Monday, December 21, 2015

Truest statement of the week

It is becoming increasingly clear to millions that all of Obama’s claims—that the ACA would provide near-universal coverage, that “if you want to keep your plan, you can keep your plan” and “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”—were lies. The aim of Obamacare is to restructure an already class-based delivery of health care even more in line with the interests of the corporations, particularly the private insurance companies and giant pharmaceuticals, while cutting costs for employers and the government.
At the same time, Obamacare prepares the way for the privatization of Social Security and Medicare and their transformation into voucher programs, and provides the impetus for an assault on employer-provided health insurance, the means by which about half of all Americans currently receive coverage.

-- Kate Randall, "Obamacare enrollment deadline: Fines mount for failure to buy costly, barebones insurance" (WSWS).

Truest statement of the week II

While premiums and deductibles continue to rise, the plans offered are steadily deteriorating in quality. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported last month that PPOs, which provide health insurance that pays for both in-network and out-of-network health providers, are dwindling as an option on the Obamacare exchanges.
People shopping for insurance in the ACA “marketplace” are increasingly finding the offerings limited to health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and exclusive-provider organizations, both of which provide extremely limited coverage when patients want to visit an out-of-network health care provider.
The availability of PPOs on the exchange is expected to fall by 41 percent between 2015 and 2016. As of this year in New York City, no PPOs were offered either through Obamacare or on a private insurance exchange, but were available only through employer-provided coverage.
For a patient suffering from a debilitating disease, restriction to an HMO likely means he will no longer be able to visit a specialist, such as an oncologist or rheumatologist, with whom he has established a relationship over months or years. The impact is potentially life-threatening.

-- Kate Randall, "Obamacare enrollment deadline: Fines mount for failure to buy costly, barebones insurance" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

A Monday?

Try basically Tuesday.

First, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Kate Randall gets another truest.
In fact, she gets two.
Nouri attacked protesters.  Now he takes part.
Ava and C.I. take on Hillary in the debates.  You will not want to miss this.

Isaiah live cartooned the debate.

Steve Harvey.
There was some.
Janet Jackson -- just another worthy woman the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame refuses to induct.
Did you miss it?  The media appears to have.

What we listened to while writing.

Press release from Johnny Isakson's office. 
Barack talks Islamic State.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I

Editorial: Oh now he favors protests

Well lookie, lookie here.

Ex VP Maliki turned up in anti  protests in Baghdad but takes a backseat                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Embedded image permalink 

It's thug Nouri al-Maliki.

Thug Nouri who regularly had protesters attacked.

Thug Nouri who had journalists kidnapped and beaten for covering protests.

But lookie lookie if the thug doesn't join in a protest.

Imagine for one moment if he was treated the way he treated Iraqi protesters who stood up against discrimination and persecution.

We're not saying that he should be.

No one should be beaten for exercising free speech.

Or kidnapped.

Or imprisoned.

But how telling that no one in the corporate press last week bothered to note Nouri's treatment of protesters when he was prime minister of Iraq (spring 2006 through summer 2014) as they bothered to note his participation in a Baghdad protest against Turkish troops in Iraq.

TV: The Hillary Clinton Rules

Hillary Clinton does not believe the rules apply to her.


That came across loud and clear Saturday night when ABC broadcast the Democratic Party's presidential debate live from New Hampshire and Clinton shared the stage with Senator Bernie Sanders and former Governor Martin O'Malley.

Here's an exchange from the debate where ABC News' Martha Raddatz asks a basic question.

RADDATZ: Thank you very much. Thank you. We're going to move on here. Governor O'Malley, thank you very much for that. And we're going to make a very sharp turn as we wrap things up here.
Secretary Clinton, first ladies, as you well know, have used their position to work on important causes like literacy and drug abuse. But they also supervise the menus, the flowers, the holiday ornaments and White House decor. I know you think you know where I'm going here.
You have said that Bill Clinton is a great host and loves giving tours but may opt out of picking flower arrangements if you're elected. Bill Clinton aside, is it time to change the role of a president's spouse?

CLINTON: Well, the role has been defined by each person who's held it. And I am very grateful for all my predecessors and my successors because each of them not only did what she could to support her husband and our country but often chose to work on important issues that were of particular concern.
Obviously, Mrs. Obama has been a terrific leader when it comes to young people's health, particularly nutrition and exercise. And I think has had a big impact. So whoever is part of the family of a president has an extraordinary privilege of not only having a front row seat on history but making her or maybe his contribution.

And with respect to my own husband, I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that. But I will certainly turn to him as prior presidents have for special missions, for advice, and in particular, how we're going to get the economy working again for everybody, which he knows a little bit about.

Not only does she believe the rules don't apply to her but she's so damn stupid.

She didn't just, you may remember, sit at home baking cookies.

Do you not remember that?

It was 1992 and she wasn't going to do First Lady functions if elected.  If elected?  In fact, it was going to be a co-presidency, two for the price of one, blah, blah, blah.

No, America didn't go for that.

And the Clinton-Gore campaign had to drop that claim.

And when she got in the White House as First Lady?

Well, she did try healthcare (and failed) but she also hosted teas when not conversing with the spirit of the late Eleanor Roosevelt.

Yes, she did more than host teas -- as did Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford, Lady Bird Johnson and countless others.

But she did have to fulfill the role of First Lady.

Now she wants to be president.

24 years later and she's making the same stupid mistakes.

It will be a co-presidency, she insists.

Bill will be advising on foreign policy and on the economy and on . . .


That's not the role of the First Spouse.

If Bill Clinton isn't, dare we say, 'man enough' to handle the role of the First Spouse, then the country needs to know that now.

It his job to be the smiling, diplomatic partner of the president.

The First Spouse does not make policy.

The role is hostess -- and Harriet Lane served in that role for her uncle James Buchanan when the unmarried Buchanan was President of the United States.

If that role is 'beneath' Bill Clinton or some form of an insult to his manhood, then the American people need to know that now.

In light of the news that Hillary, as Secretary of State, slept through a Benghazi briefing, she needs to know right now that the American people are not voting for a president who selects flowers and china for state dinners.

That's not the job of the president.

Nor does the president have the time to do that.

But rules don't apply to Hillary -- or so she believes.

And that came through loud and clear throughout the debate.

She bullied moderators Raddatz and David Muir.

And they let her.

She talked over everyone -- including the moderators -- and insisted on having the last word over and over.

You really started to grasp that she just can't shut up.

"My name was invoked!" she shrieked at one point talking over others.

It was so ridiculous that Bernie Sanders later mocked her on it by using the same phrase.

But there was so much to mock -- including her outfit.

debate 2

Did someone sew together bathroom mats to make that outfit?

Was it a dress and leggings?

A pantsuit?

Or, as one friend insisted to us, homage to the outfits Ricky and Fred trick Lucy and Ethel into wearing in I LOVE LUCY'S "Lucy Gets a Paris Gown" (written by Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh, Bob Carroll Jr., Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf)?

Some say it with silk, some say it with satin, Hillary apparently says it with burlap.

And whatever she says, it's to cut off Martin O'Malley or Bernie Sanders or Martha Raddatz or David Muir.

Let's talk about the moderators.

Martha had one good moment in the whole debate.

Hillary was yacking on in her War Hawk manner about the need for a no-fly zone over Syria.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I'd like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn't have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn't have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?

CLINTON: I do not think it would come to that. We are already de-conflicting air space. We know...

RADDATZ: But isn't that a decision you should make now, whether...

CLINTON: No, I don't think so. I am advocating...

RADDATZ: ... if you're advocating this?

No, she didn't think so.

Nor did she ever manage to actually answer Martha Raddatz' question.

It was not a proud moment for her as she had repeatedly 'invoked' the need for a no-fly zone -- this despite, as Raddatz pointed out, the Islmaic State not having any aircraft.

Another embarrassing moment also involved the Islamic State -- Hillary Clinton insisting that IS was using Donald Trump in infomericals to recruit for the terrorist organization.

Angie Drobnic Holan (POLITIFACT) addressed that claim:

"We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears," Clinton said. "He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."
Not having heard that before, our eyebrows went up when we heard Clinton’s comment, and we weren’t alone. The Twittersphere, on both the right and the left, picked up on Clinton’s statement and questioned whether she had any evidence for it.
Extensive Google searches did not turn up any evidence. And the response from the Clinton campaign did not point to any specific videos.
The campaign pointed to an NBC News article that quoted Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the social media activities of Islamic terrorist groups.
"They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric," she said. "They follow everything Donald Trump says. When he says, 'No Muslims should be allowed in America,' they tell people, 'We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.' "
The article also quoted David Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-Building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, saying that "Trump's incendiary anti-Muslim comments will surely be used by ISIS social media to demonize the United States and attract recruits to fight in Iraq and Syria."
But while such quotes support the notion that ISIS could be making recruiting videos, or will do so, they do not support Clinton’s contention -- offered in the present tense -- that they are currently doing so. tweeted at J.M. Berger, author of the book ISIS: The State of Terror, and Berger tweeted back, "I would be surprised if they had and we didn't hear about it in a big way."

So serial liar Hillary Clinton backs up her claim by citing . . . serial liar Rita Katz?

[Rita Katz has long been called out here and at THE COMMON ILLS.  If you're new to her, you can refer to Benjamin Wallis-Wells' 2006 article for THE NEW YORKER.]

Did David Muir have even one good moment?

The best term for him would be "coltish."

Shiny sheen, glossy lips?  Not since Julia Roberts paraded down Rodeo Drive has anyone rivaled Mr. Ed for the title of best talking horse.

Is it really too much to expect that debate moderators will impose rules?

Or that when one chat hog won't shut up, that they cut her off?

And if she continues yacking after she's been cut off, that they only get firmer?

"Secretary Clinton," Raddatz asked at one point as Hillary was refusing to answer the question and attempting to distract by going to a different topic, "could we stick to gun control?"

Could we?

Stop her.

Shut her down.

Shut any candidate down who cannot follow the rules.

If you're not up to that, you're not up to being a debate moderator.

They're supposed to impose the rules but Raddatz and Muir let Hillary Clinton walk all over them.

"We have to abide by the rules," Muir insisted at one point, before refusing to impose them -- then or at any other time.

In their half-assed way, however, Muir and Raddatz may have provided a public service: Letting the American public see just what a blow hard and ego maniac Hillary has become.

Better they know while there's still a chance to defeat her in a primary.

[You can stream Saturday's debate at ABC News, you can read a transcript of the debate at THE WASHINGTON POST.]

Live Cartooning the New Hampshire Democratic Debate

Saturday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Governor Martin O'Malley and US Senator Bernie Sanders took the stage in New Hampshire in yet another Democratic Party debate as the party moves towards picking their 2016 presidential nominee.

Isaiah has been doing his online political comic THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS since 2005 but Saturday was the first time he's ever live cartooned an event.

 He offered "What Bernie Wants for America"


He also offered "Who's Debate Is It Anyway?"


And he offered "Hillary's Debate Strategy."


Idiot of the Week

man on man

Steve Harvey made an ass out of himself.


 Sunday night, he hosted The Miss Universe Pageant and, on live television, crowned the wrong woman.

It takes a lot of stupid for that to happen.

But then, the author of ACT LIKE A LADY, THINK LIKE A MAN has been sporting stupid for many, many years.

His apology also managed to insult, as NBC NEWS noted:

Harvey attempted an apology on Twitter. That did not go well, either, when he misspelled both Colombia and Philippines in the tweet, which has since been deleted.

IMAGE: Steve Harvey apology tweet


Illustration is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Man-On-Man" from December 17, 2013.

Truth in the New Hampshire Debate


As Senator Bernie Sanders repeatedly noted, Hillary Clinton is addicted to regime change.

Tweets of the week on the theft of last week

  1. The fact that acts like & the late/great have NOT been inducted into the speaks volumes.
  2. Happy To See Esquire, Tom Joyner, Entertainment Weekly & Droves Of Media Outlets Rip The To Shreds For Snubbing .

Quiz: Who talked about diplomacy in the New Hampshire debate?

No, it wasn't former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was too busy stroking her war on.


It was former Governor Martin O'Malley who talked about the need for diplomatic intelligence.  He spoke of it with regard to Iraq, he spoke of it with regard to Libya (and Benghazi specifically).

O'Mally's best moment in the debate?  Probably this exchange:

O'MALLEY: During the Cold War -- during the Cold War, we got into a bad habit of always looking to see who was wearing the jersey of the communists, and who was wearing the U.S. jersey. We got into a bad habit of creating big bureaucracies, old methodologies, to undermine regimes that were not friendly to the United States. Look what we did in Iran with Mosaddegh. And look at the results that we're still dealing with because of that. I would suggest to you that we need to leave the Cold War behind us, and we need to put together new alliances and new approaches to dealing with this, and we need to restrain ourselves.
I mean, I know Secretary Clinton was gleeful when Gadhafi was torn apart. And the world, no doubt is a better place without him. But look, we didn't know what was happening next. And we fell into the same trap with Assad, saying -- as if it's our job to say, Assad must go.
We have a role to play in this world. But we need to leave the Cold War and that sort of antiquated thinking behind.

 DAVID MUIR: But -- you criticized -- you criticized Secretary Clinton for what came next. What's your proposal for what comes after Assad?


O'MALLEY: I believe that we need to focus on destroying ISIL. That is the clear and present danger. And I believe that we can springboard off of this new U.N. resolution, and we should create, as Secretary Clinton indicated, and I agree with that, that there should be a political process.
But we shouldn't be the ones declaring that Assad must go. Where did it ever say in the Constitution, where is it written that it's the job of the United States of America or its secretary of State to determine when dictators have to go?

We have a role to play in this world. But it is not the world -- the role of traveling the world looking for new monsters to destroy.

This edition's playlist



1) Carly Simon's SONGS FROM THE TREES.

2) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.

3) Janet Jackson's VELVET ROPE.

4) Janet Jackson's JANET.

5) Janet Jackson's ALL FOR YOU.

6) The Door's THE DOORS.




9) Tracy Chapman's GREATEST HITS.


Isakson Highlights 2015 Accomplishments for Veterans, Looks Ahead to Next Year


Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Committee and his office issued  the following Friday:

Friday, December 18, 2015
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
Lauren Gaydos, 202-224-9126

Isakson Highlights 2015 Accomplishments for Veterans, Looks Ahead to Next Year
“We’re going to make the VA work for veterans.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, spoke on the Senate floor last week to highlight the Senate’s many accomplishments to help veterans get the care and benefits they deserve:
“I think it is important that we pause for a moment at the end of the 2015 [and] look back upon the last 12 months. Particularly, we look back at the Department of Veterans (VA) and the veterans that have served our country and reflect on the problems that we have solved and the things we want done to better improve those services.
“When the year dawned, we had a scandal in Arizona at the Phoenix VA hospital. We had bonuses being paid to employees who had not performed, we had medical services that weren’t available to the veterans who had earned them and deserved them. And we as a Senate came together in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which I chair, [and] had a bipartisan effort to see to it we addressed those problems. So for just a second I want take a moment to highlight what we have done… collectively and in a bipartisan way for those who have served our country and our veterans today.
“Number one, by the end of January we had passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act to deal with the growing problem of suicide of our veterans. This law is already working with more psychiatric help available to our veterans, quicker responses for those who seek mental health, better diagnosis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury and a reduction in the rate of suicide that takes place in our veteran community. That was affirmative action, passed 99-0, Republicans and Democrats, in the Senate of the United States.
“We took the Veterans Choice Act, which had just passed in August of 2014, and made it work better for the veterans of our country. In the first nine months of this year, the VA fulfilled 7.5 million more individual appointments for veterans and benefits than they had in the preceding year, all because we made the private sector a part of the VA and allowed veterans to go to the doctor of their choice under certain qualified situations. We made access easier, we made access better, and because of that, we made health care better.
“Then we addressed the Denver crisis. In January we got a note from the VA that they had a $1.3 billion cost overrun on a $1.7 billion hospital. A 328 percent increase in cost with no promise that it would go down. [Senate VA Committee] Ranking Member Blumenthal and myself and the Colorado delegation flew to Denver, brought in the contractors in the VA [and] we made significant changes. First of all, we took the VA out of the construction business. They had proven they didn't deserve the ability to manage that much money or to build things. Their job was to deliver health care. We took the construction and put it in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers where construction and engineering is responsible.
“We told the VA you may have a $1.385 billion cost overrun, but if you're going to pay for it, we’re not going to borrow it from China. You’re going to find it internally in the $71 billion budget of the VA. And they did. By unanimous consent, this Senate and the House of Representatives approved the completion of that hospital, the funding of the shortfall, the management takeover to the Corps of Engineers, and today it's on schedule to be completed for the veterans of the Midwest and the West in Denver, Colorado.
“Then we dealt with many other programs like homelessness and caregiver benefits to our veterans’ caregivers to see to it we had the very best care possibly available. 
“Then we changed the paradigm in terms of the VA. The VA had so many acting appointees and so many unfilled leadership positions that they couldn't function as well as they should. So we went in and we approved Dr. David Shulkin to be Under Secretary for Health. We took LaVerne Council and approved her to be Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology. We took former Congressman Michael Michaud and made him the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training. We put highly qualified people who knew what they were doing in positions where we had vacancies. We’re already seeing a benefit in health delivery services and planning for information and technology coordination and hopefully inter-operability between the VA and Department of Defense in terms of transition of medical records, which is so important.
“But we also did another thing. We said we're no longer going to tolerate scandals in the VA or look the other way, and we're not going to pay rewards and bonuses to people who aren’t doing the job. …We’re going to pass legislation that’s going to hold the VA accountable, have an [employee] record if they're not performing, and in the future prevent any VA employee who is not doing their job from getting a bonus for a job that's not well-done. That's the way it works in the private sector. It ought to be the way it works in the government.
“Then we took another problem. We took the problem of the scandal in the VA relocation benefits which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue to the VA, funds that were… used for transferring some employees within the same geographic area where they were originally working and we told Secretary McDonald to… get in there and clean this [scandal] up. As a result, the former Brigadier General, retired, who was the head of that department, resigned from the VA rather than face the music in terms of the investigation.
“We took affirmative action to see to it that we’d have no more scandals. We have zero tolerance for poor performers and we want to reward good performance. That's the way it needs to be. It's very important to also understand that we have goals for the future. We're going to continue to meet as a committee with the VA leadership on a quarterly basis. Senator Blumenthal and I go and meet with the leadership to see what they're doing and share with them the frustration we have in the House and Senate about things that aren't going right, but share with them the joy we are hearing with the things they're doing to improve.
“And then we’ve set goals for next year. A full implementation of Veterans Choice Program that includes the consolidation of all veterans’ non-VA health care to see to it the veterans get timely appointments and good quality services from the physicians in the VA or physicians in their community.
“We're going to improve the experience of our service members in transitioning from active duty to veteran status. Quite frankly today that’s the biggest problem we have in the country. Active duty service members who leave service and go to veteran status fall in a black hole. There is no inter-operability of VA and DoD health care records and electronic records. There’s no transition and handoff. We’re going to see to it that that changes.
“We’re going to improve the experience of women veterans including protecting victims of military sexual trauma. We're going to combat veteran homelessness and… go from the goal of the president to get it to zero. We've already reduced it by a third.
“We're going to ensure access to mental health so no veteran that finds himself in trouble is unable to have immediate access to counseling. And on that point, I want to commend the VA for the suicide prevention hotline which has helped to save lives in this country this year. We're going to continue to see to it that we have more and more access for our veterans.
“Simply put, we’re going to make the VA work for the veterans and work for the American people. We're going to have accountability of the employees. We're going to reward good behavior and we’re not going to accept bad behavior. And in the end we're going to take the veterans of America who serve their country and make sure they get every benefit that's promised to them and delivered in a high quality fashion. And we're going to do it working together as Republicans and Democrats and as members of the Senate.
“As we close this year, I just want to pause and thank the members of the Senate for their unanimous bipartisan support for the significant changes we have made to address the problems of the Department of Veterans Affairs and to remember this holiday season the great gift we have all received  which are our veterans who have served us, many of whom have sacrificed, and some of whom have died to see to it that America remains the strongest, most peaceful and freest country on the face of this earth.”
Watch Isakson’s full floor speech online here. Last month, Isakson sent a letter in honor of Veterans Day to members of the Senate thanking them for their work to help veterans.

The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.

Remarks by the President on the Military Campaign to Destroy ISIL


Last Monday, US President Barack Obama gave a speech.


The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President on the Military Campaign to Destroy ISIL

The Pentagon

12:47 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Today, the United States and our Armed Forces continue to lead the global coalition in our mission to destroy the terrorist group ISIL.  As I outlined in my speech to the nation last weekend, our strategy is moving forward with a great sense of urgency on four fronts -- hunting down and taking out these terrorists; training and equipping Iraqi and Syrian forces to fight ISIL on the ground; stopping ISIL’s operations by disrupting their recruiting, financing and propaganda; and, finally, persistent diplomacy to end the Syrian civil war so that everyone can focus on destroying ISIL.
I just had a chance to meet with my National Security Council as part of our regular effort to review and constantly strengthen our efforts.  And I want to thank Secretary Carter, Chairman Dunford, and Vice Chairman Selva for hosting us and for their leadership of our men and women in uniform.  We heard from General Austin, who is leading the military campaign in the region, as well as General Votel, whose Special Operations forces are playing a vital role in this fight.
I want to provide all of you a brief update on our progress against the ISIL core in Syria and Iraq, because as we squeeze its heart, we’ll make it harder for ISIL to pump its terror and propaganda to the rest of the world.
This fall, even before the revolting attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, I ordered new actions to intensify our war against ISIL.  These actions, including more firepower and Special Operations forces, are well underway.  This continues to be a difficult fight.  As I said before, ISIL is dug in, including in urban areas, and they hide behind civilians, using defenseless men, women and children as human shields.
So even as we’re relentless, we have to be smart, targeting ISIL surgically, with precision.  At the same time, our partners on the ground are rooting ISIL out, town by town, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block.  That is what this campaign is doing.
We are hitting ISIL harder than ever.  Coalition aircraft -- our fighters, bombers and drones -- have been increasing the pace of airstrikes -- nearly 9,000 as of today.  Last month, in November, we dropped more bombs on ISIL targets than any other month since this campaign started.
We’re also taking out ISIL leaders, commanders and killers, one by one.  Since this spring, we’ve removed Abu Sayyaf, one of their top leaders; Haji Mutazz, ISIL’s second-in command; Junaid Hussain, a top online recruiter; Mohamed Emwazi, who brutally murdered Americans and others; and in recent weeks, finance chief Abu Saleh; senior extortionist Abu Maryam; and weapons trafficker Abu Rahman al-Tunisi.  The list goes on.
We’re going after ISIL from their stronghold right down -- right in downtown Raqqa, to Libya, where we took out Abu Nabil, the ISIL leader there.  The point is, ISIL leaders cannot hide.  And our next message to them is simple:  You are next.
Every day, we destroy as well more of ISIL’s forces -- their fighting positions, bunkers and staging areas; their heavy weapons, bomb-making factories, compounds and training camps.  In many places, ISIL has lost its freedom of maneuver, because they know if they mass their forces, we will wipe them out.  In fact, since the summer, ISIL has not had a single successful major offensive operation on the ground in either Syria or Iraq.  In recent weeks, we’ve unleashed a new wave of strikes on their lifeline, their oil infrastructure, destroying hundreds of their tanker trucks, wells and refineries. And we’re going to keep on hammering those.
ISIL also continues to lose territory in Iraq.  ISIL had already lost across Kirkuk province and at Tikrit.  More recently, ISIL lost at Sinjar, losing a strategic highway.  ISIL lost at Baiji, with its oil refinery.  We saw the daring raid supported by our Special Forces, which rescued dozens of prisoners from ISIL, and in which Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler made the ultimate sacrifice.
So far, ISIL has lost about 40 percent of the populated areas it once controlled in Iraq.  And it will lose more.  Iraqi forces are now fighting their way deeper into Ramadi.  They’re working to encircle Fallujah and cut off ISIL supply routes into Mosul.  Again, these are urban areas where ISIL is entrenched.  Our partners on the ground face a very tough fight ahead, and we’re going to continue to back them up with the support that they need to ultimately clear ISIL from Iraq.
ISIL also continues to lose territory in Syria.  We continue to step up our air support and supplies to local forces -- Syrian Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Turkmen -- and they’re having success.  After routing ISIL at Kobani and Tal Abyad, they’ve pushed ISIL back from almost across the entire border region with Turkey, and we’re working with Turkey to seal the rest.  ISIL has lost thousands of square miles of territory it once controlled in Syria -- and it will lose more.  The Special Forces that I ordered to Syria have begun supporting local forces as they push south, cut off supply lines and tighten the squeeze on Raqqa.
Meanwhile, more people are seeing ISIL for the thugs and the thieves and the killers that they are.  We’ve seen instances of ISIL fighters defecting.  Others who’ve tried to escape have been executed.  And ISIL’s reign of brutality and extortion continues to repel local populations and help fuel the refugee crisis. “So many people are migrating,” said one Syrian refugee.  ISIL, she said, will “end up all alone.”
All this said, we recognize that progress needs to keep coming faster.  No one knows that more than the countless Syrians and Iraqis living every day under ISIL’s terror, as well as the families in San Bernardino and Paris and elsewhere who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.  Just as the United States is doing more in this fight -- just as our allies France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Australia and Italy are doing more -- so must others.
And that’s why I’ve asked Secretary Carter to go to the Middle East -- he’ll depart right after this press briefing -- to work with our coalition partners on securing more military contributions to this fight.  On the diplomatic front, Secretary Kerry will be in Russia tomorrow as we continue to work, as part of the Vienna process, to end the Syrian civil war.  Meanwhile, here at home, the Department of Homeland Security is updating its alert system to help the American people stay vigilant and safe.
And as always, our extraordinary men and women in uniform continue to put their lives on the line -- in this campaign and around the world -- to keep the rest of us safe.  This holiday season, many of our troops are once again far from their families.  And as your Commander-in-Chief, on behalf of the American people, we want to say thank you.  We are grateful, and we are proud for everything that you do.  Because of you, the America that we know and love and cherish is leading the world in this fight.
Because of you, I am confident that we are going to prevail.
Thank you very much, everybody.

12:56 P.M. EST


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Stepping away from Iraq for one entry" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site.

 "What Bernie Wants for America,"  "Who's Debate Is It Anyway?" and "Hillary's Debate Strategy." -- Isaiah live cartooned the Democratic Party debate.

"She's disgusting," "THIS JUST IN! DAVID MUIR EXPLAINS!," and "He found her scary," and "Let's tell the truth Martin" -- debate commentary in the community.

"Not a fan of a dogpile" -- nor are we, Mike.

"Tarantino needs to grow the hell up"  -- the idiot is attacking STAR WARS -- yeah, that's how you get an audience for your latest crap ass film.

"Cranky Clinton can't run from her lies" -- especially not with all the junk she's got in that trunk!

"That sexist Rock & Roll Hall of Shame,""Sexist Jann Wenner overlooks Janet Jackson again,""Stop buying Rolling Stone and Men's Health" and "Appalling" -- community reaction on the latest sexist b.s. from Jann Wenner and the Schlock and Roll Hall of Shame.

"john feffer, shut the f**k up" -- Rebecca says it clearly.

"Finally" -- Trina notes the long, long delay.

"Well look who got paid off for services rendered" -- Ann notes the corruption.


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