Sunday, June 15, 2014

Truest statement of the week

So far we have spent years trying to get Maliki to be more  democratic, not be oppresive and exclusionary to the Sunnis.  We've basically driven these Sunnis into the arms of the radicals.  So what make us think that with American help, American airstrikes, more military equipment from the US that he'll change at all.

Andrea Mitchell, Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC), June 13, 2014.

Truest statement of the week II

Well Maliki never even appointed a Minister of Defense.  He ran it all from his office there in Baghdad.  He replaced good generals with bad generals.  He starved the troops for a lot of the things they needed.  And he alienated the Sunni components of the military and even the Shia components of the military to the point where they no longer felt the kind of loyalty to Maliki and the government in Baghdad necessary for soldiers to fight.  And this is a consequence of the mismanagement of the government and the corruption of Maliki and we are obviously paying a big price for that. 

-- Senator John McCain, Andrea Mitchell Reports, June 13, 2014.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.  And look how early we are!  We've never been this early since our first year all those years ago.

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?

Andrea Mitchell gets her first truest. 
We rarely give truests to politicians.  Senator John McCain is the first politician in some time.  He's also the first Republican to ever get the honor.
Suddenly, the media is interested in Iraq.
Ava and C.I. cover pretty much everything.  I can't imagine any other media critique this week will critique as many programs as they cover here.  What they find is no real change in the way Iraq is covered from the way it was in the pre-war coverage.
We roundtable on Iraq.
What we listened to while writing.
Looking for something to watch or stream?  Here are three choices.  
If karma works . . . 
Michelle got stood up!!!!!

From Senator Patty Murray's office. 
From Great Britian's Socialist Worker.
From the State Dept.

From the Green Party of Michigan.
From Workers World. 

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

See you next week.


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

Editorial: What matters and what doesn't?

Last week, the US media suddenly noticed Iraq.

This was national news, this was local news.

You could see Iraq back on the front page of newspapers.

Suddenly, the media cared about Iraq.

Tirkit and Mosul were seized by rebels and suddenly the US media cared about Iraq.

What does it say about the same media that for months they've ignored Iraq?

Specifically, they've ignored Nouri bombing residential neighborhoods in Falluja and killing and wounding civilians -- this is a legally defined War Crime (collective punishment).

But the media didn't care about that, did they?

نموذج لأهداف جيش المالكي الارهابي في حربه على الشعب: .

We covered it one editorial after another -- here's a sampling going back to April:

Editorial: Iraq gets its first F-16
Editorial: Hey, John Kerry, who needs to 'man up'?...
Editorial: The Western Press Keeps Lying About Ira...
Editorial: The silence cracks
Editorial: The unbrave
Editorial: Are you comfortable with War Crimes?

But War Crimes didn't matter to the US media.

The deaths of civilians -- even children -- didn't matter to the US media.

As the attention last week lasted more than a single news cycle, stories began emerging that oil prices might increase.

Suddenly, the US media cared about Iraq.

It really illustrates what matters to the media and what doesn't.

The media rediscovers Iraq (Ava and C.I.)

Last week, rebels took control of several Iraqi cities, Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts, Iraq's chief thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki begged the US government for drones and much more.  None of which surprised us in the least.

What did shock us was Iraq finally getting media attention in the US.


And then it was time to sit back and laugh at the gross stupidity.

So we're all on the same page, let's offer a quick recap of key events.

March 2003, the illegal war begins as the US leads an invasion of Iraq.  In December 2005, the Iraqi people voted in parliamentary elections.  The parliament votes on the prime minister.  They wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari.  The Bush White House said no, they wanted Nouri al-Maliki and imposed him on Iraq.  Throughout his first term, Nouri proved to be ineffectual.  He violated his oath of office by refusing to implement Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, he broke his promise to Bully Boy Bush regarding the White House benchmarks.  In 2008, Barack Obama is elected president.  January 2009, Barack is sworn in.  In 2010, Iraq again holds Parliamentary elections.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya won those elections, they bested Nouri and Nouri's State of the Law.  Nouri refused to step down and brought the political process to a standstill.  For eight months, there was no government.  He was able to get away with that because he had the backing of the White House.  Barack ordered US officials to get around the voters, to get around the Iraqi Constitution and get Nouri a second term via a legal contract known as The Erbil Agreement.  This contract -- one of the most important developments -- is signed by Nouri and the heads of all the political blocs.  To get those other leaders to sign on, Nouri had to agree to concessions to them.  Nouri used the contract to get his second term, then insisted that he needed time before he could honor his promises, then his spokespeople insisted the contract was illegal, then the Kurds, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr went public in the summer of 2011 calling for The Erbil Agreement to be implemented.  Nouri refused.

After that, you would see the return of street protests, a move for a no-confidence vote and so much more.

The Erbil Agreement is a turning point and a major moment.

Unless you're a gasbag in the US.

This was especially true of Real Time with Bill Maher, where trash goes to await pickup.

Did Richard Clarke declare, "Listen, we lost 4700 Americans [in Iraq].  Not 1 more. Not 1 more."?  Or did he say 4500?  We weren't up to watching that crap twice.  We believe he said 4700.  Regardless, the number he gave was incorrect.

The number of US  military personnel the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4489.

If you care about the number, you know the number.

So much wasn't known.

Bill Maher declared, regarding Barack's attempts to get a new Status Of Forces Agreement, "The president of Iraq wouldn't allow it to happen."


