Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Pamela S. Karlan discredits herself

I don't take Pamela S, Karlan's 'apology' seriously, do you?  You can read it here.  It's two sentences and then, in the third, she moves into an attack on Donald Trump.

If you missed it, the woman testified before Congress and decided to get some laughs with a 'joke' about Donald and Melania's 13-year-old son.

Wrong.  That is wrong.

Ivanka Trump?  She's an adult.  She's not off limits.  The Trump boys, Chelsea Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama's oldest daughter -- all adults. 

But you don't bring in a 13-year-old boy.  It was wrong when people did it to Amy Carter when she was a kid and it's wrong today.  Very wrong.

Hunter Biden turns fifty in two months and some idiots whine that he's a 'child' and should be off limits.  No, he shouldn't.  He's a grown adult.  He's a drug addict who was kicked out of the reserves in his forties (that was in 2014, in fact).  He's a sexual predator whose first wife noted he spent tons of money on hookers and drugs.  He left that wife when his brother Beau died to hook up with Beau's widow -- stay classy, Hunter! -- and he slept around on her as well.  He got a woman pregnant who is currently suing him for child support (DNA test results last month proved it was his son).  And he just got married in April to another woman.

Hunter's fair game.

And if Barron Trump's life turns out that way, he will be as well -- when he's an adult.  He is a kid.  Pamela S. Karlan knew what she was doing.

She discredited herself and all of her testimony with that tasteless joke. 

If getting a laugh was more important to her than anything else, it makes clear that she had nothing of value to offer.

And, no, I don't believe her apology.  It's not sincere and it does not offer an apology to the mother.  If Melanie hadn't objected, Karlan would never have said anything.

And if anyone's confused, this has nothing to do with Donald Trump.  I didn't vote for him and I wouldn't vote for him.  This does have to be with basic fairness. 

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2019.  Oh, look, they've pulled their favorite board game off the shelf yet again.


Starting in the US where the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues.  And maybe it's time for some people to take a good hard look at themselves.  I'm not talking about the candidates right now, I'm talking about people covering the race.

Maybe if your name is Michael Tracey, and Margaret Kimberley has already called you out for your limited vision on race, maybe then you take a look at yourself before going to town on Kamala Harris?

Senator Kamala Harris dropped out of the race yesterday.  There's a sort of glee over this among sexists -- that does include you, Michael, and don't pretend you can hide behind Tulsi -- and it's interesting because she dropped out yesterday and Steve Bullock dropped out Monday.  But his announcement hasn't been the source of mirth and glee that Kamala's announcement has been greeted with.

What's going on?

It's Bash The Bitch -- which Ava and I addressed back in April of 2006.

And you can see the Michael Traceys pile on.  They try to drag in their token (Tulsi Gabbard) and they even lie for Tulsi, but they've been lying for Tulsi forever.  Michael beating off to the thought that Tulsi vanquished Kamala in the second debate -- he needs that girl on girl action.  That didn't happen.  And if you're going to go back to that debate you better get honest that Tulsi chose to go after Kamala who was not the front runner.  She took a pass on War Hawk Joe.  Even after Jake Tapper came back with a second chance for Tulsi to speak on Iraq.  Tulsi took a pass.  This is supposed to be her signature issue.  Joe Biden was the only one on stage who voted for the Iraq War.   He oversaw it for eight years as Vice President.  He overturned the 2010 election and stripped the Iraqi people of their voice via The Erbil Agreement.  There are so many things that he did and the big anti-war candidate Tulsi took a pass on him.  Big brave Tulsi didn't say boo.

Instead, she went after a second tier candidate and the Michael Traceys jizzed in their pants.

Michael knows nothing about race but he wants to tell you that being from Berkeley and this or that is what hurt Kamala with African-American voters (presumably in South Carolina).  And how she thought she could be "Black" like Barack.

First off, Michael, Kamala and Barack are actually bi-racial.  Second, Kamala has a mother who practices what religion?  It's not Christianity.  It's Hindu.

That's what Tulsi practices.  It's what some have used to stigmatize Tulsi as The Other so Michael should be aware of that prejudice.  Kamala could more easily be made The Other.  That really didn't take place with Barack.  Joe Biden's racist remarks about Barack represented the way Barack was seen by the establishment.  A woman -- whether it's Tulsi or Kamala -- was never going to have it as easy as Barack did.

And Michael's feeding into that now with all his non-stop attacks on Kamala.

I wasn't going to vote for Kamala.  I was clear about that here.  I noted that a friend, Willie Brown, stated I was way too hard on Kamala.  But she was never the worst one on the stage by any measurement.

In terms of direct threat to human life, for example, the most dangerous one has been -- and remains -- Joe Biden.  His record is shameful and blood soaked.  Again, Tulsi was given two chances to go after him -- and he was the front runner -- in the July debate and she took a pass.  She also spent her days after -- the media loves a cat fight -- defending Joe and, honestly, lying for Joe.  That's why I have no respect for Tulsi.

Doesn't mean I haven't defended her.  We've defended her from any attempt to make her The Other.  We've defended her meeting with Bashar al-Assad.  We've defended her from Hillary Clinton's nutty conspiracy talk.

I knew she was a fake when I laid eyes on her.  Another Dennis Kucinich who would inspire a tiny number of people only to betray them over and over.  That's Tulsi.

Kamala has her own faults.

But the glee that has gone on in the last 24 hours is something people need to look at.  She was another centrist, corporatist Democrat.  I don't really get the obsessive glee.  And a lot of people have dropped out of this ongoing race without any of this glee.

If Joe dropped out tomorrow?  You'd see huge glee here.  Because our focus is Iraq and Joe Biden supported the Iraq War, cheerleaded it, demonized those opposed to it, repeatedly tried to split Iraq into three regions with no concern or care over what Iraqis felt about that, in 2010 when Iraqis voted for national unity (that's what Iraqiya represented) we saw Joe lead the effort to overturn that election . . . I could go and on.  And let's not forget that in overturning the election, he was giving his support to thug Nouri al-Maliki who Joe noted was not a real ruler (or a decent person) in an April 2008 Senate hearing on Iraq.  But two years later, he was backing Nouri.  Nouri, of course, birthed ISIS in Iraq with his targeting of the Sunni population.

That's a lot Joe has to answer for.

So we would be gleeful.

I'm not getting Kamala's long history here where people around the world have suffered.

She was a prosecutor and that wasn't helpful to her campaign.  (Barack was not, as Michael claims, a Civil Rights attorney.)

As a candidate, she had some strong moments.  Maybe she'll run again?  If she does, maybe she'll spend the time between now and then learning a little more about the groups who felt misrepresented by her.

Her departure does not immediately improve the race.

Let's do The Hideous Ranking for those left seeking the nomination.

1) Joe Biden.  Clearly Joe Biden.  Blood on his hands due to Iraq alone.  Attacked Anita Hill behind her back and failed to stand up for her publicly.  The list of his wrongful actions is lenghty.

2) Mike Bloomberg.  An enemy to people of color, a free press and pretty much anything that we supposedly value in this country.

3) Deval Patrick.  A pro-rape corporatist.  Nuff said.

4) Tiny Pete.  It's takes a big ego to think you should be President of the United States before you are even forty.  He'll be 38 when the 2020 election takes place.  Tiny Pete has no real accomplishments.  But he feels that entitles him to be president, apparently.  A huge ego, a tiny record -- it's a template for massive conflict.

5) Amy Klobuchar.  There's no GOP talking point she won't run with.  There's no one on a stage she won't attack.  Like Joe Biden, she longs for a day in the past when you could speak about the environment but never actually do anything to stop climate change.

Let's close this discussion with numbers.


That's the number of Tweets Michael Tracey has done about Kamala Harris since the news broke that she was dropping out of the race.


That's the number of Tweets Michael Tracey did about Steve Bullock since the news broke that he was dropping out of the race.

24 and 1.  It's an obsession and, yes, it's Bash The Bitch.  As Ava and I noted when Katie Couric was the target in 2006:

For some of the left, though not all, that's at the root of their pursuit of Couric. It's the gift of impunity that allows them to operate in a fact-free environment as they compose the charges against Couric. But those who hear such a statement and nod agreeably are also engaged in the national pastime of bash-the-bitch.
Bash the bitch is as American as apple pie and rush to judgement, so who are we to complain? If it makes us "America haters" to say "Just a minute now" then so be it. Let all the ones partaking in bash-the-bitch wrap themselves in Old Glory, we'll call it the way we see it.
Here's what we see. A woman's trashed. For what she did?
Oh cookie, please, it's for being a woman. Read the commentaries. "Cheerleader" is a trumped up charge -- as usual, the true crime is gender.

Michael Tracey and a lot of others need to look at their actions in the last 24 hours.  There's a lot of latent sexism bubbling up.

On the press anointed front runner War Hawk Joe, Natasha Korecki (POLITICO) reports:

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday said he didn’t need Barack Obama’s endorsement in the Democratic primary, even if the field were down to three people.

He also scoffed at the notion that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is building enthusiasm and accused Mayor Pete Buttigieg of stealing his plans. 

Joe's campaign theme should be "Floundering."  And you know it's bad when the spouse gets involved.  Someone needs to buy a clue, if you're well liked because you're seen as non-political and you're the spouse, stay that way.  You will see your likeables droop and drop if you don't.

Branko Marcetic (IN THESE TIMES) explains:

By the close of the 1970s, Biden began calling himself a fiscal conservative and introduced what he called his “spending control legislation”: a bill requiring all federal programs to be reauthorized every four years or automatically expire. He also voted for a large but unsuccessful tax cut introduced by Sen. William Roth, his Republican counterpart.
Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, pioneering the economic program of generosity to the rich and stinginess to the poor that became known as Reaganomics. Biden was right there with him.
Biden, Reagan and other conservatives pushed the flawed idea that the government is like a household and must take drastic measures to pay off debt to stay solvent. Six months into Reagan’s first term, Biden called the reduction of deficit spending “the single most important” path toward “an economically sound future.”

To curtail government spending, Reagan severely scaled back or eliminated federal programs—even as he slashed tax rates for the rich. Biden voted for both (including an updated version of Roth’s failed tax cut). When the president proposed a budget freeze in 1983—to cut the enormous deficits that, ironically, his tax cut helped produce—Biden one-upped him, working with two Republican senators to propose an even more aggressive budget freeze doing away with scheduled cost-of-living increases for Medicare and Social Security.

Beautiful street art in as anti-government protests continue even after the resignation of the PM. Women have taken an increasingly larger role in the protest movement since October 2019.

in the Saadoun Tunnel, in uninviting passage under , , .

In Iraq, the protests continue.

Senseless that hundreds of young people have been killed in protests calling for reforms in Iraq. The ruling elite do not realise that either they initiate change or change will be forced upon them. Fear is no longer effective and events since 1 October prove that

Again, the protests continue in Iraq.  But the press allows Joe Biden to ignore that topic.  He can talk about his leg hair (and does), bouncing children on his lap, anything at all except Iraq, right?  Oh, he won't talk about his dead beat dad son Hunter Biden who -- even after DNA tests -- is still tangling up the court system instead of meeting his parental responsibilities.  Hey, I guess that's "as a Biden" too, right?

The following sites updated:

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Films that haunt me

Are you ever haunted by a film?

There's a black and white film from WWII that's like a STAGE DOOR CANTEEN film.  It's about the homefront.  And there's a man who falls for a woman.  I want to say that the woman lives in an apartment that they go up on the roof of.

I saw that film in the 80s on a UHF station.  I've never been able to find it.  I've watched all the war effort films the studios put out -- where they'd have their stars under contract all work on the film.   STAGE DOOR CANTEEN, for example, is Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Ed Wynn, Helen Hayes, Ray Bolger, etc.  WARNER BROTHERS did HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN which featured Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Dennis Morgan, Dorothy Malone, Jane Wyman, Zachary Scott, Sydney Greenstreet, Jack Carson, Jack Benny, Joe E. Brown, Petter Lorre, Paul Henried, Eleanor Parker, Roy Rogers and Trigger and Barbara Stanwyck.  WARNER's also offered THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS which featured Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Olivia de Havilland, John Garfield, Errol Flynn, Hattie McDaniel, Madame Sul-Te-Wan, Ida Lupino, Dinah Shore and Willie Best.  MGM offered THOUSANDS CHEERED with Gene Kelly, Mary Astor, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Lucille Ball, Donna Reed, Margaret O'Brien, Eleanor Powell, Ann Sothern, Red Skelton, Frank Morgan, June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven and Kathryn Grayson.  PARAMOUNT did STAR SPANGLED BANNER which featured Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Vernoica Lake, Alan Ladd, Katherine Dunham, Betty Hutton, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Fred MacMurray, Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland.  UNIVERSAL offered FOLLOW THE BOYS with George Raft, the Andrew Sisters, Turhan Bey, Marlene Dietrich, WC Fields, Louis Jordan, Clarence Muse, Maria Montez, Dina Shore, Orson Welles, Gale Sonderggard, Lon Chaney Jr., Louise Beavers and Randolph Scott.

 There are films I'm haunted by that I actually remember the title of.  One aired on TCM today -- TO BE OR NOT TO BE -- starring Carole Lombard and Jack Benny.  Basically, any film with Carole Lombard haunts me.  She was such a gifted actress and comedian.  NOTHING SACRED, MY MAN GODFREY, TO BE OR NOT TO BE, TRUE CONFESSION, HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE . . .  She really was one of the greats.

I saw NOTHING SACRED for the first time in the 80s.  And I was at K-MART, remember K-MART? -- and they had their video wire shelves in the middle of an aisle holding videocassettes -- remember VCRs? -- and there was NOTHING SACRED for probably $4.99 -- it was a cheapo from a no name company.  I bought it because it was Carole and it ended up being a hilarious film.  She's wonderful, the film's wonderful.  But I didn't realize this was her only color film.

I thought the film had been colorized.  At that time, Ted Turner had bought a lot of films and was colorizing them.  I assumed that was what happened with this 1937 film.  But, no, it was shot in color, I'd find out later.  I do wonder, since she looked just as marvelous in color, why they never made a film of her in color afterwards.  She died in 1942 but she had eight more films released after NOTHING SACRED (including Alfred Hitchcock's MR. AND MRS).

I just realized I didn't note TWENTIETH CENTURY.  That's another classic comedy that Carole did, this time with Drew Barrymore's grandfather John.

A quick list of other films that just stay with me and haunt me?


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

Tuesday, December 3, 2019.  Joe Biden's a joke and Tiny Pete's a joke as the search for a Democratic Party presidential nominee continues, the US State Dept tries to talk Iraq but AP's Matt Lee is bored by Iraq and wants to defocus, the protests continue, and much more.

Starting in the US where the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues.

War Hawk Joe Biden.  They've taken the audio of his talking about children rubbing on his hairy legs and bouncing in his lap and they've added a visual.   This as MSNBC observers are saying he's lost MORNING JOE.  If he's lost MORNING JOE how will he be able to keep the rest of the chattering class?

Supposedly, MORNING JOE's going all in with  Tiny Pete which might explain the war Joe's declared on his own personal mini-me.

Joe Biden told reporters in Iowa Monday that Pete Buttigieg "stole" his health care plan, the WSJ and other outlets report. But Reuters found the mayor's "Medicare for all who want it" statements pre-date the former vice president's

For those tired of full size president, Tiny Pete hopes to be your fun size president.  Tiny Pete's also being called "Mayo Pete."  Tanya Basu (TECHNOLOGY REVIEW) reports:

The finishing touch: “Mayo Pete” flashes up, an unsubtle dig at the candidate because he’s white, has had trouble connecting with nonwhite voters, and is supposedly bland like the condiment. The meme seems to have first popped up earlier this year on Reddit among Bernie Sanders supporters and opponents of the mayor in South Bend, Indiana, but has only just caught on with TikTok users. 
[. . .]
What Mayo Pete can teach us: Just because a sizable portion of the audience can’t vote doesn’t mean that TikTok should be ignored. Viral content has a way of spreading across social-media platforms, and memes hold outsize sway in shaping public opinions and conversations online. Less than a year out from the election, none of the major Democratic candidates have cultivated a presence on TikTok. One media strategist told Vox that candidates could use it to bolster their approachability in much the same way that Instagram videos have redefined access to candidates. It’s also a clear, accessible way for candidates to apologize or clarify errors.
Case in point: Mayor Pete’s social-media snafus. Buttigieg committed not one but two major gaffes in the last few days. Over the weekend, Intercept reporter Ryan Grim reported that a woman in an image included in Buttigieg’s plan for the “empowerment of black America,” the Douglass Plan, was in fact Kenyan. Turns out the stock photo Buttigieg’s campaign used was chosen by a contracting firm “without knowing that it was taken in Africa.” And an Instagram post from 2017 on Buttigieg’s husband’s account recirculated online, showing the candidate posing at a Holocaust memorial in Berlin.
Tiny Pete, Mayo Pete, Creepy Pete?  Poor Tiny Pete, even THE ONION's laughing at him.

Pete Buttigieg Admits Only Recently Realizing Black People Can Vote

Poor Tiny Pete.

Replying to 

In Iraq, protests continue.

's striking students defiant amid unrelenting protests. Despite pressure to return to classes, strikers say they will not stop until anti-gov't protesters' demands are met.

Arwa Ibrahim (ALJAZEERA) reports on students who continue the protest:

Tiba says she decided to boycott her university classes the moment she learned that her friend Amer had been killed during clashes with Iraqi security forces.
The pair first met in October in Tahrir Square, the capital's main site for anti-government demonstrations which have continued for two months. Amer told her that he was protesting on behalf of his brother, who had died in clashes with security forces. Days later, Tiba received news that her new friend had joined a growing list of Iraqi lives cut short during the protests.

"When I saw his picture among the martyrs, I knew I had to do something for my country," said Tiba, a 23-year-old engineering student at Baghdad University. "The best thing I could do was go on strike," she added.

The western press largely ignored the women in Iraq participating in these protests.  At first, they filed pieces saying women weren't participating.  When the reality was obvious -- via photos and coverage from the Arab press -- they tended to just ignore the women participating.  But women's participation in the protests is not only a key detail, it's a historic one as well.

What is courage? To be a woman, in where danger & tribal traditions against women, participate in protests faced violence This is history, the most remarkable on women's role in the whole world right now, unfortunately covered like normal. Congrats to this generation

Participation has required bravery for all.  The government response has been to attack the protesters.  Over 15,000 have been injured and the death toll has topped 400.

: Death toll from pro- and anti-government protests in Iraq has reached 433: human rights body

How is the government addressing all these deaths where security representing the government has killed the protesters?  By changing the death certificates.  In the hospital, the death is noted as a shooting death.  But the government then issues a death certificate labeling it a "clinical death" as FRANCE24 reports.

🇮🇶 More than 400 people have lost their lives since anti-govt demonstrations broke out on October 1 in . Now, according to relatives of those killed in the protests, authorities have adopted a new tactic to suppress the voices of opponents. reports ⤵️

COUNTERCURRENTS notes the Iraqi Communist Party:

The ICP, which topped polls as part of Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoun coalition in the 2018 general election, demand a transitional government with “exceptional powers” not formed on the current quota system, as well as a “peaceful and smooth constitutional handover of power” and fresh elections.
Political prisoners detained during the uprising must also be released and those who have killed protesters brought to justice, the ICP said.

The quota system was put in place after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, imposing an inflexible system through which key roles within the government are assigned to a Kurd, a Sunni Muslim and a Shia Muslim.

Yesterday, the US State Dept tried to hold a press briefing on Iraq.  The official was the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker.


Most of the briefing is below.  I stopped it before the last exchange which was not about Iraq.  But you'll note that Iraq is spoken of but some -- Matt Lee of the ASSOCIATED PRESS -- refuse to cover Iraq.  Matt's one of the screaming holler monkeys going on about Lebanon.

Let's be really clear that it's been forever since the US State Dept did a press briefing about Iraq.  But Matt Lee's never given a damn about Iraq.  Excuse me, that's just not true. Matt was all for starting the war back in 2002 and 2003.  But, with the war started, Matt grew bored.  AP needs to remove him.  He offers nothing but show boating and distractions.

Here's the bulk of the transcript.


QUESTION:  Can I ask you what you – one, how quickly are – how quickly would you like to see the situation resolve, at least politically, with the prime minister?  Is that just as soon as possible or is there a step-by-step?


QUESTION:  And then can I just also ask you on a different subject of the Lebanon aid?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Yeah, I saw your article.  Scoop – is that a scoop?

QUESTION:  I don’t know about that.


QUESTION:  I know it’s true.


QUESTION:  (Laughter.)  I would – but anyway.


QUESTION:  I know.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  — that it was going to be resolved soon, resolved – soon.



QUESTION:  Yes, you are.


QUESTION:  Sorry – oh, wait a second.  (Laughter.)  That’s all you’re going to say?  I wanted to know what —



QUESTION:  I had the Iraq question.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Ah yeah, no, no.  Yeah, about —

QUESTION:  We’ve got 15 minutes, come on.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Well, listen – so this is not about personalities, right.  Once again, this is about reform.  We want the Iraqis to get a government that is responsive to their legitimate demands – reform, anti-corruption.  This is a process that should be handled by the Iraqis and managed by the Iraqis.  We don’t have parameters for timing.  We want to see an end to the violence.  We want to see protestors being allowed to protest peacefully.  But I’m not going to comment on the timeline here (inaudible).

MODERATOR:  Okay, Michael.

QUESTION:  Can I have a follow-up to on Lebanon?

QUESTION:  Can I – just a quick one.  The – you want to see reform in Iraq and – but the prime minister, the new prime minister is going to be chosen by the very same parliament that was elected in a vote in which there was very low turnout and which picked the previous prime minister.  Does the U.S. Government favor – would it be advisable if there were early elections in Iraq to change the parliament so that – to move along the process of reform?
And since we’re on background, can you just please explain the Lebanon thing a little more than you’re reliable?  What – what’s happened?  Why was it held up?

QUESTION:  Has it been resolved?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  So on Iraq, there was a number of questions you had.

QUESTION:  Do you support early – why not support early elections if you want change?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Well, so I – listen, I – the Iraqis are amidst a process of electoral reform, right?  They have a system that, granted, decades ago we helped design, right – the Iraqi electoral process – but it is one in which Iraqis say that their representatives aren’t necessarily accountable to – to them.  It’s a proportional representational system.  There are other systems being discussed right now, mixed systems, et cetera.  We are rooting for an Iraqi parliament that is once again responsive, more responsive to the Iraqi people.  We’re I think one way or the other not talking about early elections.

QUESTION:  I’m sorry?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  This is up for the – this is up to the Iraqi people to decide.  I’m not going to comment about —

QUESTION:  Okay.  And can you explain Lebanon, please?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I’m not going to unpack the whole thing.

QUESTION:  You don’t have to unpack the whole thing, but just a little explanation.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I mean – we – Matt, you had a piece that somebody wrote about this, right?  You wrote about this before.

QUESTION:  Come on, this is a serious thing.  You’re [Senior State Department Official]; it’s a legitimate question.


QUESTION:  You’re on background.


QUESTION:  Whose decision was it to lift this aid?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Listen, as David Hale said during his congressional testimony, there were some disagreements about the efficacy of U.S. aid to the LAF.  (Inaudible.)

QUESTION:  Can you confirm —



QUESTION:  Let him finish.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I’m not going to – I’m not going to comment.  There’s been several pieces that have been written about this.  I wish I could comment on it; I can’t.

QUESTION:  But what’s the current status?  It’s been released, right?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  It’s been – yes, the money is good to go.

QUESTION:  So when —

QUESTION:  It is gone?  It’s gone?  Good to go or it’s gone?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  It’s in the process of being gone, right, it’s gone —

QUESTION:  Who made that decision?

MODERATOR:  This is not a free-for-all.

QUESTION:  Sorry, sorry.

MODERATOR:  So Nick, you had your hand up, so you go.

QUESTION:  So, if you could, when was that decision made?  It’s been released or it’s in the process?  Explain that a little bit.  And I know —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  So the process is done.  It’s released, right.

QUESTION:  It’s been released?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Now there is – for any – you know the FMF process, right?  There’s letters of request, letters of agreement, et cetera.  So that – the process is done, right, that’s – we’re – Lebanon will request certain things, we’ll sign agreements, and they’ll get it.  They’ll get —

QUESTION:  And then so the fundamental question is:  Why was congressionally authorized aid blocked?  Aid that was by the State Department and the Pentagon desired as part of U.S. policy?

MODERATOR:  He’s already answered that question specifically.

QUESTION:  And – I did.

MODERATOR:  Abigail.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Once again, though, this was a process, right.  Nothing that was supposed to get to the Lebanese Armed Forces was delayed in any way.
MODERATOR:  Abigail.
QUESTION:  Just timing wise, can you confirm that it was released before Thanksgiving and that Congress was notified on Monday?


QUESTION:  Today is Monday.


QUESTION:  The 2nd.

QUESTION:  Was Congress notified today?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Yeah, I – I’m not going to talk about the timing.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Can I ask what is the argument to the people who took the other side, who said that the aid shouldn’t have gone to the military because they —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Well, I can – I mean, I can – it’s out in the public sphere, the same type of arguments that people have in the U.S. Government, right.  So, for example, when I worked at a think tank for 16 years, I’d oftentimes write about U.S. aid to Lebanon, the pros and cons of this.  There are people at FDD who write about what a terrible idea it is, right, and they are good scholars, and what you read is – I think is – makes a cogent argument about why it’s not the best idea to do it.  Other people have written about why it’s a great idea to do it.  And so this is a kind of argument that we see on a broad range of topics that happen inside the government and outside the government, and that it’s just reflective of that.


QUESTION:  Sorry for interrupting earlier– whose decision was it to release this hold and —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I thought we were talking about Iraq today.

QUESTION:  — and why is it so important – just kind of to build off of what Abbie was saying, why is it important for the U.S. to important the Lebanese Armed Forces?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Well, I’ll – I’ll answer the second part, right.  This is an institution that is a national institution.  It defends Lebanon’s borders.  It is an excellent partner to the United States in counterterrorism, in fighting Sunni jihadi Islamists.  They have developed in recent years a high level of capability on that regard.  They have responded in recent weeks I think in impressive fashion in terms of protecting demonstrators from violence, demonstrating, I think, the fact that they are a national institution.
Now, there are detractors who would point to incidents, isolated incidents, of deconfliction with Hizballah in certain areas.  But this is an institution that nonetheless has great merit.

QUESTION:  And the first question?  And the first question?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  That’s the one I’m not answering.

QUESTION:  You aren’t.


MODERATOR:  Yeah, Shaun.

QUESTION:  Sure.  I’ll go back to Iraq for a minute.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  It’s an issue of process.

QUESTION:  You were mentioning the Iranian influence in Iraq.  Could you explain what you’re looking for in terms of the setup of the new government?  I know you’ve said it’s not about personalities, but Abdul-Mahdi of course was very close to Iran, but also had a working relationship with the United States.  In terms of how the U.S. sees the process now, to what extent do you – does the United States anticipate having some sort of advisory role, if you will, some sort of advice in terms of how to go forward?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  So we continue to engage with the Iraqi Government.  Adil is there; we continue to engage with him, a broad range of Iraqi political personalities.  What do we expect, is that the question?  Or —

QUESTION:  Sure.  I mean, what do you expect in terms of the relationship with Iran of the next government?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Listen, I think it’s Adil who says famously – the prime minister – Iran is our neighbor, you are our friend, right.  I think we have been a reliable partner to Iraq.  I expect that we will continue to be a reliable partner, helping to build their capacity to defend themselves and to exert their sovereignty, to help defeat ISIS and can you prevent a resurgence of ISIS in Iraqi territory.  So I would expect that we will continue to have that kind of relationship with the Iraqi Government and also have economic investments in the country, et cetera, going forward.

QUESTION:  Just briefly, does the U.S. have any comment on the torching of the Iranian consulate in Najaf?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Generally speaking – and specifically speaking – the United States believes that – the inviolability of the diplomatic facilities.

You've had over 400 activists killed, over 15,000 injured.  You've had the activists force a sitting prime minister to resign.  What follows now is all off the cuff, they're feeling their way forward because there's no real blue print for how you move forward at this point.  This is historic and it's new and novel.  It's got people power, violence, government suppression, rebellion, revolution, you name it.  But it's all boring to Matt Lee.  Again, AP needs to remove him.  This was a briefing about Iraq and Matt had no questions or concerns about Iraq.  This'll probably be the only briefing on Iraq for the entire year of 2019 but, hey, Matt and a few others don't give a damn about Iraq.  Maybe next time when they don't have any questions, they just skip the briefing?  People went after Helen Thomas for being 'off topic.'  She was never off topic.  She raised issues some people didn't like but those issues were raised in the context of the topic of a briefing.  Matt Lee is off topic.  Always.

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