Thursday, April 05, 2018

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR: sexist and homophobic

If Maggie Q wasn't on DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, I would have quit watching long ago.

I'm sure Keifer Sutherland wants her fired next since they've fired every other woman who had a position of consequence on the show.  Kimble, the Congresswoman, for example.  Gone.  The First Lady?  Gone.

Keifer doesn't like to share the limelight, apparently.  On 24, he really didn't have to, did he?

This year is all about Keifer fighting Old Man Disease.  That's when a man of a certain age has to yell like crazy because he feels impotent and unnoticed.

So Keifer yells constantly.  And it's so annoying.

They've added yet another male character.  At least this one's good. Blakely?

Something like that.  It's the guy who played Sean on NIKITA and his scenes are with Maggie Q so it's sort of like a mini-NIKITA reunion.

Maggie Q's storyline this year really isn't adding up -- doesn't seem like the screenwriters know what they're doing -- but she remains the best thing about the show.

The worst after Kiefer's constant screaming?  Seth.  I don't care if he created the show, he's a lousy actor and he's just gotten worse this season as they've tried to make him a romantic leading man.

Here's a question: Where are the gay men?

They keep adding men to this show constantly.  But no one's gay.  This is the 21st century and Keifer likes to self-present as progressive.  How do they have all of those regular characters and not one of those men is gay?

Here are the characters from the first two seasons via WIKIPEDIA:


  • Kiefer Sutherland as Thomas "Tom" Kirkman, the President of the United States and the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who is sworn in following an unprecedented attack.[5]
  • Natascha McElhone as Alexandra "Alex" Kirkman (season 1–2), Tom's devoted wife and a former immigration lawyer, who finds herself thrust into a role she was not prepared to take on.[6] McElhone's move to Hulu's The First resulted in the first lady being written out of the second season via a car accident.[7]
  • Adan Canto as Aaron Shore, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, who becomes Chief of Staff in the days following the bombing; he resigns after being interrogated about the attack. He works as an aide to Speaker of the House Kimble Hookstraten before returning to the White House as Tom's National Security Advisor.[8]
  • Italia Ricci as Emily Rhodes, Tom's Chief of Staff from his days as HUD Secretary, who becomes his Special Advisor and, following Aaron's resignation, his Chief of Staff.[6]
  • LaMonica Garrett as Mike Ritter, a Secret Service agent originally assigned to Tom's personal security detail, who tries to ensure the Kirkman family's safety following the bombing.[9]
  • Tanner Buchanan as Leo Kirkman (season 1;[a] recurring season 2), Tom's teenaged son, who does everything he can to support his little sister, but struggles to keep it together after a shocking secret about his past comes to light.[10]
  • Kal Penn as Seth Wright, a speechwriter who initially harbors doubts about Tom's abilities to lead the country but quickly becomes one of his closest advisors and the new White House Press Secretary.[6]
  • Maggie Q as Hannah Wells, an FBI agent assigned to investigate the events surrounding the bombing who suspects that the people responsible are not yet finished with what they started.[6]
  • Paulo Costanzo as White House Political Director Lyor Boone (season 2–), a highly skilled yet socially inept political consultant hired to help develop the Kirkman administration's political strategy.[11]
  • Zoe McLellan as White House Counsel Kendra Daynes (season 2–)[12]
  • Ben Lawson as Damian Rennett (season 2–), an MI6 agent assigned to find the bombing's chief architect who develops a competitive relationship with Wells.[13]

  • Mckenna Grace as Penny Kirkman, Tom's daughter and Leo's younger sister.[10]
  • Peter Outerbridge as Charles Langdon, the former Chief of Staff and one of the survivors of the Capitol bombing who provides Wells with information about the conspiracy.
  • Malik Yoba as Jason Atwood, the Deputy Director of the FBI who initially spars with Wells over her investigation into the bombing but quickly becomes one of her most trusted allies.[14]
  • Kevin McNally as General Harris Cochrane, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffwho refuses to accept Tom as the new Commander in Chief and attempts to take matters into his own hands.[15]
  • Virginia Madsen as Congresswoman Kimble Hookstraten, a Republican from Missouri and the designated survivor for the Republican Party who supports Tom's authority while secretly harboring her own agenda.
  • Ashley Zukerman as Congressman Peter MacLeish, a third-term representative from Oregon who becomes a national hero following the bombing but struggles to hide a dark secret.[16]
  • George Tchortov as Nestor Lozano, a former CIA agent and wanted mercenary operating under the name "Catalan" who is heavily involved in the conspiracy.
  • Reed Diamond as John Foerstel, the former Assistant Director of the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and the current Director of the FBI who occasionally assists Wells in her investigations.
  • Mykelti Williamson as Admiral Chernow, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffwho quickly becomes one of Tom's most trusted advisors.[17]
  • Michael Gaston as James Royce, the Governor of Michigan who openly defies the Kirkman administration and tries to establish his own supreme authority.[18]
  • Mariana Klaveno as Brooke Mathison, a clandestine operator in league with the people behind the Capitol bombing.
  • Jake Epstein as Chuck Russink, an FBI analyst who occasionally assists Wells in her investigation.
  • Lara Jean Chorostecki as Beth MacLeish, Peter MacLeish's wife and a member of the conspiracy who goads him into following through with their agenda.
  • Rob Morrow as Abe Leonard, a disgraced investigative journalist determined to expose the Kirkman administration's secrets.[19]
  • Geoff Pierson as Cornelius Moss, a former President of the United States whom Tom appoints as his Secretary of State.[20]
  • Mark Deklin as Senator Jack Bowman, a Republican from Montana who seeks to raise his national profile by opposing Tom's legislative agenda.
  • Kearran Giovanni as Senator Diane Hunter, a Democrat from Massachusetts and the Senate Minority Leader who has a habit of sparring with Bowman.
  • Terry Serpico as Patrick Lloyd, the CEO of a defunct private military firm and the mastermind behind the conspiracy.
  • Richard Waugh as Jay Whitaker, the Homeland Security Advisor and a member of the conspiracy.
  • Breckin Meyer as Trey Kirkman, the President's estranged younger brother, a financial expert who becomes a confidant and advisor to the President.[21]
  • Kim Raver as Andrea Frost, an engineer and space entrepreneur[22]
  • Michael J. Fox as Ethan West, a Washington attorney and special prosecutor[23]
  • Nora Zehetner as Valeria Poriskova, a Russian intelligence officer assigned undercover as a Russian Embassy cultural attaché.[24]
  • Aunjanue Ellis as Mayor Ellenor Darby, the mayor of Washington, D.C. who is later nominated by Kirkman as the next Vice President following their successful collaboration and response to the D.C. power failure caused by a cyberattack.

That's 23 men. 12 women.

That's nearly twice as many men on the show.  We're not supposed to notice this?

Just like we're not supposed to notice that they've had 35 prominent characters in two years and not one has been gay?

What is this nonsense?

Kal Penn is a part of the problem. He was part of Barack's administration and Barack had gays and lesbians in the administration.  But Kai doesn't want to reflect the reality of the world today or pressure the producers to.

What an embarrassment.

So is the whole Keifer-meets-a-gal storylines.  He needs a 'gal' because his wife just died?  Maybe he needs to spend time with his kids who lost their mother?

Again, Maggie Q's the only reason to watch.

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

Thursday, April 5, 2018.  The reselling of the Iraq War is in full swing.

"We had to get the Iraqi government ready to fight back," explained Brett McGurk at Tuesday's US Institute of Peace event.  He was explaining how the US re-started the military mission in Iraq and speaking from his position as Special Envoy to Iraq.

And speaking with all the hubris you can imagine, serving up all the patronizing We-know-best you can expect.  And all to resell the Iraq War (and the war on Syria).

The government had to be taught to fight back.

