FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O FOUND A NEW WAY TO GRAB ATTENTION AND STOP THE SLOW FADE TO OBSCURITY: GO TO WAR ON IRAQ.
WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON JOSH EARNEST, WHO IS ALREADY TICKED OFF THAT BARRY O KEEPS CALLING HIM "NEW JAY," TOLD THESE REPORTERS THAT IT WAS BETWEEN BOMBING IRAQ OR "GIVING PUTIN A ROSE."
BARRY O, EARNEST SAYS, REALLY WANTED TO GIVE PUTIN A ROSE "AND A RUSTY TRUMBONE SO WE'RE COUNTING THIS AS A WIN."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
It was a rough day for State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf, she had to field questions on Iraq at today's State Dept press briefing (here for it in full -- and we've excerpted the Iraq section here).
QUESTION: ISIL seized this dam up in Mosul and I was wondering if you all could put that in perspective in terms of developments there. Also, what can you tell us about the Administration’s thoughts about how to help these trapped Iraqi civilians, these religious minorities that are kind of in trouble? There’s some discussion right now about humanitarian aid and whether or not that might include airstrikes or – what can you tell us about that?
MS. HARF: Well, I’ll start with the dam and then let’s go to the broader question. Obviously, the situation on the ground remains fluid, but the latest information is that ISIL has advanced on Mosul Dam and taken control of it. We are extremely concerned by this development. The dam is a vital part of Iraq’s infrastructure, as it controls water levels on the Tigris River. It is also a key source of water and electricity generation for the Iraqi people. So we’re closely coordinating with the Iraqis – with Iraqi officials in both Baghdad and Erbil to counter this development. But also writ large, I’d just say a few points. I know there’s a lot of interest out there on this today, a lot of questions and information floating around. We are actively considering what we could do in support of Iraqi efforts – what more we could do – and particularly to provide additional support for the Yezidis, also the Christian communities we’ve talked about. Look, this is a huge humanitarian crisis. You have thousands and thousands of people at risk of death from starvation. We’re reviewing what more we can do. Obviously, we’ve talked a lot about this over the past few weeks. We’re working politically with the Iraqis on the government formation process. We’ve seen some progress, and hopefully we’ll see more. But we are right now actively considering what else we can do given the extremely grave humanitarian situation that we see on the ground. You’ve heard my colleague at the White House who I think just talked about this as well, so we’re looking at options.
I want to establish a point here so let's stay with the above and then move quickly through other sections on Iraq from today's briefing.
QUESTION: A few questions. Marie, on the question of the Yezidis, do we have any estimate of the – a number of people in peril?
MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I’m trying to get some information from our folks on that. We know it’s – there – I’ve seen reports of 15,000.
MS. HARF: I’ve seen a number of reports. I’m trying to get a little more clarity from our folks, and let me see if I can do that after the briefing. We do know it’s not just the Yezidis, though. It’s also these Christian communities. I mean, ISIL has come out and said they have a desire to kill people because of their sect or their ethnicity or their religion, and that they’ve been doing so. And so what we’ve seen on the ground is just really horrific, and that’s why right now, immediately, we are trying to find more ways to help.
QUESTION: And is – policy-wise, is stopping ethnic cleansing or is fear of potential ethnic cleansing a core national security interest of this Administration?
MS. HARF: I think you’ve seen throughout this Administration that when we have the ability to prevent humanitarian crises, or when we have the ability to help once there is a humanitarian crisis, ease the suffering of people through whatever means possible, right – we have a number of tools at our disposal – that has been a core principle for what guides our action. It’s certainly not the only one.
[. . .]
QUESTION: But ISIL could continue its advance. It could turn on the Yezidis; it could turn on the Christian minority.
MS. HARF: It already has.
QUESTION: It – yeah. Well, it could step it up.
MS. HARF: That’s true.
Marie Harf says IS is turning on Yazidis and Christians. Does she say much else?
I really don't think this would fly under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or, for that matter, under Secretary of State Condi Rice.
If a group is being attacked, they need to be defended.
Did Marie issue a statement expressing outrage over the asaults?
In the entire press briefing, she used the term Yazidis only once and the only time she mentioned Christians was with the phrase "Christian communities" -- she used that phrase twice.
Given the chance to amplify outrage or register objection, a bored Marie takes a pass, mustering all the enthusiasm to decry religious intolerance as she'd offer deciding between roasted cherry and candy-shell red at her next manicure.
This is exactly how the administration has ended up with such a lousy reputation among many Christians, Jews and other groups. The argument goes, a video on YouTube insults Muslims and Barack and others (including Hillary) are all over the media expressing dismay. But Yazidis and Christians in Iraq are not targeted with videos, they're targeted with bullets, bombs, knifes, etc. They're being killed not misentertained.
And where is the administration?
Why isn't Barack back on The View? Why isn't he denouncing this religious persecution the same way he does a video on YouTube?
I don't disagree that Barack has many things to do on any day. But if it's a question of too little time in his day, that's all the more reason that spokespeople like Marie Harf need to be strongly objecting. (For those wondering why we're not quoting Josh Earnest, White House spokesperson, the White House needs to stop being so lazy and post text and video of today's press briefing. They're lazy and embarrassing. It's Thursday and their most recent posted briefing is from Tuesday.)
There is a cultural difference that is repeatedly ignored. Most Americans have the attitude of get-over-it when a joke misfires or offends. So the notion that you would apologize -- as a leader of the free world -- over some video posted to YouTube when you won't speak out loudly and condemn killing people for their religious beliefs?
I'm sorry, Barack chose to be president of the United States. That does require you understand groups of people, not just your personal favorites.
And it is not shocking that some Christians in the US are dismayed by Barack's inability to address religious persecution -- especially when it is expressed in violence.
The gathering storm was finally spotted by the White House today.
Sky News reports, "A US official has said an 'effort has begun' to make humanitarian air drops over northern Iraq in the wake of ongoing jihadist offensive." Benjamin Landy (MSNBC) adds, "The U.S. has been flying F-18 fighter jets, B-1 bombers and Predator drones over Iraq for several weeks on surveillance missions, which could be used as cover for the humanitarian mission or to protect the 40 U.S. personnel currently in Irbil." David Jackson and Jim Michaels (USA Today) explain, "Iraqi aircraft have attempted to air drop supplies to the Yazidis but with limited success. Dropping supplies, particularly on a mountain top, is difficult as packages of food and water break open on impact. The U.S. Air Force has extensive experience with air dropping supplies, which they regularly do in the mountains of Afghanistan with accuracy."
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