Thursday, June 21, 2018

Leslie Cockburn’s 8-Minute View of the World


Leslie Cockburn’s 8-Minute View of the World
By David Swanson
http://davidswanson.org/leslie-cockburns-8-minute-view-of-the-world/
Our VA-05 Democratic Party nominee for Congress Leslie Cockburn has a website that does not admit to the existence of the world, mention foreign policy, outline a basic budget, oppose or support any wars, or propose or denounce any treaties, international bodies, acts of diplomacy or aid. Her campaign has declined to answer any questions related to the 60% or so of the budget she wants to oversee that currently goes to militarism.
But she spoke publicly on Tuesday, together with Larry Wilkerson, and someone has postedvideo of 48 minutes from him and 8 from her. Did she really speak for only 8 minutes at an event where she was listed as one of the two speakers? Who knows. I’m told by someone who attended that she didn’t speak much (if at all) more than that, and that she left the event shortly after speaking. But we now know 8-minutes worth of information from her and her campaign and her supporters. This is the sum total of the foreign-policy knowledge on which we’re supposed to decide whether or not she should be sent to Congress. So it’s worth looking closely at these 8 minutes.
Cockburn denounced John Bolton as a “warmonger” who wants war with Iran and North Korea, strongly implying that she wants neither. She says the military budget is too big and notes that a fraction of it could make college free in the United States, implying that she wants to reduce military spending by some unstated amount and that she might want to fund free college. She does not make any concrete proposals or lay out any legislation she might introduce.
Cockburn mentions U.S. wars in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan. She speaks of the U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen as the worst disaster in the world, seeming to imply that she would end U.S. involvement and perhaps even U.S. support for Saudi Arabia. But she doesn’t say so. The one case in which she explicitly names a policy she favors is Afghanistan, where she favors either sitting down and talking or withdrawing. What she would count as sitting down and talking and how long she would support continuing it before withdrawing we can’t be sure.
Cockburn makes a number of arguments against a U.S. war on Iran, strongly implying that she’s against one. She says she favored keeping the Iran agreement. She says that Bolton needs to be “checked,” and she credits James Mattis with being more reasonable.
Cockburn closes with a highly vague and muddled comment about war or Congressional war powers. She sees the AUMF(s) as a facilitation of endless war and wants it/them “changed.” However, she cites Senator Tim Kaine as working in the right direction, despite the fact that Kaine has been trying to expand the AUMF to further facilitate presidential wars.
Cockburn says that after every war people get together and sign something that says they don’t want any more wars. She suggests three examples of this: the U.N. Charter after World War II, an unnamed document after World War I (presumably the Kellogg-Briand Pact), and an unnamed document after the war on Vietnam (she seems to mean the War Powers Act). And she suggests that all of these were somehow sort-of related to Congressional war powers.
In reality, of course, while the War Powers Act relates to Congressional war powers, the other two documents are international treaties that ban war, one with narrow loop holes, the other without. This is actually slightly important, because Senator Kaine and others have also been advancing legislation to essentially undo the War Powers Act, while rhetorically maintaining the pretense of doing the opposite, but at the same time advancing the idea that war is legal as long as it is Congressional. For Cockburn to mention the existence of the U.N. Charter and the (unnamed) Kellogg-Briand Pact would seem encouraging, except that it’s unclear whether she knows what they say.
Happy voting!


--
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
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Isakson Applauds Passage of Resolution Recognizing National G.I. Bill Commemoration Week



isakson

Senator Johnny Isakson (above) is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following today:



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
Camlin Moore, 202-224-9126





Isakson Applauds Passage of Resolution Recognizing National G.I. Bill Commemoration Week
Resolution commemorates 74th anniversary of original G.I. Bill, which served nearly 8 million veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today applauded the Senate passage of a bipartisan resolution, S.Res.551, he co-sponsored recognizing the week of June 18 through June 22 as National G.I. Bill Commemoration Week.

This week marks the 74th anniversary of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, landmark legislation that established the original G.I. Bill, which provided educational assistance to service members, veterans and their families. The original G.I. Bill sent nearly 8 million returning World War II veterans to college and vocational schools. Veterans today are taking advantage of a similar benefit in the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. 

Last year, Isakson-authored legislation to enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill – the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 – was signed into law. Isakson’s legislation eliminated the arbitrary 15-year period within which a veteran is required to use their G.I. Bill and instead allows them to use their benefits at any time in their professional career – making it a ‘forever’ benefit.

“The G.I. Bill has been one of our country’s great successes, and I am pleased the Senate voted today to honor its long history, from the original G.I. Bill of 1944 to the Forever G.I. Bill of today,” said Isakson. “This week is about our country’s collective support for the service of our veterans and our recognition of the value they bring back to our communities when they return home and take advantage of the benefits they have earned.”

In addition to Isakson, the Senate resolution was introduced by Senators Tom Carper, D-Del., Bill Nelson D-Fla., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Jon Tester, D-Mont. and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

A companion resolution, H.Res.950, was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 19 by Congressman Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

###

The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as more than 750,000 veterans.









Iraq snapshot

Thursday, June 21, 2018.  Iraq's failed legal system gets worse, Turkey announces they have 11 bases in Iraq, and much more.


May 12th, Iraq held elections.  Over a month later, they've decided to recount all the votes.   No, this is not how a functioning -- or even just an emerging -- democracy handles elections.  Nor does it instill a feeling of fairness -- or, for that matter, pride -- among voters.  But the US government has a lot of money to toss around and the Iraqi legal system is full of crooks who are on the take which explains how the Iraqi Supreme Court reversed its own position today.  REUTERS reports:


Iraq's top court upheld on Thursday a law mandating a nationwide recount of votes in a May parliamentary election but ruled that the cancellation of overseas, displaced, and Peshmerga ballots was unconstitutional.
Iraq, OPEC's second largest oil producer, faces political uncertainty after the election, which was marred by a historically low turnout and allegations of fraud.


The farce becomes even more sick.  This is akin to presidential debates in the US.  After third party candidate John Anderson made it into the 1980 debates, the two dominant parties threw a hissy fit and the League of Women Voters walked.  As the League noted on October 3, 1988:


"The League of Women Voters is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter," League President Nancy M. Neuman said today.
"It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions," Neuman said. "The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."
Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns' agreement was negotiated "behind closed doors" and vas presented to the League as "a done deal," she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.

Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called "outrageous" the campaigns' demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.
"The campaigns' agreement is a closed-door masterpiece," Neuman said. "Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates' organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands."
Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
"On the threshold of a new millenium, this country remains the brightest hope for all who cherish free speech and open debate," Neuman said. "Americans deserve to see and hear the men who would be president face each other in a debate on the hard and complex issues critical to our progress into the next century."

Neuman issued a final challenge to both Vice President Bush and Governor Dukakis to "rise above your handlers and agree to join us in presenting the fair and full discussion the American public expects of a League of Women Voters debate."


The debates were never the same again and now you have some candidates receiving questions ahead of time, you have 'moderators' playing favorites and interrupting some candidates when they are speaking, you have nothing that really challenges the candidates or gives the American people any true insight.  Miss American contestants are asked tougher questions than presidential candidates these days.


ALJAZEERA notes:

The country's outgoing 328-seat parliament voted on June 6 in favour of the manual recount of all the 11 million ballots after allegations of irregularities in the electronic voting system.
MPs had also sacked a nine-member Iraq's Independent High Elections Commission that oversaw the process and replaced the body with judges. The recount process began shortly after the judges took over leadership of the commission. 

The court was tasked with ruling on the matter after the law amendment was challenged by Iraq's president, the election commission chief, and a Kurdish party.


The Supreme Court has just legalized Parliament's unconstitutional actions. 

Last week, THE ECONOMIST noted how the latest actions were harmful ("Iraqis are souring on democracy'') and they noted:

WHAT would politicians the world over like to do when they lose an election? Annul the results and burn the ballots, of course. In Iraq such dreams come true. On June 6th outgoing MPs voted to hold a recount of Iraq’s election and sack the head of the electoral commission. They were furious that a populist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, won the poll, held in May. Then, on June 10th, a warehouse in Baghdad containing a million ballots went up in flames. Firefighters claim to have saved most of them, but the equipment for counting the votes was destroyed.


This was not about the people, this was about the sour grapes of the candidates and the US government being appalled by how well Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr performed. 


