Nel's New Day

January 30, 2019

The U.S. National Crisis – DDT

The United States has a national emergency—and it’s Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Yesterday, the government released its annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” and three intelligence leaders— National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray—testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. These are some conclusions from the 42-page report and the expert testimony:

The U.S. has no “security crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border which DDT has described as a national emergency, but the nation has much more to fear.

U.S. trade policies and “unilateralism,” straining alliances, have prompted former foreign partners to find other relationships. The growing cyberthreat from Russia and China, now “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s,” threatens U.S. infrastructure with their capability of destroying the U.S. electric grid with malware and cutting off natural gas pipelines. Foreign enemies want to weaken the U.S. to control the country. Russia’s latest “disinformation” campaign to distort information from Robert Mueller’s investigation works to protect DDT who will support Vladimir Putin at all costs. Russia and China’s goal is to gain military and technological superiority over the United States. Russia also intends to interfere with politics (aka elections) with “information warfare” largely on social media.

North Korea is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” which the country’s leaders consider “critical to the regime’s survival.” Its government “is committed to developing a long-range nuclear-armed missile that would pose a direct threat to the United States.”

ISIS, a still-formidable organization, will continue “to stoke violence” in Syria. With eight branches and over a dozen networks, it has thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria and attracts thousands of supporters from around the world. ISIS is also capable of attacking the United States.

Iran is not trying to build a nuclear weapon and is in compliance with the international agreement that DDT rejected before he reinstated U.S. sanctions on the country.

Climate change remains a national security threat, according to Coats. Two weeks ago, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a global security threat.

The officials punted when asked why staffers such as DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner received security clearances that would block personnel in other administrations from access to classified information. In all other ways, they declared that DDT’s world view is wrong.

DDT spent today ranting against his intelligence leaders. He described them as “extremely passive and naïve” about Iran and exclaimed about the three who testified, “They are wrong!” Although the DDT didn’t watch the testimony, he responded to clips shown on television and delivered opinions based on nothing. “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” he indignantly tweeted.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote Coats asking him, Wray, and Haspel to perform an intervention with DDT. Schumer called DDT’s criticism “extraordinarily inappropriate and undermines public confidence in the U.S. government’s efforts to protect our national security and preserve U.S. power and influence abroad” before he said that Coats “cannot allow the President’s ill-advised and unwarranted comments today to stand.” Schumer continued:

“I believe it is incumbent on you, Director Wray and Director Haspel to insist on an immediate meeting with the President to educate him about the facts and raw intelligence underlying the Intelligence Community assessments, and to impress upon him how critically important it is for him to join and the leadership of our Intelligence Community in speaking with a unified and accurate voice about national security threats.”

DDT has joined Russia and China in trying to weaken the United States. The fear of nuclear weapons from a half-century ago has returned as DDT plans a withdrawal from Ronald Reagan’s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on February 2 and an irrational man is in charge of pushing the button on nuclear war. DDT gets his information and advice from Vladimir Putin, including a secret meeting in Buenos Aires at the G20 summit where the only other person from the U.S. present was DDT’s wife, Melania. Earlier DDT had said that he wouldn’t meet with Putin because Russia had not returned captured Ukrainian ships and sailors. Two months after Russia’s seizure of three ships and 24 sailors in international waters, DDT has said nothing about Putin’s unwillingness to release them.

If the thought of DDT allowing China and Russia to destroy natural gas and electric sources in the United States, allow ISIS terrorists to overrun the country, and blow up the world with nuclear weapons, consider Venezuela. This week, DDT seized assets from state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA)—a primary source of income and foreign currency for the country—by placing sanctions on them in a de facto embargo with exemptions only for Chevron and two large oil services providers Halliburton and Schlumberger. He gave control of the remaining assets to his appointed Venezuelan president, Juan Guaidó. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that corruption was the reason for the U.S. action, but he isn’t bothered by Russia’s corruptions and sham elections. The United States will block Venezuela’s access to credit and stop debt restructuring until Guaidó replaces legally elected President Nicolás Madura. National security adviser John Bolton again threatened military action (aka invasion) toward Venezuela.

With the biggest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela has become president of OPEC for the upcoming year with the ability to threaten the U.S. dollar with a push for oil payments in non-dollar currencies or in cryptocurrencies. The country also has the second largest gold reserves alone with diamonds and other minerals such as coltan used for electronic devices. DDT’s doctrine, as expressed about Iraq in 2016:

“To the victor belong the spoils. You have to go in and take the oil.”

DDT started looking into taking over Venezuela the day after his inauguration because of these oil reserves, and an invasion also fits his doctrine. He has told the CIA and the Pentagon that he sees no problem in civilian casualties and celebrated the dropping of “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan. With plummeting ratings and problems in the United States, DDT is searching for help politically, not caring that his embargo and invasion would greatly increase the suffering of Venezuelans. To DDT, people are just commodities but of less value than oil.

Reasons against DDT’s Venezuelan coup:

Venezuela has a legitimate voting process, far better than in other countries such as the United States and Russia. International observers concluded that “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”

Outside interference caused the dire economic situation in Venezuela from an economic war by the U.S., declining oil prices, and the government’s economic sabotage. Large inflow from foreign currency for oil raised the value of the country’s currency which made its other products less price competitive and resulting in more imports. U.S. sanctions in the past six months cost Venezuela $6 billion.

Much of the violence in the country has been caused by the opposition to the elected president Maduro from violence, murders, and destruction of public and private buildings and vehicles. The National Assembly, declared in contempt by the country’s Supreme Court in 2017 because of electoral fraud, granted amnesty for the opposition’s crimes since 1999—felonies, terrorism, and undermining the economy—and described the crimes by the opposition.

To compound problems, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and DDT appointed an extremist as a “special envoy” to Venezuela. Pompeo extolled Elliott Abrams’ “passion for the rights and liberties of all peoples,” but Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt in the 1980s as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala. Ríos Montt was later convicted of genocide. Abrams was also convicted for lying about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair and escaped prison only when George H.W. Bush pardoned him to save his own skin.

DDT’s sidekick in ousting a duly elected president, Brazil’s far-right Jair Bolsonaro, has his own problems. Like the corrupt DDT, Bolsonaro campaigned on eradicating corruption and crime, but his son, recently elected senator Flávio Bolsonaro, reportedly employed both the mother and wife of Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega, leader of a Rio de Janeiro death squad called the Escritório do Crime (The Crime Bureau). Nóbrega is supposedly on the run, and law enforcement suspect the Crime Bureau of assassinating Rio councilor Marielle Franco. Fabrício Queiroz, a longstanding friend of Brazil’s president pictured socializing with Jair Bolsonaro in a photo where both men appear topless, allegedly recommended the two women to Flávio Bolsonaro, who is also facing other damaging accusations about his financial dealings. Like DDT, the Brazilian president could face blackmail.

Now DDT faces his State of the Union speech this coming Tuesday. Prepare yourself for defensive statements presenting his fictional views of the world—and his fantasy stories about women with duct tape covering their mouths, smugglers with “unbelievable vehicles,” and Muslim prayer rugs in the desert along the southern U.S. border—straight from the fictional movie Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

April 10, 2018

Syria’s Past, Scary Possibilities

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 11:10 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Fifteen years ago, George W. Bush followed the advice of his war hawks VP Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to attack Iraq on false pretenses. (I’m sure that the oil in the country had nothing to do with the preemptive war.) Since then, the thoughtless action of the Bush II administration has cost the U.S. people trillions of dollars and the Middle East hundreds of thousands of deaths and tens of millions of refugees. The United States will always suffer from the tragedies of veterans who managed to survive the physical and mental injuries that will always affect them and their descendants.

Syria is again the focus of attention in the Middle East after a disastrous chemical attack against Syrian civilians last Saturday and the possibility that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) would attack Syria in a diversion from his personal problems. Saturday’s attack killed at least 80 people, and an attack on a Syrian air base killed another 14. Syria first blamed the U.S. for the air base attack but then accused Israel. After the chemical attack, the rebels surrendered Douma. Yet any action looks like a lose-lose situation. “Syria is the most complex, complicated issue I have ever had to deal with,” then-CIA Director John Brennan said in 2016.

The current problem in Syria began during the Arab Spring of 2011 when protesters tries to take Middle Eastern countries from dictators. In Syria, Assad used the military to slaughter the protesters. When they fought back, Assad had his war against the Free Syrian Army, a militia formed to protect protesters.

