Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Last Call For The Drums Of War, Con't

The Pentagon said Tuesday that Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases that hold US troops in response to the US airstrike that killed a top Iranian general last week. 
The attack comes days after the US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The administration has sought to cast that strike as an attempt to de-escalate tensions with Iran, but Tehran has vowed revenge for the killing, which it says was an "act of war" and "state terrorism." 
Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Tuesday evening that Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at the al-Asad airbase, which houses US troops, and American and coalition forces in the town of Erbil. Hoffman said the Pentagon is assessing the damage done by the attacks. 
"In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners," Hoffman said in a statement. "These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region." 
"As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region." 
Qatri al-Obeidi, a commander in the nearby town of al-Baghdadi, said that the shelling has stopped for now. President Donald Trump visited the base in December 2018 to visit troops after Christmas. Vice President Mike Pence also visited the base in November 2019. The attack follows last week's deadly US drone strike that Trump ordered to kill Soleimani. 
Iranian state TV reported that the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, "has hit U.S. Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq with tens of missiles." The IRGC warned the US of of more "crushing responses in case of new aggression," according to state TV. The IRGC said it will target any regional state that becomes a platform for US aggression, a second banner on state TV read
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper's office called the office of the Prime Minister of Iraq at around 7 pm ET on Tuesday, according to a diplomatic source. There were difficulties getting through as it was the middle of the night in Baghdad. Eventually the two offices were able to connect and the source says there has been "communication between the US and Iraqi governments at the highest level."

Iran openly taking credit for the missiles against an Iraqi base with US troops is a big deal, Iranian state TV warning that anyone supporting the US in attacking Iran, like say, Iraq or Saudi Arabia (or possibly Israel, Turkey, Kuwait or Bahrain) will be attacked too is a much, much bigger deal.

Some sort of diplomatic effort right now would be ideal, but if Trump decides to flatten a major chunk of Tehran with a couple score Tomahawks, all bets are off.

The next step after this up the ladder is actual war, guys.  Trump won't give a damn about any AUMF or what Congress thinks.  If he's not reined in right now, tonight, we're going to war.

I hate being right.

Deportation Nation, Con't

Meanwhile, with the last major logistical hurdle stopping the Trump regime's plan for mass deportations of undocumented removed with Guatemala offering itself up to take America's cash in exchange for becoming our dumping ground for undesirables, it looks like the Stephen Miller plan will soon be in full swing.

Mexicans seeking asylum in the United States could be sent to Guatemala under a bilateral agreement signed by the Central American nation last year, according to documents sent to U.S. asylum officers in recent days and seen by Reuters.

In a Jan. 4 email, field office staff at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were told Mexican nationals will be included in the populations “amenable” to the agreement with Guatemala. 
The agreement, brokered last July between the administration of Republican President Donald Trump and the outgoing Guatemalan government, allows U.S. immigration officials to send migrants requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for protection in Guatemala instead. 
Mexico objects to the plan, its foreign ministry said in a statement late on Monday, adding that it would be working with authorities to find “better options” for those that could be affected. 
Trump has made clamping down on unlawful migration a top priority of his presidency and a major theme of his 2020 re-election campaign. His administration penned similar deals with Honduras and El Salvador last year. 
U.S. Democrats and pro-migrant groups have opposed the move and contend asylum seekers will face danger in Guatemala, where the murder rate is five times that of the United States, according to 2017 data compiled by the World Bank. The country’s asylum office is tiny and thinly staffed and critics have argued it lacks the capacity to properly vet a significant increase in cases. 
Guatemalan President-elect Alejandro Giammattei, who takes office this month, has said he will review the agreement. 
Acting Deputy U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said in a tweet in December that Mexicans were being considered for inclusion under the agreement.

USCIS referred questions to DHS, which referred to Cuccinelli’s tweet. Mexico’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Deporting Mexicans at the US border to Guatemala is being done on purpose to get Mexico to play ball, and all indications are the President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will give in. Mass deportations of asylum seekers will begin in 2020, followed of course by mass deportations of undocumented in the US, rounded up by ICE.  Sure to be a number of actual US citizens who are going to get one-way trips to Central America, but who in this government will give a damn?

That pipeline is going to start gushing pretty soon.  It's an election year, and should Trump win, it's a flood that won't cease anytime soon.

The Red Rout Resumes, Con't

The first major Trump regime political casualty of the war with Iran is apparently Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Senate run in Kansas.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday told Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, that he does not plan to run for Senate in 2020, most likely ending Republicans’ hopes of securing a potentially dominant candidate for the open seat in his home state of Kansas, according to four people briefed on the meeting.

Mr. Pompeo, a former congressman from the Wichita area, has quietly explored a campaign for months. But in the aftermath of the military operation last week that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran, Mr. Pompeo has told senior party officials that he is ruling out becoming a candidate, according to several people who have spoken with him directly.

Mr. Pompeo still has time to change his mind. The filing deadline for the primary is not until June. However, administration officials who have spoken with him in recent days said he seemed adamant about not entering the race.

Without Mr. Pompeo in the race, Republicans face an unsettled primary that includes at least one candidate, Kris Kobach, whom party leaders fear could imperil their hold on a crucial open Senate seat. Mr. Kobach, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018, is popular with hard-right primary voters but widely disliked among moderate and independent voters in Kansas.

Several other candidates are competing for the Republican nomination, including Representative Roger Marshall. National Democrats have rallied behind Barbara Bollier, a state senator who left the G.O.P. to become a Democrat a little more than a year ago, as their preferred candidate.

Mr. Pompeo’s decision is a setback for Republicans working to retain their Senate majority in the November elections. Mr. McConnell aggressively courted him for months, and also deployed a number of his lieutenants to make the case that the secretary of state should return to Kansas, which he represented in the House until he joined the Trump administration.
There's no way Pompeo would have been able to leave the State Department with his career intact, and he would have been blasted by questions about why he left in the middle of a war to go run for Senate.

There's a very real possibility now that Kobach wins the primary and loses the general to a Democrat, Barbara Bollier, who has endorsements from both US Attorney Barry Grissom and popular former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.  Pompeo was, up until Friday, the GOP's best hope to keep the seat.  It's still going to be a tough sell, but Kobach has already lost the 2018 governor's race, and there isn't anything to make me think he improved anything heading into November.

Could be a big pickup for Team Blue.


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