Thursday, July 23, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, July 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, War Criminal Tony Blair throws a public tantrum, former US House Rep Barney Frank argues against democracy in the United States, the press continues to treat Hillary's Iraq 'position' as though it's a matter of 2002 when the Iraq War continues to this day, the UN envoy to Iraq is literate enough to read a paper to the UN Security Council -- if not intellectually able to also answer questions, and much more.

War Criminal Tony Blair is having a Barney Frank of a fit.

The neoliberal who destroyed the Labour Party by transforming it into the Thatcher-lite New Labour is having a fit over the possibility that Labour might return to its leftist roots and support Jeremy Corbyn as the next Labour leader.

Matt Dathan (Independent) reports on Tony's latest turn as drama queen:

John Prescott has told Tony Blair it was his decision to invade Iraq that stops people voting for Labour and not Jeremy Corbyn.
Lord Prescott served as Mr Blair's deputy prime minister for the entirety of his 10 years in Downing Street but this morning he lashed out at his former boss's attack on Mr Corbyn.

The BBC adds of Prescott's reaction to Tony Blair's public tantrum:

Lord Prescott said: "I found that absolutely staggering. I have a lot of respect for Tony Blair, I worked with him for a lot of years, but to use that kind of language is just abuse.
"The Labour Party is about the heart as well as the head and to suggest somebody should have a transplant if they are making decisions by the heart is totally unacceptable."
He said Labour had lost a lot of support because of the 2003 Iraq War and said the former prime minister should reflect on that.

Roy Greenslade (Guardian) notes the coverage of Tony's tantrum:

If your heart is with Corbyn get a transplant, says Blair” (The Times, across two full pages); “Blair: if Labour votes with its heart, it needs a transplant” (Daily Telegraph); “Blair tells Corbyn backers: if your heart is with him get a transplant” (Daily Express); “If your heart’s into Jez... get transplant” (Daily Star); and “Blair: it’s just plain daft to back Corbyn” (Metro).

As for Corbyn himself, he appears willing to let Tony stomp his feet in public all by himself.

He told reporters:

Well I think it's very unfortunate that people use these kind of remarks.  Why can't we instead focus on the policy issues that are facing the Labour Party, facing the country, the levels of inequality, the levels of poverty, the levels of under-investment and the need to forward rather than dealing with these personal issues?  It's not -- not a good way to do things.

At his online office, Blair's full tantrum has been posted including this:

So let me make my position clear: I wouldn't want to win on an old fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn't take it.  
We should forever stand for social justice, for power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many not the few, as our Constitution puts it.

But that is not the challenge. That challenge is: how to do it in the modern world.

For Tony, the way to "social justice" "in the modern world" has been lying and illegal war.

Standing on this 'higher ground,' he stomps his feet, screams and cries as he throws his public tantrum.

In his never-ending whine, War Criminal Tony 'forgets' to note Corbyn's blistering criticism of Tony's actions and the illegal Iraq War which include his remarks at the start of the year about "the failure of Parliament in 2003 and since then to hold in account those that took crucial decisions on our behalf, the consequence of which all of us will live with for the rest of our lives and the population of this country and, indeed, of western Europe and the USA are going to live with for many, many, many decades and generations to come.  It was a seminal disaster that happened in 2003."

While Tony's actions have led to the Arrest Blair For Crimes Against Peace campaign, Corbyn's actions have led to his endorsement by the United Kingdom's Stop the War Coalition:

LEFT LABOUR MP Jeremy Corbyn, who has been nominated to stand in the Labour leadership campaign, is also the chair of the Stop the War Coalition.
He has been a supporter since we began back in 2001, has spoken on virtually all of our demonstrations big and small, and has been a consistent anti-war voice in parliament.
He was part of the major Labour rebellion against the Iraq war in 2003, and was opposed to the intervention in Syria in 2013.
All of this is great news for Stop the War supporters who can now back him as a principled anti-war and anti-austerity candidate in a contest which was set, until the last minute, to be between three candidates who all espoused a similar message – none of it anti-war.
As well as central role in Stop the War, Jeremy is also involved in a wide range of other campaigns for peace and social justice, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, of which he is vice-chair, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
But Jeremy’s candidacy takes on a much wider significance, because it can be part of rebuilding a left committed to social movements which can provide the antidote to a government committed to pro-war policies and to cutting welfare, including the benefits of some of the poorest in society.
A mass campaign in support of Jeremy should involve meetings in every town and city which echo the policies which he has always followed: peace and justice for all, an end to widening inequality, and opposition to cuts in welfare, rather than warfare.
Such a campaign would galvanise large numbers of people who have previously been involved in anti-war and other campaigns, as well as many young people who have protested against austerity in recent weeks.
The Corbyn candidacy can have the effect of unifying many of the campaigns, and of inserting a clear left voice into the debate about how best to oppose government policies on these questions.
There is a new movement growing against austerity, determined to oppose the new government’s policies. Stop the War is part of the People's Assembly, which called the huge march against austerity on Saturday 20 June that brought 250,000 protesters on to London's streets.
We can all help to build Jeremy's campaign, to make sure that a strong alternative voice to war and austerity gets the hearing it deserves. His candidacy for the Labour leadership can only make the movements for peace and social justice stronger.

How to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Anyone can vote in the Labour Party leadership election, which is now run on the basis of one-person-one vote. The election is not restricted to Labour Party members but open to the new category of Labour supporter. Registration as a supporter costs just £3. Register here » 

While Tony Blair has his tantrum in the UK, Barney Frank has his in the United States.

The former member of the US House of Representatives is attempting to be a columnist at POLITICO -- and anyone's who suffered through one of his charm-free TV appearances would strongly encourage him to pursue a career far, far away from any video cameras.

Barney Frank insisted at POLITICO earlier this week that no one should support Senator Bernie Sanders in his run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.


Because it hurts Hillary.

Barney apparently sees Hillary as the new Judy Garland or at least the latest Britney Spears and insists that the (male) gay community and others should support Hillary -- apparently, support her blindly and support her over the concept of democracy.

Democracy, Barney forgets, is about public debate, public exchange.

Democracy is not a coronation.

He argues against democracy in one statement after another such as this paragraph:

I know that there is a counter-argument made by some on the Democratic left that a closely contested nomination process will help our ultimate nominee — that Clinton will somehow benefit from having to spend most of her time and campaign funds between now and next summer proving her ideological purity in an intraparty fight, like Mitt Romney in 2012 — rather than focusing on her differences with the conservative she will face in the election. But neither an analysis of the current political situation nor the history of presidential races supports this.

Democracy is the issue, not what benefits Hillary Clinton.

And someone needs to remind POLITICO that if Americans want to know how to turn their residence into a whore house or the best way to remove pubic lice from fine linens, Barney's the one to go to.  Certainly, he allowed his lover/sex employee to turn his home into a bordello in the 80s and that scandal is what finally forced Barney out of the closet.

But if America needs lessons in democracy or just advice on it, Barney's among the last people the country would turn to.

We get it.

He's very old.

Hes very ugly.

His middle-section is, at best, 'thickish.'

As a member of Congress, he could (mis)use his power and ignore all of that.

Now he's in the real world, in a youth obsessed country and he's struggling for relevancy.

So he attempts to turn Hillary into Judy Garland and make a (late)life out of worshiping her.

In order to do that, he tsk-tsks "the flood of post-Citizen United right-wing money" while failing to note that Hillary's had her own flood of corporate cash for years.  (She has, in fact, probably been the best corporate fundraiser for the Democratic party -- better than Nancy Pelosi, to be sure, but also better than Barack who's reign of raking in corporate dollars only begins in 2007 while Hillary's started in the 90s and has never stopped.)

He's at his most insane when he attempts to justify Hillary's support for the Iraq War:

True, not on Iraq. Having myself voted against that terrible mistake, I agree that her position on the war is a legitimate concern for those of us on the left. The question then becomes whether this was a manifestation of a general tendency to support unwise military intervention, or the case of her joining every other Democratic senator who had serious presidential ambitions in voting for a war that the Bush-Cheney administration had successfully hyped as a necessary defense against terrorism. While I wish that she, Joe Biden and John Kerry had not been spooked into believing that no one who voted no would have the national security merit badge required to win the presidency, I regard liberal senators’ support for the Iraq War as a response to a given fraught political situation rather than an indication of their basic policy stance — like Obama’s off-again, on-again support for same-sex marriage. (Yes, I am saying that in deciding whether or not to support a candidate with whom I have disagreed on a fundamental issue, I am more at ease if it was a one-time political accommodation rather than a genuine conviction.) Most relevantly for this discussion, she will clearly be for less military spending and intervention than the Republican nominee.

There's is so much there.

1) Hillary's support for the Iraq War did not end with her 2002 vote for it.

And as former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed in his book (Duty), Hillary told him that she only opposed Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' (sending thousands of additional US troops into Iraq in 2007) because she thought it would win her political points with voters -- and that she really had no problem with the actual surge.

2) This is the same lack of courage and ethics that Frank feels led her to support the illegal war with her 2002 vote.

Such cowardly behavior, voting for something just to protect your own seat in Congress, is not the stuff of leadership.

3) She will not "clearly be for less military spending and intervention" than any other nominee -- Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, what have you.

Barney needs to stop fondling his crystal ball and stick to reality.

And the Iraq War wasn't "a terrible mistake."

It was illegal, it is a travesty (an ongoing one) and many other things.

But calling it "a terrible mistake" is putting it so mildly that it doesn't even quality as an objection.

Hillary supported the Iraq War repeatedly.

She needs to answer for it.

And I don't mean in some ghost-written book.

She supported the illegal war.

It continues.

What, if elected president, would she do to address the ongoing war in Iraq?

The press is too cowardly to ask her that when they do manage to get some limited time with her.

And grasp what Barney doesn't, if she won't interact with the press while she's trying to woo voters, a President Hillary would even less responsive to both the press and the voters.

Granted, we've grown silent as a country as Barack has avoided the press.

But when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, we cared (as we did in earlier times) when Oval Office occupants refused to go before the press and answer questions.

And, a reminder, I'm won't vote for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.  (Or Jill Stein or Donald Trump.)  But that doesn't lead me to argue that anyone should refuse to run.

Democracy is about multiple voices, from multiple points on the political spectrum, competing in the public square, making their arguments and cases and allowing the people to decide what speaks to them and what direction or candidate they support.

Jan Kubis is United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy in Iraq.

On Wednesday, he appeared before the United Nations Security Council to read out loud the report Ban Ki-moon had released a week ago.

As usual, Kubis took no questions from the Security Council.

As usual, the appearance was pointless and wasted fossil fuel flying him from Baghdad to the US just so he could read, word for word, a report the Security Council -- in fact, the whole world -- already had access to.

Early on, he read some of the most laughable statements anyone UN envoy to Iraq has ever read to the Security Council:

Iraq’s political process is moving forward, but without the needed vigour. The Government has achieved many successes, and deserves our acknowledgement and support. Prime Minister Haider al‐Abadi is seeking actively to fulfil the promises of the Government’s programme, but not always with success. Political forces that have backed the Government and its programme often cooperate reluctantly, as if the existential threat of ISIL and economic and social difficulties were already matters of the past. The unity behind the creation of the current Government has not yet fully translated into unity of purpose or action. UNAMI has been actively working with all relevant interlocutors, using its good offices to bring views closer.

There are signs of a growing understanding that the time has come for comprehensive political agreements, particularly for, as some leaders have described it, an “historic national reconciliation”. Several plans and blueprints have emerged recently, promoted by key leaders and political forces. Also, the National Reconciliation Commission has developed an action plan, an initiative owned and led by the Government. The so‐called Baghdad Document is currently being widely consulted and will benefit from inputs from all Iraqi components, allowing for further ownership of and inclusion in the process. This could provide a starting point for further consultations, including with different opposition groups. UNAMI supports these processes.

This development is most welcome, although political compromises are urgently needed to accelerate the implementation of the National Political Agreement and Ministerial Programme. In this regard, institutional and legislative reforms remain key to preserving Iraq’s unity, encouraging political reconciliation and defeating ISIL. Regrettably, the absence of consensus has halted the reform process. The national reconciliation legislative package, which includes key bills such as the National Guard, the General Amnesty, and the Justice and Accountability laws, has seen limited progress since my last briefing to the Council. All three bills are currently before the Council of Representatives, but progress has been stalled due to lack of trust between Iraqi communities, and absence of the necessary political will. I have informed my interlocutors in Parliament and in Government that “painful compromises” are needed to ensure these bills are passed, instead of being returned to the Council of Ministers. Iraq and her people do not have the luxury of time. UNAMI continues to stand ready to assist politically and technically to ensure these reforms succeed.

With or without "vigor," where has Iraq's political process moved forward?

There is nothing to point to.

Nothing has been resolved.

But he wants to pretend it is fair and/or accurate to pretend otherwise?

Hillary Clinton needs to be asked about the following -- Hillary and every other politician trying to seek the presidency:

The human cost of the conflict remains far too high. Since I last briefed the Council, UNAMI has recorded a minimum of 1,200 civilians killed and more than 2,000 wounded as a result of armed conflict or terror attacks. UNAMI continues to receive widespread reports of attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, extrajudicial killings, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, forced recruitment of children, wanton destruction and looting of civilian property, and denial of fundamental rights and freedoms. Minorities, women and children continue to be particularly vulnerable to the horrors and indignities inflicted by ISIL. The recent terrorist outrage during the Eid holidays near a Shi’ite mosque in Khan Bani Saad in which over 120 civilians were reported killed and some 170 injured is another tragic witness to this.

Reports are also received of occasional violations committed by elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces and allied groups. The Government and their leaders have reaffirmed that such violations will not be tolerated, and I urge them to continue taking all possible measures to prevent such transgressions and to bring perpetrators to justice.

If Hillary wants to move beyond her 2002 vote, she can start that process by addressing the realities of Iraq today and explaining to the American people what her 'plan' for Iraq is?

Kubis also read this paragraph to the UN Security Council:

With regard to the protection of children, I would like to commend the Prime Minister’s efforts to tackle the issue of child recruitment by ISIL. On 15 June 2015, he held a conference in Baghdad and proposed a series of recommendations, including increased regional cooperation, academic research, the promotion of co‐existence at school, and social media campaigns. He also called upon the Security Council to take a firmer stance on this issue. The UN participated and will be working closely with the Office of the Prime Minister to develop a plan of action.

Would he like to commend him for that?

And what would Kubis like to do with regards to the use of children soldiers by the "Popularization Mobilization Foces" (Shi'ite militias)?

Because they are using children.

And you can find it all over Arabic media and social media.

And Haider al-Abadi's remarks about the Islamic State and children soldiers were slammed the minute they were made -- slammed in Arabic media and Arabic social media -- by critics who pointed out the Shi'ite militias use of children soldiers (while on the payroll of the Iraqi government).

Meanwhile, Margaret Griffis ( counts 106 violent deaths across Iraq.

We've already noted Ash Carter's visit to Iraq -- we may note it in the next snapshot.

We will note the community theme posts of picks for movies to watch in summer:   Stan's "Gone in 60 Seconds," Ruth's "Harper," Elaine's "Salt," Ann's "Sparkle," Kat's "Dr Goldfoot," Marcia's "Star Wars," Rebecca's "the wizard of oz," Trina's "Grease" and Mike's "Short Circuit."

As Wally's "THIS JUST IN! CRANKY'S CRASHING!" and Cedric's "Once it was alright (Farmer Joe)" note, the polling is not going well for Cranky Clinton (as they've dubbed Hillary) and perhaps that explains Barney Frank's hysteric attack on democracy in that bad POLITICO column?