At JACOBIN, Luke Savage attempts to make sense of the sinking Joe Biden administration:
On its face, Congress’s ongoing reconciliation fight is a complex, inscrutable, and labyrinthine process consisting of many constantly shifting parts. At the level of granular detail, this is indeed the case and, alongside months of piss-poor media coverage, it’s a major reason why the American public still understands very little about what’s actually at stake. But, behind the facade of intricate and fluid horse trading, the basic dynamic remains fixed and unchanged — as ossified as it was the day debate over the package began.
From its very outset, the reconciliation battle has been framed as a negotiation pitting ideological progressives against pragmatic moderates, with the former pursuing a suite of ambitious spending proposals and the latter a smaller overall price tag. As per the latest developments, the figure most frequently at the center of narrative — West Virginia senator Joe Manchin — appears to have coaxed the Biden White House into radically pairing down what was already a compromise position into something still more austere and less ambitious.
Though not yet finalized, the parameters of a prospective deal now look poised to cut the standing $3.5 trillion of planned expenditures over the next ten years to something totaling less than $2 trillion — with free community college, key climate measures, subsidies for programs to help the disabled and elderly, and proposed enhancements to the child tax credit apparently on the chopping block. At time of writing, there is also new speculation that Manchin is threatening to exit the Democratic caucus unless the lacerating cuts are made, and that, even if they are, he may be planning to leave by November 2022 regardless. (Manchin denies this report).
In broad strokes, this is the current state of play in the negotiations — one that decidedly favors Manchin and his would-be centrist crusade to walk the administration back from the precipice of ideological excess. But to even call ongoing proceedings a “negotiation” is to omit the most nakedly obvious facts from the equation and, in turn, represent the process as something other than what it so clearly is. A negotiation, at least in the sense generally implied here, occurs between two or more parties with divergent positions presumed to be held in good faith.
Accordingly, the Biden White House along with many senior Democrats and members of the media, have consistently acted as if the likes of Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema are good faith actors pursuing a coherent set of objectives with the ultimate goal of reaching a compromise. In this absurd pantomime of legislative brokerage, Manchin and Sinema get to play act as “moderates” who have “concerns” about the bill’s size and composition — a rendering of events that is at once completely fraudulent and widely accepted.
As anyone capable of comparing votes and political positions with donation and contribution records can quite easily see, what is officially a dispute between progressives and moderates is more accurately understood as a fight between one group pursuing an actual legislative agenda and another fronting for a sprawling alliance of corporate interests who want to derail it for cynically self-interested reasons.
Luke Savage's put a lot of thought into it. I don't know that a great deal of thought is required. I do not agree with the court packing scheme. But even I knew that his 'exploratory' committee was going to come back stating that court packing didn't need to happen. And I get the feeling that Joe and the Democratic Party don't want to do much of anything. And this is their excuse for doing nothing. While at the same time saying, "Elect us!" Because, we're supposed to believe, if they just had a few more members in the House and Senate, they could do what they promised. If only, right? I think we're all starting to see how truly indifferent this large political party is to the needs of the country.
Medicare For All? It's needed now more than ever. Look around and tell me what they're doing to help the American people? I see nothing. And it's beginning to really appear that this has been the plan all along.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, October 21, 2021. Colin Powell and Barbra Streisand and more.
That's THE KATIE HALPER SHOW. And, yes, Colin Powell is still dead. Let's start with an excerpt from Margaret Kimberley's latest at BLACK AGENDA REPORT:
“But we already had two firsts. Colin Powell was one of them, and Condoleezza Rice, his successor as secretary of state. How did that redound to the benefit of black people for the United States to have a black — put a black face on imperialism, on aggressive war, on violations of international law? How does that make black people look better in the world? Is that the kind of burden that black people want to carry around?” Glen Ford
The late Colin Powell certainly had a storied career. It wound through various Republican presidential administrations from Ronald Reagan, to George H.W. Bush to George W. Bush. He served as National Security Adviser, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State. He said this about his life and work, ““All I want to do is judge myself as a successful soldier who served his best.”
His desire to justify himself shouldn’t oblige anyone else to go along. This question must be answered in assessing Powell’s career. What makes a soldier successful? This point is especially important when talking about a man who took part in every foreign policy action from Vietnam, to Iran Contra, to Panama, to Iraq, to Haiti . Simply put, a good soldier follows orders, makes operations run smoothly, and makes his bosses look good. Powell did all of those things and that is why his legacy is so dubious.
When Major Colin Powell was stationed in Vietnam in 1968 he and his superiors received a letter written by a soldier whose tour of duty was ending. Tom Glen stated that U.S. soldiers were carrying out atrocities against civilians. Major Powell was tasked with investigating, which should have included an interview of the soldier himself. Neither he nor anyone else spoke to Glen and when Powell responded he blamed the whistle blower for not reporting the crimes to people who had chosen to do nothing about them. He then wrote a classic yes-man response which concluded, “In direct refutation of this portrayal, is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese are excellent.”
The following year a second soldier, Ronald Ridenhour, ended his tour with an expose of the U.S. massacre of an estimated 500 civilians in the village of My Lai. Ridenhour conducted his own investigation and sent his letter off to federal officials including president Nixon. On this occasion Powell got a surprise visit from the Inspector General’s office and was asked about combat activity around the date in question. Good soldier Powell reported only what was in the falsified record and thus played a role in an attempt to cover up which fortunately proved to be futile.
Of course Powell had committed his own crimes during his first tour of duty in Vietnam. He admitted as much in his memoir, My American Journey. “We burned down the thatched huts, starting the blaze with Ronson and Zippo lighters. Why were we torching houses and destroying crops? Ho Chi Minh had said the people were like the sea in which his guerrillas swam. Our problem was to distinguish friendly or at least neutral fish from the VC swimming alongside. We tried to solve the problem by making the whole sea uninhabitable. In the hard logic of war, what difference did it make if you shot your enemy or starved him to death?” Of course, collective punishment against a civilian population is by definition a war crime, but Powell succeeded in rising to the top and as such was immune from such truthful descriptions of his activities.
If Powell would run interference for army brass in Vietnam, he would do no less for his boss, president George W. Bush. In early 2001, Powell said of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein , “He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." Two years later Powell made a great show at the United Nations saying just the opposite. Bush decided to invade Iraq and good soldier Powell was tasked with making the public case for a war of aggression. He famously held up a vial which he said represented the weapons of mass destruction which he knew did not exist.
Those who remembered his assurances that Hussein posed no threat were few in number and the corporate media were ready to help the Bush administration get support for the invasion. Powell’s past statements magically disappeared as were any narratives that might contradict the Bush administration. Powell was the public face of the case for a war crime which eventually killed some 1 million people in Iraq.
No, was not Jesus despite the breathless way the media treated him especially since he died. Elain's "Barbra Streisand is one stupid bitch" went up last night. Read Margaret Kimberley in full and grasp that's who Barbra Streisand is praising. Grasp all that she covers and toss in his homophobia as well. That's who Barbra's praising. She's standing not with the Iraqi people, not with the Vietnamese victims, she's standing with their oppressor.
An e-mail whines in the public account that Elaine was being unfair to Barbra and don't I agree?
No, I don't. First off, stranger, I've been friends with Elaine since college and I knew her before that because I dated her brother. Thanks for stumbling onto the public account but maybe stumble onto a doctor if you're thinking your e-mail will make me turn on Elaine as you insist that I must publicly rebuke her.
Relinquish the fantasy.
Before we move on to Colin, let me note Barbra. I know her. I like her. I applaud the art she produced with YENTL. We promoted RLESE ME 2 here. I've praised her performance in THE GUILT TRIP. And I try to say nice things about her in real life. Which is why friends were surprised when I recnetly slammed her here. Industry friends couldn't stop calling as that was circulated. Basically saying, "You do get it then?" Yes, and I always have. But I'm not a director and I never had to put up with that crap on a set and I'm smart enough never to be in a film with her. Her image is well earned. It has nothing to do with my interaction with her.
But when ego mania and a her need to be the center of attention at all times caused her to trash Bradley Cooper? I know Bradley and he did not deserve her crap. So I would have objected for that reason alone. But I have known Joan Didion for decades now. And to watch, while Joan's in such poor health, as Barbra stole the credit that Joan and her late husband John Gregory Dunne deserve?
As I wrote, this is why she doesn't get awards. It's why she's never won a second Academy Award for acting and never will. It's why she's hated by so many who have worked with her and others who refuse to work with her. Joan and John were ending their vacation in Hawaii when Joan turned to John and exclaimed something like, "A STAR IS BORN with Carly Simon and James Taylor!" That idea popped into her head and that's how you got the 70s A STAR IS BORN.
The script was a hot property and the studio was willing to do it with Carly and James -- but they ended up not wanting to do the film. (Too close to home at the time as James' career was muddling.) Various other women expressed interest and it was a go project. It was happening. As it was coming down to the wire, it was Cher's film. She would be starring in it. And the Sue and Barbra swoop in.
That film is garbage, pure garbage. Kris isn't bad in it but he's undercut by all the focus on Barbra -- especially when he's emoting but the camera's instated trained on Barbra. Did the crew really mix s**t in with mud for a scene where Barbra was in the mud? I don't know. Frank Pierson, the director of the film, told me they did. It's not surprising if they did. She's a terror on a set. I'd never go on a set with her. And you can go to YOUTUBE and see her screeching homophobia when she visits Harrison Ford on one of his film sets. That's Barbra.
She destroyed the script for the film. She destroyed the balance that was needed. And the biggest complain, which no one makes but I think everyone viewing gets, is that the film should end on Kris. You do one wrap up scene. Instead, Kris dies and it's Babs Babs Babs. Oh, she's walking through the lonely mansion, oh she hears his voice on a tape recorder, oh this and oh that and then that never ending two song medley where her nose is frightening. She who screeches about unflattering photography has allowed some of the worst video of her ever captured -- worst in terms of appearance -- and for what? To hog the movie? To sing bad songs.
And she's going to slam Bradley's film? His film works, her film does not.
She's going to slam Brad and she's going to steal Joan and John's credit? Slamming Brad because she made the film about singer-songwriters and blah blah blah.
She didn't do s**t with that. She added the Orioles (which I always found racist) and she demanded that a type of feminist sensibility be put into the film -- her sense of a feminist sensibility which has always been a rather strange one.
She made a bad film that's an endurance contest to get through and she wants to slam Bradley and she wants to steal Joan and John's credit?
As I said when I wrote about it here, this is exactly why she doesn't get awards from her peers. It's that ego that claims credit for everything. It's that ego that has to put others down to build herself up. I can indulge in that in casual interactions with her but I'm smart enough never to work with her. Carole King wasn't. Carole's basically a nice person. So she won't publicly slam Barbra. But Carole was a much bigger musical act in 1972 than Barbra when they did a George McGovern benefit and ask Carole how much rehearsal time she was allowed. Ask Quincy Jones how much time he go tot rehearse. Ask them who monopolized the venue with rehearsal after rehearsal for what were poor and simplistic arrangements. She has no concern or care for other artists.
So I posted that here and it gets circulated around a number of friends and then the circle gets larger and larger. And I'm getting all these phone calls because it's the truth but people are surprised I'd say it. Normally, I wouldn't. But she went after Bradley and Joan. She atacked one, she erased the other.
I wasn't in the mood. And I don't give her a pass because her son Jason is gay. She's homophobic so I'm honestly not surprised that 'gay rights' Barbra would praise the homophobic Colin Powell.
On Colin Powell, THE NATION and THE PROGRESSIVE remain silent. It's several days after Colin's death. But? COMMON DREAMS:
That's their top ten most read currently. Number ten, days later, is Jon Queally's piece on Colin.
There is interest in the topic. There's also a need for it.
Hagiography and worse is attempting to sell this vile man who destroyed so many lives as someone worthy of praise. It's really our duty to speak up and to speak out.
When I learned of his death, I was on the treadmill dictating the snapshot. I thought I was finished and the friend I was dictating it too asked if I was going to mention Colin Powell? Why? That's when and how I found out he died. I didn't want to write about him, he's disgusting and surely others would cover it but to note it, in Monday's snapshot, we reposted Ava and My piece from 2006.
And that was going to be it.
Then Monday night, I saw all the non-stop praise and hoopla about The War Criminal and knew I'd have to cover him in the next day's snapshot.
I'm not trying to be the megaphone of what everyone else writes. So what could I contribute? Okay, let's talk about his homophobia. Let's talk about what he did in 1993 and how the US government is trying to fix it now. All these years later, LGBTQ-ers are still harmed by that.
I knew I'd have to cover him in Wednesday's snapshot because I'd have to include Margaret on the topic. But BAR didn't publish early Wednesday morning. So we're including her today. And thanks to the e-mailer who was whining about Elaine, I have a new way to write about Colin -- via the idiot Barbra.
And she is an idiot. She praises Frank Rich? That's hilarious. She's spent years linking to him. Praising his judgments because they were on the same partisan side. You know what? I recommend, on behalf of Barbra, that all of Frank's work be widely re-read. Especailly those hit pieces he did on her movies.
Now I can look the other way here on some things. There are people who get linked to that have trashed offline me. During the time this site has been up, THE WASHINGTON POST wrote a very mean thing about me and I was shocked because: Why? I mean it was untrue but I don't epect truth from the press. I was shocked because what was the point, why were they even writing about me? There was no reason to. I wasn't promoting any ware or trying for attention and they just slam me out of the blue. And I was mad. I didn't read it but I had people calling saying, "Did you see what they said!" And the paper had an important Iraq story. So we still linked to it because this site, it's not about me. But I can promise you if someone had attacked me the way Frank Rich did Barbra Streisand over and over, year after year, they wouldn't be up here. And I wouldn't be praising him.
He was vile, sexist and brutal. And she's praising him because he's on the same partisan side and she's so desperate to have some 'intellectual' (he wishes) in her corner.
She's uneducated and uninformed. When she's tried to lear about a topic, she's either fired the tutor or they've been too in awe of her and pretended that she had something right when she didn't. I don't know if she's got a cognitive issue or if she just can't absorb anything that doesn't relate to her but she can 'study' something for months and still not have a basic understanding.
And her stupidity, her need for attention and her desire to have a buddy in her partisan battles leads her to embrace Colin Powell.
Rob Reiner? He's a joke and I don't have anything to say about him. The industry's tired of him -- lucky for him or skeletons would be surfacing. He's also not that popular among the public. No one's saying, "I wonder what Meathead thinks about this matter?" Barbra still retains some vestiges of fame and if she's going to use it to promote War Criminal Colin, then we need to push back.
And that's how we can cover Colin for another day -- hopefully, the last time this week -- with me throwing something of my own out there and not just having to say "So and so writes and then another person . . ."
This is a War Criminal. And he's a War Criminal that the corporate media is glorifying -- and I'd argue that crap Amy Goodman served up this week was close to glorifying since it sough to justify the actions of a War Criminal -- so we have to push back. If we don't, don't claim to believe in peace. If we don't, don't claim to stand with the Iraqi people or the Vietnamese. He destroyed lives across the world and his homophobia in the US did great damage. There's nothing to glorify. And if you can't find some way to write about that, you shouldn't be writing. Katrina pays a lot of people a lot of money but they can't do anything of value, can they? You're seeing the realities of THE NATION right now.
The Turkish presidency yesterday submitted a memorandum requesting parliament extend the authority granted to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to carry out military operations in Syria and Iraq for another two years, starting from 30 October, Anadolu Agency reported.
The agency said the memorandum explained that the risks and threats to national security caused by the developments and the ongoing conflict in areas adjacent to Turkey's southern borders, are constantly escalating.
Turkey has terrorized Iraq and violated its national sovereignty. Hundreds of civilians have died in the last years because Turkey has bombed them or shot them. They need to be standing in a world court. If Turkey did to the UK what it's done to Iraq -- if Turkey did for one month just what it does to Ira qfor one week -- there would be a full on war with all western countries supporting the UK.
Two Sundays ago, Iraq held elections. The results are disputed. Things are at a standstill currently. Asharq al-Awsat reports:
Efforts to calm down the situation in Iraq continued after protests against the results of recent elections turned into an open sit-in outside the Green Zone gates in Baghdad.
At the same time, forces that lost in the elections are betting on the results of the appeals submitted to the Elections Committee before they enter negotiations with other political parties.
In other news, TRADE ARABIA notes:
Learning levels in Iraq are among the lowest in the Mena region and are
likely to decline even further because of the impact the pandemic has
had on education service delivery, including prolonged school closures,
said the World Bank.
The World Bank Group’s new report “Building Forward Better to Ensure Learning for All Children in Iraq: An Education Reform Path” says that while, now more than ever, investments are needed in education to recover lost learning and turn crisis into opportunity, these investments must be accompanied by a comprehensive reform agenda that focuses the system on learning outcomes and builds a more resilient education system for all children.
The report builds on key priorities in education recently identified in the Government of Iraq’s White Paper and the World Bank Group’s Addressing the Human Capital Crisis: A Public Expenditure Review for Human Development Sectors in Iraq report, and provides actionable reform recommendations to boost learning and skills.
Human capital is essential to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth. However, according to the World Bank’s 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI), a child born in Iraq today will reach, on average, only 41% of their potential productivity when they grow up.
The following sites updated: