Thursday, April 21, 2022

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt has a new release  out.  VARIETY interviews her:

Actually, she can make us love her, and Bonnie Raitt has been doing it since her self-titled debut album in 1971. A slew of Grammys for “Nick of Time” in 1990 spurred a reboot of her career that’s never waned, particularly when it comes to her live appeal. She just started an eight-month tour behind her 18th studio album, “Just Like That,” another soul-stirring mixture of greasy, good-time blues-rock and heartrending state-of-the-world balladry.



How is it, back out on the road?

bonnie Raitt: We just played our first date last night in Modesto, and I can’t even tell you — it was all I could do not to just break down, I was so excited. I was just in the zone again. If you take somebody that’s been on the road for 50 years and then don’t give ‘em a live audience for two and a half years… I had to stop and restart a song last night, because I was playing it at a 1980s Elvis Costello tempo! I had to drop it back down to Chuck Berry.



You are one of the very few major artists who’s had a career in the limelight that long who never had any regrettable moments of compromise. You went indie eventually, but even on major labels, you never seemed to do anything that wasn’t you.

As a 21-year-old (in 1971), my condition of signing to any record label was that I didn’t want to have anybody tell me what or when to record, or have to work with someone that I didn’t pick, or be told how to look. I said, “I have no plans to be a commercial singles artist — I’m a stone-FM-album cut kind of a person, along with the Meters and Grateful Dead and Little Feat and Randy (Newman) and Ry (Cooder).” And that’s why I went with Warner Bros. Then with Warner Communications (taking over the label as a conglomerate), the big-bucks guys came in — and the 1980s was not a great decade for people in our type of music. I was penalized for not going in the direction they thought I should go. There can be little ways that they don’t support you to the level they did: They don’t put the records in the stores. They don’t get you the placement PR-wise. They don’t push your single as much. Famously, Van Morrison, T Bone Burnett, Arlo Guthrie and I were canned on Pearl Harbor Day of 1983, right before I was going out on tour with Stevie Ray Vaughan and had finished a new album. When Joe Smith called and I went to Capitol (at the end of the ’80s), I said, again, “I don’t want you to tell me what to record.” The awards (for “Nick of Time”) really validated my musical direction. But it was the Grammys that gave me the response, not the People’s Choice or American Music Awards. I wasn’t a top 40 act.


Here's a new song from the album, "Blame It On Me."



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



Wednesday, April 20, 2022.  Lily Tomlin, climate change, Iraq and more.

Actress and comedian (and animal rights activist and feminist and . . .) Lily Tomlin is in the news lately.  NETFLIX is about to drop the last episodes of GRACE AND FRANKIE, the show she co-stars with Jane Fonda in, and and April 22nd, she's going to be honored by TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES and she has two upcoming film projects.  THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER spoke with her and we'll note this section:

Do you think culture and comedy have evolved in the time since you first started out?

[Lily Tomlin}: People are more conscious about misogynistic jokes or homophobic jokes or racial slurs. Those [jokes] are just expressions of anger and fury and dislike and propaganda to separate groups and individuals. I don’t know how well-founded this is, but as tragic as Ukraine is, you think of it as a white European country. I think of the people in Haiti and in all the countries of color where terrible things happened and not as many people responded, and it was not as widely spread in the press. There was just an embrace of the Ukrainian people and a dismissal of people of color in other countries.


At BLACK AGENDA REPORT, Ajamu Baraka offers:

U.S. propagandists had learned from the Vietnam experience that it was much safer to shield the public from the brutality that their troops were dishing out to poor villagers, students, ordinary workers, and anyone who dared to resist the military might of the U.S. military on a daily basis.

But the Ukraine war, at least the portion that began with the Russia “special operation” in February, was one of those instances where exposure to the dehumanized reality of war was welcomed.


The images of the burnt-out buildings and frightened refugees crossing the frontiers of the nations that border Ukraine served an especially important purpose. It was to generate public support for war. War in support of Ukraine and revulsion against the Russian “invaders!” And it did not hurt that the victims were white!

An important lesson was learned from the U.S. and NATO wars to dismember Yugoslavia in the 1990s and it was that white victims made selling war amazingly easy– especially when framed as a humanitarian mission to rescue people from tyranny.

We know what emerged from this discovery. The ideological weapon of humanitarian intervention and the mantra, “responsibility to protect” became invaluable to justify imperialist war, even when the victims were not white, because an appeal could be made to another powerful force – liberal white saviorism!

However, in this short essay I want to address something even more insidious and dangerous than the general propaganda efforts to generate support for the war against Russia, and that is: in the process of building support for war,  the white supremacist, ultranationalist, and neo-Nazi elements in Ukrainian society and in the state were downplayed, if not ignored.

That whitewashing, coupled with the inordinate attention given to the war, with the inevitable sympathy for the white victims of this war – a war motivated by the desire of Ukrainians to join Europe, to “defend Europeanness,” and European “civilization” – revealed a contradiction that has always been present at the heart of the emergence of what became Europe. That contradiction was the hyper-valuation of white lives, of “whiteness,” in relationship to the racialized “others,” a contradiction that I refer to as the “white lives matter more movement.”

This whitewashing of Ukraine is particularly dangerous because it is occurring at a historical moment of deep crisis for the global capitalist order, producing proto-fascist movements across Europe that are becoming more visible and bolder. As I said in previous writings on this subject, U.S. authorities and the U.S. and Western European press understood that Ukraine had an active problem with white supremacist ultranationalists and literal neo-Nazis. Nevertheless, in order to engender support for Ukraine and to set the stage for the performance of a lifetime by Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s actor president, Ukraine had to be recreated, minus the ultranationalist influence and Nazis.

Herein lies the danger for non-Europeans.

The coup in 2014 saw for the first time since the second world-war, literal neo-Nazis serving in the government of a European state. Moreover, even though the ultranationalists and neo-Nazis did not have a commanding electoral base, their non-state presence controlling the streets of major cities and towns across Ukraine was significant. They were notorious for their attacks on LGBTQ populations, anarchists, non-Europeans, and Roma peoples. Their violent opposition to communists and communism and socialism of any sort was officially amplified with repressive legislation that outlawed and repressed most left political tendencies.

Beginning in 2014, white supremacists from throughout the European world traveled to Ukraine, with over four thousand “volunteers” traveling to Ukraine recently to fight in response to Zelensky’s call to help fight the Russians. It did not matter to Zelensky or the European nations supplying weapons and paying the salaries of these “volunteers” that most of them were self-identified white supremacists.

Again, we do not need to make the case of the presence of these forces in Ukraine. That has already been done, here , here, and here . The political issue is that the sanitizing of the right-wing Ukrainian state has strengthened the far-right not only in Ukraine but globally. The whitewashing by liberals and the liberal/left in the U.S. that transformed these elements into “moderate” Nazis is having the effect of legitimizing their proto-fascist racialized politics, a politics that is emerging across the white world. There is a reason Marine LePen has a chance to defeat Emmanuel Macron, even after he moved further to the right after being elected.

Liberals pretend to be opposed to the right, but they do not because they aligned themselves with the neo-liberal right more than two decades ago. The right will never defeat the far-right – the dilemma of the democratic party in the U.S. But in embracing the illusion of being in opposition and conceding ideological terrain in the elusive quest for “bipartisanship” the far-right is further legitimized and emboldened.

The whitewashing of the right in Ukraine in order to support its U.S.-backed government will have domestic political consequences. For example, the liberal and left/liberal argument for opposing Trump was that his supporters were infected with racism and his movement represented a proto-fascist political development in the body politic of the U.S. The political and ideological challenge now is to square this support for white supremacists in Ukraine with their opposition to Trump. How do you condemn Trumpian racism after embracing a government and society infested with white supremacists and literal neo-Nazis?

In a few yers, when everyone looks back at this time period, there's going to be a lot of shame -- and there should be. Shame on the part of the media, shame on 'caring' actors.  They should all be on the receiving end of some version of Jesse Jackson Jr.'s 2008 speech/attack on Hillary Clinton -- where he listed all the things she dind't cry over but felt that she had cried over her poorly run campaign.

A lot of people will have to answer whe the hysteria dies down.


Most Americans, despite the media whoring, don't care.  They care that people are at war in the abstract.  But, no, this isn't seen by the majority of Americans as a US priority.  

And what they see at home only appalls them.  A member of Congress telling the homeless to go home.  To go home.  And it's not a Republica snarling at them.  No, it's a Democrat.  The once powerful and righteous Maxine Waters.  Sunk by her own corruption.  Mayb it's time the ethics review board over Congress was taken out of the hands of Congress?  Between Nancy Pelosi's profits from the stock market and all the family scandals for members of Congress, something needs to be done.

But we don't have money to care for the homeless, we are told. Yet Joe Biden keeps sending more and money to fight Russia.  

Ma8rgaret Kimberly (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) notes:

The United States, its NATO allies, and their partners in corporate media are engaging in an unprecedented war propaganda effort. Their goal is to get and maintain public support for their actions against Russia which are playing out in Ukraine. The messaging is constant and isn’t at all subtle. One cannot go online for any purpose without seeing exhortations to help Ukrainian children, buy products colored in blue and yellow, or somehow “stand with Ukraine.”

What passes for news about Ukraine is usually little more than anti-Russian screeds, sourced by “anonymous officials” eager to reveal claims that Vladimir Putin has untold billions of dollars stashed away, or that Russians are protesting, refusing to fight, or fleeing their country. In these stories Putin has been fooled by his aides, is purging the intelligence apparatus and is either depressed or in fits of rage, depending on the source of the anti-Putin invective. We are told that the Russian economy is crumbling, every atrocity is committed by Russians only, and that Ukraine’s president Volodomyr Zelensky is a perfect human being. Documented proof that he has a fortune in offshore accounts has been disappeared by the media which once reported on these activities.

Joe Biden and his foreign policy team of incompetent ideologues hope to convince Americans to accept food shortages, rising gas prices, and the risk of a hot war. The steady diet of dangerous nonsense is a necessity for them. The game is up if the people begin to question what they are being told.

Then again, while there may not be mass rejection of the Ukraine narrative there is certainly a mass rejection of Biden himself. The latest opinion poll shows him with a very low 33% approval rating. The average person may not be well versed in the history of U.S. policy towards Russia, but they know when things don’t add up and they know that the president is not a well man. Rambling, incoherent speeches punctuated by shouts of “war criminal” and “genocide” don’t cut it when working people can barely afford to put gas in the tank. We are left with a mass gaslighting effort that has created the desired effect of generating fear and or hatred towards Russia, but that hasn’t increased satisfaction about the country’s direction.

Biden’s actions aren’t very surprising. He was the Ukraine point person after the Barack Obama coup in 2014. He was always one of the most hawkish democrats and came into the presidency with Antony Blinken, Victoria Nuland and the same cast of characters who first violated Ukraine’s sovereignty. He hoped to instigate Russia and kill the NordStreamII pipeline and sanction Russia. He didn’t expect the full incursion that he spent months saying would happen.

Now he is hoisted on his own petard, trying to bully other nations into condemning Russia when it isn’t in their interests to do so, and causing world wide suffering in a futile effort to destroy Russia’s economy. Sanctions against Russia have increased fuel prices all over the world. Disruptions in wheat production will reduce Ukraine’s harvest and decrease supplies in places that had no connection with this ginned up conflict. The anti-Russian propaganda is working but the pro-Biden effort is not, hence the public disapproval.

Nothing is working for Joe.  And he's so feeble and out of touch that he's whispering about running for 2024.  Does he think he'll be able to hide in basements and avoid the campaign trail again?

The 'peop' shots they gavee him befor the debates -- the Democratic Party debates -- did wake him back up once thy started but they also brought out his aggressive nature and he looked really angry.

That won't work in 2024.  Equally true, Joe's been abusing the same 'pep' shots since he got into the White House, he thinks they help him thihnk better. 

Nothing in a needle will ever do that trick, Joe.

Among his many failures?  He'll be remembered for doing damn little to save the planet.  April 22nd, Lily gets honored (rightfully so) but that day is also Earth Day.  

AFP reports:

·1 min read

Iraq was hit Wednesday by its third heavy dust storm in two weeks, temporarily grounding flights at Baghdad and Najaf airports, as the weather phenomenon grows increasingly frequent.

The air in Baghdad was thick with a heavy sheet of grey and orange dust, while the state news agency INA cited the meteorological office as saying the latest storm was expected to lift on Thursday.

Flights were suspended at Baghdad International Airport due to poor visibility.

The airport serving the Shiite holy city of Najaf to the south also released a statement announcing flights were grounded.

Two dust storms struck the country earlier in April, leaving dozens hospitalised with respiratory problems and temporarily grounding flights at a number of airports.

"The dust is affecting the whole country but particularly central and southern regions," Amer al-Jabri, an official at Iraq's meteorological office, told AFP.

The dust storms are worse and more frequent due to climate change.  And the world sits by waiting .  Or fretting over nonsense.  

The following sites updated:0