Saturday, February 06, 2016

Only one choice left (plus a look at Aretha's discography)

From C.I's "Iraq snapshot:"

Lastly, community theme posts this week.  On songs, Mike wrote about  "Steve Grand 'Stay'," Rebecca tackled "phoebe snow" singing "If I Can Just Get Through The Night," Trina went with "Carly Simon 'Make Me Feel Something'," Stan went with "PJ Olsson and "Visine"," Betty wrote about "Aretha's 'Sweet Bitter Love'," Ruth remembered "Driving All Night with Joss Stone," Marcia focused on "Donna Summer "There Will Always Be A You"," while Kat went with "Stevie Nicks 'Lady'," Elaine chose "Ashford & Simpson's "High Rise"" and Ann wrote about the Afghan Whigs' "When We Two Parted."

I loved all the posts and hope you did as well.  I think we picked some great songs.

Kyle e-mailed about my post asking me what my favorite album of each decade would be for Aretha Franklin?


No real argument here.  Some are partial to I NEVER LOVED A MAN THE WAY I LOVE YOU but LADY SOUL's the better album to me.  You've got her inspired version of "People Get Ready."  Her amazing "Chain of Fools," "Sweet, Sweet Baby (Since You've Been Gone)," and "Ain't No Way" as well as her classic "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman."


There's no way not to make this a tie decade.  The first one is so amazing with hits like "Day Dreaming" and "Rock Steady" and major album tracks like "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time," "A Brand New Me" and "All The Kings Horses."

It's an amazing album.


Aretha does the soundtrack to the film with such hits as "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" and "Hooked On Your Love."


For reasons I noted in my post earlier this week.


Aretha does a great job on this amazing album.  Love "Here We Go Again," the title track, "I'll Dip," "Every Lil' Bit Helps" and "How Many Times."


Aretha only did two albums in the '00s but this one is a stand out if only for the title track and "You Are My Joy."


This album resulted in Aretha's 100th R&B chart hit (her cover of "Rolling In The Deep").  It's an amazing album.

It's also one that let's you do a little soul test on people you know.

Ask them about that song and who Aretha's saluting with the second part ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough")?

If they say Diana Ross, they know soul music.

If they say Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, they either don't or they're sexist asses.

Aretha's saluting the great divas on this album.

It's the very title.

Not only is the "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" section like Diana's version but Marvin Gaye's not a 'diva.'

Moving on . . .

The Democratic Party's close to picking a real loser: Hillary Clinton.

THE DAILY MAIL offers these bullet points for their latest on Hillary:

  • Hillary has netted $21.7 million in speeches made to banks, trade associations, charitable groups and private corporations
  • But what she said - particularly in her Wall Street addresses -  remains a mystery
  • This is despite regular requests for transcripts from news outlets  
  • This opacity has caused problems for her presidential campaign trail
  • She has been under particular scrutiny from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, for her ties to Wall Street

Bernie Sanders was on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and appeared in one skit (about a cruise ship that crashed) and he was part of an intro for the music group 1975.

Bernie is the only choice in that primary now.

People need to get real that Hillary is corrupt and hideous.

She is far too close to Wall Street and has far too little in common with the average person.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Saturday, February 6, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, British troops are reportedly the victims of violence in Iraq, Haider says the wall is not going up around Baghdad, others say construction on the wall has begun, Barack Obama releases some -- not all -- photos of abuse, and much more.

The US Defense Dept announced more bombs dropped on Iraq today.  As Sonny & Cher used to sing, And the beat goes on . . .

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 14 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Habbaniyah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Mosul, five strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL assembly areas, three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, and eight ISIL command and control nodes.

-- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.

-- Near Ramadi, three strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL recoilless rifle, and an ISIL fuel transporter, six ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL command and control node, an ISIL front end loader, and an ISIL vehicle borne bomb facility.

-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

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.

Since August 2014, Barack's been ordering Iraq bombed to bring 'peace.'  All these months later, peace has still not arrived.

As Russ Wellen (FPIF) observes, "It’s hard to believe, but 13 years after the United States invaded Iraq and the situation isn’t much better than when it was at its worst."

Today, Jay Akbar (DAILY MAIL) reports, "Three British Special Forces soldiers were wounded in a firefight with 30 ISIS militants in Iraq, it has been reported.  The SAS and SBS are said to have been on a secret mission deep inside enemy territory when the terrorists opened fire on them with machine guns mounted on American-built Humvees."  THE MIRROR adds:

 But the heroes’ bravery has not been officially acknowledged as Tory ministers lean on defence chiefs not to acknowledge the secret ground war being fought by our special forces in Iraq and Syria .
The SAS and SBS soldiers suffered blast and fragmentation injuries as 30 ISIS thugs fired on them during a 25-strong allied special forces patrol in northern Iraq.
It is believed these are the first major military injuries of Britain’s shadowy war.

Estelle Shirbon and Jeremy Gaunt (REUTERS) note, "The Ministry of Defence said it did not comment on special forces operation."

At Friday's US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson John Kirby was asked to comment on a new development.

QUESTION: The Pentagon released 198 previously classified photos that document abuse or mistreatment of some detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2009. Are you concerned that putting these – I know that there has been some concern with the government. They’ve been trying to withhold them. So now that they’re finally out, what are you – is the State Department issuing any warnings to Americans overseas to be cautious or to watch out essentially for any --

MR KIRBY: Well, look, any citizen traveling can go to our website and read whatever our travel warnings and alerts are. I’m not aware of any specific alerts with respect to this release. That said, we have made sure that our posts and our embassies, particularly in the Middle East, were aware of this release and were aware of the essential content of it and reinforced what they already know, which is they have to do what they need to do based on the temperature there – the security temperature – to look after the safety and security not only of our facilities, but providing information – the appropriate information – to American citizens there.

QUESTION: And do you think these photos could lead to retaliatory-type attacks or --

MR KIRBY: I wouldn’t speculate one way or the other. I wouldn’t want to do that. I certainly wouldn’t say – want to say anything that could in any way have an effect on that.

Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr (CNN) explain:

The Pentagon released 198 photos Friday, several of which appear to show injuries suffered by detainees after allegedly experiencing abuse while held in Iraq and Afghanistan during the George W. Bush administration.
Department of Defense spokesperson Cmdr. Gary Ross said that the photos originated from independent criminal investigations into allegations of misconduct by U.S. personnel.
    The investigations substantiated approximately 14 allegations of misconduct while another 42 allegations were proven unsubstantiated, he said.

    Cora Currier (THE INTERCEPT) observes, "The photos are mainly close-up shots of arms, feet, heads, hands, or joints, sometimes showing bruises or scabs. Faces are redacted with black bars. It's not always clear where each of the photos was taken, but they come from internal military investigations and have dates ranging from 2003 to 2006. Sometimes the marks on the prisoners' skin are labeled with tape measuring the size of the wound, or a coin or pen for comparison."

    Tara Copp and Corey Dickstein (STARS & STRIPES) report:

      The Pentagon provided no names or locations of where the abuses occurred, or the corresponding punishments for military personnel who were convicted. However, each photograph contains the corresponding U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command case numbers.
    In one example, identified as an Army Criminal Investigation Command case from 2004, black and white photographs depict a detainee holding a pen to his shin just under an area that appears slightly discolored. According to redacted files obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through the Freedom of Information Act and presented on its website, The Torture Database, the photos show a detainee from Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq who claimed he was hit in the head with a rifle and kicked in the shin while detained at Al-Adhameyah Palace. CID concluded there was not enough evidence to determine whether the detainee, whose name was redacted, had been abused by U.S. or coalition forces. Investigators did, however, determine the detainee was likely abused by Iraqi Civil Defense troops.

    BBC NEWS notes, "None of the photos released on Friday involved detainees held in Abu Ghraib or at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon said."

    While that is news, Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef (DAILY BEAST) emphasize another aspect:

    But the real story is what the Obama administration decided to keep hidden. Friday’s photos are an innocuous fraction of a much larger cache of 2,000 images, detailing the abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
    Some of the most graphic images are said to show American troops posing with corpses. Others depict U.S. forces holding guns to people’s heads or simulating forced sodomization. In one, a large man rides an elderly woman as if she were an animal and whips her with a stick. The mistreatment of corpses and prisoners are widely considered to be violations of the international rules of war.
    [. , ,]
    While the abuse occurred under the administration of George W. Bush, the Obama administration has successfully kept this evidence of possible war crimes buried.

    TELESUR TV offers:

    The photographs released this month represent just 10 percent of the total collection of photos that the American Civil Liberties Union sued to get released 12 years ago. Though President Barack Obama vowed to release all of the torture footage in 2009, he backed out after strong words from the top U.S. commander in Iraq and then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who claimed that knowledge would spur extremism. This time around, the judicary rejected that argument as "too easy and too meaningless," in the words of New York judge Alvin Hellerstein, who ordered the release of several torture videos and photos.

    Eliza Relman (ACLU) explains:

    The photos were released in response to an ACLU lawsuit that we have been litigating for almost 12 years. You can see a few of them in the slideshow to the right. The photos mostly show close-ups of body parts, including arms, legs, and heads, many with injuries. There are also wider shots of prisoners, most of them bound or blindfolded. But what they don’t show is a much bigger story, and the government’s selective release of these photos could mislead the public about the true scope of what happened.
    Six months before media organizations published the notorious Abu Ghraib photos, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records, including photos, relating to the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. detention centers overseas. Since we sued to enforce our request in 2004, the legal battle has focused in part on a set of some 2,000 pictures relating to detainee maltreatment. The photos released today are part of that set, and they are the first photos the government has released to us in all these years of litigation. (The court hearing our lawsuit ordered the government to release the Abu Ghraib photos in 2004, but the photos were leaked, and posted online by Salon, while the government was appealing the decision.)
    The disclosure of these photos is long overdue, but the photos released today are almost certainly the most innocuous of the 2,000 that were being withheld. From the nearly 6,000 reports, investigations, emails, and other documents the government has been forced to release to us in the course of this litigation (all searchable in our Torture Database), we have found more than 100 documents that either reference photos related to cases of abuse or actually contain photos that were redacted before they got to us. From what we can infer from the descriptions, we know that the most damning evidence of government abuse remains hidden from the public. (This spreadsheet details what we know about the photos we’re still waiting for.)

    The photos still being withheld include those related to the case of a 73-year-old Iraqi woman detained and allegedly sexually abused and assaulted by U.S. soldiers. According to the Army report detailing the incident, the soldiers forced her to "crawl around on all-fours as a 'large man rode' on her,” striking her with a stick and calling her an animal. Other pictures depict an Iraqi teenager bound and standing in the headlights of a truck immediately after his mock execution staged by U.S. soldiers. Another shows the body of Muhamad Husain Kadir, an Iraqi farmer, shot dead at point-blank range by an American soldier while 

    REUTERS quotes the ACLU's Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer stating, "The still-secret pictures are the best evidence of the serious abuses that took place in military detention centers. The government’s selective disclosure risks misleading the public about the true extent of the abuse."  The ACLU's Alex Abdo pens a column for TIME here.  RT speaks with a variety of people and we'll note this section:

    Sarah Flounders from the International Action Center said that “these photos are a reminder of just how criminal the continuing war in Iraq and Afghanistan is to this day and the amount of time that torture and drastic abuse was used as a matter of policy.”

    “We should remember all the photos released from Abu Ghraib, the incredible revelations of Private Chelsea Manning,” she added.

    Amnesty International has a new podcast where actress Michelle Hendley speaks for Chelsea Manning.

    Meanwhile, in Iraq, will there be a wall or won't there?

  • | PM Haider al-Abadi refuses Operation Command plan to build a security wall around the Iraqi capital.

  • premier Haider al-Abadi refused to build a fence around , stressed that Baghdad is the capital for all Iraqis.

  • So Haider's saying the wall's not going up and others are saying the construction has already begun.

    It's as confusing as this week's Iowa caucus.  Barry Grey (WSWS) explains:

     The Iowa Democratic Party has rejected calls by the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and the state’s leading newspaper, the Des Moines Register, for an audit of the vote in Monday night’s dead-heat contest between Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
    Clinton, in a highly unusual move, went on television late Monday night to effectively declare victory over Sanders, despite the fact that vote counters had her ahead by a razor-thin margin of only 0.2 percent, with a number of key precincts still unaccounted for.
    Preempting the victory speech of Republican Senator Ted Cruz, she thanked Iowans for allowing her to “breathe a sigh of relief,” a reference to her loss to Barack Obama in the 2008 Iowa caucuses and the collapse of her lead over Sanders in the state, which just months before had been polled at more than 50 percent.
    At 2:30 AM Tuesday, the chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, Dr. Andy McGuire, declared Clinton the winner based on results from 1,682 of 1,683 precincts. The Iowa Democratic Party said the final tally of delegate equivalents for all the precincts statewide was 700.59 for Clinton and 696.82 for Sanders—a margin of just 3.77 delegate equivalents.
    At 2:35 AM, Clinton’s Iowa campaign director, Matt Paul, issued a statement saying, “Hillary Clinton has won the Iowa caucus.” Campaigning the following day in New Hampshire, the scene of the first primary election, to be held February 9, Clinton made much of her victory in Iowa. With Sanders poised to score a decisive victory in New Hampshire, the Clinton campaign had feared a possible meltdown in the event of a loss in Iowa.
    Under the Democratic caucus process, a head count is taken at each precinct of the supporters assembled there for each presidential candidate, which is then translated into delegates to a county convention, which, in turn, selects delegates to a statewide convention. That convention then selects national delegates for the competing candidates to the Democratic National Convention, to be held in July of this year in Philadelphia.
    Amid complaints of disorganization at many of the caucus sites, including long lines, delays of up to two hours, and a lack of trained staff and designated chairpersons, the Sanders campaign initially asked to sit down with state party officials to review the paperwork submitted by precinct chairs. Sanders aides told the Des Moines Register that they had found discrepancies between tallies at the precinct level and numbers that were reported to the state party.
    McGuire, whose state organization, like the national party apparatus, is solidly behind Clinton, rejected the request, telling the Register in an interview Tuesday, “These are the final results.” Democrats have never released actual head counts in Iowa caucuses, and McGuire flatly said they would not be released this time either.
    On Thursday, the Register published an editorial headlined, “Something smells in the Democratic Party,” denouncing state party officials for refusing to agree to an audit or release details of the voting. “What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period,” the Register wrote. “Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.”
    The newspaper argued that the results, with “two tenths of 1 percent [separating] Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton,” were “too close not to do a complete audit of results.” It continued: “Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems.”
    The editorial alluded to the fact that ties for six county delegates were decided, in accordance with party caucus rules, by coin flips. Clinton won all six.

    Corruption and Cranky Clinton are never far apart.  And some are starting to panic as a result. Luciana Lopez (REUTERS) reports:

    A prominent Democratic donor worried about the party's chances of winning the presidency emailed dozens of fans of Vice President Joe Biden on Friday, urging them to remain prepared to donate if Biden jumps into the race.
    The donor, Bill Bartmann, cited new polling showing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont nearly tied with the Hillary Clinton, eroding the 30-point lead the former secretary of state held at the end of last year. Bartmann and other party insiders are concerned that Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, is too far to the left to win against a Republican in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

    "We cannot afford to lose the White House," Bartmann wrote in the email, seen by Reuters.

    Lastly, community theme posts this week.  On songs, Mike wrote about  "Steve Grand 'Stay'," Rebecca tackled "phoebe snow" singing "If I Can Just Get Through The Night," Trina went with 
    "Carly Simon 'Make Me Feel Something'," Stan went with "PJ Olsson and "Visine"," Betty wrote about "Aretha's 'Sweet Bitter Love'," Ruth remembered "Driving All Night with Joss Stone," Marcia focused on "Donna Summer "There Will Always Be A You"," while Kat went with "Stevie Nicks 'Lady'," Elaine chose "Ashford & Simpson's "High Rise"" and Ann wrote about the Afghan Whigs' 

    nancy a. youssef

    Thursday, February 04, 2016

    Maurice White

    Earth, Wind & Fire is one of the great groups of the 70s and 80s.

    They had many hits including "Shining Star."

    For me, their best song will always be "After The Love Is Gone."

    For awhile to love
    was all we could do
    we were young and we knew
    and our eyes were alive
    Deep inside we knew our love was true
    For awhile we paid no mind to the past
    we knew love would last
    Ev'ry night somethin' right
    would invite us to begin the dance
    Somethin' happened along the way
    what used to be happy was sad
    Somethin' happened along the way
    and yesterday was all we had
    And oh after the love has gone
    how could you lead me on
    and not let me stay around
    Oh oh oh afterthe love has gone
    what used to be right is wrong
    Can love that's lost be found

    It's one of the all time great songs.

    Maurice White was a member of the group and he also produced that track -- which was a huge hit, making it all the way to number two on the pop charts.

    Maurice White died yesterday.  He will be strongly missed.

    He made a huge impact and his work will be remembered for years to come.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

    Thursday, February 4, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Hillary Clinton's laughable plan for the Islamic State is no plan, Fred Kaplan lies for Hillary and America chants "Take the shame!" to Hillary.

    As always, the US government dropped bombs on Iraq today and then boasted of it in a news release from the Defense Dept:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, fighter, ground-attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Habbaniyah, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL vehicles and four ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and denying ISIL access to terrain.
    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
    -- Near Mosul, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 16 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL assembly area, ISIL engineering equipment and an ISIL checkpoint.
    -- Near Qayyarah, six strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL command and control nodes, six ISIL vehicles, seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL mortar tube, an ISIL anti-air artillery piece, an ISIL weapons cache and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
    -- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed ISIL engineering equipment, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL tactical vehicle, eight ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL rocket-propelled-grenade systems, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL recoilless rifle, an ISIL staging area and 11 ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed an ISIL front-end loader.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike suppressed an ISIL fighting position.

    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.

    The Iraq War never ends.

    And those responsible for starting it may try to escape responsibility but it's not that easy.

    Senator Bernie Sanders, in 2002, voted against the Iraq War.  He's running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and so is Hillary Clinton.

    Today, Bernie Tweeted:

                        Liked 2,044 times

    Experience is important, but so is judgment. And back in 2002 one of us voted the right way on the Iraq War. The other didn't.

    The ridiculous -- always ridiculous -- Fred Kaplan (SLATE) tries to rewrite history:

    In response, Clinton acknowledged, as she has on previous occasions, that she’d made a mistake. But she also offered an explanation for her vote, something she has rarely done in the past. President Bush, she told the audience, had made a “very explicit appeal” that “getting this vote would be a strong piece of leverage in order to finish the inspections.” In other words, a resolution to use force would prod Saddam Hussein into readmitting U.N. inspectors, so they could continue their mission of verifying whether or not he had destroyed his chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons sites. In other words, Clinton was now claiming she voted the way she did in the interests of diplomacy; the problem was that Bush went back on his word—he invaded before giving the inspectors enough time.

    Listening to her rationale Wednesday night, I didn’t know whether she was telling the truth. I had written many Slate columns about the Iraq debate and the ensuing war, but I couldn’t remember the details of then-Sen. Clinton’s position. Looking up those details now, I have come to a conclusion about the rationale she recited at the New Hampshire town hall: Hillary was telling the truth.

    Poor Fred Kaplan, nothing sadder to see than an old and aging whore.

    Reality on this was noted last week.  Last week.  By Stephen Zunes:

    “Hillary Clinton’s vote wasn’t for war, but simply to pressure Saddam Hussein to allow UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq.”
    At the time of vote, Saddam Hussein had already agreed in principle to a return of the weapons inspectors. His government was negotiating with the United Nations Monitoring and Verification Commission on the details, which were formally institutionalized a few weeks later. (Indeed, it would have been resolved earlier had the United States not repeatedly postponed a UN Security Council resolution in the hopes of inserting language that would have allowed Washington to unilaterally interpret the level of compliance.)
    Furthermore, if then-Senator Clinton’s desire was simply to push Saddam into complying with the inspection process, she wouldn’t have voted against the substitute Levin amendment, which would have also granted President Bush authority to use force, but only if Iraq defied subsequent UN demands regarding the inspections process. Instead, Clinton voted for a Republican-sponsored resolution to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq at the time and circumstances of his own choosing.

    In fact, unfettered large-scale weapons inspections had been going on in Iraq for nearly four months at the time the Bush administration launched the March 2003 invasion. Despite the UN weapons inspectors having not found any evidence of WMDs or active WMD programs after months of searching, Clinton made clear that the United States should invade Iraq anyway. Indeed, she asserted that even though Saddam was in full compliance with the UN Security Council, he nevertheless needed to resign as president, leave the country, and allow U.S. troops to occupy the country. “The president gave Saddam Hussein one last chance to avoid war,” Clinton said in a statement, “and the world hopes that Saddam Hussein will finally hear this ultimatum, understand the severity of those words, and act accordingly.”
    When Saddam refused to resign and the Bush administration launched the invasion, Clinton went on record calling for “unequivocal support” for Bush’s “firm leadership and decisive action” as “part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.” She insisted that Iraq was somehow still “in material breach of the relevant United Nations resolutions” and, despite the fact that weapons inspectors had produced evidence to the contrary, claimed the invasion was necessary to “neutralize Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.”

    Someone needs to ask Fred Kaplan if it hurts to be so damn stupid?

    If you're not getting how stupid he is, the Institute for Public Accuracy issued this press release today:

    STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes at, @SZunes
    Zunes is a professor of politics & coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco. He recently wrote the piece “The Five Lamest Excuses for Hillary Clinton’s Vote to Invade Iraq.” Zunes is currently in Philadelphia and will be in New York City on Friday.

    Zunes said today: “Hillary Clinton did not vote to authorize the Iraq war in order to bring UN inspectors back in, as she claimed in last night’s [CNN] “Town Hall” meeting. She voted against the Levin Amendment, which would have authorized the use of force if Iraq refused to fully cooperate with UN inspectors. Instead, she voted for the Republican-sponsored resolution which gave President Bush the authority to invade and occupy Iraq at the time and circumstances of his own choosing. Hans Blix did not support the latter resolution, as she also claimed. Nor did Sen. Clinton object when Bush launched the invasion anyway five months later despite Iraq having been fully cooperating with the returning inspectors during that period.”
    Clinton stated in her address on her Iraq war authorization vote on the Senate floor on Oct. 10, 2002: “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al-Qaeda members. … It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capability to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well, affects American security.” See video.

    Just last week, Hans Blix had an interview with Al Jazeera’s “UpFront” program in which he talked about the U.S. invasion altering the security landscape of the Mideast, see: “The former UN weapons inspector says ‘it is doubtful’ ISIL would exist if it were not for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.”

    As for Hillary?  Take the shame, Hillary, take the shame.

    John Wagner (WASHINGTON POST) reports on remarks Bernie made today:

    “Sometimes it’s easy to apologize for a bad vote 15 or 20 years later when the tide has changed,” Sanders said at a rally here. “It is a lot harder to stand up … and cast the right vote. That’s what leadership is about, not having to apologize for standing up and fighting for what’s right.”

    Tonight, Hillary and Bernie faced off in a debate.

    As usual, after each break, Hillary looked better.

    Let's be clear, she's overweight and she has jowls.

    That's not what I'm talking about.

    I'm talking about the reason she was late from the bathroom the first time.

    She's having make up applied throughout the debate.

    She can smear all the crap on her face she wants and she'll still be ugly.

    Just like she can trot out every lie and distraction and she'll still be guilty of supporting the Iraq War.

    By the time Iraq came up, Hillary looked like -- at best -- a painted clown.

    Lisa Hagen (THE HILL) recaps what Cranky Clinton said in response to being called out for supporting the Iraq War:

    Clinton replied: "We did differ. A vote in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS.”
    "We have to look at the threats that we face right now and we have to be prepared to take them on and defeat them," she continued.

    Sunday, January 17th, there was a Democratic Party debate.  In that debate Hillary made claims regarding the Islamic State and her plans:

    CLINTON: Absolutely not.
    I have a three point plan that does not include American Ground forces. It includes the United States leading an air coalition which is what we're doing, supporting fighters on the ground; the Iraqi Army which is beginning to show more ability, the Sunni fighters that we are now helping to reconstitute and Kurdish on both sides of the border.

    As we noted in the January 18th snapshot:

    At her website?
    You can find this:

  • Defeating ISIS. ISIS and the foreign terrorist fighters it recruits pose a serious threat to America and our allies. We will confront and defeat them in a way that builds greater stability across the region, without miring our troops in another misguided ground war. Hillary will empower our partners to defeat terrorism and the ideologies that drive it, including through our ongoing partnership to build Iraqi military and governing capacity, our commitment to Afghanistan’s democracy and security, and by supporting efforts to restore stability to Libya and Yemen.

  • Is that her three-part plan?
    That's all she's got at her website and it's a tiny paragraph in the midst of her national security page.

    It's rather tiny, isn't it?

    Possibly as a result, her website features the tiny 'plan' with 'enhancements' -- videos of Hillary doing that annoying head bob while she speaks.

    We can defeat global terrorism.

    1. We need to crush ISIS on its home turf. 

    We can’t just contain ISIS—we need to defeat it. That means going after the group in Syria, Iraq, and across the Middle East. And it means ramping up airstrikes and making sure local and regional ground troops have what they need to go after ISIS and create safe spaces.

    2. We need to disrupt and dismantle terrorist infrastructure—on the ground and online.

    Old school tactics aren’t going to cut it when it comes to defeating a terrorist group that has mastered the art of online propaganda. ISIS and global jihadists are recruiting, training, and inciting violence on social media—breeding a growing network of terrorists around the world. The U.S. needs to work with our partners around the world to be just as savvy.

    3. We have to protect America and our allies.


    We need better coordination and information-sharing all around to break up terror plots and prevent attacks—between European governments and law enforcement, between Silicon Valley and Washington, and between local police officers and the communities they serve.

    And, for the record, that plan's as idiotic as she is.

    Let's again point out the obvious.

    The Islamic State got its hold in Iraq why?

    Because of the persecution of Sunnis in Iraq which intensified under Nouri al-Maliki's second term (2010 through 2014).

    This persecution is why US President Barack Obama insisted in June of 2014 that the only answer to Iraq's crises was a political solution.

    But the US has instead focused on bombing and training.

    And there's been no movement towards a reconciliation.

    We say that over and over here.

    And maybe that's not good enough for some.

    So let's quote BBC News' Jim Muir who offers this today:

    The IS fighters were able to lodge so easily in the Sunni Arab heartlands because the people there had been largely alienated by the sectarian policies and practices of the Shia Arab-dominated Baghdad government under Nouri al-Maliki, who was finally prised out of the prime minister's office in August 2014.
    Precious little has been done since then to foster national reconciliation and make the Sunnis, a powerful minority under Saddam Hussein, feel they are full partners in a national project. 
    Legislation to empower the Sunnis by devolving security and financial responsibilities to the provinces has not happened.
    Nor have measures to reverse the persecution of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, or the random arrests, detentions, and to assuage other Sunni grievances.
    While slow progress is being made to drive IS back, many argue that military victory alone is not enough.
    "Unless there's political reconciliation, we'll have IS back again five years down the line," a senior diplomat warned.

    It happened before, so the historical lesson is there, and not so long ago. 

    Hillary's plan does not acknowledge this reality.

    Hillary's plan does not address this.

    There is no real plan.

    Hillary seems unable to think beyond kill-kill-kill.

    Hillary was wrong on Iraq in 2002 and she was wrong in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 . . .

    She's still wrong today.

    Wednesday, February 03, 2016

    Aretha's 'Sweet Bitter Love'

    Growing up, you knew Aretha was the queen of soul -- heaven help you if you didn't.

    Aretha's WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO album was one of my brother's favorites.

    And along with all the dancing hits, this song was one that captured my attention.

    I felt so mature listening to Aretha sing "Sweet Bitter Love.''

    "My, my, my, my bitter love.  Why have you awakened me?"

    I felt I knew all about it.

    Honey, all, about it.

    Turns out, I didn't know a thing.

    Something that only hits you years later.

    But Aretha was one of those artists that help me navigate the emotional minefield that is the teenage years. 

    I loved the 80s music, by the way.

    Stevie Nicks' "Stand Back" and Diana Ross' "Swept Away" -- both from the 80s -- were other songs I turned to at difficult times repeatedly.

    Those three women helped me survive.

    What was so hard?

    Having beautiful sisters and being just okay looking.

    Not the worst curse in the world but when you're 13, it certainly seems like it is.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government admits there are more US troops in Iraq than they have previously disclosed, Barack Obama is breaking the law by supporting the Baghdad-based regime, and much more.

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced/bragged/claimed:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

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

    -- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL rocket rail and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes destroyed seven ISIL weapons caches, three ISIL assembly areas and 14 ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle bomb facility and an ISIL logistics facility.

    -- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL anti-air artillery piece, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL recruiting station, four ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL weapons cache and an ISIL assembly area and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Tal Afar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    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.

    Another day and more of the same.

    But isn't that the story always?

    Jim Michaels (USA TODAY) reports, "Iraq said Tuesday it is building a wall and trench around Baghdad in an effort to secure the city from terror attacks."

    As Aretha Franklin sings, "Here we go again, it's the same old song."

    Doubt it?

    From Edward Wong's September 16, 2006 "Iraqis Plan to Ring Baghdad With Trenches" (NEW YORK TIMES):

    The Iraqi government plans to seal off Baghdad within weeks by ringing it with a series of trenches and setting up dozens of traffic checkpoints to control movement in and out of the violent city of seven million people, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Friday.
    The effort is one of the most ambitious security projects this year, with cars expected to be funneled through 28 checkpoints along the main arteries snaking out from the capital. Smaller roads would be closed. The trenches would run across farmland or other open areas to prevent cars from evading checkpoints, said the ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf.
    "We're going to build a trench around Baghdad so we can control the exits and entrances so people will be searched properly," he said in a telephone interview. "The idea is to get the cars to go through the 28 checkpoints that we set up."

    Ten years later and it's time to trot out the same old thing and pretend it's a new idea.

    Of the 'new' proposal, AP adds:

    The interior ministry’s spokesman, police Brigadier General Saad Maan, told the Associated Press that work began this week on a 100km (65-mile) stretch of the wall and trench on the northern and northwestern approaches of the capital.
    The wall will be three metres (10 feet) high and partially made up of concrete barriers already in use across much of the capital, he said. He declined to specify the measurements of the trench.

    And BBC NEWS notes:

    The barrier will also have a two-metre deep trench running alongside it, Al-Sumariyah news website reported. Surveillance cameras, explosives detection devices and towers will also be installed.
    Many parts of the capital are surrounded by concrete barriers. Some of these walls will be taken out of the city's streets and re-installed as part of the new barrier, Mr al-Shammari said. 
    The Interior Ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Saad Maan, said work began this week on a 65-mile stretch of the wall and trench around the capital, the Associated Press reported. The wall will be 10-feet high and partially made up of concrete barriers, he said."

    Let's drop back to yesterday's snapshot for a moment:

    In the age of Barack, we're all supposed to politely bite our tongues.
    Barack's also a War Criminal.
    At his most laughable, Gregory types, "The first step would entail convincing key regional players to pursue the requisite policies to achieve the designated goal. The Iraqi government would be an enthusiastic partner but would need to demonstrate its inclusiveness and ability to unite the country’s diverse ethnicities and religious sects."
    I guess that's one way to put it.
    Not accurate but who needs accuracy when, like Gregory, you're arguing for more war.

    Seth J. Frantzman (NATIONAL INTEREST) notes:

     In addition to the abuses against non-Sunni minorities in Mosul by Islamic State, the Sunni residents who make up the city told local reporters and human rights organizations in 2014 that Iraqi security forces executed prisoners before withdrawing. Human Rights Watch relayed stories of more than a dozen men executed after being removed from the Counterterrorism and Organized Crime prison.
    This sense of persecution at the hands of Nuri al-Maliki’s Shia-led government prompted many to support ISIS when it arrived.

    And the abuses continue under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's rule.

  • Saturday, Human Rights Watch noted:

    Members of Shia militias, who the Iraqi government has included among its state forces, abducted and killed scores of Sunni residents in a central Iraq town and demolished Sunni homes, stores, and mosques following January 11, 2016 bombings claimed by the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS. None of those responsible have been brought to justice.
    Two consecutive bombings at a café in the town of Muqdadiya, in Diyala province, some 130 kilometers north of Baghdad, on January 11, killed at least 26 people, many of them Sunnis, according to a teacher who lives near the café. ISIS claimed the attacks, saying it had targeted local Shia militias, collectively known as Popular Mobilization Forces, which are formally under the command of the prime minister. Members of two of the dominant militias in Muqdadiya, the Badr Brigades and the League of Righteous forces, responded by attacking Sunnis as well as their homes and mosques, killing at least a dozen people and perhaps many more, according to local residents.

    “Again civilians are paying the price for Iraq’s failure to rein in the out-of-control militias,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Countries that support Iraqi security forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces should insist that Baghdad bring an end to this deadly abuse.” 

    Can you grasp that?

    If you can, grasp this:  It is illegal for the US government to support a regime or government that attacks its own people.  It is against domestic US law and it is against international law.
    Barack's a War Criminal.
    Maybe because he wants to be, maybe because he's lazy (and would rather just continue the same instead of transform it into something different), who knows why he is how he is?
    But a War Crime is taking place and he is the War Criminal.

    Concerned Reader e-mails, "There is no such law.  Even if there were, you are holding President Obama to a higher standard than you would any other leader.  No White House would ever threaten Iraq with losing funding or support because their government forces were attacking the people.  No one."

    No one?

    Refer to the front page of the September 30, 2006 NEW YORK TIMES which featured Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "U.S. May Cut Aid to Iraqi Police Cited in Abuses" which explained:

    American officials have warned Iraqi leaders that they might have to curtail aid to the Interior Ministry police because of a United States law that prohibits the financing of foreign security forces that commit "gross violations of human rights" and are not brought to justice.

    So I'm expecting too much from Barack when I expect him to follow the law?

    And I'm also expecting too much from Barack when I expect him to at least do the bare minimum on human rights that Bully Boy Bush did?

    That's really lowering the bar.

    Barack said in 2014 that his Iraq 'mission' or 'plan' would not put US boots on the ground.


    AFP reports:

    But the Pentagon on Wednesday quietly increased that official accounting to 3,850 troops. Then, Baghdad-based military spokesman Col. Steve Warren said it was “fair to say” there are hundreds more troops than even that number.

    And more planned to be sent in.

    But apparently for some -- like Concerned Reader -- holding Barack to his word is unfair.

    Changing topics . . .

                        Liked 137 times

    For 100 years they've tried to make this country [] work. It doesn't work b/c it is built on the wrong foundations via .

    Masrour Barzani's father is Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani.

    REUTERS reports, "Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region should hold a non-binding referendum on independence, its president said on Tuesday, despite the numerous crises it is facing.  Massoud Barzani has previously called for a referendum but set no timetable for a proposed vote."

    Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) 'covered' the issue of the KRG:

    Kurdish President Massoud Barzani has called for a non-binding referendum on Kurdish independence. Kurdistan’s finances, however, are so poor that Peshmerga fighters are abandoning the fight against the Islamic State over unpaid wages.

    That's covering the issue . . . poorly.

    If Griffis is your primary or sole knowledge, you're probably highly uninformed.

    Why are they not being paid?

    Griffis repeatedly misses the point and leaves readers uninformed.

    The federal government out of Baghdad is still not dividing up the revenues.

  • RUDAW reports of the meet-up:

    A high-level meeting between the Kurdish Prime Minister and his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad on Sunday ended with an agreement to form a joint committee to continue talks between both sides to seek a solution for their budgetary dispute.
    A Kurdish delegation led by PM Nechirvan Barzani met Iraqi premier Haider Abadi in Baghdad to discuss the unpaid Peshmerga funds as part of Iraq’s defense system as well as Kurdistan’s share of the fedral health budget.

    This is not a new development.

    It's been going on for years now.

    It's why, a few weeks ago, the KRG sent representatives to DC to see about financial assistance.

    It's also why Brett McGurk met with them on Monday in Baghdad -- and why they were in Baghdad to begin with.

    The State Dept's doing its best to play dumb on the McGurk visit but that was the primary focus of the conversations the KRG reps had with McGurk -- what is the status on the financial aid request, what can the US do to help get Iraqi funds from Baghdad flowing, etc.

    On McGurk's end, he was seeking more commitment on the battle against the Islamic State and more options for US troops to be stationed in the KRG.

    Fact that no one wants to explore: 3,700 US troops are in Iraq (not counting special ops) and there are a lot more in the region -- especially in Kuwait.

    The hope on the part of the White House is to take some of the thousands in the region and move them into the KRG, to use the KRG as a staging area.

    Turning to US politics, Hillary Clinton who voted for war on Iraq 'won' Iowa's caucus.  Former US House Rep and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney Tweeted on the outcome:

  • I don't care what Hillary says, She lost in her first outing. 6 coin tosses do not a victory make!

  • Cynthia may seek the 2016 Green Party nomination.

    In the meantime, Hillary goes up against Senator Bernie Sanders again in New Hampshire which will be the first actual primary in the Democratic Party's race to select a presidential nominee.  Sanders' campaign notes:

    A family making $50,000 would save $5,807 a year under my Medicare-for-all plan.
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