Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Truth from Justin Raimondo and Sharyl Attkisson

I think Justin Raimondo (ANTIWAR.COM) has again nailed it:

Russia-gate is the birtherism of the left.

Equally true is a point Sharyl Attkisson makes about how the reality that has emerged is no where what was once claimed (and treated as truth):

Russia & (more so) China have long tried to influence US elections. The original accusation was that Trump colluded w/Russia. Many falsely reported it as fact 1 yr ago. Now the question is being reshaped as evidence comes up short. But we still don't have final word from Mueller.

Deeply involved, Senator Sanders?

13 computer operators is not deeply involved.

Bernie Sanders is a joke because he has made himself such.

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

Tuesday, 2/20/18.  In Iraq, it's all about the upcoming elections -- plus a NATION friend calls in a favor and we also note the passing of an important author.

A friend at THE NATION asks that I highlight David Dayen's "Special Investigation: The Dirty Secret Behind Warren Buffett's Billions" (THE NATION).

This Nation investigation documents how Buffett’s massive wealth has actually been built: on monopoly power and the unfair advantages it provides. Companies in Buffett’s portfolio have extorted windfall profits, evaded US taxes, and abused customers. In the two specific cases discussed below, in the banking and high-tech industries, Buffett’s investments have prompted federal investigations for anticompetitive or other illegal practices.
Buffett did not respond to repeated interview requests for this article, nor did he reply to questions submitted to his office at Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffett makes no secret of his fondness for monopoly. He repeatedly highlights the key to his personal fortune: finding businesses surrounded by a monopoly moat, keeping competitors at bay. “[W]e think in terms of that moat and the ability to keep its width and its impossibility of being crossed,” Buffett told the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting in 2000. “We tell our managers we want the moat widened every year.”
America isn’t supposed to allow moats, much less reward them. Our economic system, we claim, is founded on free and fair competition. We have laws over a century old designed to break up concentrated industries, encouraging innovation and risk-taking. In other words, Buffett’s investment strategy should not legally be available, to him or anyone else.
Over the past 40 years, however, the United States has not only failed to build bridges across monopoly moats; it has stocked those moats with alligators. Two-thirds of all US industries were more concentrated in 2012 than in 1997, The Economist has documented. Since the Reagan era, the federal government has abandoned antitrust enforcement, with markets for products like eyeglasses, toothpaste, beef, and beer whittled down to a few suppliers. This consolidation has vastly inflated corporate profits, damaged workers and consumers, stunted economic growth, and supercharged economic inequality.
Buffett professes to be an innocent witness to this perversity, a passive investor observing markets from afar. He is feted as the conscience of American capitalism, a multibillionaire who speaks out about taxing the rich (Democrats even named their tax-fairness plan the “Buffett rule”) and donates his fortune to charity. But Buffett’s example has helped intensify US monopolization, as other investors mimic his approach of finding companies surrounded by moats. The ownership class has subsequently built up unwarrantedly large holdings, concentrating its investment in companies that further increase market power. In other words, Buffett isn’t following America on the road to oligarchy; he’s leading it.
Americans falsely look to these oligarchs to solve our problems, allowing them to amass more power. For example, the recent joint effort by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase to transformthe US health-care system is vague and rather mundane—most large companies try to drive down health-care costs by leveraging their size. But when three of the age’s biggest monopolists follow the trend, it’s uncritically treated as front-page news, sending health-care stocks plummeting. A stray press release from Buffett can move billions of dollars in his favor.
Bill Gates of Microsoft, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Warren Buffett controlmore wealth than the 160 million poorest Americans combined. And Buffett doesn’t mind working the system to keep it that way. His net worth as of January is $87 billion, but Buffett says he paid only $1.8 million in taxes in 2015—a mere 0.002 percent of his wealth. According to Barclays, the new Republican tax law is projected to net his business a staggering $37 billion a year.

Warren Buffett should not be celebrated as an avatar of American capitalism; he should be decried as a prime example of its failure, a false prophet leading the nation toward more monopoly and inequality.

Turning to Iraq, IRAQI NEWS reports:

A senior Islamic State (IS) leader plans to form a new militant group in western Iraq in retaliation for last year’s defeat at the hands of the Iraqi army, a Jordanian paper reported Monday.
Quoting well-informed sources, the Jordanian Ad-Dustour newspaper said, “Abu Yehia al-Iraqi, a senior IS leader, started to form a new militant group in Anbar’s Wadi Hauran, depending on remaining IS militants who suffered a crushing defeat throughout their strongholds in Iraq last year.”
The sources pointed out that militants of the new terrorist group are “secretly working as shepherds, waiting for the right moment to emerge and recapture cities they lost in their fight against the Iraqi army.”

Again, the Islamic State was supposed to be defeated.  It's US puppet Hayder al-Abadi's claim to fame -- he defeated the Islamic State.  It's the claim that's supposed to guarantee him re-election as prime minister May 12th when elections are held.  For this reason, so many in the western press have sold the myth that ISIS is no longer a threat to Iraq.

Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:

ISIS claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a Shiite militia group near the Iraqi city of Hawija over the weekend, an ambush that left more than two dozen slain.
It was the deadliest attack against Iraq's Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Units since the country's forces wrested Hawija from the terror group in October.
At least 27 PMU fighters died in the Sunday night assault, southwest of Kirkuk, according to a statement released by the group on Monday.

Again, doesn't appear that the Islamic State has been defeated.

But elections are supposed to take place in less than three months.

electoral commission announcement: 88 lists, 205 political entities and 27 electoral coalitions registered for the upcoming general elections.

Currently, most of what takes place in Iraq has roots in influencing the upcoming elections as demonstrated by Adnan Abu Zeed (AL-MONITOR):

 The Jan. 28 attack on Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, a representative of top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani, was no surprise. Those familiar with attacks on religious authorities in Iraq believe the incident, which took place while Karbalai delivered a Friday sermon, was orchestrated by Shiite groups that defected from the Najaf authority. Karbala Gov. Aqeel al-Turaihi stated Jan. 27, “Deviant groups were behind the attack."
Some Sunni media outlets interpreted the attack as a sign that Iraqis in general, both Shiites and Sunnis, are frustrated with Sistani and sectarianism.
Sistani has faced social media troubles such as a fake Facebook account that was condemned by his office, and news articles and programs have taken aim at Iraq's religious authorities. On Feb. 12, intelligence services in Dhi Qar province raided several groups, arresting their members for activities targeting prominent clerics.
Several attacks on Sistani’s religious authority have been made over the years, starting as early as 2003. In 2012, a Sistani-affiliated cleric survived a grenade attack by an unknown perpetrator in front of a mosque. However, as Iraqis became preoccupied with the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014, the number of attacks declined before the recent resurgence.
After a period of suppression during Saddam Hussein's rule, the religious authority in Najaf enjoyed a broad public presence after the regime collapsed in 2003. Sistani then began addressing and influencing the masses' political choices and the war against IS. Now, Sistani's rivals are trying to reduce his influence and distance him from the 2018 elections.


Next month ongoing Iraq War -- or this version of it -- hits the 15 year mark.

Though some fools rush to rehabilitate Bully Boy Bush, not everyone is a Dancing Ellen.

Replying to 
Dubya was president when I graduated high school in 2003. I was 18 when I went to my first Iraq protest. I want to f[**]king scream when I think of the same college kids and suburban moms who came to the city to protest who now think Bush is great because he's not Trump.

Susannah George (AP) reports:

The U.S.-led coalition, which launched its fight against the Islamic State in August 2014, is now reducing the numbers of American troops in Iraq, after Baghdad declared victory over the extremists in December. Both Iraqi and U.S. officials say the exact size of the drawdown has not yet been decided.
U.S. and Iraqi commanders here in western Iraq warn that victories over the Islamic State could be undercut easily by a large-scale withdrawal. Iraq's regular military remains dependent on U.S. support. Many within Iraq's minority communities view the U.S. presence as a buffer against the Shiite-dominated central government. Still, Iranian-backed militias with strong voices in Baghdad are pushing for a complete U.S. withdrawal, and some Iraqis liken any American presence to a form of occupation.

That has left an uncomfortable limbo in this area that was the last battlefield against the extremists. Coalition commanders still work with Iraqi forces to develop long-term plans for stability even as a drawdown goes ahead with no one certain of its eventual extent.

A drawdown is taking place -- not a withdrawal.  Credit to George for getting it right.  A drawdown took place at the end of 2011 as well but, except for Ted Koppel, you be hard pressed to find any media outlet that got that right.  I get that a large amount of it was the hagiography required to elevate Barack Obama (similar to the spin and lies that created the myth of Abraham Lincoln) but the country wasn't served by that lying.  The US has never withdrawn from Iraq.

On Lincoln, Ann wrote about an important book last week "Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream."  The author of that book was Lerone Bennett Jr.  We're going to take a minute to note him because he has passed away and because he was a personal friend.  THE ST. LOUIS AMERICAN offers:

Perhaps no other voice—or pen—captured the real life of Africans and African Americans like Lerone Bennett Jr., the former editor of EBONY and Jet magazines who died on Wednesday, February 14 at the age of 89.
Chicago Sun-Times reported that, Bennett suffered from vascular dementia.
Among his many hard-hitting and compelling works was the exposé, “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America,” in which Bennett traces Black history from its origins in western Africa, through the transatlantic journey and slavery, the Reconstruction period, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Movement.
Bennett would go on to pen at least 10 books, including the eye-opening, 2000 book titled “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream,” which, for some, shattered centuries-old myths about America’s 16th president’s involvement in the freedom of slaves.

“Smart man and great author. His book [about Lincoln] changed my life,” said comedian Sinbad. “Before the Mayflower’ educated me about the need to research our true history.”

Morehouse College Mourns the Loss of Iconic Journalist Lerone Bennett Jr., former executive editor of Ebony and Acclaimed Historian. He honed his journalistic talent at Morehouse, where he developed a passion for writing, research, and intellectual debate.

It is with great sadness and a profound sense of loss that we share the news of the death of Lerone Bennett Jr., a gifted historian and journalist. Read our full statement:
Lerone Bennett Jr, obituary: journalist and historian who claimed Lincoln was a white supremacist
Just got word of the passing of legendary journalist and author Lerone Bennett. The longtime editor of Ebony Magazine, he was a force to be reckoned with. A man of impeccable integrity, he covered many of the most important civil rights stories of the 20th century.
  • Morehouse Mourns The Loss Of ‘Iconic’ Journalist Lerone Bennett Jr.
    A dear friend of The King Center, & transitioned. We celebrate the life & legacy of Mr. Lerone Bennett, Jr. Mr. Bennett was an author-activist, former editor of & brilliant historian. He penned ‘What Manner of Man,’ a biography of Dr. King’s life.
  • Our condolences and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones of Author, Historian and former EBONY and JET Editor Lerone Bennett Jr.
    I just learned of the passing of Lerone Bennett Jr., the intellectual activist and long-time editorial leader at Ebony Magazine, who set the standard that I and my generation of black journalists strove to reach. May God comfort the Bennett family.
    Lerone Bennett Jr., a historian and journalist who wrote extensively on race relations and black history and was a top editor at Ebony magazine, is dead at 89
    A man named Lerone Bennett Jr. died today at the age of 89. He was a journalist and a former executive editor at . He was also a huge influence on me as a writer and thinker, especially via his books, *Before the Mayflower* (1963) and *The Challenge of Blackness* (1970).
    Lerone Bennett dies at 89; historian, journalist, writer chronicled black history
    “Since I was a child, I was just fascinated by the printed word." Lerone Bennett has died at 89.
    Just heard of the death of the great author and EDITOR OF EBONY MAGAZINE LERONE BENNETT JR. MAY HE R.I.P.
  • Lerone Bennett Jr., 89, former editor of Ebony magazine
    Angela Davis writing in Ebony, July 1971. Yall know where she was during that period, right? This is the legacy of Lerone Bennett. We could do this all day. And all week.
    Lerone Bennett was lyrical and outspoken in his writing, arguing that the history of black people in the U.S. had been ignored or told only through a white filter
    The Legacy of Lerone Bennett, Jr. by | Society for US Intellectual
    “An educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor.” —- Lerone Bennett, Jr.
    Little Known Black History Fact: Lerone Bennett, Jr.
    “Whatever you do, strive to do it so well that no man living & no man dead & no man yet to be born, could do it any better.”~The Rev. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, 6th President of Morehouse College, 1940 to 1967;mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Lerone Bennett Jr.

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, DISSIDENT VOICE, BLACK AGENDA REPORT, Z on TV and LATINO USA -- updated: