Monday, September 18, 2017

A sick day with TCM

When I'm sick, it always seems like TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES (TCM) offers the worst programming.

Today it was all Greta Garbo.

Some of which was silent films so I just turned away from the screen and listened to the music.

But I'm sick and can barely breathe and it seemed like every film had Garbo dead or depressed.

They showed ANNA CHRISTIE -- but in German.


It's in English.  It was shot at the same time in English and in German.

And the German one broadcast had lousy subtitles.

Greta was raped by a "bull" and she blamed it on the "See."  That's how it was spelled.  It should have been the "sea."  But over and over, "sea" was spelled "see."

GRAND HOTEL came on during some of this.

It just emphasized how Joan Crawford was a bigger star.

Greta's supposed to be a dancer in the film.  As she lumbers around the hotel with out an ounce of grace.

I'll take Joan Crawford over Greta any day.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, September 18, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, Hayder al-Abadi and Nouri al-Maliki preach hate, one person dies in Kirkuk as a result, the Baghdad based Supreme Court insists it has jurisdiction over a KRG vote, and much more.

Because they'd always gotten their way, they'd assumed they always would.

So months ago, when the Kurdistan Regional Government declared that they would hold a referendum on independence, the Baghdad-based government made vague mutterings.  Now that the September 25th referendum remains

Come and dig the Koo Koo war
Rumor has it got started cuz our leaders got bored
New toys with a laser teach children 2 kill
Who knows when they're older
Maybe they will

Nothing gained
Paradise lost
Koo Koo's the trip and death is the cost
It's your world
4 a little while

Peace, mother, brother
Peace of mind
We got 2 love one another all the time
Cuz a kiss on the lips
Is better than a knife in the back

-- "Koo Koo" written by Sheila E. and Prince, first appears on her album SHEILA E.

Better than a knife in the back?

Which is all the KRG has gotten historically from the US government.

Let's drop back to the US Congress and the Pike Report. It was leaked to the press and, February 16, 1976, The Village Voice published Aaron Latham's "Introduction to the Pike Papers."  Latham explained:

In 1972, Dr. Henry Kissinger met with the Shah of Iran, who asked the U.S. to aid the Kurds in their rebellion against Iraq, an enemy of the Shah.  Kissinger later presented the proposal to President Nixon who approved what would become a $16 million program.  Then John B. Connally, the former Nixon Treasury Secretary, was dispatched to Iran to inform the Shah, one oil man to another.
The committee report charges that: "The President, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state [the Shah] hoped our clients would not prevail.  They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country [Iraq].  The policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting.  Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise."
During the Arab-Israeli war, when the Kurds might have been able to strike at a distracted Iraqi government, Kissinger, according to the report, "personally restrained the insurgents from an all-out offensive on the one occasion when such an attack might have been successful."
Then, when Iran resolved its border dispute with Iraq, the U.S. summarily dropped the Kurds.  And Iraq, knowing aid would be cut off, launched a search-and-destroy campaign the day after the border agreement was signed.
A high U.S. official later explained to the Pike committee staff: "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work."

The US government, for all the lies of spreading democracy around the world, has never been mistaken for a missionary.

And last Friday, the Trump administration demonstrated that yet again.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Proposed Referendum

The United States does not support the Kurdistan Regional Government’s intention to hold a referendum later this month. The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas. Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing. We therefore call on the Kurdistan Regional Government to call off the referendum and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate.

How is it distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS?

Could someone explain that?

Of course, they can't.  There is no solid explanation for such a claim.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote on September 25th, the Peshmerga would continue to battle the Islamic State as needed.

Turkey has continued to battle the Islamic State, for example.  Even when the government of Iraq has asked that Turkish troops leave the country, Turkey has continued to battle the Islamic State.  (The Turkish government opposes Kurdish independence.)

How is a referendum going to destabilize other areas of Iraq?

ALJAZEERA reminds:

The KRG, which governs the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, has said a pro-independence vote would not trigger an immediate secession.
Massoud Barzani, president of the KRG, said a "yes" result would instead kick-start "serious discussions" with Baghdad.

As for Kirkuk, the disputed area was supposed to be resolved by the end of 2007.

Bully Boy Bush didn't want that because it would hurt war efforts in Iraq.

Barack Obama also refused to support the Iraqi constitution (which demanded the issue be resolved).

Three administrations have now attempted to thwart Kurdish independence.

All have insisted now was not the right time.

When is the right time?

The Iraq War continues.

It continues because the Iraqi government is installed by the US government.

It wasn't elected by the people.

They didn't choose for a bunch of cowards who left Iraq decades ago to return after the US invaded in 2003 and become leaders.

This government has no authority or legitimacy.

14 years on and there's still no legitimacy.

The US military will apparently be in Iraq for hundreds of years -- remember when John McCain presented that as his position and we were all horrified?
Dropping back to the January 7, 2008 snapshot:

Of the GOP candidates, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained today, "In other campaign news, Republican Senator John McCain admitted he would be fine if the United States military stayed in Iraq for a hundred years.  McCain said 'We've been in Japan for 60 years.  We've been in South Korea 50 years or so. . .  As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed.  That's fine with me'."  Vote Insane! Vote John McCain! 

Two months later, it was still news.  Ron Clairborne (ABC NEWS) reported at the end of March 2008:

By early February, as it became clear that McCain would emerge the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, the Democratic National Committee sent out a fundraising letter portraying McCain as favoring "an endless war" in Iraq.
Last week, Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean blasted McCain as "a blatant opportunist who doesn't understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years."
Sen. Hillary Clinton's camp continually blasts him for the 100-year remark. The Democratic presidential candidate said this month McCain "is willing to keep this war going for 100 years." She vows to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. But a year ago, she told The New York Times that as president she would leave some unspecified number of U.S. forces to protect "remaining vital national security interests in Iraq."
The article said: "She declined to estimate the number of American troops she would keep in Iraq, saying she would draw on the advice of military officers." That position does not appear to be much different than what McCain was saying in Derry, minus the 100-year quip.
Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said, "We are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another 100 years."
[. . .]
 The attacks on McCain aren't coming just from his Democratic opponents. A scathing anti-McCain video posted on YouTube, entitled "No, We Can't," uses select lines from what McCain said to give the distinct impression that he would actually enjoy it if the war went on for 100 years. His words are edited to make him to say: "Make it (or, maybe) 100 years. That'd be fine with me."
Google the words "McCain" and "100 years" and you will be treated to a menu of blogs attacking McCain for wanting to wage war for another century.
Several political analysts said they sympathized with McCain's predicament. They say he tried to give a detailed, textured reply to a serious question and his opponents conveniently dropped the context and qualifiers and used to draw a withering caricature of cavalier warmonger.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum said it was clear to him what McCain really meant -- after all, McCain spelled it out at length. His candor gave his opponents a huge opening to portray it otherwise.
"It's his Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright [Obama's controversial former pastor]," Shrum said. "It's his Tuzla [the Bosnian city where Clinton erroneously claimed she had landed in a helicopter under sniper fire]." 

In 2008, it was all so shocking but now that Barack left the White House -- after serving two terms as president -- and the Iraq War still continues, it appears some of the 'shock' over McCain's position was manufactured and that many shared his views.

In fact, today finds Elise Knutsen (VOX) typing matter of factly that "military and political leaders here in Iraq have a blunt warning: The fight against ISIS is far from over, and it may take decades to rout former fighters and their sympathizers from the region. "

Throughout it all, the Kurds keep getting told to wait.

It's their lives and it's their decision.

Strange, isn't it, that the US government has repeatedly insisted they are their to help the people and for democracy but when the Kurds attempt democracy, the US governments has a hissy fit.

TIME magazine reports (in an unsigned article -- those of us who emphasized foreign relations in our poli sci studies should remember what an unsigned TIME article actually is):

Iraq's top court on Monday temporarily suspended the northern Kurdish region's referendum on independence that's due next week, a decision that put further pressure on the Iraqi Kurds to call off the controversial vote.
The Supreme Court in Baghdad released a statement, saying it "issued a national order to suspend the referendum procedures ... until the resolution of the cases regarding the constitutionality of said decision."
It was not immediately clear if the local government in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region would abide by the court's ruling.

RUDAW reports the response to the court -- which may not have authority over a KRG referendum to begin with -- has not been to tremble:

Amid numerous calls to postpone next week’s independence referendum and focus on discussions with Baghdad, President Masoud Barzani told a visiting British minister that they will not postpone the referendum without commitment from Baghdad to begin independence negotiations, with international guarantees that agreements will be enforced.

British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon called on Barzani to delay the September 25 independence referendum and focus on dialogue with the central government “under the supervision of the international community,” read a Kurdish-language statement from the presidency’s office.

Fallon visited Kurdistan on Monday with UK Ambassador to Iraq Frank Baker and met with Barzani, Vice President Kosrat Rasul, and acting Peshmerga Minister Karim Sinjari.

Responding to Fallon’s request, Barzani said that referendum and dialogue are both tools for independence and that, since no alternative had been presented that could guarantee independence talks and Baghdad’s readiness to commence such talks, the referendum cannot be delayed. 

The United Nations weighed in yesterday on the issue.

U.N. chief: Northern Iraq vote would detract from Islamic State fight

UN chief urges Kurds in Iraq to scrap referendum, arguing it would detract from the fight against ISIL

That would be the same United Nations that waited until six months after the Iraq War started to offer a sotto voiced opinion.  In September of 2004 (six months after the Iraq War started), Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger (GUARDIAN) reported:

The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, declared explicitly for the first time last night that the US-led war on Iraq was illegal.
Mr Annan said that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter. In an interview with the BBC World Service broadcast last night, he was asked outright if the war was illegal. He replied: "Yes, if you wish."
He then added unequivocally: "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal."

The UN isn't noted for bravery or for much of anything these days.

Remember, this is the same United Nations that stopped counting the military and police killed in Iraq because the country's prime minister whined and hissed.

Sunday, REUTERS reported that Hayder al-Abadi, Iraq's prime minister installed under Barack Obama, declared that the Kurds were "playing with fire."  Joining Hayder in inflaming tensions is former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.

IRAQ: Vice President Nouri Maliki says a Kurdish state is equivalent of the 'creation of a second Israel in the north of Iraq'

Nouri and Hayder are among those inciting violence.  And the impact of their words can already be seen.  RUDAW reports supporters of the referendum gathered in Kirkuk when shots were fired at the pro-referendum activists leaving at least one dead and two more injured.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Another classic from Tori Amos" went up last night.  We'll close with this from Senator Johnny Isakson's office (Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee):

Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777

Marie Gordon, 770-661-0999

Isakson Delivers Remarks on National Defense, Hurricane Irma Recovery, JSTARS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday to argue for support for the National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently being debated in the Senate. The measure seeks to ensure that our military has the resources it needs to carry out its missions, including critical support in the aftermath of recent hurricanes.
Isakson opened his remarks by acknowledging military service members who are helping in recovery efforts from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and by thanking every level of preparation and storm response that has allowed for a speedy response in Georgia, starting with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
“In Georgia, we lost three lives, which is tragic. We’re sorry for each one of them and our hearts go out to those families,” said Isakson. “Our preparation by Governor Nathan Deal and other leaders in the state saw to it that our reaction and our timeliness was excellent. I want to thank Governor Nathan Deal as well as Georgia Emergency Management in coordination with the agency of FEMA who worked to ensure that everywhere we had danger in Georgia, we also had response for our people and for our state.”
Isakson also highlighted the urgent need to pass the National Defense Authorization Actto provide our warfighters with the tools and resources to counter ongoing threats, including continued support for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) mission based out of Georgia.
“JSTARS is an asset of our U.S. military and our intelligence agencies with a capability that is second to none in the world,” said Isakson. “Since the Gulf War and everything that’s happened in the Middle East and ensued since then, [JSTARS] has been invaluable in command and control capabilities on the ground. It is an intelligence capability that is unmatched by any of our military adversaries in the world.”
Isakson noted that he had a visit earlier in the day Wednesday from Heather Wilson, secretary of the U.S. Air Force, who confirmed to him that the branch was considering other ways of delivering JSTARS’ services to military personnel.
He expressed serious concerns about the Air Force’s “inexplicable” consideration of abandoning this proven and successful platform.
“Our country and our soldiers and our warfighters have benefitted greatly on the ground and in the air, from JSTARS’ surveillance capabilities,” Isakson observed.
“I would submit if the Air Force were to decide that rather than recapitalizing the JSTARS program that we’ve been working on for the last few years, they would go to an alternative delivery system, they’re probably giving up security for our country, intel for our men and women on the ground, battlefield coordination you could not replace any other way, and an asset that we’ve taken for granted for far too long in this country,” he argued.
In addition, Isakson committed to supporting the National Defense Authorization Act,and noted the work of Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on the bill.
“I came to the floor to say that I’m with you, and I support you,” said Isakson. “But I want to make sure we do everything we can to ensure the JSTARS [program] and the capabilities of that mission are recapitalized for our soldiers in the future and our military in the future. For us to fail to do so… would be bad for our soldiers, bad for our security and bad for our country.”
Isakson’s remarks are available to view here.

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