Sunday, November 03, 2013

Truest statement of the week

Intelligence sharing still carries a risk: Maliki’s closest ally is the US's regional adversary, Iran. The New Yorker reported recently that Iraq’s rejection of a residual US military force in 2011, an act that resulted in all but a handful of US troops withdrawing that December, came at the instigation of the Iranian spy chief Qassem Suleimani.

--  Spencer Ackerman, "Obama administration open to Iraq PM Maliki's request for surveillance help" (Guaridan).

Truest statement of the week II

The Maliki regime blames all terrorist acts (frequent car explosions, often in markets, cafes and mosques) on al-Qaida, selectively choosing not to mention the regime's own militias: Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Iraqi Hezbollah, factions of the Mahdi army, the Badr brigades and the Mokhtar army.
A common belief among Iraqis is that only agents connected to the nearly 1 million strong army and security forces, and especially to the Special Forces (inherited from the occupation, trained by the US and now attached directly to Maliki's office) could carry out such sustained and widespread campaign of terror.
Why is it that so many come to the conclusion that most atrocities blamed on al-Qaida are actually the work of the regime, its factional fighters, and regional actors with links to security services? It is because the regime is the embodiment of the sectarian divide entrenched by the occupation. Its constitution and political process, nurtured by the US and UK, has spawned a kleptocracy of warlords, charlatans, and merchants of religion. Yes, al-Qaida is a presence. But the sectarian political parties that mushroomed after the invasion are also fighting each other, killing thousands of civilians in the process. Almost 3,000 people were killed in acts of violence between July and September this year alone with three times that number wounded. Many of those wounded often die due to lack of medical services. Acts of violence are presented daily on Iraqi TV like the weather forecast in Britain. They are destroying the very fabric of society and pushing people who have been living together for centuries to speak and act about "them" and "us".

-- Haifa Zangana, "No more arms to Iraq, Obama" (Guardian).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, 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?

Spencer Ackerman.  C.I. championed him.  Loudly and strongly.  In part, our objection was over the fact that he'd been applauded earlier (I believe 2011) only to turn around and rewrite his strong writing, to weaken it.  But C.I. made her point and Ackerman got his truest.

This was an obvious choice and no objections were lodged.
We would have liked an entire Iraq edition.  Didn't do it.  We may do some more pieces next week.  We tried two pieces on Iraq that didn't get posted.  They just wouldn't come together.  It happens.
Ava and C.I. take on the helpers.  
This fell apart.  It fell apart over many of us wanting the Wilders of On The Wilder Side called out.  When they were added in at some point -- sixth draft?  seventh? -- C.I. said, "I'll go fact check and article.  I'm done with this piece."  She didn't want the Wilders named, she feels they're not the most egregious and that Kimberly Wilder's no longer playing point guard for Barack Obama.  She left.  Her leaving the article in progress meant Ava left.  Elaine also said she was tired and she walked.  At which point, we had to scale back the article because it was not getting better without them, it was getting worse. A lot worse.  Dona found a way to piece together a lot of what we'd come up with in drafts while Ava, C.I. and Elaine were working with us and the article works.  But I had wanted much more from it.  In the words of Kat, it is what it is.
We've been meaning to do this article forever.  We finally did it.  Spam?  Yahoo lets you report it.  But attempts to trick you into clicking on a link that will then compromise your laptop or tablet?  That's not spam.  

C.I. found this.
Betty, Ava and C.I. brought this to the table.  C.I. knows and like Henry Jaglom but she loathes Peter Biskind.  She even said we might need to take a pass because of her friendship with Henry or do a disclosure.  No.  Any love she has for Henry is tempered by the hate she feels for Peter B.
C.I. and Ava helped Kat steer this topic.

Wally and Cedric caught this.
C.I.'s not big on reprints here -- feels they should go to other sites.  But she did agree since the whole rationale Mike Rogers has for supporting spying is based on lies. 

Press release from Senator Patty Murray's office.

Six senators write Barack about Iraq.
Repost from Workers World.
Mike and the gang did this and we thank them for it.

That's what we've got to share this week.


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

Editorial: Barack appeased the Butcher of Baghdad

Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister and thug Nouri al-Maliki visited the US to beg for help in destroying Iraq further by giving him more weapons and backing him for a third term as prime minister.  .  Former US Ambassador Marc Ginsberg pointed out at The Huffington Post:

By most accounts Iraq is heading toward an unchecked meltdown, and Maliki would like us to believe he deserves a red carpet welcome as the innocent plaintiff in the upheavals he created, not as the felonious defendant he should be adjudged.
And to top off his disastrous management of Iraq, he wants Washington to legitimate his charade by endorsing his bid for re-election in Iraq's crucial 2014 elections.

Friday found him face-to-face with US President Barack Obama.


It wasn't a good week for Nouri.

October ended Thursday and the violent death toll in Iraq for the month of October, Iraq Body Count noted 1095 violent deaths.  Not since 2007 has an October death toll been so great.

It wasn't a good week for Nouri.

Tuesday, US Senators Carl Levin, John McCain, Robert Menendez, Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker and James M. Inhofe released an open letter to President Barack Obama which noted:

It is essential that you urge Prime Minister Maliki to adopt a strategy to address Iraq’s serious problems of governance. Such a strategy should unite Iraqis of every sect and ethnicity in a reformed constitutional order, based on the rule of law, which can give Iraqis a real stake in their nation’s progress, marginalize Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other violent extremists, and bring lasting peace to the country. To be effective, an Iraqi political strategy should involve sharing greater national power and revenue with Sunni Iraqis, reconciling with Sunni leaders, and ending de-Baathification and other policies of blanket retribution. It should include agreements with the Kurdistan Regional Government to share hydrocarbon revenues and resolve territorial disputes. And it requires a clear commitment that the elections scheduled for next year will happen freely, fairly, and inclusively in all parts of Iraq, and that the necessary preparations will be taken.
If Prime Minister Maliki were to take actions such as these, he could cement his legacy as the leader who safeguarded his country's sovereignty and laid the foundation for the new Iraq. In this endeavor, Prime Minister Maliki and our other Iraqi partners would have our support, including appropriate security assistance, and we would encourage you to provide U.S. diplomatic support at the highest levels to help Iraqis reach the necessary political agreements before the 2014 elections. However, if Prime Minister Maliki continues to marginalize the Kurds, alienate many Shia, and treat large numbers of Sunnis as terrorists, no amount of security assistance will be able to bring stability and security to Iraq. That is not a legacy we want for Prime Minister Maliki, and that is not an outcome that would serve America’s national interests.

He met with Congressional leaders.  On Friday night's NewsHour (PBS -- link is video, audio and text), Margaret Warner explained the meet-up did not go well:

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Maliki did spend time on the Hill?


JUDY WOODRUFF: And how much progress did he make there? What happened?

MARGARET WARNER: It went very badly.

The key meetings yesterday were with Senator McCain and -- excuse me -- Wednesday -- and then with Corker and Menendez. And I'm told that that latter meeting was particularly contentious. They laid out all their concerns. He sort of sat impassively and, according to the aides present, he simply repeated platitudes about how he's governing by the constitution.
And, finally, Menendez got so -- I don't know if it's angry, but certainly peeved, that he looked at him and he said: Look, I feel you're just glossing over our concerns. And you need to know you're not getting any of this without our OK.
And Senator Corker came out afterwards and said: We felt he was completely dismissive of our concerns.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's known that one of the things they feel strongly about is he needs to share power.

Throughout the visit, Nouri kept getting hit with reality.  For example,  Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers (The Hill) notes Nouri's use of torture:

Earlier this year, interviewing prisoners in Shaaba Khamsa, Baghdad’s death row facility, I met a 52-year-old woman, one of the thousands of prisoners the U.S. turned over to Iraqi custody when American troops left nearly two years ago. She showed me the scars where security forces had burned her with cigarettes, used electric shocks and beat her so badly that she was still using crutches three years later.
Two courts had declared her innocent of the terrorism charges against her, owing in part to a medical report documenting the extensive torture that led to her confession. A third court, though, reversed these rulings and sentenced her to death late last year, on the basis of “secret evidence provided by the Americans.”
In September, she was among 42 prisoners executed in Iraq in two days.Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is in Washington this week to ask President Obama for warplanes, drones, and other assistance for Iraq’s counterterrorism efforts. The president should send a clear message that the kind of assistance Maliki seeks is not possible as long as his security forces continue their widespread torture – often in the name of counterterrorism.

In fact, Human Rights Watch was among the most vocal during the visit.  Human Rights Watch issued a press release right before Nouri arrived in the US:

 Iraq’s crackdown on peaceful government critics and an epidemic of executions should be top agenda items during the prime minister’s state visit to Washington, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to President Barack Obama. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is scheduled to meet with Obama on November 1, 2013.

Iraqi officials say that Maliki’s priority will be to accelerate US provision of arms, intelligence, and other counterterrorism support, including the immediate delivery of drones and F-16 fighter jets. But Obama should make clear that his administration will prohibit security aid, especially arms, equipment, and training for security forces, unless the Iraqi government ends its widespread use of torture.

“Iraq is plagued by terrorist attacks that are killing civilians in record numbers, but relying on torture and executions after unfair trials only makes the situation worse,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Obama needs to send a clear message to Maliki that the US will not support his assault on human rights.”

The government has dramatically escalated use of the death penalty, especially in the name of fighting terrorism, executing 65 people already in October and 140 so far in 2013. At least one of those executed in October had a court judgment declaring him innocent shortly before he was executed.

Immediately following Maliki’s visit to Washington in December 2011, the prime minister ordered the arrests of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and several of his staff, one of whom died in police custody and whose body displayed signs of torture. The arrests kicked off a year in which security forces under Maliki’s direct command threatened and harassed government critics and used state institutions to arrest and charge political opponents without disclosing the evidence against them. The US had a direct role in setting up some of those entities, like the Integrity Commission and inspectors general in the Interior and Defense ministries.

Over the past two years, Maliki’s security forces have routinely detained and tortured scores of peaceful protesters as well as men and women living in areas where the government believes armed groups operate, exploiting vague provisions in Iraq’s Anti-Terrorism Law to settle personal or political scores. These abuses are compounded by judges and investigating officers who collude to prolong the time detainees are held and ignore their allegations of abuses. Suspects with little or no access to an adequate defense are frequently detained for months and even years without charge.

Obama should press Maliki to introduce legislation repealing the Anti-Terrorism Law, which broadly mandates the death penalty for “those who commit...terrorist acts” and “all those who enable terrorists to commit these crimes” in article 4. Articles 1 and 2 define “terrorism” extremely broadly, including acts that do not involve violence or injury to people such as disruption of public services, enabling authorities to use the law to punish nonviolent political dissent. The authorities frequently use the law’s ambiguous provisions to target people on the basis of tribe or sect.

Public security has worsened drastically in Iraq in 2013 after security forces stormed a camp of peaceful protesters in the northern town of Hawija in April, killing 51 people. Attacks by armed groups, which claimed over 5,740 lives between January and September, have internally displaced another 5,000 Iraqis from Basra, Thi Qar, and Baghdad, and within Diyala and Ninewa.

The escalation in executions after trials in which people are convicted on the basis of coerced confessions and secret evidence – mostly in the name of counterterrorism – has done nothing to address the crisis. Obama should address authorities’ failure to failure to hold those responsible accountable regardless of their sect. Numerous Iraqis have told Human Rights Watch the government’s approach has polarized Iraq’s population, particularly in Sunni areas, where people see the government’s failure to hold Shia-dominated security forces accountable as confirmation that the prime minister’s policies remain rooted in sectarianism.

Despite all of this, Barack sat down with Nouri and pretended he was meeting with The Butcher of Baghdad.

And Nouri left with the impression he had backing for weapons and for a third term.

The last thing Iraq needs is a third term from Nouri.

Since he became prime minister in the spring of  2006, he has done nothing to improve the lives of the Iraqi people.  This point was especially made on Here and Now (NPR -- link is audio and text) last week when Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson spoke with the BBC's Hadya al-Alawi.

Hadya al-Alawi: I mean, how can I explain that life there is terrible? There is no electricity, and it's boiling hot in Iraq at this time. There is no water. The basic, main services are not provided in the country. I mean, security is very important. How can you go out about your daily life without knowing that you can come back, actually, to your kids at night? Or how can you go to work thinking I'm going to die today in an explosion, for example?

Nouri has had over 7 years to address these problems and never has.

It's not about money.

Billions pour into Iraq each month in oil sales.

It does not go to the people.

Nouri's son spends millions and millions on cars and buildings.  How did he get those millions because Nouri was near poverty before the start of the Iraq War.  He was an exile, a chicken who fled Iraq and hid in Syria and Iran.  Now his son can drop $150 million in a trip to London?

Nouri does not need a third term.  The Iraqi people do not need to suffer through that.

TV: Be wary of the helpers

Beware the 'helpers.'  They may have other motives, they may lack knowledge and things may get ugly.


Take NCIS, one of the all time worst shows on television.  If there's anything to be grateful for about the long running CBS TV series it's that Mark Harmon keeps his shirt on.  Looking at his elderly, girlish face today (he's one of those men who looks more and more like a woman as he ages), it would probably shock many to know he was once considered sexy and, in fact, People magazine once crowned him Sexiest Man of the Year.

That was a century ago and it shows in Harmon's face.  But the only reason he got selected a sexiest man in the 20th century was that he was keeping his shirt on.  We're not knocking his hairy chest.  We are knocking his hairy back and hairy shoulders.  We picture poor Morgan Fairchild (Harmon played her husband on NBC's Flamingo Road) coughing up fur balls for days after filming a bed scene with the actor.

The years have not been kind to Harmon, an actor we think of whenever we see that oft played TV ad asking men if they need to consider taking testosterone supplements.  As we noted when reviewing the show in 2005, "Like Paul McCartney, each passing year makes Harmon look more and more like Jean Stapleton."  He looks so much like Edith Bunker, you keep waiting for someone to insist he 'stifle' himself.  And he looks much older than 62 and you really get how old he is when you grasp that the 'kooky kid' on the show, Abby, is played by 44-year-old Pauley Perrette. There's something really sad about that, even sadder than the fact that Abby is not just supposed to represent Young America, she's also supposed to represent Goth America -- all this at an age that makes her older than Mary or Rhoda was back in the days of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

But if they didn't cast people in their forties as 'young,'  if they actually used young people on the show, Mark Harmon would look even more ancient.

So it's another season where Michael Weatherly will play 'youngish' despite being in his forties (he's now 45).  Last season struck the suits as erratic in terms of ratings and they want young.  So they got into a power play with Cote de Pablo had who played Ziva since 2005 to muscle her off the show.  If you never get how screwed up the suits are, grasp that they felt the show needed "young blood."  So they muscled out the youngest member of the main cast (de Pablo's only 33).

On the show, de Pablo played a serious, even stern, character.  Her possible replacement Emily Wickersham isn't pulling in viewers or support at this point and, if things don't improve, CBS wants an offer made to de Pablo to get her to return to the show.  (Money was the issue that forced de Pablo to leave.  Despite being a huge fan favorite, she was making less than every male in the cast.)

If Wickersham is a brief footnote in the show's history, she'll handle it fine.  In terms of disappointments, she made it through Valentine's 2010 and still married the guy.  (That's all we're saying on that.) She's also got a great deal of talent and really shouldn't be joining, moldy established shows but finding parts on new, exciting ones or even in film.

NCIS is one of those awful shows that we summed up in 2006 when we tackled the original CSI:

Striding into Jim's office slowly, again for the Helgenberger effect (we were still wearing the tight blue jeans), we waited for him to look at us questioningly.
Then we leaned in at odd angles since that's a key to CSI's visual "style."
"It's Occam's Razor," Ava explained.
"Reductionist philosophy," she added for those who hadn't majored in the liberal arts.
"Give the aging set what they want," C.I. continued. "Stocky men as sex objects so none of the stocky husbands watching with their wives feel threatened."
"Throw in an older woman in tight clothes, with a gorgeous body," Ava explained. "That way the women watching can feel 'At least she's not twenty' and the men can still drool."
"Shape the show, the entire episode to what they knew forty years ago," C.I. said choosing another odd angle to stand in. "Add in a Who song on the soundtrack to make them feel that they're not that old in a 'Hey, I know that theme song!' kind of way. Give 'em a kid who quotes an Eagles' song everyone their age knew but no kid today would be caught dead quoting as a first choice."
Ava nodded and followed with, "Toss in a Nazi-inspired criminal because Nazis were the 'big bad' when they were kids. So the Depends-set will find comfort in that in a sort of 'the more things change, the more they stay the same' sort of way."
"Show a young woman naked, but it's 'okay' because she's a discovered corpse," C.I. chimed in. "Show her, alive, in flashback, just wearing a bra repeatedly, and it's still 'okay' because this isn't 'titillation,' it's 'reenacting a crime'. Get's the blood pumping a little. Let's the middle-aged men leave the Lazy Boys with a bit of a spring in their step."
"It fills an hour with nothing but questions, pulls some answers from offscreen, sets up things so they're all relatable to those about to kiss goodbye middle-age, while giving them one last false hope that they're still 'with it'," we concluded. "That's why it's a hit. It's a pacifier. That tells them the crime gets solved, the guilty are punished, the world is black and white."
Jim nodded and was about to say something but we stopped him. These shows always end in silence.

We were reminded of that last month when we caught the "Informative Murder Porn" episode of South Park, where Stan's parents were getting turned on by criminal re-enactments on TV shows.

Viewers made NCIS the number one show on TV and did so because it strokes their fears and jollies all at the same time.  We're really embarrassed for some of the people we know who've guested on the show.  They always pretend like it was something amazing but every script's the same and the only light moments always come from the obvious.

Mark Harmon probably kids himself that acting on this show is helpful -- like he kidded himself that he was helpful when he took his sister to court and tried to take away her son.

Someone should have told him to sit his tired ass down.  In fact, someone should tell him that with regards to what he considers his acting as well.  He still can't act.  All these years and he still can't act.  He was the weakest thing about Flamingo Road, he ran viewers off from Moonlighting, he was a joke in one TV movie after another and he's the kiss of death for any film.   Doubt it?  From 1977 to 1979, Jane Fonda starred in seven films.  She raked up 3 Best Actress Academy Award nominations in that time (one win) and six of the seven were hits.  The only one that flopped?  Comes A Horseman, the one Mark Harmon appeared in.  Some might say, "It was a small part!"  Small part, big part, Mark Harmon's never been a name that could sell tickets.

How bad is his acting?  He's starred in the number one TV show, NCIS, for ten years now and never been Emmy nominated for this performance   Pretty boys, pay attention, this is what happens to you when you hit your sixties without ever having bothered to learn your craft -- your looks are shot and the industry laughs at your attempted acting.

Could it be any worse?  Well, he could resurrect that mid-80s home perm and take off his shirt.

NCIS is a very damaging show.  If it were a talk show, in fact, it would be hosted by Chris Matthews -- it's that damn bad.

Chris fancies himself a helper and, certainly, no one kissed Jack Welch's ass more than Chris and, as a suck up, he can help the so-so in power believe that they're really something.

To do this, he has to lie.  A lot.

Fortunately, Chris never lost any sleep over molesting the truth.

Bob Somerby thinks he helps as well.  Sometimes he does.  Sometime he doesn't.

And last week, our media watchdog went to town on Chris and Lawrence O'Donnell with regards to the way the two distorted a simple (and tired) joke that US Senator Ted Cruz told.  This is how Somerby quoted the spin from Chris Matthews and his flunkies (correctly quoted):.

MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Cruz returned to his supporters this weekend, where he got shouts of approval Saturday night from his most fervent backers. Here he is, drawing the line between them and his following senators, and by the way, all the people represented in Washington.

CRUZ (videotape): Having spent the past month up in D.C., it is really great to be back in America.

MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman’s editorial director of the Huffington Post and David Corn is Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones. Both are, of course, MSNBC political analysts.
Howard, this isn’t a casual reference. This is, “We’re Americans, we white people out here in Texas, as opposed to people who live in the big cities, the ethnics, the blacks, the browns. Those people in Washington, those liberals, they’re not Americans.”  This guy either has a total lack of understanding of American history and the hell we went through in the McCarthy period or he knows it damn well and is playing that card. What do you think it is, knowledge or ignorance?

Somerby noted that Cruz's remark is standard (and stale) political humor when a politician returns home during a DC break.  He noted how it had nothing to do with race.

That was good.

But it wasn't enough.

Ted Cruz delivered those remarks in San Antonio and Chris Matthews lied and said that Ted was saying, "We're Americans, we white people out here in Teaxas, as opposed to people who live in the big cities, the ethnics, the blacks, the browns."

First off, Chris has a home in Nantucket.   Do you know the racial make up there?

Bob Somerby didn't think to raise that.  But Chris is tossing around "we" which includes him.  Nantucket is nearly 90% Anglo White.  African Americans are only 8.29% of the population.

Again, Cruz was speaking in San Antonio.

72.6% White.  So only a little better?  Uh, no.  26.6% of that 72.6% are Anglo White.  Let's repeat because Chris Matthews is really stupid:  Less than 30% of San Antonio's population is what Chris would label White.   The majority of the population in San Antonio is Hispanic or, as Chris might put it, "brown."

How do you make a stupid statement and imply that San Antonio is Anglo White?  You do it because you're that stupid and that uninformed.  You do it because you're riding so high on hate that facts don't matter.

Chris is a cheap little hustler -- well that's not accurate.  He's fat.  So he's a cheap fat hustler.

And he'd probably try to worm his way out and say he meant the crowd Ted Cruz was speaking to. That's not what he meant.

But let's anticipate that weasel move and focus on this:

Chris Matthews:  Howard, this isn’t a casual reference. This is, “We’re Americans, we white people out here in Texas, as opposed to people who live in the big cities, the ethnics, the blacks, the browns. Those people in Washington, those liberals, they’re not Americans.”

What are the demographics of Texas?

44.8% are Anglo White
36.1 are  Hispanic ("White Hispanic" is the term that the Census Bureau used, that's where all the demographic figures are coming from, and when Latino is allowed in, the figure rises to 37.6%).
11.8% are African-American or Black
3.8% are Asian-American
2.7% are bi- or mutli-racial
.1% are Pacific Islander
and 10.5% list "some other race"

Nantucket is part of the state of Massachusetts.

Now Texas is 44.8% Anglo White.  What's the figure for Massachusetts?  83.7% are "White" with 75.8% being "Non-Hispanic White."  So over 75% of the state is Anglo White.

The state Chris Matthews lives in.

And he said what again?

Chris Matthews:  Howard, this isn’t a casual reference. This is, “We’re Americans, we white people out here in Texas, as opposed to people who live in the big cities, the ethnics, the blacks, the browns. Those people in Washington, those liberals, they’re not Americans.”

The population in "(Anglo) White" Texas is much more varied than it is where Chris lives.

He's a liar and he's a weasel.  So he might try to insist he was comparing to DC (Chris does not live in DC).

What's the Anglo-White population in DC?  35.5% are Anglo White.  That's not that far off from 44.8% for the state of Texas.  And remember, the San Antonio number is 26.6% -- so there are more Anglo Whites in DC than there are in San Antonio.

The points we're making?

They refute Chris Matthew's claims and demonstrate he's stupid, lying and trying to use (lies about) race to tar and feather someone he doesn't care for (someone he and/or his bosses don't care for).

Bob Somerby did two posts on this and said a lot.  For example:

Wow! Even for Matthews, that was an especially ugly translation of a very familiar type of stock joke. According to Matthews, Cruz was saying that white people in Texas are Americans, but black people in cities are not.
Chris is determined to make you a hater. Sadly, Howard Fineman was up to the challenge posed by his terrible host. 

Bob Somerby wanted to help.  And pointing out that Matthews (and O'Donnell on his show) lied was helpful.

But more helpful?

That would be fact checking the claim.

Matthews, in his demented and cloistered mind, has an image of Texas.  It's a false image.  And you prove him false by taking his claim and fact checking it.

There's nothing wrong with having a Nantucket home.  One of us has one on Martha's Vineyard. There's nothing wrong with living in Massachusetts -- we have many friends who do -- including Trina and Rebecca.  But when you start pointing to states with more diverse populations but pretending that they're majority Anglo White?

There's something seriously wrong with that.

Bob Somerby tried to help and it was some help.  Also true, he's a comedian so he would probably naturally go to the fact that Cruz was telling a joke.

But if he wants to insist -- as he does over and over -- that talk show hosts and personalities need to be fact checked then maybe he should be fact checking them himself.

Matthews is stupid and a liar.

And it would have been so easy for Somerby to have knocked Matthews off his high horse if he'd only fact checked him.

We don't doubt that Somerby wanted to help and we even grade him as having half-helped with his work last week.  We don't doubt that Chris Matthews wanted to help.  But we do think Somerby wanted to help the people while Chris Matthews wanted to trick the people.  Like Mark Harmon starring in that awful TV show, Chris Matthews is just in it for a check.

Where The Whores Are (an examination of the blogosphere)

Lisa: Alirght, Nelson, what kind of journalism skills do you have

Nelson: I don't know.  Making nerds cry.

Lisa:  Perfect you're our TV critic.  Ralph, what about you?

Ralph:  I want to be a fire truck.

Lisa: How about a feature columnist?

Ralph:  Yea! I'm a feature columnist!

Ralph goes in circles


That's from The Simpsons' "Fraudcast News."

When it aired May 23, 2004, the episode written by Don Payne, struck a chord -- not just in the then-usual physical conversation spaces but online.

A year prior, the Iraq War had started.  The 'rollout' for the illegal war began much sooner.  You could argue it began immediately after September 11, 2001.  You could argue that because although no Iraqi was among the hijackers named by the US government, the White House. Richard Clarke (fomer National Security Council counterterrorism coordinator) has explained, "When the 9-11 attacks occurred, Bush Cabinet members immediately discussed how that tragedy could be used to justify an invasion. Bush himself asked me to try to pin the blame for 9-11 on Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney propagated a myth that a hijacker had met with Iraqi intelligence officials in Prague, even though we knew at the time Cheney said it that the report was false and that the hijacker was in Virginia at the time of the alleged meeting."

And the administration couldn't sell an illegal war by themselves, they needed a willing press.

The New York Times has still not recovered fully from their role in the selling of the Iraq War.

Immediately, some will nod and say, "Judith Miller."  Just as The Times was not the only paper (or outlet) selling the illegal war, Miller wasn't even the first at her paper.

The top half of the front page of the November 8, 2001 issue of The New York Times (sample via featured an article entitled "A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SCHOOL; Defectors Cite Iraqi Training For Terrorism" -- a 'report' based on the testimony of a defector or defectors.

Everything in the report is basically a lie.  The author of the first front page NYT report to falsely link 9-11 and Iraq?

Chris Hedges.

The article says he spoke to two defectors.

The lead sentence is, in fact, "Two defectors from Iraqi intelligence said yesterday that they had worked for several years at a secret Iraqi government camp that had trained Islamic terrorists in rotations of five or six months since 1995."  But when Jack Fairweather (Mother Jones) exposed the lies in that 'report' in March of 2006, he only noted one defector.

Hedges didn't come forward on his own and he's never explained since whether there really were two people he spoke to or if he lied about that.

Fairweather noted:

The impact of the article and the concurrent Frontline show, “Gunning for Saddam,” was immediate: Op-eds ran in major papers, and the story was taken to a wider audience through cable-TV talk shows. When Condoleezza Rice, then George W. Bush’s national security adviser, was asked about the story at a press briefing, she said, “I think it surprises no one that Saddam Hussein is engaged in all kinds of activities that are destabilizing.” Vanity Fair and the London Observer elaborated on Ghurairy’s claims; another version of the story appeared in the Washington Post courtesy of defector Khodada. The White House included the story of Salman Pak in its “Decade of Deception and Defiance” background paper prepared for President Bush’s September 12, 2002, speech to the United Nations General Assembly. Along with the tale of Mohammed Atta meeting Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague—another INC-hyped story—Ghurairy’s account helped establish the connection between Saddam and the 9/11 hijackers, making Iraq, like Afghanistan, a legitimate target for Bush’s war on terror.

Again, that front page story?  Judith Miller had nothing to do with it.

Miller is guilty of many things.  She is most guilty of failure to practice journalism and gullibility.  She didn't, however, "lie."  She was so stupid she actually believed the claim of WMD in Iraq.  She was so stupid, she forced the US military to keep looking even when it was apparent there were none.  As Bill Vann (WSWS) noted in 2003:

According to [Howard] Kurtz: “In April, Miller wrote a letter objecting to an Army commander’s order to withdraw the unit...from the field. She said this would be a ‘waste’ of time and suggested that she would write about it unfavorably in the Times. After Miller took up the matter with a two-star general, the pullback order was dropped.”
Apparently, US military commanders had concluded that the hunt for non-existent WMD had become a “waste” of the army’s time, but Miller, who was embedded with the unit, was operating on her own agenda and managed to overrule them.
In her letter, quoted in the Post column, she wrote: “I intend to write about this decision in the NY Times to send a successful team back home just as progress on WMD is being made.” Military officers quoted by Kurtz reported that Miller regularly told army personnel that she would go directly to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or Undersecretary Douglas Feith about decisions with which she disagreed. “Essentially, she threatened them,” said one officer.

Chris Hedges, Judith Miller, Michael Gordon, the paper was overflowing with bad reporters in the run up to the illegal war.  Dexter Filkins and John Burns were the paper's main liars after the illegal war started.

"Baghdad Bob" (Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf), an Iraqi official who became infamous for his televised statements that everything was fine, existed to rally the spirit of the Iraqi people with propaganda.  Propaganda during war time is not surprising.  But Burns and Filkins didn't work for the US government.  They were supposed to be journalists.

By lying day after day, once the illegal war started, they were as damaging as the ones who lied the country into war.  Their lies continued the illegal war, their lies tricked many American people.  Dexy would come back to the US, for example, throughout his days covering Iraq, and he'd insist each time while making a speech and a personal appearance that things were so much worse than what made it into the paper.  But he gave these speeches to journalism students.  He never took it public.  He also let the US military vet his copy and, as Mollly Bingham revealed, he cancelled an interview with an insurgency leader when he got a 'mean look' from a US official over it.

This was the climate in the country.


There was Media Whores Online and not a lot of others.  MWO opposed the Iraq War.  A lot of people like to pretend they were opposing it online.  Pretenders include CIA-contractor Juan Cole.  He's far from alone.  Most of the big names today either supported the illegal war (Matthew Yglesias) or offered very weak reistance -- a line or two that they quickly buried with multiple posts on other topics each day.  Bob Somerby was against it and noted that from time to time at The Daily Howler but it was a meek kind of opposition and used mainly in terms of domestic issues.

Iraqis were dying and Bob Somerby couldn't shut up about what the press did to his friend Al Gore in 1999 and 2000.

In that climate, for many, the role was as someone leaving a comment on a newsite or one of the few weblogs.

In The Simpsons' episode, the topic was media consolidation.

Montgomery Burns 'dies' in an accident.  When it turns out he's alive and he returns, he learns that, outside of loyal Waylon, no one missed him.  He used his money to buy up everything, every media outlet, "TV, radio, even the sky writers."

But Lisa started The Red Dress Press to publish a poem and then it becomes a daily.  Realizing that she's the only media outlet in Springfield that Burns doesn't own, she feels the need to tell the truth about Burns.

She refuses his offer to buy her out, she survives his shutting off the electricity.

She predates the emerging Blogosphere.  If you ever doubt that, grasp that she does a print edition.  The Red Dress Press does not exist online.  No one in the episode mentions blogging.   When the electricity stops her printing press, Principle Skinner sets her up with a mimeograph machine which requires no electricity.  She, Homer, Bart and Milhouse deliver print copies to homes.

The world she was living in, the one we were all living in, was about to change.

In 2003, right before the Iraq War started, Blogger/Blogspot had approximately 200,000 bloggers (less that in blogs since some were group blogs).

C.I. was speaking out about Iraq and, in 2004, campaigning for John Kerry around the country.  After the presidential election, she and others working on the Kerry campaign had a meet-up, a what-went-right-what-went-wrong strategy session.  Among failures, she noted the lack of online presence.  "We're giving these speeches and giving these speeches which is great person-to-person.  But there's the chance to reach so many more people online."  She noted that not only was there a lack of presence online but that the Kerry campaign had infamously de-linked from the only left site with any kind of presence (Daily Kos).  There was skepticism about online and the feeling that the answer was more radio around the country (Air America Radio buying up stations was seen by many as the answer).

"You can talk until you blue in the face, if people don't get the point, more words aren't going to explain it to them," C.I. notes today.  She left the meeting, went to her home and got online to go through e-mails and one included a mention of an article in Clamor.  She grabbed the magazine and sat back down at her PC (remember those days?) where she read Daniel Tucker's article in the November/December 2004 issue which included:

Anyone can have a personal website, blog, or email address and broadcast their message to the world. 
 The relatively short history of the web is filled with examples of individuals and collectives using the Internet as a way of advancing issues of social justice, cultural expression, and freedom of information.

A few seconds after reading that, C.I. started The Common Ills on November 19, 2004.

On the east coast, five college students had been talking about starting a website.  Like many, they were leaving comments all over the web.  And they saw a lot of whoring go down in 2004.  Among the things they objected to most was the tiny left online had already formed a Circle Jerk and they'd invited in CJR bloggers so they could get press.  It was December 2004 and Ava was getting a jump on the break that would start shortly by packing up for the holiday and going through things that had piled up.  That's when she went through her magazines to see what to keep and what to toss.  She saw the article in Calmour, ripped it out, highlighted the above quote in yellow marker and passed it on to Dona who shared it with Jim who shared it with Ty and Jess.   The five noted we'd explore further when the spring semester kicked up in January and we were all together again.  And January 16, 2005, this site started.

That Clamour article -- and the magazine itself -- inspired a lot of people -- in this community and outside of it.

When Calmour went under that was a sad moment but the left blogosphere had taken off and it was seen by many (including some of us) as just another story about the death of print media.

In 2006, there were an estimated 36 million blogs worldwide.

That was the good news.  But there was Clamour going under at the end of 2006.  As early as February 2005, Rebeecca wondered here if we'd create our own Cokie Roberts?

"None that mattered."  Cokie had many enemies as a columnist, a reporter and analyst on NPR, a gas bag on ABC's This Week.  For many of us, "none that mattered" was the main beef with Cokie.  As anti-war voices were being shut out by the press, Cokie was asked, October 8, 2002 on NPR, about other voices, one that were opposed to a war on Iraq, weren't there any of those?  "None that mattered," she infamously said.

But we were, the left blogosphere, against the Iraq War.  It's one of the reasons Juan Cole would pretend he had been against the Iraq War.

But a month prior to Clamour going under, there were disturbances taking place.  The Nation, a supposed anti-war magazine, stayed as far from war resisters as possible.

This and other things led C.I. to observe November 4, 2006:

Cokie Roberts has been ritually crucified -- they cut off her head and a million Cokies sprung up to replace her -- some of which were supposedly going to 'change it all.' Before there was Cokie Roberts, there were millions in different eras. There always will be. 

And the point was kind of made in The Simpsons' episode.

Success brought no happiness for Lisa's paper.

Lisa:  You can't leave now!  We're the only thing stopping Mr. Burns!

Milhouse:  Sorry Lisa and by the way that story I filed from Baghdad was all made up, I was actually in Basra.

Lisa:  Everyone chickened out except Ralph. He got poached by The Chicago Tribune.


Like Ralph, some were about setting their own end up.

In retrospect, that's really clear now.

Take Sam Seder.  A failed radio personality who was brought on as Janeane Garofalo's co-host on The Majority Report.  In an All About Eve kind of way, Seder would end up the program's sole host (the move ran off listeners and the program would be axed).

Seder pretended to give a damn about the Iraq War but he was just a lying whore.

When Ani DiFranco came on the show in the fall of 2004, he wasn't interested in the Iraq War, he was interested in attacking her for voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 and for not saying she wouldn't vote for him in 2004.  He went to town on her.  But in January 2005, he sat down with War Hawk Simon Rosenberg and never raised the issue of the Iraq War.  Simon was supposed to be a Democrat on the rise and Seder wasn't going to rock the boat.  (Even Rachel Maddow, earlier that same week, had called out Rosenberg for homophobia.)

2006 was when the left blogosphere had its only real power.  They were against the Iraq War and it forced the Democratic Party to pretend to be.

Now there was always the small Out of Iraq Caucus in the House.  Nothing similar existed in the Senate.  In 2004, Howard Dean was the one, as candidate, making comments against the Iraq War and the need to end it.  John Kerry got the nomination without being against it.  At the DNC, the keynote speaker would be Barack Obama who was running for the US senate and he'd tell The New York Times he wasn't sure how he would have voted on the 2002 authorization if he had been in the Congress at that time.

By 2006?

Democrats had to run on ending the illegal war.  Had to and did.

And in a turnabout that took them by surprise, they won both houses of Congress.

They didn't think that was possible and repeatedly promised that if they got control of one house, they would use investigative power and more to end the Iraq War.

With both houses, the Democrats could have ended the Iraq War.

Their failure to do so was appalling.

It was also a life lesson.

It exposed the lies.

It exposed that, on the left, there were those of us against the Iraq War and there were those of us who were just whores for the Democratic Party.

Cindy Sheehan learned that quickly when, in 2007, she found herself banished from many sites for the 'crime' of holding Democrats in Congress accountable, for expecting them to keep their promises and end the war.  And when she decided to run for office, 'antiwar' Katha Pollitt went ballistic at The Nation.

'Feminist' Katha had never written about Cindy and Cindy's antiwar activism -- she only wrote about a 14-year-old Iraqi girl gang-raped and killed by US soldiers after months of being called out publicly.  She had no interest in the Iraq War.

But suddenly, she wanted you to know, Cindy was a personal hero and she wanted to offer a little advice: Don't run.

Katha was just another whore for the Democratic Party.  She's not even a Democrat.  She's one of those closet radicals who pretend to be Democrat.  And even those embarrassing closet cases will whore for the Democratic Party.

2007 came and went and no end to the Iraq War.  "Bush's War" was now owned by the Democrats, though they tried to pretend differently.  2008 came and went and no end to the war.  But Barack needed to lie and pretend he was anti-Iraq War.  And whores for Barack online would pretend as well.

Just as the Democrats used the Iraq War to scare up votes in November 2006, Barack used it to get the Democratic Party's nomination.

He was lying the whole time.  We've documented that at length.

But the blogosphere got what they deserved.  The bulk are lying whores and they embraced a lying whore.

Let's especially note the frauds from the Green Party.

They couldn't call Barack out.

Even today, On The Wilder Side can't call out Barack.

They can whore, but they can't call Barack out.

The Wilders won't like being called "whores."

Then don't act like one.

You might be a whore if you have a website today and have never noted the two things.

First,   Tim Arango (New York Times) reported in September of 2012:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

Second,  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported in September of this year that Nouri  was supporting Shi'ite militias that are killing Sunnis:

The group, which is backed by Iran and split off from the Sadrist movement several years ago and was responsible for many deadly attacks on the American military when it was here, has seen its political wing welcomed into the government by Mr. Maliki. And as the security forces have proved ineffective in stemming attacks by Sunni insurgent groups, the group’s armed unit, according to militiamen, is increasingly working in secret with the government.
“We don’t do anything until the government asks us,” said one of the group’s leaders, who gave his name as Abu Abdellah. “We have a direct connection with the leaders of the security forces.”
In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

Don't pretend you gave a damn about Iraq ever, if you never noted those two stories.

The first one exposes Barack as the liar he is: Sending US troops back into Iraq.  The second one exposes the US government (Barack, the administration and the Congress) backing a modern day Agusto Pinochet.

One of the big surprises has been how the ground has shifted.  Bob Somerby?

Still prone to yacking about Al Gore and 1999 and 2000 but now willing to call out lies that come from our side.  To a degree.

Certainly to more of a degree than The Progressive, The Nation and assorted other sites which just repeat the lies.

Where is the blogosphere now?

At the end of The Simpsons,  Lisa's lost faith.  But Homer starts a paper, and Barney does, and Lenny does, and Patty and Selma start one . . .

They write their truths.

For Lenny,that's noting how great Carl is.

Which reminds us of Bob Somerby again in that he has a fit over people who don't write what he wants.  He calls them "the crazy."  They aren't "the crazy."  A White House that carries out a Drone War and the press that minimizes it?  Those are "the crazies."

People telling their own truths?

That's what the blogosphere was supposed to have been.

Maybe in 2013, it can return to its roots.

We'd certainly rather read a well constructed 'conspiracy' theory than the nonsense of people who post the administration's talking points each day.  The former has value, the latter just let's you know where the whores are.

Why we hate Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail is irritating these days with their advertising -- like Dr. Oz's weight loss programs.  Seriously, he couldn't keep Oprah thin but we're supposed to trust his program works?

That and many other things are irritating.

But that's now why we hate Yahoo.

The Sunnyvale, California company founded in 1994 really has very few excuses for being so bad when it comes to security.

We're not talking about passwords.

We're talking about attempts to breach your account.




All three of those e-mails claim to be from Yahoo.

None of them are.  They were sent from these accounts:,,

The "click here" requests will, if you click on them, allow the person to see your data and take control of your computer.

This is not "SPAM."

For two years now, we've hit "SPAM" because that's the only option.

That Yahoo does not have a button to report these attempts to trick people and hijack their computers is the reason we really hate Yahoo Mail these days.

It's past time that Yahoo created a new button to hit that would report these issues.  Possibly a button that read "SECURITY."

That's especially true when they're hosting someone trying to break into your computer -- chantmjohn, for example, is a Yahoo e-mail account.  It's one that should be immediately shut down by Yahoo because it's being used in attempts to hijack people's information.

Tweet of the week

  • The United States has spent over $990 Billion Dollars on the "war" with Iraq. This is enough to wipe out world poverty for 10 years.

  • German sympathizers or agents shot down a plane? Huh?

    Orson Welles is the man credited for the film classic Citizen Kane.  He directs the film and acts in it and he directed other films as well and acted in a lot more films than he directed.

    He died October 20, 1985.

    Henry Jaglom is also an actor and a director.  He directed Orson opposite Tuesday Weld and Jack Nicholson in 1971's A Safe Place. He's the original independent film director.  He directed Dennis Hopper (1976's Tracks), Karen Black (1983's Can She Bake A Cherry Pie?), Vanessa Redgrave (1997's Deja Vu) and many more great performers and films.


    Orson Welles and Henry Jaglom were friends and Orson asked Jaglom to tape their conversations which he did.  He even had them transcribed and then handed them over to Peter Biskind who edited them into My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles.

    The result?  A lively transcript in featuring would be guest stars (Jack Lemmon, for instance, gets invited to sit down and join them while Richard Burton is sent packing).

    Here's a typical excerpt.

    HJ: Now, Lombard could not have been very bright.

    OW: Very bright.  Brighter than any director she ever worked with. She had all the ideas.  Jack Barrymore told me the same thing.   He said, "I've never played with an actress so intelligent in my life."

    HJ:  But Gable was certainly not bright.

    OW: No, but terribly nice.  Just a nice big hunk of man.  If you're working hard that long -- if you have to be in makeup at five fifteen, and you get home at seven o'clock -- how much brightness do you want?  The guys just wanted to stagger home at seven o'clock -- how much brightness do you want?  The guys just wanted to stagger home -- and, if they could, get laid.  Otherwise, a happy smile and get ready for the next day's work.

    HJ: So Lombard was also killed in a plane crash?

    OW: Yes.  You know why her plane went down?

    HJ: Why?

    OW: It was full of big-time American physicists, shot down by the Nazis.  She was one of the only civilians on the plane.  The plane was filled with bullet holes.

    HJ: It was shot down by who?

    OW: Nazi agents in America.  It's a real thriller story.

    HJ:  That's preposterous.  What was she doing on a plane full of physicists?  Do people know this?

    OW: The people who know it, know it.  It was greatly hushed up.  The official story was that it ran into the mountain.

    JH: The agent had antiaircraft guns?

    OW: No. In those days, the planes couldn't get up that high.  They'd just clear the mountains. The bad guys knew the exact route that the plane had to take.  They were standing on a ridge, which was the toughest thing for the plane to get over.  One person can shoot a plane down, and if they had five or six people there, they couldn't miss.  Now, I cannot swear it's true.  I've been told this by people who swear it's true, who I happen to believe.  But that's the closet you can get, without having some security clearance.  No one wanted to admit that we had people in the middle of America who could shoot down a plane for the Nazix.  Because then everybody would start denoucning anybody with a German grandmother.  Which Roosevelt was very worried about.  The First World War had only happened some twenty-odd years before.  They were getting lynched.  And he was very anxious for nothing like that to be repeated.

    If you never got how crazy Nouri al-Malik is . . .

    I see Ba'athists

    Crazy Ass Nouri al-Maliki, aka Little Saddam and The Butcher of Baghdad, made it through customs and into the United States last week.  He should have been promptly arrested.

    That didn't happen.

    For Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times), the most surprising thing was:

    Facing a deadly resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, President Obama signaled Friday that he would begin increasing U.S. military support for Baghdad after five years of reducing it.

    The new U.S. plan represents a remarkable shift for Obama, whose administration trumpeted the 2011 withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Iraq as a major achievement and has since shifted its attention to other regional challenges, such as Syria, Egypt and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    That was surprising.  Equally surprising was his appearing at the US Institute of Peace in DC Thursday and asking the US and the entire world to join him in World War Three:

    "We want an international war against terrorism," Maliki said in a speech to the United States Institute of Peace, calling Al-Qaeda and its ilk "a virus" which was trying to spread "a dirty wind" around the region.

    "If we have had two world wars, we want a third world war against those who are killing people, killing populations, who are calling for bloodshed, for ignorance and do not want logic to govern our daily lives."

    He came to the US and issued a call for World War III.

    And in a sign of sickness, he wasn't immediately expelled.

    All Nouri knows is violence.  It's what he preaches, it's what he brings to the table.

    The editorial board of the Guardian noted:

    Much of the current tension is a direct result of what an influential group of US senators called the authoritarian and sectarian style of the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. He has all but torn up a political powersharing agreement the Americans negotiated with the Sunnis, and driven many of their number into the arms of al-Qaida. This in turn has led to the remobilisation of Shia militias.

    Nouri breeds the violence.   Bloomberg News explained, "Given this violence, and the enormous investment the U.S. has made in Iraq’s future, President Barack Obama has to be forceful with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki when they meet at the White House tomorrow: More weapons, as Maliki has asked for, will not help end the slaughter. The imperative is for Maliki, a Shiite, to share power with Iraq’s Sunni minority."  Even  UNAMI last week noted that the lack of power-sharing (and demonizing opponents) was causing the violence in Iraq:

    The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov used the opportunity to call on the political leaders of Iraq to address the root causes of division, exclusion and poverty and to build an inclusive society that does not fear, but celebrates ethnic and religious diversity. He spoke of the areas where Iraq has seen notable gains, but also focused on the many challenges that remain. "Today Iraq is riven by constant and worsening violence and the prospect of deepening sectarianism casts a dark shadow over the country" Mladenov noted, adding that the social and security challenges "threaten the very fabric of Iraqi society and test the extent of the nation’s social cohesion". He highlighted that reversing the cycle of violence requires "improving governance in ways that give all citizens equal access to security, justice, employment and essential services".

    As the editorial board of The Economist pointed out, "What Mr Maliki needs more than weapons is the will to compromise with his political opponents, especially Sunnis but also Kurds. In the past year Sunnis have felt more and more excluded and harassed. In addition, the civil strife churning up Syria has spilt across the border into Iraq."

    Demonstrating that he just didn't get it, Nouri stood up in public and called for World War Three.

    Sane people should find that call frightening.

    Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists."

    Sexist nonsense of the week


    Last week at the PBS website for The NewsHour, Nick Corcodilos apparently thought he was writing for Maxim or some other sewer magazine.

    It started with a  person was confused and wanted help.

    Question: I am looking at new job opportunities. Your suggestion is to network to find out more information about a company, and to get to know the right people before you even think of trying to get a job there.

    What is your view on making contact with people you don't know at all via social networking sites, such as LinkedIn? I have joined some of the professional communities and this seems like a great way to make initial contact with people in a particular industry, but is this just a fake idea or is there actually some merit in this method?

    And The NewsHour thought help was replying that the best way to address this was to ask, "Hey, Babe, Don't I Know You From Somewhere?"

    After all, what is a work place but a seventies singles bar, right?  No harm can come from treating the work place like that, right?

    Except devaluing the workers, of course.  And turning the work place into a male defined world for men and excluding women, of course.  And also encouraging sexual harassment, of course.

    In other words, this was a very disturbing moment for The NewsHour which has been trying to score media cred with its new female anchors line up.  Nonsense like Corcodilos kind of counterweights any gains for women at The NewsHour.

    Corcodilos nonsense was first noted last week by Cedric and Wally in their joint-posts  "Brought to you by the letters S, E, X, I, S and M" and "THIS JUST IN! NEWSHOUR EMBRACES SEXISM!"

    Mike Rogers' misguided support for spying

    Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing.  In it, Chair Mike Rogers made his case for spying and how it was needed.

    mike rogers

    But everything he said was actually wrong.

    Though the MSM lapped up the lies, C.I. reported on it in Tuesday's snapshot and provided the reality and context the US press wouldn't.

    US House Rep Mike Rogers thought he was on to something today.  He was only flaunting ignorance  in the House Intelligence Committee hearing today.  He flaunted the most in his opening, written statement which he introduced into the record but did not read from.  From that statement:

    In 1929, the Secretary of State shut down the State Dept's cryptanalytic office saying, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail."  The world was a dangerous place back then, with growing and aggressive military threats from Japan and Germany, both bent on world domination.  Those threats eventually dragged us into a world war that killed millions.  We didn't have the luxury of turning off intelligence capabilities as threats were growing back then, and we can't afford to do so today.

    Rogers is the Chair of the Committee and that's so sad.  He's referring to The Cipher Bureau which many Americans won't know about but I seriously question whether Rogers knows what he's talking about.  The Cipher Bureau kicks off operations October 1, 1919. It's closed October 31, 1929.  Rogers 'explains' the State Dept shut it down and the (unnamed) Secretary of State declared, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail." The Secretary of State was Henry Stimson and he never "said" that.  He (and McGeorge Bundy) wrote it in  On Active Service in Peace and War -- first published in 1948 and available for reading online for free at The Internet Archive.

    Rogers makes it sound as if the unnamed Stimson closed The Cipher Bureau and made that declaration as he did so.

    None of that is accurate.  The US military closed The Cipher Bureau.  All Stimson decided was that the State Dept would no longer foot half the bill for the cost.  This left the US Army with the full cost and they are the ones who would say "no" and The Cipher Bureau would be closed.

    If Rogers wants to call out the US military's decision, he should have the guts to do so and not hide it behind an attack on the State Dept which is incorrect.  More likely, he's not lying, he's just choosing to speak on a topic he knows nothing about.

    That's even more dangerous to the nation since he is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

    We're not done with the lies or errors in that one paragraph.

    Rogers is arguing that The Cipher Bureau -- and illegal spying -- are needed and basing that on WWII.  His 'logic' argues that had The Cipher Bureau not been closed, WWII might not have happened or been less deadly.  The Cipher Bureau -- and illegal spying today -- can protect us.

    He's making that claim so the press should have taken his claim seriously and investigated it.

    You know they didn't.

    We will.

    Ranking Member  Dutch Ruppersberger:  The most important thing we can do here today is let the public know the true facts so that we can engage in a meaningful process of reform that will enhance transparency and privacy, while maintaining the necessary capabilities.  [. . .]  Today, we are holding this open hearing so we can continue to get out the facts --

    Facts are important.  They weren't to Dutch and he's lucky he's Ranking Member.  That makes him less important than the Chair so we'll focus on Rogers' nonsense.

    Actress Carole Lombard died January 16, 1942.  This was after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, she was on a WWII War Bond Tour when she was killed in a plane crash.  (In previous wars, efforts were made to pay for it -- as opposed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the kill-now-pay-later policy.)  What does this matter?  It upset her fans, it upset her husband Clark Gable and it cut short one of the most promising comedic careers in film.  But it also matters in terms of Rogers' claims.

    Carole last film is the classic To Be Or Not To Be.  The comedy, set in Poland, takes on the menace of Hitler.  Carole didn't finish the film and, then minutes later, hop on the plane she died in.   The director Ernst Lubitsch signed his United Artist contract to direct the film on August 5, 1941.  That's before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    So Carole and Ernst and Jack Benny and others were just psychics about what was coming?


    Long before Pearl Harbor, it was known what was taking place.   Hitler didn't operate in secret.  (Though papers like the New York Times largely stayed silent as Jews across Europe were being exterminated.)

    Rogers is insisting that because of the 1929 closure of the spy agency, America had no idea what was going on around the world.

    No spy agency was needed.  Rogers may try to argue, "Well I mentioned Germany but I was really thinking Japan which I also mentioned."  Oh, you don't want to go there.

    Japan grew more powerful, historians argue, not because of the closure of The Cipher Bureau but because the head of that bureau, Herbert Yardley, wrote about the bureau in The American Black Chamber (1931) and that Japan immediately responded to the revelations in the book by increasing their own cryptography skills.

    In addition, Henry Stimson, whom Rogers publicly smeared without naming, was also Secretary of War (now called Secretary of Defense) from 1940 to 1945.  But before that?  He was the author of the US policy with regards to Japan and China.  This policy came to be in 1932 and is known as The Stimson Doctrine.   Via Knox College:

    Washington, January 7,1932
    Please deliver to the Foreign Office on behalf of your Government as soon as possible the following note:
    With the recent military operations about Chinchow, the last remaining administrative authority of the Government of the Chinese Republic in South Manchuria, as it existed prior to September 18th, 1931, has been destroyed. The American Government continues confident that the work of the neutral commission recently authorized by the Council of the League of Nations will facilitate an ultimate solution of the difficulties sow existing between China and Japan. But in view of the present situation and of its own rights and obligations therein, the American Government deems it to be its duty to notify both the Imperial Japanese Government and the Government of the Chinese Republic that it cannot admit the legality of any situation de facto nor does it intend to recognize any treaty or agreement entered into between those Governments, or agents thereof, which may impair the treaty rights of the United States or its citizens in China, including those which relate to the sovereignty, the independence, or the territorial and administrative integrity of the Republic of China, or to the international policy relative to China, commonly known as the open door policy; and that it does not intend to recognize any situation, treaty or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the covenants and obligations of the Pact of Paris of August 27, 1928, to which Treaty both China and Japan, as well as the United States, are parties.

    From Princeton University:

    Named after Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of State in the Hoover Administration (1929–1933), the policy followed Japan's unilateral seizure of Manchuria in northeastern China following action by Japanese soldiers at Mukden (now Shenyang), on September 18, 1931.[2] The doctrine was also invoked by U.S. Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles in a declaration of July 23, 1940 that announced non-recognition of the Soviet annexation and incorporation of the three Baltic statesEstonia, Latvia, and Lithuania[3]—and remained the official U.S. position until the Baltic states gained formal international recognition as independent states in 1991.
    It was not the first time that the U.S. had used non-recognition as a political tool or symbolic statement. President Woodrow Wilson had refused to recognise the Mexican Revolutionary governments in 1913 and Japan's 21 Demands upon China in 1915.
    The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in late 1931 placed U.S. Secretary of State Henry M. Stimson in a difficult position. It was evident that appeals to the spirit of the Kellogg-Briand Pact had no impact on either the Chinese or the Japanese, and the secretary was further hampered by President Herbert Hoover’s clear indication that he would not support economic sanctions as a means to bring peace in the Far East.[4]
    On January 7, 1932, Secretary Stimson sent identical notes to China and Japan that incorporated a diplomatic approach used by earlier secretaries facing crises in the Far East. Later known as the Stimson Doctrine, or sometimes the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine, the notes read in part as follows:
    Stimson had stated that the United States would not recognize any changes made in China that would curtail American treaty rights in the area and that the "open door" must be maintained. The declaration had few material effects on the Western world, which was burdened by the Great Depression, and Japan went on to bomb Shanghai.[4]
    The doctrine was criticized on the grounds that it did no more than alienate the Japanese.[6]

    The State Dept did not close the bureau.  Keeping the bureau open would not have prevented WWII if public knowledge and events hadn't already done so.  The Stimpson Doctrine is said to have alienated the Japanese.  Whether it did or not, 1931's invasion made clear expansion goals.  These goals were no more secret than what Hitler was doing.

    The reality is that when the bureau closed in 1929, there was no real loss to US safety.  For 12 years, no real loss.  Then comes the Pearl Harbor attack and the US gets into the war everyone else was already in.

    Rogers believes shutting down the spy bureau in 1929 led to WWII.  Or else he's lying.  But if he honestly believes what he's maintaining?  That's very frightening because he's making decisions about spying and safety and he's basing them on a false and illogical fantasy.
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