Friday, January 01, 2021

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!!

 

First up, my reviews are updated on the right:

 

 

Let me know if one's missing and let me not lie here, C.I. updated it adding the top five.  I didn't even remember reviewing Bruce's album.  :D  Thank you, C.I., I didn't even know she'd done it.  I got online thinking that before I go to sleep (I haven't been to bed yet) let me update the list and saw that it was already updated.


Second:


I loved Ruth's report and it tipped me off that C.I. had her year-in-review finished and ready to post.  She likes to give us all at least two hours before she posts her thing.  But since it's done, I read it.  It is wonderful.  She says the year is like a bad sexual partner (I'm not giving away the title).  It's wonderful.


And I loved Martha and Shirley's look at books.


And 2020 in music is my music piece.  


So just a quick note before I go to bed.  Happy New Year, everyone.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 31, 2020. The last snapshot for 2020.


On the last real news day in the US prior to January 3rd, the media slowly wakes up to a potential attack in Iraq.  ANI reports, "Amid concerns of possible Iranian retaliation, the U.S. on Wednesday flew a pair of B-52H over the Persian Gulf, according to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)."

Last news day?  Friday is the first day of 2021 and that's a 'slow' news day in the US with many people on vacation.  Saturday and Sunday are weekend days and Sunday is the 3rd.  Will there be violence?  I hope not but the US government is worried and it's a damn shame that what passes for a media in the US couldn't have spent time explaining that.


Here's the statement from CENTCOM:


Release # 20201230-02

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

U.S. Air Force B-52H "Stratofortress" aircrews from the Minot Air Force Base, N.D.-headquartered 5th Bomb Wing made a deliberate appearance in the Middle East today to underscore the U.S. military's commitment to regional security and demonstrate a unique ability to rapidly deploy overwhelming combat power on short notice.

The two-ship deployment also delivers a clear deterrent message to anyone who intends to do harm to Americans or American interests.

"The United States continues to deploy combat-ready capabilities into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to deter any potential adversary, and make clear that we are ready and able to respond to any aggression directed at Americans or our interests," said Gen. Frank McKenzie, Commander, U.S. Central Command. "We do not seek conflict, but no one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack."

The United States continues to work closely with allies and partner to advance regional security and stability.

This mission is the third bomber deployment into CENTCOM's area of operation in the last 45 days.


They also released the following video.



Robert F. Burns (AP) notes, "One senior U.S. military officer said the flight by two Air Force B-52 bombers was in response to signals that Iran may be planning attacks against U.S. allied targets in neighboring Iraq or elsewhere in the region in coming days, even as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office."  If you're late to the party, AFP explains, "One year after US forces assassinated Iran's most storied commander, tensions are boiling between Iraq's Washington-backed premier and pro-Tehran forces that accuse him of complicity in the Baghdad drone strike."  Dan Lamothe (WASHINGTON POST via BOSTON GLOBE) words it this way, "The US military is bracing for a possible attack on American personnel and interests in Iraq, US defense officials said, days before the first anniversary of an American drone strike that killed an Iranian general in Baghdad."

The murder of Gen Qasem Solemani revealed just how hollow the US peace movement is as various voices disappointed lamenting the death of the terrorist.  Joan Baez, when she still had ethics, upset a lot of people by defending the Boat People and calling out the Vietnamese government but that was the right thing to do.  Jane Fonda's reaction was a knee-jerk reaction -- to call them refugees names and rush to minimize the actions of the Vietnamese government and attempt to justify what took place.  There was no justification.  


At the start of the year, the reviled Donald Trump ordered the murder of terrorist Soelmani and you could have called out murder, you could have called out many things.  But the knee jerk reaction was to rush to defend the terrorist, to call him a poet, and a person of peace and a hundred other bits of garbage that only Americans who never paid attention to Iraq could have uttered.  He was a terrorist.  The Sunnis were terrorized by him, Iraq's LGBQT community was terrorized by him, his actions go back to the original targeting of Iraq's intellectual community (doctors, professors, etc) following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.  Not surprising because this is the man who, in Iran, advocated for taking out (for killing) the leaders of the 1999 student uprising in Iran.  He was a man with blood on his hands.


That doesn't mean you couldn't be dismayed by his murder.  It does mean you didn't act like he farted rainbows and burped unicorns -- but that's what so many on the left in the US did.  It's because we're so damn stupid.   


Qasem Soelmani was a man of violence so it's not a surprise he met a violent end.  He was a brutal thug and there's no need to pretend otherwise -- unless your goal is to flaunt your stupidity.  


Americans then tried to portray a Baghdad funeral procession as the Iraq position.  It wasn't even the Shi'ite position, let alone the position of all of Iraq.  Again, your stupidity was showing.  Iraq and Iran are neighbors, they are also frequently at odds.  And the majority of Iraqis are very clear that they don't want to become an Iranian proxy (or a US proxy).  They weren't thrilled that an Iranian general was in the country directing militias.


This was ignored.


It was very disappointing to watch as various people -- including Margaret Kimberley -- turn this man into a noble person and realize that they could comment on events in Iraq it's just that they had chosen, for months and months, to ignore the protests that started in October of 2019 and that were continuing (and still continue).  Their Tweets and other b.s. went to everything that's wrong in the United States.


You had a mass movement of Iraqi youth taking to the streets but you couldn't tell that story.  You needed a celebrity and you needed to play with 'the rugged individual' because that's your limited mind functions.  A large group of Iraqi students taking to the streets was too much for you to cover.  But an individual killed and suddenly you were all experts and all concerned and all wanting to use your power -- such as it was.  The failures of the US media are ingrained in the failure of the US to develop beyond restrictive narratives that they trot out century after century in their attempts at conversations.  One has to believe even cave dwellers were better at communication.


MIDDLE EAST EYE notes, "The United States announced on Wednesday that it sent Iraq's army 30 armoured vehicles to secure Baghdad's Green Zone, ahead of the anniversary of the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis."


Again, I hope there is no attack.  But this is a news story.  CNN offers, "Yet others in the Pentagon contend that the threat is being exaggerated, with the first senior defense official -- who is directly involved in discussions -- telling CNN that there is 'not a single piece of corroborating intel' suggesting an attack by Iran may be imminent."  I hope the unnamed official is correct.  I hope s/he's not playing word games -- I don't think anyone believes Iran's going to do anything themselves.  I think the fear is they'll use Iranian linked militias in Iraq to carry out an attack.  The wording offered to CNN makes it appear someone may be playing word games.


A new development on that year ago murder, MEMO reports, "Iranian Prosecutor Ali Al-Qasi Mehr has accused the British company G4S of providing the US armed forces in Iraq with the arrival details of the aircraft in which General Qasem Soleimani was travelling prior to his assassination by an American drone. G4S is responsible for aviation security at Baghdad International Airport, where the attack which killed Soleimani took place."


On the militias, Murat Sofuoglu (TRT) offers:


With the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Washington unexpectedly helped Iran play its political game better, removing one of Tehran’s fiercest enemies, Saddam Hussein, the former Sunni leader of the Shia-majority country. 

Since that time, Iran has dominated the Iraqi political life. The recent escalations between Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani and Iran’s Shia spiritual leader Ali Khamenei, however, show that something has changed in terms of Tehran’s influence in Baghdad.

The main problem between the two leaderships is related to the composition of Iraq’s top militia group, Hashdi Shabi, which means Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). Iraqi factions loyal to either Tehran or Baghdad have grave differences over how Hashdi Shabi should be led.  

“The emergence of divisions has been long expected. As much as Iran’s influence in Iraq has increased, these divisions become more clear and visible,” Bilgay Duman, the coordinator of Iraq Studies Department at Turkey’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM).

Since last year, a protest movement with a clear anti-Iran message has also dominated the streets of Baghdad, demanding the Iraqi leadership to limit Tehran’s oversize influence in the country. 

“Iraq’s Shiites feel that they can not move independently, being under the total control of Iran. As a result, they began reacting to Iran. The emergence of Hashdi Shabi, which has long appeared to follow Iran’s lead along with other Shia militia groups, has irritated them a lot,” Duman tells TRT World. 


A few hours ago, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq Tweeted:


Happening Now: SRSG Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert delivers remarks at the "Social, Religious and National Diversity in #Iraq and its Importance in Building Citizenship and Peaceful Co-existence" workshop in #Baghdad
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As we've noted before, she has a problem with 'messaging' in Iraq.  For example:


Ammar al-Hakim guards yesterday attacked the demonstrators, and today the United Nations joined with him in this meeting !!



What do Iraqis think of the protests that have been taking place in their country?  A new study sought to discover the feelings on the protests.  Here's the summary:


In a recent study initiated by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and conducted by an international research company 1,000 Iraqis aged 18 years and older were interviewed in person in September and October 2020. For the majority, the protests are an outcry against corruption in a crisis-ridden country; the desire that those responsible for the socio-economic crunch will be held accountable is overwhelming. The most recent protests were very popular among those surveyed: 60 percent support the movement, which is undoubtedly more than just a youth revolt. 
Since October last year, thousands of people have regularly taken to the streets against their government and engaged in often bloody street battles. The results so far are appalling: more than 600 people have been killed in the protests and around 7,000 injured. Nevertheless, the majority of the Iraqis are optimistic about the future - especially the younger generation between 31 and 45. It can be assumed that the demonstrators will not give up in 2021 either. 



PDF format warning, full report is here.  From the report:



In the poll 66% of Iraqis expressed optimism about the future.  The 31-45 age group are the most optimistic about the future (71%).  Contrary to the other regions, the majority of Kurds in the KRI are pessimistic about the future (37%).

In general, 60% of Iraqis support "the events", i.e. the protests, that are happening since October 1st, 2019.  More men (63%) tend to support "the events" than women (57%).  Iraqis from Central and Al-Furat Al-Awsat regions (both 67%) support "the events" more than the other regions, especially Iraqis from Kurdistan (53%) and the Northern regions (55%).

We asked the participants for the name they would ascribe to "the events": Most Iraqis call the current events a demonstration (44%) or a revolution (31%).  Fewer call it an uprising (17%) or a movement (7%).

For the Iraqis, "the events" are a clear result of the accumulated conditions it preceded.  89% strongly or somewhat agree to that (Top 2 Boxes = T2B).  For the vast majority "the events" erupted as a call against corruption (93% T2B).  While the majority thinks that it all started with clear demands and it was later exploited and modified (67% T2B).  Iraqis mostly disagree that the protests are not being manipulated by either local parties (56% L2B = Lower two Boxes) or by external parties (58% L2B).  

[. . .]

Most Iraqis agree that it is true that "the events" have some deficits, but describe them as necessary (89% T2B).  They support "the events", but do not support blocking roads.


Updating a story covered earlier this week, YOUR MIDDLE EAST reports, "Iran will resume normal gas flow to Iraq on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with the country on Tuesday over unpaid bills, Iraqi electricity ministry spokesman Ahmed Moussa told state television."  Staying with economic news, Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reports:

A member of Iraqi parliament’s finance committee has told state media that the country’s budget deficit for 2021 stands at 71 trillion dinars (approximately $49 billion), according to a bill set to be read by parliament next month.

Muhammad Saheb Al-Daraji told state media on Wednesday that the budget, approved by Iraq’s Council of Ministers on December 21, stands at 164 trillion dinars (approx. $113 billion), and the price of oil is set at $42 per barrel, according to the bill.

“The deficit in the budget reaches 71 trillion dinars,” Al-Daraji added, saying Iraq will also be steeped in 16 trillion dinars, or $11 billion, worth of debt from previous loans.

Deputy parliament speaker Basheer Haddad said that the parliament will conduct their first reading of the bill at the “beginning of January,” state media reported on Tuesday.

Iraq has plunged deeper into an economic crisis amid low oil prices, the main source of revenue for Baghdad. Economic woes were a key factor pushing people to the streets in widespread protests that began in October 2019, with youth calling for better services and an end to mass unemployment, but the economy has continued to weaken amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In October, the World Food Programme warned that 10 percent of Iraqis are going hungry. 


The Iraqi government has devalued the dinar.  Hatem Hussein (ALMADA) reports that economist state this move will increase the percent of Iraqis living in poverty to 60% of the population.  


The following sites updated:









Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Denny

I had an e-mail about "This edition's playlist" at THIRD:


1) Fiona Apple's FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS.

 

 

2) Glen Campbell's WICHITA LINEMAN.


3) Peggy Lee's 2 SHOWS NIGHTLY.

 

 
4) Denny Doherty's WAITING FOR A SONG.
 
 
5)  The Mamas and the Papas' THE PAPAS & THE MAMAS.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 


Denny Doherty's WAITING FOR A SONG?


Lisa e-mailed asking about that.  Denny was one of The Mamas and the Papas.  The other three were Cass Elliot, John and Michelle Phillips.  WAITING FOR A SONG is a solo album he made after the group broke up.  I wasn't aware of it until we listened to it while writing the THIRD edition.  It's a strong album and, as C.I. pointed out, Michelle and Cass sing backup vocals on the tracks.  So it should be better known.  It's three of the four members working on an album together.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, December 30, 2020.  Iraq, RISING, Hilaria Baldwin, etc -- we cover a great deal this snapshot.


A lot to cover today.  First, for weeks we've been noting videos on Jimmy Dore's Force The Vote to force the vote on Medicare For All.  Below the videos, there is the description which usually includes the link to the petition.  We have not noted the petition in the snapshots so let's do that -- click here to sign the petition to Force The Vote for Medicare For All.


Now we're going to go personal business.  As disclosed before, I know Alec Baldwin (and like him, he's a smart person and a loyal person).  His wife is receiving some bad publicity.  He defended her and now he is receiving bad publicity.  So I am going to weigh in.  I went back and forth on it.  This site is not about promoting my friends.  But this 'news' 'story' deserves a comment or two.  And had RISING not decided to trash Hilaria, I probably wouldn't be commenting.


Hilaria Baldwin, for whatever reason, created an identity for herself.  She is not a Latina.  Why did she do it?  Krystal Ball insists it was to profit and to make money.


I don't think so.  I think Hilaria wanted to be Latina.  I think that was a driving want in her life.


Why did Michael Jackson want to have plastic surgery?  Because Joe Jackson abused him and destroyed him and, in Michael's mind at least (I believe Michael), didn't love him.  So Michael could not take looking in the mirror and seeing anything of the person who was so horrible to him.  The actress Merle Oberon?  Why did she pass for Anglo White?  Because she wouldn't have had the career she had otherwise.  


Why did Hilaria do what she did?  I have no idea but it wasn't a prank or a lark.  


Krystal and her guest just ripped into Hilaria and it wasn't deserved.  Hilaria didn't steal any position or post by presenting herself as Latina.  She created a figure and she lived that life.  Why?  That goes to her reasons which we might get at some point -- especially if we'd stop with the scorn and the ridicule.  She had a reason for what she did and money and power were not the reasons.  


Alec defended his wife.  For that he's being mocked and attacked.  For that he's being mocked and attacked?  I'm going to guess by a lot of pathetic people who have never known love and probably never will.  If you've been in love even once, you should be able (a) to understand what Alec did and (b) to be proud of him for defending someone he loves.


Now we've talked about Hilaria here and I know some e-mails will come in and insist, "This is not a topic to cover!"  You know what, you're probably right.  But I'm defending someone in the midst of a dogpile -- and I've always done that.  Equally true, we've eaten our vegetables.  All week long, we've covered serious issues.


RISING?  When do they ever cover the ongoing Iraq War?  When do they ever even use it to note, for example, that the same Nancy Pelosi that balks over the price tag of Medicare For All never balks at the much, much larger price tag for the Iraq War?  


And let's be really clear.  I consider Alec a friend and everyone who knows me knows that.  I had no idea until RISING what had taken place because people knew not bring the story to me.  I don't like gossip about my friends.  So yesterday, I'm trying to find political things to post and going through everything e-mailed as well as anything I can find.  And that's when I stumbled across the segment on Hilaria.  I don't like gossip about my friends.  All RISING did was gossip.  And what's even worse than that, they did it poorly.


Rachel whatever was the co-host with Krystal and they went to town on Hilaria.  


They brought in some supposed feud with Amy Schumer -- but never explained what that had to do with anything other than getting Amy's name in a sentence -- apparently to star power up their gossip item.  They showed a clip of Hilaria asking the (English) name for a cucumber.  Strangely, they didn't credit the person who made that a major issue on Twitter . . . last week.  I found all sorts of things after their 'report.'  They scavenged the work of others while mocking Hilaria.


Hilaria is a self-made businesswoman.  She was given no credit for that.  It reminded me, honestly, of the attacks and glee of the attacks that the press offered on Martha Stewart in the early '00s.  Those attacks mocked Martha and mocked what she did.  It wasn't 'manly' enough to focus on food and home and they made that very clear as they trivialized Martha.  Never once did they point out the skills and the knowledge Martha possessed that allowed her to succeed.  


Krystal wanted you to know that Hilaria was body shaming pregnant women.


What a dumb idiot Krystal was in that moment.  And she's probably not going to get listed on a praise feature at THIRD next week as a result.  We discussed that feature and started it and she was going to be noted as an important voice.  I don't think so now.  We'll note others, but not her.


Hilaria posing with her child or without her child in some stage of 'undress' (I have no idea, I'm not on Instagram and I never will be -- I have a thing called a life, maybe Krystal could try getting one) is not about body shaming pregnant women.


Let's pretend for a moment that it was about body shaming to show just how tiny Krystal's mind is.


If Hilaria showing off her body -- if that's what she was doing -- is body shaming, Krystal, you stupid idiot, then it's body shaming large women who are large without having just been pregnant.  Do you get it?  You threw a life raft to women who'd just had a baby while letting all other large women sink and drown.  That's how stupid you are.  You're a f**king idiot.


Why?  Watching the segment, it was clear why: Jealous.


Jealousy, thy name is Krystal Ball.


Hilaria makes money from yoga -- instructor, studios, DVDs, etc.  Her body is very much her work.  


Years ago, when Krystal was still wetting her diapers, there was one attempt after another to regularly destroy Jane Fonda.  At one point, they came from the UK.  A rumor to destroy her was that she'd had a heart attack.  Too much working out!!!!! What did Jane do to refute that rumor?  She invited the press in the next morning to watch as she did The Workout.  During those years -- when Jane did very little acting (THE DOLLMAKER, AGNES OF GOD and THE MORNING AFTER -- plus playing a security guard on one episode of the TV show she was producing based on her hit film 9 TO 5), Jane's business was fitness.  She had her workout studios, she had best selling books, she had best selling recordings (vinyl, cassette and, yes, videos including the first one that revolutionized the video industry).  Her body was her work.


So if Hilaria is showing her body, she's showing what yoga can do.  Her body is the advertisement for her work.


This isn't, for example, Alyssa Milano and her hint of nipple posing.  Unless we're falling back to TEEN STEAM, Alyssa has nothing to do with working out.  But damned if that woman doesn't cheesecake her own ass into oblivion.  Now that I object to.  A woman trying to ride feminism -- Alyssa is not feminist and the set of CHARMED proved it -- in a desperate attempt to revive a dead career while also posting cheesecake photos?  At 48, she long should have stopped posting her braless picks -- and with the obvious difference in boob size (did she get lazy and nurse one of her kids on just one boob, is that why they're so off now?) you'd think she'd stop promoting her body.  


Because an actor is supposed to be about acting and, especially after a certain age, you really shouldn't be doing cheesecake.  By a certain age, your talent should speak for itself.  So that when you appear on a cover, for example, someone says, "Wow.  Not only is _____ a great dramatic actress, she looks really good as well."  Cheesecake might get you in the door but if it's your selling card, you're probably not really an actress.


Now I've never heard Krystal object to Alyssa or anyone doing cheesecake.  We do and we have.  I'm very glad that a woman in a man's circle jerk now has learned to put on a bra from time to time and to also stop standing in front of the camera heaving her tits as though she's Suzanne Somers in the opening credits and Mrs. Roper just 'watered' Chrissy's back while watering the plants so Chrissy turns over in shock and does a deep sigh so her breasts go up and down (not a slap at Suzanne, she's a sweet lady and THREE'S COMPANY was decades ago and when she was starting out -- and it was meant to be funny).  


But a yoga instructor she's going to shame?  Denise Austin, Joanie Greggains, Jane Fonda and many other women in the fitness business grasped -- as Joe Weider and many other men did as well -- that their own bodies were their best advertisement for fitness.


Never having spoken to Hilaria once, not knowing one person who knows Hilaria, not knowing anything, Krystal and Rachel did a gossip segment and it was a segment where everything turned on conjecture and every bit of conjecture could only be the worst possible reason.  She lied for this reason, she posed for a picture for this reason, she's body shaming -- 


The hate and the scorn in that piece?  


I'm sorry, wasn't it just last week -- yes, it was -- that I was calling Krystal out because yet again she'd brought on guest that no one should bring on.  This was a 'writer' and a 'reporter' but, golly gee, this is the man THE DAILY BEAST fired for repeat plagiarism.  And, after he was fired, turned out he was doing the same at his outlet right before that and in his books.  He was stealing constantly.  And he lied each new time he got caught.


Now you're going to go after a fitness guru?  You're going to attack her because she's not Latina like she says and because she uses her body as a billboard for what yoga can do?  


But you're going to promote -- without apology and without remorse -- Gerald Posner?  


You really need to take a look in the mirror, Krystal, and you did come off petty and jealous.


Again, please show me the segment that RISING did in the twelve months-plus about the ongoing Iraqi protests.  Please show me where they spoke to anyone about how the government forces were attacking the protesters.  


They don't do the vegetables, they just do candy.


And I'm getting really damn tired of their Whiteness.  This goes to Jimmy Dore too.  It's past time that you invite on Margaret Kimberley and Glenn Ford.  Margaret especially has an audience that you all are not reaching.  Jimmy, it is a huge mistake to build a pro-Medicare For All argument around White voices only.  It's an issue that effects all communities.  And bringing on Margaret or Glenn (BLACK AGENDA REPORT is their outlet if anyone's unfamiliar) would make the discussion taking place as broad-based as the issue truly is.  Brihana Joy Gray and Nina Turner sprinkled into the discussion is not enough (a) because they're not on that often and (b) they owe their fame to White outlets.  We were talking about Luther Vandross (Betty and I) in "Roundtable" and the White music fans to this day don't seem to get just how important and popular Luther was.  That's because he really didn't crossover.  He was built by soul radio stations and the listeners saw him as "their" Luther because of his lack of crossover (two top ten hits on pop radio is not a crossover).  By the same token, a Margaret or a Glenn who has come up outside the White circle jerk and against the odds is someone who rose on the strength of their talents and someone who comes with an audience that you are not reaching.  It's amazing that the whole circle jerk -- and this includes Katie Halper on her own and with USEFUL IDIOTS -- can't find Margaret or Glenn on their contact list and invite them to be guests.  Glenn and Margaret have a lot of important information and analysis to share, reason enough for them to be guests.  But you're also opening yourself up to more viewers who aren't watching right now.  It's smart for discussion, it's smart for the issue and it's smart in terms of building your audience.  So what's the problem, what's the barrier?  Why aren't Glenn and Margaret invited on?


Betty's daughter just walked in to show me something.  This is so typical of what I'm talking about right now.  Betty's daughter found an RS feed of Betty's site with comments.  Betty's being attacked by several in the comments.  Why?  For calling out the race hustlers -- the White men who use racism and pretend they're not racists (Tim Wise, Paul Street, etc) -- and the result?  Betty, a Black blogger, is being trashed by White commentators for calling out Wise and Street and others.  That's the circle jerk, boys and girls, it never died.  Barack made them shut up because they wanted him elected in 2008, but the racism of the left never went away.  And if you're not aware of that racism and if you're not aware of how it impacts African-Americans on the left and how they use social media, then you just might be someone who doesn't grasp that failure to invite Margaret Kimberley and Glenn Ford to the party means some may interpret it as Whites only party.  


There has been far too many attacks on bloggers of color over the years for people to still not grasp how some are rightly wary when approaching a new voice or program.  


Hilaria created a character that she wanted to be.  Why she wanted to be that way is something she should share.  I don't see malice or profit in the equation.  I'm sorry she's been embarrassed.  I'm sorry that Alec defending his wife is seen as something to mock.


I'm especially sorry that day after day we cover the Iraq War and we do it largely by ourselves in this country.  Joel Wing covers it.  Margaret Griffis covers it.  Did I forget anyone?  Probably not because that's how short the list is.


Kelley Beaucar Vlahos (INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE) notes:


What does it look like when you “liberate” a country that hasn’t asked for it, when you unleash a violent chain of events creating the conditions for an even worse tyranny than before?

Those who witnessed Iraq in the wake of the American invasion in 2003, the failures of reconstruction, and the rise and fall of ISIS, say one need look no further than that country today to get your answer.

The Washington Post last week reported that there are still a million internally displaced Iraqis who fled the 2014 takeover of ISIS and the ensuing war to overthrow it — with many living in soon-to-be-shuttered government-run camps. Meanwhile, COVID has sent an already fragile economy spiraling toward collapse, with salaries in the major cities left unpaid, reconstruction projects stalled or completely aborted. A new central government is still trying to find its legs, more than a year after deadly street protests washed over the country. According to experts who spoke with RS, direct attention from the Western powers that sent this country on its present course is scattershot, with aid easily corrupted by a burgeoning kleptocracy across the provincial governments and Baghdad.

“The trauma on Iraq has been despicable,” said Abbas Kadhim, who spent his own youth in an Iraqi IDP camp in the 1990s before coming to the United States, where he observed the 2003 war and its aftermath from a distance. Now he is the director of the Iraq Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington, trying to rebuild broad diplomatic and political bridges with Baghdad. 

“This is really the part we have to reckon with when we talk about what happened in Iraq and what it will take to build back. There are things going on in that country that will take decades to undo,” he said in an interview with RS. 


That's the opening.  It's an important piece and Peter Van Buren makes some important comments in the article.  The war is not over, just US media interest in it.  Tyler Olson and Audrey Conklin (FOX NEWS) report:

Georgia Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock spoke at events organized by a religious group that called on Christians to repent for military action in Iraq between at least 2007 and 2009.

Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, was part of a group called the "Christian Peace Witness for Iraq," seeking to "foster a serious nationwide discussion on following Jesus in matters of conscience and duty, violence and nonviolence, war and peace" through its "Conscience in War" project.

Warnock spoke at a March 2007 Christian Peace Witness event at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., according to multiple reports. One video from Fox 5 D.C. showed Warnock (time stamp: 2:05) speaking at the altar of the cathedral during the event.



FOX thinks they're shaming Ralphael with that report.  I don't see how.  He seems a lot more serious to me because of the report.  He's a person of a faith and he's applying his faith.  Isn't that what happens every Sunday across the country in houses of worship.  How is this inconsistent?  It's not.  But I guess, to FOX NEWS, the war is trivial and something to be mocked?

In other news, DEUTSCHE WELLE is concerned about possible violence in Iraq on January 3rd.  That is something the US media should be covering but they can't.  The only thing they cover is Donald Trump's pardons and pretend that's coverage of Iraq.  Three Iraqi community members in Iraq are wondering if anyone in the US reads Arabic media?  No, they apparently do not.  They apparently do not grasp that the pardons are not a major story in Iraq.  They were a 24 hour news cycle and Iraqis have much more to deal with than something from 13 years ago.  Americans don't grasp that in part because of a trashy media (Hey, Amy Goodman, looking at you -- don't you wish you could still get away with publishing in HUSTLER each month, I'm sure trash like you does) and because of the self-importance that we Americans always embrace.


Now REUTERS is reporting that someone at the UN says the pardons are a violation of international law.  So what?  International law doesn't trump a damn thing in the US.  If that's news to you, you are deeply uninformed.  The pardons have been issued.  It's over.  People need to grasp that.  "But it's fun to beat up Donald Trump, right?  And we get to pretend that we care."  They don't care a damn thing about the Iraqi people.


Jared Keller (INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE) notes:


Unfortunately, the average American appears to have a relatively high tolerance for war crimes abroad. According to a 2016 Red Cross report, Americans “are substantially more comfortable with war crimes than are populations of other western countries like the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and even Russia,” as The Week put it at the time. “When asked whether ‘a captured enemy combatant [can] be tortured to obtain important military information,’ just 30 percent of Americans said ‘no,’ the lowest of any country surveyed except Israel and Nigeria.” Indeed, one 2018 poll suggested that a significant portion of Americans believed U.S. service members shouldn’t be prosecuted for overseas war crimes simply because “war is a stressful situation and allowances should be made.”

That isn’t to say American’s aren’t entirely immune to the perils of war crimes; indeed, they care more about U.S. war crimes abroad than they did during the Vietnam War, according to research. In a December 2019 poll of more than 1,000 Americans, researchers asked Americans if they approved or disapproved of Trump’s decision to pardon Lorance despite his 2012 conviction for killing civilians in Afghanistan. Forty-one percent approved of the pardon and 59 percent did not, the researchers found. “In 1971, Lt. William L. Calley Jr. was court-martialed and convicted of murdering 22 civilians in the 1968 My Lai Massacre,” the researchers noted. “He was sentenced to life in prison. A 1971 Gallup/Newsweek poll found that 11 percent of Americans approved of the verdict.”

Their research, published in the Washington Post, reveals that war crimes, like most other issues surrounding the military, break down along partisan lines when it comes to their impact on civilian populations: just 12 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Independents approved of Trump’s Lorance pardon, while 79 percent of Republicans fully approved. But what’s more telling is the written commentary from respondents, which indicates that “many Americans appear to believe that if troops are fighting a just war, they should be excused from responsibility for violent acts, even war crimes,” as the researchers wrote in the Washington Post.

“Our survey finds that respondents who agree that the ‘United States was morally justified in going to war against Afghanistan when the war began in 2001’ are significantly more likely than those who disagree to support Trump’s pardons, by 52 to 22 percent,” the researchers wrote. “As one pardon supporter explained, the ‘Lieutenant was fighting for our freedom.’ Another simply wrote, ‘soldier is protecting our country.’ Those who said the war was morally justified were 14 percent more likely to support the pardons, even when controlling for party identification as well as age, race, gender and education.”

So do war crimes matter to the average American? In the short term, it appears that war crimes and their related pardons are simply new battlegrounds in the ever-expansive culture war between left and right, liberals and conservatives, that seems to have enveloped modern politics rather than becoming matters of human dignity in their own right. And that’s a damn shame.


For the record, Keller's opposed to the pardons.


If you're late to the party, I'm not opposed to any presidential pardon.  Henry Kissinger's a War Criminal but if he got a pardon, I wouldn't be opposed.  It's a presidential power and it's one that I think should be used more.  I would advocate for Leonard Peltier, among others.  I don't stomp and scream over a pardon because I don't want to be a hypocrite.  A pardon is an act of a president granted by the Constitution.  Though it provides legal protection, it does not wipe away the historical record.


In terms of Blackwater, they served more time, the four, than did any of other Americans who shot Iraqi people (civilians).  All of the other incidents are forgotten by Americans but not by the Iraqi people.  This wasn't uncommon.  An Iraqi community member pointed out that in 2004, the same crowd today was presenting Blackwater as heroes when some of their members were killed and this was used to justify an assault on Falluja.  She's right.  


When Erik Prince, head of Blackwater, and the various people -- Republicans and Democrats -- responsible for the war start facing criminal charges, talk to me about justice.  Until then, four people served a little bit of time -- much more than should have considering the deal the US State Dept made in the immediate wake of the assault.  No one wants to discuss that either, not in the US.  We're going to pretend that the crime took place, an immediate outcry universally followed (PBS mocked the dead and injured, that's reality) and then a quick trial put them away.  That's not what happened.


The pardons have taken place.  They cannot be overturned.  "Give it up, Jake, it's Chinatown," as they say at the end of the film.  


Blackwater becomes the story because (a) it lets a certain crowd trash Donald Trump and pretend that makes them political and informed, (b) it was a story in the news for years so they know something about it and can pretend to be informed, (c) it's a way to call out US War Crimes without actually calling out US War Criminals in the elected official realm and in the US military, (d) it gives their pathetic lives some meaning.


"What about the Iraqi people!"  Learn to read Arabic.  I don't know what to tell you other than Iraqi social media is full of stories of murders by Americans and pointing out that their family members are being swept aside yet again while this one incident is covered and recovered and covered again.


On the pathetic whose lives will apparently end on January 20th, Glenn Greenwald (IHC) notes:


Asserting that Donald Trump is a fascist-like dictator threatening the previously sturdy foundations of U.S. democracy has been a virtual requirement over the last four years to obtain entrance to cable news Green Rooms, sinecures as mainstream newspaper columnists, and popularity in faculty lounges. Yet it has proven to be a preposterous farce.

In 2020 alone, Trump had two perfectly crafted opportunities to seize authoritarian power — a global health pandemic and sprawling protests and sustained riots throughout American cities — and yet did virtually nothing to exploit those opportunities. Actual would-be despots such as Hungary’s Viktor Orb├ín quickly seized on the virus to declare martial law, while even prior U.S. presidents, to say nothing of foreign tyrants, have used the pretext of much less civil unrest than what we saw this summer to deploy the military in the streets to pacify their own citizenry.

But early in the pandemic, Trump was criticized, especially by Democrats, for failing to assert the draconian powers he had, such as commandeering the means of industrial production under the Defense Production Act of 1950, invoked by Truman to force industry to produce materials needed for the Korean War. In March, The Washington Post reported that “Governors, Democrats in Congress and some Senate Republicans have been urging Trump for at least a week to invoke the act, and his potential 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, came out in favor of it, too,” yet “Trump [gave] a variety of reasons for not doing so.” Rejecting demands to exploit a public health pandemic to assert extraordinary powers is not exactly what one expects from a striving dictator.

A similar dynamic prevailed during the sustained protests and riots that erupted after the killing of George Floyd. While conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), in his controversial New York Times op-ed, urged the mass deployment of the military to quell the protesters, and while Trump threatened to deploy them if governors failed to pacify the riots, Trump failed to order anything more than a few isolated, symbolic gestures such as having troops use tear gas to clear out protesters from Lafayette Park for his now-notorious walk to a church, provoking harsh criticism from the right, including Fox News, for failing to use more aggressive force to restore order.

Virtually every prediction expressed by those who pushed this doomsday narrative of Trump as a rising dictator — usually with great profit for themselves — never materialized. While Trump radically escalated bombing campaigns he inherited from Bush and Obama, he started no new wars. When his policies were declared by courts to be unconstitutional, he either revised them to comport with judicial requirements (as in the case of his “Muslim ban”) or withdrew them (as in the case of diverting Pentagon funds to build his wall). No journalists were jailed for criticizing or reporting negatively on Trump, let alone killed, as was endlessly predicted and sometimes even implied. Bashing Trump was far more likely to yield best-selling books, social media stardom and new contracts as cable news “analysts” than interment in gulags or state reprisals. There were no Proud Boy insurrections or right-wing militias waging civil war in U.S. cities. Boastful and bizarre tweets aside, Trump’s administration was far more a continuation of the U.S. political tradition than a radical departure from it. 

The hysterical Trump-as-despot script was all melodrama, a ploy for profits and ratings, and, most of all, a potent instrument to distract from the neoliberal ideology that gave rise to Trump in the first place by causing so much wreckage. Positing Trump as a grand aberration from U.S. politics and as the prime author of America’s woes — rather than what he was: a perfectly predictable extension of U.S politics and a symptom of preexisting pathologies — enabled those who have so much blood and economic destruction on their hands not only to evade responsibility for what they did, but to rehabilitate themselves as the guardians of freedom and prosperity and, ultimately, catapult themselves back into power. As of January 20, that is exactly where they will reside.


Here's a link to Caitlin Johnstone -- I've been trying to work in a link to one of her articles for over a week.  


We'll wind down with this from the Green Party:


Green Party of the United States
www.gp.org

For Immediate Release:
December 22, 2020

Contact:
Michael O’Neil, Communications Manager, meo@gp.org, 202-804-2758
Holly Hart, Co-chair, Media Committee, media@gp.org, 202-804-2758
Craig Seeman, Co-chair, Media Committee, media@gp.org, 202-804-2758


“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the glaring inadequacies of the nation’s current hodge-podge of insurance options,” said Mark Dunlea, a New York-based Green Party organizer , co-founder of Single Payer New York and former head of the Hunger Action Network. “This is not the time to shy away from promoting Medicare-for-All. The Democratic Party had the power to pass a genuine universal health care bill in March 2010 and instead squandered the opportunity out of deference to private insurance and other health-care lobbies. The height of the pandemic, along with the promise of the vaccine, is the best time to correct this tragic mistake.” 

“Congress members who support Medicare-for-All should push for a vote on HR1384 now as the tip of the spear for more comprehensive COVID-19 relief,” said Gloria Mattera, Green Party National Co-Chair, who works as Director of Child Life at a public hospital in New York City and serves on the executive board of Physicians for a National Health Program — NY Metro  Chapter. “They should take the opportunity during the coming weeks to educate the public about how we can improve medical care for everyone while drastically cutting the cost of coverage and treatment, eliminating co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket fees and surprise bills. We can replace the private bureaucracies that keep denying and restricting treatment and end the epidemic of bankruptcies over medical costs.” 

 A Medicare-for-All vote will challenge Democrats and Republicans to take action on a crisis that the two-party establishment keeps ignoring: the lack of healthcare for millions of Americans who lack coverage, the private insurance bureaucracy's restriction and denial of treatment for those who have coverage, and the soaring cost of treatment and prescriptions that has drained the savings of hundreds of thousands of Americans. 

“Corporate lobbyists and their PR departments are going on the offensive and will spread misinformation, said Laura Wells, former Green candidate for California state controller. “The healthcare industry front group demonizing Medicare for All and a public option has amassed $36 million for its campaign heading into 2021." (The Green Party supports Medicare-for-All, not the public option.)   According to a recent poll conducted by the PEW Research Center, an increasing majority of Americans support government-provided health care coverage for all

“The Green Party has run and will continue to run strong candidates for the US House and Senate, all of whom support Medicare-for-All and a Green New Deal,” said Trahern Crews, Green Party National Co-Chair and Green Party National Black Caucus Co-Chair. “The country desperately needs people in Congress who don't have to answer to the leaders of the two corporate-money parties. Both major parties are in the pockets of Wall Street, ensuring more of the same corruption and exploitation. The Green Party and Green candidates don't accept contributions from corporate PACs. Having Greens seated in Congress and every other level of government will end the dynamic in which Democrats and Republicans compete bitterly over political power but are in consensus on leaving economic power to the 1%.”

For More Information

Green Party Petition at GP.org: $600 and No Medicare-For-All Vote? Bah-Humbug! Tell Congress, Trump and Biden: "Don't 'Scrooge' us on Medicare-For-All and COVID Relief!"

A New Congressional Budget Office Study Shows That Medicare for All Would Save Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Annually,Bruenig, Matt. Jacobin, December 19, 2020

The Next War Against A Public Option Is Starting, Sirota, David and Andrew Perez. The Daily Poster, December 9, 2020

“Every. Single. One.”: Ocasio-Cortez Notes Every Democrat Who Backed Medicare for All Won Reelection in 2020, Queally, Jon. Common Dreams, November 7, 2020

Increasing share of Americans favor a single government program to provide health care coverage, Jones, Bradley. Pew Research Center, September 29, 2020

COVID 19 and Medicare for AllPhysicians for a National Health Plan - PNHP

Green Party Platform on Single-Payer Health Care

The Hawkins Healthcare Plan, Green Party 2020 Presidential Candidate Howie Hawkins

Green Party of the United States

www.gp.org
202-804-2758
Newsroom | Twitter: @GreenPartyUS
Green Party Platform
Green New Deal
Green candidate database and campaign information
Facebook page
YouTube
Green Pages: The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States
Green Papers





The following sites updated: