Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Truest statement of the week

The latest propaganda effort signifies a desperation in the Israeli propaganda machine. Activists and journalists have rightly pointed out how the Israeli government has weaponized sexual assault allegations, deriving from ulterior motives rather than a place of genuine concern for women and children given Israel’s own horrific track record on rape and sexual abuse, and furthermore, its active censorship of human rights groups investigating sexual assault abuses of Palestinian children, which Josh Paul, former director at the U.S Department of State, admitted to CNN. 

The U.S. State Department’s toothless allegation that the ceasefire ended because of Hamas’s barbaric desires towards women lacks credibility. However, the manufacture and escalation of a sensationalist media storm around October 7 allowed the Israeli government to reassert its hegemony over narratives surrounding events on that day. The wild descriptions of Hamas’s assaults re-center Hamas, thereby detracting from emerging investigations by news organizations that complicate the Israeli government’s account of a ruthless Hamas-led attack and probe the IOF’s complicity in slaughtering Israeli civilians, suggesting the IOF’s indiscriminate assault upon Hamas may have also caused the death of Israeli citizens.

In addition, emphasizing the brutality and inhumanity of Hamas’s attacks on October 7 increasingly serves to legitimize Israeli revenge. Israel’s assault lacks any semblance of proportionality, as the death toll exceeds 16,000, and widespread graphic videos document, extensively and in detail, the annihilation of Palestinians, including the incineration of infants and toddlers. Exaggerating the inhumanity of the Hamas attacks suggests there is an equivalency of the Israeli response; though not in scale, it purports to suggest Israel’s assault is equal in nature and brutality, and therefore, revenge upon a population of 2.2 million people is logical.


-- Kareena Pannu, "Despite Lack of Evidence, Allegations of Hamas ‘mass rape’ Are Fueling Israeli Genocide in Gaza: The lack of any evidence of 'mass rape' perpetrated by Hamas members on October 7 hasn't stopped Israel from weaponizing these accusations to legitimize its genocide of Palestinians in Gaza" (ZNET).


Truest statement of the week II

The US-Israeli propaganda machine has launched a new argument in defense of Israel’s mass slaughter in Gaza: the claim that Hamas, which carried out the October 7 cross-border strike into Israel that preceded the current war, was guilty of mass rape of Israeli women during that uprising.

That there is no direct evidence to support these allegations is irrelevant to the perpetrators and defenders of genocide in Gaza. The claim, suddenly blared out in the media, serves to distract public attention from the catastrophic escalation of Israeli military operations against the population of Gaza since the end of the limited “pause” that accompanied the exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

More than 1,000 Palestinians were killed over the weekend by Israeli bombs and missiles. Some 2 million Palestinians have been herded into a tiny corner of Gaza, itself an enclave no larger in area than the cities of Philadelphia or Detroit, but with many more people. The purpose of the Israeli military operations has become increasingly clear: to drive the entire population of Gaza across the Egyptian border into the Sinai Desert, emptying Gaza and making it available for Jewish settlers.


-- Patrick Martin, "US and Israeli mass rape propaganda, without credible evidence, is being used to justify Gaza genocide" (WSWS).




A note to our readers

Hey --

Monday 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, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
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?





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



This went up Saturday at THE COMMON ILLS.

The assault on Gaza continues

The US government has rarely been on the side of peace.  Apartheid?  They supported it for decades.  They verbally trashed -- especially during Ronald Reagan's two terms as president -- Nelson Mandela as a "terrorist."  So Friday's action at the United Nations wasn't that shocking.  But they are appalling.  Mallory Moench (TIME) reports

The U.S. is facing criticism from the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank, and other global leaders and organizations, after it vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

The security council held an emergency meeting on Friday after U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99, a rare move to force a vote on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, where two million people are displaced. The Hamas-run health ministry says 17,000 people have been killed under an Israeli campaign to eliminate the militant group after its Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,200 people and took an estimated 240 hostage. More than 100 remain in captivity. 

The U.S. vetoed a resolution calling for a ceasefire put forward by the United Arab Emirates and backed by more than 90 Member States at a meeting in New York City. Compared to 13 council members’ votes in favor, the U.S. was the sole veto. The U.K. abstained. 

Yes, the White House is facing criticism.  Even from Recep.

That's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, and he's calling out the US.  Recep who does the same to the Kurds in Turkey  that is being done to the Palestinians is calling out the US.  Because anyone can now.  The US government is in the wrong -- completely -- and now even Recep can call the US government out.  And he can do it on strong ground.  There's no weak foundation that's about to crumble under him as he makes this call.

The vote on Friday resulted from Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, triggered the vote.  As noted in the December 7th snapshot:

Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports:

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used a rarely exercised power to warn the Security Council on Wednesday of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza and urged its members to demand an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

His letter to the council’s 15 members said Gaza’s humanitarian system was at risk of collapse after two months of war that has created “appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma,” and he demanded civilians be spared greater harm.

Article 99?  ALJAZEERA explains:

It’s a special power, and the only independent political tool given to the secretary-general in the UN Charter. It allows him to call a meeting of the Security Council on his own initiative to issue warnings about new threats to international peace and security and matters that are not yet on the council’s agenda.

In Article 99, the charter states, “the Secretary General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.

Now Guterres will have the right to speak at the Security Council, without having to be invited to speak by a member state, as is usually the case.

THE NEW YORK TIMES notes that the veto "has sparked frustration among Arab governments that are pushing to end the conflict, with one group of regional officials expressing 'deep dissatisfaction' over the move. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority -- which Washington and others have floated as a potential governing body for postwar Gaza --  called the veto 'a mark of shame that will follow the United States for many years' and said that American officials' policy toward Israel had made their country 'a partner in genocide'."  As if the veto wasn't bad enough, there's the ongoing supply issue and the lack of Congressional oversight.  Wafaa Shurafa and Bassem Mroue (AP) report, "The sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition was announced a day after the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, a measure that had wide international support. The U.S. said Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined that 'an emergency exists' in the national interest requiring the immediate sale, meaning it bypasses congressional review. Such a determination is rare."  Julia Connelly (COMMON DREAMS) adds, "The State Department notified congressional committees of the sale around 11:00 pm EST Friday, hours after a new Pew Research poll showed that only 35% of Americans support the Biden administration's backing of Israel's attacks on Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces have now killed more than 17,700 Palestinians in Gaza in just over two months, while claiming they are targeting Hamas."   Missy Ryan, Michael Birnbaum, Abigail Hauslohner and John Hudson (WASHINGTON POST) note:

The Biden administration faces mounting pressure over its provision of powerful weapons to Israel, with the spiraling death toll in Gaza deepening questions about whether the United States, as the country’s chief military backer, must do more to ensure civilians’ safety.

Rights groups, along with a growing bloc from within President Biden’s Democratic Party, are intensifying scrutiny of the arms flow to Israel that has included tens of thousands of bombs since Hamas militants’ bloody attacks of Oct. 7. Local authorities say that at least 17,700 people, many of them civilians, have been killed in Israel’s operation to dismantle the Palestinian group.


Jeremy Bowen (BBC NEWS) notes:

At the UN, the Americans duly vetoed this resolution calling for a ceasefire. For those concerned about the significant loss of life, that does sound a bit hollow - the Americans claim the Israelis are saying they will stick to the rules of war and avoid unnecessary civilian deaths. But, they say, there is a gap between what Israel says and what it does.

I think the strategy behind the secretary general's decision to bring a vote - which he knew would probably get vetoed - was to hurry up the inevitable moment when the Americans will say to Israel: "Enough is enough, you've had enough time and killed enough people and it's time for a ceasefire."

Some diplomats I have spoken to have said they might give the Israelis another month - I think Mr Guterres's strategy is to try and shorten that, partly by increasing international pressure and also partly by shaming the Americans into thinking that they cannot continue to hold this position as it becomes less and less tenable.

That pressure has also increased today with the publication of footage of prisoners in Gaza, held by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), stripped to their underwear and being driven away in trucks. It's a cruel image of war seeing these men, which local reports on social media suggest could be as many as 700.

Those same sources, including family of some of the men, say that they were taken from a UN school where they were sheltering, and where others tried to get away and were killed. 

Friday, on DEMOCRACY NOW!, Amy Goodman noted, "Video has emerged showing Israeli soldiers in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza detaining over 100 Palestinian men at gunpoint, forcing them to strip to their underwear while lined up, kneeling on the pavement. Among those detained was Diaa Al-Kahlout, a Palestinian journalist with the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. In a statement, the newspaper condemned the mistreatment of Al-Kahlout and other civilians, saying Israeli forces 'deliberately subjected the Gazans to degrading treatment, forcing them to disrobe, conducting intrusive searches, and subjecting them to humiliation upon arrest, before forcibly transporting them to undisclosed locations'."  Today, AP reports that they spoke with several of the detainees, "One of those freed, Osama Oula said troops ordered all men to come down to the street in their underwear. He said the men were were taken to a yard, handcuffed and dropped off at a warehouse. During days of questioning, the men were beaten and forced to walk or sleep on raw rice, causing great pain, he said."

I didn't watch the garbage that was HOMELAND and the reason why is I avoid it and all 'adventure' product based on Israeli entertainment is due to the fact that the Israeli government practices and promotes torture. I'm sure the Israeli government will deny that torture took place but their long history of practicing it makes any such claim hard to believe.  As AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL noted last month:

Israeli authorities have dramatically increased their use of administrative detention, a form of arbitrary detention, of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank; extended emergency measures that facilitate inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners; and failed to investigate incidents of torture and death in custody over the past four weeks, Amnesty International said today.  

Since 7 October, Israeli forces have detained more than 2,200 Palestinian men and women, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club. According to Israeli human rights organization HaMoked between 1 October and 1 November, the total number of Palestinians held in administrative detention, without charge or trial, rose from 1,319 to 2,070.  

Testimony from released detainees and human rights lawyers, as well as video footage and images illustrate some of the forms of torture and other ill-treatment prisoners have been subjected to by Israeli forces over the past four weeks. These include severe beatings and humiliation of detainees, including by forcing them to keep their heads down, to kneel on the floor during inmate count, and to sing Israeli songs.   

“Over the last month we have witnessed a significant spike in Israel’s use of administrative detention – detention without charge or trial that can be renewed indefinitely – which was already at a 20-year high before the latest escalation in hostilities on 7 October. Administrative detention is one of the key tools through which Israel has enforced its system of apartheid against Palestinians. Testimonies and video evidence also point to numerous incidents of torture and other ill-treatment by Israeli forces including severe beatings and deliberate humiliation of Palestinians who are detained in dire conditions,” said Heba Morayef, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.  

[. . .]

Amnesty International has for decades documented widespread torture by Israeli authorities in places of detention across the West Bank.  However, over the past four weeks, videos and images have been shared widely online showing gruesome scenes of Israeli soldiers beating and humiliating Palestinians while detaining them blind-folded, stripped, with their hands tied, in a particularly chilling public display of torture and humiliation of Palestinian detainees. 

On the topic of War Crimes, Abby Sewell (AP) reports:

A British Palestinian surgeon who spent weeks in the Gaza Strip during the current Israel-Hamas war as part of a Doctors Without Borders medical team said he has given testimony to a British war crimes investigation unit.

Ghassan Abu Sitta, a plastic surgeon specializing in conflict medicine, has volunteered with medical teams in multiple conflicts in Gaza, beginning as a medical student in the late 1980s during the the first Palestinian uprising. He has also worked in other conflict zones, including in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Here's a video of the doctor explaining what he saw:

Of course, the Israeli government denies they are committing War Crimes. It's not that easy, it's not that simple.  Josh Meyer (USA TODAY) notes:

But a growing chorus of international experts – including some former U.S. government war crimes officials – say Israel's bombing of civilian areas is a clear violation of the internationally recognized rules of armed conflict.

“I have very serious concerns about their compliance with the law of war in Gaza based on what I’m seeing,” attorney Brian Finucane, who spent nearly a decade as a State Department adviser on the law of armed conflict, said in an interview. One of the biggest concerns, said Finucane, who left the State Department in 2021, involves “how Israel is defining military objectives, and whether those definitions are consistent with the law of war.”

[. . .]

“Is Israel doing everything feasible to limit civilian harm? Is it causing disproportionate harm when attacking civilian targets?” asked Anthony Dworkin, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “These depend on context – such as information on targeting – which is why leaders are hesitant to make conclusive statements.

“But I would say that Israeli actions fall outside what is reasonable and do constitute war crimes,” Dworkin, a former director of the nonprofit Crimes of War Project, told USA TODAY.

Click here for ALJAZEERA's INSIDE STORY addressing the topic of possible US complicity in War Crimes.  The realities of abuse taking place cannot be refuted.  So the Israeli government and its assets (paid and unpaid) try to resurrect the claim of 'rape' (we addressed the lack of proof on this topic in yesterday's snapshot).  At ZNET, Kareena Panuu writes:

After a lull, Israel’s allegations of sexual violence committed by Hamas have returned to international headlines with a vengeance. As the UN faces heightened pressure to condemn Hamas’s alleged sexual violence, the sudden onslaught of media and international attention nearly two months after October 7 begs the question, why now?

Indeed, narratives of sexual violence have not only resurged, but they have done so with vim. Lurid stories of gang rape, mutilation, and even necrophilia, have been disseminated by the media. This has occurred despite there being no substantive developments in evidence of sexual assaults from the Israeli occupation forces. Israel has repeatedly failed to provide forensic evidence, concrete photographic evidence, or victim testimonies to news organizations beyond inferences made by Israel’s forensic teams. Indeed, the Times of Israel alleges that the IOF will never provide forensic evidence because “physical evidence of sexual assault was not collected from corpses by Israel’s overtaxed morgue facilities,” and it is now, reportedly, too late to collect conclusive evidence. 

Presently, Israel’s case consists of one eyewitness testimony shown privately to journalists by the Israeli police, witness testimonies of “body collectors,” forensic teams, and army staff, photographs taken at sites that suggest women may have been sexually assaulted, and witness testimonies of Hamas fighters acquired from Shin Bet, whose use of torture is notorious. Testimonies of victims will not be shared; the police have not interviewed any surviving victims, and according to May Golan, Israel’s Women’s Empowerment Minister, the very few victims who survived are receiving psychiatric treatment and are therefore, conveniently, unable to talk. 

It’s a far cry from the persistent efforts of the Palestinians, forced to film their murdered relatives, their burnt and mutilated children, and their friends and families in their most vulnerable moments of grief, all in a desperate attempt to show the world what is being inflicted upon them. Perhaps that is what privilege looks like, where the dignity of Israeli victims is preserved, and the dignity of Palestinian victims must be discarded in a desperate voyeuristic attempt to publicize their suffering, starkly aware that the survival of the Palestinian people depends on this. 

Israel’s secrecy remains deafening; the IOF exclusively screened a 47-minute compilation of “raw footage” to invited journalists, as opposed to sharing the footage with news agencies to report on and verify independently (Al Jazeera journalists, notably, were not invited to attend). Amongst those invited, journalist Owen Jones saw no “conclusive evidence” for torture, sexual violence, rape, or beheadings. Furthermore, despite calling on the UN to condemn Hamas’s acts of sexual violence, Israel refuses to cooperate with a UN commission of inquiry into sexual violence committed by Hamas on the ludicrous basis that the UN has “an anti-Israel bias.” 

[. . .]

The latest propaganda effort signifies a desperation in the Israeli propaganda machine. Activists and journalists have rightly pointed out how the Israeli government has weaponized sexual assault allegations, deriving from ulterior motives rather than a place of genuine concern for women and children given Israel’s own horrific track record on rape and sexual abuse, and furthermore, its active censorship of human rights groups investigating sexual assault abuses of Palestinian children, which Josh Paul, former director at the U.S Department of State, admitted to CNN. 


AP notes, "The Palestinian death toll in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war has surpassed 17,700 [. . .]"  ALJAZEERA notes the death toll on UN workers, "The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) confirmed the deaths of 133 employees in Gaza due to Israeli attacks."  This is the largest number of US workers killed in any conflict or war.   Fiona Nimoni (BBC NEWS) reports:

A senior UN aid official has warned that half of Gaza's population is starving, as fighting there continues.

Carl Skau, deputy director of the UN World Food Programme, said only a fraction of supplies needed have been able to enter the Strip - and nine out of 10 people cannot eat everyday.

Conditions in Gaza have made deliveries "almost impossible", Mr Skau said. 

Eduardo Cuevas (USA TODAY) notes, "Israel continued its bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, including in areas where Israeli forces had previously told Palestinians to evacuate. The strikes came just hours after the U.S. stood alone against an historic U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire."  THE NEW YORK TIMES words it this way, "Some of the strikes targeted the southern Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military has ordered civilians to go to avoid bombardment, underscoring the reality that there is no safe place in Gaza to take shelter."  ALJAZEERA explains, "Two hospitals in central and southern Gaza received 133 bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli bombings over the past 24 hours, health ministry officials in Gaza said on Saturday. Dozens of people held funeral prayers in the hospital’s courtyard before taking the bodies for burial – a scene that has become routine over the past two months of war."

While the US government voted no on a cease-fire, the United Kingdom chose to just be present and not vote for or against.  They're not listening to their citizens either.  UK SCOCIALIST WORKER explains:

Over 100,000 people joined the sixth national demonstration in London on Saturday against the Israeli mass murder and destruction in Gaza.

Marchers were sickened by the daily evidence that Israel has stepped up the bombing and ethnic cleansing after the end of the brief truce. And many were disgusted -- although not surprised -- that the US vetoed a resolution on Friday at the United Nations calling for a ceasefire. Britain refused to support the motion.

Some of those marching have been on all the national protests and local ones as well. But there are still new forces turning out. Vinny, a taxi driver from Kent, said, “I missed the first few protests but thought I better do my bit. I can’t watch the news—it is so annoying and upsetting. Every day there is another horror story. 

“Obviously there needs to be a ceasefire, but that isn’t going to bring back the thousands of dead people. There has to be something else. The Palestinians need to get more than ruins, they need a country of their own.”

Around the world, protests have taken place and are taking place.  Dante Pastran (WSWS) reports:

Since the Israeli genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza began in October, numerous protests have taken place throughout the Philippines opposing this barbaric crime. At times clashing with police, demonstrators have denounced not only Israel, but the roles of both United States imperialism and the government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr in Manila.

Demonstrators gathered in Quezon City, Metro Manila on November 29, marking the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Protesters held signs demanding Israel “Stop the bombings. Free Palestine.” They also drew attention to the large number of women and children who have been killed since Israel’s slaughter began.

Rallies were also held the previous weekend, with marchers in Manila on November 25 denouncing Israel’s genocide. Demonstrators chanted “Free, free Palestine,” and “US, Israel Terrorists” and headed to the US Embassy before police forcibly diverted them from their planned, and supposedly government-approved, route. The protesters have been mostly youth, students, and large contingents from the Muslim Filipino minority. Thousands too marched on the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao, where most of the country’s minority Muslim population lives.


Media: The shell game continues

Misogyny and the Democratic Party?  

We wonder about it.  Like when failures can't shut up?  Al Gore thinks someone needs or wants to hear from him:

Former Vice President Al Gore reacted to the congressional testimony of Claudine Gay, President of Harvard.

Gay appeared before the House Education and Workforce Committee on Tuesday, when she avoided questions regarding students who advocate the "genocide of Jews" and whether they are violating the school's code of conduct. Instead, she said she thought any reference to genocide was "abhorrent." Gore is an alumnus of Harvard University.

"Well, I was shocked by the tone-deafness of those comments, and I think they got bad legal advice in putting together what they were going to say," Gore said on State of the Union Sunday.

On Thursday, Gay issued an apology to the campus newspaper following her congressional testimony. She assured students that she felt regret and that "words matter."

Gore agreed with the statement, saying that Gay and the former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, who also testified before the House committee on Tuesday, "certainly do need to clarify that."

He was shocked.  We weren't shocked when a Portland massage therapist accused him of harassment in 2010.  Because we know how sordid his personal life is and has been -- going back to his affair with E who picked out his tie for the 1992 debate and who picked up and touched a lot of other things.  When we noted that here many, many years ago, it confirmed what Tipper suspected but he had forever denied.  That's why they separated,  

We were shocked that three women were targeted last week and that numerous Democratic males joined Republicans in attacking the women.  Then we read Ryan Grim's new book THE SQUAD: AOC AND THE HOPE OF A POLITICAL REVOLUTION and we were mad at ourselves for being shocked.  

Among other things, Ryan details AOC's rise as first term member of Congress.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected to the House of Representatives in 2018.  Two years prior, a presidential election, found her endorsing Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  He ran again in 2020.  AOC debated whether or not to endorse him again.  Among the things that concerned her for 2020?  Bernie's supporters.  Most of them were focused on real issues -- such as Medicare for All -- but some of them were annoying.

Now, this is us speaking, not Ryan's book, there will always be annoying supporters.  We can support a candidate and be annoyed by other supporters.

But what was concerning AOC was something we noted in real time.  Bernie's most vocal supporters were often attacking women.  They wanted to pretend otherwise.  Michael Tracey, for example, would insist he covered all the Dems fairly.  But he didn't.  And by the time he wanted to note Kamala Harris dropping out, we were tired of his b.s. and made a point of noting that when men dropped out in 2020, it was a tweet from Michael.  When Kamala dropped out, it was 24 Tweets.

The numbers don't lie.

For the record, we weren't (and we aren't now) Kamala supporters.  And we made that clear long before she dropped out.

So this wasn't us protecting 'our own' or standing up for 'our beloved.'  

We were also vocal about Tracey, Glenneth Greenwald and others attacks on Elizabeth Warren.  More than once, for example, at THE COMMON ILLS, it was noted that Elizabeth was not going to get the nomination and that all these attacks were doing were making it that much harder for Bernie to draw Elizabeth's supporters to his campaign when she did drop out.

So reading Ryan's new book THE SQUAD, we were glad to learn that the attacks on women had bothered AOC as well.

Like us, she was getting tired of the White man brigade (we'd say Tracey and Greenwald and their supporters) constantly dismissing real issues with their non-stop pretense that only class matters.  It's easy for certain White men to argue that because they've never been outside the focus.  But if you're a person of color or if you're a woman (of any color) or you're transgender or Muslim or another category, you know very well that the focus imposed by Tracey and Greenwald is limiting and reinforces divisions.  

Yes, economy needs to be focused on -- but let's expand beyond the White male property owners that certain White men know damn well have always had their needs addressed.

From Grim's book, let's quote AOC, "Bernie's supporters have been very, very damaging to him, and it's really frustrating to see and experience.  They don't realize how influential they are.  It's frustrating to feel like they are hurting him. I feel like Warren is scooping up LGBT, progressives, women, and progressives of color because of how they [Bernie Bros] isolate."

And we've seen the same nonsense from White men in the Democratic Party during the last days.  Men like Senator Bob Casey, Josh Shapiro and so many more including Al Gore.  

Three women appeared before a House Committee last week.  Republicans attacked them at the hearing.  And distorted them. And the bulk of the media ran with it.  An exception?  

Writing about Magill, Harvard University President Claudine Gay and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth, Moustafa Bayoumi (THE GUARDIAN) noted:

The question is a trap, of course, and for several reasons. The first and most important reason is that there’s no evidence anyone since 7 October, or even in recent history, has called for the genocide of Jews on any American campus, public or private. Stefanik’s question implies that such calls are commonplace, but she offered no proof.

The second reason this is a trap is that the question can’t be answered with just “yes” or “no”. Public universities, as state actors, are bound by the first amendment, as are private universities which receive federal funding. And the vast majority of private universities guarantee freedom of speech and academic freedom as part of their core mission. The American university is, by tradition and design, precisely where abhorrent ideas can be uttered. So, if someone had called for the genocide of Jews, which they haven’t, that would be extremely disturbing but still protected speech.

The utterance alone does not constitute harassment. In fact, the utterance should be an opportunity to debate and debunk – and not silence – the worst ideas of our day. To rise to harassment, such conduct must be targeted at an individual and, as a 2019 supreme court case decided, be “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit”. Context makes the difference, or as this 2011 article, published by the American Bar Association, says, “It is the context that matters, and the context helps to make the determination about whether conduct is actionable under school policy or protected by the First Amendment.”

The third reason the question is trap is that the situation is complicated by the overarching codes of conduct many universities have adopted, codes that I believe do often (wrongly) cross over into limiting speech. But here, too, Stefanik seems confused. Writing in the Wall Street Journal after the hearing, Stefanik ridiculed Harvard for requiring incoming undergraduates to take an online training session to help them identify language and behavior that could be considered hateful to others. But, while mocking Harvard’s approach, Stefanik – a rising Maga Republican – is at the same time demanding to be included in it. So, which is it?


The media didn't care about complexities or, in fact about what was said at the hearing.  They were interested in promulgating a lie. That's why they didn't bother to correct the record. That includes two idiots -- Jonah Miller and Emily Scolnick of the college paper -- who were eager to misreport and someone might want to ask them how that qualifies as journalism?  From the two 'reporters':


During the hearing, Magill said it was "context dependent" when asked whether individuals calling for the genocide of Jewish people violate Penn’s code of conduct. Penn Hillel, the White House, Pennsylvania’s governor and United States Senate delegation have joined the chorus of criticism of these remarks, with many donors, students, and politicians calling for the president to resign.

The scrutiny follows a now-viral exchange between Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Magill during the hearing.

Stefanik asked whether individuals who call for the genocide of Jewish people violate Penn’s policies or code of conduct, describing calls for "Intifada revolution" among some protestors on campus as calls for genocide of Jews.

“If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment,” Magill told Stefanik, later adding, “It is a context-dependent decision."

This response prompted Stefanik to continue probing.

“This is the easiest question to answer, 'yes,' Ms. Magill,” Stefanik said. “Conduct meaning committing the act of genocide? ....This is unacceptable, Ms. Magill.”

Magill ultimately reiterated that calling for the genocide of Jews "can be harassment."

Yes, she did say that.  She said a lot more, but, yes, she did say that.

Senator Bob Casey Junior took to Twitter to share, "President Magill's comments yesterday were offensive, but equally offensive was what she didn't say.  The right to free speech is fundamental, but calling for the genocide of Jews is antisemeitic and harassment, full stop."

Fool, stop.

Let's note the following remarks at the hearing:

Let me begin by saying that I, and the University of Pennsylvania, are horrified by and condemn Hamas’s abhorrent terrorist attack on Israel on October 7th. There is no justification --none -- for those heinous attacks. The loss of life and suffering that are occurring in Israel and Gaza during the ensuing war are heartbreaking. The pain extends to our campus. I know it from my daily conversations with our students, faculty, and staff, as well as parents and alumni. This hearing was called to discuss antisemitism on college campuses. I value this opportunity to reaffirm my and Penn’s unyielding opposition to antisemitism and to outline the urgent, university-wide actions we are taking to combat this centuries-old and resurgent threat. As President, my first priority is to members of the Penn community and, above all, to their safety and support. I must also ensure that our academic mission thrives; that academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas endure; and that we swiftly address any violation of the law or our University’s policies. These are the priorities Penn is seeking to achieve in the actions I will discuss today

The vibrant engagement of Jewish faculty, students, staff, and alumni has long been an integral part of Penn. To see this sense of belonging shaken by recent events is deeply troubling. We trace our history back to 1772 with the enrollment of Penn’s first Jewish student, Moses Levy, who later became the first Jewish Trustee of the University. The Jewish Students’ Association at Penn was established in 1924. In 1970, Martin Meyerson became the first Jewish Ivy League President. Since 2012, we have partnered with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive to make available to students and researchers more than 50,000 video testimonials of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses. We -- and I -- are proud of our history and the prominent role our Jewish community plays in campus life and, broadly, in Penn’s academic excellence. Under my leadership, we will never shrink from our moral responsibility to combat antisemitism and educate others to recognize and reject hate.

Prior to October 7th, antisemitism -- a pernicious, viral evil -- was already rising in our society, and global events have dramatically accelerated the surge. No place is immune, and campuses, including ours, have recently experienced an unacceptable number of antisemitic incidents. We are combatting this evil head on with immediate action. I have condemned antisemitism publicly, regularly, and in the strongest terms possible and today want to reiterate my and Penn’s commitment to combatting it. For decades our Division of Public Safety has learned from and worked with the Anti-Defamation League office in Philadelphia, and we are working closely with them, as well as local, state, and federal law enforcement to promptly report and investigate antisemitic acts against any member of the Penn community. Where we have been able to identify individuals who committed these acts in violation of existing University policy or law, we have initiated disciplinary proceedings and referred these matters to law enforcement where appropriate. We have also acted decisively to ensure safety throughout and near campus. We have expanded the presence of Penn Public Safety and Allied Security at our religious life centers including Penn Hillel, the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and the Lubavitch House. We also enhanced security at every event, rally, protest, and vigil on campus. Penn Public Safety works in close collaboration with law enforcement, including the Philadelphia Police Department. Like many communities around the world, Penn has also experienced protests, rallies, and vigils related to the terrorist attack and the subsequent war. Protest  -- and all it entails -- has long been a feature of university life. Penn’s approach to protest is guided by the U.S. Constitution, outlined in decades-old open expression policies, and supported and upheld by trained Open Expression Observers. We recognize the right of peaceful protest and assembly, and we give broad protection to free expression—even expression that is offensive. At the same time, we have zero tolerance for violence or speech intended to incite it. Our public safety officers are present at every protest, rally, or vigil, trained in de-escalation techniques, and, if necessary, they are ready to act. Protests playing out on campuses and in cities worldwide demonstrate the challenges of fostering robust debate during difficult times. In addition to respecting the right of protest, Penn is offering many ways for students to come together in classrooms and in small groups to discuss these issues. Making space for this sort of debate is in keeping with the best traditions and educational missions of institutions like Penn. Educating citizens requires engagement with real-world challenges and hard topics—topics that often inspire passionate responses. University leadership must provide guardrails that encourage free and open expression while also ensuring a secure environment, and that is what I am seeking to do. These immediate actions are only the first step. I am also committed to lasting change and laying the foundation for a Penn that leads on these issues. On November 1, 2023, I announced Penn’s Action Plan to Combat Antisemitism, which builds on our anti-hate efforts to date and is anchored in the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. Developed in collaboration with faculty, staff, students, campus leaders, alumni, and national organizations like the American Jewish Committee, our Action Plan centers on three key areas: (1) Safety and Security, (2) Engagement, and (3) Education. In each of these areas, we announced both immediate and medium-term actions. As part of that Action Plan, I have convened and charged an Antisemitism Task Force, with membership across Penn’s schools and communities, to identify concrete, actionable recommendations. I have directed the Task Force to provide me with their recommendations in real time and to deliver their final report by this spring. We are making certain that all our educational efforts aimed at addressing bigotry include antisemitism and other forms of hate. To ensure our Jewish students have a direct channel to share their experiences with me, I have invited and received over 80 applications for membership to a new Student Advisory Group on the Jewish Student Experience. I also sent a delegation of university leaders to attend the Brandeis Leadership Symposium on Antisemitism in Higher Education. They have reported back to me and are already contributing best practices and lessons learned toward our efforts. As these efforts progress, I know we will have more to report.

Who made those remarks?  Liz Magill.  In fact, they were her opening remarks for the record.  

You'd never know it because those who should have defended her were instead rushing to condemn her.  Bob Casey Junior wasn't at the hearing but he didn't care to be or to review the hearing before commenting.  He ran with one snippet of the hearing that GOP members worked with FOX "NEWS" to promote.  

Her full testimony in the hearing was distorted and even the college paper distorted it.

John Fetterman participated as well.  He's the emotionally unbalanced senator that lied to the country about his health so that he could get elected to the Senate and then, after being sworn in, was unable to serve for months (plural).  He's always try to play the Big Man -- a sure indication that he's not packing much (including any real courage).  So he joined in with Casey Junior and others to attack the women.  He's so stupid that it might go to his emotional problems.  We question the comprehension of an adult who Tweets this:





There is no proof that women and girls were raped by Hamas on October 7th.  That is a claim which cannot be backed up.  As for Goldie?  It's not just a "Jewish restaurant" and is Fetterman a liar or does he need to return to the facility for additional mental health?  

And before anyone whines that we're mocking his illness, we're not mocking it, we're pointing it out.  And we argue that he shouldn't be in the Senate because of it -- it goes to fitness and competency.

In fairness to him, he's not the only one confused about Goldie.  

They lied about Liz's testimony and, before that, they lied about Goldie.  As Barbra Streisand sings in YENTYL, "Look at this/ The way one lie begets another."  Indeed.

At WORKERS WORLD, Betsey Piette took on the many lies about Goldie's including that CNN and FOX NEWS skipped off into The Land of Falsehood to lie in unison.  Michael Solomonov is the co-owner, the chef and "a prominent campaigner for the Biden presidency" which really means that Joe Biden shouldn't have spoken publicly on this because it looks like he's doing favors, at best, but when his remarks are lies, it looks like he's lying for a friend -- a friend who is Israeli, please note, not a US citizen which does make us wonder about Solomonvo's help with Biden's 2020 presidentcial campaign. Joe called the protesters, who included Jewish-Americans, "antisemitic." The corporate media insisted that this "mob" had "surrounded the restaurant" even those Piette notes the reality that that's "impossible to do given that Goldie is in a storefront, not a stand-alone building."  But when did facts ever matter to cable "news" or, for that matter, slimy politicians?

Piette writes:

One of the planned protest stops was at Goldie, described as “an Israeli-style falafel shop” co-owned by Israeli-born, celebrity chef Michael Solomonov, and part of a larger restaurant group CookNSolo. Solomonov was appointed by the Israeli government as a “culinary ambassador” for Israel. According to The Grayzone (Dec. 7) Solomonov “appears in Department of Justice Foreign Agent Registration Act documents as an official propagandist for the country’s Ministry of Tourism.”

Solomonov is also well known to Biden, having been, as Grayzone notes: “a prominent campaigner for the Biden presidency.

CookNSolo restaurants became targets of boycotts after Solomonov donated 100% of the Oct.12 sales from several of his restaurants, amounting to $100,000, to Friends of United Hatzalah, a nonprofit emergency medical service partnering with the Israeli Defense Forces. Solomonov’s restaurants are being targeted because he is raising funds to aid IDF soldiers who are killing Palestinians.

Second, Fetterman, "Jewish restaurant"?  You mean, of course, the cultural appropriation of the Palestinian falafel by the Jewish chef, right?  Because the falafel in Israel (and in the Philadelphia eatery) is a cultural appropriation.  They can lie and pretend otherwise, but the world knows it -- hell, even WIKIPEDIA knows it.

Touchy little tykes, aren't they?  When someone criticizes them or tries to hold them accountable, they whine antisemitism.  They sound a lot like the idiots in the GOP whining about SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's skit over the weekend.

Did you miss that?  Because the same group of liars are half-truthing and inventing all over again.

Barbra Streisand -- and Alan and Marilyn Bergman -- knew what they were talking about with "No Wonder" in YENTL.

So SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE' cold open was of the hearing and that cold opening didn't get reposted at THE COMMON ILLS.  Other SNL content has and, stuff from the weekend before went up an hour after.  But that skit didn't get posted.  It was the exchange that got transcribed but not reported -- reporting requires context -- and we felt sorry for Liz who's already been lied about repeatedly by the press.  

By the same token, we didn't produce any strong critique of SNL.  It's a comedy show.  It's a comedy show that needs a new duo behind the news desk on WEEKEND UPDATE (five years is more than enough for any team -- when you go beyond that, they're aged out of the show's intended audience).  And, in the scheme of things, it wasn't all that important.  We have lives and things to focus on.  

As the country knows, GOP members of Congress and their allies in the press do not have lives -- certainly not productive ones -- and live to whine and stir things up.  They've already got FOX NEWS and THE NEW YORK POST minions trying to stir s**t up.  

Grasp what this really is as 'Doctor' Sara Yael Hirschhorn sticks her ugly nose into it -- FCC needs to investigate, she insists.  What is this really? An attempt to allow anyone to stray from the government narrative.  Free speech no longer exists for those in the US who see themselves as agents (paid and otherwise) of the Israeli government.

We're getting to the point where SNL's comedy requires an FCC investigation -- according to a piece of trash tool for the government of Israel.

This is the United States, hag, we don't respect anything.  We slaughter sacred cows.  We make fun of everything.  Take your calls for an investigation to the country you love because it sure as hell isn't the United States where we do have freedom of speech -- even if various Democratic senators aren't willing to fight for it.

Why are they lying about college presidents and calling for the FCC to investigate the variety show SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE? 

Because they're trying to distract you.  As Amy Goodman noted this morning on DEMOCRACY NOW!, "United Nations Palestinian aid agency UNRWA is warning society in Gaza is, quote, 'on the brink of full-blown collapse' as Israel continues its devastating assault that’s killed 18,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including over 7,000 children."

That's what they're scared of and that's what they're trying to distract from.




Books (Ty, Ava and C.I.)



As we did in 2021, we're attempting to again increase book coverage in the community. After a review posts, we try to do a discussion with the reviewer.  This go round, we're talking to Ty about his "Leslie Jordan's sweet and charming biography (Ty)"  So you enjoyed Leslie Jordan's book?

Ty: I really did.  HOW Y'ALL DOING? MISADVENTURES AND MISCHIEF FROM A LIFE WELL LIVED is a good read and a charming book.

It's not really an autobiography.

Ty: No, it's more of a reflection.  He's reflecting on his life and zooming in on certain areas.  I really thought it was a great book.  


What was your favorite story shared in the book?


Ty: He, Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner are working on a play and go on THE VIEW to promote it.  Leslie is so nervous he ends up talking and talking and talking and then their spot on THE VIEW is over and he realizes he talked the whole way through and Lily Tomlin didn't even get a word in.  It was funny, what happened and the way he tells it and how Lily jokes about it after.


What was your favorite character of all the ones Leslie Jordan played?


Ty: Clearly Beverly Leslie on WILL & GRACE.  He and Megan Mullally were a great comedy team.  And Beverly and his "business associate Benji" were always funny.  I miss him.




Previous book discussions:

 "Books (Trina, Ava and C.I.),"Books (Stan, Ava and C.I.),"  "Books (Ty, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Elaine, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Ava and C.I.),"  "Books (Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Isaiah, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Ann, Mike, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Mike, Ava and C.I.),"  "Books (Ann, Elaine, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ann and C.I.)," "Books (Ruth, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Mike, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Ann, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)" and "Books (Ava and C.I.)."


Leslie Jordan's sweet and charming biography (Ty)


He could get laughs where they shouldn't have been.  He was very talented and, sadly, he died in October of 2022.  The year before, his book HOW Y'ALL DOING? MISADVENTURES AND MISCHIEF FROM A LIFE WELL LIVED was published.  KINDLE UNLIMITED subscribers and read it for free at AMAZON.

It's a warm book, like a conversation with him probably would have been.

He writes about meeting Dolly Parton and how, when people would ask him what she was like, he would explain that she's exactly like you think she would be.  And that's how Leslie comes off in his book, exactly like you'd think he'd be.

He details what it was like growing up as a gay child born in the 50s in the south.  Early on, he wanted a wedding doll for Christmas.  His father was convinced he'd forget about it.  Then Christmas is hours away and he's excited about Santa bringing that doll.  His mother asks his father what they're going to tell him?  His father darts out and buys a doll for his son.

He writes about accepting himself and about how Carrie Fisher did him a favor that helped him when his mother was upset because a tabloid had published some photos of him in drag.  It was for a character he was playing and what bothered Leslie was that he thought he looked ugly in the photos.  But his mother was bothered by the photos himself.  Carrie got his mother Debbie Reynolds to call Leslie's mother and she talked to her about acting and various photos of Carrie and stories about Carrie.  It made a big difference in how his mother saw his career. 

He shares stories about working with Emma Stone and Octavia Spencer on THE HELP.  He talks about how Vicki Lawrence was one of his heroes growing up and how it was great to work with her on THE COOL KIDS.  He shares about working with Jessica Lange and Lily Tomlin.  

It's a warm and funny book and a pleasure to read.


Ryan O'Neal (Dona)


December 8th, Ryan O'Neal passed away at the age of 82.  


The last time I saw him playing a character was on BONES where he played Emily Deschanel's father Max for 24 episodes.  He got famous on TV, in the sixties, before I was born.  The boxer turned actor started working professionally in 1960 and then, in 1964, was cast as Rodney on the night time soap opera PEYTON PLACE where he and Barbara Parkins had real chemistry which led Rodney and Betty to come back together over and over regardless of any other characters or any events.  

In 1969, he made his first feature film, THE BIG BOUNCE, which featured his PEYTON PLACE co-stars Lee Grant and Leigh Taylor-Young.  He would marry Leigh Taylor-Young -- his second wife.  He would be involved with many other women over the years including Diana Ross and Joan Collins.  His most well known relationship was with actress Farrah Fawcett with whom he had a son.  They were together from the end of the seventies to the end of the nineties before getting back together in 2001 and staying together until her 2009 death.  

His third film was LOVE STORY (1970) and it was a huge hit.  He was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.  I saw the film in fourth grade.  It was the first time I remember seeing a man's butt -- naked butt.  And I had a huge crush on Ryan.  I couldn't believe that our teacher had shown the movie.  It's a tear jerker and it's a good movie but I think she was of the opinion that since it was an old film it was a safe one to show.

Ryan's a "preppie" -- as Ali MacGraw dubs him.  She's working on campus to pay her way through college and Ryan's rich kid.  They fall in love.  They marry and try to make a life together but she has a disease -- one of those movie diseases that has no name and whose chief symptom is that your mark up gets thicker and better as do your hair styles.  "Love means never having to say you're sorry," she tells him.  

Eric Andersson and Liz  McNeil (PEOPLE) report:


"Working with Ryan, all those years ago, was one of the great experiences of my film career, and we remained friends ever after. He was a skilled actor, charming and funny too," said MacGraw, 84 — who played O’Neal’s girlfriend and wife in the 1970 classic romantic film written by Erich Segal —  in a statement shared with PEOPLE this weekend.

She continued, "I know that a huge part of my success was due to his generosity as my co-star. It has been devastating to know just how ill Ryan has been for many years now, and I was not surprised to learn that he had passed away yesterday morning."

MacGraw added that her "heart" went out O'Neal's children and loved ones, before she reflected on her more recent experiences with the late actor.

LOVE STORY was a huge hit film spending 15 weeks at number one at the box office in North America.  It made Ryan a star (GOODBYE COLUMBUS had already made Ali a star the year before. 

As a star, Ryan would go on to make many films.  He'd star in Stanley Kubrick's BARRY LYNDON, Richard Attenborough's A BRIDGE TOO FAR and Walter Hill's THE DRIVER.  But it was in comedy that he'd really make his mark.  Peter Bogdanovich directed him in the hits WHAT'S UP DOC? (with Barbra Streisand) and PAPER MOON (with his daughter Tatum O'Neal) and in NICKELODEON; he'd reteam with Barbra Streisand for THE MAIN EVENT; he and Jack Warden provided laughs in SO FINE, Jim Burrows' PARTNERS (due for a reassessment); Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer's IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES; he teamed with Cybill Shepherd and Robert Downing Jr. for CHANCES ARE; and Paul Mazursky's FAITHFUL playing Cher's husband.  Those are the roles that he sparkled in. 

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