Sunday, August 17, 2014

Truest statement of the week

The defiance is needed, since Maliki has been, for the last eight years, the supreme commander of the armed forces. He has also been in charge of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior, the National Security Ministry and has co-opted the Supreme Court to assign to him nine supposedly independent bodies by the Constitution, including  the central bank, in charge of the $700 billion in oil royalties over the past eight years; the Integrity Commission, in charge of dealing with fraud and corruption; the National Media Commission, television, radio and the press; and the Justice and Questioning Commission, in charge of deciding who can or cannot be employed or elected.
Maliki’s office is also the holder of the purse for funding a number of militias that carry out atrocities that soldiers and policemen cannot easily commit, and to fund the tribal chiefs who support him against the rising population.



-- , "Iraqi author writes of U.S. destructive role in her country" (Workers World).




Truest statement of the week II

US fighter jets launched bombing raids in northern Iraq on Friday of last week. US president Barack Obama declared that the US had to intervene against the Sunni Islamist group the Islamic State.
The group, formerly known as Isis, has continued to gain ground in Iraq after its dramatic seizure of the city of Mosul in June.

Obama campaigned for the presidency as an opponent of the Iraq war. But like every Western warmonger before him Obama claims the intervention is driven by humanitarian motives. 

-- Judith Orr, "Bombing Iraq will only intensify a crisis caused by imperialism" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker).





A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we 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?


Peace.




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


Editorial: The Three Faces of Barack

US President Barack Obama spoke about Iraq on Thursday.



He insisted, "We will continue air strikes to protect our people and facilities in Iraq."


Yet this weekend saw him bombing near a dam in Mosul.




That's not what he sold to the American people last week.

Nor does it fit with what he told the American people in June when he began sending more US troops back into Iraq.

The US is engaged in combat operations in Iraq.

That's what bombing is: Combat.




He has no authorization for these actions.

He needs to go to Congress.

We doubt Congress will tell him no.

We wish they would tell him no but we doubt they will.

Regardless, he is over reaching, he is not acting out of some direct threat to the United States so he does not have the power to conduct the actions he's currently authorizing.  He needs to get Congressional authorization for what he's doing.




TV: Spoiler alert

Spoiler alert: Money matters.

It matters so much it's the title of a weekly radio show -- oops another radio show.  It's the title of two radio shows. Wait, another one.  Okay, it's the title of a lot of things which only demonstrates how much it matters.


Sometimes governments waste money, sometimes entertainment programs do.

Let's start with entertainment.  The Killing started out on AMC and kicked off with so much promise.  The only promise that held steady?  The strong acting by and chemistry between Mireille Enos (Sarah Linden) and Joel Kinnaman (Stephen Holder).  Playing the lead detectives investigating the killing(s) in a very dark show, Enos and Kinnaman were especially needed to keep the viewers involved.


Some episodes worked, some didn't.  It wasn't surprising that AMC cancelled the show after season two.  It may have been surprising when the decision was revoked but it wasn't surprising when AMC again cancelled it after the third season concluded.

For all of its promise, the show had problems.

Netflix did a solid for the show's loyal viewers by announcing they would back a fourth season of six episodes to tie up the storylines.

Season four is actually the best season of the show.

Working with less episodes may have forced them to focus more and so much was cut out to keep the focus sharp.

Working with less money put an end to the non-stop night location shoots -- thank heavens.

The show was dark enough in terms of mood without all the I-can-barely-see-a-thing-in-this-outdoor-shoot-but-it-must-be-art-right?

Wrong.

It was indulgence.

They didn't need to light the scenes like this was an MGM musical but they needed to do something.  Film noir, for example, makes use of shadow and light.  Season three, the cinematography and lighting were especially poor and indicated little forethought and planning (you have to really plan the shots with film noir).



With a much smaller budget, night shoots for season four were largely limited to a chase through the woods involving gun fire.

While night time was out, there were many more daytime location shoots and all that sunlight worked very well to fit the mood of the final season where Sarah and Stephen were waking up to realities about their professions and realities about their personal lives while concealed elements in a past case were emerging.

It's a case where a limited budget forced creativity.

This was also the best scripted season with only one groaner, when Sarah and Colonel Margaret Rayne (Joan Allen delivering a strong performance) were forced to go through a scene in which awakard dialogue noted their similarities -- even though audiences caught that message without the on-the-nose dialogue.

The acting was strong throughout.

And that's not just Joan Allen.  A doctor treating a cadet and keeping Sarah and Stephen away from him, made a huge impression and only after her scene was over did it hit us, "That was Patti Smith!"

There were so many pleasant surprises throughout.

And this was a case where a tight budget forced additional creativity.

"US war planes and armed drones are hitting . . .," Lynn Berry declared on Weekend Express (HLN) about the bombings falling near the Mosul dam and reminding us that the runway budget of one of the most expensive wars in American history continues.

At this point, the Iraq War is the Heaven's Gate of wars and could likely bring down the United States the way that Michael Cimino box office disaster brought down United Artists.

Berry explained the bombing was taking place to 'save' Iraqis because IS [Islamic State] had control of it and they could seriously harm Iraq by destroying the dam and releasing the water.  The US government, Berry explained, was "afraid it [the dam] could rupture, the result would be disastrous" leading to "flooding all the way to Baghdad."

So the US was bombing the area . . . to take back the dam . . . because bombing would not cause any risk of the dam rupturing?

Like a summer action film, the plot falls apart if you examine it.


The dam issue (or damn issue) was discussed on CBS' Face The Nation today:

SCHIEFFER: And we will be coming back to you.
We want to go now to that other big story we're monitoring, the tense situation in Northern Iraq, where U.S. warplanes opened a new campaign against the ISIS terrorists who captured a key dam in Mosul that is a crucial asset in the region.
CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata is in Irbil this morning.
Charlie, what is the latest?

CHARLIE D'AGATA, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Bob. Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers that we spoke to today said that they are closing in on the dam and that ISIS militants have even started withdrawing from villages near the dam or at least repositioning themselves. Those forces are being backed by U.S. airstrikes.
The U.S. military has confirmed that nine airstrikes were conducted in the vicinity of the dam using both drones and fighter jets. Now, the dam itself has been under control of ISIS militants for almost two weeks now. It not only controls the power, water and electricity in Northern Iraq, but blowing it up or opening the floodgates could cause catastrophic flooding to nearby Mosul that would also reach as far as Baghdad.
Now, once again, Peshmerga fighters say that they're advancing. They are running into resistance. And they estimate between 400 and 500 ISIS militants may still be around the dam itself.

SCHIEFFER: Charlie, what more can you tell us abut this reported massacre of Yazidis in a nearby village?

D'AGATA: Well, Bob, we're getting various accounts on the death toll there. Somewhere between 80 and 350 men may have been massacred.
But it apparently took place on Friday, reportedly took place on Friday in the village of Kocho. Kurdish officials say that the men were told -- Yazidi men were told to convert to Islam or die. And when they refused, they were summarily executed.
We're also hearing a number of women and children may have been abducted. As many as 1,000 may have been abducted by ISIS militants. What is clear is, there are still Yazidi villages that are still under siege, despite tens of thousands of Yazidis that were able to flee the fighting late last week.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Charlie, be careful. Thank you.


Mosul, Tal Afar, Falluja . . .  Terry Moran ticked them off Sunday morning (ABC's This Week) as he declared "more than a third of Iraq is now under ISIS control."  Terry was 'reporting' from Iraq (Kurdistan Region).  ABC News finally got one of their own into the country.  Apparently, Moran was having to do a lot of catching up which is why he used "ISIS" when most outlets, following AFP's lead, have moved towards "IS."

Terry's visit to Iraq was its own personal disaster.

He got 'reactions' from Yazidis to the violence said to have been inflicted by IS.

How?

He visited a refugee camp and spoke to people suffering there.  "We showed him pictures of the atrocities," Moran said as proud of himself as a cat that kills a field mouse and drops it on the front porch.

No thought was given to telling the story of these Yazidi refugees -- or any other refugees in the camp.  But ambulance chaser Moran did rush through the camp looking for people he could quote.


Martha Raddatz was again filling in as host of the program and she wanted Moran to "tell us the difference between these airstrikes" and the earlier ones the US launched last week.

"This is different," Moran responded.  "This is moving on beyond helping people."

What was he speaking of, this difference?


Bombing IS near a Mosul dam was not part of the defined mission.

Thursday, for example, US President Barack Obama declared:


Last week, I authorized two limited missions:  protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.
A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter.  We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice -- starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground.  That’s when America came to help.
Over the last week, the U.S. military conducted humanitarian air drops every night –- delivering more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water.  We were joined in that effort by the United Kingdom, and other allies pledged support. Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountain, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely.
Yesterday, a small team of Americans -– military and civilian -– completed their review of the conditions on the mountain.  They found that food and water have been reaching those in need, and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each and every night.  The civilians who remain continue to leave, aided by Kurdish forces and Yezidis who are helping to facilitate the safe passage of their families.  So the bottom line is, is that the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts.
Because of the skill and professionalism of our military –- and the generosity of our people –- we broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar; we helped vulnerable people reach safety; and we helped save many innocent lives.  Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to continue humanitarian air drops on the mountain. 


Martha Raddatz also spoke to retired Colonel Steve Ganyard who noted the change, pointing out Barack was moving away from his declaration that "these strikes will only be based on humanitarian purposes and to protect American people" in Iraq.


This move took place as some noted that Barack hadn't really finished his job of 'humanitarian' help for the Yazidis despite his claim that "we helped vulnerable people reach safety."  For example, Adam Lee (The Guardian) pointed out today,  "Though American airstrikes and Kurdish militia cleared a way for 20,000 to escape, others remain trapped and in need of help." And, again, we've already quoted Charlie D'Agata stating, "What is clear is, there are still Yazidi villages that are still under siege, despite tens of thousands of Yazidis that were able to flee the fighting late last week."



Despite risking charges of failing to complete his stated mission, Barack expanded into new terrain with the bombings this weekend.


This expansion received criticism -- not for getting the US further into the war it never really left but for what was seen as an aimless and unfocused quality.

On ABC's This Week, US House Representatives and Iraq War veterans Adam Kinzinger and Tulsi Gabbard both expressed disappointment and dismay.  We'll note the from Gabbard:


Martha, I think it's important as we talk about whether or not there should be troops or exactly what tactical strategy should be used moving forward we're missing a critical question here, which is what is our mission? What is the United States' mission. What are we trying to accomplish here?  You know, Adam and I both enlisted, joined the military after 9/11 because we heard our nation's leaders say after that attack that we would go and take out these Islamic extremists wherever they are. We would fight against those who are waging war against the United States.  That stated mission after 9/11 has been lost. And as Steve mentioned earlier, and as we heard from White House officials last week, they said, and I quote, these airstrikes are not an authorization of a broad based counter terrorism campaign against ISIS, end of quote.  So if our mission is not to take out the Islamic extremists who continue to threaten and wage war against us, then I think we've got a real problem here. If we focus on that mission, which I think we should, then we can look at what are the tactics that we need to take them out. 



Retired Colonel Steve Ganyard insisted Radditz, "The White House has no stated strategy against ISIS itself."

No strategy except possibly to beat the war drums and attempt to scare up support for further US involvement in the Iraq War.  Face The Nation saw Schiffer quoting an unnamed US official another news outlet had spoken to -- so this was third hand 'corroboration'?

SCHIEFFER: Let me quote something to you. A senior U.S. official is quoted as telling Yahoo! News that ISIL is now -- and this is the quote -- "the most potent military force of any terrorist group in the world right now."
I would like to know, do you agree with that? And how do you rate right now the threat that terrorism poses to the United States as to say where we were before 9/11?

ROGERS: And the difference here is that, before 9/11, there were single-level threat streams coming into the United States, some pretty serious. Obviously, they got in and conducted the attacks on 9/11.
Now you have multiple organizations, all al Qaeda-minded, trying to accomplish the same thing. So ISIL has said that they want to take the people who have Western passports. And, remember, they are flooding into this country. Thousands of individuals now signing up with ISIL to fight their jihad in Syria and Iraq have Western passports. That's what's so dangerous about this.


And, of course, US House Representative Mike Rogers has never been one to resist fear bait.

Rogers has always been willing to go to war -- with logic and common sense.

IS is in Iraq.  Many see IS as the leading rebel element in Syria.


SCHIEFFER: Well, we know of Hillary Clinton's famously argument -- famously arguing that we should have been aiding these rebels in Syria.
Should we now begin to aid them? Should the United States start to play a role there that we're not playing?


ROGERS: We should absolutely play a role there.


Yes, that is Rogers' concept of 'logic' -- fight them in Iraq and then, in bordering Syria, supply them with aid and weapons.


Retired Colonel Steve Ganyard Tweeted Friday:






And in that Tweet, you have not only the issue of how IS is being armed (by the US indirectly) but how the out of control financial cost of the Iraq War continues to rip into the US treasury.  Once was time no one thought the USSR could go bankrupt and close shop, why now would we assume the threat doesn't exist for the US as well?












On break





Best Buy Sales Associates Eric and Barack chill out for a few in the breakroom during a typical workday at Store 293 in Rockville.






Dumbest celebrity blog post of the week: Jane Fonda

Last week, Ava and C.I. noted Cher used her Twitter feed to make a difference.  This week, another Academy Award winning actress used her blog to pose as helpless.


 

It takes a lot of stupidity to express distaste and dismay over a situation you've not done nothing to improve.

Jane Fonda concluded her blog today with this paragraph:


I’ll try to blog more often but can’t promise. There’s so little time. I wish I could also blog about what’s been happening in Ferguson, Missouri. It’s utterly mind-blowing what happened because citizens stood up to protest the murder of Michael Brown and President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and many elected officials from both sides of the isle spoke out against the militarization of the police response so that the next evening there was freedom, harmony (more like jubilation!) and hope that, for once, justice might be done in the wake of a yet another killing of a black teenager. It felt like the 21st Century version of the ’60s –more responsive leaders and truly articulate African American locals that shone last night on MSNBC. 


Does it feel that way, Jane?

We're troubled by the wording of that last sentence which seems rather Joe Biden-ish but we'll let that pass.

Instead, we'll ask:  WTF are you doing?

You're one of four leads in a sitcom you're producing.

What the f**k are you doing?

An all White cast.

That's what you're doing.

So hop off your high horse and examine your body of work.  With the exception of Otto Preminger's Hurry Sundown -- a film exploring race -- you've never appeared in a film with anything but a token African-American actor.


For those who may not know, beginning with Coming Home, you produced many of your films including 9 to 5 which featured a workforce at an office with no African-American qualifying as even a supporting actress.  The film did, however, feature an overweight African-American custodian saying one line ("Hey, Vera, we've got another stiff in the john.")


Now you're in charge of a new series and you've got an all White cast.

Sorry, Jane, you are the problem.

So stop whining and do something.

And stop bragging about how great it is to work again with the same people -- your all White cast -- because that's exactly how systematic racism is fostered -- a bunch of White people just hiring from their own circle of friends.

With this show, only the second sitcom you've produced, you had a chance to imagine a world as you wanted and what you went with was an all White cast.

And, by the way, Jane, when you get around to writing that blog post that you want to, maybe after you can write about events in Iraq?


"I haven't spoken at an antiwar rally in 34 years, because I've been afraid that because of the lies that have been and continue to be spread about me and that war, that they would be used to hurt this new antiwar movement, but silence is no longer an option."

You said that in January 2007.


Could you explain how silence is an option today?



Illustration is by Isaiah.

AP said what?????????????

Mike awarded Adam Schreck idiot of the week.

And he had a point and then some.

The biggest howler in the Associated Press writer's article had to be this:


He and Bush talked frequently, but they failed to secure terms to allow a continued US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011. 



What?

We loathe Bully Boy Bush and blame him for much.

We're not so sick, however, to invent things to pin on him.

The Iraq invasion was illegal and did not even have a United Nations fig leaf covering.

The occupation did.

Every year, the United Nations mandate covering the occupation would be renewed.

In 2006, Nouri al-Maliki angered many by renewing it without consulting Parliament.

He promised he would next time.

He did not.

But he did renew it in late 2007 -- and did so as a louder outcry rose.

The UN mandate was not being renewed beyond 2008.

All countries remaining in Iraq after December 31, 2008 would need to reach their own agreements with the government of Iraq.

As then-Senator Joe Biden pointed out, if no agreement was reached by January 1, 2009, US troops would be confined to bases in Iraq.

The contract the US government pursued was the Status Of Forces Agreement.

To take heat off Nouri, it was a three year agreement, not a one year.

And it could be renewed after three years.  And Barack certainly tried.

But the SOFA was negotiated in 2008, Bully Boy Bush's last year in office, and passed the Iraqi Parliament after the November 2008 US presidential election.

So in what world does this make sense:

He and Bush talked frequently, but they failed to secure terms to allow a continued US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011. 

Bush got the SOFA pushed through.

In fact, remember this?

Bully Boy and Puppet



It's Bully Boy Bush in Iraq with Nouri al-Maliki, December 15, 2008.

It was Bush's final trip to Iraq and you might remember the incident better if we told you this is when a shoe was thrown at BBB.

And with that, BBB was done with Iraq and out of the White House the next month.

He was in Iraq on the day pictured above so that he and Nouri could sign the SOFA together.

Bully Boy Bush got a three year deal.


How do you claim that the failure to renew the SOFA at the end of three years was Bully Boy Bush's fault?







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