Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rib eye

I don't eat beef often these days.  Mad Cow curtailed my interest in beef.

But every now and then I do want a steak.

The rib eye steak is my favorite.

And I like it blood rare.

Which is very hard to get these days due to Mad Cow and other issues.

I like a good rib eye.  And I like to cut it into pieces, little strips, before I take a bite.

I like to have A1 steak sauce and I dip the pieces in it, I don't pour it over the steak itself.

If you're wondering, we're doing a theme post on meat tonight.

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, John Kerry fails to give Barack his due credit, the Senate votes to arm thugs, Senator Rand Paul speaks out, and much more.

Yesterday in the US, the House of Representatives voted to approve funding for the training and arming of so-called 'rebels' in Syria.  Today it was the Senate's turn.

And they also passed funding more war and destruction and a 'plan' that just isn't there.

22 members of the Senate voted against it:

Senators Tammy Baldwin, Bernie Sanders,  Mark Begich, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Barrasso, Sherrod Brown, Tom Coburn, Joe Manchin, Mike Lee, Patrick Leahy, Dean Heller, Ron Paul, Jeff Sessions, James E. Risch, Pat Roberts, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz, Mike Crapo, Ed Markey, Jerry Moran, Chris Murphy and Mike Enzi.

The other 78 US senators voted for it -- no one abstained.

Senator Sanders' office issued the following statement:

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday voted against the United States training and arming Syrian rebels. Sanders said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria “is a brutal and dangerous extremist organization which must be defeated, but this war cannot be won by the United States alone. There needs to be a real international coalition led by the countries most threatened – Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and Iran. The worst thing that we can do now is allow ISIS to portray this struggle as East vs. West, as Muslim vs. Christian, as the Middle East vs. America. That is exactly what they want and that is exactly what we should not be giving them.”
The senator faulted wealthy Middle East nations for doing too little to protect their own interests, especially when Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest military budget in the world. He also questioned why American taxpayers are footing the bill when royal families that rule those Mideast nations are worth hundreds of billions of dollars. 
“This is not just a question of whether young men and women in Vermont and across America should be putting their lives on the line in another Mideast war.  It is not just about whether the taxpayers of our country should once again pay for a war in the Middle East. It is about the reality that, long term, this struggle will never be won by the United States alone.  It must be won with the active participation of the Muslim countries in the region,” Sanders said.
Sanders said he supports President Barack Obama’s judicious use of airstrikes which already have shown some success, but in opposing the resolution Sanders said, “I fear very much that supporting questionable groups in Syria who will be outnumbered and outgunned by both ISIS and the Assad regime could open the door to the United States once again being dragged back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement.”
The provision to fund forces battling the ISIS terrorist group was included in a stopgap spending bill to fund the government through Dec. 11. The measure, approved by the Senate, had passed the House on Wednesday.

US President Barack Obama insisted the vote demonstrated that Americans were united, Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney (Reuters) report..

Uh, no, it didn't.  America didn't get to vote.  Members of Congress voted.

And AFP reports:

For the first time since President Barack Obama took office, more Americans disapprove than approve his handling of terror threats, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing a new poll.
The slide in the president’s approval ratings on terrorism comes as the White House ramps up its fight against the Islamic State group that recently beheaded three Westerners, including two US journalists.  The New York Times-CBS poll found that 50 percent hold a negative view of how Obama is generally dealing with terrorism, while only 41 percent approve.

US Senator Rand Paul got to vote and he voted against the measure while declaring "make no mistake arming Islamic rebels in Syria will only make it harder to destroy ISIS."  We'll close the snapshot with Rand Paul's remarks in full but it's much too long to drop in at the start of the snapshot.

Sharif Nashashibi (Information Clearing House) notes:

Like Bush, Obama is accused of abusing executive authority by saying he does not need the approval of Congress. The White House cites the 2001 Authorisation for Military Force against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, which was passed by Congress after the 9/11 attacks.
However, this applies to nations and organisations that "planned, authorised, committed or aided" the attacks. The IS did not exist at that time, and was disavowed by its parent organisation, al-Qaeda in February this year.
"It's preposterous to suggest that a congressional vote 13 years ago can be used to legalise new bombings in Syria and additional (non-combat) forces in Iraq," Bruce Ackerman, professor of law and political science at Yale University, wrote in the New York Times. Obama's "refusal even to ask the Justice Department to provide a formal legal pretext for the war on ISIS is astonishing."

Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) points out that Secretary of State John Kerry also cited the 9/11 authorization and went further by insisting Article II of the Constitution provides Barack with all the authorization he needs:

Kerry’s invocation of Article Two is eerily reminiscent of the rationales offered by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their Justice Department lawyers, who claimed that the President in time of war could do anything he wanted abroad and even at home. (John Yoo, the White House is on the line…)
For liberals, it was an embarrassing day. Senator Barbara Boxer of California was there to defend the President and his misuse of the AUMF. And the most ardent defender of the Constitution and Congress’s power to declare war was not a Democrat but Senator Rand Paul.

John Kerry appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee today and he declared:

Early this summer, the ISIL threat accelerated when it effectively obliterated the Iraq-Syria border and the Mosul Dam fell. And there are complicated reasons for why that happened. It’s not just a straightforward they-ran-over-them deal. It has to do with the kind of army that Prime Minister Maliki began to create. It has to do with Shia and Sunni. It has to do with a lot of other ingredients. But as a result of that, we further surged our ISR missions immediately over Iraq. We immediately set up joint operation centers in Baghdad and Erbil. And our Special Forces conducted immediately a very detailed assessment of the Iraqi Security Forces, because we needed to know in order to be able to answer your questions and the questions of the American people what might we be getting into here. Do we have an Iraqi army that’s capable of fighting? To what degree? What will it take to reconstitute it? So whatever judgments are coming to you now are coming to you as a consequence of that assessment. And in addition to that, I’m proud to say that thanks to American engagement, ISIL’s movement, which was rapid at that point in time and perilous, was stopped. Together with the Peshmerga and the brave, courageous souls, the Kurds who stood up, we were able to not only stop them there but to liberate Amirli, which had been under siege, liberate Sinjar Mountain, to begin to bring our efforts to bear on Haditha Dam and make a difference. And by the time ISIL had launched its offensive in the north, President Obama began airstrikes to begin with on a humanitarian basis to protect American personnel and prevent major catastrophes such as the fall of Haditha Dam or the maintenance of the Mosul Dam and also to bolster the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish forces.  To date, we’ve launched more than 150 airstrikes. And I know that sounds like – it doesn’t sound like – that’s very few compared to the 16,000 that was mentioned earlier. But it’s a different deal right now, because I believe we rightfully, absolutely needed to get in place a structured, clear, Iraqi-chosen Iraqi effort that provided a government with which we can work going forward. If you didn’t have a government with which you could work going forward, nothing that we tried to do would have had the impact necessary. So the platforms we put in place last June have enabled us to be able to do what we’ve done now, and there’s absolute clarity to the fact that we blunted ISIL’s momentum, created the time and space to be able to put together a comprehensive strategy, get the inclusive government, and build a broad coalition. And that’s the way we ought to go at this.

It's amazing how far they'll go to spin.

Reality, Barack's actions have led the Islamic State to more than double its membership -- and that's according to CIA figures.

All his attacks have done is act as a recruiting tool.

Tom Perry and Larry King (Reuters) report::

Islamic State has won new recruits in Syria since President Barack Obama signaled last week that air strikes against the group will be expanded from Iraq to its strongholds in northern and eastern Syria, a group monitoring the war said on Wednesday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 162 people had joined Islamic State training camps in Aleppo province since Sept 10, when Obama said he would not hesitate to strike Islamic State in Syria.

Barack's very good at turning out new members for the Islamic State.  He's yet to prove himself to be good at 'decimating' the Islamic State

Violence continues today in Iraq with multiple examples including the 6 corpses discovered dumped in the streets of Tuz Khurmato. IANS notes 100 violent deaths in Iraq today with seventy-nine more people left injured.

This as the residential neighborhoods of Falluja continue to be bombed daily.  NINA notes that today's bombings left 4 civilians dead and twenty more (including two children) injured.

Those are the bombings that new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered stopped on Saturday.  They didn't stop.  Not even for a day.

The point we've been making is that the press (and the US Congress) needs to determine did al-Abadi lie about giving an order (which would reflect poorly on him as the new leader, lying out of the gate) or was his order ignored?

If his order was ignored, this is very serious because the Iraqi military has refused a direct order from the prime minister meaning it is no longer under civilian control -- meaning the US doesn't need to be training it, arming it or assisting it.

While everyone in the US has worked hard to avoid the issue, it's being raised in Iraq today.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

MP Hamid al-Mutlaq, for the coalition of Alwataniya demanded the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Haider Abadi to proceed to accountability of military leadership, who violated his orders by carrying out indiscriminate bombing on residential areas in Fallujah of Anbar and Yusufiyah of Baghdad. 

Maybe at some point, the US press will ask the needed questions.

As noted earlier, Senator Rand Paul was one of 22 voting against Barack's desire to provide 'rebels' in Syria with weapons and backing.  Paul's office issued the following:

Sep 18, 2014
Sen. Rand Paul today took to the Senate floor to offer a unanimous consent request to separate the Syria rebel funding language from the Continuing Resolution. Senate Democrats objected to this request. Sen. Paul then delivered a foreign policy address outlining his opposition to arming the Syrian rebels. A video and copy of Sen. Paul's remarks as prepared for delivery can be found HERE or below.


If there is one theme that connects the dots in the Middle East, it is that chaos breeds terrorism. 

What much of the foreign policy elite fails to grasp is that intervention to topple secular dictators has been the prime source of that chaos.

From Hussein to Assad to Ghaddafi we have the same history.

Intervention topples the secular dictator. Chaos ensues and radical jihadists emerge.
The pattern has been repeated time after time and yet what we have here is a failure to understand, a failure to reflect on the outcome our involvement in Arab civil wars.

They say nature abhors a vacuum. Radical jihadists have again and again filled the chaotic vacuum of the Middle East.

Secular dictators, despots who terrorized their own people, are replaced by radical jihadists who seek terror at home and abroad.

Intervention when both choices are bad is a mistake.

Intervention when both sides are evil is a mistake.

Intervention that destabilizes the region is a mistake.

And yet here we are again, wading into another civil war in Syria. I warned a year ago that involving us in Syria's civil war was a mistake.

That the inescapable irony is that someday the arms we supply would be used against us, or Israel.

That day is now. ISIS has grabbed up U.S., Saudi, Qatari weapons by the truckload and we are now forced to fight against our own weapons.

Now, even those of us who have been reluctant to become involved in the wars of the Middle East feel that American vital interests are at stake, that our consulate, our embassy are threatened and that left to their own devices ISIS will fulfill what they have boasted-an attack on us at home.

So, yes we must now defend ourselves from these barbarous jihadists, but let's not compound the problem by arming feckless rebels in Syria who seem to be merely a pit stop for the arms that are inevitably scarfed up by ISIS.

Remember clearly the President and his Republican allies that clamored for air strikes against Assad.

Had those airstrikes occurred, in all likelihood ISIS would now be in Damascus and the threat to America even greater.

Remember that all the hawks who now clamor for boots on the ground also wanted to take out Assad last year. 
Had the hawks been successful last year, we could very well now be facing an ISIS in charge of all of Syria and parts of Iraq.

Intervention is not always the answer and often leads to unintended consequences

Some will argue: No, no it's not intervention that led to this chaos, but not enough intervention.

They say: If only we'd given the rebels more arms, ISIS wouldn't be as strong now.

The only problem is-the facts argue otherwise.

One reason is, we did give arms and assistance to these rebels, through secret CIA operations, and through our allies and not so allied countries in the region.

Reports show that the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have supplied roughly 600 tons of weapons to the militants in Syria in 2013 alone.

According to U.N. records, Turkey has sent 47 tons of weaponry to the Syrian Rebels-sending 29 tons in just this month.

Videos appear online of Free Syrian Army rebels with downed M8 helicopters and MANDPAD air defense systems.

An American made TOW anti-tank system was shown in the hands of Harakat Hazm, a group of so-called moderate rebels.

A Wall Street Journal report detailed Saudi Arabia providing weapons like this to the rebels. It also detailed millions of dollars in direct US aid to rebels - all from nearly 8 months ago or more.

The NY Times reports that Qatar used "a shadowy arms network to move shoulder fired missiles" into the hands of Syrian rebels.

According to Gulfnews, Saudi Arabia also partnered with Pakistan to provide a Pakistani made version of Chinese shoulder launched missiles to the rebels.

Iraqi officials publicly accused Saudi Arabia and Quatar of also funding and arming ISIS at the same time.

Kuwaitis, a Sunni majority country bordering Iraq, have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to a wide range of opposition forces both in Iraq and Syria, according to reports by the Brooking Institute.

