Monday, July 02, 2018

Truest statement of the week

I got in trouble for observing that while we can elect progressives from time to time we cannot compel them to remain that way. Until we figure out how to build institutions that can, we are at the mercy of their individual moral and political compasses. The need to develop left institutions to which progressive candidates can be held responsible is an acute one, which the Nation in its slavish devotion to the Democratic party predictably ignores. Noting this truth got me accused of being a petty, lazy purist and ultraleftist. Oh well. Sober analysis may not be what some people wanna hear at a victory party where everybody’s popping champagne corks, dancing the electric slide and toasting the universal lessons of the Ocasio-Cortez victory without the bother of real analysis.
Being the sober guy at a victory party kinda sucks that way. But real talk, we’re all gonna have to sober up eventually and figure out which parts of the Ocasio-Cortez playbook are peculiar to and which ones are applicable outside a majority Latino New York City district, and we have yet to devise any means of holding progressive politicians truly accountable. Those who think we don’t need critical analysis or institutions to enforce accountability are the magical thinkers.

-- Bruce A. Dixon, "On Magical Thinking VS Sober Analysis of the Ocasio-Cortez Victory in NY" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Tuesday night.  And we're done.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, 

Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Ava and C.I.'s "The Panic Players" is the big piece of the edition.  Otherwise, as noted in my "Jim's World," we're just trying to see what the site would look like if it became the one community site and everyone posted here.

See you next week.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

As long as Americans are trying to pretend they care about children . . .

TRAGIC STORY: Fatima was born with defections, a gift she got from the .


Media: The Panic Players

Enter the wimps.

Anthony Kennedy announced he was retiring from the Supreme Court.  A right-winger.

It was, we were told repeatedly, the end of the world.

It was the end of the world, especially if you were a woman.

a radio

Not being professional victims, the scare-a-thon didn't work for us.

It failed for a number of reasons.  Chief among them, you can only blackmail someone for so long before they just don't care.  Abortion and the Supreme Court -- it's been used for decades by the Democratic Party to blackmail women into mindless submission.  We don't buy into that garbage.

We stopped drinking that rancid Kool-Aid by January 2006 when 'brave' Kate Michelman had been betrayed by the men of the Democratic Party yet again at a confirmation hearing.  We watched in disgust as she cried in the halls of Congress, publicly.

"Get a grip," was probably our kindest thought.

Then, a little while later, she was supposed to get her reward for not tearing the Dems a new one over their confirmation vote.  She was, she was told, going to the Senate!  But like most promises from Democratic leadership, it didn't come in writing.  So, big surprise, they quickly turned on her.

Even more telling, for abortion rights, they backed Bob Casey Jr.

For those confused, that is the very definition of 'adding insult to injury.'

Did Kate learn?  Did she stand up for herself?

Of course  not.

There she was a couple of years later doing the Democrats bidding via public shaming herself over healthcare.

We're not the little masochist that Kate is.

We longed to hear, on our so-called 'independent' media, other women refusing to play victim last week, refusing to be held hostage.

Instead we got men, men and more men.  John Nichols?  He seemed to be everywhere -- especially on multiple KPFK programs.  (On KPFK, Brad Friedman, do you ever plan to book an equal number of male and female guests in one week?  Or do you just feel women don't matter?)

As bad as Nichols was, and he was awful, the worst was KPFA's FLASHPOINTS.

Mary Bottari showed up to whine, on the verge of tears.

Is she really that pathetic or does she have some vocal disorder?

We can understand her -- or any woman unfortunate enough to be married to John Nichols -- always being on the verge of tears.

But that's not anyone to book as a guest.

Equally true, she and John Nichols are part of the embarrassment that is Wisconson 'progressives.'

Republican governor Scott Walker has destroyed them over and over.

Why is anyone turning to them for analysis or advice?

They're a joke.

Real voices would have, first, stressed, Kennedy's retirement is not the end of the world.  We've been here before, we'll sadly be here again.  It's a moment, not a lifetime curse.

Maybe we'd be better at protesting and at demanding our rights, if our so-called 'experts' and 'leaders' didn't repeatedly see an extinction level event every time our car hit a road bump?

Kennedy is a right-winger.  He voted against abortion rights many times -- including late-term abortions.  He's part of the Court's slow chipping away at abortion rights.

He has been a 'swing-voter,' yes, but that's just because the Court has swung so far to the right.

Maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg shouldn't be such a hero?

Does anyone ever bother to ponder that?

We're not trying to take anything away from her.  We are pointing out the fact that she was nominated to the Court in 1993 (by Bill Clinton).  Why, fifteen years later, is she still the most left Justice on the Court?

Barack Obama had the chance to nominate three Justices -- two got confirmed.  His third choice, Merrick Garland, should never have been nominated.  Conservative-lite.  Barack had already appeased authoritarians with Elena Kagan.

Merrick not getting on the Court was no great loss -- though it should finally put to death the notion that Barack could play three-dimensional chess.  Lyndon B. Johnson, not a great mind, knew how to line up Congressional votes but Barack couldn't even handle that?

We're where we are today because too many have sold us out.  Sadly, until we stop whining, that will always be the case.  You either start owning your power or you are left to be Kate Michelman crying in the halls of Congress.

No matter where you went last week on independent media, you were told (often by John Nichols) what a life destroying event Kennedy's retirement was.  As they waxed on and on, we had to wonder if they were confusing Anthony Kennedy with John F. Kennedy?

The Court's tilt to the right, which Kennedy is part of, didn't happen because of voters.  It happened because of the Congress and whomever occupied the Oval Office.  Senators refused to stand up.  Joe Biden?  He didn't stand up against Clarence Thomas.  He betrayed Anita Hill and other women.  Time and again, cowards on the Senate have seen their role in the confirmation process as to make nice, not to defend the beliefs of the voters who put them in office.

That's the information we should be receiving.  Instead, we're encouraged to freak out and run in circles screaming.  If the supposed experts and analysts can't grasp the basics of 'first do no harm,' maybe they can hum Jewel's "Hands" as a reminder before they're interviewed:

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all ok
And not to worry because worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I will not be made useless
I won't be idled with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear
My hands are small, I know,
But they're not yours they are my own
But they're not yours they are my own
And I am never broken

That's how you reassure and build power.  Panic and rending garmets only induce feelings of fear and despair.  We won't be made useless and we are never broken.

20 greatest vocalists of the 20th century

In Kat's "Judy Garland (the biographies)," she notes Judy Garland would be one of the top twenty vocalists of the 20th century.

We decided to make that list.

1) Frank Sinatra

2) Billie Holiday

3) Judy Garland

4) Aretha Franklin

5) Diana Ross

6)  Johnny Mathis

7) Cass Elliot

8) Barbra Streisand

9) Tina Turner

10) Tony Bennett

11) Nat King Cole

12) George Michael

13) Harry Belafonte

14) Roberta Flack

15) Bing Crosby

16) Dionne Warwick

17) Odetta

18) Carly Simon

19) Dusty Springfield

20) Sammy Davis Jr.

Read a book?


Readers have e-mailed us asking for more book coverage at community sites.  We've passed this request on.

So far, the book coverage includes:

"Judy Garland (the biographies)" -- Kat.


"UNCOMMON TYPES: Let's kill whomever taught Tom Hanks to type" -- Elaine.


"Anne Sexton: THE COMPLETE POEMS" -- C.I.
"Charlotte Chandler's MARLENE" -- Elaine.
"A sexist woman writes She's a Rebel and distorts music history" -- Ann.
"barbara ehrenreich's 'natural causes'" -- Rebecca. 
"Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook" -- Trina.
"Blackfish City" -- Marcia.
"THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES by Alice Walker" -- Ruth.
"Harry Belafonte" -- Mike.

"THE SAME RIVER TWICE (Alice Walker)" -- Isaiah.

"Dancing with Demons: The Authorized Biography of Dusty Springfield" -- Marcia.

"Good for Jimmy Stewart, bad for readers" -- Stan.
"Conversations with Toni Morrison" -- Marcia.
"Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream" -- Ann.
"He Ran All The Way" -- Trina.

And we'll also note Ann's "How a book store could stay alive in today's economy" about the book business.

They raise 'em real dumb in Vote Vets

  1. Iraq War US Army veteran Denise King put on the uniform and served America, and says she won’t allow Donald Trump to put someone on who would take her rights. Spread her message!

Sorry, Denise King, but Saddam Hussein wasn't trying to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Also, no matter how many Iraqis you killed -- including innocent civilians -- you weren't sacrificing for our rights here in the United States.

Jim's Corner


At some point, we'll pack up online.

What's that going to look like?

Well, maybe everyone won't go packing.

There's been talk over the last years of maybe pulling everyone in the community into one site.  

That would allow some who want to blog regularly to continue to do so.  It would also allow some who maybe only want to do so once a week or less to do that.

So, you could go to one site, and during the week have a recipe from Trina, science from Betty, movies from Stan, music from Kat, etc.  

How would that look?

We thought we'd show an example this week.  We're pulling from various sites for this edition.  

Let us know what you think.  ( or

We were planning to just note the Iraq and Coke posts but then we figured, let's see what this would look like.

The never-ending Iraq elections

Repost from THE COMMON ILLS:

The never-ending Iraq elections

MIDDLE EAST EYE reports, "Iraq will begin a partial manual recount of votes on Tuesday 3 July of a May parliamentry election clouded by allegations of fraud, a step towards the formation of a new parliament and government."

May 12th, Iraq held national elections.  Ahead of the elections, there had been big hopes -- these hopes included a large turnout.   Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) noted, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW added, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  AFP explained that the nearly 7,000 candidates includes 2014 women.  THE SIASAT DAILY added, of the nearly 7,000 candidates, "According to the electoral commission, only 20 percent of the candidates are newcomers." Ali Abdul-Hassan and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reported, "Iraqi women account for 57 percent of Iraq’s population of over 37 million, according to the U.N. Development Program, and despite government efforts to address gender inequality, the situation for Iraqi women has declined steadily since 2003.  According to the UNDP, one in every 10 Iraqi households is headed by a widow. In recent years, Iraqi women suffered further economic, social and political marginalization due to decades of wars, conflict, violence and sanctions." 

The other big hope?  For the US government, the biggest hope was that Hayder al-Abadi's bloc would come in first so that he would have a second term as prime minister.  It was not to be.  Mustapha Karkouti (GULF NEWS) identifies the key issues as follows, "Like in previous elections, the main concerns of ordinary Iraqis continue to be the lack of security and the rampant corruption."

As we noted the day of the election:

Corruption is a key issue and it was not a topic explored by candidates outside of Moqtada al-Sadr's coalition.  Empty lip service was offered.  Hayder al-Abadi, current prime minister, had been offering empty lip service for four years.  He did nothing.  Iraqis were supposed to think that, for example, Hayder's focus on ISIS in Mosul mattered.  All life was supposed to stop because of Mosul?  All expectations were to be ignored because of Mosul?

Arabic social media today and yesterday was full of comments about the lack of improvement in services.  It noted how the elections had not mattered before and, yes, how in 2010 the US government overturned the elections because they didn't like the outcome. 

So it was probably only surprising to the US government and their press hacks that Hayder wouldn't come in first.  But that was after the votes were counted.  On the day of the election, the big news was how so few were turning out to vote.  NPR reported, "With more than 90 percent of the votes in, Iraq's election commission announced voter turnout of 44.5 percent. The figure is down sharply from 60 percent of eligible voters who cast their ballots in the last elections in 2014." AP pointed out the obvious, "No election since 2003 saw turnout below 60 percent."  AFP broke it down even more clearly "More than half of the nearly 24.5 million voters did not show up at the ballot box in the parliamentary election, the highest abstention rate since the first multiparty elections in 2005 [. . .]."

Why should they vote?  The US government had repeatedly selected the prime minister -- 2006, 2010 and 2014.  Why should they vote?  The government was corrupt.  Why should they vote?  Safety?  Lip service was given to the claim that ISIS had been defeated but it hadn't.  In fact, Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) reported that 16 people were killed and nineteen wounded the day of the election.

Martin Chulov (GUARDIAN) captured the mood,  "But as voters trudged towards polling stations, there was none of the euphoria of previous polls – where purple ink-dipped fingers were happily displayed – and almost no energy surrounding the process. Iraqis had done it all before, and elections had delivered little."

Sunday the 13th, votes were counted and the first place winner?  Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

With over half the votes counted, powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has emerged as the leading contender in the Iraq elections

By Monday the 14th, Ayad Allawi was calling for a full recount.  While the US government was working behind the scenes to oveturn the results.  Simon Tisdall (GUARDIAN) explained, "The unexpectedly poor showing of Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, in parliamentary elections has dealt a blow to US influence in the country. [. . .] Put simply, Sadr believes Iraqis should run Iraqi affairs – not Washington, not Tehran and not their proxies."

The US State Dept was still reeling from the results:

QUESTION: I have two more on this, Heather. Do you have any comment on Moqtada al-Sadr, who emerged as the big winner in these elections?

MS NAUERT: Yes. Let me just remind folks that he wasn’t an actual candidate on any of the ballots, but yet his slate of people were candidates. Iraq is still finalizing its election results right now. They’re likely to have to form some sort of coalition government, so I don’t want to get ahead of the process and presume how things are going to look in the end. But I think the overarching theme right now is congratulations to Iraq for holding democratic and free elections.

QUESTION: And on the formation of the new government, Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s commander Qasem Soleimani is in Baghdad to discuss the formation of the new government. How do you view this Iranian role in the formation of the government?

MS NAUERT: We have a good relationship – bless you – with the Government of Iraq, and we believe that we will continue to do that. There have been many – in Iraq and in other countries as well – that have been concerned about Iran’s reach into many other countries. That is certainly always a concern of ours, but we have a great deal of trust and faith in the Iraqi people and whoever ends up governing, whatever the structure is, the governing of that country going forward. 

It's June 30th, recounts are too start on July 3rd.  That will be about two months after the election took place.  Maybe then there will be a government?

Maybe not.  In 2010, it was over eight months after the election before Iraq formed a government.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated:

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