Friday, November 13, 2020

Reality on CONSORTIUM NEWS, Joe Lauria and Scott Pig Ritter

 Ava and CI.'s "TV: Who's been sleeping in my bed?" finally went up.  I blogged about it Sunday in "I do not think I can support CONSORTIUM NEWS anymore."  They wrote it late Saturday night/early Sunday morning.  THIRD did not get the other stuff done until Thursday night.  This is the section of Ava and C.I.'s report regarding CONSORTIUM NEWS and I will put "***" at the start of the excerpt and at the end of it:


We're done with CONSORTIUM NEWS.  Journalist Robert Parry started that site after his run-ins with the corporate media.  It was going to be an alternative news source.  For many years it was and it survived.  Apparently, it can't survive Robert Parry's death in January of 2018.

Joe Lauria now runs and ruins CONSORTIUM NEWS.


The site is less focused now that Parry has passed away.  It has added a video element with their program CONSORTIUM NEWS LIVE!  They feature a number of writers -- mostly men (Caitlin Johnstone is one of the few women the site publishes regularly and Elizabeth Vos co-host CNL!).  Our problem is with one writer, Scott Ritter. 


From the November 6, 2020 episode of CONSORTIUM NEWS LIVE!:

Joe Lauria: We got Scott Ritter who's coming in --

Elizabeth Vos: Fantastic.

Joe Lauria: (Con't) -- who's going to join us.  Scott, yeah.


Elizabeth Vos:  That's great.


[. . .]


Joe Lauria:  Maybe Scott knows more about that.  He's been in the military, so maybe he knows.  Scott, are you with us?  We just need you to unlock your -- There you go. Welcome Scott Ritter to CN LIVE! -- back to CN LIVE! I really appreciate this.  Day four of our election.  Scott, of course, former US Marine counter-intelligence official and better known to the world as a lead UN weapons inspector in Iraq and a critic of the war for which he was ostracized.  And he's back with us.


He was back with them.  In fact, he never left.  He was with them when Robert Parry was alive.  He's with them now.  


And we largely looked the other way.  Not that many people read CONSORTIUM NEWS -- Ray McGovern's articles, for example, reach a larger audience when they go up at INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE. It also has nothing that would really appeal to young people.


Why does that matter?


Because, as Lili Taylor sings in SAY ANYTHING, "Joe lies."

And he does and he did.  Ritter wasn't ostracized because he was a critic of the war.  Ritter's public profile increased as he spoke out against the war.  Many people suffered for speaking out against the war, for doing the right thing.  Janeane Garofalo made two funny sitcom pilots and both were passed on and, yes, it was because she was speaking out against the war.  Phil Donahue's MSNBC program was cancelled despite high ratings because MSNBC didn't want any voices that might offer anything other than rah-rah war.  That's an example of two who suffered.


Did Scott?


His increased profile, his higher visibility, led to his life being better known.


And he may have been ratted out because of his position on the war or it might have been for other reasons -- including many of his former friends finding him irritating.  One of his former friends began airing Ritter's dirty laundry.  


He was removed from CNN -- and we know this because it was a CNN friend that advised one of us to not to promote Ritter -- because he was arrested for trying to have sexual relations with a girl.  He was caught in an online sting.  


Ritter insisted it was an attempt to shut him up.  It wasn't.  He was arrested.  His defenders tried to lie that this was all Bully Boy Bush and it was to silence Ritter.


Problem with that?  For one, Ritter's arrest that came out?  It was his second arrest for trying to have sex with an under-age girl.  His second arrest.


Still people like Seymour Hersh ignored this and went on speaking tours with him and promoted Scott.



We didn't promote him.  We called him out.  Laura Flanders and many other so-called feminists were promoting Ritter.  In the height of hypocrisy, Laura used a weekend -- a Saturday show and a Sunday show -- to call out some sport (football in the US or the UK, we didn't care) for a sports team using a Gary Glitter song.  Glitter, a UK hit maker with tellingly leering songs like "Do You Want To Touch Me," was arrested in 1997 for having 'kidie porn' -- arrested and convicted  He was arrested again in Then came 2012 and the accusations of Glitter having raped a girl in a BBC dressing room.  Other accusations followed and he was convicted again in 2015 -- convicted on multiple charges including intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.  


And Laura was offended by the fact that one of his songs was being used at sporting events.

She was offended by that.  But not by the fact that Scott Ritter was twice arrested for attempting to have sex with girls -- underage females.  That didn't offend her and she was happy and thrilled to bring Scott Ritter on her program repeatedly.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, at this time, was also happy to interact with Scott Ritter.  Scott was the Jeffrey Epstein of the US political world.  Even though it was known -- after the war started -- what Scott had been arrested (twice) for, people were willing to ignore it.  

To Katrina's credit, after we hit on this topic repeatedly, including asking how she, as a mother of a teenage daughter, could give a platform to Ritter, saying to young NATION readers, "Trust this guy" -- after we hit on the topic repeatedly, Katrina stopped publishing Ritter at THE NATION.

THE NATION mattered and Laura's program mattered because they do attract underage audiences.  Not a huge number, but they do attract a significant number.  (Laura now does GRIT TV and we're sure she continues to attract a significant number of young people.)  That can include young girls.  And if young girls are being told this is someone to listen to and that person is a predator, that puts them at risk.  As we noted repeatedly regarding Amy Goodman's fetish with Ritter that involved her bringing him on her program non-stop, when the next girl is put at risk, that's going to be on Amy.

And there's always a next one with predators.  It's how they work.  

And, here's the thing, Bully Boy Bush started the Iraq War with the help of a craven Congress in 2003.  Bully Boy Bush, we were told, tried to destroy Scott Ritter. Bully Boy left the White House in January of 2009.  Explain to us how, with Barack Obama as president, Scott ends up arrested again in November of 2009?


And this time, they're not nice about it.  They don't sweep it under the carpet the way they did with his first arrest.  They don't just give him six months probation like they did with his second arrest.  They take him to trial and convict him.  He spends approximately 29 months in prison before being paroled.


And yet THE HUFFINGTON POST and other outlets continued to publish him.  At which point, we noted that they should -- at the very least -- be running a disclaimer with the articles: Writer may molest young girls.

We think redemption is a possibility for most people.  Where we differ on Ritter is that his crime is the sort that doesn't just go away.  We're talking a criminal act committed by repeat offenders.  And, unlike so much of our society, we actually value girls.  We think their lives matter.  We believe they should not be subjected to the advances of adult males.  (Or adult females, for that matter.)  Ritter was trying the one-time only claim when news of his arrest surfaced in 2003 -- news of his second arrest.  And he claimed it had no bearing and it was in the past and blah blah blah yet, in 2009, he got arrested for the same thing yet again.  Who knows when he'll be arrested again?

He's a danger to young girls.

Bill Tilden.  He was arrested twice for sexual activity with young boys.  The first time, supposedly, he was arrested while engaging in the act in a car.  Later, he'd be arrested again.  Before he had that attached to his name in the late forties, he had been a star in the tennis world.  After his professional career ended, he'd used his name to become very comfortable (he was born into wealth but he spent freely) by giving tennis lessons.  With the exception of Katharine Hepburn, most of his famous friends went running after the arrests.  Charlie Chaplin did allow Tilden to use his own tennis court so that Tilden could give lessons (and earn income).  But that was rather weak.  Katharine Hepburn made a point to be seen publicly taking lessons from him and told everyone it was no one's business.

We don't agree with her claim.  But we do admire that she stood by someone she considered a friend.

And we bring up Tilden because we're not trying to prevent Ritter from putting food on the table and having a roof over his head. CONSORTIUM NEWS doesn't bring in a lot of young readers and Ritter targets girls who, honestly, would be the last to visit the website because it has no appeal for females.  Ellizabeth Vos is just a 'yes, you're right' to whomever man she's speaking with, Caitlin's articles can be read elsewhere on the web and there's no effort made to show females that they are wanted as readers of the site.  So Ritter publishing there was something we ignored.

Up and until Joe introduces him on the program as someone who suffered for telling the truth.

That's not why he suffered.  Even if Bully Boy Bush himself had outed Scott Ritter, that's not why he suffered.  He suffered because he had twice attempted to have sex with an underage girl.  Probably, he attempted it more than twice.  But two times led to his arrest.  That's what brought him down.  And then, years later in 2009, he was arrested a third time.  

Joe Lauria's actions are harmful and damaging.  We warned against Ritter for years, noting he would likely be arrested for the same actions -- criminal actions -- again.  And in 2009, he was.  Now we get Lauria -- on YOUTUBE -- insisting to the world that Ritter's world was brought to an end because he was a truth teller.

No, he's a serial predator who targets young girls.  

We have to wonder about the mental health of Joe Lauria.



End of excerpt.  They really are amazing, Ava and C.I.  


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

 Friday, November 13, 2020.  Sorry, guess we're team Glenn.  He's attacked again and we examine his latest attacker.

Glenn Greenwald, Paul Street.  One struggles to tell the truth, the other just whores.  Glenn's not the whore.  Paul Street has a post at COUNTERPUNCH that is just full of one lie after another.  He has suffered, he tells you, for his truth telling about Barack.  Uh, no.  No he hasn't.  He whored for Barack at key moments and did so intentionally.  We stopped noting him in 2008 as a result.  So for him to show in 2020 and claim to be a truth teller?  No.  He ran offense for Barack and he can pretend all he wants, but that is reality.  He's angry, Paul is, because Donald Trump is a fascist.  No, he's not and that's really sad to say when you consider how many people have suffered through fascism.  It's a term we toss around loosely in the west -- some of us.  I've never applied it to any political opponent.  But the brain challenged like Paul want to do so.

It was racism -- a charge Paul loves to make and has loved making it since 2008 -- for Donald to have told four women to go back home, members of the Squad in Congress.  Was it?  That is your interpretation of it.  You may be right, you may be wrong.  But it is not a fact.  I heard Katie Halper misquoting Donald recently on another time when he was supposedly racist.  I know Bob Somerby has noted the full quote about twenty times since Donald uttered it and explained how the media distorted it.  It did no good for Bob to try.  I have other things to do.

But let me say something:  Naomi Klein, go the hell home.

Does that make me a racist?

I have no idea why Donald said what he said about the Squad.  I doubt, honestly, that he knows why he said what he said.  He's a hot head and always has been and that's one of the main reasons that I do not like him (and he does not like me which is completely fair).  He would sometimes, over the years, attempt to say hello to me at social functions and I would walk away from him without responding.  I do not like him.  

But I'm aware of that and try not to filter every response to what he said or did through my 'Trump hate filter.'  

I think Naomi Klein should go home because I'm sick of her interfering in our elections.

Yes, she's half American.  But her father chose to leave the US military and go to Canada.  I applaud him for being a war resister.  But I don't think his daughter gets citizenship or the right to interfere in US elections as a result.  War Resister Kimberly Rivera was forced back to the US -- and Paul Street didn't write one word about her.  She and her kids can participate in US politics.  But the notion that Naomi, who did not grow up here, who was raised in Canada and born in Canada, has the right to keep sticking her damn nose into US elections?

No.  And I didn't like it when she did it in 2008 and called it out the first minute she used a book event as a campaign rally.  Born in Canada, raised in Canada, married to a Canadian, voting in Canadian elections, get your nose out of our business.  

I know Justin Trudeau and you don't see me butting into Canada's elections.  I almost did because Justin was never what people thought he was.  I almost quoted from a letter his father wrote to me.  (And another time, when he was campaigning, I almost ripped apart his mother over an event that I know of but was never reported on.  I didn't do that either.)  We cover Iraq here.  I have never ever spent a campaign telling the Iraqi people who they should vote for or who they should support.  Anytime any Iraqi politician has been campaigning and sent a press release, we have noted it -- regardless of the party, regardless of the person, regardless of anything I might feel.

Members of the Squad are American citizens and those born elsewhere suffered a great deal to get here.  I respect that.  I don't think Donald does and it wouldn't be in his character to do so.  Donald's world has always revolved around Donald.  He's not a deep thinker.  His responses are immediate and they are obvious.  

It has been hilarious the last four years to watch all these faux 'resistance' types -- in the media and out -- try to read the tea leaves and figure out what Donald meant when he said whatever.  They're spending far more time on it than Donald ever did.  He doesn't think, he just lashes out like the angry child he is -- one who is hurting.  

Paul Street loves to pretend he was on the side of right.  No, Paul, you were on the side of snide.

Snide and bitchy can be fun.  Ava and I used to do it all the time in our media pieces and it was fun -- saying watching SUPERNATURAL was like watching gay porn with actors too stupid to take off their clothes?  Bitchy and fun.  But we always tried to follow David Letterman's edict about being a gnat trying to sink the Love Boat -- meaning you aim high.  You target those in power.  Paul didn't aim high.  He slammed the citizens and did so in bitchy and mean ways that only revealed how much hatred he has for the electorate and anyone who doesn't agree with him.  

Glenn and I often do not agree.  I am not a Glenn fan.  I do value his work.  I do think he tries to be fair and I do believe he lacks any hostility for the people in general.  That puts him so far above Paul Street and so many others.

Before we get to Glenn, Ava and my "TV: Who's been sleeping in my bed?" finally went up.  We note the ridiculous Paul Reickhoff and we considered calling him out for his recent music 'critique.'  In the end, we didn't.  But he was praising a musician who is a known racist in the industry and who, as late as 1986, was using the N-word in published interviews.  The man is a racist today and has always been one.

I bring that up because Paul's swearing by Noam Chomsky.  I know Noam -- for decades now.  And I wouldn't swear by him.  I like Noam but I wouldn't swear by him and Noam knows why that is and hopefully he'll address that at some point.  Otherwise, I'll address it if this site's around when he passes.  Tick-tock, Noam, tick-tock.  Paul swears by a lot of people.  His list of four doesn't impress me at all.  And I've already called out Cornel West in the last month or two here.  

Paul reminds me of a photographer I know.  I've known Demi Moore for years.  She's a wonderful person.  One time, the photographer was at a function at my home and Demi was present and she refused to talk to Demi.  That's how much hatred she had -- and towards this woman she never met.   Fine, everyone doesn't have to like everyone.  Whatever.

But then Demi's on the cover of ROLLING STONE in 1995.  And photographer calls me and is just raving over Demi.  I'm like, "Where did you talk to her?"  Photographer didn't.  Photographer read the ROLLING STONE cover story.  And suddenly Demi was a goddess.

Now Demi's a wonderful person but I don't think you're going to learn that in a feature article.  I really don't think so.  Paul is like that photographer.  He doesn't know anything he's talking about.  He couldn't give you the history of Angela Davis, for example, without pulling up WIKIPEDIA.  He comes off like a little kid flipping through his baseball cards, not like a functioning adult trying to offer a critique.

He's furious with some college student (or someone who was a college student in 2016) and he writes about that.  At least his nonsense about Glenn Greenwald has him going after someone of stature.  He pretends that he's done something the last four years and praises himself for it.  He hasn't done anything.  He's not written of War Resisters.  He's not covered the ongoing wars.  He's not sought to spotlight the plight of the Palestinians.  He's been the equivalent of a Hollywood gossip columnist writing exactly what he knows his readers want.  There's no strength, there's no courage and there's no lasting value to his work.  He's so pathetic, he even apologizes for voting for Jill Stein in 2016.  

I really can't stand people who won't own their votes.  I say over and over, it's your vote, use it as you want to (which includes not voting), vote for whom speaks to you.  I say that as long as you're doing that, your vote is not wasted.  

But these people -- this includes photographer as well -- who come along after the vote and start scraping and bowing about how they voted?  I can't stand them.

I've noted I voted for Al Gore in 2000.  I've noted that I did not vote for Ralph Nader and that the notion of doing so -- never a strong possibility -- was ended with ROLLING STONE's 2000 interview with him where he attacked feminist leaders for not joining him on the very important issue of high heels.  Ralph was weak on choice.  Instead of being honest about that, he chose to attack women.  If you voted for him, that's fine, but that interview ensured I would never, ever vote for him.  And I think only now are people -- drive-bys -- starting to get how much I dislike Ralph.  There are all these e-mails about how in 2008 we noted this and we noted that and -- Anytime someone running for office sends something in, we will note it.  I'm not here to tell you how to vote and if I do endorse in a race it's one I can vote in.  I despise people like Alyssa Milano who go all over the country butting in with other communities.  You are not a resident and you can't vote in that election?  Then butt the hell out.  I love Lloyd Doggett and I love Sally Field but I feel the same way anytime Sally's hitting me up for money for Lloyd or campaigning for Lloyd.  Sally, of course, has a grace that Alyssa lacks so it's not as annoying but, yes, it does bother me.

Our officials are supposed to represent us.  It's not my business who Atlanta elects for this post or that post because I don't live in Atlanta.

The only thing I ever endorse completely is vote for who you believe in.  If you do that, you didn't waste your vote.  I don't care for Joe or Donald.  If you voted for either of them because they spoke to you, then your vote wasn't wasted.  Good for you and I'm happy for you.

This nonsense of after an election whining?  Don't.  I don't want to hear it.  The election is over and you voted how you voted.  If you were happy with it when you voted, that's great.  If you're not now, let it go because it really no longer matters unless you're in the process of inventing a time machine.   

Kevin Zeese passed away this fall.  It is a great loss.  But no one can say that Kevin wasted his life.  He fought for the issues he believed in.  He worked to popularize those issues -- he worked to do that and he did do that.  Yes, he was working on Howie Hawkins' campaign this go round but he didn't spend time in between campaigns endlessly offering sop the way Paul Street did and does.  Kevin focused on real issues.  He (and his partner Margaret Flowers) covered real issues like debt and Medicare For All   His life and his work mattered. 

Paul Street is the equivalent of David Broder and all he has to offer is gas baggery.  He'd fit right at home on the Sunday chat & chews if they'd have him (which they won't).  There's no deep thinking, there's no strong core of ideas and beliefs.  There's just endless chatter about 'hot topics' -- that he's probably cribbing from THE VIEW.  

Okay, Glenn.  In his latest, he's addressing the way the Hunter Biden story was silenced by the media and tech giants -- from his article at SUBSTACK:

The Biden campaign immediately embraced this evidence-free claim about Russia from Schiff and the intelligence community to justify its refusal to answer questions about the revelations from this reporting. “I think we need to be very, very clear that what he's doing here is amplifying Russian misinformation," said Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield when asked about the possibility that Trump would cite the Hunter emails at the last presidential debate. Biden’s senior advisor Symone Sanders similarly warned on MSNBC: “if the president decides to amplify these latest smears against the vice president and his only living son, that is Russian disinformation."

Far worse were the numerous media outlets that spread this evidence-free claim of Kremlin involvement in lieu of reporting on the contents of the emails. Just watch how CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell purported to “report” on this story — an emphasis on the Russian origins of the materials, featuring a former “FBI operative” who admitted he had no evidence for the speculation CBS nonetheless aired, all with no mention of the serious questions raised by the revelations themselves:

As I noted when I announced my resignation from The Intercept, a major reason I harbored so much cynicism and scorn for their claim that my story on the Hunter Biden emails had failed to meet their high-minded, rigorous editorial and fact-checking scrutiny was because that same publication was just was one of the many anti-Trump news outlets which, in the name of manipulating the outcome of the election on behalf of the Democratic Party, had mindlessly laundered the CIA/Schiff narrative without the slightest adversarial skepticism or, worse, without a whiff of evidence.

Just one week before they refused to publish my own article, they published this remarkable disinformation, featuring an utterly reckless paragraph that was nothing more than stenographic servitude to the intelligence community and Adam Schiff. Just marvel at what was approved by the fastidious editorial and fact-checking machinery of that “adversarial” publication concerning claims by ex-CIA operatives:

Their latest falsehood once again involves Biden, Ukraine, and a laptop mysteriously discovered in a computer repair shop and passed to the New York Post, thanks to Trump crony Rudy Giuliani. The New York Post story was so rancid that at least one reporter refused to put his byline on it. The U.S. intelligence community had previously warned the White House that Giuliani has been the target of a Russian intelligence operation to disseminate disinformation about Biden, and the FBI has been investigating whether the strange story about the Biden laptop is part of a Russian disinformation campaign. This week, a group of former intelligence officials issued a letter saying that the Giuliani laptop story has the classic trademarks of Russian disinformation.

Numerous other media outlets disseminated the same CIA propaganda — including The Economist (“Marc Polymeropoulos, the CIA’s former acting chief of operations for the Europe and Eurasia Mission Centre…notes that ‘the use of actual material is a hallmark of Russian disinformation campaigns’”) and (needless to say) MSNBC’s Joy Reid program (“Hunter Biden story an ‘obvious Russian plot’ McFaul believes”).

I don't watch MSNBC -- I don't have time for garbage.  If I'm watching the news, it's generally in a foreign language -- French or Arabic -- sometimes Spanish. Most nights, whatever makes the news has already been endlessly discussed throughout the day.  But I thought Glenn was going to touch on something that he didn't.  So Ava and I might grab it at THIRD.  There was a very interesting historical moment on MSNBC this election cycle that echoed the lead up to the Iraq War.  And it was interesting for who it came from. 

Anyway, Glenn has risked a great deal in his journalism career.  It's more than I ever would have expected of him.  I praised him for his journalistic work on the Ed Snowden story -- repeatedly praised him -- but recent events argue that Glenn deserves a great deal more respect than I've ever granted him.

He writes about topics others don't want to touch. I admire that.  I am a huge believer in PROJECT CENSORED (and if they'd put something up on YOUTUBE, we'd highlight them again).  

Chris Hayes Tweets:

I think it’s a good thing that there’s now pretty broad bi-partisan agreement Iraq was a horrible disaster and I think we’ll probably get to the same agreement on Trump’s Covid response at some point a decade from now.

I like Chris.  I know some don't.  Jimmy Dore doesn't like Chris.  Jimmy watches Chris so he's entitled to that opinion.  Chris was there when it counted and I don't forget that so I avoid his program because I'd prefer not to say anything harsh about him.  Ava and I have tackled him twice at THIRD.  Otherwise, I'd rather not say anything mean.

Is Iraq like Covid 19?  I don't think so.  For one thing, we're hopeful that the pandemic may end at some point -- the hoped for finish line keeps moving though, so maybe it might end up the forever scourge the way Iraq has ended up the forever war.  

But currently, I don't see it.  I'm also aware that there haven't been a lot of good responses from any governments.  Margaret Kimberely has rightly noted that the Chinese government appears to have had some success but our xenophobia and our government's hopes for war with China mean that we won't really go into exploring that.

Maybe that's how Covid is like Iraq?  Everyone knows it's wrong and it's hurtful and killing people but no one wants to really discuss how to end it?

JulieGrace Brufke (THE HILL) reports:

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) is calling on the Trump administration to dramatically reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in the coming weeks. 

In a letter sent to President Trump on Wednesday, the Arizona Republican — who has been a vocal critic of the United States having a prolonged military presence in the region  — said that the country’s involvement in the countries has “been enormously costly in lives and dollars.”

Biggs argued that despite the U.S.’s efforts, Afghanistan still faces many of the same issues seen when American troops first arrived. 

We're here because we're here?  Let's drop back to the February 8, 2012 snapshot:

We covered the November 30th House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the MiddleEast and South Asia in the December 1st snapshot and noted that Ranking Member Gary Ackerman had several questions. He declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the [police training] program?  Interviews with senior Iaqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter didain for the program.  When the Iraqis sugest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that might be a clue."  The State Dept's Brooke Darby faced that Subcommittee. Ranking Member Gary Ackerman noted that the US had already spent 8 years training the Iraq police force and wanted Darby to answer as to whether it would take another 8 years before that training was complete?  Her reply was, "I'm not prepared to put a time limit on it."  She could and did talk up Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Adnan al-Asadi as a great friend to the US government.  But Ackerman and Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot had already noted Adnan al-Asadi, but not by name.  That's the Iraqi official, for example, Ackerman was referring to who made the suggestion "that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States."  He made that remark to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
Brooke Darby noted that he didn't deny that comment or retract it; however, she had spoken with him and he felt US trainers and training from the US was needed.  The big question was never asked in the hearing: If the US government wants to know about this $500 million it is about to spend covering the 2012 training of the Ministry of the Interior's police, why are they talking to the Deputy Minister?
The US State Dept wass not ready to put a time limit on it, by their own words.  How long does the 'training' continue?  How many years and how many billions?  If it's really not clear to you, let's drop back to the House Foreign Relations Committee hearing of December 1, 2011 for this exchange.
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: When will they be willing to stand up without us?
Brooke Darby: I wish I could answer that question.
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: Then why are we spending money if we don't have the answer?
[long pause]
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: You know, this is turning into what happens after a bar mitzvah or a Jewish wedding. It's called "a Jewish goodbye."  Everybody keeps saying goodbye but nobody leaves.

All this time later, the White House, the State Dept, all of them can still supply no concrete plan but can continue to insist that millions and millions of tax dollars be spent for something,anything, in Iraq that will somehow help even though it has not thus far.

That is true today -- but everything above after "we're here because we're here?" is from a 2015 snapshot.  Nothing changes if nothing changes.

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