“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ramadi Redux



ISIS group seizes government compound in Iraq's Ramadi 

By Associated Press 3 hours ago 
The center of Ramadi under ISIS contro. Rudaw photo
The center of Ramadi under ISIS contro. Rudaw photo 
BAGHDAD — Islamic State militants seized the main government headquarters in Ramadi, raising their black flag over the compound and setting it ablaze hours after a series of suicide car bombings heralded the start of a major new offensive by the extremists on the strategic city.

The advance marked a significant setback for the Iraqi government in its long fight to defend Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province, where Iraqi forces have made little progress against the extremist group despite months of US-led airstrikes.

The capture of the compound — which houses a police headquarters as well as provincial and municipal offices — followed a coordinated attack in which three near-simultaneous suicide car bombs killed at least 10 police officers and wounded dozens more, Ramadi's Mayor Dalaf al-Kubaisi said. He said two Humvees previously seized from the Iraqi army were used in the attack.

Islamic State fighters also seized other parts of the city and attacked the Anbar Operation Command, the military headquarters for the province, al-Kubaisi said.

As they advanced, the militants carried out mass killings in which dozens of captured security forces and their families were slain, said Anbar provincial councilman Taha Abdul-Ghani.

The victims included some 30 tribal fighters allied with the Iraqi forces in the battle against ISIS, said another councilman, Athal al-Fahdawi. In the Jamiaa district of Ramadi, ISIS gunmen stormed the house of a policeman, Ahmed Mohammed, and shot him dead along with his wife, 12-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

Dozens of families were forced to flee their homes in the area, al-Fahdawi said.

The head of Anbar's provincial council, Sabah Karhout, appealed to the central government in Baghdad to send reinforcements and urged the US-led coalition to increase airstrikes against the militants in Ramadi.

"The city is undergoing vicious attack by Daesh and we are in dire need of any kind of assistance," Karhout said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the US conducted "numerous airstrikes" in Ramadi on Friday as part of its support for Iraqi security forces fighting the Islamic State group.

"There will be good days and bad days in Iraq," Rathke told reporters. "ISIL is trying to make today a bad day in Ramadi. We've said all along we see this as a long-term fight."

US troops saw some of the heaviest fighting of the eight-year Iraq war in the sprawling desert province of Anbar, and Ramadi was a major insurgent stronghold. The ISIS group captured the nearby city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in January 2014, two years after US forces withdrew and months before its main sweep across northern and western Iraq last summer.

A senior US military officer downplayed the militants' latest gains in Ramadi, saying they were temporary and unlikely to withstand Iraqi counterattacks.

While conceding the extremists had executed a "complex attack" on the city, Marine Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley said Iraqi security forces still controlled most of the key facilities, infrastructure and roadways in the Ramadi area.

Speaking by telephone from his headquarters in Kuwait, Weidley, the chief of staff for the US command leading the campaign against the ISIS group, suggested the militants were trying to inflate the significance of what he called limited gains in Ramadi.

"Daesh does remain on the defensive," he said. "We've seen similar attacks in Ramadi over the last several months which the (Iraqi security forces) have been able to repel, and we see this one being similar to those."

In Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi presided over a meeting of senior security and military commanders to discuss the situation in Ramadi.

"His excellency gave orders to exert more efforts in the fighting against Daesh and in order to drive out the terrorist gangs from Ramadi," said a statement posted on al-Abadi's official website.

State-run Iraqiya television announced that new combat units had arrived in Ramadi.

Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters have made steady gains against the ISIS group elsewhere in Iraq since last summer, when the US-led coalition began striking the extremists from the air. Iraqi forces and Shiite militias recaptured the northern city of Tikrit from the IS group early last month, marking their biggest victory to date.

But progress has been slow in Anbar, a vast Sunni province where anger at the Shiite-led government runs deep and where US forces struggled for years to beat back a potent insurgency. American soldiers fought some of their bloodiest battles since Vietnam on the streets of Fallujah and Ramadi.

US troops were able to improve security in the province starting in 2006 when powerful tribes and former militants turned against al-Qaida in Iraq, a precursor to the Islamic State group, and allied with the Americans.

But the so-called Sunni Awakening movement waned in the years after US troops withdrew at the end of 2011, with the fighters complaining of neglect and distrust from the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.


The Daily Star

Iraq’s Anbar province in the last dozen years has provided a textbook case of bad policy, both by local authorities and supposedly well-meaning outsiders.

The 2003 U.S. invasion allowed a small group of U.S. officials to unleash a wave of destruction and fragmentation, mistakenly believing themselves to be experts in a radical type of state-building in a country that already had fairly strong state institutions. Anbar province suddenly became demonized as a center of terrorism, although people there were largely upset at a foreign presence more interested in remaking Iraq than merely searching for weapons of mass destruction.

When the government of Nouri al-Maliki came to power, Anbar’s woes continued; the priority of the Baghdad authorities appeared to be smearing people as Baathists or sympathizers with Al-Qaeda.

While Haider al-Abadi was supposed to represent a break with this policy, the same type of marginalization continued, as pro-Iran militias created more havoc and resentment.

These days, Iraqi authorities are asking Washington for weapons and airstrikes to defeat ISIS, as the U.S. largely ignores the rising influence of the pro-Iranian militias.

In response to the situation on the ground, Congress is threatening to channel the military assistance directly to Iraq’s Kurds and Sunni tribes. Such a policy could be the prelude for yet another wave of polarization instead of boosting national unity, irrespective of whether this is the actual intention.

Such is the lot of Anbar and much of Iraq today – caught between two bad options. Either the fight against ISIS in Anbar remains stalled, or it goes ahead, led by sectarian forces that are likely to generate even more hatred, vendettas and fragmentation.


  1. BEIRUT: Extremists from ISIS closed in on Syria's ancient metropolis of Palmyra Friday, hours before seizing a government headquarters in the strategic Iraqi city of Ramadi.

    Jihadi fighters advanced to within one kilometer (less than a mile) of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site featuring Roman colonnades and an impressive necropolis, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

    "We are very worried," UNESCO director Irina Bokova said Friday at a news conference in Beirut.

    "We are following the situation, because this is an ancient Roman site of very high value," she said, renewing her call for "all relevant parties to protect" the famed desert oasis.

    Bokova, who spoke in French, highlighted the importance of working "against extremism, against this strategy of eradicating ... our collective memory" used by ISIS, which has already destroyed archaeological treasures in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

    The National Coalition, Syria's main opposition group in exile, said ISIS would be committing "a crime against civilization" by destroying Palmyra, adding that the regime had not done enough to protect the 2,000-year-old city.

    Syria's army sent reinforcements to Palmyra Friday.

    "The army is bombing the surroundings of Tadmor from the air," said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Observatory.

    Palmyra, which means City of Palms, is known in Syria as Tadmor, or City of Dates.

    "Islamic State [ISIS] group jihadists are now one kilometer" from the ruins, he said.

    Since the ISIS offensive began early Wednesday, more than 138 combatants - including 73 soldiers and 65 jihadis - have been killed.

    And at least 26 civilians were executed by ISIS, including 10 by beheading, after they were accused of "collaborating with the regime" in villages near Palmyra overrun by ISIS.

    However, the governor of central Homs province, where Palmyra is located, said the situation was "under control."

    "The army has sent reinforcements and it is bombing the [ISIS] positions from the air," Talal Barazi said.

    According to Barazi, the inner city houses about 35,000 people, including displaced Syrians who fled there after their home towns were engulfed in violence, and the suburbs host roughly another 35,000.

    The Observatory said that more than 100,000 people lived in and around Palmyra.

    1. Syria's director of antiquities Maamoun Abdelkarim called on the international community to prevent Palmyra's destruction, which he said would be "an international catastrophe."

      Palmyra is nicknamed "the pearl of the desert", and UNESCO describes it as a heritage site of "outstanding universal value."

      The historical metropolis stood on a caravan route at the crossroads of several civilizations, and its first and second century temples and colonnaded streets mark a unique blend of Greco-Roman and Persian influences.

      It also houses a series of old and beautifully decorated tombs, where the richest Palmyrans were buried.

      ISIS would see such cultural treasures as targets, after the group was filmed destroying the Iraqi archaeological sites of Nimrud and Hatra.

      Since Syria's conflict began four years ago, Palmyra has been looted and its architecture has already been damaged by clashes between rebels and the regime.

      Also Friday, ISIS seized the main government compound in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, giving them nearly full control over Anbar's provincial capital, the group and officials said.

      ISIS "now occupies the government centre in Ramadi and has also raised its flag over the police HQ for Anbar," a police major told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

      The group itself issued a statement saying its fighters "broke into the Safavid government complex in the centre of Ramadi", using a derogatory term for government forces.

      IS has threatened to take Ramadi for months, and its breakthrough came after a wide offensive on several fronts in Anbar, including an assault using several suicide car bombs in the city Thursday.

      If the group manages to take all of Ramadi, it would control the capitals of the two largest provinces in Iraq. Mosul, capital of the neighboring province of Nineveh, has been in ISIS hands since June 2014.

  2. 1) If I had a switch to eliminate all these bastards, I'd flip it.

    2) Their are some brains behind this group, Saddam's old officer corps.

    3) Support for ISIS is stronger among the average Sunni savage than most think.

    4) They are certainly dedicated to their 'cause' and are the kind of self sacrificing, death defying and death loving bunch of fighters on the prowl anywhere these days.

    5) What we are currently doing isn't working.

    6) Solution - ? Don't know but it's tough thinking about the young, the girls, the women.....the Christians and the other minorities.
    The borders in the area are being redrawn despite our desires.

  3. I added an opinion and an observation by the Lebanon Daily Star at the bottom of the post.

  4. I increasingly am coming around to Ash’s opinion, that we have so screwed things up by attacking Iraq and removing Saddam, anything we do now makes it worse.

    The idea that the idiot brother of George Bush said that he would do the same thing all over again is both astonishing and incomprehensible.

  5. Bush, Cruz and Rubio and most of the other GOP candidates want the United States to go back on offense in the Middle East. They have learned nothing. Hopefully, the US Public has had enough of The Republicans and their Neocon masters.

  6. I posted a video of Bush saying, the day before yesterday, that we should "re-engage" in Iraq.

    They came into Ramadi under the cover of a giant dust storm, and they will get kicked out in the next few days, when the sun comes back out.

    We're doing this exactly right, killing sixty or seventy a day from the air. We can do this for a lot longer than they can sustain the casualties.

    1. I will reiterate:

      No Americans Have Been Killed in the Battle for Ramadi.

    2. Btw, Obama has spent, in nine months, about the same as Bush spent in Iraq in 3 days.

    3. U.S Special Operations just went into Syria, and took out an ISIS high mucketymuck.

  7. How did those spec ops do it without their boots touching the ground?

    Musta been wearing slippers....

    1. Their "boots" definitely got dusty.

      Think "Osama Bin Laden" raid.

    2. The guy and his wife were, evidently, big financiers (oil and gas, human trafficking, etc.)

      Killed the guy in firefight, captured the wife.

  8. The operation was ordered personally by Barack Obama, the White House said. Friday night, the special forces flew into eastern Syria on a helicopter.

    DoD reports no injuries or fatalities among the US forces.

    1. Initial report from inside Syria is 19 Daesh killed.

      One U.S. Delta Operator got his knuckles skinned up in the hand-to-hand. :)

    2. How would you like knowing that Your name was on this asshole's computer, or cell phone? :)

    3. You can run, but . . . . . . . . . :)

    4. Meanwhile, we carried out about 45 Airstrikes in the last two days. That would be about 140 or 150 Daid Headcutters.

      It might take a while, but Daesh can't stand this type of pressure, forever.

      Meanwhile, the American Death Toll is Zero.

  9. And all the while the US will not coordinate or communicate with Assad's forces ...
    The desire of the US to defeat Daesh, not all that great.

    The Assad regime, although tyrannical, is no where near as horrific as was that of Josef Stalin, who murdered over 20 million people.
    The US allied itself with Stalin's regime to defeat the Germans in WWII.

    Obviously the US had a real desire to defeat Hitler.

    1. It's certainly hard to argue for a "great sense of urgency," regarding ISIS. :)

      You could almost make a case for Daesh "serving a purpose," couldn't you?

    2. Right, that's it, Prediction Boys.

      We are just 'training our pilots', or something.

      9 (NINE) Days Left until The Glory Day of an ISIS Free Iraq, Memorial Day 2015, as PREDICTED by Jack ass the 'military expert'.


    3. May 16, 2015
      Islamic State take Ramadi, but U.S. says they're 'on the defensive'
      By Rick Moran

      Islamic State forces took the city of Ramadi on Friday, sending Iraqi government forces fleeing and raising their black flag over the government building in the center of town.

      Reports say that there is now only scattered resistance in Ramadi, and the terrorists are threatening a large military base on the outskirts of town, as well as a major dam nearby.

      Ramadi was the last large population center in Anbar province to fall to the terrorists.

      A U.S. military spokesman claims that while Ramadi is a vital city, there really is nothing to worry about, because the Islamic State attack is really part of a social media propaganda campaign.

      Associated Press:

      Despite major new setbacks in Iraq, the U.S. military command leading the fight against Islamic State militants insisted Friday that its strategy is working and that the militants’ takeover of a key oil refinery and a government compound are fleeting gains feeding an IS propaganda machine.

      “We believe across Iraq and Syria that Daesh is losing and remains on the defensive,” said Marine Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley, chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the name of the international campaign fighting IS. “Daesh” is the Arabic acronym for the militant group that swept into Iraq from Syria last June and swiftly took control of much of Iraq’s north and west.

      Even as Weidley spoke to reporters by phone from his headquarters in Kuwait, IS militants were defying his description of them as a force on defense. Iraqi officials said IS fighters had captured the main government compound in Ramadi, the capital of battle-scarred Anbar province. Other officials said they had gained substantial control over the Beiji oil refinery, a strategically important prize in the battle for Iraq’s future and a potential source of millions of dollars in income for the militants.

      The battle to push IS out of Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, which some had hoped would begin this spring, now seems a more distant goal.

      Weidley appeared to be pressing his own "information campaign" designed to counter the militants' message of defiance. While conceding the militants' were managing "episodic control" of certain terrain in Iraq, he insisted their advances were minor and unsustainable.

      The State Department offered a similar assessment. "There will be good days and bad days in Iraq," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said. "ISIL is trying to make today a bad day in Ramadi. We've said all along we see this as a long-term fight."

    4. Weidley said IS fighters had launched a complex attack Friday on Ramadi as part of an effort to "feed their information and propaganda apparatus." He said he could not confirm how much of the city had been lost to IS on Friday or what percentage remains in Iraqi control. He said his command had seen Islamic State social media postings of photos that depict a successful Ramadi offensive.

      "This is similar to the (techniques) they've used in the past where they've conducted attacks trying to gain social media gains by taking photos and documenting small-term gains and then using it for propaganda purposes," Weidley said, adding that IS was inflating the importance of its success.

      "We've seen similar attacks in Ramadi over the last several months for which the ISF (Iraqi security forces) have been able to repel, and we see this one being similar to those," he said, adding that the U.S. is confident the Iraqi government will be able to take back the terrain it has lost in Ramadi.

