Saturday, June 07, 2014

Dirty Rice Speaks










Moving over to conspiracy theories, nut job MJ Rosenberg (MWD) froths:

The Bergdahl frenzy is the phoniest pretense for Obama bashing since Benghazi. But that does not mean it won't succeed.
In fact, I think it is possible that a Republican Congress will impeach Obama over one or both of those issues (ike President Clinton, he would not be convicted because even a GOP Senate could not muster 67 votes for conviction.)

Is that what you think, you raving nut job conspiracy theorist?

MJ Rosenberg is a graduate of Media Matters which means he majored in sexism and minored in delusion.  He lets the crazy run free because that's what Professor David Brock taught -- carrier monkey that he is.  Excuse me, diseased carrier monkey that he is bringing all of his unethical methods over to the left from the right after he'd burned his bridges there.

Taught by the master teacher in deception and lies, David Brock, a student can learn to make up any lie in the world and pimp it.  That's what the disgraced David Brock did to Anita Hill, after all.  A cheap little liar who has never made amends.

MJ Rosenberg studied under a quack and a liar so he is what he was taught.

But in the real world, there are many reasons to be upset with Barack surrendering 5 prisoners from Guantanamo for one US soldier.

1) The Congress wasn't informed.  First and foremost -- though a 'graduate' from Media Matters would never understand this, those who train under David Brock don't learn the Constitution -- this is a democracy, this is not a monarchy.  Senator Dianne Feinstein is offended by the lack of notification to Congress.  I've known Dianne for years.  I'll say about 20% of her being offended is personal as a member of Congress who should have been notified.  But the other 80%?  That's Dianne being offended -- rightly -- because of her role.  It's not about her.  It's about America's representatives.  That's what Dianne is, she's in the Senate to represent the people of California -- so is Senator Barbara Boxer.  And whatever other faults I have with them, both women do grasp the importance of their roles.  I would argue that's true of other senators as well.  Senator Al Franken takes it so seriously it's almost an obsession.  (And that's a great obsession to have, trying to represent the people of your state.)  Those are just Democrats but there are Republicans -- many -- in the Senate who take this role and this obligation seriously.  We have a system of checks and balances.  We do not have a king in the US.

Glenn Greenwald:

But as even stalwart Obama defenders such as Jeffery Toobin admit, Obama “clearly broke the law” by releasing those detainees without providing Congress the 30-day notice required by the 2014 defense authorization statute (law professor Jonathan Turley similarly observed that Obama’s lawbreaking here was clear and virtually undebatable).

2) Glenn Greenwald has made this very clear: By ignoring Congress to release the 5 from Guantanamo, Barack has made it clear that he thinks he could have released everyone there and closed it.  So why hasn't he?  He swore he'd do it if elected.  Then he got sworn in (January 2009) and broke his promise.  As Glenn has noted, this is a rather big point of the story.  Mike weighed in on that point earlier this week.

3) Any soldier rescued would raise questions.  Jessica Lynch never lied about what happened to her.  I'm really tired of the dicks -- including Rachel Maddow and her phantom penis -- who try to lie about Jessica Lynch or use her name as a punchline.  When she spoke, she spoke the truth.   She was not responsible for the lies and the spin created by an administration trying to rally support for their illegal war.  My point here is that even when the spin was that she was being tortured or harmed, there were still some who wondered why a rescue mission was being carried out for her?  (There was no rescue mission.  She was being cared for -- as she herself notes -- in an Iraqi hospital.  She was not a prisoner.) Even at the height of the administration propaganda, there were people who questioned whether Jessica was 'worth' a rescue.  And, guess what, in a democracy that's allowed.  In a democracy, people discuss issues and find the point where everyone can agree.  That's what self-rule is. So the US soldier who was released in exchange for the five prisoners Barack surrendered, he was always going to be a question mark.

4) Find a better family spokesperson.  I saw that crap this morning.  Good talking points.  Some of them cribbed from here.  But  he should have stuck to what the White House told him.  I picked up the phone while that nonsense was airing and asked, "You didn't tell him to talk about the mom did you?"  Don't talk about the mom.  She may be wonderful, she may be awful.  But she's married to the father and the father has been a bad image on this story since Saturday.  He needs to shave his beard immediately and appear in public and if anyone doesn't like that, my response is, "Grow up, this isn't about him.  This is about his son." You better believe if one of my children were in trouble, I would change anything -- hair, clothes, whatever -- to lessen any hostility towards one of my children.  This isn't about your right to grow a beard.  No one questions that right.  This is about you getting off your ass and helping your son.  Shave the damn beard.

(FYI, when I saw the photos Saturday, I called an administration friend to ask why the hell the father didn't shave before appearing with Barack.  That bushy crap -- not shaped, not styled -- was disrespectful to the office of the president. Worse than that, it fed into the image of 'these are strange people.'  Shave the damn beard.)

5) The White House has offered an ever changing storyline.  That doesn't help.  Each day is a new day for the novelist.  At this point, this late in the game, stop changing the story.  It makes the White House look dishonest.  Bite the bullet and own the decision or continue to have this dominate the news cycle.  See Frank James' "Explaining The Bergdahl Swap Hasn't Been Obama's Finest Hour" (NPR).

6) The terms of the deal have been criticized.  The US got one person, the Taliban got five.  Elise Labott (CNN) noted earlier this week:

While secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was skeptical of early plans to trade Taliban prisoners for American captive Bowe Bergdahl, former officials involved in the process told CNN on Tuesday.

Clinton pushed for a much tougher deal than the one with Qatar that secured the Army sergeant's release in exchange for five terror detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they said.

Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) reports:

Despite that the White House’s claim this week that the United States did not negotiate “directly” with the Taliban to secure the Bergdahl swap, the State Department, Defense Department, and White House officials did meet several times with Taliban leaders in 2011 and 2012 to discuss the deal. The negotiations, held in in Munich and Doha, fell apart in early 2012. But before they did, Clinton had a framework deal drawn up that was much tougher on the Taliban than what ultimately got done two years later.
Three former administration officials who were involved in the process told The Daily Beast that Clinton was worried about the ability to enforce the deal and disinclined to trust the Taliban or the Haqqani network in Pakistan, which held Bergdahl until this weekend. Clinton was so concerned, the former officials added, that she may not have even signed off if the negotiations had succeeded.

In Barack's administration, Leon Panetta headed the CIA and later was Secretary of Defense. David Conti (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) reported Wednesday:

 “I don't fault the administration for wanting to get him back. I do question whether the conditions are in place to make sure these terrorists don't go back into battle,” former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a gas industry gathering in Pittsburgh.
Panetta, who was in the Cabinet for four of the five years Bergdahl spent in Taliban custody, said he opposed a swap for the terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when he was Defense secretary.
“I said, ‘Wait, I have an obligation under the law,'” Panetta said during a lunchtime address at the Hart Energy Developing Unconventionals DUG East conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. “If I send prisoners from Guantanamo, they have to guarantee they don't go back to the battlefield. I had serious concerns.”

That's two people who were in the administration and they're not rushing to dance in the streets.  If members of the administration were skeptical are you really surprised that there are Americans who would be as well?

7) CBS News reports Hillary writes in her book (which is officially released Tuesday) on negotiating with the Talbian:

I acknowledged, as I had many times before, that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war,

Wow, is Hillary a psychic?

No, she's just got more common sense than MJ Rosenberg.

8) The soldier is a 'deserter' in the eyes of many.  If he self-checked out and had he gone public, we would have covered him here.  We cover war resisters.  I find MJ Rosenberg's sudden concern for war resisters to be suspect.  First off, he only applies it to one person.

We cover war resisters.  We used to cover them all the time, for years and years.  There's just not enough information to cover them as much as we used to.  But we covered them and I know the hate mail that came in for that.  I personally support war resisters.  You don't have to agree with me on that.  But to be so outraged that they were even mentioned?  They are part of history.  They are news.

This is from the April 17, 2007 snapshot:

Starting with war resister news, Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, shared Saturday of how his son's struggle has inspired him.  Ehren Watada, in June 2006, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  In February 2006, his court-martial ended a mistrial and his next court-martial is scheduled for July 16th.  Brian Charlton (AP) reports that Bob Watada spoke Saturday at a Honolulu meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists where he explained, "It was because of him that I've gone out and educated myself."  Charlton notes the stroke Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) suffered.  That was in January at the rally in DC, shortly after Bob Watada spoke.  Ann Wright managed to catch Sakanishi as she was falling.
There are many lessons to be learned from Watada and other war resisters.  Ehren Watada  is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,  Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia,  Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. 

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

That second paragraph?  It appeared daily in every snapshot for about two years.  Maybe longer.

When a non-war resister in Canada attacked me online, we continued to cover war resisters.  When a name mentioned in the list had a freak-fest in the e-mail, we continued to cover war resisters.  (And I continued to cover him.)  We covered them because their stands are important.  We also covered them because of the hate mail from people who were outraged that we would cover war resisters.  There were tons of e-mails every week expressing hate and threats.  I don't back down in the face of threats, I never have.  Threats usually make me determined to continue to do something.

The Iraq War is illegal (it's also ongoing though people in this country don't want to admit that either).  I do not slam anyone for deploying to Iraq.  I also do not slam anyone for refusing to deploy to Iraq (or redeploy).  My non-slam policy does not extend to those who planned and started the illegal war.  But I don't condemn  those who served or those who resisted -- I do condemn those who gave the orders for war and those who continued the war -- that includes liars in the press, cowards and liars in the Congress, it's a long, long list which includes President Barack Obama and former Oval Office Occupant Bully Boy Bush.

Jim Acosta (CNN -- link is text and video) reports on National Security Advisor Susan Rice:

Susan Rice, who on Sunday said Bergdahl served the United States with "honor and distinction," told CNN in an interview that she was speaking about the fact the Idaho native enlisted and went to Afghanistan in the service of his country.
"I realize there has been lots of discussion and controversy around this," Rice said. "But what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing."

Great, Susan.  So you'll now praise Joshua Key for doing "a very honorable thing" since he enlisted and deployed to Iraq?  He self-checked out as the press insists Bergdahl did.  Will you take the time to say he served with "honor and distinction"?  What about Camilo Mejia or Kyle Snyder -- both of whom served in Iraq and then self-checked out?

No, you wouldn't, Susan.  You're a hypocrite just like the goons of MSNBC or, for that matter, Media Matters.

I defend war resisters.  I am very aware that many others do not.  So MJ Rosenberg needs to stop his whoring and his hypocrisy.  There is no real caring on his part for war resisters.  He's whoring to protect Barack.

9) This is not the first time Barack has released killers in US custody.  That was the whole point of "Now you're outraged by negotiations with terrorists."  Barack entered into negotiations with the terrorist group the League of Righteous.  That group killed and kidnapped many foreigners in Iraq -- including US service members.  Barack released their leaders -- who had been in US military custody -- to Nouri.  And did so over vocal opposition in the Senate.  He insisted that they would be held in prisons by Iraqis but instead they walked -- on all the charges, they walked.  Nouri set them free.  Now he arms them and gives them uniforms so they can terrorize Sunnis in Iraq.

MJ Rosenberg is an unethical hypocrite.  Those are only nine things about the deal which might trouble Americans.  If it does trouble them, they need to address it, the media needs to address it, it needs to be part of a national conversation.  That's what happens in a democracy.

I can be mature enough to know that as much as I support war resisters, there are Americans who never will.  That's their right.  They need to be true to their beliefs just as I need to be true to mine.  The expression of their beliefs and their objections does not mean they hate Barack, they want to impeach him or any thing else.  But conspiracy theorists like MJ Rosenberg have to see hate everywhere.

RECOMMENDED:  "Iraq snapshot"
"At this point, Hillary, what difference does it ma..."
"DAV Statement on Current Congressional Proposals t..."
"Mass Murderers Brazenly Hold Conference, Discuss T..."
"Obama's $1Billion to Ukraine Downpayment for NATO"
"Imperialism & elections in Syria, Egypt & Ukraine ..."
"community rescued by hulu?"
"Scrambled Eggs in the Kitchen"
"Another White House screw up"
"Celebs coming out"
"Edge of Tomorrow"
"Idiot of the week"
"The Sixties -- part two as bad as part one"
"Sign of the Times"
"Carly Simon's Hotcakes"
"He makes a decision"

Friday, June 06, 2014

He makes a decision







Starting in the US, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following statement today:

CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or


IAVA Applauds Bipartisan Senate Compromise to Begin Reforming the VA 
As Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson admits 18 vets died while waiting for appointments in Phoenix, IAVA calls for presidential leadership and urges Congress to move forward with legislation

Washington DC (June 5, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today praised Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle for their bipartisan work on addressing critical access issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Earlier, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), one of two combat veterans in the Senate, announced a bipartisan deal that would address access and care issues for veterans within the VA system. 

The compromise was announced the same day Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson addressed the ongoing VA scandal, saying that 18 veterans died while waiting for appointments with the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

On Monday, IAVA CEO & Founder Paul Rieckhoff, joined by IAVA veterans from across the country, unveiled eight steps the Obama Administration and Congress can take now to restore confidence in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among the steps are recommendations from IAVA’s 2014 Policy Agenda. IAVA urged Congress and the President to enact all of the recommendations from the plan.

“Reforming the VA requires a bipartisan effort on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. We are very encouraged by the compromise forged by Senators Sanders and McCain,” Rieckhoff said. “Today’s progress shows veterans issues is the one thing that parties can come together on. We hope the Senate and House can move forward to enact legislation that will ensure veterans get the care and benefits they have earned.  However, we still need the President to step up and take a more active role in restoring confidence within the VA and lay out a strategy for the way forward.” 

Rieckhoff added: “Many of the provisions announced in today’s compromise are part of IAVA’s eight-part ‘Marshall Plan’ for veterans. The VA scandal is far from over. We urge Congress and the Administration to embrace all our recommendations. As the VA confirmed how severe mismanagement was in Phoenix, it is imperative that the men and women who served our country never have to wait for care.”

The legislation directly addresses accountability issues at the VA by allowing poorly performing SES employees to be immediately dismissed without pay while also establishing an expedited appeals process to discourage fraudulent dismissals. This legislation will also allow veterans to see providers outside the VA system if the wait times for appointments are too long or if the veteran lives more than 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic. The need to address the VA's technological capabilities, particularly with scheduling, will also be evaluated through the establishment of a Tech Task Force. In addition to these access and accountability measures, this legislation also includes several other major provisions supported by IAVA’s 2014 Policy Agenda, including much needed major medical facility lease authorizations, in-state tuition for veterans using GI Bill benefits, and increased access to health care for survivors of MST. 

NOTE TO THE MEDIA: IAVA leadership is available for interview. Press can email or call 212-982-9699.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator. 

# # #

Jake Lefferman and John Parkinson (ABC News) quote Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders stating, "We have a crisis on our hands.  It is imperative that we deal with that crisis." Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and, prior to that, she was Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (she still serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee).  Her office issued the following:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Thursday, June 05, 2014                                                                            (202) 224-2834
VETERANS: Murray Statement on Deal to Address VA Accountability, Transparency
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement after Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and John McCain (R-AZ) announced a path forward for a legislative compromise to address the serious accountability and transparency deficit at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Today’s announcement is an excellent example of what Congress can do when we work together to put veterans first and work toward substantive solutions to the challenges they face. Finalizing this legislation is a critical step toward addressing some of the immediate accountability and transparency concerns plaguing the VA and fixing its deep-seated structural and cultural challenges.
“I will be working closely with my colleagues to build on this bipartisan momentum. These are not new problems and Congress must continue to take action on them, while addressing the inevitable issues that will be uncovered as ongoing investigations and reviews are completed.
“As we all know, there are serious problems at the VA that will not be solved through legislation alone or by simply replacing the Secretary. However, I am hopeful these steps will spark long-overdue change from the top down in order to ensure our veterans are getting the care and support they expect and deserve.
“I want to commend Chairman Sanders and Senator McCain for working in good faith to put veterans’ needs ahead of political differences.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) points out that this bipartisan deal was unveiled less than a week after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned and he writes:

Since Shinseki's departure, the department has reached out to all of the approximately 1,700 veterans that a Phoenix VA hospital placed on unofficial wait lists that hid treatment delays. Acting Secretary Sloan D. Gibson visited the Phoenix facility Thursday. The department is also facing a Office of Special Counsel investigation into allegations that officials retaliated against 37 whistleblowers, including some who tried to report actions related to the recent scheduling scandal.

Richard Simon (Los Angeles Times) adds that Senator Richard Burr, Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has announced his support for the bipartisan deal and that:

As Congress ratcheted up its response to the VA scandal, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday provided funding for the Justice Department to play a bigger role in the investigation of VA employees falsifying records to cover up long waits for medical care.
And the House Veterans Affairs Committee called a Monday night hearing that could shed new light on the scope of the VA mess. The panel asked for an update from the VA inspector general, who has been investigating 42 sites and issued an interim report last week that found a systemic problem nationwide in scheduling veterans for healthcare in a timely manner.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot""Now Nouri's fighting to hold on to Samarra"
"DAV Statement Regarding Proposals To Address VA He..."
"Paralyzed Veterans of America Statement on New ‘Ve..."
"Legion: Sgt Bergdahl release is good, Gitmo releas..."
"VFW Urges Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi's Release..."
"Feinstein Calls for Action to Resolve VA Wait Time..."
"Worldwide Wave of Action Progress Report, Part 1 (..."
"Supreme Court Allows Oregon Marriages for Same-Sex..."
"Michigan Greens to Hold Convention June 7-8"
"Benghazi -- look what the American people say"
"Grim Peace Resister"
"Meet the rip-off artists Glenn R. Bergmann and Joseph R. Moore"
"scandal fans"
"Ron Jacobs the chicken s**t"
"The body blow"
"More stupidity comes via Dave Lindorff"
"The Bieber and his dirty mouth"
"Ike Barinholtz, Albert Brooks"
"The creep named Kreitner"
"Work it!"

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Work it!





A veteran said to me today, he was at the April 30th Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing (we covered that hearing in the May 1st snapshot), that he couldn't believe that the Chair of the Committee (Senator Bernie Sanders) had stated in that hearing that his Committee would be up in arms if the accusations about Phoenix turned out to be true.

They are true.  The report the Office of the Inspector General released last week confirmed that the books were cooked and two sets of wait lists were kept.  Senator Dianne Feinstein does not serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, she does Chair the Senate Intelligence Committee.  She issued a statement Monday and we'll note this from it (I'll post the statement in full tomorrow morning -- there is not room for it to be included in full in this snapshot):

Senator Feinstein expressed frustration that a December 2012 GAO report identified a history of record tampering at VA health care facilities. In March 2013, GAO Health Care Director Debra Draper testified about the report before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Veterans’ Affairs, saying “staff at some clinics told us they change medical appointment desired dates to show clinic wait times within VHA’s performance goals.”
“The 2012 GAO report tells me one thing: that VA knew about this problem many months ago but instead of taking action to fix it, employees created schemes to cover up the problem,” Feinstein said. “This is inexcusable and speaks to deeper problems within the VA.”

On April 30, 2014, Feinstein wrote a letter to VA Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin calling for an expansion of the investigation into the Phoenix VA Health Care System to determine if similar problems were prevalent at other VA health care facilities.

There are senators calling out the scandal and making suggestions for reform.  But the reality is that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has failed to seriously address the issue as a Committee.  I'm not talking historical, I'm talking about since the scandal broke.  CNN was covering this story -- breaking it -- in April. It's now June.

Where's the hearing addressing the scandal?

The House can hold a hearing (and did, last week) but the Senate can't get it together to hold a hearing?

A number of veterans lost trust with Sanders over that April 30th hearing.  Instead of focusing on the news of the day, he wanted to cover acupuncture, yoga and other issues which, quite frankly, were not issues in need of dire attention.  That was the first wrong step by Sanders.  He then became seen as an apologist of the VA -- Chris Cuomo was the first to make that observation and did so in a live interview with Sanders.

I don't know what you do after you weaken or break the bond of trust.  I don't know how you come back from one stumble after another.  But veterans in DC are not very pleased with the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee or with the Committee itself right now.

Announcing this morning that a planned hearing (for tomorrow) was cancelled did not help.

So let's turn to the House of Representatives.  Beto O'Rourke is a Texas Democrat serving in the House.

And he issued this on the survey:

I recently sent an email to all veterans in our database, asking them to participate in a survey to determine the quality and access to care for primary and mental health at the El Paso VA.

Hundreds took the time to respond, and from their responses we’ve compiled a report with important information about access to care for El Paso veterans, including the significant discrepancy between what the VA is telling me and what you are telling me.

For example, for each month between March 2013 and March 2014, the El Paso VHA has reported to me that between 85% and 100% of veterans new to the system seeking mental health appointments saw a provider within 14 days of their appointment request. Our survey shows that on average it takes a veteran 71 days to see a mental health provider and more than 36% of veterans attempting to make an appointment were unable to see a mental health provider at all.

For those who do get an appointment, these sessions are routinely cancelled before they can take place. The survey also found that wait times for primary health were unacceptably long, with over 71.8% reporting that they could not schedule a primary care visit within 14 days of their request.

The recent scandal in Phoenix, where administrators kept secret wait lists and denied care to those they were entrusted to help, proves that we cannot depend on the VA to hold itself accountable. The best way to determine how the VA is doing is to ask the veterans themselves. In doing just that, this report can provide the basis for real accountability and improved service at the El Paso VHA clinic and perhaps serve as the model for allowing our country’s veterans to do the same for the national VA system.

Below are our full findings and steps we will take based on what we’ve learned.

For the full report, click here

Thank you for your service in uniform and your service today on behalf of your fellow veteran. It is an honor to serve you.

It is no longer just Phoenix that the administration admits was using two sets of wait lists -- a public one filled with lies and the real one hidden from the public.  Jim Salter (AP) reports, "VA officials first acknowledged the Midwestern lists in letters last week to U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both of Kansas. The letters included information about conditions in the VA's Heartland Network, with unauthorized lists maintained at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana."  Hannah Davis and Angela Smith (KWCH -- link is text and video) report on the use of a "secret wait list" at Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas.  Hanqing Chen (Pro Publica) offers a round up of reporting on the various VA scandals.

CNN notes, "Nearly six in ten Americans give President Barack Obama a thumbs-down on how he is handling the Veterans Affairs controversy, according to a new national poll."

RECOMMENDED:  "Iraq snapshot"
"Barack's Love Of The Penis Harms America"
"How you know Barack really stepped in it"
"Talk Nation Radio: Michael Nagler's Nonviolence Ha..."
"9th Circuit Court of Appeals Protects Arizona Wome..."
"Parry can't stop whoring"
"Mistresses, X-men"
"Michael Ratner writes a letter"
"You little cheese eater"
"Ray McGovern gives Barack a rusty trombone"
"What's that smell? CODESTINK"
"Jonah Hill's apology"
"Patrick Martin plays the fool"
"Logan or Brock?"
"He's got another brilliant idea!"

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

He's got another brilliant idea!





US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following today:

Miller Demands VA Comply with HVAC-Issued Subpoena, Threatens Additional Legal Action

Jun 3, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— After writing Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson regarding VA’s repeated failure to comply fully with an HVAC-issued subpoena, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement.  

“Today’s VA is a case study in how to stonewall the press, the public and Congress. And as we found out last week, often times officials from across the department have routinely sought to hide information about some of VA’s most pressing problems from the department’s own senior leaders. I am hoping Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson will put an immediate stop these disturbing trends. To that end, I have asked Sec. Gibson to provide our committee with any and all remaining documents responsive to our May 8 subpoena no later than June 9, 2014. Right now, Sec. Gibson has a chance to begin to repair the reputation of a department that has gained notoriety for its secrecy and duplicity with the public and indifference to the constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities of Congress. I am hoping he makes the most of this chance.” Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Chairman Miller Letter to Sec. Gibson Regarding VA’s Noncompliance with Committee-Issued Subpoena
June 2, 2014

This isn't a minor issue that Miller is raising.  This is a major one.  As we noted in Friday's snapshot, a culture of secrecy has taken hold at the VA.  Congress has been rebuffed on requests, has had to resort to subpoenas and those get rebuffed as well.  The people are represented by the Congress, the legislative branch is a co-equal branch of government to the executive branch (and to the judicial branch).  Congress is tasked with laws and oversight and it can't do its job if the executive branch is not providing accurate information.

In Friday's snapshot, I made a number of people angry when I stated (yes, "stated," the snapshot are dictated, I don't type them up) the following:

It was about Congressional requests that are not being honored.  Congress is supposed to provide oversight. But since 2009, the VA has stonewalled Congress and outright ignored requests for information.
You can blame the White House for that since it's over the VA.  I don't know that I would or wouldn't.  But it is a problem and everyone should be aware of it now and the White House should order the VA to start complying with all Congressional requests as, in fact, they're legally supposed to.

"You can blame the White House for that since it's over the VA.  I don't know that I would or wouldn't."  That's what made people angry.

I had no problem calling for Eric Shinseki's resignation.  When he revealed to Congress October 14, 2009 that he'd known since January that the rollout on the Post-9/11 GI Bill would not go smoothly, that he'd been told of that when he became VA Secretary, that he hired an outside consultant to review the situation and the consultant said the same thing, that's when I called for Shinseki's resignation.  He knew there would be a problem.  He did not give veterans a heads up.  He did not give Congress a heads up.  When the problems started with checks not being received, he allowed VA officials to publicly blame education institutions and to blame veterans.  He should never have allowed that.  I have no problem calling him out and veterans suffered because of him.


I've got six years demonstrating I have no problem calling out Barack as president.  And I may end up calling him out on the VA issues.  I have no problem stating that he's ultimately responsible.  But Shinseki making one mistake did not turn me against Shinseki.  It was finding out that he knew veterans were going to suffer and he not only didn't inform veterans or Congress but he also allowed his Department to lie to the public.  That's a crossed line.

I can call Barack out for Iraq (and have and will) and I can call out for The Drone War, for the illegal spying, for any number of things.  And I'm fine with that.  But I have no idea what information he received.  I thought he was willfully ignorant of some VA issues.  The big one was the seamless transition -- an electronic medical record created for a service member which would follow them from the Pentagon to VA when they left the service and became a veteran.

Congress poured billions into that.  It is still not up and running.

We have called out the 'progress' on that repeatedly.  The press has ignored it, we haven't.  The VA Secretary and the Secretary of Defense had to first agree on which computer system to use -- they currently use two different systems.  Once that's decided, things move forward.

I knew for a fact that Leon Panetta had listened to Shinseki's argument for which system to use (Shinseki wanted to use VA's system) and Leon told him, "Fine.  Use it.  Let's move on to the next step."  When I wrote about that here, a friend wanted me to know that this was basically Robert Gates' response as well.  (Robert Gates was Barack's first Secretary of Defense.  Leon Panetta became his second.  Chuck Hagel is currently the third.)

So I began noting that Gates had also agreed so that the program could move forward.

But it never did.  And I would call Barack out for that here.  Especially when, less than two months after Hagel became Secretary of Defense, Ranking Member Mike Michuad asks Shinseki about the progress on this issue and Shinseki, who's been working on it for five years now, blames Hagel.  He says Hagel's adjusting to his job and so nothing's been done.

I blamed Barack -- here and in loud conversations with friends in the administration.  Fortunately, Hagel was offended (who wouldn't be?) by Shinseki using him as a scapegoat and Hagel insisted on a meeting with Barack -- Hagel, Shinseki and Barack.  At that meeting, a system was decided on and things were supposed to move forward.  Did Barack not know about the foot dragging before that meet-up was scheduled?  Possibly he didn't.  I don't know.  I do know when he finally got involved, the issue was resolved.

I don't know at present how much honesty on the VA reached Barack.  So I'm not comfortable making him the focus of my VA critiques.  If others are, they should do so.  I'm not saying he's off-limits.  I am saying that, for me, I'm not there yet.  If others are, more power to them.

My focus in calling for Shinseki's resignation was because Shinseki was clearly and repeatedly failing.  Veterans deserved better than they were getting.

Barack hasn't lived up to his promise to veterans.  That's a fact as far as I'm concerned.  But, barring a revelation from a friend in the administration (I don't see one coming -- I know Leon Panetta, if Barack was intentionally failing veterans, Leon wouldn't have stood for it and would have been publicly critical of Barack), I can see this as Barack not getting the needed information to know what was going on.  By that, I mean Shinseki gave happy talk presentations that were not rooted in fact.

And we can all be fooled and tricked.  (I'm not trying to bring anyone over to my way of thinking, I'm merely explaining where I stand on the issue.)

There is a culture of secrecy at the VA.  They have not been transparent.  They have quibbled over word choice with the Office of the Inspector General (an "error" is an error, the VA needs to stop splitting hairs).  They have flat out lied and they're running about three shell games right now.

All of the problems with the VA go to the culture of secrecy.

Melinda Henneberger (Washington Post) had  a strong article on the VA which noted:

When he put new guidelines in place requiring that veterans be seen quickly, the response was to fake the paperwork to make it look as though wait times had disappeared.
But with nothing less than the lives of our veterans at stake, how could employees do that, and why would they lie?
Nickolaus’s answer to that question is that after years of being “told to shut up or retire,” most people eventually do one or the other. “You see the dead wood and get exasperated.”Overwhelmed, she said, you despair of actually changing anything, in other words, and give up.

That's the culture and it needs to end.

Barack should now be aware of it.  He should be calling for the VA to be transparent, to use the same terms with the same definitions as the Office of Inspector General and for the VA to comply will all Congressional information requests.

If Barack doesn't do that after the failures of the Shinseki period, I will have no problem calling him out.  And I will do it loudly and mockingly and any way I feel at that moment.

But for me this primary issue was Shinseki was too quick to believe anything he was told and provided too little oversight and, most of all, his actions were harming veterans.  I wanted him gone and now he's gone. The problems aren't going to disappear.  They're going to have to be addressed and I hope Barack addresses them.  If someone who is as critical of Barack as I am can hope that he will demand real accountability at the VA and end the culture of secrecy, this could be a big win for him with others because I'm not a Barack fan.  I didn't vote for him either time.  (In 2008, I voted for a candidate not with the duopoly and in 2012 I didn't vote for the office of president.)   But I will be the first to applaud him if he can end the culture of secrecy.  Hell, I'd applaud if he could even just make a strong dent in it.

Because the secrecy is what is harming the veterans.  It's what caused the problems with the tuition checks, it's what causes people with Post-Traumatic Stress being stripped of their diagnosis.  It's behind every scandal under Shinseki and all the ones to come if this is not addressed.  If the secrecy is removed, then Congress and the American people can know the truth and work on solutions.  If the culture of secrecy continues, expect more press exposes.

The VA is not going to meet a number of goals they set for FY 2015.  It would be really smart for them to stop lying and admit it's not happening so they and the Congress could work together to figure out how to improve.

That's where I am on the issues and why I'm there.  Here's where Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are via a statement they issued yesterday:

This is a defining moment in American history. After decades of neglect, years of failure and weeks of controversy, all of America is focused on our nation’s veterans. As a result of the scandal that began in Phoenix, the sacred trust at the VA has been broken. But it can be rebuilt. With leadership, creativity and tenacity, the VA can be stronger in the broken places. 
Now can be the time when America can finally turn the corner on decades of failures at the VA—and for our veterans of all generations more broadly. 
The national membership of IAVA calls on President Obama to move quickly to create and execute a bold, comprehensive plan to support all generations of American veterans. It must be a top priority for the President for the duration of his term and involve the entire federal government, Congress, the private sector, philanthropy, veterans groups, the medical community and every resource our great nation can muster. It’s time for a Marshall Plan for veterans. 
America’s veterans are depending on strong leadership from the President and are standing by to support in any way needed. 
The plan should include the following 8 steps as recommended by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA):  

1. Appoint a Post-9/11 veteran, or someone very familiar with our community, who is a proven, dynamic leader capable of making dramatic changes and inspiring the turnaround VA needs. The VA needs a proven reformer at the top who can end the crisis and drive the VA to become the 21st Century organization our veterans deserve. America needs a unique brand of hybrid leader--a proactive change-agent who understands Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, technology, healthcare and Congress. The new Secretary must also be an effective communicator who can level with the public, operate effectively in the midst of a growing scandal that may span dozens of cities and continue for months, and inspire the best talent in America to answer the call to serve at VA.

2. Initiative a full criminal investigation and punish all violators to the full extent of the law. The IG has revealed a full system failure. An unknown number of bad actors have ruined the reputation of the VA. Those who have violated America’s sacred trust with our veterans must be rooted out nationwide and held accountable. Only if these people are cleansed from the system will the VA workforce, IAVA members and the rest of America ever have faith and trust in the system again. 

3. Implement the recommendations of interim IG report for Phoenix. The interim IG report recommended that the VA: (1) do a nationwide review of all facilities, (2) audit new requests for appointments across the system to ensure all veterans are on the list to be seen, and (3) reach out to veterans affected in Phoenix to get them into care. The VA must now to implement these recommendations immediately.

4. Pass the VA Management Accountability Act. The Senate must act now to pass the VA Management Accountability Act. The bill (endorsed by Secretary Shinseki in his final public remarks) gives the Secretary of the VA the authority to remove under-performing Senior Executive Service employees from their jobs. Without the ability to fire poor-performing managers, the next VA Secretary will struggle to restore a culture of accountability throughout the VA. 

5. Support the recommendations in IAVA’s 2014 Policy Agenda that focus on building a 21st Century VA. For years, IAVA has demanded a 21st Century VA, an organization able to find problems, respond decisively, and provide the quality of care veterans of all generations deserve. This is especially urgent for IAVA veterans who present new healthcare needs, more gender diversity, and significant geographic shifts. To move towards a 21st Century VA, Congress and the VA must: 

A. Mandate best practices for managing VA medical facilities. There is a saying that when you’ve seen one VA hospital, you’ve seen one VA hospital. But there are best management practices that can improve care at the VA if implemented across the entire system.
B. Overhaul the training and technology of the VA’s scheduling system. The nationwide audit of VA facilities exposed many problems in the training of VA scheduling employees. The VA must re-establish scheduling guidelines, improve training for staff, and invest in new scheduling technology.
C. Change performance metrics to focus on quality of care. The VA scandal has exposed what many veteran organizations have talked about for years: accountability is lacking at the VA. The VA must realign its performance metrics and performance incentives to encourage and deliver quality care.
D. Smooth the Transition between the Department of Defense and the VA. Too much is lost between the DoD and VA. Despite significant investment, there is still no interoperable health record and many veterans never enroll in VA care. The DoD and VA must improve collaboration to adequately care for today’s veterans. 
E. Invest in Technology to Transform the VA. The technology underpinning all of the VA’s work, including the disability claims process and appointment scheduling, is woefully outdated. Without 21st Century technology, the VA can never be a 21st Century organization. 

6. Fully Fund the VA to the levels recommended by the Independent Budget. Despite consistently claiming otherwise, it is clear that the VA does not have the resources it needs to meet the demand for care. The VA currently relies on outdated and inadequate formulas to project their needs. Congress should fully fund the VA to the levels recommended by the Independent Budget, a budget written by leading veteran service organizations including IAVA. In FY2014, the IB recommended $4 billion more for discretionary medical services funds than the President requested or Congress appropriated. 

7. Support best-in-class non-profit organizations that the fill gaps. The VA can not meet all of the needs of America’s veterans alone. And some vets will never go to the VA. Non-profits fill the gaps and are often there for vets when VA can’t be. The VA is also often most effective when it partners with non-profits, as demonstrated by the tremendous progress made toward ending veteran homelessness. Innovative programs like IAVA’s Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP) assist veterans in reaching private, local and VA resources in times of crisis. They also serve veterans who are not eligible for VA services--like those with “other than honorable” discharge status.

The public must donate their time, money and talent to trusted, effective, best-in-class non-profit organizations who continue to face growing demand with extremely limited resources. Philanthropy, corporate leaders, and all Americans must donate as generously as possible now to support these essential groups supporting veterans. The Iraq and Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund (IADIF), the Schultz Foundation, the recent First Lady's donor initiative, and Robin Hood have all created effective blueprints for national support that must be replicated, expanded and scaled. 

8. Combat suicide by passing the bi-partisan Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans (SAV) Act, enacting an Executive Order, and connecting 1 million veterans with resources by the end of 2014. According to VA data, 22 veterans die by suicide each day. Many of these men and women never reached the VA. Only bold, comprehensive action will prevent suicide and ensure that veterans have access to quality mental health care. Congress must act by passing the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act (SAV Act). The President must issue an Executive Order as outlined by IAVA. And all American can help by promoting suicide prevention resources in their local communities. 

Mike Prysner is an astute person.  We'll provide a link to his piece at Global Research (Mike is also an Iraq War veteran.)  But I can't quote from it because it's premise is Congress isn't funding the VA adequately.

I'm sorry, Mike's too intelligent to make that assertion.

The VA, like every other Department in Barack's Cabinet, creates their own budget request.

So stop this generic underfunding claims garbage.

Show me where the VA requested X and wasn't given it by Congress, show me that or stop this nonsense.

Beto O'Roarke is a Democrat from Texas in the US House of Representatives. Last Wednesday night, he did what members of the House and Senate Veterans Comittees do over and over: Ask VA officials present for the hearing if they needed more funding, if they needed more anything.

As happens over and over and over at these hearings, VA begged off requesting more funds.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Nouri's Iraq: Bombing hospitals, arresting journal..."
"Now you're outraged by negotiations with terrorist..."
"Juvenile Prison: $5 Billion for Child Abuse (David..."
"Maya Angelou gave literary, political voice to Afr..."
"Barack has a deal for you!"
"His own worst enemy"
"The return of Mistresses (Karen and Jos)"
"barack's latest round of negotiations with terrorists"
"Mistresses returns (Savi and April)"
"Another fine mess Barack has gotten himself into"
"The latest White House scandal"
"Barack makes (another) deal"
"Ode to Billie Joe"
"Words are like Casper, they haunt"

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Words are like Casper, they haunt





Nouri al-Maliki's War Crimes never end.  Since January, he's been bombing residential areas in Falluja and killing and wounding civilians.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Nouri's bombing of Falluja's resedential neighborhoods left 6 people dead and twenty injured.

That was not the only violence today.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) counts 40 dead from violence today.

National Iraqi News Agency reports a Nasiriyah roadside bombing left six people injured, an Arsriah Village bombing killed 2 people and injured four more, a Najaf car bombing killed 13 people and left seventy injured,  a Mishahda suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 2 police members with five more left injured, 1 person was shot dead in Falluja (three more wounded), the Ministry of the Interior announced that bombings in Babil, Dhi Qar and Najaf left 2 people dead and 21 injured (the Najaf bombing they're counting was a roadside bombing that injured 8, not the car bombing we already noted), 1 police member was shot dead in Baghdad, the Island and the Desert Operations Command announced they killed 7 suspects in Wady Soub, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 5 suspects, a Mosul battle left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured, 1 person was shot dead in al-Khalis, 1 little girl was shot dead in an attack on her al-Wajeehiya home and her father was left injured, 1 person was shot dead just outside Baquba, 1 person was shot dead in Al-Muqdadiya (another injured), a Mousl roadside bombing killed 3 police members, a battle near Ramadi left 7 rebels dead (twenty-one more injured),  a Yarmouk roadside bombing left 2 people dead, Ahmed Nabil (a member of Nineveh Governor Ethyl al-Nujaifi's protection service) was shot dead outside his al-Aarabi home,  and 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad ("signs of strangulation and stabbing by sharpen tool").

Over the weekend, the month of May concluded and the monthly death toll was noted.  UNAMI issued the following:

Baghdad, 1 June 2014 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of at least 799 Iraqis were killed and another 1,409 were injured in acts of terrorism and violence in May*.

The number of civilians killed was 603 (including 144 civilian police), while the number of civilians injured was 1108 (including 218 civilian police). A further 196 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed, and 301 were injured (not including casualties from Anbar operation).
“I strongly deplore the sustained level of violence and terrorist acts that continues rocking the country. I urge the political leaders to work swiftly for the formation of an inclusive government within the constitutionally mandated time frame and focus on a substantive solution to the situation in Anbar”, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG), Mr. Mladenov said.
Anbar excluded, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 932 civilian casualties (315 killed, 617 injured), followed by Ninewa (113 killed 248 injured), Salahuddin (94 killed 146 injured), Kirkuk (22 Killed, 60 injured), Diyala (38 killed 28 injured). 
*CAVEATS: Data do not take into account casualties of the current IA operation in Anbar, for which we report at the bottom the figures received by our sources.

Operations in Anbar
According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the total civilian casualties in Anbar up to 30 May were 195 killed and 499 injured, with 95 killed and 222 injured in Ramadi and 100 killed and 277 injured in Fallujah.

Other counts were compiled as well.  Margaret Griffis ( notes, " compiled 2,249 fatalities, of which 1,075 were civilian and security member deaths. Another 1,953 people were wounded, including 87 militants."   Iraq Body Count notes 1027 civilians killed for the month.  AFP's count is 900.

We're getting closer to the half-way mark for 2014.  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted the following:

Today, the Economist offers, "Most Iraqis here appear to support the end of Saddam’s regime, but criticise the American government and military officials for inadequate post-war planning that has left Baghdad and much of the country in chaos. In 2013 over 7,800 civilians were killed, surpassing the total of 6,787 in 2008, during the conflict. This year is looking just as deadly, although many Iraqis hope against the odds that the recent elections will bring progress and stability."

Thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki wants a third term.  His office issued the following today:

His Excellency Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki said in an interview with Al-Iraqiya TV which will be aired at a later time we now have 175 guaranteed votes, but we want more partners who agree with us in the program and principles to be adopted in the next government , and he called on all political blocs to adopt understanding and dialogue in order to form the government as soon as possible and move towards construction and development.
With regards to the adherence of some political blocks and some politicians to what they call red lines against this or that party , Mr. Prime Minister said: I recommend that everyone read the developments well , there has been so many developments during the past four years and none can holds the neck of the political process anymore .
On the goal of the conference, which the Prime Minister called for in Anbar , his Excellency said it is intended to isolate the terrorists and strengthen national unity in Anbar and address reconstruction efforts .
On the issue of exporting oil from the Kurdistan region and its consequent effects , the Prime Minister said, that this act is in violation of the Iraq's sovereignty and Iraq's constitution , it cannot be accepted under any conditions. He stressed that there is no such thing as cutting the salaries of the Kurdistan region, but this is a banner raised for mobilization and incitement.

Nouri may or may not have the votes his office states.  He's prone to making claims that aren't true.  All Iraq News notes, "The Ahrar bloc within the Sadr Trend and the Kurdistani Democratic Party announced rejecting the nomination of the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, for the third term of the Prime Minister Post."

The KDP is the most popular  political party in the Kurdistan Regional Government.  KRG President Massoud Barzani is the head of the KDP.  (Most popular assertion is based on the KDP coming in first in the KRG provincial elections and first in the April 30th parliamentary elections.)  On the subject of the Kurds, Hiwa Barznjy (Niqash) explores where the Kurds stand on the issue of Iraq's next prime minister:

The two most popular political parties originating in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan are the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP. The KDP appears to have 25 seats in Baghdad while the PUK has 21 – the next largest Iraqi Kurdish party, the Change movement, has nine seats.

And the PUK and KDP feel differently about working with al-Maliki for another term. The KDP are presently totally committed to getting rid of him while the PUK isn’t quite as sure about that. The PUK’s ailing leader, Jalal Talabani, who has been in hospital in Germany for over a year, is actually the President of Iraq and it is well known that the PUK has a better relationship with al-Maliki than the KDP. The question of whether the PUK would cut a separate deal with al-Maliki to become part of his coalition government has already been mooted.

The other question is whether the KDP would drop out of the united Kurdish group to support Ammar al-Hakim, who they are allegedly closer to. Al-Hakim is the leader of one of the other major Shiite Muslim parties in Baghdad, the Ahrar bloc, which represents the interests of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq in politics.

Parliamentary elections were held April 30th.  May is ending but there's no one named prime minister yet.

In 2010, Iraq set the record for the longest time between elections and the formation of a government. They've since been bested and Nouri may be hoping they can reclaim their title.  It certainly seems like a possibility based upon the remarks of MP Abbas al-Bayati.  All Iraq News reports the State of Law MP insists that "the next government" will be formed "before the end of 2014."  Way to shoot for the stars.  If the government was formed on December 30th, that would be eight months to form the government.

The April 30th elections were a farce.  Nouri and the IHEC did not allow Falluja and Ramadi to vote.  Nouri's forces showed up in Sunni dominant areas and kept the polls closed for half-a-day before allowing them to open.  It was one stunt after another guaranteed to decrease turnout.

Reuters' Ned Parker Tweeted the day of those elections:

More than 200 journalists waiting to vote got kicked out of a polling center at 6 pm deadline by SWAT who said leave or else.

Nouri wants a third term but he's unwanted by so many political blocs and Iraqi citizens.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) notes:

The Iraqi Kurdish are not the only ones to have made this kind of announcement. The Sadrist movement, led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and represented in Parliament by the Ahrar bloc, has also said they don’t want to see their former ally, al-Maliki, given a third term as Prime Minister.

Another of al-Maliki’s most important former allies, the Muwatin, or Citizen, coalition which represents the interests of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by another cleric Ammar al-Hakim, has expressed similar sentiments.

Both of the latter are mostly composed of Shiite Muslims, the same sect as al-Maliki. Meanwhile al-Maliki’s long time opponents – mostly Sunni Muslim blocs and parties as well as some secular blocs – have also said they won’t contemplate a third term for al-Maliki.  

Al-Maliki’s bloc has won around 94 seats and it’s highly likely this share will increase to over 100 – anything from 102 to 110, analysts suggest - as the big bloc attracts smaller parties to its ranks to try and form a coalition big enough to be allowed to form the next government.

Meanwhile all of those who oppose a third term for al-Maliki number more than enough to form a government – they have around 180 seats out of Iraq’s 328 seat Parliament. And some have suggested, perhaps rather optimistically, that these groups could form a kind of grand coalition because they all have the same focus: keeping al-Maliki out. Such a coalition could be described as grand because it would cross most of Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian boundaries, uniting all those who usually jostle for political power for their own sector of Iraqi society; it would herald a true post-sectarian age for Iraqi politics. 

If the PUK has thrown in with Nouri, it will further sideline the PUK.

In the provincial elections, Gorran (Change) destroyed the PUK.  Months later in the parliamentary elections, the PUK increased their turnout via Jalal Talabani.

December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani 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.

A video showing Jalal -- the first since he went to Germany -- was distributed ahead of the parliamentary elections and rallied the PUK (Jalal is the head of the PUK) bumping up their turnout.

That's a one time stunt.

Video of Jalal won't do a damn thing again.

Jalal in the flesh might.

But if the PUK is partnering with Nouri, they will be sidelined in the KRG and Gorran will be the second most popular party.  Nouri has refused to implement Article 140 (which would determine Kirkuk's status) and he's refused to hand over to the KRG their slice of the 2014 federal budget.  These are two big reasons he's disliked, they are not the only ones.  With the KDP standing up, if Jalal's PUK cowers at the feet of Nouri, they will be revealed as spineless and craven.  Gorran will easily replace them.

In the KRG, the longing for a Kurdish nation-state has never gone away.  It's also become a more visible dream with KDP members and others floating that the KRG might break away from Iraq.  If the PUK can't lead the vision, the Kurdish people have no need to support the PUK.

And with Jalal on a deathbed or a never recovery, the PUK will look even more out of touch.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"IAVA’s 8 Steps to Restore Confidence in the VA"
"Paralyzed Veterans of America Offers Support to Se..."
"Chairman Sanders Lays Out Legislative Action Plan ..."
"VA Releases Interim Report on Wait Times (DAV)"
"Blinded Veterans Raise Critical Issues at House Su..."
"American Legion on Shinseki's resignation"
"Heroes and Frauds"
"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Plan"
"Iraq: Post-election scramble continues"
"I Hate The War"
"“Force Protection Alpha in Effect” –coming to a to..."
"ANALYSIS: Poroshenko's Millions Interfere With Ukr..."
" Senator Fake Ass"
"the film collage"
"Things I'm tired of (Solnit and sexism)"
"Ann B. Davis passed away"
"We are James Risen"
"Glen Ford"
"Gore Vidal"
"Illegal spying"

"Carney's exit interview"