Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
It may not be saying all that much, but the ceremony proceeded without either patriotic posturing or, fortunately, an “Obama moment” of any kind. One suspects that the Occupy movement has had something of an impact on this social layer, at least to the extent Sunday night of restraining some of their most celebratory and self-congratulatory impulses. Most of those on stage managed to keep their narcissism under control.
Streep and Plummer were gracious as winners, as were Colin Firth, Sandra Bullock and Christian Bale as presenters, while Emma Stone was delightful. A mock 1939 focus group responding to The Wizard of Oz, with Christopher Guest, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Bob Balaban and Eugene Levy, was amusing.
Of course, no one, other than Farhadi, had a word to say about the situation in the US or the world, including the great question of social inequality. This central problem puts everything else in perspective.
There are many skilled individuals in the film industry, and many appealing personalities. As we’ve suggested many times before, that is not where the problem lies. The performers, technicians and crew members are generally more talented and remarkable than the material they are given to work with. Each year the choices in the best picture, best director and best screenplay categories tend to be the bleakest.
So there you go. And that's a better bit of coverage than what I offered. Again, I didn't watch. Life's too short for three hours of handing out awards for me. Sorry. And no one says anything of importance because they always get cut off. I did watch as a kid and they got to talk a little more and had some strong performances. But these days, the best songs don't even get nominated.
For example if Bruce Springsteen has a song in some movie, it'll get nominated. That includes that crappy song he had for "The Wrestler." It's not about talent.
I remember being really happy when Carly Simon won for "Let The River Run." That was a song I heard first not on radio but in church. Our choir director (I was in the youth choir) brought it in and it became one of our biggest crowd pleasers.
And it was this amazing song with these great lyrics and this marvelous melody. It was like nothing anyone else wrote. And it was a real thrill to see Carly win for it. And then I watched as Carly went up to get the award. I don't think I'd seen her before that. She had her hair short. And I think she wore a black and white striped outfit. And she thanked her then-husband and said something funny. I don't remember what but I thought she was really amazing.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, February 27, 2012
Above is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Palin" from yesterday.
Yesterday, "The Good Wife" didn't air. Because no one wanted to compete against the Oscars.
Lou e-mailed and said he couldn't wait to get my blow-blow of the Oscars.
Okay, here goes.
I rubbed my eyes, looked at the alarm clock, went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, shower, shave and take care of business. Got dressed. Went to the kitchen to fix breakfast. Booted up the computer while I waited for my pancakes (frozen) to finish in the toaster.
Looked to see who won what.
I don't watch the Oscars.
If I've got a group of people coming over, I will. I'll have it on and catch a lot of it. But I don't like sitting in front of the TV for hours.
It's just easier for me to read up on it the next day.
So I can't tell you who wore what.
(I was wearing a Haynes t-shirt and sweat pants probably around the time that the awards started. And, on my feet, some black, SurfPolo sneakers.)
What did I think of the awards?
I think Meryl became Audrey Hepburn.
I love Meryl, I love Audrey.
But that's not a compliment.
I mean Meryl's win is like Audrey getting the lead in "My Fair Lady." People felt sorry for Julie Andrews. (Who played the role on Broadway.) And Audrey was eventually highly disliked for this win.
I think something similar is going to happen with Meryl.
She didn't need another Oscar. Two should have been enough.
But it wasn't. And Viola Davis, Michelle Williams and Glenn Close were all providing stronger performances. It was stunt acting by Meryl.
Watch me do an accent!
She'll regret the win.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Over the weekend, the big news from the Sadr camp was Moqtada al-Sadr likening Nouri to a dictator (and glory hog). Pakistan's The News noted that Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement last night which declared of Nouri al-Maliki, "The dictator of the government is trying to make all the accomplishments as though they were his accomplishments, and if he cannot he will try to hinder these accomplishments and erase them." The paper notes that his bloc is a member of the National Alliance, as is Nouri's, and that this may "indicate a new round of political conflict" for Iraq. Now Aswat al-Iraq reports that two State of Law stooges are insisting that relations are just fine, thank you very much, between Nouri and Moqtada and they doubt Moqtada even said what he's quoted as saying. They're like two children seeing Mommy and Daddy fight. Meanwhile Al Mada reports that Ibrahim al-Jaafari is attempting to heal the rift between Dawa (Dawa is Nouri's political party; State of Law is his political slate) and the Sadrists. The former prime minister (al-Jaafari) is attempting to smooth over the differences which erupted after Moqtada declared Iraq had a new dictatorship. Some feel the statements are part of a negotiation strategy on the part of the al-Sadr bloc regarding the upcoming Amnesty Law which could allow many members of Moqtada's militia that were arrested nearly three years ago to be released.
Nouri really can't afford to have many more rifts these days. He already has the Kurdish Alliance, Iraqiya and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq calling for him to return to the Erbil Agreement which ended Political Stalemate I. Nouri started Political Stalemate II (the current crisis) when he discarded the Erbil Agreement. He's also demanded the Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested on terrorism -- al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are both members of Iraqiya which came in first in the March 2010 elections (his State of Law came in second). Dar Addustour notes Nouri's again huffing that the Baghdad judiciary must be listened to (Nouri controls the Baghdad judiciary, they are not independent). In another report, they note that Nouri's insisting (via surrogates) that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi is trying to inflame tensions between Nouri and Saudi Arabia by declaring that Nouri is targeting Tareq al-Hashemi because he is a Sunni. The government of Saudi Arabia is well aware that Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq are Sunnis. They're also well aware of the fact that Nouri is Shi'ite. They don't trust Nouri because they see him as too close with the Tehran government (which is also Shi'ite). Ayad Allawi tends to stress the Iraqiya issue and not the Sunni aspect. (Allawi is Shi'ite.) And, as leader of Iraqiya, it would make sense for him to stress the Iraqiya aspect first and foremost.
Al Mada also notes Nouri's remarks and these come when various parties in Parliament thought they would be addressing the al-Hashemi issue and members of the prep committee for the national conference to resolve the political crisis thought the three presidencies (President Jalal Talabani, Nouri and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi) would be resolving it. Saturday Aswat al-Iraq reported that MP Ahmed al-Massari, who serves on the prep committee, is declaring that al-Mutlaq's case will be decided by the "the three presidencies" (that's Talabani, Nouri and Osama al-Nujaifi). There's no unified opinion on al-Hashemi's case, the MP stated, but he noted "that the two working papers of Iraqiya and National Allaince blocs were unified, containing most of Arbil agreement items." Al Mada reported that the issue of al-Mutlaq will be resolved by Parliament.
Nouri's paranoid. We've noted his intense paranoia since 2006. US State Dept cables note it beginning in 2008. There's really no denying it. Iraq's set to finally host the Arab Summit. It was postponed twice in 2011. (And may get postponed this year due to Iraqi violence.) Right now it looks like a go. But Nouri's paranoia swells and travels. So instead of encouraging the Arab Summit and talking it up, Alsumaria TV reports Nouri declared today that Iraq is stillt argeted and that all sorts of external actors are trying to destroy it.
Many fled from Baghdad starting in 2006 due to the violence, at least 300,000 according to the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy Martin Kobler. Aswat al-Iraq notes that he declared in a Green Zone press conference yesterday that 1.3 million Iraqis remain internally displaced. The Boston Globe notes UN diplomat Claire Bourgeois states that the Baghdad government has not done enough to assist the homeless in Iraq. The United Nations News Center quotes Kobler stating:
Our collective responsibility is to ensure that the displaced are adequately cared for as long as they live in displacement, while measures are being taken to plan for their sustainable return, resettlement and local integration, the three key pillars of a durable solutions strategy. No durable solution can be achieved without the express consent of those on whose behalf it [the strategy] is being implemented.
By ensuring that those who fled the cruelty of violence that befell this country in the past years can safely return to their homes -- or, where return is not possible, that they are given a free choice of resettling or integrating in a place of their choosing -- we help restore their rights. We recognize them as citizens of this country, who are entitled to a life in dignity, like all other Iraqis.
An unidentified male protester states that crowd is smaller now because a number of people have sold their peers and conscience out for government money. He also noted that Nouri's security forces were present not to protect the peaceful demonstrators but to protect the Green Zone. Al Mada notes that Najaf also saw Iraqis protesting today. Dar Addustour added that the demonstrators called for Nouri's government to resign and that banners denounced the decision of the Parliament to spend at least $50 million on the purchase of 350 armored vehicles for members of Parliament. Dar Addustour offers some idiotic statements by an idiot named Mohammed Chihod whom they wrongly identify with the National Alliance.
Yes, Chihod is with the National Alliance. But he's State of Law. And when he blathers on with lies to defend Nouri, it's the State of Law that needs to be disclosed to readers. So Liar Mohammed says that the protesters are wrong in their call for a resignation, that there can be no resignations because these leaders were elected by the people. Calling for Nouri and his cabinet to resign is perfectly acceptable and not one of them was elected to a Cabinet post or prime minister by the people. The people voted for members of Parliament. (And their will was ignored.) And even though they voted for MPs, they still have the right to call for their resignation. The one who's "wrong" isn't the Iraqi people, it's liars like Mohammed Chihod who apparently are also illiterate since he can't read and comprehend his country's Constitution. He's such a sweetheart for Nouri, you'd almost think the two men were engaged and planning a wedding.
Aswat al-Iraq noted, "Laith M. Redha, member of a youth group told Aswat al-Iraq that another group of demonstrators will hold their activities in Culture Street of Mutanabi. He added that the demonstrators will commemorate this occasion and demand the reforms which were promised by the government a year ago, eradicating corruption, availability of services and electricity."
Turning to the United States where the Academy Awards were just handed out last night so apparently it's now time to work ourselves into yet another tizzy over awards. Jarreau Joseph Weber (Death And Taxes) reports that there are 231 people nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. It's not a prize we take seriously but one of the nominees is Bradley Manning. Weber notes that Bradley "was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly leaking more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, 400,000 U.S. Army reports about Iraq and another 90,000 about Afghanistan -- the biggest leak of classified documents in U.S. history. Manning was in solitary confienment for nine months before formal charges were brought against him last week. "