Sunday, August 10, 2014

Truest statement of the week

The corporate media, whose job is to create impressions of reality while revealing nothing of actual substance, is full of scorn for the now adjourned 113th Congress, which, according to the New York Times, is “in a race to the bottom” with the previous Congress as the most “do nothing” ever. Media associated with the Democratic wing of the ruling duopoly are especially upset that the Republican faction has not cooperated with President Obama to get something – anything! – done, as if the nation and the world would be a better place if the two big business parties would only collaborate more closely with one another. The current state of congressional gridlock is, according to the pundits, the worst of all worlds.

The truth is, were it not for gridlock, President Obama would have engineered the utter annihilation of what’s left of the social safety net in a Grand Bargain with the Republicans during his first term office. That was his plan from the very beginning, when the new president announced that all entitlements, including Social Security, were on the chopping block. Before his first year was out, Obama had crushed the jellyfish that call themselves progressive Democrats in the health care debate. With his arms spread wide to embrace the Republicans as partners in the Age of Austerity, Obama offered to lead the wrecking crew that would finally demolish Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

-- Glen Ford, "Long Live Gridlock and Paralysis of Both Big Business Parties" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

The black political class has always been slavishly subservient to the Democratic party. They place its interests so far above their own that when the CBC members refused to demand or take part in hearings around the Katrina disaster almost a decade ago, even after it was clear that authorities intended to force the exile of more than one hundred thousand African Americans from the New Orleans area. Now that a black Democrat sits in the White House, cowardly CBC members would rather chew off their own feet than contradict him. After all, if a black president can be denounced by other black politicians, how safe are their own careers?

-- Bruce A. Dixon, "Time For The CBC and our Black Political Class Denounce Apartheid and Ethnocracy in Israel-Palestine" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Glen Ford adds to his long list of truests. 
As does Bruce A. Dixon.
You thought UPFJ couldn't get more disgusting, you were wrong.
Ava and C.I. did two pieces this week.  They did this one at the last minute.
A song we love that applies to current events. 
Saturday night, Ava and C.I. decided on this theme.

The losses are many, we explain.

This is a hero?
With the US bombing Iraq, time to go to some of the stronger albums that came out during the early years of the Iraq war. 
Short feature.

Repost from Socialist Worker. (UK)
Press release from US House Rep. Jeff Miller.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it. 


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: United for Peace and Justice -- the ultimate fake ass

If you're a group working for peace, you don't announce, following the 2008 election -- immediately following -- that you're packing up shop.

But if you're a cheap ass chicken s**t piece of crap, that is what you do.

And it is what UPFJ did following the 2008 presidential election -- immediately following it.

More scared of calling out Saint Barack than anything else in the world, the faux activists scattered like cock roaches when the kitchen light gets turned on.

In doing so, they became one of the biggest jokes on college campuses around the country.

Leslie Kagan has more problems than that ugly chin hair these days.  Now she has to live with being a laughing stock to college activists.

She and her kindred.

And the fake asses have refused to call out the continued Afghanistan War, the continued US involvement in Iraq, The Drone War, the attack on Libya . . .

UPFJ just closed its doors like cheap whores.

Only, thing is, we're getting close to another election.

And as crazy eyes Medea Benjamin explained in Latin America recently, Hillary might run!  (She characterized Hillary as worse than Barack when in fact Barack is worse than Bully Boy Bush.)

So it's time for UPFJ to come back to try to sway an election.

They don't give a damn about peace.

If you doubt that, Google their website.

Thursday night, Barack gave a speech about how he would begin bombing Iraq.

He's given two speeches since.

Look at their front page.

August 7th.

When do they plan to weigh in because it's August 10th?

Media: Barack Lies, Cher Tweets and Martha Plays (Ava and C.I.)

Barack made a hugely controversial statement last week, a game changing type of statement.  In a functioning media, his attempt to create a new narrative would have been rebuked and, yes, even mocked.  But there is no functioning media in the US.

Martha Raddatz seemed bound and determined to establish that as she hosted This Week today.  ABC News is quickly becoming the biggest joke -- including the online decision to 'embargo' news programming (not just Revenge and Scandal) and prevent non-cable and dish subscribers from seeing it for over a week -- and Martha certainly did her part Sunday morning to ensure that David Gregory and Meet The Press had a fighting chance.

Opening with Iraq, she flaunted her extreme ignorance as she spent less than a minute with Jonathan Karl (and video of Barack speaking), less than a minute with The Wall Street Journal's Matt Bradley (on the ground in Iraq) and  approximately two minutes with retired General Carter Ham and former US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill (as well as video from Martha's January interview with current US Ambassador to Iraq Steven Beecroft) and then she rushed off to another story (non-Iraq) in the same opening segment.

There was so much wrong with all the above but, at it's most basic, news is supposed to inform and how Martha's equivalent of bumper stickers and headlines qualified as informing escaped us; however, it did remind us of Joni Mitchell's "Dog Eat Dog:"

Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away

And that pretty much describes Martha's opening segment.

Not only did it fail to inform, but her televised checklist included so much lying.

Chris Hill is a joke.

More than any US official except for US President Barack Obama, he's responsible for the current crisis in Iraq which is a response to multiple crises kicked off following the 2010 decision to ignore the Iraqi voters and give Nouri a second term.

Some Barack defenders in Congress insist to us that, in retrospect, Barack could not have demanded Ayad Allawi be made prime minister in 2010 because Allawi's Iraqiya won the 2010 elections.  To make that demand, they insist (today), would have forced Barack into a face off with thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Had Nouri refused to accept an ultimatum from Barack to step down, they insist, Barack would have lost face.

