Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Congress and Iraq


Dona:  December 1st, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing that was largely ignored by our so-called independent media -- i.e. DEMOCRACY NOW!, THE NATION, THE PROGRESSIVE, IN THESE TIMES . . .   This community didn't ignore it and I'm roundtabling with the people who attended the hearing and reported on it.  C.I. reported on it  in Tuesday's snapshot  and Wednesday's snapshot and in "Ash Carter spun wildly to Congress," additional reporting: Cedric's "Hank Johnson's sexual obsession with Barack" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HANK HIS JOHNSON!" covered US House Rep Hank Johnson wasting everyone's time to profess his strangely sexual obsession with Barack and Carter and Gen Joe Dunford refusing to indulge Johnson,  At Rebecca's site, Wally reported on Ranking Member Adam Smith  in "Even House Democrats are criticizing Saint Barack.(Wally)," at Trina's site Ava reported on the obsession with oil that was at the heart of the hearing in "It's still about the oil," Mike reported on US House Rep Niki Tsongas offering some realities about the so-called coalition in "US Armed Services Committee hearing offers a little bit of reality," Ruth reported on US House Rep John Kline's questioning which established that there was no cap on the number of US troops that could be in Iraq "Iraq still matters,"  Kat took on the surreal aspect with "The US just declared war on everyone but Santa," and Elaine covered one time anti-war US House Rep Jackie Speier making an idiot of herself in statements and dress with "The idiot Jackie Speier," And please note, I cribbed freely from C.I.'s listing last week to summarize the reports.  Okay, let's start with the big news.  Ruth?

Ruth: Okay, appearing before the Committee were Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and General Joe Dunford.  General Dunford is the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The Committee Chair is US House Representative Max Thornberry and the Ranking Member is US House Representative Adam Smith.  The big news was Secretary Carter declaring the following:

 Next, in full coordination with the government of Iraq, we're deploying a specialized, expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on ISIL.  These special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.   

Dona:  So the Iraq War doesn't end.  The never-ending Iraq War goes on and on forever.  Ava, you may remember this, our shock -- my shock, your shock, Jim's shock, Jess' shock and Ty's shock -- back in 2005 when in an off-hand comment, C.I. said the Iraq War wouldn't be over by 2008.  She said that we'd probably have shut down our sites before the war ended.

Ava: Right.  We were like, "Huh?"  And then we thought about it, and this was summer of 2005, and realized she was probably right.  That was one of the most depressing moments of that year.  Realizing that we were trying to end the war and the sentiment had turned against the war and that even with that the Iraq War would likely go on.  Which it has.

Dona: Which it has.  Which it most certainly has. Kat, what stood out to you most about the hearing?

Kat: Well, C.I. pointed this out in a snapshot, how Carter makes this monumental announcement, and does so early in the hearing, and yet the rest of the hearing is never, "Huh?"  Or, "What did you just say?"  Or, "I can't believe we're sending more troops into Iraq, let alone now we're doing combat operations."  It was like Ash Carter farted in the middle of the hearing and everyone averted their gaze out of embarrassment for him.

Dona: Well that's descriptive.  Elaine, you and Wally and Cedric picked the most embarrassing Rep in the hearing.  You went with Jackie Speier and the guys went with Hank Johnson.

Elaine: Well, it's really a toss up.  I went with Jackie because, as Cedric will tell you, he was outraged by Johnson.  For me, it was a toss up, but I could have gone with either.  I just remember Jackie going around to the media, while trying to get into Congress, pretending she gave a damn about the Iraq War.  And it was appalling to watch her just roll over in the hearing.

Dona: You mention a red plastic thing she wore.  What was that?

Elaine: From where I sat, it looked like she had a plastic red rose with a red stem going around her jacket.  I was later informed that it was a rose and the other red was piping on the jacket.  I have no idea.  I just know it was ugly as hell -- or ugly as newly minted War Hawk Jackie Speier.

Dona: Cedric, you were outraged by Hank Johnson?

Cedric: I was.  I will try to choose my words carefully.  But I can feel the anger rising again.  I knew he was worthless, I read BLACK AGENDA REPORT as well as C.I. and Ava's Congressional hearing reporting and I hear from them and Wally and Ruth -- Ruth covering Benghazi hearings -- so I knew Hank Johnson came off stoned and stupid.  And I knew he had a practice of using his 'questioning' to whore for Barack and how great he thinks Barack is.  But here we are in the hearing and Hank's whoring for Barack.  And he's whining that Republicans are saying things that disagree with Barack and we are at war and this is so wrong and don't you agree Secretary Carter.

Dona: Did he?

Cedric: No.  He said he wasn't going to get into political especially not during an election cycle.  And then Dunford followed up with a similar take.  But that's -- I'm mad.  Let me take a breath.  We're learning that the White House will be sending troops into combat in Iraq and all Hank Johnsoncan do is whore for Barack.  He can't ask about Iraq.  And -- Wally, take over me -- the whole stupid thing Johnson was saying.

Wally:  Sure.  We can't criticize a president because the US is at war?  My entire adult life -- Mike's too -- the US has been at war.  That's so offensive, that 'argument' and it was offensive when Republicans tried to make it.  To hear some stoned out Congressman who is unintelligent and rambles on and on in a stoned stupor make that argument as a Democrat was deeply offensive.  And, as Cedric already pointed out, what a waste of time.

Dona: Okay, Mike, Wally just mentioned you.  I'm your age and, as Wally pointed out, when in our adult lives hasn't the US been at war?

Mike: Yeah.  Hank Johnson's a moron.  And he's the corporatist whore that was given Cynthia McKinney's seat.  We really missed a strong voice like Cynthia McKinney in last week's hearing.  There's really not any strong voice for peace anymore -- not in the Congress.  Either they're on board with war or they're silent.  And when Carter made that declaration, like Kat said, everyone acted as though he'd ripped a loud, stinky fart and rushed to avoid probing what he'd said or, hell, even acknowledging it.  And Adam Smith got on my last damn never insisting that we need to have a discussion about the AUMF when, point of fact, at the hearing we couldn't even have a discussion about the White House openly sending US troops into combat in Iraq.  No more pretending that it's something else, now they're being open about it.

Dona: You wrote about Rep. Niki Tsongas.

Mike: Right.  She was one of the few worth noting.  I'd say it was basically her and Beto O'Rourke.  But she earned a mention because she pointed out that Barack's so-called 'coalition' really isn't.  It's just like with Bully Boy Bush and his coalition of the willing but people want to pretend otherwise because it's Barack.

Ruth: And I want to note that the media silence was not unlike the silence of the Committee -- or, I should say, the 'independent' media silence.  Real news outlets covered this news.  Fakeries like DEMOCRACY NOW! either ignored it or reduced it to a minor headline.  I hope we will repost in full C.I.'s Thursday Iraq snapshot because it is a critique of the media coverage.

Dona: I absolutely agree with you, Ruth.  And C.I.'s nodding that we can -- probably anything to get us done with this never-ending edition.  Ava, you wrote about the obsession with oil -- the continued obsession.

Ava: I'm toying with the term oilomania -- like nymphomania -- to describe certain element of the US government with regards to Iraq's oil.  Iraq's oil -- not the US' oil. It was shocking to hear all the talk of oil-oil-oil over and over in the hearing and to learn, from Dunford, that there's been yet another US government study of Iraqi oil in the last months.  Our government is obsessed with Iraqi oil.  It's no longer a case of standing at the urinal next to Iraq and taking a quick peak to see what Iraq's packing, we're peeping Toms who just can't take our eyes off Iraq's oil.  We're obsessed with it -- specifically obsessed with attempting to control it.

Dona: It was and is a war about oil, no matter what anyone wants to pretend.  It was a resource war and war for markets.  Elaine, one point I wanted to make earlier was that I liked how you had one worst and then Cedric and Wally had another.  Different perspectives and all that.

Elaine: That's one reason I was there.  Usually, it's just Wally, Kat, Ava and C.I.  If it's Benghazi, Ruth may be there as well.  The Saturday or Sunday before the hearing, C.I. happened to mention it as you two were talking.

Dona: Because I usually do the gang -- Ava, C.I., Wally and Kat -- I usually do the gang's schedule each week of where they're speaking and have to carve out time in that schedule if they're going to be in DC at hearings.

Elaine: Right, so you two were talking about it and C.I. was talking about how there was supposed to be a major announcement in the hearing. And that's when I said, "Okay, we'll leave our daughter with Trina so Mike and I can be there."  Because it was going to be important.

Cedric: And I said I could take time off and wanted to because I knew it wouldn't get coverage.  I didn't realize it would be as ignored as it was by THE NATION, etc., but I knew it wouldn't get the coverage it needed.  I knew I could go and Wally and I could do a humor piece that would put a little more attention on it so I'd be doing my part and we all have to.  It's like we've forgotten that -- as a people -- that we all need to be doing our part to end the Iraq War.

Dona: Exactly.  C.I., I'm going to let you speak before we wind down.  What stood out?

C.I.: I don't want to be mean here but it was interesting how freely everyone can now condemn Nouri al-Maliki.  He deserves it.  And, in fairness, Congress has always been more honest about Nouri than the White House.  Even Hillary Clinton -- when she was a Senator and in the Congress, she called him a "thug" flat out in a hearing.  But, and this gets to Beto O'Rourke's questioning, Haider's not any better at present.  And how long are we going to prop up Haider?  At what point does the US pull its support and why?  Because of human rights violations?  Those are going on right now.  What is the line that has to be crossed for the US to stop backing a despot they installed.

Dona: And the answer?

C.I.: O'Rourke never got an answer to his question -- in that regard, he is the American people.

Dona: I like that.  I think it's a good summation to go out on.  Our e-mail address is thethirdestatesundayreview@yahoo.com.  And this is a rush transcript.

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