Sunday, May 01, 2016

Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the Kitchen

Denita e-mailed asking about grilled cheese sandwiches.

Maybe I've answered this before?

It feels like I have but maybe that's because it comes up with friends?

If you're remembering grilled cheese sandwiches made in a skillet -- yes, it's possible.

That's how my grandma made them. 

You need two slices of bread and a slice of cheese (or shredded cheese).  You slip the cheese in between two slices of bread.

You melt butter in a skillet, you brown one side of the sandwich and then the other (the cheese, between the slices, cooks between).

My parents made them in a toaster oven.


You can make them on the grill.  Our George Foreman Grill lets me make about eight sandwiches at once.

Again, two slices of bread a sandwich with cheese in between.

Or you can pop two slices of bread in a toaster, brown, put on a plate with a slice of cheese in between the bread, pop into the microwave for 20 seconds and you're done.

Grilled cheese is an easy to make sandwich and a satisfying one.

I like to cut a cooked grilled cheese sandwich in two diagonal halves.

If I'm pairing with soup, I generally go with tomato soup.

This is the opening of Charles Ornstein's Pro-Publica story:

This story was co-published with the Washington Post.

Seven years ago, I sat across from Farrah Fawcett in the living room of her Los Angeles condo. In what would be her last media interview before she died in 2009, she described her suspicion that an employee at UCLA Medical Center had shared details of her cancer treatment — and the setbacks along the way — with the National Enquirer.

Whenever she sought treatment there, the tabloids were quick with a story, even if it wasn’t right.

“I actually kept saying for months and months and months, ‘This is coming from here,’ ” Fawcett told me in the summer of 2008. “I was never more sure of anything in my life.”

To prove her theory, Fawcett set up a sting: In May 2007, she withheld news of her cancer’s return from nearly all of her relatives and friends. Within days, the story was in the Enquirer. “I couldn’t believe how fast it came out,” Fawcett said.

A UCLA employee was caught and charged with selling information to the tabloid. She pleaded guilty, but died before she was sentenced.

In 2008, prompted by Fawcett’s experience and those of other celebrities, California passed a law authorizing fines against hospitals that fail to protect patient privacy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it; his then-wife, Maria Shriver, was one of those whose records had been accessed inappropriately at UCLA.

At the time, I thought that this was a problem largely confined to the People magazine world of celebrities and that this law would quash the prurient interest in their medical records.

I was wrong.

After spending the past year reporting on loopholes and lax enforcement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal patient-privacy law known as HIPAA, I’ve come to realize that it’s not just celebrity patients who are at risk. We all are.

Over the course of my reporting, I’ve talked to hundreds of people who said their medical records were hacked, snooped in, shared or stolen. Some were worried about potential consequences for themselves and their families. For others, the impact has been real and devastating, requiring therapy and medication. It has destroyed their faith in the medical establishment.

Use the link to read the full story.

And then get worried.

Really worried.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Saturday:

Saturday, April 30, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the Green Zone is breached, Nouri al-Maliki gets a little stronger politically, and much more.

Well color me surprised.

  1. Protesters Storm Baghdad Parliament, State of Emergency Declared

  • :فيديو:
    هو هو نوري المالكي والله انجلطك
    قيس الخزعلي اكبر قنذر هوهو
    حنان الوسخة
    نوري المالكي اليوم انجلطك

  • :فيديو :غراب مجلس النواب عباس البياتي داخل السياره والمتضاهريين يحاصروووه

    Moqtada al-Sadr's protesters live chiefly in Basra (they didn't come into Baghdad today) and in the Sadr section (usually called "slum") of Baghdad.  That last group has been protesting in Baghdad, outside the Green Zone, on his orders.

    They made it into the Green Zone.

    Protests Update: Everything You Need To Know About The Civil Unrest In Baghdad’s Green Zone

    Everything you need to know?

    Not really.

    Tear gas was fired.


    After the protesters were inside the Green Zone and had stormed the Parliament.

    After they had stormed the Green Zone and made it into the Parliament.


    There's a point here, if anyone's paying attention.

    In all the years of the Green Zone, it was only almost stormed once and that was shortly after Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister in 2006.

    People were shot.

    People were shot dead.

    Immediately after, the 'Bremer walls' went up.

    Moqtada al-Sadr's protesters made it into the Green Zone today.

    Not because they're particularly smart.

    Certainly not because they have super powers.

    Clearly because either orders weren't followed regarding what to do when people attempt to breach the Green Zone or because there was a stand down order allowing them to seize the Green Zone.

    Which was it?

    It honestly doesn't matter at this point -- not for Haider al-Abadi.

    Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister from 2006 through 2014 and the Green Zone was never breached.

    Haider al-Abadi hasn't even been prime minister for two years and it's already been breached.

    In August of 2014, the White House forced thug Nouri out as prime minister.

    He's refused, even now, to vacate the official home of the prime minister.

    He's plotted and schemed to return to power.

    And how he's got the best tool and it was handed to him by Haider.

    Thug Nouri ensures safety for Shi'ites.

    Thug Nouri protects the capital.

    Thug Nouri used those concepts/beliefs when he created his own political slate State of Law.  It's what State of Law candidates ran on -- that they would provide security.

    The footage today of the Green Zone?

    The best campaign commercial Nouri al-Maliki could ever hope for.

    Stephen Kalin and Ahmed Rasheed (REUTERS) report:

    The initial breach was mostly peaceful, but around sunset security forces fired teargas and bullets into the air in an effort to stop more protesters from entering. Around a dozen people were wounded, police sources said.
    A United Nations spokesman and Western diplomats said their compounds inside the Green Zone were locked down. A U.S. embassy spokesman denied reports of evacuation.
    Iraqi security personnel and Sadr's militiamen formed a joint force to control crowds of protesters, most of whom had left parliament, a source in Sadr's office told Reuters.

    All entrances of Baghdad were temporarily shut "as a precautionary measure to maintain the capital's security," another security official said.

    Again, thug Nouri al-Maliki is the immediate winner.  RUDAW notes:

    Former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, called the storming of the parliament dangerous and called for all Iraqis to stand against it.
    Maliki also criticized Abadi for trying to announce a new cabinet during protests which make it difficult for all lawmakers to attend the vote. “That is not reform when there are threats and representatives of the people cannot go to the parliament to express their ideas.”

    Let's talk about idiots first.

    Kevin Drum.

    Unlike me, Kevin Drum's never surprised -- because he knows everything.

    Or thinks he does.

    The Iraq War cheerleader -- the whore that MOTHER JONES disgraced themselves by hiring -- wants to insist that Moqtada's zombie today were demanding "more technocrats."  He says "Iraq is in chaos.  Again."


    When wasn't in chaos?

    I'm sorry, pathetic fool, when wasn't it?

    Oh, when you weren't paying attention?

    If it doesn't effect your world of whoring Hillary, it doesn't happen, right?

    Here's rare footage of Kevin Drum relaxing earlier today.

     Yesterday it rained in Tennessee

    I heard it also rained in Tallahassee
    But not a drop fell on little old me

    'Cause I was in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
    Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo sugar town

    It's actually Nancy Sinatra performing her classic hit "Sugar Town."

    No one's been resisting any change for technocrats.

    And if the dumb ass with blood on his hands read Arabic, he'd be fully aware of how Haider's 'technocrats' have been mocked repeatedly because they aren't.

    Not the first slate he proposed as March came to an end and not the current slate.

    They're not 'technocrats.'

    Calling them that doesn't make it so.

    State of Law supporters are on social media as well.

    They're largely spreading rumors.

    Most outrageous one?  Moqtada spent all that time in Iran in the last decade because he has a boyfriend he keeps there.

    This is really a battle between Nouri and Moqtada.

    It always has been -- even before Haider showed up as prime minister.

    Moqtada's been held check many times by Nouri because Nouri's held on to the arrest warrant for Moqtada all this time.

    It's why Moqtada spent so much time out of Iraq.

    It's probably why, even now, he gave his speech today -- inciting the followers -- from Najaf and not from Baghdad.  [Mohammed Tawfeeq, Alanne Orjoux and Hamdi Alkhshali (CNN) note, "They hailed Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who sparked the protests with a fiery speech on Saturday in the city of Najaf, about 100 miles south of the capital."]

    Najaf forces would never arrest Moqtada.

    And the forces are part of the problem.

    BBC NEWS notes, "Members of the Sadrist militia group Saraya al-Salam were keeping order in the area, news agencies said."

    Moqtada's zombies weren't allowed in the federal forces under Nouri.

    Haider's let them in and the end result is Baghdad's Green Zone (the only protected area in Iraq) can no longer be secured.

    The US Embassy in Baghdad today Tweeted:

    1. التقارير الأعلامية عن لجوء مسؤولون من الحكومة العراقية أو أي جهة أخري الي مقر السفارة الأمريكية عارية عن الصحة

  • التقارير الاعلامية عن اخلاء موظفي السفارة الأمريكية غير صحيحة

    Those Tweets weren't for American audiences -- they were in Arabic.

    The first one says that no Iraqi government officials are seeking sanctuary in the US Embassy in Baghdad.

    The second one insists that US Embassy staff has not been evacuated.

    Greg Jaffe (WASHINGTON POST) observes:

    The chaos in the Iraqi capital comes hours after a visit by Vice President Biden that was intended to help calm the political unrest and keep the battle against the Islamic State on track.

    As Biden’s plane was approaching Baghdad on Thursday, a senior administration official described the vice president’s visit — which was shrouded in secrecy prior to his arrival — as a “symbol of how much faith we have in Prime Minister Abadi.”
    After 10 hours on the ground in Baghdad and Irbil, Biden was hurtling towards his next stop in Rome. The feeling among the vice president and his advisers was that Iraqi politics were on a trajectory to greater calm and that the battle against the Islamic State would continue to accelerate. Some hopeful advisers on Biden’s plane even suggested that Abadi might emerge from the political crisis stronger for having survived it.

    No one is talking that way now.

    Tweets from happier times.

    Wheels down in Baghdad. Here, the walks to his helo with Ambassador Jones and Lieutenant General MacFarland.

  • "Let me begin by saying thank you, thank you, thank you." speaks to embassy and military personnel in Baghdad.            

  • "This is an old friend." - , meeting with Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Saleem al-Jabouri earlier today.

  • The met with Prime Minister for nearly 90 minutes today at the Government Palace in Baghdad.

  • Meanwhile, the US Defense Dept announced today:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Bomber, ground-attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Al Qaim, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle-bomb facility.

    -- Near Fallujah, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL vehicle bomb, an ISIL used bridge, and an ISIL tank.

    -- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar system.

    -- Near Hit, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar system.

    -- Near Kirkuk, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL supply cache, four ISIL weapons caches, four ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL tunnel systems, an ISIL front end loader, an ISIL excavator, four ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL-used bridges, an ISIL bed down location, and an ISIL tactical vehicle.

    -- Near Mosul, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL bed down locations, two ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL weapons cache.

    -- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL rocket rails, five ISIL rockets, and an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Waleed, a strike produced inconclusive results.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

    As Jill Stein, who is seeking the Green Party's presidential nomination, noted:

    Doing things that caused ISIS in the first place will just lead to more ISIS.


    Thursday, April 28, 2016

    Yes, it's sad, scary and depressing

    Patrick Martin (WSWS) notes:

    The likely contest between Trump and Clinton will be a clash of warmongers. As an admiring New York Times profile explained last week, Clinton is the most hawkish of the remaining Democratic and Republican candidates and has the closest ties to the military-intelligence apparatus, particularly the Pentagon brass. “For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic state into oblivion,” the Times wrote, neither Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz “have demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has.”

    It is noteworthy that her campaign delegated its response to Trump’s speech to former secretary of state Madeline Albright, one of the principal architects of the 1999 war against Serbia and a leading advocate of a confrontational policy against Russia in Eastern Europe.

    Clinton’s Democratic rival Bernie Sanders is playing a critical role in preventing anti-war sentiment from finding any expression in the 2016 elections. He combines rhetorical denunciations of the “millionaires and billionaires” and fraudulent claims to represent a “democratic socialist” perspective with uncritical support for the predatory foreign policy of the Obama administration. On Monday, in an interview on MSNBC, he declared his support for Obama’s latest increase in troop levels in Syria and the White House’s “kill list” of people targeted for drone-missile strikes.

    There is enormous opposition to war in the American and international working class. The elections have been dominated by mass anger and hostility to the political establishment, largely of a left-wing character. Yet the outcome will be a campaign between the most right-wing, pro-war candidates in generations.

    The real alternative to the program of imperialist militarism is the campaign of the Socialist Equality Party. Our candidates for president and vice-president, Jerry White and Niles Niemuth, are the only ones who tell the truth to the working class about the crimes committed by American imperialism and the even greater ones being prepared for after the election. Tens of millions of youth and working people must be mobilized against the warmongers in Washington and on Wall Street.

    To take forward the building of an international anti-war movement based on the working class and the fight for socialism, the International Committee of the Fourth International is holding an International May Day Online Rally this coming Sunday, May 1, at 1:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

    That's more than I probably should have excerpted but the last two paragraphs above are sort of required.  It would be stupid not to include them.

    A number of e-mails came in from people depressed that they think it's over for Bernie Sanders.

    I don't know if it is or not.

    I do know that there are many depressing things in the world.

    If you're depressed, take a look at WSWS or at Jerry White's campaign.

    Or do something you think can make a change.

    But I do understand your depression.

    The thought of Hillary Clinton now a step closer to the White House is beyond scary.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:

    Wednesday, April 27, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, AL JAZEERA is shut down in Iraq, the Defense Dept -- wanting more money -- cites 'progress' in Iraq, the US State Dept suddenly loves protests, and much more.

    In 'free' Iraq, where the US-installed Haider al-Abadi still rules as prime minister (for now), AL JAZEERA has been shut down.  The network explains:

    The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission has shut down the Baghdad bureau of Al Jazeera Media Network and banned its journalists from reporting in the country.
    In a letter to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, the CMC said it was withdrawing the license that allowed Al Jazeera to operate in Iraq due to "violations of the official codes of conduct and broadcasting rules and regulations."

    DW notes:

     "We remain committed to broadcasting news on Iraq to Iraqi people, our viewers in the Arab world and across the world," the broadcaster said.
    The controversial news network has been banned in Iraq for the third time now. The last time was in 2013, when it reported on a violent military crackdown on Sunni Muslim protestors.

    This is 'free' Iraq.

    Where thug Haider rules.

    Where the US government props up thug Haider and pretends he's not another Nouri al-Maliki.

    Despite the fact that he encouraged threats against journalist Ned Parker and that when the REUTERS correspondent had to leave Iraq for the safety of his team and himself, Haider dared to turn it into a joke while visiting the United States.

    Haider's a hateful man with a cruel streak even bigger than his rotund belly.

    He's hateful and he's not to be trusted.

    But so many whores in the press pretend like he's done something or is somehow not Nouri -- as if that's enough?

    Pol Pot wasn't Hitler.

    But as the people of Cambodia can attest, that didn't mean Pol Pot was Ghandi.

    Haider's a thug and a threat.

    And the US government has disgraced itself even further in its desperate attempts to prop Haider up.

    Why is the US still in Iraq?.

    Matt Purple (NATIONAL INTEREST) observes:

    The United States is back in Iraq. Actually, it never really left.
    President Obama supposedly withdrew all American forces in 2011, except for a few hundred Marines, defense contractors, and military advisors. But it wasn’t long before he began ramping up our presence again, through temporary deployments and other means. This only accelerated after the Islamic State’s blitz through Iraq in 2014. Today, the government has blown through even its self-imposed cap of 3,870 troops, with an acknowledged five thousandAmerican military personnel now on the ground in Iraq. It’s another lazy half-measure—like the disjointed attempt to combat the Taliban—from a president who’s never once laid out a coherent strategy for fighting terrorism.

    Why is it still in Iraq?

    To 'combat' the Islamic State?

    Doesn't seem like it.

    Seems like the military still remains in Iraq to prop up  puppet government which still does not represent the Iraqi people.

    Maybe when Iraqi politicians are forced to represent the Iraqi people, they'll stop stealing from Iraq?

    Maybe when you're puppets installed by a foreign government, you don't give a second though to fleecing the people you supposedly represent?

    US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter appeared before the US Senate Appropriations Committee today.


    To plead for money, of course.

    To also insist that talk in the House of insisting the next US presidnet make a request in the spring of 2017 for what is needed.

    The Defense Dept -- and the current White House and president -- want a blank check and want it written now so that they can cash it whenever they choose to.

    They don't want oversight.

    They don't want to be responsive to the people's representatives.

    That is the Congress.

    And they're given control of the purse -- of spending -- for a reason.

    A blank check would defeat that control.

    Secretary Ash Carter:  There with our support Iraqi security forces retook Ramadi, have been reclaiming further ground in Anbar Province, most recently the city of Hit and along with Iraqi Kurdish forces have begun operations to capture and isolate Mosul with the intent of collapsing ISIL's control over that city.

    We keep hearing all of these claims.

    Most of which can't be verified.

    Like Brett McGurk's endless pimping of the claim that foreign fighters going into Iraq are decreasing.

    It's a nice claim but is it really verifiable?


    Like so much this White House has offered on Iraq, it's not verifiable.

    Carter wanted to talk about success and Anbar.

    And he wanted to do so in the same week that Tim Arango (NEW YORK TIMES) offered a look at Anbar which included:

    The situation in Anbar has grown increasingly muddled as the Obama administration has stepped up its military support to Iraq, announcing that it will deploy Apache helicopters and position more troops closer to the front lines. It has touted victories in Anbar as an important step toward liberating the country from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and as a prelude to a campaign, possibly this year, to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
    But Iran’s proxies are undercutting efforts to unite the civilian population, a necessity if Iraq is to eventually extinguish extremism. In the siege of Falluja, a Sunni city, the Shiite militias have prevented civilians from leaving Islamic State territory while resisting calls to allow humanitarian aid to reach the city. Sunni Arab civilians in the province are increasingly reporting kidnappings and murders by the militias, accounts that American and Iraqi officials say are credible.
    In some cases, after civilians have disappeared, their families have received ransom demands. Abu Abdulrahman, a resident of Amiriyat al-Falluja, a city in Anbar under the control of the government, said three of his cousins vanished last year after being stopped at a militia checkpoint.
    “We haven’t heard anything about them since then,” he said, although a man approached the family and demanded a ransom of $8,000, which was paid. “He disappeared with the money,” he said.
    Conditions are so dire in Falluja for the tens of thousands of civilians trapped there that dozens of people have starved to death, civilians and activists say. Food prices have skyrocketed, with a bag of flour that would cost $15 in Baghdad going for $750, Human Rights Watch has reported.

    Back to the hearing for a moment.

    Secretary Ash Carter: As we've made this progress with momentum in this campaign clearly on our side, last week in Baghdad, I announced a number of key actions we're taking to continue accelerating our campaign against ISIL.  We'll be placing advisors with the ISF, that is the Iraqi Security Forces, down to the brigade and battalion level to help enhance decision making and responsiveness.  We'll be leveraging Apache attach helicopters to support the ISF's ongoing efforts to envelop and retake Mosul [. . .]

    Mosul was seized in June of 2014.

    How much longer is it going to be before the city is 'retaken'?

    US President Barack Obama's plan or 'plan' has been enacted since August of 2014.

    Mosul's still not liberated.

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced/claimed:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Bomber, fighter, ground attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 23 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Baghdadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL tunnel systems, an ISIL tunnel entrance, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL recoilless rifle and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Beiji, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.

    --- Near Fallujah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed two ISIL mortar systems and suppressed an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL machine gun and an ISIL anti-air artillery piece.

    -- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.

    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar system.

    -- Near Mosul, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL rocket rails, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position and suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Qayyarah, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL mortar system.

    -- Near Sinjar, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area and an ISIL supply cache.

    -- Near Tal Afar, three strikes destroyed two ISIL tunnel systems and an ISIL front-end loader and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

    Day after day, that nonsense takes place.

    Over and over since August of 2014.

    There is no progress.

    Isn't it past time questions about Iraq were asked?

    Let's switch to Tuesday's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Mark Toner.

    QUESTION: On Iraq?

    MR TONER: Yeah. Sure, Michel. Iraq it is.

    QUESTION: Do you have any (inaudible) the partial cabinet reshuffle today and the demonstrations by the followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

    MR TONER: Well, I’ll start with the protests. And we obviously – we support the Iraqi people’s freedom of expression and assembly, just so long as these are peaceful protests. Peaceful protests are an integral part of a functioning democracy, and it is our understanding that, up till now, these protests have been, in fact, peaceful. Moving forward, the security for the international zone is the Government’s of Iraq’s responsibility, so they can probably answer best any further questions about security around these protests. But we obviously support the Iraqi people’s right to express themselves nonviolently.
    In terms of the cabinet reshuffle, I’d obviously refer you to the Government of Iraq to comment on the specifics. But Secretary Kerry said when he was in Baghdad just a few weeks ago that it’s important to have political stability, to have a unified and functioning government as rapidly as possible, in order to move forward so that Iraq’s efforts to combat and defeat ISIL are not affected and not interrupted. So we urge all parties to work in tandem and work together to move the political process forward in ways that advance the interests and the aspirations of the Iraqi people and in accordance with the Iraqi constitution.

    Oh, goody, political stability.

    That's the argument that let Nouri al-Maliki get a second term (the Iraqi people did not elect him) and that let him stay on throughout his second term.

    Even though he was overseeing the beating and raping of Iraqi girls and women in jails and prisons -- often illegally imprisoned.

    Even though he targeted Iraq's LGBT community, unleashed the Shi'ite militias on them, sent his Interior Ministry into the schools to demonize them and call for their deaths, etc.

    Even though he used both terms to actively encourage the persecution of Iraqi Christians to the point that his two terms saw a great reshuffling of Iraqi Christians from Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq to the Kurdish north instead -- because the Kurds could and would do what Nouri wouldn't: try to protect Iraqi Christians.

    Even though he terrorized and killed civilians for the 'crime' of protesting.

    Even though he had reporters kidnapped and tortured for the 'crime' of reporting on the protests.

    Nouri al-Maliki's rap sheet is never ending.

    But he was kept in place for 'political stability.'

    He provided no stability to Iraq.

    But the US government felt he was 'their man' and that if they propped him up long enough, at some point he was going to get that hydrocarbons law passed.

    It's still not passed.

    So today finds Barack and company putting their faith in Haider.

    By the way, it's cute that the State Dept can now support protests.

    During the year-plus of non-stop protests, the State Dept could never find a way to defend the protesters.

    Not even following the Hawija massacre.

    But today, they're all on board with protests.

    Because they aren't protests.

    They're support rallies for Haider.

    Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has released his zombies on the streets of Baghdad to rally for Haider and create the appearance of support.

    Back to the State Dept's struggle with truth on Tuesday.

    QUESTION: About – thanks, Mark. Regarding Muqtada al-Sadr --

    MR TONER: Yeah.

    QUESTION: -- is there any concern at this point in this building about his influence in Iraq? On multiple occasions in the last three months, he’s been able to swiftly get well over 100,000 people into the streets of Baghdad. He’s also overseeing one of the more influential and successful Shia militias in the country in the fight against the Islamic State. He seems to have reemerged as a major player there. I wonder if you can comment on that and whether that’s a good thing or are there concerns here.

    MR TONER: Well, I think, just answering your last question first, I mean, it’s a perfectly fine thing, as long as he wants to be a part of the political process and not work against it. I would just – you’re certainly right that he is able to still wield tremendous influence within Iraq. That’s clear by these current protests. And again, as we often say about these kinds of environments is that, if you’re willing to quote/unquote “play by the rules” and be a voice for positive change within a society, then that is part of the democratic process and we support that. So certainly we, again, recognize his influence. We recognize that he’s still an influential figure in Iraq, but we just encourage that his influence remain, as I said, positive and peaceful.

    QUESTION: Is there some indication that it’s not at this point?

    MR TONER: No, I just – I mean, look – I mean, just in the past we’ve had concerns. And going forward --

    QUESTION: We actually had a target on his head for a few years.

    MR TONER: Well --

    QUESTION: And he was – I don't know if he was ever indicted --

    MR TONER: I’m not sure about that either. But all I’m saying is --

    QUESTION: But his forces at one time were at war with U.S. forces occupying Iraq.

    MR TONER: That’s correct.

    QUESTION: I know that was a long time ago.

    MR TONER: No, I understand that. That’s why – and partly – that’s part of my caveat. I mean, that’s why I say what I say, is that I think as Iraq evolves politically there is, in many countries that are evolving politically, an opportunity for some of these individuals to transition, if you will. But we view always this transition with caution.

    His caveat?

    That's cute.

    "Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr."

    The US government came up with that billing for Moqtada.

    And they didn't mean it as a compliment.

    But these days, Moqtada dances for Haider so the US is all prepared to stick dollars in Moqtada's g-string as well.

    There is no coherent policy for Iraq because there's no concern for Iraq or the Iraqi people.

    It's still about getting hands on Iraq's natural resources.

    All this time later.