Saturday, December 20, 2014

Annie, the film that makes you wish it was yesterday

"Annie" is based on an old comic strip called "Little Orphan Annie."  It was during the Depression and she and her dog Sandy were rescued by Daddy Warbucks.

It became a huge hit Broadway show in the seventies -- even though none of the young girls who played Annie ever went on to become megastars.

Horse-faced Sarah Jessica Parker played an orphan in the show and may have been promoted to star of the musical at some point.

But she's never been  important anywhere except on cable where she and three other women had a TV show.  No one would mistake her for a star -- not even a TV star.

Then came the film.

Which should have been a hit.

John Huston did an awful job as director, sorry.

Carol Burnett was the only solid thing about the film.

I think there was a TV movie -- a forgettable one.

Now there's the hideous remake.

The sun will come out tomorrow, the musical swears in its most famous song but what it really does it make you wish it was yesterday -- before you had to endure the awful film.

Kids under six will probably enjoy it.  Not love it, but enjoy it.

There's enough motion onscreen to keep them occupied.

Older kids and adults will be ripping their eyes out of their sockets.

Cameron Diaz is amusing and you wish there was much more of her.

The child playing Annie either can't pull it off or she's betrayed by a really bad script.  (It's a really bad script regardless.)

She can sing.

And that might be important to some.

Except she's supposed to be a kid and she's singing like she's starring in the lead of a Whitney Houston bio-pic.

To say it's too much is to put it mildly.

And there's there's Jamie Foxx.

He won an Oscar for "Ray."

Don't think he deserved it, myself.

He's a limited talent and he probably did everything he can honestly do when he did Wanda all those years.

He's weak and ineffectual onscreen -- which is how he destroyed "White House Down."

Now he's playing a single man adopting a little girl.

And if it was a boy, "Annie" could be "The Michael Jackson Story."

Instead, you're just repeatedly reminded of how Foxx, at best, comes off like a boy, not a man.

You know who could have played this part?

Cuba Gooding Jr.

He could have nailed it, made audiences laugh and smile.

He could have brought Daddy Warbucks to life.

But Foxx can't do any of that.

So it's Foxx being bland and kind of bitchy.  What we've seen him do way too many times.

If he were smart, he'd go back to playing Wanda.

Going out 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.


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!


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.

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