Monday, October 20, 2014

Iraq snapshot

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.

Again.

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















    Iraq: Executions, bombings and, oops!, people are still trapped on Mount Sinjar

    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 four car bombings so far today.  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."


    NBC News reports this morning:

    Iraqi forces backed by U.S. air strikes have surrounded ISIS fighters in the northern city of Tikrit in a bid to isolate and choke off the fighters in Saddam Hussein's birthplace, according to senior local officials.
    "Iraqi security forces were able to secure and control the road from Tikrit to Baiji,” a Brigadier-General in Iraq’s defense ministry told NBC News late Sunday, referring to the nearby town which is adjacent to a key oil refinery. “These forces are around the city of Baiji now, in order to retake it, but ISIS fighters are fighting hard to defend their position inside the city.”         


    That's hilarious.

    As we noted last night, it took only one bombing to send the Iraqi military into retreat at Baiji.


    The press loves to spin and lie.  How about that Mount Sinjar success, for example?

    Barack took care of that, remember?

    Got it off his check list.

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


    All Iraq News notes Parliament is in session today and only 205 MPs attended.  There's a promise regarding two days that will address in the snapshot.


    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.




    New content at Third:



    And Kat's "Kat's Korner: Lenny chooses to strut" and "Kat's Korner: Prince, you wonder if you take him h..." went up earlier today.   The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.






     
















    Sunday, October 19, 2014

    Hejira

    Saturday, 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.



    Yesterday 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."

    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.



    The hope is that the government will be seen as inclusive -- although at present, it appears Iraqi women are only represented once on the Council -- and that this will allow a Sunni buy-in after former prime minister Nouri' al-Maliki's non-stop efforts to drive them out over the last four years. It is also hoped that having heads for the security ministries will allow the violence to be addressed.

    Those are hopes for the near future.

    Today, the violence included.  Some of the incidents getting attention?  BBC News notes a suicide bomber detonated in a Baghdad mosque taking his own life and the lives of 18 other people.  Xinhua adds the toll rose to 22 dead (with twenty-five more injured).  Meanwhile World Bulletin notes the Iraqi military's efforts to retake Baiji ended when a bomb blew up "an armored vehicle" killing 4 Iraqi soldiers and leaving seven more injured.  The military insists the vehicle blown up was driven by a member of the Islamic State and that the military mistook it for one of their own vehicles and, most importantly, they'll try again to retake Baiji.  Real soon. 






    I'm traveling in some vehicle
    I'm sitting in some cafe
    A defector from the petty wars
    That shell shock love away
    -- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

     The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4491.






    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, Susan's On the Edge, Tavis Smiley and Pacifica Evening News --  have updated:




















  • Kat's "Kat's Korner: Lenny chooses to strut" and "Kat's Korner: Prince, you wonder if you take him h..." went up earlier today.   The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.






     







    Kat's Korner: Prince, you wonder if you take him home?

    Kat:  Can Prince still get funky?

    The purple reign of Prince began in 1978 with the release of his debut album For You.  He's now working in his fifth decade (the '10s) and few could still funk it out, so it's not an unreasonable question.

    But it's a question that "Funknroll" immediately silences.

    Only to immediately raise a new question:  Which version do you like better?

    For me, I like the version on his new album Art Official Age.




    But I love the version on his new album Plectrunemlectrum.




    Huh?

    Yeah, the perplexing one has done it again, steered hard left when everyone thought he'd drive down the center.

    In this case, that means issuing two new albums on the same day as last month closed out.


    Yeah, Prince has always been the Laverne & Shirley of the music set -- give us any chance we'll take it, read us any rule, we'll break it.


    Most artists, if they had two strong albums, would release them space out over several months to allow them to be appreciated for what they are and to allow them not to have to compete with another.

    But the man who'se released six albums from 1994 to 1996 (ten if you count remixes) has always tended to overwhelm his audience -- both with talent and with product.



    Plecrumelectrum captures the ear immediately as it finds Prince working with a stripped down, small combo 3rdeyegirl.  And if you don't know them now, you will by November 1st when they're sure to rock out as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. The group is drummer Hannah Ford Welton, guitarist Donna Grantis and bassist Ida Nielsen.

    Plecrumelectrum is one track of power and beauty after another.

    And, for me, "Whitecaps" is the ultimate of the twelve tracks.



    I saw whitecaps on the water today
    15 Minutes after you went away
    Couldn't find a reason to make you stay
    It's windy now, but it's gonna be okay
    I saw a black butterfly lose it's wings today
    Cinched by the candle underneath the archway
    Wherever they land they'll have to stay
    Who can say, but what a price to pay
    Whitecaps on the water
    But that's okay
    Ain't never been a storm I'm running from
    Come my way
    Weather man said it would be easy
    Over in a day
    It's windy now
    But it's gonna be okay 


    "Anotherlove" is a close second but that's the song that nails the collection for me.

    I'd like a few weeks to digest the album.

    And I have a feeling that, after a few months, I'll feel more in love with Art Official Age.  This is a concept album of sorts and, honestly, the concepts eluding me at present.

    But a woman shows up explaining to us that the artist Prince (Mr. Nelson) has been frozen in time for forty-five years and, though the years don't add up, Art Official Age feels like a follow up to Prince's 1985 Around the World in a Day  and 1987's Sign of the Times.

    "Clouds"  would feel right at home alongside "Raspberry Beret" and "Pop Life."  And "Way Back Home" is probably Prince's best ballad since 1987's "Adore" but  the album's finest track has to be "This Could Be Us."


    This could be us
    But u b playin'
    This could be us
    But u keep on foolin' around
    Ure the cage to me dove
    I'm just saying
    Forever and ever in love
    Oh baby yeah, this could be us.
    U know u want me like a new pair of shoes
    This could be... us
    This could be us

    Plectrumelectrum grinds up against you from the start while Art Official Age shoots you inviting looks from across the club.  In their own way, they're each brilliant albums but it may take a few months of steady dating to figure out which one is truly the one.










    Kat's Korner: Lenny chooses to strut

    Kat:  Lenny Kravitz has made a solid album in spite of himself.

    The four time Grammy winner is back with his first album in three years and the good news is Strut plays start to finish.




    That's not a minor accomplishment for any artist and certainly not for Lenny who delivered a solid album with 1989's Let Love Rule and followed that with albums that half worked and half didn't.

    2008's It Is Time for a Love Revolution found him serving up a fully functional album again but then came Black and White America.

    Kravitz is a highly talented guitar player and an amazing vocalist.

    Where he tends to falter is in songwriting.



    On Strut, he does a cover of Smokey Robinson and Warren Moore's "Ooh Baby Baby."  As with his cover of "American Woman," he doesn't just nail the song, he reconfigures it.  Which makes you wonder why he doesn't do covers more often?  I'd love to, for example, here what he could do with INXS' "Never Tear US Apart," Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" or Madonna's "Like A Prayer."


    But closing with "Ooh Baby Baby" was a smart choice, letting the album go out on strong note.

    Fortunately, the four songs leading up to it are strong musically which tends to overcompensate for the weak lyrics because by "She's a Beast," he (and, on one track, Craig Ross) are really stumbling lyrically.

    Prior to that, Lenny (and Craig Ross)  offer the title track, "Dirty White Boots" and especially "Sex" which satisfy musically and lyrically.

    The thing about Lenny is how unself aware he is.

    This allows him to avoid repeating himself but it also allows him to miss his greatest strength.

    Lyrically, he writes best about freedom and constraint, the dualities, the dual between the two.

    For example, "Fly Away" was not an ode to leaving, it was about a desire to leave.

    And if any artist working today has a Joni Mitchell Blue or Hejira in them, it's probably Lenny.


    He's not yet moved towards that but with Strut he's released a solid album which will remind everyone not just that he's won four Grammys, but also that he deserved to win them.