Jalal Talabani said "no"?

Because Jalal Talabani is the president of Iraq.

Nouri al-Maliki is the prime minister -- a position he's held since 2006.  Nouri was who Maher was referring to.

How do you talk about Iraq and not know that basic fact?

You have to be a real idiot.  Bill Maher is.  So is Philip Maldari.  He guest hosted KPFA's Upfront on Wednesday and also wrongly billed Nouri al-Maliki as a president and not a prime minister.  Friday on the Washington Week Web Extra, Gwen Ifill was also wrongly calling Nouri "president."

These are not minor details.

Nouri al-Maliki being prime minister of Iraq is what is known as a fact.  When you dispense with facts, you get Real Time on HBO -- a 'political' show that plays for studio applause.

"I don't want to say I told you so," gloated Richard Clarke.

He looked like a fool and not just because we've never favored men who sport the Florence Henderson Brady Bunch flip at the back of their hair.  He looked like a fool because he didn't address or even acknowledge The Erbil Agreement.

He made no mention of Nouri's attacks on Sunnis which include threatening to sue Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, running off Iraq's Sunni vice president and attacking the home of a Sunni MP -- attacking it at dawn and killing the MP's brother in the attack.  Clarke didn't note Nouri's months long bombing of residential neighborhoods in the Sunni city of Falluja.  Clarke didn't note the attacks on protesters.

Clarke made real clear that he last paid attention to Iraq around 2005.

Equally uninformed was  Crystal Ball.  We hadn't seen her before.  We were hoping that she was smart but being an MSNBC talk show host doesn't require brains -- a point she proved on Bill Maher's program.

"And six years later," she huffed, "the president is still trying to clean up the mess that Bush left for our country and for the world."

MSNBC hucksters work hard to pretend like Barack's hands are clean.  You overturn the results of a 2010 election and your hands are clean?

What a bunch of liars.

There was more honesty from unnamed White House officials -- Jake Tapper (CNN) reported on that this week.

But on the liar list, include Katrina vanden Heuvel's name.  The Nation magazine's glory hog appeared on All Things Considered (NPR) Friday.  Like Ball, she made no sense at all.

Actually, in fairness to Crystal, Ball made more sense than Katrina.

Katrina was busy attempting to scrub clean evidence of Barack's errors.  So she too insisted this was all rooted in 2003.

But she was worse than Crystal because Katrina also insisted, "I think the crisis in Iraq demands a political solution, not a military one which will pour arms into spreading cauldron of war and risk exacerbating the crisis in Iraq and enflaming the militant extremism."


If the problem is 2003 why are you insisting Iraq needs a political solution?

We agree it needs a political solution but we've already noted where the politics went off the rails (2010).

Appearing Friday on The Takeaway (PRI), Dexter Filkins observed what Katrina refused to, "Maliki, ever since the Americans left, has begun a very sectarian project. He has taken most of the power in the country for himself, he's oppressed and done mass arrests of Sunnis across the Sunni heartland in the north and west of the country. He's basically marginalized them politically, and so that's opened up the space that these extremists are kind of moving into. In a way, Maliki may turn to the Iranians, but he's already done that -- he is Shiite sectarian to the core, and he's been that way for most of his adult life long before the Americans even got to Iraq."

Katrina's just an idiot who slept with and married a professor.  It didn't make her a smart woman.

We found it telling how Katrina, Crystal and Richard both  avoided noting the Iraqi people.  In fairness to Ball, she did sneer at Sunnis and Shi'ites and insist that they were naturally violent, "these people."  Xenophobia, if HBO couldn't send it out over the airwaves, who would?

On Thursday, Democracy Now! did their kind-of, sort-of coverage of Iraq.  They had two guests who knew the issues very well -- journalists Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) and Ned Parker (Reuters).  We'll emphasize one section of the segment.  See if you can spot the problem.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And when you talk about the reign of al-Maliki and the sectarianism of his government, could you elaborate on that? Because clearly al-Maliki as a Shiite leader and the majority of the population of Iraq being Shiite, the United States has continued to back his rule there despite his clampdown on any kind of dissent.

MOHAMMED AL DULAIMY: Yes, we have enough evidence, actually, videos of speeches of Mr. al-Maliki himself, showing that this man is leading the country towards a civil war. His previous press conferences accusing his partners of terrorism, sometimes forging cases against them, as they say, led the country to high tension, causing Sunnis to go into streets to protest and to show their demands. Mr. al-Maliki refused most of these demands. And to the limit, he accused them of continuing some historical event that took place 1,400 years ago, about 1,400 years ago, and he said that the killers of Imam Husayn are still living among—he meant Sunnis—among the other party, which he meant Sunnis. Mr. al-Maliki has failed to build an Iraqi military that will respect human rights. I just want to say that fanatics, Islamists, feed on such human rights breaches. It helps them to further their cause and to win more recruits. This is what has had—happening in Iraq.
And you can see the videos of how the Iraqi army dealt with demonstrators in Hawija, how they killed men carrying sticks, only iron sticks, or sometimes carrying nothing. You could see the video, the brutality of the military. Mr. al-Maliki punished no one. Mr. al-Maliki always refuses to address these issues to de-escalate the sectarian tensions in Iraq. Mr. al-Maliki always also refused to disarm some Iranian-backed trained Shia militias like al-Asa’ib. These kinds of actions caused the Sunni community to live in a turmoil. And here I think that the United States, the administration, we, all of us, should speak loudly to stop the descent of the country into that civil war, to stop pushing ordinary people towards fanatics to join their lines just to defend themselves against an army that is willing to kill them all.

AMY GOODMAN: Mohammed al Dulaimy, can you talk about the U.S. weapons that are

Did you catch it?

Mohammed Al Dulaimey brings up the Iraqi military killing protesters in Hawija.

And Amy Goodman's response is to ignore that.

Does she think she already covered it?

April 23, 2013, she embarrassingly noted, "In news from Iraq, at least 26 people have died following clashes between Sunni demonstrators and security forces who raided a protest camp near Kirkuk earlier today. Military sources told Reuters six troops and 20 demonstrators were killed."  Then the next day, she offered, "In Iraq, the toll from Tuesday’s clashes between government forces and Sunni protesters at a protest encampment near Kirkuk has reached at least 42 dead, mostly civilians, and more than 100 wounded. The violence was the deadliest to date in the dispute between Sunni groups and the Shiite-controlled Iraqi government."

She never got the death toll correct and she never named the location.  The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

It was a major event.

It's not one Amy Goodman's been interested in -- not when it happened, not since.

She had no follow ups when Ned Parker offered some hard truths about Barack's role in all of this.  For those who'd like to know more, they can refer to Parker's "Iraq: The Road to Chaos" (The New York Review of Books) and his "Who Lost Iraq?" (POLITICO) -- both published earlier this year.

Friday, on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), McClatchy's Nancy A. Youssef made an embarrassment of herself.  She couldn't even get right what the White House had declared on Thursday.  She insisted all options were on the table despite the fact that, as she later noted, US troops on the ground had already been declared not to be an option.

Doing a far better job on that broadcast was Foreign Policy's Yochi Dreazen.

Yochi Dreazen:  There's no question that Prime Minister Maliki sees himself as a Shiite first and a sort of Iraqi second. He's a nationalist. It's not fair to say that he's just a tool of the Iranians, but he is someone who sees himself as a Shiite, believes Shiites have been repressed brutally, which they have been, and operates accordingly. So his forces arrest journalists, they arrest Parliamentarians. They've tried to arrest the Vice President of Iraq. They've tried to arrest Sunni ministers in their own cabinet, many of them then fled into Kurdistan.  He's done mass arrests of Sunni males. He's done mass killings. Nothing, obviously, remotely on the scale of Saddam Hussein, but there have been credible reports of Sunni civilians being killed in very significant numbers. You know, a dozen here, a dozen there. The dynamic, if we think back to what turned, when we think of the surge, the surge of troops followed the turning of Sunni tribes in Anbar against Al Qaida. That was the signal moment of this whole war. You had that dynamic. You had Sunni tribes friendly, in some degree, to the US. Friendly, in some small degree to Baghdad.  Under Maliki, that disappeared. He alienated those tribes completely. Now, those tribes think option one, we can take up arms and try to fight this new Al Qaida group and again, on behalf of a government we don't trust and a leader we don't like. Or we try to hunker down and let them do what they do and hope that they don't come after us. So, they're making a rational choice, given that they were abandoned by Maliki right after we left. 

Some did do solid work.  On Pacifica Radio's Letters and Politics Wednesday, Mitch Jeserich took the conversation much deeper when he turned the discussion by noting, "I have heard from other Iraqis that there are -- and I think you've alluded to this -- serious grievances people in this area have with the federal government -- or the central government "  And Mitch's guest Zaid Al-Ali acted as a tonic for Crystal Ball's Shi'ite and Sunni xenophobic stereotypes.  Holly Williams (CBS Evening News -- link is text and video) also filed a strong report and noted refugees including the Governor of Nineveh Province Atheel al-Nujaifi (brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi -- last week, Mosul property belonging to their father and to Osama was blown up).  Arwa Damon (CNN) reported on the Mosul refugees and what made them flee -- fear of being bombed by Nouri's forces.

Some did contribute like Mitch and Holly and Arwa.  Equally true, while Nancy Youssef was making little sense on NPR, Andrea Mitchell was pointing out, on Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC), "He [Barack] says he's only ruled out ground troops."

Furthermore, unlike Richard Clarke and other gasbags and hosts, she was able to talk about Nouri al-Maliki.

Andrea Mitchell:  So far we have spent years trying to get Maliki to be more  democratic, not be oppressive and exclusionary to the Sunnis.  We've basically driven these Sunnis into the arms of the radicals.  So what make us think that with American help, American airstrikes, more military equipment from the US that he'll change at all.

Senator John McCain:  Well he has to or he has to be changed.  One of the two.  It is an unacceptable situation

Praise also has to go to one analyst who repeatedly showed up  last week:  Brookings Institute's Ken Pollack.  His finest moment may have been when he appeared Friday afternoon on MSNBC's The Cycle.

Abby Huntsman:  You even warned the Obama administration years ago that this was coming.  Did they not listen or did they not take you seriously?

Kenneth Pollack: The administration had a different narrative about Iraq, they had a different view about what was going to happen there. And myself and numerous other people were basing our warnings on not just Iraq itself but lots of other civil wars like this over the course of history and what we've seen happen there.  And I think if you look at what was happening there, it was pretty obvious that this was the course that things wanted to go to but the administration wanted to think about Iraq in a as the narrative that they stuck to.  But I think you're right, Abby, that we've got to concentrate on moving forward, on dealing with the situation that we have.  You know, we'll leave it to the historians to sort out, you know, who shot John and under what circumstances. 

Luke Russert: Ken, Luke Russert here in Washington, and one thing I found fascinating from talking to my sources on the Hill, is the degree to which this is Sunni versus Shia and how Sunnis are so just fed up with al-Maliki.  You're not actually seeing remnants of Sadam's old army joining forces with the ISIS.  How much of a problem is that for the US moving forward because this is a very organized, militant group that had military training and knows the country inside and out.

Ken Pollack:  Luke, you put your finger on the critical thing that's going on here, alright.  We can't think of this as just being ISIS -- a group of Iraqis and Syrians out of Syria who've invaded Iraq and it has nothing to do with Iraqi politics.  It's all Iraqi politics. First, as I said, ISIS has a very heavy Iraqi component and, as you said, they are now joining  up with all of these Sunni militias inside of Iraq and that is the force that together is advancing on Baghdad.  And what it speaks to is the complete alienation of Iraq's Sunni community as a result of Maliki's treatment of them over the last two, three, four years.  And it's why  if we're going to deal with the problem, if we're actually solve the situation, pull Iraq out of this civil war, it can't be about military operations, it can't be just about bombing stuff because the fundamental problem is political and we're going to have to deal with that and that's even harder than the military one.  [. . .]  The bottom line here is somebody has got to convince Maliki to change his ways.  He's got to change his way of doing things or else has got to  help the Iraqis bring about a new political leadership that will bring the Sunnis back in [to the government, to the process],  that will deal with the problems in the Iraqi military, that will curb the powers of the prime minister so that all Iraqi ethnic groups aren't frightened of another prime minister like Maliki.  And at the end of the day, I think the military component -- the most useful piece of it is, the Iraqis, in particular, the Shia, are desperate for it so that becomes the leverage we have And I think that the President actually put it the right way.  That, if they want our military support, the price for it is that they're going to have to reform their politics.  Because if they don't reform their politics, there's no point in giving them that military system because the problems are not going to abate. 

Another who deserved praise was Bobby Ghosh (Time magazine) who appeared on The Reid Report (MSNBC) on Friday and explained to host Joy-Ann Reid that drone strikes were not an answer for reasons including that Nouri's 'intelligence' is questionable and he might feed info that would lead to strikes on his political rivals.  Janine Davidson also provided some common sense regarding drone strikes when she appeared Friday on The NewsHour (PBS).  And even Mark Shields seemed to grasp Davidson's points when he offered 'analysis' on The NewsHour.

But we noticed something else on the drones.

Remember how, in 2002 and 2003, if you were for war on Iraq, it was really easy for you to get on radio and TV.  In fact, your opinion dominated the public airwaves.

We saw something similar going on with drones.

Take NPR's Here and Now -- the show that replaced listener favorite Talk of the Nation.

They did feature Iraq War veteran US House Rep. Doug Collins opposing the use of drone strikes in Iraq.  But they also featured former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey supporting drone strikes in Iraq.  And they also featured former US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad supporting drone strikes in Iraq. And they also featured ABC News producer Mazin al-Mubarak calling for drone strikes in Iraq.

That was all on one show.  One person opposed to strikes and three in favor.

(Actually interested in balance and discussion?  The Lead with Jake Tapper on CNN did a segment featuring one voice for and one voice against drone strikes and bombings.)

It's not as though there weren't plenty of voices saying air strikes and bombing would not help.  In fact, those people were in the majority -- despite being shut out by the media.

Many shared the sentiment of Senator Carl Levin who is the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, "It’s important to keep in mind that a major source of Iraq’s problems has been the refusal of the Maliki government, despite persistent U.S. encouragement, to reach out to its Sunni citizens to forge a unified and inclusive Iraq. No action on our part can resolve that disunity. It’s unclear how air strikes on our part can succeed unless the Iraqi army is willing to fight, and that’s uncertain given the fact that several Iraqi army divisions have melted away. While all options should be considered, the problem in Iraq has not been so much a lack of direct U.S. military involvement, but a lack of reconciliation on the part of Iraqi leaders."

He didn't make that statement on TV or radio.

He made it in a press release.

He made that statement in a press release which received little attention from the press.  Time and again, those calling for destruction and war could get air time while others were shut out of the conversation.

And this was supposed to pass for a balanced discussion?

It was pre-Iraq War media all over again, selling violence by stacking the deck.

And if you didn't get how the whorish media never took accountability for their role in selling the illegal war to begin with, you only had to catch up with Gwen Ifill on Washington Week (PBS).  Her opening remark was the kind of unrivaled lie that repeatedly popped up when the Iraq War was first being sold.  There was Gwen this week declaring, "Iraq flashback.  A crumbling nation looks to the US for help."


When did Iraq appeal to the US government to be attacked?

We're not remembering that moment or that request -- mainly because they never happened.

Nancy Youssef took her lies to Washington Week and our favorite moment with her was when she declared, "Yes, frankly in the sense that ISIS --  the -uh -- the,  uhm -- which --"

Seeing a War Hawk fumble and stammer filled our hearts with joy and gladness.

Her hair 'braid,' which left her looking like a hostess at IHOP, made us chuckle but the fat rolls and dimples on her upper arms made us recoil and wonder why people don't try to dress appropriately when appearing on TV?  For any wondering, the men wore suits and Gwen went with a long sleeve jacket and pearls.

For those who wince at our comments, (a) we've noted before that TV is a visual medium and (b) when we're talking about Nance who referred to the military in male terms throughout the web extra ("these guys") as if women didn't serve?  We have no sympathy for her or her stupidity in wardrobe and hair choices.

We also had no sympathy for her belief that we were all as stupid as she is.

Thursday and Friday, Barack spoke about Iraq.  Nouri must, Barack said, show inclusion, the political process must bring in the elements Nouri has run off (Sunnis).  The US will provide assistance then, Barack declared.  Here's how he put it on Friday:

I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge.  Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.  Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.
So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.  We can’t do it for them.  And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed. 
So this should be a wake-up call.  Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.  In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies. 

That may sound good to you (or not) but does it make sense?

The USS George H.W. Bush was deployed to the waters just outside southern Iraq on Saturday.  Missiles and fighter jets can be launched from this ship.

What has Nouri done thus far to indicate that he's working on the political issue?

Not one damn thing.

But he's already gotten a US navy carrier docked outside of Iraq.

Would have been nice if the media could have addressed the points Barack made in terms of how does Nouri demonstrate a willingness?  And how long should Barack give Nouri to demonstrate a willingness?

CBS News' Vinita Nair attempted to get to that Saturday on This Morning but her 'expert' (Juan Zarate) sidestepped the question.

Otherwise, there was no effort to pursue that, just a rush to resell a war.

And without a markdown in price or rebate or refund, the news media decided the way to go was in alarming the American public.

They weren't sure that terrorism would work, apparently, so they went for the bank accounts.

What was happening in Iraq, the media repeatedly argued, was going to cost Americans money and this was used to gin up outrage and calls for action.

US House Rep. Adam Smith appeared on Newsroom (CNN) Thursday and was discussing national security implications and how he would need proof of a threat to support drone strikes when host Carol Costello cut him off to insist her agreement because the price of oil could go up.  After she finished her rant, Smith replied he was speaking of national security issues like terrorism.

But it was too late.  Costello had already made clear where she stands: Start the bombing the minute she pays a few pennies more at the pump.

What Costello didn't grasp, CNN did.  They pulled the video off the web.

There were many more examples -- on radio and TV.  We'll note a few more. Street Signs (CNBC) featured T. Boone Pickens Friday proclaiming that the price of oil per barrel could increase by fifty to one-hundred dollars as a result of the crisis in Iraq. The Friday news wrap on The NewsHour found Judy Woodruff intoning, "Oil prices edged up again today, on worries the escalating insurgency in Iraq could disrupt oil exports."  On The Cycle (MSNBC) Friday, Susan Ochs was fretting over the price of oil.  ABC News Radio insisted, "U.S. motorists will likely feel the repercussions of the crisis in Iraq if it keeps spinning out of control."  Again, that's a sampling.

They could sell alarm and fear over oil prices, they were less interested in the Iraqi refugees and, naturally, less interested in the truth.

Among the casualties last week as Democratic operatives spun wildly?

Those who had taken brave stands.

Thursday on CNN's Crossfire, viewers were subjected to Stephanie Cutter's lying as she insisted Republicans had caused the Iraq War.

Just Republicans, Cutter?

As a former aide to the late Senator Ted Kennedy, Cutter damn well knows that Kennedy's stance against the Iraq War was not the prevailing stance for Democrats in Congress.

She insults the memory of Ted Kennedy and a great moment for him -- a legacy moment --  when she attempts to deceive viewers into believing that opposition to the illegal war was the position of Congressional Democrats.

Like events out of Iraq last week, Cutter's lies didn't surprise us one bit.


1) We noted Washington Week, The NewsHour, Andrea Mitchell Reports, All Things Considered, The Reid Report, The Cycle, Upfront, Letters from Washington, The Lead with Jake Tapper, Democracy Now!, Here and Now, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Diane Rehm Show, etc.  Some got links, some didn't.  Why?  If your show was inclusive to all, you got noted.  Inclusive to all means grasping some Americans -- due to web platforms, or streaming issues, or hearing issues -- are not going to benefit from video only.  Do you also provide a transcript?  If you didn't, whine to someone else. We wish Jake Tapper would provide transcripts (and maybe he does on his transcript page) but Jake got links because Jake did actual reporting and because Jake may be one of the last reporters and hosts who really does try to be fair.


 Jim: It's roundtable time.  And last week was the week that Iraq exploded.  Remember our new e-mail address is  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; 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); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Last week, Iraq popped into the news.  The western media finally rediscovered Iraq.  As Ava and C.I. point out in their critique this week, some outlets did better than others.  Mike, you wrote ""WSWS advances White House line"."  Explain that.

Mike: Okay.  Rebels seized Mosul and Tikrit last week, parts of Samarra.  Nouri calls these Iraqis "terrorists."  Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq.  WSWS runs with that.  You've got all these people providing reality about the fighters and how they are Iraqi and all that but you get WSWS just echoing Nouri's word choices and talking points.

Jim: When that happens, what's the effect? 

Isaiah: We've all talked about this before, the effect is that the term "terrorist" is tossed around and suddenly people don't feel the need to discuss what's going on, they don't need answers or anything because "terrorist" is the tidy bow that ties it all up.  It's like, 'Oh, terrorists.  That explains it.'  And the Stop Thinking sign goes up and no one needs to ask why are these people fighting. It just ensures that root causes will go ignored.

Mike: Which means Nouri's persecution of the Sunni people will be ignored, his attacks on Sunni politicians, all of it, just ignored, just swept under the rug.  And he gets away with it.

Marcia: And that's bad enough, what Mike and Isaiah are talking about is bad enough.  But then you have what's already taking place.

Jim: Which is?

Marcia: This 'both sides must make concessions and work together.'  No.  Absolutely not.  The Sunnis, like the Kurds, have made concession after concession to Nouri.  They have acted in good faith.  By contrast, Nouri has broken promises and failed to live up to agreements.  The days of 'both sides must' are over.  It's time for Nouri to make concessions.  And --

Jim: I -- Sorry, I thought you were done Marcia.

Marcia: Almost.  The concession Nouri needs to make now is to step down as prime minister and give up any hopes of a third term.

Dona: I would agree with you, Marcia, 100%.  I think it's appalling that someone who cowardly fled Iraq decades ago and only returned after the US invaded was made prime minister.  It's such an insult to all the Iraqis who remained in the country.  

Jim: Okay, thank you.  Does anyone think Iraq can move forward if Nouri gets a third term as prime minister?

Betty:  No.  And I'm not sure Iraq can survive if Nouri gets a third term.  Setting aside his crimes against the Iraqi people, you're still left with a basic incompetence that demonstrates his inability to learn on the job.  Two terms and he has no accomplishments to speak of.  He's a complete failure in every sense of the word.  If Nouri gets a third term, it's probably time for Iraqis to split themselves into a confederation because Nouri cannot lead the country.  He lacks the ethics, the talent, the skill and the common sense.

Jim: What do the Iraqi people need?

Wally: A new leader.  A chance to reset.  Nouri getting a third term would be an outrage and an insult.  

Jim: Wally, some people are going to say, "If the Iraqis want this, why not?"

Wally: You're right.  And I would reply that the Iraqis don't want this.  Their leaders don't want this.  Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr is very vocal about Nouri not getting a third term, Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani is vocally against it, various Sunni groupings are against it, Shi'ite leader Ammar al-Hakim is against it.  

Jim: Okay, Wally, pretend I'm just hearing of Iraq.  You're saying Nouri shouldn't get a third term and you're telling me the Iraqi people don't want him to get one.  So I'm thinking, "Then it ain't happening."  Why should I worry?

Wally: Because Nouri was never the choice of the Iraqi people.  In 2006, they wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari but the Bully Boy Bush White House said no and pushed for Nouri.  In 2010, Nouri lost to Iraqiya in the parliamentary elections.  But Barack Obama insisted Nouri get a second term and the US negotiated a contract to give Nouri a second term by tossing aside the votes and the Iraqi Constitution.

Betty: So when have the Iraqi people ever had the say?  So far, they haven't.  And the pattern has been for the US to impose Nouri on Iraq.  That's why you -- anyone just starting to grasp Iraq -- should be concerned.  If this happens again, I seriously wonder how Iraq comes back from it.

Jim: Alright, thank you Betty and Wally.  Ava and C.I. note that people like Katrina vanden Heuvel took to the airwaves last week to insist this was Bully Boy Bush's fault -- the crisis in Iraq.

Rebecca:  That dried up old whore would have to say that, wouldn't she?  Did The Nation ever even report on The Erbil Agreement?  Barack's failures are Katrina's failures.  She's lied and misled and driven The Nation into the ground.  Katrina's a worthless whore who will not be listened to when Democrats are out of power.  She's a cheap whore who took a left magazine and used it as a Democratic Party megaphone.  This will not be forgotten. But it's really stupid to say, "This is Bully Boy Bush's fault."  He left office in Janaury 2009.  Iraq was more stable at that time.  It's 2014.  What's going on is on Nouri al-Maliki and on Barack who insisted Nouri get a second term, just like he insisted last fall that Nouri get more weapons.

Jim: Rebecca, over 20 e-mailers noted Katrina vanden Heuvel last week.  They are going to be cheering your remarks.  She's quickly becoming one of the most hated faux lefties in the country.  Elaine, you wrote "A little ___ named Lisa Savage" last week.  Talk a little about that.

Elaine: There's a soldier, a US soldier, whom the press has obsessed over.  Like C.I., I'm not going to be writing about the soldier until he has something to say.  I think there's a lot of gossip and a lot of spin but he knows what happened and if he speaks I'll write about it.  I'm not interested otherwise.  But a large number on my side, the left, are suddenly interested in him.  They claim he's a war resister.  They claim they support war resisters.  But these Ron Jacobs and Lisa Savages don't write about war resisters.  They write entire columns which ignore people like Jermeny Hinzman and Joshua Key.  There are all these war resisters, Americans in Canada, and yet the Ron Jacobs and the Lisa Savages want to write about this new soldier -- who may or may not be a war resister -- and they want you to know they're on his side.  But if they're really on the side of war resisters, why aren't they using this moment to help people in need, war resisters who went to Canada to avoid the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  At the end of the day, Lisa and Ron are fakes and frauds.  I need to note I was especially building on the work Kat and C.I. did the week before last.

Jim: And Lisa Savage is a little what?

Elaine: If I use "bitch" at my website, I get e-mails from people uncomfortable with the word.  C.I. can use the term because she does.  She'll apply it  to a man more often then she will a woman.  She's also very upset when she's using it.  You can feel the anger as you read.  Rebecca can get away with it because she'll use any word at her site.  I think Marcia can get away with it also for the same reason if you see her 2008 posts.  Ann can and will use it with no fall out.  But with me, I get complaints.  So that may be what Lisa Savage is or she may be another little whatever.  Fill in the blank for yourself.

Jim: Okay.  Ann, do you mind commenting on that because you do use that word at your site.

Ann: I'm not going to censor. Trina will use it too if she's writing about a gender traitor, for example.  And there's been this conversation among all those of us who are women.  Trina and I are of the belief that "bitch" is a term we use and use authentically in our lives.  We're not going to act different online.  And Ruth and Betty don't look down on us for using the term but -- due to their families -- they try to avoid using the term at their sites.  Betty has kids, Ruth has her grandkids, they both  watch the language as much as possible.  And that's fine.  But I'm sorry, I will call a woman -- or a man -- a "bitch."  Have we reclaimed the term?  I don't know and I don't care at this point.  We try to be work safe and there are days when we just want to curse and scream.  So if, on those days, we toss out the word "bitch" once or twice, Trina and I see it as acknowledging our working class roots and keeping it real.  Let me add one more thing.  No link, Marcia doesn't want one.  But when Hillary went down in flames in 2008, Marcia wrote a scorching post.  She called out the people who had betrayed Hillary and she used just about every curse word you can imagine.  I thought that was a very powerful post then and I think so now as well.

Marcia: Thank you, Ann.

Jim: Let me move to Ruth.  Ruth, Ann was just talking about Hillary Clinton.  A number of people supported her in 2008.  Some say she's a lock for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination.  Her book was released Tuesday, her second autobiography.  In it, she mentions Iraq briefly and her vote for the 2002 authorization for war on Iraq.  Your reaction?

Ruth: I think C.I. was correct to point out that if, in 2014, Hillary's finally going to call her 2002 vote a mistake, she needs to offer something of substance.  Twelve years after the fact and she thinks she can write about it without any detail or exploration and we are supposed to say "Yea!"?  Sorry, it is not that easy.  Her explanation in the book makes no sense.  In 2002, she voted for it based on, she says, the best information available.  By 2007, she knows she has made a mistake as a result of the letters she is sending  to the families of the fallen.  But she cannot own up to this in 2008?

Cedric:  I agree.  I'm sorry but after all this time, she finally shares this?  It took her 12 years to own up to a mistake?  I can remember Bully Boy Bush being asked by someone, I think for NBC News, to name a mistake and I can remember him being asked that in a debate.  He couldn't name anything.  That's basically Hillary now.  Do we need another pig headed and stubborn person occupying the White House?  I supported Hillary in 2008, I don't support her now. 

Jim: Ruth, you supported her 2008 run and supported her during her term as Secretary of State.  Do you buy her explanation on Iraq?

Ruth: Not one bit.  I agree with Cedric about how this comes off.  Also she appears to be thinking, "I will write this nonsense early on so that when 2016 rolls around I can claim I have seriously addressed it and avoid talking about it."

Jim: And maybe even lash out at anyone asking her questions the way she did when Terry Gross asked her about marriage equality on Fresh Air last week.  I'm passing to Ty who wanted to note two e-mails.  Ty?

Ty: First up, Mindy is outraged by what's taking place in Iraq.  She's also a new and big fan of Trina's.  She wants to give "a big thank you" to Trina for talking about how "we need to claim our power and for refusing to be assigned the role of victim."  Mindy wants Trina to share her view on Iraq in terms of the American people.

Trina: Sure.  Hillary says US troops can't be put on the ground in Iraq, John McCain says the same thing.  Those are two of the biggest War Hawks the Senate's seen in recent years.  Both supported the invasion of Iraq.  Both now know it's political suicide to do so.  What changed?  Prolonged protests by the American people.  That's people power.  We made the illegal war something the government could not get away with.  Now even Hillary and John know better than to call for troops on the ground.  This is a major win and the peace movement should be proud of its accomplishment.

Ty: Thank you.  Jess and Kat, Alex e-mails wanting to know what you listen to "in times like these when war is a never ending thing."

Jess: Kat's pointing at me to go first.  I'd love to tell you that I have this great playlist and wonderful new music has come about in response to these events.  That's not the case.  I listen to music I enjoy.  I'm not real big on the 'political' singers like Bruce Twinkie Boy Springsteen because they only talk big when Republicans are in charge.  So I listen to Ben Harper, Tori Amos, Jack Johnson, Afghan Whigs, Carly Simon -- stuff like that.  

Kat: What Jess just said.  I love political music.  But outside of David Rovics, I can't think of any political writer that's stayed true. Bruce Springsteen, Ani DiFranco and so many others were just cheap whores.  They pretended to care about issues when they could pin illegal spying and war on a Republican in the White House but when the blame would have to be pinned on a Democrat, the whores went running.  I have no respect for them or patience with them.  I defended Ani for being tone deaf recently.  I don't think she's racist.  But it was funny that she who hurled hate at others to make herself feel self-righteous got tossed to the wolves herself. But I'm so over her and her career's so over.  A protest singer is not one someone singing propaganda songs for the government.  Again, David Rovics has kept his integrity.  He may be the only one.

 Jim: Okay, thank you, Kat.  Dona's calling time on this roundtable.  We heard from everyone but Ava and C.I.  They're the ones who took the notes for this transcript piece so we thank them for that.  And this is a rush transcript.

This edition's playlist

1) Chrissie Hynde's Stockholm.

2) Pretenders' Packed!

3) Jon Butcher Axis' Wishes.

4) Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Orange.

5) Afghan Whigs' Do The Beast.

6) Tori Amos' Unrepentant Geraldines.

7) Joni Mitchell's Night Ride Home.

8) Jackie DeShannon's Laurel Canyon.

9) Prince's Graffiti Bridge.

10) Carly Simon's Spy.


Added: Thank you to reader Lee and to Elaine who both pointed out that we failed to note Carly's album.  It was Spy.

3 TV shows you should be watching

'I am so bored and there's nothing to watch!'

The lament of every teenager becomes the cry of many adults.

Less so today when we're starting to see a return of summer programming.  (Something Ava and C.I. have spent years championing here.)  There are a lot of programs coming next month with huge expectations.

But right now, there are three great programs offering up weekly episodes.  You've got a comedy, a show about witches and a good old fashioned prime time soap opera.

1)  Spooked.  Geek & Sundry's latest program serves up a new episode every Wednesday.  You can stream it there or at YouTube or at Hulu.  Geeks & Sundry describes their new sitcom as follows:

Spooked is about a ragtag group of ghost hunters, comprised of their leader Connor (Julian Curtis), occult specialist Morgan (Ashley Johnson), tech aficionado Lindsey (Neil Grayston), fanboy Elliot (Derek Mio) and their secret weapon Piper (Shyloh Oostwald) who can actually talk to ghosts.

2) Salem.  WGN's Sunday night program takes you back to Puritan times with witches secretly ruling Salem led by Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) and Tituba (Ashley Madekwe).   John Alden (Shane West) returns to Salem after years of being at war.  He and Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) have more or less teamed up to discover what is going on in Salem.  Rebecca blogs about the show.

3)  Mistresses.  ABC delivers melodrama Monday nights with the summer series now in its second seaon.  Ruth and Stan cover the show each week noting the latest dramas and crises plaguing Savi (Alyssa Milano), Karen (Yunjin Kim), April (Rochelle Aytes) and Joss (Jes Macallan).  Last season saw a murder, a car crash, the dissolution of a marriage, lots of sex and so much more.  You just know this season is going to top it and over-the-top it.

Who should the drones be turned on now?

Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug and prime minister of Iraq, wants US President Barack Obama to provide him with drones.


The killer drones would be used to murder Iraqis.

Some might be guilty of something.  But even the best cases have left innocent civilians dead and wounded.

So maybe when using drones, there's another answer?

Maybe from this day forward, those leaders using drones or requesting drones should be killed by drones?

If those, like Nouri, so quick to call for drones, were to become the actual victims of drone attacks, they might grasp -- in their dying moments -- how drones are not the answer.

Of course, this kind of karma would eventually mean US leaders would, themselves, be subject to drone attacks.

Would such a possibility make world leaders a little less quick to resort to violence?  A little more understanding and aware of the risks civilians around the world face?

We'll most likely never know because the leaders will continue to deploy drones and at no expense or risk to their own safety.

As always, the people of the world won't be so lucky.

Date Night

It isn't just for husband and wives anymore.

Barack and Arne caught 'dining.'  Who was the greedy one of the duo, by the way, who needed two drinks?

(There are three glasses on the table.)

[President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have lunch together at FireFlies in Alexandria, Va., June 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)]

VETERANS: Murray Remarks on Sanders-McCain Compromise

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, June 11, 2014                                                                         (202) 224-2834
VETERANS: Murray Remarks on Sanders-McCain Compromise
Murray: “We must keep working to address the management, resource, and personnel shortcomings we know exist at the VA.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor before voting on the Sanders-McCain legislation aimed at addressing transparency, wait times, and accountability issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure overwhelmingly passed the Senate and will now be reconciled with legislation passed by the House of Representatives, before heading to the President for his signature.
Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:
“This compromise is an excellent example of what Congress can do when we work together to put veterans first and work toward substantive solutions to the challenges they face. Passing this legislation is a critical step toward addressing some of the immediate accountability and transparency concerns plaguing the VA and fixing its deep-seated structural and cultural challenges.
“Each new report seems to paint a more serious and more disturbing picture of the VA’s system-wide failure to provide timely access to care for our nation’s heroes. I am especially concerned by the number of facilities that serve Washington state veterans that have been flagged for further review and investigation. The VA has promised to get to the bottom of this and I expect them to do so immediately.
“However, these new reports are not only consistent with what I hear so often from veterans and VA employees, but also with what the Inspector General and GAO have been reporting on for more than a decade.
“These are not new problems and Congress must continue to take action on them, while addressing the inevitable issues that will be uncovered as ongoing investigations and reviews are completed.
“I expect this chamber to come together, as the House did yesterday – twice, in fact – to move this bill forward – so we can work out our difference with the House and send this legislation to the President’s desk as soon as possible.
“As we all know, there are serious problems at the VA that will not be solved through legislation alone or by simply replacing the Secretary. However, I am hopeful these steps will spark long-overdue change -- from the top down -- in order to ensure our veterans are getting the care and support they expect and deserve.
“I commend the Senator from Arizona and the Senator from Vermont for their commitment to bipartisanship and putting the needs of our veterans first. This is an important compromise and I urge my colleagues to continue the bipartisan collaboration that made this bill possible.
“Let’s pass this bill quickly so we can get these reforms in place. And we must keep working to address the management, resource, and personnel shortcomings we know exist at the VA.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

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