Friday, February 26, 2021

Jimmy Dore, Patrick Martin and Richard Medhurst

First up, here's Jimmy Dore.


Joe Blunder Biden? Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports on the administration:

The choice of President Joe Biden to head the CIA was received with bipartisan applause at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday. William J. Burns is a veteran of decades of skullduggery for American imperialism, in the course of a three-decade career at the State Department.

His 33 years in government, 1981-2014, included the Reagan administration, the first Bush administration, the Clinton administration, the second Bush administration and the bulk of the Obama administration. During those years, the United States military invaded Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, and US diplomats supervised paramilitary operations in many other countries, including Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ukraine, Georgia, Pakistan and much of Africa.

Burns played major roles in important theaters of conflict, serving three years as the US ambassador to Jordan and five years as US ambassador to Russia. In such posts, particularly, the State Department and the CIA are virtually interchangeable, both in personnel and in function. He was also at key positions in the State Department itself, particularly during the latter part of his career, which culminated in the number two position, deputy secretary of state, under Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

In this position, Burns played the lead role 2013-2014 in secret talks with Iran, which set the stage for public talks in 2015 that led to the nuclear treaty signed the following year. By that time, Burns had left the State Department to head the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, itself one of the key institutions for the promotion of US foreign policy goals. (Named after its founder, Andrew Carnegie, the robber baron who once controlled the US steel industry, it has branches in Brussels, Moscow, Beirut, Delhi and Beijing, and acts as a reserve force for the State Department).

Despite the Republican denunciations of the Iran deal, none of the Republican senators on the Intelligence Committee made an issue of it during the hearing. Instead, there was fulsome praise for Burns as a veteran of the national-security apparatus who could be relied on by politicians of both parties. The New York Times described the session as “far more of a coronation than a confrontational question-and-answer session.”

The duopoly works together always and they work together in opposition to We The People.  

Joe Biden is not any real change from Donald Trump and the fools who want to pretend otherwise are lying to themselves.

One example?  Kids are still in cages under Joe Biden and they try to play word games to avoid that reality.  Richard Medhurst covers that reality in the video below.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, March 25, 2021.  In the US, the war on speech continues, the Pope prepares to visit Iraq, and much more.

"I think," failed everywhere personality Soledad O'Brien, "that you should not be allowed -- and this should be for the news organization -- should not want people on the air if they are liars and they are in fact lying."

Soledad said that.  While sporting the most ridiculous eyebrows you will ever in your life see.  But she said that.  This pimp for the Iraq War said that.  This liar who used her position as a co-anchor of NBC's WEEKEND TODAY to lie constantly about the Iraq War.  

As for not allowing lying to occur?  They'd have to fire pretty much every person they have.  They lie and they lie again.  Carrying out the lies of Bully Boy Bush, NBC's David Gregory went on the air to attack Paul O'Neal for Ron Suskind's THE PRICE OF LOYALTY and how dare Paul steal these memos and how . . .  And I'm on the phone with a friend at TODAY asking, "Did the fool read the introduction to the book he's waving around right now?"  Because it's right there in the introduction that the White House, at Paul's request gave him the memos on a disc.  The lies of the media have been big and small and the incompetence always gets rewarded -- which is how the hideous David Gregory ended up later becoming the host of MEET THE PRESS and running off a huge portion of the audience before he was finally dismissed.

Soledad was speaking at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Committee on Energy and Commerce on Wednesday (stream it here).

"I am a proponent of debating," proclaimed known liar Soledad.   "I do not believe that lies deserve equal time"

Really?  Because she wasn't when she was at TODAY.  Not only did she cheerlead the Iraq War, she mocked TODAY proper for the debate they did offer -- a townhall discussion on the war -- moderated by Katie Couric.  She trashed that segment, she mocked and insisted to everyone who would listen that if she were the co-host of the Monday through Friday broadcasts of TODAY that never would have happened.  

"There are verifiable facts," Soledad insisted.  Where were the verifiable facts when you're cheerleading the Iraq War, Soledad.

The news media whored for the Iraq War and they think they can just walk away from that.  You can't.  You betrayed the trust of the American people and you never took accountability and you never apologized or did anything to fix it.

Did anything to fix it?

They rewarded the liars.  And that's not just NBC and THE NEW YORK TIMES, that's MOTHER JONES which has Kevin Drum, for example.  

The people who told the truth about Iraq didn't end up with columns or talk shows.  

They weren't rewarded.

The media has lied repeatedly -- not just about the Iraq War -- and they have earned the low opinion that the public has of them.

But what does Soledad think happens?  And what business does the government have in regulating speech?  None.

Earlier this week, Glenn Greenwald (SUBSTACK via ICH) weighed in on efforts of some Democratic members of  Congress attempting to attack the First Amendment:

Not even two months into their reign as the majority party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress, key Democrats have made clear that one of their top priorities is censorship of divergent voices. On Saturday, I detailed how their escalating official campaign to coerce and threaten social media companies into more aggressively censoring views that they dislike — including by summoning social media CEOs to appear before them for the third time in less than five months — is implicating, if not already violating, core First Amendment rights of free speech.

Now they are going further — much further. The same Democratic House Committee that is demanding greater online censorship from social media companies now has its sights set on the removal of conservative cable outlets, including Fox News, from the airwaves.

[. . .]

Since when is it the role of the U.S. Government to arbitrate and enforce precepts of “journalistic integrity”? Unless you believe in the right of the government to regulate and control what the press says — a power which the First Amendment explicitly prohibits — how can anyone be comfortable with members of Congress arrogating unto themselves the power to dictate what media outlets are permitted to report and control how they discuss and analyze the news of the day?

But what House Democrats are doing here is far more insidious than what is revealed by that creepy official announcement. Two senior members of that Committee, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Silicon-Valley) and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) also sent their own letters to seven of the nation’s largest cable providers — Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum, Dish, Verizon, Cox and Altice — as well as to digital distributors of cable news (Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hulu) demanding to know, among other things, what those cable distributors did to prevent conservative “disinformation” prior to the election and after — disinformation, they said, that just so happened to be spread by the only conservative cable outlets: Fox, Newsmax and OANN.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq March 5th through March 8th.  It would be the first visit by a pope to Iraq.  

At THE DAILY BEAST, Barbie Latza Nadeau offers:

Like people in the rest of the world, Pope Francis is clearly going a little stir-crazy staying cooped up at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The globetrotting pontiff has been grounded since November 2019 when he visited Thailand and Japan. But if all goes to plan, Francis will hit the road again on March 5 with a four-day, six-city visit to Iraq, which has seen a spate in violence with three attacks on the U.S.-led coalition in the course of a week and a surge in coronavirus cases that sent the country into a strict two-week lockdown. The Iraq Health Ministry said the new wave is “being driven by religious activities—including Friday prayers and visits to shrines —and large crowds in markets, restaurants, malls and parks, where greetings with handshakes and kisses are the norm.”

While the Pope plans to visit, the US intends to stay and stay forever.  Bonnie Kristian (DEFENSE ONE) reports:

The new administration’s goals for the war in Iraq, at least as briefly outlined last Tuesday to the United Nations Security Council, are likely to prolong U.S. involvement indefinitely.

“Among its top priorities, the United States will seek to help Iraq assert its sovereignty in the face of enemies, at home and abroad, by preventing an ISIS resurgence and working toward Iraq’s stability,” Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Mills told his fellow diplomats. That means facilitating free and fair elections, Mills continued, plus fighting Iran-linked militias and terrorist groups like the Islamic State, as well as funneling money toward economic development, humanitarian improvements, and the elimination of corruption. “The United States will remain a steady, reliable partner for Iraq, and for the Iraqi people,” he concluded, “today and in the future.”

That’s an understatement. With goals as expansive and flexible as these, the United States will have a military presence and roster of associated nation-building projects in Iraq not only through the end of the Biden administration but for decades to come. 

Biden campaigned on a promise to “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure.” “Staying entrenched in unwinnable conflicts,” he rightly reasoned, “only drains our capacity to lead on other issues that require our attention, and it prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power.” And Biden had a record as a voice of comparative restraint in the Obama administration to give that pledge some credence, as campaign pledges go. In those years as vice president, he opposed the surge in Afghanistan. He was also against U.S. regime change in Libya, and he was willing to accept a federalized Iraq to reduce violent internal rivalries with less U.S. involvement.

We'll wind down with this from Human Rights Watch:

On February 15, Iraqi authorities detained at least four men, with alleged ties to a unit within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashad, formally under the control of the prime minister) who are alleged to have killed at least four protesters in the southern city of Basra in January 2020. One of the detained men holds a senior police position. These arrests represent an important step in government efforts to fulfill its promise to hold accountable those who have abused or killed protesters, but authorities should take swift action to carry out further arrests of abusive forces where there is evidence that they are linked to recent attacks, Human Rights Watch said today.

“These arrests in Basra may represent a real change in the government’s willingness to hold its own forces accountable for perpetrating serious crimes and will help deter such abuses in the future,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government should also ensure that the trials of the men are fair and devoid of any political influence.”

Protests broke out in south and central Iraq in October 2019, with violence and excessive force killing at least 487 protesters and wounding thousands more. At the same time, a range of armed forces targeted protesters with harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and enforced disappearances. In May 2020, then-newly appointed Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced the creation of a committee to investigate killings and other attacks on protesters but until now no information has been made public about the work or findings of the committee.

