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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survivalist, Prepper/prepping issues on: Today at 12:12:00 AM
Please post on
a) ACTION Items
b) Nuclear War
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mueller investigating Tony Podesta on: October 23, 2017, 11:29:28 AM

URLs in article about nature of investigation into Manafort too.
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill sought State Dept permission to meet w Russki nukers on: October 22, 2017, 10:51:36 PM
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some more details on: October 22, 2017, 06:30:06 AM
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption, Sleaze, Skullduggery, and Treason on: October 21, 2017, 08:26:53 PM


Let's use the Hillbillary Clinton thread as the primary thread for the Uranium One story please.

6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: October 21, 2017, 08:25:46 PM
Please post  in  "Trump Administration" and "US Foreign Policy" as well.
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Hillbillary Clintons' Treason on: October 21, 2017, 08:23:53 PM

8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption, Sleaze, Skullduggery, and Treason on: October 21, 2017, 01:45:52 PM
 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FOX, O'Reilly, mega sex harassment settlement on: October 21, 2017, 01:40:19 PM
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / American Nazis in the 1930s. on: October 21, 2017, 01:44:08 AM
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Acting White on: October 21, 2017, 12:33:20 AM
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey is behaving like an enemy now on: October 21, 2017, 12:20:54 AM
Turkey Is Behaving like an Enemy Now
by Michael J. Totten
World Affairs Journal
October 12, 2017
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: October 20, 2017, 09:46:37 PM
AND I'm not seeing how this makes an already exceedingly difficult and dangerous hand against the Iranians near impossible short of all out war , , , as best as I can tell.
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: Iran's very good week-- important read on: October 20, 2017, 07:53:50 PM
Second post
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post on: October 20, 2017, 07:48:02 PM
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency; GW Bush; the Bush Family on: October 20, 2017, 07:06:53 PM
Wasn't he part of the hit attempt on his dad or something like that?
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: October 20, 2017, 03:27:45 PM
I could be wrong, but I sense that Mattis and McMaster have a certain Big Army/Marine perspective on the Middle East.  This includes being willing to see Israel as a PITA for what the mission they have been given with regard to the Arabs (Sunni, of course).  Think e.g. of Marine general Zinni in the run-up to the Iraq War strongly warning against it.

I must acknowledge that what I advocated a couple of posts ago would require a considerable investment of bandwidth.  Mattis/MacMaster may well feel we don't have that bandwidth to spare with the Nork nukes and the Chinese SCS issues front and center and may feel that if we solve the Norks first we may find it easier to communicate effectively  wink with the Iranians.

Of course by not backing the Kurds at this critical juncture it seems to me that we have made it even harder to persuade the Iranians to back off the nukes-- perhaps this is why Mattis was hinting in his congressional testimony a week or so ago that staying in the Iran nuke deal was in our interest.  Arguably this distinguishes President Trump's decision to decertify the deal (a matter of US law, not the deal itself- if I have this right). 

Yes this kicks the sanctions issue over to Congress (a good thing IMHO to force Congress to do its fg job and commit itself) but it also kicks the can down the road as to what we do if/when the Iranians tell us to fk off and sprint for the nukes.

I am reading chatter that some serious players are saying the the Norks are three months away.  Is not the reality similar with the Iranians?


18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Brownshirts close down UC Santa Cruz Republican Meeting on: October 20, 2017, 02:02:06 PM
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: October 20, 2017, 01:57:23 PM
I share the sentiment, but having them commit against us is not a small thing e.g. they could start enabling refugee flows again, facilitate Russian naval movements out of Crimea through the Bosphorus into the Mediterranean e.g. the Russian port in Syria, not to mention the possibility of invading parts of Syria etc.

I do not opine on this, I merely note the complexity.

Question: At some point do we not have to trust that Mattis knows best? 
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stolen Valor on FOX on: October 20, 2017, 01:53:57 PM
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / For the record, , , on: October 20, 2017, 12:44:31 PM
second post

For the record, I would like to register my deep concern that by abandoning the Kurds, we are accepting that the Iranians will have uncontested control all the way to the Mediterranean; indeed with our active campaign against DAESH/ISIS under President Trump we have actively enabled this outcome!

It may well be that when Trump took office it was too late for the outcome to be otherwise, and certainly in Sec Def Mattis we have a man whose integrity, warrior spirit, leadership, and vision that we respect mightily , , , but , , ,

How are we going to get in Iran's face over the nuke deal given this context?

What meaning our friendship now given we look the other way instead of backing the Kurds?

I know this is all very complicated (the Kurds are fragemented, the implications with Turkey, etc etc) but I'm thinking this may prove to be a very big error.

IMHO it would have been better to back the Kurds, establish base(s) there, etc as the beginning of an Israeli-Jordanian-Kurd-Saudi alliance (Egypt joining in when it saw our intention.  (With the Kurds as a refueling point, Israeli options  against Iran increase dramatically too).

Note this article published in the Jordan Times:

22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Liberal Progressive Jewish mag laments abandonment of Kurds on: October 20, 2017, 12:34:28 PM
23  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Tactical: Gun Knife Integration Seminar November 11-12 Bay area, CA on: October 20, 2017, 01:44:17 AM

DBMA Tactical Seminar: The Chupacabra Knife Game and Gun-Knife Integration

Featuring yours truly and a mystery gun instructor who must remain anonymous.

WHO: Military and LEO only, active or retired. If this is not you but you are well known to me and there are spaces available, you may be considered.


Bay Area, CA.
 Day One: San Rafael (near San Quentin)
 Day Two: Private Gun Range in Point Reyes, Marin County.

 $200 one day
 $300 two days

A first run "Akita" knife from Akita Tactical will be available for inspection.

If you are interested, please email me at
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Transgender charged with raping ten year old girl in bathroom on: October 20, 2017, 01:39:44 AM
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency; GW Bush; the Bush Family on: October 19, 2017, 07:46:08 PM
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Britain: Die Fatty, Die! on: October 19, 2017, 07:44:35 PM
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: October 19, 2017, 02:57:52 PM
Nice find.
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 19, 2017, 02:53:42 PM

"Since equality runs against the natural state of things, it requires coercion.  Oppression and tyranny are features, not bugs, of a socialist system."
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: October 19, 2017, 12:51:56 PM
Regarding the Bush 43 Russian-US era, FWIW my take on it is this:

President Clinton split the difference on possible responses in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Empire, arguably coming up with the worse outcomes of each-- he didn't put the Russians away while they were weak, but instead did enough to piss them off (e.g. Yugoslavia) and persuade them to take  advantage of his failure to put them away.

When Bush 43 came in they Russians were already hard at work rebuilding their military and re-imposing on their near abroad.  With bandwidth consumed by the Iraq War, and Bush's polls at catastrophic levels, the Russians knew we would do jacksh*t when they invaded the Ossetia region of Georgia-- thus laying the groundwork for Crimea and east Ukraine.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trade Issues: on: October 19, 2017, 12:46:07 PM
Nice find.

31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 19, 2017, 12:44:38 PM
Well, that's a wickedly made point  grin grin grin
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Celia, a slave on: October 19, 2017, 12:43:08 PM
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The bee sting that drove Putin to seek revenge on: October 19, 2017, 11:18:40 AM
I can't say that this is something I would have opposed at the time , , ,
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: ISIS in Marawi, Philippines on: October 18, 2017, 10:17:15 PM
Photos and maps at

Inside Islamic State’s Other Grisly War, a World Away From Syria
Islamists in the Philippines pledged allegiance to ISIS, devastated a city and built a model for jihadists after the fall of Raqqa
Philippine troops during their assault against Islamist militants in Marawi in September.
By Jake Maxwell Watts | Photographs by
Linus Guardian Escandor II for The Wall Street Journal
Oct. 18, 2017 10:44 a.m. ET
Link copied…

MARAWI, Philippines—On the third day of his captivity, during one of the most violent jihadist rebellions outside the Middle East and Africa, Ronnel Samiahan watched Islamist militants make an example of a fellow hostage who had tried to break free.

After dragging the conscious man onto the street and pulling his head up by the hair, the militants began sawing at his neck with a knife. Five minutes later, the executioner thrust the severed head toward the remaining hostages, warning, “If you try to escape, this is what is going to happen to you,” recalled Mr. Samiahan, a Christian local laborer.

Islamist militants took over this city of 200,000 people in late May, modeling themselves on Islamic State, or ISIS. Philippine soldiers, assisted by the U.S. military, struggled to reclaim it.

Inside the Philippines' Bloody War Against Islamist Militants

The Philippine military has struggled to defeat hundreds of well-armed militants who seized the southern city of Marawi in May. Photo: Linus Guardian Escandor II for The Wall Street Journal

Philippine authorities on Monday said two of the militants’ most senior leaders had been killed, including one on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists, and that it was a few days from securing the city. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared the city liberated.

The militants’ occupation—and the military’s siege—has left Marawi in ruins, with more than 1,000 soldiers, civilians and militants killed and many neighborhoods devastated by airstrikes. A few dozen militants remain in the city, the military said on Tuesday.

The Marawi battle shows how militant groups outside the Middle East and Africa are finding a template in Islamic State, not just as an exporter of terrorism, but also as a holder of territory. ISIS itself is looking for new beachheads having been pushed out of strongholds such as its de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, which U.S.-backed forces said they captured this week.

“They look around the globe,” said Colin Clarke, a counterterrorism researcher at Rand Corp., a policy think tank. “They try to find a place where there is an ongoing insurgency, and they latch themselves onto that cause and exploit those local grievances.”

President Duterte has voiced concern that violence could spread from Marawi to other areas in the southern Philippines. Analysts say revenge or copycat attacks are likely to strike Manila or other Southeast Asian capitals.

In mid-2016, ISIS called on potential new recruits unable to join it in the Middle East to look to the Philippines. ISIS media agencies have promoted the Marawi conflict to their followers.

A brief history of the Marawi conflict and the Islamist groups that sparked it.
Isnilon Hapilon and his Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group kidnap tourists, later beheading some.
Hapilon swears allegiance to Islamic State, which later endorses him as "emir" in Southeast Asia.
Fighters from a newly emerging Islamist group in Mindanao, led by Omar and Abdullah Maute, occupy a town, later bomb Davao City.
Maute fighters swear allegiance to Islamic State, raid Marawi jail.
Hapilon and his group begin joining Maute fighters.
Philippine military mobilizes against militants in Marawi, beginning long siege as Maute fighters dig in, using improvised explosives and snipers.
Maute fighters flying Islamic State flags occupy Marawi, burning buildings, taking hostages.
A misaimed airstrike kills 11 Philippine soldiers as troops push militants to city's east.
The U.S. says it is providing special forces assistance to the Philippines.
Military takes back first of three key bridges, later retakes key buildings.
Military retakes remaining bridge. Earlier in the month, Philippine authorities say one Maute brother believed killed.
Philippine authorities say two remaining militant leaders killed; military declares battle nearly over.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declares Marawi liberated.

Sources: Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Government, Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict

“It will be difficult to replicate a similar urban assault like Marawi in the short term,” said Francisco J. Lara, Philippines country manager of peace-building agency International Alert. “But the threat of a similar attack in the future remains real.”

Marawi is on Mindanao island, long known as a haven for extremists, from communist guerrillas to separatist Muslims. The U.S. for years has kept a small special forces contingent on the island.  The militants in Marawi, known as the Maute after the brothers who led them, Omar and Abdullah Maute, received funds from ISIS and modeled many of their tactics on the group, Philippine officials say. Their goal was to create a caliphate, or Islamic kingdom, with fighters from abroad including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, these officials say. Marawi was once a relatively prosperous trading hub, surrounded by hills and a lake. It is predominantly Muslim, with the minarets and domes of mosques. There is a small Catholic minority.

The siege

The tale of the Marawi battle—told by the Philippine military and witnesses on the ground, including former hostages—shows how ISIS-inspired militants can quickly consume a city far from its base and supply lines in the Middle East.

It began May 23. Soldiers and police moved in on a house after receiving intelligence showing the Maute brothers and another militant leader, Isnilon Hapilon, were hiding there. The military, which inadvertently interrupted a plan to occupy Marawi, found itself laying a siege that would last roughly five months.

Known for kidnapping and beheading foreigners from tourist resorts even before his ISIS affiliation, Mr. Hapilon is on the U.S. State Department’s most-wanted-terrorists list. In 2014, he swore allegiance to ISIS, which two years later endorsed him on its central media channel as its “emir,” or ruler, in Southeast Asia.

The Maute brothers were a lesser-understood threat. They were educated in Egypt and Jordan and from an elite local family, according to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a terror-research group in Jakarta. In 2016, they briefly occupied a town about a two-hour drive from Marawi. Their group later attacked a Marawi prison, releasing some of their captured fighters, and bombed a night market in Davao City, President Duterte’s hometown.

Before government troops could get close on May 23, they came under fire from several buildings and retreated. Soon, hundreds of heavily armed fighters who had infiltrated Marawi began flooding the streets, planting the black ISIS flag in public areas and taking hostages, primarily Christians and the Muslims who sought to protect them.

The militants torched a cathedral and a school. Photographs by residents show Maute fighters in dark clothing and hats or balaclavas patrolling streets and mounting ISIS flags on vehicles. Civilians fled to surrounding towns and to government-run refugee camps. President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao.

A hostage’s tale

Mr. Samiahan, who witnessed the hostage’s execution, had lived in Marawi for five years. His family of seven slipped out the back of their house after darkness and hid in the tall grass of an adjacent field as Maute fighters, yelling in triumph, set fire to the next-door Dansalan College, a Christian school.

The family spent the night huddled in the rain as Maute fighters shined flashlights across the grassy field. They were so close, Mr. Samiahan’s wife, Yolanda, said, “you could almost shake their hands.”

Ronnel Samiahan, 34, here with his son Greg, witnessed a beheading during his captivity by the Islamist militants.

In following days, they hid in a hospital and other buildings before deciding no rescue was coming. Attempting to leave the militant-controlled part of the city, they were stopped at a Maute checkpoint. There, militants tested residents to see if they were Muslim or Christian: Only those who could reply to a Muslim greeting in Arabic were allowed to leave.

Mr. Samiahan, unlike most of his relatives, failed the test and was locked in a warehouse. On his second night, one captive tried to loosen his bonds while the Maute were sleeping. When fighters discovered the ruse, they performed the beheading and forced the remaining hostages to bury the head, Mr. Samiahan said.

It took the military several days to mobilize and push Maute fighters back from western portions of the city and liberate the city hall and hydroelectric dams that provide most of Marawi’s power. The Maute fought back fiercely, killing several troops.

By May 28, bodies of at least 16 civilians had been recovered, according to military officials, including those of eight men who were dumped in a ravine—the number had climbed to at least 47 late last week. Several were shot in the head with hands bound, accompanied by a sign in a local language reading “traitor,” according to local media reports.

The Agus river separated the battle zone, left, and the safe zone in Marawi.

The Agus River bisects Marawi, with the central business district and Marawi’s largest mosque and church in the Maute-controlled east. Maute fighters fortified three bridges, presenting a formidable obstacle to the military’s counteroffensive, and soldiers who tried crossing were met with sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

The military, unused to urban warfare, called in airstrikes. Lacking guided munitions, the Philippine military divebombed the city with FA-50 jets and OV-10 Bronco propeller aircraft. On May 31, a badly aimed airstrike killed 11 soldiers. Government officials called it a tragic incident and launched a review.

In early June, the U.S. disclosed it was providing special forces assistance to Philippine troops but didn’t elaborate.

The constant aerial bombardment devastated Marawi’s center. Businessman Solaiman Mangorsi, 58, said he lost nearly $600,000 in damaged property after bombs struck areas that included a bookstore and other properties he owned. He said he wasn’t insured.

By mid-June, the battle had become a grind, with both sides digging in. Militants avoided airstrikes by boring holes in walls so they could move from house to house undetected.

A Christian hostage, Lordvin Acopio, a 29-year-old teacher, said militants forced him and other captives to make improvised explosives from firecrackers and shrapnel. They sent other hostages to search houses for guns, food and ammunition.

As the weeks passed, more hostages escaped. Mr. Samiahan, who witnessed the execution, broke free after discovering a padlock wasn’t properly closed. He made a mad dash for the military-held portion of the city, leaping over concrete barriers and plunging into the river and to safety.

Mr. Acopio escaped at night after a mosque he was held in was bombarded with tear gas. He and a priest scrambled through a hole blasted in the building, he said, and “just ran and ran and ran.”

Teacher Lordvin Acopio, 29, was held hostage by militants he says forced him to make improvised explosives.

By early September, the military had achieved several key victories, taking back landmarks including Marawi’s largest mosque. And it concluded, based on intercepted terrorist chatter, that Abdullah Maute had been killed in late August. By September’s end they had retaken the remaining bridges and pushed the militants into a few blocks bordering the lake.

The final battles were fought in close quarters. In one mission, Sgt. Roderick Peruandos of the Philippine Marine Corps, led a team to clear houses on the approach to what is known as the “White Mosque,” where senior militants including Mr. Hapilon were believed to be holding out. Moving room to room, they spotted a hole in the floor, when suddenly a homemade grenade was tossed out.

One corporal, who celebrated his 27th birthday with his squad just a few weeks earlier, was killed almost instantly, said Sgt. Peruandos. The grenade was made, he said, out of scrounged shrapnel and explosives from firecrackers and unexploded bombs dropped during airstrikes.

The other marines fled, leaving Sgt. Peruandos alone to fend off insurgents with rifle fire as he wrapped a tourniquet around his wounded leg. After an hour of bombardment, he crawled to safety, a bone in his leg snapped in two. The insurgents, though weakened, were left secure in their redoubt.

The government on Monday said Omar Maute and Mr. Hapilon had been killed, and the military said its offensive had boxed the remaining militant-controlled area to one or two hectares. The bodies of the two leaders were recovered and the remaining 30-odd fighters “were seen scampering in disarray,” the military said.
Displaced people from Marawi at an evacuation camp in Pantar district, southern Philippines. Photos: Linus Guardian Escandor II for The Wall Street Journal(3)

If Marawi is declared militant-free, the Philippine government will then face painstaking work clearing improvised explosive devices and rebuilding the city. Tens of thousands of displaced people whose homes were destroyed remain in government-run camps.

Sgt. Peruandos, who has fought communist rebels and gangs in Mindanao for nearly all his 15-year military career, said he had never encountered an enemy like those who nearly killed him in Marawi. “It’s like they don’t care for their lives,” he said. “They just want to kill or be killed.”

After authorities declared the militant leaders dead, a pro-ISIS messenger channel said the group would train new recruits with combat knowledge learned from the battle, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity online. The channel declared: “Marawi is just the beginning!”

A government soldier took up position in the battle area of Marawi in September.
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Caveat Lector: Arsonist protected from ICE detainer in CA? on: October 18, 2017, 09:59:58 PM
Its Breitbart, so caveat lector

36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: October 18, 2017, 02:42:33 PM
"He looks like 50% of every lesbian couple I have ever met in real life."

I bow to the GM of snark, our very own GM!  cheesy
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: October 18, 2017, 02:14:18 PM
My snark, or his analysis?  cheesy
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Morris on hardening the US grid on: October 18, 2017, 12:31:34 PM
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: Congress dawdles on NORK EMP threat on: October 18, 2017, 12:28:01 PM
Dick Morris never met a subject on which he is not an expert, but he makes a point which we here have been making for some time now.
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Security Guard Jesus Campos reappears on: October 18, 2017, 11:58:41 AM
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption, Sleaze, Skullduggery, and Treason on: October 17, 2017, 07:15:27 PM
Here's more:
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama DOJ knew of Russian bribery for US uranium on: October 17, 2017, 07:15:00 PM
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama DOJ knew of Russian bribery for US uranium on: October 17, 2017, 07:14:38 PM
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yet another fake hate crime on: October 17, 2017, 02:01:04 PM
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 11/4/17 CA firearm law seminar on: October 17, 2017, 01:41:27 PM
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Citizens United-- the disaster that wasn't on: October 17, 2017, 01:27:22 PM
The Citizens United Disaster That Wasn’t
Critics warned that a flood of corporate money would irreparably taint politics. No such thing happened.
Photo: Getty Images
By Floyd Abrams
Oct. 16, 2017 6:56 p.m. ET

When the Supreme Court announced its 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the public condemnation from certain quarters was fierce. The notion that a corporation would spend large sums of money to support or denounce a political candidate struck many Americans as deeply troubling. Some saw the court’s 5-4 ruling, which held that corporate political spending is protected by the First Amendment, as constituting a grave threat to the democratic fabric of society.

“Starting today, corporations with large war chests to deploy on electioneering may find democratically elected bodies becoming much more attuned to their interests,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a 90-page dissenting opinion. He retired from the Supreme Court at the end of that term and later suggested a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling.

Many of Citizens United’s harshest critics imagined a nation controlled by multibillion-dollar corporations that would dictate business-friendly legislation to paid-for lawmakers. A New York Times editorial predicted that the ruling would “thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century” by allowing “corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections.” The Washington Post warned that “corporate money, never lacking in the American political process, may now overwhelm both the contributions of individuals and the faith they may harbor in their democracy.” The San Francisco Chronicle warned that “voters should prepare for the worst: cash-drenched elections presided over by free-spending corporations.”

Since those predictions, two presidential and four congressional elections have come and gone. There’s now solid data, filed with the Federal Election Commission, showing how much money corporations have spent in recent elections. It turns out the apocalyptic forecasts were not just inaccurate but utterly insupportable.

It is true that in the wake of Citizens United many groups sprang up that are permitted to spend unlimited sums supporting or opposing candidates and issues. These so-called super PACs have proved themselves a political force. But the money they have spent since 2010 has not come primarily—or even mostly—from corporations.

Super PACs across the political spectrum raised $1.8 billion between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2016, according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, $1.04 billion came from individual donors and $242 million from unions, trade associations, politically active nonprofits and other organizations. Only $85 million was contributed by business corporations. The table nearby shows the top 20 donors. Among the Top 40 contributors to super PACs during the 2016 election cycle were eight unions and only one corporation.

These numbers do not include donations to campaigns from corporate political action committees. That money comes not from the corporate treasury but from people employed by the company or otherwise connected to it. In any event, corporate PAC donations are on the small side compared with the numbers above—$1.9 million to presidential candidates in 2008 (before Citizens United), $855,348 in 2012 and $942,116 in 2016.

The data suggest two conclusions. The first was summarized by Brooklyn Law School Professor Joel Gora after the 2012 election: “The predicted wave of corporate financial political intervention never materialized. Of all of the super PAC independent expenditure spending that escalated in the 2012 election, very little of it came from corporate contributions.” That remained true in 2016 and probably will into the foreseeable future.

The second is that corporations remain conservative—with a small “c.” Fear of public disapproval limits their appetite for potential controversy, so they do their best to steer clear of high-profile political entanglements. A comment often attributed to Michael Jordan captures this attitude: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” The unwillingness of large corporations to offend their actual or desired customers is difficult to overstate.

Despite the bombastic rhetoric and dire predictions, corporations and their vast treasuries have not dominated elections post-Citizens United. In fact, corporations have donated a comparatively small percentage of the money spent in political campaigns since 2010. It would be nice if those who expected a darker world would acknowledge that fact.

Mr. Abrams represented Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Citizens United case and participated in oral argument in the Supreme Court. An extended version of this article will appear as a chapter in “The Free Speech Century,” to be published next year by Oxford University Press.

Appeared in the October 17, 2017, print edition.
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: The Global Consensus Against the Iraqi Kurds on: October 17, 2017, 01:23:44 PM
second post:

The Global Consensus Against the Iraqi Kurds
Oct 17, 2017

By Kamran Bokhari

Iraqi government forces took control of the Kurdish-dominated city of Kirkuk on Oct. 16, part of a growing dispute between the Kurdistan Regional Government, which held an independence referendum last month, and the government in Baghdad. While Iraq’s disintegration as a country has been apparent for years now, this latest dispute indicates that the situation isn’t going to get any better. It’s unlikely that Iraqi Kurdistan will achieve independence, even though the majority of voters supported independence. What’s more, this issue has drawn in a number other countries, most notably Turkey and Iran, which encouraged Baghdad to quell the growing Kurdish separatist movement.

Long at Odds

The latest reports suggest that Baghdad’s security forces are facing little resistance from the forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which governs Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. The KRG has controlled the oil-rich Kirkuk province, just south of Iraqi Kurdistan, since 2014, when Iraqi forces abandoned the area as Islamic State fighters approached. Iraqi soldiers have now taken over key energy and military installations. Much of this can be blamed on divisions among the Iraqi Kurds themselves – the region’s second-largest party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, cut a deal with Baghdad and Tehran and withdrew its forces from the region when the Iraqi army advanced. The move comes three weeks after 93 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted in favor of independence in a referendum held by the KRG, which wants to form an independent Kurdistan that would include areas well south of the current autonomous Kurdish region, including Kirkuk.
Members of the Iraqi Kurdish security forces stand guard at a checkpoint in Altun Kupri, 25 miles south of Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on Oct. 16, 2017. SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

Baghdad and Irbil have long been at odds. After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, Washington helped the country devise a new political system that would allow the Shiites – who are a majority in Iraq – to dominate the central government and the Kurds to enjoy regional autonomy. But this new polity suffered from two main flaws. First, it marginalized the Sunni minority, which led to a massive insurgency that resulted in the rise of the Islamic State. Second, it led to a bitter struggle between the Shiites and the Kurds, as the Kurds continued to push for more autonomy, especially over the right to export hydrocarbons and expand their power southward.

For many years, the friction between the Shiites and the Iraqi Kurds was contained because of the Sunni insurgent threat. The two sides engaged in multiple rounds of negotiations to resolve their dispute over control of oil and gas resources and revenue sharing. But they were never able to reach an agreement. Landlocked, the KRG needed partners to help it export oil without the assistance of the central government; it therefore forged close ties with bordering Turkey.

Baghdad was furious with both Irbil and Ankara, but it could do little to disrupt the arrangement between the Iraqi Kurds and the Turks. This became the status quo, until the Islamic State emerged in 2014 and seized Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. When the Iraqi army retreated from Mosul, which is just south of Iraqi Kurdistan, it presented both a threat and an opportunity for the Kurds.

It was a threat because it left the Kurds vulnerable to an IS attack. It was an opportunity because the departure of Iraqi forces from the region could allow KRG forces to seize additional territory. The failure of the Islamic State to expand into Kirkuk left this region firmly under the KRG’s control. After a three-year struggle, the liberation of Mosul last July created the conditions for the Kurds to make a move toward full sovereignty. And with the IS threat receding, the conflict between the Shiites and the Kurds became the biggest challenge facing the country.

Broader Implications

If Iraqi Kurdistan were to move from being an autonomous region in Iraq to an independent state, it would have serious implications for the security of neighboring states, especially Turkey and Iran – the region’s two strongest powers. The Turks and the Iranians are locked in a long-term struggle for influence in Iraq and Syria, as well as the wider Middle East. When Turkey helped the KRG with energy exports, it was actually an attempt to counter the influence of Iran, which sees the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad as an ally.

But when it comes to Kurdish independence, the Turks and the Iranians actually have some interests in common. Both countries have their own Kurdish separatist movements – although the movement is stronger in Turkey, which has the largest Kurdish population of any country in the Middle East. They both, therefore, opposed the Iraqi Kurds’ move toward independence. It would be in both their interests for the Iraqi government to retake Kirkuk.

Buoyed by Turkey and Iran, Baghdad is pushing ahead to contain the Iraqi Kurds. It is also deeply encouraged by the fact that the United States opposes the Kurdish move toward sovereignty. The KRG has been a key ally of Washington – in many ways, a far closer partner than the Iraqi central government given Baghdad’s close ties with Tehran. But Kurdish independence is not in the American interest because it would further aggravate the existing conflicts in the region. If Washington supported the creation of an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, it could encourage the Kurds in Syria and Turkey to also push for independence, which would create far more problems between Turkey and the United States.

The U.S. will therefore try to mediate a truce between Baghdad and Irbil, but it will mainly try to stay out of the issue as it did when Iraqi forces took Kirkuk from the KRG. Turkey and Iran will be much more deeply involved given that it has more direct implications for them. Both want to prevent the Iraqi Kurds from claiming independence and from expanding southward. But that is the extent of their shared objectives.

In the end, the Iraqi Kurds will remain pawns in the power struggle between regional and global powers. As for Iraq, it will continue to be a failed state – internationally recognized as a country but effectively unable to act like one.

The post The Global Consensus Against the Iraqi Kurds appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.

48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iraq-Iran's assault on the Kurds on: October 17, 2017, 01:20:02 PM
Assault on the Kurds
Defeat for the U.S. allies in northern Iraq is a victory for Iran.
Iraqi forces advance towards the city of Kirkuk during an operation against Kurdish fighters, Oct 16.
Iraqi forces advance towards the city of Kirkuk during an operation against Kurdish fighters, Oct 16. Photo: ahmad al-rubaye/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By The Editorial Board
Oct. 16, 2017 7:01 p.m. ET

A central tenet of the Trump foreign policy, a work in progress, has been that the U.S. would rebuild its relationship with America’s allies. That commitment is being put to the test in northern Iraq.

On Monday Iraq’s army, assisted by Iranian forces, launched a major assault on the Kurds in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Across the length of America’s recent history with Iraq, we have had no more reliable ally than Iraq’s Kurds and their fighting force, the Peshmerga.

So far the Trump Administration has said little about the attack on the Kurds. “We’re not taking sides, but we don’t like the fact that they’re clashing,” President Trump told reporters at the White House Monday. “We’ve had, for many years, a very good relationship with the Kurds, as you know. And we’ve also been on the side of Iraq, even though we should have never been in there in the first place. But we’re not taking sides in that battle.”

But if the U.S. allows one of its most visible allies to be defeated in the Middle East, make no mistake: Other allies in the region will notice and start to recalculate their relationship with the Trump Administration.

The Iraqi Kurds, to be sure, have contributed to their current plight. Kurdish President Masoud Barzani went forward with a needless independence referendum last month, despite pressure from the U.S. not to hold the vote. The pro-forma vote gave the Baghdad government a pretext to play the nationalist card and retake Kirkuk.

Kirkuk is a multi-ethnic city that lies just south of Iraq’s Kurdistan, an autonomous region whose borders abut Iran and Turkey. The Kirkuk region is also rich in oil. The Kurds gained control of Kirkuk in 2014 after Iraq’s army famously fled under attack from Islamic State, which seized control of Mosul in June that year.

After the Iraqi forces abandoned the region, the Peshmerga became the primary reason that Islamic State was never able to consolidate its control of northern Iraq. Arguably, the Kurds, backed by U.S. air power, saved Iraq by giving Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi time to reconstitute his nation’s army into a fighting force capable of driving Islamic State out of Iraq’s major cities, with the help of the Peshmerga.

Possibly the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” originated in the Middle East. Having taken back Mosul from Islamic State, Mr. Abadi now wants to drive the Kurds back into their northern Iraqi homeland. But the strategic details of this attack on the Kurds are important. Iraq’s offensive includes Iran. According to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, Iranian-backed militias and the 9th Iraqi Armored Division moved toward Kirkuk last week to support the Iraqi army.

The Abadi government in Baghdad is under constant pressure from Shiite Iran to align itself against the interest of Iraq’s Sunni populations in the north and west. It follows that after Iraq’s progress on the battlefield against Islamic State, Iran would encourage the Iraqis to drive the Kurds out of Kirkuk.

Notice this is all happening within days of President Trump decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, based in part on the assumption that Europe will support U.S. efforts to resist Iran’s ballistic-missile program and its penetrations across the Middle East. But what will the Europeans or our allies in the Middle East conclude if we abandon one of our oldest regional allies, the Iraqi Kurds?

The U.S. no doubt has lost much of the political leverage it had before the Obama Administration pulled out of Iraq in 2011. But abandoning the Kurds to an Iraq-Iran Shiite alliance would only deepen U.S. losses.

Before Iraq and the Kurds go to war, the U.S. could insist that Iraq reaffirm the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan and also that it work out an agreement to share revenue from the region’s oil reserves. The alternative to such a modus vivendi for Prime Minister Abadi is a capable Kurdish fighting force in a state of permanent insurrection.

The U.S. owes a debt to the Kurds. Abandoning them now would damage America’s credibility, and not least Mr. Trump’s ability to enlist allies against Iran’s expansion across the Middle East. The assault on Kirkuk matters.
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: October 17, 2017, 11:26:30 AM
I too dislike McCain, but IMHO his having brain cancer does not enter the conversation.
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MD State Bar under Hillary's control? on: October 17, 2017, 11:21:03 AM
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