Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Closets still?

I had no opinion one way or another about Jeremy Renner's sex life.

I liked him in The Avengers -- liked, didn't love.

I never wondered if he were straight or if he were gay.

But this article where he's going on and on about how he only lived in 20 or so homes with his male friend because they flipped homes?

That's where I don't believe you.

Back in the 70s, early 70s, when I was in high school, one of my older male cousins got a rent house with a male friend.


Then they bought a home together.

They lived together for decades before they broke up.

And long before anyone wanted to admit it in the family, it was obvious they were lovers.

Some took longer to grasp that due to their own prejudices.

But for me, it was obvious by 1978.

This reminds me of that.

But in a different way.

In the70s, there were reasons to hide who you were.

You could be attacked, you could be killed.

You still can actually.

But now we agree -- the majority of us agree -- that such deaths should result in criminal prosecution.

I have no idea why Renner wants to live in a closet.

I don't see him as sexy and don't know anyone who does.

He's likable.

That's what he sells.

And being gay offscreen wouldn't kill that.

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

Monday, June 29, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, a US Congressional delegation visits Iraq, Haider accepts a resignation, Sunni civilians remain targeted by their own government, and much more.

Al Bawaba carries one of today's most important stories:

At least 71 civilians have been killed and 90 injured since the beginning of Ramadan due to the repeated shelling of Fallujah city in Iraq’s western Anbar province, a local medical source said Monday.
On June 23, Anbar’s provincial council called on the Iraqi army to refrain from shelling civilian areas of Fallujah, which is currently held by the Daesh militant group.
Ahmed al-Shami, chief doctor at the Fallujah Educational Hospital, told Anadolu Agency that the hospital’s emergency room had received 71 dead and 90 injured, “mostly women and children,” since the beginning of Ramadan on June 18.

The War Crimes, the never ending War Crimes.

Oh, whatcha gonna do when time runs out on you
Run down, ghost town
Barren pastures all around

How y'gonna explain it to your grandkids
Where did the mountain go
How y'gonna tell them you sold it
Where did the mountain go

-- "Chalice Borealis," written by Carole King and Rick Sorensen, first appears on her Speeding Time

How you going to pretend a decade from now, as the world recoils in horror over the then-past crimes, that you didn't know what was going on?

Yes, the White House pretends not to know.

They have to.

These actions -- the Iraqi military bombing civilians homes in Falluja -- meet the legal definition of War Crimes.

Recognizing them means the White House would have to halt all arm shipments to Iraq.

That's even if you set aside the Leahy Amendment.

Treaties and international law recognized by the US government demands that the shipments be stopped if the government is attacking civilians.

So the White House looks the other way.

What's the American people's excuse?

And let's stop pretending that people don't know.

These bombings began under Nouri al-Maliki in January 2014.

They continue under Haider al-Abadi.

They got a flurry of western media attention briefly -- on September 13th when Haider announced they had stopped.

Then the western press, so silent on the bombings for months, rushed to cover the announcement.

And then fell back into silence when, the next day, September 14th, the bombings continued.

There is no excuse for the silence.

And ten years from now, lots of luck explaining that silence.

The youth can be very unforgiving.

They've often not experienced serious regret.

Things are often very clear cut to them.

And the fact that the left in the United States refused to call out the bombing of civilians in Iraq?

Lots of luck defending your silence then.

For 18 months and counting, these attacks on Sunni civilians, attacks carried out by the Iraqi military, have gone on.

Today, AFP reports:

Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi has “retired” the army’s chief of staff, the most senior officer removed since jihadists overran large parts of the country last year, his spokesman said Monday.

General Babaker Zebari “has been retired” on Abadi’s orders, Saad al-Hadithi told AFP, without providing further details.

All Iraq News, citing a source in the Ministry of Defense, maintains that Zibari is the one who decided to retire and the decision was made "to enjoy retirement because he is getting too old."

Poor Haider, it could have been his big moment.

Could have been.

Dropping back to Saturday's snapshot:

The laughable Haider al-Abadi is in the news again today.  AFP reports:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday that Iraqi forces made an “unauthorized” withdrawal from Ramadi last month, leading to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s takeover of the Anbar provincial capital.

“The withdrawal of the forces from Ramadi was unauthorized -- the orders were the opposite. The forces had to resist, and if they had resisted, we would not have lost Ramadi,” Abadi said in televised remarks.

I seem to recall a similar point made by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and how Haider and various underlings strongly objected to the remarks.
It's becoming obvious, by the way, that Haider is not in charge of the military.

And today, once it was revealed that the resignation was not on the orders of Haider, it just became even more obvious how little power Haider has over the military.

Speaking of little power, the US Defense Dept announced today:

Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 17 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Habbaniyah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL logistics compound and an ISIL staging area.
-- Near Haditha, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit.
-- Near Makhmur, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and three ISIL heavy machine guns, destroying four ISIL buildings.
-- Near Tal Afar, five airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units and three ISIL bunkers, and also struck land features to deny ISIL a tactical advantage. Two ISIL mortar firing positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle were destroyed.

All of these bombings, all these months of bombs dropped on Iraq, and it means nothing in terms of progress.  It's reducing the country to ruins but it's not accomplishing much of anything else.

That's because these strikes were supposed to free up space for the Iraqi government to work on a political solution.

But they haven't done that.

They didn't during Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' and they're not doing it during Barack's air strikes.

Alsumaria reports that Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi met with Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani in Erbil today and the two issued a statement noting that the only way to successfully defeat the terrorists (Islamic State) is via a political solution and process that brings all segments of Iraq to the table and follows the Constitution.

Those who pay attention will note this is very similar to the 2011 through 2012 positions of Allawi and Barzani -- when they joined with many others (including Moqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim) to insist on a political solution.

Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister then and it's a sign of how little has changed under Haider al-Abadi that we're seeing the same summer repeats play out yet again.

Another sign of how ineffective Barack's 'plan' is?  Sgt William Reinier (Fayetteville Observer) reports:

The 82nd Airborne Division took command of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command – Iraq, from the 1st Infantry Division during a transfer of authority ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq, June 28.

Yes, the bombings have gone on so long that it's time for a new US team to take over.

At what point does Barack demand Haider work on a political solution?

He's the one, June 19, 2014, who insisted the only answer was a political solution.

For basically a year now, he's been willing to send US troops into Iraq while looking the other way as no progress is made on the political solution.

He's risking American lives and doesn't have the guts to demand that Haider al-Abadi live up to his side of the effort?

And increasingly, this is resulting in more and more criticism.  La Salle University in Philadelphia's associate professor Michael J. Boyle (at the New Jersey Star-Ledger) notes:

In May, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter caused a firestorm when he noted that the collapse of Iraqi government forces in Ramadi was not due to a lack of manpower or resources, but rather the "will to fight" ISIS. The Obama administration quickly swung into spin mode, calling the advances of ISIS a "setback" but insisting that the territory could be retaken soon. Yet the hard truth is that the recent gains of ISIS have laid bare the flawed assumptions of President Obama's Iraq strategy and the dishonesty with which it has been sold to the American people.

Since September 2014, the United States has engaged in an aerial bombing campaign against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, destroying more than 6,278 targets. The Obama administration rushed back into Iraq by a sense of moral outrage at the horrific abuses committed by ISIS, but its instinctive response – to crush a group described as an evil and a "cancer" by prominent administration officials – did not lend itself to an effective military strategy or produce a long-term plan to reconstruct the Iraqi state.  

The frustration with the White House mounts.

And while it refuses to address a political solution, others in the US government are not shy.

US House Rep Stephen Lynch is part of a Congressional delegation visiting Iraq currently.  Kimberly Atkins (Boston Herald) reports:

“We are trying to help the Sunni who are fighting with ISIS right now,” Lynch said.
But that help will require building a coalition strong enough to take on the terrorist network, a tough task of skillful diplomacy to bring together disparate groups — Shia fighters in Baghdad, Kurdish militia in northern Iraq and Turkish fighters battling ISIS on its border with Syria.
“They have not worked together, these three factions. There is very little trust there,” Lynch said. “But the military experts think they have to work together if they have any hope of beating ISIS.”

Senator Joe Donnelly is also part of the delegation and he tells Brian Francisco (Journal Gazette), "With more than 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and more on the way, I felt it was critical to hear directly from our commanders on the ground and our Iraqi allies Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish about the current strategy. We also discussed what role the U.S. and our coalition partners in the region should play going forward."

Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
I knew when we woke up
You would be leaving
You knew when you left me
It might be too long
That kiss on your shoulder
It's me looking over
Close to your heart
So you're never alone
Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home

-- "Till They All Get Home," written by Melanie (Safka) and first appears on Melanie's Crazy Love

US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard is part of the delegation and she Tweeted the following:

  1. Thank you for welcoming us

Senator Tim Kaine Tweeted:

  1. CODEL was in Erbil yesterday. Met w/Kurdistan Regional Government PM & President

The delegation also includes US House Rep Brian Higgins, Tim McGovern and Peter Welch.

With Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counting 157 violent deaths across Iraq today, a political solution is needed even more than a year ago.

Mosul fell over a year ago.  A Parliamentary committee has been tasked with determining what happened.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that Nouri al-Maliki has now twice refused to answer the committee's questions.  Such behavior should probably result in his being removed as one of Iraq's three vice presidents.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

That disgraceful Paul Krugman

Andre Damon (WSWS) notes:

The US Supreme Court voted Thursday to uphold a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s pro-business health care overhaul that cuts Medicare and fines households for being too poor to afford health insurance.

New York Times commentator Paul Krugman, a liberal apologist for the White House’s uniformly right-wing policies, responded to the Supreme Court’s decision by penning an op-ed column praising the legislation commonly known as Obamacare.

Krugman’s column, headlined “Hooray for Obamacare,” consists of one cynical lie after another aimed at convincing the public that Obama’s right-wing health care overhaul is an historic achievement for low-income Americans.

Paul Krugman is so disgraceful.

It's amazing to watch an idiot like Bob Somerby attack Maureen Dowd over and over when she's consistent.

Paul Krugman's just a cheap little whore.

His reputation is in tatters.

And should be.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Saturday:  
Saturday, June 27, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Corrine Brown provides the laughs, VA may start rationing care this fall, Haider al-Abadi attempts to explain the fall of Ramadi, and much more.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Friday, he gave a speech that is attracting attention. Dan Merica (CNN) reports:

Throughout the speech, his first detailed comments on global issues since announcing his candidacy last month, O'Malley criticized the way that foreign policy has been dealt with for years, an implicit critique of Clinton given her role as secretary of state during the first Obama administration. He particularly highlighted the war in Iraq and the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, two events inextricably tied to Clinton.
"The invasion of Iraq -- along with the subsequent disbanding of the Iraqi military -- will be remembered as one of the most tragic, deceitful and costly blunders in U.S. history," O'Malley said at TruCon 2015, a foreign policy conference in Washington. "And we are still paying the price of a war pursued under false pretenses."

O'Malley has been on a streak of late and gave a speech this week to the Truman National Security Project -- a speech that offered a rallying cry, "No nation ever off-shored its way to greatness."

In the speech, O'Malley also addressed the issue of global warming:

Nowhere is this more collaborative approach more important than in confronting the growing and immediate challenge of severe climate change.
For years, the Pentagon has recognized global warming as an urgent national security threat.
Your organization’s leader—former Army Captain Mike Breen—put it best at a recent Congressional hearing, when he said:
“Over 97 percent of climate scientists say that man-made climate change is a reality.”
“As a combat leader, if 97 percent of my intelligence indicated that I was about to face a lethal danger that would risk the lives of my paratroopers—I would be committing unconscionable malpractice if I did not listen and act.”
Mike is right.
The energy technologies needed to combat climate change exist today—it’s only the political will that is lacking.
America can, and must, lead the way—by pursuing an ambitious plan to ensure our country is powered 100 percent by clean energy, by 2050.
Climate change is not only a very real existential threat to human life, it is also the greatest business opportunity to come to our country in a hundred years.
We must seize this opportunity by creating an American Green Jobs Agenda that is a match for the climate challenge.
We need to invest in resilience—from the Jersey Shore to California’s Central Valley.
We need to spur innovation—to develop cutting-edge technologies that will create jobs at home, and unlock new markets abroad.
We need to embrace new ideas at the state level, as we have in Maryland— where, in just eight years, we increased renewable energy capacity by 57 percent, became a clean-tech jobs hub, and cut carbon emissions by 10 percent.
America’s leadership and example are essential.
Because climate change is a global challenge—with global consequences. It is the transformation that transforms everything.
And by confronting this challenge, we can realize global economic opportunities—and job opportunities—for the United States.
We must partner with emerging markets, in our own hemisphere and beyond, to distribute renewable energy solutions and green design.
We must aggressively push for global emissions agreements in venues like the upcoming UN climate summit in Paris.
And we must seed, scale, and deploy American-made renewable energy technologies throughout the world.
To reduce mankind’s carbon footprint.
To preserve the living systems of this earth—for ourselves and our posterity.

That's where we could be.

Let's drop back to where we are.

"We're short -- we're short in '16," declared VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson on Thursday regarding Hepatitis C care.  "I  -- You know, the budget's what, 650? six-hundred-and-fifty-million?  Somewhere in that neighborhood.  Six-hundred-and-fifty to seven-hundred-million dollars for '16 and-and that -- We won't -- That won't be adequate unless we ration that care."

Gibson was testifying before the US House Veterans Affairs Committee Thursday morning.

To avoid rationing care for Hepatitis C cases in 2016?

Gibson advised, "The other option is -- as we're doing right now -- is basically, when we run out of money to do it inside VA, we refer those to care under Choice and-and rely on that-that sort of safety valve."

The problems go beyond 2016.

Gibson insisted, "We're in a situation where we're going to have to start denying care to veterans because we don't have the resources to be able to pay for it.  And-and that's -- I don't think anybody wants to see that happen.  It will be a very -- a very unpleasant and unsatisfactory situation.

And that's not him talking about the 2016 budget or about Hep C.  That was in reply to US House Rep Julia Brownley's question about the current shortfall this year and what that means come August.

Over $350 million can be pulled from the Veterans Choice Program funds to cover costs that do not meet the criteria for Veterans Choice Programs, Gibson and the VA are insisting.

US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  In his opening remarks, he outlined many problems revolving around the newly announced 'shortfall' in the budget.  We're using his written statement and using it as written (with paragraph breaks) because a number of topics are covered in it and it will be easier to read and comprehend

Given the extensive pent-up demand for care that was exposed during last year’s hearings on wait time manipulation, VA had ample time to adjust its budgetary needs with the Office of Management and Budget to prevent what we are now seeing.  
In February through April of this year, Secretary McDonald appeared at four separate budget hearings.
Since those have concluded, the Secretary and I have met and spoken regularly on a number of important, emerging issues.
At no point in those hearings or in our subsequent discussions since, has the Secretary expressed to me that the Department had a budget shortfall of such a magnitude – one that threatens VA’s ability to meets its obligations to our nation’s veterans.
Nor did other VA leaders or officials communicate how much in the red VA was either - even though the Committee was informed late last week that the Department knew as early as March that there were giant disparities between the amount of money that VA was spending and the amount of money budgeted.
The only message that Congress received in March regarding the state of VA’s budget was the quarterly financial report VA submitted to the Appropriations Committee  for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015, which showed that VA was actually under plan in terms of its spend out rate.
Meanwhile, just two weeks ago VA proposed a plan – that Congress authorized at the Department’s urging - to transfer one hundred and fifty million dollars in fiscal year 2015 funding to support the continued construction of the replacement medical center project in Denver, Colorado.
VA also proposed an across the board recession of just under a one percent in fiscal year 2016 funds to devote to the Denver project – a proposal, by the way, that the Veterans Health Administration’s Chief Financial Officer told Committee staff last week that she did not even know about until after it had already been transmitted to Congress.
Those actions clearly show that VA leaders believe that moving forward with the Denver project – which is not scheduled to open to veteran patients until 2017 at the earliest - is a higher priority for the Department than ensuring that veterans who need care now are able to access that care.
I have come to expect a startling lack of transparency and accountability from VA over the last years; but failing to inform Congress of a multi-billion dollar funding deficit until this late in the fiscal year while continuing to advance what I believe are lower priority need that further deplete the Department’s coffers in support of a construction project that benefits no veteran for at least two more years is disturbing on an entirely different level.    
Earlier this week, VA issued a “fact sheet” that claims that VA “formally requested limited budget flexibility” in February and March and May of this year and, “plainly articulated” VA’s need for additional resources.
Buried on page one hundred and sixty seven of the second volume of VA’s budget submission is a single statement that reads: “[i]n the coming months, the Administration will submit legislation to reallocate a portion of Choice program funding to support essential investments in VA system priorities…”

Secretary McDonald repeated this statement in his budget testimony without providing any additional supporting details or justification and, to-date, no legislative proposal has been submitted by the Administration. 

Miller is the Chair and, thanks to Nancy Pelosi's shenanigans, the laughable Corrine Brown is the Ranking Member.

Thursday, I didn't have my Corrine-To-English translator ring on me so we'll just note a little bit of her opening remarks.

Ranking Member Corrine Brown:  The VA is facing a shortfall of 2.6 billion for veterans healthcare.  This shortfall must be address [sic] ammediately [sic].  We cannot put the health and lives of our veterans at ris [sic] by spending our time and attention pointing fingers and assigning blame.  VA will be facing an additional shortfall at the start of the next fistal [sic] year in October 

We have to stop there.

We have to.

Corrine goes on to say that the country is headed towards a government shutdown -- she uses shutdown twice.  Both times she probably would have been bleeped on TV.

She always invents her own words and here she took the "u" in "shutdown" and replaced it with an "i" both times she said it.

A government sh*tdown.

The fist time she said it, people were looking around.  Then she said, "Let me say that again, we are headed towards a government sh*tdown" and several on the Committee appeared to bite their lips to avoid laughing.

On her third time using the term, she did manage to say "shutdown."

Keep playing with the English language, Corrine, it works if you work it.

Corrine used her time to ask about fee based care and Choice.  Yes, Choice is fee based.  Many grasped that before Corinne's question but everyone grasped it after Sloane explained Choice.

Well . . .

Everyone but Corinne Brown.

After he finished describing it, she asked, "And Choice?"

A confused Sloan Gibson replied softly, "That is Choice."

Oh, Corrine Brown.

We're not done with the wig hatted Corrine but for now let's note an important exchange in the hearing.

US House Rep Ralph Abraham:  I was in a district last weekend and had three separate providers come up and say, "I haven't got my money.'  And this has been going on for two and three years.  So what are we doing about this, Secretary?  I know that you gave us some good figures before that the VISN 16 [South Central VA Health Care Network] -- of which I'm a part of 

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson:  Yes.

US House Rep Ralph Abraham: -- was doing better  --

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson:  Yes.

US House Rep Ralph Abraham (Con't):  -- but the word on the street, so to speak, is --

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson:  Yes. 

