"Gone Girl" is the new film starring Ben Affleck and directed by David Fincher.
Let's start with Affleck.
It's probably his best performance since "State Of Grace." ("Argo" had a good performance but still not as good as "State of Grace.")
So Ben shouldn't worry that the backlash of the early '00s is about to set in again.
The film looks good and moves fast but the plot is so nothing.
Lifetime TV movies have gone deeper than this script does.
I liked "Zodiac" but it's not one I watch over and over.
This is a film like that.
I'll watch, for example, "Panic Room" repeatedly and the same with "Fight Club."
I like Fincher's films -- except that awful "The Social Network" -- and this one is worth seeing.
It's a good movie to see with friends or on a date so you can discuss it after.
But it's not one I'd rush to buy on DVD.
Seeing one is entertaining but seeing it once is also enough.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:
Islamic State militants have taken control of key cities in Iraq’s western province of Anbar and have begun to besiege one of the country’s largest military bases in a weeklong offensive that’s brought them within artillery range of Baghdad.
The Islamic State and its tribal allies have dominated Anbar since a surprise offensive last December, but this week’s push was particularly worrisome, because for the first time this year Islamist insurgents were reported to have become a major presence in Abu Ghraib, the last Anbar town on the outskirts of the capital.
How's US President Barack Obama's 'plan' for Iraq working out?
AP reports the Islamic State "shot down an Iraqi military attack helicopter" near Baiji on Friday. NINA adds both pilots were killed in the crash.
Again, how's that 'plan' of Barack's working out?
All Iraq News reports that Alan Hennin, a UK aid worker, has been shown beheaded in a video released by the Islamic State -- following their previous video releases of the beheadings of "two U.S. journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff and a British aid worker, David Haines."
We know the question, right? How's the 'plan' working out?
So let's move to something else.
And I have to start with a disclaimer: I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton if she runs for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and, should she seek the nomination and receive it, I won't be voting for her in the general election. She lost my support for a number of reasons and that was obvious when she behaved like a rabid dog in her infamous 'what difference would it make' moment before Congress which encapsulated her tenure as Secretary of State, where she refused oversight and served four years without an Inspector General. John Kerry, by contrast, only had to be asked by a Congressional committee once, right after he became Secretary of State, and he promised they would have an IG by the end of the year and they had one a little over four months after he made that promise.
I know Hillary -- or I thought I did. I don't know that beastly creature who appeared before Congress, refused to take accountability and belittled the deaths of 4 Americans with 'what difference does it make.' As with her 1992 idiotic comments regarding baking cookies and offending Tammy Wynette, Hillary can't keep her damn feet out of her own mouth. She would make a lousy president for that reason alone. Her mouth always gets her in trouble. As an independent critic, she can say whatever she wants. As a member of the Senate, she only needs to please a plurality of voters in a state. As president, she would be a frightmare.
If you want to vote for her, that's your business. I'm not here to tell you who to vote for. I probably, as I did in 2012, will vote for every office but the president in 2016. I don't see anyone earning my vote -- I'd love to be surprised on that -- and I refuse to be part of the fear campaign. In 2004, when The Nation magazine couldn't stop heavy panting that it was the torture election and the whole world would end, and that women would be enslaved and blah blah blah blah. It was just too much. I don't live in fear and I don't cower.
You can vote however you want, it's your vote. You should use it as you feel comfortable -- and that might mean supporting Hillary or a GOP candidate or whomever or it might mean making the choice not to vote for any of them. Your vote belongs to you and you need to use it in a way that you are satisfied with.
In what follows, there will be some defense of Hillary and there will be some criticism. This is about what happened, it's not about swaying your vote. I don't care who you vote for. If I know you personally, my only care is that you're happy with your vote at the time of your vote.
I think we've been the biggest and most vocal critic from the left of Barack Obama. There will likely be favorable comments on Barack which follow in this. He's a War Hawk. I don't support him. In 2008, I didn't vote for him (first time I ever didn't vote for a Democrat for president) and instead went with a non-duopoly candidate.
If I was Salon ragazine, I wouldn't be focusing what we're about to.
Former US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill has told a pack of lies.
Those lies smear Hillary and Barack. If they were personally smeared -- Hillary or Barack said to be gay in Hill's efforts to court homophobia, for example -- I wouldn't waste time on the issue. But this is about Iraq and that's what we cover.
Chris Hill is responsible for what went wrong in Iraq and for where Iraq is today. He's not solely responsible. Barack's responsible, for example, for nominating him, for trusting him for far too long and for a few other things.
But Hill's nonsense at POLITICO -- where else does nonsense go -- oh, right, Salon! -- is nothing but lies and spin.
Hill betrayed Barack's nomination and trust by doing a half-assed job and repeatedly lying to the administration about what was taking place in Iraq.
Hill betrayed Barack. Not the other way around as Hill tries to paint it in his bad essay.
Hill insists that Hillary gave him no support when she was Secretary of State in 2009, she made one trip to Iraq and she left him alone and whine, whine, whine.
Hillary wasn't over Iraq.
She might have liked to have been but Barack wasn't going to put her over Iraq.
Two reasons were Samantha Power. She was Barack's advisor when he was in the Senate and she's had his ear ever since. Power did not want Hillary in the administration (she can spin that if she wants but she didn't want Hillary in the administration at all -- however, once the two had to work together, they did get along -- Hillary can win people over and Power saw that she had misjudged Hillary and could own that reality). That's reason one. Reason two, which Power used to ensure Hillary wasn't in charge of Iraq, was that Hillary supported the Iraq War at the start. Power said that judgment was fatal to moving forward in Iraq. (Power herself supported the illegal war -- a fact she's denied and one that the press, in 2008, was eager to help her bury.)
Power was personally against Hillary and Hillary had supported the war and was notorious for that support.
Those are two reason which carried weight with Barack.
Here's the third:
During my last visit to Iraq in January, I expressed my reservations about the ability of the Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Maliki, to make the tough political decisions necessary for Iraq to resolve its sectarian divisions. Since my visit, Iraqi leaders have not met their own political benchmarks to share power, modify the de-Ba'athification laws, pass an oil law, schedule provincial elections, and amend their constitution. During his trip to Iraq last week, Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on which I serve, confirmed that the Iraqi Government’s failures have reinforced the widely held view that the Maliki government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement, because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders.
I share Senator Levin’s hope that the Iraqi parliament will replace Prime Minister Maliki with a less divisive and more unifying figure when it returns in a few weeks.
That statement was released by then-Senator Hillary Clinton in August of 2007.
I happen to agree with her -- and with Carl Levin.
I think history and events since certainly demonstrate how accurate her publicly expressed hope was -- that the Parliament would vote Nouri out of office -- it would have been a no-confidence vote (which was attempted in the spring of 2012 but blocked by the White House via Jalal Talabani).
But here's was the thing for Barack -- how could Hillary be Secretary of State and interact with Nouri?
So she was not the lead on Iraq.
That's why she traveled, she had a lot of time to fill. Unlike her predecessor Condi Rice, Hillary was not a lead on Iraq.
She can rightly step away -- to some degree -- from the chaos in Iraq now because she was not a lead on this issue.
Nouri al-Maliki was notoriously paranoid. We explained that here and how the State Dept had documented it and some wanted to scoff but, years later, the WikiLeaks Iraq State Dept cables demonstrated we were right and the term "paranoid" is applied to Nouri in them.
Nouri could not have worked with Hillary in any form because of her statements. The White House knew that and addressed that.
For those late to the party, Nouri al-Maliki was only booted out as prime minister over the summer. His reign of terror ran from 2006 to 2014.
So for Chris Hill to lie and claim that Hillary wasn't there for him -- his snide remark about her ability to charm included -- is just a pack of lies. And he was not her nominee.
He was Barack's nominee.
Let's note another liar, CIA contractor Juan Cole. The day after Hillary issued her statement we noted above -- a week after Carl Levin made his (Carl's statement was a joint statement with Senator John Warner) -- Juan 'discovers' a rumor that there is a plot to topple Nouri. It turns out, Juan insists, Bully Boy Bush wants to get rid of Nouri.
These lies were then spread by venereal disease carrier Daily Kos which reposted Juan's 'proof' that Ayad Allawi was going to be the new pm because -- among other things -- Allawi penned a column for the Washington Post!
Juan just makes s**t up -- or maybe follows CIA orders, who knows.
But Bully Boy Bush was not walking away from Nouri and you can say, "Well, C.I., sure, we know that now but back then --"
Back then, we knew it too.
Hillary's statement that we quoted?
A response for Bully Boy Bush's praise of Nouri to the VFW just before she released her statement. Her statement was in response to Bully Boy Bush's comments.
From the White House transcript of that August 22, 2007 speech to the VFW:
Bully Boy Bush: Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job, and I support him. And it's not up to politicians in Washington, D.C. to say whether he will remain in his position -- that is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy, and not a dictatorship. (Applause.) A free Iraq is not going to transform the Middle East overnight. But a free Iraq will be a massive defeat for al Qaeda, it will be an example that provides hope for millions throughout the Middle East, it will be a friend of the United States, and it's going to be an important ally in the ideological struggle of the 21st century. (Applause.)
The next day, at his (un)Informed Comment, Juan Cole was spreading lies that Bully Boy Bush was walking away from 'poor' Nouri. Cole hadn't read the speech and, as usual, didn't know a damn thing.
Back to Hill, Barack made a mistake in choosing Chris.
In his article, Chris wants to paint Barack as disengaged and uninformed.
On some topics, that is true of Barack and his presidency.
But no one was more disengaged from Iraq and uninformed than Chris Hill.
At the start of his presidency, Barack cared a great deal about Iraq because it was how he won the White House. He wrongly agreed to back Nouri in 2010 and that was based in part on Samantha Power insisting US forces would not be able to drawdown at the end of 2011 without the "stability" (the term she used) Nouri provided the country.
In 2010, Ayad al-Allawi won the elections.
Power felt Allawi as prime minister was a question mark and she noted his "populist leanings" (again, her term) and how this could be a problem for the US because Nouri had no desire to represent the Iraqi people and was more inclined to ignore the will of the Iraqi people. (Which does sum up his two terms as prime minister, on that Power was correct.)
Barack ultimately bears responsibility. He is president and he made the decision.
But would he have made it if he received accurate reports?
If the administration received accurate reports, I doubt even Samantha Power would have backed Nouri. I think she would have smelled the stench wafting off him and how damaging he could be to her image of "Never Again!" and argued that Barack shouldn't support him for a second term.
Chris Hill was unsuited for the job he was nominated to perform.
He did not speak Arabic. He had no knowledge of the Middle East and was an idiot when it came to Iraq.
We covered his confirmation hearing (see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th snapshot ) and, despite weeks of briefing, he still didn't understand what was going on, what the issues were or what the facts were. (He also showed up at the confirmation hearing with his hair needing to be combed and a food stain on his shirt. Was he applying for night manager at Denny's or US Ambassador to Iraq?)
Though he didn't know anything about Iraq -- most evident by his failure to grasp the importance of Kirkuk but also present in his testifying under oath that Nouri was now paying Sawha (Nouri was not) -- he presumably did know how to make a promise and his promise to the Committee was that if they confirmed him, he would be in Iraq the next day.
His first lie.
People say a lot when they want the job
Lining up eager around the block
Promising, promising never to quit
Well it's a full time job to be a hypocrite
Maybe they remember that they've done it before
Practicing, with their dolls on the floor
The lie itself becoming the seed
The messy mascara, the future deed
The actor's bow, the junkie's need
They line up again just to wipe you clean
-- "People Say A Lot When They Want The Job," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her This Kind of Love
April 21st Chris was confirmed.
He didn't drag his tired ass to Baghdad until April 25th.
He broke his promise.
It registered here because if someone appears before a Congressional committee and gives their word, even uses the words "I promise, if confirmed," we pay attention to whether those are empty words or a promise kept.
Upon arriving, his chief concern was: Where is the press?
He wanted to be a media star. But the cherubic looks (never handsome or pretty) had faded due to age, balding and weight gain. So he'd have to attract media attention some other way.
Hill takes a swipe at Allawi in his essay, insisting Allawi was more interested in being on CNN than anything else. It's called "projection" -- Hill's projecting his own desires and aims on to others.
In that section, he also insists that, while he was in Iraq in 2010, Allawi was more interested in going on CNN and calling Nouri the new Saddam.
It didn't happen while Chris was US Ambassador to Iraq.
But if Chris couldn't make s**t up, what would he do?
Tell the truth?
Oh, we're all laughing at that slim prospect.
While Hill struggled to get media attention -- he fared better with NPR where endless jawboning often passes for 'discussion' -- the media was interested in the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno. That was true the weekend Hill arrived and it remained true throughout.
While Chris went through a phase of wanting to be called "Christopher" and then "Mr. Hill" and then, when he wanted to be liked, "Call me, Chris," Odierno, the moment he was named top US commander in Iraq, stated publicly he was "Ray," not "Raymond."
Odierno was down-to-earth and plain spoken which made for good copy. He also looked like a man. Hill babbled and looked like a soft overgrown boy.
Those working under Chris saw nothing "soft," they saw a diva throwing tantrums -- and hurling objects in the office -- when his daily schedule failed to include the media. Explaining that the media wasn't interested led Chris to explode, then pout, then hide out in his office napping.
While Hill was napping, Odierno was working.
He was rightly suspicious of Nouri al-Maliki. He felt Nouri was harmful to Iraq.
Possibly because he wanted to get attention, Hill countered those observations by insisting Nouri was a real leader and a friend to America and blah blah blah.
Now maybe Chris believed those lines, he is and was deeply stupid. But it's very likely he took that position just to counter Odierno and in the hopes that it would garner him attention.
Hill's views fed into Samantha Powers' views (again, had Hill been honest, I seriously doubt Power would have thrown her name behind Nouri).
Barack now had both his most trusted advisor (Power) and his ambassador to Iraq insisting Nouri was the answer to all the problems.
And Ray Odierno began to be shut out by the administration.
He was informed he was not to speak to the media anymore because it disturbed the diva Chris Hill.
Worse than that was the White House blew off Odierno's input.
Months before the March 2010 elections, Odierno wanted the White House to deal with a possibility no one wanted to consider.
What, Odierno wanted to know, does the US government do if Nouri loses the election and refuses to step down?
Hill insisted that would never happen and it was a waste of time to even consider. That became the answer for the White House.
In March 2010, Iraq held elections and Nouri lost to Ayad Allawi. What followed was a political stalemate that led Iraq to set the world record (it has since been reset) for the longest time between an election and the formation of a government.
This was due to the fact that, although Nouri lost, Nouri refused to step down.
In other words, what Odierno tried to get the White House to prepare for, the very thing Hill insisted would never happen, was taking place.
In his essay, Hill ignores Odierno's pre-election warning and brings up a post-election comment Odierno made that Nouri was attempting a "rolling coup d'tat" and Hill says he was shocked by the comment that came out of nowhere. Hill is such a liar.
Much worse was taking place in Iraq and Hill was lying that everything was moving smoothly and a new government was only weeks away -- a lie he repeated monthly.
In fact, when he finally left August 13, 2010, Hill was still repeating these lies.
That day the late Anthony Shadid (New York Times) reported, "Hours before his departure from Baghdad, he said a power-sharing arrangement between the main winners in the March election was just weeks away."
August 13 to November 10?
That is "weeks."
In fact, it's around twelve weeks or three months away.
Hill never knew a damn thing. He lied or he babbled stupidity.
To his credit, Shadid noted in his report that Iraqi officials were not rushing to agree with Hill.
Shadid also pointed out, "Preparation for the election, the vote and the negotiations on a new government have dominated the tenure of Mr. Hill, who took over the American Embassy at a time when Iraq was less violent and more stable, but only in comparison to the anarchic months of 2006 and 2007."
Hill wasted everything was built up in Iraq.
He turned a blind eye to Nouri's abuses, rushed to throw his lost (and the US government's lot) in with Nouri.
He withheld any bad information about Nouri from President Barack Obama.
It was left to Odierno to bring reality into the picture and he met with then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to basically say Hill was shading the truth and misleading the administration.
Gates listened and evaluated and then took Odierno to meet with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She and Gates then met with Barack to discuss the newly discovered problem.
And that is why Hill was fired -- and he was asked to hand over his resignation -- as US Ambassador to Iraq.
Hill was a liar and served Nouri al-Maliki, not the US government, not the American people. The day he left Iraq, Alsumaria TV reported, "Hill explained that the political situation in Iraq is normal and doesn’t differ from any other country where the difference is slight between two winning parties."
He couldn't stop lying and since then all he's done is try to salvage his reputation with more lies.
Barack put Vice President Joe Biden over Iraq. Hill apparently did not like that. Nor did he like the fact that Joe was popular with a number of Iraqi politicians -- including then-President of Iraq Jalal Talabani, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Ayad Allawi and others.
Hill can't stop revealing his own bias such as when he types "Ayad Allawi’s Iraq National Party, or Iraqiyya, a party that was disproportionately Sunni, won 91 seats, while Maliki’s State of Law coalition had 89 seats." Disproportionately Sunni?
What was State of Law but approximately 97% Shi'ite?
Iraqiya, Allawi's party, was not sectarian -- it was inclusive and that included Shi'ites (like Allawi) and Sunnis (such as Tareq al-Hashemi, Saleh al-Mutlaq, Osama al-Nujaif and others). The success of Iraqiya was a testament to the Iraqi people and their desire for a united Iraqi identity and not one based on sect. Hill misses that today as he did in real time.
Barack deserves blame for the current state of Iraq. But for Hill to pretend he did not mislead Barack in his 'reports' from Iraq is a lie.
Samantha Power is a War Hawk. She's also someone who has sold herself to the public as being on the side of right and not might, as someone who will protect the innocents from genocides. She would not have ever risked her self-created reputation for Nouri had Hill not dismissed reports (of secret prisons) and insisted Nouri was willing to work with everyone and wanted inclusion and . . .
If he had told the truth, even a little of it, Power would have dropped her support for Nouri -- if only to protect her own image.
Without Power pressing on Nouri, Barack would have walked away from Nouri.
Following the start of Nouri's second term -- after Barack had personally phoned Ayad Allawi and made (false) promises to get Allawi to call off the Parliamentary boycott, Barack did walk away.
national iraqi news agency
all iraq news