Think about that for a moment.  The government had to be taught to fight back.  Why?  Maybe because it wasn't a real government.  It certainly didn't spring up on its own.  Puppet governments never do.  The US created the Iraqi government.  It doesn't represent the people of Iraq so why would it fight for them?  That is what the world saw.

In June of 2014, ISIS seized control of the city of Mosul.  The city was 'liberated' when?  July 2017.  Three years and one month later.  Supposedly, 3,000 ISIS fighters held the city at one point.  And the Iraqi government had to be taught to fight back?

And look at that great 'teaching.'  The US government started 'teaching' Iraq in the summer of 2014.  October of 2016, the operation to 'liberate' Mosul finally began.  Over two years after the city had been seized, the operation to 'liberate' the city finally began.

That's not a real government.

That's a puppet government installed by foreigners.  It's a government that doesn't represent the people.  It fears the people.  That's why the leaders are hunkered down in the Green Zone still -- all these years later.  The heavily fortified Green Zone.  And Mosul could be in ruins and controlled by ISIS but the puppet government never worried until they thought Baghdad might be seized.

The US installed the government.  That needs to be grasped.  The people of Iraq didn't.  The US installed a bunch of exiles, people who fled Iraq decades ago and only returned after the US invaded in 2003.  From Vivienne Walt's TIME profile of the current prime minister Hayder al-Abadi published last month:

An electrical engineer raised in Baghdad, al-Abadi spent more than 20 years in exile in London during Saddam’s regime. He flew home in 2003, just as the U.S. invasion began.

What instills pride and a strong bond better than turning the leadership of a country over to . . . cowards who fled decades before and only returned after foreigners invaded?

But that's how it's been.  One exile after another made prime minister -- all made prime minister by the US government.

Are you surprised they have to be taught "to fight back"?  What do they do when not hiding out behind the fortified walls of the Green Zone?

The Iraq War is being resold.  That's the point of the US Institute of Peace's Tuesday event -- noted in yesterday's "Iraq snapshot" -- and a sub-thread of Friday's CSIS event -- see Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot" and Monday's "Iraq snapshot."  Fresh from moderating the CSIS event, Anthony Cordesman shows up at THE HILL with "Don't take the wrong steps in Syria, Iraq and the fight against terrorism" to argue to continue the US occupation of Iraq as well as for an editor to proof his copy:

As for costs, we need strategic patience, and it is fundamentally wrong to talk about costs of $7 trillion. Anything like this total must include the total cost of the Afghan and Iraq conflicts, massive estimates about additional opportunity costs, and large amounts of regular defense spending that were concealed in the wartime overseas contingency accounts.
In any case, the U.S. military has vastly reduced the cost of our presence in Syrian and Iraq by relying on airpower and limited numbers of train and assist forces to support host country ground forces. This eliminates the need to deploy U.S. ground combat units, and massively reduces our costs as well as casualties. If one looks at the president’s fiscal 2019 budget request, the cost of training and equipping Syrian opposition forces drops from $500 million in fiscal 2018 to $300 million. No estimates are provided of the cost of airpower, but these too are likely to be far smaller.
The costs of staying Iraq are also dropping from $1.27 billion in fiscal 2018 to $850 million in fiscal 2019. We should have learned from rushing out of Iraq, and trying to rush out of Afghanistan, that doing so before host country forces are ready could waste the money we plan to spend on making Iraq secure, allow it to truly defeat ISIS, and give it the strength to deal with Iran.

The costs of staying in Iraq, maybe?  "In"?  Pull the string on the 12 inch Anthony doll and he says, "Prepositions is hard."  So is common sense which explains why he writes that "it is fundamentally wrong to talk about costs of $7 trillion."

There's not much effort going into ending the Iraq War but there's sure a lot of work going on to keep it going.   RUDAW reports:

The KRG’s representative to the United States has called on the US administration to stay the course in Iraq, despite the fact that many Americans are "sick and tired" of their country’s intervention in Iraq. 

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, who heads the KRG’s office in Washington, said she understands the US wants to pull out from the likes of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, but the facts on the ground require their active involvement going forward.

"I do believe the United States has a critical role to play in this," she said during a panel discussion at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington on Tuesday. The discussion was part of USIP’s conference titled ‘Iraq and Syria: Views from the US Administration, Military Leaders and the Region.’ 

In other news, IRAQI NEWS reports:

 Iraq’s President has stressed that his country would not allow Turkey to make any military incursions at the northern region, but voiced concern about a possible reproduction of the Turkish operation against Kurdish factions in Syria.
Speaking in an interview with London-based al-Hayat, Fuad Masum stressed that “after the withdrawal of the party (Kurdistan Workers Party- PKK), no foreign force can come and occupy any part of Iraq.
Masum, however, asked about the possibility of Turkey copying its operations against Kurdish factions in Syria’s Afrin to Iraq, said “We hope they do not take that step”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech last month that his country would, at any time, launch operations in Iraq’s northern Sinjar region against PKK, a group designated by Ankara as a terrorist group for engaging in decades of armed confrontations with it.  He said in a more recent speech that Turkey would not ask for permission to start the operations.

May 12th, Iraq is set to hold parliamentary elections and no one's been bothered by the fact that Ramadan takes place from May 15th to June 14th.   Past elections in Iraq have resulted in many delays -- in the case of the 2010 parliamentary elections, many months -- to settle.  If the post-election process goes even 1/4 as poorly as it did in 2010, Ramadan will only compound that.  Holding the election three days before Ramadan was very poor planning.

Hayder al-Abadi staked his future on the premature claim that he vanquished ISIS in Iraq.  That, of course, hasn't proven to be the case.   ISIS was supposed to be Hayder's big claim to fame.

Nouri al-Maliki was ousted by Barack Obama in 2014 because ISIS had seized Mosul and other spots.  Otherwise, the US would have kept installing Nouri every four years as Bully Boy Bush and Barack had already done.  It's that 'stability' that Cordesman is arguing for.  Forget that Nouri was running secret prisons and torture sites, forget that this had been exposed in the press, forget that he was disappearing people, forget that he was having the military use tanks to circle the homes of members of Parliament that he didn't like, none of that mattered.  Nor did his attacks on journalism and journalists.  His forces kidnapped reporters who covered the protests.  Even after both NPR and THE WASHINGTON POST reported that, Nouri was still given a pass by Barack.

The passes would have continued were it not for the rise of ISIS.

Hayder was installed by Barack to to get rid of ISIS.

He hasn't.

Hayder hasn't been very effective eliminating corruption either.  MEM reported two weeks ago, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi yesterday ordered an immediate investigation into allegations that fake jobs in the public sector were being offered to citizens by political parties in order to win votes in the country’s upcoming general elections.ALSUMARIA reported today that the Badr Organization's Hadi al-Amiri stated they would eliminate corruption.  He stated that they would create needed jobs and punish those who had stolen Iraq's wealth.  Hadi is a militia thug and he's also one of the corrupt -- most infamously, he ordered a plane  to remain on the runway and wait for his spoiled son Mahdi to make the flight but the plane left Lebanon without Mahdi on board so al-Amiri, then-Minister of Transportation in Iraq, refused to allow the plane to land.  It caused quite an uproar -- as CNN noted in real time.
The election will require a get-out the vote program.  The United Nations Development Program's David Aasen recently spoke with Nawal Hussein Khaled who heads Iraq's Electoral Commission's Electoral Media and Public Outreach Department.

UNDP: What does Electoral Media do?

NH: This Section establishes and implements the electoral media plans—for the National Office and for each of the Governorate Electoral Offices (GEOs). We oversee the production of TV/radio spots based on the key messages we provide, and coordinate with the Graphics Unit to design and print the materials.
These are the booklets, posters, banners distributed in the meetings with voters and displayed nationwide during each phase of the campaigns. The Electoral Commission has just completed the Voter Registration Update stage of the Governorate Council Elections. The next phase will focus on the concept of ‘get out the vote’, which is part of the polling phase. We also organize the production of promotional materials and place official notices of procedures, like registration of candidates, in the press.

UNDP: How have electoral media campaigns changed since the first elections of the political transition?

NH: In the first elections, the UN was responsible for the whole media campaign. We have been trained by the UN and now we’re doing the job. The campaign is being carried out by Iraqi hands.
We learn from our mistakes in each campaign and take measures to avoid them in the future. Some activities can be a challenge but we adapt to meet the needs of the GEOs. We can call on the UN for advice. They help us to accelerate certain actions; like UNDP placing banners on Yahoo! sites for this campaign. (The website banners, illustrated by ‘Abu Mutar’ (Father of Rain), a popular cartoon character created by the Electoral Commission artists, appear in Yahoo! mail accounts in Iraq. Abu Mutar’s captions clarify electoral information.)

Prime Minister Abadi has announced his plan to lead a coalition of mostly Shia parties and independent Sunni figures under the framework of his Victory (Nasr) Alliance. In launching his own coalition, Abadi is competing with Vice President and former prime minister Nouri al Maliki, who, like Abadi, is a leading member of the Dawa Party. Maliki’s State of Law alliance has been critical of Abadi’s leadership, and some State of Law members are vocal opponents of Iraq’s security partnership with the United States. Several former leaders of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) militias organized to help fight the Islamic State are participating in the elections as candidates under the rubric of the Fatah Alliance (see textbox below).
Other prominent Iraqi figures have organized coalitions and lists to contest the election, including a largely Sunni list led by Vice President Osama al Nujayfi and the National Alliance jointly led by Vice President Iyad Allawi, COR Speaker Salim al Juburi, and former deputy Prime Minister Salih al Mutlaq. Among Shia leaders, Ammar al Hakim’s Wisdom (Hikma) movement has formally withdrawn from the Prime Minister’s coalition, but Hakim reportedly intends to coordinate with Abadi during government formation negotiations after the election. Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr is directing his followers to support the multiparty, anti-corruption oriented Sa’irun coalition. Sadr has criticized the participation of PMF leaders in the election and is campaigning on a populist reform and anti-corruption platform.

The 2005 election was decided by the US government (Bully Boy Bush installed Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in May of 2006).  The March 2010 election was decided by the US government (President Barack Obama had The Erbil Agreement negotiated to give Nouri a second term after he lost the election).  The 2014 election was decided by the US government (Barack, now tired of Nouri, installed Hayder al-Abadi).
This time around Iraqis will get to decide?

Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri wants to be prime minister again despite his flunkies repeatedly insisting that is not the case.  ALSUMARIA reported last week 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..  Last week, ALSUMARIA noted that he's saying Iraq needs someone who can lead the country in construction and progress.  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.  Let's review, 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.  Again, it wasn't smart to schedule elections right before Ramadan.

We'll close with this from Emma Skye's new essay for FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

On May 12, Iraqis will head to the polls for parliamentary elections. These elections are coming at a pivotal moment. Since the Iraqi military announced the defeat of the Islamic State (or ISIS) in December 2017, millions of refugees and displaced people have returned to their homes. In Mosul, students are now back in school and the library that ISIS destroyed is open again. Baghdad feels safer than it has at any point since 2003—shopping malls are doing good business, new coffeehouses are opening, and parks are once again full of families.                                                           
Iraq has been at a similar crossroads before. In 2010, after the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, the sectarian war appeared to be over and both Iraqis and Americans were hopeful that elections would put the country on the path to sustainable peace. But then it all unraveled. Although the incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who led the State of Law Coalition, did not win the most seats, the Obama administration threw its support behind him. The administration was convinced that Maliki was pro-American and would allow a small contingent of U.S. forces to remain in Iraq when the status of forces agreement between the two countries expired in 2011. They also calculated that maintaining the status quo was the quickest way to ensure that an Iraqi government would be in place ahead of U.S. midterm elections. In practice, however, this decision failed to help Iraq move beyond sectarianism and undermined the notion that change could come about through politics rather than violence.


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