Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, November 4, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq is not a political football, one US citizen makes a fool of himself while trying to prove he's smarter than his political opponents, US veterans clean up in the midterms, FAIR calls out those who cheered on the Iraq War except when the cheerleaders work for Mother Jones, Ava and I called it on Wendy Davis (yeah, I waited 8 months to say, "We told you so"), and much more.

Today is election day in the United States, the midterms.  All seats in the US House of Representatives are being voted on and 1/3 of the Senate seats.  Many citizens will choose to vote -- some will have early voted.  Some will be wise, some will be smart, some will be average and some will be really stupid.

Wanting to grab the title of "really stupid," Dave Mills writes the editorial board of the Lansing State Journal wanting to set "right wing nuts" straight but only embarrasses himself and, sadly, the rest of us on the left by association:

 Obama got Bin Laden, ended the war in Iraq, will be ending our involvement in Afghanistan. The direct cost of the two wars is $3 trillion, the indirect cost is $5 to $6 trillion.

He didn't end the war in Iraq.

You damn well need to stop lying or sporting your stupidity.

You're a moron.

You need to sit your stupid ass down.  You have nothing to share.

There are problems with pretty much everything you say.  But we focus on Iraq here.

You don't know what the hell you're saying and you need to sit your dumb ass down.

When Americans made statements like this last year, it was racist and xenophobic because the US didn't end the Iraq War, Barack just ended (most) direct US involvement in the war.

The war went on.

And Americans looked really stupid insisting the war was over.

But things changed last month.

That's Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal (photo from Facebook).   We noted his death in October 25th snapshot.

That's Cpl Jordan Spears (photo from Marine Corps).  Last week, he was reclassified as the first death in 'Operation Inherent Resolve.'

When not one but two American service members lost their lives last month, don't claim the Iraq War ended. It never did for the Iraqis and, as the two deaths demonstrate, it hasn't for Americans either.

I'm really sorry that you're so damn stupid.

I don't know that this claim -- "if Sadam Hussein was still alive, there would be no Islamic States (ISIS)" -- can be backed up.  First off, the Islamic State is also in Syria.  Second, Saddam Hussein ruled over a secular state, the Islamic State is fundamentalist and there's no proof that they wouldn't have targeted Iraq.  (You can argue it would be harder for them to take root in Iraq if Saddam Hussein were still in power but that neglects the reality that the Islamic State does a form of social services which is another way they endear themselves.)

But I do know Iraq is not your political football.

I say that over and over.

It's not my political football either.

It is a country that has been attacked and betrayed repeatedly by the US government.

Those attacks and betrayals predate Barack Obama being sworn in as US President and they continue after he becomes president.

Iraq is a country filled with people -- millions even now despite the US-led wars having turned so many people into refugees.

Iraq is not a political football and people look stupid and ignorant when they forget that fact and attempt to 'spike' what is a global tragedy and a global crime.

Another thing, telling your opponents this also makes you look really ignorant, you "are entitled to your opinions, but not the facts."

Everyone's entitled to the facts.

Saying someone's not entitled to the facts defeats your own argument.

What you were trying to say -- but were too stupid to say -- was "you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts."

Someone who trots out Iraq, tries to spike it like a political football and doesn't know 2 US service members died in the ongoing war just last month?

A real moron who needs to slink off silently.  There's nothing to left to say.  Just close your mouth and go, you've done enough damage.

On elections, my state's polls won't close before this goes up but Texas did close.  And I mention that because a number of e-mails (Ty stopped counting at 100) came in declaring how wrong in our March 2, 2014 "TV: Another idiot for the idiot box" for writing the following:

Texas women are strong and proud and they go about their lives as best they can.  Like women everywhere, they know a thing or two about discrimination.  But they keep going.
Where Texas is different than many other states is that you will see Democratic and Republican women pull together for strong women -- especially strong women who have persevered despite sexism, despite setbacks.  Hillary was that in 2008.  Ann was that when she ran for governor.
It's not just that Wendy Davis' resume is so light or that's she backed away from the stance that brought her national attention.
It's mainly that the national media created a narrative that would play on the national stage but won't play in Texas.
Davis is poorly trailing Greg Abbott currently.
That could change, the election is way off.
But unless Abbott implodes, he will likely beat her because she and her campaign don't know what the hell they're doing.
She can be strongly pro-choice and win Republican women in Texas -- they're not all anti-choice.
But Wendy Davis' big problem isn't her positions (except for backing off from them).
It's that she's a superstar.
She's a winner.
She's so very many things, crowned by the media.
Ann Richards?
Like many other successful Texas female politicians, Ann Richards was a fighter who battled.
She got knocked down and she got back up, over and over.
Did any woman take the failure to pass the Equal Rights Amendment more personally than Ann did?
They might have taken it as personally but it's hard to think they could have taken it more personally.
Ann fought and fought and fought again.
A minority of her supporters tried to dub her Queen Ann.  (This move was led in particular by a man named Dennis -- does Cecile even know this story, does she even know her mother?)  Ann very nicely told the group not to call her that.  She was governor, she explained, and she was so happy to be that. Dennis then suggested governor and queen.  And Ann lost the glowing smile she was famous for and used terms like "buster" and a loud voice to make clear that she didn't see being called a "queen" in a democracy as a compliment and that she had fought hard for every elected office she had held so don't insult her by calling her the "queen" of Texas.
Ann was never crowned.
Women -- Democrats and Republicans -- gave Ann the boost her campaign needed and she became governor and she's the last Democratic governor Texas has had.
Do not compare Ann to Wendy Davis.
If Wendy's got any real strength, she's yet to show it.
Texas women will bandy together around a female candidate if the woman reminds them of themselves or their mothers.  Because they are bonding over hardships and setbacks.  They will cross party lines if the woman reminds them of themselves.
Davis needs to lower the stardom and demonstrate how she can be a work horse.
She needs to lose the ridiculous hair, she's not Donald Trump's ex-wife, and either pull it into a ponytail (which Texas women relate to) or get it cut.
She needs to tone down the make up as well.
She's a little too 'starish' currently for Texas.
And Greg Abbott?
Greg Abbott is in a wheel chair.  He has been since 1984.  From that wheel chair, he's been on the state supreme court and successfully and repeatedly run for attorney general.  That's the kind of can-do spirit that Texans admire.
Cecile Richards is deeply stupid.
Making Wendy Davis a media star only made her a vapid blond with big hair.
If Cecile knew a damn thing about Texas politics, she would have already realized that Greg Abbott's not going to be beaten by a glossy 8 x 10 photograph.

Sorry, Ava and I were right.

And I have no desire to rescue Barack but the Texas election was not really about Barack (yes, I know the Abbott campaign -- especially in East Texas -- did heavy ad buys saying Barack was on the ballot).  I have no idea what happened elsewhere in the country but when people say I'm wrong -- and I can be wrong -- I pay attention to the race.  Wendy Davis lost it all on her own.  She was a media creation with no real courage or guts and, in the last month, she's yet again attacking Abbott for being in a wheel chair.  It was low and it was disgusting.  Equally true, she forgot the Howard Dean rule of: campaign everywhere.  She thought she could cobble together a victory by focusing solely on big metro areas like Dallas-Fort Worth.  She completely ignored the East Texas media market -- large cities like Tyler and Longview just written off as well as smaller cities and towns in the area.    When I say she completely ignored that market, I mean she didn't buy any ads from October 1st forward in that market.

She never gave people a reason to vote for her other than that she was a celebrity created by the national media, one who went fundraising in California which always has a backlash in Texas.  Sally Field is beloved by many but even she, when she campaigns for her friend US House Rep Lloyd Doggett, knows she has to walk a line -- it's partly a distrust of the entertainment industry, it's partly a rivalry between two of the biggest states in the union.

On other races, Stars & Stripes Leo Shane Tweets:

  • Now at 10 Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans in Congress, 9 GOP & 1 Dem. At least two more guaranteed (head-to-head races)

  • And Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Paul Rieckhoff Tweets:

  • Barack may impact other races or he may not.

    I haven't followed them.

    But he is not responsible for Wendy Davis loss.  She lost it all on her own. (And Abbott's campaign commercials struck a chord -- his late in the campaign ad featuring his Latina mother-in-law tested off the charts with all races and ethnicities.  People found her warm, touching and truthful.)

    And her problems were all evident in March of this year if anyone wanted to go beyond the gloss and pay attention.

    Barack has his own problems.  Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reports, "The Pentagon has denied that the US strategy against Islamic State (Isis) is in disarray after a series of setbacks as the war known as Operation Inherent Resolve stretches into its fourth month."

    The argument that Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby made today was that the Syrian government, particularly Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is not benefiting from the 'focus' the US government is placing on Iraq.


    As Akerman points out:

    US military officials frequently describe their strategy as “Iraq first”, reflecting what some in the administration suggest is a more realistic ambition, compared to the complexity of the neighbouring Syria conflict. The US has renewed its mentorship of the Iraqi military it built during the 2003-2011 occupation. But the administration is signaling that a counteroffensive to oust Isis from Iraq, led by the Iraqis and backed by US airpower and Iranian-supported Shia militias, will not proceed until spring 2015

    Until spring of 2015?

    Barack plans to keep bombing and pretending that's a 'plan'?

    Long after Barack leaves the White House, Iraqis will have to rebuild.

    And what Arabic social media is noting, though the western press has avoided, it is the Sunni areas that are being destroyed with these bombings.  When the bombing finally ends, it is the Sunnis who will be living in destroyed, shelled neighborhoods.  There are many Arabic commentators on social media who don't feel this is an accident but part of the continued persecution of the Sunnis.

    Changing topics . . .

    Who in the world do you think that you are fooling?
    Well I've already done everything that you are doing
    -- "Two Kinds of Love," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her Rooms On Fire

    The always laughable (and always sexist) Kevin Drum wags his tiny cock-lette at Iraq and figures out there's no 'plan.'  Did the universe just offer a collective "Duh!"  How many weeks, how many months have we been pointing that out?

    I was going to be kind and ignore David Zucchino's nonsense for the Los Angeles Times.

    But his ridiculous report is what 'enlightened' Kevin Drum.

    So let's note that it's a miserable 'report' that's ahistorical and embarrassing.

    The article fails to address that the military has been without a head.  In the US, we call it the Secretary of Defense (currently Chuck Hagel).  In Iraq, they call it the Minister of Defence.  And from 2010 until his ouster this summer -- four long years, Nouri al-Maliki refused to nominate anyone to head the Ministry of Defence (it was a power grab -- Ayad Allawi was the first to rightly call it that).

    So for four years they had no one.

    But, even more importantly, the Los Angeles Times has reported on the Defense and Interior Ministries (Interior is a security ministry, it is not parks and wildlife -- Nouri also refused to nominate anyone to head that ministry).

    Ned Parker -- often on his own, often with others -- repeatedly reported on the corruption and crime in the ministries.  He did spectacular reporting, in fact, on one particular floor in the Interior, the corruption there.

    With all that to build on, Zucchino's article was disappointing.

    He's a strong reporter and he'll do strong reporting again, I'm sure.

    But Kevin Drum finds a stitched together article that fails to get at the realities -- which includes ignoring Nouri not wanting training from the US (for those who've forgotten, Barack was told to find other uses for the money the White House planned to spend training the Iraqi police in 2012) -- wonderful and inspiring.

    Kevin would, wouldn't he?

    He did, after all, cheer on the Iraq War.

    Which makes you wonder why Mother Jones keeps trying to turn him into a star (he's too ugly for TV), why two women running the magazine and website are bound and determined to turn an elderly White man into a media star instead of devoting those resources to men of color or women?

    Related, every now and then FAIR and others will gripe about how those people who were wrong about Iraq in 2003 continue to be respected voices in the media.  But they never have the guts, do they, to point out all the 'left' voices (like Drum) who cheered on an illegal war and yet are employed by left sites like Mother Jones?

    If FAIR's really worried about accountability, they need to call on Mother Jones to ditch Kevin Drum who helped sell the illegal war.

    Just last June, FAIR was whining about CNN bringing back on pundits who cheered on the Iraq War -- so when does FAIR find the guts to call out Mother Jones for hiring Drum?

    Until they do, they look like whiny, little hypocrites.

    There should be much more anger that a supposed left publication like Mother Jones is providing a forum for these pundits who got it wrong than the supposedly 'neutral' or 'mainstream' or 'middle' CNN.

    Not everyone's ahistorical.  Ellen Knickmeyer Tweets:

  • Man, had his eye on the ball. 2009 story behind Iraq prison says was birthplaceof ISIS

  • In other developments, Deborah Haynes and Michael Evans (Times of London) report England is planning to send troops into Iraq while Nick Perry (AP) reports that New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key announced today he was open to sending troops into Iraq to help 'train.'

    National Iraqi News Agency reports today's fatalities include shoppers at a market, "A security source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / An Iraqi warplane bombed the Qai'm market amid the district, which resulted in the killing of five civilians and wounding / 35 / others, pointing out that this is a preliminary outcome due to the intensity of the shelling."  The expected massacre of Shi'ite pilgrims by the Islamic State did not take place today.

    Christiane Amanpour interviewed the State Dept's Brett McGurk on Amanpour (CNN) and we'll note it tomorrow.