Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A show worth watching

I really enjoyed  Kat's "Kat's Korner: Lenny chooses to strut" and "Kat's Korner: Prince, you wonder if you take him h..." and, like her, am torn over which of Prince's two new albums I like best.

I'm not torn over a sitcom.

"TV: Lorne sinks as Casey rises" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):

Maybe the world just belongs to Casey Wilson anyway?

If so, what a great moment of karma since Wilson was never appreciated by Lorne Michaels when she was on Saturday Night Live -- but few women have been.

Wilson went on to greater fame playing Penny on the only hilarious sitcom ABC's offered in the last twenty or so years.  Happy Endings was bust a gut funny with jokes whizzing by at a dizzying rate.  Modern Family, by contrast, has always treated its middle aged audience as though they were at a bus stop and a funny moment was arriving every 11 or so minutes.

Wilson was one of six actors in the ensemble cast which also included Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert and Zachary Kingston.  By season three, the show delivered a giddy high on whatever night ABC was airing it that week (they truly were determined to kill off the show) and it was the best thing on TV.

Since then, Pally's landed a gig as Peter on The Mindy Project where he delivers laughs consistently while the rest of the cast has been far less fortunate.  Take Coupe who was so delicious as the determined and in control Jane but now is stuck playing the unfunny ex-wife on the very sad CBS 'comedy' The Millers.

Wilson's working with Happy Endings producer David Caspe on Marry Me and her character Annie is tailor made for Wilson.  The series opened with Annie and Jake returning from a Mexican getaway and Jake lying that he wanted to take a nap which, after six years of dating, sent Annie into a verbal nose dive as she stormed around the kitchen and living room letting loose on all she had endured -- including painting her toe nails in a unisex bathroom -- and still no proposal.

It was comedy gold and that's setting aside the fact that Jake was trying to propose and that their family and friends were hearing Annie's entire rant from the bedroom where they were hiding.

It was comedy gold and that's setting aside Ken Marino.

But let's not set him aside because we love the big guy.

Marino's a good looking man.

How telling that NBC only comes calling when he's good looking.

The movie studios may have known how to turn a gorgeous Cary Grant into a star but the TV networks forever need an average looking man to get behind.

Ken's still not average but the years let NBC overlook that.

(If you're not getting how good looks opposed the network is, Jake is saddled with an overweight male best friend who also has a beard that would make ZZ Top do a double take.)

And as they overlook his good looks, he finally gets a chance to really strut his comedy chops in a way that only Yahoo (Burning Love) has allowed him to do before.

Marry Me is a winner.  Clearly the best sitcom of the fall season.

Marry Me really is something.

With the show Happy Endings, I didn't get it at first.

It took me time to warm up.

Maybe because I did, I am able to enjoy Marry Me from the start?


But this is a laugh out loud funny show and you'd do yourself a favor to catch the second episode this Tuesday night on NBC.

It really is the best new sitcom of the season.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, October 20, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept blows it again, Susan Rice is caught in another Sunday morning lie, for the second day in a row a suicide bomber detonates inside a Baghdad mosque, and much more.

There's a lot of embarrassment to cover today so let's open with something strong.  US Senator Patty Murray's office issued the following today:

FOR PLANNING PURPOSES            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Monday October 20, 2014                                            (202) 224-2834
JBLM: Murray to Deliver Remarks at Washington State Service Member for Life Transition Summit
Murray will commend JBLM for leading the charge in helping servicemembers transition successfully to civilian life
Will lay out steps to build on progress, ensure all veterans are connected with care, professional opportunity
(Washington, D.C.) – Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 21st, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will deliver remarks at the Washington State Service Member for Life Transition Summit, a three-day conference focused on connecting veterans, transitioning servicemembers, and their families to meaningful professional opportunities.
In her remarks, Murray will reflect on the progress made so far toward helping servicemembers in Washington state and across the country transition successfully to civilian life, lay out specific steps to build on this progress going forward, and call for continued commitment to uphold our responsibility to those who have bravely served our nation.
WHO:             Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
WHAT:          Senator Murray will deliver remarks at the Washington State Service
Member for Life Transition Summit.
WHEN:         Tuesday, Oct. 21st
                       12:00 PM PST
WHERE:       Joint Base Lewis-McChord
                        American Lakes Conference Center (Access directed once on base)


So that's tomorrow and that's the strong.

Let's turn now to the weak and embarrassing.

Andrew White.

We ignore the British creep.

We don't take known liar's seriously.

In 2006, the repugnant White testifed that there were no Jews present in Iraq.  It was a lie and when he learned reporters had been present, he had a hissy fit.

Not that he lied under oath, no.

He had a hissy fit that reporters might report he lied under oath.

(Only one outlet did.)

White's the White Bwana of Baghdad.  He presents himself as Lady Bountiful, ministering to the Iraqis.  But he's also cooperated with the regime, passed on information, ratted out people.

All of which is why he's not wanted in Baghdad currently.

We usually ignore all of that and ignore him.

But Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) chose to report on White or 'report.'

White's in the US.

Campaigning, apparently, for Republicans in the 2014 mid-terms.

Doing so at US churches.

Oh, if only Lois Lerner were still around, no doubt she'd be on the phone to immigration seeing how to toss White out of the country.

From Ashton's report or 'report':

His blamed the latest plight of Iraqi Christians on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in December 2011.
“The reason we had this tragedy now is because you came in and you left us too soon. We weren’t ready to be left,” he said, in encouraging the Life Center congregation to vote for politicians who would not have left Iraq.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/10/19/3441067_baghdad-minister-faults-us-policy.html?sp=/99/296/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

For those who don't know the fake ass, White cheered on the Iraq War.  When it grew very unpopular, he tried to publicly pretend otherwise.

For a so-called man of the cloth, he sure lies frequently.

I wasn't aware that was now allowed and encouraged in the Anglican Church.

He supported the Iraq War, cheering it on.  And now he's come to the United States to spread the 'good' word that Iraq needs more war and that Americans should vote for politicians who want more US troops in Iraq.

Is it really true that the fake ass couldn't pass an audit if his books were looked at?  There have been lots of improvements to his British home in recent years that have neighbors scratching their heads in wonder over the ability of a 'simple man of the cloth' to repeatedly foot the bills for.

Moving from one fake ass to another, Susan Rice. In the October 15, 2014 snapshot, we were taking on her many lies uttered on NBC's Meet The Press.  Let's zoom in:

Offical Benghazi Liar Dirty Rice: Our air campaign is off to a strong start and we've seen very important successes in places like Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, where we were able to rescue many tens of thousands of civilians at risk. And this is going to take time. So it can't be judged by merely what happens in one particular town or in one particular region. This is going to take time and the American people need to understand that our aim here is long-term degradation and building the capacity of our partners.         

The success of Mount Sinjar!

Kind of like the 'success' of Benghazi, eh, Susan?

Rice has a habit of spinning people left behind and forgotten as a mission accomplished.

Alsumaria reports today that Yezidi MP Haji Kndorjsmo is calling for the government to rescue 700 families who are still trapped on Mount Sinjar.

700 families?

If we pretend all are limited to three people, we've got 2100 Yazidis still trapped on Mount Sinjar all these months later and only one week after Dirty Rice went on national TV and lied.


Ahmed al-Hamadani (Al Arabiya) reports, "Local Sinjar Protection Forces holding back ISIS militants are quickly running out of supplies and ammunition and have sent out emergency appeals to U.S.-led coalition forces for help, the source said."  The Washington Post's Loveday Morris Tweeted:

  • Last night, BBC News noted a suicide bomber detonated in a Baghdad mosque taking his own life and the lives of 18 other people.  Xinhua added the toll rose to 22 dead (with twenty-five more injured).  Sunday's violence also included 12 people killed in Falluja.  Iraqi Spring MC reports that the Iraqi forces continue to shell residential neighborhoods in Falluja and these bombings killed 12 civilians with ten more left injured.

    Violence continues in Iraq.  And it's not just the hundreds the US and others kill via dropping bombs -- all of whom the US insists were 'terrorists.'  Violence also includes other incidents.  Such as, National Iraqi News Agency notes that Karbala has been slammed with car bombings repeatedly today.  Al Jazeera counts five bombings in all with at least 15 people killed and their correspondent Imran Khan states, "The month of Muharram has seen a spike in violence, particularly sectarian violence in the past. But since ISIL took over huge swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, we are expecting this to be much more bloodier than we've seen in previous years."  Alsumaria reports that two men were strangled and their bodies dumped in Kirkuk.

    AFP notes that for the second day in a row a suicide bomber has targeted a Baghdad mosque and today's bombing left 11 dead (plus the bomber).

    All Iraq News notes a Mosul suicide bomber who took his own life and the lives of 7 Peshmerga with twenty-six more Peshmerga injured.  National Iraq News Agency notes a Mosul roadside bombing left 2 people dead. and an al-Jubouri home invasion left Nimrod Police Chief Mohammed Hassan al-Jubouri and his son dead.

    In addition, they note that 1 person was shot dead in Baghdad and "A police source said that a suicide bomber, wearing an explosive belt, blew himself up inside the Kayrat Husseiniah in the Syed Sultan Ali area in central Baghdad, killing four and wounding 12 others."

    Press Association reports:

    Prime minister Haider Abadi, who took office last month, met on Monday with top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in the southern city of Najaf. He said after their talks that Mr Sistani welcomed the recent formation of the government that Mr Abadi now leads.
    The spiritual leader wields considerable influence among Iraq's Shia majority, and the meeting carried symbolic significance because Mr Sistani has shunned politicians in recent years to protest at how they run the country.

    All Iraq News quotes al-Abadi stating, "Ayatollah Sistani hailed the formation of the Iraqi government and agreed with it over rejecting the deployment of the international troops in Iraq."

    al-Sistani was applauding Saturday's news: the Iraqi Parliament voted in a Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior -- the first time since spring 2010 that the positions have been filled.  Mohammed Ghaban is the new Minister of Interior (over the federal police and prisons) and Khaled al-Obeidi is the new Minister of Defense.

    Saturday, in Boston, US Secretary of State John Kerry noted the accomplishment, "And on another note, I might just report we had a very positive step forward in Iraq today with the selection of a minister of the interior and a minister of defense. These were critical positions to be filled in order to assist with the organizing effort with respect to ISIL. So we’re very pleased. We congratulate Prime Minister Abadi and we look forward to working with them as we continue to grow the coalition and move forward."  Vice President Joe Biden's office issued the following:

    Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

    Vice President Biden spoke this morning with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.  The Vice President congratulated Prime Minister Abadi on the selection and approval of seven new cabinet ministers, including new Ministers of Defense, Finance, and Interior.  For the first time since 2010, Iraq now has a full slate of national security ministers approved by the Council of Representatives.  The Prime Minister and Vice President discussed the work ahead, including steps to rebuild Iraq’s security forces and enlist all of Iraq’s communities in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
    France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement Saturday:
    France congratulates the Iraqi prime minister on the appointment of the ministers of defense and interior, thereby completing the government that was formed on September 8, and on the swearing in of the Kurdish ministers. When he spoke to the press yesterday in Beijing, Mr. Laurent Fabius welcomed the formation of this inclusive government, which will guarantee unity and effectiveness in Iraq’s fight against Daesh.
    The conditions are now right for the government to start working toward resolving, in a spirit of unity, the numerous challenges facing the country. The fight against Daesh requires resolute action with respect to security. In order to build trust, gestures must be made toward the various components of Iraqi society.
    In these difficult circumstances, France continues to stand alongside Iraq. 

    Also weighing in was cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    The cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr said nomination the ministers of defense and interior is an important step towards improving the political and security situation and service, calling what he described as "jihadist forces" to hand liberated territories to the army and police.
    He said in a statement that "the government's success in the inauguration of the security ministries is another important step towards improving the political and security situation and the service, after the failure of the previous government."

    Of Khaled al-Obeidi, Al Jazeera notes, "Obeidi belongs to the party of Vice President Usama al-Nujaifi and is a confidant of his brother Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province that was overrun by Sunni ISIL forces." They quote their reporter Imran Khan declaring the two appointments "will be relieving to the international community, especially countries involved in the coalition fighting the ISIL."

    On the topic of Mohammed Ghaban, Loveday Morris (Washington Post) offers:

    Iraq’s parliament voted Saturday to put an affiliate of an Iranian-backed paramilitary group in charge of a key security ministry, a move that could strike a serious blow to efforts to unite Sunnis and Shiites to wrest back their country from Islamist extremists.
     The new interior minister is Mohammed Ghabban, a little-known Shiite politician with the Badr Organization. But there is little doubt that Hadi al-Amiri, head of the party and its military wing, will wield the real power in the ministry.

     At the US State Dept today, spokesperson Marie Harf failed yet again at her job.  This was the first press briefing since last Friday.  This is when she should have announced movement on the political front as evidenced by the completion of the Cabinet.  Instead, she completely ignored the topic while noting two US officials were going to gallivant around the globe working (yet again) on the military aspect.

    Did US President Barack Obama insist that the only solution for Iraq was a political solution or didn't he?

    You'd never know by the constant screw ups of the State Dept but, yes, Barack did say that it required a political solution.

    When they finally have something to trumpet, the State Dept yet again misses the point and confuses themselves with the Defense Dept.

    Lelia Fadel has a strong report for All Things Considered (NPR -- link is audio and transcript) and we may note it tomorrow but we'll link to it tonight regardless.  All Iraq News notes Parliament is in session today and only 205 MPs attended.  Alsumaria adds that Parliament is supposed to receive a budget by Wednesday.

    For those who missed it, the previous prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, never managed to present a 2014 budget.

    Yesterday,  UNAMI noted:

    A report published Sunday by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documents the alarming rise in executions carried out by Iraq since the restoration of the death penalty in 2005.

    The report documents that the number of executions carried out in Iraq rose substantially between 2005 and 2009. In 2009, 124 people were executed. Despite a drop in the implementation rate in 2010, the number of executions significantly increased between 2011 and 2013, culminating in the hanging of 177 individuals in 2013. Between 1 January and 30 September 2014 at least 60 people have been executed. Executions are often carried out in batches in Iraq – on one occasion in 2013, up to 34 individuals were executed in a single day.
    As of August 2014, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Justice, some 1,724 prisoners are awaiting execution. This number includes those sentenced to death at first instance, those on appeal, and those awaiting implementation of their sentences.
    “UNAMI and OHCHR have repeatedly voiced concerns about observed weaknesses of the Iraqi justice system,” the report states. “Criminal investigations and judicial proceedings in death penalty cases frequently fail to adhere to international and constitutional guarantees of due process and fair trial standards.”
    In over half of the trials involving the death penalty monitored by UNAMI, judges systematically ignored claims by defendants that they were subjected to torture to induce confessions, and in the remainder of cases they took little or no action. In nearly all cases, judges proceeded to convict the defendants and sentence them to death based solely, or substantially, on the weight of disputed confession evidence or the testimony of secret informants. Most defendants appeared in court unrepresented, and where the court appointed an attorney, no time was granted to the defendant to prepare adequately a defence.

    Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration (Beacon Press). We'll close with this from Bacon's "LETTER FROM MEXICO #2, A Hero of Tlatelolco" (NACLA Reports):

    MEXICO CITY (10/10/14) -- Every year on October 2 thousands of Mexican students pour into the streets of Mexico City, marching from Tlatelolco (the Plaza of Three Cultures) through the historic city center downtown, to the main plaza, the Zocalo.  They're remembering the hundreds of students who were gunned down by their own government in 1968, an event that shaped the lives of almost every politically aware young person in Mexico during that time.

    This year, just days before the march, the municipal police in Iguala, Guerrero, shot students from the local teachers' training college at Ayotzinapa.  More demonstrations and marches are taking place all over Mexico, demanding that the government find 43 students still missing.  Many speculate that graves found in Iguala contain their bodies - murdered by the same police, acting as agents of the local drug cartel.  Students marching on October 2 were in the streets for them as well, aware that the bloody events of 1968 were not so far away in some distant past. 

    leila fadel

    Sunday, October 19, 2014

    Johnny Mathis

    "This edition's playlist" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

    1) Stevie Nicks' 24 Karat Gold Songs From The Vault.

    2) The Clash' London Calling.

    3) Carly Simon's Torch.

    4) Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue.

    5) Diana Ross' Everything Is Everything.

    6) Harry Belafonte's Belafonte Sings The Blues.

    7) Dinah Washington's Drinking Again.

    8) Stevie Wonders' Songs In The Key Of Life.

    9) Nirvana's Unplugged.

    10) Johnny Mathis' Open Fire, Two Guitars.

    It was an eclectic series of choices.

    I'll just write a little on Johnny Mathis who I fear is in danger of being forgotten.

    Many know him for "Chances Are," his monster hit in the fifties.  In the 70s, he would climb the charts again via his duet with Deniece Williams "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late."

    In the film Diner, two characters debate which is the greater singer: Elvis Presley or Johnny Mathis.

    Mathis' string of hits (and his pipes) are so strong that, yes, the argument can be conducted without anyone losing face or looking ridiculous.

    The Grammy Museum notes:

    As the longest-running Columbia Records artist, Johnny Mathis has carved the path for pop music with a sound transcendent of passing fads and trends. Mixing golden-age jazz, with the fresh and youthful sounds of pop, Mathis became a household name and timeless success. His 1958 release, Johnny’s Greatest Hits, was the first thematic compilation of its kind, revolutionizing the way music was compiled and heard by the public. The album was well received by the public and held its place on Billboard’s Top Albums Chart for an unprecedented 490 consecutive weeks. In addition to receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and countless other well- deserved honors, Mathis was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame for his classic hits, “Chances Are,” “It’s Not For Me To Say,” and “Misty,” further cementing his name, and iconic voice in music history.

    Also, he has a new collection due out:

    Johnny Mathis' near 60-year tenure as a core artist at Columbia Records was only interrupted once, when he founded his own production company, Global Records, for a four-year stay at Mercury Records from 1963 to 1967.  His entire album output for that label (virtually every title rare and out of print for decades) is brought back into full focus with the release of the deluxe box set, THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION (http://smarturl.it/JM_TCGAC_amzn). This 13-CD clamshell-design package, with personal album-by-album annotations by Johnny, will be available every­where on November 17th through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTER­TAIN­­­MENT. 
    During the course of his Global/Mercury period, Johnny released 10 individual LPs, all of which have been digitally remastered for this new box set:
    • The Sounds Of Christmas (1963)
    • Tender Is The Night (1964)
    • The Wonderful World Of Make-Believe (1964)
    • This Is Love (1964)
    • Ole (1965)
    • Love Is Everything (1965)
    • The Sweetheart Tree (international edition, aka Away From Home, 1965)
    • The Shadow Of Your Smile (1966)
    • So Nice (1966)
    • Johnny Mathis Sings (1967)
    In addition to these titles, THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION will contain two more volumes of material of essential interest to Mathis collectors and completists:
    • Broadway (a "lost" album largely consisting entirely of previously unreleased covers of Broadway show tunes, recorded 1964-1965)
    • The Global Singles and Unreleased (2 CDs of non-album singles and unreleased songs)
    THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION celebrates the versatile and distinctive voice of Johnny Mathis, who has been enchanting audiences around the world since the age of 19.  He was an athletic scholarship freshman at San Francisco State College in 1955, when Columbia staff A&R producer George Avakian 'discovered' him singing in a Bay Area nightclub.  Johnny was not yet 21 when he finally arrived in New York City for his first recording sessions with Avakian in '56. Columbia A&R chief Mitch Miller took over Johnny's hitmaking production reins from 1957 to 1960.
    Mathis scored his first string of consecutive smash hits in '57 – "Wonderful! Wonderful!," "It's Not For Me To Say," "Chances Are" (his first #1), "The Twelfth Of Never," "No Love (But Your Love)," and "Wild Is The Wind."  He went on to enjoy one of the most enduring careers in popular music, an artist who has been present on the singles and albums charts in every decade from the '50s to the '10s.  He remains the only recording act in history with two LPs listed in the Billboard Top 10 (even the Top 25) on Joel Whitburn's "Albums Of Longevity" chart – 1958's Johnny's Greatest Hits (at 490 weeks, that's over nine years!) and 1959's Heavenly (at 295 weeks) – iconic achievements in pop music history.
    Johnny suddenly decamped for Mercury Records (Miller's pre-Columbia label) in 1963.  With the launch of his Global Records imprint, Johnny was embarking on a new and challeng­ing chapter of his already illustrious career.  His first LP under the new deal was The Sounds Of Christmas (1963, his second career Christmas LP), produced by arranger/conductor Don Costa.  Without Miller's input, Johnny made the bold decision to self-produce many of the Global titles, starting with his second release, Tender Is The Night (1964).
    "All of a sudden," Mathis notes in his new introduction, written especially for this box set, "I was in charge of my own decisions in the studio, and I didn't have someone to guide me on what I was doing, right or wrong… I wasn't a producer, and I didn't realize until then how important producers were and how much they assisted me in my work.  I tried to do what I could, but I had no idea what would be good for the market."
    Johnny's oft-overlooked Global recordings have always cried out for a more in-depth look at their importance, given his lack of regard at the time for current trends.  With that in mind, THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION offers a dazzling array of familiar pop standards and unique musical experiments.  Titles are as diverse as the Spanish language Ole (1965) and the forward-looking The Sweetheart Tree (1965), recorded in London.  Over the course of his Global recordings, Johnny collaborated with arrangers and conductors familiar from his time at Columbia (Costa, Glenn Osser) and drew on material by everyone from the Beatles, to Johnny Mercer, Bacharach-David, Bricusse-Newley, Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa, even Gerry Goffin-Carole King.
    Although the quality and production of Johnny Mathis' Global recordings have never been in dispute, the albums did not yield any major commercial breakthroughs as compared to his Columbia success, and were mostly out-of-print by the end of the '60s.  Johnny returned to Columbia on a high-note in 1967, with his Up, Up and Away LP vaulting inside the Top 20 on the Billboard R&B chart, boosted by his Top 40 AC hit cover of Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses."
    "Few performers had captured the idealistic dreams of his generation like Mathis," wrote James Gavin (Grammy-nominated biographer of Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker) in his liner notes to Legacy's 2-CD, 24-song compilation, The Global Masters, released back in 1997.  "His voice – a nasal tenor with high notes as light as a choirboy's – remains one of the most idiosyncratic in pop ... Whereas the singing of Frank Sinatra or Peggy Lee teemed with sexual undertones, Mathis' rang out angelically, offering the promise – or at least the illusion – that romance was forever… Then and now, Mathis sings to the lovestruck adolescent in everyone."
    (Columbia/Legacy 88843 09143 2)
    1.  The Sounds Of Christmas (1963)
    2.  Tender Is The Night (1964)
    3.  The Wonderful World Of Make-Believe (1964)
    4.  This Is Love (1964)
    5.  Ole (1965)
    6.  Love Is Everything (1965)
    7.  The Sweetheart Tree (international edition, aka Away From Home, 1965)
    8.  The Shadow Of Your Smile (1966)
    9.  So Nice (1966)
    10.  Johnny Mathis Sings (1967)
    11.  Broadway (previously unreleased "lost" album of show tunes, recorded 1964-1965)
    12.  The Global Singles and Unreleased (2 CDs, non-album singles and unreleased songs)

    Especially now that he's open about being gay, I think a great movie could be made of his life.

    If so, it could help his music be rediscovered.

    Barbra Streisand and a lot of other singers owe a huge debt to Johnny Mathis.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Saturday, October 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq finally has a Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior, Human Rights Watch has concerns, we look at the lie of WMD in Iraq, and much more.

    Let's start with the biggest nonsense of the week.

    CJ Chivers wrote poorly this week -- no surprise.  Chivers is a New York Times no-star who has clocked  more miles than a bald tire and all those years of working for the paper have really never amounted to anything of note.  The paper that creates and spits out journalistic 'stars' couldn't do anything with Chivers.

    This was demonstrated yet again when he had an assignment fall in his lap.  Michael Gordon or Judith Miller could have created shockwaves with it.  A number of others could have painted it for what it was -- a story of government indifference to the suffering of soldiers sent into a risky situation (without appropriate gear) and then ignored as they suffered.  All Chivers could do was go rote and hope he'd pleased an old college professor.

    It was left to the right wing media to do what Miller (no longer with the paper) or Gordon might have done, run around like Chicken Little insisting the sky was falling and it was falling WMDs!


    And we waited to see if the Forest Gump of White House occupants, Bully Boy Bush (the original, "I am not a smart man . . ."), would prove to be as dumb as he was so often thought to be.


    Bush was actually rather smart this week.

    He kept his mouth shut and let others stick their necks out and claim he was right and that he had been vindicated.

    He let others lie.

    He kept his mouth shut because the chemical weapons US troops encountered in Iraq were not WMDs.

    They were not what Bully Boy Bush sold the war on.

    What were they?

    What you can find in Russia today.  What you can find in parts of Eastern Europe still.

    Old stockpiles that should be destroyed.

    (But how do you destroy them?  Even 'safe' procedures will damage the environment -- a reality that should be considered when these monsters create weapons to begin with.  And 'monsters' refers to the multinational corporations.)

    Counting those decaying -- and largely unusable -- artifacts would have been like Bully Boy Bush pointing the vast number of landmines littering Iraq and claiming they too were a threat to US lives.

    Like the landmines, the aged stockpiles were not 'deployable' and were only a threat for any unlucky enough to stumble upon them (or live in the area -- those weapons degrade slowly and release chemicals into the immediate area as they do degrade).

    Bully Boy Bush did not declare, "With a lot of elbow grease and chewing gum, Saddam Hussein is hoping to glob together some decaying chemical weapons and, with a really big slingshot, aim them at Philadelphia."

    March 19, 2003, Bully Boy Bush insisted:

    The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of firefighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.

    The US troops suffering -- 17  plus seven Iraqis according to Chivers -- wouldn't have had to 'meet that threat' if Bully Boy Bush hadn't sent them into Iraq.  (And the bulk of what was discovered, as Chivers noted, were supplied by the US government.)

    While so many wasted time on fantasies and lies this week, Iraq suffered as usual.

    Today the Parliament met.  And, in real news, the Parliament voted on the security ministries.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Mohammed Ghaban is the new Minister of Interior (over the federal police and prisons) after winning the votes of 197 MPs while Khaled al-Obeidi is the new Minister of Defense after securing 173 MP votes.

    The Parliament voted on other positions as well and they matter also.  For example,  All Iraq News reports Bayan Nouri is now the Minister of Women Affairs, Hoshyar Zebari (who served 8 years as Foreign Minister) is now Minister of Finance, Faryad Rawandozi has been voted Minister of Culture, Dirbaz Mohamed was voted Minister of Immigration, Saman Abdullah was voted Minister of State, and Adil al-Shirshab was voted Minister of Tourism.

    These are all important posts.  These all should have actually been voted on some time ago. But while those posts and others are important, there is a special importance to the security ministries at present.

    National Iraqi News Agency notes: Osama al-Nujaifi (Speaker of Parliament for the last four years before becoming one of Iraq's three vice presidents currently) issued a statement congratulating the Parliament on their work today:

    He said in a statement read by his press office that this Saturday has witnessed an event of positive connotations, which is to complete the formation of the Iraqi government, and the approval of the House of Representatives on the ministers who were proposed by Dr. Haider Abadi.
    He added that this involves a fundamental and important stage in the process of starting to achieve reform and implementation of the political agreement according which the government of Mr. Abadi emerged.
    He stressed that "the success of al- Abadi in completing the formation of the government confirms the determination to meet the challenges and realize the process of change that all citizens await.

    NINA notes the Vice President offered his congratulations to those voted into office today by the Parliament and, along with those we named above, Rose Nuri Shaways was also voted on today and is now Deputy Prime Minister.

    US State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki issued the following statement:

    We congratulate the Iraqi people and their elected representatives in the Iraqi parliament on the selection of seven new cabinet ministers today. These ministers, including new Ministers of Defense, Finance, and Interior, represent the diversity of Iraq, and complete an inclusive cabinet led by Prime Minister Abadi. Significantly, this is the first time since 2010 that Iraq has had a full cabinet with security ministers confirmed by the Iraqi parliament. Today's vote is another important step in the long-term campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and restore stability to Iraq.
    The United States looks forward to further strengthening our partnership with Prime Minister Abadi, his new cabinet, and the Iraqi people. We also look forward to working with all the new ministers, in the many fields outlined in our Strategic Framework Agreement, including security, economic, educational, and cultural cooperation. Our commitment to Iraq is long-term, and this new cabinet, representing all communities inside Iraq, is a key step in overcoming the many challenges confronting Iraq.

    Jen sugar coats it -- or maybe she's being diplomatic.

    Iraq has not had a Minister of Defence or Minister of the Interior since spring 2010.

    Let's go over what happened today.

    Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi nominated Mohammed Ghaban to be Minister of Interior and Khaled al-Obeidi to be Minister of Defense.  Parliament voted on the nominations and named the two to those posts.  They are now over those ministries, they run them.  They continue to run them for the next four years unless (a) they die, (b) they chose to resign or (c) Parliament votes them out.

    In the US, if US President Barack Obama wants someone out, they're out.  (Ask Julia Pierson, former head of the Secret Service.)  Iraq has a different government set-up and the Cabinet heads have a level of authority and independence that their American equivalents would not and do not have.

    Haider hopefully chose well because he's pretty much stuck now with the two he nominated.

    In his eight years at prime minister of Iraq, thug Nouri al-Maliki fought with everyone.  He wanted this MP legally prosecuted for comparing him to Saddam Hussein (the MP wasn't prosecuted, he had immunity).  He wanted Tareq Ali, then Vice President of Iraq, stripped of his office.  Tareq served his full term.  In exile, yes.  But Tareq remained Vice President.  Parliament refused to strip him of his title.  When Nouri went after Tareq, he also went after Saleh al-Mutlaq (aka The Turncoat, more on Saleh later in the snapshot).  For approximately five months, he attempted to have Saleh stripped of his post but Parliament refused to do so.

    Once Parliament votes you in, only they can remove you.

    In 2010, Nouri decided to get around this and break the law (the Constitution of Iraq) by refusing to nominate people to head the security ministries.

    Those great western outlets told their readers and viewers that this was a temporary measure and that, in a few weeks, Nouri would nominate people for these posts.  Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya and now one of Iraq's three vice presidents, spoke the truth in January 2011 when he said this was a power grab by Nouri and that Nouri had no intention of ever nominating people to head the security ministries.

    Allawi was right.

    Nouri went his entire second term without heads of the security ministries.

    He wanted to control those ministries so he sent no names to Parliament.

    That's actually grounds for removal of office and should have triggered a no-confidence vote.  But the White House was backing Nouri until May of this year and they worked to ensure no such vote took place -- including when the diverse group of Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqiya leader Allawi (Iraqiya was non-sectarian political grouping), Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, then-Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi (a Sunni) and others came together in April and May of 2012 to push forward a no-confidence vote on Nouri.

    (They did all that was required by the Constitution.  The final step was for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to introduce the request in a session of Parliament.  Under US pressure -- and a victim of his own grand ego -- Jalal refused to do so and declared that he had the duty -- not written anywhere in the Constitution -- to consult with all who signed the petition, counsel them, query them and ensure that their signature was something that, even after badgering from him, they meant to put on paper.)

    Since 2010, Iraq had been without a Minister of Interior or a Minister of Defense.

    This as the violence climbed yearly.

    So the confirmations of Mohammed Ghaban and Khaled al-Obeidi  are major news and hopefully will result in some sort of change.

    For Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's, this is monumental.

    It shouldn't be.

    Because Nouri never should have been allowed to complete a second term (to even start one) without having the security ministries confirmed.

    But he did.

    It could have set an awful precedent had al-Abadi also refused to obey the Constitution.

    Instead, his efforts to have the offices voted on (efforts that began months ago) demonstrate that the Constitution remains the supreme law in Iraq and that even office holders must obey the law.

    On Monday, at the State Dept press briefing, Psaki or Marie Harf can rightly hail this as a major accomplishment.

    And if it doesn't seem like one, it's because the people unimpressed aren't aware of the struggle under Nouri's last four years.

    The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted the following today:

    United Nations Secretary-Genral Ban Ki-moon's Special Envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov Tweeted the following:

    On the Cabinet, it'll be interesting to see if there's more than one woman in it.  One does, however, put al-Abadi ahead of Nouri al-Maliki who began his second term with no woman in the Cabient and with (male) Hoshyar Zebari as 'acting' Minister of Women's Affairs.

    Equally true, is that neither person confirmed as security heads may be qualified or fit.

    Only time will tell that.

    Kenneth Roth heads Human Rights Watch.  He feels the above is important enough to Tweet twice.

    I agree it's important and if he or HRW has more on it, we will note it.

    If it's true about Mohammed Ghaban?

    I don't think there's any if.

    I think it's true.

    Roth's not an alarmist or one to go out on a limb.

    But my position?

    As one thug after another has been brought into the Iraqi government -- usually at the US government's behest -- and as there's been no justice commission*, what do you do?

    Hopefully, Ghaban will see this as a moment to go bigger than himself, to go beyond sectarian feelings, to prove that he can move forward -- and, therefore, so can Iraq -- and work towards unity and abandon the destructive cycle of never-ending revenge.

    That was the hallmark of Nouri's two terms.

    A chicken s**t coward who fled the country rather than take on Saddam, Nouri advocated for the US to attack Iraq (again, something he was too cowardly to do himself) and only after that happened did he return to the country.  Once named prime minister, he attempted to assault the Sunni community in revenge reprisals.

    It's all nonsense at some point and you just have to let the past go.  That doesn't mean you forget, that does mean that you work towards the future and not spend every waking hour trying to avenge the past.  The past is, after all, past, gone.

    I support a justice commission but I'm also leery of one.

    The Justice and Accountability Commission was not a truth commission but it fancied itself as such.  All it did was persecute Sunnis.  If that's what's going to pass for a truth commission or justice commission in Iraq, the country might as well not even bother.

    If they want to address actual crimes against humanity, and put Sunnis and Shi'ites (and maybe even Kurds) on trial, fine.  They should certainly start with Nouri al-Maliki.

    But I don't see such a commission being created.

    I'm not dismissing Kenneth Roth's concerns and I'm glad that he's calling attention to Mohammed Ghaban's history.  Maybe such attention will help move Ghaban away from sectarianism and towards unity.

    And maybe such attention will allow Iraq to arrive at a point in the near future where their government is made up of their citizens who chose to fight for the country, not to run from it.  Maybe at some point, actual Iraqis in the government will outnumber the exiles who only returned after the US military ran Saddam Hussein out of Baghdad.

    Kenneth Roth's concerns are not 'pie in the sky.'  They are very real concerns that should be taken seriously and Ghaban's actions should always be tested against that past record.  I am also not claiming that I'm being 'realistic' or 'real politic' or any such thing.

    I'm just saying that my position is, Iraq needs to move forward.  I didn't pick Haider al-Abadi's nominee.  But he was picked and he's been confirmed.  And it's good, Constitutionally speaking, that someone now holds the office.  Ghaban has a chance to show he's more than what Roth or I think of him.  He has a chance to represent Iraq -- all of Iraq -- and to take part in the creation of unity.  We should know in a matter of months -- or weeks -- whether or not he's up to that challenge and up to the honor of the office.

    Again, I'm not presenting myself as a 'realist.'

    If anything, I'm just a concerned and exhausted observer.

    And exhausted explains Saleh al-Mutlaq's latest troubles.

    The man who has been dubbed the Whore of Babylon on Arabic social media saved his own ass multiple times but, in order to do so, he had to burn a lot of bridges.

    As noted earlier, in December 2011, Saleh was targeted along with Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri.

    While Tareq continued to be targeted, Saleh fell before Nouri, dropped to his knees and begged mercy.

    Lay down with dogs, get fleas.  Lay down with Nouri, get pubic lice.

    And it's itchy for Saleh now.

    Long rumored to have enriched his own pockets with government money while serving as Deputy Prime Minister (2010 to 2014), Saleh's now facing more than rumors.

    All Iraq News notes that Speaker of Parliment Saleem al-Jobouri announced today that Saleh will face questions from the Parliament about rumors of corruption and crimes.

    Like Saleh, the Speaker is a Sunni.  In the past, that might have been enough to protect Saleh.  Not after he got in bed with Nouri and burned his bridges.  Since then, he's had objects hurled at him by Sunni protesters and his face has been prominently featured at Sunni protests -- his face with a large red X over it.

    Saleh may really be on his own.

    If so, he may be the first to be punished for corruption.

    On another topic, I was going to do this for its own entry but an HRW friend asked why I didn't highlight this by Erin Evers and why I didn't highlight Amnesty International's report this week.

    On HRW, will note it in a moment and I honestly was unaware of their piece.

    It came out ahead of Amnesty International's piece.

    We did highlight Amnesty and link to it.

    Normally, I would have done a lot with it.

    We would have gone over it in two or more snapshots.

    But I'm just really damn tired.

    I'm tried of being here online and I'm tired of having to lobby Amnesty International to do their damn job.  I had one phone call after another with them over this for over a month now.  I got two friends who fundraise for them to lodge objections as well.

    This all started back in September (see "The death of Amnesty International?" ) and I know Amnesty International US branch is bulls**t.  It's nonsense, it's garbage.  If you need something done, you know you lobby the UK branch which does have some concern about human rights.

    But this time, even those doors were closed.  I had to yell and scream at friends with AI, I had to pull in two friends to join me and then finally AI responds with a report that they should have issued months ago.

    Now it's issued and everyone from  CBC to Stars and Stripes has covered it -- by carrying the AP report on it.  So that's a good thing.

    But the efforts on my part, the time I had to put in, the yelling I had to do (I was hoarse one day from yelling on the phone) and, yes, the threat I had to make about funding drying up if AI was seen as anti-Arab, after all of that, I wasn't in the mood to spend time on a report which basically notes what we've been covering forever and a day.  We'll probably use it as a reference but that's about it.

    Now this is from Erin Evers' Human Rights Watch piece at the end of September:

    The spectacular conquests by the Islamic State have held much of the world’s attention ever since it took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Adding to this attention are the US airstrikes in northern Iraq, where the group targeted minority populations, kidnapping and killing hundreds - maybe thousands - and displacing thousands more.
    But these high-profile killings and abductions are only part of the story of the horrendous abuses Iraqi civilians are suffering, including from government troops and Shiite militias. I met in recent days with more than 40 residents of Latifiyya, a town in the area known as the ‘Baghdad Belt’ whose population size, they said, has been reduced from approximately 200,000 to 50,000 in recent months. The town is majority Sunni with a sizeable Shia population.
    The town is strategically located at the crossroads connecting four provinces – Baghdad, Babel, Wasit and Anbar. During the US-led occupation of Iraq, US troops named Latifiyya and the neighbouring towns Yousifiyya and Mahmoudiyya the ‘triangle of death’ because of the strong al-Qaeda presence. Though Latifiyya is particularly vulnerable right now, the abuses residents described are very similar to what we’ve been finding in the Baghdad Belt and other parts of Iraq for months.

    The area’s majority Sunni population is paying a high price for the town’s location and its reputation for being restive. Residents told me that Shia militias, still operating under the control of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, are laying siege to the town, especially the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq militia. Sunni residents of other towns to the north accused that group and other militias of carrying out summary executions there after the militas took control in the wake of US air strikes against the Islamic State.

    Erin always does strong work and my apologies for missing that report.

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 142 violent deahts in Iraq on Friday with another 122 left injured.

    At her site, Trina's noted  "Sibel Edmonds and the Deep State (SOAPBOX PODCAST 10/19/14)"  and we'll note it here as well.  As Trina points out:

    It should be a wide ranging discussion because Cindy's no Amy Goodman.
    Amy's not interested in Sibel or issues that really matter.
    What I like about Cindy's show is Cindy just doesn't give a damn about so-called respectability.
    She's going to have an interesting discussion with her guests and if they go to places that aren't Ford Foundation approved, oh well.
    So make a point to catch this.

    Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration (Beacon Press). We'll close with this from Bacon's "GLOBALIZATION AND NAFTA CAUSED MIGRATION FROM MEXICO" (The Public Eye/Political Research Associates):

    When NAFTA was passed two decades ago, its boosters promised it would bring "first world" status for the Mexican people.  Instead, it prompted a great migration north.

    Rufino Domínguez, the former coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations, who now heads the Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants, estimates that there are about 500,000 indigenous people from Oaxaca living in the U.S., 300,000 in California alone.1

    In Oaxaca, some towns have become depopulated, or are now made up of only communities of the very old and very young, where most working-age people have left to work in the north. Economic crises provoked by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other economic reforms are now uprooting and displacing these Mexicans in the country's most remote areas, where people still speak languages (such as Mixteco, Zapoteco and Triqui) that were old when Columbus arrived from Spain.2 "There are no jobs, and NAFTA forced the price of corn so low that it's not economically possible to plant a crop anymore," Dominguez says. "We come to the U.S. to work because we can't get a price for our product at home. There's no alternative."