Saturday, May 21, 2016

The self-promoter

What success has Hillary had?

Where has she accomplished anything?

Andrew Levine ponders that at COUNTERPUNCH:

The idea that Clinton is good at getting things done is more preposterous still.

It is true that she has been around the block many times. But everything she has worked on – as a First Lady, a Senator, and a Secretary of State – has gone awry. The woman is inept.

Is there anything genuinely worthwhile, much less progressive, that she has ever accomplished?   Were reason in control at the Democratic National Committee, they could offer a prize to anyone who comes up with an example. Reason is not in control there, however; Debbie Wasserman Schultz is.

More irrational still is the idea that politically Clinton and Sanders are on the same page. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sanders is a twenty-first century New Deal-Great Society liberal. Clinton is the reigning Queen of the neoliberal consensus that has all but quashed the last remnants of the kind of liberalism Sanders promotes.

It's similar to a point we made at THIRD in "Hillary Clinton's faux feminism:"

If it seems hard to find anything Hillary Clinton's done that borders on feminism it's because she -- and her zombie followers -- define anything she does for herself as "feminism."

She's  a ruthless self-promoter.

That's all she's ever been.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thurdsay, May 19, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi's failures continue, the IMF gets its hooks in Iraq, corruption continues with vengeance used as a distraction, and much more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 14 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb and an ISIL front-end loader.

-- Near Fallujah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Kisik, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL assembly area.

-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, two ISIL mortar systems and an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike struck an ISIL weapons cache.

-- Near Tal Afar, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit; destroyed five ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL command and control nodes, two ISIL bed-down locations, six ISIL supply caches and an ISIL staging area; and damaged an ISIL oil tanker.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

Today, the US destroys Iraq with bombings, for years it has destroyed Iraq by installing 'leaders.'

Shi'ites who were too chicken to fight for Iraq, fled it and returned after the US-led invasion.

These cowards -- and all their pathetic, deep-rooted fears -- were installed as 'leaders.'

And they've destroyed the country with their petty nonsense and their night time terrors.

Take the pathetic Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Today, he's the Minister of Foreign Affairs. His other positions since 2003 would include prime minister of Iraq.

Since 2003 because the Shi'ite fled Iraq in 1980.  First he ran to Iran and spent nearly a decade there only to move on to London in 1989.

But when it was safe to come back to Iraq, the coward did and wanted to be a leader because what says "leader" more than fleeing while wetting your pants?

Today, Ibrahim's in the news for demanding Jordan turn Raghad Saddam Hussein al-Majid over to Iraq.


She's the eldest daughter of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Hussein was overthrown in the 2003 US-led invasion and later executed (December 30, 2006).

And his oldest daughter?

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reported in 2010:

Raghad Saddam Hussein, the eldest daughter of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein fled to Jordan on two separate occasions in her life. Raghad Hussein first fled to Jordan in 1995 along with her husband Hussein Kamel al-Majid who defected from Iraq along with Rana Saddam Hussein and her husband Saddam Kamel al-Majid. Raghad Hussein fled to Jordan for a second time in 2003 following the US invasion of Iraq and the collapse of her father’s regime. Raghad Hussein fled in fear of punishment; in 1995 she fled in order to save her husband’s life from her brother Uday, while in 2003 she fled in fear of the Iraqi people taking revenge against her father by attacking her. Raghad Hussein fled to Amman, where she was placed under the protection of the Jordanian monarch. In 1995, Jordanian King Hussein treated Raghad and Rana Hussein as his own two daughters, and they lived with the Jordanian royals in the royal palace. Whilst in 2003, King Abdullah placed Raghad Hussein under his protection as his guest.

In 2007, INTERPOL issued a Red Notice (which many in the press falsely called an arrest warrant) but BBC NEWS noted the Red Notice "does not legally oblige Jordan or any other country to act."

Not only that but Arabic and Islamic law are both on Raghad's side -- a detail often overlooked by the press.

In 2006, Nouri al-Maliki repeatedly accused of her funding the insurgency and, years later, the Iraqi government began insisting that she was funding the Islamic State.

Over ten years of accusations and nothing to show for it but high drama.

THE JERUSALEM POST notes, "In a statement released Wednesday following a meeting between the Jordanian consul in the city of Irbil and senior Iraqi officials, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said: 'Iraq asked Jordan to coordinate the extradition of people residing in its territory who are wanted by the Iraqi judicial system'."

Nothing's ever been proven regarding Raghad Hussein and she's a guest of the King of Jordan who, following Arabic and Islamic law, is under no legal obligation to hand her over to Iraq.

This blood lust for vengeance is why Iraq cannot move forward.

Mohammad Tayseer and Dana Khraiche (BLOOMBERG NEWS) report, "Iraq has reached a $5.4 billion, three-year loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund to help OPEC’s second-biggest producer repair public finances damaged by the plunge in oil prices and war with Islamic State militants."

The revenge fantasies, where the daughter of Saddam Hussein must be captured and flogged in the streets of Baghdad?

They are raw meat tossed to the masses to distract them from the ongoing corruption in Iraq.

Billions of dollars have disappeared from the country's coffers as a result of corrupt politicians and officials.

Rather than fretting over the daughter of Saddam Hussein, they might ask how Nouri al-Maliki's son ended up with all those sports cars and residences outside of Iraq.

Where did that money come from?

How did Nouri's two terms as prime minister of Iraq leave him such a wealthy man?

Those are questions that need to be asked.

The Iraqi people live in squalor.

They have no dependable public services.

Baghdad floods in the raining season -- water up to the knees in some sections (including Sadr City) and that's due to the crumbling public infrastructure.

The corruption is not a secret.

There have been US Congressional hearings on the topic going back to the years when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.

Billions have been stolen.

And now the IMF is getting their hooks into Iraq.


The IMF $5.4 billion loan to Iraq will have an annual interest rate of 1.5 per cent, Iraq's Central Bank Governor Ali Al Alak said at a press conference, following a week of talks with IMF officials in Jordan, Reuters reported.  
The IMF deal will allow Iraq to secure additional financial aid of around $15 billion over the next three years, including securing international bonds, according to [Iraq's Finance Minister Hoshiyar] Zebari.

At this late stage, who's still pretending that the IMF helps out countries in trouble?

After Argentina, who still believes that lie?

In 2004, Antonia Juhasz explained:

Protests against the policies of the IMF have occurred in every corner of the world for decades. Zimbabwe has been host to some of the most powerful and persuasive due to the appalling record of the IMF in that country. The IMF took a devastated economy and made it far worse – with the vast majority of the burden falling on the poorest members of society.
An IMF-sponsored study of its policies in Zimbabwe concluded that it "radically underestimated the social consequences," of its policies and that the "social hardship was avoidably severe because of poor program design." In other words, the IMF is to blame for the deadly impacts of its policies in Zimbabwe.
Sadly, this outcome is not unique. Rather, it represents the constant thread through IMF giving: conditions placed on receipt of loans are designed in virtual apathy to anything other than strict neoliberal measures of financial growth. Cookie-cutter approaches are applied to revamp economies such that a small sector of society (often not even residing within the recipient country) reap enormous gain, while the majority is expected to wait for its benefits to "trickle down" to them. Rarely, if ever, do these trickle down effects occur, leaving the majority – particularly the most vulnerable in society, in markedly worse conditions than before the Fund arrived.
Several studies of IMF and World Bank structural adjustment programs have actually found that the longer a country succumbs to these programs, the more indebted the country is likely to become

So it's bad enough that Iraqi officials and politicians have been stealing the country blind, now they've just sold the future of Iraq -- for a few coins.

It's just more failure from Haider al-Abadi.

One in a long list of failures.


US President Barack Obama picked Haider to replace Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister back in the second half of 2014.

Haider has a lot of people will to lie for him in the press.

They pretend he's accomplished something.

He hasn't accomplished a damn thing.

Iraq's problems from before he became prime minister remain.

That's the never ending political crisis, that's the Islamic State controlling Mosul.

On the former, Ali Maouri (AL-MONITOR) reviews the three suggestions for leading Iraq out of its current and ongoing political crisis:

  1. The formation of a national "salvation" government. Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi made this suggestion in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on May 13. Under this proposal, the government would work on getting things back on track within two years, during which it would focus on two main tasks: to defeat the Islamic State (IS) and create a political climate that helps eliminate IS completely, including national reconciliation and addressing the issue of the displaced and fortifying liberated areas, and to pass a new election law and replace the electoral commission to ensure that the next elections are fair. This option seems ideal, but it requires a radical change for which political parties do not seem to be ready. Allawi recognized this problem when reactions to this proposal were unenthusiastic.
  2. The formation of a technocratic government. A proposal for this solution came from Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr in February, when he called for the cabinet to include independent figures, disregarding the sectarian quotas that prevent the government from performing its tasks. Sadr played all of his cards to get this proposal passed, including demonstrations, sit-ins and the storming of the Green Zone on April 30. Yet he did not succeed, and was forced to withdraw from political life for two months, he said in an April 30 news conference. Iran's Tasnim News Agency, which is close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reported May 4 that Sadr is in Iran and intends to spend the waiting period there. Right now, the technocratic government is not an option.
  3. The dissolution of parliament and holding of early elections. A number of parliament members, including Jabouri and Jawad Bolani, head of the economy and investment parliamentary committee, demanded as much on April 6. Jabouri called for the signing of a petition to dissolve the parliament and hold early elections, parliament spokesman Emad al-Khafaji said in April. The biggest challenge, however, is that most of Iraq's Sunni areas are under IS control, preventing elections from being held there. Given the vulnerable sectarian situation in Iraq, it would be dangerous for elections to exclude key components.

More and more, it's becoming obvious that Haider can't govern.

Last month's storming of the Green Zone and the Parliament appears to have shaken the lethargy of some Iraqi politicians and observers and the consensus pretense that Haider is solving anything has faded.

Ma'ad Fayad (ASHARQ AL-AWSAT) reports:

Former Iraqi Speaker and Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi blamed the head of parliament and cabinet for breaking into the parliament. Al-Nujaifi added that it is not a taboo to discuss the change of prime minister.
With respect to the security situation in Iraq, al-Nujaifi said this is the most dangerous stage of Iraq’s history. Al-Nujaifi discussed many other issues in his exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat.
Al Nujaifi believed that there isn’t a state in Iraq in its conventional meaning. He explained that when there are weapons everywhere, innocent people in prisons, obstruction of justice, and ISIS in several districts, we can’t speak of a state in Iraq. Al-Nujaifi explained that the government should work on those problems to gain the respect of the Iraqi people and the world.

In the US, Senator Bernie Sanders is seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  We'll close with these Tweets:

  • Sanders Campaign Statement on Clinton’s Comments

  • It's unacceptable that billionaire families can leave virtually all of their wealth to their families without paying a reasonable fair tax.

  • California – if you want to vote for the political revolution, you have gotta register by Monday. Do it right now:

  • Americans should not have to live in fear that they will go bankrupt if they get sick because politicians won't challenge the drug lobby.

  • Our country should be investing in jobs and education for our young people, not more jails and incarceration.