The U.S. was concerned because of Iran’s alliance with Syria to move weapons and other resources to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. The Shiite theocracy of Iran sent Hezbollah to fight for Assad in a threat to Sunni Arab states on the Persian Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, that then sent arms to the Syrian rebels. Qatar alone gave $3 billion to the rebels in 2013, and Saudi Arabia sent a shipment of 500 TOW anti-tank missiles to the rebel in 2015. Thus the Syrian civil war became a fight between two Middle Eastern factions.

At the same time, Russia supported Assad and the Syrian military in a continuation of its half-century policy; Russia sells weapons, air defense systems, and MI-25 attack helicopters to Assad, partly to protect its naval base at Tartus on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. In 2011, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to condemn Assad’s attacks on protesters. Yesterday in the UN, Russia refused to cooperate with Western countries to investigate Syrian chemical attacks. Russian special forces are embedded with Syrian troops, their warplanes and helicopters conduct air attacks on the rebels, and their artillery bombards Assad’s enemies.

Seeing the civil war as a source of recruits and a safe haven, al-Qaeda started sending forces into Syria since 2011. Qatar paid Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda leader, to destroy Assad.

President Obama refused to take out Assad despite advice from military and intelligence leaders such as David Petraeus who wanted to provide advanced weapons to the rebels. Even the killing of up to 1,423 people, mostly civilians, in Assad’s attack with sarin gas in 2013 didn’t push President Obama farther than a plan for airstrikes that Congress rejected. Russia made a deal with Assad to give up his chemical weapons in exchange for international inspections and no U.S. attacks. President Obama took the deal, and some people blamed him for Russia’s escalation in 2015. At the end of 2016, the civil war had killed at least 470,000 Syrian killed.

While actors in the Middle East used Syria in a tug of war, ISIS swept over northern Iraq in June 2014 and controlled land the size of Great Britain in Syria and Iraq. President Obama used airstrikes to support forces fighting ISIS. Busy fighting Assad, rebels could not fight ISIS; Assad had a ceasefire with ISIS so he fought the rebel as a larger threat to him. The U.S. picked Kurdish fighters in northern Syria near Turkey as their allies. The Kurds wanted their own state instead of overturning Assad and were intent on protecting their city Kobane from ISIS. The U.S. intended to cut ISIS’s supply lines between Syria and Iraq while backing Kurdish forces in their fight. The mission was a success by breaking the siege of Kobane and moving to take over ISIS’s capital, Raqqa. Yet Turkey, threatened by armed Kurdish fighters, threatened to increase military action against the Kurds who were fighting ISIS, and DDT stopped arming them.

Yet the U.S. would not support the rebels in fighting Assad. The U.S. agreement to not conflict with Russian flight to bomb Syrian civilians in 2015 led to atrocities such as chemical attacks. DDT campaigned with his past belief that the U.S. should support Assad and not attack Syria, but a chemical attack in spring 2017 killing over 80 people caused him to reverse his position because Assad had used chemical weapons. He ordered an attack on the airfield in Syria where the chemical attack was launched, possibly based on false information and after warning senior officials from foreign governments before the attack so that they could leave. Most chemical attacks in Syria are largely ignored by both DDT and the media, and DDT has don’t nothing about most of them. The map shows 11 attacks since DDT’s inauguration. [Thanks to Zack Beauchamp for the history of Syria’s civil war and involvement of other countries.]

After the chemical attack last Saturday, DDT’s air strike threats could be far more dangerous for the U.S. than his strike a year ago. Russia is already jamming U.S. drones over Syria and threatening disaster, possibly for a U.S. plane or ship, if DDT dares retaliate for the chemical attack. After protecting Putin for over a year, DDT is already in trouble for the sanctions against wealthy Russians that took billions of dollars from the Russian stock market this week. Now Russia claims that Assad did not use chemicals and blames the U.S. for a fake chemical attack in Syria as a pretext to strike Assad.

DDT cried crocodile tears at the deaths of children in chemical attacks but refuses to take Syrian refugees. In 2016, the Syrian atrocities led President Obama to increase the U.S. refugee resettlement cap from 70,000 to 110,000. DDT has capped the number at 45,000, and the U.S. has resettled 10,876 refugees this year, 44 of them Syrian. At this time last year, 5,935 Syrian had been resettled in the United States.

Ken Isaacs, DDT’s nominee to head the UN international migration assistance efforts believes that permitting Syrian refugees into the U.S. President Donald Trump’s new pick to lead the United Nation’s international migration assistance efforts is “foolish and delusional” because they are Muslims. He is the vice president of evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham’s Christian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse. Isaacs also tweeted, “Austria and Switzerland should consider building a wall in the Alps to keep refugees out.”

This is Syria today:

  • Over half of Syria’s 20 million, pre-war population has been displaced.
  • 5.5 million Syrians have fled abroad with 95% of them in these five countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt.
  • 400,000 civilians are trapped in opposition-held suburbs of Syria’s capital Damascus where Assad is relentlessly bombing.
  • Of Syria’s estimated 10 million children, 8.6 million are in dire need of assistance. Nearly 6 million children are displaced or living as refugees, and about 2.5 million are out of school.
  • About one-third of Syria’s housing and half of its educational and medical facilities have been destroyed, causing catastrophic public health crises.

The biggest question now is what DDT will do about Syria. Before the FBI used a search warrant to take records, a computer, and a phone from the office, home, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, DDT’s lawyer, DDT promised to be “very tough” because “everybody’s going to pay a price.” By the time that he met with his military people, however, he was raging about seizing the documents as “a disgraceful situation” and “an attack on our country.” His venom turned to the FBI and top DOJ officials in raids where agents “broke into” Cohen’s office. After cancelling a trip to the Summit of the Americas in Lima (Peru), DDT will be alone for the entire weekend to watch Fox, sent furious tweets, and possibly starting a war. He’s at a “high level of freak out,” according to one source, and another one said, “I am worried about his response.”

As should everyone in the United States.

November 21, 2015

Christians Discriminate against Muslims in U.S.

 

Firefighter. let it burnThree Muslim-American students were murdered in Chapel Hill last February. Christian white people in the U.S. wanted to call this hate crime a matter of a parking dispute, but the three young people were lined up on the ground, kneeling, and shot in the back of their heads execution style. It was a Christian terror attack. A few days later, the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, storing religious books, was completely destroyed by fire last February because of arson. Dustin Herron, a retired Houston-area firefighter who volunteered at the time for Crystal Beach Fire & Rescue posted the following:

“Let it burn … block the fire hydrant.”

That summarizes the conservative response since the attacks in Paris.

Indiana’s governor Mike Pence, who might have run for president if his state hadn’t tried to pass an anti-LGBT “religious liberty” law, told two Syrian refugee families that they cannot come to his state. He also told two religious charities, Exodus Refugee Immigration and Catholic Charities, that no other families will be allowed in Indiana. One of the families waited for three years in Jordan before the vetting process was completed.

In Rhode Island, state senator Elaine Morgan suggested segregated camps for Syrians after calling on state governments to refuse any Syrian refugees in the country. She thinks refugees are part of a plan “to spread out their people to attack all non Muslim persons.” One U.S. human rights abuse was the internment of about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, some of the U.S. citizens, in abusive camps during World War II.

According to the annual Hate Crimes Statistics Report, the number of the hate crimes in 2014 decreased for every minority group except Muslims. The increase of 14 percent against Muslims may be under-reported because they tend not to report these crimes. The rise of these crimes against Muslims parallels the increase in the number of hate groups formed in the U.S., most of them based on conspiracy-based and virulent anti-government leanings. Christian attacks have moved from LGBT people to Muslims.

Following the tragedy of hate in Paris last week, Christian people in the U.S. immediately responded—with more irrational hate. Gunshots at mosques and private homes, threatening phone messages, hate graffiti, Islamophobic statements at community meetings—these are only a few of the occurrences during the past week. The Islamic Center of Pflugerville (TX) was vandalized with feces and torn pages of the Quran.

In contrast to the bigoted reaction from conservatives, seven-year-old Jack Swanson took his piggy bank to the Pflugerville mosque and gave them all the contents of $20.

The day before the killings in Paris, ISIS killed 45 people and injured another 200, some of them critically, in Beirut (Lebanon). The death toll would have been much higher if a man had not thrown himself on a bomb to save his son. A terrorist group left 147 people dead and 79 injured at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya last April, a tragedy that barely grazed the U.S. news media. A terrorist bomb on an airplane between Russia and Egypt killed 224 people. Only the attacks in Paris affected people in the U.S.

The U.S. concern primarily for people in France and not those on other continents might come from experiencing human empathy for only victims similar to themselves. Studies show that individuals focus more on their “ingroup,” creating an “empathy gap” among victims in attacks. The media obsessed with the attacks in Paris but gave little attention to other attacks.

Some people in the United States see every one of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as connected to the Paris attacks. These facts might give a different perspective:

  • Worldwide the 1.6 billion Muslims are expected to increase by 35 percent by the year 2030.
  • By 2050 the number of Muslims in the world will match the number of Christians.
  • Only 20 percent of Muslims live in the Middle East.
  • The majority of people who follow the Islamic religion, more than 60 percent, live in the Asian-Pacific region.
  • Muslims have lived in China for more than 1400 years.
  • Less than 15 percent of the world’s Muslim population is Arab.
  • Two-thirds of the U.S. Arab population is Christian, not Muslim.
  • The most common name in the world is Muhammad.
  • All Muslim women do not wear hijabs.
  • The percentage of women in government in Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, is higher than in the United States.
  • The youngest female president in the world, Atifete Jahjaga, the president of Kosovo, is a Muslim woman.
  • Muslims give twice as much to charity as Christians.
  • When Columbus came to America, he may carried a book written by Portuguese Muslims who had navigated their way to the New World centuries before him.
  • Muslims may have settled in America before the Europeans did.
  • The first wave of Muslims to the U.S. was African slaves; at least 25 percent of the slaves violently kidnapped from their homes and families by white men were Muslim.
  • About six million Muslim live in the United States; about one-third are black.
  • Muslims range from highly orthodox to moderate to secular with many different interpretations of their religion.

The United States is not and never has been a Christian nation. On June 10, 1797 the United States signed a compact of friendship with the Muslim population living along the Barbary Coast. The Treaty of Tripoli was commissioned by President George Washington. It was unanimously approved by the United States Congress. It was signed by the country’s second President, John Adams. Of special importance is Article 11, which reads:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims); and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

How far will GOP politicians go in using the Paris attacks? Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) blamed the current distrust of Syrian refugees on President Obama’s handling of the 2011 terrorist attack in Benghazi. Yes, Benghazi. Again. Buck believes that the White House covered up some imaginary scandal, leading to U.S. distrust and making the Benghazi tragedy responsible for hostility toward refugees from a different country. (An aside about the recent 11-hour Benghazi hearing: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) said that Hillary Clinton laid “a trap” for the committee by making her appearance go “as long as possible.”

States_that_have_surrendered_to_ISIS

The above map shows which states have embarrassed the people of the United States by surrendering to ISIS. All the “red states” have GOP governors except New Hampshire. Since the map was published on November 16, 2015, Oregon has joined the green section.

What problems have we had from refugees in the U.S.? Since 9/22, 750,000 people have come into the U.S. as refugees. The following chart shows the number of refugees arrested on domestic terrorism:

refugees arrested

That’s right: zero.

The people happiest about conservatives’ rejection of Syrian refugees are members of ISIS. They hoped for this reaction, and they got it. ISIS isn’t a country: it’s an idea. Propaganda spreads this idea, and ISIS has succeeded. The more conservatives spew their hatred, the more ISIS can persuade people that peace is impossible. Rejected by the U.S., people are sent into the arms of ISIS.

November 16, 2015

How the World Got ISIS

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 8:46 PM
Tags: , ,

The U.S. war hawks are picking the bones of the nation’s involvement in the Middle East after the tragedy in Paris, hoping that the fear that they engender can get them elected. For those who blame the current administration for the mess in the Middle East, here’s a little background.

Although Middle East problems go back a century because of our drive to take oil out of the region, it was largely contained until the Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush to the presidency. In 2012, Kurt Eichenwald wrote about the August 6, 2001, daily brief with the headline, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S,” given to Bush, 36 days before 19 terrorists attacked the United States. The Bush White House claimed that it wasn’t a warning, but other documents prove them wrong.

Warnings began earlier, on May 1, and another daily brief on June 22 reported that the strikes could be “imminent.” The CIA analysis pleaded with the White House to accept the danger that they reported, and more warnings were issued during that summer. On July 1, the brief to Bush stated that the operation “will occur soon.” Bush officials tried to justify not paying attention because the warnings didn’t give them the exact place and date. During this time two co-conspirators were stopped coming into the U.S. or arrested.

Recently, former CIA Director George Tenet and counter-terrorism chief Cofer Black confirmed that the Bush administration ignored warnings in May 2001 about an imminent terrorist attack. Tenet said that the CIA presented a plan, the “Blue Sky” paper, to deal with these threats and was told to shelve the plans and hide the paper trail proving the warnings to the Bush administration. Cofer said that the information about the terrorist attack in the U.S. from the CIA’s Al Qaeda unit was “absolutely compelling [and] multiple sourced”—and was ignored.  Nineteen volunteers and a budget of $500,000 destroyed the World Trade Centers, killed thousands of people in the U.S., and cost U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars in two wars that have led to increased terrorism in the Middle East.

Bush’s advisors had long wanted to take over leadership of countries in the Middle East, as far back as 1992, and their fixation on this approach led them to ignore the warnings. Even after 9/11, they could not believe that terrorists could operate without government sanction, leading them to start a war in Afghanistan and then Iraq although the latter country had no relationship to 9/11. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on that date were Saudi Arabia citizens, yet Bush allowed Saudis in the United States to leave the country while all other flights were grounded. Osama bin Laden, blamed for perpetrating the attacks in the U.S., wasn’t killed until May 2011, during President Obama’s first term.

Emails released because of the Benghazi investigation show that Bush plotted with then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to invade Iraq in April 2002, almost a year before the actual invasion. Blair also colluded with the Bush administration to fabricate and sell “evidence” of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction and false plans to strike the United States. Bush also used spies in the British Labor Party to manipulate public opinion in favor of the war.

Bush’s decision to attack Iraq in March 2003 and kill Saddam Hussein led to a power vacuum in the Middle East that was filled by terrorists. The U.S. installation of Ahmed Chalabi, considered a “Western stooge” by his constituents, was a failure, and U.S. appointed head of Iraq, Paul Bremer, passed the de-Baathification law, barring 400,000 Iraqi members from government employment and driving them into becoming insurgents and terrorists. The training that they received and the guns that they were allowed to keep made them deadly. Almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, and they also bring the smuggling networks from avoiding sanctions in the 1990s to now facilitating the group’s illicit oil trading.

As far back as 2006, the media reported that Bush’s wars were recruitment vehicles for terrorists with numbers increasing faster than the rest of the world could reduce the threat. A National Intelligence Estimate cites the Iraqi invasion as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks united by an anti-Western agenda. The situation in Iraq worsened the U.S. position. NIE issued the report at the same time that Bush bragged about how he “removed terrorist sanctuaries … and stopped new attacks.” The terrorist networks spread and decentralized because U.S. invasion and torture alienated possible allies and led to radicalizing Muslims.

In this clip from the last June’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart shows why the growth of ISIS is not the fault of President Obama. He also shows how the president’s failure to arm Syrian rebels kept U.S. arms from the terrorists.

In their effort to place blame for the rise of ISIS during and after the Iraq War on the Democrats, Republicans are intent on accusing President Obama of withdrawing the troops too soon. The current president took office on January 20, 2009, 37 days after George W. Bush signed the Status of Forces Agreement requiring that “all the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.” In her 2011 book, No Higher Honor, Condoleezza Rice wrote that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki insisted on “the withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011.” Bush agreed. Negotiations to change the agreement broke down in October 2011 over whether U.S. troops would be shielded from criminal prosecution by Iraqi authorities.

Republicans ignore the U.S. Constitution that makes Congress, not the president, responsible for authorizing war. GOP congressional members continually dodge their responsibility. Their last vote in this issue was last June when a House committee passed a measure stating that “Congress has a constitutional duty to debate and determine whether or not to authorize the use of military force” against ISIS. Twenty-two  Republicans voted against the nonbinding amendment. There has been no debate. President Obama’s airstrikes are done under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. After lawmakers disputed the point, the president sent them a proposal last February—nine months ago—and asked for a vote on it. Then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ignored the proposal.

While the GOP avoids their responsibilities, they protest any Syrian refugees being allowed in the U.S. Ghaled, a 22-year-old dentistry student forced to flee to Germany, gave a perspective from the refugees about the tragedy in Paris. “We are with them right now, just to help them with this crisis. What’s happening to them is happening every day in Syria, 100 times per day for five years, so we know what that means.” The Syrian refugee, who walked for 17 days to escape his country, was talking about the 210,060 people, an average of 144 people each day, who died in Syria since the beginning of its civil war four years ago, at least half of them civilians.

In a poll taken last weekend after attacks in Paris, 65 percent of people in the United States oppose sending troops to the Middle East.

GOP presidential candidates are following Jeb Bush’s declaration on Meet the Press when he said, “You destroy ISIS.” They just don’t say how. They pretend that ISIS is a country and not a terrorist group found around the world. Keep Syrian refugees out of the U.S., they cry because the terrorists left a Syrian passport, perhaps on purpose, near one of the bomb strikes. Three of the seven perpetrators were French nationals, and others came from Belgium. Ben Carson called for a coalition to fight ISIS, but he couldn’t name even one ally when Chris Wallace pressed him for specifics during the interview on Fox network. Carson admitted that Hillary Clinton had the experience to keep the people in the U.S. safe.

Those who believe that ISIS attacked Paris think that the reason was France’s interference in the Middle East. Marco Rubio says that ISIS hates us because women can drive cars and because we are “tolerant.” (That last part is subject to disagreement.) Peter Beinart wrote, “Women drive in Costa Rica too, but the Islamic State is unlikely to attack it, because Costa Rica is not contesting ISIS’s control of the Middle East.” ISIS isn’t jealous of the U.S.; it just wants us out of the Middle East. Congress might want to stop trying to stop Planned Parenthood and start trying to stop ISIS.

As neocons continue to call for expulsion of Muslims to the Middle East and refuse to accept refugees who are running from ISIS, they create hundreds and thousands of more ISIS members. The past 15 years give a history to why ISIS has bloomed. If we ignore this history, we are doomed to face even greater devastation to the world.

October 16, 2014

How Outrageous Can GOP Politicians Get? Part II, or It All Hit the Fan

The Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously overturned the state’s voter suppression law when it confirmed the decision of an appeals court. The decision may be final because the reversal related only to a violation of the state constitution in exceeding its voter qualifications.  The state requires only U.S. citizenship, state residency, an age of 18 or more, and being duly registered. The decision between incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and his GOP challenger, which is very close right now, may be impacted by this decision.

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor’s opponent, has supported Rep. Doug Hunter’s (R-CA) falsehoods about ISIS infiltration across the southern border, and found himself on the losing end of a Washington Post fact-check. Cotton even mis-quoted his sources to make his statement. All he wanted to do was frighten people, but the publicity he received wasn’t particularly positive.

Cotton also thinks that “many people were happy” before Obamacare when they couldn’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Pryor, however, talked about having cancer and being in a high-risk pool. “It’s like throwing sick people to the wolves.” In the states that used high-risk pools, they were extremely expensive and highly limited in offerings. In Arkansas, for example, people in these pools had to pay as much as $20,000 and wait six months for care.

fanThe strangest occurrence of the fall campaign—thus far!—occurred last night in Florida. GOP Gov. Rick Snyder almost refused to debate opponent Charlie Crist because he had a fan under his podium. Snyder waited over six minutes to come out example: “Are we really going to debate about a fan? Or are we going to talk about education and the environment and the future of our state? I mean, really.” Crist uses at least one fan and sometimes two in all his speeches.

Snyder may learn that his childishness resulted in more publicity about “Fangate” than about his desirability as a candidate. Asked about trending early into the debate, Naples Daily News executive editor Manny Garcia reported, Well, the fan.”  In this debate, the … really hit the fan.

When someone asked Snyder why he objected to the fan, Scott said he delayed going out on the state because “we feared [Crist] wasn’t going to show up. So why come out until he’s ready?” He must not have noticed Crist behind the podium and talking for over six minutes.

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Ed Gillespie, GOP candidate for U.S. senator from Virginia, wants women to think that the Affordable Care Act stands in the way of their getting birth control. The law provides for free contraception to all women from their insurance unless a business declares itself too religious to allow this, but Gillespie thinks that over-the-counter birth control will solve all their problems. He’s not addressing the fact that insurance will not pay for OTR medications; women who don’t need a prescription will not only get good health care for this oral medication but will also be required to pay whatever the pharmaceutical companies think they can get for the product.

Thom Tillis, the GOP candidate for U.S. senator from North Carolina, tried to wipe out his opponent, incumbent Kay Hagan, by stating that she had  missed over half the hearings on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Hagan patiently remained silent during his harangue and then replied when he had finished, “Let me clarify something … I am not on the Foreign Affairs Committee. I serve on the Armed Services Committee.”

Texas’ attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate, Greg Abbott, thinks that same-sex marriage will encourage heterosexuals to have children out of wedlock. His brief reads:

“First, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in encouraging couples to produce new offspring, which are needed to ensure economic growth and the survival of the human race. Second, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas’s marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society.”

His brief also indicates that he doesn’t need “evidence” in his opinion.

“The State has no obligation to produce evidence to sustain ‘the rationality of a statutory classication’ and may rely on ‘rational speculation’ unsupported by evidence or empirical data.”

The GOP talks about wooing women, particularly single women, but Jeff Bell, the GOP opponent to New Jersey’s Sen. Cory Booker doesn’t quite understand the process. At 20 points behind Booker, Bell declares that he’s losing because of single women, but they would vote for him if they had a man. In an interview, he also portrayed the women as moochers.

“I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and looked at a lot of different polls, I think it has more to do with the rise in single women. Single mothers particularly are automatically Democratic because of the benefits. They need benefits to survive, and so that kind of weds them to the Democratic Party. But single women who have never married and don’t have children are also that way. If you take married women, they aren’t that different from married men. So it’s really a problem with the decline in marriage rates. The Democrats do benefit from that.”

Bell’s opposes college affordability, equal pay, minimum wage increase, and access to women’s health care. His statements match GOP candidate TV ads that show Democrats as ugly wedding dresses or an abusive boyfriend.

Gov.Scott Walker (R-WI) also opposes the minimum wage because he thinks it doesn’t serve a purpose. His administration has determined that $7.25 is a living wage because a state statute requires that the minimum wage amount to a living wage. According to Walker’s Department of Workforce Development, people can live on this pittance because they can receive public assistance. A living wage in Wisconsin’s capital city is more than $21 an hour for a single parent, and the federal wage would be over $10 if it had kept up with inflation. The hourly wage would be more than $20 if it had kept up with gains in workers’ productivity

South Carolina’s GOP governor, Nikki Haley, supports the Confederate flag so strongly that she objects to its removal—unless corporate CEOs think it’s a good idea. When her opponent, Vincent Sheheen, said that the racist flag should be taken down and put into a museum, Haley implied that it was still flying because CEOs hadn’t told her to do so. She claims that the state is no longer racist because she, and Indian-American, was elected governor. And to prove that the state isn’t racist, she appointed a black to the U.S. Senate. Next, Justice Anthony Scalia will claim that there should be no separation of corporation and state because it isn’t in the U.S. Constitution. Of course, there were no corporations in existence when that document was written.

The GOP is known for opposing immigration, but Carlos Curbelo, the GOP opponent for Florida’s Rep. Joe Garcia, is a paid lobbyist to protect fugitive wealthy brothers Roberto and William Isaías who were convicted in Ecuador for embezzling over $660 million from federal banks. Curbelo avoided disclosure laws by listing his lobbying firm under his wife’s name and calls his protection of the brothers a “PR project.” In introducing the brothers to influential legislators such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI), Curbelo said, “They were just sharing information.” Thus far, he has kept the brothers from being extradited to Ecuador for trial.

As one of many conservatives opposed to marriage equality, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) claims her opposition is because the U.S. was “founded on” marriage between a man and a woman. Civil unions are okay for Ellmers, sort of that old “separate but equal.”

It’s been peaceful in Congress with everyone gone for months. Now, however, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is leading a group of GOP senators including Sens. John McCain (AZ), Rand Paul (KY), and Ted Cruz (TX) in writing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to stop any spending legislation for a program that could be part of the Affordable Care Act. Their objection is a balancing of risks across insurance companies, an idea that Republicans developed in passing Medicare Part D for medications. The result could be a government shutdown after the election. New spending legislation must be passed by December 11, and Boehner has refused to comment.

Meanwhile, six U.S. senator races and 10 gubernatorial races are tied, just 19 days before Election Day.

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