Saturday, August 14, 2021

Time's Up was always a fake ass organization

I have noted Richard Medhurst and THE CONVO COUCH.  So let me note Katie Halper.



She is talking about the fake ass Time's Up.  

Why am I noting it?

I like the show.  I like Katie and find it her to be interesting.  But it is also true that THE COMMON ILLS community is a wide ranging community and we have people who prefer audio to text for various reasons including visions issues. 

HILDA'S MIX is a community newsletter that focuses on the needs of the challenged/disabled community.  And Hilda has made the point that various sites could do more to up the non-text portions.  So I am trying to highlight three YOUTUBE programs that I watch to do my part to be more inclusive.


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


Friday, August 13, 2021.  Criticism is aired at Joe Biden -- for not supporting Medicare For All? no, for not creating a UBI? no, for not doing away with student loan debt? no --  for attempting to ease the US out of the corruption quagmire aka Afghanistan, and much more.

What a fool believes, right?  Mike Jason writes at THE ALTANTIC:

Watching the rapid deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan—the Taliban have captured a third of the country’s provincial capitals in the weeks since the U.S. military pulled its troops out—has evoked a feeling of déjà vu for me.
In 2005, I was an adviser to an Iraqi infantry battalion conducting counterinsurgency operations in and around Baghdad, one of the most violent parts of Iraq during one of the most violent periods in that conflict. It was difficult to have any hope at the time. I returned to Iraq in 2009, this time in Mosul, where my unit advised and supported two Iraqi-army divisions, one Iraqi-federal-police division, and thousands of local police officers. This time, I sensed more progress: Leaving Iraq in 2010, I felt we had done a great job, turning a corner and building a capable and competent security force. A year later, I found myself in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, recruiting and training Afghan police units and commandos. After nine months there, I again rotated home thinking we had done some good.

I would be proved wrong on both counts. In 2014, by then stationed at the Pentagon, I watched in dismay as the Iraqi divisions I’d helped train collapsed in a matter of days when faced with the Islamic State. Today, as the Taliban seizes terrain across Afghanistan, including in what was my area of operations, I cannot help but stop and reflect on my role. What did my colleagues and I get wrong? Plenty.

From the very beginning, nearly two decades ago, the American military’s effort to advise and mentor Iraqi and Afghan forces was treated like a pickup game—informal, ad hoc, and absent of strategy. We patched together small teams of soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, taught them some basic survival skills, and gave them an hour-long lesson in the local language before placing them with foreign units. We described them variously as MiTTs, BiTTs, SPTTs, AfPak Hands, OMLT, PRTs, VSO, AAB, SFAB, IAG, MNSTC-I, SFAATs—each new term a chapter in a book without a plot.

Let's all sing it with Aretha.

Indeed.  Trying hard to recreate what had never been created.  

Mike Todd's nonsense goes to why military experience has little to do with anything other than military experience.  Years and years in the military and he wants to tell you that the problem in Afghanistan or Iraq -- the repeated problems -- has to do with flawas in training.  And he tries to pull in sports metaphors because, well, when you're offering tired observations -- inaccurate at that -- you dress them up however you can.

The answer was never training.  

The US spent a ton of time training in Iraq and almost as much in Afghanistan.

Training was never the issue.

In 2014, in Iraq, the Iraqi security forces did not crumble because of lack of training.  In 2008, in Iraq, the military did not see mass desertions during the attack on Basra due to lack of training.

The issue has always been that there was no buy-in.

Why risk your life for a government that does not represent you?

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the US government repeatedly undermined real democratic efforts when they sprung up.  They installed leaders who were compliant to the US but who were corrupt and despots or tyrants.  They did this over and over.

Some idiots thought the Sunnis, in Iraq, would rise up against ISIS.  And these idiots usually then turned the lack of an uprising into 'The Sunnis support ISIS!'

No, the Sunnis were a disenfranchised group who saw massive failure in the government the regularly persecuted them.  The fight between ISIS and the Iraqi government wasn't a fight that interested them because neither side had their best interests ar heart.

Corrupt governments fall -- eventually, they fall.  

And it doens't matter how often or how well you've trained their security forces.

If Mike Jason can't grasp that basic reality -- and it appears that he cannot -- then he really has nothing much to offer other than a progress review of what we all already knew.  

Let's look at two Tweets.  First, from STREAM HOUSE:

High-level #corruption has impeded foreign investment in Iraq, much to the detriment of ordinary citizens and businesses. However, we think donor countries are as much to blame as the country's corrupt political system.

The ongoing exodus from Iraq by foreign oil companies can be attributed to several reasons including: -Iraq's inhospitable investment environment -Rampant corruption -Government mismanagement -Delayed payments Read here:

So corruption is enough to drive out foreign investment as well as send Big Oil packing?  But it has no effects on the citizens of the country?

Why is that?

Is that because we're so full of ourselves that we assume the citizens of a country -- a foreign country -- are just stupid and anything can be done without them noticing?

The stupid ones wouldn't appear to me to be the Iraqi people or the citizens of Afhganistan.  The fools, however, would include people who wrongly thought the US military was a nation building body -- especially foolish for those who served in it to believe that.  A standing military exists to battle, to carry out war.  How do you confuse that with nation building?

Somewhere along the way, it appears a lot of people never bothered to learn their vocabulary lists and, as a result, struggle with words today.

The ignorance grows and spreads check out POLITICO and "Biden on Afghanistan: Not my problem" by Nahal Toosi, Paul McLeary and Alexander Ward.

As the Taliban blitz across Afghanistan and U.S. officials scramble to assess just how quickly the government in Kabul could fall, President Joe Biden is recalibrating his message to Americans.

Where he once insisted that two decades of U.S. backing had left Afghan forces capable of defending themselves, Biden and his aides have shifted to a more cold-blooded mantra: If they can’t, that’s not our problem.

As POLITOC tut-tuts throughout, they refuse to grasp that Joe Biden is right.

Joe's right and showing more maturity than many would have guessed he was capable of.

Since the Afghanistan War started in 2001, there have been three more presidents -- Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.  That's not how wars are supposed to go, no.  

And, if, after all these years, nothing is accomplished, that's your answer.  

I have no idea whether Joe's decision will be a popular one a year from now.  But it was a mature decision.  The lack of progress has been evident for over a decade.  Someone had to be the grown up in the room.  Glad Joe stepped up.

If the topic of corruption is new to you, that's really on you.  In terms of Afghanistan, Sarah Chayes has been writing about it and speaking about it forever.  The video below is from 2016.

Human rights abuses, classically defined, are gory: nighttime disappearances, a corpse lodged in the weeds by the side of a canal, scars from electrical burns blotching bruised skin or bodies swinging above city streets from the crossbeams of cranes. The horror of such crimes is easy to decry. But what about government crime that may be less gruesome though possibly even more consequential? Acute, systemic corruption is such an offense. And that is exactly what the United States, in the name of democracy, has enabled over the past 13 years in Afghanistan.

To the east of the Afghan city of Kandahar, where I lived for most of the past decade, is a long bridge over the Tarnak River. A decomposing carcass of dangerously exposed sinews, shattered by war and neglect, that bridge was an obvious reconstruction project for the Afghan government to take on. But within weeks of each repair, new holes would spring open; drivers had to pick their way around them, or abandon the bridge altogether and hazard the rocky riverbed below. Then repairs would begin anew. Meanwhile, the contractors on the job, linked to the provincial governor, flaunted sudden wealth.

A scan of recent reports by the U.S. government’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reveals dozens more cases out of the $63 billion the United States has spent on reconstruction there since 2002: an unfinished courthouse in the province of Parwan, millions of dollars in unaccountable fuel purchases by the Afghan National Security Forces, poorly constructed schools.

I once asked a weathered old man who cultivated grapes and a few pomegranate trees on the parched plain west of Kandahar what corruption meant. He answered: “When the governor of the district keeps all the reconstruction money for himself and his cronies and surrounds himself with armed thugs so no one can approach him to lodge a complaint, that’s corruption.” For him, it was no abstraction: When U.S. troops arrived in the man’s village during the 2009 surge, they blew up the thick-walled building his father had fashioned to dry grapes into prized raisins, lest Taliban militants shelter there. Afghan national army troops, under nominal U.S. supervision, stripped the building of its precious wooden beams and carried them off, presumably to sell.

