Wednesday, December 29, 2021

George Michael

George Michael's death was a hard one.  As was Prince's death.  In the 80s and 90s, the biggest musical stars were Prince, George Michael, Michael Jackson and Madonna.  They were the four that innovated and influenced over and over.  (I love Tina Turner and she had great success in the 80s but I wouldn't put her on this list which was people who repeately made hits and whose albums would change the music styles and moods).  Only Madonna survived.  There are times when I can't stand her but I will acknowledge that she's the only one who's still standing.

I saw this on George Micheal:

George Michael’s childhood pal came forward on the fifth anniversary of the singer’s death.

The pop star passed away on Christmas Day 2016 at age 53 in his Goring, England home. Darren Salter, the senior coroner for Oxfordshire, later revealed Michael died of natural causes.

Andros Georgiou recently told the U.K.’s Mirror that the WHAM! star never got over the death of his "greatest love," Anselmo Feleppa. The Brazilian fashion designer passed away in 1993 after contracting AIDS. He was 33. Michael went on to dedicate "Jesus to a Child" to Feleppa.

How tragic.  George, Michael and Prince went through a great deal.  Madonna did as well. Who knows why some people are better able to navigate personal demons.

Here's George's "Jesus To A Child."

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

 Wednesday, December 29, 2021.  Does Iraq's Parliament plan to ever hold their first session, Julian Assange remains persecuted, and much more.

The persecution of Julian Assange, overseen by US President Joe Biden, continues.

Julian's crime?  Journalism.  Journalism that exposed War Crimes and other serious actions.  Joe Biden is ensuring he will be one of the most vile presidents when history is written.  Jeff Mackler (LA PROGRESSIVE) observes:

Yes, the persecution and threatened life imprisonment of Julian Assange is a threat against free speech and a free press. It is also a dire warning to all those who seek to tell the truth about U.S. wars of slaughter and genocide, including the ten-year war against Iraq conducted in the name of defending the U.S. against Saddam Hussein’s non-existent “weapons of mass destruction.” The same with the U.S. war against Muammar Gaddafi’s non-existent threat to murder 50,000 people in Benghazi. These CIA and corporate media-created pretexts justified the murder of some 1.5 million Iraqis and the destruction of the infrastructures of Iraq and Libya.

Today, U.S. wars of intervention and conquest are accompanied by deadly sanction wars, Special Operation wars, drone wars, death squad assassination wars, etc., all funded by a bloated U.S. military budget that approaches the combined military expenditures of the entire rest of the world. The victims are most often the poor nations on earth who seek their right to self-determination, free from imperialist domination. Today’s U.S. deadly economic sanction wars are conducted against some 39 countries. In Venezuela alone, UN officials report a U.S. sanction death toll of 50,000. Similar horrors, including U.S. coups, embargos, blockades and U.S.-backed terror bombings perpetrated against the people of Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, as well more than a dozen African nations where U.S. troops are stationed.

Indeed, the list is longer. In a June 2021 letter to the U.S. Congress, President Biden admitted all of the countries where U.S. troops are waging war against groups opposed by the United States. According to the journal Conflict Management and Peace Science, the United States has 173,000 military troops engaged in conflicts in 159 other nations!

Truthtellers like Julian Assange frighten the imperial leaders of the U.S. “national security state,” a state power that, as Edward Snowden revealed, oversees an Orwellian system of total surveillance.

The world watches as Joe Biden uses the force of the US government to persecute Julian.  And as it happens, too many people remain silent.  Frank Ball (ECHO) notes, "The silence is deafening. Where are the Australian journalists who should be afraid of the latest development in the extradition case by the USA against Julian Assange?"  And the silence goes beyond journalists in Australia.   At SALON, Chris Hedges writes:

Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, is one of the very few establishment figures to denounce the judicial lynching of Julian Assange. Melzer's integrity and courage, for which he has been mercilessly attacked, stand in stark contrast to the widespread complicity of many human rights and press organizations, including PEN America, which has become a de facto subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee.

Those in power, as Noam Chomsky points out, divide the world into "worthy" and "unworthy" victims. They weep crocodile tears over the plight of Uyghur Muslims persecuted in China while demonizing and slaughtering Muslims in the Middle East. They decry press censorship in hostile states and collude with the press censorship and algorithms emanating from Silicon Valley in the United States. It is an old and insidious game, one practiced not to promote human rights or press freedom but to envelop these courtiers to power in a sanctimonious and cloying self-righteousness. PEN America can't say the words "Belarus," "Myanmar" or the Chinese tennis star "Peng Shuai" fast enough, while all but ignoring the most egregious assault on press freedom in our lifetime. 

PEN America only stopped accepting funding from the Israeli government — which routinely censors and jails Palestinian journalists and writers in Israel and the occupied West Bank — for the literary group's annual World Voices festival in New York in 2017 when more than 250 writers, poets and publishers, many members of PEN, signed an appeal calling on the CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, to end the organization's partnership with the Israeli government. The signatories included Wallace ShawnAlice WalkerEileen Myles, Louise Erdrich, Russell Banks, Cornel WestJunot Díaz and Viet Thanh Nguyen. To stand up for Assange comes with a cost, as all moral imperatives do. And this is a cost the careerists and Democratic Party apparatchiks, who leverage corporate money and corporate backing to seize and deform these organizations into appendages of the ruling class, do not intend to pay.

PEN America is typical of the establishment hijacking of an organization that was founded and once run by writers, some of whom, including Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer, I knew. Nossel is a former corporate lawyer, listed as a "contributor" to the Federalist Society, who worked for McKinsey & Company and as vice president of U.S. business development for Bertelsmann. Nossel, who has had herself elevated to the position of CEO of PEN America, also worked under Hillary Clinton in the State Department, including on the task force assigned to respond to the WikiLeaks revelations. I withdrew from a scheduled speaking event at the 2013 World Voices Festival in New York and resigned from the organization, which that same year had given me its First Amendment Award, to protest Nossel's appointment. PEN Canada offered me membership, which I accepted.

Nossel and PEN America have stated that the prosecution of Assange raises "grave concerns" about press freedom and lauded the decision by a British court in January 2012 not to extradite Assange. Should Nossel and PEN America have not taken this stance on Assange, it would have left them in opposition to most PEN organizations around the world. PEN Centre Germany, for example, made Assange an honorary member. PEN International has called for all charges to be dropped against Assange.

But Nossel, at the same time, repeats every slanderous trope and lie used to discredit the WikiLeaks publisher who now faces extradition to the United States to potentially serve a 175-year sentence under the Espionage Act. She refuses to acknowledge that Assange is being persecuted because he carried out the most basic and important role of any publisher, making public documents that expose the multitudinous crimes and lies of empire. And I have not seen any direct appeals to the Biden administration on Assange's behalf from PEN America.

"Whether Assange is a journalist or WikiLeaks qualifies as a press outlet is immaterial to the counts set out here," Nossel has said. But as a lawyer who was a member of the State Department task force that responded to the WikiLeaks revelations, she understands it is not immaterial. The core argument behind the U.S. effort to extradite Assange revolves around denying him the status of a publisher or a journalist and denying WikiLeaks the status of a press publication. Nossel parrots the litany of false charges leveled against Assange, including that he endangered lives by not redacting documents, hacked into a government computer and meddled in the 2016 elections, all key points in the government's case against Assange. PEN America, under her direction, has sent out news briefs with headlines such as: "Security Reports Reveal How Assange Turned an Embassy into a Command Post for Election Meddling." The end result is that PEN America is helping to uncoil the rope to string up the WikiLeaks publisher, a gross betrayal of the core mission of PEN.

The US government plotted to assassinate Julian.  Even that reality doesn't seem to engage some people.  MRT notes:

In September, Yahoo News reported, citing dozens of unnamed former US government officials, that ex-CIA boss Mike Pompeo had planned to kidnap Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from his refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and possibly even kill him in 2017. There is a lot of truth in the explosive story, said Andy Müller-Maguhn, former spokesman for the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), on Tuesday at the remote Chaos Communication Congress (rC3). Individual parts of the report at the time, including an imminent escape of Assange with the help of Russia, were not correct.

The famous embassy resident should have been declared an Ecuadorian diplomat around Christmas 2017 in order to grant him freedom of travel and immunity, reported Müller-Maguhn. The US knew about the plan in detail and wanted to thwart it. A silver-gray Ford Focus as an undercover police vehicle and a van stood in front of the embassy for days.

Turning to Iraq, this is from last night's THE NEWSHOUR (PBS):

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The Iraqi Supreme Court ratified yesterday the results of the parliamentary elections which took place last October.

    One of the groups that disputed the election results is Kataib Hezbollah, a paramilitary organization which, alongside other Iran-backed groups, wants all U.S. military forces out of Iraq by the end of the year. Kataib Hezbollah is believed to be responsible for previous rocket and drone attacks on American forces, and is threatening to once again step up those operations should their demands for full withdrawal not be met.

    "NewsHour" special correspondent Simona Foltyn gained exclusive access to Kataib Hezbollah's bases near Iraq's border with Syria.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    This is the United States' principal adversary in Iraq, Brigade 46 of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces. But it's better known as Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful, secretive armed group with close ties to Iran.

    The "NewsHour" gained exclusive access to areas it controls near Iraq's border with Syria, just eighty miles from the Ayn Al Asad military base, which houses American troops still operating here to help the Iraqi government defeat ISIS remnants.

    But these fighters consider American forces here illegal and want them gone.

  • Hassan Ali, Soldier, Kataib Hezbollah (through translator):

    The 31st of December will be the last day for American troops in Iraq. If they don't leave voluntarily, they will leave by force. They will face the resistance factions and we will return to the year 2003.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    The resistance he's referring to is a secretive network of Iran-backed insurgent groups that mobilized to fight the United States following its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    Kataib Hezbollah is part of the resistance, and, in 2009, the U.S. designated it a terror organization for targeting American forces and its Iraqi opponents. But, after the war with ISIS broke out in 2014, Kataib Hezbollah was folded into the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, an amalgamation of mostly Shia paramilitaries formed to fight ISIS.

    That means Kataib Hezbollah is now officially part of the Iraqi state. Still, these fighters see the United States as their enemy.

  • Hassan Ali (through translator):

    The Popular Mobilization Forces are against ISIS and against America at the same time. America is an occupier in Iraq, and we don't want occupation in our country.

  • Press declared 'king maker' Moqtada has had weeks and weeks to get it together.  Unable to do so in the past and still unable.  Farhad Alaaldin Tweets:

    The Sadrist Leader hosted some of the leaders of the Coordination Framework leaders in #Najaf No photos of the meeting were published, but a simple tweet by alSdir summarises the content Clearly no agreement was reached and both sides remain on their own path #Iraq

    Is Moqtada's failure thus far why Parliament has yet to convene?

    The election is certified.  Parliament is supposed to hold its first session now.  Among other things, the Parliament is required to name someone prime minister-designate in that first meeting.

    And, per the Constitution, a timetable attaches from that moment, the designate has 30 days to form a Cabinet or Parliament names a new prime minister-designate.  This won't be Moqtada.  He's not going for the post of prime minister.  

    The election was October 10th.  At the end of this week, we'll be in January.  The foot dragging needs to stop.

    ARAB WEEKLY offers:

    With the Federal Supreme Court’s ratification of the disputed election results, the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, now has to reckon with the need to strike deals with various political blocs in order to form the cabinet and run the government.

    To start with, he will have to quickly flesh out his ideas on the priorities of the new government and how it should work, now that he leads the largest bloc in the parliament. That bloc must build the required parliamentary alliances which will underlie the formation of the government.

    Iraqi political sources say that the leader of the Sadrist movement will face a real challenge with such alliances. They wonder if Sadr will be able to win the support of the Sunni, Kurdish and independent blocs without making the necessary concessions to achieve that goal. Another question, given his opposition to the quota system, will be if he is prepared to share portfolios with other blocs to satisfy supportive MPs.

    These sources said that it is not possible to talk about “forming a national majority government,” as advocated by Sadr, without providing sufficient guarantees to the parliamentarians who would be willing to back it. The most important guarantee would be ministerial portfolios for their blocs as well as positions and dividends for the parliamentarians themselves and their supporters. The sources say that speaking of a national majority government is just loose talk as long as Sadr and his bloc's representatives do not sit with representatives of the various other blocs and convince them to support the government. Without such meetings, he could lose everyone's support.

    The following sites updated:

    Tuesday, December 28, 2021

    Christmas presents

    I enjoy giving -- especially when I picked good.  I love seeing someone's face if I picked good.  

    This year, I got some really great gifts.  My favorite from family?  A tough pick but I'd say my nephew who found a copy of Cher's STARS on vinyl.  It's one of Cher's great albums -- considered her best of the 70s.  It never made it to CD.  So that alone thrilled me.  But he combined that with a sweet -- always the way to put your gift to me over the top! -- and I love Whoppers.  I love all candy, let's be honest, I have a sweet tooth.  But Whoppers?  I never think to buy them.  I usually get some on Christmas and maybe that's why I don't buy them at the store.  But I love Whoppers.  (I also love Lemonheads, Red Hots, Milky Ways, M&Ms, Three Muskateers, Runts, Gummy Worms . . .)

    My favorite from a friend?

    It's another vinyl record.  I kept telling C.I., "I don't need anything this year."  And December 19th, she told me I had until the end of the day or she was getting me a vinyl album ("and fudge and that's it").  I said that was fine.  So she got me a vinyl record.  I didn't know what the record was before I unwrapped it and I was so happy when I opened it.

    It's Nate Bargatze's THE TENNESSE KID.  

    I love Nate!  

    He's one of my top five comedians of all time.  Of living comedians?  I'd probably say it is him and Lily Tomlin.  (I love many more, but those are my two favorites.)  

    I didn't know that the NETFLIX special was even available on vinyl.  It's a double disc album.

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

    Tuesday, December 28, 2021.  Reults are certified in IRaq even if the western press can't get the results right or cover the Baghdad protest.

    Desmond Tutu has passed away.

    The world leader lived his life making a difference.  

    He fought against apartheid, he stood for Palestinian rights, he advocated for LGBTQ rights, he advocated for the environment.  Time and again, he was a voice who spoke out when many were silent.

    In February 2004, 11 months after the Iraq War started, CNN reported:

    Saying the United States and Britain must regain international credibility, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged George Bush and Tony Blair to admit they made a mistake in launching an "immoral war" in Iraq.

    The world is a less safe place than before, the church leader said.

    "How wonderful if politicians could bring themselves to admit they are only fallible human creatures, and not God, and thus by definition can make mistakes," Tutu said in a speech in London on Monday.

    "Weak and insecure people hardly ever say, 'Sorry.' It is large-hearted and courageous people who are not diminished by saying, 'I made a mistake.'

    President Bush and Mr Blair would recover considerable credibility and respect if they were able to say, 'Yes, we made a mistake,'" he said.

    The nobel laureate criticized the leaders for justifying the war by saying it was necessary to oust Saddam Hussein, rhetoric that has intensified since no weapons of mass destruction had been found. 


    Eight years later, CNN reported:

      South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Sunday that Tony Blair and George W. Bush should be “made to answer” at the International Criminal Court for their actions around the Iraq war.

    Writing in an op-ed published by The Observer newspaper, the Nobel laureate accused the former leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States of fabricating a motive to invade Iraq, namely that it possessed weapons of mass destruction, and said that they had acted like “playground bullies.”

    “The immorality of the United States and Great Britain’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history,” wrote Tutu. “In a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague.”   

    I met Desmond Tutu many times over the years.  Once, in Los Angeles, I remember U2 being present.  

    Lead singer and celebrity Bono, of course, died years ago.  The soulless husk that wanders around now is an embarrassment and a poser.  Why did their last album, SONGS OF EXPERIENCE, flopped so badly.  Of THE BILLBOARD 200 album chart in ten weeks, music listners appalled that, without asking, they'd been 'gifted' with digital copies of the album.  The band's never recovered all these years later.

    Desmond lived his life in truth, Bono lived one lie after another.  By ACHTUNG BABY, he was openly cheating on his wife and yet people looked the other way for Saint Bono.  (The gal for the night was selected among the women who crashed that days sound check.)  This looking away only encouraged him and he'd refuse to speak out against the Iraq War.  The poser who pretended to be about people and against war wouldn't speak out against the Iraq War and, to this day, has not.

    That's becuase he was cock-knocking buddies with Bully Boy Bush.

    That's his buddy, that's his roll dog, a War Criminal.

    And no one had any use for Bono anymore.  His santimonous stances were not only prickly, they were exposed as hollow.

    By the time he left his 'beloved' Ireland to live in the US -- to avoid paying taxes in his own country, the world knew the real Bono.

    To this day, Bono plants open mouthed kisses on Bully Boy Bush.  May he end up Buly's Eva Braun when the two both end up in hell together.

    Desmond Tutu lived a life that mattered.  A lot of people used him as a prop and for photo ops to improve their own images but time will out and hucksters like Bono always get exposed.

    raq's Supreme Court has ratified the results of October's parliamentary election, dealing a blow to Iran-backed factions who have staged protests against the outcome of the vote.

    The results pave the way for Moqtada al-Sadr -- a firebrand cleric opposed to both Iranian and US influence in Iraq -- to decide the fate of the current prime minister, Mostafa al-Kadhimi, who is backed by the United States.
    Sadr's party, the Sadrist Movement, was the election's biggest victor, winning 73 of the country's 329 seats. Iraq's Tehran-backed parliamentary bloc lost more than half of their seats -- winning just 17, down from 48. 

    LIE!  Stupid idots or lying whores?  We'll assume they're ignorant but feel free to drop a rwenty ont he dresser for each of them.

    The KDP, the party of the Barzani family in Kurdistan is a political party.  Moqtada's bloc or alliance is not a party.  

    Moqtada al-Sadr's party did not get the most.  His political alliance did.  If you're too stupid to grasp the difference, maybe you shouldn't be reporting on Iraq -- or anything else.

    Moqtada's party got   

    CNN needs to correct the lying.  But, even more important, stop the 'kingmaker' nonsense.  The election was months ago.  And in all that time, Moqtada's not been able to build a coalition -- in fact, former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki has done a much better job than Moqtada of trying to reach out to other blocs and parties.  

    Sinar Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) words it correctly:

    The Sadrist bloc, a political group sponsored by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, emerged as the clear winner with 73 seats in the 329-seat parliament. The Taqadum party, one of two main Sunni political groups, and led by former parliament speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi, followed with 37 seats. Former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki’s State of Law bloc came third with 33 seats.

    Mr Al Sadr’s main rival, the Iran-backed Fatah Alliance, won only 17 seats, compared with 45 in 2018.

    The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) won 31 seats, while the Kurdistan Alliance led by the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party won only 17 seats.

    Last week, Ruwayda Tweeted:

    Nuri al-Maliki is in Erbil and given a warm reception, despite accusing Kurdish leaders of harbouring extremists in the past, cutting off the region’s budget when he was a PM, and to add a bit of cream to this pie, he said Erbil is a base for Baathists and terrorists. #Kurdistan

    And Mustafa Saadoon Tweeted:

    A delegation from the "Coordination Shiite framework" arrives to Erbil. The delegation headed by Nuri al-Maliki. There is now a meeting between Maliki and Masoud Barzani.

    We could offer many more photos of Nouri reaching out but we can't of Moqtada.  Fat boy apparently is too busy eating to maintain his plush figure.  Even those in his bloc are ticked off by Moqtada and his lazy ass.

    But, hey, US tax dollars went to Moqtada in August (to get him to proclaim he would be particiapting in the elections) so NYT and other US outlets are comfortable lying.

    Many on Arabic social media are outraged.  And protests took place in Baghdad, protests the western media largely ignored.  PRENSA LATINA did report on the protests:

    The demonstrations coincided with appeals filed by the head of the Al-Fatah (Conquest) alliance, Hadi Al-Amiri, one of the coalitions that lost more than 30 seats for the next legislature.

    Most of the streets in Baghdad were blocked by burning tires and other objects, while troops were deployed to keep the flow of vehicles.

    Those opposed to the electoral results sought a correction to the decisions of the Electoral Commission, whom they accuse of manipulating the votes. 

    The following sites updated;


    Monday, December 27, 2021

    Wanda Young




    On Sunday,  Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Do You Believe Jussie Now?" went up.  

    Now moving over to some very sad news, PEOPLE magazine reports:

    Wanda Young, the legendary singer from the Marvelettes, has died at 78.

    Young died on Dec. 15 from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, her daughter Meta Ventress told The New York Times.

    Young began singing with the group in the '60s when she replaced Georgia Dobbins, an original member who left due to family commitments. She shared lead singing duties with Gladys Horton who formed the group, originally called the Casinyets, with four other high school classmates including Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman and Juanita Cowart.


    WIKIPEDIA notes:

    They were the first successful act of Motown Records after the Miracles and its first significantly successful female group after the release of the 1961 number-one single, "Please Mr. Postman", one of the first number-one singles recorded by an all-female vocal group and the first by a Motown recording act.

    Founded in 1960 while the group's founding members performed together at their glee club at Inkster High School in Inkster, Michigan, they signed to Motown's Tamla label in 1961. Some of the group's early hits were written by band members and some of Motown's rising singer-songwriters such as Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, who played drums on a majority of their early recordings. Despite their early successes, the group was eclipsed in popularity by groups like the Supremes, with whom they shared an intense rivalry.

    Nevertheless, they managed a major comeback in 1966 with "Don't Mess with Bill", along with several other hits. They struggled with problems of poor promotion from Motown, health issues and substance abuse with Cowart the first to leave in 1963, followed by Georgeanna Tillman in 1965, and Gladys Horton in 1967. The group ceased performing together in 1969 and, following the release of The Return of the Marvelettes in 1970, featuring only Wanda Rogers, disbanded for good, with both Rogers and Katherine Anderson leaving the music business.

    The group has received several honors including induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, as well as receiving the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 2005, two of the group's most successful recordings, "Please Mr. Postman" and "Don't Mess with Bill" earned million-selling Gold singles from the RIAA. On August 17, 2013, in Cleveland, Ohio, at Cleveland State University, the Marvelettes were inducted into the first class of the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame.

    And WIKIPEDIA notes:

    After a successful audition, Young joined the group and the quintet, which had auditioned for a deal with Motown earlier, returned with a song written by Dobbins titled "Please Mr. Postman". Impressed with the group's sound, they were immediately signed and had their name changed to the Marvelettes. After the song was remastered, the song was released and became Motown's first No. 1 Pop single in late 1961—it also held the top slot for seven weeks on Billboard's R&B chart. Young sang lead on the B-side of the single on a ballad, "So Long, Baby". In 1963, the Beatles recorded "Please Mr. Postman" on their second studio album With the Beatles. In 1975, the Carpenters' remake of "Please Mr. Postman" hit No. 1 around the world and was one of a dozen million-selling Gold-certified singles for the duo in the United States. It was also the second song to ever hit No. 1 by two different artists.

    While Young did occasionally sing leads on Marvelettes' album cuts, Horton was the main vocalist of the group for singles. Young sang co-lead on Marvelettes' songs, including singles "Locking Up My Heart" and "Too Many Fish in the Sea". In 1964, she sang her first (solo) lead on a Marvelettes' single, "You're My Remedy", which didn't translate as successfully to sales or charts figures.

    The first hit single to feature her on lead was the dance hit, "I'll Keep Holding On". From then on until the Marvelettes' departure, Young would be the main lead vocalist of the group. She went on to sing lead on several classics such as "Don't Mess with Bill" (a million-selling gold 45), "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game", "When You're Young and in Love" and "My Baby Must Be a Magician".

    The Marvelettes' hit making days had waned by the end of the 1960s and in 1970 the group disbanded. In 1970, Wanda recorded a solo album with Smokey Robinson serving as her producer. Sensing marketing value as a Marvelettes release, Motown released the album as The Return of the Marvelettes. The other Marvelettes refused to participate for the album cover and the album flopped. Young left the label in 1972 when the Motown label relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles.

    Wanda Young was part of music history.

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


    Monday, December 27, 2021.  Are US troops in Iraq still getting combat pay and we remember Joan Didion.

    Liteary giant Joan Didion passed away December 23rd.  She was preceeded by her husband John Gregory Dunne and their daughter Quintana Roo Dunne. A writer of the New Journalism school, Joan left behind many literary landmarks including THE WHITE ALBUM, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, POLITICAL FICTIONS, BLUE NIGHTS, SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM, FIXED IDEAS: AMERICAN SINCE 9/11, SALVADOR, PLAY IT AS IT LAYS and MIAMI. 

    Joan had true talent and a great gift for writing.  She was also the Queen of Common Sense.  That's why she was repeatedly able to catch things others did not.

    She was a one-of-a-kind writer and a one-of-a-kind person.  When I did the Friday snapshot, I tried to include her in it but couldn't.  It was too soon.  And it probably still is.  I've paused dictation for about 25 or so minutes because I really don't want to cover this.  I said a long time ago I was not going to write here about everybody I know if they passed away.  I don't feel like putting myself through that.  Joan's one of the people I have to write about.  Brian De Palma is someone I'd have to write about.  Hopefully, he'll outlive this site by many years but when I was informed of Joan's passing, he was the first person that came to mind.  I love Brian.

    I have little love left for Barbra Streisand and she's the one whose name came up when others called to discuss Joan's death.  They'd note my remarks about her in the October 21st snapshot:

    Before we move on to Colin, let me note Barbra.  I know her.  I like her.  I applaud the art she produced with YENTL.  We promoted RELESE ME 2 here.  I've praised her performance in THE GUILT TRIP.  And I try to say nice things about her in real life.  Which is why friends were surprised when I recently slammed her here.  Industry friends couldn't stop calling as that was circulated.  Basically saying, "You do get it then?"  Yes, and I always have.  But I'm not a director and I never had to put up with that crap on a set and I'm smart enough never to be in a film with her.  Her image is well earned.  It has nothing to do with my interaction with her.

    But when ego mania and a her need to be the center of attention at all times caused her to trash Bradley Cooper?  I know Bradley and he did not deserve her crap.  So I would have objected for that reason alone.  But I have known Joan Didion for decades now.  And to watch, while Joan's in such poor health, as Barbra stole the credit that Joan and her late husband John Gregory Dunne deserve?


    As I wrote, this is why she doesn't get awards.  It's why she's never won a second Academy Award for acting and never will.  It's why she's hated by so many who have worked with her and others who refuse to work with her.  Joan and John were ending their vacation in Hawaii when Joan turned to John and exclaimed something like, "A STAR IS BORN with Carly Simon and James Taylor!"  That idea popped into her head and that's how you got the 70s A STAR IS BORN.  

    The script was a hot property and the studio was willing to do it with Carly and James -- but they ended up not wanting to do the film.  (Too close to home at the time as James' career was muddling.)  Various other women expressed interest and it was a go project.  It was happening.  As it was coming down to the wire, it was Cher's film.  She would be starring in it.  And the Sue and Barbra swoop in.

    That film is garbage, pure garbage.  Kris isn't bad in it but he's undercut by all the focus on Barbra -- especially when he's emoting but the camera's instated trained on Barbra.  Did the crew really mix s**t in with mud for a scene where Barbra was in the mud?  I don't know.  Frank Pierson, the director of the film, told me they did.  It's not surprising if they did.  She's a terror on a set.  I'd never go on a set with her.  And you can go to YOUTUBE and see her screeching homophobia when she visits Harrison Ford on one of his film sets.  That's Barbra.  

    She destroyed the script for the film.  She destroyed the balance that was needed.  And the biggest complain, which no one makes but I think everyone viewing gets, is that the film should end on Kris.  You do one wrap up scene.  Instead, Kris dies and it's Babs Babs Babs.  Oh, she's walking through the lonely mansion, oh she hears his voice on a tape recorder, oh this and oh that and then that never ending two song medley where her nose is frightening.  She who screeches about unflattering photography has allowed some of the worst video of her ever captured -- worst in terms of appearance -- and for what?  To hog the movie?  To sing bad songs.  

    And she's going to slam Bradley's film?  His film works, her film does not.  

    She's going to slam Brad and she's going to steal Joan and John's credit?  Slamming Brad because she made the film about singer-songwriters and blah blah blah.

    She didn't do s**t with that.  She added the Orioles (which I always found racist) and she demanded that a type of feminist sensibility be put into the film -- her sense of a feminist sensibility which has always been a rather strange one.  

    She made a bad film that's an endurance contest to get through and she wants to slam Bradley and she wants to steal Joan and John's credit?

    As I said when I wrote about it here, this is exactly why she doesn't get awards from her peers.  It's that ego that claims credit for everything.  It's that ego that has to put others down to build herself up.  I can indulge in that in casual interactions with her but I'm smart enough never to work with her.    Carole King wasn't.  Carole's basically a nice person.  So she won't publicly slam Barbra.  But Carole was a much bigger musical act in 1972 than Barbra when they did a George McGovern benefit and ask Carole how much rehearsal time she was allowed.  Ask Quincy Jones how much time he go tot rehearse.  Ask them who monopolized the venue with rehearsal after rehearsal for what were poor and simplistic arrangements.  She has no concern or care for other artists.

    So I posted that here and it gets circulated around a number of friends and then the circle gets larger and larger.  And I'm getting all these phone calls because it's the truth but people are surprised I'd say it.  Normally, I wouldn't.  But she went after Bradley and Joan.  She atacked one, she erased the other.  

    I wasn't in the mood.  And I don't give her a pass because her son Jason is gay.  She's homophobic so I'm honestly not surprised that 'gay rights' Barbra would praise the homophobic Colin Powell.

    And that was picking up from the August 18th snapshot.  We bring it up now because glory hog Barbra can't say a word about Joan.  I guess it's jealousy?  She can Tweet since Joan died, for example, she just can't note Joan's death.  Maybe it's guilt?  After she tried to steal Joan's credit yet again this year, maybe it's guilt.  I hope it's guilt -- coz she's got plenty, coz she's got plenty to be guilty of.

    Unlike her, Joan was generous with praise and compliments and support.  

    And unlike Barbra, Joan also had a brain and intellect, here she is speaking with Jon Wienr in 2013:

    There's no difference between the parties, is there? We don't have an actual argument. We have two parties that calibrate everything they do to attract a very small group called "the target voters." As for the rest of us, I don't think it's too strong to say we have been disfranchised.

    She wasn't the partisan fool Barbra and so many are.  You'd never catch her presenting as left but rushing to reTweet an article from THE ATLANTIC excusing Joe Biden for doing nothing for the people in 2021.  What kind of fool?  Only a fool like Barbra.

    Here's the voice of intelligence, Joan from FIXED IDEAS: AMERICA SINCE 9:11:

    All I can say about the rest of that evening, and about the two weeks that followed, is that they turned out to be nothing I had expected, nothing I had ever before experienced, an extraordinarily open kind of traveling dialogue, an encounter with an America apparently immune to conventional wisdom. The book I was making the trip to talk about was Political Fictions, a series of pieces I had written for The New York Review about the American political process from the 1988 through the 2000 presidential elections. These people to whom I was listening—in San Francisco and Los Angeles and Portland and Seattle—were making connections I had not yet in my numbed condition thought to make: connections between that political process and what had happened on September 11, connections between our political life and the shape our reaction would take and was in fact already taking.

    These people recognized that even then, within days after the planes hit, there was a good deal of opportunistic ground being seized under cover of the clearly urgent need for increased security. These people recognized even then, with flames still visible in lower Manhattan, that the words “bipartisanship” and “national unity” had come to mean acquiescence to the administration’s preexisting agenda—for example the imperative for further tax cuts, the necessity for Arctic drilling, the systematic elimination of regulatory and union protections, even the funding for the missile shield—as if we had somehow missed noticing the recent demonstration of how limited, given a few box cutters and the willingness to die, superior technology can be.

    These people understood that when Judy Woodruff, on the evening the President first addressed the nation, started talking on CNN about what “a couple of Democratic consultants” had told her about how the President would be needing to position himself, Washington was still doing business as usual. They understood that when the political analyst William Schneider spoke the same night about how the President had “found his vision thing,” about how “this won’t be the Bush economy any more, it’ll be the Osama bin Laden economy,” Washington was still talking about the protection and perpetuation of its own interests.

    These people got it.

    They didn’t like it.

    They stood up in public and they talked about it.

    Only when I got back to New York did I find that people, if they got it, had stopped talking about it. I came in from Kennedy to find American flags flying all over the Upper East Side, at least as far north as 96th Street, flags that had not been there in the first week after the fact. I say “at least as far north as 96th Street” because a few days later, driving down from Washington Heights past the big projects that would provide at least some of the manpower for the “war on terror” that the President had declared—as if terror were a state and not a technique—I saw very few flags: at most, between 168th Street and 96th Street, perhaps a half-dozen. There were that many flags on my building alone. Three at each of the two entrances. I did not interpret this as an absence of feeling for the country above 96th Street. I interpreted it as an absence of trust in the efficacy of rhetorical gestures.

    There was much about this return to New York that I had not expected. I had expected to find the annihilating economy of the event—the way in which it had concentrated the complicated arrangements and misarrangements of the last century into a single irreducible image—being explored, made legible. On the contrary, I found that what had happened was being processed, obscured, systematically leached of history and so of meaning, finally rendered less readable than it had seemed on the morning it happened. As if overnight, the irreconcilable event had been made manageable, reduced to the sentimental, to protective talismans, totems, garlands of garlic, repeated pieties that would come to seem in some ways as destructive as the event itself. We now had “the loved ones,” we had “the families,” we had “the heroes.”

    In fact it was in the reflexive repetition of the word “hero” that we began to hear what would become in the year that followed an entrenched preference for ignoring the meaning of the event in favor of an impenetrably flattening celebration of its victims, and a troublingly belligerent idealization of historical ignorance. “Taste” and “sensitivity,” it was repeatedly suggested, demanded that we not examine what happened. Images of the intact towers were already being removed from advertising, as if we might conveniently forget they had been there. The Roundabout Theatre had canceled a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, on the grounds that it was “not an appropriate time” to ask audiences “to think critically about various aspects of the American experience.” The McCarter Theatre at Princeton had canceled a production of Richard Nelson’s The Vienna Notes, which involves a terrorist act, saying that “it would be insensitive of us to present the play at this moment in our history.”

    I found in New York that “the death of irony” had already been declared, repeatedly, and curiously, since irony had been declared dead at the precise moment—given that the gravity of September 11 derived specifically from its designed implosion of historical ironies—when we might have seemed most in need of it. “One good thing could come from this horror: it could spell the end of the age of irony,” Roger Rosenblatt wrote within days of the event in Time, a thought, or not a thought, destined to be frequently echoed but never explicated. Similarly, I found that “the death of postmodernism” had also been declared. (“It seemed bizarre that events so serious would be linked causally with a rarified form of academic talk,” Stanley Fish wrote after receiving a call from a reporter asking if September 11 meant the end of postmodernist relativism. “But in the days that followed, a growing number of commentators played serious variations on the same theme: that the ideas foisted upon us by postmodern intellectuals have weakened the country’s resolve.”) “Postmodernism” was henceforth to be replaced by “moral clarity,” and those who persisted in the decadent insistence that the one did not necessarily cancel out the other would be subjected to what William J. Bennett would call—in Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism—“a vast relearning,” “the reinstatement of a thorough and honest study of our history, undistorted by the lens of political correctness and pseudosophisticated relativism.”

    Ifound in New York, in other words, that the entire event had been seized—even as the less nimble among us were still trying to assimilate it—to stake new ground in old domestic wars. There was the frequent deployment of the phrase “the Blame America Firsters,” or “the Blame America First crowd,” the wearying enthusiasm for excoriating anyone who suggested that it could be useful to bring at least a minimal degree of historical reference to bear on the event. There was the adroit introduction of convenient straw men. There was Christopher Hitchens, engaging in a dialogue with Noam Chomsky, giving himself the opportunity to generalize whatever got said into “the liberal-left tendency to ‘rationalize’ the aggression of September 11.” There was Donald Kagan at Yale, dismissing his colleague Paul Kennedy as “a classic case of blaming the victim,” because the latter had asked his students to try to imagine what resentments they might harbor if America were small and the world dominated by a unified Arab-Muslim state. There was Andrew Sullivan, warning on his Web site that while the American heartland was ready for war, the “decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts” could well mount “what amounts to a fifth column.”

    And you can read it in full at THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS.  Joan was a regular contributor and TNYROB has a folder up with some of her writing.

    Let's drop back to April 26, 2010, when a peace 'leader' was justifying people not hold Barack Obama accountable for continuing the Iraq War:

    Oh, how sad. Having ethics might interfere with the ability to hero worship. Poor pathetics. Leave them their hero worship, it's all they have left having whored every belief they previously held. This is a good point to drop back to November 2008 when Joan Didion was speaking on a panel which included Andrew Delbanco, Jeff Madrick, Darryl Pinckney, Robert Silvers, Michael Tomasky and Garry Wills at New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. The New York Review of Books podcast the event (scroll down to November 17, 2008, What Happens Now? A Conversation on the 2008 Election) and we did a transcription of Joan's remarks at Third, "Joan Didion on the Cult of the Christ-child:"

    Close to the heart of it was the way in which only the very young were decreed of capable of truly appreciating the candidate. Again and again, perfectly sentient adults cited the clinching of arguments made on the candidate's behalf by their children -- by quite small children. Again and again, we were told that this was a generational thing, we couldn't understand. In a flash we were sent back to high school, and we couldn't sit with the popular kids, we didn't get it. The "Style" section of The New York Times yesterday morning mentioned the Obama t-shirts that "makes irony look old."

    Irony was now out.

    Naivete translated into "hope" was now in.
    Innocence, even when it looked like ignorance, was now prized.

    Partisanship could now be appropriately expressed by consumerism.

    I could not count the number of snapshots I got emailed showing people's babies in Obama gear.

    Now I couldn't count the number of terms I heard the terms "transformational" or "inspirational." The whole of election night I kind of kept dozing on and off and the same people were on always on television and every time I woke up to them they were saying "transformational."

    I couldn't count the number of times I heard the sixties evoked by people with no apparent memory that what drove the social revolution of the sixties was not babies in cute t-shirts but the kind of resistance to that decade's war that in the case of our current wars, unmotivated by a draft, we have yet to see.

    It became increasingly clear that we were gearing up for another close encounter with militant idealism by which I mean the convenient redefinition of political or pragmatic questions as moral questions -- which makes those questions seem easier to answer at a time when the nation is least prepared to afford easy answers.

    Binghampton, New York was supposed to be installing a financial cost of war counter for Iraq and Afghanistan last Wednesday. The day before, it was called off under pressure and allegations that it was 'disrespectful' to the military (In a Junta, we must all salute, apparently).

    We noted Joan here many times, but never enough.  [Elaine noted Joan in  "JOAN: FORTY YEARS OF LIFE, LOSS, AND FRIENDSHIP WI..." -- which Ava and I spoke with her about here.]

    She was someone who added to the worth of this world and she will be greatly missed.

    Writer and teacher Matt Bell Tweeted: 

    The one Joan Didion passage I have memorized, from teaching it so often in a lecture on syntax and style: "Time passes. Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember."

    What I taught here is how Didion’s sentence repeats & expands for rhetorical effect: memory three times, followed by a single-syllable verb, then a two-syllable verb, then a longer verb phrase. I always think of it as a “telescoping” sentence, each segment pulled out of the last.

    Whistle-blower Ed Snowden Tweeted:

    “I remember all of the day’s misinformation very clearly, and I also remember this, and I wish I did not: I remember that no one was surprised.” Joan Didion

    NETFLIX Tweeted:

    “It's easy to see the beginning of things and harder to see the ends.”— Joan Didion in The Center Will Not Hold. Rest in Power to a trailblazing literary icon

    Director Ava DuVernay Tweeted:

    “It’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.” - Joan Didion

    The wonderful Paul Rudnick Tweeted:

    RIP the superb writer Joan Didion. Her movie Up Close and Personal was a tragic love story between an anchorwoman and her mentor. I was nervous about meeting Ms. Didion as I'd called the film Lady Reads The News in print. But she laughed about this and was completely wonderful

    And Iraqi novelist Shahad Al Rawi Tweeted:

    A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty." – Joan Didion - A legendary writer and inspiring woman, rest In peace. #joandidion


    In Iraq, the pretense that a 'withdrawal' of US forces has left really isn't playing and the weasel word of 'combat' troops isn't working either.  MEHR reports:

    Sabereen News telegram channel has reported a new attack on the US Army logistics convoy in Iraq.

    According to Sabereen, a US military logistics convoy was targeted in Anbar province in western Iraq on Sunday afternoon.

    No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

    They're under attack.  Are you surprised?  If you are, you haven't been paying attention -- which might make you a member of the US Congress.  IRAN FRONT PAGE notes:

    Hadi al-Ameri said the withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq is an objective on which no compromise can be made as national sovereignty and independence are Baghdad’s red lines.

    He said he was opposed to US troops remaining in Iraq under the pretext of training and consultations, and that the presence of even a single American soldier in the country cannot be tolerated.

    If the US chooses to stay in Iraq, he said, it will have to accept the consequences of this mistake.

    He said if Iraq needs military trainers and consultants, an agreement must be concluded to specify the place where they would be present as well as their number and mission. 

    PRESS TV reports:

    Back in July, Washington and Baghdad reached an agreement on the American military’s withdrawal, under which the US would keep its troops on Iraqi soil under the guise of providing advisory assistance to the Iraqi military.

    On Monday, the spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said American combat forces had completely pulled out of the Ain al-Assad air base in al-Anbar Province and only the so-called advisory forces had remained there.

    [. . .]

    However, Kate’ al-Rikabi, a former member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, said that the US occupation forces were still present at Ain al-Assad.

    Combat didn't end.  Probably combat pay did for US troops.  That's a Joe Biden cick move and he's full of dick moves.  He needs to be asked, the Pentagon needs to be asked, are US troops in Iraq being paid combat pay or not -- combat pay is higher.  

    Common sense dictates that the question be asked.  Our DC press isn't known for possessing common sense.  Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Do You Believe Jussie Now?" went up Sunday and the following sites updated: