The Kurds: Now What?

The votes have been counted and the Kurds overwhelmingly voted to set up a free Kurdistan……about 92% in favor of session.

There is NO one that sees this vote as a positive thing for Iraq or the wider Middle East and that includes the Kurds biggest ally….the United States.

The PM of Iraq, Abadi, has demanded that the results of the vote be nullified……

The results of the Iraqi Kurdistan referendum on secession are in, with over 92% of the voters in favor of seceding from Iraq. Iraq’s Prime Minister Hayder Abadi has threatened military action in retaliation.

In fact, Abadi is now demanding that the Kurds totally cancel the vote, even though it’s already taken place and the results are already in, saying he will “never discuss” the results of the referendum because Iraq’s parliament didn’t give them permission for it.

Iraqi officials seem to be throwing everything at the situation in Kurdistan now and seeing what sticks. Demands for the Kurds to surrender their airports have been spurned, and Kurdish officials had ruled out returning to Baghdad’s rule before Abadi’s latest demands were even made.

The Iraqi Parliament has asked the OM to send in troops and retake the district from the Kurds…

With Iraqi Kurdistan voting for secession, the fate of the Kirkuk Province is very much in doubt. It’s not legally part of the Kurdistan territory, but historically has had a large Kurdish population, and was “annexed” by Iraqi Kurdistan after it was taken early in the ISIS war.

The oil-rich province could be a major bone of contention, with Iraq’s parliament urging Prime Minister Hayder Abadi to send in troops and physically reconquer the province from the Kurds.

They might have help. Kirkuk Province has an ethnic Turkmen minority,  and that has Turkey’s nationalist MHP Party leader Devlet Bahceli vowing that the Kurds will never rule over Kirkuk.

The Turkmen….a relatively unknown ethnic group has stepped out of the shadows and volunteered to fight the Kurds….but for who are their loyalties?  Turkey? Or Iraq?

Thousands of Turkish volunteers are ready to fight in Kirkuk and other Iraqi cities to defend the country’s Turkmen population, the head of Turkey’s nationalist opposition said on Wednesday.

Devlet Bahceli said the minority Turkmen, who have close ethnic ties to Turkey, would not be abandoned in Kirkuk.

The city, home to Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, has been controlled by Kurdish peshmerga fighters since 2014 and Kurdish authorities included it in this week’s referendum for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq, angering the Baghdad government.

(Reuters)

ISIS is a dying problem…..the Kurds are a problem on the rise…..the violence is far from over.

Today, Friday, will be a telling day in this situation…..

In response to more than 90% of Iraqi Kurds voting in favor of independence through peaceful means, the Iraqi government has issued the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) an ultimatum: hand over control over your airports and control of your borders. The Iraqi government is threatening an air embargo if the Kurds don’t comply with the demand. The move shows exactly how weak Baghdad is. Knowing it can’t force the Kurds to comply militarily on the ground, it’s only option is to threaten civilian air traffic.

The Kurds have until 6:00 pm local time on Friday to comply. They are unlikely to do so.

The Iraqi government has ruled out negotiations. “The referendum will have a negative impact on all of Iraq and the KRG. We will never compromise the unity and sovereignty of Iraq. We will not have any negotiations with regards to the outcome of the referendum,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The Iraqi Prime Minister’s stance may start a civil war in the country, a war he can’t possibly hope to win without US troops fighting the war for him. Given the US State Department’s opposition to democracy in the country, that may be a possibility.

The next question to ponder is……Is this the end of Iraq?

There are many worthy markers that America’s Iraq Wars have been a terrible, terrible waste, but as history loves a signature event, let it be the 25 September, 2017 Kurdish independence referendum. While the referendum is non-binding and the final vote tally may not be known for several days (though it will certainly be “yes” to independence), the true results of America’s decades of war in Iraq are already clear.

Along with the ongoing decimation of Iraq’s Sunni population, the referendum means that in practice “Iraq” no longer exists. In its place is a Shiite state dominated by Iran, the de facto new nation of Kurdistan, and a shrinking population of Sunnis tottering between annihilation or reservation-like existence, depending on whether the United States uses the last of its influence to sketch out red lines or abandons the people to fate.

The waste comes in that a better version of a de facto tri-state Iraq was available in 2006. Every life lost (out of a million some, including 4,424 Americans), every dollar spent (in the trillions), and every unanticipated outcome suffered (rise of Daesh, conflict in Syria, de-democratization of Turkey) since then has been unnecessary.

Source: Why the Kurdish referendum means the end of Iraq – Middle East Monitor

Turn The Page!

Let’s Talk John McCain

WARNING:  This post will feature some pretty raw words and thoughts….proceed with caution if you are easily offended.

It is safe to say that I do not think much of John McCain’s conservative ideas…..we agree on very little….but no matter the man deserves all the respect one can muster for he has served his country in so many ways and given up a lot for his country.

But for a couple of months now McCain has become the whipping boy of Trump….he blames so much of Trump’s failures on John McCain….especially the numerous failures the the GOP plan has had trying to repeal and replace Obamacare.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough has ripped into Trump and his mindless supporters for all their attacks on McCain….

“Mornine Joe” host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday ripped President Donald Trump and other critics of “dying” Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who last week announced his opposition to the latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“You have no humanity if a man is dying and  your using him for political punchlines on talk radio and also to audiences in Alabama,” Scarborough said of Trump, who has voiced criticism of the senator, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

The MSNBC host called people who “boo” McCain “ignorant,” and asked them to “show a little respect” for the U.S. Navy veteran and former prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Scarborough also found it disturbing that others would attack someone who is fighting cancer.

“By the way, for the people at home. If you’re in the audience, and John McCain is getting attacked, and he’s fighting for his life, unless you were raised in a barn, keep your mouth shut, all right?” Scarborough said, sobering the mood of the show. “Show a little respect. Show a little dignity. Show a little class.”

Scarborough asked who raised “these people,” saying he grew up in the same situations that they did.

“I guarantee I was raised in the same region. In the same socioeconomic background, going to the same Southern Baptist churches, going to the same public schools, going to the same public colleges, state schools these people went to,” Scarborough said.

“So I ask, Who raised these people? Who have they become, that they would boo a man who is fighting for his very life and has served his country in uniform, who was a prisoner of war?”

“”You should keep your mouth shut, and you should go home, and you should talk to your children, and you should tell the story of John McCain to your children,” Scarborough said, explaining that McCain had the choice to be released from prison in Vietnam, but refused until his fellow service members could be released with him. “A man who served his country in uniform when he could have done what Donald Trump did. He could have avoided the draft.”

That was an apparent reference to Trump, who got repeated deferrals to avoid military service in Vietnam.

Watch the rest of the video….

http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/joe-who-raised-the-people-that-boo-john-mccain-1055021635932

There is the real problem with this country…..Donald Trump and his mindless drooling supporters have NO respect for anyone that disagrees with him or them….

John McCain like all our veterans they have earned their respect and this president has earned NOTHING but disdain from humans.

Time for these slobbering fools to leave the insults unsaid and start working on actual policies that will lead America forward.

Society Was Warned

I am one blogger that did not write that much on the problems in Charlottesville because it would do NO good what so ever because this is a subject that is emotionally charged and they are same problems we have been fighting for decades and never make any headway.

Back in the Dark Ages, 1989, I wrote a paper and submitted it to a scholars conference,”Short coming in the theory of non-violence”….it was accepted and I presented it to my colleagues in March of that year.  (I would post it here but that was before a hard drive everything I did was on paper and Hurricane Katrina totally destroyed many of my past originals.)

I used movements to make my point, India’s independence movement, the civil rights and the women’s search for equality.

I pointed out that in India…the things that Gandhi fought far never materialized…it was only a matter of time before India got its independence with or without Gandhi….England could NO longer afford the empire.

The Civil Rights Movement…what did Blacks accomplish?  Yes they got the right to vote but beyond that their plight is pretty much the same today as it was back in the beginning….plus they are slowly losing the vote thing.

Then the women’s protests…..not much has changed there either.  They fought the hard fight but in the end not much changed……They still make far less than a man….the jobs are pretty much minor jobs as they were back in the 70’s….that glass ceiling is still a ceiling for them.

IN conclusion to the paper I stated that while some minor progress had been made it was far from a victory and all the “rights” they think they have won will be slowly back peddled and the fight will continue.

Why?

The activists settled on what was offered them….instead of continuing the fight to a proper conclusion.

Now fast forward to 2017……we as a nation are fighting the same battle from our past…voters rights, racism, equality….in all these years little has changed….only the fight remains.

Time To End Welfare

If I linger for a moment the Right wingers will see the title and will jump to my side, pat me on the back as a well informed “liberal”…..(linger…..Linger….Linger)……

But they would be premature in doing so…..for I am not talking about the welfare that the Reaganites have hated for 50 years…if you are old enough then you will remember the “welfare Queens” the the GOP have been attacking for decades……those poor people that use benefits provided by the government.

Nope the “welfare” I am referring to is corporate welfare…..these are the programs that give lots of aid to corporations….tax, breaks, subsidies……”gimmes” tho corporations that do not need them to continue to perform……

Every Congress we have this debate about the deficit and of course to the GOP it is all that money given to poor people through direct payments or programs that is causing the problem.

You see if your payments out weigh your income then you have a deficit…..and since the income for the nation comes from taxes then lower taxes does little but make the deficit higher….and yet we keep playing the same game because corporations want it so….time for that to change….

A day after President Donald Trump touted his “scam” tax proposal, the Institute for Policy Studies’ #PayUpCorps campaign highlighted needs in infrastructure, healthcare, and other sectors that could be paid for with all the money corporations stand to save under the Koch brothers’-backed tax plan.

Trump and Republican leaders in Congress hope to cut the corporate tax rate from an already low 35 percent to 20 percent—though the Institute on Tax and Economic Policy has found that many Fortune 500 companies effectively already pay only about 20 percent of their profits in taxes, and contrary to Republican promises, the savings don’t lead to job creation.

Source: #PayUpCorps Campaign Highlights All Nation Could Do If Corporations Paid Their Fair Share | Common Dreams

And we have this conversation every Congress and the GOP usually wins in some form or another…..Trump has a tax plan as well…..and guess what nothing new….

Each of the four principles Trump claims will inform what he calls “tax reform” is actually mocked in the plans the administration is cooking up behind closed doors.

The only question is whether Americans are gullible enough to buy what Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans are selling. And whether Democrats will unite to expose the con and demand progressive tax reforms that are long overdue.

Source: Trump’s Tax Plan Is a Confidence Scam | By Robert Borosage | Common Dreams

I have given my idea for a tax reform….simply put….everyone pays their fair share and the deficits will shrink…..it is really not that hard to grasp…..

Of course a more realistic budget would help with those darn deficits….that will be a post for another op-ed.

ANTIFA: Out Of The Shadows

A few weeks ago it was reported that a few thousand neo-Nazis, KKK and other assorted fascists were going to Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee…….with that report a group known as ANTIFA decided that they would show up to protest the protest.

Before we go any further maybe here would be a good place to define the ANTIFA for those that know mlittle of this organization……

They wear black pants and sweatshirts, with either helmets or hoods over their heads, bandanas across their faces — and dark sunglasses, goggles or gas masks over their eyes. Many carry makeshift shields and flags, whose staffs can quickly become weapons.

They call themselves “antifa,” short for anti-fascist, and they’re part of a loosely organized national network of anonymous anarchists. The movement during much of this decade has been a common sight at Bay Area protests spurred by police shootings, the Occupy Wall Street movement and Donald Trump’s election as president.