According to a New York Times report, over a year ago, the CIA began training Syrian rebels in nearby Jordan, thousands of them, along with delivering arms and ammunition.

New York Times reports also detailed the huge arms and financial transfers from Quatar to the Syrian rebels, beginning as early as 2011.

No one really knows where that all ended up: Jane's Terrorism Center noted, the transfer of Quatari arms to targeted groups has the same practical effect as shipping them to Al Nusra, a violent jihadist force.

The New York Times further detailed that Sudan has provided anti-tank missiles and other arms.

So the idea that these rebels haven't been armed before is ludicrous on it's face.

It is also ludicrous to believe that we know where all of the money, arms and ammunition will end up, or who will end up benefitting from these shipments.


Because we don't know for sure who the groups all are.

Even when we think we do, loyalties shift and groups become amorphous, with alleged moderates lining up with jihadists.

And finally, moderate groups have often sold their weapons or had them seized by the jihadist elements led by ISIS.

According to the Carnegie Endowment, There are no neat, clean, secular rebels groups. They don't exist. They reiterate that this is a "very dirty war" with no clear good guys for us to ally with.

The German Ambassador to the U.S. has fully admitted what our State Department tries to hide - that we can't fully control the final destination of these arms.

Former officials are more forthright with their criticism.

According to a former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Syria, "We need to do everything we can to figure out who the non-ISIS opposition, is...Frankly, we don't have a clue."

The rebels have been all over the map. There are said to be 1500 different rebel groups. The largest coalition other than ISIS, Al Quada and Al Nusra, all jihadist extremists, is the FSA-- which has three people who claim to be the leader.

There are estimates that half of the FSA has defected.

And we prove time and time again we don't know how to vet their leaders.

Two groups that were initially provided US and ally help last year provide good examples.

A top official of Ahrar al Sham, one of the largest rebel groups at the time, announced publicly that he now considers himself allied with Al Qaeda.

Robert Ford, our most recent Ambassador to Syria, said, "We must understand two vital points going in, the moderate armed opposition's biggest enemy is not ISIS, it is the Assad regime...moderate forces have and will tactically coordinate with the Al Qaeda linked Nusra front on the ground."

According to the Washington Free Beacon, one of the militants provided access to advance U.S. weapons said that it is seeking "the return of all Syrian land occupied by Israel."

These are among the many problems we have in arming the Syrian opposition.

Who are we really arming? What will be the result? Where will the arms end up?

There are too many here who believe they have the answers to these questions, when they do not, indeed when all indicators are that it may well be unknowable.

I am a skeptic of this administration's policies, though I share their new-found belief that the jihadists in the region are the biggest threat.

Where I differ is whether to arm the same side as the jihadists.

Regarding whether we go to war at all, or under what circumstance, remember that the President last year wanted to intervene on the OTHER side of this war.

Let me reiterate that: This administration and its allies on both sides of the aisle in seeking perpetual war, last year wanted the United States to join this war on the side of ISIS, against the Assad regime.

I opposed them, for reasons that have now suddenly become clear to everyone else.

It's not that I am against all intervention. I favor striking ISIS.

I supported the decision to go to war with Afghanistan after our nation was attacked on 9/11.

There are valid reasons for war. And importantly, there are ways to do it and ways not to do it.

Colin Powell wrote in his autobiography: "War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support."

I believe that he had it right.

America should only go to war to win.

War should occur only when America is attacked, when it is threatened or when American interests are attacked or threatened.

I don't think the situation in Syria passes that test.

Even the State Department argues that:
"There's no military solution here that's good for the Syrian people, and that the best path forward is a political solution."

The U.S. should not fight a war to save face.

I will not vote to send young men and women to sacrifice life and limb for stalemate.

I will not vote to send our nation's best and brightest to fight for anything less than victory.

When American interests are at stake, then it is incumbent upon those advocating for military action to convince Congress and the American people of that threat.

Too often, the debate begins and ends with an assertion that our national interest is at stake without any evidence of that assertion.

The burden of proof lies with those who wish to engage in war, and they must convince the people and their representatives in Congress.

Bashar Assad is clearly not an American ally. But does his ouster encourage stability in the Middle East, or would his ouster actually encourage instability?

Are any of the Islamic rebels our allies?

Will they defend American interests?

Will they acknowledge Israel's right to exist? Will they impose Shari'ah law?

Will they tolerate Christians, or will they pillage and destroy ancient Christian churches and people?

The President and his Administration have not provided good answers to any of these questions.

Shooting first and aiming later has not worked for us in the past, and it should not be our game plan now.

In 2007, then Senator Obama stated that no President should unilaterally go to war without congressional authority unless there is an actual or imminent threat to our nation.

I would like for President Obama to re-read some of the speeches of candidate Obama.

Our Founding Fathers understood that the Executive Branch was the most prone to war and so with due deliberation they gave the power to declare war to legislative branch.

President Obama's new position, though, is that while he requests congressional input, he doesn't necessarily need Congress's approval.

Secretary Kerry stated explicitly yesterday his understanding of the constitution when he argued that NO congressional authorization was necessary.

The President and his Administration view this vote as a courtesy vote.

Even if Congress votes against it, the President still believes that he reserves the right to involve our soldiers in a war unilaterally.

But Mr. President, that is not how our Constitution works.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 gives Congress - and Congress alone - the power to declare war. If Congress does not approve this military action, the President must abide by that decision.

Our founders understood this.

Thomas Jefferson said the Constitution gave "one effectual check to the Dog of war by transferring the power [to declare war] from the Executive [branch] to the Legislative body."

Madison wrote even more clearly:
"The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."

There is no debate more significant for a legislator than the decision to engage in war.
We must hold our leaders accountable.

If we do not, there will be no end to war. The ridiculous and the absurd must be laid to rest. You've all heard it before.

Toppling Ghaddafi led to a jihadist wonderland in Libya,

Toppling Hussein led to the chaos that is Iraq,
Toppling Assad will lead to a new chaos and greater danger from the jihadists.

The moss covered too-long-in-Washington crowd cannot help themselves.  War, war, what we need is more, more war . . .

Their policies and the combination of feckless disinterest, fraudulent red lines, and selective combativeness of this administration have led us to this point.

Yes, we must now confront ISIS, in part for penance for the President's role in their rise.

But while we do so to protect our interests here, what we need is someone to shout:
War, war, what are we fighting for...