On February 15, al-Kadhimi announced on Twitter that “The death squad that terrorized our people in Basra, and killed innocents, are now in the hands of our heroic forces, on their way to a fair trial.” On the same day, a local media outlet publicized the names of four men detained for their alleged role in this death squad linked to the PMF Hezbollah Brigades with potential ties to another PMF unit as well. According to other media coverage, authorities arrested them for their roles in the killings of Jinan Madi, a paramedic who had been treating wounded protesters at demonstrations when she was killed, Ahmed Abdessamad, 37, a journalist, and his cameraman Safaa Ghali, 26, who had been covering the protests for Dijlah, a privately owned local station, and Mojtaba Ahmed al-Skini, 14, a protester. A source close to the government said that authorities had identified 16 men implicated in the killings, but most had already fled the country.

Given extensive documentation of the unfair nature of Iraq’s criminal justice system, which often relies solely on confessions to convict, the government and judicial authorities need to preserve the credibility of measures to rein in abusive security forces by ensuring that these trials are fair, Human Rights Watch said.

While the Basra arrests mark a positive step when it comes to accountability, PMF attacks on protesters have continued. Ali Naseer Alawy, 25, a prominent member of the protest movement in Najaf, told Human Rights Watch that on February 12, four armed masked men in black uniforms picked him up off the street within view of a police patrol, which did not intervene, at around 6:30 p.m. He said they put him into a white pickup truck with no license plate and drove him to an office where they blindfolded him and started beating his back and legs with the butts of their guns. He said,

I could tell there were many men in the room who were asking me all sorts of questions about other activists’ names and who was leading the protests in Najaf. They saw I had tattooed October 25, the first day of protests in Najaf, on my arm and they tried to remove it with an acid mixture. They also attached electric cables to me and shocked my chest and legs before I fainted.

Alawy said that when he regained consciousness, he found himself lying on a highway outside the city near his house. It was about 1 a.m. He went to the hospital where he spoke to police but said that because he did not know who the kidnappers were, there was no point in filing a complaint. He said he believes that they must wield power since nearby police had done nothing to intervene in his abduction. He shared two photographs with Human Rights Watch that show bruising and blood on his face and scarring on his shoulder and back around his tattoo. Alawy is currently in hiding and said he still receives threatening messages on Facebook.

In addition, there has been no accountability for other killings of protesters in Basra since 2019, despite the government’s commitments. For example, on October 3, 2019, Hussein Adel Madani was shot dead along with his wife by masked gunmen who stormed their house. The couples were taking part in ongoing protest. On August 14, 2020 two masked armed men in civilian dress shot and killed activist Tahseen Osama Ali, 30, in his apartment. On August 19, 2020, Reham Yacoub, a doctor and activist in the local protest movement since 2018, was shot by an unidentifiable armed man on the back of a motorcycle. As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, the authorities have yet to arrest any suspects of these killings.

“The government can prove there has been meaningful change only when protesters no longer fear getting hauled off the streets in broad daylight and held and tortured with impunity,” said Wille.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Joe Biden and his month of disappointments

First up, Jimmy Dore.

Now let's deal with no-clue Joe.  Joe Biden should be in a nursing home, not the White House.  Senility is not something we want or need in a leader.  And he's already doing a lousy job.  Shawgi Tell (DISSIDENT VOICE) notes:

Months before he became president, many pointed out that harmful neoliberal policies would continue unabated in K-12 education under a Joe Biden administration. Indeed, there is a long record of both democrats and republicans supporting harmful education policies like high-stakes standardized testing, charter schools, performance-based pay schemes, NCLB, ESSA, and more.

But U.S. presidential elections always have a way of successfully enforcing amnesia and intensifying false hope in the context of a discredited political set-up that has long failed to affirm the interests of people. To be fair though, there has emerged in recent years a level of social consciousness that did in fact enable more people than usual to take a more measured conscious approach toward presidential candidates and political realities. More people are increasingly adopting a “we’ll believe it when we see it” attitude because they have come to learn, often the hard way, that politicians are usually unaccountable, break promises regularly, rarely respond to endless begging by the polity, and typically don’t do “the right thing.” It is hard to ignore cumulative experience.

It is no accident that Biden, who has previously claimed he is opposed to high-stakes standardized tests, chose a major promoter of charter schools and high-stakes standardized testing like the neoliberal Ian Rosenblum to make the recent antisocial announcement that punitive high-stakes standardized tests produced by large for-profit corporations would continue in the U.S. and that no reasonable waiver requests from states would be honored.

Rosenblum is acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, a former education assistant to Cuomo (who is currently being investigated for nursing home deaths and for bullying legislators), and also closely allied with John King, a staunch promoter of segregated charter schools. King was also former Commissioner of Education in New York State and former U.S. Secretary of Education. Such individuals have consistently enacted policies and arrangements that violate public education and the public interest. They are widely-disliked by many. Interestingly, while he probably would have gone along with this retrogressive decision, the new U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, was left out of the loop regarding the move to impose high-stakes standardized testing on students and teachers who have been traumatized by the “COVID Pandemic” for an entire year.

It is more imperative than ever to reject the aims, outlook, and agenda of the rich and their political representatives. Progress can be made when people develop their own aims and agendas and rely on their own strength to independently organize themselves and others to open the path of progress to society. Each day brings new fresh depressing evidence of how exclusionary and marginalizing existing outdated governance arrangements are and how being reduced to begging politicians in a humiliating way to do the most basic simple things is simply not working or dignified. “Representative democracy” has not stopped problems from going from bad to worse. A new independent way is needed, free of the influence of the rich and their representatives at many levels of government.

Thought Joe was ready from day one.  Thought he knew all about COVID and he was eager to address serious issues.  No, he's lazy and he's corrupt and he's senile.  He's not addressing anything.

Alan MacLeod (MPN) notes:

One month into his presidential career and Joe Biden has already left a trail of broken promises on progressive legislation. Yesterday, it was reported that the president held a closed-door meeting with a group of mayors and governors. At the first sign of pushback from Republicans in the room, he immediately dropped his support for the $15 minimum wage on the basis that he needed bipartisan support to pass it. Given that Democrats control the House, Senate, and the White House, this position seems surprising. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said, according to those present. “Right now, we have to prepare for this not making it,” he added. As Politico noted, there was no further negotiation on the minimum wage after that; the topic was simply dropped.

The president’s professed desire to end the war in Yemen has also been liberally watered down. In his statement, Biden stressed that support for Saudi “defensive” operations would continue and that only “relevant” arms sales would be stopped. This was essentially a return to the Obama-era position on Yemen.

Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin spoke with the Saudi defense minister and assured him of the United States’ continued commitment to their partnership. Austin went on to publicly condemn alleged Houthi attacks in Saudi Arabia, reiterating that the U.S. would help Riyadh defend its borders. Consequently, the worry is that the Saudi onslaught will merely be reframed as a defensive campaign, and business will continue as usual. On Iran, the president has declared that Trump-era sanctions will not be lifted, something that Iran considers a prerequisite for any negotiations on a new nuclear deal.

We deserved so much better.  I would've voted for anyone -- Bernie (my first pick), Marianne Williams, Tulsi Gabbard (before her waving Joe through the debate instead of holding him accountable), Elizabeth Warren, you nme it.

Joe was the worst choice.  The absolute worst choice.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Wednesday, February 24, 2021.  The pope prepares for his Iraq visit and more.

Starting in the US.  Angela Walker, the Green Party's vice presidential nominee last year, speaks about Tara Reade.

Tara made credible accusations against Joe Biden last year.  She stated he assaulted her -- I believe Tara.  Tara was bullied and intimidated and lied about.  The corporate press -- and much of the 'independent' media -- allowed Joe Biden's hideous campaign to set the parameters of the discussion. Tara had more proof than anyone else in a he said/she said.  And yet she was attacked.

I believe Tara.  You don't have to believe her.  That's your choice.  If you examine the issue and find you don't believe her, that's your business.  But if you were a woman self-presenting as a feminist who, for example, wrote an NYT column insisting you believed Tara but you were voting for Joe Biden, the question is what are you doing now?  You got Joe elected.  What are you doing now?

As a self-proclaimed feminist who stated you believed Tara, what are you doing now?

The sad reality is: Not a damn thing.

Again, you don't have to believe her or anyone else.  We have brains for a reason.  We should use them.  And if someone's telling doesn't ring true, fine.  

I don't believe that Woody Allen molested Dylan Farrow.  I say that not as a Woody fan.  I do know Woody, through Mia, we are not friends.  We were never friends.  I didn't like Woody and he didn't like me.  And none of that was the end of the world.

Then, in 1992, as the scandal brewed -- we'll come back to that -- being Mia's friend, I supported my friend.  And continued to do so for years.  It wasn't until the Golden Globes gave that honorary award to Woody that I changed my viewpoint.  Mia, remember, was all upset on Twitter: How dare they!!!!

That honorary award was preceded by clips from Woody's films.  Every actor who had appeared in a clip had to sign off on it, a permission slip, if you will.  Mia signed off on it.  That's when I thought about all the times Mia has lied and manipulated.  By the time Dylan was attacking Diane Keaton, I was speaking out against this nonsense.

This has been an organized campaign and it's built on one lie after another.  The scandal, I said we'd get back to it, is on display in HBO's hideous ALLEN V. FARROW which needs to be pulled immediately.  It features calls with Woody that Mia taped.  The calls don't prove anything except that Mia is a criminal.  She taped those calls without Woody's consent or knowledge and did so from her Connecticut home -- it was a violation of Connecticut law.  Woody should sue HBO, the filmmakers and Mia Farrow.  As Ava and I noted in "TV: Back into the cesspool," Mia knew she was breaking the law -- she had been told that before she started taping and that's why her friend was suggesting getting people to wear wires instead.

A lot of idiots, this includes JEZEBEL writers, are insisting that the documentary makes the case.  Not only does it not make the case, it weakens the case.

What was episode one about?  Woody Allen's consensual affair with an adult: Soon-Yi.  

Mia's babbling away and rewriting history but just stop there.  

Woody and Soon-Yi remain a couple to this day, they have two daughters.

Their affair has nothing to do with Dylan Farrow. 

But it's still being used to work up rage against Woody.  As Mia's friend (then, not now), I was appalled that Woody had an affair with Mia's daughter.  I was appalled because of the hurt that caused Mia.  I was not appalled on any other level because, like all of Mia's friends, I knew the relationship was pretty much over and hadn't been 'exclusive' since around 1985 when Woody was having his semi-public affair with Dianne Wiest.  That's why Mia wanted a child with Woody, to try to bring them back together.  It didn't.  Woody would go house hunting with her but he would not a buy a house for them to live in together.  They hadn't been having sex for years, per Mia.

It's been decades since Woody first slept with the adult Soon-Yi.  

Get over it, Mia.  Get over it.

But she can't and so a bunch of trash does a 'documentary' about Dylan that uses Soon-Yi because they have no case to make for Dylan.  

Soon-Yi and Woody having an affair and building a life together has nothing to do with the allegations made by Dylan and Mia.  But the affair is used by the 'documentary' to stoke outrage.  I'm not outraged.  I felt sorry for Mia in 1992.  Then I saw Mia trying to break up Mike Nichols' marriage to Diane Sawyer (she failed, he had no interest in her and quickly withdrew a job offer because of her crazy attraction to him -- a one-sided attraction).  I long ago lost sympathy for her and I long ago realized the media was playing Soon-Yi as the dragon lady and how racist that was.

Soon-Yi was beaten by Mia and so was Moses.  HBO and their program?  They avoid that reality.  And it's getting tired and it's getting old.  In 1992 and 1993, Dylan's charges were heard and found to be wanting, repeatedly.  

But because she is White, she gets a platform in the media over and over again.  She gets to keep telling 'her' story.  It's not her story.  Opening with Woody and Soon-Yi's affair is not Dylan's story.  But that's used to try to make you hate Woody Allen.

I don't love Woody, I don't hate him.  (And, again, Woody and I do not like each other -- we didn't like each other when he was with Mia.  Carly Simon loved Woody.  She might want to explain that.)  But I do value the truth and when I look at what's going on, I don't see the truth.  I see a jealous and disgraced woman (Mia) still upset that Woody is with a younger woman, that he actually married her (he refused over and over to marry Mia).  And that's why Soon-Yi is so featured in a documentary that supposedly is about Dylan's claims of molestation.

I don't find the tale truthful or logical and I don't believe that the molestation happened as a result.  And it's not the end of the world.  I could be right, I could be wrong.  Not being present when the event supposedly took place, I have to use my abilities to evaluate and analyze.  That's what I've done.  So if you don't believe Tara, that's your take on it.  Fine.  But if you say you do, or said you did, why are you silent now?  

Jonathan Turley.  We're going back to an issue that was raised weeks ago.  I thought I'd have time before and didn't.  Joe Scarborough wanted to sue Donald Trump, or said he did, for Donald implying/stating that Joe had involvement in the death of his intern when Joe was in Congress.  Joe declared on MSNBC that his attorney said the time ran out on it or something.  Jonathan did a post where he stated the time hadn't run out and though Joe had a strong case.

No, Joe didn't.

Jonathan knows the law.  I think he's our brightest legal scholar.  Doesn't mean I always agree with his take on the law (I generally do).  In this regard, I didn't disagree with his take so much as I knew more on the topic than he did.

Joe Scarborough?

Never knew him or of him when he was in Congress.  He may have been on MSNBC when I learned of him or he might have gotten that right after.

But I learned of him in 2004.  And I learned of him because of the death of his intern.

Did I learn that from Donald Trump?  No, I did not.  I learned that over the airwaves.  AIR AMERICA RADIO.  Sam Seder repeatedly noted that and noted that he thought Joe was guilty.  He did that on THE MAJORITY REPORT.  In addition, Rachel Maddow and Lizz Winstead spoke of that on UNFILTERED.  Al Franken spoke of it on his program as well.

My point?  If Joe wanted to sue, he could sue.  Anyone can.  But I think a court would look down upon a case that sued Donald Trump for this years after the rumors were broadcast -- as reality -- on a radio network over and over and over again.

Did Joe have anything to do with the intern's death.  I don't believe so.  I could be wrong.  But if he wants to be outraged by it, all Donald Trump would have to say is, "The news media covered this" -- meaning AIR AMERICA RADIO.  And they did, over and over and over.  I'd never heard of Joe before that.  (Joe and Mike Pap of RING OF FIRE were law partners, I don't know if most people realize that.  Or if they grasp that Sam Seder now works for RING OF FIRE.)

I don't think there was a strong case on Joe's behalf.  It would look selective and vengeful and it would tie up the courts which the court would not look fondly on.

On that, I'm not going to name the idiot that has been on Twitter telling everyone to sue Donald for frivolous reasons with the plan that Donald would lose some of them because he would be too busy and too cash strapped to respond to all the suits.

I'm not going to name the idiot.  But if that plan goes into action, that idiot can be held responsible.  The courts are not there to adjudicate your rage and anger.  They are there for genuine legal issues.  If you start trying to tie someone up with frivolous lawsuits, you are tying up our legal system.  

I saw the idiot Tweet that twice this week already.  It needs to stop.  If the plan were to go into action, these Tweets could be used by a judge to move court costs over to the person Tweeting this nonsense -- and anyone reTweeting them.

Moving to Iraq.  March 5th through 8th, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq.  If the visit takes place, it will be the first visit by a sitting pope to Iraq ever.  The visit is scheduled to take place while Iraq, like every other country, struggles with the COVID pandemic.  Jonathan Stevenson Tweets:

The Iraqi Ministry of Health and environment registered 13 fatalities, 4,306 new cases and 2,110 recoveries of #COVID19 in the past 24 hours. #Iraq

The visit is hoped to inspire many.

The following sites updated:

  • Tuesday, February 23, 2021

    Jimmy Dore, Texas, Neera, etc

    First up, here's Jimmy Dore.

    Next up, at THIRD, read "KINDLE UNLIMITED (Mike, Ava and C.I.)" where we discuss the book I covered in "Book review CONVERSATIONS WITH CAPOTE."

    And be sure to read "Texans are suffering" about what's going on in Texas.  I hope their needs -- including water (that they don't have to boil before using) are addressed quickly.

    Meanwhile the hideous Neera Tandem is facing push back in Congress over her becoming the head of OMB.  She's not qualified, not with all her toxic workplace issues.  Gleen Greenwald notes:

    Following Manchin and Collins, Mitt Romney says he will also vote NO on Neera Tanden's confirmation. Seems her last hope is Murkowski or Sasse (and remember that Bernie is still being coy about how he'll vote):

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

     Monday, February 22, 2021.  Snow in northern Iraq, snow in the southern US.  Attacks in Erbil and in Balad.

    Starting with: What is Joe Biden doing?

    Bully Boy Bush was rightly criticized for his response to Hurricane Katrina.  Katrina landed on August 29, 2005.  By September 2, 2005 -- four days after the hurricane hit, he'd signed a ten million dollar-plus relief bill.  It's over a week since the freeze weather in Texas, what's Joe doing?  He's the president.  We'll need to know what the federal government failed to heed in terms of advanced warnings, why Homeland Security was sleeping on the job, why FEMA's entire role last week in Texas appears to have been handing a little bit of bottled water, etc.

    We need to know what the federal government is doing.  One thing we do know, and credit to Joe for this, is this February 14th statement from the White House:

    Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that an emergency exists in the State of Texas and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from a severe winter storm beginning on February 11, 2021, and continuing.

    The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 254 Texas counties.

    Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures for mass care and sheltering and direct federal assistance will be provided at 75 percent federal funding. 

    Robert J. Fenton, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Jerry S. Thomas as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas. 



    Again, applause to Joe for that (and I'm not being sarcastic) but if FEMA was authorized on February 14th, why didn't they do anything?

    I say that as someone who spent Friday through yesterday on the phone with Texas community members.  We have an article that'll go up at THIRD -- hopefully before this does.  We spoke to over 100 community members in Texas.  

    Prior to starting this snapshot, that's all I knew.  I didn't even Joe had issued a statement.  But reading that statement, I'm reminded that over and over, I asked people, "Are your roads being cleared?"  No one, and this was all over Texas, not just one area, told me, "Yes, they've got equipment cleaning the roads."  Please, people didn't even have salt being put on their stairs.  One community member in Mesquite, Texas was trapped for days in his second story apartment because there were no efforts made to address the ice on his rickety stairs.  

    Sabina, in Dallas, did hear that FEMA was passing out water.  She didn't see but she heard about it.  (And Sabina and her husband were a two person volunteer FEMA helping their neighbors, friends and family.)

    So what got done?

    Not Sunday yesterday but Sunday the week before, I had seizures again -- we're still working on the right diabetic medicine besides insulin (which, honestly, I'm fine with, I don't have any of these problems when we just stick to insulin) and went into the hospital.  I was out of it for a great deal of the time.  When I was aware of my surroundings, a nurse was speaking to me and asking why Bette Midler was do damn cruel?  I had no idea.  She read the Tweets to me.

    Bette saw a public emergency as time to share her thoughts -- it thinks it has thoughts, that's so cute -- and they were all hateful and they were all partisan.  No one needed it.  But no one needs Bette.  Middle-aged (closer to elderly, actually), White gay men hire her, no one else.  And they don't hire her to carry a TV show or a movie.  Because she can't.  Because the career ended long ago.  She was always rough and 'street' because she came from music (music tied to the mafia, let's be clear).  She was tough and rough and she never learned to get along with others.  Which is why she was kicked out of the film industry.  She landed at CBS was her hideous sitcom BETTE and the industry learned that it wasn't just that people no longer wanted to pay money to see her, they didn't even want to see her for free.

    Now she grabs any character role she can get (bit part) while thanking her lucky stars that Ryan Murphy is one of those not very demanding gay men.  Did he ever have fight in him?  Probably not.  He's always given me the creeps personally.  I get the same vibe that I got from Bryan Singer.  Bryan didn't care about gay rights either or self-respect.  Ryan's lack of self-respect allows him to hire Bette who pissed off more aware LGBTQs when she was riding her DISNEY wave and claiming in interview after interview to have had no idea what took place in the baths.  Right, Bette, right.  She rode her gay audience to fame in the 70s and then disowned them in the mid-to-late 80s.  Meanwhile, she was out of control on every set and giving Gary Marshall chest pains throughout BEACHES.  To work with Bette once truly was enough -- you'll find that if you speak to any of her co-stars or directors.  It's not just Shelley Long that can't stand her, it's all of them.  And she thought she could get away with it but she couldn't.  And as soon as the box office started falling off, 1990, the roles started drying up.  She had the 1991 releases (which also stiffed) already filmed and no real offers were coming in after.  Finally, in 1995, she got offered the fat part in FIRST WIVES CLUB.  We keep hearing all of this talk of all of these efforts to reteam her with Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton.  But it just doesn't happen.  Again, those who've worked with her once are not in any real rush to work with her again.  Diane and Goldie have worked together since.  

    So Bette showed her ass and I'm hearing about it in the hospital so I did a quick post ("Oh Bette"), the only one I did last week, from my hospital bed via my cell phone.  I didn't watch TV in the hospital -- I listened to music.  And enjoyed the rest away from online.  No offense, but every day since November whatever of 2004?  Every day without missing a day?  It was becoming and obsession/addiction.  I needed a break.  And chose to look at the hospital stay as such.  

    I got out on Friday and started, on Saturday, the piece I'd promised in "Oh Bette," but due to the links in that piece -- there are a ton -- "DUMB BITCHES or SISTERHOOD IS NO EXCUSE FOR PRAISING A BAD BOOK" did not go up until Sunday.  And the good there was that I got to note this:

    I miss preforming soo much , I am glad I am recording new music and songs in my home studio , this makes me happy ,coming soon !

    Because Bette Midler struggling to sing -- she really can't, listen to "Fly, fly, so high . . ." on "Wind Beneath My Wings" and grasp that she's shading, but she's singing the same note over and over.  Gladys Knight and Judy Collins both sang the hell out of that song.  Bette?  Don't make me laugh.  And while Bette can't sing, Diana can and Diana Ross doing a new music is news.  Yea!

    From snow and cold in the southern US to snow in northern Iraq.

    Winterland and Wonderland in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq this time. The snow seems late this year but it is still beautiful!

    Snow has been a bit of good news for Iraq.  A bit.  Not a lot more going on that's good.  The second wave of COVID has led to Iraq (finally) doing another shut-down -- it was Thursday last week.  It was overdue and medical professionals knew that.  Some more bad news?  Erbil.  KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani Tweeted this yesterday:

    Today I met with Kak Omed Khoshnaw to congratulate him on his new post as the governor of Erbil. We discussed the challenges and responsibilities of his new role and ways to bring about more development to the city. He has my full support to serve Erbil citizens equally -mb.

    Why is Khoshnaw governor of Erbil?  Because Firsat Sofi died of COVID on November 18th at the age of 42. (He died in Turkey having been transported there in early November.)  He is, so far, the highest ranking member of government in Iraq to die due to the pandemic.  He was a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party which is headed by Masrour's father Massoud Barzani.  

    Erbil also saw a rocket attack last week.  The Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following:

    Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani spoke by phone today with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about yesterday’s rocket attack in Erbil.

    During the call, both sides expressed sympathy for the victims. Prime Minister Barzani called it a cowardly attack and urged Secretary Blinken to support the KRG and the federal government in the joint investigation to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators behind it. They agreed to stay in close contact in that regard.

    They also discussed other recent security developments in Iraq.

    Here's CNN's report.

    Lara Jakes and Erich Schmitt (NEW YORK TIMES) offered:

    After a rocket attack on the American Embassy in Baghdad late last year, the Trump administration renewed its threats of withdrawing diplomats from Iraq. A military retaliation against Iran was discussed, and the White House warned of a drastic response “if one American is killed.” None was.

    Nor were any Americans killed in a similar strike this week on a United States military base at the airport in Erbil, in northern Iraq, that officials blame on an Iranian-backed militia. One foreign contractor died, and an American service member and several contractors were wounded, prompting Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to describe the United States as “outraged” and another official to sternly promise “consequences for any group responsible.”

    But the Biden administration’s otherwise measured response to the rocket fusillade in Erbil stood in sharp contrast with President Donald J. Trump’s pitched campaign against Iran — one that often caught Iraq in the crossfire.

    And it raised a question both in Washington and in Baghdad: What are President Biden’s red lines when it comes to responding to attacks from Iranian-backed militias that target Americans in Iraq?

    Diplomatic and military officials said Mr. Biden’s larger goal was to lower hostilities between the United States and Iran and its proxies in the region, including in Iraq, and to look for a path back to diplomacy with Tehran. This week, the United States extended an opening to new negotiations with Iran to limit its nuclear program.


    Lara . . .  Is it too late to go running back to AP?

    See NYT is going to kill you with this kind of garbage and you've always been a better reporter than this.  The headline, by the way, refers to "seeking a fresh start with Iraq."


    What fresh start?  Oh, that's right NYT lied repeatedly to its readers over the last years.  It didn't start when Trump was president.  It started before that.  It pimped and whored, it didn't tell the truth.


    Iraq doesn't really give a damn about harsh language towards Iran.  In fact, the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government -- somehow NYT never found this story -- were against the deal that Barack Obama, when he was president, made with Iran, that nuclear deal.  Remember it?  NYT helped sell it and NYT wasn't going to tell you a damn bit of truth about it.  (As noted in real time when that deal was being pushed through, I was asked to join in the whoring and refused.  I didn't think the deal was a good thing -- historically, deals of that type tend to lead to war on the country entering in the agreement with the US -- and as someone who covers Iraq, I wasn't going to take a position on a deal that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government was opposed to.  Not that deal.)   

    It would be nice if an article that puts so much prominence on that deal could tell the truth about that deal's lack of popularity in Iraq.  

    Otherwise, some strong information in the article.   Jakes and Schmitt (and Jane Arraf who pops up in an end credit) tell you that Joe is waiting for feedback before deciding whether to send in "hundreds of diplomats, security personnel and contractors to the embassy in Baghdad" and they note:


    The secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg, announced on Thursday that it would increase its military mission in Iraq to 4,000 troops from 500 personnel, and expand training beyond Baghdad.



    The attack against the Erbil airport in the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan killed one non-American civilian contractor and injured a US service member and several American contractors.

    A little-known militia, calling itself Saraya Awliya Al Dam (Custodians of the Blood) claimed responsibility for the attack that outraged the White House.


    Tal Axelrod (THE HILL) notes another attack in Iraq (not the KRG section) that took place yesterday:


    At least one person was injured in a rocket strike at an Iraqi military base in the northern part of the country that houses U.S. forces.

    Officials told The Associated Press and Reuters that at least four rockets struck the Balad air base in Salahaddin province. One official told the AP that the wounded person is South African, and another official told Reuters the person’s injuries are not life-threatening. 


    Here's REUTERS' video report on the Balad attack.


    Steve Balestrieri (SOFREP) adds, "The airbase at Balad is where the U.S. defense contractor Sallyport has its headquarters. Currently, there are 46 personnel contracted to support Iraq’s F-16 program. This was the second rocket attack to hit a base hosting U.S. forces or contractors in less than a week." Meanwhile, PRESS TV maintains that the US is setting up a new base in Iraq:

    Swarms of helicopter gunships and drones are flying over al-Anbar as the US is setting up its second military base in western Iraq near the Syrian border, a report says.   

    Iraq's al-Maloumah news agency cited an unnamed security source on Monday as saying that the unusual overflights above al-Qa’im District extended as far as the border with Syria.



    I'm told that a roundtable piece needs links and then we'll be ready to post the latest at THIRD so let me go help with that.