Thursday, March 22, 2018


Wednesday night, MODERN FAMILY, THE X-FILES and DESIGNATED SURVIVOR all had new episodes.

Any worth watching?


It was semi-funny in the beginning but by the mid-point, with Hayley and Manny trying to solve a mystery, it picked up steam and was hilarious -- especially Hayley's last comments about being lucky and the moose.

Gloria needed more to do early on and I didn't see Cam and Phil as hip-hop dancers.  I was glad Stella got worked in (Jay's dog).  But I really don't get the Hayley work storyline.  Every time it's her job this season, it's a different one and no one seems to notice or care.


It was okay.  I'd rate it higher than that if the season had worked towards this but instead it wasted a lot of episodes on nonsense and refused to carry plotlines throughout.

Barbara Hershey was completely wasted.  She never got to do anything but the same scene over and over.  Somehow, Scully's pregnant.  And her son with Mulder is apparently dead.  It could have meant something if they'd used the previous episodes wisely.

If there is another season, Gillian Anderson better insist that Scully be front and center.  Too often, she wasn't.


So Brendan what's his name is on the show.


Keifer's kids need a mommy!  They killed off the wife at the winter-finale, the First Lady, so President Keifer's got his younger brother to breast feed the kiddies.  It's as stupid as it sounds and just underscores how sexist the show is.  They've killed off another woman and brought on another man.  At this rate, the show will have an all male cast by the middle of the third season.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, March 22, 2018.  Cause and effect -- declare war on the world and it takes a lot more money to protect your own ass.

ALSUMARIA notes the latest Mercer study of quality of life which surveyed 231 cities and found Baghdad to be dead last.  Since the 2003 US-led invasion, Baghdad has been in the bottom including coming in dead last in 2017 as well.  Trillions spent on 'liberation' and that's the result?


ALSUMARIA also notes that US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has declared the proposed US budget to be the biggest spending increase for the Defense Dept in 15 years.

We are delivering the biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years. Reports of training accidents and incidents point to a readiness crisis, and this bill fulfills our pledge to rebuild the nations military.

We'll get to the why of that increase in a minute.  Let's note Paul wowed by his own bill.

This funding bill addresses other key priorities:
✅ Maintains all existing pro-life policies
✅ Provides resources to safeguard amateur athletes from abuse
✅ Cracks down on human trafficking
✅ Helps the IRS implement the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act
✅ And more:

Sorry but there's nothing "pro-life" about war and, as Speaker of the House, you should damn well be aware that the US remains at war in Iraq.  As Joshua Keating (SLATE) explained earlier this week, Iraq is one of at least seven wars the US government is currently engaged in:

Fifteen years ago today, George W. Bush announced the beginning of the Iraq war. Two U.S. presidents, thousands of lives lost, a withdrawal and a reengagement later, American troops are still on the ground—and dying—in Iraq. There are no plans for withdrawal, even though the most recent foe there—ISIS—has been almost entirely defeated.

The conflict in Iraq is just one facet of an ever-expanding and seemingly endless U.S. military campaign across the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. Last week, the White House, as required by a new provision in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, issued a report to Congress on all the countries where ongoing U.S. military operations are taking place. According to the unclassified portion of the report, America is currently at war in seven countries:

• In Iraq, the U.S. military is continuing to train and assist Iraqi security forces in order to prevent the reemergence of ISIS, as happened after the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011.

• In Syria, American troops are still on the ground, ostensibly to mop up the last remnants of ISIS, though administration officials have also mentioned several other goals, including putting pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s government, supporting local Kurdish allies, and countering Iranian aggression. These troops have been in an increasingly complex and precarious position as open warfare has broken out between Turkey and the Kurds—both officially U.S. allies.

• In Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been fighting since 2001, making it the longest conflict in U.S. history. Thousands of new U.S. troops were dispatched last year to support the Afghan government and security forces and fight the Taliban and ISIS. Nonetheless, the Taliban continues to increase the amount of area under its control.

• In Libya, the U.S. military conducted airstrikes against ISIS with what appear to be loosened rules of engagement.

• In Somalia, the Trump administration has dramatically ramped up the number of drone and special operations strikes against ISIS, al-Qaida, and al-Shabaab as well as assisting local forces. Last May saw the first U.S. combat death since the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident.

• In Niger, around 800 troops are working to train and assist local forces. The U.S. presence in the West African country was little known, even to senior lawmakers, until the firefight that killed four American troops last October. This confrontation was apparently not an isolated incident in what was not originally intended to be a combat mission.

• In Yemen, the U.S. is carrying out strikes against ISIS and al-Qaida targets as well as providing what the White House report calls “limited support” to the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Houthi forces. This last operation has proven particularly controversial given the horrific humanitarian consequences and unclear strategic objectives of the Saudi campaign. A bill, which could see a vote in the Senate this week, seeks to end U.S. involvement in the conflict against the Houthis.

Meet the new El Chapo, the United States government. Terrorizing the world, it needs to hunker down in a compound.  And grasp that should forces ever invade, the government will protect itself, not We The People.  Oh, like El Chapo, they might grab a child as they flee, but only to prevent themselves from being shot.  The arrogance and disregard for international law, the inability to recognize the right of self-determination when it comes to foreign lands, all of it adds up to require that the US government spend more and more on 'security.'

Seven wars.  And people wonder about school violence?  What are children in America taught?  That might makes right.

Strong and wrong you win--
Only because
That's the way its always been.
Men love war!
That's what history' s for.
A mass--murder mystery...
His story

Strong and wrong
You lose everything
Without the heart
You need
To hear a robin sing
Where have all the songbirds gone?
All I hear are crows in flight
Singing might is right
Might is right!

Oh the dawn of man comes slow
Thousands of years
And here we are...
Still worshiping
Our own ego

-- "Strong and Wrong," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on SHINE.

Seven wars.  The US government is engaged in (at least) seven wars.  Never-ending wars.  Children raised in Iraq are suffering and have suffered, absolutely.  But don't pretend that children in the US haven't been impacted.  Many have grown up deprived because the same government that can spend a trillion dollars -- spending away the children's future -- can't provide for basic needs let alone the commons and shared spaces.  But also true, children in the US now grow up with no notions of peace.  It's war, war, forever war.  That is normal to them because that is all they have ever seen.  The violence is normal (and Joe Biden can't stop preaching it -- see Mike's post from last night).  Is it any surprised that the urge to resort to violence spreads into US schools?  Do we not believe in cause and effect?  Do we not constantly decry this or that personal development as a bad influence on children?  So if it's, for example, a sex scene in a movie, we're shocked and shield the children.  But when it's war, war, war carried out by the government, the same government many children in this country pledge allegiance to, we pretend it has no influence at all?

The Iraq War woke me up to how the media acts as an arm of the US government to sell imperial wars & reinforce world dominance. I couldn’t believe reporters repeated every lie the Bush admin told about why we needed to invade countries at random & start a global “war on terror”

I hear you, Abby.  But I'm also aware that you're all over Syria and other topics while you ignore Iraq.  Glad you could check back in on the 15th anniversary but you do have a platform and you could use it from time to time to note the Iraq War.

I feel the same way reading Charles P. Pierce at ESQUIRE:

On Tuesday, one of that war’s most baroque cheerleaders, former general Ralph Peters, announced that he was leaving Fox News because he had suddenly discovered that it was “a propaganda machine.” There were many tubs thumped on Peters’s behalf. (As an antidote, here are Edroso’s invaluable archives of the guy he called Blood ‘n Guts, who, back in the day, saw himself as a centurion at the walls of Carthage.) That so many of the monsters out of this nightmare have been rehabilitated by their revulsion at Donald Trump did not elude Sinan Antoon, either.

No one knows for certain how many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago. Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again. The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in the United States as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime. Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of Trumpism and a mostly amnesiac citizenry. (A year ago, I watched Mr. Bush on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” dancing and talking about his paintings.) The pundits and “experts” who sold us the war still go on doing what they do. I never thought that Iraq could ever be worse than it was during Saddam’s reign, but that is what America’s war achieved and bequeathed to Iraqis.

A lot of people should have taken Tuesday off. The green rooms should have emptied as a day of atonement. George W. Bush should have spent the day in the stocks.

I'm not disagreeing with what Pierce's saying but, reality, Iraq is not just an ongoing war, it's an ongoing tragedy.  So maybe something more than a once in a blue moon mention of Iraq?

Here's a thought for Abby and Charles, once a month.  Women should do a breast self-check once a month to detect lumps ("Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit. Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast").  How about those with a platform make a point to check on Iraq at least as often as we need to self-check our breasts?  Would that be too much to ask?

Abby, Charles, I don't question the intensity of your passion, I just question the frequency of your coverage.

Violence never ends in Iraq.  ALSUMARIA reports 1 person was stabbed to death in Baghdad, a mortar attack in Baquba left 1 child injured, and, west of Anbar Province,  the Islamic State killed 4 security guards.

ALSUMARIA also notes that 4 civilians were killed north of Erbil.  How?  Turkish War Planes.  Remember, the Turkish government insists they only kill terrorists.  See the bombs they drop, they have this special ability to, in mid-flight, sniff the potential corpses and, should they smell civilian blood, they're immediately redirected automatically to a non-populated area.  That is sarcasm.  The Turkish government has been killing Kurds for years now -- and this has been ranchers and farmers and other civilians.  It's amazing how Turkey -- like the US -- has a government that would rather attack other countries instead of solving the problems in their own countries.  AL MADA reports that Turkish troops are on the ground in Erbil and notes that the Baghdad-based central government is supposed to be protecting the Iraqi borders.  So Turkish troops have invaded Iraq.  Northern Iraq.  And done so with the apparent permission of Iraq's prime minister Hayder al-Abadi.

May 12th, Iraq is set to hold parliamentary elections and Hayder wants to be prime minister again.  What about what the Iraqi people want?  Oh, when has that ever mattered?

Hayder staked his future on the premature claim that he vanquished ISIS in Iraq.  Barack Obama ousted Nouri al-Maliki in the fall of 2014 to make Hayder prime minister.  Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri wants to be prime minister again despite his flunkies repeatedly insisting that is not the case.  ALSUMARIA reports today that Nouri has insisted Iraq is passing through a serious, make-it-or-break-it period.  Naturally, Nouri believes he's the one who can save the country -- despite nearly destroying it in 2014..  Others who would like to become prime minister include Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr who has teamed up with five other groups -- including the Iraqi Communist Party -- for this election cycle.  Two others who'd like to become prime minister, Ammar al-Hakim and Ayad Allawi, have done joint photo-ops.  Ayad Allawi should have been prime minister per the 2010 elections.  But Nouri refused to step down for eight months and brought the country to a stalemate.  Barack Obama, then president, refused to back the winner of the election and instead brokered The Erbil Agreement which, in November of 2010, gave Nouri a second term as prime minister -- in effect, nullifying the election results and overturning the will of the Iraqi people.

March 7, 2010, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August 2010, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 

November 10, 2010, The Erbil Agreement is signed.  November 11, 2010, the Iraqi Parliament has their first real session in over eight months and finally declares a president, a Speaker of Parliament and Nouri as prime minister-designate -- all the things that were supposed to happen in April of 2010 but didn't.

For more on what happened, let's drop back to August 2015 for  Kevin Sylvester's THIS SUNDAY EDITION (CBC) which featured Emma Sky discussing Iraq and her new book  THE UNRAVELING: HIGH HOPES AND MISSED OPPORTUNITIES IN IRAQ.  Excerpt of the discussion about the 2010 national election:

Emma Sky: And that national election was a very closely contested election. Iraqis of all persuasions and stripes went out to participate in that election.  They'd become convinced that politics was the way forward, that they could achieve what they wanted through politics and not violence.  To people who had previously been insurgents, people who'd not voted before turned out in large numbers to vote in that election.  And during that election, the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, lost by 2 seats.  And the bloc that won was a bloc called Iraqiya led by Ayad Allawi which campaigned on "NO" to sectarianism, really trying to move beyond this horrible sectarian fighting -- an Iraq for Iraqis and no sectarianism.  And that message had attracted most of the Sunnis, a lot of the secular Shia and minority groups as well.

Kevin Sylvester:  People who felt they'd been shut out during Maliki's regime basically -- or his governance.

Emma Sky:  Yes, people that felt, you know, that they wanted to be part of the country called Iraq not -- they wanted to be this, they wanted Iraq to be the focus and not sect or ethnicity to be the focus.  And Maliki refused to accept the results.  He just said, "It is not right."  He wanted a recount.  He tried to use de-Ba'athification to eliminate or disqualify some Iraqiya members and take away the votes that they had gained.  And he just sat in his seat and sat in his seat.  And it became a real sort of internal disagreement within the US system about what to do?  So my boss, Gen [Ray] Odierno, was adamant that the US should uphold the Constitutional process, protect the political process, allow the winning group to have first go at trying to form the government for thirty days.  And he didn't think Allawi would be able to do it with himself as prime minister but he thought if you start the process they could reach agreement between Allawi and Maliki or a third candidate might appear who could become the new prime minister. So that was his recommendation.

Kevin Sylvester:   Well he even calls [US Vice President Joe] Biden -- Biden seems to suggest that that's what the administration will support and then they do a complete switch around.  What happened?

Emma Sky:  Well the ambassador at the time was a guy who hadn't got experience of the region, he was new in Iraq and didn't really want to be there.  He didn't have the same feel for the country as the general who'd been there for year after year after year.

Kevin Sylvester:  Chris Hill.

Emma Sky:  And he had, for him, you know 'Iraq needs a Shia strongman. Maliki's our man.  Maliki's our friend.  Maliki will give us a follow on security agreement to keep troops in country.'  So it looks as if Biden's listening to these two recommendations and that at the end Biden went along with the Ambassador's recommendation.  And the problem -- well a number of problems -- but nobody wanted Maliki.  People were very fearful that he was becoming a dictator, that he was sectarian, that he was divisive. And the elites had tried to remove him through votes of no confidence in previous years and the US had stepped in each time and said, "Look, this is not the time, do it through a national election."  So they had a national election, Maliki lost and they were really convinced they'd be able to get rid of him.  So when Biden made clear that the US position was to keep Maliki as prime minister, this caused a huge upset with Iraqiya.  They began to fear that America was plotting with Iran in secret agreement.  So they moved further and further and further away from being able to reach a compromise with Maliki.  And no matter how much pressure the Americans put on Iraqiya, they weren't going to agree to Maliki as prime minister and provided this opening to Iran because Iran's influence was way low at this stage because America -- America was credited with ending the civil war through the 'surge.'  But Iran sensed an opportunity and the Iranians pressured Moqtada al-Sadr -- and they pressured him and pressured him.  And he hated Maliki but they put so much pressure on to agree to a second Maliki term and the price for that was all American troops out of the country by the end of 2011.  So during this period, Americans got outplayed by Iran and Maliki moved very much over to the Iranian camp because they'd guaranteed his second term.

Kevin Sylvester:  Should-should the Obama administration been paying more attention?  Should they have -- You know, you talk about Chris Hill, the ambassador you mentioned, seemed more -- at one point, you describe him being more interested in putting green lawn turf down on the Embassy in order to play la crosse or something.  This is a guy you definitely paint as not having his head in Iraq.  How much of what has happened since then is at the fault of the Obama administration?  Hillary Clinton who put Chris Hill in place?   How much of what happens -- has happened since -- is at their feet?

Emma Sky:  Well, you know, I think they have to take some responsibility for this because of this mistake made in 2010.  And Hillary Clinton wasn't very much involved in Iraq.  She did appoint the ambassador but she wasn't involved in Iraq because President Obama had designated Biden to be his point-man on Iraq and Biden really didn't have the instinct for Iraq. He very much believed in ancient hatreds, it's in your blood, you just grow up hating each other and you think if there was anybody who would have actually understood Iraq it would have been Obama himself.  You know, he understands identity more than many people.  He understands multiple identities and how identities can change.  He understands the potential of people to change. So he's got quite a different world view from somebody like Joe Biden who's always, you know, "My grandfather was Irish and hated the British.  That's how things are."  So it is unfortunate that when the American public had enough of this war, they wanted to end the war.  For me, it wasn't so much about the troops leaving, it was the politics -- the poisonous politics.  And keeping Maliki in power when his poisonous politics were already evident was, for me, the huge mistake the Obama administration made. Because what Maliki did in his second term was to go after his rivals.  He was determined he was never going to lose an election again.  So he accused leading Sunni politicians of terrorism and pushed them out of the political process.  He reneged on his promises that he'd made to the tribal leaders who had fought against al Qaeda in Iraq during the surge. [She's referring to Sahwa, also known as Sons of Iraq and Daughters of Iraq and as Awakenings.]  He didn't pay them.  He subverted the judiciary.  And just ended up causing these mass Sunni protests that created the environment that the Islamic State could rear its ugly head and say, "Hey!"  And sadly -- and tragically, many Sunnis thought, "Maybe the Islamic State is better than Maliki."  And you've got to be pretty bad for people to think the Islamic State's better. 

Will the Iraqi people get a say this time?

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