Monday, July 25, 2011

Ask the real questions

spanked on the global stage

Sunday saw Kat's "Kat's Korner: The Real and The Synthetic" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Spanked on the Global Stage" (above) go up.

Tonight Barack gave a really bad speech. Another really bad one. How bad? John Boehner, by comparison, seemed gifted as a speaker.

What Barack's speech did for me was drive home some points Ava and C.I. made in yesterday's "TV: The unexamined (American) lives:"

Barack Obama is worried about the debt ceiling, if you missed it. He wasn't worried about it when he was a senator. As NPR's Mara Liasson (All Things Considered) noted at the start of the month, "President Obama, when he was in the Senate, voted against raising the debt ceiling because, he said, it was a symbol of a failure of leadership on the Republican president."

And he didn't spend the year worrying about it. But he sure did create a crisis out of it, didn't he? One he is manipulating to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In all of the talk of the 'crisis,' we find no one pointing out the obvious: Does the president of the United States acting so alarmist not influence creditors?

If we're all so gosh darn worried about our credit rating and what might happen if the debt ceiling (an artificial creation started to justify war spending in WWI) is reached, should the president be all over the TV insisting doom, doom, doom is upon us?

Or might that sort of Chicken Little behavior actually hurt the country?

It's a valid question and, you'll note, it's one that's gone unasked.

The president is supposed to set a tone. Even when it comes to a ceremonial task, Barack's a failure. He's played alarmist and petulant bully throughout the so-called crisis to the point that the number of people who take him seriously continues to dwindle.

If you caught Barack's speech tonight (I listened on NPR), think about what he said but think about it in terms of the issues Ava and C.I. were raising.

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

Monday, July 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Political Stalemate II continues, Iraq might get a Minister of Defence, Harry Reid wants to pretend with the American people that the US leaves Iraq in 2011, the same old complaints (charges) against Iran by the US military surface again, and more.
Starting with violence, Xinhua reports a Muqdadiya motorcycle bombing today claimed 3 lives and left twelve injured. AP cites police Maj Ghalib al-Karkhi stating it was a remote control bombing. Reuters adds a Hawija car bombing went of inside a suspect's home ("killing him"). Aswat al-Iraq reports, " An explosive charge blew off against a U.S. Army patrol in southern Iraq's City of Basra on Sunday night, but losses were not known, whilst police forces arrested six wanted men, One of them wanted for terrorist acts, a Basra police source reported on Monday." In addition, they note, "An Iraqi soldier has been injured in an explosive charge blast west of Mosul, the center of Ninewa Province, on Monday, a Ninewa security source reported."
AP reports Sidkan Mayor Ahmed Qadir states 2 Iraqis were killed last night with another three left injured from Iran shelling the area in their continued assaults on PJAK (Kurdish group). Over the weekend, AFP quoted the International Committee of the Red Cross, "The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided humanitarian assistance to over 800 internally displaced people in northern Iraq, all of whom have been driven from their homes by the recent shelling in the mountains of Qandil. Having left behind all their belongings, the majority of these people are now living under makeshift shelters, tents, or sharing crowded houses with relatives and friends, while a few families could afford renting very basic accomodation." This morning IRIN notes, "Nearly 200 families have been displaced in Iraq's self-ruled northern Kurdish region due to Iranian shelling since mid-July of Iranian Kurdish rebels based inside Iraq, say officials."

Meanwhile the Iranian government is claiming complete support from Baghdad for the assault that's displacing (and killing) Iraqis. The Tehran Times reports:

The Iranian ambassador to Baghdad has said that the Iraqi officials are serious in dealing with the terrorist group PJAK (the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan), emphasizing they regard Iran's action against terrorists as justified.
Iraq regards this group as a terrorist one and believes that Iran has the right to take action against the group, Ambassador Hassan Danaiifar told reporters on Sunday.

Though a large number of exiles now in power in Baghad have strong ties to Iran, it's equally true that the Iraqi people as a whole are more likely to remember the Iran-Iraq War -- especially those taught about it in school -- of the eighties. As Iraqis are killed and displaced while Iran violates Iraq's sovereignty in its pursuit of PJAK, don't be surprised if Nouri's image collapses even more. All he really had going for him was the (false) claim that he could provide security. As the last months have demonstrated, he can't provide it internally and he's now allowing Iraq to be invaded by another country.
Still on Iran, Michael R. Gordon partnered with Judith Miller on many of the notorius stories the New York Times published in the lead up to the war. Whereas Judith Miller's 'reporting' just revealed someone who no longer knew how to be skeptical (and was too desperate to fit in with her sources), Gordon's 'reporting' demonstrated a War Lust. So after the Iraq War started, what did Gordo become famous for?
That's right, his incessant proclamations that the Iranian government was equipping Iraqis fighting US troops in Iraq. Today Tim Arango (New York Times) visits Victory Base and sees the presentation the US military has prepared. He observes:
After the 2003 invasion and the failure of the Bush administration to find the unconventional weapons it said was a reason for the war, the subsequent claims by the American military that Iran was supplying weapons and training to Shiite militias to attack American forces were met with abundant skepticism by the American public and other countries.
Nima Shirazi: It seems that every few years if not every few months the news media basically, because of specific orders from government officials, goes on and on and on about how the Iranian government is funneling weapons across the Iran-Iraq border to pro-Iran, pro-Shia militias in Iraq, and that these weapons are responsible for killing US soldiers who are occupying Iraq. So what winds up happening when these reports surface as they have again and again and again for years there's kind of a renewed public sense of this Iranian threat, this Iranian menace, you know, 'They can't even stay in their own country! They have to go into one of the ones we're occupying and then kill us there!' You know, that-that kind of fear mongering. And as is consistently reported after these reports come out -- usually by someone like Gareth Porter who I think you interview a lot -- he consistently debunks all of these myths about these Iranian weapons saying, 'Actually, despite what the US military says, the findings actually show that the majority of the weapons come from China or from Russia or, you know, even if they are in theory from Iran, the Iranian government has no role in this which actually would then be a very important distinction to make if there is a black market weapons trade in that area which undoubtedly there is. Who's "responsible" for it? And when you say Iran is funneling weapons into Iraq to kill US troops, what are you actually saying? So there's a new push with it this summer. It seems like every time the nuclear issue kind of recedes because of new reports or because, you know, the dog days of summer and people want to talk about something new, instead of something new, people just regurgitate something from the past that seems new to kind of get that hype up again.
Scott Horton: Right. Well you know it really was amazing back in 2007 and 2008 when it really was just like that. You know, they would switch off back and forth between whether we were supposed to fear the open, declared, above-board, inspected nuclear electricity program or whether we were supposed to fear some secret program that 'must' exist, that we have to bomb even though we have no idea where any of it is because it's so secret and that's how we know it's there and all of that kind of thing. And then all of the sudden, they just drop the nuclear issue and even pretty much -- I would say before the NIE came out that had pretty much gone on the back burner. And they spent most -- certainly 2007 and the dawn of the surge accusing Iran -- Basically, they just wanted to switch from fighting the Sunni based insurgency to fighting Moqtada al-Sadr's guys at the same time that they were really fighting to put him in power, they were preferring the same guys that Iran preferred at the time, the Supreme Islamic Council, the more professional, upper middle class Hakim clan and there was no sensical reason that made any sense whatsoever why the Iranian government would want to arm up Moqtada al-Sadr more than the Badr Brigade, the one that we were fighting for and with and kicking the last of the Sunni Arabs out of Baghdad. And the whole thing was not just a lie, a pile of assertions unproven, but it made no sense on its face. The whole thing was a giant joke and it went on for a year and a half or something. Now here they are again. They never even have to prove it, do they? They just say it five times. "Oh, a bomb went off, it must have been Iran." And then that's it.
Staying with the US-Iraq topic, the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe Tweets:

The hearing will feature the views of budget experts from the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office on the long-term costs associated with providing mental and physical health care, supporting caregivers, maintaining prosthetics, and providing benefits. Crystal Nicely, the wife of Marine Corporal Todd Nicely, a quadruple amputee veteran of the War in Afghanistan, will also testify about the lifetime of support her and her husband will require and about the red tape she has already faced in her daily struggle to provide Todd with the care he needs.

(Washington, D.C.) – Next Wednesday, July 27th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing to examine the real human and financial costs of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how as a nation we need to plan to keep our promise to these veterans for the rest of their lives.
Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray

Crystal Nicely, Wife of Injured Veteran, Marine Corporal Todd Nicely

Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Heidi Golding, Principal Analyst, National Security Division, Congressional Budget Office

James Hosek, PhD, Senior Economist, RAND Corporation
Lorelei St. James, Director, Physical Infrastructure, Government Accountability Office
Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Hearing: Examining the Lifetime Costs of Care for the Newest Generation of Veterans
WHEN: Wednesday, July 27, 2011
10:00 AM EST/7:00 AM PST

WHERE: Dirksen 562 (NOTE this hearing will not be held in the normal Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing room)