Friday, June 26, 2015

Cause you gotta have Faith

George Michael turned 52 this week.

He shot to fame as one-half of Wham, forever known for "you make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day" ("Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go").

I didn't take him seriously until "A Different Corner."

Faith was his immensely popular album but, for me, Older remains the finest one he's recorded (I also love Listen Without Prejudice).

  1. I am looking forward to spending it with friends and family, thanks again, love The Singing Greek!
  • To my lovelies and fans around the world, thank you for all the birthday wishes, I am truly overwhelmed.
  • Happy Birthday !!! I'm so flattered, love The Singing Greek! xxx

  • Hello my lovelies, thanks to each and every one of you for my birthday messages. So happy, The Singing Greek!

  • Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Thursday, June 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept has "nothing on that" when asked about the arrest of a journalist, an Iraqi dies learning to fly an F-16, and much more.

    Derek Jordan (Sierra Vista Herald Review) insists, "The Iraqi pilot whose F-16 fighter jet crashed north of Douglas Wednesday night was part of a group of Iraqis being trained by the Air Force to fly F-16s in the fight against Islamic State terrorists."

    The training is part of the deal that comes with the F-16s and the training aspect was in place as far back as 2008.  It predates concerns over the Islamic State (you can check the reporting of Elizabeth S. Bumiller, among others, for reports on the F-16 deal).

    US State Dept spokesperson John Kirby noted the time issue when asked about the death in today's State Dept press briefing:

    QUESTION: On Iraq, specifically about this F-16 – Iraqi F-16 that crashed in Arizona, obviously part of the Iraqi pilot training program, have you reached out or has there been any contact with the Iraqi Government? Because there are rumors out there that the Iraqi pilot who died was actually someone named – and this is unconfirmed – Mohammed Hama, the son of a prominent Iraqi Air Force general, which is why I ask if there’s been any contact with the Iraqis to confirm his identity.

    MR KIRBY: Well, first, our thoughts and prayers go to the family. This is a tragic accident, obviously. I don’t have any more detail about the identity of the pilot, and that’s something that I would, as you might understand, refer you to the Iraqi Government to speak to.

    QUESTION: Since the State Department has authority over the foreign military sales of these jets, do you know when and how many jets are expected to be delivered – the F-16s are expected to be delivered to Iraq?

    MR KIRBY: There’s – the whole program covered 36 jets, and as I understand it, they have taken possession of about a dozen of them. So there are still others in the program that still are in the delivery process.

    QUESTION: Possession in the United States or possession --

    MR KIRBY: Possession in the United States.

    QUESTION: And putting on your old military cap there, were these brand new jets, or were these sort of repurposed, used jets?

    MR KIRBY: I’d have to get back to you, Justin. I don’t know exactly what serial number they all had and how fresh they came off the assembly line.

    QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?

    MR KIRBY: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Several weeks ago, actually, it was mentioned that it was expected that the rest of these jets would be handed over to the Iraqis. Do you have a timeline on when that would happen?

    MR KIRBY: I don’t have a timeline for the remainder that they don’t have. But obviously, it’s an ongoing sales program. It’s not being handed over to them. And I just don’t have a schedule of exactly what the deliveries are going to look like.

    QUESTION: It was just I know that the Iraqi authorities were quite keen to get them up and running in Iraq, because obviously, all of the fight against ISIL.

    MR KIRBY: Sure, sure. Yeah. I mean, everybody shares a sense of urgency about helping Iraq deal with the threats that the country is facing inside their borders. These jets are a component of that ability for them to fight ISIL, but I just don’t have any more detail on the schedule of deliveries.

    QUESTION: John, these airplanes were supposed to be delivered some time back. What is the cause of delay? Is it lacking – a lacking training program? What is causing the delay in delivering these airplanes to Iraq?

    MR KIRBY: Well, your question connotes that there is a delay. I mean, it’s a 36-aircraft buy, and typically, on a purchase that size they’re not all delivered all at once. As I said, they are in possession of about a dozen of them. There are others still in the delivery process. It’s not a matter of delay. This is a sort of – it’s not uncommon or atypical for – especially when you’re buying something as big as fighter jets, for it to --

    QUESTION: Right.

    MR KIRBY: -- for there to be a time component here in terms of when they’re delivered. So I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s been a delay. And again, they’re taking possession here in the United States. We’ve talked about that before, and that’s where the training is occurring.

    QUESTION: To your knowledge, do the Iraqis – are the Iraqis able to get some Russian fighter jets, like Sukhois or old Sukhois or anything like this? Are they using now in their air force Russian-made fighter jets?

    MR KIRBY: I am not an expert on the Iraqi order of battle and their air force. You’re asking can they? Of course they can. It’s a sovereign country. They can buy --

    QUESTION: I understand they can --

    MR KIRBY: But I don’t know what – I mean, that’s a great question for the Iraqis to speak to, the components and the elements of their air force. They expressed, obviously, a significant interest in the F-16, which is a very capable aircraft, obviously. And so we’re working with them on the delivery of those aircraft and training their pilots on how to fly them. That’s our focus, and the Iraqis can speak to the other things that they’re buying for their own national defense.

    The Sierra Vista Herald Review portrays the program as necessary to combat the Islamic State because . . .

    That state of the art air brigade the Islamic State has?

    It's overkill in terms of response.

    It's overkill in terms of expectations.

    This week has seen a number of Iraqi commanders and military forces sound off in the press about the failures of Barack Obama.

    The US President is far from mistake free.

    But the criticism has been that he's not given enough weapons, that he's not given enough support?.

    They do realize he's the President of the United States, right?

    He's not serving the Iraqi people.

    And when in history has any domestic military felt they had the right to whine that they weren't getting enough assistance from any other country?

    Iraq's security forces are supposed to be responsible for the protection and safety of their country.

    They've never managed to pull it off but it is their job.

    Any assistance they may receive is just that: Assistance.

    It's 'in addition to' -- the primary responsibility remains on them.

    I don't fear the criticism is fair of Barack at all.

    It's criticism rooted in greed and entitlement.

    But mainly it's about refusing to take ownership of your own failures and instead pushing them off on others.

    If the Iraqi military is unhappy with the equipment they have, they need to take that up with the Iraqi leaders and officials who have failed them.

    Where are all those weapons they bought from Russia, for example?

    October 9, 2012, with much fanfare, then prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki signed a $4.2 billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.  He strutted and preened and was so proud of himself.  Yet shortly after taking his bows on the world stage, and with Parliament and others raising objections, Nouri quickly announced the deal was off.

    Then it was back on.

    But the scandal refused to go away. As 2012 came to a close, the Iraq Times stated Nouri was offering up his former spokesperson  Ali al-Dabbagh and others to protect the truly corrupt -- the truly corrupt -- according to members of Parliament -- including Nouri's son who got a nice little slice off the deal.  These charges came from Shi'ite MPs as well as Sunnis and Kurds.  Even the Shi'ite National Alliance  spoke  out.  All Iraq News noted National Alliance member and one-time MP Wael Abdul Latif  called for Nouri to quickly bring charges against those involved in the corruption.

    Never happened.

    And the laughable Haider al-Abadi, new prime minister, supposedly committed to ending corruption, has yet to go after those officials who stole millions from Iraq.

    So if you're part of the Iraqi security forces and you're unhappy with the equipment you have you can point fingers at two groups of people: (a) those security forces who tend to drop their weapons and abandon their tanks the minute they feel the Islamic State is looking at them and (b) the corrupt officials who used the billions in oil dollars not to protect the country but instead to line their own pockets.

    As we've repeatedly noted, Iraq's annual revenues could make a billionaire -- each year -- out of nearly the entire estimated population.

    Instead, year after year, so many Iraqis live in poverty.

    The Iraqi people need an accounting of who's been stealing their money.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 174 violent deaths across Iraq today.

    Back to today's State Dept press briefing:

    QUESTION: On Iraq – yeah. On Iraq, yesterday I asked about the arrest of a journalist by the Kurdish security forces. I don’t know if you have anything for the report for me. And a second one is there is a kind of a crisis of the President Barzani’s term. It will come to an end in August and there is a kind of a problem like how – what is going to happen. What is the position of United States Government? Would you prefer having an election despite the security challenges, or a status quo just to extend his term because of the security situation as they would claim that?

    MR KIRBY: I don’t think we’re going to make statements from here about internal Iraqi politics.

    QUESTION: But democracy is something that you – I mean, elections – you are – it’s something that you are talking about always.

    MR KIRBY: Writ large, generally, yes. We’re in favor of government that is responsive and representative of the people that occupy a state, but I am not going to get into internal Iraqi politics and discussions from the podium.

    QUESTION: What about the journalist arrest? Do you have that, any --

    MR KIRBY: I don’t have anything on that, no.

    The State Dept never has "anything on that" unless they're trying to shame a government the US opposes.  If it's Iran or Russia, they have plenty "on that."

    But when it's a government that they're propping up, they never "have anything on that."

    You may remember the days in April when they spent time shaming the governments that they didn't like as part of  'World Press Day' and how they even issued this statement:

    The U.S. Department of State launched its fourth annual “Free the Press” campaign today as part of the Department’s efforts to honor the fundamental importance of a free and independent media in the days leading up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
    As in years past, the Department will profile on a daily basis journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, disappeared or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting. The purpose of the campaign is to speak out for reporters who otherwise cannot; to call on governments to protect the right to free expression; and to emphasize our own commitment to promoting free expression here in the United States and around the world.
    From April 27 to May 1, the Department Spokesperson will highlight emblematic cases of journalists or press outlets under threat around the world at the Daily Press Briefing. The cases will be profiled on and they will be tweeted out using the hashtag #FreethePress.
    For more information, please contact Chanan Weissman at or 202 647 4043.
    For more information on the State Department’s work on democracy, human rights, and labor rights follow @State_DRL or @HumanRightsGov, or visit

    Yet two months later, asked about a journalist being arrested in Iraq, they have not one word to say,  they "have nothing on that."

    Final topic,  David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  This is from Bacon's "California Appeals Court Rules Farm Worker Law Unconstitutional" (Working In These Times):

    FRESNO, CA -- On May 18 in Fresno, California, the state's Court of Appeals for the 5th District ruled that a key provision of the state's unique labor law for field workers is unconstitutional.  Should it be upheld by the state's supreme court, this decision will profoundly affect the ability of California farm workers to gain union contracts.

    At issue is the mandatory mediation provision of the state's Agricultural Labor Relations Act.  Using this section of the law, workers can vote for a union, and then call in a mediator if their employer refuses to negotiate a first-time contract.  The mediator, chosen by the state, hears from both the union and the grower, and writes a report recommending a settlement.  Once the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) adopts the report, it becomes a binding union contract.

    Associate Justice Stephen Kane, in a 3-0 ruling, said the law illegally delegates authority to the mediator.  The Fresno district of the appeals court is well known for its conservative bent.  United Farm Workers Vice President Armando Elenes immediately announced that the union would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

    The case has attracted the attention and support of some of the country's most powerful conservative and anti-union organizations.  Some have intervened to file briefs challenging the law.  Others have joined with the grower in this case, Gerawan Farms, in an elaborate campaign to remove the United Farm Workers as the bargaining representative for the company's workers.

    Workers say they already feel the impact of the challenge to the law.  According to Ana Garcia Aparicio, "At this company we've had many issues and injustices. This is the reason it is so important for us that our contract be implemented."

    Thursday, June 25, 2015

    It's the people's house, idiot

    Fox News reports:

    President Barack Obama took on a heckler head-on at a gay pride month reception at the White House Wednesday, scolding the protester for being disrespectful in "my house."
    The heckler had interrupted Obama's remarks by protesting the detention and deportation of gay, lesbian and transgender immigrants.
    The president responded, "Hold on a second." When the heckler persisted, Obama, flashing an exasperated look, countered, "OK, you know what?" Wagging his finger and shaking his head, Obama said, "No, no, no, no, no," repeating the word more than a dozen times.
    As the heckler continued to talk over him, Obama took it up a notch.

    "Hey. Listen. You're in my house," he said to laughter and woos from the crowd. 

    No, you listen, idiot, it's the people's house.

    It's not your house, not even temporary.

    It's the people's house.

    And the sooner that lunatic War Hawk is out of it, the better.

    He can spend the rest of his life being rewarded by the corporations he sold America out to.

    Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue. threats appear before Congress to offer that the US government just needs to drop bombs willy nilly and stop worrying about civilian deaths, as they call for killing they turn around and paint refugees as potential 'radicals' and threats, and much more.

    This afternoon, a House Armed Services Committee held a hearing.

    The Subcommittee Committee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities managed to do something every group holding a hearing longs to do -- establish clearly where the problem lies.

    And the hearing did exactly that, the Subcommittee documented the Emerging Threats.

    I'm not really sure though that they grasp that they did.

    Appearing before the Subcommittee were the New American Foundation's Brian Fishman, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Michael Eisenstadt, RAND Corporation's Linda Robinson and the American Enterprise Institute's Frederick Kagan.

    All four offered testimony and -- to one degree or another -- waived the Fifth Amendment.

    It was a long hearing but, more importantly, it was a soul draining hearing.

    While madmen sit up building bombs
    And making laws and bars
    They're gonna slam free choice behind us

    Last night I dreamed I saw the planet flicker
    Great forests fell like buffalo
    Everything got sicker
    And to the bitter end 
    Big business bickered 
    And they call for the three great stimulants
    Of the exhausted ones
    Artifice, brutality and innocence
    Artifice and innocence
    -- "Three Great Stimulants," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Dog Eat Dog album

    And when Robinson and Kagan especially competed to be 'smartest in the room,' you longed for them to stop cooperating with the Subcommittee and instead reply, "I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me."

    We often mock Fred Kagan here as being the "arm candy" of Kimberly Kagan.

    We do that for two reasons.  One, when we started the joke, it was the rare press piece on Kimberly that couldn't work in 'she married to Frederick Kagan!' while the pieces on him could sail right by without ever noting her.  (That's sexism, for those of you on autopilot.)  Second, he's seen -- by some -- as so intelligent.  But he's not.  Kimberly Kagan is not someone I agree with very often -- we're on opposite sides of the political fence -- but she generally speaks -- I'm not talking soundbytes, I'm talking testimony, speeches, papers -- in a manner that acknowledges humanity.  For that reason alone, she's the smarter of the pair.

    When Fred Kagan speaks, we're all just ants in his ant farm that he seems ready to toss in the trash, so bored has he become with humanity and living.

    After nearly two hours, the hearing was finally drawing to a close when Kagan, baited by , had to show just how ugly he can be.

    Yes, Kagan insisted, the US government did have a problem with the current plan or 'plan' for combating the Islamic State in Iraq.

    The problem?

    Too much effort was being made to not kill civilians.

    Think I misheard?

    Here's the exchange with US House Rep Doug Lamborn.  Let's listen in with horror.

    US House Rep: Doug Lamborn:  Thank you all for being here and I'd like to ask you about our targeting of ISIS' assets.  The New York Times reported on May 26th that "American officials say they are not striking significant and obvious Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians.  But many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason ISIS has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria."  Dr. Kagan, would you agree with that assessment? And-and is it possible to step up aistrikes while still, uh, to the degree possible, uh, preserving civilians lives?

    Frederick Kagan: Uh, I think that there is a trade off between deciding that you're going to have a more effective air campaign and accepting a higher risk of civilian casualties. I think if your standard for civilian casualties is low, you're probably going to have a very hard time increasing, uh, the intensity of the air campaign -- especially as long as you're not prepared to put forward air controllers on the ground, uh, which would be something that would mitigate that.  But I think that we have too high of a standard, uh, for -- from the standard of collateral damage for civilian casualties.  I think that, uh, the truth is this is a war and, uhm, we always try to minimize, uh, collateral damage and civilian casualty but, uhm,  a standard of effectively zero has done enormous harm to our ability to prosecute this war with the tools that we have at our disposal.

    To make a few things clear . . .

    When Kagan made his puzzling remarks to US House Rep Trent Franks that the US government had poor relations with the Sunnis in Iraq because of the US government's support for the Kurds in Iraq, I disagreed.  (Like Franks, who quickly changed the subject, I couldn't grasp what Kagan was attempting to say or the basis for that bizarre call.)  But as strongly as I disagreed, I could write it off as just disagreeing.

    Second, Kagan is not just right wing, he's a neocon.  Part of one of the biggest neocon families (his brother Robert Kagan, his sister-in-law the dreadful Victoria Nuland, his father is Donald Kagan, etc.).  But his remarks are not a neocon attitude -- or not solely a neocon attitude.

    The allegedly left Foreign Policy In Focus was arguing the same points Kagan was -- we called them out in the June 4th snapshot as well as in "Iraq: Failed follow ups and whining that bombs aren't being dropped quick enough" -- a point worth remembering for those of us on the left who might want to write Kagan's remarks off as something 'only the right could say.'

    Third, the New York Times article was written by the Washington-based Eric Schmitt so we never took it or Schmitty to seriously.

    "Many Iraqi commanders"?

    Did you phone 'em, Schmitty?

    Or did you maybe just put a finger on each temple and 'psychically' connect with them?

    (I'm sure many Shi'ite commanders in the Iraqi military feel there's too much restraint when it comes to bombing Sunni areas.  We've seen, in Tikrit most recently, what Shi'ite forces can do in the name of 'liberation' to Sunnis and Sunni homes.  I'm just as sure that Schmitty himself did not speak to "many Iraqi commanders" -- though he did feel the need to 'give voice to them' -- or maybe just put words in their mouths?)

    And for those who might want to insist that Schmitt got the byline but others could have spoken to Iraqi commanders?  Ben Hubbard was in Urfa, Turkey, Anne Barnard and Maher Samaan were in Beirut.  Only Omar al-Jawoshy was in Iraq (Baghdad).  No, I'm not picturing him rushing to and from commander for comments.

    Returning to the horrific exchange:

    US House Rep: Doug Lamborn:  Thank you all for being here and I'd like to ask you about our targeting of ISIS' assets.  The New York Times reported on May 26th that "American officials say they are not striking significant and obvious Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians.  But many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason ISIS has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria."  Dr. Kagan, would you agree with that assessment? And-and is it possible to step up aistrikes while still, uh, to the degree possible, uh, preserving civilians lives?

    Frederick Kagan: Uh, I think that there is a trade off between deciding that you're going to have a more effective air campaign and accepting a higher risk of civilian casualties. I think if your standard for civilian casualties is low, you're probably going to have a very hard time increasing, uh, the intensity of the air campaign -- especially as long as you're not prepared to put forward air controllers on the ground, uh, which would be something that would mitigate that.  But I think that we have too high of a standard, uh, for -- from the standard of collateral damage for civilian casualties.  I think that, uh, the truth is this is a war and, uhm, we always try to minimize, uh, collateral damage and civilian casualty but, uhm,  a standard of effectively zero has done enormous harm to our ability to prosecute this war with the tools that we have at our disposal.

    Does Fred Kagan get that reducing civilian casualties is not a nicety but a legal requirement of war?

    It doesn't appear that he does.

    The people of Mosul have been occupied by the Islamic State for over a year and, by Kagan's argument, it might be time to just drop bombs on all of Mosul to stamp IS out.

    It would kill thousands of Iraqi civilians in the process but Fred wants "a more effective air campaign and [is] accepting [of] a higher risk of civilian casualties."

    Fred feels the US government has "too high of a standard, uh, for -- from the standard of collateral damage and civilian casualty."

    Now the reality is that many civilians have been killed by the ongoing US airstrikes in Iraq.

    Apparently not enough kills for Fred Kagan who needed to take something home to mount on the wall, but there have been many and a few even have been well documented in the press.

    So this notion that the US is leading the way when it comes to protecting human life is a fantasy that exists only in the deranged mind of Frederick Kagan.

    But how deranged do you have to be to hold that fantasy as truth while also feeling it's a bad thing?

    The US is not a leader in things to do or emulate (it is as flawed as any other country) but if it were why would that be a bad thing?

    If the US government was actually setting a standard for protecting human life, as Kagan seems to think, why would that be a bad thing?

    The Subcommittee on Emerging Threats found a serious one today -- if they're paying attention.  His name is Frederick Kagan and he has little-to-no respect for human life.

    Strong and wrong
    You lose everything
    Without the heart
    You need
    To hear a robin sing
    Where have all the songbirds gone?
    All I hear are crows in flight
    Singing might is right
    Might is right!

    Oh the dawn of man comes slow
    Thousands of years
    And here we are...
    Still worshiping
    Our own ego

    Strong and wrong

    -- "Strong and Wrong," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Shine album.

    From there it was time to move on to Jordan.

    Linda Robinson wanted to talk about refugees fleeing violence.

    She wanted to see them as varmint.

    People who invoke sympathy from many due to their hardships are, too Linda Robinson, a "long term threat, not just a humanitarian issue,"

    As she yammered on, I was left to wonder what the hell she knew about Jordan?

    Jordan has done a great deal for refugees.

    But, sorry, they have not done nearly enough.

    She wants "possibly international organizations" to "get more involved" with the refugees to avoid them becoming radicalized and "I doubt these people are going to eventually go home so this poses a very critical, long term threat."

    Fishman tried to smooth it over by noting "many of them are going to become citizens of Jordan."

    Which only again begged the question, do they know what the hell they're talking about.

    Jordan's not made Iraqi refugees citizens.

    More to the point, Jordan doesn't even allow them to work legally in the country.

    They can be kicked out for working and the government refuses to issue them work permits.

    If Linda Robinson is so damn worried about the refugees fleeing to Jordan becoming radicalized, she should just stop talking, she just sit her ass down and keep her mouth closed because she clearly doesn't know a damn thing and should let someone else speak.



    That's not the answer.

    Yes, it can get refugees through a harsh winter, for example.  It can provide immunizations.

    But refugee camps are supposed to be temporary lodging.

    You're not supposed to be a lifelong refugee.

    Hosting refugees is not the same as granting them asylum.

    You want to help them?

    Grant them asylum.

    Make them citizens.

    Which may have been the point Fishman was dancing around and trying to word it delicately so that Linda Robinson did not come off like the raving idiot that she so clearly is.

    Iraqis fleeing violence do not need to be kept in refugee camps which are the equivalent of cages.

    Allow them to work, grant them work permits.

    Allow them a path to citizenship if that's what they're choosing.

    But if you want to radicalize the youth -- Linda Robinson's big fear -- then the easiest way in the world is to prevent refugees from working, have children grow in refugee camps (or slums) in families dependent upon tiny morsels of charity and, in that, you will have all the ingredients to create suicide bombers and more.

    Lebanon and Syria have not been heaven on earth for Iraqi refugees (even before the Syrian conflict broke out).  I'm not trying to scapegoat Jordan.

    And friends in Jordan have been personally helpful to me on several occasions on the Iraqi refugee issue.

    But what was thought to be temporary early in the Iraq War is now long lasting.

    Jordan needs to rethink its policies.

    It needs to be providing a path to citizenship.

    There are some Iraqi refugees in Jordan today who are on their tenth year -- their tenth year -- of asylum (or 'asylum' because I think you do more than host refugees if you're providing asylum).

    These people want a life.

    And the rules preventing them from having a life in Jordan are real and need to be addressed.

    And possibly that can't happen in Jordan.

    That may be true.

    I've heard arguments from friends in Jordan that various other issues at play mean this is all that can be offered.

    If that's the case, then Jordan is not providing asylum and should not be expected to.

    It's a way station and nothing more.

    So recognize it as such and get seriously to work on relocating these refugees to a host country where they can have a path to citizenship and they can work legally without fear of fines or deportation.

    Linda Robinson wants to throw money at the problem.

    She's tossing a few dimes at the homeless and declaring the problem solved.

    (The ongoing wars have been a great distraction for America allowing it to avoid the ever increasing homeless population in the United States.)

    From his statements to the Subcommittee, I get the idea Fred Kagan would be thrilled if a drone destroyed his home because someone thought a terrorist was present -- he'd be gloating about how at last the US government was not fretting over civilian casualties.

    But I have to wonder if Linda Robinson would be happy in a refugee camp?

    If she wasn't allowed to work in a field she was trained and educated in but was instead one of many refugees struggling to make it, maybe working the black market, would she be so very happy?

    Or if, because she was a foreigner, she was seen as a "critical, long-term threat," would she wake with a smile on her face every day?

    It's really amazing how when people like Linda Robinson and Fred Kagan speak of other people, they so quickly strip those people of their humanity and reduce them to faceless non-humans who don't have the right to expect safety or employment or to even pursue happiness.

    As the two made clear in their testimonies today, they themselves are the biggest emerging threats currently.

    Kimberly Kagan participates in a roundtable discussion on Iraq at POLITICO that is worth reading.

    Middle East Eye reports:

    Anbar’s provincial council has called on the Iraqi army to refrain from shelling civilian areas of the Islamic State (IS) controlled city of Fallujah, according to a Tuesday statement released by the council.
    "Many innocent civilians – especially children, women and elderly people – lost their lives in recent months after security forces shelled [residential areas of] Fallujah," the council asserted.
    According to the statement, local residents have been prevented from leaving the city by IS militants.
    A medical source told Anadolu Agency that Fallujah General Hospital had received the bodies of seven civilians on Tuesday, along with eight injured, "including women and children".

    These are the bombings then-prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki began in January of 2014.

    These are the bombings that have left thousands of civilians dead and wounded.

    These are the bombings targeting residential neighborhoods.

    And, yes, these are the bombings that new prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced he ended on September 13, 2014.

    But these are the same bombings that then continued on September 14, 2014.

    They've never stopped.

    They meet the legal definition of War Crimes.

    These are killing and wounding Sunnis.

    And these bombings are being carried out by the Iraqi military.

    For almost a year-and-a-half, these bombings have taken place and they have received very little press attention.

    When Haider made his announcement, however, that received massive press attention -- it even got praise from a United Nations representative.

    They'd all been silent as this had taken place but once Haider declared it over, they suddenly rush to note it . . .

    only to fall silent when the bombings continued the next day.

    I don't know if they get this or not, but this does meet the legal definition of a War Crime and their silence offers them no immunity, they're just as culpable as anyone else -- especially a UN official who's the special envoy to Iraq.

    I think his silence could actually qualify for prison time.

    Margaret Griffis ( reports 109 violent deaths across Iraq today.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015

    No, splitting up Iraq will not work

    1. All those dual-colored areas show partition won't solve Iraqis' need to accept differences.

  • Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Tuesday, June 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, NATO plans return to Iraq, no political solution as the crises impact everything including food supplies, bad 'reporting' circles Iraq, and much more.

    Let's start with today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson John Kirby.

    QUESTION: Can we go to the war against ISIS?

    MR KIRBY: Sure.

    QUESTION: Today the advisor to the supreme leader in Tehran, Ali Akbar Velayati, after meeting with the Syrian interior minister, said that there’s going to be meetings in Baghdad between Iraq, Iran, and Syria to consolidate efforts against ISIS. Would you object to including the Syrian Government in this process?

    MR KIRBY: I think I would put this in the same area that we talked about when we talked about Prime Minister Abadi traveling to Tehran. It is understandable. And it’s not the first time, by the way, that Iraqi leaders have met – excuse me – with Assad regime leaders. But it – we understand. This is a sovereign country; we have to keep reminding ourselves, I find, to remind everybody that Iraq is sovereign. Prime Minister Abadi is the prime minister of a sovereign nation and we should expect that he’s going to have discussions and meetings and outreach with neighbors in the Middle East, particularly immediate neighbors. And so that’s the rubric under which we understand this meeting is occurring.

    QUESTION: So you don’t object, let’s say, to cooperation between Syria, Iraq, and Tehran in fighting the same enemy that you are fighting?

    MR KIRBY: We have – our position hasn’t changed. The Assad regime has lost legitimacy, has to go. And I think it’s important to remember in the context of this or any other meeting that it’s largely because of Assad that ISIL has been able to flourish and grow and operate and sustain itself inside Syria. And so I think it’s important to remember that. Nothing’s changed about our view on that. But we also understand that Prime Minister Abadi has obligations – security obligations – that he himself and the Iraqi people hold to be important. And if he’s having meetings with neighboring nations, the leaders of neighboring nations, in concert with that, well, that’s certainly his prerogative.

    QUESTION: But, may I? If you’re saying that Assad is the source of all this terrorism, then I mean – or the main cause or continues to be a source of this terrorism, I mean, how are you really going to go after ISIS without a strategy to get rid of Assad?

    MR KIRBY: Well, I didn’t say that Assad is the main reason why ISIL exists.

    QUESTION: Well, this Administration has basically put it at his feet that ISIS was able to flourish and you just said that --

    MR KIRBY: I did. Yes.

    QUESTION: -- ISIS was able to flourish because of --

    MR KIRBY: Absolutely. It’s been able to – one of the reasons it has been able to flourish inside Syria is that the Assad regime has lost all legitimacy. They are – they are not – they’ve – large swaths of ungoverned space inside Syria that ISIL has been able to take advantage of and to exploit.
    The mission against ISIL – the coalition mission is against ISIL. Separate and distinct from that, nothing has changed about our longstanding belief that the Assad regime’s lost legitimacy and needs to go. We’ve also said repeatedly and consistently that there’s not going to be a military solution to that issue, that what needs to happen is a negotiated political settlement.

    QUESTION: Is there any movement on that?

    MR KIRBY: Well, it’s – we talked about this the other day, Elise. We continue to work at this. This is a tough problem in a very complicated area. Everybody understands that. But that’s what really needs to happen here. It’s not going to be solved militarily.

    First on the above:

  • Freudian slip?State Dept. spox: "#[Iraq] is a sovereign country; we have to keep reminding ourselves." Remind ourselves?

  • Second, Elise is Elise Labott of CNN.

    And the thing to note about the above?

    Even when specifically asked about political efforts ("any movement on that?"), the administration can't answer.

    June 19, 2014 found US President Barack Obama insisting that there was no military answer for Iraq, that the only answer to the crises in Iraq was a political solution.

    Over a year later, they still can't point to any real progress on that front.

    Nor have they devoted significant time or effort towards helping Iraq reach a political solution.

  • Coalition airstrikes against terrorists increasing in Iraq & Syria: 50 over last 48 hrs, including 22 yesterday in Iraq. Via

  • That's the State Dept's Brett McGurk and he Tweets that nonsense near daily.

    He just never Tweets about efforts towards a political solution.

    Because there are none.

    The State Dept drops no 'diplomatic bombs' on Iraq.

    Today, the host of MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes notes:

  • solution to the horror in Iraq is political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia. That is likely to take a very very long time.. <2>

  • And it will take even longer because there are no efforts at real diplomacy and real assistance on the part of the US government.

    Always, military efforts are made.

    Adrian Croft (Reuters), for example, offers:

    NATO is expected to announce soon a plan to advise the Iraqi government on reforming its security forces which are fighting back after collapsing in the face of an offensive by Islamic State fighters, NATO diplomats said on Tuesday.

    Iraq asked NATO for help training its security forces last December after Islamic State captured large parts of Iraq.

    NATO to return.  Still no diplomacy, but NATO to retur.

    And as diplomatic  efforts aren't made, the effects of the crises impact everything in Iraq -- not just the immediate safety of civilians but also the long range safety as well.

    In a new report for the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, Hadi Fathallah explains:

    Every day, Iraq inches closer to hunger. The United Nations estimates that approximately 4.4 million people across Iraq require food assistance. About 30 percent of Iraqis live below the national poverty line, and this number is much higher in the poorest districts. These communities are already struggling with limited resources and basic foodstuffs, a situation made worse by the growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The country faces a stark and multifaceted food security challenge. In the short term, protracted conflict is generating localized food shortages. In the longer term, inflexible policies and government illiquidity are leading to decreased domestic food production and higher import dependency.
    In June 2014, with the Islamic State’s (IS) incursion into Salahuddin, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Anbar—the breadbasket governorates comprising Iraq’s cereal belt—the country lost the majority of its annual wheat and barley harvests from these areas, which combined contributed over one-third of Iraq’s cereal production. About 1 million tons of wheat was lost in total. Moreover, of the harvest stored in government silos, much was expropriated by IS and transferred to Syria, and what the farmers kept was confiscated, bought at depressed prices, or left to rot. 

    The increasing number of IDPs, now estimated at around 3 million, together with about 250,000 refugees from Syria, has put an extra strain on the food supply and remaining strategic reserves in Iraq. The government has been unable to deliver food assistance to the displaced through its Public Distribution System (PDS) because of inflexible supply chains—preventing, for example, displaced Iraqis from Salahuddin’s Tikrit from collecting their monthly basket in Erbil or Baghdad. Government reserves of the main commodities in the PDS’s food basket are already understocked, and the government has not physically moved foodstuffs to IDPs’ destinations, where demand has spiked. Cash shortages have also prevented the government from replacing the physical commodities with cash transfers to those in need.  

    As the violence continues, Margaret Griffis ( counts  98 violent deaths across Iraq today.

    Staying with the topic of death . . .

    Australian government trying to confirm reports of two of militant deaths in Iraq

    So the two are thought to have been killed in Mosul on Monday and the Australian government is trying to confirm these deaths on Tuesday

    And BBC quotes Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop declaring,  "Given the security situation in Iraq, it's difficult for our authorities to gain the kind of information that would be required to verify these reports."

    Contrast that with the immediate claims by the US government that a terrorist and a person of interest in the 9/11/12 Benghazi attack is dead from a US air strike in Iraq.

  • Pentagon says air strike in Iraq has killed an IS militant linked to 2012 attack on US diplomatic compound in Libya

  • BBC words it far better than some.

    And as a recording of a claim the US government is making, it may serve a purpose.

    We're just not overly interested in propaganda.

    An air strike, in Iraq, killed someone?


    Who did it kill?

    The Pentagon's claimed multiple kills in the nearly year long air bombing.

    Has claimed.

    I'm missing the verification aspect.

    Can someone explain that one to me?

    Where the US military goes to the site of a bombing and verifies who died?

    Maybe does some DNA recon?

    That happens when?

    Oh, right, it doesn't.

    So the Pentagon gets to claim whatever it wants.

    Maybe tomorrow they'll be in need of press and decide to claim a US war plane dropped a bomb on Big Foot?

    Richard Sisk (Military Times) explains:

    U.S. military officials are pushing back against charges that the air war against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria has been ineffective and amounts more to a "drizzle."
    In Pentagon briefings and in Capitol Hill testimony, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, and others have responded that the campaign was killing ISIS fighters at a rate of about 1,000 per month, while taking "excruciating" pains to avoid civilian casualties. Up to 75 percent of the sorties flown have returned to base without firing weapons.

    If you're under criticism that your actions have accomplished nothing (and largely, the war planes have accomplished little of value), it would certainly be nice for you if you could claim that you killed someone important -- say a criminal behind the 9/11/12 Benghazi attack.

    And a jolly press that just goes along with your claims is certainly nice.

    What is known is that a US war plane dropped a bomb or bombs.  What is suspected is that someone was killed when they hit.

    No one knows who was killed.

    No one sent a team of US forces to inspect the site after.

    Let's stay with reporting or, rather, the lack of it.

    Reporters are supposed to report on what they see.

    So someone explain this nonsense from Walter Pincus or why the Washington Post let him yammer away.

    I was at the the hearing.

    We covered it:

    I was at the hearing and at that hearing and others because there is so little press coverage of Congressional hearings.

    So I should be grateful for Walter's report.

    So I should be grateful for Walter's report?

    It's not a report.

    He wasn't present.

    He didn't even watch it on the TV.

    He half-way discloses he's using a transcript.

    He fails to disclose whose transcript.

    It's probably the Pentagon's transcript -- this month's already revealed that the Associated Press is using Pentagon transcripts to 'report' on hearings.

    In what journalistic world is that okay?

    A) They're not reporting on they've seen or heard.

    B) They're taking the word of the government when, in fact, a reporter is supposed to be skeptical.

    Any Pentagon transcript I've ever seen has had serious errors.

    I don't mean typos.

    I do mean that while the DoD witness at the hearing is generally quoted accurately (and generously), the members of Congress are not really documented accurately in the transcript.

    So it's really offensive that so-called reporters are offering 'reports' based on second hand sourcing.

    Even sadder is when, like Walter Pincus, they try to 'liven' the transcripts up.

    "Dempsy shot back . . ."


    You're reading a transcript and you're trying to make it come to life?

    You have no idea the tone or the manner in which the remarks were made.

    You should be compelled to stick to repeating stiff verbs such as "said" throughout your summary of a transcript someone provided you with.

    And it's a very sad day for journalism -- in a century already full of these sad days -- when a reporter can get away with using a prepared transcript -- prepared by a body with bias -- to 'report' on that took place at a hearing they didn't bother to attend.

    elise labott
    the washington post