Amidst the interventionist's disjointed and frankly incoherent rhetoric,
Amidst the gathering gloom that sees enemies behind every friend,
And friends behind every enemy,
The only consistent theme is war.

These barnacled enablers have never met a war they didn't like.

They beat their chests in rhythmic ode to failed policies.

Their drums beat to policies that display their outrage but fail to find a cure.

Unintended consequences drown and smother the possibility of good intentions.

Must we act to check and destroy ISIS? Yes, and again yes, because of the foolishness of the interventionists.

But let's not mistake what we must do.

We shouldn't give a pass to forever intervene in the civil wars of the Middle East.

Intervention created the chaos.

Intervention aided and abetted the rise of radical Islam and intervention made us less safe in Libya and Syria and Iraq.

To those who wish unlimited intervention and boots on the ground everywhere:
Remember the smiling poses of politicians pontificating about so-called freedom fighters and "heroes" in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq...unaware that so-called freedom fighters may well have been allied with kidnappers, killers or both.
Are the so-called moderate Islamic rebels in Syria friends or foes? Do we know who they really are? All debatable questions at best.

As the interventionists clamor for boots on the ground, we should remember that they were wrong about Iraq.
They were wrong about Libya.

They were trying to intervene last year on the wrong side of the Syrian war.

When will we quit listening to the advocates of perpetual war?

When does a track record of being consistently wrong stop you from being a so-called expert when the next crisis arises?

We should remember that they were wrong, that there were no WMD's, that Hussein, Khaddifi, and Assad were no threat to us.

We should remember that radical Islam now roams about in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

We should remember that those who believe that war is the answer for every problem, were wrong.

We should remember that war against Hussein, that war against Khaddafi, that war against Assad led to chaos.

That intervention enhanced the rise of radical Islam, and ultimately led to more danger for Americans.

Before we arm the so-called moderate Muslims of Syria, remember what I said a year ago:
"The irony you will not be able to overcome is that these arms will someday be used against America."

That prediction is now true.

We will fight ISIS, a war I accept as necessary, largely because our own arms and the arms of our allies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar have enabled our new enemy ISIS.

Will we ever learn?

President Obama now wishes to bomb ISIS and arm their Islamic allies in Syria.

The Emperor has no clothes.  Admit it.

The truth is sometimes painful.

We must protect ourselves from radical Islam, but we should never, ever have armed radical Islam, and we could make it worse by arming it more today!

We have enabled the enemy we must now confront.

Sending arms to so-called moderate Islamic rebels in Syria is a fool's errand and will only make ISIS stronger.

ISIS grew as the U.S. and our allies armed the Islamic rebels in Syria.

The barnacled purveyors of war should admit their mistakes and not compound them.

ISIS is now a threat.  Let's get on with destroying them.

But make no mistake arming Islamic rebels in Syria will only make it harder to destroy ISIS.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Will Barbra hold the record?

The Hollywood Reporter notes:

If Partners hits No. 1, it will make Streisand the first artist with No. 1s in each of the past six decades (1960s through 2010s), and it would extend her lead as the female artist with the most No. 1 albums.


Long before I was blogging, there was all this crap about Garth Brooks having sold the most of anyone (except the Beatles).

And Maggie went through Barbara's gold and platinum certificates and saw that, uh, no, Garth, Barbara had sold more albums.

Barbara was always an album artist, even at the start of her career.

She's had a string of pop hits but she's always done better on the albums' chart.

So it's only natural that she'd be the artist set to pull off this accomplishment.

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue,  Barack insists no combat troops in Iraq, but dropping bombings requires combat pilots, and much more.

This afternoon in Florida, US President Barack Obama declared,  "The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.  They will support Iraqi forces on the ground as they fight for their own country against these terrorists."

Barack was attempting to push back against remarks Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, made yesterday when he and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Dempsey made comments such at this:

Gen Martin Dempsey:  At this juncture, our advisors are intended to help the Iraqis develop a mindset for the offensive and the actions to match it. Our military advisors will help the Iraqis conduct campaign planning, arrange for enabler and logistics support, and coordinate Coalition contributions. To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President. 

In response to that and other remarks yesterday, Barack declared today,  "The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.  They will support Iraqi forces on the ground as  they fight for their own country against these terrorists."

I don't understand how he can say that.

US troops are in Iraq.  Iraq War veteran J.R. Salzman Tweeted:

  • Why does POTUS keep saying we won't have combat troops in Iraq when we already do, and why won't the media call him out on it? Come on.

  • Why indeed?  They're there and they have a combat mission in Iraq.

    Dempsey acknowledged that in the hearing yesterday.

    Gen Martin Dempsey: First of all, I think everyone should be aware when we talk about "combat forces," that's all we grow.  When we bring a young man or woman in the military, they come in to be a combat soldier or a combat Marine or a combat -- We don't bring them in to be anything else other than combat capable.  But that's different than how we use them.  And in the case of our contributions in Iraq right now, the airmen, as the Chair -- as the Ranking Member mentioned, are very much in a combat role. 

    That is a combat role.

    And it sounded like one in Barack's speech today when Barack stated, "So, last month, I gave the order for our military to begin taking targeted action against ISIL.  And since then, our brave pilot and crews -- with your help -- have conducted more than 160 airstrikes against these terrorists.  Because of your efforts, we’ve been able to protect our personnel and our facilities, and kill ISIL fighters, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory.  They’ve helped our partners on the ground break ISIL sieges, helped rescue civilians cornered on a mountain, helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children."

    It sounds like combat because it is combat.

    US Senator Kelly Ayotte Tweeted:

  • POTUS said today our troops in Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission. What do you call dropping bombs from planes?

  • Trevor Timm Tweeted:

  • And The Atlantic's David W. Brown offers:

    Dempsey's remarks appears to have stripped the pretense off what's taking place in Iraq.

    Mark Landler and Jeremy W. Peters (New York Times) note:

    The general’s statement lays bare the challenge the president will face in selling an expanded military campaign to a war-weary American public. Mr. Obama, seeking to allay fears of another Iraq war, has promised that American ground troops will not be involved in fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. In a sign of the administration’s mixed message, the president pointedly did not call it a war, while his advisers later did.
    But the realities of a prolonged campaign, General Dempsey said, could make such a hands-off approach untenable, particularly if the battle against the militants moves into densely populated cities where airstrikes are less effective and the chances of civilian casualties are much higher. His candid testimony, hours before a divided House of Representatives began debating whether to approve Mr. Obama’s request for authority to arm the Syrian rebels, drew expressions of concern from antiwar groups and could further complicate the political dynamic for the president.

    All Iraq News adds:

    The U.S. already has hundreds of advisors on the ground in Iraq. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate panel he cannot rule out combat troops returning to Iraq, albeit in a limited role.
    "If we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific (militant) targets, I will recommend that to the president," Dempsey said.
    Such actions, he added, would be considered "close combat advising."
    President Barack Obama has maintained U.S. combat troops would not be returning to the country. U.S. ground troops left the country in 2011 after nine years.
    "At this point, (the president's) stated policy is we will not have US ground forces in direct combat," Dempsey said. "But he has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis."

    As David Jackson (USA Today) notes, "President Obama doubled down Wednesday on an increasingly questioned pledge."

    Barack's push back today was especially surprising since he was aware of what Dempsey was going to say and knew of the opening remarks.  Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak (CNN) note the White House was briefed on Dempsey's opening claim:

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  At this juncture, our advisors are intended to help the Iraqis develop a mindset for the offensive and the actions to match it. Our military advisors will help the Iraqis conduct campaign planning, arrange for enabler and logistics support, and coordinate Coalition contributions. To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President. 

    Briefed ahead of time.  Elaine noted it at her site, we noted it in the snapshot, these were prepared remarks, submitted in writing before the hearing began.  Dempsey read from the written statement word for word.  These prepared remarks went around the administration -- including to the White House -- before they were allowed to be submitted to Congress.

    For CNN, it's a messaging mis-step.  That may or may not be the issue. It may also be the White House testing the waters.  Iraq War veteran Austin Bay (Creators Syndicate) offers:
    Dempsey's testimony addressed a genuine military and diplomatic contingency. His honest answer, however, also serves as a political hedge. "Ineffective" is an iffy term and gives the Obama administration rhetorical space to deploy Army and Marine ground forces to Iraq and Syria after the November elections. At that point, ticking off Democratic peaceniks won’t distract from his golf game.
    Barack's 'plan' still isn't a plan. 

    Christi Parsons (LA Times) reports:

    Defeating the extremists requires a strategy that emphasizes diplomacy, intelligence and economics, said Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
    Those tools aren’t as easy to see in the short term, said Alterman, but “they present the only path to victory: crippling the organization’s networks, denying the group safe haven and undermining the conditions that make it attractive to potential recruits.”
    “While the Obama strategy is more than merely a military strategy, it appears militarily focused,” Alterman wrote in an email Wednesday. “The president’s speech on Iraq and Syria focused on military instruments, and used the language of the military, twice promising to 'degrade and destroy' the Islamic State. Perhaps the president was seeking to capitalize on the urgency of this month’s murders, and only military instruments seemed urgent enough.”

    Meanwhile the leader of Iraq had a few comments to make and did so in an exclusive interview he granted to the Associated Press.  Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared "out of the question" foreign troops being sent into Iraq.  He also insisted that the world leaders needed to address the Islamic State in Syria.

    In Iraq, the violence continued.  National Iraqi News Agency notes air strikes killed 26 suspects in Dhuluiya, an attack and a clash in Mansuriyya left 3 rebels dead and three civilians injured, Baghdad Operations Command stated they killed 5 snipers, aerial bombings in Qaim and Akashat left 11 suspects dead and five more injured, an aerial bombing outside Muqdadiyah killed 5 suspects, an Al-Siger battle left 11 rebels and 4 Iraqi soldiers dead (four more Iraqi soldiers were injured), a military strike near Dhuluiya left 4 people dead and ten more injured, the corpses of 7 police members were discovered in Tikrit, 1 corpse was discovered dumped "northwest of Baghdad," a Muqdadiyah mortar attack left 3 civilians dead and seven more injured, and a Ramadi suicide truck bomber took his own life and the lives of 9 other people with eleven more left injured.

    Monday, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr objected to the outside 'interest' in Iraq's affairs.  National Iraqi News Agency reported:

    Sadr said in a statement carried his signature and stamp today, " The / Black House / decided to launch attacks on Iraqi territory and this American decision perhaps came after its remorse to its fake withdraw."
    He added: " if you came back again we will back."
    Sadr added, "the government should not get help from the occupier whatever, even under the pretext of (the Islamic State), which is not exist except in the imagination, but is a creature of Americans."

    Sadr's statement came as All Iraq News reported John Kerry was boasting in Paris that many countries are offering "to send troops into Iraq."  While Sadr is now said to have left Iraq (for Lebanon), Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.

    I'm really not in the mood to go into it.

    I wouldn't be noting it at all but John Kerry's being attacked.  Undeservedly.

    The Secretary of State declared at the hearing:

    As I came in here, obviously, we had some folks who spoke out, and I would start by saying that I understand dissent; I’ve lived it. That’s how I first testified in front of this country in 1971. And I spent two years protesting a policy, so I respect the right of Code Pink to protest and to use that right.
    But you know what? I also know something about Code Pink. Code Pink was started by a woman and women who were opposed to war but who also thought that the government’s job was to take care of people and to give them healthcare and education and good jobs. And if that’s what you believe in – and I believe it is – then you ought to care about fighting ISIL, because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women, and they believe women shouldn’t have an education. They sell off girls to be sex slaves to jihadists. There is no negotiation with ISIL; there is nothing to negotiate. And they’re not offering anyone health care of any kind. They’re not offering education of any kind, for a whole philosophy or idea or cult, whatever you want to call it, that frankly comes out of the Stone Age. They’re cold-blooded killers marauding across the Middle East making a mockery of a peaceful religion.

    And that’s precisely why we are building a coalition to try to stop them from denying the women and the girls and the people of Iraq the very future that they yearn for. And frankly, Code Pink and a lot of other people need to stop to think about how you stop them and deal with that.

    Now you can disagree -- and I certainly do -- with his assembly of facts, factoids and fictions in the above.

    And if that's what was focused on, fine and dandy.

    But so many little worthless worms want to whine about 'poor' CodeStink.

    Kerry's remarks towards CodeStink are fine.

    There's nothing wrong with them.

    He's noting their right to speak out in a democracy.

    I see that as a good thing.

    I'm not offended by his remarks towards CodeStink.

    Those trying to gin up outrage are pretty much worthless when it comes to thought or analysis.

    Senator Robert Menendez is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    Rather than focus more on the hearing today, let's close with this from Senator Menendez's office:

    Menendez Commends Senate Passage of Autism Bill

    July 31, 2014

    WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today hailed the Senate's passage of the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (Autism CARES) Act, which is the identical companion to Menendez’s Senate bill, S. 2449. The unanimous Senate passage was the final Congressional step needed to get the bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

    “The Senate’s action today ensures these vital autism programs are reauthorized and continue providing research, services and supports individuals with autism and their families have come to rely on,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Autism CARES Act is a model of bipartisan, bicameral cooperation – and I am proud I was able to work on it and look forward to seeing the President sign this critical legislation into law.”

    According to a recent report by the CDC, autism rates climbed nearly 30% between 2008 and 2010, to 1 in 68 children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, from 1 in 88 children. In New Jersey, that prevalence is 1 in 45 children. 

    Senator Menendez is the leading advocate in Congress for individuals with autism and their families, having secured the passage of the 2011 reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act. Additionally, he authored the Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence and Navigation (AGE-IN) Act to address the needs of youth and young adults as they transition out of school-based support to independent adulthood. Several key policies from this legislation are incorporated in the Autism CARES Act.



    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    The Saudi Connection

    James Ridgeway (CounterPunch) writes:

    In his New Yorker article, posted on the magazine’s web site last week, Lawrence Wright tells how the Bush administration deleted 28 pages in the 2002 report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry on 911 probably because they describe in detail the Saudi connection to the Al Qaeda attack and Saudi financing of its operatives in the United States—people who knew two of the hijackers, and may well have been used as conduits for Saudi cash. Some of the money may have come from the royal family through a charity.
    In removing the 28 pages Bush said the publication of the information would damage American intelligence operations. The Saudis deny all of this.

    As Kermit might sing:

    Why are there so many speeches about terrorists
    And how they can be bombed to death?
    Facts are visions
    But only illusions
    And facts have nothing to hide

    So we've been told
    And some choose to believe it
    I know they're wrong, wait and see
    Some day we'll find it
    The Saudi connection
    The lovers, the dreamers, and me

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

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the Senate hears about Iraq, US Gen Martin Dempsey provides a laundry list of what would make him call for US boots on the ground in combat in Iraq, all that and Jethro Tull.

    This morning in DC, the US Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the issue of Iraq, Syria and the Islamic State which they insist upon calling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  They shorten it to "ISIL" which they insist upon pronouncing as a word making it sound as if they're referring to a renegade von Trapp family member, one who goes around singing "Sixteen Going On Seventeen."

    The hearing opened with a small number of protesters declaring "No more war!" and other statements before Committee Chair Carl Levin brought down the gavel and called the hearing to order.

    Once the hearing started, CodeStink's Medea Benjamin would attempt to grab some headlines by yelling at the top of her lungs.

    Chair Levin would ask her to take a seat or leave -- repeatedly.  It was hard to tell what offended Carl more, Medea's screeching or her visual frightmare of her camel toe and exposed muffin top (her shirt rode up because she was holding a sign which read "MORE WAR = MORE . . . EXTREMISM").

    As she was escorted out of the room, Carl Levin offered, "Thank you for leaving and thank you, good-bye."

    Fake Ass Medea was the topic of Isaiah's comic on Sunday and, in "TV: Barack's Delusional Love Slaves," Ava and I noted her ridiculous and craven whoring for the White House which found the alleged peace activists (reality, she's just an attention seeker) insisting:

    I think President Obama has been hounded by the media, by the war hawks in Congress, mostly from the Republican side but also from the Democrats, and is going into this insane not only bombing in Iraq, but also talking about going into Syria, at a time when just a couple of months ago the American people had made it very clear that we were very tired of war.

    Poor little Barack.  President of the United States, bullied by those mean members in the press, putting ice on the bruises left by Maureen Dowd's printed punches, oh, poor Barack on the ropes again.  Poor baby.  If only he had power, if only he had a spine and a mind and . . .

    Medea's continued crap is racism.

    It's real racism.

    It strips a person of their own agency, of their own action.

    Barack is one of the most powerful people in the world right now.

    If he does something, it's because he wants to.

    Medea wants to argue that Barack is stupid or that he's too weak to stand up for himself.  She's basically Stepin Fetchit-ing Barack.  He's a grown up, he's educated and he's the President of the United States. Medea's patronizing attitude is insulting and is racist.

    Mommy Medea needs to face the fact that her little one is all grown up.

    Medea can make up all the excuses and offer the perverted fantasies she can think up.

    That won't change reality.

    Nor did her screeching in a Congressional hearing manage to do a damn thing.

     After she was escorted out, a man shouted and was removed from the hearing as the witnesses returned to reading from their prepared remarks.

    Later, during questioning, a woman would shout, "Senator McCain, you have no authority to speak on this issue."

    Oh, CodeStink.

    How you've grown to be an embarrassment for those of us on the left.

    I don't like John McCain.  I wouldn't suggest that he has no authority to speak.  I believe the citizens of Arizona voted him into office, first of all.  Secondly, every American -- even CodeStink members -- have the "authority to speak."  That's what it means to live in a democracy.

    How sad that CodeStink has to resort to tired lies and falsehoods when they should fostering democracy and democratic principles.

    While Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stumbled repeatedly as he read his opening statement out loud, Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, managed to read from his prepared remark with considerable ease -- even when his remarks were shocking.

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  At this juncture, our advisors are intended to help the Iraqis develop a mindset for the offensive and the actions to match it. Our military advisors will help the Iraqis conduct campaign planning, arrange for enabler and logistics support, and coordinate Coalition contributions. To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President. 

    This was not stated in response to a question.  This statement was not uttered in surprise.

    It was part of Dempsey's prepared remarks, submitted in writing before the start of the hearing and read out loud at the start of the hearing.

    The fact that it rejects Barack's insistence that there will be no US 'combat' troops in Iraq did not appear to phase Dempsey or, for that matter, Hagel who sat next to him as Dempsey made the statement -- and made the statement mere minutes after Hagel was declaring

    To support Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish forces, the President announced last week that we would deploy an additional 475 American troops to Iraq.  Part of that number includes approximately 150 advisors and support personnel to supplement forces already in Iraq conducting assessments of the Iraqi Security Forces. This assessment mission is now transitioning to an advise-and-assist mission, with more than 15 teams embedding with Iraqi Security Forces at the headquarters level to provide strategic and operational advice and assistance.  The rest of the additional 475 troops include 125 personnel to support intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions out of Erbil and 200 personnel to increase headquarters elements in both Baghdad and Erbil . . . helping us better coordinate military activities across Iraq.  By the time all these forces arrive, there will be approximately 1,600 U.S. personnel in Iraq responding to the ISIL threat. But, as the President said last week, "American forces will not have a combat mission."

    From Hagel repeating Barack's claim of "American forces will not have a combat mission" to Dempsey declaring, "To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President."

    All before a single question was asked.

    And these prepared statements?

    They're not only delivered in writing ahead of time to the Congressional Committees, they're distributed throughout the administration.

    The White House signed off on Dempsey's remarks.

    It is their trial balloon?

    Or their cover-your-ass moment where Barack can come back later, after US troops are fighting (there are credible reports already that they are fighting alongside the Kurdish peshmerga) and say, "Well we told Congress it was a possibility"?

    Certainly, Iraq's news outlets treated the remarks by Dempsey as news.  All Iraq News filed multiple stories noting the remarks, "The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Martin Dempsey, hinted Tuesday that he would consider recommending a more direct involvement of US ground troops in the military's ongoing campaign against the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL)," "Dempsey, who has long been reluctant to re-introduce US forces into Middle Eastern wars, signaled that some of the 1,600 US military “advisers” Obama deployed to Iraq since June may directly fight Isis, despite Obama’s frequent public assurances that US ground troops will not engage in combat," and "The US head of the US Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey,  stated that the US advisors might accompany the Iraqi security forces in their military operations."
    Sidebar, Dempsey was never "reluctant."
    I don't know where All Iraq News is getting that.
    We were at the 2011 hearing where Dempsey, sitting next to then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, was chomping at the bit for US forces to remain in Iraq.
    You may remember that because we covered it here.  I believe only the New York Times bothered to cover it elsewhere.
    But in the years that followed, people have called Senator John McCain a liar for his version of the drawdown backstory.  He's not been lying or even misinformed and we've defended him on that.
    It'll be interesting to see if anyone notes what Dempsey said in the hearing, during McCain's questioning, after Hagel begged off answering.  Dempsey returned to that 2011 hearing testimony.  Again, it'll be interesting to see who covers that or ignores it.
    Dempsey didn't just raise the point of US forces being in a combat role in Iraq once.
    He raised it repeatedly in the hearing.  For example, in response to Chair Levin's questions in the opening round, Dempsey would declare, "As I said in my [opening] statement, however, my view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward.  I believe that will prove true.   But if it fails to be true and if there are threats to the United States then I would of course go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces." 
    Another example?  Ranking Member Jim Inhofe asked about the issue in his round of questioning.
    Ranking Member Jim Inhofe:  In your opinion, let me ask you two questions, Gen Dempsey.  In your opinion, are the pilots dropping bombs in Iraq -- as they're now doing -- a direct combat mission?  And, secondly, will US forces be prepared to provide combat search and rescue if a pilot gets shot down?  Will they put boots on the ground to make that rescue successful?

    Gen Martin Dempsey: Yes.  And yes.
    Are you following it?
    Dempesy says he'd recommend ground forces if things got more violent.
    And if a US pilot was shot down.
    We'll note this exchange from the hearing.

    Senator Jack Reed: Gen Dempsey, we've had a debate going on and on about some boots on the ground, no boots on the ground, no boots on the ground but military personnel on the ground.  It might help us all if you could clarify precisely what our forces are doing in Iraq today.  And you've also suggested that if the situation changes, you might recommend -- or come to us with recommendations that they would enhance their mission or change their mission.  Can you clarify what they're doing? 

    Gen Martin Dempsey: I can.  Thanks for asking, Senator.  The -- First of all, I think everyone should be aware when we talk about "combat forces," that's all we grow.  When we bring a young man or woman in the military, they come in to be a combat soldier or a combat Marine or a combat -- We don't bring them in to be anything else other than combat capable.  But that's different than how we use them.  And in the case of our contributions in Iraq right now, the airmen, as the Chair -- as the Ranking Member mentioned, are very much in a combat role.  The folks on the ground are in a very much advisory role. They are not participating in direct combat.  There is no intention for them to do so. I've mentioned, though, that if I found that circumstance evolving that I would, of course, change my recommendation.  An example, if-if the Iraqi security forces and the peshmerga were ready to retake Mosul a-a mission that I would find extraordinarily complex, it could very well be part of that particular mission to provide close combat advising or accompanying for that mission.  But for the day to day activities that I anticipate will evolve over time, I don't see it to be necessary right now.
    So he'll also recommend US forces on the ground in combat if he feels the Iraqi military is undertaking a "complex" mission?
    Dempsey appears to be preparing reasons/excuses for US forces to go into combat -- in fact, thus far, everything short of an unprovoked sneeze would appear to result in Dempsey calling for US troops on the ground in combat.
    But it's not a war, remember that.  The White House doesn't want to call it a war.
    Monday, Nick Gillespie (Reason) noted US Secretary of State John Kerry had finally used the term "war" to describe the US and the Islamic State.  In today's hearing, Chuck Hagel also used the term, noting, "We're at war with ISIL as we are with al Qaeda." Gillespie explained of Kerry's usage:
    By claiming ISIS is an al Qaeda affiliate, Kerry and the Obama administration is weasel-wording its way around not going to Congress for a new authorization to use military force (AUMF) or outright declaration of war. The White House is claiming that any action against ISIS is justified under the 2001 AUMF that sanctioned any actions against those responsbile for the 9/11 attacks (meaning al Qaeda). But ISIS and al Qaeda are at war with each other, so that's a tough sell out of the box. It's like claiming that, I don't know, despite being marketplace rivals, Puma and Adidas are affiliates because the Dassler brothers started the competing firms.
    That explanation is true of Hagel's use of the term today as well.  Amy Davidson (The New Yorker) has also explored war and it's literal meaning:

    That prospect -- an engaged military, a disengaged public -- is part of the reason that the name we give this fight matters. Under the War Powers Resolution, the President is required to get congressional approval within sixty days of going to war. (Counterterrorism, by contrast, is something that even local police departments can undertake.) Obama said that, while he would “welcome congressional support for this effort,” formal approval was not necessary: “I have the authority to address the threat.” By way of justification, he and his aides have referred to Article II of the Constitution, which designates him Commander-in-Chief. Like some of their predecessors, they hold that the President has a great deal of leeway to act on his own in matters of “national security,” as Obama put it in a letter to Congress last month, or in “protecting our own people,” as he said on Wednesday. That’s well and good in certain emergencies, but if “national security” is defined too broadly it would follow that the only wars in which Congress has a role are those which somehow don’t pose any danger to Americans.

    Back to the hearing which contained a lot of garbage.  Can you find the laugh line in the following?

    Secretary Chuck Hagel:  The $500 million request the President made in June for this train and equip program reflects CENTCOM’s estimate of the cost to train, equip, and resupply more than 5,000 opposition forces over one year. The package of assistance that we initially provide would consist of small arms, vehicles, and basic equipment like communications, as well as tactical and strategic training. As these forces prove their effectiveness on the battlefield, we would be prepared to provide increasingly sophisticated types of assistance to the most trusted commanders and capable forces.

    As they prove their what on the what?

    The Iraqi military may have demonstrated something in the last few days -- that they won't listen to the prime minister.

    From yesterday's snapshot:

    Real reporting from Iraq would focus on real issues such as the question of was an order given or not?
    Because if an order was given and the Iraqi military refused to obey it, there would be no reason for the US government and others to come to the 'aid' of government.
    Third's "Editorial: The bombing of civilians continues in Iraq" noted Iraq's new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered an end to the military bombing civilian targets on Saturday.
    That's what al-Abadi declared publicly.
    Yet on Sunday,  Falluja General Hospital was bombed and, in addition, Iraqi Spring MC noted the bombings of residential neighborhoods in Falluja also continued with 6 civilians left dead  and 22 more injured.
    Was al-Abadi lying on Saturday?
    Or did the Iraqi military ignored orders given by the prime minister?
    If it's the latter, if an order was given and the Iraqi military refused to follow it, there's no point in any foreign government 'helping' at this point.

    Was an order given or not?

    The question remains pertinent.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports today that military bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods resulted in "4 civilians killed and 21 other wounded, including women and children."

    If the new prime minister of Iraq gave an order on Saturday to end these bombings then the Iraqi military is in open defiance of him and of civilian control.

    If that is the case, the US government is legally forbidden from training and supplying the Iraqi military.

    This isn't a minor point and the failure of the press and of the Congress to raise this issue is appalling.

    Equally true, Hagel and Dempsey insisting repeatedly in the hearing that the Iraqi military and government are standing up?

    They did that on the same day that the Iraqi Parliament has refused to confirm the nominees for Minister of the Interior and Minister of Defense. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports, "Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi put forward Sunni lawmaker Jaber al-Jabberi as his candidate for defense minister, and Shiite lawmaker Riyad Ghareeb as his pick for interior minister. Parliament, which could confirm the nominees with a simple majority, voted 118-117 against Ghareeb, and 131-108 against al-Jabberi."

    At a time when the Iraqi government -- if not the Iraqi people -- are asking for various foreign fighters and weapons, they can't even get it together to fill the heads of the security ministries?

    Anyone remembering US President Barack Obama's talk about how the Iraqi government would have to demonstrate this and that to get US military support?

    Let's go back to the hearing to note this:

    Gen Martin Dempsey: If we were to take Basher Assad off the table, we'd have a much harder time forming a coalition but I think what you'r hearing us express is an ISIL first situation.  I don't think we'll find ourselves in that situation --

    Senator John McCain: You don't think that the Free Syrian Army is going to fight against Bashar Asad who has been decimating them?  You think these people you're training will only go back to fight against ISIL?  Do you really believe that, General?

    Gen Martin Dempsey:  What I believe, Senator, is that as we train them and develop a military chain of command linked to a military structure that we can establish objectives that defer that challenge into the future, we do not have to deal with it now.

    Senator John McCain:  That's a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire concept and motivation of the Free Syrian Army. 

    Let's turn to the ongoing violence that Barack's bombings are/were supposed to solve.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports Baghdad Operations Command declared they killed 2 suspects in Mahmudiyah and that they killed 4 people who they hope were terrorists via a Halabsah air strike, a US military aerial bombing in Mosul resulted in 12 deaths, Ibrahim Jihad Hamad ("Associate Director of the Integrity Commission in Kirkuk") was shot dead outside his home, a Tikrit mortar attack left 4 people dead,
    Babylon Operations Command announced they killed 15 people via an air strike, a Baghdad bus bombing killed 1 person and left seven more injured, a Tuz Khurmato bombing left 1 person dead and eight more injured, an armed clash in al-Siger left 4 rebels dead, 9 people were killed in mortar attacks "south of Dhuluiya," while, in Dhuluiya, a rocket attack killed 3 women, 2 children and 3 men, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in the streets of Baghdad.

    And that's just some of today's violence.

    The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted the following today:

    The photo?  This White House press release covers it:

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary

    Readout of the President’s Meeting with General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Ambassador Brett McGurk, Deputy Special Presidential Envoy

    The President met today at the White House with General John Allen, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and Ambassador Brett McGurk, Deputy Special Presidential Envoy. The President underscored the importance of maximizing coordination with allies and partners to build a strong coalition with broad international participation. The President stressed that the comprehensive approach to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL requires a wide range of political, diplomatic, military, economic and other efforts. He also expressed his deep appreciation for the work and sacrifices of U.S. servicemen and women as well as diplomats engaged in the struggle to counter ISIL. The President thanked General Allen for his many years of service in uniform and for continuing, since his retirement, to serve his country in a civilian capacity.

    Let's go out with music.

    The rock band Jethro Tull has a lasting place in musical history.    Ian Anderson was a lead singer and guitar player in the band.  October 5th, Ian will be donating his time and talent with a concert in Richmond, Virginia:

    Join the Global Campaign against IED’s on Sunday, October 5, 2014 for a special night with Ian Anderson to honor our veterans, first responders, and to raise awareness of the global threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
    All proceeds from the concert go to support programs helping our heroes and responding to the threat from IEDs.
    There will be a pre-show VIP reception, special guests, and other events honoring our heroes. You can even snap a photo with “the man himself” after watching the show from your private backstage box if you enter and win “The Ultimate Fan Experience with Ian Anderson”!
    You can also attend a special “Dinner in the Dark” to honor war blinded veterans on October 4, 2014 in Richmond. For special advanced reservations for the show and all related events and to enter the Ultimate Fan contest, follow this link ( – even if you can’t attend the show, please consider donating to support this worthy cause.

    “We don’t always ask our leaders to take us into war, but we all seek to help bring democratic freedoms and human rights – especially for women and children – to troubled nations throughout the world. On behalf of the brave young men and women of our troops abroad, I urge you to support the victims of IED madness, now in need of rehabilitation and care. For them and their families, please support the Global Campaign against IEDs.” – Ian Anderson