Saturday, February 14, 2015



The administration of Barack Obama and its cohorts launched a double-barreled assault on the First Amendment this week.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dumped 330 pages of regulatory Super Glue on the operation of the Internet – making clear its intention to turn the greatest source of democratized communication since Gutenberg’ printing press into a public utility.



On Thursday, US House Rep Alan Grayson used his line of questioning to highlight various problems with the AUMF request.

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  Section 2C of the President's draft Authorization of the Use of Military Force reads as follows The authority granted in sub-section A does not authorize the use of US armed forces in enduring offensive ground US operations.  Ambassador Jeffrey, what does enduring me?

James Jeffrey:  Uh.  My answer would be a somewhat sarcastic one.  Whatever the executive at the time defines enduring as.  And I have a real problem with that.

US House Rep Alan Grayson: Dr. Brennan?

Rick Brennan Jr.:  I have real problems with that also.  Not only because it's -- I don't know what it means and I could just see the lawyers fighting over the meaning of this.  Uh, but-but more importantly, if you're looking at-at, uh, committing forces for something that you say is either vital or an important issue to the United States and you get in the middle of a battle and all the sudden are you on offense or are you on defense? What happens if neighbors cause problems?  Uh, wars never end the way that they were envisioned.  And so that's, I think, a-a-a-a terrible mistake to put in the AUMF.

US House Rep Alan Grayson: Dr. Rand?

Dafna Rand:  Enduring, in my mind, specifies an open-endedness.  It specifies lack of clarity on the particular objective at hand.

US House Rep Alan Grayson: Dr. Rand, is two weeks enduring?

Dafna Rand: I would leave that to the lawyer to determine exactly.

US House Rep Alan Grayson: So your answer is you don't know, right?  How 'bout two months?

Dafna Rand:  I don't know.  It would depend -- Again, I think it would depend on the particular objective.  "Enduring," in my mind, does not have a particular objective in mind.

US House Rep Alan Grayson: So you don't really know what it means?  Is that a fair statement?

Dafna Rand: Uhm, "enduring," in my mind, means "open ended."

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  Alright.  Section five of the draft for the Authorization of the Use of Military Force reads as follows:  In this joint-resolution, the term "associacted persons or forces" means individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of or alongside ISIL or any closely related successor in the hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.  Ambassador Jeffrey. what does "alongside ISIL" mean?

James Jeffrey:  Uh, I didn't draft this thing but uh

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  Nor did I.

James Jeffrey:  Nor did you.  But I would have put that in there if I had been drafting it.  And the reason is, I think they went back to 2001 -- of course, this is the authorization we're still using -- along with the 2002 one -- for this campaign.  And these things morph.  For example, we've had a debate over whether ISIS is really an element of al Qaeda.  It certainly was when I knew it as al Qaeda in Iraq from 2010 to 2012.  And these semantic arguments confuse us and confuse our people on the ground in trying to deal with these folks.  You'll now it when you see it if it's an ISIS or it's an ally of ISIS?

US House Rep Alan Grayson: How about the Free Syrian Army?  Are they fighting alongside of ISIL in Syria?

James Jeffrey:  Uh, no, they're not fighting along ISIL.  In fact, often they're fighting against ISIL and ISIL against them, in particular.

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  What about Assad is he fighting for or against?  It's kind of hard to tell without a scorecard, isn't it?

James Jeffrey:  It sure is.

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  Yeah.  What about you, Dr. Brennan?  Can you tell me what alongside ISIL means?

Rick Brennan Jr.:  No, I really couldn't.  I think that, uh, what -- It might be that -- The 9-11 Commission uses the phrase radical Is-Islamist organizations and I think maybe if we went to wording like that -- It includes all those 52 groups that adhere to that-that type of ideology that threaten the United States.  But we're putting ourselves in boxes and as you said, Senat - uh, Congressman,  trying-trying to understand what that means, what the limits are, uh, who we're dealing with is very confusing.

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  Dr. Rand?

Dafna Rand:  Well, first of all, I believe that confusion is probably a function of the fact that this is an unclassified document.  So it's not going to specify exactly which groups are associates.  That would be for classified setting but second, as I said, in the testimony, the nature of the alliances within ISIL are changing and are fluid.  And those who are targeting -- military experts -- know exactly who is a derivative, an associate or an ally of ISIS at any given moment. 

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  Why are you so confident of that?  It seems to me it's a question of terminology not a matter of ascertainable fact

Dafna Rand:  Uhm, based on my public service.  I've seen some of the lawyers and some of the methodologies and --

US House Rep Alan Grayson:   Alright, here's the $64 billion dollar question for you Ambassador Jeffrey -- and then, if we have time, for you others -- if you can't tell us -- you three experts -- can't tell us what these words mean, what does that tell us?  Ambassador Jeffrey?

James Jeffrey: Uhm, that it's very difficult to be using a tool basically designed to declare war -- or something like war -- on a nation-state -- which has a fixed definition -- against a group that  morphs, that changes its name, that has allies and other things.  Do we not fight it?  We have to fight it.   Uh, are we having a hard time defining it?  Uh, you bet. 

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  Dr. Brennan?

Rick Brennan Jr.:   I-I agree with the ambassador.  I think -- I think the issue that we need to be looking at is trying to broaden the terminology and understand that it is -- it is a tenant or organization  or groups that adheres to this ideology and make it broad enough that if one pops up in a different country that is doing the same thing, that is a sister of this uh,uh, organization, the president has the authority to act.

US House Rep Alan Grayson:  Dr. Brennan, I think you just described a blank check which I'm not willing to give to the president or anyone else.  But thank you for your time. 

Let's move over to US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.  This was her opening statement:

We all are deeply saddened by Kayla's -- by Kayla's appalling murder by ISIL terrorists.  She made it her mission to care about humanity in a region that seems to no longer value human life and our prayers go out to her family.  The brutality of ISIL truly knows no bounds and this cancer continues to grow and metastasize throughout the region.  The President has finally given us a draft AUMF that may actually our engagement in the region so I look forward to a robust debate here in our Committee on it.  But I firmly believe that no matter what happens with the AUMF, solving the problem of ISIL cannot happen without simultaneously addressing the problems of Assad and Iran.  The administration's de facto partnership with Assad ensures that Syria will continue to be a terrorist breeding ground for groups like ISIL and we will never be victorious that way.  A big part of the administration's ISIL strategy is to train and equip a program that seeks to enhance the capability of   moderate Syrian opposition  leaders yet, Mr. Chairman, that program hasn't really started yet.  The administration has said these fighters will be trained for defensive -- not offensive -- action. And we're not engaging the Assad regime directly -- only ISIL.  I worry that this policy is not going to be a victorious one. 

In her questioning, she would touch on Syria again,  "The Obama administration states that the training of Syrian moderate fighters is a large part of our strategy but as of yet we have not seen much evidence of this success.  Former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said in our Middle East Subcommittee that the administration doesn't bother to coordinate or discuss strategy with Syria's moderate fighters at all."  I don't support war on Syria and we're not doing the "Syrian snapshot."

She did ask about Iraq and noted, "And Mr. Ambassador you testified that Iran's policies almost drove Iraq apart between 2012 and 2014." 

The responses included, James Jeffrey, "The poster boy for the cause is Qasem Soleimani  who has done a great deal to drive Iraq into the disunity that ISIS was able to exploit in 2014 by allowing and, in some cases,  encouraging [Nouri al-] Maliki of the Shia governing coalition to oppress the Sunnis and disagree with the Kurds such that the country was not holding together well.  And then ISIS came on the scene and we saw what happened."

Why are we noting the Syrian aspect?

It goes to a larger issue.

As a feminist, I am aware women are under-represented in all walks of life in the US and that they are rarely the go-to for an interview on foreign policy or war.  There were three witnesses appearing before the Committee.  That one was a woman is still significant all this time later.  There are still hearing where no woman is a witness.  Even at this late date.

This full Committee hearing should have provided us with an opportunity to highlight a number of women since a number of women serve on the Committee.

Well . . .

. . . are assigned to the Committee.

Can't say they serve if they can't drag their tired asses to a full Committee hearing.

We've noted Ros-Lehtinen and Frankel.  We'll be noting Grace Meng in a moment.

And that's all we'll note.

Three other female members of the Committee didn't show.

Now maybe one was sick.

Maybe even two were.

But I know for a fact that one of the three wasn't sick at all.  She gave a newspaper interview on Thursday, she gave an interview to KPFK and she appeared on TV with Al Sharpton.

She had plenty of time to self-promote.

She just couldn't show up for a hearing.

A hearing on the Iraq War.

The one she pretended was so important to her last June.

Remember that?

And her ridiculous statements then?

Pretending to grasp history but speaking as if she thought the Ottoman Empire ended with the end of the Gulf War?

And she ended up by insisting she would never authorize US troops into Iraq.

Has she forgotten that?

We can repost her words in case she has forgotten:

I cannot imagine sending our troops back to Iraq.   We should not answer previous blunders with additional missteps. Our nation has sacrificed too much already in Iraq, and it is time for Iraq’s leaders to step up and diffuse the sectarian differences that are tearing the country apart.

So where was she Thursday when her Committee was exploring the AUMF?

Well, see, it's one thing to say she won't go along with US troops sent into Iraq when Barack's just said -- as he had in June -- that he won't send troops in.

It's different when he's asking for the power to do so.

Then our 'brave' Congress member can't show.

And members of her district -- who overwhelmingly oppose US troops being sent into Iraq -- should be asking why   Karen Bass couldn't get her  ass to the hearing on Congress granting military authorization for war on Iraq.

As for one of the others, she couldn't come to the hearing -- for whatever reason -- but the day before, she did Tweet.

My thoughts go out to Kayla Mueller’s family. Her selfless devotion to improving the world will not be forgotten
4 retweets1 favorite
Her thoughts go out.

Not enough of course to show up for the hearing on the Islamic State.

But she can concentrate long enough to type a brief Tweet.

How proud she must be of herself.

And that's good because I don't imagine many other people would be proud of her if they knew she'd skipped out on the hearing.

The third?

Iraq War veteran Tulsi Gabbard took a pass on the hearing.  I'm told she's conflicted on what to support -- opposition to the AUMF or backing the AUMF -- so she skipped the hearing to buy more time.

If the three women aren't up to serving on the Committee, they need to be removed from the Committee -- removed and replaced by any woman or man willing to step up and attend the full Committee hearings on matters of war.

They dishonor the Committee, they fail their constituents.

This is unacceptable.

They're also letting down girls and women with this nonsense.

RECOMMENDED:  "Iraq snapshot"


Friday, February 13, 2015











Yesterday, US President Barack Obama sent a written list of what he wanted from the Congress regarding his ongoing actions against Iraq and Syria that supposedly will defeat the Islamic State.  Since August 8th, he's been bombing Iraq and now he wants the US Congress to make it legal by passing an Authorization of Use of Military Force.

Joseph Kishore (WSWS) points out:

There are no geographical limits to the military action sanctioned by the resolution. Making clear the global framework of the new “war on ISIS,” Obama wrote in a letter to Congress that ISIS could “pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland.”The inclusion of language ending the authorization in three years unless the resolution is renewed has as much significance as similar “sunset” provisions in the Patriot Act, which has been routinely reauthorized by Congress. In his announcement of the AUMF, Obama stressed that the three-year framework did not represent a “timetable” for military action and could be extended by Congress under his successor in the White House.
In an attempt to delude the American public, which is overwhelmingly opposed to war, that the new operations are to be limited in scope, the authorization states that it does not provide for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” Again, the wording is formulated so as to allow virtually any type of military action. There is no definition of “enduring” or “offensive.”
Extended combat operations in Iraq, Syria or another country could be justified on the grounds that they were “defensive” or not “enduring.”
Obama claimed that the resolution “does not call for the deployment of US ground combat forces in Iraq and Syria.” This is simply a lie. Obama last year deployed 1,500 US troops to Iraq, many of which have already been involved in combat operations. The authorization would sanction a vast expansion of such operations.

Eric Garris ( believes a huge public outcry could sink the request:

It’s time for a preemptive strike at the War Party’s congressional fortress. Please call your congressional representative today and urge them to vote no on the AUMF – because we can win this one. We stopped them last time when Obama decided it was time to bomb Syria. One by one members of Congress who were inclined to authorize that military campaign backed away when faced with a deluge of outraged calls from constituents. We can do it again – oh yes we can! 
Please make that call today – because the future of this country, not to mention the peace of the world, depends on it.

And we need your help to stop this war before it starts. Your tax-deductible donation to will give us the resources to stop the well-funded War Party in its tracks – but we can do it without you! Make your contribution today – because the future of our country. and the peace of the world, depends on it.

Could an outcry bury Barack's AUMF? 

Today, US House Rep Lois Frankel wondered about what Barack was proposing, "Is military action the only thing?  How does humanitarian aid fit into this? Or educating women?  Is this the only way out?  And where does it leave us?  Who fills the void if we get ISIL?  I mean, I could ask a lot more questions."  She was speaking at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing today. 

There's also these comments from the hearing.

US House Rep Lee Zeldin:  The President in his original strategy back in September when he gave a speech, he was talking about dropping bombs and  reliance on Iraqi military and law enforcement to finish the job.  When I was in Iraq in 2006, it was an accomplishment to get them to show up to work.  Expecting no threat that day, getting them to show up to a precinct that's a quarter mile from their house.  We were trying to get them to show up.  So relying on elements on the ground who have no morale, no patriotism, they don't have the resources, they don't have the training, they don't have the will is something that we have to take into account.  In that speech, the President said this was going to be different than past wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because there will be no boots on the ground.  And, in the same exact speech, he says, "Tonight I'm announcing I'm sending 495 additional troops to Iraq.  Someone shows me a picture of their grandson in the Air Force.  He's in Baghdad. He's wearing the uniform.  He's carrying a rifle.  He's wearing boots.  Those boots are on the ground.  The use of this term 'boots on the ground' here in Washington?  The reality is that we have boots on the ground right now and I think we need to not worry about what polls say what wording sounds the best.

We'll come back to the hearing but Frankel and Zeldin's reaction and that of others certainly suggest that Eric Garris is making a valid argument that pressure can be brought to bear and have an effect.

In addition, David Sherfinski (Washington Times) reports on a Fox News poll which found 73% of respondents feel Barack's lacks "a clear strategy for defeating the Islamic State."   And David Espo and Matthew Daly (AP) report no one in Congress has yet stepped up to champion it.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"

Thursday, February 12, 2015







Let's start with some basics the White House advanced today:

1. What is an AUMF?
An AUMF, or authorization of use of military force, is a law passed by Congress that authorizes the President to use U.S. military force.  
2. What is the President’s proposal for an AUMF against ISIL? 
The President is submitting a draft of an AUMF to Congress to authorize the continued limited use of military force to degrade and defeat ISIL. Key elements of the President’s proposal include:
  • A three-year limit on the AUMF so that the next President, Congress, and the American people can assess the progress we have made against ISIL and review these authorities again
  • A repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF which authorized the 2003 Iraq invasion under President George W. Bush
It’s important to note that the AUMF the President is proposing would not authorize long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those our nation conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. His proposal does seek the flexibility to conduct ground operations in other, more limited circumstances, including:
  • Rescue operations involving U.S. or coalition personnel
  • Special Operations missions against ISIL leadership
  • Intelligence collection and assistance to partner forces

A three year limit?  That would be February 2018.  Barack wouldn't be in the White House.

Probably more importantly, when does a so-called 'limit' mean forces leave a country?

The Status of Forces Agreement that Bully Boy Bush's administration negotiated with then-Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki had a limit.  At the end of three years, the contract expired unless something new came along to replace it.

Nothing new came along.

So US forces all left Iraq and are out of the country now.

Oh, wait, that's not what happened.  Special-Ops were among the troops who remained in Iraq after the December 2011 drawdown and over 15,000 troops in Iraq were instead sent into Kuwait in case they needed to go back in.

And there's been no authorization for the special-ops brigade Barack sent in during the fall of 2012 or all the US troops he's sent in since June.

So let's just all be honest, the 'three year limit' is meaningless.  In three years, those wanting the US forces to remain in will insist that deaths were in vain otherwise and possibly that those calling for troops out of Iraq are actually unAmerican, unpatriotic and shouldn't voice opinions while troops are in harms way.

The three year limit is not to protect Iraq. 

It is not to protect US forces.

It exists for one reason only: So Barack can push the blame off on someone else since the decision three years from now will be pushed off on others.

And for those dwindling few who remain members of The Cult of St. Barack, it's not just me saying this, it's also your sainted leader who declared today, "It is not a timetable.  It is not announcing that the mission is completed at any given period.  What it is saying is that Congress should revisit the issue at the beginning of the next President’s term."

Get it?

He should be ashamed of himself and someone should go back and count how many times he publicly used the term "kick the can" in 2007 and 2008 as he insulted those who refused to confront a problem but instead "kicked the can" down the road and left it for someone to solve later on.

He spoke on the topic this afternoon.  Here are his remarks in full:

  THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Today, as part of an international coalition of some 60 nations -- including Arab countries -- our men and women in uniform continue the fight against ISIL in Iraq and in Syria.  
More than 2,000 coalition airstrikes have pounded these terrorists.  We’re disrupting their command and control and supply lines, making it harder for them to move.  We’re destroying their fighting positions, their tanks, their vehicles, their barracks, their training camps, and the oil and gas facilities and infrastructure that fund their operations.  We’re taking out their commanders, their fighters, and their leaders.  
In Iraq, local forces have largely held the line and in some places have pushed ISIL back.  In Syria, ISIL failed in its major push to take the town of Kobani, losing countless fighters in the process -- fighters who will never again threaten innocent civilians.  And we’ve seen reports of sinking morale among ISIL fighters as they realize the futility of their cause.    
Now, make no mistake -- this is a difficult mission, and it will remain difficult for some time.  It’s going to take time to dislodge these terrorists, especially from urban areas.  But our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose.  Its barbaric murders of so many people, including American hostages, are a desperate and revolting attempt to strike fear in the hearts of people it can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology -- because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction.  And with vile groups like this, there is only one option:  With our allies and partners, we are going to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. 
And when I announced our strategy against ISIL in September, I said that we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.  Today, my administration submitted a draft resolution to Congress to authorize the use of force against ISIL.  I want to be very clear about what it does and what it does not do.
This resolution reflects our core objective to destroy ISIL.  It supports the comprehensive strategy that we have been pursuing with our allies and partners:  A systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.  Support and training for local forces on the ground, including the moderate Syrian opposition.  Preventing ISIL attacks, in the region and beyond, including by foreign terrorist fighters who try to threaten our countries.  Regional and international support for an inclusive Iraqi government that unites the Iraqi people and strengthens Iraqi forces against ISIL.  Humanitarian assistance for the innocent civilians of Iraq and Syria, who are suffering so terribly under ISIL’s reign of horror.  
I want to thank Vice President Biden, Secretaries Kerry and Hagel, and General Marty Dempsey for their leadership in advancing our strategy.  Even as we meet this challenge in Iraq and Syria, we all agree that one of our weapons against terrorists like ISIL -- a critical part of our strategy -- is the values we live here at home.  One of the best antidotes to the hateful ideologies that try to recruit and radicalize people to violent extremism is our own example as diverse and tolerant societies that welcome the contributions of all people, including people of all faiths.
The resolution we’ve submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria.  It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq.  The 2,600 American troops in Iraq today largely serve on bases -- and, yes, they face the risks that come with service in any dangerous environment.  But they do not have a combat mission.  They are focused on training Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces.  
As I’ve said before, I’m convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East.  That’s not in our national security interest and it’s not necessary for us to defeat ISIL.  Local forces on the ground who know their countries best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL -- and that’s what they’re doing.    
At the same time, this resolution strikes the necessary balance by giving us the flexibility we need for unforeseen circumstances.  For example, if we had actionable intelligence about a gathering of ISIL leaders, and our partners didn’t have the capacity to get them, I would be prepared to order our Special Forces to take action, because I will not allow these terrorists to have a safe haven.  So we need flexibility, but we also have to be careful and deliberate.  And there is no heavier decision than asking our men and women in uniform to risk their lives on our behalf.  As Commander in Chief, I will only send our troops into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary for our national security.  
Finally, this resolution repeals the 2002 authorization of force for the invasion of Iraq and limits this new authorization to three years.  I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war, or by remaining on a perpetual war footing.  As a nation, we need to ask the difficult and necessary questions about when, why and how we use military force.  After all, it is our troops who bear the costs of our decisions, and we owe them a clear strategy and the support they need to get the job done.  So this resolution will give our armed forces and our coalition the continuity we need for the next three years.  
It is not a timetable.  It is not announcing that the mission is completed at any given period.  What it is saying is that Congress should revisit the issue at the beginning of the next President’s term.  It’s conceivable that the mission is completed earlier.  It’s conceivable that after deliberation, debate and evaluation, that there are additional tasks to be carried out in this area.  And the people’s representatives, with a new President, should be able to have that discussion.
In closing, I want to say that in crafting this resolution we have consulted with, and listened to, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.  We have made a sincere effort to address difficult issues that we’ve discussed together.  In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue to work closely with leaders and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.  I believe this resolution can grow even stronger with the thoughtful and dignified debate that this moment demands.  I’m optimistic that it can win strong bipartisan support, and that we can show our troops and the world that Americans are united in this mission.   
Today, our men and women in uniform continue the fight against ISIL, and we salute them for their courageous service.  We pray for their safety.  We stand with their families who miss them and who are sacrificing here at home.  But know this:  Our coalition is strong, our cause is just, and our mission will succeed.  And long after the terrorists we face today are destroyed and forgotten, America will continue to stand free and tall and strong.  
May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much, everybody.

That's what he's saying today.  As he prepares to send US forces into combat.

And what did he say in June?

June 13, 2014, he stated:

We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.

Today?  He stated:

The resolution we’ve submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria.  It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq.  The 2,600 American troops in Iraq today largely serve on bases -- and, yes, they face the risks that come with service in any dangerous environment.  But they do not have a combat mission.  They are focused on training Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces.  

It doesn't call for it because Democrats in Congress threatened to stage a mutiny.

Barack had already sent US Secretary of State John Kerry to Congress, specifically the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (which Kerry used to Chair) December 9th to argue that Congress must include granting Barack the right to put US troops in on the ground combat in Iraq or Congress would "bind the hands of the commander in chief [and] our commanders in the field."

Reality, it's not needed.

It's never been needed.

If Congress gives Barack -- or any president -- an authorization for war, that's it.

As commander-in-chief of the US military, he then executes the war.

If he wants troops in combat, he gets them with no need of Congressional approval.

Barack knows that.

John Kerry knows that.

What was the December 9th plea about?

Trying to spread the blame around.

Trying to say Congress wanted it.

Barack takes neither responsibility nor accountability.

If you haven't noticed that by now, you're either in a coma or in The Cult of St. Barack.

Someone who is paying attention is Peter Certo (Foreign Policy In Focus) whose breakdown of the request includes:

As an ardent supporter of “hamstringing the commander in chief” in this particular case, let me count the ways that my concerns have not been eased by this resolution.
1. Its vague wording will almost certainly be abused.
For one thing, the administration has couched its limitations on the use of ground forces in some curiously porous language.
How long is an “enduring” engagement, for example? A week? A year? The full three years of the authorization and beyond?
And what’s an “offensive” operation if not one that involves invading another country? The resolution’s introduction claims outright that U.S. strikes against ISIS are justified by America’s “inherent right of individual and collective self-defense.” If Obama considers the whole war “inherently defensive,” does the proscription against “offensive” operations even apply?
And what counts as “combat”? In his last State of the Union address, Obama proclaimed that “our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” But only two months earlier, he’d quietly extended the mission of nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in the country for at least another year. So the word seems meaningless.
In short, the limitation on ground troops is no limitation at all. “What they have in mind,” said California Democrat Adam Schiff, “is still fairly broad and subject to such wide interpretation that it could be used in almost any context.”
Any context? Yep. Because it’s not just the ISIS heartland we’re talking about.
2. It would authorize war anywhere on the planet.
For the past six months, we’ve been dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria. But the draft resolution doesn’t limit the authorization to those two countries. Indeed, the text makes no mention of any geographic limitations at all.
That could set the United States up for war in a huge swath of the Middle East. Immediate targets would likely include Jordan or Lebanon, where ISIS forces have hovered on the periphery and occasionally launched cross-border incursions. But it could also rope in countries like Libya or Yemen, where ISIS knockoff groups that don’t necessarily have any connection to the fighters in Iraq and Syria have set up shop.
This is no theoretical concern. The Obama administration has used Congress’ post-9/11 war authorization — which specifically targeted only the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and their patrons and supporters — to target a broad array of nominally “associated forces” in a stretch of the globe reaching from Somalia to the Philippines.
In fact, the administration has used the very same 2001 resolution to justify its current intervention in Iraq and Syria — the very war this new resolution is supposed to be authorizing.
How does the new resolution handle that? 

Will others note the problems or are we on the left going to yet again fall into a collective silence to protect Sainted Barack?

RECOMMENDED:  "Iraq snapshot"

Wednesday, February 11, 2015



Yes, it's time for a new Secretary of Defense.

It's the start of year seven of Barack's eight years as president and that means a new Secretary of Defense, apparently.

Already, his tenure has seen Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel serve as Secretary of Defense. 

So, if confirmed, Ashton Carter will be the fourth Secretary of Defense in the administration.

For context, let's turn to Bill Clinton's terms.

Bill was elected president twice (1992 and 1996).

In his eight years, he had three Defense Secretaries: Les Aspin, William Perry and William Cohen.

Aspin was a mistake.  He had health issues which got worse in his brief tenure and he also had a highly embarrassing public moment (the Mogadishu attack which left eighteen US service members dead and over seventy injured) which led Bill to ask for Aspin's resignation.

Barack's asked for no resignations (as far as we know) from Gates, Panetta or Hagel.  He just can't seem to keep them.  Maybe he should be singing "Shake It Off"?

I go on too many dates
But I can't make them stay
That's what people say
-- "Shake It Off," written by Taylor Swift, first appears on her 1989.




 Now we're going to move over to the issue of celebrity and liar Brian Williams.  He'd be a paragraph were it not for all the drive-by e-mails.  I don't buckle under pressure.  No, I push back.  So all the little whiners -- most of you citing your love of MSNBC and Comedy Central -- grasp that Gina long ago defined this site as a private conversation in public sphere. 

You're free to listen in but you don't dictate the topics and you don't control the conversation.

Martha and Shirley informed over 60 '1st time' e-mailers wanted me to know that my commentary on Jon Stewart in the snapshot yesterday and this morning was wrong.

'Jon is not too old.'  And he has not aged out of Comedy Central's demographic, they maintain.

He will host, 12 insisted, The Daily Show for many years to come.  Ten years was the most common assertion.

I guess I was wrong. 

I guess my friends -- people actually in charge of what airs and what doesn't -- told me wrong. 

Thank you, kind strangers, for correcting me but . . .

. . . What's that?

Jon Stewart's stepping down from The Daily Show?.


Announced this afternoon. 

I don't know what they told you
Don't even care what about
All I know is I'm clean as a whistle, baby
I didn't let the cat out
So don't look at me sideways
Don't even look me straight on
And don't look at my hands in my pockets
I ain't done anything wrong
-- "Never Said Nothing," written by Liz Phair, first appears on her Exile In Guyville.

Some of us are in the room and others just have faces pressed against the glass.

Comedy Central's not the only one with an announcement.

NBC News had one as well.

Brian Steinberg (Variety) reports:

Hoping to tamp down a controversy growing around one of its best-known on-air personalities, NBC News on Tuesday suspended Brian Williams, the most-watched evening-news anchor in the U.S., from his duties as chief anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” for six months without pay in the wake of a scandal over misleading statements he made about his time covering the Iraq War in 2003.
The furor over Williams’ embellishments have engulfed NBC News since early last week, when his account of facing enemy fire while riding in a helicopter in 2003 was challenged by Iraq veterans. Williams’ last broadcast took place on Friday. Lester Holt will continue as substitute anchor.

Deborah Turness, President of NBC News, issued a memo to NBC News staff which NBC News has posted online:

We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately.  We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute Anchor the NBC Nightly News.
Our review, which is being led by Richard Esposito working closely with NBCUniversal General Counsel Kim Harris, is ongoing, but I think it is important to take you through our thought process in coming to this decision.
While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.
In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field.
As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.
Steve Burke, Pat Fili and I came to this decision together. We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years.  Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an  important and well-respected part of our organization.
As I’m sure you understand, this was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree.  But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.
This has been a difficult time. But NBC News is bigger than this moment. You work so hard and dedicate yourselves each and every day to the important work of bringing trusted, credible news to our audience. Because of you, your loyalty, your dedication, NBC News is an organization we can – and should – all be proud of. We will get through this together.
Steve Burke asked me to share the following message.
“This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News.  His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate.  Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him.  Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”


Good for her.  That was a very hard call.  Most people didn't think it would be made.  She made the hard call and the needed call if news is going to be more important to NBC News than celebrity. 

Williams has six month suspension while the investigation continues.

He can return.

Of course, if he thinks the jokes are bad now, wait until the comics have a week's time to fill in the lead up to a return.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"