Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Truest statement of the week

Biden exhibited his usual cringe worthiness during the meeting. “White Europeans will be in the minority by 2040. You all will have to learn to work with Hispanics. Who make up a larger percentage of the population than you do.” During his campaign Biden at one point spoke of Latinos as being more “diverse” than blacks and one would assume more worthy of his attention. Not content to tell black people that they mattered less than another group, he added his own Bidenesque bizarre commentary such as an assertion that “biracial commercials,” his words, were proof of progress.

In a loud voice and in the manner of a bullying boss Biden dashed any hopes that he would use executive orders to enact policies that he can’t get passed because of Republican congressional opposition. He accused Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, of not reading his policy paper because she disagreed with him. He was vehement about not using the power of executive orders to thwart congressional Republicans and claimed concerns about constitutionality as an excuse for doing as little as he possibly can.

Biden didn’t call anyone a “dog faced pony soldier” or advocate that police aim to shoot in the legs. Nor did he resurrect Corn Pop. We must be thankful for small favors. But Biden is still the bigot who warned of a “racial jungle.” 

In a hectoring tone Biden claimed that the assembled group shouldn’t expect him to do very much at all. Even their meager demand of black cabinet officials was met with insult, “If it doesn’t count for y’all to hell with y’all,” said the man that the black political class supported and defended. Al Sharpton helped by praising Cedric Richmond, who Biden promised to have at “every meeting,” and vouched for Biden and Harris as being substantive people. Sharpton played his role of scoundrel, making the case that black people should not only get jobs but ought to be held to the same weak ethical standards as crooked white people. In case there was any question about where his loyalties lie, he added, “I will never embarrass you.” We can translate that to mean that Sharpton is on board with anything that Master Biden should want. Such a pledge would not be uttered by anyone who wants to make real change.

 -- Margaret Kimberley, "Freedom Rider: Master Biden Speaks" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).








Truest statement of the week II

Political scientist Thomas Ferguson, an authoritative scholar on money and electoral politics, has a valuable and established political science theory called “the investment theory of politics .” He demonstrates that the U.S. is essentially controlled by coalitions of investors who come together around some mutual interest. Thus, “to participate in the political arena, you must have enough resources and private power to become part of such a coalition.” 

He argues that since the early 19th century, there has been a persistent struggle for power among these groups of investors. Moments of conflict come along when groups of investors have differing points of view on public policy, while on policies where large investors are in agreement, no party struggle takes place. Importantly, parties attempt to change the public’s opinion to match those of its investors. 

These findings are applicable elsewhere. In fact, further research  by Ferguson and his colleagues on the effect of wealthy investors and money on election outcomes has shown that campaign expenditures are an excellent predictor of U.S. congressional races: “Money in American politics … suggests that analyses … of the American political system should begin by looking closely at money politics when they attempt to understand political change, especially political system’s steady shift to the right since the late nineteen sixties. Our tentative conclusion … is that seeing should, after all, be believing: the case in favor of the proposition that money drives US elections is significantly strengthened.” 

Regardless of a Republican or Democratic head, the government follows the policy preferences of major lobbying or business groups rather than policy preferences of the general population.

Ferguson’s research on the political power of the rich is no outlier, either. A major study  by Princeton scholar Martin Gilens and Northwestern University professor Benjamin Page reveals that the vast majority of the population — 70 percent on the lower end of the wealth and income scale — is essentially excluded from policy decisions and effectively unrepresented. They conclude that as you move up the scale, influence gradually increases. More importantly, when you reach the very top of the scale, these affluent groups essentially determine policy.

-- Rajiko Kolundzic, "Biden’s Victory Was Hardly a Win for 'Democracy.' It Was Another Win for the 1%. " (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).


A note to our readers


Hey -- 


Tuesday night. 

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?


Margaret Kimberley gets another truest.

Rajiko Kolundzic gets a truest.

The damage she did and the ones she damaged are the story.

Last time, Billy78 wondered/wished in "Mailbag" that Ava and C.I. would do six TV pieces.  Nope.  But they did do two.  This one focuses on Meryl Streep.

And this one focuses on the claims put forward by Robert Lenoard.

We also have readers asking for more music coverage so we did this feature . . .

And this one.  

is for 2020 to be over.

What we listened to while working on this edition.

Jimmy Dore really made an impact.

Repeating, Jimmy Dore really made an impact.

One more time, Jimmy Dore really made an impact.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


Merry Christmas to those celebrating, happy holidays to others, peace to all.


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




Editorial: NYT promoted Rukmini Callimachi's racist reporting

THE NEW YORK TIMES and their star reporters always tend to implode -- especially if the 'reporter' is a terrorism expert.  Years ago, C.I. warned you Rukmini Callimachi was the paper's new Judith Miller.  She was and she is and, as detailed in Monday's "Iraq snapshot," she has imploded.  

In the aftermath what's happening the west, in the US, is people rushing to defend her.  There is no defense.  As noted in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot," your sympathies should be with the Arabs -- her coverage didn't just lie and promote racism (against Arabs), it also prevented real stories from being covered.  


She was outrageous and the only thing more outrages are the people attempting to pretend that no one was harmed by what she 'reported' and how she 'reported.'


Journalist Sana Saeed outlines the issues in the following thread:




I'm glad the NYT finally acknowledged and issued a "correction" for the abysmal ethical and journalistic mess that was Rukmini Callimachi's 'Caliphate' series. It is not, however, enough. The series hasn't been "retracted" and Callimachi has just been reassigned. a thread.



Caliphate, like all journalism around "terrorism" and "Muslim violence" or "radicalization", was a project that relied entirely on unproven stories, disregard for usual ethical considerations in reporting & accepted the GWOT framework uncritically.


The issues with Callimachi's work didn't just emerge in the last few months, they've been raised since well before Caliphate was a thing - by journalists including , and countless academics who focus on Muslim-majority societies.



But within the industry and among its audience, Caliphate was celebrated and Callimachi was heralded as an incredible reporter who told compelling, harrowing stories about the mysterious amorphous shadow of 'Islamist violence' that has latched onto everyone's fears.




The project and Callimachi's work, however, were simply a well-produced practice of fear-mongering rooted in racist tropes and journalistic approaches to Muslim/Muslim-adjacent subjects. Even if you take out the fraudulent story of Sherhoze Chaudhry.


There are unacknowledged and deeply rooted tiers of ethical considerations in how stories about groups of people, who are subjects of past and/or present state violence, are told.


The way non-state violence - or "terrorism" when it's done by particular shades of people - is reported on is decontextualized from the administration & complicity of state and imperial violence that purposely or otherwise creates the material conditions for this violence.



And so at the core of this reporting, of Callimachi's work and project is a mass dehumanization. Her simply being reassigned vs facing real accountability is an example of how rampant and acceptable dangerous and bad journalism around Muslims/Arabs is within the industry.



Yes, this work is dangerous because it has an impact on domestic and foreign policies and support, among the public, for those policies. Work like Callimachi's ends up functioning as state propaganda. That's it.



She doesn't even speak any of the goddamn languages of the regions she ends up covering.



It's not enough to just issue a correction to a series that has been a finalist. It's not enough for to reassign Callimachi for such egregious and racist reporting. But bc the industry accepts the premises of that reporting, there won't be accountability.



there is SO MUCH unlearning to be done in the journalism industry and among audiences when it comes to covering Islam, Muslims, "Muslim violence", "terrorism". I'm not very optimistic it'll happen, because it serves foreign & domestic policy agendas too well as it is.



And none of this is really all that new, when you look at what coverage of Muslim-majority societies, in particular, has looked like since 1979 especially.



and do not get me started on how so many young men, with mental health issues (diagnosed or undiagnosed) are taken advantage of by these reporters just as the FBI and CSIS, in Canada, do.



And in case you’re tagging her, she did awhile ago what she always did and does to Muslim/Arab journalists, academics specialized in the regions she covered, who critiqued her work and the lack of ethics:




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