This wasn’t an example of the system failing; it was an example of the system—sustained and secured by the United States—at work. Over the past decade, corruption in Afghanistan has crystallized into a business of structured networks, with subordinates paying a part of the take up the line, in return for protection from repercussions. Impunity has become the rule. President Hamid Karzai and other top Afghan officials have spent considerable energy guaranteeing it, releasing suspects from preventive detention, shutting down investigations or, in one case, even apparently facilitating the flight to England of a former minister under a travel ban. According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghans were forced to pay nearly $4 billion in bribes in 2012. But that can only be a fraction of the overall cost of corruption in the country.

We could do this all day.  Sarah's been writing about Afghanistan since the start of the war.  

I'm not seeing any of her isnight in Mike Jason's article.  Is he really unaware of it?  Is he that isolated and out of touch and unable to leave his comfort zone?



Not that long ago, the man who murdered (or is suspected of murdering -- I don't believe the trial has taken place yet) -- a government advisor was arrested.  The advisor had been murdered a year prior.  The advisor was a personal friend of sitting Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi.  The western press tried to promote that as a triumph and answer to the Iraqi people.

As I noted here, no.

No, that was not the reaction on Iraqi social media.  The reaction was that if you were a friend of Mustafa's and if you worked for the government then the otherwise non-responsive government would go after your killer.  

If you were an Iraqi activist?  Nothing of the sort happens.

We bring that up because ARAB WEEKLY's noting the assassination of a mayor earlier this week and, golly, gee, the reaction among the Iraqi people is, yet again, not one of jubiliation:

The gunning down in the street of a municipal official in the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala sparked anger Wednesday over the government’s failure to halt a wave of assassinations.

Abir Salim, the director of municipal services in the city which houses the mausoleums of two of Shia Islam’s most revered figures, was shot dead as he was carrying out his duties on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s office said.

He was on foot supervising a survey of unauthorised construction in Karbala when his killer pulled out a gun and shot him at close range.

Security camera footage posted on social media showed an attacker, dressed in a traditional white robe, open fire in the street and Salim fall to the ground.

The suspected killer was arrested shortly afterwards.

“Murderers and criminals will not escape punishment,” the prime minister promised as he visited Karbala on Wednesday to offer his condolences to Salim’s family.

His office released photographs of him berating the suspected killer, who had been blindfolded by his police captors, during a visit to the crime scene.

The images did little to assuage public anger at the apparent impunity for politically linked crimes that has seen more than 70 activists targeted for assassination since October 2019.

“The weakness of the security forces goes hand in hand with the intimidation of society by the tribes, religion and the political parties,” one Twitter user complained.

Another demanded that Kadhimi show the same energy in tracking down the killers of pro-reform activists.

There have been no claims of responsibility for the wave of killings.

But supporters of anti-government protests that broke out in 2019 charge that the culprits are known to the security forces but allowed to go free because of political connections, particularly with Iraq’s powerful neighbour Iran.dsd

The spot where Ehab al-Wazni was gunned down is just out of reach of the security cameras that project onto a TV screen in the corner of his family’s living room. His mother Samira casts a nervous glance at the screen whenever the sound of an engine echoes down the narrow alleyway that leads to their house in the Iraqi city of Karbala.

“Why did you kill him? What did he do to you? Did he hurt you? He did nothing wrong,” she bursts out during an interview with The Daily Beast, after looking at her son’s portrait arranged next to the TV.

Wazni was on his way home in the early hours of May 9 when two men on a motorbike pulled up next to his car. CCTV footage shows one man unloading a silenced pistol into the white sedan, shooting its driver three times in the head and twice in the chest. The men speed off into the night, leaving their victim slumped in his seat.

One of Iraq’s most prominent political activists, Wazni knew he was living in the shadow of death.

“Do you know what is going on? You know that they kidnap and kill, or you live in another country,” he had mockingly asked Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in a Facebook post in February this year.

The prime minister had promised to investigate a wave of killings that has swept the country. The victims are often young, politically active Iraqis, and Wazni’s death is one of countless that have gone unpunished.

The failure to rein in the killers is jarring to many citizens who believe the government knows who the culprits are. Powerful Iraqi militias, unshackled from state control, have been linked to the murder of hundreds during mass protests that engulfed Iraq in October 2019. Seeing their position under threat in upcoming elections, they are now suspected of picking off protest leaders, one by one.

Only a few make the headlines. Dr. Riham Yacoub, a human rights activist and protester, was shot in Basra last August. A few months later, the Baghdad activist Salah al-Iraqi was gunned down. Even family members are not off-limits. Ali Karim, the son of women’s rights advocate Fatima al-Bahadly, was kidnapped on July 23. His body was found a day later.

When hundreds of thousands of young people took to the streets to protest rampant government corruption, high unemployment, and Tehran’s influence in Iraqi politics, 45-year-old Wazni quickly emerged as a leading figure. He pitched a tent in front of the governor’s building in Karbala, firing up the crowd with impassioned speeches. His acerbic social media posts ruffled the feathers of government officials and gave impetus to young Iraqis hooked on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“We protested to put an end to corruption, to establish rule of law, and not live in a country where the militias rule,” says his brother, Ali. He and his mother decided to speak to The Daily Beast despite receiving frequent anonymous threats warning them to remain silent over Wazni’s killing.

By the way, protests continue in Iraq.   And protesters remain targeted.  Ruba Ali al-Hassani Tweets:

Live fire against protestors in Nasiriyah, #Iraq.
Quote Tweet
ScalesFlag of Iraq محمد الكندي
حكومة القناصة و الكواتم المقدسة . #الناصرية_تقمع

In the US, YOUTUBE is now censoring Senator Rand Paul.  Jonathan Turley writes:

YouTube has continued to enforce and expand its censorship of opposing views on its site — enforcing what it considers to be the truth on various issues. The latest subject is Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has been suspended from the site for expressing his opposition to Covid mandates. One does not have to agree with Paul on his view of Covid or mandates to see the danger of such corporate control over public discourse in the United States. However, politicians (including President Joe Biden) are calling for even greater censorship to silence those with opposing views on such subjects.

Rand posted a video on Sunday in which he lashed out at the calls for mandates and the “petty tyrants and bureaucrats” supporting them, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden. He called for people to stand up against these efforts:

“It’s time for us to resist. They can’t arrest all of us. They can’t keep all of your kids home from school. … We don’t have to accept the mandates, lockdowns and harmful policies of the petty tyrants and bureaucrats. We can simply say no. Not again.

Nancy Pelosi, you will not arrest, or stop me or anyone on my staff from doing our jobs. We have either had Covid, had the vaccine, or been offered the vaccine. We will make our own health choices. We will not show you a passport. We will not wear a mask. We will not be forced into random screenings so you can continue your drunk with power reign over the Capitol.

“President Biden, we will not accept your agencies’ mandates or your reported moves towards a lockdown.”

YouTube took down the video leading Paul to post a response to the censorship.  That response was also reportedly taken down but can be viewed on Rumble.

Sen. Paul has been criticized for this and other statements on Covid but many agree with him. This is part of our political debate. People have a free speech right to oppose the mandates and question the science cited by the government. In this case, a corporation is preventing a major political figure from being able to use its platform to engage others on this subject. It is picking and choosing who can speak and what they can say. It has a right to do so as a private company but it is wrong to do so. It is a denial of free speech and we need to address the corporate control over political speech in the United States.

This issue is huge with many aspects to it.  I oppose censorship and I oppose censoring Paul.  f support all the points Jonathan Turley makes.  There's another point though -- there are many other points -- that doesn't get made by him that I feel needs to be made.

A sitting senator is being censored?  We do understand, don't we, that a member of Congress can stand on the floor of Congress and read into the official record anything that they want -- even state secrets.  But YOUTUBE thinks it has the right to censor Rand Paul?

This is wrong and it has huge implications.  It has to do with who gets to raise issues and who doesn't and who gets access and who doesn't. It has implications on coverage at election time.  Most of all, when a politician speaks that is political speech.

YOUTUBE and the other Tech Monsters -- as Elaine rightly calls them -- want to argue what is political speech.  Political speech is Constitutionally protected speech.  And we can debate many things and quibble over it but when we're talking about the words out of sitting US senator's mouth about a public policy, that's political speech.  There's nothing to quibble over. 

YOUTUBE is censoring political speech and has been for some time.  I don't subscribe to that.  I don't applaud it.  It needs to be called out.

Glenn Greenwald Tweets:

I'm incredibly excited we've created a new video platform at . Along with , , , , and others, I'm there because, like Substack, it's dedicated not to an ideology or party but to free speech and free discourse.

I'm getting a message that the HTML code for Glenn's video is not working so I've tried to do a work around on my own -- my HTML days are really long ago and self-taught -- if that doesn't work and the video doesn't show up, click here to stream it.

I do not support censorship.  

The following sites updated: