Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Fantastic Bore

I was avoiding this one.

But then I wrote about the bad movies this summer and got 7 e-mails mentioning the new Fantastic Four movie.

So I saw it tonight.


Jessica Alba was not given much to do in the two films from the '00s but she managed to come off human, real and someone you wanted to know more about.

Not so in this version where the Invisible Girl is little more than the airline hostess to the three male characters.

Chris Evans was Johnny Storm.

He did a great job.

Michael B. Jordan?

He lacked energy.

That's partly due to the script.

That may also be due to the fact that to go full blown Johnny Storm would make an African-American actor look a bit dense playing off all Whites.

Johnny's a great character but he's not that smart and he lacks impulse control.

I don't think Jordan took the character as far as he could and I think he held back because an African-American playing that role can end up looking like an idiot or worse.

The film lacked tension, it lacked plot.

It lacked pretty much everything.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi's reforms pass, no one's quite sure what that means, Jeb Bush blames Hillary for Iraq's crises, Hillary 'responds' by letting a man speak for her, Hillary leaves behind her my-vote-for-the-Iraq-War-was-a-mistake to now argue that there Bully Boy Bush sent too few troops into Iraq, and much more.

Hillary Clinton is a feminist.

Doesn't mean she's a good one.

What she's doing right now on Iraq isn't feminism.

Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and contender for the GOP's 2016 presidential nomination, has slammed her for the state of Iraq today.  Ben Kamisar (The Hill) reports:

Sullivan accused the administration of George W. Bush, Jeb’s brother, of sending in too few troops, pushing out Sunnis that later became radicalized and adding to Iranian influence within the Iraqi government. 
He added that Bush, not President Obama, set the withdrawal date for U.S. forces in Iraq.
So the little princess Hillary not only can't speak for herself  but, out of all her advisors, goes with a man, Jake Sullivan, to defend her?

That's not feminism.

Jeb Bush made a charge.  If Hillary's suddenly 'too delicate' to deal with it, well then hand the nation the vapors and let's all clutch the pearls together.

Let's deal with Jake Sullivan, noted liar.

Bully Boy Bush did not set the withdrawal date.

This is a lie repeated by the stupid both in real time and ever since.

The US invasion was not authorized by any legal body.  The United Nations did authorize the occupation that followed.

The United Nations did it on a yearly mandate.

The yearly mandate was getting Nouri al-Maliki in trouble.  At the end of 2006, he had extended it without input from the Iraqi Parliament and they were outraged.  He insisted that, the next year, he would get their approval first.  But 2007 was drawing down and he again didn't get their approval further outraging the Parliament.

This is why, when the UN was refusing to continue providing cover for the occupation (the British government was in the same boat as the US government and had to enter into agreements directly with the Iraqi government to continue the occupation), Bully Boy Bush went with a three year agreement and not a one year agreement.  It would go through once and could cover three years.  This would help Nouri al-Maliki avoid having to ask every year for permission from the Parliament (or having to face outrage if he again ignored them).

The three year agreement, the Status Of Forces Agreement, did not mean that at the end of three years no more agreements could be made.

That's the talk of the stupid and the lying whores.

Barack Obama never believed that nonsense which is why he attempted to extend the US military presence in Iraq beyond the end of 2011.

Nouri wasn't opposed to that.

Nouri, and a few other Iraqi politicians, opposed the grief they would get if it was only for three thousand or so troops.

Nouri wanted the US military presence.  He feared the Iraqi military (he sacked most of the commanders out of constant fear that they would stage a coup against him).

The US military is how he remained in power.

Without them, he would have been toppled.  That's true as early as the summer of 2006 when the Green Zone was almost breached.

Nouri nixed a small number of troops.  He wanted at least 8,000 US troops by most Congressional testimony and would have preferred 15,000.

If you don't know that at this late date and you're yammering on, you're a stupid, little liar.

If you don't know that Barack thought the December drawdown (the military never called it a "withdrawal" for obvious reasons) was not the 'end of story,' you didn't pay attention very well, did you?

You missed then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta telling the Senate that negotiations continued and that they hoped to have something in the new year (January 2012).

If you missed that, you missed the November 15, 2011 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, and you can play catch up by reviewing the real time coverage of that hearing that this community offered:   "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot."  Ava reported on it with "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava), Wally reported on it with "The costs (Wally)" and Kat reported on it with "Who wanted what?").

Again, I don't have time for stupid liars like Jake Sullivan.

I can't believe we're having to take the blowhard seriously enough to fact check his lying ass.

As for two more charges Sullivan made above.

Did Bully Boy Bush push Iraq into the arms of Iran?


It's a complicated conversation but, overall, we can say "yes."

We can also note that Bully Boy Bush did not make deals with Iranian-backed terrorists groups in Iraq.  It wasn't Bully Boy Bush in 2009 who released terrorist leaders in US captivity for the deaths of 5 American troops.

That was Barack.

And it wasn't Bully Boy Bush who allowed Iran to attack Camp Ashraf residents repeatedly.

That too was Barack.

And it wasn't Bully Boy Bush who had Iranian-backed militias on bases with US forces.

That's Barack.

But let's zoom in on the "too few troops."

Hillary's apparently decided she wins in 2016 by presenting as a strange little girl.

That's what Jake Sullivan's just done.

Hillary lost the 2008 nomination in part because of her 2002 vote for war on Iraq.

She's made mealy mouthed statements about the vote being a mistake and offered it with a read-my-latest-book-for-more attitude.

But now voting for the war is not even a "mistake," Hillary?

Now the problem is that not enough US troops were sent into Iraq?

Which is it, Hillary Clinton, you were wrong to vote for the Iraq War or the problem was really that not enough US forces were sent in?

Again, she's playing the strange little girl card and let's hope it bites her in her fat ass.

Her mealy mouthed words about a "mistake" were never convincing especially after her War Hawk cries as Secretary of State.

Hillary doesn't talk about the over 4994 US troops who have lost their lives in the ongoing Iraq War.  That's not part of the "mistake" she wants to take the blame for.

But she's more than happy to now have her aides/surrogates/pit bulls insist the problem with the Iraq War is that not enough US troops were sent in.


Not enough US troops were sent in?

Then why the hell did she, as US Senator, oppose Bully Boy Bush's "surge"?

If she felt there weren't enough troops she should have backed him.

Oh, wait.

She did.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed that in his book Duty:

Hillary told the president that her opposition to the [2007] surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. . . . The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.
Okay, so since around 2007, she's been offering weak ass statements about her 2002 vote approving the Iraq War was a "mistake" and indicating she regretted it but now her campaign is arguing that the mistake was sending too little US troops into Iraq.

And yet when Bully Boy Bush tried to 'surge' in 2007, she publicly opposed increasing the number of US troops in Iraq.

Is there any position that she won't take, any lie that she won't tell?
We need to stress one more time that good feminism is not hiding behind a man.

If Jeb Bush makes a charge against Hillary, she needs to be able to respond.


Throughout Tuesday morning, it was said Hillary would be responding in the afternoon.

Apparently not.

Apparently, she's too much of a delicate flower to respond.

Who knew that the woman who snarled "What difference, at this point, does it make?" was such a fragile little orchid?

Sullivan also insists the criticism of Hillary on Iraq is unfair because she wasn't responsible.   Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IT'S NEVER HER FAULT!" and Cedric's "Cranky's ready to share the blame" earlier today addressed that defense.

But you know what?

There Sullivan is correct.

When the Iraqi Parliament and the President of Iraq (Jalal Talabani) and Nouri agreed to begin negotiations for US troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, we noted in the August 3, 2011 snapshot:

 James Jeffrey, the US Ambassador to Iraq, is the public face of negotiations (as Ryan Crocker was when he was the US Ambassador to Iraq).  He is assisted by State Dept employees the administration has tasked for this issue.
This is not who Hillary Clinton has selected, it's not her issue.  Joe Biden and Samantha Power are tasked with Iraq on the orders of Barack Obama.  Hillary is not involved.  You see her with her Iraqi counterpart from time to time, she does receive most visiting Iraqis but she and Nouri are not close and anyone who can't grasp that can't remember Hillary's public remarks about Nouri when she was in the Senate.  That's the practical reason Hillary's not over Iraq.  There are other reasons as well.  Samantha Power is elevated to her position because, although Joe Biden has a great relationship with many Iraqi politicians (including the Kurds), he also made comments, when he was a senator, about Nouri that Nouri has not forgotten.  (Hillary and Joe both rightly called Nouri a despot at one point or another and it's not forgotten on Nouri's side.  And they were not one time remarks.  Nor were they unique remarks in the Senate.  Back then, Baraba Boxer was among the many calling out Nouri as a Little Saddam.)

If you check the archives, you will find us repeatedly noting while Hillary was Secretary of State that she was not over Iraq.

We also repeatedly noted that she tended to fudge that fact and needed to get honest or would be left holding the bag on Iraq.

Holding the bag on Iraq?

2010, Barack Obama determined the fate of Iraq by nullifying the votes and will of the Iraqi people to insist that Nouri get a second term after he lost the election.

That set Iraq on its current course.

The idiot Jake Sullivan wants to blame Bully Boy Bush for the rise of the Islamic State.

Nouri al-Maliki is to blame for that as he used his second to persecute Sunnis and the Islamic State (in Iraq) is a response to that persecution.  (In Syria, it's also seen as a response to the persecution of the Sunnis by the Syrian government.)

Hillary's involvement in that was minor.

If she voiced an opinion, it most likely wasn't an honest one.

She'd publicly called Nouri a "thug" in 2008 -- we can spoonfeed you the hearing, we covered it in real time while Spencer Ackerman -- whoring for Barack -- 'missed' Hillary's testimony in his coverage of the same hearing.

She knew what Nouri was and it's doubtful she argued for him to have a second term.

Samantha Power made the case that Nouri would do as they wanted (the White House) with regards to a new SOFA and Chris Hill argued that Iraq needed a strong man and not democracy (Hill was the idiot Barack appointed as US Ambassador to Iraq).

Vice President Joe Biden was the point-person on Iraq and he backed Hill and Power.

Hillary's only significant involvement in this issue comes when, after the election of 2010 and in the midst of the political stalemate, she joins with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to vouch for the then-top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno.

Hill had thrown a tantrum and had Odierno shut out of the process.

Hillary joined with Gates to argue to Barack that Odierno was not the problem and that he needed to be listened to.  Once this was put in motion, Barack would ask Hill for his resignation.  Hill did not choose to step down as US Ambassador to Iraq, he was asked to step down.

There are State Dept issues that Hillary was over in terms of Iraq.

These were budgetary issues, largely.

But in terms of policy, Hillary had no say and was not part of it.

It's a shame she refused to be honest in real time and preferred to be a glory hog.

It would be karmic to allow her to now take the blame for Iraq but, in all honesty, she was not leading policy or even one of the chief policy advisors on Iraq.

Iraq was noted at today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by Mark Toner.

QUESTION: Iraq’s parliament approved Prime Minister Abadi’s wide-ranging reforms. How much did the United States know about these reforms, and are there any sort of redlines, because there seems to be some concern that if the reforms go too far they could alienate the Sunnis and the political process? If you could comment on that.

MR TONER: Well, first in terms of the reforms, we certainly applaud the unity that was shown by Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum in moving forward on Prime Minister’s Abadi’s proposals, which, as you know, were aimed at streamlining the government and addressing corruption. And we’d note that these measures were unanimously approved by the Council of Ministries – Ministers, rather, earlier today.
So we certainly commend Prime Minister Abadi’s initiative to promote improved transparency and government services, and this is certainly something he pledged when he came into power to govern more inclusively. So we certainly believe that he’s doing so through these measures that were adopted, and expect he’ll continue to do so.

QUESTION: There were specific people in the list, including former Prime Minister Maliki, who was removed. Do you share Mr. Abadi’s concern or Mr. Abadi’s position that those people are corrupt people that had to be removed?

MR TONER: Well, first of all, I think the efforts were designed, as I said, to streamline the government. Those are obviously – this is an internal issue for the Iraqi Government. What we’re looking at, the bigger picture, is – as I said, is his efforts to govern more inclusively, and we think that these measures, as adopted, will do that. But --

QUESTION: So you don’t have any issue with those specific people who have been fired, basically, or removed from power?

MR TONER: Again, I think I spoke to what we’re looking for here – more inclusive governance, a more streamlined process, better transparency. And certainly, as you mentioned, one of the goals is to fight corruption, but I’m not going to speak to individuals. I’m just going to say that as a matter of a broader concern to us – please, go ahead, Elise.

QUESTION: Can I move on to Syria?

MR TONER: Are we done with Iraq? Great.

"Are we done with Iraq?  Great."  That's pretty much the administration's approach to Iraq.

In Iraq today, the Parliament has approved Haider al-Abadi's 7-point plan to address waste and corruption.  AFP reports all 297 MPs in attendance voted in favor of the proposal (there are 328 MPs in the Parliament).

The reforms or 'reforms' are thought to be in response to the recent protests demanding accountability.  Whether they are a true response or just fakery attempting to stop the protests remains to be seen.  BBC notes,  "Many Iraqis have cautiously welcomed the passing of the reform package, seen as a victory for Mr Abadi. But he still faces pressure to ensure the measures are properly implemented."

While many western outlets note the 7-point plan, only a few note the Speaker of Parliament's plan which includes insisting that certain ministers (those over electricity and water) be removed.  All Iraq News reports that the Speaker's plan passed today as well before Parliament adjourned (they are scheduled to next meet on Thursday).  Alsumaria notes that vote was unanimous as well.  The Minister of Electricity is scheduled to face questions from Parliament on August 25th.

National Iraqi News Agency notes that Vice President Ayad Allawi is calling for more:

He said in a press conference today that he had submitted a memorandum to the President and Prime Minister to implement a series of reforms, including the formation of an international body to investigate the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been spent since 2003.

He added that he called for the formation of this body to check in the financial corruption and to bring the corruptors to justice and uncover the details through the media.

Allawi called for reducing the personal protection of the officials and send the redundant of protections team to fight the terrorists in the battlefield.

Bas News reports that Iraq's President Fuad Masum is said to have told his vice presidents that "the reforms violate the Iraqi constitution, and al-Abadi should have consulted the president."

Under the sweeping reforms, the three positions of vice president and three deputy prime ministers will be scrapped, removing offices that had become vehicles for patronage for some of the most powerful people in the country.
Several ministries will be combined to eliminate cabinet posts: the planning and finance ministries will be merged, water will be combined with agriculture and the environment will be combined with health.
Mr Abadi will be given the power to fire provincial governors and regional officials, who often wield more power in their territories than the central authorities.

Despite gushing from Brookings and others, no one really knows what -- if anything -- al-Abadi's plan will mean.

In actual practice, Haider could have just re-invented the political system in Iraq and removed checks and balances built into the system.  

Denise Hassanzada Ajiri (Christian Science Monitor) offers that the changes are a rejection of "the US-backed model" implemented years ago.
Again, at this point, no one really knows what this plan actually means. 

Erika Solomon (Financial Times of London) offers:


Some analysts say Mr Abadi’s move may be aimed less at reform than taking advantage of Mr Sistani’s backing to bolster himself against political opponents such as former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. The latter has publicly supported the reform plan but was widely criticised during his rule for entrenching sectarian governance and corruption.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 156 violent deaths across Iraq today.
Senator Tammy Baldwin's office issued an important press release last Friday

For Immediate Release                                                          
Friday, August 07, 2015
  (202) 224-6225
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Statement in response to VA Inspector General Report on the Death of Marine Corps Veteran Jason Simcakoski at the Tomah VA Medical Center
“Those responsible for this tragic failure should never again serve our veterans and their families.” 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Office released a healthcare inspections report regarding the death of Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski at the Tomah VA Medical Center on August 30, 2014:
“This report confirms that the Tomah VA physicians entrusted with Jason's care failed to keep their promise to a Wisconsin Marine and his family.  I have all the evidence I need to conclude that the VA prescribed Jason a deadly mix of drugs that led to his death and that those responsible for this tragic failure should never again serve our veterans and their families.  The sacred trust we have with those who faithfully serve our country has been broken and it needs to be fixed.
“I have introduced bipartisan legislation in Jason’s name that has earned the support of his family and a number of veteran service organizations to provide the VA with the tools it needs to help prevent this type of tragedy from occurring to other veterans and their families. This report highlights the need for the reforms we have proposed to give veterans and their families a stronger voice in their care and put in place stronger oversight and accountability for the quality of care we are providing our veterans. Change is possible and I will continue my fight for it.”
Learn more about Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation, the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act here.
View an online version of this release here.


No comments: