwar left claims that indefinitely extending the presence of American troops in Afghanistan would amount to waging a “forever war” in Afghanistan, but this can only be true if maintaining long-term American military presence in any country counts as waging a “forever war” in that country.
    2. America has maintained long-term bases in Germany, Japan, South Korea, and other countries without waging a “forever war” in those countries.
    3. We can conclude from number two that maintaining long-term American military presence in any country would not count as waging a “forever war” in that country, and thus is no big deal.
    4. We can conclude from one and three that the antiwar left is wrong to say that indefinitely extending the presence of American troops in Afghanistan would amount to waging a “forever war” in Afghanistan — and we should keep some troops in Afghanistan.

    Number two is true enough if war means an ongoing “hot war” like the one that’s ending in Afghanistan. US troops aren’t in Germany to help Angela Merkel stave off insurgents already in control of large parts of Bavaria and Saxony. No one is getting into any firefights in Okinawa. Korea comes the closest, but even there, none of the occasional flareups of violence between North and South Korea have involved American soldiers shooting or being shot by anyone in decades. Like Germany and Japan, Korea is a stable society where the government enjoys as much internal legitimacy as the American government does within the borders of the United States.

    But these disanalogies between the role American troops were playing in Afghanistan and the role they play in countries like Germany also show that number one is absurd. American soldiers might be able to walk around Berlin or Seoul without anyone shooting at them, but that doesn’t mean that if the war had dragged on for another year or another decade, the same kind of tranquility would have reigned in Kabul.

    Branko Marcetic (also JACOBIN) observes:

    Officially, what we might call the establishment press in the United States — your cable news networks, long-running legacy press outlets, and the newer, largely digital publications that rely on close relationships with the powerful for their reporting — aren’t meant to have editorial lines and political viewpoints. But every now and then, whether they realize it or not, they accidentally reveal their political priorities.

    If you’re in doubt, just examine the news since Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan began, where you’ll get to see this phenomenon in action firsthand. As images of the Taliban’s stunning conquest of the country melded into images of US forces and their allies’ chaotic evacuation, Biden has gotten a hammering from a US media that has centered Taliban human rights violations in its coverage of the pullout, and united across partisan and ideological lines to push a single, pro-war narrative.

    [. . .]

    What’s so striking about all this is what a turnaround it’s been from the last seven months of Biden coverage. Since at least the general election campaign, when outlets played down Biden’s unexplained absences, ignored the sexual assault accusation against him, and spiked a potentially damaging story about him at the eleventh hour, the press have tended to treat Biden with the softest of kid gloves.

    After an inauguration day that reached totalitarian-like levels of leader worship, the White House press corps quickly set the tone with the very first question of the very first press briefing held by press secretary Jen Psaki, when a reporter set her up for an alley-oop with a question about whether she’d be “promoting the interests of the president,” or giving reporters “the unvarnished truth.” Reporters’ infatuation with Psaki was quite possibly reaching its peak just before the withdrawal, when she was bringing the press corps her mother-in-law’s cookies and leading them in a chorus of “Happy Birthday.”

    What soon followed was what felt like a coordinated press campaign to wear America down into submission with round after round of pieces insisting Biden was a transformational, Franklin Roosevelt–style president, even as he dropped core items of his platform and appeared to lose interest in his own agenda. After sixty days, Biden was only the second of the last five presidents to be covered more positively than negatively, according to Pew, the first being Barack Obama.

    The past seven months have been immensely frustrating for anyone interested in seeing Biden have an actual transformational presidency, in the sense of benefiting most working Americans instead of a thin slice of the elite. Most coverage and headlines have tended to vastly overstate the ambition and significance of Biden’s progressive measures, usually by uncritically reusing his administration’s often misleading framing.

    Look at the way his modest tax increases, which in effect permanently cut taxes for the wealthiest from their already low baseline under Obama, were sold by the press as bold new tax hikes on the rich. Or the way his ban on new oil and gas leases, a mostly symbolic move the fossil fuel industry celebrated for its lack of ambition, was presented as a bold emergency action to tackle climate change.

    Well into August, the New York Times and Washington Post were selling Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill on his favored terms — as a bipartisan win, and a historic response to an accelerating climate crisis — by talking about the numbers relative to past, do-nothing administrations, instead of pointing out to people how grossly unserious the numbers are relative to what solving the climate crisis actually demands.

    From the corporate media, let's return to former journalist Sarah Chayes and some points she was making on DEMOCRACY NOW!:

    Now let's get back to Sarah Chayes.

     And what I came to understand is that the Taliban did not emerge spontaneously in Kandahar, as we often hear. And this is work that I did over the course of years, interviewing both ordinary people who lived in Kandahar and lived across the border in Quetta, Pakistan, as well as some of the main actors in that drama, who became friends of mine. The Taliban were concocted across the border by the Pakistani military intelligence agency and sent across the border. There was a negotiation process — and we’re talking 1994 now, 1993 and 1994 — with the local mujahideen commanders. And that process was, in fact, led by none other than Hamid Karzai. So, when I learned that in the early 2000s, I was pretty gobsmacked, because I realized that sort of the individual that the United States government had chosen to lead a post-Taliban Afghanistan was the very person who had brought the Taliban into Afghanistan in the first place and who had served as their ambassador-designate to the United Nations, as late as 1996.

    [. . .]

    And then, secondly, of course, was the behavior of those Afghan leaders that we, the United States, kind of put forward toward their own citizens, and the role of U.S. officials and U.S. development organizations in reinforcing and protecting and enabling, I mean, just an unbelievably corrupt and abusive governmental system, so that, you know, my Afghan friends, who were not in university — they were ordinary villagers in and around Kandahar — they just didn’t know what to make of it. It was like, “Look, the Taliban shake us down at night, but the government shakes us down in the daytime.” And so, I would say that, in my experience, even among very conservative Kandaharis, it was not so much an ideological issue. It was not so much that the United States was an invading country, at least certainly not in the first years. My neighbors were saying, you know, that they were sick of being abused by their own government, and they were sick of the international or Western role in propping up that government, and they wanted a government that was acting in their interests. And that was where their frustration with the Western engagement came from.

    A lot of the above plays out in Iraq as well.  Every prime minister Iraq has had since the US invasion of 2003 has been a coward who had fled Iraq years before and only returned after the 2003 US-led invasion.  The government -- including the militia (which is part of the government security forces) -- is shaking down citizens.  

    We don't get the reality on Iraq from the press.  A number of e-mails to the public account ( make that very clear as they note that they're not seeing any articles from REUTERS or this outlet or that outlet on Robert Pether.

    Is REUTERS not covering it?  That would be something -- if it's true.  I haven't seen any coverage from them on it but I'm not reading REUTERS right now.  I'm rather disgusted with them as they whore to sell Mustafa al-Khadimi as a great leader and this who nonsense meet-up that's about to take place.  But they couldn't whore the way they're doing if they also devoted a lot of time to Robert Pether because what the Iraqi government is doing to Robert goes to how corrupt that government is.

    If you need an audio report on Robert Pether, ABC Australia has one herePeter Murtagh (IRISH TIMES) reports:

    Robert Pether, the Australian-born engineer resident in Co Roscommon with his wife and children, has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and fined $12 million by an Iraqi court.

    The sentence, handed down earlier this week, applies also to Mr Pether’s Egyptian-born colleague, Khalid Radwan. Both men had been working on a new headquarters in Baghdad for the Central Bank of Iraq when they were arrested without explanation last April.

    Mr Pether’s wife, Desree Pether – who lives in Elphin with the couple’s children, teenage sons Flynn and Oscar and daughter Nala (8) – is distraught at the development.

    “They have committed no crime,” she posted on social media. “This is a malicious prosecution, a complete fabrication.”

    Mr Pether was arrested while in the offices of the head of the bank and has remained incarcerated since but has not been told specifically what is alleged against him. He appears to have become ensnared in a dispute over money between his employer, CME Consulting which in 2015 won a $33 million contract relating to the construction of the Zaha Hadid-designed new Central Bank offices, a landmark building on the bank of the Tigris river, and the Iraqi government.

    Ronan Greany Tweets:

    The similarities between Irish resident Robert Pether in Iraq and Irishman #RichardOHalloran in China are striking. Both deprived of their liberty as “strategies” to force money from their employers. People are not pawns! Please ⁦⁩ ?

    That 'success' that is the Iraqi government?  They're also struggling to pull off the October elections -- elections that were already delayed.  Now Muhammad Irfan (URDU POINT) files a story about a rumor swirling around:

    Snap legislative elections in Iraq, scheduled for October this year, may be pushed back until April 2022 due to a boycott by a number of political parties, including the bloc of influential Shiite politician Muqtada al-Sadr, lawmaker Mohammed al-Khalidi told Sputnik.

    "The elections cannot be held as scheduled due to the al-Sadr bloc's refusal to participate ... A meeting of the heads of state, parliament and government with the leaders of political parties will take place on Sunday to determine the future of the elections. The decision to postpone the elections may be announced after this meeting," al-Khalidi said.

    The vote may be delayed until April 21, according to the lawmaker.

    An Iraqi political source told Sputnik earlier this week that Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi may postpone the elections if al-Sadr does not abandon his decision to boycott them.

    Meanwhile Sardar Sattar Tweets:

    Muqtada al-Sadr will give a speech today. He is expected to announce his party's return to the parliamentary elections. #Iraq #IraqElections

    And NRT reports:

    Iraqi Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday (August 26) announced the arrest of a group who prepared to commit fraud in the parliamentary elections scheduled for October.

    The court said in a statement that the group wanted to create political turmoil in the country by committing fraud and changing the results.

    It said that the group also tried to offend Iraq’s prominent political and social figures.

    It added that a politician was involved with the group by suggesting to create fake pages and documents to carry out their work.

    Let's wind down with this from UNICEF:

    BAGHDAD, 26 August 2021 - “UNICEF is deeply concerned after the reported deaths of a 10-year-old child on 24 August in Diyala by the detonation of an explosive remnant of war (ERW) and of an 11-year-old child on 25 August in Muradiya Village, South of Baquba, due to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED.) UNICEF expresses its deep sorrow and condolences to the children’s families, friends, and communities.

    “Sadly, these are not isolated losses of innocent lives. UNICEF expresses its alarm over the increase in child deaths and injuries due to landmines and ERW in Iraq in recent months. Between January and August 2021, the UN has recorded the loss of the lives of 35 children from ERW across the country, and 41 more were maimed. This represents an alarming increase in child casualties compared to 2020 when the UN verified the killing of 6 children and maiming of 12 children for the same period as a result of ERW and landmines.

    “Child safety must remain as the primary consideration in all contexts. Landmines and ERW often result in civilian casualties, with children being the most vulnerable. Since children are smaller than adults, they are more likely to take the full impact of the blast and are therefore more likely to suffer death or serious injuries.

    “UNICEF urges all parties to accelerate every effort to clear existing mines and unexploded ordnance and promote victim assistance and to uphold children’s right to a safe and protective environment.

    “UNICEF also urges the Government of Iraq and the donor community to support the scale-up and provision of Explosive Ordnance Risk Education activities so that children and other community members receive explosive ordnance risk education in schools and communities in all areas previously affected by conflict in Iraq.”

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