Saturday, November 05, 2011






This morning the Associated Press reported that another US service member has died in Iraq with the military providing "no further details" other than that the death occurred yesterday. AFP declares, "A US soldier has been killed in northern Iraq, the US military said on Friday, the first American service member to die in an attack here since the US announced its forces would depart by year's end."
The need for a 'hook' may leave some insulted. Barack gave the announcement on October 21st. The day before, October 20th, the official Pentagon count -- a government supplied number unlike the 'dabbling' website AFP relies on (AP is the only news outlet that has done their own count throughout the war) -- was 4482 military personnel killed in the Iraq War. You'll find that same number on October 23rd. October 27th the count jumps 3 to 4485. Pfc Steven Shapiro, Sgt 1st Class David G. Robinson and Capt Shawn P.T. Charles all passed and there deaths are Iraq War deaths. Sometimes the media really really is unable to hide their desire to be war pornographers by what they emphasize and what they don't, by which deaths they think count and which ones they don't bother with. Aaron Glantz is a familiar name to the community for his coverag of Winter Soldier, the Iraq War, veterans issues and much more. He reports on Steven Shapiro's death for the Bay Citizen here. Shapiro was the first announced death after the speech. He's also from California and our governor (Jerry Brown) issued the following statement October 26th:
SACRAMENTO -- On behalf of all Californians, Governor Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro who bravely gave his life in service to our state and nation. The Governor and First Lady extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.

In memorial, Governor Brown ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol today. Pfc. Shapiro's family will receive a letter of condolence from the Governor.

Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro, 29, of Hidden Valley Lake, CA, died October 21, in Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX. Shapiro was supporting Operation New Dawn.

So the death announced today is the fourth death since Barack's speech. Today the White House issued the following:

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Upcoming Visit of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq

WASHINGTON, DC -- President Obama looks forward to welcoming Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to the White House on December 12. The two leaders will hold talks on deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq. The President honors the sacrifices and achievements of all those who have served in Iraq, and of the Iraqi people, to reach this moment full of promise for an enduring US-Iraq friendship.
Matt Spetalnick, Jeremy Pelofsky and Eric Beech (Reuters) observe, "The administration has left the door open to negotiating a military training assistance agreement after the U.S. troops leave." This is the meeting that Moqtada al-Sadr declared (last weekend) Nouri should not have.
Robert Parry. We've ignored him for some time. Today Parry again gives ammo to those who would argue AP and Newsweek parted ways with him for good reason. That was less clear when Bush was in the White House because suddenly Parry was pratically a peace nik, ready to, in the words of Melanie, "Lay down, lay down, lay it all down, let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown." "Assessing Obama's 'Peace' Moves" reads like a mix of Parry's 'greatest' hits. Sexism and hatred of Hillary expressed? Check! Fantasy passed off as fact? Check! Defense of any and all Democratic males? Check! I actually know Leon Panette and have known him for years. That hasn't meant that I haven't called him out here. But Parry's the one claiming to be a journalist? Seriously?
I don't read Charles Krauthammer and don't know how to spell his last name -- it'll be spelled correctly by the person I'm dictating this too. He is nothing in my world and I'll keep it that way. (And I'm sure I'm nothing in his and that's more than fine.) I skipped Parry's section on that columnist, the second section of his column.. If he's less than honest in that section, I wouldn't be surprised. But in the final section he wants to accuse the "neocons" (but not the neoliberals -- remember, when you whore, you get a little limited in your vision and for Parry that means forgetting all Democratic males who supported the Iraq War and/or voted for the 2002 authorization) of things like, for example, accusing others of being "disloyal or feckless." That might stand as a solid charge if Parry didn't immediately move into comparing them to Adolf Hitler. That's a really strong charge and I don't think it stands up but when you want to whine that some right-wingers are accusing Barack of losing the war and you want to act outraged by that but you also want to respond by comparing these people to Hitler, you're not going to be seen as very rational to most people. [Malou Innocent (New Jersey Star-Ledger), covering much the same ground Parry does, neither feels the need to act as if the war hawks are all on the right nor to compare opponents to "Hitler" in order to establish a solid argument.]
There are many ways that it could be argued that Barack lost the Iraq War. You may not like that, but people can feel that way and not be right wingers and not be a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. Had Barack immediately drawn the war to a close upon being sworn in -- what candidate Barack led people to believe in the tent revivals for the Cult of St. Barack -- then there would be one and only one way to argue that he lost the war: By ending it. Instead he made the decision to continue the Iraq War. And don't give the lie that he had to follow the SOFA. There was a cancellation clause in the SOFA that he could have exercised.
The thing that would make many real journalists cringe is this statement by Parry: "Finally, the President has gotten rid of many holdovers from the Bush administration, such as Robert Gates at Defense and the old high command in Iraq and Afghanistan." What? Ray Odierno remains. David Petraeus got promoted to the CIA. And Robert Gates? Barack didn't get "rid of" him, Gates left on his own. Barack wanted him to stay and, in fact, Barack was just singing Gates' praises on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last week. (And, in a senior moment, Barack forgot that Gates had left the administration while speaking to Leno.)
Robert Parry disgraced himself in 2008 and we've ignored him since then but when he comes off as crazy as he does today (including floating conspiracy theories), we call him out. For those who've forgotten his 2008 crazy, we'll drop back to "2008: The Year of Living Hormonally (Year in Review):"
In that month alone, prior to Glen Ford, she'd already offered Robert Parry, apparently enroute to the padded room he now inhabits, insisting that 'evil' Hillary would do just what her husband did because wives behave exactly like their husbands. If, indeed, that's the case, better get the Thorazine ready for Mrs. Parry. There was never an effort made by Goody to stop the foaming at the mouth Parry and say, "Hold on a second. You have spent this decade and the bulk of the nineties writing one article after another in defense of or in praise of Bill Clinton. Why are you suddenly so scared that your deranged fantasy of Hillary being just like Bill will come true?"

You don't ask those questions. To you or me, those questions may seem basic. It's not every day, for instance, that journalist Robert Parry morphs into nutty Christopher Hitchens. But what you're forgetting is that adolescence is all about recreation. It's all about finding another identity. New hair styles are tried, new clothes, new friends, it's all about reinvention. And who but a sane person would attempt to deny Bobby Parry his shot at a second adolescence? And there were so many more important questions to ask.

Is she really going out with him?
Well, there she is. Let's ask her.
Betty, is that Jimmy's ring you're wearing?
Gee, it must be great riding with him
Is he picking you up after school today?
By the way, where'd you meet him?
I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture? (yes, we see)
That's when I fell for (the leader of the pack)
-- "The Leader of the Pack," written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Shadow Morton
He's still writing as the love struck Bobby Parry. You sort of picture him penciling "BOBBY LOVES BARRY" all over his spiral notebooks.
Robert Parry may want to argue that revisionary tactics will set in on the Iraq War -- they certainly did on Vietnam -- and further argue that by calling people "Hitler," he's attempting to stop the revisionary tactics.
The Iraq War was illegal. It was built on lies and there was never a second authorization from the United Nations. It was continued with non-stop lies. And we can go into all of that and allt he damage that was done. But if we want to stop revisionary tactics from taking hold one of the first things we should probably do is not compare our political enemies to Hitler.
Kelley B. Vlahos ( runs down various Iraq remarks of those seeking the GOP's presidential nomination (only US House Rep Ron Paul favors ending the war -- excuse me, of all those running on the Republican and Democratic side, only Ron Paul favors ending the war which means no enduring occupation via the State Dept or any other US vehicle). Vlahos notes:
Critics say Republicans are digging themselves into a hole on this issue, and that might not be such a bad thing. "The polls show overwhelming opposition to the Iraq War, and if the Republicans want to say that 'Obama lost Iraq,' Lord let them," quipped Conn Hallinan, a writer for the liberal Institute for Policy Studies.
A phrase I learned to stop saying in 2008: I have never heard anything so stupid in my life.
As Democrats and Communists and Socialists in the alternative media demonstrated very quickly, the minute you say that you've never heard anything so stupid, another one pops up to pipe off something even more stupid. Conn Hallinana's remark is very, very stupid.
As we know, if we paid attention in 2007, Barack Obama stated he had no problem, even after withdrawal, sending US troops back into Iraq.
What could make US troops go back into Iraq?
Well with Samantha Power in charge, we all know the response to 'humanitarian crisis' is bombs and bullets and not aid and medicine. So should a blood bath take hold in Iraq or, more likely, should efforts be made -- strong and possibly violent efforts -- to take down the despot Nouri al-Maliki, it's possible the US would go back in. Some, like Allan Gerson (Huffington Post) feel that the most likely immediate humanitarian issue will be what happens to the Iranian dissidents who now reside in Camp Ashraf:
On Dec. 31, 2011, the day that the last American soldier is due to leave Iraq, Camp Ashraf is under orders by the Iraqi regime to close down and for its residents to be dispersed to prisons or concentration camps, or to the tender mercies of Iranian executioners. Two unprovoked armed assaults by the Iraqi Army on Camp Ashraf in 2009 and last April resulted in over forty dead and hundreds injured by Iraqi soldiers carrying US-made weapons. There is no reason to hope that the impending closure will be either peaceful or humane, despite the fact that the Ashraf residents were granted protected persons status under the Fourth Geneva Convention by the US military.
Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Ashraf residents were provided with written guarantees by US authorities that, in return for disarming voluntarily, the US would protect them. But, since early 2009, when the US handed over responsibility for the security of Camp Ashraf to Iraqi forces, that guarantee has become a cruel hoax as the Iraqi Army continues to impose a punishing blockade, depriving residents of basic services, including access to medical care.
Camp Ashraf residents were welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein in the 80s. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003, led for calls (from the US) for the residents to surrender all their weapons. They did so after being promised that the US would protect them. Bernd Debusmann (Reuters) picks up the story there:
After being vetted for possible involvement in terrorist activities, the PMOI members at Ashraf were granted "Protected Person" status under the Fourth Geneva convention and the U.S. military assumed control of the camp. That was a bizarre twist even by the standards of the Middle East because the PMOI remained on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations.
American protection of the camp ended in January 2009, when the U.S. transferred control to the Iraqi government. According to testimony to a Congressional hearing, that transfer followed an explicit and written assurance by the Iraqi government that it would respect the protected status of Ashraf residents.
Just seven months later, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp, whose inhabitants include around 1,000 women. In the ensuing clashes, at least nine residents were killed and scores injured. On April 8, 2011, Iraqi security forces moved into the camp again, using what Amnesty International termed "grossly excessive force and live fire." Thirty-six residents were killed and more than 300 wounded.
So much for respecting assurances to the Americans.
Repeating, Barack's stated that he would be fine with sending troops back into Iraq. Are you prepared for that possibility?
Are you prepared for the fact that insta-polling is complete bulls**T. I just want to scream when dumb ass like Conn speak. I can remember, for example, a number of people gloating in 1991. They insisted that they were right and that Anita Hill wasn't believable. That was an insta-polling result. But people need time to think and come to their own conclusions. And not only did the polling shift after the media found a new topic to gossip about while pretending they were investigating but the outrageous treatment of Anita Hill set the stage for the gender quake of 1992.
Insta-polling is pretty much meaningless with one exception: 15%. If someone below 52% doesn't get at least a 15% bounce in insta-polling, there's no victory in sight. When the news media obsesses over one thing -- be it an economic plan or a budget cut or whatever -- it can and does shape opinion but that's for a brief time. If the best it can turn out is a 15% increase, that's going to vanish in less than three months. That's the only thing to study in an insta-poll.
The news media has (falsely) sold ALL US TROOPS LEAVE IRAQ. They have failed to adquately convey what the State Dept will be doing. It's no surprise that people are embracing what the media and the government's selling. But things change. And as George H.W. Bush found out with a war bump of his own, public opinion can change very quickly.
If Republican candidates want to argue against what Barack's done or that he's lost Iraq, the better argument for them would revolve around the March 2010 elections and the White House's decision to back Nouri al-Maliki for a second term. They pressured Ayad Allawi to go along with it, they pressured the Kurds to go along with it. Without that pressure, Nouri wouldn't be prime minister. And after noting that, they could talk about how Nouri's a dictator and they could quote to back it up. Quote Nouri? Americans don't know Nouri. They do know Hillary Clinton. They do know Joe Biden. They do know Barbara Boxer. They know them and a lot of others and that's who they should quote. In fact, they should quote Joe Biden on how the US was being asked to recognize a government that's not even a real one and doesn't even exist.
By refusing to honor the will of the Iraqi people, by backing Nouri al-Maliki and doing deals behind the scenes to ensure Nouri remained in office, you could argue -- and history probably will -- that Barack and his advisors made a huge, huge mistake.