Thursday, September 01, 2022


There's only one Cher.

There was not a Cher before Cher.  She's not based on anyone.  She's not Madonna coming up trying to be Marilyn Monroe.

Everything she did was the 'wrong' thing.  In the 60s, gossip columnists like Hedda Hopper couldn't stop trashing her.  What she and Sonny wore was considered outrageous.  She became a rock star when few women did.  And she did it by singing some really tough songs.  She wasn't blond, she wasn't Lesley Gore.  

The sixties ended and ended the popularity of many big acts from that period.  Dusty Springfield didn't have hits, etc, etc.  It was over.  Cher was no more.

Except, surprise, there she was on TV and she quickly became a TV star -- and she ended up with more hit songs including three number ones.  

The 70s ended and so did Cher.  That's what people said.  She did an act in Vegas.  Not much else.  The hits were gone on the radio.  Then, boom, she was a movie star: SILKWOOD, MASK, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK, SUSPECT, MOONSTRUCK, MERMAIDS -- and an Oscar for MOONSTRUCK. 

And she was back on the music charts -- "We All Sleep Alone," "Just Like Jesse James," "Heart of Stone," "If I Could Turn Back Time" . . .

The 90s.  She does the infomercial.

Her career is over.

But we'd heard that before, right?  

She ends up with her first solo number one "Believe."  She's amazing in TEA WITH MUSSOLINI.  

She's never gone.  She's never over.

And she's her own template.

Cher is Cher.  

Why am I saying this?

A Tweet led to some insisting Dua Lipa is this "generation's Cher" and NME reports:

Another user quote-retweeted the post, writing, “So much truth in one Tweet.” They tagged both artists, to which Cher responded somewhat shadily. “How many [years] are in a generation,” the 76-year-old pop icon wrote alongside an emoji of a thinking face. See that exchange below:

I agree with Cher.

Dua's been around for a few years.  Trying doing it for decades before being compared to Cher and try also being an original and not a copy.  No woman sang like Cher before Cher.  

I feel a little sorry for Dua because it's not a compliment. By that, I mean, a comparison with Cher has always left the other one exposed because they are not  Cher.  That was Rebecca's point last October when an idiot was insisting Lady Gaga was going to win the Oscar (she didn't, did she) and was the new Cher.

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

Thursday, September 1, 2022.   How bad are things in Iraq and how badly has Joe Biden bungled it?  Judith Miller feels safe returning to the topic of Iraq.  Judith.  Miller.

Mustafa serves Moqtada.  

If you're going to analyze what took place and do it honestly, you need to note what Iraqis have been noting for weeks now -- when the Shi'ite youth peacefully worked for change, the Iraqis forces mowed them down and Mustafa did nothing.  You need to contrast that -- as Arabic social media has -- with how he's responded to Moqtada's cult.  But if you're really going to analyze what took place and do it honestly, you go to someone like Mohammed Tawfeeq who has long covered Iraq for CNN and not two nobodies like Adam and Abbas who don't cover Iraq.  'Oh, they cover the Middle East!'  They haven't covered Iraq.  They lack the knowledge base and they lack the experience.  By contrast, not only is Mohammed someone with years of experience covering Iraq, he also hails from Iraq.  You've got expertise, experience and a triple Emmy winner in Mohammed but you ignore assigning this to him?  Maybe Adam and Abbas can be WARNER BROS DISCOVERY's next cuts because they are clearly useless and not up to the job.  

On the media.  I'm going to strongly critique CNN and others -- probably ALJAZEERA in a moment -- but outlets like BREAKING POINTS WITH KRYSTAL AND SAAGAR and DEMOCRACY NOW! that are picking up the story right now?  I'm not expecting much from them and, honestly, I'm just glad to see some Iraq coverage from outlets that usually ignore the country and the ongoing war.

But these other  outlets that do cover it some?  I'm not giving them a pass for presenting garbage to the western news consumer.

Turning to a different aspect, Jeff Schogol (TASK AND PURPOSE) notes:

Roughly 2,500 U.S. service members are currently in Iraq as the country’s political paralysis has erupted into the most serious outbreak of violence in years.

[. . . ]

So far, no additional troops have been requested to increase security at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, said Army Lt. Col. David Eastburn, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Air sirens went off at the US Embassy this week.  But the US State Dept says the embassy's not going to be evacuatedKuwait and Bahrain are calling for their citizens to leave Iraq.  For over a month now, Congress has been sending letters to President Joe Biden telling him that more attention needs to be given to Iraq and Joe has just ignored it.  October 10th, Iraq held elections.  All these months later, still no president declared, still no prime minister.  And Joe's done nothing.  Let's note this:

As David Schenker, a former Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East under former President Trump wrote a week ago, senior State Department and National Security Council officials visited Iraq only twice in the nearly nine months between the national election last October and the most recent outbreak of violence this week. 

Do you get how bad Joe's doing?  I don't think you do.  Maybe this will help though, the admonishment above?  Coming from Judith Miller.  Yes, that Judith Miller.  Joe's doing such a bad job that Judith can return to the topic of Iraq despite her record of pre-war coverage.

On US troops in Iraq (all should be home) we need to note a report from last weekend.  Daniel Brown and Azmi Haroun (BUSINESS INSIDER) reported

In the 76 countries in which the US is currently fighting terrorism, at least three have been incredibly deadly: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And as the US pullout from Afghanistan nears the one year mark, Brown University's Costs of War Project report details just how deadly they've been. It counts how many people have been killed by the "United States' post-9/11 wars" in these three countries, along with others.

The report accounts for deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan between October 2001 and October 2018, and in Iraq between March 2003 and September 2021.

In October 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan to defeat the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and 20 years later, on August 30, 2021, the US completed a chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban regained full control of the country.

[. . .]

6,951 US military deaths.

Iraq: 4,550 deaths.

Afghanistan: 2,401 deaths.

Pakistan: 0 deaths.

There were also 21 civilian DOD deaths, including six in Afghanistan and 15 in Iraq, the Cost of War report notes.

7,820 US contractor deaths.

Iraq: 3,793 deaths.

Afghanistan: 3,937 deaths.

Pakistan: 90 deaths.


109,154 national military and police deaths.

Iraq: 41,726 deaths.

Afghanistan: 58,596 deaths.

Pakistan: 8,832 deaths.

1,464 Allied troop deaths.

Iraq: 323 deaths.

Afghanistan: 1,141 deaths.

Pakistan: 0 deaths.

244,124 — 266,427 civilians.

Iraq: 182,272 — 204,575 deaths.

Afghanistan: 38,480 deaths.

Pakistan: 23,372 deaths.

109,396 — 114,471 opposition fighters.

Iraq: 34,806 — 39,881 deaths.

Afghanistan: 42,100 deaths.

Pakistan: 32,490 deaths.

362 journalists and media workers.

Iraq: 245 deaths.

Afghanistan: 54 deaths.

Pakistan: 63 deaths.

566 humanitarian and NGO workers.

Iraq: 62 deaths.

Afghanistan: 409 deaths.

Pakistan: 95 deaths.

479,858 — 507,236 total deaths.

Iraq: 267,792 — 295,170 deaths. 

Afghanistan: 147,124 deaths.

Pakistan: 64,942 deaths.

Read the full report here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

It's an undercount, to be sure, but it's the most serious attempt at a real count in over a decade.

Anyone worried about an overcount on US troops killed in Iraq and citing DoD figures, should grasp that the US government's count buries troops killed in Iraq after December 2011 under the heading "Operation Inherent Resolve" and which covers deaths in "Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Mediterranean Sea east of 25 [degrees] longitude, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea."

That lumping is how they and the press get to pretend that the war ended at the end of 2011 -- when in fact, there are 74 more deaths after that.

In addition, Brown's Costs of War study notes that there have been 30,177 suicides among veterans of the post-9/11 wars.


Back to the media, I am so sick of the one-sided nonsense with regards to Iraq.  ALJAZEERA wants to 'explain' what happened.  They do so how?  By only quoting Moqtada al-Sadr's followers.  I'm sick of it.  They quote one who wants you to know he does what his leader tells him (how pathetic, shame on anyone taking marching orders from a politician).  The fool explains that he occupied the Parliament -- 

Stop.  A real journalism outlet then explains that the cult broke into the Green Zone.  That's what they did.  You can be glad, you can say it should belong to the people, you can say whatever you want.  But the reality is that they broke in.  Since 2006, the late spring, early summer, the big fear of Iraqi politicians and US leaders has been that the Green Zone would be breached.  Nouri al-Maliki would use that possible breach that didn't happen in 2006 to later justify his attacks on the press -- which included a correspondent for THE NEW YORK TIMES being threatened -- that followed in the fall of 2006.  It was a big deal.  Barack Obama never pulled all US troops out of Iraq.

If you want to whine about today's media not being believed, grasp that it wasn't just in the lead up to the Iraq War that they lied.  They lied about the 'withdrawal.'  Barack did a drawdown, not a withdrawal.  That's why the Pentagon never waivered in calling it a drawdown.  Troops remained in Iraq.  Ted Koppel reported on that.  He did so on an NBC program -- they got cancelled -- and on an NPR program -- they got cancelled.  Telling the truth, the lesson is, does not pay off.  Doubt it?  MCCLATHY NEWSPAPERS.  


That's not reality.  THE HOUSTON PRESS told the truth once upon a time and angered a Bush.  It closed shop in the 90s.

MCLATCHY had many newspapers in 2002 and 2003 and they did not tell the truth.

The only one doing actual journalism was KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS.  They told the truth about Iraq.

You don't understand how corrupt American journalism is unless you start paying attention and note that, time and again, it is the outlets programs that tell the truth that close shop.

MCCLATCHY lied like everyone else.  After the start of the war, they would purchase KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS.  They were going under. 

Lie about the Iraq War like THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, PBS, NPR and everyone else and you stay in business.

Lie, be wrong, just run with the pack and there is no fall out.

Why aren't people brave in the media?  Because too often they've seen reality.  

The ones that hang on play the game and deceive in the process.  It's been that way throughout the lifetime of the American press.  

US troops?  Some went to Kuwait, some remained.  The Secretary of the Defense testified to that in an open hearing, in response to the questions from the late Senator Kay Hagan.  She was a smart lady.  She knew the press was going to ignore it.  And they did.  All but one reporter.  We covered the hearing here, the day of the hearing, and returned to it for several days after the hearing.  

The press was lying to the American people and claiming a withdrawal.  Instead of correcting the record via the information from the Senate hearing, the press elected to focus on a cat fight between John McCain and Leon Panetta.  There was none.  There were sharp words at the start of the hearing and that was it.  They were both cordial to one another as the hearing progressed.

But that's what paid 'journalists' -- paid by respectable outlets -- chose to focus on.

In 2012, Barack sent a brigade of special-ops into Iraq.

Tim Arango worked it into a report for THE NEW YORK TIMES -- a report on Syria.

Jill would not allow it to be in a report on Iraq.  She would not allow it to be a front page report as it should have been.  Barack was running for re-election and repeating the lie that he had withdrawn.  Mitt Romney was an idiot who thought he could look tougher than Barack by attacking for the 'withdrawal.'  Jill Abramson isn't a journalist.  When she was wrongly elevated at THE TIMES, we got the Iraq War coverage from Judith Miller and others that Jill would try to pretend she didn't greenlight all the way through.  And she wasn't journalist when she was put in charge of the paper.  She refused to allow various stories into the paper.  If it would hurt Barack, she would censor the news.

And with an election less than three full months away, there was no way she was going to let the truth about US troops going back into Iraq -- even with a US military official on record with his comments.

In 2014, Barack publicly sent more US troops into Iraq.


The terrorist group ISIS had done more than just attack.  It had grabbed areas in Anbar Province and, further north, Mosul.  There was very real fear in the White House that Baghdad would be the next to fall.  They overestimated ISIS.  But that fear, that the Green Zone would be breached, is what prompted Barack to publicly send US forces back in.

And now Moqtada's cult has breached the Green Zone and the press wants to act like that's normal and not newsworthy?

This is the same hideous press that couldn't tell the truth regarding the militias.  They said they were disenfranchised and they were.

I knew that the moment the announcement was made.  I don't like the militias, so we didn't do a lot on it.  But we noted it.  When the elections did take place we noted they were disenfranchised.  When they took up that critique, we noted that they were right.

It's not about what I like or don't like.  The truth is the truth. 

And the press struggles with the public because the press struggles with the truth.

Right now, because of Monday and Tuesday's violence, some more people are paying attention to Iraq -- for a moment or two.  It doesn't help them and it doesn't help Iraq, for news outlets to lie.

While many western outlets are failing with regards to covering what's going on in Iraq, Jean Shaoul files a strong report for WSWS which includes:

The violence erupted after al-Sadr announced his “final retirement” from politics. Hundreds of his supporters in his Sairoon movement took to the streets and broke through the concrete barriers of the heavily fortified Green Zone, where Iraq’s federal parliament and government buildings, as well as the US and other foreign embassies, are located.

Protests also broke out in Iraq’s southern provinces, where al-Sadr’s supporters burned tires and blocked roads in the oil-rich province of Basra, and hundreds demonstrated outside the governorate building in Missan.

The caretaker government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, while Iran, which has sought to bring Iraq’s Shiite factions closer together, closed its borders with Iraq, as millions of Iranians prepared to visit Iraq for an annual pilgrimage to Shia sites.

On Monday night, al-Sadr said he was going on hunger strike until the violence and the use of weapons stopped. The next day, in a bid to disassociate himself from the violence, he apologised and called on his followers to leave the Green Zone and the camps where they have been protesting for the last four weeks, prompting many of his supporters to leave.

Al-Sadr’s retirement threat—the fourth this erratic and unprincipled politician has made over the last eight years—and the violence he knew it would unleash are bound up with his determination to take direct control of Iraq’s sectarian-ethnic political system at the expense of his Shia rivals in the Coordination Framework.

While al-Sadr, who comes from a leading Shia clerical family, led the main Shia resistance to the US occupation, he has no progressive answers to the enormous social problems confronting the Iraqi people. Posing as a nationalist opposed to foreign interference in Iraq, he has links to both Washington and Tehran. He has acted as kingmaker in forging ruling coalitions and placed his own supporters in key positions in the cabinet, the state-owned oil company, powerful ministries and local authorities. They take a cut of government contracts to pass on to his organisation, which runs a militia and provides jobs and social welfare for his impoverished supporters in Baghdad’s slums.

Al-Sadr’s announcement of his “final retirement” followed the resignation of the 83-year-old Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, a close associate of al-Sadr’s father and spiritual leader of the Sadrists, who challenged his right to act as the heir of his father, Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, saying, “You cannot lead by their names. In reality you are not a Sadrist even if you are from the family of Sadrists.” Haeri called on his followers to transfer their allegiance to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and “obey” Iran’s supreme leader as “the most worthy and competent [individual] to lead the [Muslim] nation.”

Moqtada's getting desperate.  He's losing his hold on the cult.  He's stating he's out of politics and he's never going to be an Ayatollah -- hotel management is a general studies degree, Moqtada, it's not a religious honor.

The Atlantic Council's Abbas Kadhim notes:

One day before this arbitrary deadline, Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, who enjoys a following from many Sadrists, announced his retirement and, oddly, issued a two-page letter that included a denouncement of Sadr and his supporters, accusing them of dividing the Iraqi people in the name of the Sadr family that has enjoyed long-standing respect in Iraq and beyond. Haeri also recommended that his followers emulate Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei— another gesture that antagonized Sadrist leaders who have protested increased Iranian influence and accused their rivals of being Iranian agents. 

The Sadrist response to Haeri’s retirement letter was fierce and Sadr announced his “complete withdrawal” from the public scene, leaving his rivals to face the angry masses—mostly Sadr’s followers.

We'll wind down with this from Margaret Kimberley's latest column for BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

The Biden administration announcement of so-called student loan debt relief does little to alleviate the problem it claims to solve. Forgiving $20,000 for Pell grant holders and $10,000 for all who earn less than $125,000 is questionable for a variety of reasons. It is a midterm election bait and switch that pleases gullible democrats, helps only a minority of borrowers, and is nothing like what candidate Biden proposed during the 2020 campaign.

Americans owe $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. This crisis did not occur by happenstance. Universities did not escape the neoliberal onslaught and are fund raising machines charging astronomical amounts of money for tuition and room and board. Decades of austerity have slashed spending for public institutions. Once so inexpensive that they were practically free, they now offer little respite from crushing debt. There is no way for working people to secure the higher education they’re told they need without ruining themselves financially, and in so doing defeating the purpose of attending college.

Of course college should be free and student loan debt should be forgiven. The issue is of great importance to Black people, who are usually unable to pay very little if any tuition and incur debt from the first day of school. White people are more likely to have assets and family resources they can tap. They may not incur any student loan debt at all unless they attend graduate school. 

The rationale for this catastrophe is quite simple. The race to the bottom is an essential part of the corporate drive to keep Americans desperate. The living wage work that is the holy grail for college students is less likely to exist. The international capitalist overlords want the system to be this way, and they have created a system which keeps everyone, including the educated, in a grip of stagnant wages, insecure employment, and a diminishing social safety net.

Senator Joe Biden played a role in creating these terrible conditions. In 2005 he and 17 other democrats joined republicans in voting for the Bankruptcy Act, which made it all but impossible to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy. The Delaware senator was beholden to the consumer credit industry, like all of that state’s elected officials. They were the drivers in ensuring that filing for bankruptcy for any reason would become very difficult and they were always among Biden’s biggest campaign contributors.

Of course Biden knows what people need and want. During his campaign he said , “I propose to forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities for debt-holders earning up to $125,000.” At other times he included Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in this debt forgiveness plan.

It is easy to point out the discrepancy between what he promised and what he now proposes, but the problem is bigger than the laundry list of Biden campaign lies. There is great confusion among Black people about student loan debt relief, what it will really accomplish, and what is actually needed.

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Bruce The Greedy Springsteen

SPIN magazine tries to pretty up the greed of Bruce Springsteen but there's no prettying it up:

July 20 is a day many longtime Bruce Springsteen fans would like to forget. That morning, as the first six shows for The Boss’ 2023 North American tour went on sale through Ticketmaster, devotees were shocked to find most seats gone within seconds, and instead only “platinum” or dynamically priced tickets available for purchase — at costs as high as $5,000.“Surely, these multi-thousand-dollar prices were not intended or anticipated, many of us thought,” wrote the editors of the long-running Springsteen fan platform Backstreets. “Some assert the algorithm got out of control — are we sure that it was ever in control? We’d never expect Ticketmaster to balk at making money, but surely, many believed, Springsteen would put a stop to it and demand adjustments to the system, if not an overhaul, before the next on-sale.”

“This past week, too many Springsteen fans got thrown to the wolves, pushed aside in a way that seems as unfathomable as it was avoidable,” the Backstreets editorial continued, pointing out the stark contrast between Springsteen’s “man of the people” persona and this new, market-driven reality.

Springsteen manager Jon Landau did damage control in The New York Times on July 26, asserting that 88.2% of tickets were sold for between $59.50 and $399 before service fees, certainly in keeping with prices to see The Boss’ dwindling number of superstar classic rock contemporaries and, in some cases, far less than tickets for legends such as Paul McCartney or the The Rolling Stones (Springsteen has underpriced his tickets for decades).

According to Landau and Ticketmaster, only 11.8% of the seats were subject to dynamic pricing, and only 1.3% of those sold for more than $1,000. But with tickets readily available at or near those prices on Ticketmaster’s proprietary Verified Resale platform, which allows fans to buy and sell tickets from other fans without worry that they might be counterfeit, these statistics did little to soothe what many Springsteen fans described as a betrayal.

There's no excusing it.  

As I pointed out before, when the Jackson did their tour to cash in on Michael's THRILLER, the prices got jacked up and when a little girl wrote a letter, that's all it took.

Michael Jackson loved his fans.  That letter had him telling Don King and everyone else to scrap the ticket system and fix it for his fans.  (And he also got that little girl free tickets to the concert.)

Michael obviously had problems in some areas of his life.  But he loved his fans and he did right by them as an artist.

It's a damn shame Bruce Springsteen just knows how to use them and fleece them.

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2022.  Iraq appears to be headed for another round of elections.

Starting with the US war on Russia.  From DEMOCRACY NOW!:

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, President Biden announced $3 billion in more military aid for Ukraine last week, including money for missiles, artillery rounds and drones to help Ukrainian forces fight Russia.

We begin today’s show looking at U.S. policy on Russia and China. We’re joined by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. He’s president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He served as adviser to three U.N. secretaries-general. His latest article is headlined “The West’s False Narrative About Russia and China.”

He begins the article by writing, quote, “The world is on the edge of nuclear catastrophe in no small part because of the failure of Western political leaders to be forthright about the causes of the escalating global conflicts. The relentless Western narrative that the West is noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous,” Jeffrey Sachs writes.

Jeffrey Sachs, welcome to Democracy Now! Why don’t you take it from there?

JEFFREY SACHS: Thank you. Good to be with you.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the story that people in the West and around the world should understand about what’s happening right now with these conflicts, with Russia, with Russia and Ukraine, and with China?

JEFFREY SACHS: The main point, Amy, is that we are not using diplomacy; we are using weaponry. This sale now announced to Taiwan that you’ve been discussing this morning is just another case in point. This does not make Taiwan safer. This does not make the world safer. It certainly doesn’t make the United States safer.

This goes back a long way. I think it’s useful to start 30 years ago. The Soviet Union ended, and some American leaders got it into their head that there was now what they called the unipolar world, that the U.S. was the sole superpower, and we could run the show. The results have been disastrous. We have had now three decades of militarization of American foreign policy. A new database that Tufts is maintaining has just shown that there have been more than 100 military interventions by the United States since 1991. It’s really unbelievable.

And I have seen, in my own experience over the last 30 years working extensively in Russia, in Central Europe, in China and in other parts of the world, how the U.S. approach is a military-first, and often a military-only, approach. We arm who we want. We call for NATO enlargement, no matter what other countries say may be harmful to their security interests. We brush aside anyone else’s security interests. And when they complain, we ship more armaments to our allies in that region. We go to war when we want, where we want, whether it was Afghanistan or Iraq or the covert war against Assad in Syria, which is even today not properly understood by the American people, or the war in Libya. And we say, “We’re peace-loving. What’s wrong with Russia and China? They are so warlike. They’re out to undermine the world.” And we end up in terrible confrontations.

The war in Ukraine — just to finish the introductory view — could have been avoided and should have been avoided through diplomacy. What President Putin of Russia was saying for years was “Do not expand NATO into the Black Sea, not to Ukraine, much less to Georgia,” which if people look on the map, straight across to the eastern edge of the Black Sea. Russia said, “This will surround us. This will jeopardize our security. Let us have diplomacy.” The United States rejected all diplomacy. I tried to contact the White House at the end of 2021 — in fact, I did contact the White House and said there will be war unless the U.S. enters diplomatic talks with President Putin over this question of NATO enlargement. I was told the U.S. will never do that. That is off the table. And it was off the table. Now we have a war that’s extraordinarily dangerous.

And we are taking exactly the same tactics in East Asia that led to the war in Ukraine. We’re organizing alliances, building up weaponry, trash-talking China, having Speaker Pelosi fly to Taiwan, when the Chinese government said, “Please, lower the temperature, lower the tensions.” We say, “No, we do what we want,” and now send more arms. This is a recipe for yet another war. And to my mind, it’s terrifying.

We are at the 60th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, which I’ve studied all my life and I’ve written about, have written a book about the aftermath. We are driving to the precipice, and we are filled with our enthusiasm as we do so. And it’s just unaccountably dangerous and wrongheaded, the whole approach of U.S. foreign policy. And it’s bipartisan.

Meanwhile Elena Evdokimova Tweets:

BTW, "Ukraine was part of the invasion of Iraq, and occupied Iraq, with the NATO for 5 years with 5000 soldiers". They were OK with the concept of invasion and occupation of another country then. Source:


The violence got so much, Iraq's actually getting a bit of attention.  Here's BREAKING POINTS WITH KRYSTAL AND SAAGAR.


  • Amna Nawaz:

    A tense calm has returned in Iraq's capital city after the worst violence there in years. Fighting between rival factions left at least 30 dead and dozens more wounded.

    Simona Foltyn is in Baghdad and has this report.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    After a night of deadly clashes between Iraq's Shiite factions, a sudden reversal today, as followers of the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began withdrawing from the Green Zone, home to embassies and government institutions in Central Baghdad.

  • Ahmed Ahmed, Protester (through translator):

    As members of Sadrist movement, we follow what our leader orders. The leader asked us to withdraw.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    In a televised address, Sadr ordered his supporters and militia to leave.

  • Muqtada Al-Sadr, Iraqi Political Leader (through translator):

    I still believe that my supporters are disciplined and obedient. And if in the next 60 Minutes, they do not withdraw, as well as from Parliament, then I will abandon these supporters.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    Sadr's call for de-escalation came after weeks of unrest, during which he tried, but ultimately failed to force his will onto his political rivals.

    Moments after he announced his withdrawal from politics on Monday, hundreds of angry supporters stormed the government palace. The protests quickly turned into heavy fighting, and armed wings of Iran-aligned parties who oppose Sadr forcing the cleric to back down.

  • Muqtada Al-Sadr (through translator):

    I had hoped for peaceful protests, with pure hearts, hearts filled with love for their country, not ones that resort to gunfire. This saddens the revolution.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    The clashes stoked fears that the country could descend into a fresh cycle of violence.

  • Nour Al-Moussawi, Iraqi Civilian (through translator):

    This dangerous situation and the overtaking of the government's property or storming the highest authority, which is the Republican Palace, will destabilize the economic situation, as well as our daily lives.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    All of this played out against the backdrop of political deadlock. Sadr's party won the largest share of seats in last October's parliamentary elections, but not enough to form a government.

    His refusal to negotiate with Shia rivals has left the government, and the country in limbo. The curfew has now been lifted and life in the Iraqi Capitol is slowly returning to normal, marking the end of Baghdad's bloodiest day in recent years.

    But a dangerous precedent has been set and, for now, the rifts over government formation that sparked the armed clashes remain unresolved. In the absence of a clear path towards a political solution, there's a risk that the two sides may once again resort to settling their scores in the streets.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Simona Foltyn in Baghdad.

  • At THE WASHINGTON POST, Ishaan Tharoor recaps:

    First, there was anger, then protests, then a spasm of violence that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded. Now, there’s only an uneasy and fragile calm. For the better part of two decades, Baghdad has endured strife, instability and tragedy in equal measure. But the chaos that engulfed the Iraqi capital on Monday night and Tuesday morning marked the deadliest round of violence in years.

    Supporters of prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed with Iraqi security forces and Iran-allied militias in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and stormed the presidential palace. The sound of machine-gun fire and the thud of rocket-propelled grenades rocked the heart of the city. The violence sprawled across the country, with Sadrists attacking the offices of factions linked to Iran in various cities. More than 30 people were killed, with the death toll expected to rise at the time of writing.

    But by Tuesday afternoon, Sadr called on his followers to withdraw and lamented the loss of life. For his supposed restraint, he earned the plaudits of Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has been operating in a caretaker role as Iraqi politicians have failed for almost a year to form a government.


    October 10th, Iraq held elections.  Thanks to Joe Biden who, as US vice president, oversaw The Erbil Agreement in 2010, Iraqis support for elections has weakened.  That's when they voted Nouri al-Maliki out after his first term as prime minister but Joe oversaw the contract that tossed aside the people's votes and gave Nouri a second term he didn't win.  Iraq, under US occupation, has remained one of the most corrupt governments in the world.  Many live in poverty while Iraq rakes in billions each year from oil, money that never makes it to the people.  Right now, yet again, cholera outbreark, a regular feature any summer in Iraq.  Potable water, a basic human necessity (as the people in Jackson, Mississippi can attest) is an issue.  Iraq has suffered through a very hot summer with out dependable electricity (something residents of southeast Michigan can currently relate to).  

    The government does not serve the people (which people everywhere can probably relate to).  And so the participation in voting had dipped and decreased.  Iraqis actively sat out the 2021 election with the exception of members of the Shi'ite militias who were disenfranchised.  They long ago became members of the Iraqi security forces -- recognized as such.  At the last minute, Mustafa al-Kadhimi disenfranchised them because they weren't going to vote for him.  All security forces are supposed to vote in the early election.  This is because on actual election day, they have to be dispersed throughout the country to protect polling places.  Mustafa banned the militias -- and only the militias -- from the early voting.  

    Moqtada al-Sadr would benefit from all of this.  His political party did not get the most votes in the election.  His alliance did.  There's a difference.  For months, he tried to form a government and he failed repeatedly.  

    He stamped his feet and threatened to withdraw his members from Parliament.  No one really cared so he made good on this threat.

    Then he started whining the Parliament needed to be dissolved.  It didn't feel that way and he had no voice in it now because his MPs had resigned.  He sent his cult into the Green Zone to occupy the Parliament.  Then he demanded the judiciary dissolve Parliament.

    They said no, they didn't have that power.

    Now the violence has broken out.

    Mustafa, a Sad supporter, is now saying he will resign if violence continues and Barham Salah (a Sadr supporter) is saying early elections might be the answer.

    Might be?

    Might be.

    It's a system where Moqtada doesn't get his way so he stomps his feet and everyone rushes to appease the angry child.

    A new election is very unlikely to give Moqtada what he wants.

    A new election is most likely going to result in Shi'ites who sat out voting last time showing up at the polls this go round.  Which means Moqtada returns to being a small part of Iraq. 

    What happens then?  He stomps his feet and gets another election?


    The following sites updated: