Archive for category National Politics

Media Welcomes Back Consistently Wrong Iraq ‘Experts’… Wolfowitz, Feith, Bremer, Kristol… Even Judith Miller!


Via HuffPo: CNN’s Erin Burnett Confronts Paul Bremer Over His Iraq Failures

This morning my breakfast was spoiled when Paul Wolfowitz — Paul Wolfowitz! came on MSNBC to pontificate about Iraq. I don’t want to look at that guy, much less hear what he has to say about Iraq of all subjects!

I don’t want to minimize the suffering of the Iraqi people, who are being shafted in the worst possible way by both the Maliki government and the ISIS insurgents, but there is something seriously wrong with our media when Doug Feith is treated as an expert on Iraq (by Politico). For those who don’t remember, Feith was known as “the Undersecretary of Defense for Fiascoes.” General Tommy Franks once described Feith as “the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth.”

And Paul Bremer. Paul Bremer! The guy who started the Sunni insurgency in the first place by disbanding the old Iraqi government and dismissing their entire army without pay. He was on CNN (see video). I don’t like Erin Burnett, but even she is smart enough to realize that Paul Bremer has no business giving anybody advice about Iraq.

We didn’t miss Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, only because he never went away. Kristol infamously predicted the Iraq conflict was “going to be a two month war,” (the war lasted approximately 104 months) and testifying in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging military action, he proclaimed that “American and alliance forces will be welcomed in Baghdad as liberators.”

Ari Fleischer is back, too. As Press Secretary in the Bush administration, Fleischer was in charge of selling the illegal invasion of Iraq, claiming “there’s no question that if force is used, it will achieve the objective of preserving the peace far faster than the current path that we’re on.”

Judith Miller, the NYT reporter who spun fanciful tales about Saddam’s nonexistent arsenal of so-called “weapons of mass destruction,” now appears on the Faux News Channel to talk about Iraq. Presumably they even pay her.

What is the matter with our news media?

More info:
Iraq War Boosters Get Second Chance In Media Spotlight
The People Who Broke Iraq Have A Lot of Ideas About Fixing It Now
CNN’s Cuomo Calls Out Bush Administration’s Paul Wolfowitz For GOP Hypocrisy On Iraq
True Chyrons For Bush-Era Iraq War ‘Experts’
Rachel Maddow Hammers Media For Booking Iraq War Hawks Who Got Things So Wrong

48 Comments

Insurgents Seize Iraqi City of Mosul as Security Forces Flee

Map of northern Iraq

I’ve been watching cable TV news for any sign of this story. Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al-Qaeda offshoot, overran most of Mosul yesterday. Iraqi soldiers and police officers abandoned their posts, in some instances discarding their uniforms as they sought to escape the advance of the insurgents.

Mosul is Iraq’s third-largest city. ISIS already controls Fallujah and part of Ramadi in Anbar Province. The same group has taken over several cities in eastern Syria. Today it is being reported that a half million people have fled Mosul and ISIS has seized Iraq’s biggest oil refinery in Baiji. Other advances have been reported in areas west and south of the city of Kirkuk.

The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced a “general mobilization” of the country’s security forces and asked parliament to declare a state of emergency. He is asking the Kurdish Peshmerga forces for help. Meanwhile, reports indicate that ISIS has captured helicopters and significant stocks of U.S. – made weapons.

It would take a long time to list all of the errors that led to this point. Sunni insurgents, bought off by U.S. taxpayers in the so-called “surge” during the Bush administration, are back because the al-Maliki regime didn’t give them any concessions. Last year, they raided Abu Ghraib prison and liberated up to a thousand fighters. In January, they took Fallujah. Iraqi Army counter-attacks have failed thus far.

More info:
One Of The World’s Scariest Terrorist Groups Now Controls Major City In Iraq
ISIS: The group too extreme for al-Qaida that is taking over Iraq
ISIS Now Controls A Shocking Percentage Of Iraq And Syria

UPDATE:
ISIS Militants Seize Iraqi City Of Tikrit

BAGHDAD (AP) — Al-Qaida-inspired militants seized effective control Wednesday of Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, expanding their offensive closer to the Iraqi capital as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts following clashes with the insurgents.

UPDATE:
Iraq Asked The White House For Air Support Against Militants — But They Said No

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked last month for the U.S. to consider carrying out air strikes against its growing insurgency and the White House turned him down, The New York Times reports.

UPDATE:
Iraqi Kurds ‘fully control Kirkuk’ as army flees

“The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga,” Kurdish spokesman Jabbar Yawar told Reuters. “No Iraq army remains in Kirkuk now.”

UPDATE:
President Obama Puts Military Option on the Table With Iraq

64 Comments

the UN, NATO, and the trip-wire

I’m so sorry to write this missive as a lead article (for 15 minutes) but I don’t remember how to find the comments and respond to them. The lonely little side-bar response to my article I’ve not seen, except for half a sentence. It seemed to be saying that the old days are gone now, and so we need NATO and the JN. I agree. With NATO, it is the trip-wire provision that we go to war, automatically if any NATO nation is attacked, regardless of who the attacker is. This takes not only the United States Congress, but the president, as Commander in Chief, from the decision to go to war. I support both the UN and, if handled correctly, NATO. But President J. Reuben Clark and I oppose the automatic going to war. Just like the fools, the ancient general staffs of all sides in WW I. No one wanted that war. There was no Adolph Hitler in that war that destroyed the entire 20th century. Better to have shot the general staffs, who came to deserve exactly that. What President Clark called for, and I, are what the United States has always done, before NATO. That is, to have treaties of peace and friendship with our allies and then, should hostilities commence, such treaties would call for all parties to go to war, or not, as their constitutions provide. In this way, we don’t declare war against a nation, and surely all the people, have not yet been born. How, pray tell, do we justify going to war against, and for, people not, or no longer, live on earth. With a few caveats, ditto for the UN. No provision of law allows the UN to overreach Congress in the decision for war or peace. For anyone interested, read my book with the late Francis Wormuth, To Cain the Dog of War. It is by odds the best book ever written on the way we go to war. Every single war we’ve ever fought, including our wars against the Indian tribes, is there analyzed. Francis did not live to see this book in print. I worked two years after his death to finish it. And I updated it 4 or 5 times, alone. I still put my dear friend’s name first, because I am honored to be linked, now, forever. Something like Mormon marriage through time and eternity. ed firmage xoxo

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Tea-GOP Wanted Obama To Do Whatever to Save Bowe Bergdahl

Remember when the Tea-GOP and right-wingers everywhere complained bitterly that the Obama administration wasn’t doing enough to bring home America’s lone POW Bowe Bergdahl back from captivity? That was so last month!

For example, Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and John McCain (R-AZ) have been making an issue of Bergdahl’s captivity for years. A May 22 press release from Ayotte’s office urged the Department of Defense to do all it can to find Bergdahl. Senator McCain suggested a prisoner exchange last February.

Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL), introduced a resolution in the House calling on the United States to do everything possible not to leave any members of the armed forces behind.

In April, Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA), along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), introduced a resolution “to express the sense of the Senate that no member of the armed forces who is missing in action or captured should be left behind.”

Last year, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said of Bergdahl, “The mission to bring our missing soldiers home is one that will never end. It’s important that we make every effort to bring this captured soldier home to his family.”

Are all these politicians now thanking President Obama for doing precisely what they demanded? Well, not really. Some in the Tea-GOP are talking about impeachment.

More info:

GOP Urged White House To ‘Do All It Can’ To Get Bowe Bergdahl

Conservatives Have Hilariously Forgotten How Badly They Wanted Bergdahl Home

20 Comments

The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

3 Comments

Neil deGrasse Tyson Takes on Climate Change in A Big Way

Neil deGrasse Tyson has talked about climate frequently already in previous episodes of “Cosmos,” but this Sunday, the entire show was about it.

His main argument points out that we’ve been aware of the greenhouse effect since at least 1896, and we have known about the value of solar power since at least 1878. There is no technological or practical reason why we can’t save our planet.

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Bill O’Reilly: ‘Listen to The Master… I Just Destroyed This Inequality Myth’

h/t The Raw Story (Click on the X to make the ad go away)

Faux News host Bill O’Reilly chided his colleague Megyn Kelly on Thursday for saying income inequality might be a potent issue for Democrats in 2016, and predicted that Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t run for President because “all she wants to do is sell her dopey book.”

“You’re buying into this fraud, Kelly, and I’m very disappointed, so listen to the master,” O’Reilly told Kelly. “You worked your way up. Was there any war on you? Did anybody declare war on you?”

“I just destroyed this inequality myth,” O’Reilly concluded.

We didn’t really need more proof that Faux News inhabits an alternate universe, but here it is anyway.

7 Comments

Obama Administration Lawyers: We Don’t Have to Show You Any Stinkin’ AUMF!

Drone Survival Guide
h/t War is Boring

Remember this classic exchange from “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948)?

Dobbs: “If you’re the police where are your badges?”
Gold Hat: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

On Wednesday, Department of Defense General Counsel Stephen Preston and State Department Deputy Legal Advisor Mary McLeod told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee roughly the same thing, saying that the Authorization To Use Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks is not needed to justify U.S. attacks on perceived enemies worldwide (emphasis added).

The single-paragraph AUMF has been the legal justification for the longest war in U.S. history; everything from the jailing of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo to drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen. Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was supposed to explore how and when that congressional mandate could be revised or repealed. But the biggest surprise was the administration’s top lawyers didn’t think Obama even needed it anymore to fight the war on terror as he pleased.

Asked by Corker, if the 2001 AUMF was repealed “can the president carry out the counter-terrorism activities he is carrying out today,” McLeod said, “Yes I believe he could.”

Going deeper into the legal thicket, both McLeod and Preston said that the Constitution’s Article II gives the president all the authority he needs to take military action. That view was initially promoted in the Bush White House by David Addington, Cheney’s chief counsel, who constantly told his legal critics, “You are either with us or against us.”

Now, 13 years later, McLeod and Preston say the president doesn’t need congressional authorization at all.

32 Comments

Less Than A Quarter Of The Unemployed From Bush’s Great Recession Had Steady Jobs 5 Years Later

Unemployed pie chart

Via Think Progress:

Just 22 percent of those who ended up unemployed for six months or longer during the 2008 recession found steady, full-time work by the beginning of 2013, according to a new analysis from Princeton professor Alan Krueger as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Looking at a Census Bureau survey of households between 2008 and 2013, he found that the rest of the long-term unemployed weren’t faring very well. The largest share, 35 percent, had dropped out of the labor force altogether, either giving up on finding a job, going back to school, retiring, or choosing some option other than job hunting. While 28 percent had found some employment, it wasn’t steady or full time. Another 14 percent were still unsuccessfully job hunting five years after they lost their jobs.

Republican economic sabotage is working. They killed public sector jobs. They cut off unemployment benefits six months ago. They are constantly crying about “The Obama Economy” (if only Dems knew how to frame issues that effectively!) Most of the new jobs being created are low-wage jobs with no benefits. It’s been 7 years since the last time Congress raised the minimum wage. President Obama has to go beyond giving speeches about job growth, and hoping corporations will do the right thing.

That said, let’s remember that the Obama administration has created more than 8.7 million jobs, compared to 1.1 million during Bush’s entire two terms. Bush was the first President since Herbert Hoover to have a net loss of jobs. GDP was going down when Bush left office. Republicans in Congress have prevented the Obama administration from doing enough to repair the economic devastation left by Bush.

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Boehner: Just Call Us The Tea-GOP

Mad Hatters Tea Party

Via Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo:

The Republican party and the tea party are one and the same.

That’s according to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who was asked Thursday at his weekly press conference if the string of victories for establishment-preferred candidates in the GOP primaries this week amount to a victory against the tea party.

“We had a lot of good candidates running across the country,” he said. “I thought the election went well. We had good candidates on the ballot.”

“I’m not going to get into this distinction between the tea party and Republicans,” Boehner added. “It’s a distinction you’re going to have a hard time finding.”

It’s Tea-GOP from now on. A convenient way to avoid the redundant phrase “right-wing Republicans.”

14 Comments

Why I’m Not Going to Visit the 9/11 Museum

I’m big on history, and that means we remember both the good and the bad stuff that happens in the world. OTOH I have never been to the Holocaust Museum, and probably won’t ever go. The 9/11 Museum that opens this week in New York has already been added to my list of places to avoid. It’s not just the $24 admission fee. Why did they think it was a good idea to plop a gift shop and a cafe literally on top of a repository that contains 8,000 unidentified body parts from victims of the terrorist attacks? A monument would have been enough. A museum (which includes President George W. Bush’s bullhorn*) is pushing it. A store that sells 9/11 coffee mugs and t-shirts is too much.

On Think Progress, Jessica Goldstein makes the case for the gift shop, which in her mind amounts to: “every other museum has one.”

[* I hope the museum also prominently displays the secret memo Bush didn't bother to read-- the one that warned, "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US."]

More info:

9/11 Memorial Museum’s Admission Fee, Gift Shop Spark Controversy
The 9/11 museum’s absurd gift shop

35 Comments

Benghazi: Does The GOP Protest Too Much?

Benghazi Chaffetz

Juan Cole has an excellent piece on Alternet about the Republican Benghazi obsession that again provides the answers the right-wing partisans have demanded over and over through four investigations. And Cole has a few questions of his own (emphasis added).

What the House should really investigate is who really funded and encouraged the production of that get-up ‘film’ attacking Islam, “The Innocence of Muslims.” It was redubbed after being shot, such that the cast had no idea they were in a bigoted attack film. The makers of the film, including a far right wing American militia figure, sent it determinedly to Egyptian hard line Salafi Muslims until part of it was finally shown on a Salafi television channel. They were clearly trying as hard as they could to provoke attacks on US facilities. Isn’t this a sort of terrorism in itself? Was it a Republican Party black money group hoping to provoke a diplomatic hostage crisis that would damage President Obama’s chances of reelection? Why did GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney keep comparing President Obama to former president Jimmy Carter in spring of 2012? Carter had been bedeviled by the Iran/ US embassy hostage crisis. Had Romney’s speech writers heard from the US Islamophobic network that there was likely to be embassy trouble that summer and that it might make Obama look weak? Why are GOP leaders so determined to deny that the film helped provoke the Benghazi attack? Are they afraid that sooner or later a link between GOP funders and the film will emerge, and they want to hold themselves harmless? Why do Muslim-hating political campaigns break out regularly every two years in the US, pushed by Republican candidates? Will there be another one in summer-fall of 2014?

Let’s hope the House Democrats have enough backbone to refuse to participate in yet another GOP partisan Benghazi investigation. And wouldn’t it be good if some non-partisan commission could find out if the anti-Muslim video, the embassy protests, and the attack on the Benghazi consulate resulted from right-wing political operators trying to embarrass the Obama administration?

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