The primary goal is to stop neo-Nazis and white supremacists from gaining a platform rather than to promote a specific antifa agenda. The antifa groups are decidedly anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-homophobia, but also by and large socially leftist and anti-capitalist.  Yes, we can assume that if they are anti-fascist then they may well be anarchist, socialists, etc….the natural enemy of fascists.

Fore decades the neo-Nazis have been protesting with shield, clubs and violence and in that time only the JDL stood in their way…..so if a armed group should want to protest why not a counter-protest that is also armed?

First nit was Charlottesville and a week later Berkeley….and as was predictable….it turned violent…..

Recently, at the anti-Alt-Right rally in Berkeley, I watched groups of masked Antifa members in Black Bloc formation swarm individuals who were apparently antagonizing them, and pummel them with their fists, feet, and flagpoles. When the victims tried to escape, they were run down, and in at least one case, cut off by the Antifa mob and beaten down some more.

In the incidents I witnessed, about five or six Antifa members at a time participated in the attacks, while perhaps 50 others stood behind them, forming an impenetrable wall that blocked bystanders from intervening, or documenting the violence on camera. Those people would also help chase the victims when they fled.

Source: The Ugly Side of Antifa – LA Progressive

The neo-Nazis have been labeled a terrorist group or call it hate if like, but now will the ANTIFA be so labeled?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has formally classified the activities of anti-fascist groups (antifa) as “domestic terrorist violence” since early 2016, according to confidential law enforcement documents obtained by Politico and interviews.

Federal authorities have reportedly warned state and local officials the antifa has become “increasingly confrontational” in efforts to thwart white supremacist groups.

Source: Are the Antifa Terrorists?

Personally, I am glad to see a group show up that will not take the bullies gruff…..I do not believe that non-violence will counter the tactics of the neo-Nazis……and it is good to see someone that will step up to the task.

War: The Untold Story

The US has been at war for most of the 20th century and into the 21st century…..these we are fighting out longest war ever……Afghanistan has been raging for damn near 17 years.

I have been writing about my opposition to these wars for a decade now……

The MSM reports our successes and some of our failures and in most of that time the one issue that seems to be ignored is that of the death of civilians.

Others as well as myself see the useless death of civilians as a major problem that is growing exponentially….in the last week the stories are such…..

For the second day in a row, US and NATO forces have deliberately attacked civilian houses known to contain civilian bystanders in an attempt to target Taliban fighters. Yesterday’s strike took place in Herat, where warplanes hit a Taliban compound, then targeting a whole neighborhood because the Taliban fighters scattered and they figured they were in some of those homes. 16 civilians were among the slain.

Today’s attack was further east, in Logar, where a US helicopter had decided Taliban fighters had taken shelter inside a civilian house, and fired missiles into it. 11 civilians were slain in the attack, which NATO promised to look into. There was no report of Taliban casualties, despite the pretext for the attack.

(antiwar.com)

The military got its body count unfortunately none of the dead were Taleban.

Then the news from Somalia……

A joint US-Somali raid on the farming village of Barire a week ago left 10 civilians dead, all of them executed one at a time by the troops. Today, after a week of disputes, the Somali national government finally admitted to the incident, and promised compensatory payments to the survivors.

Locals brought the slain to the capital of Mogadishu for display, and protested the killings, with provincial officials supporting their demands. Ultimately, the national government agreed to admit to the incident, pay “blood money” both for slain civilians and cattle, and to help resolve the tribal dispute in a way that wouldn’t lead to further massacres.

(antiwar.com)

“Blood Money” will be covered by the US no doubt…..”Hush Money” is a better term….

Then there is Syria…Raqqa to be exact……

UN officials are warning that the city’s population is paying an “unacceptable price” from the US airstrikes, and that continued US bombardment may be in violation of international law as a result. The US has been trying to back an invasion of Raqqa against ISIS.

An estimated 20,000 civilians remain in Raqqa, and the US has labeled them “human shields.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned that in just the month of August they’d documented 151 civilian deaths from the US-led invasion and US airstrikes.

(antiwar.com)

These are just the results from last week and this thing has been on-going for more than a decade…bombs do not distinguish good from bad.

This is a humanitarian crisis that the West will not acknowledge their part in creating.

The whole world should be angered at the deaths of women and children for no other reason that they were in the neighborhood.

North Korea

My normal region of focus is the Middle East…..I never studied other regions much at all….but since North Korea and the world are having a good shouting match I have decided my horizons.

The news these days is fascinating…..one day it is Russia….the next DACA…..the next North Korea….all this while two or three major conflicts are being fought daily with little notice.

As it is today we have two macho bullies showing who has the biggest penis.

North Korea in the last couple of years has exploded several large nuke weapons and fired off many missiles to show their resolve…..and of course as a retort the US has shown its cajones by threatening all sorts of retaliation.

Their latest missile firing has indicated that they are progressing well and has struck the fear of the spirits in Japan…..

President Trump on Wednesday followed up on his “all options are on the table” warning to North Korea by suggesting that negotiations are not one of those options. “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years,” he tweeted. “Talking is not the answer!” It’s not clear what Trump means by “extortion money,” notes the New York Times. The new warning follows the North’s decision to fire a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time, and an analysis at 38 North sees a potentially “ominous” clue in the test results: The missile flew a relatively short distance of about 1,700 miles. It’s possible engineers deliberately shut down the engine early, but the distance (and reports of the missile breaking into three pieces) suggests a more troubling possibility: Pyongyang is testing something called a “post-boost vehicle” on the missile.

PBVs are standard on US and Russian ICBMs, explains Michael Elleman, because they not only provide an added boost for the payload (some kind of warhead), they also provide for more accuracy. If the North had tested the missile with a PBV, and the test failed, the distance traveled would make sense. If that’s the case, “it is another sign that Pyongyang is deadly serious about developing and fielding nuclear-tipped missiles capable of striking the US mainland, and critical US military bases in the Pacific Ocean,” writes Elleman, who thinks North Korea is a year or two away from posing a credible threat to the US. Meanwhile, the Navy shot down a medium-range ballistic missile during a test off Hawaii, reports NBC News. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves,” says a Pentagon official.

Of course the word coming out of the US is that any attempt to strike an ally would be shear suicide for NK.

But would it be suicide?  What would the US be willing to sacrifice?  LA?  Maybe Chicago?

“Are we really willing to risk Los Angeles or Chicago in retaliation for an attack on a US military base in the region? Probably not,” nuclear strategy specialist Vipin Narang tells the AP. And that’s exactly the calculation that gives North Korea a small shot at “winning” in a nuclear conflict, challenging the assumption that launching a nuclear weapon would be automatic suicide for the country. If North Korea feels threatened to the point of using a nuclear weapon, a first target would likely be a US military base in Japan; North Korea would then use its long-range nukes to threaten the US mainland and avoid a retaliatory strike. Experts say this is Kim Jong Un’s “theory of victory”—one that President Trump may be attempting to combat with an unsuccessful version of the “madman strategy.”

Trump said “all options are on the table.” This was, all things considered, a “measured” response from the president, according to the Atlantic. It was an official statement instead of a tweet, didn’t threaten “fire and fury,” and avoided calling Kim Jong Un a “wack job.”

While this situation is being mulled over by the “experts”……and then NK set off what is being called an “H-Bomb”……..(new twist)……

North Korea detonated a thermonuclear device Sunday in its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, which it called a “perfect success” as its neighbors condemned it. Though the strength of the blast is undetermined, the artificial earthquake it caused was several times stronger than tremors generated by previous tests. It reportedly shook buildings in China and Russia. The test was carried out at 12:29pm local time at the Punggye-ri site where North Korea has conducted nearly all of its nuclear tests. Seoul put the magnitude at 5.7, while the USGS said it was 6.3. North Korea’s state-run television reported Sunday that Kim Jong Un attended a meeting of the ruling party’s presidium and signed the go-ahead order. Earlier in the day, the party’s newspaper printed photos of Kim examining what it said was a nuclear warhead being fitted onto the nose of an ICBM.

North Korea in July test-launched two ICBMs believed to be capable of reaching the mainland US, reports the AP; this is the North’s first nuclear test since President Trump assumed office. The North claimed the device was a thermonuclear weapon—commonly called an H-bomb. That could be hard to independently confirm. It said the underground test site did not leak radioactive materials, which would make such a determination even harder. The North claims the device was made domestically and has explosive power that can range from tens to hundreds of kilotons. Outside experts suggested the yield might be in that ballpark, though closer to the lower range. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a 15-kiloton yield. Kim, according to the state-run KCNA, claimed all components of the device were domestically produced, which he said means the North can make “as many as it wants.”

What does that mean?

In military planning “all options” are always on the table….matters not the region…all angles must be covered.

Trump’s world becomes a bit more dangerous with each passing Tweet.

Tax Reform—-2017 Edition

Slowly but slowly some fresh air is filtering into DC as the Congress is on their Summer break.

The GOP attempt to ‘repeal and replace”, something they had been harping on for at least 7 years, fell on its face hard….and when they return after Labor Day will try move on to something new?

You guessed it!

It is that time again…..that time when the GOP jumps on the issue of tax reform.  That time ever session when the GOP talks a mean case for protecting jobs and helping hard working Americans.

You do realize that it is all BS, right?

Why?

The Congress has been cutting taxes for 40 years and in all that time the Middle Class has lost out and in all that time the voter falls for the BS every time it is proposed…even though I can see it with every paycheck that it is a LIE!

Oh there will be the usual….tax breaks, tax reform, the corporate tax rate and the ever popular going after that offshore cash and finally the slogan about helping hard working Americans….all have been said before…..every time their is a GOP tax package we hear the same lame promises and slogans.

For instance……the tax package in 2013 and the package that the GOP was championing….

Source: What About Those Pesky Corporate Tax Rates? – In Saner Thought

But do not take my well informed word for it……

This is the joint statement by Ryan and McConnell on the upcoming tax package….

Source: Joint Statement on Tax Reform | Speaker.gov

Let’s be honest, something that the GOP would never consider doing, the package today is the same package from 4 years ago…..the only ones to benefit from this deal will be the wealthy.

Unlike most people that bitch about taxes…..I have on several occasions offered my idea of how to handle taxes and such…….

Since taxation is our major source of income…then everyone who participates in this country should be paying their fair share….

First let’s be real…..anyone that believes the lie of tax cuts for corporations will somehow bring jobs and a better economy is just delusional fools.

Corporations…..a flat 15% corporate tax….no deductions or cuts or breaks…all pay the price.

Corporations should pay the same income tax as the individual or flatten it out to a 15% tax on all income…not on profit…income.  Deductions for employee health plans and buying new equipment only.

Individuals:

$0-50,000 no tax

$50,001-100,000 pays 15%

$100,001-250,00 pays 25%

$250,001-up pays 35%

Deductions to be worked out…but from my plan there will be very limited deductions.

I realize that this is an ambitious plan and will probably never see the light of day in my lifetime….but it is a fair plan and ALL Americans can participate in the prosperity of their country.

But even the Trump White House has those that see the wealthy should be pulling more weight when it comes to taxes….

ex-White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon has an unusual proposal for a Republican: He wants to raise income taxes on the richest Americans.

Specifically, a tax rate of 44 percent on all income over $5 million. Currently, the country’s highest rate is 39.6 percent.

Bannon’s economic views sit noticeably to the left of the GOP donor class. That means there’s scant chance Republicans will take Bannon up on the idea. But if they were smart, they would.

Source: Bannon’s bright idea

Although I do like the idea of them paying 90+% in taxes….but those days are long gone.

We need a truly equatable tax code….not one that hides corporate welfare behind a pile or volumes of legal-ese.