Saturday, November 17, 2018

WIDOWS

WIDOWS is the best film of the fall so far and one of the best of the year.  Viola Davis should have another Academy Award nomination.  I would also argue Michelle Rodriguez and Colin Farrell deserve nominations.  While very good in the film, I don't know that I'd make the case for Liam Neeson.

But Viola, Michelle and Colin do very layered work.  Yes, this is a heist film.  But it's executed perfectly.  I understand the genre may trouble some when handing out awards but Steve McQueen deserves to be nominated for his direction.  I'd also argue that Steve and Gillian Flynn deserve a nomination for their writing.

It's one twist and turn after another.  Do not let anyone give you spoilers on this film.  You will be surprised throughout by what happens.

The starting premise is that a group of men are doing a robbery that goes wrong and they are killed.  That's how the "WIDOWS" are created.  Now they've got to get money.

That's it for what I can tell you in terms of summary.

But I can tell you this film is fresh and alive.  I always remember being a kid in 1990 (teenager) and seeing GOODFELLAS and being blown away.  To me, that is what a movie should be.  It leaves you charged and amazed.  WIDOWS is that kind of a movie.  It is what we want from a film, what we hope when we buy our ticket.

If you need a star system -- Five Stars.  If you need a thumb system -- both thumbs up.

By any measure, Viola, Steve, and everyone have turned out an amazing film.



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


Friday, November 16, 2018.  Someone suffers, so we are told in a new book.  [Citations are being added and I will be adding more later this evening.]



For some reason, Michelle Obama's put her name to one.  I was surprised when I read BECOMING that she'd put her name to it -- surprised anyone would.  It's one plodding sentence after another.  I asked a friend at Crown why they couldn't hire her a ghost writer with a gift for prose and was informed that what was supposed to be an inspiring and light read morphed quickly into something else because Michelle had "issues."  Most of the ghost writer's work involved asking her for happy moments and spending forever trying to unearth a few.  Michelle is not happy with her life now or in looking back.

The book that they spent forever watering down might have made for an interesting read -- whether she named names and dished or not -- but I do understand their fear because, even watered down, this is not a book for a former First Lady of the United States to put her name to.

Let's talk about First Lady, as a role, first.  The current one is more or less doing a fine job.  It's a ceremonial role, it's pure decoration.  There are women who have held the role who've striven for more.  Certainly, Eleanor Roosevelt expanded the role and the notion of what it could be.  Rosalynn Carter deserves high praise for her term as First Lady in terms of expanding public notions of the role and pulling it into the 20th century.  Hillary Diane Clinton showed up on the stage (Hillary Rodham Clinton was buried mid 1992 by the campaign) and was determined to reject the outdated notions for new ones and deserves praise for shattering so many expectations and stereotypes.

But if someone wants to carry out the ceremonial role today, that's fine.  Melanie Trump is carrying out that role in the same manner that Nancy Reagan did before her.  If that's what they want, fine.

I do think we need to expect equality, though.  Meaning for all of Hillary's self-made claims of feminism, it was appalling (and we called her out in real time) that in her 2016 campaign (not in her 2008 campaign, which was a better campaign) she felt the need to repeatedly tell the public that, if elected, she would be president but her spouse (Bill) would not be First Lady under any name (First Dude, whatever).  No, he would not be planning social dinners or . . .  Who was going to do that?  President Hillary Clinton.  She can bomb Libya and select the food and the china it will be served on at a formal dinner all at the same time!

First Lady is a ceremonial role.  It's all opticals, visuals.  Unless, according to Hillary, a man occupies the role, at which point, we have to rethink everything because, heaven forbid, a man is expected to do the work that a woman has had to do over and over for centuries in this country.

That's sexist and it was sexist when Hillary was pimping it.  It's appalling that the role that so many women have had to hold -- whether they wanted it or not -- would be changed, according to Hillary -- the minute a man held the role.

Sexism.

And the other issue there is the reality that, no, she cannot plan formal dinners and social engagements while carrying out the duties of president.  And it's vile of her to suggest she can.  Most women in the US already work endlessly -- many work a paid job outside the home and then turn around and do a shift in the home (caring for children or relatives, cleaning their homes, making meals, etc).  For her to try to normalize those extra hours is appalling.  She can go 'super woman' it if she wants but that's not helping any woman -- including herself.

