Sunday, July 07, 2013

Truest statement of the week

If you go back to the huge story which was delayed a year by the New York Times but did break in late 2005 revealing the NSA spying on Americans the wiretapping and so forth -- remember the huge uproar that was under President Bush?  And then we had candidate Obama for president saying, "I am opposed to  illegal infringement upon people's privacy rights.  I am opposed to illegal  wiretapping."   We didn't understand what he was saying.  We had a tendency to believe that, in 2008, what Obama was saying was he didn't want that kind of surveillance to go on because it was illegal.   What we now know and it's very clear is that President Obama does not want that surveillance to be illegal he wants it to be legalized, in fact he voted for that the FISA legislation in the middle of 2008 as a senator that's where we are now.  These surveillance measures, no matter what secret hand picked court says, they are unconstitutional they are fundamental violations of our rights.

-- Norman Solomon, Tuesday on KPFA's Flashpoints, speaking with Dennis Bernstein.

Truest statement of the week II

At this point, the heads of both prosecutor Reid and tough cop Harris-Perry simultaneously imploded. They both lost it, unintelligibly shouting over each other for more than ten seconds. After they stopped shouting, Hrafsson tried to say the issue was the substance of Snowden's revelations, that the US government was illegally collecting, literally every email, text message, phone call, facebook post and electronic brain fart on the planet and storing it for future data-mining reference. Bad cop Harris-Perry would have none of it, angrily declaring that the issues were Snowden's illegitimacy, because he won't turn himself in, and his possible contact with foreign countries who might mean “to do us harm.”
Prosecutor Reid replied to the Nixon quote with unintentional irony, asserting that Snowden didn't reveal any illegal behavior, because of course the government had done nothing illegal, and as host, ended the segment.
The camera cut away quickly, maybe so we couldn't see the Wikileaks guy laughing.
A day or two later Harris-Perry channeled the cop again, with a Snowden segment on her own show. Harris-Perry insisted from her comfy TV chair, that any whistleblower or dissenter who failed to meekly submit to whatever punishment authorities deign to mete out is illegitimate at least, possibly self-serving as well, though just how the self is served in such cases was unclear. She brought up Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the state senator who filibustered in Texas, and the folks who get arrested for “Moral Mondays” in North Carolina every week, and later in the show, Dan Ellsberg..
Harris-Perry might be a bright professor, but on TV she's a lousy cop and a worse historian.

-- Bruce A. Dixon, "Joy Ann Reid, Melissa Harris-Perry as Prosecutor & Cop Go After Snowden, Wikileaks, & the First Amendment" (Black Agenda Report).

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,
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?

  • Truest statement of the week

  • Norman Solomon on KPFA's Flashpoints.

  • Truest statement of the week II

  • Bruce A. Dixon.

    Editorial: Silence or stupidity (media coverage of...

    Iraq.  Is it better when the media ignores it or when it covers it poorly?

  • TV: MSNBC Exposed

  • Next week, Ava and C.I. may tackle PBS.  That was their plan until a friend raised the issue of MSNBC hosts flying to NYC to do their shows.  They're also trying to figure out whether to do a regular review or be creative if we have the fiction edition next week.

  • The important questions about the trip to Africa

  • Dona asked for short pieces.  This one was found by Rebecca and Ruth.  What's the problem with the photo?  C.I., Ava, Ty and Marcia saw it right away -- it looks like Barack's wearing a thong. 

  • ClassWar Films

  • We were asked to take a look at them and the belief was probably, "They'll love ClassWar Films."  We wanted to.  But how can you motivate people to get into the streets when you can't even call out Barack by name?

  • Robert Redford's new role

  • First up, we were supposed to note the following posts:

    "What's under that bad wig?"

    Cedric and Wally have been covering the embarrassing Robert Redford already.  So they needed credit.  We'll note it here since we forgot it in the article itself. 

  • How Shell Got Her Scowl Back

  • Stella got her groove, Shell Obama got her scowl.  Which apparently runs in the family.

  • All About Little Dick Durbin

  • Dick Durbin is a non-stop, never-ending embarrassment. 

  • Stan on the underwhelming Lone Ranger

  • Stan's look at The Lone Ranger is worth including as we cover summer films more than ever this summer.

  • Sky Pirates ground Morales (Deirdre Griswold, Work...

  • Repost of Workers World.

  • Highlights

  • Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

    Barring any major news developments, next weekend will be the annual summer fiction edition.  So keep your fingers crossed.  (Or not if you don't like these summer read editions.)


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

    Editorial: SIlence or stupidity (media coverage of Iraq)

    When they had to sell the Iraq War -- both before it started and in the early years of the illegal war -- the press couldn't shut up about Iraq and it dominated newspapers and broadcasts.  Today, the country might as well have been swallowed up by the Bermuda Triangle for all the coverage it gets.


    But sometimes, as Kelly McEvers bad NPR reporting recently proved, silence may be a blessing.

    We were reminded of that again when we read Lincoln Archer's analysis of the state of Iraq for Australia's ABC.  What stood out most was this: 

    Militant groups have infiltrated the demonstrations to stir sectarian tensions and foment civil war, Iraq's representative to the UN Hamid al-Bayati has said. Sectarian slogans have been shouted at rallies, language which "lays the foundation for a culture of hatred", he said.

    That is a charge.  It is not a fact.  But it's not questioned.  Nor does Lincoln Archer appear aware of when slogans (words, not actions) might have fit that description. 

    Let's address what Archer can't.  Nouri was calling the protesters terrorists,  a handful had been killed and that's when chants and posters that would fit Archer's description applied.  This was a response to the verbal attacks Nouri was launching. 

    There is context and to fail to provide it is to exist in a vacuum.

    Context also includes that Nouri's government has refused to meet the protesters demands but has instead continued to attack them verbally and, yes, physically.  So Nouri's hand picked ambassador to the United Nations isn't going to be telling much truth.

    That was pretty obvious last week when the ambassador penned a column for the Wall Street Journal filled with multiple falsehoods. The biggest falsehood might have been that the Iraqi people want the US to be involved in Iraq.  No, not really.  A small portion does.  A large portion of the 'leaders' want the US involved because they fear being crushed by the people they have failed to represent.

    Last week, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc called for the US to stop butting into Iraqi affairs and to abandon the US Embassy in Baghdad.  Last week, Ali Abedl Sadah (Al-Monitor) reported:

    In a statement distributed to the media, Sadr said, “We will nominate as a candidate a prime minister who loves Iraqis and whom they love. He will not be hated by non-believers, and will show modesty in dealing with believers. He will be one of them.” He continued, “The prime minister ... will not deal with the unrighteous occupier, in order to give Iraq prestige, independence, dignity and honor.”
    "The Americans," he said, "will not be able to manipulate the fate, rights, wealth and souls in Iraq again.” Sadr then addressed the US ambassador, saying, “Your threat will not be useful. Deal with us however you wish ... We will deal with [the Americans] in ways that you have never seen before.”

    But the Ambassador wants to pretend that all Iraqis want the US in Iraq and want the US presence in Iraq beefed up.  But stick a pin in that, we'll come back to it.

    Hamid al-Bayati claims the Iraq's an emerging democracy as demonstrated by its respect for diversity.  There is no respect for diversity.  Iraqi Christians have been decimated, Iraq's LGBT community is repeatedly targeted, Sunnis are targeted non-stop.  Oh, yeah, al-Bayati is a Shi'ite.  A fact that Australia's ABC didn't feel was worth mentioning.  They also didn't feel it was worth mentioning that this 'proud' 'Iraqi' holds dual citizenship -- he's a citizen of Iraq and England.  You'd think someone committed to Iraq would have renounced citizenship elsewhere. 

    In fact, you'd think dual citizenship would prevent him from being a representative in Iraq of any form.

    You can learn a lot about Hamid al-Bayati from his book From Dictatorship to Democracy: An Insider's Account of the Iraqi Opposition to Saddam.  al-Bayati opposed Hussein . . . from England.  He was a mascot for the Project for the New American Century and agitated for years to get the Iraq War started. 

    You don't get any of those details from Australia's ABC News 'analysis.'

    While al-Bayati's Wall St. Journal's column was mostly lies, it did serve a purpose.  It was aimed at American audiences -- an audience that's largely unaware of the column.   He is part of the roll out for the official return of US forces to Iraq (see last week's "Editorial: The important words").  That's obvious when al-Bayati writes:

    While security coordination through military sales and financing programs continues, an expedited delivery of promised sales, better intelligence sharing, and stepped-up assistance in counterterrorism and training is essential for Iraq's fight against terrorism—a clear national security interest of the U.S. Implementing this agreement should not be linked to regional issues, such as the conflict in Syria.

    From the April 30th Iraq snapshot:


    December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

    US forces never left Iraq.  Not all of them.  And last fall, Barack sent in another unit of Special Ops.  But under the December MoU (which calls for joint-patrols of Iraqi and US troops), this can now be done a little more openly.  Which is how you got the announcement from the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs two weeks ago. 

    At the end of last week, Dale McFeatters (Chicago Sun Times) became the first columnist to write about those remarks:

    Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has recommended that U.S. commanders find ways to improve Iraq’s military capabilities. This would involve additional weapons and training and, although neither government would say so publicly, some level of U.S. involvement in operations.

    The language accompanying the proposal suggests that it is a done deal. We could hardly let the Iraqis say they were open to military cooperation with the U.S., an embarrassing admission in itself, and then humiliate them by slapping down the offer.

    The Pentagon called it a "drawdown," not a withdrawal, throughout 2011.  And not all troops left in the drawdown.  Secretly more troops have been sent back in.  Now the White House gets ready to send them back in a little more publicly.

    And where is the outcry?

    With the exception of McFeatters, we've got silence or stupidity in the US press when it comes to Iraq.  We're not sure which of the two is worse.  Silence or stupidity -- both are needed ingredients in any box of Iraq War Helper and when both work in tandem, no one wins, least of all the news consumers or the Iraqi people.

    TV: MSNBC Exposed

    The runner up is not  a role most desire.  By the same token, there's no real choice between the gold or the silver, Miss America or first runner up, lead or understudy, first string or bench warmer.  In other words, no news network wants to be MSNBC.


    It's been that way for years but has only become more so in the last months when reality has transformed the elephant in the room to the truth that cannot be avoided: As much as no one wants to be MSNBC, no one wants to watch it.

    Even Huffington Post's Katherine Fung and Jack Mirkinson couldn't put a positive spin on MSNBC's third place spot in the ratings behind a resurgent CNN and the long popular Fox News.  Joe Flint (Los Angeles Times) tried so hard Tuesday to spin, "It was a particularly tough quarter for Rachel Maddow. Her show's average audience of 774,000 was the smallest since its debut in September 2008. A large part of the problem is All In with Chris Hayes, which airs before Maddow's show and has yet to click with viewers."  A large part of the problem for an established, four-year-old show's ratings dive is its new lead in? 

    In what world?

    TV ratings drop significantly if a network moves a show to different time periods.  TV ratings drop significantly if a new powerhouse show debuts opposite it.  But when an established TV show in the same slot loses ratings and you're reduced to whining about the lead in, you're really not dealing with reality, are you?

    Reality is that when your nearly five-year-old show experiences its lowest ratings since its premiere, that has nothing to do with a lead in, it does signal that your show may be too long in the tooth and not aging well.

    Reality hasn't been kind to the talk show network passing itself off as a news one.  MSNBC exists to be the official fan club of the White House.   It looks as ridiculous in that role as Fox News did when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.

    Actually, it looks even worse than Fox News.

    Fox News is right wing.  That means many things.  MSNBC is left wing which is supposed to mean even more.

    For example, you're supposed to be helping the youth of America, not misusing them for free labor.  But free labor is what MSNBC stands accused of in a new lawsuit from former intern Jesse Moore who was used to book guests -- that's a paid staff position at MSNBC.  It's not an intern position.  This case should be very interesting.

    Being left wing?  It's supposed to mean a commitment to the environment and an opposition to global warming.

    "Who the f**k does that high-yellow think she is, Christine Baranski?"

    That's what an African-American film actress asked us about bi-racial Melissa Harris-Perry last week.  We had no clue what she was talking about, so she kindly explained that Melissa flies to New York each weekend to do her show and then back to New Orleans.  This is a lot like the other MSNBC host, Lawrence O'Donnell who flies to New York from California each week to do his show. 

    That's not very green is it, not very environmental friendly.  No reason they couldn't do Melissa's show from WDSU and let her stay in New Orleans and let Lawrence do his show from any number of California outlets.  Not only would such a move be better for the environment and allow the hosts a little more stability, MSNBC shows broadcast from New Orleans and California could also serve to break up the sameness of the look and feel of the shows and provide better opportunities for in house guests.

    Melissa, especially needs stability.  Her family life is falling apart and if she doesn't like that being known she might ask her daughter not to talk so much at school about what goes on in the house.  We'll be really kind and leave it at that.

    Kind isn't lying, so we just fall silent.  Lying is claiming Melissa Harris-LieFace Lacewell Perry is attractive.  She looks like Sabrina Le Beauf, you know, the only plain actress in the otherwise photogenic cast of The Cosby Show?  So we don't have a lot of respect for little suck-ups like Gary Leupp who tried to soften his criticism of her last week by insisting she was "stunningly beautiful."  She's not.  On a good day, she's plain.  On a bad day, that bad hair isn't her worst feature.  But that makes her perfect for MSNBC which really has collected a wide assortment of male and female eyesores -- more so than any other network. 

    If Leupp hadn't been so focused on his delusions about her beauty, he might have been able to call out her Martin Luther King Jr. 'history' the way Bruce Dixon did at Black Agenda Report.

    See, and this is another reason ratings are in the toilet, MSNBC hosts can't seem to stop trashing NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.  The left and Libertarian right applaud him for the spying he exposed.  So when 'left' Melissa or Joy Reid starts trashing Ed on MSNBC, it's not helping the network inflate the ratings.  But then, neither are those ridiculous sun dresses -- use the Bruce Dixon link -- which are ugly, show off the fatty upper arms of Melissa and look really unprofessional.

    Fox News got a lot of criticism from 2001 to 2008 for its lascivious coverage of Bully Boy Bush.  On the left, we were appalled.  But it wasn't just those of us on the left.  There were elements of the right that were appalled by the toad-like manner as the network worked overtime to be a propaganda mill for the White House whose aims didn't always fit with conservatism. 

    And MSNBC is struggling because it's propaganda for a centrist White House leaves it looking idiotic most days.  Nobody likes a suck-up.

    Eddie Haskell is derided by each generation of TV viewers because, even at a young age, you can sense that he's insincere and will say anything from one moment to the next based on who's listening?  He has no core, he has no values, he's just a little suck-up.

    Yep, we're back to Rachel Maddow.

    Being a suck-up saved her several times over at Air America Radio.

    Back in May, one of us wrote:

    Rachel's a lesbian, she's not a leftist.  I believe we were the ones who explained what was going on after Rachel was solo.  She'd just started and she was making a controversial move.  While everyone was decrying Time magazine, in April 2005, putting Ann Coulter on the cover, Rachel was defending it and the idiotic copy.
    The idiotic copy we noted.  We noted it because the man who wrote the article was drooling over Ann's looks and sex appeal.  We noted it because I'm not really sure that Ann's sexy or that a gay man is the best judge of what's sexy in a woman.
    Yeah, the author was a gay conservative.
    And we're the ones, not Rachel Maddow, who outed him as Rachel's dear friend.  (He called, at that time, Rachel his "angel.")  Rachel spent the whole week, multiple episodes, defending the article and insisting it was being wrongly slammed.  But she never revealed that she was friends with the author.
    So when Rachel forgets to reveal today, you need to realize it's not an accident, she's got a long pattern of omissions and lies. (She also backstabs.  And we could go way back on that but let's just note, I don't care for Keith Olbermann but I don't owe my career to him.  Isn't it funny how he's a stranger to Rachel, after all he did for her?)

    Oh, how her posse (we're suspecting it was her father writing yet again) did e-mail to complain and insist that Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann were as tight as ever.

    No, they weren't.

    No, they aren't.

    And last week, Keith Olbermann made it clear.

    As Josh Feldman (Mediaite) reported, when the ratings were released, Keith Olbermann left a sarcastic tweet, "Very, Very impressive#ratings @msnbc. Especially without the help of @KeithOlbermann.  @maddow great job filling his void."  And he then tweeted, "I don't know anything about her any more' she hasn't bothered to speak to me since I left" MSNBC.

    She's an Eddie Haskell.  Keith Olbermann ruled MSNBC in 2008 and he made her one of his go-to replacements -- a great honor.  He advocated for her as a host.  And she couldn't stop sucking up in 2009 or 2010.  It wasn't until January 2011 that Maddow turned her back on him.  And, as Keith revealed last week, she's never bothered to speak to him again.

    We're not Keith fans but we don't owe him our TV career.  Rachel Maddow can't make the same claim.

    Mediaite said Olbermann was taking "swipes" at Maddow with those Tweets and The Daily Caller said he was taking a "jab at Rachel Maddow."

    Heaven help the country when we're the only ones capable of reporting.

    No, that wasn't a swipe.  No, that wasn't a jab.

    Not that Keith Olbermann wouldn't go there.

    In fact, he went there two weeks ago, June 25th.

    "Except when it counted.  And sadly, that's her in a nutshell."

    And, actually, it's MSNBC as well.

    Air America Radio was the trial run for a 'left' channel and it failed in the ratings due to the fact that the left was against the Iraq War while the on airs at Air American Radio (such as Rachel Maddow and Al Franken) insisted upon demanding that the US troops remain in Iraq. 

    The NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden has provided another moment to tell the left from the 'left' and MSNBC has failed that test repeatedly with their on airs.  (Consider Chris Hayes the brave exception like Laura Flanders was on Air America.)  And what a blast of karma that Keith Olbermann, the only star MSNBC ever had, would be the one to deliver the critical blow:  MSNBC was always there "except when it counted."

    The important questions about the trip to Africa

    After how much the US taxpayers will be billed for Barack and his entourage to visit Africa, the most important question is: What did Barack wear?

    whale tail

    Specifically, in the photo above, it looks as if he's wearing a thong. 

    Is he?

    Official caption, "President Barack Obama walks with guide Ahmed Kathrada, a former prisoner at Robben Island Prison, during his tour of Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)."

    ClassWar Films

    ClassWar Films is a funny kind of film company -- it produces speeches set to a slide show. 

    Are we back to the days of the overhead school projector film strips?  It certainly appears so.

    We're also in The Land of Crap and Whoring. 

    We wish that wasn't the case.

    class war films

    That's a 'still' from one of ClassWar Films' 'films.' 

    In this section, they're talking about the TARP bail out of big banks.  Remember when President Mitt Romney pushed that through?

    Oh, wait, he was never president.

    Okay, well remember when Senator Mitt Romney insisted to the Black Caucus that they had to vote for it.

    Oh, yeah.  Romney was never a senator and it was Barack Obama who strong armed the Black Caucus.  As Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) observed in September 2009, "Back in October of last year, it was Barack Obama’s lobbying of individual Black members of Congress that caused the Caucus to shift from 21 to 18 opposed to the first bank bailout, to 31 to 8 in favor – and Obama hadn’t even been elected yet."

    So why the hell are they showing Mitt Romney?

    Because that's what they do.  Boys and girls the closeted Marxists have arrived and they're coming, coming for to carry you home.

    ClassWar Films is aptly named because it wants to inflame a class war fare.  They can pretend that they're only responding to an ongoing class warfare against the people but that's just not true.

    If you're responding to it, then you're calling out the person in charge.

    After insulting the entire Republican presidential nominee contenders of 2012 -- every one of them -- they offer this:

    The other choice? Is a bald face fraud and flim flam man who's chief claim to positive accomplishment as president has been to have perpetrated the most ugly and cynical betrayal of the American electorate in history.  He has done more in one term to single handily destroy belief in our political system than any previous combination of the hustlers and phonies who were his immediate predecessors.

    What's missing there?

    Golly, how about a name, you f**king cowards.

    Save us from the political closet cases.  

    Since May of 2011, they've 'released' four 'films.'  The most recent one was four months ago.  Dissident Voice posted it today.  It notes that, around the world, people have responded to the financial crisis (caused by the handover of community wealth to individuals) by taking to the streets and demanding their rights but, while this has happened elsewhere, it hasn't happened here.

    Why the hell would it?

    And how the f**k do you think your awful 'film' is going to help them take to the streets?

    In that little video condemning the state of the world today, they fail to ever mention Barack Obama.  Not by name, not by reference.  They do show that Mitt Romney still. 

    But Barack's hands off.  Here's reality, if you can't call out the enemy, you're not helping anyone.  If you're distracting with Mitt Romney, you're not helping anyone.

    The US is a disaster zone today.  And Barack's had a whole four year term to do something and didn't do a damn thing to help the people.  If you can't point that out, if you can't call him out, don't act surprised that people aren't in the streets over what's going on.

    Chicken Little is a well known figure.  Less well known is his cousin Chicken S**t.  While Chicken Little was running around saying, "The sky is falling," Chicken S**t was right behind him but squawking, "No, it isn't.  And even if it is, it's not Barack Obama's fault!"

    ClassWar Films is the company of two elderly Communists and like others their age who stayed in the closet, they loathe women and gay people.  Which is how you get a video telling you that gay rights and abortion are "hot button social issues" but not real issues" (except to "the ignorant and uninformed")  and they "have nothing whatever to do with their economic, social and political well being."

    Seriously, old trash, you want to try that?

    We could spend all day refuting that.  Instead, we'll just offer one example.  Marriage equality has nothing to do with two people's "economic, social and political well being"? 

    What trash, what awful trash.

    And, you know, trash attracts trash.

    So we were curious to see who their "allies" were:

    Tim Hermach, Native Forest Council

    Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, October2011

    Tom Feeley, Information Clearing House

    Paul Jay, The Real News Network

    Jim Jensen, Montana Environmental Information Center

    Gareth Porter

    Alexandra Bruce,

    Dave Lindorff,

    Robert Jensen, Professor, University of Texas

    The names we recognize?  They're members of the Cult of St. Barack. Some have wised up (Dave Lindorff) but most, whether they've wised up or not, refuse to call out their Christ-child.

    At Dissident Voice, Paul Edwards explained, "Lanny Cotler and I lived the 60s.  He was involved in the Berkeley Free Speech dust-up and I was Bobby Kennedy’s film crew director to the end in L.A.  We were both in Vietnam, he in State and I for CARE, and saw that debacle in all its hideous depth. We were radicalized then, and it only deepened and matured over the decades of Nixon, Reagan, Clinton et al."  What?

    How can you be on any kind of a mission that honestly involves going up against the illusions and deceptions of President Barack Obama and not name him?  Reduce him to "et al"?

    That goes a long way towards explaining why people aren't out in the streets.

    When even those that agitate for them to hit the streets can't call out the sitting president, how are the people supposed to know the situation is so dire (ClassWar Films tells you that the ability to protest is narrowing and you must act now)?  The people have to know the name of the enemy and when you can't even provide that basic information, you're not accomplishing anything.

    Back to your closets, please.

    Robert Redford's new role

    Robert Redford was never really an actor and as a movie star he was so minor.  To say he's probably the best known underachiever is to put it mildly.

    His finest film role was in 1967, opposite Jane Fonda, in Barefoot in the Park.  He'd played the stuffed shirt Paul on Broadway and that preparation probably helped.  It was also a character he was proud to play.  He wasn't, for example, proud to play Natalie Wood's gay husband in Inside Daisy Clover.

    He wasn't happy to play Hubbell as written in The Way We Were.  With his sixties films, he pretty much had to play what was on the page.  But his homoerotic pairings with Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting) allowed him some clout which he used to destroy any chance at becoming an actor.  In The Way We Were, Katie is a committed political activist who falls for a gorgeous nothing who ends up naming names to McCarthy in order to save his own ass.

    These scenes fell away from the movie and you're largely left to wonder what political thing broke them up -- in fact, you make think Katie's leaving over some affair Hubbell had.

    Hubbell was a nothing.  Redford refused to portray that and insisted upon the character being given 'complexity' and 'characterization.'  The film was a huge hit, the biggest he's ever had.  But the one who got the Academy Award nomination was Barbra Streisand and she delivers an amazing performance.  For all the additional scenes, Redford's unable to 'open up' the character of Hubbell.

    But the character was never going to 'open up.'  Redford's vanity destroyed his chances at playing the character.  The same vanity would ruin Brubaker repeatedly (starting with the nonsense of slipping money to the prison barber to avoid getting a generic prison haircut).  The vanity marred so much that followed.  Not that there weren't still hits -- with Faye Dunaway, he was box office in Three Days of the Condor; with Dustin Hoffman, he was box office in All The President's Men; and with Jane Fonda, he was box office in The Electric Horseman.

    That was really it for Redford.  His box office in the 70s (with hits) more or less stayed the same cash amount in his 80s films but, take 1984's The Natural, with a box office gross that would have been a hit in the 70s.  But the 80s meant the $100 million mark.  His frequent co-star Jane Fonda would notch up two films that crossed that mark (On Golden Pond and 9 to 5).  Redford couldn't cross the $100 million mark in the 80s and, in fact, only managed to do it once in the 90s with the trash film Indecent Proposal which found a very aged looking Redford wanting to sleep with Demi Moore and, apparently due to age, having to pay her $1 million dollars to sleep with him.

    And after that 1993 film, he never crossed the $100 million mark again.

    A so-so actor whose movie star status stopped in the seventies, Redford's lucky to have found a new role to play: Village Idiot.


    The tip off there may have been the ridiculous blond wig the 76-year-old man can't stop wearing.

    Village Idiot means not only does he wear that wig but he also took to repeatedly praising Barack Obama last week.

    Village Idiot can't support NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden but he can offer praise to Barack who's violating the Constitution with the secret spying on the American people?

    Robert Redford clearly doesn't have the guts to call out Barack for Nixonian activities.  Fine, he's a coward.  But that means shut your mouth, not layer on praise.

    While Village Idiot was putting out for Barack, Jill Stein was explaining how awful Barack's position on the environment actually was, "You can't give your child an 'all of the above diet' with toxic lead and arsenic, and think that adding some spinach and blueberries is going to make it OK. Likewise, reducing carbon pollution from coal does not make fracking, tar sands oil, deep water and Arctic drilling OK. The climate is spiraling into runaway warming. Obama's promotion of cheap dirty fossil fuels makes coal regulations just window dressing on a disastrous policy."  Peter Hart (FAIR) was explaining:

    Now, the assumption here is there is a serious Obama "crackdown on coal." To many environmentalists, his policies have been  anything but war-like when it comes to the coal industry.  And after the speech, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz sent the message very clearly that the administration "expects fossil fuels, and coal specifically, to remain a significant contributor for some time" (Reuters, 6/30/13).

    Redford seems determined to prove the adage "There's no fool like an old fool."  And in Village Idiot, he may have finally found the role he was always destined to portray.

    How Shell Got Her Scowl Back


    If you ever wondered where Michelle Obama got her lack of grace, her perma-scowl or charm-free personality, look no further than Marian Robinson who looks as if she's just been informed that the US taxpayer has refused to foot the bill for her travel to Africa and back.

    The caption to this White House photo notes "First Lady Michelle Obama, joined by Marian Robinson, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, tours the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. The museum preserves the memory and culture of the District Six section of Cape Town, which was declared "white" by the apartheid government in 1966. More than 60,000 people were forcibly relocated. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)."

    All About Little Dick Durbin

    little dick Dick Durbin is more than just the US Senator who wept like a baby in the spring of 2005 when he was forced by his own party (and his lack of a backbone) to walk back his claims regarding Abu Ghraib.  He's so much more.

    He's the pathetic adult who savaged NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden and ended up looking like Congress' littlest bitch in the process.  From the June 12th Iraq snapshot reporting on that day's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing:

    Senator Dick Durbin:  I was on the intelligence community right at the time of 9-11. I saw what happened immediately afterwards.  There was a dramatic investment in intelligence resources for our nation, to keep us safe, a-a dramatic investment in the personnel to execute the plan to keep us safe. I trusted, and I still do, that we were hiring the very best  -- trusting them to not only give us their best in terms of knowledge but also their loyalty to the country.  I'd like to ask you about one of those employees who is now in a Hong Kong hotel and what is as follows: He was a high school drop out, he was a community college drop out, he had a GED degree, he was injured in training for the US Army and had to leave as a result of that and he took a job as a security guard for the NSA in Maryland.  Shortly thereafter, he took a job for the CIA in what is characterized in the Guardian piece that was published.  At age 23, he was stationed in an undercover manner overseas for the CIA and was given clearance and access to a wide varray -- a wide array of classified documents.  At age 25, he went to work for a private contractor and most recently worked for Booz Allen, another private contractor, working for the government.  I'm trying to look at this resume and background.  It says he ended up earning somewhere between $122,000 and $200,00 a year.  [Fun facts: While 29-year-old Ed Snowden may have made $200,000 a year, 68-year-old Dick Durbin makes $174,000 a year as a senator.  Durbin hails from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and received his law degree from Georgetown University Law.] I'm trying to look at the resume background for this individual who had access to the highly classified material at such a young age with a limited educational and work experience, part of it as a security guard and ask if you were troubled that he was given that kind of opportunity to be so close to information that was critical to our security?

    How sad for Little Dick Durbin, so much jealousy of Ed Snowden. 

    His drive to protect Barack Obama at all costs has redefined the rules of love and sexual devotion.

    But even so, could anything have prepared us for his recent attempt at being a columnist?

    In "It's time to say who's a real reporter" (Chicago Sun-Times), Little Dick Durbin finally gets to lash out against every scribe who's ever commented on how many years it's been since Little Dick has seen micro dick -- his huge gut rendering his small penis out of sight.

    Peter Hart (FAIR) explains to him what journalism is and how his new rules would actually include the very people he's railing against.

    You might say "check mate." 

    But you'd be too soon.

    At some point the idiocy of Dick Durbin will merge with the stupidity of Rosa Brooks and the danger to journalism from Little Dick will be very clear and no longer amusing.

    Until that day arrives, laugh freely at Little Dick -- while you still can.

    Stan on the underwhelming Lone Ranger

    The summer films continue to underwhelm.  Here's Stan examining a summer bustbuster, The Lone Ranger.

    Who was that stranger?

    I was too depressed to write last night.  I'd gone to see "The Lone Ranger" and figured I'd be able to write about it for Friday at the movies.  I thought it might be camp, hoped it would be good, but was left with a mess of a movie that really requires a full refund.

    Johnny Depp, as Tonto, is wearing war paint.

    That's about all I learned from the film.

    I'd wondered about that and thought maybe this was Johnny going for Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" -- now that I've seen the film, I know that's the truth.

    Johnny Depp is an interesting actor and one of my favorites.  But Tonto was all spectacle the same way Blanche Hudson is all spectacle.  Bette Davis, of course, ended up with both a hit and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.  I don't think Johnny will fare even half as well.

    The film's biggest problem is the charisma debt.

    I'm certainly not the first to point out that Depp, a star, is playing the sidekick.

    The lead role, the Lone Ranger, is played by  Armie Hammer.  And if you're saying, "Who?" . . .

    Then you're like most of the people who paid to see the film.

    "Who was that masked man?"

    On the fifties TV show, someone would usually ask that question at the end of the film.

    As we were getting up to leave (while the credits rolled) someone yelled out, "Who was that masked man?"

    A second later, the voice repeated, "No, really, who was that masked man?"

    "A human turd!" someone yelled back (I cleaned that up) and people started laughing.

    Armie Hammer is in the tradition of Matthew Modine, Jeff Daniels and other charisma free male actors.

    In "Mirror, Mirror," his standoffish nature worked for the character because he seemed to warm up as the film went along.  Maybe he didn't.  Maybe we just wanted him to and we armed up to his coldfish nature?

    In "The Lone Ranger," he needs to be ready in the first scene, but he never is.

    The Lone Ranger was many things in the TV show but he was never bland.

    (I can't comment on the radio show but I saw the TV show.  My grandparents loved the westerns and Saturdays at their house was "The Lone Ranger," ""The Rifleman," "Gunsmoke," "Big Valley" and "Bonanza."  That was everything watched after lunch, in that order.)

    Johnny Depp, as Tonto, appears to be attempting to keep audiences awake and channeling Blanche Hudson for that reason.

    By the time we're dealing with the stupid train (which is so weak and nothing like the third act of "Speed"), I was waiting for Johnny to ask, "You mean we could have been friends this whole time?"
    Or serve Lone Ranger a dead parakeet.

    That actually would have been better.

    And the next remake Johnny Depp does should be Tim Burton directing him in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"  -- they can let him crossdress as Blanche or change Blanche to Brady Hudson.  But that's really the only place to go after this performance.

    Armie Hammer has the whole world in front of him.  That's because he gives a non-performance.  Even after he's pronounced a "spirit walker" and supposedly been to the other side, he's still as stiff and cardboard as he was before.

    I hated the movie.  I hated it and so did the three people I saw it with.

    This movie is a total waste of time.

    Go see "The Heat" or something else that actually delivers.

    Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Friday, July 5, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protesters are attacked in Iraq, the press largely ignores it, Nouri's control over Iraqi forces isn't as strong as he would hope, Moqtada and his parliamentary bloc continue to call out the US, Ed Snowden may have sanctuary, Venezuela really celebrates its independence,  Barack is revealed as impotent on the world stage in so many ways, and more.

    Since December 21st, Fridays in Iraq have meant protests.  The actions have been going on now for over six months.  The western media has largely ignored the attacks.  That happened again today as many outlets -- including the BBC -- wrote about 'big violence' that was only two more dead than an attack on the protesters.  But western outlets like the BBC ignored the bombing targeting the protesters.  This happens every week.  You'd think six months of dedication on the part of the Iraqi people would translate into coverage but the western media's not interested in Iraq.

    Today saw protesters stand up yet again.   Iraqi Spring MC notes people turned out in Falluja, in Baiji, in Samarra, and in Ramadi (where Nouri's SWAT forces were out in full force and arrested some attempting to protest).   Falluja, Al Mada reports, is where speakers announced that the government thinks the observation of the month of Ramadan will disrupt the protests but the protesters and their will will not be broken. 

     The protesters were attacked most obviously in Sammara.  Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted about what took place:

    : حسب شهود عيان السيارة كان يقودها احد عناصر القوات الحكومية وكان يروم ركنها لكنها انفجرت به

    That's the remains of a car bombing that targeted Samarra's protest today and the Tweet notes that eye witnesses saw one of Nouri's forces in the car.  Pakistan's Daily Times notes, "The bomber wore an army uniform, police said."

    Alsumaria reports that the preachers in the province (Salahuddin) are saying that the security failed the protesters.   All Iraq News reports that  12 people are dead from the Samarra bombing and another nineteen are injured.  NINA notes the Motahidoon Alliance denounced the attack on the sit-in and termed the attack, "continuation of the attempts to silence the voices opposing the Government's unjust and forceful trend. [. . . ] The peoples' will cannot be defeated, and the martyres' blood is a force that keeps the protestors moving to the end of the road of reform."  The Motahidoon Alliance is part of Iraqiya and it is led by Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.   Kareem Raheem and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report :

    Protest organiser Adnan Al-Muhanna called on Sunnis to take to the streets daily and follow the example of Egyptians.
    Egypt's first freely elected president Mohamed Mursi was toppled on Wednesday after the army intervened following mass demonstrations against his rule, a year after the Islamist was sworn into office.
    "Demonstrations can make the change. Neither elections nor weapons can do that," Muhanna said. "Within one year, the Egyptians changed the Mursi regime through demonstrations because they were well-organized."

    In other violence, NINA notes police shot 2 suspects dead in Hawija, a Kut car bombing claimed 1 life and left seventeen injured, an armed attack to the south of Falluja left two people injured,  and armed attack in Falluja left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured as well as one police officer injuredMu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "The deadliest attack was in the Qurait area in northern Baghdad, where 14 people were killed and 31 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shi'ite mosque during the evening pray, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.Reuters states that the suicide bomber was a woman.  In addition, NINA notes a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left nine more people injured.

    Yesterday saw at least 14 deaths and at least thirty-four injured.  Three of the dead?  Doctors killed in Baghdad. 

    All Iraq News noted that  the Parliament's Health and Environment Committee "discussed several amendments on Physicians Protection Law preparing for a vote to be endorsed by Parliament."  Alsumaria added that Moqtada al-Sadr declared these attacks cannot be allowed, called for an immediate investigation into the attacks on the three doctors and declared that Iraq cannot allow the hands of terrorism to target and impair the medical community."  If you missed it, recent violence has required Iraq to utilize hospitals in other countries.  The "brain drain" in the early years of the war has not been repaired and has left Iraq without a sufficient number of medical providers.  Nouri's been prime minister for seven years now.  Why the hell he didn't implement fast track programs of training is a question the Iraqi people should be demanding answers to.  Instead, he continues to try to pad out Iraq's medical community by importing nurses from other countries.  At a time when Iraqis face massive unemployment and with all the billions Iraq sits on, there was plenty of time, plenty of people to start up a nursing program that could have turned out LVNs and RNs very quickly and had them working in the hospitals instead of importing nurses into the country.

    Iraq can't afford more violence aimed at doctors.  That's what Moqtada's smart enough to grasp although it escapes Nouri.  A second brain drain is possible.  Violence is again increasing in Iraq.  Today, 3 doctors were killed in Baghdad.  This is the sort of thing that can lead to a panic.  If you're a doctor in Iraq and you've told yourself things will get better, you've said you want to honor the Iraqi people and you've stayed?  The violence has never ended and at some point -- when doctors are being targeted again -- you have to ask yourself exactly how much longer you can wait for the violence to end?  For some, it won't take much to push them out of Iraq at this point.

    Meanwhile  All Iraq News reports today, "MP, Iqbal al-Ghurabi, of al-Ahrar bloc within the Sadr Trend called to close the US Embassy in Iraq due to its interference in the Iraqi internal affairs."  This is not an isolate remark but part of a series of responses from Moqtada and his Sadr bloc.

    Sunday,  All Iraq News reports cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr issued a response to a question in which he declared Iraq's next prime minister will not conduct business with the occupying US.  He states, "We will nominate a Prime Minister who loves Iraq and Iraqis and will not deal with the US occupiers to let down Iraq and its honor -- and will not let the USA possess its wealth."  This is said to be in response to statements US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft recently made.  Dropping back to last Friday's snapshot:

    Al Rafidayn reports that the US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft met with the Iraqi media and answered questions.  Among them, a new Iraqi prime minister?  Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2014.  Beecroft stated it is the job and right of the Iraqi people to pick their leaders and the US is prepared to have a diplomatic relationship with any Iraqi chosen to represent the people.  He refused to speculate on any particular person.  He was asked about the F-16 fighters and stated that they would not be delivered until September 2014.

     Ali Abedl Sadah (Al-Monitor) reported yesterday:

    In a statement distributed to the media, Sadr said, “We will nominate as a candidate a prime minister who loves Iraqis and whom they love. He will not be hated by non-believers, and will show modesty in dealing with believers. He will be one of them.” He continued, “The prime minister ... will not deal with the unrighteous occupier, in order to give Iraq prestige, independence, dignity and honor.”
    "The Americans," he said, "will not be able to manipulate the fate, rights, wealth and souls in Iraq again.” Sadr then addressed the US ambassador, saying, “Your threat will not be useful. Deal with us however you wish ... We will deal with [the Americans] in ways that you have never seen before.”
    The Mahdi Army, an armed branch of Sadr's movement, engaged in bloody armed combat with American forces from 2004 to 2007. However, things changed after Sadr decided to freeze his fighters’ activity and senior officials close to the movement confirmed in 2008 that the movement would turn to political action. Yet Sadr's recent remarks directed at the US ambassador indicate that he desires to rise to power after the 2014 parliamentary elections.
    Tariq Kikhany, a leading figure of Sadr's movement, said, “Our political weight grew from 2003 until the April 2013 provincial elections." In a phone interview with Al-Monitor, Kikhany said, “For the 2006 to 2010 term, the movement won 30 seats. The number of seats, however, increased to 41 for the current term.”

     Some who dismiss Moqtada will dismiss his statements as idle threats.  They'd do well to remember the rumors that, in the fall of 2010, the Iranian government stated they would back Moqtada as the next prime minister of Iraq and that he should just go along with them now on Nouri al-Maliki.

    Nouri can't hold on forever.  He can't even hold onto his security forces.  Dropping back to the June 13th snapshot:

     Jason Ditz ( notes:

    The Iraqi military’s violent attacks on Sunni Arab protesters weren’t the panacea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expecting them to be, but it also cost the army 1,070 troops, according to officials.
    The troops, ethnic Kurds, mutinied when they were ordered to attack a Sunni Arab town where protests were taking place, and then refused to attend “disciplinary re-training” meant to ensure that they wouldn’t hesitate to attack Iraqi towns if ordered in the future.

    AFP reports that Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shallal Abdul explains the troops are still in their same positions, they're just now working for and paid by the Peshmerga -- the elite Kurdish fighting force.

    At Niqash yesterday, Shalaw Mohammed elaborated on this development:

    Hundreds of Kurdish soldiers recently deserted from the Iraqi army. Were they responding to government injustice - or getting on side with others of their own ethnicity? And what does this mean for the Iraqi army? Can it still be relied upon?

    The hundreds of Iraqi Kurdish soldiers who deserted the Iraqi army recently indicate once again the depth of ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq’s armed forces. According to information obtained by NIQASH, dozens of Iraqi Kurdish soldiers deserted when the Iraqi Ministry of Defence ordered members of the Iraqi army’s 16th Brigade and 12 Iraqi Kurdish officers to move from the disputed town of Tuz Khormato in the Salahaddin province – currently declared a disaster zone after multiple bomb blasts - to other duties a little further south, and mostly to the town of Sulaiman Bek, where Sunni-Arab protestors had become violent; in fact, gunmen took control of the town for several days.

    “Our mission is to serve in the disputed areas,” Captain Recot Mohammed, the spokesperson for the 16th Brigade, told NIQASH. “So when we were given the order to move from Tuz Khormato without any apparent justification, we threatened to desert.”

    And it’s not just the Iraqi Kurdish who have problems with these kinds of orders. “There are signs that the Iraqi army can no longer cope with a crisis in which it is confronting large fractions of the Iraqi population,” wrote a European peace-activist think tank with a special focus on Iraq, the Brussels Tribunal, in a roundup of events after anti-government protestors were killed by the Iraqi army earlier this year. “Many soldiers prefer to desert the army rather than shoot at protesters. Most deserters are Sunni, but some are Shia who don’t want to fight in strange places for something they don’t believe in.”

    As Nouri finds the forces less than eager to help him become the new Saddam Hussein, the US remains in Iraq -- diplomatically and militarily.    Yesterday, Donna Gorman (Huffington Post) wrote of her husband year long deployment with the State Dept in Iraq which began this morning:

    Our youngest child, 5-year-old Ainsley, has taken it the hardest. She snuck into our bedroom last night, as per usual, threw her arms around her daddy and said, "I don't want you to die in Baghdad, daddy."
    What the what? She's 5. Let me tell you, neither of us was quite sure how to respond to that small trauma. We didn't think she even understood that he was leaving, let alone sophisticated enough to process the fact that we're sending him into harm's way. We knew it was going to be hard on our sons, who are 13 and almost 10, and who know exactly what's going on in Iraq and in the region. We figured our 7-year-old daughter might have some questions for us: After all, she's still traumatized by the duck-and-cover that we lived through here at the Embassy in Jordan just two years ago. But Ainsley? We didn't even try to explain it to her.
    Explain to the other kids, yes. They all know their daddy is a policeman of sorts -- a federal agent with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service. They usually see him in a suit and tie, but they've also seen him dressed in his federal agent gear. They've seen his office, with its cool gadgets and photos of him and his colleagues at work. They've eavesdropped on many a dinner conversation and phone call, when riots and shootings and all manner of bad guys are discussed. And of course they've seen him run out the door in a hurry when some emergency crops up. So, they know what he does for a living, and they are proud of his work. But I didn't realize, not until that late night comment from my baby, that even she understands the risks he is about to face because of his job.

    That's the diplomatic aspect of the ongoing US mission.  The military aspect?   Dropping back to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

    December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

    So last fall saw another Special Ops unit go into Iraq and the end of the year saw a new military agreement allowing for joint US and Iraq patrols in Iraq. From the December 11th snapshot:

    In yesterday's snapshot, we covered the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America.  Angry, dysfunctional e-mails from Barack-would-never-do-that-to-me criers indicate that we need to go over the Memo a little bit more.  It was signed on Thursday and announced that day by the Pentagon.   Section two (listed in full in yesterday's snapshot) outlines that the two sides have agreed on: the US providing instructors and training personnel and Iraq providing students, Iraqi forces and American forces will work together on counterterrorism and on joint exercises.   The tasks we just listed go to the US military being in Iraq in larger numbers.  Obviously the two cannot do joint exercises or work together on counterterrorism without US military present in Iraq.


    This shouldn't be surprising.  In the November 2, 2007 snapshot -- five years ago -- we covered the transcript of the interview Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did with then-Senator Barack Obama who was running in the Democratic Party's primary for the party's presidential nomination -- the transcript, not the bad article the paper published, the actual transcript.  We used the transcript to write "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'" at Third.  Barack made it clear in the transcript that even after "troop withdrawal" he would "leave behind a residual force."  What did he say this residual force would do?  He said, "I think that we should have some strike capability.  But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."


    This is not withdrawal.  This is not what was sold to the American people.  Barack is very lucky that the media just happened to decide to take that rather explosive interview -- just by chance, certainly the New York Times wasn't attempting to shield a candidate to influence an election, right? -- could best be covered with a plate of lumpy, dull mashed potatoes passed off as a report.  In the transcript, Let-Me-Be-Clear Barack declares, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities."


    So when the memo announces counterterrorism activies, Barack got what he wanted, what he always wanted, what the media so helpfully and so frequently buried to allow War Hawk Barack to come off like a dove of peace.

    For those who struggle with reality, you can refer to  the US Congressional Research Service published "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights."  The report was written by Kenneth Katzman.  We'll note the part on the MoU:

    Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi.  The five year MOU provides for:

    * high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges
    * professional military education cooperation
    * counter-terrorism cooperation
    * the development of defense intelligence capabilities
    * joint exercises

    The MOU appears to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing its mission to its full potential.  The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises.

    Hopefully, that's clear to even the most delusional member of the Cult of St. Barack.  And all that was before  last week's news about General Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) declaring that the US needed to send more troops into Iraq.  See:

    As Michael Evans (Times of London) noted last week, "The Pentagon is to deploy specialist training troops to help Iraq's military to stop al-Qaeda-aligned forces who are arming extremist groups over the border.   More troops were sent back in last fall with no objection from the so-called 'left' peace 'leaders' in the United States.  A new military agreement was announced and not one of our 'brave,' 'left' outlets (The Progressive, The Nation, Democracy Now!, ZNet, CounterPunch, etc., etc.) could bother to note it.  Last week they were all AWOL as Dempsey spoke publicly at a press conference in DC explaining that US troops were going back into Iraq.

    There's nothing independent about so-called 'independent' media in the United States.

    Wednesday, July 3rd was Venequela's Independence Day.  US Secretary of State John Kerry noted the day with the following remarks:

    On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Venezuela as you commemorate the day that Venezuela declared its independence 202 years ago.
    Venezuela and the United States have much in common. For example, revolutionary leader General Francisco de Miranda also played a part in our own struggle for independence, participating in the Battle of Pensacola in 1781. His contribution is forever memorialized in a monument that stands in the heart of Philadelphia, the original capital of the United States. When a devastating earthquake struck Venezuela in 1812 the United States sent the Venezuelan people the first humanitarian assistance it ever provided to a foreign country. These two examples demonstrate that Venezuela and the United States have shared ties of friendship and common values since the birth of our two nations, and the ties between our people endure.
    I wish Venezuelans everywhere health, happiness, and hope on the anniversary of your independence.

    And their independence includes not being lackeys of the United States.  AP reports that Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro is offering NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden asylum and the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, stated that they would be willing to provide sanctuary in Nicaragua as well "if circumstances allow." The revelations resulting from Ed Snowden's whistle-blowing have been many. Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) provided an overview Wednesday night:

    The first NSA story to be reported was our June 6 article which exposed the bulk, indiscriminate collection by the US Government of the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Ever since then, it has been undeniably clear that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, outright lied to the US Senate - specifically to the Intelligence Committee, the body charged with oversight over surveillance programs - when he said "no, sir" in response to this question from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"
    That Clapper fundamentally misled Congress is beyond dispute. The DNI himself has now been forced by our stories to admit that his statement was, in his words, "clearly erroneous" and to apologize. But he did this only once our front-page revelations forced him to do so: in other words, what he's sorry about is that he got caught lying to the Senate. And as Salon's David Sirota adeptly documented on Friday, Clapper is still spouting falsehoods as he apologizes and attempts to explain why he did it.
    How is this not a huge scandal? Intentionally deceiving Congress is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison for each offense. Reagan administration officials were convicted of misleading Congress as part of the Iran-contra scandal and other controversies, and sports stars have been prosecuted by the Obama DOJ based on allegations they have done so.

    Patty Culhane (Al Jazeera) sums up Ed's revelations regarding Barack's spying on Americans as follows:

    • Keeps a record of every cell phone call made.
    • Keeps a record of all emails sent.
    • Takes pictures of all the letters mailed in the US.
    • Uses drones for domestic surveillance.
    • Reserves the right to detain people (including Americans) indefinitely without trial.
    • Can search homes without telling people they were there.
    • Can still carry out renditions.
    • Can get copies of all of your records (from the library, bank or credit card company) without a warrant.
    So to sum things up, if you become a person of interest, the government can quickly find out everyone you have ever talked to and written to; everything you have ever read and bought; and everywhere you have ever been.

    Xan Brooks (Guardian) reports that film director Oliver Stone spoke out in support of Ed Snowden "at the Karlovy Vary international film festival in the Czech Republic" stating, "It's a disgrace that Obama is more concerned with hunting down Snowden than reforming these George Bush-style eavesdropping techniques."  Earlier this week, Amnesty International issued the following statement:

    The US authorities’ relentless campaign to hunt down and block whistleblower Edward Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum is deplorable and amounts to a gross violation of his human rights Amnesty International said today.
    “The US attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are deplorable,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International. “It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.”
    The organization also believes that the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the USA.
    “No country can return a person to another country where there is a serious risk of ill-treatment,” said Bochenek.
    “We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International but UN officials considered cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law.”
    Senior US officials have already condemned Snowden without a trial, labelling him both guilty and a traitor, raising serious questions as to whether he’d receive a fair trial. Likewise the US authorities move to charge Snowden under the Espionage Act could leave him with no provision to launch a public interest whistle-blowing defence under US law.
    "It appears he is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its - and other governments’ - unlawful actions that violate human rights,” said Bochenek.
    “No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations. Such disclosures are protected under the rights to information and freedom of expression.”
    Besides filing charges against Snowden, the US authorities have revoked his passport – which interferes with his rights to freedom of movement and to seek asylum elsewhere.
    “Snowden is a whistleblower. He has disclosed issues of enormous public interest in the US and around the world. And yet instead of addressing or even owning up to these actions, the US government is more intent on going after Edward Snowden.” 

    Ed Snowden has revealed a great deal.  The angry reaction of the White House has less to do with spying specifics and more to do with the fact that Barack's true nature has been revealed.   Ana Palacio (The Australian) offers, "More than any other incoming American president in recent memory, Obama raised expectations worldwide. Yet he has proved to be mainly, if not solely, interested in domestic issues, resulting in a foreign policy of reaction. The Snowden affair highlights three elements of this: US-Russia relations, US influence in South America, and US relations with Europe." Stephanie Findlay (Macleans) observes that Barack's (very expensive) trip to Africa has been a bust and quotes the Wilson Center's Steve McDonald among those expressing disappointment and pointing out "the visit could have been so much more."  And, as Frank James (NPR) notes, Barack's been revealed as impotent with regards to Egypt:

    The crisis of democracy in that country, specifically the military coup that overthrew former President Mohammed Morsi, has left Obama mostly a spectator to events.
    Indeed, he is even less free than the average observer of the events in Egypt since he can't even use the word "coup" to describe the change in government there.
    It's widely suspected that he and other administration officials have so far avoided using the word to avoid triggering a law that would require cutting off $1.3 billion of aid to the Egyptian military. That aid appears to be one of the few significant levers the U.S. has to influence events there.

    Unable to command any real power on the real stage, Barack resorts to deceit and trickery to get the upper hand, ignoring the right to privacy and invading the space of any and all.  And when he's not spying on Americans, he's busy trying to trick them.  Chris Anders (ACLU Blog of Rights) offers the basics on Barack's nominee to be Director of the FBI:

    While most of us are enjoying an extra-long July 4th weekend, James Comey, a top Bush lawyer who approved waterboarding and torture, is getting ready for one of his last hurdles before becoming FBI director. I'm sure that torture supporters are hoping that we spend more time at the beach and pool, and don't dig into Comey’s record.
    Behind this nomination is a strange and ironic story. Beginning on Tuesday, President Obama might end up getting done what President Bush failed to do during nearly all of his last four years in office. All President Obama needs is for the Senate—and all of us—to look the other way while rubber-stamping his choice to head the FBI for the next 10 years.
    As you may remember, after getting Alberto Gonzales confirmed as attorney general at the start of his second term, President Bush spent the next four years trying—and failing—to get the Senate to confirm any other members of his torture policy team. The Senate, under both Republican control and Democratic control, stood up to President Bush and turned away nominee after nominee with a record of approving water boarding or other torture. It was a principled and bipartisan rejection of rewarding the Bush administration’s torture policies.
    But in a bizarre twist, James Comey—who served as deputy attorney general under both John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, and who twice gave a thumbs-up to torture—has been nominated to be the FBI director for the next decade.

    Iraq War veteran, talk show hots and activist Adam Kokesh posted a 23 second video on YouTube yesterday that's getting attention from the clutch the pearls crowd.  In the video, he loads a rifle.  DC's Metropolitan Police Department issued this:

    Statement from US Park Police and Metropolitan Police Department regarding Adam Kokesh video

    The Metropolitan Police Department and US Park Police are aware that today Adam Kokesh posted a video that appears to have been taken in Freedom Plaza in Northwest, DC. We are in the process of determining the authenticity of the video.

    Jessica Huseman (Policy Mic) is offended. Jessica is convinced that this is not helping his cause.   She doesn't give a damn about his cause, she's against it so why the hell is she even writing about him?

    To ridicule him and make fun of him.  You know what, Adam serving in Iraq didn't make him a saint, nor did his speaking out against the illegal war make him above criticism or ridicule.  He can be targeted the same as any of the rest of us can be.   But maybe Jessica should look in the mirror?

    What Adam supposedly did . . . It doesn't hurt his cause.  I hope he's not arrested but if he is, that's what happens.  I personally wish he wouldn't do these sort of things.  That's not because I dislike his politics or his convictions.  I admire his integrity.  My personal problem is there are a lot of crazy people and when Jessica thinks she's being cute, she's really just handing out torches to the town mob.  I seriously worry that Adam's going to get hurt at some point.  That's not because of the gun issue, it could be the tax issue or any of his other stands.

    I worry about him.  But he's an adult  so all I can do is just applaud him for the bravery and wish him the best in his political battles.  If everyone showed even half the fire and integrity Adam repeatedly does, we wouldn't have NSA spying, we wouldn't have US troops going back into Iraq, etc.  Adam's a brave activist.  He takes ethical stands.   Jessica Huseman?  She's a blathering idiot who popularizes Adam's cause while thinking she's taking him down.  If she needs additional targets to try to make herself better, she can refer to Matthew Rothschild's "Anti-Patriotic Quotes to Ponder on July 4" (The Progressive) and find a historical treasure trove of people who stood up for things they believed in.  And, at some point, Jessica Huseman might want to ask herself why, in an Age of Apathy, she's attacking anyone who's standing up for what they believe? 
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