Thursday, May 29, 2014

VA censors who appears before Congress

I am not C.I.  She is on a tablet with one hand and taking notes with the other.  We are at a House Subcommittee hearing focusing on veterans who are disabled or challenged and how the VA serves them.

It is a fascinating hearing. 

But I am dropping back to last night.

I attended the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on the VA.  It was a major hearing. 

I left it drained and tired -- only partly due to how long it lasted and that it was a night hearing.  (I am not a young woman.  I am a great-grandmother.)

When I mentioned Sunday to my family that I would be at some House Veterans Affairs Committee hearings, my grandson Jayson asked me what I thought of U.S. House Representative Mike Michaud?

I explained that he was professional and focused and I respected him.  Jayson wanted more.  So I said that a certain crazy, wig wearing person on the Committee thought she would be Ranking Member but C.I. said "no" online and went to work offline on this issue.  Mr. Michaud was one of two people C.I. argued would do a great job and one of the two she advocated for.

Jayson was happy about my thoughts and about C.I. being impressed with Mr. Michaud as well.

He then revealed to me that Mr. Michaud was one of the few openly gay people in Congress.

I did not know Mr. Michaud was gay. 

I need to note that.  We live in a world that is expanding for diversity.  That is a very wonderful thing.  When my grandson Jayson came out, I supported him immediately.  I was proud of him for his honesty and for his courage.

I am proud of Mr. Michaud for coming out as well.  I have noted him before here but I have never noted his being gay because I did not know until Jayson told me on Sunday.

Last night, the Committee held a hearing about the inability of the V.A. to provide the Congress with information -- truthful information.

I want to note this exchange with Ranking Member Mike Michaud and Joan Mooney.  Ms. Mooney holds the office of  Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ranking Member Mike Michaud: I can give you examples where legislators asked the subject matter expert whether or not they could come brief us on certain issues.  They said they were willing to but they have to go through O.C.L.A. to get O.C.L.A.'s permission --

Joan Mooney:  No, it's not!  I would respectfully suggest --

Ranking Member Mike Michaud:  Okay --

Joan Mooney:  We look to --

Ranking Member Mike Michaud: Okay --

Joan Mooney:  -- coordinate --

Ranking Member Mike Michaud:  Okay, we have an e-mail and we'll be glad to share it with you, Ms. Mooney, from a subject matter expert saying that that is the policy of the VA.  Now we can address that, I brought it to Sloan Gibson's attention, I've talked to the Secretary [of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki] a number of times about the fact that the relationship between the Department [of Veterans Affairs] and this Committee is getting extremely strained because we are not able to get the information that we need to.  We tried to, at the beginning of my term as Ranking Member, we tried to smooth out some of the requests as far as going directly to the subject matter expert.  That has not worked.  And so hopefully, we'll be able to get that working the way it should be working, rebuild our trust and open line of communication.

"No, it's not!"  I am working from C.I.'s notes -- she takes great notes -- and seeing her exclamation point, I remembered that moment.

Ms. Mooney snapped and then wanted to toss out "respectfully." 

Of greater importance, the exchange made clear that the V.A. has been barring certain individuals from appearing before the Committee to answer questions.

President Barack Obama should address that.  He pledged transparency and yet Congress cannot even get V.A. witnesses they need before them because V.A. officials are refusing to allow them to appear.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot"  for today:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack lies about Iraq in a speech, Barack gives up another carrot to Nouri, Nouri's War Crimes continue, a call goes out to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to step in and offer a political ruling, the US Shinseki is taking on water at an alarming rate as Democratic senators begin calling for him to step down, Rachel Maddow (and others) lie about Senator Richard Burr who did not insult veterans, Maya Angelous passes away, and much more.

Let's start with lies in the US, lies from a leader and lies from a pack.

The leader?  US President Barack Obama.  He spoke at West Point today.  Can you spot the lie?

Good morning. Thank you, General Caslen, for that introduction. To General Trainor, General Clarke, and the faculty and staff at West Point -- you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution, and excellent mentors for the newest officers in the United States Army. I'd like to acknowledge the Army's leadership -- Secretary McHugh and General Odierno, as well as Senator Jack Reed -- a proud graduate of West Point himself.
To the class of 2014, I congratulate you on taking your place on the Long Gray Line. Among you is the first all-female command team: Erin Mauldin and Austen Boroff. In Calla Glavin, you have a Rhodes Scholar, and Josh Herbeck proves that West Point accuracy extends beyond the three point line. To the entire class, let me reassure you in these final hours at West Point: as commander-in-chief, I hereby absolve all cadets who are on restriction for minor conduct offenses. Let me just say that nobody ever did that for me when I was in school.
I know you join me in extending a word of thanks to your families. Joe DeMoss, whose son James is graduating, spoke for many parents when he wrote me a letter about the sacrifices you have made. "Deep inside," he wrote, "we want to explode with pride at what they are committing to do in the service of our country." Like several graduates, James is a combat veteran. And I would like to ask all of us here today to stand and pay tribute - not only to the veterans among us, but to the more than 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families.
It is a particularly useful time for America to reflect on those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom -- for you are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. When I first spoke at West Point in 2009, we still had more than 100,000 troops in Iraq. We were preparing to surge in Afghanistan. Our counter-terrorism efforts were focused on al Qaida's core leadership. And our nation was just beginning a long climb out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Four and a half years later, the landscape has changed. We have removed our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan.

Read more here:

We have removed our troops from Iraq.  But they didn't all leave at the end of 2011.  And beginning in 2012, Barack sent a troop back in.

At the end of September 2012, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        
Some e-mail and say, "That's a story about Syria!"  Yes, it is.  Do I need to spoon feed you, burp and wipe you?  In the middle of the article on Syria, Arango worked in that detail -- an earth shattering one.  But the Times either ignores reality or buries it deep in a story.

We included Barack's intro because it makes the lie even more appalling. "Thank you, General Caslen"?  It's the same General Caslen who spoke to Arango.-- Robert Caslen.  When he was put over West Point, the press had yet another chance to cover the reality of US troops going back into Iraq but they decided to take a pass.  Again.

It's always interesting to see what the press will cover.  They'll ignore realities about Iraq but they will busy themselves with nonsense and lies.  Right now the TV idiots have spoken on one topic but, as usual, they don't know a damn thing they're talking about.  Rachel Maddow is a liar.  Bob Somerby has documented that repeatedly.  I believe Rebecca nailed the liar long before Bob Somerby ever even knew her name.  (Rachel's or Rebecca's.)  And, of course, it is our own Elaine, committed to peace, who prompted Rachel's on air meltdown.  Simply for asking why -- on the Unfiltered blog -- Rachel kept bringing on this vet and that vet but never, ever a veteran for peace, a veteran against the war?  Elaine was actually being kind.  She honestly thought it was an oversight.  It wasn't an oversight.  Rachel supported the Iraq War.

Point is, a lot of useless trash has a stink that wafts off them.  It's no surprise the stink is back.

Rachel's b.o. spread on her show last night as she attacked Senator Richard Burr for this and that including his blocking Tammy Duckworth's nomination in 2009.  She doesn't know why, Rachel says, but she wants you to know he didn't serve in the military.

Rachel didn't serve either.

She forgets to note that.

I don't think you have to have served in the military to advocate for veterans.  I didn't serve.  That doesn't mean I can't advocate for veterans.

But Rachel has always tried to play manliest man in the room.  No one scratched their crotch and spat harder than Sgt Rachel.  Hoo-ah!

Mike Michaud is the Ranking Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  He didn't serve in the military so by Rachel's phantom penis logic he shouldn't be on the House Committee.

I believe Bernie Sanders never served in the military.  (I don't believe he did and his official bio makes no mention of serving in the military.)   He is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee so, by Rachel's phantom penis logic, Bernie shouldn't be Chairing the Senate Committee.  The best Chair the Committee has had in the last ten years was Senator Patty Murray and she didn't serve in the military.

And, let's remember, Barack didn't serve in the US military nor did Bill Clinton.

Military service isn't a pre-requisite for serving in Congress or serving on a Committee or the only measure of service.

Having dealt with that nonsense, let's move over to Rachel's claim that Senator Richard Burr attacked veterans.  In fairness to Rachel (who never is fair to anyone else), many other outlets have also used that 'frame.'  It's inaccurate.  Burr issued a statement on Saturday:

To the Nation’s Veterans,

Over the course of the last few weeks, there has been a great deal of media coverage—rightly so—of the still-unfolding story coming out of the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding secret wait lists and other problems related to appointment scheduling at VA facilities. Last week, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs heard from Secretary Shinseki, representatives of some of the Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), and others.
While a great deal of the media coverage of the hearing has focused on what Secretary Shinseki said, and didn't say, much less has been seen of the testimony of the VSOs that testified. I wanted to take a brief moment to comment on that testimony.
First and foremost, I must recognize and commend the American Legion, National Commander Dan Dellinger, and the American Legion team for taking a principled stand, before the hearing and during it, and calling for leadership change at the VA. It is clear that the Legion has been listening to its membership about the challenges they face in gaining access to care, and has reached the conclusion that "enough is enough" and the status quo is indefensible. The Legion's membership has much to be proud of with the organization they support.

Regrettably, the Legion was alone among the VSOs that testified in taking such a stand. It became clear at the hearing that most of the other VSOs attending appear to be more interested in defending the status quo within VA, protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the Secretary and his inner circle. But to what end? What use is their access to senior VA staff, up to and including the Secretary, if they do not use their unprecedented access to a Cabinet Secretary to secure timely access to care for their membership? What hope is there for change within the VA if those closest to the agency don't use that proximity for the good of veterans across our country?

I believe the national and local commanders of every VSO have the interests of their members at heart, and take seriously their commitment to their members and their organization. Unfortunately, I no longer believe that to be the case within the Washington executive staff of the VSOs that testified. Last week’s hearing made it clear to me that the staff has ignored the constant VA problems expressed by their members and is more interested in their own livelihoods and Washington connections than they are to the needs of their own members.

I fear that change within the VA will not be possible unless and until these organizations also reconsider their role as well as the nature of their relationship with VA.


Richard Burr 

United States Senator

That is not an attack on veterans.

It is a critique of VSO leaders.

He can do that.

He felt the VSOs failed and he said so.

He's allowed to do that.

I criticize VSOs re: Congress all the time here.

It's not a slam on veterans.

Forget any specifics of the argument.  Are VSOs too polite to Congress?


That's only controversial if you want to make it controversial.

IAVA has the best standing right now but is that because it's still a new group?  When new leaders emerge in the group will they tone down some of their speaking?


(I don't toss my personal life out there but I'm currently sleeping with a board member of a VSO.  That's all the disclosure prying eyes will get.  But factor that into what follows if you need to.)

When I cover a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing -- House or Senate -- I don't usually note the VSOs unless it's a legislative hearing.  I cover the first panel.  The second panel?  If it pops up in the second day of coverage, it's because a veteran friend calls and says, "Hey, the point ____ was making was important and you should think about including it."

Burr's correct, the VSOs are too respectful.

(Equally true, though I don't consider myself to be the media, it is true we report on the VA hearings in Congress as many Committee members know.  Burr's comment about what got covered in reporting could be a critique of my own work.  He could be finding fault with it.  If it was and he is, he's correct.)

In the past few years, they've had good relations with Committee members (House and Senate).  But it's also true that they're pretty much addressing the same problems over and over, year after year, the VA stalls and blocks or says it will address and doesn't.

If the Senate had a functioning Chair right now -- no, Bernie is not doing a good job -- the Committee would have issued a list of actions they have passed and the VA has still not acted on.  That's actually a rather long list.

Rachel wouldn't know about that or anything else that her staff didn't clip for her to read.

Richard Burr?

He can be a real ass.

That's why Kat loves him.  He doesn't float along with the crap the way so many do.  He is loud, he is critical.  He uses those attributes to try to help veterans and their families.

The statement he released was perfectly in keeping with Burr.

I have heard no outcry over the statement from veterans.  Yes, VSO leadership is offended.  Oh well.

They issued statements denying Burr's assertion.  They would have served the membership better by issuing statements which read, "While we strongly disagree with Burr's conclusions we will consider them."

Instead, what you saw was tantrums by VSO leadership at various organizations.  And maybe that's a good thing as they threaten they will stop being so nice?

Burr congratulates The American Legion.  Let's use them as an example then.  When they gave their annual presentation to both veterans committees, I called them and their new leader out.  And I have done with others and will always do so.  And, no, my pointing out that issues related to women veterans are being ignored in presentations by VSOs  is not me attacking veterans.

Burr offered a critique.  He takes the issue very seriously.

If you're bothered by it, you should call him out.  You should mock him, ridicule him, do whatever.  But why do you have to lie?

Are your reasoning skills so insufficient that you can't make a case without lying?  Or is lying just second nature for you at this point?

Do you think the VSOs did a great job in the May 15th hearing?  Since none of the yackers attended it, they can't say for sure unless they want to find it online and stream it.  But I guess, like attending the actual hearing, streaming it would be too much work for the Rachel Maddows of this country.  [We covered the hearing in the Thursday, May 15th snapshot and Friday, May 16th snapshot, Ruth covered it in "Senator Richard Blumenthal says call in the F.B.I.," Kat covered it in "Shinseki needs to be fired," Ava covered it in "Shineski (Ava)" and Wally covered it in "More talk, no action (Wally)."]

If you think that they did, then that's your argument and you should make it.  But you're lying when you say that Burr attacked veterans.  He did no such thing.  He spoke out because he believed the veterans were not being served properly or well by VSO leaders before Congress on May 15th (with the exception of the American Legion).

You could even go to the media critique he offered.  But then you'd have to acknowledge whether or not you actually covered that hearing and Rachel Maddow and her ilk did not cover it.  We covered it here.  Speaking for me, again, Burr's correct.  I did not cover the VSOs.  I didn't find them to be important in that hearing or worth covering.  My first day of coverage was of the first panel (Shinseki) and my second day was acknowledging my judgment call on the Committee itself had been wrong.  That resulted from lengthy conversations with five veterans who were at the hearing.  And not one of those veterans said to me, "You know there's a point from the second panel that you should note."  (The second panel was the VSOs.)

Why lie about Burr?

They're attacking Burr -- Rachel and her pack of liars -- because they want to make it about Burr and not about Eric Shinseki.  Eric's the Secretary of the VA.  They've done a lot of rescuing of him.  The playbook says don't call it a "scandal" and attack Bully Boy Bush.

It doesn't make a lot of sense.  Shinseki's been VA secretary since early 2009.  And it is a scandal.  Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) reports today:

At least 1,700 military veterans waiting to see a doctor were never scheduled for an appointment and never placed on a wait list at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Phoenix, raising the question of just how many may have been "forgotten or lost" in the system, according to a preliminary report made public Wednesday.
Describing a "systemic" practice of manipulating appointments and wait lists at the Phoenix Health Care System, the VA's Office of Inspector General called for a nationwide review to determine whether veterans at other locations were falling through the cracks. 

In response to that news, US House Rep Jeff Miller, Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, issued the following:

May 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following the release of the VA Inspector General’s interim report on VHA patient wait times, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement:

“Today the inspector general confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt what was becoming more obvious by the day: wait time schemes and data manipulation are systemic throughout VA and are putting veterans at risk in Phoenix and across the country. Right now, there are two things that need to happen. Attorney General Eric Holder should launch a criminal investigation into VA’s widespread scheduling corruption and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign immediately. Shinseki is a good man who has served his country honorably, but he has failed to get VA’s health care system in order despite repeated and frequent warnings from Congress, the Government Accountability Office and the IG. What’s worse, to this day, Shinseki – in both word and deed – appears completely oblivious to the severity of the health care challenges facing the department. VA needs a leader who will take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability. Sec. Shinseki has proven time and again he is not that leader. That’s why it’s time for him to go.” Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

We should remember that the 14 days issue (VA medical centers pretending they were meeting 14 days for appointment scheduling), which they try to avoid in their 'coverage,' is not a Bully Boy Bush creation.  It's Eric Shinseki.

But it's probably over for Shinseki.  On Don Lemon's CNN program Newsroom, the last segment was a discussion about an unnamed White House official saying Shinseki was on "thin ice."

Looks like fate decided to take a bar of soap to Rachel Maddow's trashy mouth.  Today, US Senator Mark Udall became the first Democratic senator to call for Shinseki to step down.  His office issued the following:

Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, said the preliminary report issued today by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' inspector general shows that Secretary Eric Shinseki needs to step down to make way for new leadership to better serve Colorado's veterans.
"The inspector general's preliminary report makes it clear that the systemic problems at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are so entrenched that they require new leadership to be fixed. Secretary Shinseki must step down," Udall said. "We need new leadership who will demand accountability to fix these problems and ensure the VA is providing Coloradans the services they've earned."
Udall has fought to protect Colorado's veterans and recently pressed Shinseki to aggressively address the recently discovered problems at VA facilities in Colorado and across the nation and to swiftly address the agency's lack of strong, public leadership.

Senator John Walsh became the second.  Senator Al Franken made the call.  Senator Jeanne Shaheen made the call.

Where's Bernie?

Where's Socialist Bernie Sanders who thinks his ass stands a chance in a Democratic Party presidential primary?

 We're not noting his ridiculous statement.

He issued one.

[Deleted before this posted because I'm trying to be kind.  But piss me off much more on this and I'll out the little cabal pimping Bernie.]

. . .

And he's going to be a joke to the country as he tries to pretend he has the character to run for president when he doesn't even have the spine to stand up on any issue. He's failed veterans.  It's time Democrats replaced him with a real Democrat.

When Al Franken and the others are leading the charge for Shinseki to step down, Bernie Sanders should be as well.

Shineski is now a sinking ship.

From Shinseki's failures to Nouri's never ending failures.  The list is long.  Grant Smith and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) note one example:

The revival in Iraqi oil output has stalled. Again.
Production forecasts for 2014 are getting less optimistic. The Oil Ministry’s official target is 4 million barrels a day by the end of the year. More likely it will be 3.75 million, Thamir Ghadhban, an adviser to the prime minister, said in an interview May 14. Or perhaps 3.4 million, about the same as last month, according to the average of six analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News. 
Nouri can't even keep the oil flowing. 
Aswat al-Iraq notes KRG President Massoud Barzani met Monday "with Ahemd al-Jerba, anti-Syrian Chairman of the Syrian National Alliance, in Paris" and stated the Kurds would not support a third term as prime minister for Nouri al-Maliki and that the Kurds "will not remain in a government headed by Premier Maliki and will exert efforts with other parties to find a real partner to head the coming federal government." Iraq concluded parliamentary elections April 30th.  Nouri failed at his effort to win enough seats to form a majority government.  Now he is among those scrambling to be named prime minister-designate.  NINA reports that Mohammed Karbouli (Mottahidoon Coalition MP) stated his coalition will be in talks with the National Alliance to agree on who to nominate for prime minister.  The Mottahidoon Coalition is headed by the current Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  All Iraq News reports the coalition has formed a committee "to negotiate with the other blocs over the formation of the next government."  Alsumaria reports that al-Nujaifi is calling on the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to weigh in on the issue, stating is of huge importance to the country and that the principle of a third term for anyone should be rejected.  Alsumaria notes he's put the request into writing. Alsumaria also reports that Ayad Allawi is calling for a coalition that will put together a partnership government.

Jason Ditz ( reports on rumors that the Kurds in the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) and Goran are on board with Nouri. The big winner in provincial elections and parliamentary elections combined was the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party).  Goran had a strong showing in the provincial elections upsetting and the PUK is on shaky ground since their leader (Jalal Talabani) has been AWOL from Iraq for over a year and a half.  Despite the rumors, Rudaw reports the PUK's Adnan Mufti states the PUK and KDP (two of the main Kurdish parties) agreed to present a united front on the issue of the "formation of the next Iraqi government."  He also states they are a united front on the issue of oil.
Despite generating tremendous oil revenues and despite it being the fifth month of 2014, the KRG has received no federal funds from Baghdad for the year -- has still received no funds.  Nouri's attempted to use these funds to blackmail the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. Possibly, as a result of this, last week, the KRG supplied Turkey with oil.  There is no oil and gas law in Iraq.

Yes, another Nouri failure.

The US government installed the puppet in 2006 and made clear that he was being named prime minister in part to get the oil and gas law passed.

Nouri failed.  Throughout his first term, he failed.  The US government secured him a second term.  He failed again.

Eight years of failure.

Business can't wait for Nouri to figure out how to pass a law, workers can't wait for Nouri to figure out how to pass a law.  The Kurds decided they wouldn't wait.

World Bulletin notes that Barzani told the Parliament that, "We are open to dialog and negotiations with Baghdad but we want 17 percent from the Iraqi budget.  Baghdad acted unconstitutionally by cutting our share of the governmental budget.  Oil sales are transparent and appropriate according to the constitution."  He also declared the KRG's intent "to export half a million barrels of oil every day to the global markets by the end of the year."  All Iraq News adds:

"The decision to cut the salaries and entitlements of staff of the region was issued by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as well as delay sending the territorial budget before we export crude oil to Turkey," noting that there is no guarantee of sent the region's budget again and the salaries of the staff of the region amounting to 850 billion dinars a month did not reach them, and Baghdad has sent 10% of the budget of the region not 17%," he concluded. 

Nouri's failures as prime minister are at every turn.

While all eyes focus on who might end up prime minister, the first spot to fill is president of Iraq.  Rudaw notes the PUK is said to want Barham Salih, Najmaldin Karim or Fuad Masum for the post.  It is considered a given that the president must be a Kurd.  It is not a given, though.  In 2010, US Vice President Joe Biden tried to talk Jalal Talabani into stepping down so that Ayad Allawi could be president.  Allawi is a Shi'ite.  His Iraqiya had won the most votes but the US government wanted Nouri to be prime minister.  This was one of their efforts to ensure that happened.  Jalal refused Biden's request and made it very clear that he found the suggestion to be insulting.

Jalal can't seek a third term as president.  In December 2012, he suffered a stroke.  The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  Even were his health not in question, the presidency is limited to two terms (and a close reading of the Iraqi Constitution could make a case that this same ban applies to the post of prime minister).  The PUK wants it to go to someone in their political party.  Other names floated, outside the PUK, include KRG President Massoud Barzani.

Turning to violence, AFP reports, "Shelling in the militant-held city of Fallujah, a short drive west of Baghdad, killed three more people, a day after New York-based Human Rights Watch criticised the Iraqi government for possibly violating the laws of war by shelling the city's main hospital."  We noted Human Rights Watch's "Iraq: Government Attacking Fallujah Hospital" yesterday and will note it again this week but right now, with Nouri's War Crimes in mind, note another event.

This is why many of us on the left slam Barack Obama as ineffective.  Yesterday, the White House issued the following:

Executive Order: Ending Immunities Granted to the Development Fund for Iraq and Certain Other Iraqi Property and Interests in Property Pursuant to Executive Order 13303, as Amended

- - - - - - -
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 5 of the United Nations Participation Act, as amended (22 U.S.C. 287c) (UNPA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, have determined that the situation that gave rise to the actions taken in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, to protect the Development Fund for Iraq and certain other property in which the Government of Iraq has an interest has been significantly altered. Recognizing the changed circumstances in Iraq, including the Government of Iraq's progress in resolving and managing the risk associated with outstanding debts and claims arising from actions of the previous regime, I hereby terminate the prohibitions contained in section 1 of Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, as amended by Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004, on any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process with respect to the Development Fund for Iraq and Iraqi petroleum, petroleum products, and interests therein, and the accounts, assets, investments, and other property owned by, belonging to, or held by, in the name of, on behalf of, or otherwise for, the Central Bank of Iraq. This action is not intended otherwise to affect the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, as expanded in scope by Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, which shall remain in place. This action is also not intended to affect immunities enjoyed by the Government of Iraq and its property under otherwise applicable law.
I hereby order:
Section 1. The prohibitions set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, as amended by Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004, are hereby terminated.
Sec. 2. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and the UNPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their statutory authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec. 3. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 4. This order shall be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register.


Why would you do that?

Nouri wants that.

He wants that very badly.  Just like he wanted the United Nations to move Iraq out of Chapter VII.

That's what's known as a carrot or an incentive.

Why would you just give it away?

Nouri wants it?  Make him earn it.  Tie it into the bombing of civilians in Falluja, for example.  'Nouri, we'd love to do this but we can't if you're killing civilians.'

The reason 'the stick' is so often used by this administration isn't just because it's filled with War Hawks, it's also because they're too stupid to understand the carrot approach.

They've already tossed out the diplomatic toolbox, now they're throwing away the carrots.

Pretty soon, 'the stick' is all that will be left.

Staying with the topic of  violence, AFP notes over 4,000 people have died from violence in Iraq so far this year.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Badr Organization official Abdul Salam Ali was left injured when he was shot in front of his Kirkuk home, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Hawija, 12 people were kidnapped from a Kia bus "on the road between Baiji and Haditha," a Husseiniya sticky bombing killed 1 police member, security forces killed 11 suspects in Qayyarah, a Qayyarah roadside bombing killed 1 student and left three more injured, a Latifiya roadside bombing left five people injured, and 2 corpses were dumped in Baghdad.  All Iraq News adds that a Shurqat bombing ("attached to reaping machine") left one farmer injured, and 1 person was shot dead in southern Basra.  Alsumaria notes a mortar attack in Babylon's Hujayr left 1 twelve-year-old boy dead and another injured.  AFP adds that "a series of 11 bombings in the ethnically-mixed town of Tuz Khurmatu killed five people, four of them members of the same family, and wounded 11, officials said. The blasts targeted homes belonging to ethnic Turkmen in the town, which is also populated by Arabs and Kurds and lies in a stretch of territory that Kurdish leaders want to incorporate in their autonomous region in the north over the objections of the central government."  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports a Baghdad suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 14 other people.

Moving to the topic of writers, in Iraq Ghaith Abdul-Ahad has been awarded an honor.  UNAMI issued the following statement:

Baghdad, 27 May 2014- The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov presents his congratulations to Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, this year’s winner of the George Orwell Prize for Journalism. “Gaith Abdul-Ahad was distinguished by the Orwell Prize Jury for his coverage of the conflict in Syria, more particularly his compassionate writing about those whose lives were destroyed by the conflict”, Mr. Mladenov said.

“I hope this well-deserved prize to a highly regarded Iraqi journalist will be an inspiration for all his colleagues, especially here in Iraq, who continue, despite the numerous difficulties they face, to display the highest standards of professionalism in performing their daily work”.
In the US, poet Maya Angelou has passed away.  Reuters notes the eighty-six-year-old first found widespread acclaim with   I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.  Richard Long (Smithsonian) explains:

Maya Angelou's signature book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, burst upon the American literary landscape in 1969, becoming an immediate bestseller. It has retained its position as a treasured work in the past 36 years, capturing the loyalty of successive generations of readers, remaining a constant recourse for those who early on were enraptured by its story of a girl growing up in rural Arkansas amid the tensions of America’s black-white divide. Her memoir is a narrative of the ability of the human spirit to surmount adversity.
The title of the book comes from the poem “Sympathy” by the late 19th-century poet known as the poet laureate of African-Americans, Paul Laurence Dunbar. The poem is a meditation on the struggles of a bird to escape its cage, an analogy frequently invoked to describe an oppressed people. It also speaks to the supposed contradiction of the bird singing in the midst of its struggle.
Angelou became a member of the Harlem Writers Guild a decade before Caged Bird was written, but her focus had been poetry and drama. The book grew less out of the literary ambitions of its author than out of her marvelous skills as a raconteur. So profoundly did these impress her friend James Baldwin that he urged her to write an account of her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas. At first she resisted, not wishing to interrupt her poetry or playwriting, but challenged by the hint that perhaps she lacked the skill to transpose her scintillating oral narration to print, she produced Caged Bird.

Susie Madrak notes the passing at Crooks and Liars. Susan notes the passing at On the Edge.  Dana Liebelson (Mother Jones) notes some insight Maya shared with the magazine in a 1995 interview.  On Tavis Smiley's PBS program (Tavis Smiley) he will be noting Maya's passing and the rich and meaningful life she lived.  Anita Little remembers her life and career at Ms. magazine's blog.  As Jessica Letkemann (Billboard) notes she wore many hats including dancing, co-writing a song with Roberta Flack ("And So It Goes") and recording an album with Ashford & Simpson (Been Found):

But her biggest splash back into music came alongside R&B legends Ashford and Simpson soon thereafter. The poet invited the duo to her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. for Thanksgiving 1994 after dancer/choreographer George Faison introduced them. During the meal, Nick Ashford decided to "mess around" with a piano in the basement. "I told Val to play piano and Maya to add something" Ashford told Billboard in 1996. "We started singing and something stared to happen - and they didn't know I had a tape recorder going underneath the piano." Angelou got "so excited," at the resulting snippet (which turned into the song "I Remember All"), that the collab quickly developed into an entire album.
1996's "Been Found" includes Angelou appearing with Ashford & Simpson on seven of the 11 songs. The album, which also heralded the launch of the duo's Hopsack and Silk label, was responsible for Angelou's first and only three Billboard chart appearances.  It reached No. 49 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Single "Been Found" hit No. 80 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, while "What If" notched a No. 94 placement on the same tally.

"And So It Goes," Maya's collaboration with Roberta Flack, first appears on Roberta's Oasis album:

Love is a rush of wild wind;
The scent of a summer rose
A whistle blowing on a distant track
and when it goes, it goes

Take your heart where it longs to be
I won't bind you to a memory
I know if I wait,
it will happen to me oh ho