What was Michelle like as a First Lady.

This might be why she is so hostile and touchy.  She's a smart woman.  She is someone with real skills and, yes, intelligence.

But the 2008 campaign remade her.  She writes of a meeting with David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett where they explain to her that she's not winning voters. She easily accepts their suggestion that she comes off too smart and works to publicly cut down her own smarts and independence.  (To see what that led to, refer to Ava and my "TV: The endless non-news.")

In 2008, until New Hampshire, I stayed out of it.  Then I did come out for Hillary.  (In New Hampshire, at one college appearance, a friend explained she had a debate by various proxies but the one representing Hillary had dropped out due to a scheduling conflict.  This is all noted in real time.  I tried to beg off but a friend was asking so I stood in as the Hillary voice in the debate.  That's when I started moving towards Hillary and then came the sexist attacks and that really did it.)  Michelle's "for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country . . ."  was tone deaf considering that her husband was running for president.  But otherwise the Michelle Obama presented to the public was inspiring and hugely popular.

That she listened to Valerie and David and gutted herself is sad.  That she's still furious about that is evident in the book -- despite herculean efforts on the part of the ghost writer.

I understand the fury.  What she was actually inspired.  What she became embarrassed.

Unless you were an empty headed, closeted lesbian, you didn't care for the makeover.  It did attract that group of closeted lesbians that also go orgasmic over Beyonce's every move.  Straight adult women don't behave that way -- not even over Denzel or Brad -- nor do most lesbians.  But this sub group -- as creepy as Herbert on FAMILY GUY -- does.  They are very vocal but they are a very tiny part of the lesbian community and even smaller subgroup of the general American population.

As Michelle was reduced to an ornament, they found orgasmic nirvana.

Others were sheepish and embarrassed to see a grown woman, with a law degree and two children, reduced to the status of fashion plate.  We also grasped the reality that Michelle was not a fashion plate or a great beauty.  On the latter, Crown grasps that which is why the cover photo for her book shows her with hand over her chin (the hand minimizes the chin which is one of her visual flaws).  On the former, even when models were 'curvy' (what passed for it) with Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley, Michelle wouldn't have qualified as a model.  That shouldn't be a shocker.  She was in her forties.  No one should have expected her to be a model.  But that's what happens when you're reduced to ornament status.  Equally true, modeling isn't just about a sleek, slim body.  It's also about having a gift to wear clothes.  Cher can wear a sophisticated outfit or a shocking one and carry it off because she can 'wear' clothes.  It's a gift that a woman has or doesn't.  (Men can have the gift as well but we're talking about women here.)

Had Michelle been allowed to be Michelle, she could have been a ground breaking First Lady.  She had the intelligence to be one, she had the skills and the experience to be one.

Instead, they shoved her into a hole that very few women would ever fit in and it's clear that the fit did not work for Michelle.  Reading the book, it's very, very clear.

Does she deserve credit for anything that made it into her book?  I'll praise her for not buying into the Russia conspiracy.

Otherwise?

I'd love to know what she really thinks of the "Whitey" rumor.  It's briefly in the book.  She's never said it and it's a rumor and?  That's about it.  Former CIA officer Larry Johnson spread that online in 2008.  She doesn't mention ..him.  Johnson did not claim to have seen the alleged tape.  Johnson was told it existed and would be surfacing.  When it didn't and Johnson grasped that he had been played, he outed the source feeding him the information: David Brock.

Yes, of MEDIA MATTERS.  Pure David and why no one should ever embrace him.  He did that as a Republican -- not just with Anita Hill -- and, when we were stupid enough to let him come over to our side, he did it repeatedly.  David Brock should be kicked to the curb.  He puts lies into circulation intentionally.  It's a shame Michelle didn't get to share that.

In one of the most ridiculous passages, she allows that she was treated (in the 2008 campaign) in a sexist way (she was) and that she was seeing the sexist attacks on Hillary and really understood them.  That last part is where it gets ridiculous.

How awful that Hillary was being attacked in a sexist manner in 2008!

But, know what, as someone who defended Hillary from sexist attacks in 2008, I remember them and I remember that a lot of people participated in them.

A lot.

Here's a photo we've noted here and at THIRD repeatedly,   This is from Ava and my "Left in the Dust" in 2008:


jon favreau

That's the photo and, as many have already noted, photos of people 'funnin' with cardboard Baracks led to punishments. But, as we pointed out last week, ". . . women are the canary in the coalmines. Hate and prejudice aimed at all women could never be aimed at any group of straight men without being called out. It is in navigating how much abuse it can get away with towards women that society sets down its markers for others. And week after week, that remains one of the biggest lessons of 2008."



Michelle does recognize those men, right?  It includes Barack's speech writer Jon Favreau.   From THIRD, here's Dee Dee Myers writing about the grabbing:


Truest statement of the week

What's bugging me is his intention. He isn't putting his hand on her "chest," as most of the articles and conversations about the picture have euphemistically referred to it. Rather, his hand--cupped just so--is clearly intended to signal that he’s groping her breast. And why? Surely, not to signal he finds her attractive. Au contraire. It’s an act of deliberate humiliation. Of disempowerment. Of denigration.
And it disgusts me.



-- Dee Dee Myers, "Favreau's Sexist Photo Is No Laughing Matter" (Vanity Fair).





That sexism that Michelle is so appalled by in 2008?  It came from Barack's campaign regularly.  And, guess what, it also came from Barack himself.

Periodically, the claw come out?  Do you remember that statement?

Maybe like Michelle, you don't.

Funny though, Google doesn't want you to remember it.

Search THIRD produces this:


 No posts matching the query: "marie cocco". Show all posts




No posts at THIRD mention Marie.  That's a lie.  Good way to censor Google.  A Google search of THIRD and Marie Cocco or her quoting Barack also turns up nothing.

Why is Google burying that history?  [Added: See below for Barack's sexism.]

Marie Cocco was the one who called him out in the MSM most loudly (Bonnie Erbe also deserves credit).  Sometimes, Barack explained, periodically, when she's feeling blue,  claws come out.

If Michelle's wanting to suddenly talk about the sexism that Hillary experience in 2008, she needs to talk about the sexism her husband promoted.

Or how about her own little bitchy remarks?

That one of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is a good and decent person? So our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips.


"If you can't run your own house, you certainly can't . . ."  Michelle knew what she was saying (see Ava and my "What If Feminists Were Swing Voters?") and she said it.  It was sexist.  Hillary can't control Bill's sexual urges how can she control the White House!  It's sexism and those are Michelle Obama's own words.


Why are we writing about Michelle?

Because the anger's there and, here's the news value, Crown says it's really going to surface in interviews -- what they can no longer censor.  They point to the upcoming Oprah Winfrey interview where Oprah asks Michelle about Donald Trump and Michelle goes on about how he put her family at risk.

Her family at risk?  We don't have time to go into the history of the birther rumors.

But her family at risk?

They had -- and still have -- the Secret Service to protect them.  What do the people in Iraq have?

"Barack wanted to get US troops out of Iraq."

She writes that.  It's her entire Iraq output.

He didn't get troops out of Iraq.  He left with them still on the ground in Iraq (where they remain).

Maybe a little less self-focus would help Michelle with her frustration?  Maybe grasping that her family is protected but the Iraqi people are not would open her eyes to real horrors?


Replying to 



Does Michelle grasp that the children of Iraq do not have Secret Service protection?  That the medical professionals left in Iraq do not have Secret Service protection?




: A nationwide public awareness campaign to stop violence against medical personnel has been launched at the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, and will last for 10 days until 21 November








Does she grasp that her husband did nothing to protect Iraqi women?



Small protest on this morning in , calling for an end to violence against women. Protesters were specifically asking for stronger laws to help eradicate so-called “honour killings”. 16yo Doaa’s sign says: “There’s no honour in honour crimes”









When he was elected, before he became president, Ava and I were among the people advocating for Barack to send a woman to Iraq as an Ambassador.  It would be a powerful statement.  He refused.  Throughout his two terms, he refused.  He nominated man after man for the post.  Never a woman.

Does Michelle grasp that?

I understand her disappointment about being forced to deny her own gifts and skills while First Lady but she'd be a lot happier if she'd grasp that her 'tragedies' really are nothing compared to what the people of Iraq -- to name only one country her husband harmed and failed -- go through on a daily basis.


The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan -- updated:











  • -------------

  • Added at 12:53 PST 11/16/18 -- Examples of Barack's sexism.

  • First here is the Marie Cocco statement I referred to, we made it a "truest" of the week July 13, 2008:

  • Truest statement of the week II

    Obama says that these women should not be able to obtain a late-term abortion, because just "feeling blue" isn't the same as suffering "serious clinical mental health diseases." True enough. And totally infuriating.
    During the recent Obama pander tour -- the one in which he spent about a week trying to win over conservative religious voters -- the presumptive Democratic nominee unnecessarily endorsed President Bush's faith-based initiative, a sort of patronage program that rewards religious activists for their political support with public grants. Then in a St. Louis speech, Obama declared that "I let Jesus Christ into my life." That's fine, but we already have a president who believes this was a qualification for the Oval Office, and look where that's gotten us.Obama's verbal meanderings on the issue of late-term abortion go further. He has muddied his position. Whether this is a mistake or deliberate triangulation, only Obama knows for sure.
    One thing is certain: Obama has backhandedly given credibility to the right-wing narrative that women who have abortions -- even those who go through the physically and mentally wrenching experience of a late-term abortion -- are frivolous and selfish creatures who might perhaps undergo this ordeal because they are "feeling blue."

    -- Marie Cocco's "Obama's Abortion Stance When 'Feeling Blue'" (Washington Post Writers Group).



  • Marie also got a truest on August 31, 2008.  And she's noted in "The race card, what's not feminism, and more" from August 17th. She's noted in "Yes, let's stop kidding ourselves (Ava and C.I.)."
  • Here's another truest Maria got at THIRD:

  • Truest statement of the week

    This has a lot to do with a graphic image of Palin I just saw in which she is dressed in a black bustier, adorned with long, black gloves and wielding a whip. The image appeared in the Internet magazine Salon to illustrate a column titled: "The dominatrix," by Gary Kamiya. Kamiya calls Palin a "pinup queen," and says she not only tantalized the Republican National Convention with political red meat, but that her "babalicious" presence hypercharged the place with sexual energy, and naughty energy at that. "You could practically feel the crowd getting a collective woody as Palin bent Obama and the Democrats over, shoved a leather gag in their mouths and flogged them as un-American wimps, appeasers and losers."
    That's some sexual mother lode. Dare I point out that I have never -- ever -- in three decades of covering politics seen a male politician's style, even one with an earthy demeanor, described this way?
    Salon editor Joan Walsh says she agrees the "dominatrix" piece had a "provocative cover,'' and that her columnists enjoy great freedom. "One day Gary (Kamiya) called Palin a dominatrix, the next day Camille Paglia called her a feminist." The magazine exists, Walsh says, to "push the envelope."
    No sooner did Walsh give me this explanation than another Salon contributor, Cintra Wilson, pushed that envelope again. Wilson described Palin as follows: an "f---able ... Christian Stepford wife in a 'sexy librarian' costume" who is, for ideological Republicans, a "hardcore pornographic centerfold spread." That is, when Palin is not coming across as one of those "cutthroat Texas cheerleader stage moms."
    What is it about a woman candidate that sends the media into weird Freudian frenzies?
    -- Marie Cocco, "Sexism Again" (Washington Post Writers Group)



  • And from November 23, 2008:

  • Truest statement of the week

    It is time to stop kidding ourselves. This wasn't a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one.

    -- Marie Cocco, "No Breakthrough for Women Politicians" (Washington Post Writers Group).


  • And for the climate that existed at that time, please "CBS 'cares' enough to promote sexism."  Especially see it if you're repeating the lie that 2016 was so bad for Hillary.  2008 was brutal for her in terms of sexism.

  • From Ava and my "TV: Gossip Girls and Barack's Bitches" (July 20, 2008):

  • The campaign played it up (as one bragged to us) to kill off what they feared would be the big story on Monday. Two Fridays ago, Barack had a fundraiser. Bernie Mac 'joked' about how women are 'hos' and offended a number in the audience. Barack came out and spoke (after booing) and pretended he was offended. He declared, "We can't afford to be divided by race. We can't afford to be divided by religion, or by region or class. Or by gender. That means, by the way, Bernie, you got to clean up your act. This is a family affair."
    Had he stopped there, it would have been cause for applause. The man who used sexism throughout the primary, who brused off a question from a female reporter by calling her "sweetie," who makes alarming right-wing talking points about abortion, who refused to give a speech, or even a remark, on the sexism that Hillary was targeted with was finally saying something.
    Then he undercut everything he'd said by adding, "I'm just messing with you."


  • You can also read Ava and my "TV: The Fringes."



  • Thursday, November 15, 2018

    Who got killed on HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER?

    Who got killed and who did the killing?

    Before we get to that, the two best moments of Oliver and Conner's wedding?

    Conner, going down the aisle, sees Annalise there.  She had planned to bail.  She doesn't like weddings.  He went to speak to her and she was still planning to bail.  But in the end she showed up for Conner.  The look between the two of them was one of the best moments.

    The other?  Conner was worried about Oliver and looking for him only to find that Oliver had been preparing a song to sing to Conner -- John Legend's "All Of Me." Oliver sang it very well and it was a strong, emotional moment for the wedding.

    From the first episode this season, we knew that someone was going to die at the wedding celebration and I assumed it was going to be Oliver.  I was wrong.

    The dead person is . . . Ronald -- Bonnie's boss and lover.

    Who killed him?

    Nate and Bonnie.

    Why?

    Nate had his friend look into the phone logs for the prison on the night his father was killed.  (Because Makayah found a strange call from a public pay phone.)  The friend did and got a camera shot of who made the call . . . Ronald.

    As soon as Nate was sent the photo on his phone, he was furious.  He was going to leave the wedding when he bumped into Ronald.  He accused Ronald who denied it (and maybe Ronald was telling the truth).  Nate didn't believe him and started punching him and couldn't stop.

    Later, Bonnie shows up because she was told Ronald was outside.  She's carrying Laurel's son.  She puts him down on the snow and goes over to Ronald.  He's still breathing which Bonnie takes care of.  She and Nate then plan/plot.  We see Nate churning the snow around (burying the blood) and we see him putting Ronald in his trunk.  (He also finds the engagement ring that Ronald was going to give Bonnie.)

    What else did we find out this episode?

    How about that Mr. Pretty Boy Gabe is actually the son of Annalise's dead husband.  Frank finds the proof (birth certificate) and shows it to Annalise who leaves the wedding party.  Earlier, she was drinking and Gabe found her alone in the chapel.  She dropped her purse.  He picked it up and he pocketed her keys.

    When Annalise got home, she realized she didn't have her keys so she pulled the spare set out of the lamp.  She goes in upset about Gabe and basically collapses on the floor.  After a minute or two, she hears noises and realizes she's not alone.  It's Gabe.  He insists he's there because he's worried and because he found her keys.

    He didn't find them and Annalise is nervous and afraid.


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


    Thursday, November 115, 2018.  If you strip away history and context, it's easy to believe almost any government official.


    Yesterday, Paul Gibbard appeared on RUDAW.


    RUDAW:  You are Canada's first Ambassador to Iraq in 27 years.  Why has Canada chosen to return to Iraq now?

    Paul Gibbard: It's a good question.  We've had an office here for a long time  but, definitely since 2016, we've-we've really ramped up our participation.  And that's really part of a broader strategy we have in the Mid East that includes Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.  We've invested about two billion dollars between 2016 and 2019.really in an attempt to respond to the expansion of [the Islamic State].  So, here in Iraq, we've been playing an important role in terms of the coalition against [the Islamic State] -- both on the military side and on the civilian side.  So part of the civilian side that many people may not know about is that we're providing training -- police training, uhm, to uh-uh officers both on community policing and also on the role of women in-in policing.  We also, uh, on the -- something new, uhm, that's been announced, the NATO mission, so that there's a new NATO mission.  



    I don't believe Paul Gibbard has looked so dishonest since he spoke of immigration in 2016 and babbled on about "integrating" and how "our survival depends" on that integration.

    In the above -- interview is here and they have a transcript -- with RUDAW, Gibbard is provided wide space to run free.  He's never pinned down.

    Pinning him down would mean asking, for example, why NATO is needed in Iraq?

    Richard Sisk (MILITARY.COM) offers his dictation notes:

    NATO has committed to a long-term military training effort in Iraq, where the Iraqi Security Forces are still struggling against pockets of ISIS fighters in several areas despite declaring victory over the terror group nearly a year ago, a British officer with the U.S.-led coalition said Tuesday.
    [. . .]
    In a video briefing from Baghdad to reporters at the Pentagon, Ghika said the new, open-ended NATO training mission in Iraq would begin early next year and would essentially involve teacher-on-teacher instruction.

    "It's going to focus its efforts on the institutional education establishments, such as the National Defense University, the Staff College, the institutional structure of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense," Ghika said.


    That is hilarious.  Sisk never heard of context or history but he's still the sweetest cherry in the steno pool.

    RUDAW's interview should have required Gibbard to explain who in Lebanon, Jordan or Syria is calling for Canada's "ramped up" participation.  It certainly should have included asking Gibbard why he claims Canada is responding "to the expansion of" the Islamic State since most observers have argued it has contracted, not expanded.  (Previously, they argued it was gone and vanquished -- as we stated repeatedly, that was never true.)

    Peter Beaumont (GUARDIAN) reports from Falluja:

    Shuhada school sits on what was one of Iraq’s most violent frontlines, in the former Isis stronghold of Fallujah.
    The children have to walk along a dirt road, the edges of which are lined with red-painted bricks and skull and crossbones signs that warn of the risk beyond the makeshift border – landmines laid by the extremist group.
    Hundreds of the homemade devices are buried in fields, inside war-damaged houses and under roads, forming a densely-packed belt that stretches for 15km and more.
    Daily life for the people of Fallujah’s southern neighbourhood of Shuhada is shaped by the surrounding minefields. They dictate where they can live, walk, farm and allow children to play.
    One of the first Iraqi cities clawed back from the self-proclaimed Islamic State caliphate, Fallujah is left with the conflict’s lingering and deadly legacy.

    As the morning classes end, minibuses and parents on foot arrive to pick up the children. Others leave together in small groups to walk home along routes made safe and marked by the Halo Trust, the British demining charity.

    Beaumont discusses his report on TODAY IN FOCUS.

    A really informed exchange would require -- yes, Sisk -- context and history.

    So Canada wants to train -- and wants to train the Ministry of the Interior.

    Basic history?  How many times are Iraq's forces going to be trained, retrained and then retrained again?

    Even in the early years of the Iraq War -- when Bully Boy Bush still occupied the White House -- you would find American trainers complaining to the press that the Iraqis couldn't learn.  More likely, they didn't want to.  See Herbert R. Kohl's classic I WON"T LEARN FROM YOU.  Nor should they want to.  Would you want someone who invaded your country to be your teacher?

    If you can grasp that, you can apply the needed context.

    In the fall of 2011, the US Defense Dept ceded control over the Iraq mission to the US State Dept and State was going to do what?  Anyone remember?  They were going to train the police forces.  There was a new academy built -- US tax payers footed the bill -- and this was going to be so huge.   New to the topic?  Let'd drop back to the December 1, 2011 snapshot:


    "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program?" asked US House Rep Gary Ackerman yesterday. "Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue."
     
    That was Ackerman's important question yesterday afternoon at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia hearing on Iraq.  US House Rep Steve Chabot is the Chair of the Subcommittee, US House Rep Gary Ackerman is the Ranking Member.  The first panel was the State Dept's Brooke Darby.  The second panel was the Inspector General for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen and SIGIR's Assistant Inspector General for Iraq Glenn D. Furbish.  Chabot had a few comments to make at the start of the hearing.  They often echoed comments made in the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing [see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and other community reporting on the hearing included Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ]. But while Senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsey Graham made their comments during rounds of questions, Chabot made his as the start of the hearing in his opening remarks. 
     
    Chair Steve Chabot: Unfortunately, these negotiations failed due to, in my opinion, mismanagement by this White House.  Amazingly, the White House is now trying to tout the breakdown and lack of agreement as a success in as much as it has met a promise President Obama made as a candidate. This blatant politicization calls into question the White House's effort to secure an extension.  Fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of American national security  is at best strategic neglect and at worse downright irresponsible.  And the White House tacitly admits this in negotiating an extension in the first place. I fear, however, that our objective is no longer to ensure that Iraq is stable but merely to withdraw our forces by the end of this year in order to meet a political time line. Saying that Iraq is secure, stable and self-reliant -- as Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough  recently did -- does not make it so.  And to borrow a quote from then-Senator Hillary Clinton , It requires "the willing suspension of disbelief" to believe that withdrawing our forces from Iraq at a time when Iranian agents seek to harm at every turn our country and its allies advances our strategic interests.  Although I understand that Iraq is a sovereign country, I believe there is much more we could have done to secure a reasonable troop presence beyond the end of this year.
     
    McCain was wrongly criticized for not grasping Iraq was a sovereign nation in some press accounts. Wrongly.  McCain grasped that fact and acknowledged it repeatedly in the hearing.  Chabot may have wanted all of that at the start of the hearing to ensure that he was not misunderstood.  In addition, Chabot noted the "reports of obstruction and noncooperation on the part of the Department of State during SIGIR's audit.  This is extremely distressing and, to echo the sentiments of several of my colleagues in the other body which they recently expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, the Department of State is legally obliged to cooperate fully with SIGIR in the execution of its mission; jurisdictional games are unacceptable." In his opening remarks, the Ranking Member weighed in on that topic as well.
     
     
    Ranking Member Gary Ackerman:  He [Bowen] has testified before other bodies of Congress, he has released written quarterly reports, as well as specific audits and the message is the same: The program for which the Department of State officially took responsibility on October 1st is nearly a text book case of government procurement -- in this case, foreign assistance -- doesn't buy what we think we're paying for, what we want and why more money will only make the problem worse.  Failed procurement is not a problem unique to the State Department.  And when it comes to frittering away millions, Foggy Bottom is a rank amateur compared to the Department of Defense. As our colleagues on the Armed Services committees have learned, the best of projects with the most desirable of purposes can go horribly, horribly off-track; and the hardest thing it seems that any bureaucracy can do is pull the plug on a failed initiative.  How do we know the Police Development Program is going off-track?  Very simple things demonstrate a strong likelihood of waste and mismanagement.  Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program? Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue.
     
    Ackerman went on to note how "the program's objectives remain a mushy bowl of vague platitudes" and how  it had "no comprehensive and detailed plan for execution, there is no current assessment of Iraqi police force capability and, perhaps most tellingly, there are no outcome-based metrics.  This is a flashing-red warning light."

     
    Remember how that ended?

    The US government turned over the new facility to Iraq (and other properties).  They did not train any police.  Police members did not show up for trainings they were scheduled for.  The State Dept's entire program was a joke and a waste of tax dollars.  As then-US House Rep Gary Ackerman pointed out, the office of the Special Inspector General knew it was going to fail ahead of time because "senior Iraqi officials . . . show[ed] utter disdain for the program."  Ackerman was correct to argue, "When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue."

    It was a clue.  But no one wants to learn.

    When the US State Dept was failing with the program who was the Minister of the Interior?

    No one.  Nouri wanted to keep the post for himself.

    Do we remember that?

    You can't learn from history if you can't even remember it.

    Now money will again be spent on 'training' and who is the Minister of the Interior?

    Oh, right, again there is no Minister of Interior.

    That's history.  Want honesty?

    Here's honesty: The 'training' was never about training.  It was about spying.  It's still about spying.  That's why the waste of money won't shock the Canadian government anymore than it did the US government.  The 'training' is not about imparting wisdom, the 'training' is about getting intelligence and spying.

    Further into the interview, Gibbard starts talking women -- he makes it the thrust of the interview.  Women are important, he insists, to the peace.  And, yes, Iraq has no women in the Cabinet, but they want to encourage.

    So many want to encourage.

    November 12, UK Political Coordinator to the United Nations Stephen Hickey delivered remarks which included:

    We welcome the formation of the cabinet that is well underway and encourage the appointment of the remaining cabinet members in an inclusive manner within constitutional timelines. However, like Poland and the Netherlands and others, we do share the disappointment in a lack of female members in those appointed to the cabinet to date and we would encourage the Iraqi government in its efforts to address this issue and promote the participation and representation of women at all levels of decision-making in Iraq.

    [Click here for Hickey's full remarks.]

    All this encouragement.  Nothing changes so far, didn't in the past either, but let's keep 'encouraging.'  Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, turned down even the requests of her personal friends to help women in Iraq and stated that the government did not seek the input or participation of women.

    What's changed?

    Nothing.


    If it's me that's driving you to this madness
    Then there's one thing that I'd like to say
    Take a look at your life and your lovers
    Nothing ever changes

    -- "Nothing Ever Changes," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her WILD HEART

    There's more honesty -- as an aside -- in the following Tweet than in Gibbard's entire interview.


    Food for thought...




    "As well as trade . . ."




    The following community sites -- plus BLACK AGENDA REPORT, Jody Watley and Cindy Sheehan -- updated: