Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Truest statement of the week

To call the 2003 US invasion and subsequent (and ongoing) occupation of Iraq a "mistake" would also be highly inappropriate. The US war machine and its "coalition" knew exactly what they were doing---the destruction of Iraq to seize the oil fields and enrich the war profiteers has been highly successful for them. The destructive US foreign policy is policy, not “oops, we just fell into a war and made a mess.” 

The consequences for today are a horrid legacy of poverty and disease for the people of Iraq. Depleted uranium and poisoned water and land are still killing the people there and the US is still occupying the country despite the fraud of Commander in Grief Obama ending the war in 2009; as agent orange and unexploded land mines are still haunting the people of Vietnam, who "won" the war, but have lost the peace. 

-- Cindy Sheehan, "What's to Celebrate? Iraq, 15 Years Later" (CINDY SHEEHAN'S SOAPBOX).

Truest statement of the week II

America, the guileless behemoth, brimming with hubris, somehow cannot see it. The sheer irrationality of the whole endeavor borders – 15 years later – on the absurd. The only real winners in Iraq have been a chauvinist brand Iranian Shi’ism, and the trademark Wahhabi Sunni Islamism of Saudi Arabia. Neither is a true friend to US interests or values. Neither cares whether US soldiers live or die. Each has its own agenda and plays US policymakers and generals like so many fiddles. The rational move for America is to opt out; do less; and walk away before sinking farther into the next quagmire. Unfortunately, compressed so narrowly between adversarial forces, and obtuse as ever, American "statesman" can’t see the way out.
These wars won’t end well for the United States, just as matters didn’t end well for my platoon, wedged, as it was, between micro-factions of these same adversaries: Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The Sunni precursors of ISIS shot Sergeant Ty Dejane through the spine – he’s still in a wheel chair. The Shia militiamen aligned with Iran exploded a massive bomb which unleashed shrapnel that tore apart three other young men. Sergeant "Ducks" Duzinskas lost most of an arm. Sergeant Alex Fuller and Specialist Mike Balsley lay dead. They never knew what hit them, just as our platoon never knew who, or what, exactly, we were fighting.

My boys were sacrificed on the altar of American hubris. That’s the war I remember, and the one the US still fights – futilely – in the Fertile Crescent. Perhaps the citizenry should ponder that…before the next escalation in Iraq.

-- US Major Danny Sjursen, "Unmitigated Failure: Operation Iraqi Freedom, 15 Years Later" (ANTIWAR.COM).

A note to our readers

Hey --

The 15th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.

And no end in sight.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

See you next week.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The ongoing war hits 15

In and out, that's how Bully Boy Bush made it appears.  Another one thrust on Iraq -- like what his father did in the 90s.  The illegal war started in March 2003 and it continues to this day.

A number of people want to pretend that Barack Obama ended the war.  He did not.  He is now out of office and the Iraq War continues.  In fact, in some ways it is worse now.

 4 hours ago
This week in 2017, the US dropped a 500 lbs bomb on a crowded residential area of West Mosul, Iraq, unleashing a massive explosion, which killed nearly 300 civilians, many of them children. The strike was the US’s most deadly air strike for civilians in 25 years.

Grasp that.  The most deadly air strike.

And it was last year.  Not 2003, last year.

Or grasp that seven more US service members died in Iraq last week.

The Defense Dept released the names of those killed in the US helicopter crash in Iraq:

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of seven airmen who were supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. They died March 15 when an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in western Iraq. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Killed was:
Captain Mark K. Weber, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. For more information, media may contact the 23rd Wing public affairs office at 229-257-4146.
Also killed were:
Captain Andreas B. O'Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches, New York.
Captain Christopher T. Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, New York.
Master Sergeant Christopher J. Raguso, 39, of Commack, New York.
Staff Sergeant Dashan J. Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station, New York.
All four were assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing at the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, New York. For more information, media may contact the New York National Guard public affairs office at 518-786-4581.
Also killed were:
Master Sergeant William R. Posch, 36, of Indialantic, Florida.
Staff Sergeant Carl P. Enis, 31, of Tallahassee, Florida.
Both were assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron, Air Force Reserve, at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. For more information, media may contact the 920th Rescue Wing public affairs office at 321-615-0329.

When does it end?

When the people say "Enough!"

But that can't happen without media coverage.

And there's very little media coverage -- especially from the so-called 'independent' media.  If you doubt us, check out these:


  • None of these so-called left outlets -- SOCIALIST WORKER, THE NATION, IN THESE TIMES, THE PROGRESSIVE -- could be bothered to note Iraq -- not even on the 15th anniversary.

    The politicians and the media pretend the Iraq War ended long ago.

    It didn't.  And as Andrew Bacevich (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS) points out:

    On the 15th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, here’s a fact worth contemplating: In the presidential election of 2016, Donald Trump got the blood sacrifice vote. More specifically, communities that paid a high price for the Iraq War in terms of casualties tended to vote for Trump. In communities where the preference was for letting someone else’s sons and daughters do the fighting, Hillary Clinton prevailed.
    Allow me to posit an interpretation of this fact. While many issues divided the electorate in 2016, the Iraq War was prominent among them. To be clear, the division was not between Americans who had supported the war and those who had opposed it. Rather, the crucial division was between those inclined to forget the war and move on and those for whom the war still sticks in their craw.
    Hillary Clinton was the preferred candidate of the forget-and-move-on camp. Clinton had voted for the war, then disavowed it, and even today shows little sign of grasping its significance. Yet that camp also included the several Republicans who unsuccessfully competed against Trump for their party’s nomination.


    They think it doesn't matter but it does.

    As Robert F. Sommer (TRUTHOUT) observes:

    The US presence in Iraq may be smaller now, but we are still there, as well as in Afghanistan, with no end in sight, and those countries have devolved into the very chaos about which not only civilians, but a number of high-ranking military officials warned the Bush administration. But even as most of the US discovered too late that we'd been conned on Iraq, we have continued the pattern of self-destruction that got us into both Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place.
    The quagmire is now wider and deeper by magnitudes.

    TV: Talk talk talk

    Cheap talk
    Deep talk 
    Talk talk talk around the clock
    -- "Tax Free," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album DOG EAT DOG

    And that's often all it is: "talk around the clock."

    Even so, there's an art to doing it.

    a new illst

    That point's not lost on Joel McHale.  Coming off COMMUNITY and THE GREAT INDOORS, McHale's back to TALK SOUP terrain in his new NETFLIX program THE JOEL MCHALE SHOW WITH JOEL MCHALE.

    The title?

    Yeah, we know.


    It's actually NETFLIX's best talk show thus far.   Chelsea Handler's CHELSEA had great promise but the host became consumed with politics and it didn't fit with the notion for a general topic talk show that NETFLIX had in mind.  Even so, Chelsea delivered many episodes of CHELSEA that are still worth streaming.  Which is much more than can be said about MY NEXT GUEST NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION WITH DAVID LETTERMAN.  Thus far, Dave's return to TV is unimpressive and will leave those who never caught NBC's LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN or CBS' LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN wondering why anyone ever tuned in for Dave?  They won't get that he was actually funny -- both with a monologue and behind the desk -- or that his show featured comic bits and skits that you talked about not just the next day but for months and years after.  Now he's just a lethargic gnome with a weird looking beard.  And there's nothing worth streaming in the three episodes of the show that aired.  The show as costly for NETFLIX but all the dollars appear to have lined Dave's pocket and nothing went towards actual production values.

    Chelsea didn't want to transfer her E! show over to NETFLIX but Joel's pretty much done that.  No shame in that.  Jackie Gleason took his sketches of THE HONEYMOONERS from THE DUPONT NETWORK over to CBS.  And it's funny.

    Joel gets to rif on various reality TV shows and media moments and it's hilarious.  He also features guest spots.  Some are not all that funny.  Seth Green as a bully?  Shorty goes up against six-feet-plus of Joel and we're supposed to think Seth is a bully?  Even mouthing dialogue of Eddie from IF LOVING YOU IS WRONG, Seth's reminding everyone that he flopped in FOUR KINGS and DAD and that, when it comes to TV comedy, he's better as a voice only performer.  Some are good sports (Kristen Bell and Jason Priestly).  Some are hilarious -- chief among those, Eric Bana doing a deadpan send up of . . . Eric Bana.  It was wickedly funny even before he began plugging Eric Bana's Banana Badana Cabana.

    This is a 13 episode program and, if NETFLIX was smart, they'd extend the order immediately.  If Joel could do 40 or 50 weekly episodes of this, they'd have a program worth paying for.  It has mass appeal -- not a common factor in many programs these days.

    Take Samantha Bee.

    Oh, how we miss Chelsea.  Chelsea with her sardonic wit as opposed to screaming Samantha Bee.  Don Rickles and Phyllis Diller combined didn't get this loud.  Watching FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTA BEE (TBS) requires not just ear plugs but also Dramamine.  And we're always amazed that this woman could have landed Jason Jones who's not just four years younger than her but also attractive, apparently laid back and rational.

    Jones stars in THE DETOUR (TBS) with Natalie Zea (who's already left indelible impressions on JUSTIFIED and THE FOLLOWING).  The two have chemistry and click as a comedic team as well. In the third season, the show has really hit its stride.  And we're often amazed at the humor on the show because it's so even-handed -- "even-handed" being the last term anyone would ever use to describe Samantha Bee's humor.

    When Jones and Zea have to deal with their daughter's new boyfriend -- a social justice warrior poser -- Zea got some of her best lines and got them off repeatedly.  And they're lines that you wish Samantha Bee would do because they were political and funny.  They were also advanced.

    Samantha Bee serves up a pre-K child's idea of funny: talk faster and faster and louder and louder and maybe work in a dirty word.  It's not illuminating anything, it's a sermon masquerading as comedy.

    It's one-sided and puerile.

    So how is that Bee created THE DETOUR with her husband and that she's written and co-written a few episodes?

    Because, it turns out, that annoying, braying Bee is not Samantha Bee.  She's actually a rational person.  "Samantha Bee" is a variation of the character she created on THE DAILY SHOW.  It makes us wish that she'd either acknowledge that in FULL FRONTAL or else drop the character and be herself -- she's so much smarter and funnier than "Samantha Bee."

    In THE DETOUR, Natalie Zea's character Robin's dropped many masks as the show's gone along.  She wasn't what Nate (Jason Jones) ever thought she was.  And it's allowed Zea to give one of her most complex performances yet.  Who knows what dropping a mask might do for Samantha Bee?

    In the meantime, make a point to enjoy the humor served up by THE DETOUR and THE JOEL MCHALE SHOW WITH JOEL MCHALE -- comedy that reminds you comedy's at its best when its not playing favorites.

    The Lush War Hawk


    Hillary Clinton.  The World's Biggest Loser.  She didn't just lose the presidency, after all, she lost it to Donald Trump.  How hideous do you have to be to lose to Trump?

    As hideous as Hillary.

    And recently she went to India where she drunk in public again.

    She couldn't make it down the steps without sliding -- and this was with men holding her up.

    She's an old drunk.

    A lush.

    A booze hound.

    She's unable to deal with her guilt.  She knows that there is blood on her hands.  She knows that her support for the Iraq War meant and means that so many are wounded or killed.  She knows she's responsible.  So she drinks.  Hard.  Trying to bury her guilt.  Trying to drink away the past.

    But that's not going to happen.  She will be haunted for the rest of her life by what she did.

    That she's hitting the bottle feels us with joy.

    We don't want an intervention.  We don't want to see her dry out.  She needs to be torn apart by what she's done.

    And let's see more of her drunk in public so that the whole world gets the shame that forever haunts you when you support the death and destruction of so many.

    Hillary's living in pain and shame?  We'll drink to that!

    NYT smears Woody Allen (Ava and C.I.)

    THE NEW YORK TIMES lied the country into an illegal war and it can’t stop lying.
    It’s never offered an apology.
    The closest anyone got to that was Maureen Dowd’s column calling out Judith Miller.
    It continues to lie.  Reading WSWS, we see that it also lies about Woddy Allen.

    The Times is leading the charge on this as on every front of the sexual misconduct campaign. A January 28 article was clearly looking for a negative answer to the question in its headline, “Can Woody Allen Work in Hollywood Again?” It observed, “Hollywood says it’s done with Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey and other figures ousted for misconduct through the #MeToo movement. But what about Woody Allen?”
    The article, by Melena Ryzik and Brooks Barnes, gleefully noted that Allen’s last four films “have flopped at the North American box office, taking in a cumulative $26.9 million—roughly half of which goes to theater owners—while carrying a collective $85 million in estimated production costs, not including marketing.

    Actually, we got 27 in cumulative box office domestic.  And we didn’t grade generously.
    Here are the last four films Woody directed:
    $16.8 million budget
    $10.5 million domestic box office
    Total box office $51 million (domestic and international)
    $11 budget
    $4 million domestic box office
    Total box office $27.4 million
    $30 budget
    $11.1 domestic box office
    Total box office $43.8 million
    $25 million
    $1.4 million domestic box office 
    Total box office $15.2 million 
    Woody Allen’s domestic gross is usually around $12 million.  This is not new.  This is his average and that’s been the case since the 70s.  It’s always been true, since the 80s, that his films made more from home rental and purchase than it did from box office.
    It’s also always been known that his films do better overseas.
    So why wouldn’t you include the international box office?
    If you do, the total budget for the last four films is 82.8 million and the total box office is 137.4 million.
    Oh, lookie there, Woody brought in more in ticket sales than his budgets.
    Woop, you’re a whore, Melena!  Woop, a lying whore, Brooksie!  
    Now we’re not dealing with anything new above.
    This is the whole issue from day one of the big studios.  This goes to net and to gross and to creative accounting that lets the studios hide profits and so much more.
    But the reality is that Woody’s film, in their initial theatrical release, bring in more in ticket sales than is spent on budgets.
    That’s too much reality for the whores of THE NEW YORK TIMES to deal with.
    Again, domestically, his films have always performed better on home media.
    We found it really interesting that the paper’s two whores focused on Woody’s last four films.  Didn’t you?
    There’s a reason for that.
    If they’d gone with the last five, they’d have to include BLUE JASMINE.
    Budget?  18 million.
    $33.4  million in US ticket sales and, when domestic and international are combined, the film sold $97.5 million in tickets.

    When you want to lie, you distort -- NYT did that most infamously with Janet Jackon's album sales when they attacked her after the 2004 Super Bowl performance.  They have no ethics, they're whores.

    Woody Allen is prestige, like Bob Dylan.   His last album to sell well was MODERN TIMES (2006) which went platinum in the US (and in Canada and the UK).  Both 2009 releases (TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE and CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART – the first went gold in the UK, the second went silver), TEMPEST (2012, silver in the UK), SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT (2015, no certifications in any country),  FALLEN ANGELS (2016, no certifications in any country) and Triplicate (2017, no certificates in any country).  It doesn’t matter that he hasn’t sold a studio album in the US since 2006.  He’s a prestige act meaning that his name is supposed to be a draw and his signing is supposed to indicate that the label wants to pursue art and not just sell units – which is attractive to recording artists.  

    Similarly, Woody Allen provides instant prestige to any studio he’s signed with.  No director has directed as many Academy Award nominated performances: Diane Keaton (ANNIE HALL – won the Academy Award), Cate Blanchett (BLUE JASMINE – won the award), Mira Sorvino (MIGHTY APHRODITE, won Best Supporting Actress),  Maureen Stapleton (INTERIORS, nominated for Best Supporting Actress),  Mariel Hemingway (MANHATTAN, best supporting Actress),  Michael Caine and Dianne Weist (both won, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress),  Martin Landau (CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, won Best Supporting Actor), Judy Davis (HUSBANDS AND WIVES, Best Supporting Actress),  Jennifer Tilly and Chazz Palminteri (BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, nominees for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor),  Dianne Weist (BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, won Best Supporting Actress), Sean Penn and Samantha Morton (SWEET AND LOWDOWN, nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress) and  Penelope Cruz (VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, won Best Supporting Actress).  That’s fifteen performances nominated for Academy Awards.  That’s amazing for one director.  That’s part of the prestige.  And that’s before we get to the number of times he’s been nominated as a writer or a director.

    Again, it’s a prestige issue.

    Prestige?  Something THE NEW YORK TIMES doesn't possess.

    Someone explain ethics to Andrea Mitchell

    Ethics.  It's simple to spell but apparently hard to grasp.  It's especially hard to grasp when you're Andrea Mitchell.  "Slut."  (We're quoting her notorious 30 ROCK appearance.)  You slept with Alan Greenspan and then you married him and that allowed you to have a career at NBC.  "Slut."  You whored out for the Iraq War even though your husband knew, at the time, that it was all about oil -- and he would even admit that years after the war started.  "Slut."

    Maybe it's difficult for a "slut" to grasp ethics.

    But even Andrea "Slut" Mitchell should have grasped that her Tweet below crossed a line too far.

    One suggestion from a McCabe supporter: if a friendly member of Congress hired him for a week he could possibly qualify for pension benefits by extending his service the extra days

    Reporters aren't supposed to influence events, they are supposed to cover them.

    By electing to lobby for Andrew McCabe in a Tweet (one that paid off), we hope Andrea grasps that she's no longer able to report on a lot of DC stories for NBC NIGHTLY NEWS and that, in fact, she shouldn't be allowed to cover them on her MSNBC program either.

    According to all ethical guidelines -- which include avoiding even the appearance of bias, not just avoiding bias, avoiding the appearance of it -- Andrea can no longer cover any story regarding Andrew McCabe.  That means she also can't cover Robert Mueller investigation.  It means she can't cover a great deal.

    Unless she's to get the Al Sharpton Ethical Pass, Andrea's just Tweeted herself out of a number of stories.  Maybe the 71-year-old can finally be retired?

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