Saturday, December 06, 2014

I Hate The War

This is a talking entry.  I'm responding to some e-mails quickly and also noting a David Bacon photo essay.

1) Why have I stopped noting other sites?

I haven't.  I assume that's in reference to weekday morning entries where I note the community sites that updated and a few non-community sites.

That is a time issue.  I don't necessarily have time to say "and non-community sites blah, blah, blah."

One morning this week, I didn't even have time to note the community sites.

It's a time issue and also a I'm-so-sick-of-being-online issue.

But it's not meant as an insult to any sites we usually note.

2) That said, I'm appalled by the lack of Iraq coverage -- still -- at so many other sites.

The left side of the internet in the US was made off the Iraq War.

Now that the pathetic Barack Obama is leading the war on Iraq, no one wants to step up.

They're all cheap whores and I have no respect for them.

They're the reason idiots in this country can and do write letters to the editor right now about how all US troops are out of Iraq.

They're the reason so many idiots in this country are unaware Barack's been sending US troops back into Iraq since June or that 3 US troops have already died in Operation Inherent Resolve.

3) A lot of minor celebrities found wider fame on the back of the Iraq War.

Ani DiFranco, for example.  She hasn't given a damn about Iraq since Bully Boy Bush left office.

Marcia's "Michael Franti the fake ass" noted a video this week -- many other community sites did as well but Marcia was e-mailed the video and she got others to note it.

Michael gets confronted verbally and how does the 'peace activist' respond?

By pushing and shoving and grabbing the camera.

If that's surprising to you, how else did you expect him to respond?

He's nothing but a cheap whore now.

He got confronted on his whoring ways.

Anyone who's ever participated in an intervention knows an addict active in his or her disease tends to lash out when the truth is presented.

That's what happened with Michael.

His addiction to whoring is too powerful.

It's hilarious in the video when he claims he holds Barack accountable every night when he's onstage.

Tell another lie, Michael.

With the exception of Susan Sarandon, I haven't seen any celebrity take stock off themselves, do a self-check and restore their beliefs and ethics.

And to be clear, I'm talking about political celebrities.  Halle Berry is not political.  She supports Barack.  Halle is a friend and I've never had a problem with her support of Barack.

But if you present as an activist -- Jane Fonda does -- then I do have a problem with you.

Because the illegal spying continues, because the persecution whistle blowers continue, the attacks on the press have increased under Barack, more people have been deported under Barack, and the wars continue under Barack so I'm just not in the mood for your whoring.

Steven Spielberg's another.  He's not political.

You're wasting your time trying to have a political conversation with Steven.  His idea of politics is voting every two years (plus doing fundraisers). And that's fine, he has other interests.  (His pretense in political issues ended with his marriage to Amy Irving who was always more concerned about the world and justice than he was.)

Stephen and Halle are nice people. Like many Americans they have other issues and interests to focus on.

I'm not going to get upset with either for not knowing about the illegal spying or whatever.

But if you claim to be political, I'm really getting tired of you slobbering over Barack.

That's why I don't feel sympathy for the gay actor who staged a wedding to a horse faced woman just a little while back.  We all know who I'm talking, Mr. Political whose bad plastic surgery has made him look really feminine.

And I'm tired of people like 'brave' John Pilger who (a) can't get the facts straight on Julian Assange and (b) can't fight for Julian effectively.

How pathetic are these little bitches like John Pilger (and I know John and I would call him a little bitch to his face)?

Julian will testify to a country if they will promise not to hand him over to the US!

I'm sorry, why does another country have to make that promise?

I don't think they will, they haven't so far.

But I'm speaking in terms of logic.

And maybe I better speak slower because we have lost all sense of logic on the left.

Why is the world -- or those who support Julian -- insisting that a country promise not to turn Julian over to the US?

If the US is your concern, then that's where you should be applying your pressure.

Embarrass Barack, shame him.

Force him to make the declaration that the US government will not seek custody of Julian Assange.

It shouldn't be that hard to do.

First and foremost, there's really nothing to prosecute Julian under in US law.

He's not a US citizen.

He broke no vow to the US government.

He broke no security clearance promise.

Barack's image in the world has taken a beating, around the globe.  It wouldn't be very hard to get a campaign going on this to apply pressure to Barack and that pressure might prove to be effective.

But instead of being logical or attempting something different, John Pilger and his cronies think if they just keep saying the same thing for years and years, keep doing the same thing, somehow something will change.

That's not logical thinking.  It's the thinking of an addict, I believe that's called "stinking thinking" and goes with the "nothing changes if nothing changes" platitude.

4) A number of e-mails note changes and shifts here and the belief that I'm preparing to go dark.

I would love to stop this site.  There have been changes and simplifications.  They're about the fact that I am tired.  But we're not going dark yet.

If other left sites were covering Iraq, maybe we could go dark.  But there are just too many liars for us to go dark.

5) Community member Tori asked what the biggest lesson for me personally was regarding Iraq.

That they all lie.  Not just politicians but so-called political leaders.

I can be really stupid and often am.

I saw this all go down before.  And I wanted to believe that that was due to personalities and not to the system itself and its inherent corruption.

But everyone wants to whine and point to Katharine Graham and how she and the Post walked away from investigative reporting and holding the powerful accountable and blah, blah, blah.

But what I saw was quite different.

Maybe because I wasn't such a dumb f**k?

I can be stupid but I never believed the press was our friend or the least bit truthful.

I've seen too many people destroyed by the press.

And I'm talking entertainment, I'm not talking a whistle blower or someone trying to change the world.

I'm talking a man or woman who wouldn't do what a studio or network wanted and they called in their chits and got all this hideous coverage on the person they wanted targeted.

I also know the natural rhythms and cycles of the press and their need for narrative which means they build you up and then they tear you down.

So this notion that the national press was some institution of trust never really sank in for me.

But the Post didn't (and doesn't) exist in a vacuum.

By that I mean, the Post (and the Times and others) were forced to do the kind of reporting they did because of the underground press.

You had an active underground press that pursued truths.

And the shock to me was seeing how quickly they sold out.

The weekly 'alt' newspapers, the magazines, The Nation, The Progressive, etc.

They were so disgusting, in fact, that it was not that hard for James Weinstein to raise funds in the mid-70s to start In These Times.

In These Times was a reaction to the mainstreaming and centering of other left and 'left' political journals and magazines.  (David Sirota has many faults -- as do I -- but his work at In These Times has an awareness that harkens to the best of the magazine's past.)

Elaine remembers that period very well.  And she kept telling me (in the early years of the Iraq War), "You're going to be so disappointed."  She also got me to stop donating.  And she was right, they used Iraq to make money and then they went to their whoring.

They were supposedly appalled by war, used that claim to back Barack in 2007 and 2008, and then ignored Barack's wars.

They're whores.

6) tries so hard and you're so mean to them!

I don't believe I've ever ignored a request to link to an article of's.

My job is not to beg to be in the circle jerk.

I am an independent voice and I'm a critic.

I don't play favorites.

I gave David Sirota a compliment above.

I've done that before.

I'll do it again.

All community members know this and a lot of readers and drive-bys do to: David Sirota threatened to sue this website.

He had no grounds for it but you don't need ground to sue.

I saw a little lawyer on the tube
He said "It's so easy now anyone can sue"
"Let me show you how your petty aggravations can profit you!"
Call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence
-- "The Three Great Stimulants," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on Dog Eat Dog.

David wrote a column attacking a woman's understanding (did someone just say, "naturally" -- yes, he has an earned a certain image).  The woman was anti-war and the mother of an Iraq War veteran.

And David wrote a column 'correcting' her understanding of a member of Congress.  Tina's understanding was correct and, more to the point, David left out that he used to work for the member of Congress.

That's the sort of disclosure you're supposed to make.

That's the kind of accountability we demand at this site.

David didn't like being called out and had a hissy fit in an e-mail.  He didn't follow up on his threats (to his credit, he had more sense when he was calm).

To this day when I give David a compliment here, I get angry e-mails -- from community members!

He threatened to sue!

Yeah, he did.

And we replied to him here and it wasn't really that big of a deal.

If we're going to be fair, if he has something of value -- and he does more often than not -- then he should get credit for that.

I am wary of him because come election years he tends to lose his spine and cheerlead the Democratic party blindly.

I hope that doesn't happen in 2016.

But I don't carry a grudge against him.  I don't even dislike him.

I dislike when he attacks Tina Richards.

But if he were to write something on Iraq, we'd be happy to link.

I don't dislike Justin Raimondo or Jason Ditz.  (I do dislike Scott Horton.)  I don't play like the 'media critics' of FAIR.  If you're wrong, I'm calling you out.  I don't care if you're on 'my side' or not.

We highlight Raimondo and Ditz.  We don't highlight Horton, "ya'll."  I can't take his pompous voice.  I can't take his stupidity.

Specifically, he spent Nouri al-Maliki's second term as prime minister selling Nouri as a groovy guy.  Nouri is a thug and he did real and lasting damage to Iraq.

7) We defended an Iraqi woman throughout the week.  She and her child (or three children -- details vary) were kidnapped by the Lebanese military with the assistance of the CIA.

She may be the wife of a terrorist -- some have her married for a few months to him several years ago!

She may be the sister of a terrorist -- some say she was never married to the terrorist in question!

She may be related to no terrorists.

It doesn't matter to me.

What matters is that she needs to be let go and the US government should never be involved in kidnapping family members of suspects or in plans to use the kidnapped person or persons as "bargaining chips."

A number of concerned e-mails came in cautioning me I could get "burned" on this.

The woman might be a terrorist!

She might be.

She might not be.

What we know currently demands that people stand up for the woman the press says is Saja al-Dulaimi.

Now no one wants to.

The Iraqi woman has been left on her own.

The Center for Constitutional Rights won't say a damn thing in her defense nor will Amnesty.

Feminists should damn well be speaking up because this is a woman being targeted and kidnapped because of her alleged relationship to a man (either a husband -- ex or current -- or a brother) and not for anything she herself is accused of.

And certainly if Off Our Back was still around, someone might speak up.

But Women's Media Center is a joke, a bordello of whores who can't stand up for anything so don't look for the 'brave' Gloria Steinem to ever speak up.  She'll play the victim till her dying days -- which can't come soon enough when you consider all the mess the feminist movement will have to clean up due to Gloria's various lies over the years.

I'll stand up for the woman.

I don't give a damn about 'credibility' of if I get burned.

A woman and her child (or children) have been kidnapped to be used as bargaining chips.

We supposedly deplore that in the United States.

Yet our government is involved in this kidnapping.

I'm sorry, I'm not a whore like Gloria.

I would never lie and swear to Sondra Locke, for example, that I'd help her in lawsuit against Clint Eastwood and then spend all my time avoiding her calls because Maria Shriver asked me to.

The woman needs to be defended.

I'll defend her.

It's not open to debate.

Thank you for your concern, but no woman should be kidnapped by a terrorist group or government (or terrorist government) to be used as a bargaining chip.

It's wrong no matter who does it and I'll speak out.

There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4494.

The following community sites -- plus Susan's On the Edge, PBS' The NewsHour, Jody Watley and Chocolate City -- updated:

  • Naive Woman
    15 hours ago 

  • In Tuesday's Iraq snapshot, the following appeared:

    Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  We'll close with this from Bacon's photo essay "FIESTA IN SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE - DANCERS"

    SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE (9/29/14) -- For three days during the town fiesta of San Miguel de Allende indigenous dance groups converge here, and dance through the streets from morning until late at night.  Costumes celebrate everything from religious symbols to mythologized history to a common bond with the culture of native peoples north of the U.S. border.  Almost 40% of San Miguel residents are Otomi and 20% Nahua, but the dances are performed by groups from all over Mexico.

    Indigenous people in Izcuinapan, the original native community located here, had a long history of resistance to the Spanish colonizers.  Guamare and Chichimeca people attacked the first Spanish settlement, and the Spanish viceroy was eventually forced to recognize a limited independence for the indigenous people here. 

    We'll note Bacon's photo essay again but I can't find it online currently.  When we note it again, we'll include a link.  (You can also try Googling and might have more luck than I have.)  For more on David Bacon see:

    THE REALITY CHECK - David Bacon blog

    EN LOS CAMPOS DEL NORTE:  Farm worker photographs on the U.S./Mexico border wall
    Youtube interview about the show with Alfonso Caraveo (Spanish)

    The Real News:  Putting off Immigration Reform Angers Grassroots Activists

    David Bacon Interviews Dyanna Taylor, Granddaughter of Documentary Photographer Dorothea Lange

    David Bacon radio review of the movie, Cesar Chavez

    Interviews with David Bacon about his new book, The Right to Stay Home:

    Book TV: A presentation of the ideas in The Right to Stay Home at the CUNY Graduate Center

    KPFK - Uprisings with Sonali Kohatkar

    KPFA - Upfront with Brian Edwards Tiekert

    Photoessay:  My Studio is the Street

    Photoessay:  Mexico City marches against NAFTA and to protect its oil and electricity

    Nativo Lopez dialogues with David Bacon on Radio Hermandad

    The Real News:  Immigration Reform Requires Dismantling NAFTA and Respecting Migrants' Rights/ Immigrant Communities Resist Deportations

    Click here to see the photo essay in full.  Between attending Congressional hearings and speaking events I did not have time until today to search for it again, my apologies.

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Friday, December 05, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, December 5, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the persecution of Sunnis continue, the US Senate explores the costs for the VA of treating hepatitis C, and much more.

    "It is estimated that the VA will spend $1.3 billion over the next two years just on this hepatitis C treatment," Senator Mazie Hirono declared at Wednesday's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

    The issue was hepatitis C in the veterans community.  And it was one of two hearings the Senate committee held this week in the final month of the Committee.  Next January, new senators take office and the Senate will be under Republican control.  Longterm Ranking Member Richard Burr should transition over to Committee Chair with current Chair Bernie Sanders transferring to Ranking Member.

    Democrats have controlled the Senate since the results of the November 2006 mid-terms.

    During that time, Daniel Akaka and Patty Murray have been Committee Chair and now Vermont's Bernie Sanders.

    A very wealthy corporation, Giliad, is getting extremely rich off the price of medications.  They refused to attend the hearing,

    Committee Chair Bernie Sanders:  Prior to the developments of the new drugs from Giliad, the primary method for treating Hepatitis C was interferon -- an injectible medicine that has many side effects that are terribly painful for many patients.  Additionally, many patients required additional intervention including liver transplants.  These treatments were expensive.  According to research by Dr. John Gaetano of the University of Chicago who has special expertise in hepatitis, it is estimated the costs for a person with liver damage over a ten year period can exceed $270,000 and the average liver transplant in 2011 cost $577,100.  This brings us to the purpose of today's hearing -- the new treatments for Hepatitis C now on the market and the exorbitant price tag associated with them.  Gilead, the manufacturer of Sovaldi, is selling the drug at an astounding price of $84,000 for a twelve-week course of treatment, or about $1,000 per pill.  I had invited Gilead to testify today.  I had hoped they could share their perspective on the cost of their new hepatitis C drugs.  Maybe they could have explained to this Committee why they believe their pricing is fair and reasonable.  But unfortunately they declined our invitation because all of their executives who could have spoken on this issue are traveling internationally.  Just like any for-profit company, drug companies charge what they think the market will bear.  Gilead clearly made the calculation that they could charge excessive prices for this groundbreaking drug and that the federal government would pay.  And I get it -- companies are motivated to make a profit.  But Gilead is making profits in spades.  They purchased Pharmasset -- the original developers of Sovaldi -- for $11 billion and, according to some estimates, are expected to make more than $200 billion on the sales of the drug.  With numbers like these, we're not talking about a company looking to make ends meet -- or even fund their next great medical breakthrough.  So we must ask, how much is too much?

    The issue of cost was at the heart of the hearing which consisted of two panels. The first panel was composed of the VA's Chief Consultant on Pharmacy Benefits Michael Valentino and the Director of HIV, Hepatitis C and Public Health Pathogens Programs Dr. David Ross.  The second panel was the president of Public Citizen Robert Weissman and the National Coalition on Health Care president John Rother.

    Senator Hirono insisted the current spending on hepatitis C was "not sustainable.  It will strain VA resources at a time when veterans are increasing in number and complexity of conditions."

    Her concerns included that hepatitis C was "three times higher" in the veteran population than in "the general population" and that "many people infected are unaware that they have it."  She also noted that 35 patients at Hawai's VA -- Hirono's home state -- have benefited from the new treatments.

    But the new treatments, from Giliad, are very expensive.

    Chair Bernie Sanders: Very interestingly, and maybe we can explore this in the second panel, Giliad is making this drug available to countries like Egypt which have a very serious problem with hepatitis C, my understanding and please correct me if I'm wrong, that they are selling -- in this country, they are selling the product for $1000 a pill, in Egypt it is a few dollars a pill. Is that correct?  Do you know anything about that?

    Dr Michael Valentino: I personally don't.  Dr. Ross might.

    Chair Bernie Sanders: Dr. Ross, are you aware of that?

    Dr. David Ross: I-I --

    Chair Bernie Sanders: My understanding is it's ten dollars a pill.

    Dr. David Ross:  I-I couldn't speak to the specifics of that.

    Chair Bernie Sanders: Okay, we'll get more into that in the second panel.  Why do you think it's the case that they're selling it to a general American consumer who walks in for a thousand, they're selling it to a huge federal agency -- the VA, which treats more hepatitis patients than anyone else in the country -- at $540 but they're selling it in Egypt for $10?  How come they negotiated a better price than you did?

    Dr. Michael Valentino:  I can't answer that question. I don't know what Giliad's business model is.  I don't know how that was able to -- able to be achieved.  Uhm, you know those -- A lot of other countries have different regulatory processes.

    Chair Bernie Sanders:  They sure do. Which results in the United States paying the highest prices of all in the world for prescription drugs.  And this may be outside your portfolio in a sense but if the VA is going to spend -- I mean, we have a deficit and some of my colleagues don't like spending a whole lot of money on things -- if the VA is spending billions of dollars -- 1.3 now and maybe more later -- to treat one illness, is it fair to suggest that that will mean that we have less money available to take care of veterans needs in other areas?  Is that a fair supposition?

    Dr. Michael Valentino: Well, we did -- we did ask for more money and-and-and so, uhm, VA is undergoing a lot of changes right now with, uh, --

    Chair Bernie Sanders:  All that I'm asking, which I think is pretty common sense.  I mean there's a limit to how much -- I'm a strong supporter of the VA, would like to put more money into the VA, but there's a limit to what can be done.  All that I'm saying is that if you're spending billions of dollars in one area, common sense suggests that we may not be able to spend in others.  That may be a fair supposition?

    Dr. Michael Valentino:  I would not disagree with that.

    Nor on the second panel did John Rother.

    This is not just a matter of a thousand dollars a pill.  This is a matter primarily of a drug that is potentially beneficial to three to five million people so it's not an orphan drug at all.  It's a drug that would be appropriate for a large number of Americans.  And, uh, the problem is the total cost of treatment, not so much the individual pill price. Inevitably as you suggest -- as your question earlier suggested, this kind of costs is going to force trade offs with other necessary treatment within the VA, within Medicaid, within prisons, within private health insurance.  We are seeing this every day today.  And, uh, it's-it's a deep concern because in many cases the services not delivered are the very preventative services that have the greatest return on investment and if we neglect those than we are just making the problem more difficult down the road. 

    Let's stay with the first panel to note an exchange covering a few basics on hepatitis C.

    Senator Mazie Hirono:  I think my series of questions deals with whether the marketplace really can -- is operating in a way where there really is more competition for different kinds of treatments that are effective and much less costly though is there a way to prevent hepatitis C?  Because once one is infected, there is a progression to the disease.  So what are we doing on the prevention side?

    Dr. David Ross: Briefly, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.  Transmission for most people occurred decades ago. There are about 20,000 or so new infections a year.  The number is actually going up -- almost entirely because of the sharing of needles from injection drug users.  So thinks that we are doing within VA is to -- and this is done within hepatitis C care -- help people with substance abuse disorders.  We also are doing things -- and again this is integrated with their medical care to try and reduce exposures that could also damage the liver -- particularly thinking of alcohol abuse.  And an integrated care approach is much more effective at getting people ready for treatment.  One brief anecdote, I have a patient who I saw yesterday who I started on methadone maintenance about six months ago and he is now ready for treatment. In other words he'll be able to reliably take the pills 

    Senator Mazie Hirono:  So these prevention  methods that you are utilizing do they -- are they working?  I realize it's not that easy to determine whether something that you're doing is actually preventing --

    Dr. David Ross:  I-I-I think yes.  I think the-the-the-the -- It's a matter of keeping people from getting it in the first place but it's also a question of getting people ready for treatment.  We're -- What we've done in VA has shown that if you take people who have these barriers to treatment because of other diseases -- frequently substance abuse or alcohol abuse -- and you give them integrated psycho-social care in the same clinic -- this is what has worked at Minneapolis VA and I should mention this is what was done at the Matsunaga VA in Honolulu -- they are more likely to complete therapy and be cured than people who don't have those problems in the first place would be who don't get that kind of supportive care.

    But for most Americans with hepatitis C, the costs for the needed treatment are too high.

    It doesn't have to be that way, as Robert Weismann explained:

    Now some have held out hope that new treatments will lead to price competition or that hard bargaining by payers -- of which the VA is the best -- will be able to yield sufficient price reductions and I think that's misguided.  Based on prior experience, new drugs don't necessarily come in at a lower price.  In fact, they often come in at a higher price.  In general, brand name competitors try not to compete on price.  And when you have a starting point price of $84000 even if we have substantial reductions in price due to negotiations we're still going to be stuck with a super high price just because the starting point was so high.  However, we do have solutions available to us and really fundamental solutions. Now we should say -- I think it's correct, everything you say, Senator Burr about both the importance of innovation and looking at government policy.  The reason for this price level -- as both of you asked -- is a single thing which is Giliad has a monopoly.  Giliad doesn't have a market created monopoly, they've got a government granted monopoly, a patent monopoly, a monopoly that comes from other exclusivities. If we choose to address that monopoly through government policy -- since We The People gave the monopoly in the first place -- we can bring the price down.  And we know we can bring it down to less than 1% -- at least at the manufacturing level -- leaving aside whatever fair compensation we need to pay to Giliad because of the price reductions that already exist in developing countries as you referenced, Senator Sanders. Two methodologies we might pursue to reduce price.  One. we might have just government use of the product -- government use of the patent and other technologies -- in that case we could source the product to generic competitors and pay Giliad a royalty.  If we pay Giliad a royalty of five thousand dollars per patient, we'd actually still have cut the price overall by 90%.  We've got existing staturoty atuhority to do that under 28 USC Section 1498.  A different approach might be to look to buy out Giliad's patent all together.  We could do that in one way which would be to say we're just going to give Giliad as much money as we anticipate the company will make by virtue of it's patent monopoly.  Why would we do that?  Well we'd do that because we're already going to pay them that much money but we could then provide treatment to everyone whereas under the current system we're going to pay all that money and have rationing.  Now I wouldn't advocate doing that.  I think we can adjust down significantly what we would pay for a patent buyout but it is another method we might consider to provide treatment for all.

    Staying with the US Senate, Michael McAuliff (Huffington Post) reports:

    Many members of Congress have been seeking a debate and vote on the president's military actions in Iraq and Syria, but a new letter being sent Friday by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) marks the strongest demand yet from the left that Obama request explicit authority for the fight.
    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called repeatedly on Obama to make such a request, but has rebuffed members of his own caucus, as well as Democrats who think Congress should take matters into its own hands rather than let the White House proceed as it wishes.
    Baldwin and Schatz agree with most members of Congress and the administration that the Islamic State threatens U.S. interests, but argue that Obama should stop dithering.

    Wow.  Tammy Baldwin.

    Remember when she was the great 'progressive' hope.  Now she's demanding a vote on the never-ending war's latest phase -- not to stop it -- but to make it legal.

    What a proud moment for her.

    And for Matthew Rothschild who promoted her non-stop.

    When she was in the House, Baldwin was against the Iraq War, voted against it in 2002.

    So she's against war -- when a Republican's in the White House.

    I guess it could be worse.  She could be only a lesbian when Republicans were in the White House.  At least she sticks with something regardless of who's in the White House.

    While Tammy Baldwin goes coo-coo for war, Theo Sitther (The Hill) explains what could really help Iraq:

    Instead of continuing to prioritize a military-first approach to addressing a crisis that is inherently rooted in political and economic grievances, Congress and the administration should get beyond platitudes and invest in Iraq’s people by helping to build an inclusive, non-sectarian government.   
    It is important to take a long view. The building of open and free democratic states that truly serve the needs of their citizens is a long-term process. It is a process of working to understand the cultural, religious, and political contexts and basing any intervention on that knowledge.
    But unfortunately, the President’s FY 2015 request for U.S. civilian programs in Iraq goes in the opposite direction. It cuts USAID commitments by 69 percent from 2013 levels with a meager $22.5 million for long-term economic development, support for Iraqi civil society, and governance programs. While the Senate Appropriations Committee’s markup of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill increased this number to $50 million, it remains vastly inadequate compared to the needs on the ground.

    Barack repeatedly stated that the only answer for Iraq was a "political solution." But those were apparently just more empty words, pretty lies from someone who's offered so many.

    The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in '68
    And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
    Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
    You laugh he said you think you're immune
    Go look at your eyes they're full of moon
    You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
    All those pretty lies pretty lies
    When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
    Only pretty lies just pretty lies

    -- "The Last Time I Saw Richard," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on Blue

    Pretty lies let Shi'ite militias terrorize Sunnis in Iraq all while everyone pretends a new day has dawned with a new prime minister (Haider al-Abadi).  Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan (Wall Street Journal) report:

    Shiite militia leaders say their recent successes reflect their holy warrior zeal, superior training compared with Iraqi government troops, less corruption in the ranks and freedom from the legal, bureaucratic and human-rights restrictions on regular Iraqi forces. But some Sunni politicians, tribal leaders and human-rights advocates are worried that the take-no-prisoners tactics of many militia groups are turning them into a mirror image of the Sunni jihadists fighting on behalf of Islamic State.
    Militia groups have been accused of a plethora of human-rights violations, including mass shootings of prisoners and Sunni civilians and the forced displacement of Sunni families on a scale approaching ethnic cleansing.

    Shiite fighters boast about executing enemy soldiers after they surrender. In Jurf al-Sakher, some Al Qara’a members hurried out of a meeting with a reporter for The Wall Street Journal to deliver the severed head of an Islamic State fighter to relatives of a slain militia member before his funeral ended.

    Shi'ite militia groups terrorize Iraq and everyone looks the other way.

    Sunnis are terrorized still in Iraq.  And the 'new' government?

    It's made clear that Sunnis are still targets.

    Let's drop back to the December 30, 2013 snapshot:

    Sunday, December 22nd, Nouri yet again called peaceful protesters 'terrorists' and announced he would stop the protests.

    He wanted to attack last Tuesday but a last minute flurry of meetings by various officials and political blocs caused Nouri to withdraw the forces he had encircling the Ramadi protest square.  Then came Friday.  From that day's snapshot:

    Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports Nouri al-Maliki again threatened the protesters today.  He declared this will be their last Friday protest and that he will burn the tents in the protest squares down.  He declared that the protesters were guilty of sedition.  Sedition?  Nouri as William Bligh?  I can see it.  Kitabat notes that he made these remarks in a televised interview.  Kitabat also notes Nouri's been insisting 30 terrorist leaders are hiding in protest tents.  

    We still can't get to today yet.

    That's Falluja on Saturday as tons poured into the street to protest Nouri's latest stunt.

    They were protesting the Saturday dawn raid that Nouri's forces carried out on an MP.  MP Ahmed al-Alwani was illegally arrested.  But there's more.  Alsumaria reported that his home was stormed by Nouri's SWAT forces at dawn and that 5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.

    By now, we all know the drill.

    What is al-Alwani?

    Yes, he's Sunni.

    And he's also, we all know this, a member of Iraqiya.

    If you're targeted by Nouri, then you are both things.

    Or, as conservative Max Boot (Commentary) put it today, "If it’s the end of December or the beginning of January, it must be time for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest another prominent Sunni politician."

    The people of Anbar did not respond well to Nouri breaking the law and arresting an MP.

    That was 'old' Iraq.  Let's go to the November 24th snapshot:

    Today,  All Iraq News reports it's been decided to put former MP Ahmed al-Alwani to death.  He was arrested December 29, 2013 the outlet notes.  His brother was killed in the arrest ordered by thug Nouri al-Maliki, an arrest that was actually a raid in the early, pre-dawn hours of the morning.
    This will have huge implications.
    For example, the tribe he belongs to is one of the key tribes in the fight against the Islamic State. Equally true, his arrest (and the murder of his brother) outraged the Sunni community.
    This is the wrong time to be  executing a Sunni politician -- with the new prime minister Haider al-Abaidi having done nothing of significance to improve Sunni relations or to include them in the government.

    It's not a good time for that stunt.

    Thursay, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) observed:

    The fact that some Sunni Muslim tribes had joined with the mostly Shiite Muslim Iraqi army seemed to be good news for the country. It’s well acknowledged that in order for Iraq to resolve the current security crisis, sectarian and ethnic rifts must be healed and in areas held by the IS group, which are home to a mainly Sunni Muslim population, it is the locals – Sunni Muslims - who must push the extremists out.

    But almost immediately there was bad news from Baghdad that seemed to negate the good. It also the dispirited Sunni Muslim tribal leaders who had been fighting the IS group. The news: the Iraqi judiciary had issued a death sentence against a prominent Sunni Muslim MP, Ahmed al-Alwani.

    As the BBC reported at the time of his arrest in December 2013, al-Alwani had backed Sunni Muslim protests against the government led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Alwani was arrested on charges of terrorism and his capture in Ramadi, after a deadly gunfight, was part of the reason that protests in the area became more heated and violent.

    “This verdict is like a knife in our backs from the Iraqi government,” one of the leaders of the al-Bu Ulwan tribe, Hazem al-Alwani, told NIQASH. “The sons of my tribe have been fighting against the IS group for days, helping the Iraqi security forces to prevent Ramadi from falling.”

    The case against al-Alwani has been widely criticised. Amnesty International released a statement declaring that the trial had had many irregularities, with al-Alwani denied access to his lawyer and his family, among other things.

    The verdict had been postponed previously and now, Hazem al-Alwani thought, the timing of the announcement of a death penalty was strange. “I don’t believe it is a coincidence,” he said. “It seems that there are certain political actors that do not want the Sunni Muslim tribes in Anbar to play any role in the fight against the IS group.”

    Haider al-Abadi has still done nothing to demonstrate to Sunnis that there's a 'new' Iraq or that they'll be included and welcomed.  He did promise, September 13, 2014, that the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods would stop.

    Those bombings never stopped.

    Those bombings continue and continue to wound and kill Sunni civilians.

    Where's that political solution, Barack?

    Let's note this from Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports):

    “Aside from setting broad priorities, there’s no plan, no indication of progress, no measures of effectiveness,” says Anthony Cordesman, a former State Department and Pentagon official who regularly advises leaders in both departments. The Obama administration tends to take too long to adopt serious military advice, he says.
    “Events and reality certainly have to shape strategy,” says Cordesman, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But if you don’t have a strategy and clear plans, you lack the ability to shape events.” 

    Barack has no plan.  Despite this, Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) quotes Barry O insisting  "slow but steady progress"  was taking place.

    Al Arabiya notes, "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has executed three Iraqi tribal leaders outside a government building in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights reported on Friday."  Margaret Griffis ( counts 65 dead in Iraq today from violence.

    In the United States IAVA's Paul Reickhoff Tweets a movie review:

  • . is for Iraq what Platoon & Full Metal Jacket were for Vietnam. It's soaringly heroic & terribly tragic. Just like the war.
  • Just saw an advanced screening of . It's an instant classic war movie. And the defining film of the Iraq war so far.

  • American Sniper is the new film directed by Clint Eastwood starring Bradley Cooper.  We'll close with this from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

    Washington D.C. (December 5, 2014) – Today, President Obama announced Ashton Carter as his nominee for Secretary of the Department of Defense (DoD). Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and families, welcomed the nomination. Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and Founder, was at the White House today for the announcement at the invitation of the President.
    “IAVA congratulates Ashton Carter on his nomination as Defense Secretary,” said Rieckhoff. “Carter has proven to be an advocate for both active-duty servicemembers and veterans. With his breadth of experience at the Pentagon, we trust that Carter is prepared to meet the unique demands of today’s national security challenges.
    “Carter returns to the Pentagon at a critical time. As conflict continues in the Middle East and more troops are sent into combat, our country must remember to care for the veterans we are still welcoming home. IAVA looks forward to our continued partnership with the Pentagon on critical issues such as combating suicide and improving access to quality mental health care. We hope Carter will continue to engage the veteran community with the same drive and passion as Secretary Chuck Hagel.”

    Since the beginning of 2014 IAVA has been calling on DoD, Congress, the White House and the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the veteran suicide crisis. IAVA veteran members delivered a petition to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday calling on him to bring the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill to the Senate floor before Congress adjourns next week. The bill, named after Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Clay Hunt, a Marine who died by suicide in 2011, will help combat veteran suicide and improve access to quality mental health care. Hunt’s mother, Susan Selke, recently met with DoD officials to press for veteran mental health care reforms and to garner their support of the Clay Hunt bill.

    IAVA's Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff and Political Director Bill Rausch visit the White House for the President's announcement of new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

    IAVA’s Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff (right) and Political Director 
    Bill Rausch (left) visit the White House for the President’s announcement of 
     new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak 
    with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the 
     nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing 
    veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member 
    Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 
    10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the 
    highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, 
    America's largest charity evaluator.

    Thug Nouri forced to flee Lebanon

    Nouri al-Maliki is the forever thug but former prime minister of Iraq who led the country into disarray and further violence by devoting his second term to targeting women, targeting Iraq's LGBTQ community, targeting religious minorities, targeting Sunnis and Kurds as well as Shi'ites who wouldn't worship him . . . 

    Pretty much everyone who wasn't named "al-Maliki" was a target.

    (In the summer of 2010, that even included his own Dawa political party.)

    He hid his wife away because, some say, she was to much the visible expression of modernity at a time when he was courting Shi'ite fanatics bent on returning Iraq to an ancient past.  He hid his wife away, because, others say, he was embarrassed by her and didn't feel she had the 'beauty' required to be the wife of a prime minister.  He hid his wife away, still others say, because he was so busy with prostitutes and mistresses as he carried on a life Shi'ite fanatics who supported him would be forced to term "immoral."

    Rumors never stop swirling around the man Bully Boy Bush forced off on Iraq in 2006 and that Barack insisted they suffer through for another four years in 2010.

    Though many hoped the gallows immediately awaited Nouri as he was forced out of the post of prime minister, he instead became one of Iraq's three vice presidents.

    This have left many to console themselves with the parody Arabic website that purports to be the online diary of Ahmed al-Maliki, the corrupt son of Nouri.  On the website, 'Ahmed' recounts one near death experience after another as he repeatedly almost chokes while going down on this man or that man.

    But this week, it was more than parody sites filling those with a taste for justice with glee.

    As Vice President Ayad Allawi met with various regional leaders, Nouri realized his sniping of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's meet up with leaders from Qatar and elsewhere just wasn't cutting it.

    So he embarked on a whirlwind diplomatic tour of the region that ended sourly in Lebanon.

    Iraq Times reports Nouri had to high tail it out of the country when he learned that an arrest warrant for his terrorist actions prior to becoming prime minister. Nouri took part in attacks on US facilities and Americans, yes.  But he did so much more in his many years in cowardly exile as he waited for someone to remove Saddam Hussein so he could return to Iraq.

    Nouri's bombings in Beirut are the subject of the arrest warrant.

    When his security detail was tipped off that the warrant was actually going to be executed, they whisked Nouri quickly from the country.

    Nouri's embrace of terrorism throughout the 80s and the 90s should have given the US government pause about installing him in the first place.

    But his well known paranoia was seen as a plus and an easy way to control him.

    The end result is that two different administrations installed Nouri -- one Republican and one Democrat.

    Both saw a terrorist as the 'answer' for Iraq.

    And that goes a long, long way towards explaining why things went from awful to even worse during Nouri's second term.

    The following community sites -- plus --  updated:


  •  Plus Kat's "The never-ending sexism of NPR" which isn't showing up. 

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Thursday, December 04, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Thursday, December 4, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, yes -- Virginia -- US papers do print astroturf,  a few North American idiots continue to insist that US troops are out of Iraq -- this despite the fact that 3 US service members have been killed in the last two months, the US House of Representatives embraces eternal war on Iraq,  and much more.

    In one for Ripley's, Jean Sellmeyer Smith of Crowley has become the first person on the planet to prove it is possible to live without a brian.  Sellmeyer Smith managed this achievement and even documented it via a letter to the editors of the Advertiser.

    Let's now quote from the historic document, "Our soldiers are home from Iraq. . ."

    Sellmeyer Smith composed the letter after apparent non-stop exposure to the propaganda of MSNBC.

    While proving it is capable to live without a brain, Sellmeyer Smith has also provided hours of laughter with her idiotic claim which was published on the same day as the Associated Press reported:

    The US has reached an agreement with Iraq on privileges and immunities for the growing number of troops based in the country, helping in the fight against the Islamic State (Isis) militant group, the new US ambassador said on Thursday.
    Stuart Jones said prime minister Haider al-Abadi has given assurances that US troops will receive immunity from prosecution.

    Reached for comment, Sellmeyer Smith reportedly responded, "What do you expect from me, I'm just a mindless zombie in the Cult of St. Barack."

    Being a zombie is being bit of whore.  You whore whatever's left of your name, sacrifice it on the temple alter to Barack Obama.  Being whores, people like Sellmeyer Smith?

    They put their dirty, trashy name to anything.

    That's how Sellmeyer Smith came to write:

    Our soldiers are home from Iraq; Osama bin Laden is dead. In sharp contrast to the Bush years, the United States again leads the world in respected internationality.

    That's how she came to write it a month after the editor of the Pekin Daily Times, Amy Gehrt, quoted Richard Brunt writing:

    America is leading the world once again and respected internationally — in sharp contrast to the Bush years. Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden.

    Oh, I get it, you take the first sentence and make it the second one and you change the second one from "America" to "United States" and then, presto, it's almost as if you're plagiarized words were your own?

    What is it?

    It's Astroturf. (And the Shreveport Times printed the letter at the end of last month.  The exact same letter.)

    We used to mock, on the left we did, all the crazy love slaves of Bully Boy Bush who used to copy and paste the same sentiments and send them out to newspapers across the land.

    Like a nasty venereal disease, Astroturf has spread to the segments of the left -- the brain dead and whorish segments.

    In the November 10, 2014 Iraq snapshot, we dealt with Richard Brunt's lies about US troops being out of Iraq:

    Well just because you're letting the precum pool in your pants doesn't mean you need to share your erotic fantasies with the rest of us.

    Brunt's so busy jizzing while moaning Barack, he actually writes, "Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq."


    For example, he brought these two home last month -- in body bags.

    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 month, he was reclassified as the first death in 'Operation Inherent Resolve.'

    Apparently, Brunt's been too busy jacking off to light bondage fantasies of Barack disciplining him to pay attention to actual events in the real world -- including the fact that 'Operation Inherent Resolve' has already claimed the lives of 2 American service members.

    Jean Sellmeyer Smith is actually a bigger idiot and a bigger whore than Brunt.  When he wrote his bulls**t, those two were the only US service members dead in the latest phase of the never ending war.

    But this week, DoD issued the following:


    Release No: NR-599-14
    December 02, 2014

    DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty

      The Department of Defense announced today the death of an Airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
    Capt. William H. DuBois, 30, of New Castle, Colorado, died Dec. 1 when his F-16 aircraft crashed near a coalition air base in the Middle East. He was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

    For more information media may contact the 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office at 803-895-2019.  

    In the early days of the Iraq War, I used to be left dumbfounded by the whorish efforts of Bully Boy Bush's love slaves to ignore reality in order to pimp their lover boy.

    The Cult of St. Barack is no different.

    They will whore.

    They will lie.

    They will look the other way.

    Anything to avoid calling out Barack.

    Barack Obama's time as president has demonstrated whorishness exists on all sides of the political spectrum.  Long gone (and buried) are the days when I could kid myself that being on the left was a sign that we were smarter.

    Moving over to violence in Iraq, Middle East Eye notes, "A car bomb blast in Iraq’s northern Kirkuk province has killed at least 18 people, according to security officials" with twenty-two more people left wounded.  Al Jazeera adds, "At least 16 people have been killed in two car bombs that went off in the Sadr district of Iraq's capital Baghdad, officials said."  National Iraqi News Agency reports 4 people were shot dead "southwest of Baghdad" by assailants "riding in a taxi," the Islamic State executed 1 police officer in Mosul, south of Tirkit an attack on a car left 4 people shot dead and a fifth injured, 6 militia members were killed in a Baiji battle with the Islamic State, 3 musicians were executed in Mosul, a Miqdadiya battled left 5 militants dead, the "international coalition" dropped bombs on western Anbar resulting in an alleged 23 deaths -- all of whom, of course, must have been 'terrorists' because the US government does not acknowledge killing civilians in Iraq, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in the streets of eastern Baghdad. Iraqi Spring MC notes that a bombing near the entrance to Baghdad's Green Zone has resulted in the closure of bridges.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 139 people killed in violence across Iraq today and 116 were left injured.

    Iraqi Spring MC reports that the Iraqi military has bombed Falluja General Hospital and that the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods -- by the Iraqi military -- and, yes, this remains a War Crime -- resulted in the deaths of 15 civilians with eleven more left injured.

    It was September 13th that the new prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced these bombings were over, finished.  But the reality is they never stopped.

    So either al-Abadi didn't really give the order to stop these ongoing bombings (which started in January of this year) or the Iraqi military in Anbar is refusing to take orders from him.

    Like the violence, corruption continues to thrive in Iraq.  NINA reports that MP Majda al-Tamimi, who serves on Parliament's Finance Committee, has declared that they are reviewing 9,000 governemtn projects from 2004 to the present for any corruption and that any people found guilty of "the theft of public money" should be prosecuted and held accountable.

    NINA also reports, "Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi issued on Tuesday an order includes speeding up the release of detainees to whom court orders were issued for their release "

    That might mean something if anyone could believe it.

    But when you announce that you're going to do the right thing and stop the ongoing bombings of civilians in Falluja -- punishing for where they live -- and you don't?

     Let's move over to today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by Marie Harf.

    QUESTION: Yes. Can we go to Syria/Iraq/ISIL?

    MS. HARF: We can.

    QUESTION: There was apparently some activity on the Hill this morning, and Senator Menendez put on hold a possible vote on use of military force.

    MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: And he said that he’s keen on listening to Secretary Kerry next week.

    MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: So is the Secretary going to go to the Hill tomorrow morning – Monday morning? So --

    MS. HARF: Well, a few weeks ago, we had actually offered him to testify on this coming Monday, so we’ve had that offer on the table for a while now. We’re looking at the schedule now, given latest developments, but obviously, the Secretary is happy to engage when he can. Certainly, this is an important issue, and we’ll see if we can get something on the calendar. But we had offered this date a few weeks ago.
    Silence. Yes.

    On the US Senate, Patricia Zengerle (Reuters) reports that Senator John McCain put a block on Anthony Blinken's nomination for Deputy Secretary of State and quotes McCain declaring:

    He's totally unqualified.  [. . .] He's the guy who said we're leaving behind the richest, safest Iraq in history. Look it up

    Blinken isn't qualified.

    You can argue he was following orders but if you make that argument you also have to question his own personal ethics in following orders.

    As Iraq 's turmoil could not longer be ignored (by 2012, even the stupid should have caught on), Blinken was dispatched to Iraq regularly where he held the hand of tyrant and then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.  As one former White House official {from Barack's administration) pointed out to me earlier today, "Blinken should have been leading Maliki to a come-to-Jesus moment.  Instead, he was encouraging Maliki in his paranoia and rubber stamping Maliki's attacks on the Sunni community."

    While Blinken's nomination is currently blocked (at least for a week), in the House of Representatives today, a vote was taken on Barack's $585 billion 'defense' bill which also provides legal coverage for Barack's latest phase in the ongoing Iraq War.  300 members of Congress voted for it.

    119 voted against it.  US House Rep Walter Jones was a "no" vote and his office issued the following today:

    Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) voted against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, which cuts military benefits and provides billions of dollars in spending toward President Obama’s unconstitutional expansion of military force in Iraq and Syria.
    The NDAA for FY 2015 cuts military benefits by requiring a $3 increase in certain pharmacy co-pays and a 1 percent decrease in the housing allowance for uniformed service members.

    In addition to cuts in military benefits, the NDAA for FY 2015 also includes President Obama’s $5 billion request to fund Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.  Of that $5 billion, $3.4 billion will be used for airstrikes against ISIS and $1.6 billion will be used for training Sunni tribes and forces in Iraq.  Overall, the NDAA for FY 2015 authorizes $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere. 

    “I cannot vote for a bill that cuts military benefits while funding wars that Congress never declared,” said Congressman Jones.  Congress repeatedly authorizes spending on undeclared wars that put our troops in danger and then has the audacity to cut the benefits of those they are unconstitutionally sending overseas to fight.  It’s just not right.” 
    Congressman Jones also opposed a provision in the bill which directs the U.S. government to give away 2,300 acres in Arizona to a foreign-controlled corporation (Resolution Copper) without going through a competitive bidding process and without the approval of local native American Indian tribes who consider the land home.
    The House of Representatives passed its version of the NDAA bill in the spring, and it has been in conference with the Senate until this month. The House-Senate conference version of the NDAA was filed in the House of Representatives late on Tuesday night, and was voted on today – less than 72 hours after it was filed. Once it passes the Senate, it will be sent to President Obama for him to sign into law.

    Barack's been signing off on a lot of things.  Let's look at terrorism and hostages.  PBS' Frontline notes:

    An Al Qaeda affiliate has given the U.S. three days to meet its demands to save hostage journalist Luke Somers, once again reviving an agonizing debate: Should the U.S. meet the demands of terrorists when hostages’ lives are in danger?
    Somers, 33, was abducted in 2013 in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. In a video posted Wednesday, he says he is certain his “life is in danger” and explains that he was born in England but has American citizenship and lived in the U.S. for most of his life. The video also shows a person identified as a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula threatening to kill Somers unless the group’s demands are met.
    Watch: Al Qaeda in Yemen FRONTLINE’s 2012 investigation of a growing Al Qaeda stronghold
    The question of whether to pay ransom to win hostages’ release arose last month during a discussion about ISIS that included FRONTLINE filmmaker Martin Smith. Asked if he believes governments should pay ransom to bring kidnapped journalists home, Smith answered decisively: No.
    “I’m not trying to sound heroic or brave at all,” said Smith, who has reported extensively in Iraq. “It’s simply a risk that comes with the work. A lot of people have jobs that entail a certain amount of risk, and I accept that that’s a risk. And I believe that the payment of ransom only promotes more hostage-taking.”

    So that's a "no" then on the US government paying ransom to thugs who take hostages?

    But what about when the US government itself is the thug taking hostages?

    Yes, we're talking about the woman known as Saja al-Dulaimi, held for eleven days by the Lebanese military after she was seized with the help of the CIA and other elements of the US government.  Seized?

    The woman's accused of no crimes but the US government thought she might be "valuable" as did the Lebanese government.  Vivian Salama and Bassem Mroue (AP) do stenography to serve up this:

    If the woman is indeed al-Baghdadi's wife, she could potentially serve as a bargaining chip with Syria-based militants holding some 20 Lebanese security forces captured in a cross-border raid in August. Beirut has been under intense pressure from the families of the captured men to negotiate their release.

    Ben Hubbard and Eric Schmitt (New York Times) do only slightly better.  What's slightly better?

    They at least float US government involvement.  They also quote a Lebanese official insisting the woman is so the wife of Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi!

    Or was!

    "Lebanon’s interior minister, Nouhad Machnouk, told a local television station that Ms. Dulaimi was married to Mr. Baghdadi six years ago, but only for three months."



    So now the world's supposed to rejoice over the kidnapping of a woman who is still not accused of committing any crimes but may have, six years ago, been married,  "only for three months"!, to al-Baghdadi?

    They don't know a damn thing.

    Including the fact that it is terrorism to kidnap someone, that the rule of law is not the rule of the old west.

    The thugs here?  That would be the governments of Lebanon and the United States.

    This is not how legitimate governments are supposed to act, they are not supposed to kidnap people in order to hold them as hostages to use for later negotiations.

    BBC News via YaLibnan offers this twist:

    Late on Wednesday, Mr Machnouk told MTV that Ms Dulaimi had been traveling with two sons and a daughter when they were detained by the army two weeks ago.
    “Dulaimi is not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s wife currently. She has been married three times: first to a man from the former Iraqi regime, with whom she had two sons,” he said.
    “Six years ago she married Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for three months, and she had a daughter with him. Now, she is married to a Palestinian and she is pregnant with his child.”
    The minister added: “We conducted DNA tests on her and the daughter, which showed she was the mother of the girl, and that the girl is [Baghdadi’s] daughter, based on DNA from Baghdadi from Iraq.”

    Mr Machnouk said Ms Dulaimi’s children were staying at a care centre while she was being interrogated at the defence ministry’s headquarters.

    A woman and one or three children have been kidnapped by the governments of Lebanon and the United States with the hope that the woman can be used as a "chip" in bargaining with terrorism -- thereby making the two governments agents of terrorism themselves.

    Finally, today the US Dept of Defense issued the following:


    Release No: NR-603-14
    December 04, 2014

    Secretary Hagel Releases Progress Report to the President on Sexual Assault in the Military, Announces Four New Directives to Strengthen Department Response

      Today, Secretary Hagel released a report on the Department of Defense’s recent progress in addressing sexual assault in the military, and announced four directives to further strengthen the department’s prevention and response program.
    Sustained senior leadership engagement over the past three years – including 41 secretary of defense initiatives – has changed how the military works to prevent, respond to and effectively adjudicate sexual assault crimes.
    “Eradicating sexual assault from our ranks is not only essential to the long-term health and readiness of the force; it is also about honoring our highest commitments to protect our fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines,” Secretary Hagel said today.
    Preliminary survey data indicate that our efforts are driving progress. Service members experienced fewer sexual assaults in fiscal year 2014 than in fiscal year 2012 – an estimated 19,000, down from 26,000. Although this is a reduction, there is clearly more work to be done.
    In addition, the number of service member victims choosing to report these crimes has increased by more than 50 percent over the same period of time. This indicates an increased confidence in the department’s ability to support victims, and adjudicate these crimes.
    While signs of progress are encouraging, the mission is far from complete.
    The secretary announced today four directives intended to further improve the department’s sexual assault prevention and response programs by: (1) creating a pilot program for select installations that will customize prevention efforts (2) requiring commanders to identify and prevent retaliation, (3) training first-line supervisors to lead sexual assault and prevention programs, and (4) further publicizing resources for victims.
    “DoD will continue its strong and committed efforts to pursue comprehensive and dynamic approaches to fighting sexual assault in the military. President Obama and all of DoD’s leaders, both military and civilian, are committed to doing whatever it takes to stamp out this scourge,” said Hagel.
    The department is committed to eradicating sexual assault in the ranks, and will continue our focused, transparent, collaborative approach to further ensure that each service member is treated with dignity and respect.
    The report is available online at
    The directives are available online at
    More information about the department’s sexual assault prevention efforts can be found at
    Survivors are encouraged to contact the Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247 or visit for confidential and anonymous crisis intervention services.