Friday, October 24, 2014

Mia Farrow can't stop embarrassing herself

William M. Welch (USA Today) reports:

Craig Spencer, who tested positive for Ebola Thursday, is a New York emergency physician who recently worked with Doctors Without Borders treating patients in West Africa.

He is on the staff at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, which in a statement called him "a dedicated humanitarian .. who went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population.''

Can someone explain to me how that is funny?

Because a number of people, including Mia Farrow, thought this was something to Tweet jokes about.

I had ignored the embarrassing news that Mia's media activism in Ecaudor was paid for but now's a good time to note that:

That is, until news broke that the Ecuadorian government had secretly paid her $188,000 to go there and hype the case against Chevron. Her “oily hand seen around the world” may have been the most lucrative gig of her acting career.

The truth leaked after the US company that acted as the conduit for the payment was forced (under fear of prosecution) to disclose that it had been secretly working for the Ecuadorian state.

The average salary in Ecuador is around $300 a month; Farrow’s $188,000 payday is an absolute fortune there. So the response from journalists and citizens on social media has been excoriating.

In my book, Chevron's a crook and I have no problem with people protesting it.

I do have a problem with someone taking nearly $200,000 to protest -- and hiding that fact.

Her career's over and she needs money, I get it.

But she has no ethics at all.

This C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:

Thursday, October 23, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government and the Turkish government clash, Mount Sinjar is not a White House success, and much more.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the President of Turkey and he's in the news cycle.  Hugh Naylor and Brian Murphy (Washington Post) report, "Turkey’s president sharpened criticism of U.S. airdrops to aid Syrian Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State, but promised on Thursday that Kurdish reinforcements would soon arrive in the embattled border town of Kobane. [. . .] Erdogan also amplified his criticism of U.S. airdrops to help the Syrian Kurdish fighters, claiming it was blatant interference in Turkish affairs."

In what may have been a retaliation for criticizing the White House publicly,  David Cohen went on the attack against Turkey today.  James Reinl (Rudaw) reports Treasury Undersecretary Cohen declared today that US sanctions will be slapped on Turkey and any "Kudrish middlemen" caught trafficking in 'terrorist' oil.  Cohen stated, "Last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey.  It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey."

Cohen made his remarks/allegations/threats while speaking at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace.  In his remarks, he also outlined how the US government believes the Islamic State makes money:

Before turning to the specific steps we are taking, let me take a moment to detail these sources of revenue.
First, ISIL has raised a significant amount of its money – many millions of dollars – from selling oil it extracts from fields in Syria and Iraq. 
Our best understanding is that ISIL has tapped into a long-standing and deeply rooted black market connecting traders in and around the area. After extracting the oil, ISIL sells it to smugglers who, in turn, transport the oil outside of ISIL’s strongholds.  These smugglers move oil in a variety of ways, from relatively sizeable tankers to smaller containers.
We also understand that ISIL controls oil refineries of various sizes and output capacities, and earns some revenue from the sale of refined petroleum products. 
So who, ultimately, is buying this oil?  According to our information, as of last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey, who then transported the oil to be resold.  It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey.  And in a further indication of the Asad regime’s depravity, it seems the Syrian government has made an arrangement to purchase oil from ISIL. 
It is difficult to get precise revenue estimates on the value to ISIL of these transactions in light of the murky nature of the market, but we estimate that beginning in mid-June, ISIL has earned approximately $1 million a day from oil sales. 
There are good indications, however, that recent coalition military efforts have begun to impair ISIL’s ability to generate revenue from oil smuggling.  Airstrikes on ISIL oil refineries are threatening ISIL’s supply networks and depriving it of fuel to sell or use itself.  Moreover, our partners in the region, including Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government, are committed to preventing ISIL-derived oil from crossing their borders. Last week, the International Energy Agency reported that ISIL’s ability to produce, refine and smuggle oil had been significantly hampered.
Second, ISIL also kidnaps innocent civilians to profit from ransoms paid to obtain their release.
ISIL did not pioneer kidnapping for ransom – it has been around for thousands of years.  And other terrorist organizations, including al Qa’ida’s affiliates in Yemen and north Africa, also rely on ransom payments as a key revenue source.  As I have said before, kidnapping for ransom is one of the most significant terrorist financing threats today.  For ISIL, these ransom payments are irregular, but each one can be a significant boon.  This spring, ISIL released captured journalists and other hostages from several European countries.  In return, according to press reports, ISIL received several multi-million dollar payments.  All in all, ISIL has taken at least $20 million in ransoms this year. 
Third, like its predecessor, al Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), ISIL raises money – up to several million dollars per month – through a sophisticated extortion racket.  In Iraq and Syria, ISIL extracts payments from those who pass through, conduct business in, or simply seek to live in the territory where it operates. 
In the Iraqi city of Mosul, for instance, accounts have surfaced of ISIL terrorists going home-to-home, business-to-business, demanding cash at gunpoint.  A grocery store owner who refused to pay was warned with a bomb outside his shop.  Others who have not paid have seen their relatives kidnapped.  Religious minorities have been forced to pay special tributes.  We’ve also seen reports that when customers make cash withdrawals from local banks where ISIL operates, ISIL has demanded as much as ten percent of the value. 
Make no mistake: This is not taxation in return for services or even for real protection.  It is theft, pure and simple.  The money ISIL pilfers is being exchanged not for a guarantee of safety but for the temporary absence of harm.
Fourth, ISIL also profits from a range of other criminal activities.  They rob banks.  They lay waste to thousands of years of civilization in Iraq and Syria by looting and selling antiquities.  They steal livestock and crops from farmers.  And despicably, they sell abducted girls and women as sex slaves. 

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, ISIL derives some funding from wealthy donors.  Even though ISIL currently does not rely heavily on external donor networks, it maintains important links to financiers in the Gulf, as a spate of Treasury designations last month made clear. 

Cohen's accusations against Turkey don't detract from what Erdogan stated today.  On that, Anatoul Agency adds:

Turkey criticized the U.S. for its military aid to the outlawed Kurdish Democratic Union Party on Monday, saying that would mean arming "terrorists," Erdogan recalled at the press conference.
"Why is Kobani so important? Where were the rest of the world while Daraa, Idlib, Hama or Homs was burning?" Erdogan asked.
"There are no civilians left in Kobani, only about 2,000 PYD fighters," he added, using an abbreviation for the Kurdish party. 
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long separatist fight with the Turkish army. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

For Turkey, the Kurdish question has long been an issue.

Internally, Turkey has a long history of suppressing Kurds and while Erdogen has made overtures in recent years, the oppression continues.

Along with overtures to Kurds in Turkey -- many of whom want their own country, Erdogen has also, with Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani, formed a working partnership with the KRG.

The KRG is the closest thing Kurds around the world have to their own country.  The KRG is a group of provinces in northern Iraq which border Turkey.  Many Kurds in Iraq would prefer that the semi-autonomous KRG become fully autonomous.

For years, this has been a fear -- a big one -- for the Turkish government which has worried that should the KRG become fully autonomous it would lead the Kurds in Turkey to strengthen their demands for autonomy.

On the Turkish government, Con Coughlin (Telegraph of London) explains:

The Turks’ reluctance to get behind the military effort against IS is based on two concerns, both of which put Ankara fundamentally at odds with the objectives of its Nato partners. The first is Turkey’s aim in Syria’s brutal civil war to see Assad overthrown and replaced by an Islamic government with a similar outlook to that of its own President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Until last year this was not a problem, as Britain and America and Ankara shared a common goal regarding Assad. But the West’s priorities have changed dramatically since the heady days of late August 2013 when President Obama and David Cameron made their ill-fated attempt to garner support for air strikes against Damascus.
These days, the West’s priority is to defeat the Islamist militants who oppose the Assad regime. Claims that the Turks are actively supporting IS fighters with arms and training indicates that there now exists a sharp divergence between Turkey’s priorities in the conflict and those of the western powers.
The plight of the Kurds is the other bone of contention between Turkey and Nato. Denying Kurdish aspirations for full independence is hard-wired into the DNA of Ankara’s political establishment, to the extent that the Turks, as shown in Kobane, would prefer to see a town overrun by IS rather than have the Kurds prevail.

While obstacles remain there, the US Defense Dept wants everyone to know they are shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraq.  Via spokesperson Rear Adm John Kirby, the Pentagon released the following today:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke via telephone with the Iraqi Minister of Defense Khaled al Obeidi today. Secretary Hagel congratulated the newly-appointed Defense Minister and underscored his support for the Minister's counterterrorism pursuits.
Secretary Hagel emphasized the importance of rebuilding the Iraqi Security Forces in a way that engenders trust and confidence among the armed forces personnel and the Iraqi people.
The two talked about ways to train, equip and prepare the Iraqi Security forces for upcoming offensives against ISIL and Minister Obeidi expressed his appreciation for U.S. advisors and airstrikes. Both Secretary Hagel and Minister Obeidi promised to continue to work closely together to pursue mutual security objectives.

As Barack Obama's nonplan continues in Iraq, there are whispers of another plan (a post-mid-term election one).   Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported yesterday that the White House thinks it has another 'plan' for addressing the Islamic State in Iraq.  This one would be termed a "battle plan" and a sure sign of its weakness can be found in the belief that it will take place "gradually."  DeYoung explains:

The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces­ do not overextend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants.

It may also include U.S. advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the White House. The advisers, the official said, would not participate in combat. President Obama has said repeatedly that no U.S. ground forces would be deployed to Iraq.

You can be sure that the "may"s will disappear after the start of the next month when Barack will no longer have to worry about the immediate voter fallout.
Bill Van Auken (WSWS) offers:

And, as for Obama’s promise about no “ground forces,” this term is used in a manner that does not apply to special operations troops, advisers and other smaller units, but rather to the deployment of full combat brigades.
The announcement that the topic was discussed by US and Iraqi officials almost certainly indicates that preparations are being made to substantially increase the number of US military personnel deployed in Iraq, which, according to official figures, now stands at over 1,400.

Leaving what's around the corner to take a look at what's on the road now, Lolita C. Baldor (AP) notes, "The Pentagon says Iraq's new defense minister says his troops will go on the offensive against Islamic State militants who have taken over large sections of the country."

They'll go on the offensive, will they?

Anytime soon?

Sunday, World Bulletin noted the Iraqi military's efforts to retake Baiji ended when a bomb blew up "an armored vehicle" killing 4 Iraqi soldiers and leaving seven more injured.  The military insists the vehicle blown up was driven by a member of the Islamic State and that the military mistook it for one of their own vehicles and, most importantly, they'll try again to retake Baiji.  Real soon.  But still not yet, not as of today.

And today Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) report that the Islamic State seized Zauiyat albu Nimr Village in Anbar Province and that, during the battle, the Iraqi military began escaping via a helicopter.

They're going on the offensive when?

Do they understand what "offensive" means?

They just might be as confused as Valerie Jarrett who, two Sundays ago on NBC's Meet The Press, declared Mount Sinjar to be an important "success." Today,  Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) also report, "U.S. President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on IS in Iraq in August, citing the duty to prevent an impending genocide of minority Yazidis at the hands of the jihadist insurgents who attacked them around Sinjar Mountain."

Air strikes on Mount Sinjar.  Just like the latest wave started August 8th.

What's really changed since then?


And I keep waiting for US Senator John McCain to haul out his whack-a-mole talk from the previous administration and point out that any minor victory in X leads to a loss in Y.

Mount Sinjar came up in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: Can you confirm reports or do you have any comment on the fact that Yezidis are once again trapped on Mount Sinjar and requesting help, expecting an assault again by ISIS fighters?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, as you know, we had taken recent action, relatively recently I should say, over the course of the summer. I don’t have anything new to predict for you. We remain committed to addressing humanitarian crises as we see them and to continuing to assist those who are impacted by the threat of ISIL. But operationally, I would point you to DOD to see if there’s anything they would want to preview about anything they’re planning.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, the Administration has said repeatedly that, for example, Kobani in a city of itself doesn’t have a lot of strategic import in the overall fight. I’m wondering if you have any idea what ISIS’s – what their aim is in trying to get Sinjar. Why? Do you have any idea why Sinjar is such a prize? They keep going back to it, so --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think – I know this is not what you asked, but even on Kobani I can’t tell you why – we can’t tell you why, aside from their desire to have a propaganda victory, that they are focusing there either. The reason --

QUESTION: Well, the border. They could control the border there.

MS. PSAKI: But in terms of their focus on Sinjar, I don’t know that I have analysis on why strategically ISIL is going after it more.

QUESTION: But the reason that you undertook the action in the first place is because you thought that ISIS was trying to launch a genocide against the Yezidis.

MS. PSAKI: Right. That’s right.

QUESTION: So aren’t you still concerned about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly remain concerned about any group that’s threatened by ISIL, and we’ve taken action in the past. I have nothing to preview for you in terms of future operations, as would be typically the case.

Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) report, "U.S. President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on IS in Iraq in August, citing the duty to prevent an impending genocide of minority Yazidis at the hands of the jihadist insurgents who attacked them around Sinjar Mountain."  But AFP reports, "Islamic State group jihadists besieging Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq have killed a commander of forces from the Yazidi religious minority defending the area, a fighter said yesterday. The commander, Al Sheikh Khayri, had returned from Germany, which has large Yazidi community, to fight, and was killed on Wednesday night, Khalaf Mamu said by telephone."

And the Yazidis are only one group targeted.  Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth Tweets:

  • Lastly, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following yesterday:

    CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or

    New York, NY (October 22, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today announced director, producer, actor and writer Peter Berg – who recently wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated, blockbuster hit, “Lone Survivor” – will join the organizations’ Board of Directors this fall. 
    Director Pete BergBerg, a loyal veteran advocate and son of a Marine, received IAVA’s 2014 Leadership in Entertainment Award this past May at the Heroes Celebration in Los Angeles, CA. 
    “IAVA is honored to have Pete Berg join our board and lead the effort to support and empower the New Greatest Generation of veterans,” said IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff. “In 2014 and beyond, we look forward to working with Pete in fighting for critical veterans issues. “Lone Survivor’s” success elevated a national conversation on the sacrifices of our veterans and servicemembers over the past 13 years.  As the son of a Marine, Pete is a staunch supporter of post-9/11 veterans and the military community. In the past few months he has met with IAVA members and veterans in both New York and Los Angeles. We are excited to bring him on board as we begin to celebrate our 10th anniversary and prep for Veterans Day 2014.”
    In addition to “Lone Survivor,” Berg is also known for his fierce portrait of high school football in the 2004 film adaptation of Buzz Bissinger’s bestseller, “Friday Night Lights.” The film's success, both in theaters and on DVD, spawned the acclaimed TV series of the same name, which aired for five seasons and garnered multiple Emmy nominations and wins. In addition to serving as the series' executive producer, Berg also directed several episodes of the show, including the 2006 pilot, for which he earned an Emmy nomination as Best Director. As one of the series' writers, he also shared a Writers Guild nomination for Best New Series.
    As an actor, Berg's recent film work includes roles in “Lions for Lambs,” “Smokin' Aces,” and "Collateral.”
    In addition to directing the 2012 film "Battleship," the New York native (and son of a Naval historian) also develops projects under his Film 44 banner. Berg has also directed “Hancock” and “The Kingdom,” among other feature films. Most recently, Berg was an executive producer and directed several episodes of the HBO series "The Leftovers," starring Justin Theroux and Liv Tyler.
    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership. 
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    True Blood

    We're supposed to note the best horror TV show.

    For me, it's HBO's True Blood.

    This is story about vampires -- and fairies, and werewolves and witches and . . .

    Suki is the main character and I love that (a) she's grown and that (b) for a change the journey on a TV show has been a woman's journey.

    I love the entire cast and, yes, that includes Suki's brother Jason who is out right amazing.

    This is the final season and it's been really wild.

    You have the equivalent of AIDS infecting the vampires.

    And there's a reason it's happening.

    This is not just done by chance.

    Throughout, the show has tried to address larger issues and I've also enjoyed that.

    And it's been an equal offender in terms of disrobing.

    Anna Paquin may never again find a role that lets her explore the way Suki has.

    But she's been amazing in the role and I consider it a huge injustice that she's never won the Emmy for Best Actress in a drama.

    None of the women who've won have had to pull off the character she has to.

    Suki could be an embarrassment or an airhead.

    But Anna's played her with joy and dignity and kept the character from turning into a joke.

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

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Chaos and violence continue, Blackwater employees get convicted, Iraqi Christians remain targeted, 'trend stories' continue, Iraqi Christians remain targeted, and more.

    Blackwater is in the news again today and it's due to the infamous September 16, 2007 attack in September 16, 2007.  From the September 17, 2010 snapshot:

    Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that  a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad.  CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory."  
    Blackwater was a US-based company run by Erik Prince which employed people as mercenaries.  They were sent around the world and within the United States.  But their actions in Iraq garnered the most attention.
    The fallout from the September 2007 assault was so bad that Blackwater began a series of name changes. 
    Today, the four Blackwater employees were convicted in a federal court.  Michael Winter (USA Today) reports, "Nicholas Slatten, who fired the first shots in crowded Nisoor Square, was found guilty of first-degree murder. The three other guards -- Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard -- were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun violations."  Eliott C. McLaughlin (CNN) notes, "Among those killed were a doctor, a used car salesman, a truck driver, a businessman, an Iraqi soldier, a gardener, a taxi driver and an aspiring doctor taking his mother to an appointment, according to prosecutors."
    Dow Jones explains, "Mr. Slatten faces a life sentence for the murder charge while the three defendants convicted on manslaughter charges could face at least three decades in prison. The four defendants were largely motionless as the charges were read. Lawyers for Messrs. Heard and Liberty said they plan to appeal." AP adds, "One of the government witnesses in the case, Blackwater guard Jeremy Ridgeway, had pleaded guilty to killing the driver's mother, who died in the passenger seat of the white Kia next to her son."
    The verdict came up in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf.

    QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq --

    MS. HARF: Yeah.

    QUESTION: -- and the last war? Four former workers for Blackwater were --

    MS. HARF: Yes.

    QUESTION: -- convicted today, three of manslaughter, one of murder. What message does this send to those in Iraq, those across the greater Middle East, about the U.S. being able to hold people accountable for their bad behavior overseas?

    MS. HARF: Well, we certainly respect the court’s decision in this case. And as you all probably know, but following the tragedy there, the Department took a number of steps to strengthen oversight of private security contractors, such as moving quickly to improve investigative policies and strengthening procedures for use of force and less-than-lethal force by security contractors. So again, aren’t going to have more comment on the court’s decision other than we respect it.

    QUESTION: But in terms of the U.S.’s reputation, obviously, Nisour Square was a huge hit for the U.S.’s reputation. Is this verdict something that this building can point to when engaging with other countries on – look, if people do something wrong, they can and will be held accountable?

    MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think the verdict per se, but the process and the judicial process we have in this country that we believe gives everyone access to a fair trial; they are innocent until proven guilty. And without speaking to the specific outcome in this trial, I do think that that is a very important tenet of what we do here.

    QUESTION: Has anyone from this building spoken to anyone in the Iraqi Government about the verdict?

    MS. HARF: I don’t know. I’m happy to check.

    QUESTION: In the aftermath of that attack, the Iraqi parliament passed laws that limited the number of foreign PSDs that were allowed in Iraq and limited their weapons access, permits, all of that. Now that this verdict has come back, do you envision a scenario where the State Department could ask the Government of Iraq to loosen some of those restrictions?

    MS. HARF: I can check, but obviously, it’s a very, very different situation today.

    QUESTION: It is, but I mean, there are still all sorts of NGOs, journalists who need PSDs and weapons --

    MS. HARF: Let me check.
     There was enough to convict without using questionable evidence.  Questionable evidence leads to rulings.  On appeal, any charge could be struck down.  Hopefully, the prosecution didn't cut corners or else the justice many feel was handed out today could be at risk of being pulled away.
    It should also be noted that the four weren't rogue.
    They were acting in a manner Blackwater encouraged, in a matter the US government encouraged.  
    This is not to say the four are innocent or that they should have walked.
    This is to note that the guilt didn't stop with the four convicted today.
    Mark Ruffalo Tweeted:
  • It should also be pointed out that the government official being 'protected' in the attack remains a mystery.  
    His or her name or names should have been revealed long ago.
    And trend stories should have died long ago.  
    The media loves them -- loves them enough to create them.  
    Susan Faludi documents this very well in the journalistic classic Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women.  
    One of the most famous examples in the book is Faludi taking on Newseek's 'trend story' about how women of a certain age were more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to get married. The 'support' for that story? It was a comment a reporter made and that was enough to kick off a trend story -- a lie spread around the world.
    Faludi notes:

    The trend story, which may go down as late-20th-century journalism's prime contribution to the craft, professes to offer "news" of changing mores, yet prescribes more than it observes.  Claiming to mirror public sentiment, its reflections of the human landscapes are strangely depopulated.  Pretending to take the public's pulse, it monitors only its own heartbeat -- and its advertisers'. 
    Trend journalism attains authority not through actual reporting but through the power of repetition.  Said enough times, anything can be made to seem true.  A trend declared in one publication sets off a chain reaction, as the rest of the media scramble to get the story, too.  The lightning speed at which these messages spread has less to do with the accuracy of the trend than with journalists' propensity to repeat one another.  And repetition became especially hard to avoid in the '80s, as the "independent" press feel into a very few corporate hands.
    Husna Haq is the latest unable to resist the bait of 'ISIS recruits!'  To Haq's credit, there is no nonsense of trying to turn this into a 'young girls are joining IS!' nonsense we've already seen.
    But this paragraph in the Christian Science Monitor article gets at all that is wrong with these 'trend stories:'

    According to CIA estimates, about 2,000 Westerners have traveled to Iraq and Syria (many via Turkey) to join ISIS. Of these, more than 100 have come from the US, at least 500 from the UK, and more than 700 from France, according to estimates from authorities in those countries.
    Oh my goodness!
    100 Americans!
    That's like a tenth of the country!
    Because we only have 1,000 people in the whole country, right?
    No, there are 316.1 million people in the United States.  
    So that's 316,100,000 people and of that huge number 100 have joined the Islamic State.
    Are you getting how useless these stories have been?
    There is no trend story here.
    And with the numbers so small you really could profile everyone in a report.
    But it might not carry the alarm and create the frenzy trend stories live to do.
    Even worse, she and her dopey guests pretended that the Islamic State thickens its media as a result of a social media.
    They may get a message out via media but what has thickened their membership is attacks on the Sunni population -- in Iraq, where they are the minority, and in Syria, where they are the majority.
    Stop the persecution of the Sunnis and you end the need for anyone to get behind a group that argues it can protect the Sunni population.
    It's an obvious point so many miss.  Take the State Dept's Brett McGurk.
    That's not addressing anything.  Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth points out:
  • More US military advisers won't help defeat ISIS until Baghdad reins in Shia militia still killing Sunnis.
  • Meanwhile, religious minorities remain under attack in Iraq.
    Crowdfunding campaign aims to raise $1 million for Iraqi Christians
    24 retweets 17 favorites
    The crowdfunding campaign will run from Oct. 14-Nov. 24, and can be found on Indiegogo, which is one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the world. Almost $5,000 of the $1 million goal has been raised so far.

    “We invite all of our brothers and sisters in Christ to join us and contribute, from as little as $10, to the crowdfunding campaign that we have initiated,” stated Eduardo Paz, co-founder of La Filotea Productions.
    How bad are things?  Ghassan Rifi (Al-Monitor) speaks with Ghattas Hazim, the Greek Orthodox Bishop for Bahgdad:

    Hazim revealed shocking figures to As-Safir about the Orthodox presence in Iraq. He said only 30 families out of 600 remain in Baghdad; the rest were displaced following the invasion of Kuwait, and there are fewer than 10 families left in Mosul.
    In Iraq’s Basra, all the Orthodox families have been displaced after members of the families were killed or threatened. Indeed, over 90% of the Orthodox Christians in Iraq have been displaced due to the security chaos which has prevailed over the country for the past generation. Hazim hopes that Erbil, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, would be a haven for Christians since it looked like a promising region due to the size of the economic and trade investment, and since it “welcomes our sons who move there from all over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,” Hazim said.
    “The Orthodox confession is recognized in the Iraqi law and constitution,” Hazim said. “Our situation there is similar to our situation in Lebanon and Syria. We have two churches, a school, which is considered one of the most prominent schools in Baghdad, in addition to a retirement home and an orphanage, a center for sports, cultural and educational activities.”
    Iraq's Christians are targeted from all over -- including from within their own ranks.  Roxana Popescu (San Diego Union Tribune) reports:

    San Diego Chaldeans are pushing back against the suspension of a local priest by Chaldean patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako in Baghdad. The priest, Noel Gorgis, was reprimanded for not returning to Iraq as commanded by the patriarch, months after the majority of Iraq’s Christians fled because of the brutal religious persecution they faced by terror group Islamic State.
    The patriarch reminded the priests and monks in his decree of their vow of “obedience to the superiors” without reservations.
    And it's not just one priest.  Megan Burks (KPBS) reports:

    Just 14 priests serve the tens of thousands of Chaldean Catholics who have emigrated from Iraq to the Western United States. A church leader in Iraq has suspended seven of those priests, including the Rev. Noel Gorgis in El Cajon.
    Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, the head of the church, wants the Iraqi-American priests who fled violence in Iraq to return home or leave the church.
    San Diego County Chaldeans oppose that and say they will appeal to the Vatican to stop it..
    Finally, the Ashraf community in Iraq remains targeted.  The Iranian dissidents take their name from Camp Ashraf which was their home for many years.  They were forced to resettle at Camp Liberty.  Today, US Senator John McCain's office issued the following:

    Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to raise concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty, whose lives are increasingly at risk as the security situation in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate.

    “I am writing you to follow-up on the response I received in August to my previous letter concerning the ongoing refugee resettlement process and to discuss my continuing concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty,” writes Senator John McCain. “As you are aware, due to the increasingly dangerous threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the resettlement process has stalled, and many fear that the people at Camp Liberty could be at grave risk if the security situation in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate. For this reason, the Administration must move more quickly to find safe, permanent, and secure locations for Camp Liberty residents outside Iraq. I was encouraged to hear about Albania’s willingness to temporarily host some Camp Liberty residents for purposes of identifying individuals for relocation to the United States. But, I fear that this effort is insufficient to adequately safeguard the security of the remaining residents of Camp Liberty. … Again, I urge you to continue to push for the protection of the residents of Camp Liberty and to expedite the refugee resettlement process. We made a commitment to protect these Iranian dissidents and, as we move forward, I look forward to working with you to fulfill this commitment.”

    The signed letter is here and the text of the letter is below.

    October 22, 2014
    The Honorable John Kerry
    Secretary of State
    United States Department of State
    2201 C Street N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20520
    Dear Secretary Kerry,
    I am writing you to follow-up on the response I received in August to my previous letter concerning the ongoing refugee resettlement process and to discuss my continuing concerns about the residents of Camp Liberty.
    As you are aware, due to the increasingly dangerous threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the resettlement process has stalled, and many fear that the people at Camp Liberty could be at grave risk if the security situation in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, continues to deteriorate. For this reason, the Administration must move more quickly to find safe, permanent, and secure locations for Camp Liberty residents outside Iraq. I was encouraged to hear about Albania’s willingness to temporarily host some Camp Liberty residents for purposes of identifying individuals for relocation to the United States.  But, I fear that this effort is insufficient to adequately safeguard the security of the remaining residents of Camp Liberty.
    Given deteriorating conditions in Iraq, I believe our current efforts should focus on the 2,700 residents whose lives are at stake in Camp Liberty. Some recent events call into question the Iraqi government’s commitment to uphold its agreements to ensure the safety and well-being of these residents. In August 2014, the National Council of the Resistance of Iran accused the Iraqi government of blocking deliveries of food, fuel, and water to the Camp and making it difficult for residents to seek medical assistance.  And according to statement made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Iraqi Minister of Justice stated that if Iran asked for the extradition of the residents of Camp Liberty, Iraq would deliver them.  As you know, transfer to Iran could amount to a death sentence for these committed opponents of the tyrannical regime in Tehran, which has repeatedly attacked and murdered them inside of Iraq, as recently as last year. This is especially troubling in light of the appointment of Interior Minister Mohamed al-Ghabban, who has ties with Shiite militia groups that are openly hostile to residents of Camp Liberty and loyal to Iran.
    Clearly, actions need to be taken to ensure the continued safety of the residents of Camp Liberty. With this in mind, I appreciate your responding promptly to the following questions:
    1.         The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and U.S. Embassy Baghdad staff have resumed their visits to Camp Liberty. Since they have resumed their visits, has there been any concern about the living conditions at Camp Liberty?  Please explain your answer.
    2.         Has the Administration investigated allegations that the Iraqi government has placed harmful restrictions on Camp Liberty and is denying its residents food, water, and medical aid?  If so, please explain the Administration’s findings.  If not, why not?
    3.         If the violence in Iraq continues to escalate, what further actions will be taken to ensure the safety of the residents?
    4.         What actions are being taken to ensure that the residents will continue to have access to food, water, and the basic necessities?
    5.         What is the current status of the refugee resettlement process for the residents of Camp Liberty and when will it be completed?
    6.         Does the Administration require renunciation of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) as a pre-condition before an individual may be considered for resettlement in the United States?
    7.         What is the status of U.S. efforts to settle some of the Camp Liberty residents in the United States?
    Again, I urge you to continue to push for the protection of the residents of Camp Liberty and to expedite the refugee resettlement process. We made a commitment to protect these Iranian dissidents and, as we move forward, I look forward to working with you to fulfill this commitment.
    John McCain
    United States Senator


    the newshour
    margaret warner


    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    47% of Americans living at poverty or lower

    Andre Damon reports the disturbing news at WSWS:

    Forty-seven percent of Americans have incomes under twice the official poverty rate, making half of the country either poor or near-poor, according to figures released last week by the Census Bureau.

    These figures are based on the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which takes into account government transfers and the regional cost-of-living in calculating the poverty rate. According to that calculation, there were 48.7 million people in poverty in the United States, three million higher than the official census figures released last month. The US poverty rate, according to the SPM, was 15.5 percent.

    Our government is not currently working for us.

    It is robbing us.

    It is stealing from us.

    It is spending our money on wars and more wars.

    And this happened under a Republican (Bully Boy Bush) and now under a Democrat (Barack Obama).

    I don't know how long this can continue, this corruption, this destruction of the safety net, this willful disregard for the condition so many Americans try to live in.

    We need real politicians but instead we have whores who sell us out for this or that donation.

    It's really sad.

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

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US 'precision' drops from the air results in the Islamic State getting a cache of weapons, the Yazidis may be facing genocide (didn't Susan Rice claim they were a success story?), new scare tactics regarding the US mid-terms should be rejected, doomsday scenarios actually contain some possible seeds of change, and much more.

    Jordain Carney (National Journal) explains, "The U.S. military is trying to determine if an air-dropped bundle of weapons intended for Kurdish fighters in Syria is now in the hands of ISIS militants.A video posted Tuesday to a YouTube account affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria appears to show militants with the weapons bundle, which included grenades and mortars."  Diaa Hadid (AP) adds, "The cache of weapons included hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to a video uploaded by a media group loyal to the Islamic State group."

    At today's Defense Dept press briefing, Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby was asked about the video.

    Q: On Kobani, as well, there was a video that was released earlier today on YouTube that showed -- seemed to show some ISIS fighters and they -- with one of these bundles. Have you been able to in any way verify, has the U.S. military verified that? Was that the one that went astray and then was later blown up? Do you have any details?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: The short answer is, Courtney, we don't know. The analysts in Tampa and here in the Pentagon are examining that video right now, as a matter of fact, and we're still -- we're still taking a look at it and assessing the validity of it. So I honestly don't know if that was one of the ones dropped and whether it is, in fact, or the contents of it are, in fact, in the hands of ISIL. We just -- we don't know. We're still looking at it.

    Q: Can you even say whether -- like, it shows some mortars, some grenades, like some RPG parts. Were those the kinds of things that were even dropped?

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: They are -- they are certainly of the -- of the kinds of material that was dropped, was small-arms ammunition and weaponry. So it's not out of the realm of the possible in that regard. But, again, we're taking a look at this, and, you know, we just don't know. And when we have something definitive that we can provide in terms of an assessment on that, we'll do that.

      I do want to add, though, that we are very confident that the vast majority of the bundles did end up in the right hands. In fact, we're only aware of one bundle that did not. Again, we'll -- if we can confirm that this one is or isn't, we'll certainly do that and let you know.

    The issue was also raised at the State Dept briefing presided over by spokesperson Marie Harf:

    QUESTION: Can we go back to the air drops?

    MS. HARF: Yeah, and then I’ll go to you. Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Yeah. Yesterday the Pentagon said that it had tried to deliver 28 bundles of weapons from the Iraqi Kurds to the fighters in Kobani. Twenty-seven made it; the twenty-eighth went off course. They destroyed it so that it wouldn’t fall into people’s hands.

    MS. HARF: And – yeah, mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: Now there’s YouTube video of ISIL fighters claiming that they, in fact, did recover that wayward bundle, and they have grenades and RPGs and other small weapons. Given that the Pentagon says no, we took that out because we did not want that to happen, how prepared is the U.S. and its allies to deal with the propaganda value of whatever it is ISIL will do to try to change what the coalition says are the facts?

    MS. HARF: Well, a few points: The first is we’ve seen that video, and we can’t confirm that what is in it is actually accurate. There’s obviously a lot of false information, particularly propaganda on the internet, and this may fall into that category. We’re seeking more information at this point, though. So can’t confirm it; seeking more information.

    We know that part of ISIL’s strategy here is to wage a propaganda campaign. And that’s why one of our lines of efforts has been delegitimizing ISIL’s propaganda. And so that is something other countries can do; it’s something religious leaders can do. But that’s why, if you look at our five lines of effort, that’s one of them, which I think is pretty extraordinary.

    One of the things, the most obvious points, no reporter appears able to make?

    An operation that can misdrop weapons?

    They also have a struggle hitting targets.

    An operation that can't even get weapons into the hands of the side they're supporting?  They really can't be trusted to drop bombs on populated areas.

    As the US government tries to spin the wrongly dropped weapons, Al-Shorfa reports the Islamic State has seized more than an air drop and quotes Anbar Provincial Council spokesperson stating, "The terrorist group seized nine trucks loaded with humanitarian and food aid for about 40,000 citizens in Anah, Rawah and al-Qaim, attacking the accompanying relief workers."

    While the radical group appropriates various items in Iraq, Daily Sabah and Anadolu Agency report the Islamic State is awash in cash:

    According to the US based energy consultancy firm IHS's report, annual revenues of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) militant group from oil production reached up to 800 million USD.
    The report states that the illegal production and sales of crude oil and petroleum products by the terrorist group brings a 2 million USD daily income.
    Around 50-60 thousand barrels of oil is being produced per day in the areas controlled by the ISIS in Iraq and Syria out of a 350 thousand barrel potential cannot be used due to technical capabilities.

    Turning to some of today's reported violence, Iraq Times reports that the Islamic State hit the Green Zone in Baghdad with mortars.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports that Hijaj Village bombing has left 6 people dead and two more injured and 2 east Baghdad car bombings have left 3 people dead and nine more injured.  Iraqi Spring MC updates the Baghdad toll to 9 dead and thirty-two injured while noting reports that a third car bombing has gone off in the same eastern area of Baghdad.

    Yesterday, Karbala saw five car bombings.  Today, Alsumaria reports, Karbala Provincial Council member Mohammed Hamid al-Moussawi has announced he is resigning to protest the weak security situation in the province.  Al Mada reports more is going on than just a resignation.  The paper reports that the council is planning to present a motion that the governor of the province be fired.  And there are charges and counter-charges flying back and forth amid the council.  The strongest charge comes from a group that is berating a number of members from failing to show for council meetings.  Today's attempted council meeting, for example, did not take place because so few attended that the council wasn't able to form a quorum.

    In other news, AP quotes United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic stating the targeting of the Yazidis may be "an attempt to commit genocide."  AFP adds, "In the case of the Yazidis, he said the killings could be qualified as an attempted genocide because there was evidence of an intent to exterminate them if they refuse to convert."

    What?  What?

    Earlier this month, the White House's official liar Susan Rice took to NBC's Meet The Press to specifically cite Mount Sinjar as one of the "very important successes" in Barack Obama's 'plan' to confront the Islamic State.   Yet just yesterday, Alsumaria reported that Yazidi MP Haji Kndorjsmo is calling for the government to rescue 700 families who are still trapped on Mount Sinjar.

    The Yazidis were raised in the Pentagon press briefing.

    Q: Admiral Kirby, staying in Iraq, could you confirm that ISIS have taken three villages, Yazidis' villages in the Mount Sinjar in the last few hours? Also, if you could give us a broad picture in Iraq, how successful were the airstrikes since they have begun in August 8, I think, until now? Can we talk about success? And I have a follow-up question.

    REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't have any detail on the towns you're talking about. That said, we certainly have been tracking ISIL's interest in and around Mount Sinjar. And you've seen of late -- there's been a couple of airstrikes done in and around there, so we're watching that. I don't have anything today to confirm whether this village or that town has been retaken, but we do know ISIL continues to operate in that area and continues to want to grab ground and territory. They want to ground -- they want to grab ground and territory elsewhere in Iraq, too.
    So I appreciate the question. And I'll try not to get too longwinded here, but it's a good one. If you looked at the press release that CENTCOM put out earlier today, you'll notice that virtually half the airstrikes that were conducted over the last 24 hours were in Iraq. Now, it wasn't a great number. It was -- you know, I think, seven and five or seven and six, something like that, but -- but just about half of them were conducted inside Iraq.
    And if you take a look at the ones that were done in Iraq and look at where they were, you had one near Fallujah, you had -- you had one up by Mosul Dam, you had another near Baiji. And what that tells us -- a couple of things. One, the weather is starting to get better, so we're getting -- we're getting ISR platforms, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms are able to fly a little bit more now. The weather's gotten better. So we get more eyes on, which is permitting more freedom from the air, and so that's some -- one indication you're seeing.
    The other thing that I want to point out about that is that if you look at where we're hitting, that's where ISF is, too, right? The ISF is -- and the -- Kurdish forces specifically are still in control of the Mosul Dam complex. ISIL wants it back. And they still threaten it. They don't have it, but they still threaten it. And the one strike was up there.
    Fallujah, we've talked all about Anbar and Fallujah and Ramadi and all that, so one of the strikes was in Fallujah in direct support of ISF that are on the move inside Fallujah. And then the other one near Baiji, the -- General Austin talked about this last week, Iraqi security forces are advancing to try to help reconnect to Iraqi forces that are in control of the oil refinery there.
    Their advances over the last few days have been slowed by the weather, which is clearing, and so they're moving again, but it also has been slowed by IEDs, almost 30 IEDs that they found and cleared, which has slowed their advance.
    So they are moving. They are taking the fight to the enemy, and those strikes last night are indications that we're trying to support them, too. So the whole narrative out there that we've just turned our back on Anbar is completely false. There have been real challenges in terms of what we can do there largely because of the weather, but also because of some of the defensive mechanisms that ISIL has thrown up in the way.

      So, you know, things are starting to -- things are starting to move. And I think you're going to continue to see that momentum there inside Iraq.

    Yes, all those words that followed his admission of 'I don't know' were an attempt to distract from the plight of the Yazidis.

    On the topic of distractions, did you catch Kathleen Miles (Huffington Post) serving up sop yesterday?  The queen of the pig sty wanted you to know that if the GOP wins control of the Senate in the November mid-term elections, Senator John McCain will call for ground troops in Iraq.

    Oh, good heavens!

    Where are the pearls?

    We must clutch the pearls!

    And fan ourselves!

    Oh the shock . . .

    It's so unsettling.

    And what a surprising plot twist!

    John McCain, who has been calling for ground troops in Iraq will, after November, continue to call for ground troops in Iraq.

    Yes, that's right.

    He's already calling for troops in combat in Iraq.

    (And, yes, ground troops -- US ground troops -- are already in Iraq and US troops flying missions where they drop bombs in Iraq are already taking part in combat missions.  Don't say it too loudly, though, it might lead Kathleen Miles to piss her panties in public.)

    No one's expecting or predicting a huge swing in the Senate.

    It's thought that two seats may be in seriously play and could go to the Republicans giving them control of the Senate.

    47 or 48 Democrats (we'll count Bernie Sanders in that number) can't stand up to the GOP?

    Can't or won't?

    If Miles wants to panic, she should panic over the fact that Democrats in the Senate are most likely poised to sell out the American people yet again on Iraq.

    And, shocker, that's probably true regardless of who controls the Senate after the mid-term elections.

    Shame on anyone who believes the crap Miles is churning out.

    Shame on anyone who believes the Democratic Party when it comes to Iraq.

    It was, after all, the 2006 mid-term elections that proved the Democratic Party is a craven whore who will say anything -- while doing nothing.

    Ahead of the election, Nancy Pelosi (and others) declared that if the voters gave the Democrats control of even one house of Congress, the Democrats would end the Iraq War.

    The voters gave them control of both houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    January 2007 saw that Congress sworn in and, November 2007, all US forces left Iraq and the war was declared over and . . .

    What's that?

    Oh, right.

    The Democrats did nothing.

    The war ground on.

    The Democrats did nothing.

    Nancy likes to blame Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    I was present when she insisted to the San Francisco Chronicle that she did everything she was supposed to do but Harry Reid refused to rally support in the Senate and, in fact, quashed any efforts to end the war.

    I wasn't the only one present.  And audio exists of her remarks.

    But somehow we're the only site that's ever managed to report what Nancy said, to acknowledge her accusations.

    Miles appears to want to use the Iraq War to scare up votes for the Democratic Party.

    I believe America bought that game in 2006.  I don't think anyone's still wanting to play it today.

    The GOP Senate would be a great thing.

    It would allow whores like Medea Benjamin and CodeStink and Robert Parry and all the others to rail against power.

    They don't now.

    They haven't in years.

    They are War Hawks in their own silence and in their own refusal to call out Barack Obama who is the President of the United States but for whom they've made excuses for six years now.

    It was Hillary's fault and then it was this person's fault or that person's fault (or the conspiracy cabal that loony Robert Parry is seeing yet again -- when he plays like the contra story got him drummed out of the real press, he forgets to talk about his wild eyed, nutty conspiracy tales he presented as fact at Sarah McClendon's home over and over and over and over . . . .  I have over twenty letters from Sarah stapled in journal volumes from those years where she documents Parry's 'creative' thinking.).

    A GOP-controlled Senate could let these lazy ass whores pretend they're taking on the power again as they railed against the legislative body (while still failing to hold Barack accountable for his own actions).

    A GOP-controlled Senate could also expose the whorish nature of the Democratic Party.

    The power of "no."

    We wrote about it before Barack came into power.

    As I noted years ago, in the entertainment industry, the "no" is the only power you may ever have.

    If a project doesn't feel right at the start, you say "no."

    Bad things don't tend to get better, they just get worse.

    And, industry truism, it wants what it can't have.  Your "no" not only speaks of power -- the power to walk away no matter how much money is on the table -- it also attracts a fascination (if not respect).

    Now Tom Hayden mocks the power of no.

    Of course, he would.

    Speak to any woman Mr. Grabby Hands has gotten too 'friendly' with and you'll understand just how much he disrespects the power of no.

    But it's not to be disrespected.

    It is true power and it is real power.

    Just as we can affirm, we can also negate.

    And instead of whining that the GOP has been 'obstructive,' real leaders (obviously not Tom Hayden) of the left would be asking the very obvious question: Where were the Democrats when the Iraq War was being started?

    They could have used the power of no.

    Instead, they whined that they were out of power, they didn't control either house of Congress, they didn't this and they didn't that and . . .

    It's all lies.

    They could have buried the war before it started in so many ways.

    Former US Senator Mike Gravel, in 2007 and 2008, repeatedly listed ways the Democrats in Congress, if they wanted to end the war, could.

    They didn't follow his suggestions.

    But then, he wasn't saying anything they didn't already know.

    They knew they had the power but they chose to do nothing.

    So if the GOP takes control of the Senate and John McCain gets his way, the reality is that this will be further proof of how corrupted the Democratic Party has become.  It will be further proof that letting money grubbers like Nancy Pelosi rise to power because she could haul in large amounts of money was a huge mistake.

    A good pimp's 
    Gonna rob you blind
    Money money money
    I feel like a pawn
    In my own world
    I found the system
    And I lost the pearl
    -- "Money," written by Laura Nyro, first appears on her album Smile.

    The Democratic Party deosn't stand for the safety net today.  It doesn't stand for the workers.  It doesn't stand for the environment.  It doesn't stand for peace.

    And if the Republicans win control of the US Senate by one or two members and the Democrats can't stop more US troops from being sent to Iraq?

    It will only reveal just how hollow the party has become.

    It's time for someone to emerge with something more than platitudes (ocean's rising and other garbage should be scoffed at).  The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee should be someone who does in the Democratic Party what Jesus is said to have done in the money changer tent.

    From the Book of Matthew:

    Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

    From the Book of John:

    So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

    It's amazing how, for example, Hillary Clinton will self-present as pious and a follower of the Bible yet she feels no need to emulate the hero of that book even though I believe that was the whole point of the book?

    (I'll be honest, I never read the last chapter.)

    Hillary's not going to change the party.

    She'll continue the corruption of the party.  She won't take it on, she won't try to root it out.

    And each year, there will be less and less reason for the Democratic Party to exist as it moves further and further from the core beliefs that were supposed to be the heart of the party.

    Yesterday's snapshot contained me calling out the idiot Brit 'of the cloth' who'd come over to the US to tell Americans how to vote.

    Some thought I was offended that he (or anyone) would campaign for Republicans.

    I have no problem with people advocating on behalf of the Republican Party -- or the Democratic Party or the Green Party or the Socialist Party or . . .

    I have real problem with foreigners who can't vote in the US election thinking their voices are needed or wanted.

    Take your nose out of everyone else business.

    Surely there's some other problem in the world that you can focus on instead of attempting to tell people how to vote in an election you can't vote in.

    It reminds me of all the whiners around the world focusing on Bully Boy Bush.  The Australian blogger -- you know who I mean if you've been around long enough -- who blogged venom at BBB daily . . . while staying silent on his own prime minister John Howard who sent Australian troops into Iraq.

    It sure is easy to hold the leaders of other countries accountable, isn't it?

    Easy and safe.

    It's far more difficult to hold your own leaders accountable.  But thing is, doing that is at the heart of democracy.

    Then there were the self-impressed members of a US bordering country.

    Remember them throughout the BBB years, especially the contingent that moved there from the US?

    They couldn't stop bragging.

    Even though they had a conservative leader.

    Bully Boy Bush is gone.  But somehow that nation still has a conservative leader -- the same one.

    And they've sent troops to Iraq.

    And I don't hear the boasting from the north these days.  Do you?


    But maybe if, instead of obsessing over the leader of another country, they'd gotten to work in their own country, they might not have a conservative leader (still).

    In "On voting," Mike shared his thoughts last night and I agree with him 100%.

    But I would add that those who can't vote in an election shouldn't be sticking their nose in.

    We could also apply that to Gary Younge -- the closet Socialist who calls Barack out in (some) Socialist publications while fawning over him in The Nation and other rags.  The same Gary who is not an American citizen and really needs to find something to obsess over.

    Tend to your own gardens.