Friday, June 13, 2014

Can We Lose What We Never Had?

You know all about it now: Iraq is beginning to fall into the hands of an al Qaeda offshoot, while neocons are up in arms over the policies of the Obama administration for 'losing Iraq'.

I don't accept the notion that 60% of Iraqis who are Shia will tolerate being ruled over by an extreme Sunni movement, and this bloodshed is only beginning. ISIS may stretch to Baghdad, but it will be stopped there.

What ISIS needs to worry about is the legacy of Saddam Hussein and the policies/ideologies of the Baathist party that ruled Iraq for decades. One thing can be said about Iraq is that it does have an educated population. This is not a collection of goat herds living with 15th century ideas. These are modern thinking folks that won't be easily subdued into a medieval dictatorship.
The mainstream Sunnis themselves will bring about the end of ISIS as soon as they are able to gather up their head of steam, while Iran will not tolerate Shias being subjugated by an extreme brand of Sunnism.

Speaking of Iran, they are the big gorilla in the room. This is a perfect time for them to strike and claim a form of dominion over south Iraq, maybe set  up their own client state.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think a divided Iraq into three parts is the best way to go and will finally give the Kurds the nation state in the north they've been fighting for and deserve to have.

One thing for sure...
It looks to me like the political map of the Middle East will be changing.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl

I figure I may as well weigh-in on the Bowe Bergdahl thing, just I'll just post some thoughts on the matter:

For starters, I don't have much faith in the media to tell the whole story. No matter what I'm hearing, either from CNN, MSNBC, FNC or AJA (al jezera america, yes, i watch it...) I can't help but assume that I'm being spun and the truth is somewhere in the details that aren't spoken.

As for things unspoken... according to my brother, the word-rumor mill around the army is that he was not just a deserter, but also a collaborator. This has been floating among the soldiers themselves for several years, despite gag orders.

That stupidly stupid Rose Garden ceremony that POTUS staged for his parents is likely much warmer than any reception Sgt Bergdahl himself will ever receive from anybody.

Five high ranking Taliban in exchange for one dopey ass soldier seems like a fairly steep price.

POTUS, as Commander-In-Chief, has the authority to release anybody from military custody that he desires. All this about him 'breaking the law' means nothing when the law itself is illegal. That's just my take.

Wouldn't be awesome if POTUS really wanted to bring him home so as to subject him to the military justice system (who won't be wishy washy with him) while planting micro chips on the five Taliban leaders so as to track them for droning at a future date?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Retrieval

The year is 1864.
In the dead of night, a young Black teen, apparently a runaway slave, knocks on the door of a farmhouse and is met by a white lady with a shotgun who leads him to the barn. Cannons boom in the distance. Once inside, he settles down among a few other Blacks for the night.

It's not what it seems...
While the others sleep, the young teen slips out and reports to a group of  bounty hunters who descend upon the homestead, torch the barn and lead the human contents away in chains.

In the next scene, we see the boy Will (Ashton Sanders) and his 'uncle' Marcus (Keston John) receiving a few coins for their work and then being sent northward to lure in another subject to the bounty hunters, a Freeman named Nate (Tishuan Scott).
If they succeed they will be rewarded with a huge sum, enough for them to go far away and begin a  new life. Refuse, or fail, and they will be hunted down and killed.

It's a beautifully filmed piece of work, properly spaced so that the story moves along freely without getting bogged down. My biggest beef is with whoever was in charge of make up.
Shot in digital, a benefit when it comes to scenic beauty, is not a good thing when filming facial close ups. This is a slave population we are dealing with here and facial complexions should not be this clean and smooth. And who the hell thought the freshly bic'd head and pierced ear of Keston John (who looked like he could have just walked of the streets of West Los Angeles with his posture and delivery) fit the period? Or the finely manicured eyebrows of a runaway slave woman?

Two real highlights belong to Sanders and Scott.
Sanders' 'Will' looked natural as a young, confused, daring and scared teen, the weight of his fucked up life heavy on his shoulders. He's been beaten down so hard he doesn't even notice it, just plodding on, taking it as it comes, trying to get to the next day. I couldn't help but feel affection for the kid, despite the evils he was willingly pressed into.
Scott's 'Nate' carries himself with an air of well placed confidence. A man who's survived his share of struggles yet never lets his guard down. He lives a life of fear, too, but won't let that stop him, having earned his place on this earth.

Though set in the Civil War and involving slaves, this story is not about either topic. It's a tale of hard choices during times of confusion and chaos, where right and wrong may not be a choices at all when the compass never points to True North.

If you're looking for a feel good movie, this is not it. If you want a good movie with feeling, go for it.