Friday, May 12, 2017

Where did the Democratic Party go?

My party 'tis of thee, what have you done to me?

Oh, the hot mess that is the Democratic Party today.

Nutty conspiracy theories, b.s. 'issues' -- nonsens all around.

  1. Impeachment is a trial. What is the charge against Trump? Dislike alone is not a legal case.
  2. My latest column.
  3. I discuss the subject of my latest column, the Democratic Party Death Spiral with .

Is there an adult left among elected Dems?

I'm not sure.

Maybe we need to send out a search party to find the lost heart of the once great party?

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

Friday, May 12, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, The Mosul Slog continues (with a new hopeful end date attached), the Islamic State continues to creep back into supposedly 'liberated' areas, and much more.

Starting in the US with a firing.  Andrea Zelinski (HOUSTON CHRONICLE) reports:

The state inspector general responsible for ensuring the integrity of one of the state's largest public agencies was fired by the governor amid revelations he was doubling as a consultant for the government of Iraq, which successfully sought to pull the country from the Trump administration's travel ban, officials confirmed Thursday.
Gov. Greg Abbott demanded Stuart Bowen Jr.'s, resignation Wednesday night after Texas Monthly's R.G. Ratcliffe began inquiring about the inspector general's communications and representation of the Iraqi government.

Edgar Walters (TEXAS TRIBUNE) adds, "Before his appointment by the governor, Bowen served as the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction for nearly a decade."  R.G. Ratcliffe (TEXAS MONTHLY) elaborates:

Before Bowen was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2015 to monitor $40 billion a year in state health and welfare spending, he was the U.S. inspector general for the reconstruction of Iraq. I recently found out that he had been hired as a senior advisor to a Washington lobby firm that had registered as a foreign agent for the government of Iraq in late 2016. The lobby firm repeatedly invoked Bowen’s name in letters to senior Trump administration officials seeking meetings between them and a senior Iraqi aide to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (Bowen said that he did not authorize the firm to use his name). On April 6, al-Abadi posted a photograph of himself standing next to Bowen at a United Nation’s conference on corruption in Iraq.
[. . .]
Bowen said in a statement that in October 2016 a family friend who works for a Washington, D.C. law firm contacted him to ask for help connecting with the governor of the Iraqi Central Bank. Bowen made the introduction. The next month, according to Bowen, the firm approached him again for advice on anti-corruption efforts related to the financial services sector in Iraq, offering to pay him hourly. Bowen said that he consulted with the HHSC ethics advisor about the outside work. “My efforts for the law firm fully complied with that advice, with HHSC ethics policy, and state law,” he said in the statement. “I have never worked for Iraq and was not involved in any law firm activities regarding the travel ban issue.”

Today is day 205 of The Mosul Slog.

To recap, the terrorist group the Islamic State seized the city of Mosul in June of 2014.

It was over two years before Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi did anything.  Last October, an operation to liberate or 'liberate' Mosul began.

This was supposed to last a few weeks.  Instead, it's on day 205.

Throughout the operation, the end date has been pushed back.  Today?  The government is stating that the operation will be done by the start of Ramadan.  (Observing begins at sundown on May 26th.)

Here's what they have to show for 205 days.

joint operations officially announce The ENTIRE Haramat district west completely liberated.

The white area above is still controlled by the Islamic State.

While the space ISIS occupies in Mosul has decreased, the number of refugees in Iraq has increased as a result of The Mosul Slog.  THE DAILY SABAH reports:


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced Friday that 630,000 civilians have been displaced from Iraq's Mosul since the battle against the [Islamic State] terror group began in October.
UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said [. . .] that the civilians who were trying to leave the city were at great risk, stressing that most of the families in Mosul were deprived of food, water, oil and other basic needs.
"Some families eat only one meal a day, mostly comprised of a single bread, flour or water," Mahecic stated.

The citizens of Mosul were told by the government not to leave Mosul, to instead stay in their homes.

Many of those homes were then bombed by Iraq and the US-led coalition.

Near the end of last month, people were finally encouraged to leave.

But there was no safe passage and those who attempt to leave are left to their own resources.

It's been a failure in every regard.

But at some point, when the slog is finally over, watch the pretense kick in that it was a victory and that it was worth it and blah blah blah.

Mustafah Habib (NIQASH) reports:

Many Iraqis and international observers are continuing to watch the fighting in Mosul, where pro-government forces are slowly driving out the last vestiges of the extremist group known as the Islamic State. But even as this happens and the troops continue their painstaking and expensive advance toward victory, the extremists are re-grouping elsewhere in Iraq.
It seems that all those involved are coming to the conclusion that, in order to truly expel the extremist Islamic State, or IS, group from Iraq, the final campaign must take place in the deserts of Anbar province, around the borders of Iraq and Syria.
“Ending the IS group in Mosul will make the extremist group sick,” a senior Iraqi army officer told NIQASH, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to media. “But ending the organisation in Anbar will kill them. That is why fighting in Anbar will be the next main campaign in Iraq and also the most dangerous yet. It is different there because the battle will take place around international borders.”
A plan for this is already taking shape, the officer noted.

“The plan includes the mobilization of large numbers of pro-government forces from both the Iraqi army and from the anti-terrorism corps, that are currently in Mosul, as well as tribal brigades, along with US forces to provide air and artillery support,” he added. 

Of course, Mosul is only one city in Iraq.

Ongoing operations in south Rutbah west by Army targeting camps and hideouts in the desert.

For those playing along with the home version of IRAQ THE NEVER ENDING WAR, the Iraqi army 'liberated' May 18th of last year, driving ISIS out of the city.

Driving them out . . .

And guess who's back?

Which is why you can't defeat ISIS militarily.

It works off the persecution of Sunnis.

End the persecution and ISIS loses its standing.

But since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq has been a government that persecutes Sunnis.

Violence continues throughout Iraq.  One example:

IED exploded in Quba, al-Waqf, Killing 3 Iraqi soldiers and wounding 4.

The northern section of Iraq is the Kurdistan Regional Government, a semi-autonomous region.  The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world that does not have homeland.

In 1974 today, Kurdish revolutionary woman, Leyla Qasim, was executed by the -i regime in for fighting for Kurdish rights.


Leyla Qasim (Southern Kurdish: لەیلا قاسم‎; 1952 – May 12, 1974) was a Kurdish activist against the Iraqi Ba'ath regime who was executed in Baghdad. She is known as a national martyr among the Kurds.

Birth and childhood

She was the third out of five children born to a Kurdish farmer, Dalaho Qasim, and his wife Kanî. She was born in Xaneqîn but was relocated to Irbil when she was four years old. The Qasims lived in wretched poverty, relying on rations for food and clothes. Leyla and her brother Çiyako were taught Arabic and agriculture by their mother when they were aged six and eight.

Political activism

When Leyla was sixteen years old Abdul Rahman Arif was overthrown by Ba'ath party leader, General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. Leyla was disturbed by the violent takeover in the capital. During the late 1960s, Leyla and Çiyako wrote pamphlets on the horrors of the Ba'ath party including the new leader, Saddam Hussein, whom they described as being against Kurdish independence.
Leyla spoke to several Kurds in the Northern region of Iraq about the Ba'ath regime and the loose morals of the members. Leyla was told that her words were inspiring sedition.
In 1970 she joined the Kurdistan Students Union and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.[1]

In 1974, while studying at Baghdad University, she was accused of trying to assassinate Saddam Hussein. She was arrested, tortured and, in Baghdad on May 12, 1974, ultimately hanged after a lengthy show trial, broadcast throughout Iraq.[2]

The following community sites updated:

  • 19 hours ago


    Thursday, May 11, 2017

    Stop thinking

    We don't need to anymore.

    THE NEW YORK TIMES' editorial board has weighed in and settled everything.

    The editorial board is officially back in the bull goose looney Putin-Nazi conspiracy theory business ...


    So who needs an investigation?

    The paper knows why Comey was fired.

    They can peer into Donald Trump's soul.

    We can trust THE NEW YORK TIMES, right?

    Oh sure, they lied about Iraq.

    And they lied about Libya.

    And they print more lies than truth.

     But the editorial board has it all figured out.

    If they're so smart, why can't they figure out how to market their b.s. paper?

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

    Thursday, May 11, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, The Mosul Slog continues, the roots that led to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq remain, and much more.

    Day 204 of The Mosul Slog.

    is finished! joint operations released a official map of the areas liberated in city. Only 10% under control.

    ''ISIS is finished!''?

    1. car bomb exploded in Shaala NW , 4 civilians killed and 8 wounded.

    Someone didn't get that message to Baghdad, apparently.

    "ISIS is finished!"?

    ISIS will not be 'finished' by a military operation.

    ISIS can be made useless by a political operation.

    ISIS took hold in Iraq because of a government that persecuted the Sunnis.

    The Sunnis were disappeared, false arrests took place (without arrest warrants, without cause -- going to a home for someone and when that person was not home arresting a child, a parent, a sibling, etc.), Sunni girls and women were beaten and raped in jails and prisons, etc.

    ISIS might have been avoided if the US hadn't determined an election by overthrowing the results.

    That is what happened in 2010.

    In March 2010, the Iraqi people voted.

    Nouri al-Maliki insisted he would win a second term.

    He certainly did enough bribery to win.

    But the voters weren't impressed.

    His State of Law came in second to Iraqiya.

    Iraqiya was led by Ayad Allawi.  It was a non-sectarian party.  It made a point of being inclusive of Sunnis, Shi'ites and various minorities.  It made a point of honoring Iraq's past by representing men and women.  Shi'ite fundamentalists had failed, the Iraqi people felt.  They wanted to break with what was and pursue inclusion and the notion of one Iraq for all.

    Nouri stamped his feet.

    He refused to step down.

    The then-top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno had predicted this happening ahead of the election.  But US Ambassador Chris Hayes (and Chrissie's vanity) had shut Odierno out of the loop.

    Nouri refused to step down.

    For over eight months, he refused to step down.

    Instead of standing by free and fair elections, Barack Obama backed thug Nouri al-Maliki.

    Nouri of torture and secret prisons infamy.

    Barack had US officials in Iraq broker The Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract that gave Nouri a second term.

    Why did others sign off on the deal?

    Because The Erbil Agreement promised (a) to end the political stalemate that had brought the Iraqi government to a standstill and (b) to settle outstanding political issues.  For example, the contract said the issue of Kirkuk would be voted on -- something the KRG had long wanted.  The Kurds, everyone, got something they wanted in the contract.


    That's the only term, sorry.


    That's in the Iraqi Constitution.

    Nouri had refused to obey the Constitution throughout his first term.

    Now he's going to honor it?


    Barack Obama swore to Ayad Allawi -- in a frantic November 2010 phone call -- that this was a legal contract with the full backing of the United States government.

    Barack lied.

    As soon as Nouri was named prime minister-designate by the Iraqi Parliament that November, the US government 'forgot' The Erbil Agreement.

    Nouri used it, made promises in writing, and then, after he became prime minister, announced through his attorney that The Erbil Agreement was illegal and that Nouri would not be bound by it.

    The people had peacefully voted.

    They were overturned.

    Now they appealed to their elected leaders.

    Shi'ites, Kurds and Sunnis came together to put forward the threat of voting Nouri out of office via a vote of no confidence.

    Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr repeatedly stated during this that the effort would end at any point if Nouri would honor the promises made in The Erbil Agreement.

    They followed the outlines in the Constitution and gathered the necessary signatures.

    Per the Constitution, it was then turned over to the president of Iraq who would -- ceremonial task only -- introduce it in the Parliament.

    But US Vice President Joe Biden leaned on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Talabani refused to introduce it and high tailed it out of Iraq to Germany for 'emergency surgery' (he had elective knee surgery -- karma would bite Jalal in the ass months later when, during an argument with Nouri, he'd suffer a stroke and have to be taken to Germany).

    The people had now utilized the ballot and then their elected leaders.

    Having no results, they took to the streets and began protesting.  The protests would last for over a year.

    Let's drop back to the morning of December 28, 2013:

    Iraqis dubbed today "Friday of Honor" (following the Wednesday of Dignity protests earlier this week). 
    Kitabat reports that "millions" came out to protest in Anbar Province today.  Their photo of Falluja shows the large crowd with banners, flags and a huge photo of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi (last week, Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of 150 staff and bodyguards working for al-Issawi -- 10 have been charged with 'terrorism' and 50 have been released, this was seen as politically motivated).  The Falluja protesters demanded that innocent people be released from detention and end to the 'terror' arrests, an end to politicizing the Iraqi military, that Nouri turn over the soldier who raped the girl in Mosul and more.  They chanted for unity and for an end to sectarianism and Nouri's abusive government.  AP goes with the more conservative estimate of "tens of thousands" of people protesting.  Al Jazeera (link has video) also goes with "thousands."

    And to that day's snapshot:

    Morning Star notes, "Protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers for the sixth day of protests calling for Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down and for the release of Sunni prisoners."  Al Arabiya notes that the protesters had support from Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, "In a letter by Sadr sent to the tribal sheikhs, the Islamist leader said that he supports their protests against Maliki and their effort to hold unity and thwart sectarianism.Deutsche Welle quotes Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki whining today, "It is not acceptable to express something by blocking roads, inciting sedition and sectarianism, killing, or blowing the trumpet of war and dividing Iraq."  Sign of a true despot, civil disobdience is likened to "killing."  Because it is a 'killing,' it's a killing of his crafted image, it's an exposure of his failure as a leader.   Ken Hanly (Digital Journal) observes of the slogan at many of the protests across Iraq "The people want to bring down the regime," "This is the slogan protesters used in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere during the Arab Spring."

    Kitabat reports that "millions" came out to protest in Anbar Province today.  Their photo of Falluja shows the large crowd with banners, flags and a huge photo of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi (last week, Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of 150 staff and bodyguards working for al-Issawi -- 10 have been charged with 'terrorism' and 50 have been released, this was seen as politically motivated).  The Falluja protesters demanded that innocent people be released from detention and end to the 'terror' arrests, an end to politicizing the Iraqi military, that Nouri turn over the soldier who raped the girl in Mosul and more.  They chanted for unity and for an end to sectarianism and Nouri's abusive government. Kamal Naama and Raheem Salman (Reuters) add, "Around 60,000 people blocked the main road through Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital, setting fire to the flag of Shi'ite Iran and shouting 'out, out Iran! Baghdad stays free' and 'Maliki you coward, don't take your advice from Iran'."  AP goes with the more conservative crowd estimate of "tens of thousands" of people protesting.  For a good photo from AP of the Falluja crowd, click here (photographer is Karim Kadim).  Omar al-Saleh reported for today's Inside Story (Al Jazeera -- link is text and video):
    Omar al-Saleh:  A show of support in Ramadi and Falluja for Iraqi Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi.  During it's biggest rally in days in Anbar Province, local leaders have called for civil disobedience and thousands have blocked the highway linking Iraq to Jordan and Syria.  They are demanding the release of 9 bodyguards of the finance minister who were arrested on Thursday [of last week].  But Rafia al-Issawi addressed the crowd saying the issue now was bigger than his bodyguards.
    Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi:  This crowd is not political or sectarian.  But it represents all Iraqis who came to denounce the injustice and marginalization.  When we say the injustice has happened against Sunni Arabs, that doesn't mean that we want to take the country to a civil war.
    Omar al-Saleh: The protesters urged the Shi'ite-led government to stop its sectarian approach and marginalization of Sunnis and their leaders but the government continues to deny the accusation.  Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the issue of the bodyguards is judicial and the role of the state is to pursue wanted terrorists and not to support them.  Many feel the crisis may escalate.
    Political Analyst Watheq Alshashimi:  The situation in Iraq may take a dangerous direction as elections approach.  What politicians are doing is polarizing their supporters ethnically and based on sectarian  affiliatons.  What's happening in Anbar  can escalate and may lead to more pressure on the prime minister.
    Omar al-Saleh: But other Sunni leaders accuse the president of trying to consolidate his grip on power and target his political rivals.  Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraq's fugitive Vice President, has been sentence to death in absentia for terrorism charges.  He says the prime minister is adopting sectarian policies.  Adding to Iraq's political turmoil is the looming confrontation between the Iraqi army and forces from the semi-autonomous Kurdish north. 
    [. . .]
    As noted earlier, Prashant Rao and other journalists were prevented from entering to observe the Falluja protests; however, they were not the only ones blocked from entering the province.  Aswat al-Iraq notes, "Police sources said here today that the army forces prevented Iraqi delegations from other provinces from entering to participate in Fallujah sit-in on the international highway."   Al Jazeera (link has video) also goes with "thousands:"

    Massive demonstrations took place along a major highway near the city of Fallujah on Friday, a day after thousands of protesters continued an almost week-long blockade on a key highway in the western Anbar province. 
    Protests erupted last week after Iraqi authorities detained 10 bodyguards of the finance minister, who is from Anbar and is one of the government's most senior Sunni officials.
    Many Sunnis accuse Maliki of marginalising the country's religious minority group by refusing to share power and depriving them of equal rights.

    Alsumaria notes "hundreds" protested in Mosul at noon and their demands were similar with the addition of they called for the execution of the soldier who raped the young girl.  All Iraq News adds that the protesters called for all charges against al-Issawi's bodyguards to be dropped.  Alsumaria notes that Samarra saw thousands turn out and their calls were similar but they also want the long promised amnesty law implemented and they want the Justice and Accountability Commission dissolved (the Commission was used most infamously in the 2010 elections to disqualify various Sunnis from running for office -- that includes the current Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq).  AP adds that protests took place today in Tikrit as well.  BBC News notes a Ramadi protest and that held "a mock funeral for the Iraqi judiciary."

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observes:

    The protests began last week after troops detained bodyguards and aides of Finance Minister Rafie al-Essawi, while searching his home and offices on December 20. The government has claimed that it arrested only ten of the minister's bodyguards on charges of "terrorism." But Essawi, a member of the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, charged that over 100 people connected to his staff were rounded up by what he said was a "militia force" controlled by Maliki's supporters.
    It appears that the discrepancy arises from the fact that only the bodyguards were subjected to formal arrest, while the others were essentially subjected to extra-legal detention and interrogation.
    Addressing Maliki in a statement to the Iraqi media, Essawi stated, "You are a man who does not respect partnership at all, a man who does not respect the law and the constitution, and I personally hold you fully responsible for the safety of the kidnapped people."
    The finance minister told Associated Press that Maliki was deliberately seeking to stoke sectarian conflicts between the Sunni and Shia populations. "These practices are aimed at drawing the country into a sectarian conflict again by creating crisis and targeting prominent national figures," he said.
    The incident was essentially a replay of a similar crackdown carried out a year ago, on December 19, 2011, the day after the last US troops ended the more than eight-year American occupation of Iraq. Then the target was Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, also a Sunni member of the Iraqiya bloc.

    The people took to the streets and peacefully protested.

    Nouri's response?

    He had police follow them home, he had journalists arrested, he had his forces attack the protesters, killing them.

    It is in this environment that the Islamic State publicly shows up.

    The protests that blocked the highway?

    The Islamic State shows up with the promise to protect the protesters on the highway.

    The persecution of the Sunnis has not ceased, national reconciliation has not emerged.

    End the persecution and embrace one-Iraq-for-all and you take away any standing the Islamic State may have.

    Refuse to address that and nothing changes.

    ISIS may end up drive out of Mosul (more than likely, it will just be driven underground), but that doesn't end it.  The only thing that does is national reconciliation.

    The US Defense Dept's Lisa Ferinando reports, "The Iraqi forces liberated more than 18 miles of terrain in west Mosul this week, [Air Force Col John] Dorrian said, adding that although the enemy is weakened, a tough fight remains."

    Meanwhile the governments of Iraq and the United States are discussing troops remaining in Iraq even if the Islamic State should be defeated.  Paul R. Huard (NRT) weighs in and notes:

    So whether the increases are drastic or incremental, there will be no official word about U.S. troops sent to fight [the Islamic State] in the Middle East.
    That is an untenable policy. In an age of readily available information on the Internet ranging from mil-blogs written by informed individuals to postings on social media, news of the size and mission of specific units will make its way into the media.
    Besides, both Kurds and Americans will want to know about the U.S. soldiers who are in harm’s way. That information is vital to both the public debate regarding strategy and the people in both the United States and Kurdistan understanding the soldier’s mission.
    But make no mistake: Both Iraq and the United States want U.S. forces in the region for the foreseeable future.

    In other words, they want the troops there for a very long time. 

    The following community sites -- plus BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated: