Friday, September 07, 2012

Barack wasn't the belle of the ball

"Navy Seals Killed Bin Laden; Barack Obama Kills The American Economy" (Hillary Is 44):


That’s why Barack Obama did not mention the rate of growth among the unemployed last night. Clown Prince does not see the invisible to him millions.
As James Pethokoukis wrote, for the unemployed, for those looking for work, it was an awful, awful August jobs report.
The August jobs report and the American economy under Obama are so bad they make Barack Obama’s public masturbations last night appear tolerable. Not that last night went well for the clown prince. Even Big Media acolytes had to admit they need higher dosages of Hopium delivered by syringe:
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “A Lot Of Stuff We’ve Heard Before.” [snip] (CNN, 9/6/12)
CBS’ Bob Schieffer: “It Just Didn’t Have That Spark.” SCHIEFFER: “But this as not the kind of speech that Bill Clinton made last night. It just didn’t have that spark.” (CBS, 9/6/12)
NBC’s Savannah Guthrie: “An Excitement Gap Between The President’s Speech And Bill Clinton’s Last Night.” [snip] (NBC’s “NBC News Live,” 9/6/12)
CNN’s Brianna Keilar: “Don’t Think I’m Going Out On A Limb To Say Clinton Was Wayyyyyyy Better Than Obama.” (Twitter.com, 9/6/12)
Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo: “Lacked Clinton’s Magic.” [snip] (Twitter.com, 9/6/12)
NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell: “Wasn’t A Whole Lot Of New Policy…” [snip] (NBC, 9/6/12)
CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “A State Of The Union, Almost, In Terms Of Kind Of Going Down A Checklist…” [snip] (CNN, 9/6/12)
ABC News’ Rick Klein: “Strange Silence Prevailing In The Arena.” [snip] (Twitter.com, 9/6/12)
The Washington Post: “A Mixed First-Term Record … Rhetoric Has Not Been Enough To Overcome The Problems The President Faces.” [snip] (The Washington Post, 9/6/12)
Politico: “Obama And Vice President Joe Biden All But Ignored The Affordable Care Act.” [snip] (Joanne Kenen, “Obama’s DNC Speech All But Ignores ‘Obamacare’,” Politico, 9/6/12)
The Washington Post’s “The Fix”: “Certainly Not Among The Best He Has Ever Delivered…” [snip] —”
Anyone notice how Barack Obama suffers by comparison to Bill Clinton? After the nostalgia for the 1990s and after some time to come down from Bill’s tour-de-farce performance on Wednesday, Americans will sober up and realize Barack Obama is not Bill Clinton and that Barack Obama needs to be sent packing back to crime ridden Chicago where he is in his element. It’s why we advise that Romney/Ryan supporters employ the ultimate putdown if they want to unemploy Barack Obama:


He bombed.  It was a lousy speech.  That was obvious at the office today.  There are a small group who are devoted to Barack and every day we've had to hear about what happened the night before at the DNC.

We heard a lot about Joe Biden's speech at work today.  No one talked up Barack's speech.

He seemed haughty (pointed out by a woman who retires next week), he seemed out of touch and he seemed very weak as he argued he was entitled to get more time.

He hadn't earned that right so I have no idea how that's supposed to work.

Is he supposed to get it because he's mixed.

That idiot Tom Hayden would give it to him for that reason but outside a few elderly White men who dream of sucking Barack's dick, I can't imagine there being much excitement.

I can picture Tom Hayden with his tongue out, panting over Barack.

He's probably thinking about all the blow jobs he gave in the late sixties and he's got those power-submission issues that he'd love for Barack to use on him.

But outside of little closet cases like Tom Hayden, I don't think anyone was excited.

Not only was Joe Biden considered the winner of last night's speaking but Bill Clinton was considered the winner of the week.

It was Barack's coronation and he was outshined repeatedly.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, September 7, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue,  Tom Hayden crawls out of his rock to spin (and spin badly), people take to the streets to show their support for Bradley Manning, Jill Stein appears on Bill Moyers' new program, and more.
 
Old Whore Tom Hayden resurfaced to distort, lie and smear.   Tom Hayden is a joke.  He is so much of a joke that Barack Obama publicly and repeatedly derided what he termed "Tom Hayden Democrats" in 2007 and 2008.  Possibly demonstrating that men who abuse women are nothing but big cowards, Tom Hayden's never called out Barack but instead worked overtime to talk up the man who has repeatedly and publicly mocked him. 
 
Hijacking the E-Train to Crazy Town and packing plenty of stupid, Tom rabidly barks at everyone including Paul Krugman -- anyone who might question the politics of  Barack Obama -- in total or partial as he tries to whip people in line for his abuser Barack Obama.
 
Dirty whores don't speak for the campaign.  Which is why Tom Hayden goes on at length about ObamaCare and how it was up to politicians and the people are just too stupid to grasp this but last night in Charlotte, North Carolina, Barack was stating it's not "what can be done for us, it's about what can be done by us."
 
There are many decisions Barack's made and actions Barack's taken that I will hold against him.  The lunatic ravings of Tom Hayden, however, are not on that list. Here Tom  is molesting the topic of Iraq:
 
 
 
Many in the peace movement did not believe it then and dismiss it now. To the extent this is a rational objection - and not blindness - it rests on two arguments. First, some claim that Obama was only following the withdrawal plan already agreed to by George Bush. It is an interesting question for future historians to uncover what shadow entity orchestrated the Iraq-US pact between the end of Bush and the coming of Obama.
 
Oh, history will be the judge?  Seriously?  I seem to recall most of us on the left ridiculing Bully Boy Bush when he responded to questions about the Iraq War with statements like that.
 
That aside, it is logical to conclude that the immanence of Obama's victory pushed the Bush administration to wrap up the best withdrawal agreement possible before the unpredictable newcomer took office.
 
It isn't logical to conclude any such thing.  If the opinion of the people of the world didn't matter to Bully Boy Bush before starting the illegal war, if the opinions of world leaders didn't matter to him, why in the world would the election of Barack matter?
 
People like Tom Hayden live in their own fact free world.  Never having spoken to even one person who worked on the SOFA, Hayden 'just knows' exactly how it happened.  The SOFA replaces the UN mandate for the occupation.  The UN mandate was yearly -- each year it had to be renewed.  Nouri renewed it on his end twice.  Outraging the Iraqi politicians both times.  The first time (the end of 2006), he insisted he wouldn't do that solo again, that he'd get approval from Parliament.  But then he turned around and did the exact same thing at the end of 2007.
 
The Bush White House realized early on (late 2007), that an agreement that replaced the UN mandate would need to run longer than one year because there was too much anger over these yearly renewals.  For that reason, it was a contract that ran three years.   Even something that basic is beyond the Tom Haydens.  They bought into the lie -- and how popular it was -- that Nouri was sticking it to the White House and dictating the terms.  Other than the amount of 'rewards,' Nouri didn't dictate a thing.  And the SOFA was written prior to the November 2008 election.  (Is Tom even aware of that?)  November was about fine tuning it and about surveying Parliament and greasing palms (the Parliament was adament that they would be voting on this contract). 
 
Tom:
 
In addition, Obama increased his previous withdrawal commitment in February 2009 to include virtually all American forces instead of leaving behind a "residual" force of 20-30,000.
 
Tom's spinning so hard that even he has to admit the reality in the next sentence:
 
It is true that as the endgame neared, Obama left open the possibility of a residual force after American ground troops departed, saying he would be responsive to the request of the Baghdad regime.
 
Yes, Barack gave an interview to the New York Times as candidate about residual troops.  I remember that very well.  And you know what I remember most about that?
 
 
On the subject of Iran, Barack Obama appears on the front page of this morning's New York Times. War pornographer Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny who lied in print (click here, here and here -- the paper finally retracted Zeleny's falsehood that should have never appeared) present a view of Barack Obama that's hardly pleasing. Among the many problems with the article is Obama as portrayed in the article -- and his campaign has issued no statement clarifying. The Times has the transcript online and from it, Barack Obama does mildly push the unproven claim that the Iranian government is supporting resistance in Iraq. Gordo's pushed that unproven claim repeatedly for over a year now. But Obama's remarks appear more of a reply and partial points in lengthy sentences -- not the sort of thing a functioning hard news reporter would lead with in an opening paragraph, touch on again in the third paragraph, in the fourth paragraph, in . . . But though this isn't the main emphasis of Obama's statements (at any time -- to be clear, when it pops up, it is a fleeting statement in an overly long, multi-sentenced paragraphs), it does go to the fact that Obama is once again reinforcing unproven claims of the right wing. In the transcript, he comes off as obsessed with Hillary Clinton. After her, he attempts to get a few jabs in at John Edwards and one in at Bill Richardson. Here is what real reporters should have made the lede of the front page: "Presidential candidate and US Senator Barack Obama who is perceived as an 'anti-war' candidate by some announced that he would not commit to a withdrawal, declared that he was comfortable sending US troops back into Iraq after a withdrawal started and lacked clarity on exactly what a withdrawal under a President Obama would mean." That is what the transcript reveals. Gordo really needs to let go of his blood lust for war with Iran.
 
And then over at Third that Sunday (November 4, 2007), we offered "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq" which was taking the transcript and writing the report as the Times should have covered it.  Tuesday November 6, 2007 (see that day's snapshot), Tom Hayden finally discovers and writes about the article with rah-rah for Barack because he didn't read the transcript (and he actually misread the printed article) resulting in this garbage.  After we called him out, he would write another article suddenly 'discovering' the transcript and find that things were not as sunny as he'd made out to be.
 
Point being, he's no one to trust for facts.
 
 
 
Tom-Tom's thrilled Barack doesn't have 'residual troops' in Iraq but for Barack to have residual troops, the SOFA would need to be extended or replaced.  With nothing to extend it or replace it,  it had to be followed.  That's how a contract works.
 
Tom:
 
Here, some on the left seized on these remarks to later claim that Obama had to be forced by the Iraqis to finally leave. There is no evidence for this claim, however. It is equally possible - and I believe more credible - that Obama was simply being Obama, knowing that the Iraqis could not possibly request the Americans to stay.
Dissecting diplomacy, like legislation, is like making sausage, in the old saying. Obama certainly knew that he would gain political cover if he could say with credibility that he was only following Bush's withdrawal plan and Iraq's request.
 
There is evidence for that claim.  I know Tom doesn't care for Arabs.  Remember it was only during his Iraq War makeover that he finally 'apologized' for being a tool of the right-wing Israeli government while he was a small-fry state legislature who stupidly thought he would end up president done day.  There was Tom, cheering on the murder of Palestinians.  He really hasn't changed his anti-Arab views.  Try to remember that when everyone was telling Jane Fonda that Rollover was an iffy project, Tom was telling her it was political, prescient and important (in the film, the world's financial downfall is caused largely by greedy, you know this is coming, Arabs).  If Tom weren't so 'allergic' to Arabs, maybe he'd read the Arab press.  You can find many articles that argue Iraqis forced Barack to back down.  Those articles generally note that Iraq refused to grant immunity to US service members and that the White House had already made that a deal breaker.
 
 
 Having ignored the mountain of articles on that point, Tom wants to then argue:
 
 
A more bizarre left criticism of Obama on Iraq is that the war itself never ended but instead morphed into a secret war with tens of thousands of Americans fighting as Special Ops or private contractors.
 
 
Is he drunk again?  Is that it?  I have no idea.  But last week,  Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) reported:
 
More than 3,500 insurgents have been "taken off the streets of Baghdad" by the elite British force in a series of audacious "Black Ops" over the past two years.
It is understood that while the majority of the terrorists were captured, several hundred, who were mainly members of the organisation known as "al-Qa'eda in Iraq" have been killed by the SAS.
The SAS is part of a highly secretive unit called "Task Force Black" which also includes Delta Force, the US equivalent of the SAS.
 
 3,500 killed over the last two years.  Seriously, Tom-Tom, you're going to ignore that?  You who tries to reference the Honduran death squads in how many articles on Iraq?  You're going to ignore that 3,500 Iraqs have been 'taken off the street' as a result of being captured by US and British forces?  And that "several hundred" have been killed during this time?
 
The wars on Latin America in the 70s and 80s targeted which groups?  The citizens the oppressive regimes wanted to shut up.  And we're not bothered by the news from the Telegraph?
 
And this isn't 'conspiracy' talk.  This is what's been reported by the few reporters who've bothered to report.  In December of last year, while everyone was filing 'withdrawal, Ted Koppel filed an important report on Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC).

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?


AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.
 
 
 
Back during Vietnam when he had a little bit of guts, Tom Hayden wouldn't have accepted this as 'withdrawal' but today he's just an old whore.  In fact, didn't Tom-Tom just affect outrage over 600 US troops in Honduras?  (He did, click here.) As Barbra Streisand tells Robert Redford in The Way We Were, "Hubbell, people are their principles."  How sad for Tom Hayden that he no longer has any principles.
 
You know who does appear to have principles?  Bradley Manning.
 

Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.  The court-martial was supposed to begin this month has been postponed until after the election . 
 
Yesterday, protests took place across America as people showed their support for Bradley.  Yael Chanoff (San Francisco Bay Guardian) reports on the action in San Francisco where participants included Iraq Veterans Against the War's Joshua Shepherd:

"It's a process to turn around once you've joined the military and committed so much of yourself to this institution," Shepherd told protesters today.
Shepherd was one of six veterans arrested at Obama campaign headquarters in Oakland Aug. 16. 
After the rally, protesters marched and protested a group watching Obama's DNC speech.
"I find it hypocritical that Obama promised to protect whistle blowers four years ago," said David Zebker, a San Francisco CPA who attended march.
 
 
 
A group of about 20 local DC area people, who are affiliated with the Bradley Manning Support Network,arrived at the DNC headquarters to meet with a representative of the Obama 2012 campaign to deliver our letter with our concerns for Bradley Manning (see below).
We were met at the main entrance of the DNC by security who refused entrance to about 4 people from the group who wanted to go inside and deliver our letter and to request that it be faxed to President Obama. The security guards told us to get off the front steps as were on private property. We explained that we were there on business. They refused us entry. We said we would not leave. Police were called. US Capitol Police showed up in four police cars and one police wagon. We talked with the police and explained were there with important business we needed to engage the campaign with and President Obama. After a while the US Capitol Police all left presumably because they didn't want to get involved, probably telling the security guards that it wasn't their jurisdiction and that we hadn't broken any laws.
 
The report also includes photos by Ted MadjoszMax Obuszewski (Baltimore Non-Violence Center) adds of the DC protest, "When we arrived we were chanting "President Obama Free Bradley Manning." Kevin Zeese an attorney who is a member of the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network explained why the charges against Manning should be dismissed and why we were focused on President Obama. He noted that the decision to hold Manning in solitary confinement was made by a three-star general at the Pentagon and it would be surprising if he acted without the approval of the president, Joint Chiefs of Staff or Secretary of Defense, in other words the decision to illegally torture a U.S. soldier being held in pre-trial detention was made at the highest levels of government."  The Bradley Manning Support Network notes that protests took place "in 34 cities across the United States [and] targeted local Obama campaign headquarters to demand the President free accused WikiLeaks whistleblower and Nobel Peace Prize nominee PFC Bradley Manning.  International supporters, in Australia and the U.K. also protested at U.S. embassies."
 
The San Jose Mercury News has a photo essay (by Kristina Sangsahachart) of the San Jose protestWorld Can't Wait's San Francisco chapter notes:

In San Francisco Thursday night, about 80 people met up tonight in the Mission District at a BART (subway) plaza, lofting colorful banners and signs.  We came from different movements – antiwar, Occupy, veterans – and people were feeling fierce.  A short rally brought up speakers from the Bradley Manning Support Network, Courage to Resist, Code Pink, World Can't Wait, and Veterans for Peace.

Nancy Siesel (Demotix) notes the NYC protest with a photo essay.  In the comments of a post at Naked Capitalism, Jill shares her experience protesting:
 
 
I want to relay my experience protesting the torture and illegal imprisonment of Bradley Manning.
As two people tried to enter the office to deliever a letter to Obama on Manning's behalf, the staffers locked the door and closed the curtains. That says a lot. But here's what I thought was most interesting.
They weren't prepared for protest. I am convinced peaceful protest is a good avenue to pursue. They think they've locked everything down, that people are too afraid, too tired, too progagandized to take them on. They need to know that isn't true.
And here's one more thing. They wouldn't let anyone in while we were picketing. If there was a large enough group to form 24 hour picket lines around the Obama and Romney campaign HQ's, it might be worth trying. It would be necessary to offer voter registration while picketing because this is offered at the HQ and this should not ever be stopped. But if their response to protest is to shut down their office, well, it's something to think about!
 
Protests against war took place yesterday as well.  CODEPINK notes:
 
PRELIMINARY PHOTOS.

PRELIMINARY VIDEO HERE.


Charlotte, NC—At 4:15pm today, Thursday, September 6, hours before President Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention, five CODEPINK activists dropped a 40 foot giant pink slip banner that read "YES WE CAN END WAR" off of a parking garage at S. College and 3rd Street near the Democratic Convention.  CODEPINK national organizer Alli McCracken, 23, from Washington, DC, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for "attaching a banner to private property without permission." 
"When the war in Afghanistan started I was only 12 years old, and for my entire adult life the US has continued to squander precious tax dollars on war, while young people like me can hardly afford college or healthcare, and many can't find jobs," said McCracken.  "Both the Republicans and Democrats continue to pour money into the bloated Pentagon budget instead of addressing people's real needs.  I'm sick and tired of the huge amount of corporate and super-PAC money going into elections that keeps our politicians funding war, killer drone strikes, and weapons to Israel.  Let's put people before profits!"

"
There were 34 police officers involved in arresting this one peace activist, clearly a huge waste of taxpayer money," said Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK.  "At a convention that is supposed to be the most open convention in history, it's tragic that a young activist would be arrested for peacefully expressing her desire to end war, a position that the overwhelming majority of Democratic delegates support."

CODEPINK has demonstrated at both the RNC and DNC, including speaking out every night at the RNC and Wednesday night, September 5, when CODEPINK co-director Rae Abileah
unfurled a pink banner inside the convention that read "Bring Our War $$ Home" during Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer's speech. 
In the wake of the Citizens United case, with corporate and super PAC money in politics polluting democracy and drowning out the will of voters, CODEPINK will also be calling for money out of politics. "We want people-powered elections that prioritize human needs over war and greed," said CODEPINK co-director Jodie Evans.  "And we'd like the police to go after the real war criminals instead of nonviolent protesters."
CODEPINK, founded in 2002, is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into health care, education and other life-affirming activities. www.codepink.org
 
Wow.  The war's 'over' but Iraqis are being killed by Brits an
 
 
Violence continues in Iraq. The month's not even a week old and already Iraq Body Count can count 29 violent deaths in the country -- and that's just through Wednesday.


Think about that.  The month started on Saturday and already 29 reported deaths.   Just through Wednesday.  Think about that and ask yourself where the US reporting on that has been.  Seems Iraq was 'in the news' with US outlets this week -- in terms of what was said at the DNC.  But no one has talked about 29 dead in 5 days.   And already today Alsumaria reports an attack today on a military checkpoint outside Baghdad killing 2 Iraqi soldiers and a Shi'ite shrine in Kirkuk was attacked leaving 3 people dead and eleven more injuredKitabat adds the death toll has risen to 8 and that the number injured now stands at thirty-three.   In addition, All Iraq News notes Turkish war planes shelled northern Iraq last night and that there was an attempt on Sheikh Ali Shuwaili (cleric for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani) in Sadr City yesterday with unknown assailants using guns with silencers shooting at himSam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) counts 8 dead today and 88 injured.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 12 dead.
 
In the US, the Green Party has made Dr. Jill Stein their presidential nominee and Jill's campaign notes:
 
 
This week on Moyers & Company, Bill talks with Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala about their campaign platform and what they've learned about American politics. 
The episode, appropriately entitled "Challenging Power, Changing Politics,"  delves into the history of the candidates' civic engagement and their vision for a just, sustainable future. Don't miss it!
"Moyers & Company airs weekly on public television – Check your local listings  and learn more at www.BillMoyers.com
 
 
 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

What the?



Seriously?

 That's what I was thinking as I listened to Big Cry Baby Dick Durbin.  He's cried in public so much that I'm always expecting him to do so every time he speaks.  (If you don't know, Dicky Durbin talks a good game and then has to retract his words and cries.  He did it on torture and numerous other topics.)

So there was Dicky Durbin and his job was so simple.

All he had to do was introduce Barack Obama.

Actually, introduce a bad film (narrated by professional bachelor George Clooney) about Barack.

And even that task was too much for him.

The idiot said, "He had a name that was difficult to pronounce?"

What the hell?

Barack Obama is not difficult for Americans to pronounce.  Slobodan Milosevic?  That's a difficult name to pronounce.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?  That's a difficult name to pronounce.


Barack may have been novel to some White people (not all) and Obama may have been the same but they were not difficult to pronounce and Black America didn't bat an eye at the name or struggle with pronouncing it.

He then lied again by declaring that the GOP convention was where Republicans said "just remember we're all in this alone."

Dick Durbin, you lying sack of s**t.

"Remember we're all in this alone" is a line from Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.



"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, September 6, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, who wants credit for the state of Iraq today, could the runaway president Jalal be an answer for Iraq, Barack becomes the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, and more.
 
Tonight in North Carolina, President Barack Obama will formally be crowned the Democratic Party nominee for president.  Will a sitting president speak in a presidential manner or will he echo the strident partisan tone, the ugly us-and-them that has so dominated the DNC?  If he's trying to remind people of what they saw in him in 2008, he'll be presidential and not divisive. 
 
If he's going to be presidential, that will need to include thanking Bully Boy Bush for Iraq and not playing glory hog.  At Never Gives Credit But Loves To Rip Us Off (so we don't link to them), Stephanie Gaskell is yammering away in that idiotic manner that's so popular at the news-lette.  She seems astounded that Republicans might argue Bush deserves credit for ending the Iraq War.
 
This is not difficult, this is not hard.
 
Barack Obama promised the American people troops would be out of Iraq ten months after he was sworn in.  A promise broken.  When did they leave?  At the end of 2011.
 
Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden opposed the Status Of Forces Agreement of the Bush administration.  They dropped their opposition to it, right after Barack was elected president -- going so far to vanish their opposition from the campaign site.  But they both campaigned on opposing the SOFA.  They campaigned on it, Barack show-boated on it and I can quote snapshot after snapshot on Joe's remarks on the SOFA.
 
So what ended the Iraq War?  (It hasn't ended but let's pretend.)
 
The SOFA.  Did Barack negotiate it?
 
Nope.
 
It's the Bush administration.  It's Condi, and Bush and Cheney and Stephen Hadley and others.
 
They're the ones who ended the Iraq War.
 
The only way Barack gets credit is if you believe as Senator John McCain did.  Remember what he believed?  From the November 16th snapshot:
 
 
What McCain stated he was hearing from Iraqis -- including Nouri al-Maliki -- was that the US would not provide a plan.  Graham, Lieberman and McCain all noted repeatedly that they spoke to Nouri, that they spoke to the Kurds, that they spoke to Osama al-Nujaifi (Speaker of Parliament, Iraqiya member and a Sunni).  There was not opposition from these groups, the three stated repeatedly. This was Lindsey Graham's point in his first round of questioning.  He walked it through slowly with Panetta and then noted that he'd gone slowly and done so for a reason, he stated that when you had all of that support (and Panetta agreed on the Sunni issue, the Nouri issue and on the Kurds that they would have -- the Kurds -- gone for as many as 50,000 US troops), how did you fail to make a deal?  McCain felt that the White House didn't want to make a deal and presented that feeling as fact.  Graham agreed with him about the failure and wanted to point out that the whole thing -- Iraq plus Afghanistan -- seemed to be done for votes and that it was interesting that Panetta was willing to talk about and explore the Iraqi political situation but no one wanted to talk about the American one.  From his remarks in the hearing, Lieberman agreed it was a failure but did not form an opinion as to why it failed.
This was their argument, they repeated it over and over.  They never once said, "We can force Iraq to do this!" Or that Iraq should have been forced.  Their argument was that they speak with these politicians (including Nouri) often and that they knew what the Iraqi politicians were open to and that they couldn't believe that with what Iraq was willing to go along with the White House couldn't get a deal.  If they're right about what the Iraqi politicians were willing to go for (I believe them because I've heard similar from the administration), then that was a significant moment and one that history books will review -- as McCain himself noted.  I disagree -- again based on what I've heard from administration friends -- that the White House intended to torpedo the agreement.  But that's my opinion and I could be wrong (and often am). McCain may have hurt his own argument by presenting it so forcefully -- you'll note that the presentation and not the substance is what the 'reporters' focused on.  Had he turned it into a question -- the way Lindsay Graham did -- it might have led to many headlines.  Then again, it's a lazy press.  Most likely they would have just seized upon another trivial moment to run with. (We don't have space for a full transcript.  But some of McCain's remarks on this were included in yesterday's snapshot and Kat's report last night included much more from McCain where he made the argument that the Iraqi leaders wanted US troops but the White House failed when they repeatedly had no plan to present.)
 
 
We're referring to the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing which heard testimony from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and from General Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff.  This hearing was covered in the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot," the November 17th "Iraq snapshot," by Ava in "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," by Wally with "The costs (Wally)," by Kat in "Who wanted what?" and, at The Third Estate Sunday Review, in "Editorial: The silences that enable and kill," "Enduring bases, staging platforms, continued war" and "Gen Dempsey talks "10 enduring" US bases in Iraq."  By contrast, with the exception of   Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) and Laurence Vance (LewRockwell.com), the press misreported and trivialized the hearing.
 
Now if you're willing to join with McCain and accuse Barack of deliberately attempting to destroy his own negotiations, then Barack deserves credit. 
 
Otherwise, Bully Boy Bush is responsible so Barack may need to share half that already laughable Nobel Peace Prize with George W. Bush.
 
I have no idea why anyone would want to claim 'credit' for Iraq because Iraq's falling apart. 
 
And people are complaining about the lack of any American influence.   Eli Lake (Daily Beast) interviewed Sheikh Ahmad Abu-Risha about the Sahwa ("Awakenings," Sons Of Iraq) and reports:

Rather, he is most concerned that his relationship with the U.S. military has appeared to halt. He said he was assured by U.S. military leaders that he would receive regular visits from senior figures and diplomats to discuss the relationship that began in Anbar back in 2006 and 2007. "There is no contact right now," he said. "They don't visit at all. Ever since the United States withdrew, we haven't gotten anyone to visit."
Jeffrey, who left his post as ambassador at the end of May, said the meetings have not yet happened because without the U.S. military in Iraq it's difficult for U.S. officials to travel to Anbar. "We have every intention of maintaining contact with the awakening and other people," Jeffrey said. "We had several meetings after the military completed its withdrawal with tribal sheikhs from the greater Baghdad area, but it's been hard to get people out to Anbar because of the security situation." A White House spokesman declined to comment for the story.
 
 
At the right-wing Commentary, Max Boot notes Eli Lake's report and concludes:
 
No surprise, that lack of contact and travel; it was precisely what numerous observers, including me, expected would happen when U.S. troops would pull out. But State Department and administration spokesmen spent years assuring anyone who would listen that even with the troops gone, a mega-embassy relying on some 15,000 contractors could continue to carry on vital missions. Now the falsity of those claims has been starkly revealed: U.S. diplomats, devoid of military support for transportation, find it hard to get out of their own embassy in the old Green Zone, thus leaving the old Awakening leaders to find for themselves even as Prime Minister Maliki's increasingly sectarian security forces increasingly persecute high-profile Sunnis including Vice President Tariq al Hashemi.
 
And of course it's also very difficult to spearhead a diplomatic mission when you have no Ambassador to Iraq.  We are aware of that, right?
 
Not only is Iraq falling apart but Barack's Ambassador to Iraq quit.  I'm sorry, Barack's second ambassador quit (James Jeffrey) as did his first (Chris Hill).  Two in four years.  Iraq needed stability.  Barack wasn't able to provide it. 
 
And people are still risking death to get out of Iraq.  Christopher Torchia and Jonathan Burch (Reuters) notes women and children among the people on a boat that became submerged. Xinhua notes the people who lived through the sinking were "mostly from Iraq and Syria" while the dead includes a large number of Palestinians and Syrians -- "12 men, 18 women, 28 children and 3 babies" died.  Hugh Naylor (The National) reports, "Turkey's Dogan News Agency reported dozens of survivors swimming to shore from the scene of the accident, about 50 metres out to sea, suggesting it occurred shortly after the vessel, a fishing boat, departed. It was unclear when it set sail, but most such attempts occur at night so as to avoid capture by sea patrols."  The ship was part of the underground railroad of migration taking part around the world as people risk everything to try to find a better life. 
 
 
On the subject of Turkey and Iraq,  the Jerusalem Post notes Turkish warplanes and helicopters began another attack on a region of northern Iraq said to be home to the PKK.  Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) reported yesterday, "The sites targeted were in the mountains, and so far officials have not provided any clue as to how many casualties the air strikes caused. In the past major offensives by Turkish forces the defense ministry has issued a final toll only, and not daily updates." Prensa Latina explains, "The start of the operation had been announced three years ago by provincial governor Vahdettin Ozkan in the wake of clashes between the Turkish army and militants of the separatists Kurdistan Workers' Party that resulted on 10 troops and 20 Kurds killed."  Seyhmus Cakan (Reuters) adds, "Turkey has stepped up air operations on suspected PKK rebels in northern Iraq over the past year after an increase in PKK attacks. The raids have fuelled tension between Ankara and the KRG."  The PKK?   Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."
 
The conflict has been going on for years now and violence breeds violence, vengeance begats vengeance.  There have not been a lot of honest efforts to address the situation.  Hurriyet Daily News examines the issues starting with a look at mistakes made:
 
- One of Turkey's two biggest mistakes was to not take any notice of our Kurdish citizens, to disregard their fundamental rights and to treat them as third class citizens. The second big mistake was to delegate the Kurdish issue and PKK terror to the military from the 1980s to 2003. The military used the only policy it knew: pressurizing, burning villages, banning Kurdish, instigating fear, committing unresolved murders, and bombing. Thousands of Kurds left the country for Europe, to form a very effective anti-Turkish, pro-PKK lobby. The PKK gained sympathy and power both domestically and abroad.

- When it was finally understood that the
PKK had originated from the Kurdish issue and at the basis of the issue were social, cultural and ethnic causes, it was already too late.

-
Ankara never had a realistic and courageous strategy except for armed struggle (between 1980 and 2003).

- The most dramatic mistake was that after Ă–calan was caught in 1998 and made his guerillas leave the country,
Ankara acted as if everything was over. The PKK launched itself into terror again in 2006.

- In 2009, the lack of adequate preparation for the Kurdish initiative resulted in nothing but a show of power. This historic opportunity was wasted.

 
 
Violence continues in Iraq. Trend News Agency notes DPA is reporting an al-Sharqat car bombing has claimed the life of Colonel Ismail al-Jaburi.  Alsumaria adds that the bomb was an IED and that it also left his driver injured.  In addition, the Jerusalem Post notes Turkish warplanes and helicopters began another attack on a region of northern Iraq said to be home to the PKK.  Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) reported yesterday, "The sites targeted were in the mountains, and so far officials have not provided any clue as to how many casualties the air strikes caused. In the past major offensives by Turkish forces the defense ministry has issued a final toll only, and not daily updates."

Staying with violence, last week Nouri's Baghdad-based government executed at least 26 people bringing the 2012 total to at least 96 so far.   Ipek Yezdani (Turkish Weekly) reports Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has written a formal request  to President Jalal Talabani in which he calls for Jalal "to stop the arbitrary and ever-increasing rate of executions in Iraq."  He notes that Jalal can stop the executions at any point in his role as president.  Alsumaria adds that Minister of Justice Hassan al-Shammari declared today that the use of the death penalty should be blowed down.  Dar Addustour notes a Tikrit prison saw riots this week over the transfer of prisoners to Baghdad -- including some who have been sentenced to death.

Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot for more violence:

In other violence,  Alsumaria reports that armed forces in police uniforms attacked various social clubs in Baghdad yesterday, beating various people and firing guns in the air.  They swarmed clubs and refused to allow anyone to leave but did make time to beat people with the butss of their rifles and pistols, they then destroyed the clubs.  AFP adds, "Special forces units carried out near-simultaneous raids at around 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Tuesday 'at dozens of nightclubs in Karrada and Arasat, and beat up customers with the butts of their guns and batons,' said an interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'Artists who were performing at the clubs were also beaten,' the official said."  The assaults were ordered by an official who reports only to Nouri al-Maliki. In related news the Great Iraqi Revolution posted video Friday of other attacks on Iraqi civilians by security forces and noted, "Very important :: a leaked video show Iraqi commandos during a raid to Baaj village and the arrest of all the young men in the village .they threatened the ppl of the village they will make them another Fallujah and they do not mind arresting all village's men and leave only women . they kept detainees in a school, and beating them, u can see they burned a car of one of the citizens"
 
 
Alsumaria notes that Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, has called out the assault on the social clubs and states that it is violation of the Constitution as well as basic human rights.  Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun al-Damalouji called on the security forces to respect the rights of the citizens.  Tamim al-Jubouri (Al Mada) adds that the forces working for Nouri attacked many clubs including Club Orient which was established in 1944 and that the patrons including Chrisitans who were surprised Tuesday night when Nouri's forces entered and began breaking furniture, beat patrons and employees and stole booze, cell phones and clothing.  So they're not only bullies, they're also theives.  Kitabat notes that the people were attacked with batons and gun butts including a number of musicians who were performing live in the club including singer Hussein Basri.  Alsumaria adds that the Baghdad Provincial Council states that they were not informed of the assaults on social clubs.
 
 
The political stalemate continues.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports that some feel the return of Iraq's vagabond president Jalal Talabani may allow for resolution:
 
 
Talabani is widely seen as the prime mover behind calls for a National Conference, during which, it's been proposed, all Iraq's political parties should resolve the impasse that has virtually handicapped the local political system at times. Over the past few months the three main groups involved in Iraqi politics – the two religious sects, the Sunni Muslims and the Shiite Muslims, and the Kurdish ethnic group – have failed to resolve their differences.
Yet the past few days have seen more hope and even some optimism about finding a resolution to these accumulated differences. Over the past week Talabani has been making phone calls from Germany, setting up meetings and preparing mediation. On August 19, the first day of the celebration of the major religious celebration Eid, Talabani gave a speech stressing the importance of a National Conference.
"The last few days have seen a decline in the intensity of the crisis that has troubled the Iraqi skies," Talabani said during the speech, before concluding that any solutions developed at the National Conference must be sustainable and long lasting.
 "Upon his return, President Talabani will call for a meeting that brings together the different political blocs to discuss the political crisis in the country," Kurdish MP, Hassan Jihad, confirmed. "Calls that the President made during his stay outside Iraq have borne fruit."
There are various issues that have meant that almost no significant work has been done by the Iraqi Parliament over the past few months.
One of these involves the so-called Erbil Agreement, a power sharing deal formulated in 2010 in the northern city of Erbil, that broke the political deadlock after elections resulted in two major political blocs with almost equal power. The opposition Iraqiya party, headed by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayed Allawi, says that the conditions for power sharing have not been met by the ruling State of Law bloc; the latter is headed by current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
 
Are people really trusting that Jalal will somehow help?
 
He fled to Germany after he killed the no-confidence vote.  Without the threat of a no-confidence vote, why the hell would Nouri do a damn thing?
 
And you're pinning your hopes on a National Conference?  WIth Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi both calling for one, it never happened. 
 
What's changed?  Why would it happen now?
 
The Erbil Agreement, for those who've forgotten, was supposed to do what everyone hopes will happen now.  Does no one remember that?
 
Nouri caused a political stalemate that lasted over eight months.  The only thing that (briefly) ended it was the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.  And then Nouri trashed it (after he used it to get a second term as prime minister). 
 
What is it Nouri wants now?  What do they have to offer him?  A third term as prime minister?  Is that what it will take for a few weeks of all the political blocs getting along?
 
It better be something because most Iraq observers have repeatedly been wrong over and over.  By contrast, our observations stand.  We were the first to publicly note Nouri's paranoia and did so in 2006 which means we even beat the US State Dept cables in noting how paranoid Nouri is.  So what does it look like right now?
 
Right now, even the US State Dept is starting to freak.  Right now, everyone's starting to realize that even with the best US effort, there may be nothing here.  Why?  The best term for Nouri is procrastination.  What does he want in the next months?  What doesn't he have? 
 
All he really wants at this point is a third term as prime minister and, if he's given that, Little Saddam al-Maliki loses "Little."  He's a thug.  He's always been a thug.  Fifty years ago, faced with this same situation, the US government would have sent in an assassination team by now.  Now the scramble's on as they figure out how to appease the mini-tyrant that the US government had hoped would be a more compliant puppet. 
 
Bush installed him, Barack gave him a second term when his political slate didn't win the 2010 elections.  Now they fear they're stuck with him, with the man so aptly highlighted earlier this week by Haifa Zangana in  "Why is Iraq now immune from criticism over appalling human rights record?" (Guardian). 
 
 
So what kind of human rights are observed in the "new Iraq"? Hardly any. The list of abuses is long and the tip of the iceberg is waves of arbitrary arrests (over 1,000 monthly), torture and executions. All are barely noticed by the world media and the US and British official silence is rather convenient to cover up the crimes and chaos they created. From time to time, they break their silence but only to justify their act of aggression. Recently, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu pulled out of a seminar in protest over the presence of Tony Blair, a statement was issued by Blair's office to justify the morality of his decision to support the United States' military invasion of Iraq.
The statement reiterated the plight of Iraqis under Saddam's regime with no mention whatsoever of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the war and endemic abuses of human rights since 2003.

The Nouri al-Maliki government in Iraq with its human rights outfits is following the same path. Its human rights concerns remain focused on the crimes of the previous regime. So do most of the intellectuals and politicians involved in the scramble for seats and favours in Baghdad. People who for years before the invasion of 2003 were highlighting human rights abuses as a reason to invoke war as a prelude to democracy and transparency are now either totally silent or actively covering up the current abuses, despite glaring evidence from international human rights organisations.
 
 
That's what they've supported which brings us back to the issue of why anyone would claim credit for the state of Iraq today?
 
 
Finally,  Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate for US president.  Her campaign offers "Jorge Rojas on the American dream, Latino voters:"

Just yesterday, ten undocumented No Papers No Fear Riders risked everything by participating in civil disobedience at the Democratic National Convention in order to expose the injustice of police/ICE collaboration. After their arrest,  Jill and Cheri urged people across the country to tell ICE that these people deserve relief, not deportation.  Today we share the story of Jorge Rojas, a Chilean-American student and Green Party supporter, as our first feature in a new series highlighting voices from our community. His story couldn't be more timely.
My name is Jorge Rojas. I am currently earning my Ph.D. in economics at the University of Washington, but originally I am from Chile. I came to the United States imagining it was the land of possibility, but the reality I found was quite different. The American Dream is often unobtainable, and for many, has mutated into a nightmare. This is particularly true for misinformed Latinos seeking a land of endless opportunity and who instead find discrimination. This discrimination is often concealed by the corporate media and ignored by the political machine.

The current American two-party system only remembers these communities during election times - the rest of the year they rant about deporting 'illegal' workers. Yet, many of these 'illegal' workers pay more taxes than America's wealthy. These workers contribute their skills, labor, taxes, and above all their cultures to American society.

The Green Party, and its 2012 presidential candidate, Jill Stein, has a history of standing for neglected and disadvantaged Americans, not just during election time, but whenever a helping hand is needed. Unlike other corporate-sponsored parties, Jill Stein bravely stands for social justice and prosperity for all.

The current two-party system refuses to enact change, yet change has never been more necessary. It is time to take action and build a better, fairer America. The philosopher John Dewey once said, "The ultimate aim of production is not production of goods but the production of free human beings associated with one another on terms of equality." Jill Stein's campaign represents this necessary freedom and equality.

----------
This year, with a potential of 21 million Latino voters, both Mitt Romney and President Obama are focusing large amounts of energy attracting their attention and approval - especially so during their national conventions which feature record numbers of Latino speakers and events. Yet, Republicans are known for their staunch deportation and anti-immigration policies; and, President Obama's time in office has been marked by a record number of deportations (about 1.1 million people) and continuing joblessness for 10.3% of the Latin-American population.

The Green Party, on the other hand, has always stood for every community. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, have historically stood with and for diverse populations regardless of immediate political agendas. (In fact, Jill and Cheri were deeply involved before either of them even were involved in elections). We're grateful for Jorge's support and if elected, Latino interests will always be on the agenda!

Help us Occupy the White House! Please donate today!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Oh, no, she didn't

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Needed Extension


the needed extension

The economy should make Barack a one-term president.

"Monica Lewinsky And What Is Bill Clinton Up To With Tonight's Speech?????" (Hillary Is 44):

Recently in “The Battle For Bill Clinton” we discussed what Republicans should do in response to Bill Clinton. We discussed I/E Republicans and E/I Republicans (Intelligence over Emotion and vice-versa) and thus far, to their very great credit, most Republican/conservative websites/spokespersons have taken our advice. Today Paul Ryan is once again taking our advice.
Our argument for Intelligence over Emotion in politics does not mean that emotion is to be casually dismissed. We are arguing that in politics you need to make an assessment of what your objectives/goals are and then pursue them in the most effective way possible. You might have to ditch your “feelings” about an issue or a personality but the point is you must get your aims. For instance, you have to get elected before you can govern is an intellectual truism which at times is not emotionally satisfying. We all have favorite candidates that we like/love/support who really make it difficult to win elections with but we are so emotionally connected to them that we want to take a risk and want everyone to take the risk with us. But in the cold logic of day often these preferences are foolish and should be rejected if we want to win.
To “win” first “understand”. Bill Clinton is not only a graduate from some of the greatest intellectual factories on this planet Bill Clinton is also a very organic, emotionally attuned person. He knows how to connect intellectually and at the same time “feel your pain”. Calling Bill a “phony” doesn’t work because he connects and will continue to connect. His speeches, hated by many Republicans who never understood what he was doing, were masterpieces of emotional and intellectual language. They were post modern masterpieces which infuriated Republicans/conservatives who preferred to call “liar” or use ridicule instead of seeing what was staring them in the face.
When Bill Clinton gave his famous “the era of big government is over” he invested a great many paragraphs in the same speech to discuss new “initiatives”, new government programs that were often “silly” (think school uniforms) but emotionally spoke to women voters especially and families interested in education in particular.
Republicans erupted in ridicule and anger at the seeming “lie” but Bill Clinton was not lying, he was speaking two languages – intellect and emotion. Bill understood that women and voters generally were fed up with government but that at the same time they wanted help with “kitchen table issues”. Bill Clinton addressed both seemingly contradictory viewpoints at the same time. It was masterful but Republicans did not see this until it was too late. [Obama Dimocrats and the "creative class" ridiculed the Tea Party because of the contradictions over Medicare support and resistance to government in this movement and lived to regret the ridicule.]
Republicans/conservatives and all Romney/Ryan supporters should keep their eyes on the prize, the arrows on the target, the bombers over the bomb site. The target is not Bill Clinton but rather Barack Obama.
E/I Republicans/conservatives always want to re-fight the fights they have lost already and fights they would lose again if they take on Bill Clinton. It’s always panty sniffing and Juanita Broaddrick and Monica and Me and Mrs. Jones with these people and they always lose and then scream like Daffy Duck as Bugs Bunny outwits them again. Guys, you’re not going to win a fight with Bill Clinton and even if you engage in a fight with Bill Clinton you will lose because the target is not Bill Clinton but Barack Obama.
So what should Romney/Ryan supporters whether you hate Bill Clinton or love Bill Clinton do in practical terms? First of all understand what Bill Clinton does and how. Second of all take some action, don’t sulk.
You know, there is a really big season opening football game tonight. Bill Clinton knows about this game. Bill Clinton also knows that many of the people he is supposed to seduce will be watching the football game and not him. Instead of sulking, invite people on the fence in this election over to the house to watch the game. Make last night’s low viewership ratings even lower. Phone friends who like Bill but aren’t sure about Obama just before Bill starts to speak. If you have a website, talk football. Invite white working class voters over for drinks/game and keep them away from the great seducer – Bill Clinton.

Could you believe that crappy speech from Michelle last night?

At work, I saw Yahoo pimping the speech and thought, "Well maybe it was good."  I look it up and start streaming.

Oh, good God.  It was awful.  More lies from Michelle.  Lies about her poor childhood, lies about Barack's.  Lies and more lies.  And then wants to act like we give a damn that Barack allegedly checked on his girls in the cribs.

Did he do a damn thing he was supposed to?

Hell no.

Michelle's b.s. was nothing but b.s.  She should be embarrassed to have delivered that crap.


"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, September 5, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, the US accuses Iran of using Iraqi airspace to fly weapons into Syria, Nouri's security forces attack social clubs in Baghdad, one year after the assassination of a journalist there is still no one charged in the death, the lies about war fly out of North Carolina, and more.
 
Yesterday the embarrassing Democratic National Convention began.  Ruth Conniff (The Progressive) was late in getting her whoring on but this is the woman who bragged on KPFA that she didn't know anyone who'd fought in the Iraq War.  Didn't know them and apparently didn't want to get to know them because it's really not that hard, Ruth.  Nor are facts though Ruth is a fact molester who should be on a neighborhood watch. Writing today, she gets her whore on in a number of ways.  First, she praises Michelle Obama's embarrassing speech.  As Marcia noted yesterday, "The Washington Post reports that Michelle Obama explained today her role in the DNC convention tonight was to explain her husband.  That may be but there's something very sad about the fact that anyone has to explain who the president is and goes to the fact that he is so hollow at his core and so meaningless."  Four years later and she had to explain, to the American people, who her husband was?  Apparently all that golfing didn't leave much of an impression.
 
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act does not, as Michelle Obama claimed, "help women get equal pay for equal work" at all.  As Rebecca pointed out last night, all that act does is let you sue a little longer.  If Barack wanted equal pay for equal work, he could have pushed that.  He didn't.  But now he wants to inflate his meager resume?
 
Michelle got creative with this claim as well, "That's why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promsie and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt."  No, that would be Dr. Jill Stein's desire, the Green Party candidate.  Barack doesn't give a damn.
 
From the left, Nancy Hanover (WSWS) explained that back in May:
 
The dirty secret in all of this, carefully hidden in the media, is the active role of the Democratic Party and specifically the Obama administration in the assault on higher education. At the most fundamental level, the Democrats have colluded with the Republicans in the systematic starvation of education while diverting society's resources into endless wars, tax cuts for the rich, and bank and corporate bailouts.
Despite Obama's claims that he is doing all he can to "make college more affordable," he has implemented a whole battery of measures to attack student borrowers—a broadside attack on the young generation.
Effective July 1, 2012, the federal government has ended the in-school interest subsidy for graduate and professional students with Stafford Loans. This relatively little-reported event was enacted as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act. It will substantially increase the cost of graduate school, already notoriously expensive, and will add an estimated $18 billion to student debt burdens over 10 years. Seventy-six percent of US graduate school students borrow to cover tuition, and their yearly costs vary from $15,000 to $45,000 for tuition alone.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 eliminated the grace period benefit (a six- or nine-month window after a student leaves school when no payments are due) for loans made in academic years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, automatically increasing the net cost of the loan.
Also effective immediately and retroactively, students are only eligible for six full-time years of the Pell Grant, a decision primarily affecting low-income adults working their way through college. The measure will eliminate benefits for 63,000 recipients. Also, students may no longer receive two Pell Grants in a year or receive summer school funding. The government has also modified the amount families are expected to pay, the Expected Family Contribution, so that fewer students will be eligible for the grants.
Smaller Pell Grant awards of $277 to $550 have been cut completely. Also eliminated are the Pell Grants for students who pass the "ability to benefit" test but have not been awarded a high school diploma or GED.
 
The convention itself is an assult on education by being held in anti-teacher Charlotte (anti-teacher, anti-union) and by the little film attacking education which then featured a panel with human education leper Michelle Rhee. Change.org may have been forced to drop Rhee and her lunatic fringe group (which wants to end the "public" in public education to allow for a corporate take over) but damned if Barack didn't make sure that piece of trash had a prominent spot at his convention.
 
If you're like Ruth Conniff and barely pay attention to the world around you, not only do you not know anyone who served in Iraq, you also don't recognize an assault on education when it's right before your eyes.  If only Ruth could work as hard as she did in 2004 when she wrote that hit piece on Ralph Nader for her trashy magazine.
 
Ruth wants you to know that, "The most progressive side of the Democratic Party was on full display (after Rahm Emanuel left the stage)." Really?  What about when Tammy Duckworth was on the stage?
 
Is anyone less informed than Ruth Conniff?
 
Tammy Duckworth was hand picked by Rahm to run in 2006.  A lot of people forget that race now or just remember it because Tammy lost big on what should have been a Democratic seat.  But Emanual and Tammy thought she could run in this district (that she wasn't living in) and jump over Christine Cegelis who had taken on Henry Hyde in 2004 and come close to toppling Hyde.  Now it was supposed to be Christine's race.  (If you're late to the party on this, there are many articles you can refer to but the strongest is probably Matt Renner's September 2007 piece for TruthOut. If audio archives existed, we'd point to Laura Flanders radio show in 2006, during the primary where she talked up Tammy Duckworth like crazy only to have her listeners explaine that the progressive candidate in that race was Christine.  To Flanders credit, she didn't rage or act like she was perfect.  She acknowledged her mistake and booked Cegelis onto the show.)
 
But the problem was Christine actually was and is a progressive.  For example, she wanted an end to the Iraq War -- a clear difference between herself and Tammy Duckworth -- one no one's supposed to comment on today.   If there's anything more oblivious than Ruth Conniff, it's POLITICO which is surpised that "Right applauds Tammy Duckworth's speech."  That's not a surprise, she is a right-winger.
 
What is a surprise is that a member of the failed Veterans Administration could run for office and not have to answer as to how the backlog has repeatedly increased in the last four years.  That is truly surprising.  She felt comfortable slamming GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for not mentioning Afghanistan but can someone explain why this fromer Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the VA didn't mention the backlog?
 
That number is huge and it's so huge that the VA tries to backpeddle and present it as less than it is.  Most recently we saw that in the July 18th House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations hearing.  VA's Undersectretary for Benefits Allison Hickey was testifying.  From that day's snapshot:
 
 

Jason Chaffetz:  Madam Under Secretary,  Mr. Manar,  I think accurately points out in his testimony that in order to solve the problem, you need to know exactly what the problem is.  And I see a major discrepancy in some of the numbers and I want to help clarfiy that.  In youre testimony in talking about the integrated disability evaluation system, you say, "We went from 240 day average in the legacy system to 56 days" and it goes on.  And there's a definition of the backlog.  The House Armed Services Committee staff and the House Veterans Affairs Committee staff on July 13 of this year which was not too long ago gave a briefing to these two Committees.  It says in here that the current monthly average completion time is 408 days.  You say it's 56 days -- 54 days -- yeah, 56 days -- and they say it's 408 days.   Can you help clarify that for me please?

Allison Hickey:  Thank you, Chairman Chaffetz for your question. First of all, allow me to clarify by stating a few basic definitions so also, as I say things, you can understand what words I'm using and their context  We have, in the inventory and pending an overall number of 854000.  That's not backlog.  Those are claims that even as we've been sitting here for the last ten to fifteen minutes, more claims have come into us from veteran service members  and


Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Okay, let me stop you -- let me stop you right there. Let me stop you right there.  On July 16th, which is not very long ago, the Monday morning workload report says there are 919,461 claims.  You say that number is -- what did you say that number is?  860,000 something?

Allison Hickey:  The numbers I'm using are 854,000 --


Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Okay, so we're off by about 50 or 60 thousand.  And we're talking about something that is just  couple of days old.  Why the discrepancy on those number?


Allison Hickey:  Chairman Chaffetz, our backlog -- I mean our inventory is a dynamic inventory.


Chair Jason Chaffetz:  I know but that's less than ten days so --

Allison Hickey:  Chairman, I'm happy to answer the questions if I'm allowed an opportunity.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Sure I want to know.  You're saying that that number is 800 and something thousand and I'm just saying that the VA's report says it's 919,461.  That's of July 16th --

Allison Hickey:  Chairman, I'm happy to answer the question if I'm allowed an opportunity.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Ma'am, just answer the question.  Yes.

Allison Hickey:  Thank you very much.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  --  That's why I asked the question.

Allison Hickey:  Thank you very much, Chairman.  The numbers that I'm using are from the endpoint of a month.  Probably the end of May.  So you probably are using the end of this week's report.  I chose not use a floating number that continues to change over time and over dates and over weeks.  So I used an end of month number to be able to to talk to you, to be able to have a solid number to hvae a discussion around.
 
 
US House Rep and Subcommittee Chair Jason Chaffetz had the correct number. Notice the disregard on VA's part.  They could have used a number only a few days old.  Didn't want to do that.  And Allison Hickey, who is offering the number, can't even state what the numbers from: "Probably the end of May."  Probably?  You're testifying that the backlog is X and you can't tell the Subcomittee when that number was generated?  Can't or won't?  There's no one in the VA that should be running for public office.  Everyone of them should instead be begging veterans for forgiveness.
 
And if Mitt Romney had any brains at all, he'd unearth the story the press buried, where Eric Shinseki, VA Secretary, admits in an open session of Congress that he knew nearly nine months before the start of the fall 2009 college semester that the GI bill checks would not be ready.  For those who've forgotten, VA's idiocy and refusal to do its job left many veterans forced to take out short term loans, left them without apartments and some didn't get checks until after Christmas 2009, which meant their children did without Christmas.  Tammy Duckworth was a part of the VA during that, she has a lot of nerve trying to run for office on her 'record.'
 
If you missed that moment -- the press buried it to protect Shinseki and the White House, we covered it -- you can drop back to October 14, 2009, when Shinseki told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs:
 
Secretary Eric Shinseki: I'm looking at the certificates of eligibility uh being processed on 1 May and enrollments 6 July, checks having to flow through August. A very compressed timeframe. And in order to do that, we essentially began as I arrived in January, uh, putting together the plan -- reviewing the plan that was there and trying to validate it. I'll be frank, when I arrived, uh, there were a number of people telling me this was simply not executable. It wasn't going to happen. Three August was going to be here before we could have everything in place. Uh, to the credit of the folks in uh VA, I, uh, I consulted an outside consultant, brought in an independent view, same kind of assessment. 'Unless you do some big things here, this is not possible.' To the credit of the folks, the good folks in VBA, they took it on and they went at it hard. We hired 530 people to do this and had to train them. We had a manual system that was computer assisted. Not very helpful but that's what they inherited. And we realized in about May that the 530 were probably a little short so we went and hired 230 more people. So in excess of 700 people were trained to use the tools that were coming together even as certificates were being executed. Uhm, we were short on the assumption of how many people it would take.
 
 
He was told the plan wasn't executable.  He brought in independent consultants.  They told him the same thing.  Congress was never, ever informed of this problem nor were veterans.  And when fall 2009 rolled around, veterans didn't have their checks.
 
This wasn't a surprise as the press has apparently agreed to pretend.  By Shinseki's own testimony, early in his term, he was told the plan couldn't be executed, he even brought in independent consultants who told the same thing.
 
He refused to inform Congress.  Veterans suffered as a result.  He should have been fired but Barack Obama's provided no oversight of the VA and that's why the VA backlog has grown and grown and grown.
 
There's no excuse for it and Tammy Duckworth is the last person to finger point at anyone else.
 
The ridiculous Ruth Conniff claimed, "A full-throated defense of labor and of keeping American jobs at home was also a rousing theme, with many, many references to Obama's rescue of the auto industry."  Who got rescued, you idiot?  The managers, the owners?  Yeah.  The workers?  No, they got screwed in the bail-out.  All those dollars tossed at Big Auto which then wants to tell the workers that they'll have to give us this benefit and that cost of living . . .  As Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) observes today, "Frankly, who wants to be the one to point out, in the middle of the festivities, that Michelle Obama was just a Chicago Daley machine hack lawyer who was rewarded with a quarter million dollar a year job of neutralizing community complaints against the omnivorous University of Chicago Hospitals? She resigned from her $50,000 seat on the board of directors of Tree-House Foods, a major Wal-Mart supplier, early in her husband's presidential campaign. But, once in the White House, the First Lady quickly returned to flaking for Wal-Mart, praising the anti-union "death star" behemoth's inner city groceries offensive as part of her White House healthy foods booster duties. "
 
 
What an idiot Ruth Conniff is.  But look where she works -- at the so-called Progressive which was started by followers of a third-party but is today so wedded to the Democratic Party that Socialist Matthew Rothschild can't stop embarrassing himself.  They finally 'cover' Jill Stein.  Why, she's even the cover story!  "The Third-Party Dilemma."  This is where a pudgy, middle-aged man who lied to his readers and listeners for years and only came out as a Socialist in early 2009 after he was outed (here and at Third) as one.  So what's this third-party dilemma? 
 
In nine brief paragraphs, Matty Roth ponders -- never finding an answer -- whether it's worth voting third party or not?
 
Of course, Rothschild will never write a piece like that about the Democratic Party.  So what we're left with is that hideous cover -- where what's supposed to be Jill Stein is given a neck like a giraffe -- a neck that in shape, contour and length portrays her as a snake -- but you're not supposed to notice that, kids.  And you're not supposed to notice that she's got more lines o her face than either Barack or Mitt Romeny.  You're not supposed to notice that her drawn eyebrows aren't just on different levels, one is actually significantly bigger than the other.  You're not supposed to notice what they've done to her hair or all the way the cover poisons you to Stein and third-parties. 
 
A nine paragraph cover story.  And this only after Jill Stein speaks to Matthew who, in turn, writes another article about himself.  Matthew, your hand wringing is not more important than the issues Jill Stein is attempting to raise, issues you choose to ignore. 
 
Ed Krayewski (Reason) notes that last night's speakers offered that Barack "ended the war in Iraq [. . .]  but the 'status of forces agreement' that governed the departure of U.S. troops was actually negotiated between Iraqi and U.S. officials in late 2008, under the auspices of President George W. Bush.  In fact, none other than the Huffington Post actually pointed out that as president, Obama was actually interested in keeping troops in Iraq past the agreed-upon 2011 deadline, explaining that 'the president ultimately had no choice but to stick to candidate Obama's plan -- thanks, of all things, to an agreement signed by George W. Bush.' Just six months before the Bush deadline, Obama tried to foist 10,000 U.S. troops on the Iraqis past 2011." 
 
 
Barack provided no peace and no leadership.  After Vietnam, Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter both provided a path to amnesty for war resisters.  Not Barack.  A Republican and a Democrat both were willing and able to do what Barack refused to.  Which is why people like Kimberly Rivera are left hanging.  She's a US war resister and last week the Canadian government announced they would be deporting her by September 20th.
 
Kimberly Rivera and her family (husband and two kids) went to Canada in early 2007 with only what they could carry on their small family car.  She was on leave from Iraq and horrified by what she saw while serving.  Already a believer in Jesus Christ when she deployed, the horror deepened her spirituality and her conviction to do the Lord's work as she understood it.

What happened to her is no uncommon.  Agustin Aguayo also was a practicing Christian when he deployed to Iraq.  Seeing war up close deepened his own faith and religious beliefs.  That is why he stopped carrying a loaded gun while deployed in Iraq and why he found he could no longer participate in the Iraq War.

Faith. like any relationship, is not static nor is it taught to be.  Regardless of the religion, there is the belief that, for example, in times of crisis, the power of religion can carry you through the experience when you could not make it through on your own.  (Hence the modern day parable of the two sets of footsteps in the sand that becomes one as your higher power carries you in the darkest of times.)  Faith is not stagnant which is why religious scholars spend so much time pursuing knowledge, why followers do not attend one service their entire life but continue to attend to deepen their understanding and beliefs.

Kim and Agustin's experiences are in keeping with their religions which do allow for faith to grow and deepen.  The US military has refused to recognize that and has found itself in the questionable (legally questionable) position of interpreting faith and judging faith.  The US military will not allow an Agustin Aguayo or Kim Rivera to become a conscientious objector, they will argue that they were practicing a religion when they went to Iraq and that if they had objections they should have been lodged prior to deployment.  (Lodging the objection prior to deployment, to be clear, does not mean someone will get C.O. status.)  They will refuse to recognize that faith and spirituality are not fixed and that they can grow and deepen over time and due to experience.
 
While alleged man of peace won't do a thing to help war resisters,  Charlotte Sheasby-Coleman writes a letter to the editors of the Toronto Star advocating for Kimberly Rivera to be allowed to stay in Canada:


There is a reason why there are now more young American and Canadian soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have taken their own lives than there are soldiers who have died in combat. There is a reason why our dear family friend -- 23 years old -- returned from service in Afghanistan, a fractured and struggling young soul. There is an age old question "What if they gave a war and nobody went?"
What Kimberley Rivera and others like her are courageously saying is that when young soldiers go into combat and look long and hard at those they are fighting against, they often recognize the inherent humanity of their "enemies," understand that they too have children and elderly parents and pets who love and depend on them, and recognize that destroying this other soldier's or civilian's life and soul would also destroy their own.
Kimberley Rivera took that long hard look. And she made a very courageous choice. Please contact Stephen Harper and tell her that we want Kimberley and her family to stay in Canada.
 
 
The War Resisters Support Campaign has many activities planned to raise awareness on the need for Kim and her family to stay in Canada.  Labor Day found them walking in the Labor Day parade in Toronto with the United Steelworkers and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
 
That's some reality, it's not coming out of the DNC or their squad of pretenders.  As Ann passed on, Jon Gold notes reality at Cindy Sheehan's Facebook page:
 
 
All the pro-DNC posts I'm seeing on my wall from people who should know better are making me nausea. It's amazing how people have forgotten the last 4 years of invasions, the increase in drone bombings, the use of States Secrets Privilege, continuing the Patriot Act, the harassment and retaliation against whistleblowers, essentially torturing Bradley Manning, warrantless wiretapping, Bagram Air Force Base, the kangaroo courts of GITMO, protecting the Bush Administration from any and all prosecutions, lying about the Gulf and the BP Oil Spill... I am sad for America. - (Jon)
 
In Iraq, the violence continues.  Xinhua reports female judicial investigator Amal Ahmad and a police officer were shot dead by assailants on motorcycle as the two were leaving the Tux-Khurmato court building.  AFP adds that an attack on a Samarra checkpoint left 1 Sahwa dead and three more Sahwa were injured in a Baladruz bombing.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 2 attacks in Ramadi have left 5 police officers dead.
 
 
In other violence,  Alsumaria reports that armed forces in police uniforms attacked various social clubs in Baghdad yesterday, beating various people and firing guns in the air.  They swarmed clubs and refused to allow anyone to leave but did make time to beat people with the butss of their rifles and pistols, they then destroyed the clubs.  AFP adds, "Special forces units carried out near-simultaneous raids at around 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Tuesday 'at dozens of nightclubs in Karrada and Arasat, and beat up customers with the butts of their guns and batons,' said an interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'Artists who were performing at the clubs were also beaten,' the official said."  The assaults were ordered by an official who reports only to Nouri al-Maliki. In related news the Great Iraqi Revolution posted video Friday of other attacks on Iraqi civilians by security forces and noted, "Very important :: a leaked video show Iraqi commandos during a raid to Baaj village and the arrest of all the young men in the village .they threatened the ppl of the village they will make them another Fallujah and they do not mind arresting all village's men and leave only women . they kept detainees in a school, and beating them, u can see they burned a car of one of the citizens"
 
 
Continuing with violence, we drop back to the September 8, 2011 snapshot:

In Iraq, a journalist has been murdered.  In addition to being a journalist, he was also a leader of change and part of the movement to create an Iraq that was responsive to Iraqis. 
Al Mada reports Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is dead according to an Interior Ministry source who says police discovered him murdered in his Baghdad home.  Along with being a journalist, Al Mada notes he was one of the chief organizers of the demonstrations demanding change and service reform that began on February 25th -- the day he was arrested by Iraqi security forces and beaten in broad daylight as he and others, after the February 25th protest, were eating in a restaurant. The New York Times didn't want to tell you about, the Washington Post did.  And now the man is dead. Gee, which paper has the archives that matter to any real degree.  Maybe it's time to act like a newspaper and not a "news magazine" with pithy little human interest stories?  (That is not a dig at Tim Arango but at the paper's diva male 'reporter' who went on NPR to talk of an Iraqi college this week.)  So while the Times missed the story (actaully, they misled on the story -- cowtowing to Nouri as usual),  Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:

Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit. "It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."


A picture of the new democracy in Iraq, indeed.

Today Prashant Rao (AFP) notes, a year later, despite claims that they weren't responsible and that they would get to the bottom of it, the government has still not solved the assassination (or, I'd argue, even really investigated).  Rao notes:

Mehdi's friends and supporters insist he has not been forgotten, with the radio station he worked at planning a special day of programming, and journalists and activists organising events and demonstrations in his memory this week.
"Hadi would say what people wanted to say but couldn't -- they didn't have his courage," said Karnas Ali, technical director at the Demozy radio station where Mehdi broadcast three 90-minute shows a week.
"His programme was the kind of work that makes enemies," Ali said.
"Whenever I read his comments, I would tell him he was writing a suicide note."
Mehdi's radio show, Ya Sameen al-Saut ("You, Who Can Hear This Voice"), was known for its sharp criticisms of official incompetence and corruption.
In other news of assaults on journalists, Reporters Without Borders notes:
 
 
Reporters Without Borders expresses its concern over an official investigation of journalist Mohamed Abdu Hamu, better known as Biradost Azizi, who was summoned to a police interrogation concerning reporting of his that angered major political forces in the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq.
Azizi was summoned to the Siwan police station in Sulaymaniyah on 5 September for questioning. The order to appear followed a complaint concerning Azizi's reporting involving the Syrian civil war filed by two members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The party is the Syrian offshoot of Turkey's armed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He was released after several hours, but the investigation is ongoing.
"This interrogation of a journalist following a simple complaint, without formal charges being filed, raises deep concern over the functioning of the Iraqi Kurdish justice system," Reporters Without Borders said. "The apparent aim is to muzzle a journalist who has reported critically on the PKK's use of the Syrian conflict for the organization's own regional ends."
Azizi is a native of Qamlishli in northeastern Syria who took refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan after Syria expelled him. The complaints against him followed publication on the website of Nawa radio of his reporting on a confrontation between supporters of the Syrian uprising and PYD members in Amuda, in the Kurdish region of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border. "This case is about politics," Bazizi said when contacted by Reporters Without Borders.
Last June, the press freedom organization expressed its concern over Azizi's safety, following threats against him by the PKK and its Syrian affiliate, as well as a murder attempt. At the time, Reporters Without Borders demanded that authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan investigate the matter and take all steps necessary to protect Azizi's safety.
Likewise, the organization called on the PKK to openly condemn the threats against Azizi. In an email, the party responded: "We have never and will not threaten anyone because of his opinion and attitudes, as we stand solid in the face of violence and the policy of threat and intimidation, whether it is physically or verbally, and we believe in constructive dialogue approach as the only way for the convergence of political views".
Nevertheless the PKK and PYD have never publicly condemned the threats that Azizi faces because of his professional activities.
 
 

On the political front,  Dar Addustour reports that US Vice President Joe Biden will present a plan ("roadmap") to Nouri in the coming days on how to resolve the ongoing political stalemate.  Biden was supposed to have already visited Iraq, the outlet reports, but has been waiting for President Jalal Talabani to return. 

While Joe Biden's arrival is delayed, three US Senators are in Iraq.  Senator John McCain Tweeted this morning:

McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham are all in Iraq.  When McCain calls it "the final tour of the three amigos," he's referring to the fact that Senator Joe Lieberman's term is expiring and he chose not to seek re-election.

AP notes that the three have called out what they say are flights of weapons to Syria by the Iranian government with Iran using Iraqi air space for the flights.  Nouri is saying he wants proof from the US first.  Silly Nouri.  Has he forgotten what happened to Afghanistan when they asked for proof of Osama bin Laden's connection to the 9-11?  Colin Powell declared they'd get the proof after they handed bin Laden over and then the US began bombing Afghanistan.  AFP adds, "Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham told reporters in Baghdad that while Tehran had told Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki the planes were carrying humanitarian aid, the US believed they had military equipment on board."  This evening Alexander Marquardt and Dana Hughes (ABC News) report that Nouri's spokesperson declared "that the U.S. has not proven its claims that Iran is sending arms to support the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."
 
 
cnn