Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, February 12, 2019.  The acting US Secretary of Defense makes a surprise visit to Iraq, BurnPits 360 has an announcement and more.

In yesterday's snapshot, I quoted from Ava and my "Katie was a cheerleader" about Katie Couric and then noted:

I also wonder if Katie ever got credit for giving a portion of her salary up when CBS was threatening to fire news employees?  We covered Katie a lot but I don't think we ever covered that.  I think I can cover it by quoting someone else (I know Katie and we've been accused by several male journalists in nasty little e-mails of showing her favoritism).  I'll do so in tomorrow's snapshot.

From page 571 of James Andrew Miller's POWER HOUSE CAA: THE UNTOLD SOTRY OF HOLLYWOOD'S CREATIVE ARTISTS AGENCY,  Alan Berger speaking about Katie Couric:

In the third year of Katie's tenure as the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, we leaned that upcoming budget cuts would involve significant layoffs, including several members of the staff of the CBS Evening News team -- from senior level producers to young associate producers -- all key contributors to the production of the daily newscast.
Katie met with CBS News president Sean McManus to discuss their situation and how she could fight for her colleagues and save their positions.  When it became clear that financial pressures required going forward with the cuts, Katie decided -- in consultation with her personal advisers -- to take matters into her own hands.
Katie voluntarily, and quietly, agreed to cut her CBS salary by over $1 million, creating a savings to preserve the jobs of her associates on the broadcast.  Katie insisted on two conditions for the unprecedented give-back: One -- the money would be directly used to pay for her staff so that they would not be terminated.  Two -- this would be done quietly with no public or private acknowledgment or announcement about her gesture.
This act exemplified Katie's appreciation of and commitment to her team.  We went to Sean McManus and made the offer on Katie's behalf and these individuals remained employed -- with the individuals involved never knowing what had happened.

Again, all these years later, I don't believe she's gotten credit for what she did.

That's credit where it's due.  Now to another issue.  A few e-mails asked that I weigh in on the John Cusack and Neera Tanden controversy.  I even got three calls from friends in the industry who felt I had to weigh in. 

All wishing I'd weigh in are about to be disappointed -- maybe don't make an ask if you don't know where I stand already.

John Cusack is a lousy actor.  I remember Joe Roth showing me a rough cut of AMERICA'S SWEETHEART which was problematic and there was no way to save it.  I told him that if he paid John more than scale, he was ripped off.  In what world would a woman be allowed to show up for filming a big budget, romantic comedy looking like he did.  Never.  He couldn't work out, he couldn't get a hair cut and he couldn't even 'act' the impression that he'd showered at any point in the last six months.  He was disgusting.

John is physically unappealing and always has been.  People confuse the character Cameron wrote for SAY ANYTHING with John.  That's not John.  That film and THE GRIFTERS are really all he'll be remembered for -- and be honest, Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening own THE GRIFTERS, John's just along for the ride.  Annette?  A very smart woman and a gifted actress.

Also the wife of Warren Beatty who remains a great friend.  John has been rude, dismissive and disrespectful of Warren over the years.  He thinks he's smarter than Warren.  He wishes.  Not only is he not smarter, he can't even throw a better party than Warren and Annette.

I loathe Neera and if she and John were having a Twitter war, so be it.  I could care less. 

But being asked to weigh in, I will.  Neera's in the right.

In what world does anyone actually think -- as John tried to maintain -- that Neera needs to promise to vote for whomever gets the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020?

That was an insult to her and it was distorting her position.  Of course she's going to vote for the nominee.  To suggest otherwise -- as John did -- is to be dishonest.

Everything I loathe about John -- and I do loathe him -- is on display in the fight he picked.

Let's say we all live on the same street and we decide to plant flowers in our front yards.  Everyone plants what they want and it looks fine.  Then along comes John insisting that we should all be planting daisies instead of what we planted.  In what world does he have a right to tell us anything?

That's what happened on Twitter.  John is always trying to tell people what to do.  It's not his business.  Instead of speaking for himself, he has to lecture the world.  It's why people don't like him in the industry.  It's why he's avoided at the rare parties he's invited to (or tags along to) these days.  No grown ass adult needs John in their face telling them what they should do. 

And we all just laugh at him because, well, look at him.

He's got a weird head and he's pudgy.  His hair's thinning and his career's played out.  He does the equivalent of direct to video projects.  He has no real talent.

I really am amazed (and Ava and I note this about an actress in our piece for THIRD this week -- no, THIRD still hasn't posted but we wrote our piece Sunday morning) at people who think they can act when they can't.  And I'm amazed that people ahead of John's generation that could act still sought acting coaches to get better at their craft.  People like John mistakenly think that they can act and that they're at the height of their craft when they really can't act and when they're career is over because of that fact.

Marilyn Monroe took acting lessons and had acting coaches when she was starting out, yes.  She also continued lessons and continued working with coaches (Paula Strasberg) long after she was a star.  Contrast that with a splotch on the window, which is all John is, who thinks he's learned all he can and has achieved acting greatness.

It's the same with his 'politics.'  He's not smart there either.  And he's picking fights with Neera when he could be covering a topic that matters -- hint: Iraq. 

Instead, he chose to ask Neera an insulting question that implied she wouldn't vote for the Democratic Party nominee unless it was her personal choice.  I dislike Neera intensely but that was a smear on John's part.  Neera will always vote for the Democratic Party nominee.  To suggest otherwise is to misread her life and her work -- to intentionally misread it. 

Acting Pentagon chief makes surprise visit to Iraq

Robert Burns (AP) notes:

 In remarks to reporters after leaving Washington on Sunday, Shanahan declined to say whether he would propose that additional U.S. special operations troops be brought to Iraq to, in effect, compensate for a pullout from Syria to begin within weeks.
The U.S. has about 5,200 troops in Iraq to train and advise its security forces, 16 years after the U.S. invaded to topple Saddam Hussein.

Yes, the trip was "unannounced."  How sad that all these years later, US officials still have to sneak into the country while fearing that any pre-publicity will result in organized attacks on them.  ALJAZEERA reports:

Patrick Shanahan, the acting US defence secretary, has arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit for talks on the continued United States troops presence in Iraq
"We are in Iraq at the invitation of the government and our interests are to build Iraqi security capability," Shanahan told reporters travelling with him on his first trip to Iraq on Tuesday.

"I want to hear first-hand from them about concerns, the political dynamics that they are facing and then based on that we will obviously factor that into our planning."

  1. Acting Pentagon chief visits Baghdad to support Iraq, discuss Syria withdrawal: Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday for an unannounced visit during which he said he would stress the importance of Iraqi sovereignty…

Interim Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan visits Iraq; NATO next

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan started on Tuesday an unannounced trip to , where he is set to discuss with Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi the future of troops in the country.

Pentagon leader in Iraq for talks on U.S. military presence

The visit comes as PRESS TV reports:

The leader of a powerful Iraqi militia group has lashed out at the US for propping up the ISIS terrorist outfit in order to extend the stay of American troops in Iraq.

Qais al-Khazali, leader the Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, said in a tweet on Monday that Washington looks at its own interests in Iraq before deciding whether to destroy ISIS or help it recover from many defeats it has suffered over the recent months.
Right now, he said, Washington needs the terrorist group to justify the presence of thousands of American forces in Iraq.

RT calls it a "charm offensive" effort to keep US troops on the ground in Iraq.  Calls for US troops out of Iraq had taken place prior to US President Donald Trump's announcement last week that he wanted US troops in Iraq to watch Iran.  Those comments led to more calls from Iraqis for US troops to leave Iraq.  RT notes:

Meanwhile, former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze that Washington’s stated aim to expand US military objectives in Iraq would be a violation of Iraqi law.
“It’s not a job of foreign troops to spy on our neighbors or use Iraq as springboard against our neighbors, this is not allowed in the Iraqi constitution and this is not part of the whole operations,” Abadi said.

It's interesting how the announced meeting is with one person.

  1. وزير الدفاع الأميركي بالوكالة سيلتقي رئيس الوزراء العراقي عادل عبد المهدي

Adil Abdul-Mahdi.  The prime minister.  All last week, the US press glommed on the president of Iraq -- a ceremonial post.  No mention of the president of Iraq being on a meet list but repeated mentions that the Acting Secretary of Defense will meet with Iraq's prime minister.

While they talk about continuing the US occupation of Iraq, the Iraqi people suffer -- continue to suffer.

Protection is a basic right for every child--even in times of conflict. Thousands of families who escaped violence now live in displacement camps in . SOS Children’s Villages has supported more than 10,000 people in since September 2016.

With all the money Iraq makes off oil, there was no reason to enter into any arrangement with the IMF, there was no reason for any Iraqi to go without shelter or food.  But corruption in the government ensures that all the billions go everywhere but to care for the Iraqi people.  This is the corrupt government that the US government has installed.

Let's wind down by noting this:


Dear friend,

As we mentioned previously, 2019 is the year that we are going to fight hard for our veterans and pass meaningful legislation that improves the lives for them and their families. Doing that begins with properly informing those making the decisions on proposed legislation being passed. We are excited to announce our 2019 Congressional Briefing being held in Washington D.C. where various Members of Congress will be attending to learn more about burn pits, hear testimony from healthcare experts and veterans, and understand how they can play a role in ensuring that those that are suffering from the toxic wounds of war are taken care of. 
We are sending you this SAVE THE DATE, because we want to let you know that this is open to the public and hope that you are able to attend. The following day, we will be having our Burn Pits Lobby Day where we will be sitting down with various Members of Congress and having one-on-one conversations and ensuring their support on this pressing issue.

If you are interested in attending, send us an email to EVENTS@BURNPITS360.ORG. We hope to see you in DC in April!

Eric Holguin
Government & Public Affairs
Our mailing address is:
Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization
 201 N. 4th Street
 Robstown, Texas 78380

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