Monday, June 30, 2014

President Obama Issues New Executive Orders on LGBT Rights

++This month is Gay Pride month. President Obama issued executive orders today to protect the rights of LGBT citizens in the federal government workforce. More importantly, he issued an executive order that protected LGBT rights among contractors, prohibiting them from refusing to hire, promote or otherwise discriminate against LGBTs. It seems minor except a great percentage of American corporations are government contractors.

You Have A Caliphate if you can keep it

++Isis, the Al Qaeda off shoot, has declared themselves an Islamic Caliphate, demanding complete obedience from all Muslims the world over.Al-Baghdadi, the leader, now has ginned up a genealogy tracing his roots back to Mohammed.

++This forming a Caliphate raises some basic questions. Will the Sunnis, the Iraqi tribes and the former soldiers of Saddam Hussein,accept total obedience to their allies? What about Al Qaeda? What will be its response be to an offshoot claiming to be a Caliphate? 

++ISIS attacked the historic Shiite mosque near Samarra because it considers such mosques as heretical and idolatry. But the Islamic Caliphate doesn't control the two great Sunni mosques in Saudi Arabia, which historically were under control of the Caliphate. What will Saudi Arabia's response going to be to a group that challenges their theocratic authority? We already know that Iran is pouring funds and weapons into Iraq to counter attack ISIS. Tehran said they would use the same tactics as they did in Syria. And to top it off, ISIS brands Tehran's Islam heretical and picks a theological fight with them.

++Now we have a strange alliance against ISIS. Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia,Jordan and Kuwait. Russian troops arrived yesterday as did the old Soviet jet fighters. President Obama sent more troops today to Iraq, bringing the total up to nearly 1,000. Both Iran and the United States are conducting drone strikes against ISIS separately. And, I forgot the Assad regime in Syria joined the alliance by bombing Iraq at Maliki's say-so. And yet,while we are sort of allies with Assad's Syria, we have resolved to spend $300 million to train "moderate" Syrians to topple Assad.

++If this is confusing, it is. With everyone joining in an unofficial alliance,everyone has heavily suggested that al-Miliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, should step down. Even Ayatollah al-Sistani has called for a government of inclusion with heavy hints, as heavy as he talks,for Maliki to be replaced. This was supposed to happen today and it didn't. Nor does anyone believe that anything would change if he went. 

++For his part, Maliki insists he will not step down and that he will fight to protect Baghdad.

++Meanwhile the Caliphate seems to adroitly use the social media recruiting new members from Europe and the United States. But only a handful of people attended the great announcement of the new Caliphate in Syria.

++The situation is so puzzling, it is impossible to predict its future. Stay tuned.


++I wrote that the majority opinion in Hobby Lobby never mentioned women. I was wrong. The word woman appeared 13 times.

Approval Ratings

++According to Gallup:

                     President Obama 42%

                     Supreme Court    30%

                     Congress               7%


++Igor Volsky at Think Progress envisions a case where women employees of Hobby Lobby sue the company for discrimination over contraceptive coverage.

++Rude Pundit offers his own Rude opinions on Hobby Lobby. It's worth a read. Rude Pundit notices the language I did about what the ruling doesn't include and how that was the "tell" that the majority don't believe a word there are saying. They just want to get even with the Uteri.

++Mother Jones writes that Hobby Lobby through their pension funds invest in companies developing emergency contraceptives--in short those they claim they have religious objections to.

++Hobby Lobby covered all forms of contraception in their insurance plans already before they had filed their lawsuit. It was only when the Affordable Care Act came along that they decided to object.

++Ruth Bader Ginsberg in her blistering dissent focused on the issue of women's health. The majority opinion never mentioned women, only religious freedom.

++Closely held companies are actually a larger number than you think, employing 52% of Americans.  However,it is unlikely that all of them would invoke religious beliefs to deprive their employees of contraceptive coverage. Also many are fewer than 50 employees and therefore do not face a mandatory health insurance obligation.

++One of the reasons for mandatory contraception coverage is to make women and men equal in the ACA. Previously women paid higher premiums for health insurance. Another fact is that over 50% of women use contraceptives for reasons other than reproductive issues.

++The Philadelphia papers covered the Mennonites, which were the only ones who have any real religious beliefs in this case.

President Obama will Take Executive Orders on Immigration Reform

++President Obama was informed last week by Speaker John Boehner that there would be no immigration reform vote this year in the House. As a consequence, President Obama will take executive measures this month.

++While limited in scope, he can focus immigration efforts at the border and minimize deportation from the interior of the country.

++His recent request for $2 billion for the border crisis has nothing to do with these executive orders.Instead, the idea is to focus on deporting people who pose a threat to national security or who have a criminal record. Also,those at the border will be candidates for deportation. 

++President Obama has asked Jeh Johnson, the Secretary for Homeland Security, and Eric Holder for recommendations on immigration priorities.

Reactions to Hobby Lobby

++The reactions to the Hobby Lobby case were predictable. Rinse Penis hailed it as a blow against Obama's attempt to suppress religious freedom. Bobby Jindal said the same. But Jack Jenkins article at ThinkProgress captures the hostility of religious organizations to the case with numerous amicus curiae cases by religious organizations against Hobby Lobby. First is the theological objections by evangelical Christians about a corporations claiming any religious beliefs and secondly a corporation's owners having preferred religious beliefs over their employees. As Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote in her blistering dissent the majority opinion opens a whole pandora's box of cases. The tenuous reasoning behind the majority position is the exceptions it clarified such as this doesn't not apply to vaccinations and blood transfusions as if they already knew they were out of bounds.

++The second aspect is that five male judges decided on contraceptions from a patriarchal, Catholic perspective.  Harry Reid responded that if the Court won't protect women's health than Democrats will. 


++Scotusblog was up early this morning. It is worth checking out how many cases were rejected and the few that were accepted for the next session. The next session looks like all business, all the time.

++AS expected, The Supreme Court ruled on narrow grounds by a 5 to 4 vote that the government can not make "closely held " companies to purchase birth control. I haven't read the full decision yet  with its dissent.

++In a blow to labor rights, the Supreme Court narrowly ruled again that unions, particularly those covering home healthcare workers, can not automatically collect dues. If it has been broader, it would have devastated public sector unions. As it is, it sets up future confrontations on this issue as the Supreme Court slices and dices labor rights.

++These two decisions just reinforce why elections do matter and have consequences.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Correction--It is Hobby Lobby--not Hobbyland,which makes more sense

For a review of Hobbyland

++It is useful to read Jon Perr "Religious Freedom Frauds" in today's "DailyKos" for the background about the Supreme Court cases of Hobby/Conestoga. Contrary to the right's drumbeat that religious freedom is being jeopardized,Perr summarizes the recent Supreme Court cases that have actually expanded religious intrusions in the public life,the approval of public prayer and the recent decisions to provide tax payer tuition credits to individuals for religious schooling. The abolishing of the 30 ft protest zone against abortion clinics was a win only for the aggressive anti-abortion folks and actually presents physical safety risks for patients. 

++Of course, the Court never tests the truth of the so-called religious arguments. Is Plan B really causing abortions? The Religious Right says yes, science says no. Are the Greens who run Hobby Lobby really religious? How do we know? Conestoga really is run by Mennonites, who were can locate and define. 

++Another element which will be studiously avoided is the Interstate Commerce Clause. How does that affect so-called religious freedom? 

The Week Ahead

++Tomorrow we have the last two Supreme Court decisions of this season before the judges leave on summer vacation. The Hobby/Conestoga case vs. Sebelius, and the Harris v. Quinn case. Court observers believe the earlier cases were released first for psychological reasons to demonstrate the court was not simply a 5-4 court. This session we had several 9-0 cases. But these two cases should be tough calls.

++A Reuters/Ipsos poll on the essence of the Hobby case shows that 53% of Americans disagree with the proposition that employers can choose the contraceptives employees use for religious reasons. 35% agreed and 12% disagreed.

++You would think that the Supreme Court would rule against Hobby because of past precedents against the Amish for refusing to pay social security and the Indian peyote case but this is the Roberts Court, which overthrew 100 years of precedent on Citizens United. Mike Papantonio on the "Ring of Fire" argued on a whole different ground the issue of the nature of a corporation. How can you identify a corporation's so-called "religious" beliefs without identifying the company with its owners and thereby stripping them of their corporate indemnification?

++There are other issues, which will not be mentioned in this court, because it seems so removed from everyday reality. Isn't the Hobby argument against women? They already offer their employees health insurance that cover contraceptives except they object to two new ones that they argue are abortifacts, even though science says they are not. This was the point that seemed to confuse Judge Kennedy when he got flustered about whether the contraceptive mandate involved abortion. 

++Observers should get nervous because there are 6 Catholics on the bench,and only 3 Jewish-Americans, and no WASPs. The Roberts Court is overwhelmingly pro-company. So I would reject Hobby but my gut tells me that the Court will rule 5-4 and try to limit the decision to closely held family owned businesses. This ,of course, would open the issue about bakeries who refuse to bake gay wedding cakes. But the Roberts Court has unleashed plagues on the land before.

++The Harris v.Quinn could be monumental for labor rights in the United States. If the Court goes broad,it would jeopardize public sector unions, which the Republican judges would prefer. If the Court goes narrow,it would only affect home healthcare workers. 

++Although the Recess decision looked like a rebuke of President Obama,remember it had to do with the National Labor Relations Board, which the Senate GOP sought to gut. The National Labor Relations Board acts as the supreme court on labor law in the United States. So be prepared for the Court to go against the unions again.

++Meanwhile across the street from the Supreme Court,the House Teaparty Caucus wants to pick a fight over the Export-Import Bank that has existed since 1934. They argue this is a case of crony capitalism that businesses doing export business can get loan guarantees. On the other hand,the House Caucus has never seen a corporate tax break they didn't like. Personally, I have never given the ExIm Bank any thought but I can see its utility, while I can't with some of the amazing tax breaks.

++Down South, Republican candidate Tom Cotton running against Senator Pryor came up with a statement at a rally that sums up the zeitgeist of the new GOP. He said he would privatize Social Security,Medicare, and go further that this Senate would be the last determined by voting . Instead a group of corporations would be asked to fund the Senate and would determine its direction in the future. He went on to say he would privatize the entire federal government.

++Michelle Bachman in her hissy fit with Neil Cavuto on Fox this past week put forth the idea that the House should de-fund the executive branch in protest for President Obama's "lawlessness".

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Late Afternoon

++Ayatollah Khamenei blasted ISIS as "a bunch of morons "and former Saddam Hussein soldiers. He said the struggle was between humanity and barbarity and not between Sunni and Shiite. Meanwhile the real Al Qaeda affiliate is battling ISIS within Syria.

++Ukraine's President Poroshenko has extended the truce in the East. Russian separatists have released the OSCE observers held since December.

++Abu Khattala was arraigned in DC Federal Court and charged with one count of terrorism and entered a plea of not guilty. 

++Civitas polls, which tend to lean toward conservatives, has Democrat Kay Hagan at 42 over Tom Tillis 36 and libertarian Haugh at 9%. If pushed to choose between two, Hagan is at 47 to Tillis'43.

++Brainwrap aka Charles Gaba cleaned up his final ACA numbers and has ACA affecting 15.3-24.7 million depending on which categories of newly insured you want.

++Paul Krugman wrote yesterday in the New York Times how Obamacare works and how the Republicans are batting 0 for 6 in their assertions of what was going to happen.

++Monday is the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga case which will decide whether corporations have religious rights and employers can determine the healthcare options for employees. If the case goes to Hobby Lobby,it will also mean the end of corporate indemnity as individuals and corporations are not separated.

++The most dangerous case for our Democracy is Harris v.Quinn, which could erode unions' ability to collect dues or agency fees. Labor lawyers see this case as feeding "the possible destruction of the American labor movement". Court observers believe Judge Alito will be writing the majority opinion and he is notoriously anti-union. This is meant to be "the killshot against public employee unions".

++Thad Cochran winning the Mississippi primary with the African American vote says he doesn't think we need to reform the Voting Act. Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions told the Senate it just won't be fair to single out certain states.

++Senator Mendendez said that the Obama Administration has given the House GOP a deadline to move on immigration reform or the President will do so himself.

++New Majority Leader McCarthy blamed Harry Reid for obstructionism. Critics urge Reid to offer a gentleman's deal he would offer a House bill in the Senate for a vote without amendments if the House voted on one of the Senate's.

How's Putin Doing?

++Moody's announced they were rating Russia's bonds "negative" and threatened to downgrade their Baa1 rating, the lowest investment bond rating for their actions in the Ukraine and the potential crisis of more sanctions.

++The European Union has prepared more extensive sanctions on the country itself, not just individuals. But France and Germany said that Russia has pulled away from the border.

++Putin requested his parliament to withdraw the resolution that would allow Russia to invade the Ukraine for the protection of Russian-speaking citizens.

++The Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia signed agreements to be economically associated with the EU.

++The Russian Foreign Minister attacked the United States for encouraging these events.

++Steve Benen has an excellent article at the Rachel Maddow blog entitled "Putin Snarls,Obama Gets The Last Laugh" which reminds us how far we've come from the time it looked like Putin would be the Republican nominee for President in 2016 with all his endorsements by the GOP who felt he was a strategic genius and a "real leader" unlike you know who. After Putin seized Crimea, President Obama nonchalantly suggested Russia was a regional power and let him hang by his own petard. Instead,Putin's actions revived NATO and threatened his own economy.

Who's On First--Strange Doings in Iraq

++General Conway, formerly the Marine commander in Iraq, claims that the worst is over for Iraq with the ISIS advance.

++Iraq has produced the strangest bed fellows. Iran is furnishing drones,military personnel and equipment. The United States is providing drones, military personnel and equipment. Syria is bombing Iraq at the request of Prime Minister Maliki. Maliki has decided not to wait for the delivery of F-16s but is purchasing MiGs from Russia. 

++Ayatollah Sistani insists a new unity government must be formed before the parliament meets. Iraqi parliamentarians are commuting to Tehran to get instructions about whom should be the next Prime Minister. Prime Minister Maliki insists he should be retained although the United States and even Iran has gently insisted he shouldn't. Publicly,Iran has denounced the United States for destabilizing Maliki.

++John Kerry first met in Paris and then in Saudi Arabia to encourage the Saudis,Qataris and Jordanians to support the "moderate" Syrian forces and to solidify the support of the Sunnis tribes in both Iraq and Syria against ISIS. The Saudis are in high alert because ISIS may move their way.

++ISIS' propaganda is more modern than Al Qaeda's. They ran an Instagram of Michelle Obama holding  photoshopped sign "Where's Our Humvees" as a parody of her "Where's Our Children" call for the school kids kidnapped by Boko Haram. They also sent an image of Senator John McCain meeting Syrian rebels beneath a sign of ISIS.

++There is some confusion about whether Saddam Hussein's former troops are with ISIS because of their age. 

++Depending on who you read, ISIS is aiming for the Sunni suburbs of Baghdad and will attack when American troops arrive or they are consolidating their positions around the country. 

++Iran is not so happy. Tehran is debating how far they can extend themselves since they are under tight sanctions. They argue they have lost Hamas,that Hezbollah are lax, and 35,000 Shiite militiamen are returning to defend Iraq, leaving a gaping hole in Syria's defense.

++President Obama's choice to leave Iraq after not getting the Force Agreement looks great now as military analysts argue that he would have faced the situation of having to either escalate of leave when 10,000 Americans came under attack.

++His decision to re-insert hundreds of Special Forces doesn't look that great. His decision to train "moderate" Syrian forces,mostly former members of the Syrian army, has considerable risks. As Steve Clemons in Atlantic pointed out,the Free Syrian Army often sold the arms we provided to ISIS and formed fluid alliances on the ground,often with the Al Qaeda-affiliated troops. The leader of the Free Syrian government was replaced yesterday because of charges of corruption.

++On a brighter note, Bibi Netanyahu said that the removal of Syrian chemical weapons eliminated an "existential threat" to the State of Israel and he thanked the Obama Administration for that. Likewise, the American-provided Iron Dragon anti-missile defense system destroyed rockets launched from Gaza.

++The United Nations said that Iran had violated the arms embargo with their sale of weapons that were detained en route to the Sudan. Negotiators for the nuclear agreement between the P-5 and Iran will meet this week. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

White Men Acting Out

++Mississippi Tea Party leader, lawyer Mark Mayfield,committed suicide as he was indicted for participating in the stunt of video-taping Tad Cochran's wife in a nursing home where she is because she suffers from dementia.

++Teabaggers tweeted back to Cruz' call for impeachment of Eric Holder, saying what is stopping him and escalating to calls for impeaching the President.

++GOP politician Timothy Ray Murray accuses Rep. Fred Lucas, a fellow Republican, of being dead, having been executed three years ago. Lucas was then replaced by a lookalike. It didn't stop Lucas or his lookalike winning the primary with over 85% of the vote.

++Dick Cheney now says we will experience a massive terrorist attack within ten years or make that twenty-five years unless we adopt his ideas.

++The Virginia GOP has been caught out offering a Democratic Senator a job, phone and a car before he resigned and killed Medicaid expansion for the state.

++Mississippi GOP chairman flatly rejects the Tea Party claims that 700 were illegally cast for Cochran.

++Sarah Palin wistfully wonders whether there should be a third party because the GOP establishment acts like Democrats. Interesting observation. Should pass it onto the DNC.

++Chris Christie is still up to it for taking money for the cancelled Bridge project and using it on the Pulaski Highway Bridge. 

Cloward-Piven Strategy on the Border?

++Glenn Beck is at it again. House Republicans and the rightblogs are going ape shit over the influx of Central American kids--yes, grade school kids or younger--flooding out borders. Darryl Issa wants all the Dream eligible children deported by President Obama. The kids, of course, were encouraged by President Obama and the immigration services knew these thousands were on the way. This would be a way to force immigration reform. Another plot by President Obama against America. Did I mention that President Obama is unAmerican, the first such President in our history. He's also black.

++Unfortunately,the latest humanitarian crisis on the border seems to be the death knell for immigration reform until after President Obama leaves office. In saner times, it would lead to emergency actions by the Congress to alleviate this issue. What is the difference between this situation and any of the other world refugee situations? What is it about Americans not being able to deal with humanitarian crises on our borders?

++From a strictly political view,why would anyone who is Hispanic even consider voting for a Republican? While it may be good politics in 2014, even though the majority of Americans want immigration reform,it is disastrous for 2016.

++Unfortunately, it is very unlikely to happen even in 2017. You would have to start from scratch. The Senate bill would no longer be operative and the alignment would be different.

The War Against Barack Obama

++John Boehner has announced he will sue the President over his enforcement of laws. Asked whether this suit involved the executive orders President Obama has issued, he said,"yes." But no one has been able to get the Speaker to be specific about his charges against President Obama.

++Democrats have claimed that this suit is a preliminary move to impeachment if the Republicans take the Senate this year. The rightwingblogosphere has been speaking about impeachment from the very day President Obama took office and GOP congressional leaders vowed from Day One not to cooperate with the President on a single thing. The accumulation of their efforts to deny the President legitimacy is the Boehner lawsuit.

++Constitutional lawyers have examined the basis of Boehner's case and claim he has too many hurtles to clear before a court even hears it. Benghazi chairman Trey Grady is going to introduce a bill next week which will allow the House to sue the President. I wonder what happens when the Senate doesn't take it up. There is a bizarre belief in the House that every time they vote to repeal Obamacare, it is a law. Then lawyers ask what standing the House has to sue. As the legal proponents of the sue admit the issues being contested actually are beneficial to people so there are no people harmed. In short, the suit is a legal attack of what would be called the "common good".

++The idea of the Boehner lawsuit is bizarre on the face of it. President Obama has issued 182 executive orders,the lowest number of any President since WWII. His monthly rate of orders is slightly above that of Grover Cleveland. Nixon issued 346 executive orders and Reagan 381. 

++The Right's cries for impeachment hark back to Solyndra, the solar energy company that went bankrupt,Fast and Furious,the AFT program that led to one death,anything having to do with Obamacare,getting POW Bergdahl home,the Benghazi deaths, and Lindsey Graham saying that any attempts to close Gitmo is an impeachable offense.

++The recent collapse of Iraq has fueled the rage because the whole George W. Bush project, which President Obama was being blackmailed to continue,has collapsed in an awesome way for all to see. The $4-6 trillion spent on the Iraq War has vanished, leaving each American in debt for $35,000. This has led the neo-cons to go off the rails. Dick Cheney at an Energy Summit in Montana attacked Obama for abandoning the two-war strategy of his day and cutting the Defense Budget (which he hasn't) to pay for foodstamps, which conservatives hear as money for black people. But this spectacle of a smoldering heap of the Right's dreams has provoked the latest attack on President Obama.

++The basic thinking is that with the President's approval polls sinking, now is the time to attack so as to win back the Senate and move finally to thwart this upstart.

++Today, Louie Gohmert put out a reward of $1million for anyone to retrieve the lost e-mails of the IRS. So, what's the beef on the IRS. The Tea Party, which didn't need to file for their legal status, was not denied the status. 0--yes--O were denied and 0 were audited. But Republicans believe that President Obama interfered with the IRS and ordered them to investigate the Tea Party. Now they claim that the IRS leaked information about Romney's tax forms to influence the 2012 election. 

++All of these pseudo- scandals have as their bottom line that President Obama didn't legitimately win the 2012 elections. If the people really knew the truth about Benghazi,it would have turned out differently. If the American people really knew about the IRS,it would have turned out differently. If the people knew about Obamacare, it would have turned out differently.

++Today, Ted Cruz has called for a Special Prosecutor to look into the IRS situation and if one isn't appointed,he will move to impeach Eric Holder, who is going to resign in months anyway.

++Darryl Issa,afraid he's going to lose the limelight,is thinking about giving Lois Lerner immunity if she testifies on the IRS scandal. 

++Democrats think that the more far-out the GOP goes it will rebound against them. I am skeptical.The GOP sees their donors threatened by the EPA regulations and they came under attack by Charles Krauthammer today.

++President Obama called Boehner's lawsuit a "stunt". He also mocked congressional Republicans for their climate change denial at the Conservation Voters dinner. This will infuriate the GOP and make them double down on their efforts.

++The atmosphere is foul here in the Beltway.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

SurveyUSA Kansas Poll

++Democrat Paul Davis 47 Gov. Brownback 41,Libertarian Umbehr 5.

2 PPP polls

++PPP  Kentucky  Grimes 48 McConnell 46

++PPP  North Carolina Hagan 39 Tillis 34,Libertarian 11. If forced to choose, Hagan 42 Tillis 38

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Primary Night

++In one of the nastiest races in recent memory, Thad Cochran beats Teaparty Challenger McDaniel 51-49. It was down to the wire but Cochran's plea for African Americans and Democrats to vote for him paid off.

++The Tea Party said that if Cochran won it was the end of the GOP because Cochran begged Democrats to vote for him in the open primary and therefore lost the base.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I'm sure no one will credit him

++The OPCW-UN Joint Mission to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons announced today that 100% of the declared chemical weapons and materials have been destroyed or removed from Syria. Not bad.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

No One Ever Expects the Spanish Inquisition

++Pope Francis came out today calling for a global campaign against torture. He called torture a "mortal sin." For that reason as our fair share, we should release the torture report as a preventative against future administrations.

++Pope Francis also excommunicated the mafia yesterday. 

++But he disappointed stoner Catholics when he came out against legalizing marijuana.

Iran Opposes American Intervention

++Leslie Gelb and others proposed that the United States can coordinate its actions on Iraq with Iran. This idea was floated when Iranian President Rouhani suggested that Tehran was interested in assisting. But today, the hammer came down. Ayatollah Ali Kamenei came out strongly to oppose American intervention in Iraq. Last night ,the Shiite militias also told BBC journalists that they don't want Americans back.

++Secretary of State John Kerry is en route to Baghdad with a stop in Egypt where he urged President al-Sisi to create a government of diversity to prevent further violence. 

++I'm sympathetic to these calls for more inclusive governments in the area and think that represents our core national interests but there are some hard truths. We selected Prime Minister al-Maliki and we have given him billions to prop up his regime. He has purged the army of anyone except loyalists. He has developed a system of corruption within each ministry and where he has the portfolio he gets a cut of every contract. He's come a long way from the days when he was working as a butcher in Damascus. He has allowed Iranian intelligence control of his own intelligence agency. What is the incentive for him to leave when he received greater votes than before in the last election? And who are we at this stage to pressure him to leave?

++Are we at the stage again where we might have to accept the Saddam proposal--I'll leave if I can keep $1billion?

++Ayatollah Sistani beat us to the punch when he called on all Iraqis to defend the country and sanctioned the mobilization of the Shiite militias. 

++The Shiite fighters who were off fighting to defend Assad are returning home. It should be remembered that Maliki supplied arms to the Assad government and ignored our request to stop fly-overs from Iran to resupply the Syrian army. 

++Dick Cheney did battle with Rand Paul this morning. Rand Paul said we created a jihadist play land in Iraq and Libya. Cheney decried Paul's isolationism and warned of another 9-11 as he has warned of another 9-11 since 9-11 when he failed to heed warnings the first time. 

++The American Embassy has scattered in many directions as many have been evacuated to Erbil and other consulates. The same is being done in Nairobi, Kenya, where Islamic militants rampaged through coastal towns.

++Maybe we should heed the advice of a former Vermont Senator during Vietnam, "Let's declare victory and come home." 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Meanwhile, when Our $4 trillion adventure disintegrates

++The Egyptian court has confirmed death penalties on Mohammed Badie,the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 196 of his followers. 

++History will not look kindly on the removal of Mohammed Morsi as President of Egypt. It was a moment when an historically radical movement accepted democracy and won a fair election. It will go down like Arbenz in Guatemala,Mossedegh in Iran, Lumumba in the Congo and Allende in Chile.

Best Reason to Impeach President Obama

++This is from World Nut Daily. He refused Donald Trump's generous offer of $5 million if he would release his Colombia transcripts. This shows that he was passing himself off as a foreign student, which he wanted to conceal. This is another reason the Benghazi Committee must investigate the President's birth certificate. That's reason enough to impeach. I guess.

Amy Goodman's Interview with Lakhdar Brahimi

++Do yourself a favor and check out and the interview between Amy Goodman and Ambassador Brahimi,the former UN envoy to Iraq and Syria. Formerly an Algerian freedom fighter and later the Foreign Minister of Algeria,Ambassador Brahimi has gone on to become an envoy to many conflict areas. He is a member of the Council of Elders, a group created by Nelson Mandela of leading international statesmen. 

++Mr. Brahimi has dealt with American diplomats for decades and is aware of American foreign policy. In the interview he tried to be as diplomatic as he could about some of the errors made by the United States in its invasion of Iraq. 

++For my money,the salient point concerned former American ambassador to Iraq, Paul Bremmer, whom he described as making all decisions in Iraq and whom he lightly described as a "dictator". Brahimi mentioned that among former American ambassadors to Iraq there was unanimity--don't touch the military. Brahamini said there were a few hundred officers with blood on their hands and were corrupt. Those had to be removed but the rest of the army was willing to work with occupying forces. He mentioned our military starting to put together the new force but that Paul Bremmer eliminated the army and also decreed the debaathization process. 

++Ambassador Brahimi mentioned that there had been no terrorism in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. He agreed with the title "The Republic of Fear" but he said that the invasion brought the terrorism and this has moved on to Syria. 

++He expressed amazement that the Americans preferred to choose the most militant Shiites to work with and those most aligned with Iran. He said that the Americans seemed to incite the sectarianism. 

++He understood President Obama's reluctance to send troops to Iraq. He said that foreign troops in this situation would make things worse. He said that any assistance from a foreign force now must make sure they do not make things worse.

George Will wants to Sue President Obama

++George Will is upset that President Obama has committed offenses against the separation of powers that are both egregious in quantity and qualitatively different from others.

++Will runs the gamut on immigration reform to the ACA. Will claims that the ACA was not implemented as required , particularly with the delay on the Employer's Mandate. He cites that Obama suspended portions of that law 40 times.

++While he argues that President's need leeway in implementing laws and have to have a flexibility in their interpretation, the situation has gotten so bad that the President has taken both the executive and legislative powers because Congress so inert (Will doesn't say this.)

Will suggests that impeachment is a blunderbuss and will not address this issue of the executive's encroachment on the legislative. He cites and supports Benghazi chairman Trey Gowdy's bill that would expedite lawsuits by Congress against President Obama. 

On a very complicated argument, Will cites lawyers that if a majority of the House can vote to sue the President than the House can become the party to a suit. The problem has been that a benevolent bill that affects Americans positively is difficult to adjudicate. 

With Trey Gowdy's bill . then Speaker Boehner can sue the President on behalf of the whole legislative branch. And this could avoid impeachment, which the whole House wants to do.

The piece is in today's Washington Post. Basically, this is George Will's hobbyhorse that Obamacare is injurious to his class' health and must be eliminated by more suitable means. 

So instead of being Stalin, President Obama is George III exercising his "royal prerogative." He cites neo-con philosopher Harvey Mansfield about the need of the legislative to check these prerogatives.

South Dakota GOP passes resolution to impeach President Obama

++You will hear more about impeachment as we head to the mid-term. In 2006,Nancy Pelosi ruled out impeachment to enable Democrats to take the house. This year Republicans are using it to try to take the Senate. 

++Think about this, if President Obama, our first African-American President, were impeached,what message would that send to the world and to those non-white Americans who will be a majority of our population by August?

++Second,remember Karl Rove said that there would be a permanent Republican Majority and that the GOP would have the presidency for the foreseeable future. The impeachment of Bill Clinton was part of that project but failed. The attempt to make President Obama a one-term President failed. An impeachment of a two-term democratically elected Democratic President,the first who received over 50% since FDR,would basically send clear signal that the GOP only likes democracy if they win. It would be an incredible indictment of the Republican Party.

++As Alan Lichtman of American University said last night on Last Word with Ari Melber, polarization in this country is "going off the charts". He pointed out that this Congress has done even less than the famous "Do Nothing" Congress but it just continues oversight on imagined scandals.

++But that is the point. The whole strategy after the 2012 presidential election is to obstruct if not reverse anything President Obama has done and to try and tarnish his "legacy" so that he can not be held up as any kind of success. That is why you get this strange "lawless" theme while "weak" theme in the GOP critique. With the DOW hitting historic highs,Obama is the worse socialist. He is lawless because he uses "executive orders", which he has used less than his predecessor. He may be near 200 while FDR was over 3,300 executive orders. 

++Senator Lindsey Graham wants to impeach President Obama if he moves another GITMO detainee without congressional permission. Andrew McCarthy of the National Review has published a new Bible for the Right making a case for impeachment. Rep. Barletta said that impeachment could pass the House today. Former Attorney-General Judge Mukasy has urged President Obama's impeachment and admits the House can impeach him for anything. We are no longer making it a high bar to impeach a President. No high crimes and misdemeanors here.

++So why do South Dakota Republicans want to impeach President Obama? 

++They have three basic issues:
1. The release of Beau Bergdahl for 5 Taliban prisoners.
2. Obamacare because he promised you could keep your insurance if you wanted to.
3. The new rules by the EPA--which won't happen until 2015.

++So you impeach a sitting President for fulfilling a function as Commander in Chief by getting a POW released--the subtext of this is that it is not for President Obama to declare the war in Afghanistan is over. 
++For getting health insurance to millions of Americans.
++For rules that are not in place--in other words for the future effects of your actions , not past deeds.

++Jonathan Capehart wrote an op-ed in the Imperial Post about how President Obama will be impeached.

++The GOP has said they will not impeach unless they win the Senate because they would have no chance of getting a conviction.

++George W. Bush ,you could easily impeach for violating the treaty against torture, which is the highest of the land, invading a country preemptively,engaging in surveillance of American citizens,practicing rendition,obstruction of justice by not releasing 2 million e-mails requested from Congress.

++You could also impeach President Obama for not prosecuting any of the Americans involved in torture as required by the Treaty,also the expansion of the NSA surveillance program,and continuing the rendition program.

++But the GOP will focus on the IRS scandal, even though they haven't come up with anything, Benghazi,the Bergdahl swap,and perhaps the use of executive orders. It doesn't have to be anything illegal. Impeachment is a political exercise. Nor does impeachment make any of those things illegal. 

More on Iraq

++Andrew Bacevich appeared on Bill Moyers to talked about the political elites love of war even though they know nothing about actual warfare. If you can see the clip, please look it up. He makes the case that we have been a huge presence in the Middle East since 1980 and asks the question whether we have brought greater stability and greater democracy.Citing Iraq--two wars there--Afghanistan,Libya and even Somalia, if the answer is yes to either of the issues  then we should keep doing what we have been doing. If the answer is no, then we should stop.

++Rand Paul was asked to comment on Dick Cheney's attack on President Obama said that we have to ask a whole lot of questions about those who advocated and planned the Iraq invasion. Since there were no WMDs, which was its rationale, he said, we have to ask whether it really was won in 2005 as the Bush Administration claimed. He went on to say that the Iraq invasion created the whole mess there now and that he would like to know from the advocates of the war why did we embolden Iran and allow Iran to have hegemony in the region.

++The Harvard Study on the cost of the Iraq War puts the cost at $4 trillion or $35,000 per household in America. Senator Bernie Sanders said on the Ed Show that if we spent $1 trillion like the Society of Engineers has said, we could have a modern infrastructure in America.

The Past Unravels

++You get to see Dick Cheney tomorrow again on the Sunday Talks shows.

++You get to read Joey Lieberman in the Imperial Post today arguing that Obama was wrong on Iraq and making a mistake by withdrawing from Afghanistan.

++Mookie al Sadar and his Sadar Brigade held a choreographed parade in Beghadad today of suicide bombers. Quite snappy.

++ISIS now has control of border controls between Syria and Iraq.

++Today the first security forces sent by President Obama are to arrive in Baghdad.

++The Guardian today has a piece on how Tony Blair knew Syria was manufacturing chemical weapons way before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

++Joe Conason has a superb piece in Real Clear Politics about "What New details Reveal About the "Scandal" and its Promoters" on Benghazi. His point is that we now know from both the New York Times and the New Yorker that the attack on the consulate was in part stimulated by the video, which has provoked a rampage at our Cairo Embassy where the walls were breached. His point is that Republicans never made a big deal about W failing to get Bin Laden or that the bomber of the Cole took 14 years to track down. Conason remarked that the #Benghazi! crowd were actually disappointed by the capture of Abu Khattala. 

++Earlier this week, Cenk over at TYT raised an interesting point about Benghazi that has never been mentioned by the conservatives. One of the 12 men charged with the attack on the consulate was released from Gitmo in 2007 by the Bush Administration. Suhan bin Qumu was somewhat unique of those released. He was one of the individuals designated as a specially designated global terrorist. He was released to Qaddafhi, who was then our "ally in the war against terror" to be kept by Libya  and then he was released in Libya to go free in 2008--way before Obama came on the scene. He had been personally been trained by bin Laden, then worked for him in the Sudan at his factory, the one Clinton bombed, and fought alongside the Taliban. He received a monthly stipend of $500 from Al Qaeda. During the whole discussion of Benghazi, this inconvenient reality has not been discussed.

++Michael Gerson,the man who crafted the words for George W. Bush to rationalize the invasion of Iraq, wrote in the Washington Post that it is time to stop the blame game. But the reappearance of the invading team demands an accounting of how Iraq got to this position. Even Tony Blair knows this as he is covering for himself in the U.K. Just two items cast a shadow over today--the dissolution of the Iraq army by Paul Bremer and the de-Baathization by the occupying forces. Those two measures effectively eliminated the governing institutions in the country and propelled the Sunnis into a resistance.

++Joe Scarborough on the Morning Joe said that Iraq was fine in 2011. Having been there then, it was not fine. You could not go outside the "Green Zone". Even then you needed armed escort to even go to the local restaurant. You could not visit with Iraqis unless there came to you through multiple roadblocks and you had to run a gauntlet to get through all the roadblocks to the airport. Embassy personnel had to make security arrangements a week in advance for appointments outside the embassy and the Vatican-sized embassy had a car lot of high-priced cars, which could not get license plates from the Iraqi government. The week I was there a whole congregation of Christians were slaughtered during a service that was nationally broadcast. A young American who was a USAID educational expert was killed by militia men. The city of Bagdad had been segregated by sect. No, Joey, it was not fine.

++Andrew Sullivan caught the truly bizarre piece by David Ignatius in the Imperial Post about how the US can replace Prime Minister al-Maliki but they need cover. Ignatius went though whole scenarios of how we can provide a stabilizing force and that we would have a coalition headed by the United Nations. Andrew also caught the rewrites as Ignatius made his suggestions in the conditional case. But Andrew is right, this is the thinking deep inside the national security apparatus.

++The New York Times had a scary piece about the meetings to replace al-Maliki, Scary, because it showed that the American ambassador had been meeting with Ahmed Chalabi, the self-proclaimed Hero in Error,and the favored Iraqi by the neo-conservatives. His aide,Francis Brookes, said that Chalabi wasn't necessary interested in heading the new government but he would support revisiting the de-Baathization Law. Chalabi had become the head of reforming the national banks and still seats in Congress. He is known for a variety of acts of disinformation during the lead up of the war.

++While President Obama said the appropriate things about an inclusive government,he is inviting disaster if the U.S. believes it can manufacture a new government that would actually achieve the objectives he set out. That failed for the past decade. We should learn that we are a very bad imperial power, despite constantly trying. And no, Karl Rove,"Because we are an empire, we can not make the reality we want."

++The President had me giving him the benefit of the doubt for the first 60% of his new Iraq policy but he lost me on the last part about the politics of it. It was the last part that has the "humanitarian interventionists" and the "Occupying interventionists" cheering about.

++Robin Wright raised her head with an op-ed about why al-Maliki must go. But he frequently said over the week he would not go and that he would not resign as a pre-condition for drone strikes.

++Peter Bergen, who has written the most authoritative books on Al Qaeda and Bin Laden, pointed out in a CNN opinion piece that Al Qaeda had nothing to do with Iraq until after we invaded. And then they controlled an area greater than a European country and the American administration didn't talk about it. By the end they had suffered military defeat and kept a low profile in the Anbar Province and then came alive with Syria. 

++President Obama clearly has extended the actions in Iraq to include Syria. So then, if you are a real warrior like the Washington Post, you print front page stories of how many drones have crashed in the United States as a hint that maybe troops might have to go in because drones and airstrikes won't be effective.

++Leslie Gelb, who with Joe Biden, got Iraq right before the war when he advocated a federated state. now urges Russia,the United States,Saudi Arabia and Iran to engage in a "grand bargain" to redraw the boundaries of the Middle East. Even Jonah Goldberg re-emerged with his own new map, which he proposed years ago.

++Help! Don't go there, President Obama. Keep the mission limited both in personnel and time. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy Birthday, Brian Wilson. He's 72.


++ President Obama is at a 41% rating,the lowest of his presidency. The GOP make sure you know about this everyday. 

++But compared to what in a mid-year election. Gallup has measured approval ratings for Congress since 1973. So their first figure was 43%.

++Today, the Gallup approval rating for Congress stands at a whopping 7%!!!. Almost the margin of error of the entire poll itself.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Scott Walker is a Star!

++The criminal conspiracy has made it to the front page of the Washington Post,the lead story of Huffington Post,the Daily Beast,Up with Chris Hayes, the Ed Show. Walker is catching fire.

++What people who have followed Citizens United should know is while all the rich cats can donate under the radar,it can't be coordinated according to the decision. 

++The appearance of Karl Rove in an e-mail sent to him by Scott Walker shows why the IRS was investigating Rove's 501-C-4 and why the House attacked the IRS for the probe of 501-C-4s. 

++The Wisconsin papers --both rural and urban--have this as front page news. 

++The man has made it. He is a national figure. Now we know why Mitt Romney's name has resurfaced in the Republican Party.

The Scott Walker Story is a Bomb!

++The Scott Walker criminal conspiracy case as revealed by the documents released today is a real bomb. Check out the New Republic's very good piece,Politico,TPM's various posts. This is about the coordination of donors dark and aboveground in violation of Wisconsin's campaign laws. A judge married to Scott Walker's own attorney ruled that the John Doe investigation should cease and the e-mails be destroyed. The prosecution appealed and as part of the appeals court making a decision on whether it should go forward,they ordered the documents released. In the several hundred pages released today,the prosecutors' own 36-page summary of charges are included.

++The Walker camp and the Republican Party have been trying to kill this investigation from the beginning. But it is key to understanding Walker's election and the recall campaign. Walker had problems in this upcoming campaign as his promises of job growth had dismally failed against reality.

++The Cook Report had this year's race as definitely Republican, then moved it to leaning Republican, and with recent polls showing a tie moved it to "Toss-Up". All of this before today's bombshell.

++Even the Wisconsin press, which had been supportive of Walker,has covered it.

++John Nichols, who is a progressive Badger and has covered this story in the past, is overseas today and missed this epic story.

++Walker has reserved $250,000 of airtime in Wisconsin to explain this case. He is now beyond "damage control".

Happy Juneteenth

++ Scott Walker is in the middle of a vast criminal network that involves leading right-wing donors and Karl Rove. 

++Chris Christie is moments away from being handed his hat by prosecutors in New Jersey.

++Mitt "Willard" Romney at 29% is now the overwhelming favorite for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

++Rick Perry has been invited to Gay Pride Day in San Francisco after saying he might move to California. 

++Kay Hagen has a five point lead in the polls in the North Carolina Senate race.

++Kevin McCarthy is the new GOP Majority Leader in the House. Steven Scalise, the head of the ultra conservative Republican Study Group and a favorite of the oil industry, was made Whip.

++The Presbyterians voted to move closer to accepting same-sex marriage.

++Rude Pundit has been on a tear the last few days on Cheney and McCain and Graham. Read him.

++The return of the Iraq war hawks has inspired great work by Jason Linkins, Rachel Maddow,Dan Waldman,E.J. Dionne, Charles Pierce , Rude Pundit,Ed Shultz and Pap, America's lawyer.

++Sandy Koufax's protege Clayton Kershaw pitched a 14-strikeout no-hitter that missed a perfect game by one fielding error. Baseball experts--aren't we all--are trying to rate whether the Dodger Pitcher threw the best no-hitter in history. They check out pitch count, walks (0), strikeouts. They think he did it.

++I watched President Obama's speech on Iraq today with a heavy heart. I'll comment on American moves later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

World Cup Champion Spain eliminated

++Chile, one of several Latin American teams making a run in the World Cup, defeated defending champion Spain. 2-0. This really is a BFD.

When the Going gets weird, The Weird Goes Pro

++ Dick and Liz Cheney attacked President Obama for not caring about terrorism today in the Wall Street Journal. Bless her heart, Jennifer Rubin let the cat out of the bag at the end of her column saying that the father and daughter team was shilling for their new front group Alliance for a Strong America. Their op-ed read like Dinesh D'Souza.

++The GOP hellbent on saving their last monument wants Ahmed Abu Khattala sent to Gitmo. The DOJ says No way, Jose. 

++The GOP wonders why getting Abu Khattala so long. The Daily Beast has an article about why the Delta Force took its time. They were rehearsing at Fort Bragg on a fortification like the man's home and planned the operation for a year. The go-ahead was held up until the FBI and the DOJ felt they had gathering sufficient evidence to try Khattala in a court of law.

++The Center for American Progress wants the Obama Administration to bomb Iraq as a counter-terrorism measure. General Petraeus doesn't like the idea because that would make us a Shiite Air Force. But remember his surge troops are the ones now fighting Baghdad.

++Anne Marie Slaughter, who used to be a member of the Obama Administration, writes an op-ed in today's New York Times advocating American actions in both Syria and Iraq and believes that such actions are in line with the UN General Charter and if we can't get approval then we should act and get approval later. This is the problem "humanitarian interventionists" have. They run up against the same problems as the neo-cons.

++Andrew Sullivan finds more about the Iraqi neo-cons hawks he doesn't like. His article in The Dish on the neo-Straussian strains of Wolfowitz and Billy Kristol is worth reading.

++Rand Paul doesn't quite know what to say because he thinks President Obama needs congressional approval to take any actions. Senators Graham and Ayotte do not.

++None of this matters because Sweeney Todd declared the Obama Presidency dead today on Morning Joe. He later told Matt Drudge that he really never became distant from the President.

++President Obama's foreign policy approval fell to 41% but like anything Obama polls show that the majority of Americans support his ideas on Iraq over Senator McCain's.

++Rachel Maddow did an excellent segment last night on the loony-tune Iraqi war boosters coming back in the media and how the right ignored the one piece of news about Benghazi that they should have cheered about--the capture of Abu Khattala. Instead Drudge has a story about meat and chicken prices going up.

++Dana Millbank and Politico got into a pissing war over Dana's excellent op-ed on the Heritage Foundation's bizarre Benghazi program which had all the conspiracy crowd there.

++Libya said today that the operation to capture Abu Khattala violated their sovereignty. 

++David Ignatius calls for a peace conference to re-draw the map of the Middle East. Basically, the Sykes-Picot agreement is defunct.

++With the architects of the Iraq war back in the news,I wish reporters would ask them about their own actions. For example, how did Wolfowitz so grossly underestimate the cost of the war--$86 billion to $2-4 Trillion. That's not just a rounding error. Or Paul Bremmer--why did he dissolve the Iraq army and aren't they the ones fighting Baghdad now? Or General Petraeus--aren't the members of the Sunni Awakening allies of ISIS now? Or Dick Cheney--Didn't our invasion bring in Al Qaeda to fight in Iraq when it had never been there before? Instead,reporters might dance around issues of the Status of Force Agreements and who sign the withdrawal agreements but the rest of the issues remain buried. 

++The only one that I saw really get beat up was John Bolton and that was on Fox News and it was by libertarians who didn't know what they were talking about.

++At least John Bolton went back to how bad Saddam Hussein was. But there is a big question: When the United States was threatening war and wanted Saddam to go, why did we not take him up on his offer?--He would go as long as he could keep $1billion. In retrospect, that was a great deal.

++The summer is turning into another BP summer. Remember the oil spill in the Gulf and the whole summer news converge about whether Obama was doing enough. This Iraq situation feels the same way. Getting Bergdahl back--bad. Capturing Abu Khattala--bad. Iraq conflict--really bad. 

++Remember shutting down the government over Obamacare? Well now, the Republicans in the Senate want to shut down the government in September over the debt ceiling because of the new EPA carbon emissions regulations. So crash the world economy because regulations will take place in a year. Good move. At least a new Depression will cut greenhouse gases, since the factories will shut down.

++Since Willard Romney was so clairvoyant on a number of issues. Willard said we just a tad away from losing the gains in freedom we earned over all the years of fighting. Whose "we" white man since no Romney has ever fought for the country. Since Willard is the man, the GOP are now counting him as a Presidential candidate again. Time to get Steve Benen out of mothballs at the Rachel Maddow Show and back on the Romney beat.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


++The New York Times reports late this afternoon that,yes, Benghazi man did organize the raid on the consulate because he was outraged by the video insulting Islam.

++The GOP were concerned that President Obama would allow the captured man Miranda rights and follow the rule of law, even though the President is lawless. Official Republican leadership demanded that he be thoroughly interrogated and not put away in a cell, which could be a comfortable home. 

++The Obama administration said that he would not be sent to Gitmo, which the GOP demanded.

++Could we please have the release of the Torture and Rendition report.

There is Benghazi and #Benghazi!

++In real Benghazi news,the Obama Administration announced they had captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, a senior leader of Ansar al-Shariah and who is thought to be the ringleader of those who attacked the Benghazi consulate. Just FYI--President Obama had promised to bring those who killed Ambassador Stevens to justice.

++In #Benghazi! news, the Heritage Foundation held a conference yesterday of all the most bizarre #Benghazi! conspiracy theorists in what everyone calls one of the ugliest displays in the Capital. Read Dana Millbank in the Imperial Post about it.

Actual Good News for Planet Earth

++President Obama is set to declare the largest ocean reserve, which would put these Pacific Remote Islands off limits to fishing and oil drilling.

++The Pacific Remote Islands Marine Monument consists of all the uninhabited islands between Hawaii and Samoa, which are owned by the United States. 

++No wonder Paul Krugman has written two separate op-eds about how he likes the second-term Obama better and that he has become a "consequential" president. Krugman focuses his admiration on the health insurance reform and President Obama's new passion on climate change.

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's déjà-vu all over again

++ A few weeks ago, I wrote how I enjoyed the Ukraine crisis because I saw commentators emerge whom I used to read during the Cold War, including the Trotskyists.

++Now with the disintegration of Iraq, it is horrifying to see all the enablers of the American invasion re-emerge on the corporate media without any recognition of their past statements or actions.

++The Morning Joe actually had on Paul Bremmer, the American pro-consul to Iraq, who unilaterally disbanded the Iraqi army, whom you see now charging to Baghdad these many years later. At least Mark Halperin raised the question about why should we listen to him. Bremmer said his earpiece fell out so as not to answer.

++Frederick Kagan, the man who created the idea of the surge, appears in the New York Daily News and suggests a whole range of military options but claims this doesn't mean "re-invading" Iraq.

++Face the Nation actually had Paul Wolfowitz on to say we should have stay on like we did in Japan. Now, this man underestimated the cost of Iraq by several trillion, not billion, dollars. Let alone the inconvenient fact that the Iraqis, the American people and the American military wanted us to leave.

++On the blame game,  could we be clear--the Iraqi government changed some 200 items in the withdrawal agreement and George W. Bush had no choice but to agree and win a later date for withdrawal. Otherwise, we would have been forced to leave in 2008. Both the Bush and Obama administrations failed to get a Status of Force Agreement because Iraq would not agree to immunity from persecution. And who would disagree with that given Maliki's human rights record. There is an assumption going around that if the United States just huffed and puffed, we could have stayed--and like the advocates of the invasion ignore the cost and blood of staying and the fact that Iraqis were not welcoming us as liberators.

++EU member Straun Stevenson from Scotland wrote an op-ed piece that said that the current situation in Iraq is an Arab uprising against Maliki and his Shiite sectarianism.

++Wolfowitz,McCain and the Bush Administration always argued that sectarianism wasn't a problem in Iraq. The media has done a great job is showing all of McCain's countless Iraq positions.

++Lindsey Graham complains that President Obama is a stubborn man and should have stayed in Iraq. Then he spins around and says we should cooperate with the Iranians to go after ISIS, which I believe we will do.

++Unfortunately, we are back to the rhetorical frenzy before the Iraq war. Lindsey Graham warned about another 9-11. Hopefully, we have more competent people and have taken measures to prevent a recurrence.

++However, I am not so sure. Remember the NSA was created to prevent such an event and it failed. Where was the NSA in predicting the seizure of the Crimea by Putin and the long trail of military operations against the series of Iraqi cities. No where but they have your credit card information.

++I forget Feith appearing over the weekend. The first time in years anyone has heard from the former Deputy of Defense--Douglas Feith. Unbelievable.

++And I forget Pollack at Brookings, who wrote two books on invading Iraq. Naturally, it was going to be short, cheap with few casualties. Pollack now warns of sectarian strife and naturally the Obama Administration can stop it.

++Andrew Sullivan over the weekend wrote about the mind-bending options for President Obama ending up on all sides of the conflict. I think Sullivan maybe over-optimistic that Obama can escape the war machine. I think he will do something and probably aerial attacks because it is an issue of power projection and we have been conditioned to expect this.

++Tony Blair said that the US and UK are not to blame for this fiasco. He actually came out from under a rock and appeared several times in the media.

++The lesson of all this is Shit Floats and you will make good money in Washington, if you are egregiously wrong.

++Meanwhile John Kerry and the Iranian government said they will hold talks this week about cooperating in their efforts against ISIS. The Iranian government also suggested there was a good chance there may be a nuclear agreement by July 20.