US House Rep Ralph Abraham (Con't):  -- there's still some issues out there.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson: Two things.  First, of all, it's one of the advantages of Choice -- the provider gets paid by the third party administrator and that's consistently happening within thirty days.  We watch that and monitor that. VA is historically known to pay low and slow and, uh, that is not how you want to deal with your provider network --

US House Rep Ralph Abraham:  So we got something in place that --

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson (Con't): -- and so what we've done over the last nine months or so is-is organizationally consolidate.  We-we were -- We were organizationally doing this payment processing through twenty-one separate VISN headquarters in seventy different physical locations -- processing invoices for care.  And I would tell you, based on what we've heard, we were probably doing it in 150 different ways. And so we've consolidated organizationally.  We've be-begun to tackle the staffing issues, the process issues and the technology issues -- none of which were being tackled unless they were being addressed in some kind of a workaround situation and in some location somewhere.  We had, for example, locations where instead of establishing a call center that's available to handle inbound questions from providers about their payment, we'd have a processor that's processing a payment and the phone would ring, they'd answer the phone and-and, you know, doing business in a way that you'd never see in the private sector.

US House Rep Ralph Abraham:  Right.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson: So we've now got that all organizational reporting.  We're seeing the times improve.  Part of what they're doing is they're sailing into a head wind.  They've got a 40% increase in invoices being presented for payment over last year.  Now the good news is-is they're processing a lot more invoices then they did a year ago.  But they're barely keeping up.

And now for what we'll call When Corrine Brown Attacks.

Ranking Member Corrine Brown: Uh-uh-uh -- May I respond to your comments because I don't think you was [sic] here when we spassed [sic] the prescription drug bill.  And when we passed it, WE DIRECTED THE SECRETARY NOT to negotiate the price of the drugs so that [popping and rolling eyes] was a part of the bill.

US House Rep Mark Takano:  Oh, Ms. Brown, I was -- 

Ranking Member Corrine Brown:  It would be illegal for the Secretary to uh-uh-uh address the issue.  [Entire Committee looks appalled at the crazy woman in the wig.  Corrinne notes it slowly.]  I'm just clearing up.  You waddn't even here when we did it.  But in addition to that, in the Affordable Care Act that is now standing, we are doing away with that doughnut hole that you talking 'bout so that seniors will not be out of pocket for that additional money.

US House Rep Mark Takano:  Ms. Brown, I was aware of that and I was merely trying to suggest 

Ranking Member Corrine Brown:  [Yelling to cut him off] The veterans --

US House Rep Mark Takano:  [Calmly] The VA is doing business in a better way 

Ranking Member Corrine Brown:  Well absolutely.  Thank you.

Like an old grizzly bear in a bad wig, Corrine went after another Committee member.

It should be noted that Takano is a Democrat, that Corrine was ripping into a Democrat.

And that Takano's concern was with the drugs the Hepatitis C patients were receiving.

But when a grizzly Corrine Brown gets angry, she snarls, growls and paws at her prey.

In New Zealand, there's concern over what the attack on Iraqi military leader means for New Zealand's Kiwi troops in Iraq.  Bevan Hurley (Stuff) reports:

A top Iraqi commander at Camp Taji was killed in an ambush at his home, according to reports, in a sign of deteriorating security at the base where Kiwi troops are stationed.
Iraqi media reported the officer, said to be a Lieutenant Colonel, was shot dead this week and a further 13 people have been killed by improvised explosive devices, rocket and gun fire in Taji since 143 Kiwi troops arrived May.

Meanwhile, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 68 violent deaths across Iraq on Friday.  And today the US Defense Dept announced:

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Huwayjah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying two ISIL buildings, an ISIL cache, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Beiji, an airstrike struck an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Habbaniyah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL mortar tube.

  -- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL heavy machine gun firing position, destroying an ISIL building.

Barack can drop bombs, he just can't lead on a political solution.  It's now a year since he insisted the only answer was a political solution and yet he's done nothing to arrive at one.

Struan Stevenson (The Hill) observes:

When Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi assumed office in September 2014, many held high hopes that he would alter the sectarian policies of his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, who alienated the Sunni population and facilitated the rise of ISIS. Nine months into his tenure, al-Abadi’s plan for national reconciliation lies in tatters, leaving many to believe that Iraq is now a failed state. Urgently needed judicial reforms have never been implemented, nor has Abadi supported the creation of a national guard to arm and train the Sunni tribes to fight against ISIS. These are major mistakes. Instead, al-Abadi has relied upon the brutal Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, which operate outwith any official framework and openly target and discriminate against Sunnis and other ethnic minorities. 

The laughable Haider al-Abadi is in the news again today.  AFP reports:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday that Iraqi forces made an “unauthorized” withdrawal from Ramadi last month, leading to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s takeover of the Anbar provincial capital.

“The withdrawal of the forces from Ramadi was unauthorized -- the orders were the opposite. The forces had to resist, and if they had resisted, we would not have lost Ramadi,” Abadi said in televised remarks.

I seem to recall a similar point made by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and how Haider and various underlings strongly objected to the remarks.

It's becoming obvious, by the way, that Haider is not in charge of the military.

Clearly, Nouri al-Maliki remains the defacto ruler and that's why Iraq is not progressing politically.

We've noted a POLITICO roundtable this week.  I recommend it and think it has a wide range of opinions.  At Foreign Policy, Peter D. Feaver is less impressed and offers a critique which includes:

The latest issue of Politico Magazine has a lengthy conversation between several experts on the subject of “Who Lost Iraq?” The piece, which puts the question to a dozen panelists, including veterans from both administrations, purports to be a comprehensive discussion, but I found it oddly incomplete and unsatisfying. In particular, I found it striking that the group did not address the long list of actions that the Obama administration took (and didn’t take) that plausibly contributed to the predicament in which we currently find ourselves. Bush’s actions and Iraqi actions are covered in some detail, and rightly so. But Obama’s? Not so much (except for a brief but trenchant summary from Kim Kagan).
For the record, let’s stipulate that the Bush administration will always bear some responsibility for the situation in Iraq, for good or for ill. Invading Iraq was a consequential step, one that President Bush likely would not have made if he had known then what we know now about Iraq. (Of course, that counterfactual is a logical impossibility, because the only reason we know what we know now is because the United States invaded — a fact that partisan critics consistently ignore.)

Let’s also stipulate that the Iraqis will always bear some responsibility for the situation. I would go further: They bear the lion’s share of the responsibility. U.S. leaders made many mistakes, but not nearly as many as Iraqi leaders did and continue to make.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Why are people on Facebook?

A lot of friends and family members are on Facebook.

I'm not.

And I don't get the fascination with it.

But I especially don't get the fascination, when I read Mick Meaney's report at Dissident Voice:

Terrifying new research shows Facebook’s ambitions to track users has gone far beyond the company’s ‘old’ technology that recognises users faces, which in itself poses a dizzying array of privacy concerns.

The new development, dubbed Pose Invariant PErson Recognition (PIPER), gathers information about your clothing, hairstyles and body shapes and currently holds a 83% accuracy rate, already incredibly high and is expected to increase even further.

Why would you ever want that?

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:  
Thursday, June 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept has "nothing on that" when asked about the arrest of a journalist, an Iraqi dies learning to fly an F-16, and much more.

Derek Jordan (Sierra Vista Herald Review) insists, "The Iraqi pilot whose F-16 fighter jet crashed north of Douglas Wednesday night was part of a group of Iraqis being trained by the Air Force to fly F-16s in the fight against Islamic State terrorists."

The training is part of the deal that comes with the F-16s and the training aspect was in place as far back as 2008.  It predates concerns over the Islamic State (you can check the reporting of Elizabeth S. Bumiller, among others, for reports on the F-16 deal).

US State Dept spokesperson John Kirby noted the time issue when asked about the death in today's State Dept press briefing:

QUESTION: On Iraq, specifically about this F-16 – Iraqi F-16 that crashed in Arizona, obviously part of the Iraqi pilot training program, have you reached out or has there been any contact with the Iraqi Government? Because there are rumors out there that the Iraqi pilot who died was actually someone named – and this is unconfirmed – Mohammed Hama, the son of a prominent Iraqi Air Force general, which is why I ask if there’s been any contact with the Iraqis to confirm his identity.

MR KIRBY: Well, first, our thoughts and prayers go to the family. This is a tragic accident, obviously. I don’t have any more detail about the identity of the pilot, and that’s something that I would, as you might understand, refer you to the Iraqi Government to speak to.

QUESTION: Since the State Department has authority over the foreign military sales of these jets, do you know when and how many jets are expected to be delivered – the F-16s are expected to be delivered to Iraq?

MR KIRBY: There’s – the whole program covered 36 jets, and as I understand it, they have taken possession of about a dozen of them. So there are still others in the program that still are in the delivery process.

QUESTION: Possession in the United States or possession --

MR KIRBY: Possession in the United States.

QUESTION: And putting on your old military cap there, were these brand new jets, or were these sort of repurposed, used jets?

MR KIRBY: I’d have to get back to you, Justin. I don’t know exactly what serial number they all had and how fresh they came off the assembly line.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?


QUESTION: Several weeks ago, actually, it was mentioned that it was expected that the rest of these jets would be handed over to the Iraqis. Do you have a timeline on when that would happen?

MR KIRBY: I don’t have a timeline for the remainder that they don’t have. But obviously, it’s an ongoing sales program. It’s not being handed over to them. And I just don’t have a schedule of exactly what the deliveries are going to look like.

QUESTION: It was just I know that the Iraqi authorities were quite keen to get them up and running in Iraq, because obviously, all of the fight against ISIL.

MR KIRBY: Sure, sure. Yeah. I mean, everybody shares a sense of urgency about helping Iraq deal with the threats that the country is facing inside their borders. These jets are a component of that ability for them to fight ISIL, but I just don’t have any more detail on the schedule of deliveries.

QUESTION: John, these airplanes were supposed to be delivered some time back. What is the cause of delay? Is it lacking – a lacking training program? What is causing the delay in delivering these airplanes to Iraq?

MR KIRBY: Well, your question connotes that there is a delay. I mean, it’s a 36-aircraft buy, and typically, on a purchase that size they’re not all delivered all at once. As I said, they are in possession of about a dozen of them. There are others still in the delivery process. It’s not a matter of delay. This is a sort of – it’s not uncommon or atypical for – especially when you’re buying something as big as fighter jets, for it to --


MR KIRBY: -- for there to be a time component here in terms of when they’re delivered. So I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s been a delay. And again, they’re taking possession here in the United States. We’ve talked about that before, and that’s where the training is occurring.

QUESTION: To your knowledge, do the Iraqis – are the Iraqis able to get some Russian fighter jets, like Sukhois or old Sukhois or anything like this? Are they using now in their air force Russian-made fighter jets?

MR KIRBY: I am not an expert on the Iraqi order of battle and their air force. You’re asking can they? Of course they can. It’s a sovereign country. They can buy --

QUESTION: I understand they can --

MR KIRBY: But I don’t know what – I mean, that’s a great question for the Iraqis to speak to, the components and the elements of their air force. They expressed, obviously, a significant interest in the F-16, which is a very capable aircraft, obviously. And so we’re working with them on the delivery of those aircraft and training their pilots on how to fly them. That’s our focus, and the Iraqis can speak to the other things that they’re buying for their own national defense.

The Sierra Vista Herald Review portrays the program as necessary to combat the Islamic State because . . .

That state of the art air brigade the Islamic State has?

It's overkill in terms of response.

It's overkill in terms of expectations.

This week has seen a number of Iraqi commanders and military forces sound off in the press about the failures of Barack Obama.

The US President is far from mistake free.

But the criticism has been that he's not given enough weapons, that he's not given enough support?.

They do realize he's the President of the United States, right?

He's not serving the Iraqi people.

And when in history has any domestic military felt they had the right to whine that they weren't getting enough assistance from any other country?

Iraq's security forces are supposed to be responsible for the protection and safety of their country.

They've never managed to pull it off but it is their job.

Any assistance they may receive is just that: Assistance.

It's 'in addition to' -- the primary responsibility remains on them.

I don't fear the criticism is fair of Barack at all.

It's criticism rooted in greed and entitlement.

But mainly it's about refusing to take ownership of your own failures and instead pushing them off on others.

If the Iraqi military is unhappy with the equipment they have, they need to take that up with the Iraqi leaders and officials who have failed them.

Where are all those weapons they bought from Russia, for example?

October 9, 2012, with much fanfare, then prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki signed a $4.2 billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.  He strutted and preened and was so proud of himself.  Yet shortly after taking his bows on the world stage, and with Parliament and others raising objections, Nouri quickly announced the deal was off.

Then it was back on.

But the scandal refused to go away. As 2012 came to a close, the Iraq Times stated Nouri was offering up his former spokesperson  Ali al-Dabbagh and others to protect the truly corrupt -- the truly corrupt -- according to members of Parliament -- including Nouri's son who got a nice little slice off the deal.  These charges came from Shi'ite MPs as well as Sunnis and Kurds.  Even the Shi'ite National Alliance  spoke  out.  All Iraq News noted National Alliance member and one-time MP Wael Abdul Latif  called for Nouri to quickly bring charges against those involved in the corruption.

Never happened.

And the laughable Haider al-Abadi, new prime minister, supposedly committed to ending corruption, has yet to go after those officials who stole millions from Iraq.

So if you're part of the Iraqi security forces and you're unhappy with the equipment you have you can point fingers at two groups of people: (a) those security forces who tend to drop their weapons and abandon their tanks the minute they feel the Islamic State is looking at them and (b) the corrupt officials who used the billions in oil dollars not to protect the country but instead to line their own pockets.

As we've repeatedly noted, Iraq's annual revenues could make a billionaire -- each year -- out of nearly the entire estimated population.

Instead, year after year, so many Iraqis live in poverty.

The Iraqi people need an accounting of who's been stealing their money.

Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 174 violent deaths across Iraq today.

Back to today's State Dept press briefing:

QUESTION: On Iraq – yeah. On Iraq, yesterday I asked about the arrest of a journalist by the Kurdish security forces. I don’t know if you have anything for the report for me. And a second one is there is a kind of a crisis of the President Barzani’s term. It will come to an end in August and there is a kind of a problem like how – what is going to happen. What is the position of United States Government? Would you prefer having an election despite the security challenges, or a status quo just to extend his term because of the security situation as they would claim that?

MR KIRBY: I don’t think we’re going to make statements from here about internal Iraqi politics.

QUESTION: But democracy is something that you – I mean, elections – you are – it’s something that you are talking about always.

MR KIRBY: Writ large, generally, yes. We’re in favor of government that is responsive and representative of the people that occupy a state, but I am not going to get into internal Iraqi politics and discussions from the podium.

QUESTION: What about the journalist arrest? Do you have that, any --

MR KIRBY: I don’t have anything on that, no.

The State Dept never has "anything on that" unless they're trying to shame a government the US opposes.  If it's Iran or Russia, they have plenty "on that."

But when it's a government that they're propping up, they never "have anything on that."

You may remember the days in April when they spent time shaming the governments that they didn't like as part of  'World Press Day' and how they even issued this statement:

The U.S. Department of State launched its fourth annual “Free the Press” campaign today as part of the Department’s efforts to honor the fundamental importance of a free and independent media in the days leading up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
As in years past, the Department will profile on a daily basis journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, disappeared or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting. The purpose of the campaign is to speak out for reporters who otherwise cannot; to call on governments to protect the right to free expression; and to emphasize our own commitment to promoting free expression here in the United States and around the world.
From April 27 to May 1, the Department Spokesperson will highlight emblematic cases of journalists or press outlets under threat around the world at the Daily Press Briefing. The cases will be profiled on www.HumanRights.gov and they will be tweeted out using the hashtag #FreethePress.
For more information, please contact Chanan Weissman at weissmanc@state.gov or 202 647 4043.
For more information on the State Department’s work on democracy, human rights, and labor rights follow @State_DRL or @HumanRightsGov, or visit http://www.state.gov/j/drl/

Yet two months later, asked about a journalist being arrested in Iraq, they have not one word to say,  they "have nothing on that."

Final topic,  David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  This is from Bacon's "California Appeals Court Rules Farm Worker Law Unconstitutional" (Working In These Times):

FRESNO, CA -- On May 18 in Fresno, California, the state's Court of Appeals for the 5th District ruled that a key provision of the state's unique labor law for field workers is unconstitutional.  Should it be upheld by the state's supreme court, this decision will profoundly affect the ability of California farm workers to gain union contracts.

At issue is the mandatory mediation provision of the state's Agricultural Labor Relations Act.  Using this section of the law, workers can vote for a union, and then call in a mediator if their employer refuses to negotiate a first-time contract.  The mediator, chosen by the state, hears from both the union and the grower, and writes a report recommending a settlement.  Once the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) adopts the report, it becomes a binding union contract.

Associate Justice Stephen Kane, in a 3-0 ruling, said the law illegally delegates authority to the mediator.  The Fresno district of the appeals court is well known for its conservative bent.  United Farm Workers Vice President Armando Elenes immediately announced that the union would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

The case has attracted the attention and support of some of the country's most powerful conservative and anti-union organizations.  Some have intervened to file briefs challenging the law.  Others have joined with the grower in this case, Gerawan Farms, in an elaborate campaign to remove the United Farm Workers as the bargaining representative for the company's workers.

Workers say they already feel the impact of the challenge to the law.  According to Ana Garcia Aparicio, "At this company we've had many issues and injustices. This is the reason it is so important for us that our contract be implemented."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pop corn

I have nothing this morning, sorry.

So I will write about pop corn.

In my lifetime, big changes there.

As a little girl, I used to have it on Friday nights at my grandma's.  She'd put kernels and butter in a pan, cover it with a lid and cook it on the stove.

And she never burned it!

Myself, as a young teen and a young adult?  I'd try it and fail.

It would burn.

So then came popcorn poppers and how great those were.

You plugged it in, put oil on the pan/bottom, put the kernels in the oil, put the lid on and pop pop pop.

And then came the steam poppers.

And microwave popcorn.

They owe Dyan Cannon a fortune.

No one was doing microwave popcorn.

Dyan shows up on The Tonight Show and explains she puts the kernels in a small shopping bag, puts that in the microwave and instant popcorn.

We all owe Dyan Cannon.

And now days with microwave popcorn, I'm so lazy, I will only now eat it in the bowl.  The one that pops in the bag that you rip the lid off and it's a bowl.

My hands, you understand, must not be trapped in a greasy bag.

At any rate, it's been a long popcorn or pop corn journey (I'm not sure of the spelling).

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue. threats appear before Congress to offer that the US government just needs to drop bombs willy nilly and stop worrying about civilian deaths, as they call for killing they turn around and paint refugees as potential 'radicals' and threats, and much more.

This afternoon, a House Armed Services Committee held a hearing.

The Subcommittee Committee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities managed to do something every group holding a hearing longs to do -- establish clearly where the problem lies.

And the hearing did exactly that, the Subcommittee documented the Emerging Threats.

I'm not really sure though that they grasp that they did.

Appearing before the Subcommittee were the New American Foundation's Brian Fishman, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Michael Eisenstadt, RAND Corporation's Linda Robinson and the American Enterprise Institute's Frederick Kagan.

All four offered testimony and -- to one degree or another -- waived the Fifth Amendment.

It was a long hearing but, more importantly, it was a soul draining hearing.

While madmen sit up building bombs
And making laws and bars
They're gonna slam free choice behind us

Last night I dreamed I saw the planet flicker
Great forests fell like buffalo
Everything got sicker
And to the bitter end 
Big business bickered 
And they call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice, brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence
-- "Three Great Stimulants," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Dog Eat Dog album

And when Robinson and Kagan especially competed to be 'smartest in the room,' you longed for them to stop cooperating with the Subcommittee and instead reply, "I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me."

We often mock Fred Kagan here as being the "arm candy" of Kimberly Kagan.

We do that for two reasons.  One, when we started the joke, it was the rare press piece on Kimberly that couldn't work in 'she married to Frederick Kagan!' while the pieces on him could sail right by without ever noting her.  (That's sexism, for those of you on autopilot.)  Second, he's seen -- by some -- as so intelligent.  But he's not.  Kimberly Kagan is not someone I agree with very often -- we're on opposite sides of the political fence -- but she generally speaks -- I'm not talking soundbytes, I'm talking testimony, speeches, papers -- in a manner that acknowledges humanity.  For that reason alone, she's the smarter of the pair.

When Fred Kagan speaks, we're all just ants in his ant farm that he seems ready to toss in the trash, so bored has he become with humanity and living.

After nearly two hours, the hearing was finally drawing to a close when Kagan, baited by , had to show just how ugly he can be.

Yes, Kagan insisted, the US government did have a problem with the current plan or 'plan' for combating the Islamic State in Iraq.

The problem?

Too much effort was being made to not kill civilians.

Think I misheard?

Here's the exchange with US House Rep Doug Lamborn.  Let's listen in with horror.

US House Rep: Doug Lamborn:  Thank you all for being here and I'd like to ask you about our targeting of ISIS' assets.  The New York Times reported on May 26th that "American officials say they are not striking significant and obvious Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians.  But many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason ISIS has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria."  Dr. Kagan, would you agree with that assessment? And-and is it possible to step up aistrikes while still, uh, to the degree possible, uh, preserving civilians lives?

Frederick Kagan: Uh, I think that there is a trade off between deciding that you're going to have a more effective air campaign and accepting a higher risk of civilian casualties. I think if your standard for civilian casualties is low, you're probably going to have a very hard time increasing, uh, the intensity of the air campaign -- especially as long as you're not prepared to put forward air controllers on the ground, uh, which would be something that would mitigate that.  But I think that we have too high of a standard, uh, for -- from the standard of collateral damage for civilian casualties.  I think that, uh, the truth is this is a war and, uhm, we always try to minimize, uh, collateral damage and civilian casualty but, uhm,  a standard of effectively zero has done enormous harm to our ability to prosecute this war with the tools that we have at our disposal.

To make a few things clear . . .

When Kagan made his puzzling remarks to US House Rep Trent Franks that the US government had poor relations with the Sunnis in Iraq because of the US government's support for the Kurds in Iraq, I disagreed.  (Like Franks, who quickly changed the subject, I couldn't grasp what Kagan was attempting to say or the basis for that bizarre call.)  But as strongly as I disagreed, I could write it off as just disagreeing.

Second, Kagan is not just right wing, he's a neocon.  Part of one of the biggest neocon families (his brother Robert Kagan, his sister-in-law the dreadful Victoria Nuland, his father is Donald Kagan, etc.).  But his remarks are not a neocon attitude -- or not solely a neocon attitude.

The allegedly left Foreign Policy In Focus was arguing the same points Kagan was -- we called them out in the June 4th snapshot as well as in "Iraq: Failed follow ups and whining that bombs aren't being dropped quick enough" -- a point worth remembering for those of us on the left who might want to write Kagan's remarks off as something 'only the right could say.'

Third, the New York Times article was written by the Washington-based Eric Schmitt so we never took it or Schmitty to seriously.

"Many Iraqi commanders"?

Did you phone 'em, Schmitty?

Or did you maybe just put a finger on each temple and 'psychically' connect with them?

(I'm sure many Shi'ite commanders in the Iraqi military feel there's too much restraint when it comes to bombing Sunni areas.  We've seen, in Tikrit most recently, what Shi'ite forces can do in the name of 'liberation' to Sunnis and Sunni homes.  I'm just as sure that Schmitty himself did not speak to "many Iraqi commanders" -- though he did feel the need to 'give voice to them' -- or maybe just put words in their mouths?)

And for those who might want to insist that Schmitt got the byline but others could have spoken to Iraqi commanders?  Ben Hubbard was in Urfa, Turkey, Anne Barnard and Maher Samaan were in Beirut.  Only Omar al-Jawoshy was in Iraq (Baghdad).  No, I'm not picturing him rushing to and from commander for comments.

Returning to the horrific exchange:

US House Rep: Doug Lamborn:  Thank you all for being here and I'd like to ask you about our targeting of ISIS' assets.  The New York Times reported on May 26th that "American officials say they are not striking significant and obvious Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians.  But many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason ISIS has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria."  Dr. Kagan, would you agree with that assessment? And-and is it possible to step up aistrikes while still, uh, to the degree possible, uh, preserving civilians lives?

Frederick Kagan: Uh, I think that there is a trade off between deciding that you're going to have a more effective air campaign and accepting a higher risk of civilian casualties. I think if your standard for civilian casualties is low, you're probably going to have a very hard time increasing, uh, the intensity of the air campaign -- especially as long as you're not prepared to put forward air controllers on the ground, uh, which would be something that would mitigate that.  But I think that we have too high of a standard, uh, for -- from the standard of collateral damage for civilian casualties.  I think that, uh, the truth is this is a war and, uhm, we always try to minimize, uh, collateral damage and civilian casualty but, uhm,  a standard of effectively zero has done enormous harm to our ability to prosecute this war with the tools that we have at our disposal.

Does Fred Kagan get that reducing civilian casualties is not a nicety but a legal requirement of war?

It doesn't appear that he does.

The people of Mosul have been occupied by the Islamic State for over a year and, by Kagan's argument, it might be time to just drop bombs on all of Mosul to stamp IS out.

It would kill thousands of Iraqi civilians in the process but Fred wants "a more effective air campaign and [is] accepting [of] a higher risk of civilian casualties."

Fred feels the US government has "too high of a standard, uh, for -- from the standard of collateral damage and civilian casualty."

Now the reality is that many civilians have been killed by the ongoing US airstrikes in Iraq.

Apparently not enough kills for Fred Kagan who needed to take something home to mount on the wall, but there have been many and a few even have been well documented in the press.

So this notion that the US is leading the way when it comes to protecting human life is a fantasy that exists only in the deranged mind of Frederick Kagan.

But how deranged do you have to be to hold that fantasy as truth while also feeling it's a bad thing?

The US is not a leader in things to do or emulate (it is as flawed as any other country) but if it were why would that be a bad thing?

If the US government was actually setting a standard for protecting human life, as Kagan seems to think, why would that be a bad thing?

The Subcommittee on Emerging Threats found a serious one today -- if they're paying attention.  His name is Frederick Kagan and he has little-to-no respect for human life.

Strong and wrong
You lose everything
Without the heart
You need
To hear a robin sing
Where have all the songbirds gone?
All I hear are crows in flight
Singing might is right
Might is right!

Oh the dawn of man comes slow
Thousands of years
And here we are...
Still worshiping
Our own ego

Strong and wrong

-- "Strong and Wrong," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Shine album.

From there it was time to move on to Jordan.

Linda Robinson wanted to talk about refugees fleeing violence.

She wanted to see them as varmint.

People who invoke sympathy from many due to their hardships are, too Linda Robinson, a "long term threat, not just a humanitarian issue,"

As she yammered on, I was left to wonder what the hell she knew about Jordan?

Jordan has done a great deal for refugees.

But, sorry, they have not done nearly enough.

She wants "possibly international organizations" to "get more involved" with the refugees to avoid them becoming radicalized and "I doubt these people are going to eventually go home so this poses a very critical, long term threat."

Fishman tried to smooth it over by noting "many of them are going to become citizens of Jordan."

Which only again begged the question, do they know what the hell they're talking about.

Jordan's not made Iraqi refugees citizens.

More to the point, Jordan doesn't even allow them to work legally in the country.

They can be kicked out for working and the government refuses to issue them work permits.

If Linda Robinson is so damn worried about the refugees fleeing to Jordan becoming radicalized, she should just stop talking, she just sit her ass down and keep her mouth closed because she clearly doesn't know a damn thing and should let someone else speak.



That's not the answer.

Yes, it can get refugees through a harsh winter, for example.  It can provide immunizations.

But refugee camps are supposed to be temporary lodging.

You're not supposed to be a lifelong refugee.

Hosting refugees is not the same as granting them asylum.

You want to help them?

Grant them asylum.

Make them citizens.

Which may have been the point Fishman was dancing around and trying to word it delicately so that Linda Robinson did not come off like the raving idiot that she so clearly is.

Iraqis fleeing violence do not need to be kept in refugee camps which are the equivalent of cages.

Allow them to work, grant them work permits.

Allow them a path to citizenship if that's what they're choosing.

But if you want to radicalize the youth -- Linda Robinson's big fear -- then the easiest way in the world is to prevent refugees from working, have children grow in refugee camps (or slums) in families dependent upon tiny morsels of charity and, in that, you will have all the ingredients to create suicide bombers and more.

Lebanon and Syria have not been heaven on earth for Iraqi refugees (even before the Syrian conflict broke out).  I'm not trying to scapegoat Jordan.

And friends in Jordan have been personally helpful to me on several occasions on the Iraqi refugee issue.

But what was thought to be temporary early in the Iraq War is now long lasting.

Jordan needs to rethink its policies.

It needs to be providing a path to citizenship.

There are some Iraqi refugees in Jordan today who are on their tenth year -- their tenth year -- of asylum (or 'asylum' because I think you do more than host refugees if you're providing asylum).

These people want a life.

And the rules preventing them from having a life in Jordan are real and need to be addressed.

And possibly that can't happen in Jordan.

That may be true.

I've heard arguments from friends in Jordan that various other issues at play mean this is all that can be offered.

If that's the case, then Jordan is not providing asylum and should not be expected to.

It's a way station and nothing more.

So recognize it as such and get seriously to work on relocating these refugees to a host country where they can have a path to citizenship and they can work legally without fear of fines or deportation.

Linda Robinson wants to throw money at the problem.

She's tossing a few dimes at the homeless and declaring the problem solved.

(The ongoing wars have been a great distraction for America allowing it to avoid the ever increasing homeless population in the United States.)

From his statements to the Subcommittee, I get the idea Fred Kagan would be thrilled if a drone destroyed his home because someone thought a terrorist was present -- he'd be gloating about how at last the US government was not fretting over civilian casualties.

But I have to wonder if Linda Robinson would be happy in a refugee camp?

If she wasn't allowed to work in a field she was trained and educated in but was instead one of many refugees struggling to make it, maybe working the black market, would she be so very happy?

Or if, because she was a foreigner, she was seen as a "critical, long-term threat," would she wake with a smile on her face every day?

It's really amazing how when people like Linda Robinson and Fred Kagan speak of other people, they so quickly strip those people of their humanity and reduce them to faceless non-humans who don't have the right to expect safety or employment or to even pursue happiness.

As the two made clear in their testimonies today, they themselves are the biggest emerging threats currently.

Kimberly Kagan participates in a roundtable discussion on Iraq at POLITICO that is worth reading.

Middle East Eye reports:

Anbar’s provincial council has called on the Iraqi army to refrain from shelling civilian areas of the Islamic State (IS) controlled city of Fallujah, according to a Tuesday statement released by the council.
"Many innocent civilians – especially children, women and elderly people – lost their lives in recent months after security forces shelled [residential areas of] Fallujah," the council asserted.
According to the statement, local residents have been prevented from leaving the city by IS militants.
A medical source told Anadolu Agency that Fallujah General Hospital had received the bodies of seven civilians on Tuesday, along with eight injured, "including women and children".

These are the bombings then-prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki began in January of 2014.

These are the bombings that have left thousands of civilians dead and wounded.

These are the bombings targeting residential neighborhoods.

And, yes, these are the bombings that new prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced he ended on September 13, 2014.

But these are the same bombings that then continued on September 14, 2014.

They've never stopped.

They meet the legal definition of War Crimes.

These are killing and wounding Sunnis.

And these bombings are being carried out by the Iraqi military.

For almost a year-and-a-half, these bombings have taken place and they have received very little press attention.

When Haider made his announcement, however, that received massive press attention -- it even got praise from a United Nations representative.

They'd all been silent as this had taken place but once Haider declared it over, they suddenly rush to note it . . .

only to fall silent when the bombings continued the next day.

I don't know if they get this or not, but this does meet the legal definition of a War Crime and their silence offers them no immunity, they're just as culpable as anyone else -- especially a UN official who's the special envoy to Iraq.

I think his silence could actually qualify for prison time.

Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports 109 violent deaths across Iraq today.