      Shades of Baghdad Bob? In fact, the Iraqi army ran away, enabling Islamic State fighters to move into most of the city. They are also threatening the two smaller but strategically vital towns of Baghdadi and Karmah:

      Islamic State forces also appeared to be closing in on government positions in two other key locations in Anbar province, the towns of Baghdadi and Karmah, in a broad offensive that if successful would end the government presence in any of the province’s major population centers. The capture of Baghdadi also would cut the supply lines to the Iraqi garrison protecting the strategic Haditha Dam.

      At Ramadi, government troops were still fighting in some isolated areas. But the city was essentially under the control of the Islamic State after a fierce assault that began with a series of car bombs on Iraqi government security facilities overnight. By late afternoon, security forces appeared to be in full flight as militants consolidated control over the area and prevented anyone from leaving.

      Does that sound like an army conducting a propaganda campaign on social media? There is strategic depth to this Ramadi campaign, in that they are now threatening several vital installations in Anbar.

      It's one thing to fudge news from the war, but it's quite another to sugarcoat disaster. The fall of Ramadi is a major strategic setback for the Iraqi government and serves only to solidify Islamic State positions in the country.

    5. There is some brain power directing the actions of ISIS.

      They don't appear to be uncoordinated, nor dumb.

  10. Holyfield-Romney Charity Fight of the Century Goes Just Two Rounds -

    'Sting like a butterfly': Holyfield jabs Romney for charity

    Associated Press
    By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press

    SALT LAKE CITY — Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and five-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield squared off in the ring at a charity fight night event in Salt Lake City.

    Romney, 68, and Holyfield, 52, sparred, if you could call it that, for just two short rounds Friday before Romney ran away from the boxer and threw in the towel, giving up a round early in the lighthearted fight that came amid several other fights by professional boxers and an auction.

    The two barely threw any punches and largely just danced around, occasionally lightly jabbing each other in the midsection in what was much more of a comedic event than an actual bout.

    The black-tie affair raised money for the Utah-based organization CharityVision, which helps doctors in developing countries perform surgeries to restore vision in people with curable blindness.

    Romney's son Josh Romney, who lives in Utah, serves as a volunteer president for CharityVision.

    Corporate sponsorships for the event ranged from $25,000 to $250,000. Organizers say they raised at least $1 million.

    "He said, 'You know what? You float like a bee and sting like a butterfly,'" Romney said after the fight.

    Attendees just enjoyed the festive atmosphere and the chance to see Romney in the ring.

    "Oh, it was great. I was very proud of Mitt," said Katie Anderson, who attended the event with her husband.

    "I was happy it went to the second round," Devin Anderson said.

    Romney, the most-high profile Mormon in America, is hugely popular in the state, where more than 60 percent of the residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Beyond his religious connections, the former Massachusetts governor is remembered by many for turning around Salt Lake City's 2002 Winter Olympics after a bribery scandal.

    Romney has recently built a home in the Salt Lake City area and registered as a Utah voter.

    Photo display of epic fight included in link.

    One must admit, Romney is in great shape for his age.

    He could take out Chris Christie in one half a round...........


  11. >>>"They came into Ramadi under the cover of a giant dust storm, and they will get kicked out in the next few days, when the sun comes back out."<<<

    Rufus Rusticus

    They CHEATED !!

    NOT FAIR !!

    Ruf is on the Bud/Beam mixture again and has made another stupid prediction.

    When will he ever learn ?

    Ans: Never


    1. "When the Sun shines a Day, and Gentles into that Good Night, Ramadi will be Free Again, Hooray"


    2. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson would end US troops into Iraqi, to bleed out in the desert sands ...

      He would invade that country, to save it.
      But does not admit the utter failure which accompanied the last time the US invaded Iraq.
      Discounts the death and destruction the US caused.
      Discounts the lies told to US by our own President.

      Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson would like to see US repeat those mistakes.

    3. He does admit, though ...
      6) Solution - ? Don't know but it's tough thinking about the young, the girls, the women....

      The discovery of widespread FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan suggests the assumption to be incorrect that FGM is primarily an African phenomenon with only marginal occurrence in the eastern Islamic world. FGM is practiced at a rate of nearly 60 percent by Iraqi Kurds, then how prevalent is the practice in neighboring Syria where living conditions and cultural and religious practices are comparable?

      Why should a single US soldier die to protect this horrid cultural practice,

      Answer US that Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson

    LAST UPDATED: Friday, May 15, 2015, 11:02 PM
    POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2015, 9:50 PM

    A projectile might have struck the windshield of Amtrak Train 188, just minutes before the train crashed Tuesday night, and investigators said Friday that they had called in the FBI to analyze the damage.

    Officials at the National Transportation Safety Board could not say whether engineer Brandon Bostian had been struck or incapacitated by a projectile.

    The surprising revelation at a news conference Friday night significantly expands the scope of the crash investigation beyond either mechanical failure or operator responsibility.

    Two other trains - a SEPTA commuter train bound for Trenton and an Amtrak Acela arriving from New York - were struck by projectiles in North Philadelphia on Tuesday night shortly before the Amtrak wreck.


  13. Rufus is a World Class GAS !

    By some magical elixir of Bud and Beam he has turned the utter failure of his Prediction into some kind of Virtue.

    >>>Rufus IISat May 16, 10:30:00 AM EDT

    It's certainly hard to argue for a "great sense of urgency," regarding ISIS. :)

    You could almost make a case for Daesh "serving a purpose," couldn't you?<<<

    Well, you could try, in extremis, I suppose.

    Only a nitwit would do so, as Q might say.

    Har de har har

    The Prediction Worm Squirms On His Hook, Self Impaled

    I see The Criminal is back, and following me around, as per usual.

    >>>Jack HawkinsThu May 14, 01:12:00 PM EDT
    How much cash I got from the cartels is hard to say, but they were happy
    with the body count I gave them…

    I was desperate to raise money for my 350 acres of bottom lands in AZ<<<

    He can demean the Blog without my presence. I've heard enough of his bullshit.

    Later -

    Cheers !!


    Serenity !!

  14. I may have gotten the timeline wrong, but at least I bet on the right team.

    1. A Team that is currently ahead by something close to 11,700 to 0

    2. That's cold comfort to the Shia dead, and the women and children and Christians, etc Rufus.

      I'm not betting on any team. I'm with Ash. I don't think we ought to go back. ISIS is going to be hard to beat without us on the ground, though.

      They certainly have shown they are well dedicated to their own form of murderous idiocy.

      We might go back in for awhile under some new Republican President, then tire of it again under some new anti-war President, and the whole fiasco replays again.

      I'm for working around the edges, supporting the Kurds, the Israelis, the new Egyptian government with Sisi at this point.

      Whole thing has turned out to be one big FUBAR.

      And, Saudi Arabia has now pledged to match Iran 'nuke for nuke'.

      They can do it too.

      It's a nightmare.

    3. I used to think the Shia Iraqis could beat the Sunni ISIS given enough time, as there are so many more of them. I'm beginning to doubt that now.

      If they ever get around to trying to take Mosul, it's going to be one huge blood bath, with the outcome unknown.

    4. And I still don't understand where ISIS is getting all the weaponry.

      Who is supplying them the ammo, the explosives ?

      I get it that they got a lot from the Iraqi Army when they fled, but still....

      I can't identify any large nation out and out supporting them.

    5. The victims included some 30 tribal fighters allied with the Iraqi forces in the battle against ISIS, said another councilman, Athal al-Fahdawi. In the Jamiaa district of Ramadi, ISIS gunmen stormed the house of a policeman, Ahmed Mohammed, and shot him dead along with his wife, 12-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

      So according to Rufus, only when Israel kills children (even as collateral damage and not intentional) it's a crime.

      When others execute children it's not even worth a shout out...

      Says it all...

  15. Pope Francis the Befuddled News

    VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace” during a meeting Saturday at the Vatican that underscored the Holy See’s warm relations with the Palestinians as it prepares to canonize two 19th century nuns from the region.

    Francis made the compliment during the traditional exchange of gifts at the end of an official audience in the Apostolic Palace. He presented Abbas with a medallion and explained that it represented the “angel of peace destroying the bad spirit of war.”

    Francis said he thought the gift was appropriate since “you are an angel of peace.” During his 2014 visit to Israel and the West Bank, Francis called both Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres men of peace.

    Pope Francis is undoubtedly a wonderfully nice good hearted old codger but seems to be living in 'the other world' before he's really 'bought the ticket' and taken the trip there.

  16. .

    We're doing this exactly right, killing sixty or seventy a day from the air. We can do this for a lot longer than they can sustain the casualties.

    Who says? What would make you think that?

    Most intelligent military campaign ever? The very words are an oxymoron.

    We should never have gotten involved in this war in the first place. We had no national interest that forced us into it. It was a war of choice. And while we may have the most powerful military in the world, we have proven we are not really strategic thinkers. While the various Iraqi players may have nice words to say about the air support we provide, no one in Iraq likes us. None there really want us, not the Shia, not the Sunni, and not the Kurds. When we leave we will be more disliked that before we came.


    1. "Most intelligent military campaign ever? The very words are an oxymoron."

      This goes too far, goes over the edge............into lalaland.

      ISIS, for instance, has run an intelligent military campaign, so far, with results clear to see.

      It's not a matter of liking or disliking military campaigns, but some are much better run than others.

      And, the Kurds have shown the like us by not killing any of us. No American has been killed by the Kurds so far, I have read. The Kurds have been thankful for our help, and need more weapons from us. We should comply.

    2. .

      What I have said is that we shouldn't have gotten involved in Iraq in the first place. However, once Obama committed us to the war, once we had formed and publicized our sixty country, grand (and pretty much non-existent) coalition, we couldn't merely declare that we were 'just kidding' and go home without losing what little respect we still maintain in the world. The best we could hope for is to accomplish something big (perhaps taking back Mosul or something similar) and somehow get the Iraqis up to speed to the point that we could declare victory and go home without being snickered at as a paper tiger.

      Hemingway was a little goofy but I agree with him when he said, Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war. Hem's 'worse things' are probably different than mine but I still agree with the sentiment.

      That being said, the objectives for the war that Obama established, to 'Degrade and Destroy ISIS' can't be accomplished using the strategy we are currently pursuing. In fact, they may not even be adequate for the limited goal I proposed, that of getting out of Iraq and being able to 'declare victory' and get out with a limited amount of damage.

      IMO, our current action in Iraq is a perfect example of 'it is not the generals who wage war but politicians'. At the outset, they say the war will take years thus setting the stage for another interminable war but pushing off responsibility to future administrations. The war itself seems designed to limit US casualties so as to limit any public objections to the war at home even it that means we will never accomplish our stated goals.


    3. .

      To me, the current US actions in Iraq seem little more than the no-fly zone we established there after the first Iraq war. We go in, bomb for effect, drive ISIS off, withdraw, and wait for them to show up again either in the same place or in some other place.

      Wash, rinse, repeat.


    4. .

      It is difficult to win a war when you try to do it in the face of conflicting aims. We declare we want to 'degrade and destroy' ISIS in Iraq; but that's probably an impossible task on its face but definitely so if we don't intend to wipe them out in Syria, their home base. We restrict ourselves to airstrikes but don't put enough troops on the ground to coordinate and call in strikes. We declare our commitment to a unified Iraq (an admirable goal even if it is questionable it can be maintained given the sectarian divide). In making this commitment to Baghdad, we limit the benefits that can be had from arming groups like the Kurds. We also defer to Baghdad in decisions on the war. In doing so, we cede key decisions to the Iranians. We do it willingly and our generals applaud it. IMO, that US deference makes us just one more player in the war, a mercenary force for Baghdad, on call and waiting for instructions.

      Perhaps, there is a grand strategy there and I just don't see it. Every decision there appears to me to be based on political rather than military considerations.


    5. I agree that at this point it is very hard to say we should ever have gotten involved in the first place.

      My lawyer and I both thought we were attacking the wrong country. It made more sense to us that if we are going to attack somebody it should Iran, not Iraq.

      I blame the FIASCO now all on Obama for taking the troops out too soon.

      Everyone I know was for going into Afghanistan though. There are things that demand a response. To really change the country we need to stay for another generation or so........will we do it ? Probably not.

      Casino Time

      Cheers !

    6. There isn't any 'grand strategy'.

      Maybe we are both blind but I sure don't see one, unless it's to enable Iran.

      Obama tried to enable the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but it didn't work out.

      None of it makes any sense to me out here in the boondocks.

    7. Maybe it is to enable Iran. Obama didn't even raise a voice of support for the protesters in Iran when they were being gunned down by the Iranian thugs.

      Remember Neda.

  17. The Freedom Fighter Doug Hughes, aka nom de guerre "Quirk" explains in an Op-Ed why he flew his Ultra Light 'The Low and Slow' onto the The US Capitol Grounds - (don't believe that his flying day are over - he doesn't mean it and he WILL be back)

    The Washington Post

    I flew a gyrocopter onto the Capitol Lawn to save our democracy

    >>>>Doug Hughes flies his gyrocopter in March near the Wauchula Municipal Airport in Wauchula, Fla. (James Borchuck/The Tampa Bay Times via AP) (James Borchuck/AP <<<< Check this pic out of "Quirk" in 'The Low and Slow'

    By Doug Hughes May 15 at 6:04 PM

    Doug Hughes lives in Ruskin, Fla.

    When I return to Washington for my arraignment in federal court this week, it will be by car, not gyrocopter. My flying days are over, perhaps forever. Accepting responsibility for my actions means I accept their consequences, which I always took seriously. As my freedom rests in the court’s hands, my hope is that Americans will understand why I took the risk to deliver them a message: We the people must pay attention to democracy.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion about my flight over the Mall last month, but I did not commit this peaceful protest thoughtlessly. The most important requirements were met: No one was hurt, no property was damaged and the message was delivered. It was a message Americans agree with.

    A poll by the Global Strategy Group indicates that 91 percent of Americans see the corrosive influence of money in our political system as a problem that demands attention. And in a Gallup tracking poll, voters identified frustration with government as their No. 1 concern in recent months, ahead of the economy and jobs.

    Evidence of what those polls mean is quietly emerging around the country five years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Tens of thousands of Americans have protested, marched, written their elected representatives and local media, and quietly built a movement. Sixteen states and 650 cities have called on Congress to propose a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. Three other states have called for an unprecedented Article V constitutional convention.
    Arrest of gyrocopter pilot caught on video(1:30)
    Doug Hughes, 61, a mail carrier from Ruskin, Fla., was jailed and is facing undisclosed charges after he flew his vehicle over D.C. and landed on the Capitol grounds, U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement. (Reuters)

    None of that happened because a billionaire said it should. It happened because people understand the threat that unlimited money in the electoral process poses to our democracy. Our disgust for the problem has led to a search for solutions, such as disclosure laws recently passed by the Republican legislature in Montana and six other states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Vermont) since 2014. Citizens helped pass small-donor public financing in Montgomery County and Chicago overwhelmingly passed a citizen’s advisory calling for the same solution. Voters in Tallahassee, Fla., and the legislature in New Mexico passed strict ethics and lobbying reforms after a bipartisan citizens’ campaign called out the price we all pay for corruption and pay-to-play politics, connecting political dysfunction to people’s family budgets.

    1. President Obama can get in on the act, too, shifting focus from the problem of money in politics to solutions by ending pay-to-play dark money dealings in the federal contracting process. In April, Americans rallied in 30 states urging the president to act.

      It is clear these issues will be among the most important in the 2016 election, when every candidate for any office needs to answer one simple question: Which approaches to reducing money’s corrupting influence on our democracy do you support? Journalists, especially at the local level, need to ask tough questions, then report the truth and let people decide.

      Sadly, most Americans don’t know about these solutions or how to engage. That’s why I chose civil disobedience, taking 535 stamped letters and my message to the seat of power where the problem is. Big money is a threat to our democracy just as security threats are.

      Following my flight for democracy onto the Capitol lawn, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said on the House floor, “Mr. Hughes does have a point about the pervasive influence of money in politics. I’ve seen it get worse and worse in my 20 years in Congress.”

      It’s appropriate that we spend billions protecting the United States from terrorists. It’s time for Americans to spend time protecting democracy from plutocrats.

      There is no silver bullet solution to the corruption in Washington and many state capitols. The problem is complex, but the solution begins with principles Americans share: We want to live in a 21st-century democracy where everyone has a right to know who is influencing our government, everyone has a voice, everyone participates, everyone plays by the same set of commonsense rules and everyone is held accountable if they break faith with those rules.

      These are not my ideas, but I heartily support them. These principles represent the values behind the proposals described in a concise document called the Unity Statement of Principles endorsed by 152 organizations representing millions of Americans. The media sometimes act as though this movement doesn’t exist, but it’s getting harder to ignore, as all the evidence above suggests.

      It’s easy to be cynical, but it’s time to stop. Now is the time to accept the responsibility of citizenship. We the people prevailed over monarchs and robber barons, bled in battles at home and abroad and have kept expanding the rights assured to those history left behind. Each generation recognizes in some way that democracy is not a destination arrived at two centuries ago, but a choice we make by engaging, paying attention, making our voices heard and voting.

      I have faith in a jury of my peers and will accept whatever consequence I must. I simply hope by putting my freedom on the line, others might realize how precious their freedom is and join those of us engaged in this fight to preserve and protect our government of, by and for the people.

    2. Quirk and his "Low and Slow" have been involved in dozens of unsung penetrations, illegal spyings, rescues, sky writing advertisements for Noble Causes, super spook ops of all kinds, joy rides over Vegas, air borne wolf killings, Liquor Store 'filch and flys', you name it, Q and the 'Low and Slow' have done it.

  18. Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group have withdrawn from the main government building in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, a day after the group raised its black flag over the building in the capital of Anbar province.

    The city's mayor and tribal leader said air strikes by the US-led coalition on Saturday forced the armed group to retreat, leaving the buildings booby trapped or on fire, the officials said. Their reports could not be confirmed.

    The withdrawal of the fighters comes a day after they seized the heavily fortified complex, the loss of which provincial officials blamed on a lack of support from the Iraqi . . . . . .

    Buh, bye

    1. >>>>Their reports could not be confirmed.<<<<

    2. I advise waiting for a few days until the dust settles, then take a look.

  19. In other news, Abu Sayaff is still dead.

    1. Yes. A Delta Force Team said so.

    2. It does seem to have been an extremely well planned perfectly carried out raid. Our guys are good at that. They even freed the Yazdi slave woman and are reuniting her with her own. They also got some archaeological items, an old Syrian Bible for instance. ISIS began using human shields according to Fox News right now and our guys got them separated out. Hats off to those guys. Wow.

    3. Plus they got the wife, who might know things, and laptops, lots of financial data, records, lists.......!!

  20. Quirk wouldn't appreciate this though, thinking a well planned well executed military operation is an oxymoron, the moron.

  21. Video: The Romney Holyfield fight. Mitt was robbed!

    posted at 7:01 pm on May 16, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

    Last night in Sin City we saw the confluence of two things which I used to quite enjoy but which have now seen better days… boxing and politics. A while back I wrote about my mostly abandoned love affair with the sweet science, how the sport had fallen on hard times and why the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight wasn’t going to save it. (And given the dismal performance they put on, I’m feeling pretty much justified in that prediction.) As for politics… well, that’s been pretty much on a downhill slide since the disastrous reelection of Nathaniel Tallmadge to the Senate from New York for the Whigs in 1840. (He fled to Wisconsin after that, and good riddance to him.)

    Now, after last night’s showing, neither politics nor boxing may ever recover. As you’ll see in the video outtakes below, Romney was clearly the winner. He knocked down the former champ in the first round with a stiff right cross to the head. (Well, he at least appeared to briefly make contact with Holyfield’s head with his glove anyway and the guy took a standing eight count.) Then, in a clever display of footwork – which some skeptical observers have incorrectly termed “running away” – he had tricked the heavyweight into leaning forward in the center of the ring. Unfortunately, some confusion in the Romney corner led to his manager throwing a white towel at the referee, at which point Mitt was summarily declared to have lost the fight.

    Romney, 68, and Holyfield, 52, sparred, if you could call it that, for just two short rounds before Romney ran away from the boxer and threw in the towel, giving up a round early in the lighthearted fight that came amid several other fights by professional boxers and an auction.

    The two barely threw any punches and largely just danced around, occasionally lightly jabbing each other in the midsection in what was much more of a comedic event than an actual bout.

    All kidding aside, it looked like a lot of fun and they raised more than a million dollars for charity. My hat is off to Mitt Romney who is famed for being “stiff” or stodgy and out of touch. He got out there and was willing to make fun of himself while continuing his long tradition of being very generous to those less fortunate. Well played, sir.

    Absolute robbery.

    He had Holyfield on the canvas.

    That's Quirk refereeing.

    1. Quirk was seen driving a brand new Mercedes just after the bout.

  22. Egypt's Morsi, 100 others sentenced to death

    AFP By Tony Gamal-Gabriel


    Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi sits in a caged dock in Cairo on May 16, 2015

    View gallery


    Cairo (AFP) - An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and more than 100 other people to death for their role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.

    Hours after the ruling, gunmen shot dead two judges, a prosecutor and their driver in the strife-torn Sinai Peninsula, in the first such attack on the judiciary in the region.

    Morsi, sitting in a caged dock in the blue uniform of convicts after already been sentenced to 20 years for inciting violence, raised his fists defiantly when the verdict was read.

    Judge Shabaan El-Shamy handed down the same sentence to more than 100 other defendants including Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badei, already sentenced to death in another trial, and his deputy Khairat al-Shater.

    Morsi, elected president in 2012 as the Brotherhood's compromise candidate after Shater was disqualified, ruled for only a year before mass protests spurred the military to overthrow him in July 2013.

    He was among dozens of Islamist leaders detained during a crackdown that left hundreds of Morsi supporters dead.

    View gallery
    Former Egypt president Mohamed Morsi raises his hands …

    Many of those sentenced on Saturday were tried in absentia, including prominent Qatar-based Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

    The court will pronounce its final decision on June 2, since under Egyptian law, death sentences are referred to the mufti, the government's interpreter of Islamic law, who plays an advisory role.

    Defendants can still appeal even after the mufti's recommendation.

    "If he (Morsi) decides that we appeal against the verdict, then we will. If he continues to not recognise this court, then we won't appeal," said defence lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud.

    - 'Deplorable justice system' -
    View gallery

    Egyptian judge Shabaan el-Shamy (centre) reads out the verdict sentencing deposed Islamist president …

    Amnesty International lashed out at Saturday's verdict, saying it reflected "the deplorable state of the country's criminal justice system".

    "The death penalty has become the favourite tool for the Egyptian authorities to purge the political opposition," the London-based rights watchdog said.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the death sentence, saying the country was "turning back into ancient Egypt", referring to Pharaonic rule that ended more than two millennia ago.

    After Saturday's verdict was pronounced, gunmen in the Sinai shot dead two judges and a prosecutor travelling to El-Arish for a court hearing.

    Their driver was also killed and another prosecutor was wounded, health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told AFP.

    1. View gallery

      Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie (centre) gestures from behind the defendant's c …

      Some of Morsi's fellow defendants included jihadists from Sinai, where militants often attack security forces.

      Morsi, 64, has yet to be sentenced in the first of two trials that concluded on Saturday, in which the death penalty was given to 16 other defendants convicted of espionage.

      They were all found guilty of colluding with foreign powers, the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Iran to destabilise Egypt.

      The court will pronounce the verdicts for Morsi and another 18 defendants in that trial on June 2.

      The court then delivered its verdict in the case in which Morsi and 128 defendants were accused of plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

      View gallery

      Egyptian security forces stand guard outside the police academy during the trial of Egypt's depo …

      Morsi and more than 100 of them were sentenced to death.

      Many of the defendants are Palestinians alleged to have worked with Hamas in neighbouring Gaza. They were tried in absentia, as was a Lebanese Hezbollah commander.

      They were alleged to have colluded with Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood to carry out attacks in Egypt in what prosecutors allege was a vast conspiracy.

      - 'Verdict against Palestinians' -

      Condemning the verdict, Hamas said that some of its members mentioned in the proceedings were already dead before the 2011 uprising, while some are in Israeli prisons.

      The verdict "is a crime against the Palestinian people and their courageous resistance, and is a systematic demonisation campaign targeting Hamas", spokesman Fawzy Barhum told AFP.

      Morsi and other former opposition members have now been condemned for violence during the anti-Mubarak uprising, while Mubarak himself has been cleared of charges over the deaths of protesters during the 18-day revolt that toppled him.

      Morsi was in prison when the anti-Mubarak uprising erupted on January 25 2011, having been rounded up with other Brotherhood leaders a few days earlier.

      On January 28, protesters fuelled by police abuses torched police stations across Egypt, allowing thousands of prisoners to escape when the force all but collapsed.

      Since Morsi's overthrow, the police has largely been rehabilitated in public eyes, with officials and loyal media blaming the Brotherhood and foreigners for the violence of the anti-Mubarak uprising.

      The army chief who overthrew Morsi, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, was himself elected president last year.

      He has pledged to eradicate the Brotherhood, once Egypt's largest political movement.

      Perhaps some American politicians ought to be tried in absentia as well.