Our reply to that it quite a bit wordy than "whatever."  However, we'll save it for another time.

We'll instead note here that if they want to make that argument, they need to blame Chris Hill.

Hill told Martha, "And frankly speaking, although I think an improvement or the naming of a new prime minister not named Maliki might be helpful, I don't think it's going to in and of itself solve this problem."

Hill would downplay Maliki's importance.

A real journalist would not only know that, would not only expect that.  A real journalist would call it out.


Chris Hill was not just inept, not just manic depressive, he was also a glory hog.

General Ray Odierno was the top US commander in Iraq in 2010.  At the start of that year, with elections approaching (they would take place in early March 2010), Odierno became very concerned that Nouri might lose and might refuse to step down.

Should that take place, what would the US response be?

That did take place.

The US government had no plan in place.


Chris Hill cut Odierno out of the process.  He was miffed that Odierno got press attention and demanded the White House order Odierno to stop granting press interviews so that all media would instead come to Hill.  (For any who might wrongly think the State Dept. was over the US mission in Iraq at that point, they were not.  They take over in October of 2011.  Until then, it was a "joint-mission" that was really led by the Pentagon.)

Odierno didn't mess with politics which Barack's administration misread.  They assumed his focus on the issue, and not politics, stemmed from his taking his post under Bully Boy Bush.  (What they feared of Odierno was actually true of former General David Petraeus, FYI.)

So when Barack-appointee Hill had a conflict with Odierno, they used it as an excuse to cut Ray Odierno out of the process.

Hill was a Nouri groupie, in addition to everything else.

He gave 'progress' reports to the administration that were one sided and dishonest.

As things worsened following the election, Odierno went to then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to explain that one of the biggest problems for Iraq currently was US Ambassador Hill.  Gates listened, verified and brought then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into the loop.

At this point, Gates and Clinton met with Barack to inform him that Hill had to go and the White House moved quickly to replace Hill (who lasted only one year and almost two months in the job) with James Jeffrey.

Hill is a failure and most know this -- they know he 'power napped' (under his desk) in the Baghdad Embassy, they know he was manic, they know he regularly spoke of Iraqis as if they were animals -- and that he did this in front of Iraqi embassy workers.  He, in fact, got on so well with Nouri because they both thought so little of the Iraqi people who both men regularly mocked.

Were it not for Hill, Congress supporters of the President can argue, Barack might not have been forced to keep Nouri on in 2010.

Why anyone would book Hill to begin with is a huge question mark but even more shocking is Martha's refusal to pin him down on his (brief) remarks which sought to argue the cause of the problem was not thug Nouri.

Another problem was Matt Bradley.

We have no problem with what he said on the program and we follow his print reporting and have found no real problems with it either.

Our problem with him being on goes to ABC News.

Following the November 2008 elections, ABC News announced its withdrawal from Iraq.

At the time, they insisted to Variety and anyone who listened (few even cared) that this move did not mean ABC news viewers would miss out on Iraq coverage because, they insisted, they would be using BBC News footage to 'cover' Iraq.

It was laughable in real time.

So much so that ABC quickly dropped that idea.

They have no reporters in Iraq.

And, goodness, does it show.

Check out, for contrast, what Bob Schieffer and Face The Nation were able to do this morning as a result of CBS News having Holly Williams in Iraq.

SCHIEFFER: More on the story now from Holly Williams, who is in Irbil this morning -- Holly.

There were four more U.S. airstrikes here last night targeting the armored vehicles and trucks used by ISIS militants, and some of those militants are just 30 miles away from where we are here in the city of Irbil.
Kurdish soldiers from this area are the only ones still fighting ISIS on the ground here in Northern Iraq after Iraqi government soldiers abandoned their posts and ran away in June. The American airstrikes will help those Kurdish fighters in their battle against the militants.
Now, ISIS captured a swathe of territory across Northern Iraq two months ago, extending the borders of what it claims is its own Islamic state. Then, last week, the militants struck again, seizing 15 more towns, a military base and Iraq's biggest damn.

SCHIEFFER: Holly, could the Kurdish forces on their own defeat ISIS if they decide to move on Irbil?

WILLIAMS: Well, Bob, the Kurdish fighters tell us that they're confident that they can defend Irbil, which is their capital. But they say if they are going to push ISIS out of Iraq, then they need the U.S. to give them weapons, because they say they're relying on outdated guns, whereas the militants have American tanks and artillery that they captured from Iraqi government soldiers when they ran away two months ago.

SCHIEFFER: Well, will these airstrikes be enough to actually defeat ISIS?

WILLIAMS: Well, the very limited strikes that we have seen so far won't be enough. But the hope is that they will give Kurdish fighters who everyone is relying on here just a little bit of breathing room.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Holly Williams. Well, be very careful, Holly. Thanks so much.

And while Holly was the only CBS News reporter in Iraq to appear on the morning show, she's not CBS News' only reporter in Iraq.  See, ABC may call it's nightly newscast "World News" but it's not and the attempts to cover 'news' on the cheap is really starting to show.

Let's move over to Cher.

Our intent is not to mock Cher.  We both know her.  We understand this community walked away from her over a Tweet (calling another woman a c**t) and we don't defend the Tweet or pretend it was acceptable or justifiable.

Cher Tweeted about Iraq on the 10th and a number of friends on the left in the entertainment community phoned and e-mailed encouraging us to go after, as one put it, "the Tweeting twit."  (Cher is disliked more than she's liked in the film industry.  We're not saying that's fair, we're just noting she's made a lot of enemies.)

We looked at the Tweets and were relieved to find they weren't as bad as many made them out to be.

First off, Cher needs to follow events in Iraq more closely.

She's not the only one who needs to.  She's a victim of the same US media so many others are.

We're including -- and responding to -- her Tweets because (a) we're glad (but not surprised) that she cared enough to Tweet about Iraq -- a lot more than many other people are doing and (b) where she needs some supplementing many others do as well.

We're not sure about Crucifixions.  We know there have been people killed -- Christians and Yazidis.  But Cher's not "wrong" on this because some outlets have reported Crucifixions have taken place.

Next Tweet.

We agree 100% that Iraq should never have been invaded.  We disagree that the current crisis can be solely attributed to the invasion.  It is primarily the result of multiple crises created by Nouri al-Maliki who refused to honor the 2010 power-sharing agreement (The Erbil Agreement) which gave him a second term after he lost the elections.  No, the US media hasn't been interested in talking about the early 2011 protest in Iraq, the summer 2011 call by many (including the Kurds, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and Ayad Allawi and his Iraqiya which won the 2010 elections) for Nouri to implement The Erbil Agreement as he promised (promised only in order to get his second term), the May 2012 effort to hold a no-confidence vote in Nouri (all Constitutional measures were followed but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, under US pressure from the White House, announced he was not forwarding the petition onto Parliament and then Jalal ran off to Germany claiming medical illness), the return of massive protests in December of 2012 -- protests against Nouri which lasted over a year despite Nouri's forces targeting, wounding and killing protesters -- and killing at least 8 children, with twelve more left injured, at one protest according to UNICEF.

The US press doesn't cover this, we know.  So, from August 2013, we'll note the International Crisis Group's "Make or Break: Iraq’s Sunnis and the State:"

As events in Syria nurtured their hopes for a political comeback, Sunni Arabs launched an unprecedented, peaceful protest movement in late 2012 in response to the arrest of bodyguards of Rafea al-Issawi, a prominent Iraqiya member. It too failed to provide answers to accumulated grievances. Instead, the demonstrations and the repression to which they gave rise further exacerbated the sense of exclusion and persecution among Sunnis.
The government initially chose a lacklustre, technical response, forming committees to unilaterally address protesters’ demands, shunning direct negotiations and tightening security measures in Sunni-populated areas. Half-hearted, belated concessions exacerbated distrust and empowered more radical factions. After a four-month stalemate, the crisis escalated. On 23 April, government forces raided a protest camp in the city of Hawija, in Kirkuk province, killing over 50 and injuring 110. This sparked a wave of violence exceeding anything witnessed for five years. Attacks against security forces and, more ominously, civilians have revived fears of a return to all-out civil strife. The Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda’s local expression, is resurgent. Shiite militias have responded against Sunnis. The government’s seeming intent to address a chiefly political issue – Sunni Arab representation in Baghdad – through tougher security measures has every chance of worsening the situation.
Belittled, demonised and increasingly subject to a central government crackdown, the popular movement is slowly mutating into an armed struggle. In this respect, the absence of a unified Sunni leadership – to which Baghdad’s policies contributed and which Maliki might have perceived as an asset – has turned out to be a serious liability. In a showdown that is acquiring increasing sectarian undertones, the movement’s proponents look westward to Syria as the arena in which the fight against the Iraqi government and its Shiite allies will play out and eastward toward Iran as the source of all their ills.
Under intensifying pressure from government forces and with dwindling faith in a political solution, many Sunni Arabs have concluded their only realistic option is a violent conflict increasingly framed in confessional terms. In turn, the government conveniently dismisses all opposition as a sectarian insurgency that warrants ever more stringent security measures. In the absence of a dramatic shift in approach, Iraq’s fragile polity risks breaking down, a victim of the combustible mix of its long­standing flaws and growing regional tensions.

From this year, here's  Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazi (CSIS):

Iraq’s main threats, however, are self-inflicted wounds caused by its political leaders. The 2010 Iraqi elections and the ensuing political crisis divided the nation. Rather than create any form of stable democracy, the fallout pushed Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki to consolidate power and become steadily more authoritarian. Other Shi’ite leaders contributed to Iraq’s increasing sectarian and ethnic polarization – as did key Sunni and Kurdish leaders.
Since that time, a brutal power struggle has taken place between Maliki and senior Sunni leaders, and ethnic tensions have grown between the Arab dominated central government and senior Kurdish leaders in the Kurdish Regional government (KRG). The actions of Iraq’s top political leaders have led to a steady rise in Sunni and Shi’ite violence accelerated by the spillover of the extremism caused by the Syrian civil war. This has led to a level of Shi’ite and Sunni violence that now threatens to explode into a level of civil conflict equal to – or higher than – the one that existed during the worst period of the U.S. occupation.

This struggle has been fueled by actions of the Iraqi government that many reliable sources indicate have included broad national abuses of human rights and the misuse of Iraqi forces and the Iraqi security services in ways where the resulting repression and discrimination has empowered al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. As a result, the very forces that should help bring security and stability have become part of the threat further destabilized Iraq.

The problem is Nouri.

And Martha Raddatz might need to book Reuters' Ned Parker next time to bring some reality onto This Week.

Parker started covering Iraq for The Los Angeles Times and does so now for Reuters.  Among his many strong contributions this year?  Two essays:  "Who Lost Iraq?" (POLITICO) and"Iraq: The Road to Chaos" (The New York Review of Books).

Cher notes that the group -- she doesn't define it and shouldn't have to, she's Tweeting; but few in the press have attempted to define it -- said it would take the battle to New York.

What is she Tweeting about?

Michael Daly (Daily Beast) reported in June:

When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi walked away from a U.S. detention camp in 2009, the future leader of ISIS issued some chilling final words to reservists from Long Island.

The Islamist extremist some are now calling the most dangerous man in the world had a few parting words to his captors as he was released from the biggest U.S.  detention camp in Iraq in 2009.
“He said, ‘I’ll see you guys in New York,’” recalls Army Col. Kenneth King, then the commanding officer of Camp Bucca.

We've noted that (barely) and failed to emphasize it.  It's one of those 'pleasing' tales.  We're not calling Daly or King a liar, we're just not vested into that story.

If it is true, two points.  (A) He was released from US custody under Barack.  (As were the League of Righteous but let's keep this simple.)  (B) The comment could be an intended threat, could be mere words, could be any number of things.

Again, we're not too vested in it.

Cher next Tweeted:

No argument or quibble there.  (And Cher has long been a defender of those serving.  She was speaking out on their behalf while Bully Boy Bush was in office and when those speaking out frequently were attacked.)

She also Tweeted:

That's where we feel clarification is needed.

Over the last few days, we've heard similar remarks in person.  We've stopped for a Diet Coke, for example and entered into intense Iraq discussions with other patrons.

What Cher wrote is correct.

But there's a bit more.

The Yazidis are being attacked right now by the Islamic State and, in Mosul, the Islamic State did the same and then went on to do it to the Christians.  (The pattern emerging is that IS enters a city or town and initially goes after Yazidis or other religious minorities first before going after Christians -- who are also a religious minority in Iraq but one of the country's largest religious minorities.)

But it needs to be noted that the Yazidis and the Christians have been attacked repeatedly -- including throughout Barack's two terms -- by Shi'ites as well.  The reason, for example, so many Christians were in Mosul to being with this year was due to so many fleeing Baghdad after repeated attacks by Shi'ite militias -- many of whom were on Nouri's payroll.  We'd yet again link to Tim Arango's expose on that for The New York Times last fall; however, we've linked to it and linked to it and don't feel like anyone's reading it -- McClatchy Newspapers is clearly unaware of it -- so this time we'll just mention it and maybe it will make someone hunt it down.

But we will link to and quote from the "International Religious Freedom Report for 2013," which the US State Department released last month:

There were reports of arrests and detentions, as well as reports of restrictions and discrimination based on religion by both the central government and the KRG. Sectarian misuse of official authority continued to be a concern. Official investigations of abuses by government forces, illegal armed groups, and terrorist organizations were infrequent, and the outcomes of investigations were often unpublished, unknown, or incomplete. Religious and ethnic minorities residing in the disputed internal boundaries (DIBs) in north-central Iraq faulted the central government and the KRG for the lack of security in the area, creating a security vacuum enabling attacks by armed terrorist groups, including the suicide bombings targeting the Shabak in the towns of Bashiqa on September 14 and Al-Mowafaqiah on October 17.
Many Sunni Muslims alleged an ongoing campaign of revenge by the Shia majority in retribution for the Sunnis’ favored status and abuses of Shia during Saddam Hussein’s regime. Complaints included allegations of discrimination in public sector employment due to the ongoing campaign of de-Baathification. This process was originally intended to target loyalists of the former regime. According to Sunnis and NGOs, however, the Accountability and Justice Law (de-Baathification law) has been implemented selectively – targeting Sunnis – and used to render many Sunnis ineligible for government employment.
Sunnis also reported that central government security forces targeted them for harassment, illegal searches, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture and abuse. Since politics and religion are often inextricably linked, it is difficult to categorize many incidents specifically as religious intolerance. Grievances over perceived sectarian differences in treatment by security forces were exacerbated after 44 Sunni protesters were killed by security forces when they sought to disband a protest in Hawija in April following months of protests against the government seeking redress for policies they believed were anti-Sunni.
In July government security forces reportedly made mass arrests in predominantly Sunni areas of Abu Ghraib and Taji following a large-scale prison break carried out by AQI terrorists. Government officials denied the arrests targeted Sunni Muslims. Upon release detainees and witnesses reported to NGOs they were not shown arrest warrants and some detainees reported they were tortured while in custody.
In July during Ramadan, armed Shia militants, reportedly with the tacit support of local security forces, raided dozens of businesses in Baghdad, including cafes employing women, restaurants, bars, social clubs, and nightclubs they considered “un-Islamic.” Eyewitnesses reported local police destroyed property and beat staff and patrons; several people were hospitalized for their injuries and at least one individual died. Baghdad municipal officials stated the raids only focused on establishments “engaged in prostitution,” a claim local NGOs dismissed as false. They viewed the attacks as part of a broader assault on secular establishments.
On June 28, the Shia Endowment authorities demolished the house of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Bahai Faith, in Baghdad. According to local Bahai contacts and the Ministry of Human Rights, the house had been converted into a mosque decades ago and turned over to the Shia Endowment under the Saddam Hussein regime. The mosque had deteriorated and, according to endowment officials, had to be demolished in order to build a new one. The Bahai World Center reported that it had been attempting to regain ownership of the holy site since 2004.
Yezidi political leaders alleged that Kurdish Peshmerga and Asayish forces harassed and committed abuses against their communities in the portion of Ninewa Province controlled by the KRG or contested between the central government and the KRG. Several human rights NGOs and Yezidi political leaders stated the KRG neglected Yezidi neighborhoods and discriminated in the provision of basic public services such as water, sanitation, and electricity. These groups also stated Yezidis were routinely held in arbitrary detention by KRG officials at Asayish checkpoints. For example, on October 20 19-year-old Hadi Hamo was detained incommunicado at a KRG checkpoint for nine days. He was released without charge on October 29. Yezidis stated this form of intimidation was intended to harass Yezidis who did not self-identify as Kurdish.
On December 2, 2011, 300 to 1,000 rioters attacked Christian and Yezidi businesses in Dahuk Province, burning and destroying 26 liquor stores, a massage parlor, four hotels, and a casino, denouncing the businesses as un-Islamic. By the end of the year, the KRG had compensated all of the Chaldean, Syriac, and Yezidi victims of the Dahuk riots, although some victims asserted the compensation was insufficient.
On December 7, the KRG Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs filed a lawsuit against Dr. Abdul Wahaid, a lecturer at Sulaimaniyah University, for making derogatory statements about the Yezidi religion during his lectures. The case was ongoing at year’s end.
Some Christians in the IKR reported the KRG unreasonably delayed the return of church land and land confiscated from members of their community under the former regime. Evangelical churches continued to report they were unable to obtain official registration, and the government registration requirements, including the requirement to have at least 500 members in their congregations, were too onerous. Christian leaders said a Kurdish partner was often required in order to do business in the IKR. Yezidis and foreigners indicated they faced the same obstacle. Despite such reports, many non-Muslims chose to reside in the IKR because of its reputation of offering greater security and tolerance. The KRG denied allegations it discriminated against Christians and other minorities.

We link to and quote from that because there appears to be a misconception growing that there was religious freedom and tolerance in Iraq until just recently -- or that this is a problem where Sunnis are attacking.

To be a religious minority in Iraq has not been at all easy since the start of the illegal war which demolished a secular state and replaced it with a thugocracy led by Nouri al-Maliki (on behalf of the US government).

The current attention to the most recent attacks on religious minorities is a good thing but this moment also needs to note that the religious minorities have been ongoing victims throughout the Iraq War.

We have few quibbles -- if any at all -- with Cher's Tweeting and are very glad she bothered to note what's going on in Iraq.

We have many problems with Martha who tried to lump Syria and Iraq together (Monday, at The Common Ills -- in the Iraq snapshot, this will be addressed) and who spent time on the NCAA.  Does the NCAA matter in term of world events?  Then it was onto a superficial look at Ebola, a guessing game (Barbra Streisand was the answer), Baltimore's new curfew, with a roundtable on all those topics and Iraq followed by a personal comment by Martha.

Of that, we'll take issue with this, "And I was with our soldiers for the final ride out of the country, with a memory of those who did not make it home, those 4,487 Americans who gave their lives in this war, was still fresh."

Good for Martha for trying to note a number.  She's attempting to note the number of US military personnel killed.

She's a journalist and few bother to try.  They give an estimate.

This despite the fact that it's the only known number because the Pentagon publishes it.

Published it?

No, publishes it.

Saturday night, at The Common Ills, this screen snap of the Pentagon numbers went up:

Do the math.

That's four more than the number Martha used.

In fairness to Martha, that increase of four is new -- weeks new, we're told.  And we missed it ourselves until, Friday night, a Pentagon friend called one of us (C.I.) to ask why the new number hadn't been noted?

Martha tried to note the real number and she had every reason to assume the number hadn't grown. But reporters aren't supposed to publish assumptions, they're supposed to go with facts.  Martha missed the facts -- including that the death toll had increased by over four.

She and many others appear to have missed Barack answering a question on Saturday:

Q Mr. President, do you have any second thoughts about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq? And does it give you pause as the U.S. -- is it doing the same thing in Afghanistan?

THE PRESIDENT: What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision. Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government. In order for us to maintain troops in Iraq, we needed the invitation of the Iraqi government and we needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution if, for example, they were protecting themselves and ended up getting in a firefight with Iraqis, that they wouldn’t be hauled before an Iraqi judicial system.
And the Iraqi government, based on its political considerations, in part because Iraqis were tired of a U.S. occupation, declined to provide us those assurances. And on that basis, we left. We had offered to leave additional troops. So when you hear people say, do you regret, Mr. President, not leaving more troops, that presupposes that I would have overridden this sovereign government that we had turned the keys back over to and said, you know what, you’re democratic, you’re sovereign, except if I decide that it’s good for you to keep 10,000 or 15,000 or 25,000 Marines in your country, you don’t have a choice -- which would have kind of run contrary to the entire argument we were making about turning over the country back to Iraqis, an argument not just made by me, but made by the previous administration.

So let’s just be clear: The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because the Iraqis were -- a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there, and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq. 

WTF was that?

It should have been the lead story on the front page of every Sunday paper.

We covered the 2012 presidential debates:  "America recoiled from Barack last night (Ava and C.I.)," "The King of Self-Love sings to the Choir (Ava and C.I.)" and "The only thing worse than the debate itself (Ava and C.I.)."

Saturday, Barack said it wasn't his choice to pull troops.

That's not what he said during the debates.  To offer only one example:

ROMNEY: Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed I believe that there should be a status of forces agreement. 


ROMNEY: Oh you didn't? You didn't want a status of...

OBAMA: What I would not have had done was left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. And that certainly would not help us in the Middle East.

ROMNEY: I'm sorry, you actually - there was a - there was an effort on the part of the president to have a status of forces agreement, and I concurred in that, and said that we should have some number of troops that stayed on. That was something I concurred with...


OBAMA: Governor...


ROMNEY: ...that your posture. That was my posture as well. You thought it should have been 5,000 troops...


OBAMA: Governor?

ROMNEY: ... I thought there should have been more troops, but you know what? The answer was we got...


ROMNEY: ... no troops through whatsoever.

OBAMA: This was just a few weeks ago that you indicated that we should still have troops in Iraq.

ROMNEY: No, I...


ROMNEY: ...I'm sorry that's a...


OBAMA: You - you...

ROMNEY: ...that's a - I indicated...

And October 21, 2011, the White House website carried Matt Compton's blog post "President Obama Has Ended the War in Iraq."  He gave a speech where he took credit (even The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss expressed disbelief).  He campaigned on it.

And now that some feel it may have been a mistake, he wants to rewrite what he's been saying?

And he's going to get away with it?

Sorry to our many friends who contacted us Friday and Saturday but Cher's Tweets are not the problem. Cher may have been one of the few people in the country using the media to tell the truth.



Cher is a strong woman.  Some of the animosity towards her in the film industry stems from that.

We note Jalal fled to Germany.  Do not e-mail us, "He had a stroke!"

Not at the end of May 2012.  That's when he fled.  It was an 'emergency' -- no, it was elective knee surgery.  Jalal lies a lot.  Now in December 2012, he had a stroke and ended up in Germany, where he remained until last month.

But we're referring to when he first fled to Germany in May of 2012.  Do not 'correct' us, we are correct.

Tim Arango has done some excellent reporting and we only don't link to him this time to emphasize that people need to read his report that we've repeatedly linked to.

Dexter Filkins has had some important reports in recent months.  We're going with Ned Parker who has been a strong reporter throughout the war.  (We're trying to be kind on Dexter, so just leave it alone so we don't have to unpack all of that.)

Martha Rad.  We hadn't planned to slam her -- or even to write this piece, it was a last minute addition.  We do give her credit for trying to get the number of US military personnel killed in Iraq correct.  But that broadcast was a nightmare.  When we went to the ABC website and found out that ABC News programs require subscriptions to cable or dish to view online we were appalled.  We entered our info and streamed but are damn well aware that many can't afford cable or dish and the fact that ABC's creating a firewall for so-called news programming is shocking and repulsive.  If Martha feels she was treated unfairly -- or any of her fans do (she has many fans) -- that's the hook they can use to excuse her, "Oh, Ava and C.I. are all big on information for all and that's why they were so tough on Martha, she really didn't warrant their treatment of her."

He can't afford the free way

You found yourself a prophet but you left him on a boardwalk
Another chocolate Easter bunny hollowed out by your own talk 
You know it
I know it
Why don't you just show it?
You've got a lot of money but you can't afford the freeway
-- "Freeway," written by Aimee Mann, appears on her @#%&*! Smilers.

TV: Barack joins the cast of Mistresses

A truism of TV in the last 15 or so years has been that shows debut strong -- even hit shows -- and then taper off as the year goes a long. They are momentarily buzz worthy and then the audience moves on.  The Blacklist, The Following, they all wish they could keep those premiere ratings (and first season ratings for those who return).  That's why ABC should be beaming with pride right now.


Last summer's hour long melodrama Mistresses was a hit, the second biggest show of the summer for commercial network TV (behind Under The Dome which cost CBS a lot more to make per episode than Mistresses does). Season two?

No erosion in ratings.

Increased ratings used to be networks dreamed of.  These days?  If a show doesn't do the now expected crater, it's time to jump up and down and sound the trumpets.

The first season, Mistresses kicked things off with Savi (Alyssa Milano), her sister Joss (Jes Macallan) and their friends April (Rochelle Aytes) and Karen (Yunin Kim) all competing to see who could go the most over the top.

Savi offered up a marriage to hunky Harry (Brett Tucker who's still strutting around throughout season two in a towel) and attempting to have a baby with him but getting pregnant when she slept with co-worker Dom (Jason George).   What might pass for riveting on NCIS was just yawn worthy on Mistresses.  Joss was sleeping with her male boss until her agency got a new boss and she became attracted to a woman.  In the 90s, that might have been considered daring and rather Party of Five-ish.  On Mistresses, no one batted an eye.

Which brings us to April,  a widowed mother navigating the new dating scene when a mistress of her dead husband shows up, with child, demanding money and then, shortly after, dead husband showed up.  Okay, now it's getting a little more interesting.

But April, Joss and Savi  were nothing compared to Dr. Karen Kim -- the psychiatrist who apparently believes the greatest therapeutic tool is her very own vagina.

Karen spent season one flirting with practice partner Jacob (Matthew Del Negro) but mainly sleeping with Thomas (John Schneider) who was dying and who Karen and his wife Elizabeth (Penelope Ann Miller) helped mercy kill.  Then Elizabeth tries to take Karen to court for malpractice -- a detail Karen might have seen coming had she not been visited by prospective patient and brand new lover Sam (Erik Stocklin).  Did we mention that Sam was Thomas' son?  It all exploded in the season one finale with Karen being reported to the board and Elizabeth showing up brandishing a gun, planning to kill Karen but instead killing her own son Sam.

Many believed that Dr. Karen Kim could not top herself in the new season.

Oh, how wrong they were.

Learning that her partner Jacob had reported her hands-on approach to treating men did not leave Karen repulsed.  She was still attracted to him and even asked him out.

But mainly she used her reinstated license to focus on a young woman named Anna (Catherine Haena Kim) who explains how, for kicks, she goes to hotels, picks up men, gives them fake names and sleeps with them.

A functioning therapist would probably dig into the issues motivating this sort of behavior.

Dr. Karen Kim?

She buys some wigs and starts hanging around hotels picking up men.

Don't worry, she insists to April, she just flirts, agrees to go up to the men's hotel rooms but cuts out instead.

What possible harm could come from that, she insists.

But no sooner does she leave viewers with the image of a town full of blue balled men angrily chasing her down then Karen breaks her own word (of course) and begins sleeping with the men.

She finds one she decided (after) that she loves and begins haunting hotels trying to find him and give him her real name and explain she's not an aerobics instructor but a kooky, free spirited shrink whose decided to share the magical healing powers of her labia with more than just her client list.

Unable to find him, she quickly hooks up with Jacob who has just broken up with a crazy girlfriend.  No sooner does Dr. Karen hop into bed with Jacob then she goes through his cell phone and finds out that his ex-girlfriend is her patient Anna.

When Anna goes missing, Karen shares all the private details with Jacob.  Because he's also a psychiatrist?  No, because Karen's sleeping with him and Anna used to be.

And she's rather offended when Anna goes off on her after Anna catches her kissing Jacob.

Where do you go after you've gone completely over the top?

There's only the bottom left for you, as Barack could tell her.

Last week, US President Barack Obama, the man who was carried into the highest office in the land based upon the fairy tale that he was opposed to the Iraq War announced that he was authorizing bombings of Iraq.

Clearing attempting to out Karen Dr. Karen Kim, Barack declared last week "American forces have conducted targeted airstrikes against terrorist forces outside the city of Erbil to prevent them from advancing on the city and to protect our American diplomats and military personnel" and "The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces."

The only solution for the various crises in Iraq is, Barack says, "reconciliation" so Barack's contribution to the process is . . . bombings?

Bombings have what to do with reconciling?

Thinning out the herd forces the survivors to reconcile?

Iraqi politicians, seeing the aerial bombings, rush into the Parliament and insist, "We better figure out who's prime minister and how we form an inclusive society before Barack starts bombing us too!"?

Seems to us, if Barack had to bomb some place in Iraq, he'd do the country more good by bombing the home of prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki.

The US-installed puppet has failed all US goals -- including getting an oil and gas law passed.

On that, we could care less (but are shocked at how little that's mattered to the administration).

But this man has terrorized the country.

It's a long, dirty history.

To focus on only one example, since the start of the year he has daily bombed the residential neighborhoods of Falluja killing and wounding civilians -- these are War Crimes.

Barack spoke about Iraq three times last week and avoided the War Crimes every time.

Even more telling, following his Thursday night address, the press focused on turning the bombing of Iraq into a personal narrative about Barack.

It was as though he was the fifth lead character in Mistresses.

Doubt us?

President Barack Obama stepped in front of the cameras on Thursday to utter words he hoped he would never say as commander in chief. 
"I've therefore authorized targeted airstrikes if necessary to help forces in Iraq," Mr. Obama said in a statement from the White House. "Today America is coming to help." 

Oh, the drama!

That's reporting?

It reads like a soap opera synopsis but Carol E. Lee, Felicia Schwartz and The Wall St. Journal thought it passed for reporting.  Peter Baker seemed to believe he was filing for Soap Opera Digest and not The New York Times as evidenced by nonsense like this, "Hoping to end the war in Iraq, Mr. Obama became the fourth president in a row to order military action in that graveyard of American ambition."

Bombs are falling in Iraq -- and will continue to, Barack's got no deadline on this 'mission' -- but the tragedy, American 'reporters' insist, is poor little Barack Obama.

Where do you go from there?

Do we next argue the real victim in the Bay Area from 1968 to 1970 was the Zodiac Killer?

Bombs will be falling in Iraq on the Iraqi people -- terrorists and 'terrorists' if the US pattern of killing civilians in bombings holds -- but the great suffering comes from the 'real victim' Barack?

Barack may or may not out crazy Dr. Karen Kim this summer but the US press is sure to out crazy them both combined.

The suffering hits close to home

While bombs fall on Iraq -- and will continue to for some time to come -- the suffering hits close to home.

Saturday, US President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House lawn and did so without his two trusty teleprompters instead referring to written notes on the podium before him.

Where were his true trusty aids?

Word was the teleprompters, being loyal and upstanding Americans, had enlisted in the US Air Force and were currently piloting a mission over Erbil.

Also AWOL from the address?

Barack's tie.

He opened with, "First, American forces have conducted targeted airstrikes against terrorist forces outside the city of Erbil to prevent them from advancing on the city and to protect our American diplomats and military personnel.  So far, these strikes have successfully destroyed arms and equipment that ISIL terrorists could have used against Erbil.  Meanwhile, Kurdish forces on the ground continue to defend the city, and the United States and the Iraqi government have stepped up our military assistance to Kurdish forces as they wage their fight."

Statements like that call for dress casual?

Or was it vacation madness?

Can we look forward to his delivering his next address in a speedo?

Our very low standards

US President Barack Obama announced he would begin bombing Iraq last week.  The response from Congress was largely muted.

One who did speak 'out' was US House Rep. Barbara Lee:

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Lee issued this statement upon receiving news of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq:
“I support strictly humanitarian efforts to prevent genocide in Iraq.
While the President has existing authority to protect American diplomatic personnel,  I remain concerned about U.S. mission creep in Iraq and escalation into a larger conflict, which I oppose.
There is no military solution in Iraq. Any lasting solution must be political and respect the rights of all Iraqis.
I am pleased President Obama recognized this in his statement last night, when he said: ‘there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.  The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.’
I will continue to call for the President to seek congressional authorization before any combat operations. For too long, Congress has abdicated its Constitutional role in matters of war and peace. The President should come to Congress for authorization of any further military action in Iraq.”

Coming under heavy pressure in her district over her recent support of the Israeli government's attack on Gaza, it truly was the very least Lee could do.

Which got us thinking again about the supposedly heroic Barbara Lee -- a woman losers like Matthew Rothschild have drooled over for years.

September 11, 2001, the US was attacked.  In the immediate aftermath, Lee was the only member of Congress to refuse to vote to authorize an attack -- a retaliation attack.

This made her a hero.

This made her a hero?

Lee did the very minimum that anyone in Congress should have done -- bare minimum.

Do not mistake her (poorly and weakly) performing her job as courage.

No, no one else stood up.

Because they were even worse than she is.

But a hero is not someone who does the bare minimum.

Barbara Lee is not a hero.

She is a fake ass.

And the only people who hail her as wonderful are other fake asses (Tom Hayden, we're waving at you!).

This edition's playlist


1) Ann Wilson's Hope & Glory.

2)  Neil Young's Living With War.

3) Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun.

4) Janis Ian's Folk Is The New Black.

5) Joni Mitchell's Shine.

6) The Cowboy Junkies' at the end of paths taken.

7) Pink's I'm Not Dead.

8) The Rolling Stones'  A Bigger Bang.

9) Josh Ritter's The Animal Years.

10) David Rovic's Halliburton Boardroom Massacre.

Exploding Gender Stereotypes

Feminist pioneers Barack Obama and Susan Rice share a devotion to demonstrating a "man" does not sit a certain way nor does a "woman."

US bombs will make Iraq's crisis worse

From Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

US bombs will make Iraq's crisis worse

by Judith Orr

US forces launched a new bombing campaign on northern Iraq today, Friday.

The warmongers are using their favourite excuse, claiming they are intervening to solve a humanitarian crisis.

The Islamic State, the Sunni Islamist group formerly known as ISIS, has continued to gain ground in Iraq after its dramatic seizure of the city of Mosul in June.

Its tactics are brutal and sectarian. It has massacred prisoners, and sent thousands of refugees fleeing its advance.

It has now taken Iraq’s biggest Christian town Qaraqosh. And tens of thousands of people from the Yazidi religious minority are reported to be trapped in hiding on Mount Sinjar.

But bombs from US fighter jets will not help.

Bassem Chit, a socialist in Lebanon, told Socialist Worker, “The US bombing will do nothing but contribute in the further destabilisation of Iraq.

“It will create further grounds for the escalation and development of extremism. It will also enforce the sectarian policies of the Iraqi state, which is a major component of the problem.”


The rise of the Islamic State is a product of the long occupation of Iraq that followed the US-led invasion in 2003. The US sought to divide the opposition by playing different ethnic and religious groups off each other.

The current Shia-dominated Iraqi regime led by Nouri al-Maliki has consistently pursued a sectarian agenda.

Now the US is faced with trying to uphold the government at the same time as denouncing it to avoid taking any blame itself.

Iraqi socialist Sami Ramadani told Socialist Worker, “The US and Western media are again shedding crocodile tears and using a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq to realise imperialist objectives and pour petrol on fire.

“Emergency humanitarian help to Yezidi, Christian and Shia communities is essential. But this has to be done through genuine humanitarian organisations. US intervention is designed to bolster US presence and use Iraqi Kurdistan as a base of operations.”

The danger of even deeper sectarian conflict is also signalled by the intervention of the Iranian military, who have already carried out drone strikes.

As Bassem points out, “It was the US-led war on Iraq in 2003 that was the main driver of the rise of sectarianism in the region in the first place. Doing it again will only galvanise the existing problem, not solve it.”

The US air strikes on Iraq come on the same day that Israel renewed its air assault on Gaza after a 72 hour ceasefire.

The national demonstration in London and the all Scotland march in Edinburgh in solidarity with the Palestinians tomorrow, Saturday, are also an opportunity to show the scale of opposition to

Israel’s western backers and any new imperialist wars.

For details of the demonstrations go to or

Miller Statement on VA Reform Bill Becoming Law

US House Rep Jeff Miller (above) is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following statement on Thursday:

Aug 7, 2014

WASHINGTON Before President Obama signed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 into law, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement:

“I am pleased President Obama has finally recognized what we have been telling administration officials for years: that VA’s widespread and systemic lack of accountability is jeopardizing the health of veterans and contributing to all of the department’s most pressing problems. I am unable to attend today’s signing ceremony due to a pair of previously scheduled oversight trips, including a visit to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, with fellow House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs member Rep. Beto O’Rourke. But I sincerely hope the president views this event as more than just a photo-op or speaking engagement. Instead, it should serve as a wakeup call. VA’s problems festered because administration officials ignored or denied the department’s challenges at every turn. In order to prevent history from repeating itself, President Obama must become personally involved in solving VA’s many problems. A good place for him to start would be to meet with family members and veterans who have been struck by the VA scandal, order the department to cooperate with the congressional committees investigating VA and force DoD and VA to work together to establish a joint electronic health record integrated across all DoD and VA components.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs


Chairman Miller letter to President Obama
May, 21, 2013


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Exhibitionist" -- Isaiah takes on the all words presidency.

"Worse than the websites gone . . ." and "When they close shop" -- Betty's book end posts.

"Mouser and Glory Hog" -- Isaiah dips into the archives. 

"Tori Amos" and "Promise" -- Kat and Elaine cover music.

 "You have to be a bro to have a bro" and "THIS JUST IN! BRO CODE BREAKS!" -- Cedric and Wally on the bro code breaking tell all.

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