Thursday Reads

War, Pablo Picasso

War, Pablo Picasso

Good Morning!!

Here are are on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the never-ending war in the Middle East continues onward. Last night President Obama promised not to send ground troops back to Iraq or into Syria, but it’s very difficult to trust that promise, even though I do think Obama is sincere in his wish to keep the battle against the Islamic State extremists circumscribed.


Reactions to Obama’s speech

From The Washington Post, Countering Islamic State will be hard in Iraq and harder in Syria, officials say.

President Obama’s strategy to beat back Islamic State militants spread across Iraq and Syria will depend on far more than U.S. bombs and missiles hitting their intended targets.

In Iraq, dissolved elements of the army will have to regroup and fight with conviction. Political leaders will have to reach compromises on the allocation of power and money in ways that have eluded them for years. Disenfranchised Sunni tribesmen will have to muster the will to join the government’s battle. European and Arab allies will have to hang together, Washington will have to tolerate the resurgence of Iranian-backed Shiite militias it once fought, and U.S. commanders will have to orchestrate an air war without ground-level guidance from American combat forces.

“Harder than anything we’ve tried to do thus far in Iraq or Afghanistan” is how one U.S. general involved in war planning described the challenges ahead on one side of the border that splits the so-called Islamic State.

But defeating the group in neighboring Syria will be even more difficult, according to U.S. military and diplomatic officials. The strategy imagines weakening the Islamic State without indirectly strengthening the ruthless government led by Bashar al-Assad or a rival network of al-Qaeda affiliated rebels — while simultaneously trying to build up a moderate Syrian opposition.

All that “makes Iraq seem easy,” the general said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share views on policy. “This is the most complex problem we’ve faced since 9/11. We don’t have a precedent for this.”

Guernica, Pablo Picasso

Guernica, Pablo Picasso

The Wall Street Journal, Obama Pushes U.S. Deeper Into Middle East to Fight Islamic State.

In asking Americans to support another military incursion in the Middle East, Mr. Obama said his strategy to combat Islamic State, also called ISIS and ISIL, would be bolstered by a coalition of Arab and European nations. His plan builds on his authorization in August of airstrikes in Iraq to protect American personnel threatened by Islamic State and to provide humanitarian assistance to besieged Iraqis.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. goal now is to help Iraqis reclaim large swaths of territory the group has rapidly overtaken in recent months since spilling over from its stronghold in neighboring Syria. His speech paves the way for the first U.S. strikes at the group’s bases and havens in Syria.

“America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Mr. Obama said in remarks from the White House. “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

The president gave no timetable for the new, U.S.-led fight against what he described as “a terrorist organization” with members “unique in their brutality.”

In addition to launching airstrikes against the militants in Syria, Mr. Obama pledged a new dose of support for moderate Syrian fighters also battling the extremist group. Taken together, the steps draw the U.S. closer toward the volatile Syrian civil war and open a new front for American efforts in the region.

Saudi Arabia has offered to host a U.S.-run training facility for moderate Syrian rebels, U.S. and Arab officials said. The facility is expected to be able to handle as many as 10,000 fighters, but details are still being worked out, the officials said.

According to the article, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are on board with the plan. That gives me the creeps, frankly.

Guernica 2: Hommage to Picasso's Guernica, Jose Garcia y Mas

Guernica 2: Hommage to Picasso’s Guernica, Jose Garcia y Mas

Geoff Dyer at The Financial Times, Obama’s bold ambition at odds with strategic caution.

Faced with the rapid advances of Isis in both Iraq and Syria, the approach described by Mr Obama attempts to meet the political realities that the president faces, both in the Middle East and at home.

In spite of the technological superiority of US forces, Mr Obama believes a durable military victory against Isis can only be achieved by soldiers from the region, especially Sunni forces from the areas to which Isis is laying claim. Otherwise a similar group could reappear once the US has left.

At the same time, it gives him some political protection at home. Recent polls have shown that Americans are alarmed about Isis after the filmed beheadings of two US citizens, but that does not mean they will support another long ground war that leads to hundreds more US casualties.

Yet the problem with Mr Obama’s latest strategy is that it risks being a series of half-measures that establish incredibly ambitious goals while lacking the means to achieve them.


It’s an interesting article. It spells out my fear that this campaign against ISIL is going to expand more and more–just like Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

A couple more interesting stories to check out:

Imran Kahn at Aljazira, Iraq and the Obama plan: Officials and experts broadly welcome US president’s plan to destroy the Islamic State group, but with crucial caveats.

Ian Black at The Guardian, Obama puts Isis firmly in US sights but peace in Syria looks harder than before.


Violence Against Women News

From Picasso's War, a commentary on race hatred

From Picasso’s War, a commentary on race hatred

I haven’t followed the trial of Oscar Pistorius in South Africa, but from what I know about the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, I was surprised to see the headlines this morning saying that he has been found not guilty of murder. Here’s the latest from The Washington Post, Judge: Oscar Pistorius not guilty of premeditated murder, but ‘it is clear his conduct was negligent’.

The prosecution has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Oscar Pistorius committed premeditated murder, Judge Thokozile Masipa said this morning. However, the judge added that it “is clear that his conduct was negligent.”

Pistorius’s negligence pertains to a lesser charge the athlete faces, “culpable homicide,” or manslaughter.  The judge applied “the test of a reasonable man” to this charge.

In other words, the judge examined whether it was reasonable for Pistorius to fire four shots through his bathroom door at what he believed was an intruder. In her judgement, Pistorius did not pass this test.

“All the accused had to do was pick up phone and ring security,” Masipa said of Pistorius’s reaction. She added that Pistorius could have also “run to balcony and call for help.” Masipa added that she was “not persuaded that a reasonable person with the accused disabilities,” she said, “would have fired four shots” into the home’s bathroom.

She said that while she thought Pistorius was an “evasive” witness, that does not make him guilty. She said the prosecution has not demonstrated that he “reasonably could have foreseen” that his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was behind the bathroom door into which he fired four shots, killing her.

On the Ray Rice story, yesterday the AP reported that law enforcement sources in NJ told them that the NFL had received a copy of the tape of Rice knocking out Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February. Following that unsurprising revelation, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went deeper into damage control mode, asking former FBI director Robert Mueller to head an independent investigation into the NFL’s handling of the case. The Washington Post reports, AP story prompts NFL to investigate its handling of the Ray Rice case.

The NFL appointed an independent investigator to look into its handling of the Ray Rice case Wednesday night, hours after a new report contradicted the league’s insistence no one in the league office saw video until Monday that depicted Rice striking his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City hotel.

That report by the Associated Press came as several people familiar with the inner workings of the league said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has no plans to heed the calls for him to resign over his handling of the case.

The league announced Wednesday night that Robert S. Mueller III, former director of the FBI, will “conduct an independent investigation into the NFL’s pursuit and handling of evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.”

Owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers are to oversee the investigation, according to the league.

The final report resulting from the investigation will be released to the public, the NFL said.

Brooding Woman, Pablo Picasso

Brooding Woman, Pablo Picasso

I found a couple more disturbing reports about what actually happened at the casino that night in February. Security officers from the casino said that Rice spat in Palmer’s face twice and claimed that she was unconscious from drinking too much.

ESPN reports, Sources: Ray Rice spat at fiancee.

Three current or former security staffers, who spoke with “Outside the Lines” this week on the condition of anonymity, described additional details of the ugly scene captured on video. Two of the men were on duty the night of the assault, while a third had full access to the security video, which he said he has watched dozens of times. released a video this week that showed Rice punching Palmer in the face, appearing to knock her unconscious. Revel security workers watched the incident from the operations room through a security camera of the elevator.

One former staffer said Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back, spat in his then-fiancée’s face twice, “once outside the elevator and once inside,” prompting her to retaliate with movements that were ultimately countered with a knockout punch. According to the men, as Rice punched Palmer, the elevator the couple rode was rapidly approaching the hotel lobby just two floors above the casino floor. A security staffer, dispatched from his lobby post, saw Rice starting to drag his fiancée, who appeared to still be unconscious, out of the elevator.

“Get him away from her! Get him away from her!” the first responder was told by another security officer over a radio, one former security staffer told “Outside the Lines.” The staffer had full access to the security footage.

The security staffers said they did not see any sign of injury on Palmer’s face or head but added that her hair was covering much of her face, making it hard to determine her condition. They also said they didn’t see any blood in the elevator or on the hip-level railing that Palmer’s head appeared to strike as she fell to the elevator floor.

“The first thing he [Rice] said is, ‘She’s intoxicated. She drank too much. I’m just trying to get her to the room,'” one staffer said.

“When she regained consciousness she said, ‘How could you do this to me? I’m the mother of your kid,'” that same staffer told “Outside the Lines.”

There’s much more at the link, and it only makes the entire sorry episode and the NFL’s failure to deal adequately with it more sickening.

A few more links:

NBC Sports, Did Ray Rice Lie to Roger Goodell?

SB Nation, Ray Rice speaks out for the first time since his release.

CBS Sports, Ray Rice’s wife: How could you do this to me? I’m the mother of your kid.

NYT, In Ray Rice cast, NFL sees only what it wants to see.


Cat with bird, Pablo Picasso

Cat with bird, Pablo Picasso

Other News, Links Only

AP, USIS, the contractor that handled Edward Snowden’s security clearance loses federal contract.

BBC News, Michael Brown death: Ferguson highway protest blocked.

The Guardian, Ferguson reform to courts system could leave residents paying more.

The Washington Post, Richard Kiel, who played lovable giant ‘Jaws’ in ‘James Bond’ films, is dead at 74.

ABC News, Five things that may happen if Scotland votes for independence.

Wall Street Journal, EU agrees to implement more sanctions against Russia Friday.

Time Magazine, Ozone layer shows signs of recovery, study finds.

HNGN, Baboons With Closer Friends Have Longer Lives Than Loners.

Forbes, Scientists find gene that may delay aging of whole body.

That’s all I’ve got. What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have terrific Thursday.


Peace, Pablo Picasso

Peace, Pablo Picasso



44 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    From WEEI, the Boston sports station I listen to:

    It’s time for Roger Goodell to go.

    The address of the Watergate Hotel is listed as 2650 Virginia Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. But it may actually be 345 Park Avenue in New York City.

    That’s where the National Football League offices are. And hopefully soon, someone new will be in charge there. Because in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic abuse videotape scandal, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should pull a Richard Nixon by resigning on television, jumping on a helicopter and flying off into history with shame.

    Frankly, the Ray Rice cover up was even more poorly botched than Watergate. At least back then some of the tapes managed to get erased. Goodell couldn’t even do that before TMZ got its hands on the Ray Rice video. If Goodell doesn’t resign, the league’s owners should remove him from office.

    I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how few of the men who call in to the station have tried to defend Rice or Goodell. If nothing else, this has been a teachable moment for people who minimize “domestic violence.” It’s assault, plain and simple and shouldn’t be in a separate category.

  2. janicen says:

    The Pistorius decision is deeply disturbing. I can only hope he has to serve the maximum sentence on the lesser charge, but the message to women worldwide further reinforces the notion that women’s lives have less value. Every time I’m forced to think about Ms. Steenkamp’s final terrifying moments I get sick to my stomach. Much the same way I feel reading the detailed description of what Janay Palmer endured.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I just hope he gets found guilty of something. If he gets off, it would be horrible. I can’t begin to imagine the pain Steenkamp’s family must be feeling today.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I don’t understand why the judge postponed the final ruling until tomorrow. Even if he is convicted of what we would call manslaughter he may never serve a minute in jail. I too feel badly for her family and friends.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I followed the trial and I’m stunned that the judge found him not guilty of murder. The evidence of pre-meditated was circumstantial but it was overwhelming. In order to believe Pistorius you’d have to suspend reason. Again Fame and Fortune (he is from a wealthy, influential family) have triumphed over justice.

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    Great post BB..

    “It spells out my fear that this campaign against ISIL is going to expand more and more–just like Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.”

    I have the same concerns. When you’ve lived as long as we have you recognize the drumbeats that take us to all out war even before they begin.

    And Ray Rice!!!!! The NFL has screwed up, again and royally!!!!! The video outside of the elevator that was released months ago was enough evidence of domestic violence to suspend Ray Rice indefinitely. Rice was pulling her limp body around like she was a rag doll. Instead of being concerned with what his vicious left cross had done to her he was using his foot to push her legs around and handling her unconscious body with total disrespect and indifference. And I’m also disgusted with Coach Harbaugh!!!!! Doesn’t he think as the leader of that team that he has some moral responsibility to point the moral compass in the direction of decency? And these fuckers are worried about one out-of-the-closet gay man more than they’re worried about abusers, rapists, murderers, animal abusers? WTF. The NFL drug policy on PED has been more strict than their policy on violence against women. Unbelievable!!!!!!

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s the same type of cover-up they tried to pull with the head injury scandal. Goodell needs to go soon. I’m ashamed that Patriots owner Robert Kraft defended him a couple of days ago. I don’t think he will be doing that again.

    • janicen says:

      Both Coach Harbaughs are prone to fits of rage themselves so the fact that he only looked at it from the standpoint of protecting Ray Rice doesn’t surprise me a bit.

      • Sweet Sue says:

        I got all kinds of Promise Keepers, fundie Christian family values (that is, Patriarchy) Bullshit when Harbaugh was droning on about how he and his wife will “be there” for Ray and Janay!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I think the SF Harbaugh seems to be the hotter of the two hot heads, but no doubt they are freight trains when angry.

        What bothers me more than anything in this is how for months this story was played as a “normal fight” between a man and woman. Seeing an unconscious woman being dragged out of an elevator told me all I needed to know and that is that this wasn’t an “argument” it was domestic physical abuse, a crime. My experience has been that there is no such thing as a “normal fight” between a man and a woman. There can be a normal disagreement, but once that escalates to “fight” 9,999 times out of 10,000 the man usually physically injures and sometimes kills the woman.

        And now that I’ve seen the film of them entering the elevator and inside the elevator of him first spitting on her, twice, then slapping her and delivering a left cross I am sickened that the criminal justice system ALSO had these tapes and let the NFL FOOTBALL PLAYER off with a wrist slap. He needs to be in prison with the other criminals.

        FWIW….In my Italian Family the highest insult one can inflict upon another is to spit in their face. It’s more poignant than an FU or an I hate your guts. It’s the pièce de résistance of insults.

  4. Fannie says:

    It just pisses me off to hear McCain. He stoops so low, when on this day when we were attacked, 13 years ago. “He’s isn’t my boss” (meaning, President Obama isn’t his president). He stoops so low, and the world hears his every word.

    Should he have been elected, he would allocate 75% of our budget to defend Wars EVERYWHERE.

    The people in the Middle East, are ragged and hungry, and have been beaten to a pulp. President Obama has shown concern for the people, and truly is trying to allow them to stand on their two feet, with our support. McCain doesn’t care about the quality of their lives, all he cares about is all that OIL, and how he can get his hands on it, at any cost.

    McCain wouldn’t change a goddamn thing. Except he projects an image that is a false one, like he was elected the fucking president. You’re not the boss McCain, you’re not the President.

    • janicen says:

      And he never will be the President so he should STFU. Nobody cares what he has to say.

    • RalphB says:

      McCain is a hell of a liar. He makes it up as he goes along or is a delusional old man who just believes what he wants to believe and the real facts be damned. Television interviewers need to stop him from doing that shit, no matter what it takes.

      • bostonboomer says:

        They won’t stop talking to Dick Cheney, and I don’t think they’ll ever ignore McCain either, sadly. I mean, they are still asking war criminal Henry Kissinger to weigh on foreign policy!

        • RalphB says:

          Did you know McCain was a POW? No one ever mentions it. 🙂

          • Pat Johnson says:

            If the press keeps knocking on Barbie Palin’s door for “analysis” why would they stop at seeking out McCain? Both are nuts, will say and do anything for attention, and cannot let go of the fact they lost to Obama, a biracial man.

            No matter what course Obama will take, these two will take the opposite view no matter the circumstances.

            What the public sees in the mideast are wars between ignorant factions still clinging to ancient history, religious insanity, and barbarian principles that have been going on for centuries.

            Had idiot Bush not invaded that part of the world with an idea of bringing “democracy” to areas still living in the first century we may not be facing finding solutions that will never hold up as long as these ignoramuses exist.

            When kids are taught to “hate the infidel” and the greater glory is martyrdom there isn’t much hope to be offered regardless of the number of drones or boots on the ground to quell the tide.

            “You break it, you own it” from Colin Powell has now come home to roost.

            As for Oscar Pistorious: a great day to be a celebrity. As it was for Ray Rice until that shocking video made an appearance.

        • RalphB says:

          Kissinger is certainly a war criminal but I understand asking him, considering his enormous background in foreign affairs. Like ask then do the opposite..

  5. RalphB says:

    It seems to me Obama is following a pretty reasonable course in the Middle East. From what I’ve heard, we’re going to be largely defending Iraq and areas of Syria from ISIL and letting the local soldiers be the boots on the ground for offensive actions with US air support.

    We should be cutting off any funding streams we can find and using the full power of the US government against those funding them, Saudi princes and all. If they are paper tigers, held up by PR, they’ll fall apart soon enough and otherwise it’s gonna be a long and messy fight.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I agree with that, but there is so much pressure from the media for him to go further. I hope he sticks it out and doesn’t pay attention to them.

      • RalphB says:

        He’s a pretty strong willed guy I think, at least, I sure hope so!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I think Obama can hold the line as long as he communicates REGULARLY and honestly with the U.S. public about what the hell is going on. To my mind Obama is reticent to come in front of the cameras and speak to the American people about what is happening and what we’re going to do about it. For all the hype about his great ability to communicate I personally don’t think he has great communication skills. His responses to this before last night sort of reminded me of the debate with Romney where Obama appeared to be asleep. When he speaks extemporaneously he’s too guarded too many “uh” “ah” “um” inserted into his speech revealing that he’s weighing every damn word before he utters it. Sometimes that style leads to him not adequately explaining himself. The right wingers call him disengaged, I call him a man suffering from an abundance of caution. Hillary calls it “don’t do stupid stuff”. I don’t know what it is, but it completely undermines the “Obama is a great communicator” notion because he isn’t.

        • RalphB says:

          He doesn’t seem comfortable talking about security/defense issues off the cuff. I imagine that’s quite natural considering his background was as far from those areas as possible. It’s also possible for a stray word or so to have repercussions overseas.

          For instance, I really wish John Kerry would tone himself down. “Talk softly and carry a big stick” is a great communications technique. He should try it.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            I agree ralph, he’s way out of his comfort zone, but I do appreciate that in his deeds he is cautious. I hate the bluster of McCain and Graham, it’s scary to think where we’d be if McCain was POTUS. I just wish Obama would step up to the plate sooner and address the American people on the front end of these events. By the time he actually does an address to the nation the Republican’s have already set the narrative. He needs to be the person to keep the American people informed, not the GOP through it’s operatives in the MSM.

          • RalphB says:

            You’re right Mouse. He should get ahead of the game for a change.

  6. BB, you say in your post that McCain and Lindsey liked Obama’s speech…which gives you the creeps. (me too) Well, add this one to the gang: Gingrich Praises Obama’s ‘Very Strong’ Address: ‘Most Pro-American Speech’ of Presidency | Mediaite

  7. ANonOMouse says:

    I thought y’all might enjoy this story about the Snow Queen and her brood. It sure made me laugh

    Anchorage police confirm Palin family involved in heated Saturday night brawl

  8. RalphB says:

    Not about any particular story but a short point. I hate this but it seems the conventional wisdom among liberals is settling into dubious statements, and they may be as wrong as the Neocons.

    The security forces that Obama has now pledged to train, equip, and advise are seen, by many Sunnis, as a force of subjugation; Shiite militias, empowered by the previous Iraqi government and backed by Iran, have terrorized the population we intend to protect.

    Dare I say that’s why Obama wouldn’t do much until Iraq had changed governments and the Sunni had some positions of power. I heard Richard Engel say this last night on MSNBC and knew this would be a talking point for those who believe we can do nothing. I see no reason for the amount of pessimism shown but am not optimistic either.

    The situation in Syria is less promising still. The anti-Assad rebels there have been unable to keep their weapons out of the hands of ISIS, which does raise the question: which side will we be arming?

    This is just as dubious. It assumes the ISIL members were always in Syria and armed there, rather than picking up arms in Iraq where many of them originated. It also discounts the tons of captured arms that ISIL picked up when the former Iraqi army beat feet. In short. the statement could be completely false and arming other Syrian rebels could work out well. Who knows?

  9. bostonboomer says:

    T.J. Lane, Ohio High School Shooter, Escapes From Prison: Police