In addition, XINHUA notes that "the court rejected the decision to cancel the votes of Iraqis outside Iraq, the votes of the displaced people inside the country and the votes of the security members in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, saying that such cancelation must be carried out after scrutinizing the votes in the polling stations with allegedly witnessed fraud and irregularities."


Some will try to see a silver lining in the fact that Sunni votes will increase because the Court has also disallowed the exclusion of some overseas votes which was taking place.  Iraqis of every stripe have fled Iraq -- a mass exodus that continues to this day.  Sunnis do make up a significant portion of the refugees, yes.  But equally true, Shias who were part of any of the exit waves dubbed the "brain drain" are going to be leery of supporting various Shi'ite parties having left the country when Shi'ite militias changed the fabric of daily life in Iraq.  The Court also disallowed the exclusion of some votes by the internally displaced and some Kurdish votes as well.

Again, some will try to see this as a silver lining.  It's not.  It's not even a silver plated lining.  It's tin foil, at best.

Some Kurds are thrilled.





And while they may be entitled to rejoice, in the larger picture, this is awful.  (A) It prolongs the formation of a government.  (B) It sets a precedent where all counts can be overturned in the future by losers in Parliament who are unhappy with the results.  (C) It makes clear that the citizen's vote is not the final answer but instead it's how politicians massage the vote.  (D) It goes around Iraq's Constitution which is supposed to be the supreme law of the land.  (E) Iraq's already shaky legal system takes a hit.  We could go on and on.  In no way does the Court's decision help or foster democracy.


has leadership crisis. -By the end of June, Iraq enters a constitutional quagmire. -Militias clash with ISF challenging the state on both security and political levels. -Low turnout, elections’ results are highly contested, & burning of ballot boxes undermines results.




We quoted from FOREIGN POLICY"s article on the elections and Moqtada earlier this week but they continue to Tweet about it so we'll note the Tweets for any who missed it:

  1. The man I once fought in Iraq is now the person I hope will save that country, argues U.S. soldier Michael D. Sullivan
  2. Many American soldiers have fought against Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr and his forces. Michael D. Sullivan did too. But now, he says, he has newfound hope for Sadr and Iraq. Here's why:
  3. Michael D. Sullivan says Iraq's election has left him "with a feeling I’ve rarely experienced in all of my years in Iraq and certainly one I would have never thought I’d associate with Muqtada al-Sadr: hope."



If you're not getting that this is about overturning the results, all last week the present prime minister Hayder al-Abadi made a big deal about how all blocs would meet up and have a discussion.  As ALL IRAQ NEWS reports today, it wasn't going to be all blocs -- Hayder never invited Moqtada.  The bloc that got the most votes was to be excluded.  These moves have always been about sour grape losers overturning the will of the Iraqi people.


Staying on the topic of Iraq's failed legal system for a minute more, Human Rights Watch notes:

Iraq’s judiciary should change its approach to dealing with detained foreign women and children who are accused of affiliation with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Human Rights Watch said today. Since January, Iraq has proceeded with rushed trials against foreigners on charges of illegal entry and membership in or assistance to ISIS without sufficiently taking into account the individual circumstances of each case or guaranteeing suspects a fair trial.
Most foreign women are being sentenced to death or life in prison. The Iraqi justice system is also prosecuting foreign children, ages 9 and up, on similar charges, and sentencing them in some cases with up to five years in prison for ISIS membership and up to 15 years for participating in violent acts.
“Iraq’s ‘one size fits all’ approach to women who traveled to live under ISIS or to children whose parents brought them along is producing unjust outcomes in many instances,” said Nadim Houry, Terrorism/Counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch. “Iraqi justice should take into account their individual circumstances and actions and give priority to prosecuting the most serious crimes while exploring alternatives for lesser ones.”
Human Rights Watch attended the trials of seven foreign women and three foreign children. Human Rights Watch also spoke with relatives of detainees and some of the lawyers representing them, and reviewed media reports of trials of at least 72 foreign women. The prosecuted women are from a number of countries, including, Turkey, Russia, France, Germany, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Most of the foreign women and children held in Iraq belong to a group of more than 1,300 foreigners detained by Iraqi forces last August during the battle for the ISIS stronghold of Tal Afar in the northwest of Iraq. A security source told AFP news agency that the group was composed of 509 women and 813 children, though the overall number of foreign women and children in detention is believed to be higher based on information from sources close to the penitentiary system in Baghdad.
In September, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated in an interview that most of the women and children were not guilty of a crime, and that his government was “in full communication” with their home countries to “find a way to hand them over.” But Iraq appears to have changed its approach and starting in January 2018, proceeded to prosecute women and children ages 9 and up. Meanwhile, the women and children are detained in overcrowded conditions.

A relative of one woman held with her 2-year-old child for months in an airless leaking cell near Mosul with about 25 other women said: “The food they were getting was barely enough to keep them alive. Many were sick but no doctor ever came to see them. One of [her fellow] inmates gave birth right in the cell.”

Earlier this week, the ridiculous International Red Cross declared that "the battle is over" in Iraq "after years of fighting.''

Proving how out of touch they are, the violence continues and the US continues to bomb Iraq.  In addition, on Sunday, according to the US government, Israel bombed Iraq as well.  So much for the battle being over.  Iraq is also bombed by Turkish war planes.  On that topic, YENISAFAK reports, "Turkey has 11 temporary military bases in northern Iraq, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Thursday."

11 bases?

When Turkey was publicly claiming the right to have one, it was a serious issue to the Iraqi people -- as well it should have been.  A foreign country setting up bases?  Hayder al-Abadi publicly declared that they had to leave.  But they didn't leave, did they?  And now they are bragging about the 11 bases they have in Iraq.

Hayder al-Abadi is supposed to be prime minster of Iraq. How does he answer to the Iraqi people on this?

It's bad enough that he's allowed Turkey to continue bombing northern Iraq -- he will -- from time to time -- offer a meek denunciation of these bombings, but 11 bases?





We're going to wind down with a section of  Justin Raimondo's latest at ANTIWAR.COM:

No one is allowed to dissent from the official Establishment line: that’s the new dispensation in the media, and it is being enforced by the political class, which has launched a series of smear campaigns against anyone who dares question the conventional wisdom. Anyone who questions the veracity of the media, starting with our President, is deemed an “enemy of democracy,” because the media is supposed to be the foundation stone of a free society.
But what happens when the media becomes an instrument in the hands of Power, a weapon in the arsenal of a Deep State intent on exercising its veto over our democratically elected government?
That’s a question fake-“libertarian” Conor Friedersdorf doesn’t want you to even contemplate. Why? Because then, like Tucker Carlson, you’d be “hurting America.” That’s right, folks: “Tucker Carlson is Hurting America Again”! Yes, again!
Oh, when will they make it stop?
How and why is this hurting happening? Well, it seems Tucker stepped over the line by giving his audience the sort of advice I’ve given my readers time and time again:
“Last week, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, or else the eponymous populist demagogue that he plays on TV, declared on Tucker Carlson Tonight, ‘If you’re looking to understand what’s actually happening in this country, always assume the opposite of whatever they’re telling you on the big news stations.’
“He has previously hosted TV shows on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS.”
That last paragraph is supposed to clue you in to Carlson’s hypocrisy, and yet it will no doubt seem to the non-hysterical reader that Tucker’s experience in those vales of confirmation bias gives him some insight into how they report the news. And then there’s the snarky implication that Carlson doesn’t really believe what he’s saying – after all, how could anyone doubt the Russia-gate conspiracy narrative? Why, nobody at The Atlantic does! – and he’s just “playing” the “eponymous populist demagogue” on TV.
First of all, let’s dispel the aura of intellectuality that Friedersdorf exudes: “eponymous” doesn’t mean what he thinks it means, and the word has absolutely no applicability here. See for yourself. So why include it? Because Friedersdorf is a complete and total phony, and always has been. He’s a pretentious careerist who, in taking on the assignment given to him by Jeffrey Goldberg, former Israeli prison guard and editor-in-chief over at The Atlantic, shows us what a third-class writer he is.

Most of the piece consists of quotes from Carlson, supposedly contradicting his present skeptical view of the “mainstream” media. Yet this misses the point – deliberately, one can’t help thinking – being made not only by Carlson but by some of the few remaining rational pundits on the left who are disturbed by the weaponization of journalism as a sword in the hands of those who would slay the President. There’s been a sea change in the content and tone of the “mainstream” media, which has given up all pretenses of objectivity and lent itself to partisan purposes.




The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated: