12/21/2014

ali macgraw, star power, and why 'the great gatsby' failed

44 years ago this week, 'love story' was released (dec. 16, 1970).

the film, starring ali macgraw and ryan o'neal, was the biggest hit of it's day, the biggest film of the year in terms of ticket sales.

ali macgraw got an oscar nomination for it and won the golden globe for it.

she was the biggest box office actress as a result of that film.

ryan's very pretty and we all love him in the shower but jenny (ali's character) carries the film -  a point only made more clear when a sequel was released 8 or so years later called 'oliver's story' about o'neal's character's life after jenny died in 'love story.'

few actresses got as many stinging reviews as ali.

possibly candice bergen but she really was a bad actress.  she remained a bad actress even when she learned to laugh at herself ('starting over' and the t.v. series 'murphy brown').

but ali had star chemistry.

she belonged on the big screen, whether you thought she could act or not, you had to admit she commanded attention.

(i like ali's acting.  i think we accept it from men - steve mcqueen, for example - but women get castigated for playing the type of character clint eastwood built a career around.)

her hits were: 'love story,' 'the get away' (with steve mcqueen), 'goodbye columbus' and 'convoy.'

a much smaller film (in budget and scope), 'just tell me what you want' should make the lists of classics.

at the height of her fame, she made 'the get away' and ended up marrying mcqueen who didn't want her to work so she didn't.

it's interesting to image what could have happened to her career otherwise.

1 thing we do know, she would have starred in 'the great gatsby.'

she was supposed to play daisy but after she left paramount honcho robert evans for mcqueen, she was out as the star of the film.

robert redford was cast as the mysterious gatsby - a huge mistake.

he can't go 'big.'

his entire career has demonstrated that.

he could have played the nick carraway part - the outsider narrating - because he's all about normalizing and downsizing himself in roles (when he's successful in a role).  he can't strut, he can't peacock and he looks ridiculous when he tries.

but redford was still good looking.

and with ali macgraw he would have had chemistry.

she's the type of woman who can give a shallow man chemistry.

redford needs strong actresses (jane fonda, natalie wood, etc) to have chemistry onscreen.

but instead he was paired with the hideous mia farrow.

our lady of affected accents, madonna, had nothing on ms. mia.

she was affected in 'rosemary's baby' (her only hit film) but during this film, she was even more affected having done the british stage and fancying herself a talent.

wearing an ugly and obvious wig and too fat (she was pregnant) to wear the dresses required for the character and the film, she's a tubby little thing who sinks every scene she appears in.

ms. mouse never carried a film.

in rosemary, it was essential that she be a pawn for the film to succeed so casting a little nothing like mia worked - an actual actress, like, for example, elizabeth ashley would have overwhelmed the film.  they needed a little nothing in the role, a cypher that the audience could project on to.

ali macgraw's film career is brief but it is memorable.

that's because she had star power.

she holds you attention when she's onscreen - even in 'partners' which i like but many consider to be a turkey.

mia has no star power which is why she's awful in 1 film after another.  even 'supergirl' - how do you kill a film in a bit part as the mother of 'supergirl'?

mia managed to find a way (by contrast, faye dunaway and brenda vacarro are hilarious).

mia's only acting success comes in woody allen films.

she's strong in 'zelig,' 'broadway danny rose' (probably the best acting she ever did) and that's it.

she built up so much goodwill that people really didn't notice what a wet blanket she was in 'hannah & her sisters' and all that followed.

she's flat out awful in 'crimes & misdemeanors' - you don't suspect she's going to leave woody for alan alda because she's unable to act convincingly with either man.

she's awful in 'new york stories' and, again, you are caught off guard when she leaves woody's character because she's provided no indications of it in her acting.

'alice' is just 1 big pill of prozac.

i'm not forgetting 'purple rose of cairo.'  she's awful but so is jeff daniels.  maybe with michael keaton, she could have offered something?

i say that because in woody's awful film with madonna, et al, i'm blanking on the title - it's the 1 where jodie foster laughs about the furry thing between her legs - or maybe kathy bates or lily tomlin has the line and jodie just has the laugh? - but with john malkovich as her co-star, mia does find some new ground and actually takes the same dull part she's played in the other films and makes it interesting - 'shadows & fog,' c.i. just told me the title.

mia's awful in her 1st film with woody - 'a midsummer's ....'

and maybe he hadn't figured out how to protect her.  he really does shape her performances in the cutting room.

and by 'husbands and wives,' when it's over between them, he's no longer interested in shaping her performance and, for example, leaves her exposed in that long, long single take scene where you get how annoying mia is and how whiny and how her voice just makes you want to slit your wrists.

ali macgraw was always something to watch on the big screen.

it's why she was a star.

mice like mia are lucky to get the crumbs real stars like ali leave behind.



let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'



Saturday, December 20, 2014.   Chaos and violence continue, Haider's lies and the press spin gets a little exposure, Ayad Allawi pays a home visit to Jalal Talabani, Barack Obama, continues to avoid Arab media, and much more.



CNN's Jake Tapper Tweets:

                           Retweeted 235 times

Approximately 1,000 paratroopers from the Army’s famed 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to Iraq



And who will they find there?


To read this week's press, they'll find  R.E.M.'s   "Shiny, Happy People" come to life.


That's what the press has insisted all week long and what we've disputed all week long.



"Why would they fight for a government that refuses to respect them? [New Prime Minister Haider] Abadi is just another face on the same Shiite agenda – and the Sunni anger will continue until there is meaningful change in Baghdad."


That's Sunni Sheikh Mohammad Ramadi (al-Bajan tribe) and we'll get back to him and the article that's the most important one on Iraq this week in a moment.

But first . . .

Let's take a moment to reflect on this week, this week of propaganda.

Where the US State Dept worked overtime in Iraq.

A first!

Sadly, the work wasn't on the Iraqi government or diplomacy.

It was selling propaganda to the press.

Again, I hope the press got something out of it because all news consumers got was b.s.

If you've forgotten, the propaganda effort was Haider al-Abadi and his healing touch.

The rollout started early this week with any outlet the State Dept could corral, blackmail, bully or buy pimping the lie that Haider had brought unity to Iraq.

The effort was supposed to culminate with the column written for -- not by -- Haider which appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall St. Journal exclaiming that a national identity had been forged for Iraq via the Iraqi military.  For those a little slow on the uptake that would mean, ultimately, by Haider himself since he is commander-in-chief of the military.

Wow.

How amazing.

How wonderful.

The war is being won!  Soon the US will be able to come home!

There are some who will believe that nonsense.

There are idiots all over the world.

Equally true, to some, this spin is new.

They were too young to have caught it from 2003 through 2007 when it was constantly repeated.  (And when it constantly proved to be false.)

But most adults should have caught on.

And they should have called it out.

Instead, it was just us.

And there's gonna come a time when we're not here.  I'm sick of the internet.  I'm sick of writing every day for over ten years now without a day off.

What was this week's big faux scandal?  The thing that had the Center for American Progress, The Nation, The Progressive, et al up in arms?

Because it sure as hell wasn't Iraq and it sure as hell wasn't the same corporate media yet again selling lies to the American people about Iraq.

I hope whatever crap the faux independent media of CAP, The Nation, et al passed off as important at least provided giggles because it provided no substance and had no real point at all.

(What was it?  Largely it was a propaganda effort to convince you that Senator Elizabeth Warren -- anti-Palestinian rights, Republican until she ran for the Senate, falsely passed herself off as a Native American to benefit in hiring, anti-Iran, etc -- was the one to take down Hillary Clinton. Reality, Elizabeth doesn't photograph normal and her voice will be irritating to most American ears.  The best she could hope for is the same results as another politician who struck Americans as a "freak," Paul Simon.  She's not electable on a national scale for 2016.)


Some place the cost of the Iraq War at a trillion dollars for US taxpayers.

If for no other reason, this week's lies of success should matter for financial reasons.

As the work week came to a close, the Pentagon sotto voice admitted the cost of Barack's latest wave of war, which began August 8, 2014, have already reached $1.02 billion.

That's four months.

And US President Barack Obama has said this will last years.

If for no other reason than cost, this should outrage Americans.

3 US service members have died in the operation during the four months.  But no one wants to talk about that either.

What they want to do is sell you lies about 'unity' being built in Iraq by the military.

They want to point to an oil deal between the KRG and the Baghdad-based government as proof when that's only proof of the power of the Kurds and the leadership of KRG President Massoud Barzani.  (As we've pointed out several time this week already, the US government opposed that deal and prevented it from happening for years.  The strategic importance of the Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq's current battles means the Kurds have plenty of pull and plenty of leverage if they know how to use and Barzani does.)

There is no unity being built.

It's the point at the heart of Paul McGeough's report for the Sydney Morning Herald which notes:

For every area where US military trainers are deployed and weapons and other supplies have been delivered - to Kurdish fighters trying to hold the Syrian border town of Kobane, foir example, and minority Yazidis marooned on Sinjar Mountain in Iraq - there are many Sunni communities in which resentment is rising because there has been no response from Baghdad or Washington to their desperate pleas for help.


Sunni tribes that do fight the Islamic State find themselves cut off from supplies and support by the central government out of Baghdad. (Not that Shi'ites in the Iraqi military have it much better.  Haider and the corrupt officials rake in money while the Shi'ites in the military depend upon soup kitchen donations from churches just to survive.)

It's a funny kind of unity the press and Haider sold this week, one where the aggrieved and put upon population still isn't it included.

David L. Phillips bungles human rights at Columbia University and, at CNBC, writes as if he's tutored by Senator Barbara Boxer:

Many tribal sheikhs welcomed Islamic State fighters when they first arrived. Iraq's Arab Sunni minority, which enjoyed favor under Saddam Hussein, deeply resented the polarizing politics of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Disenfranchised and marginalized, they saw ISIS as a liberation force.



More than anything, it's liars like that which make me want to just stop writing online.

This is from Frederic Wehrey and Ala' Albrababa'h's report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month:

In the words of one tribal leader, Zaydan al-Jubouri: “We chose ISIS for only one reason. ISIS only kills you. The Iraqi government kills you and rapes your women.”

Disenfrancshised and marginalized?

That's a cute way to record torture, murder and rape.

Every time someone like David Phillips lies, it makes it that much harder for what's going on to be understood -- which is why whores like that lie in the first place, to confuse the issue.

Barack's 'plan' is not working and it will not work.

But the hope is if you keep bombing enough for a few years, you'll exhaust the people.

That's no plan at all.

For it to make 'sense,' it requires a lot of dirty whores using their filthy mouths to tell lies to confuse people.

The Sunnis have real complaints, justifiable ones, about a government that targeted them, that raped them, that tortured them and that killed them.

That, by the way, is the supposed type of government the US was liberating Iraq from.

Instead, it is the type of government that two consecutive White Houses have imposed upon Iraq.

In 2006, Nouri al-Maliki was not the choice of the Iraqi people; nor was he in 2010.

In both cases, he was the choice of the White House -- Bully Boy Bush and Barack both chose to impose him on the Iraqi people.

That's a reality that needs to be recognized as well.

B-b-b-b-ut that's the past! Nouri is no more!

Wrong.

The thug is plotting his return and the thug is now one of Iraq's three vice presidents.


Much is made of how, in 'new' Iraq, Haider fired some of Nouri's corrupt officials.


Less is made of what actually happened to them.

Back to Paul McGeough's report for the Sydney Morning Herald:

Mr Maliki also has a powerful personal network – when Mr Abadi sacked 85 former Maliki employees from the Green Zone, including Mr Maliki's son, the former prime minister immediately recruited them to the payroll at the Office of the Presidency.


They were corrupt! So Haider fired them! And got good press for it!  And continues to!

But the reality is they're still on the government payroll.

There was no accountability at all.

Haider's either an inept coward or he's in on the corruption with Nouri.

And the highly popular video recording of Haider and Nouri suggests that he's in on the corruption with Nouri and the two are sharing a laugh at both the Iraqi people and the US government.


All Iraq News notes that Haider met with US Senator Pat Roberts today and that Haider insisted that he will eliminate terrorism throughout Iraq.

So Haider's going to be the one to put the bullet through Nouri's head?  Because, make no mistake, Nouri al-Maliki is a terrorist and one that needs to be run out of Iraq.

The inept and weak Haider can't even get Nouri out of the prime minister's residence.

The only real news coming out of Iraq this week has been about the Kurdish success -- see Al Jazeera, CNN among other outlets or just read Ned Parker's Tweet:







  • Kurdish flags flutter on Sinjar mountain, now freed from siege, says correspondent from the mountain.


  • Apparently, the US government felt a little left out of the praise circle so they took to insisting their own variation of me-too! which was probably most breathlessly transcribed by Luis Martinez (ABC News), "Three senior ISIS leaders have been killed in recent weeks by U.S. airstrikes inside Iraq, including the terror group’s right-hand man, the Pentagon confirmed."  But it's not really that important.  AFP points out:


    The Pentagon has hailed the deaths of several top leaders of ISIS, but experts say this is far from enough to cripple what has proven to be a resilient organization.
    U.S. officials say airstrikes have killed several senior and mid-level jihadis including Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, the right hand man of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, dealing a serious blow to the group’s operations.
    But analysts warn that disruptions of this type are often fleeting and that the U.S.-led coalition needs to look beyond its military campaign to weaken the group that has become the world’s most feared jihadi organization since proclaiming a “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq six months ago.
    “Eliminating key leaders is a means to disrupt plots and degrade capabilities. But they do not defeat or destroy terrorist organizations,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA agent and adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama who is now a leading terrorism expert.



    There is no plan.  There's only one bungle after another from Barack.

    And still the violence continues.  Al Jazeera reports, "Iraqi authorities say bombs targeting commercial streets and an army patrol have killed 12 people around Baghdad."  All Iraq News notes 17 people were executed by the Islamic State in Tikrit, and a Beji battle left 13 Islamic State fighters dead.

    Let's move over to Ayad Allawi, the person who won the 2010 elections and would have been prime minister if the law had been followed but Barack wanted boy toy Nouri to get a second term.

    Allawi's Tweeted:






    National Iraqi News Agency notes he paid a visit to Jalal Talabani on Friday.  The noted shut in remains grossly obese and unable to speak beyond grunts and a few rasps.

    While he was President of Iraq,  Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remained there until after his term expired in the spring of 2014.

    Only in corrupt Iraq could someone unable to fulfill their duties remain in office for a year and a half.



    And only someone as corrupt as Jalal could remain in a hospital for nearly 18 months without losing a single pound.  Anyone else would be forced, by doctor's orders, to limit their consumption of food and be forbidden to consume empty calories but Jalal was fed only the best in sugar riches goodies while he was being 'treated' for his stroke.  Some Talabani family members privately point out that not only did the grossly obese Jalal not lose any weight during his lengthy hospital stay but that he actually put more pounds on.  That sort of non-medical oversight might explain some of his inability to truly recover from his stroke.



    Visiting sick beds is only part of Allawi's duties these days.  He's also been tasked by Iraq's President Fuad Masum to work on the issue of reconciliation with the Sunni community. And we bring this up not because of the Thursday international meet-up that received no press coverage in the west but because of Haider.


    Who has Haider tasked to do the same?


    The answer, of course, is no one.

    So the ceremonial post of president has someone interested enough in reconciliation to task a vice president to work on the issue while the person actually in charge of Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, can't be bothered with the issue?

    The results of that show -- for all the world to see.

    Another thing on show?

    Barack's left his zipper open and his xenophobia is showing for all the world to see yet again.

    Marwan Bishara (Al Jazeera) notes Barack has only sat down with one Arab journalist for an interview and that was back in 2009.  With Barack ordering various US military efforts in the region -- The Drone War, the continued Iraq War, etc. -- it really is beholden upon him to reach out to Arab media.  Bishara notes:

    As the Obama administration intensifies US air strike and deepens the US' military involvement in the region, President Obama has a moral responsibility to talk to the nations at the receiving end of American power.
    For example, as the commander-in-chief, Obama needs to clarify the objectives and duration of the ongoing US military operations in Syria and Iraq and the reasons why he secretly signed the order to expand American military operations in Afghanistan in 2015 to include fighting the Taliban. 
    Like many in the region, I am puzzled by the president's claim that US foreign policy is driven by the principle "right makes might", and I would love to hear a few answers regarding the specifics of how US military deployments square with his vision.
    The president has rightly insisted on more than a few occasions that military solutions are not sufficient to deal with the threat of extremism and terrorism which implies, among other things, the need to win "hearts and minds".
    That requires direct communication with the most fragile and alienated elements of the Arab and Muslims societies that are prone to extremism.

    If the president truly believes America is a force of good even when it acts poorly; that America's objectives are to help the helpless minorities, to mediate peace, and to empower those who root for democratic and prosperous societies in Arab and Muslim lands, then all he needs to do is answer the questions on people's minds.
















    12/19/2014

    christian parenti - who gives a damn?

    christian parenti was once a big writer on the left.

    i saw he had a piece at counterpunch today and realized how far he'd fallen.

    how sad but how just.

    parenti was a hottie when i started this site.

    but besides being good looking he also seemed to stand for something.

    and he was mr. truth teller about iraq.

    but even before bully boy bush left the white house, christian lost interest in iraq.

    and then he decided that the most wonderful thing in the world was barack obama's cock and christian bowed down to it, sucked and swallowed it.

    he embarrassed himself being a little whore for the administration.

    and that's when people really began noticing the difference between little bitch boy christian and his truth telling father michael parenti.

    michael never got to christian's level of msm acceptance because he always told the truth.

    but the msm spat christian out and now he has no fame and no ethics.





    let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'



    Thursday, December 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, more US troops will be going into Iraq, a US general predicts a three year training mission in Iraq (at least), the Ministry of Women still has no funding, the Islamic State beheads a man accused of . . . witchery, and much more.



    Barack Obama's 'plan' for Iraq continues to remain sparse on details.  But some are attempting to sketch it the outline out.  Andrew Tilghman (Navy Times) quotes US Lt Gen James Terry stating that US troops will spend a "minimum of three years" training Iraqi soldiers. Terry also declared more US troops would be going into Iraq.


    On the subject of US troops in Iraq, the Washington Post's Erin Cunninham Tweeted the following:


    1. 350 U.S. troops now at Ain al-Asad base in Iraq's Anbar province.

    On the topic of training the administration and the military brass keep spinning, others are less impressed.  At Rudaw a comment offers this take, "The USA teach them to take their boots off so they can run faster."

    It's hard to tell who that is more insulting to -- the US government or the Iraqi military?

    The Iraqi miliary continues to struggle but the Peshmerga continues to do well.

    BBC reports that the Kurds have broken the Islamic State's siege on Mount Sinjar.









  • Well good for the Peshmerga.

    It's good that Mount Sinjar is finally liberated.


    Wait -- something's wrong here.


    The name Susan Rice . . . .


    Hmmm.

    Oh, that's right.


    In the October 15, 2014 snapshot, we were taking on her many lies uttered on NBC's Meet The Press.  Let's zoom in:


    Offical Benghazi Liar Dirty Rice: Our air campaign is off to a strong start and we've seen very important successes in places like Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, where we were able to rescue many tens of thousands of civilians at risk. And this is going to take time. So it can't be judged by merely what happens in one particular town or in one particular region. This is going to take time and the American people need to understand that our aim here is long-term degradation and building the capacity of our partners.         



    So two months and three days after the liar claimed Mount Sinjar was liberated and it was a US success, Mount Sinjar is liberated and it's a Kurdish Peshmerga success

    Poor Susan Rice.  No one ever gets more egg on their face from the Sunday Chat & Chews.


    Wanting to grab some of the Kurdish luster, US officials keep getting cozy with the Kurds.


    Case in point?


    The White House issued the following today:

    This afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani. The Vice President and President Barzani discussed recent security and political developments. The Vice President discussed with President Barzani the passage of congressional legislation that removes certain undue restrictions on members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) under U.S. immigration laws. This new law should help ease the process for many Iraqi Kurds who wish to visit the United States. The Vice President commended the courage of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces fighting against ISIL, and President Barzani thanked the United States and the international community for their support. Both the Vice President and President Barzani noted the renewed cooperation between Erbil and Baghdad and agreed to work together, alongside other Iraqi leaders, to sustain and deepen collaboration among Iraq’s different communities. The Vice President underscored America’s enduring support for the Kurdish people and for the security of Iraq.


    Enduring support?

    Joe's always good for a few laughs.

    While the Kurds continue to succeed, the Iraqi military is lucky to just struggle.

    And questions continue to swirl around that failure.


    Rudaw notes Parliament is holding hearings to attempt to figure out the breakdown of the Iraqi army.  News of the Parliamentary investigation.  Rudaw readers leave some interesting comments including, "When will Maliki be questioned?"  Another offers this wish:

    I hope they publicize everything they find in this commission and arrest Malaki, it's not only in Mosul the Iraqi army collapsed completely, what about all the other regions?  Malaki had hand picked the generals in Mosul, he ignored repeated warnings about IS activity months before Mosul fell.  Just 2 days before Mosul fell he deliberately put a Kurdish general in charge of one of the (empty) brigades, this was the only brigade that had no weapons or even ammunition, he not only wanted Mosul to fall but wanted to pin it on Kurds."


    Those two aren't the only ones mentioning former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Al Arabiya News reports:

    The president of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani, blamed on Monday former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) earlier this year.
    In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya's Rima Maktabi, Barzani also said the swift collapse of the Iraqi army came after substantial years of international support to train and equip the military.

    During the interview, he also said that were it not for the Peshmerga forces, the northern, oil-rich city of Kirkuk would have fallen to ISIS, which occupies almost a third of Iraq.



    Joe Biden's not the only one trying to steal the Kurds' luster.  The Iraqi Embassy in DC issued the following today:


    Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi penned an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on [December] 18, 2014, to outline progress in defeating ISIS and rebuilding a secure and stable Iraq since the formation of the new government three months ago.
    The Prime Minister discussed efforts to empower local communities in order to effectively combat ISIS. "We are restoring relationships with the Sunni tribes that are based in areas now under Islamic State domination. These tribes are being armed and are currently fighting alongside Iraqi security forces."
    On the political front, Prime Minister Al-Abadi hailed the "long-sought, long-term agreement" with the Kurdistan Regional Government as a historic step that "provides for fair sharing of oil revenues, as well as sharing the resources and responsibilities to defend and serve all our people."
    He also highlighted key steps that his government has taken to implement reforms that will serve to address the grievances of local populations.
    "Because every citizen must have confidence in our system of justice, I have signed a decree requiring our security forces and the Ministry of Justice to safeguard the constitutional and human rights of the detainees in Iraqi jails. There will be a central record for all detainees, including the reason for their arrests and the timeline for their trials."
    The Prime Minister noted significant gains against ISIS on the battlefront through close coordination between the Iraqi Security Forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the international coalition. He called on international partners to step up efforts in order to accelerate the defeat of ISIS.
    "We need air support, training and armaments for Iraq’s security forces. We need our neighbors and allies to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. And we need the international community, through its financial institutions, to freeze the funding of Islamic State."
    Prime Minister Al-Abadi explained his government's approach moving forward: "Only by rebuilding a secure and stable Iraq can we defeat the terrorists who draw upon discontent and feed on failure."
    ---
    To read the Arabic translation of the Prime Minister's Wall Street Journal editorial click here.
    The above is a summary of a December 18, 2014 article from The Wall Street Journal. To see the full article, click here.


    While that's what Haider wrote, what the song he sang in his heart to the Kurds went something like this:



    I have your poster close to my bed
    Earphones glued to my head
    But I'd rather have you in my arms instead
    And I'd be better than I was before
    If only I had you
    If only I had
    If only I had
    If only I had your
    Stardust
    Your glamour is golden
    Stardust
    I'd feel so important
    Stardust
    If only I knew you
    Stardust
    I want to be near you
    Stardust

    -- "Stardust," lyrics by Carly Simon, music by Carly and Mike Mainieri, first appears on Carly's Come Upstairs 

    Along with Joe Biden's call, the White House also issued a read out of US President Barack Obama's call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi:

    President Obama spoke by phone today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the political and security situation in Iraq and the progress of Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to counter ISIL.  The President commended the steps that Prime Minister al-Abadi has taken in the first three months of his administration to govern inclusively and begin building a united front among Iraqis to combat ISIL.  The President congratulated the Prime Minister on the conclusion of the recent oil revenue-sharing arrangement with the Kurdistan Regional Government and reiterated his commitment to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces’ success through train and assist programs, provision of weapons and equipment, and airstrikes.  He also noted U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s ongoing efforts to integrate Sunni tribal fighters into Iraq’s security institutions.


    While Barack was happy to talk about that, he remains silent on whether or not US troops in Iraq were in combat this week.

    The Inquisitor reported yesterday:


    American troops in Iraq had their first actual battle with ISIS troops after the Islamist militants tried to overrun a base, an encounter that left the ISIS troops decimated and in retreat.
    The attack took place near the Ein al-Asad base, which includes close to 100 U.S. military advisers. The U.S. troops, armed with “light and medium weapons,” and were able to inflict casualties against the ISIS fighters, forcing them to retreat, Shafaq News reported. The American troops were also aided by fighter jets, which directed air strikes against the ISIS troops that “silenced their heavy sources of fire.”
    “US forces intervened because of ISIS started to come near the base, which they are stationed in so out of self-defense,” said Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, a prominent tribal leader.
    Since he has promised US troops on the ground in Iraq would not be in combat, if they were in combat, the White House needs to be the first to note what took place.


    Let's change topics . . .


    Sorcerer
    Who is the master
    A man and woman on a star stream
    In the middle of a snow dream
    Sorcerer
    Show me the high life
    Come over
    Let me put you on ice 

    -- "Sorcerer," words and music by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her Trouble in Shangri-La 


    AFP reports:

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Thursday beheaded a man publicly on charges that he was a "sorcerer," north of their bastion of Tikrit, the Islamist militant organization and residents said.
    The group released pictures of the execution on a square in Nahyat al-Alam, a town a few kilometers north of Tikrit.



    The Islamic State killing people for being sorcerer is actually less shocking that Nouri al-Maliki sending his Ministry of Interior employees into schools to tell Iraq's young adults and children that emo youth were actually vampires who sucked people's blood.  And that was Nouri's Ministry.  He refused to nominate anyone to head it so he could control it.


    Yesterday, the laughable Muhammad Mahdi al-Bayati met with British Foreign Ministry staff to discuss "women's rights conditions in Iraq and ways to develop them."

    What a load of nonsense.

    There are no real women's rights in Iraq.  The US government pretty much destroyed those with the invasion of Iraq and the installation of fundamentalists as well as efforts in the original drafts of the Iraqi Constitution -- overseen by the US government -- to strip women of all rights.

    If the meeting was at all serious, wouldn't they need the Minister for the State of Women's Affairs to be present?

    She was present for an interview.  Alaa Latif (Niqash) interviewed Bayan Nouri about her post and women's issues in Iraq:

    NIQASH: Most international studies are critical of the status of Iraqi women. What plans does your Ministry have to improve this situation? 


    Bayan Nouri:   We have a strategy with six different platforms and these are legal, educational, health-related, professional and leadership-related as well as assisting institutions that work on women’s issues.

    There is no doubt that the situation for women has worsened over the past four years and it certainly cannot be repaired in four years. However, we will continue to try, in all areas, to improve the situation by paying more attention to family protection units, assisting them to reduce domestic violence. We also want to improve the economic status of Iraqi women by granting small loans in coordination with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. We will also coordinate with the Ministry of Education in order to look more closely at the education of females because there is a big gap between the number of females and males who complete middle and secondary school. We are also coordinating better with the Ministry of Health, paying better attention to women’s health and to infant mortality rates. We also care about female participation in decision making.

    NIQASH: After decades of conflict, Iraq has a huge number of widows – an estimated one million. Can your Ministry help them?



    Nouri: I have only been in office for about 50 days and during that time, the federal budget for 2014 wasn’t even approved. We do have plans for 2015 though and these involve seeing a percentage of these widows employed or to have them improve their own financial situation through small business loans. We also want to provide residential units at discounted prices.


    NIQASH: At one stage, you said that domestic violence was actually the most common kind of violence in Iraq – despite all of the fighting that is going on.



    Nouri: We’re trying to hold training courses in this area, we have established family protection units and we also have draft family protection law before the Cabinet. When this law is passed, it’s going to have a big impact.


    Like Nouri al-Maliki, Haider al-Abadi refuses to fund the Ministry of Women.

    For those who've forgotten, this became a public issue in Nouri's first term.

    All this time later, with a new prime minister, there's still no fund for the Ministry of Women.


    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 142 violent deaths throughout Iraq today.



    All Iraq News reports Haider's dropped all lawsuits against journalists.  These were Nouri's lawsuits.  Haider issued the following statements:


    "Based on the freedom of journalism and supporting the journalists, Abadi decided to cancel all the judicial complaints submitted by the CoM against the journalists in order to have a bigger role for the media outlets to contribute in building Iraq and serving the Iraqis."



    That is great . . .

    except . . .

    Nouri didn't always sue.

    He had no respect for the press -- something only the BBC would note in July of 2006 and, yes, we can go back to that because that was a shameful period for the western press.

    But he only started filing lawsuits -- most infamously against the Guardian newspaper -- after he'd been in office awhile and had gotten a taste of negative press.

    Haider's had nothing but flowers and chocolates from the western press.

    Meaning?

    He's dropping Nouri's lawsuits.

    Big deal.

    They were over when Nouri was forced out as prime minister anyway.

    He issued some flowery words and that's really all it was.

    No one knows how he will react to negative press.

    It's silly to pretend a politician who's gotten nothing but high praise from supposed to be skeptical reporters is a friend of the press.



















    12/18/2014

    do you think her girlfriend is jealous?

    at wsws, joseph kishore reports:

    On Monday, Scalia joined Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (an Obama appointee) in a forum at the University of Mississippi School of Law, with the two proclaiming their affection for each other.


    you have to wonder what her girlfriend thinks?


    and then if elena plans to come out any time soon?

    let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'



    Wednesday, December 17, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue,  the targeting of religious minorities continues, look which senator refused to call it out, a lot of spin on Iraq insists things are improving, reality argues otherwise, and much more.



    We'll start with a letter senators have sent to Secretary of State John Kerry.  From Senator Roger Wicker's office:

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, today led a bipartisan effort calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to assist religious minorities facing persecution in Syria and Iraq, such as Christians and Yazidis, to find refuge in the United States. The Senators also urged the State Department to provide these minorities with better access to U.S. humanitarian aid.

    “The oppression of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq has led to an unspeakable humanitarian crisis,” Wicker said. “Tens of thousands have had to flee their homes to seek sanctuary from the Islamic State – whose savage treatment of these people is well-documented. The United States has historically protected minorities facing similar circumstances. We should do so again now.”

    “We have an obligation to stand up for human rights,” Brown said. “The U.S. has pledged humanitarian assistance for relief in Iraq and Syria, and that should include refugee assistance for persecuted religious minorities facing persecution.”

    The Senators’ letter specifically calls for “the creation of a Priority 2 (P-2) group under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for religious minorities from Iraq and Syria.”

    This new classification would provide a process for Christians, Alawites, Druze, Yazidis, and others to be considered for resettlement in the United States. In the past, this designation has been used for groups of humanitarian concern, including religious minorities from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and Iran.

    Wicker and Brown were joined in their letter by Senators Dan Coats, R-Ind., Carl Levin, D-Mich., James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Thune, R-S.D., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

    The full text of the letter:

    December 16, 2014

    The Honorable John F. Kerry
    Secretary of State
    2201 C Street NW
    Washington, D.C. 20520

    Dear Secretary Kerry,

    We write to encourage you to take expeditious action to protect Christians and other vulnerable religious minorities from the unprecedented level of violence in Iraq and Syria.

    The creation of a Priority 2 (P-2) group under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for religious minorities from Iraq and Syria would provide a structured process for Christians, Alawites, Druze, Yazidis, and others to be considered for resettlement in the United States. This designation has been used for groups of humanitarian concern, including religious minorities from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and Iran.  Although the Administration has announced that it will create more places for Syrian refugees, we have not stated that religious minorities such as Christians will be considered for admission to the United States.

    Religious minorities also have difficulty accessing humanitarian assistance due to the hostility and discrimination that they face from other citizens, including other refugees.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has acknowledged that religious minorities avoid camps for this reason. As such, we encourage you to direct the U.S. Agency for International Development to ensure that religious minorities have sufficient access to the nearly $2 billion in aid that the United States has pledged for humanitarian relief efforts in Iraq and Syria.

    Religious cleansing has reached historic levels in the Middle East.  Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian rebels, and terrorist groups have targeted religious minorities for violence.  In Iraq, Christians, Yazidis, and Mandeans have lived in fear of terrorist groups for the last decade.  Now, the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has openly vowed to end the existence of religious minorities in the Middle East. Accordingly, we urge you to act swiftly to help protect religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Senator Roger Wicker
    Senator Sherrod Brown
    Senator Dan Coats
    Senator Carl Levin
    Senator James Inhofe
    Senator John Thune
    Senator Marco Rubio
    Senator Rob Portman
    Senator Mark Kirk




    You notice anything?

    I did immediately.

    Where's the Senate fraud?

    Where's Rand Paul?

    Where's God's personal friend Rand Paul?

    In the December 10th snapshot, we noted the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing which featured Rand Paul's embarrassing grandstanding and his incessant caterwauling about Syrian Christians (while ignoring Iraqi Christians).

    We called it because it came off fake ass.

    And I could have been wrong in that call.


    But where's Senator Rand Paul's signature on the letter?

    Staying on the topic of fake ass, the Wall St Journal's round up of corruption reporting includes one on Iraq:

    Iraq’s prime minister is quoted saying he’s willing to be assassinated, if that’s what it takes to effectively fight corruption. (NY Times)


    That's from Tim Arango's report we've noted already this week.


    Haider al-Abadi only looks more ridiculous when he makes statements like that.

    In 2016, the United States will vote on a new American president.

    That person will be sworn in during the month of January 2017.

    And that person (and his or her family) will move into the White House.

    You can find similar situations in other countries with elected leaders.

    Where does Haider al-Abadi live?

    Not in the home of the prime minister.

    In August, he was named prime minister.

    But the previous one refuses to vacate the home.

    Thug Nouri al-Maliki continues to live in the home of the prime minister.

    Haider, that's corruption.

    Nouri is not the prime minister and he needs to vacate the home immediately.

    Haider's either too much of a chicken or in league with Nouri.

    (A video of the two emerged last week that records how close the two actually are.)

    Tim Arango's article notes Nouri continues to occupy the residence of the prime minister.

    The Iraqi people foot the bill for that housing occupation.

    That's corruption.

    And if Haider can't even weed that out, lots of luck seeing him punish those officials who've stolen money from Iraq (that would also include Nouri).

    Tim Arango's article also noted Nouri's plane but insisted he'd surrendered the private jet.

    No, he hasn't.

    It's parked at Baghdad International airport but it's not been handed over -- and this point has been firmly established repeatedly by both Iraq Times and Kitabat.

    I have no idea whether or not Ibrahim al-Jaafari is a fake ass but he's a joke.

    In December 2005, Iraqis voted.  No one was named prime minister-designate for months because the Iraqi Parliament wanted to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari to the post but Bully Boy Bush and his administration didn't want that.  They didn't care for al-Jaafari, they feared his personal militia, didn't want him to have a second term as prime minister, etc.

    So they forced the pockmarked faced thug Nouri off on Iraq.

    Ibrahim never really stood up to Nouri in the eight years that followed despite the hopes of Ibrahim's followers that their leader would discover a spine.

    Now Ibrahim has a post.

    Foreign Minister!

    Yeah, it is a huge step down.

    All that's left below it is parking valet.

    Hoshyar Zebari held the post for 8 years.  It's photo ops and nothing more.


    Xinhua reports of Jaafari:

    Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government has been in power for only months' time, and the city of Mousl is still in the hands of the IS militants, yet Iraq has made "great" progress in political reforms and the security situation is improving, he said, adding that the IS terrorists have started to pull back.


    That's a sweet little dream.  It's not reality but fairy tales have lulled many at bedtime.

    In the real world, Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) notes:

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is boosting its presence in Iraq’s restive Al-Anbar province in a bid to turn Baghdad’s attention away from the liberation of Mosul, a senior Iraqi military commander said on Wednesday.
    The senior Iraqi military officer, who spoke on the condition that his name and rank would not be disclosed, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the battle for Mosul, which government forces are presently gearing up for, would be “critical” to the defeat ISIS. Mosul, the provincial capital of neighboring Nineveh governorate, has been under ISIS control since June.

    “We can say that the fate of ISIS is tied to the result of the battle of Mosul, more than any other battle, whether in Iraq or Syria,” the officer said. 


    And AFP reports, "ISIS militants forced Iraqi forces to retreat Wednesday after fierce fighting in the city of Beiji, close to the country’s biggest oil refinery, a local official and tribal leader said."




  • And then there's this:




  • The link goes to a Reuters report by Ned Parker and Ahmed Rasheed who are both strong reporters and have many Iraq bylines to point to with pride.

    I wouldn't include the latest article on a list of pride.

    Six paragraphs before what the picture captures is touched on?

    And an article that buries the main point?


    In addition, there's what reads like the acceptance of murder.

    Suspects who are tortured -- which is what Parker and Rasheed are reporting though they refuse to name it -- and then murdered?  That's not democracy.  And if you can't report what's happening, if that's beyond your scope, you pick up the phone and dial Dr. Who's It at Generic University who teaches on ethics and human rights and get a quote from him or her explaining how repugnant and offensive the slaughter of suspects is.

    If the thugs had done the same thing in Iraq to a collie and it had been reported, I believe there would be global outrage.

    How sad that when it's done to humans, there's an acceptance and willingness to move on to the next topic.


    At the Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer observes, "In Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has failed to achieve any of the goals we set when we first invaded. Both countries are consumed by violence and terror. This is the very definition of defeat. Yet even President Obama, who did not launch these wars, seems reluctant to end them by saying simply, “We can’t win, so let’s admit it and withdraw.” Whatever the reality, Americans do not like admitting that we can lose at anything. Yet persisting in lost causes weakens us as a nation. Our enemies gleefully wear us down while our friends lament our shortsightedness."