Friday, December 27, 2019

2 comics

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Bodyguard II"

the bodyguard ii

Kevin Costner wants to carry Tiny Pete across the finish line.  I'm so tired of the incestual relationship between Hollywood and politics.  Do any of us really need Kevin Costner's political opinion?

I don't even need his tired movies.  NO WAY OUT -- where he was an actor for hire -- was a smart thriller.  He was largely a blank throughout the film (which made the surprise ending work) and the bulk of the film was carried by Gene Hackman and Sean Young.  THE UNTOUCHABLES was a success because it's a Brian de Palma film.  When people quote from the film, they quote Sean Connery.  Kevin Bacon would have been just as effective playing the Kevin Costner role.

Sissy Spacek?  Jessica Lange?  They have used their fame to champion real issues (including the hardships of the American farmer) so I am more than willing to listen to them.  But what issue has Kevin Costner ever led on?  None.

On the topic of film, Isaiah also did  "Grand Dragon Greta and Her Little White Women"

grand dragon greta and little white women

No, another LITTLE WOMEN film was not needed.  There are plenty of classics written by women -- of all races and ethnicities -- that should be explored instead.

Meanwhile . . .

If Monica had testified, we now know she would have testified about Bill getting her to lie.  That would have changed everything.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, December 27, 2019.  Iraq's president offers to resign, COMMON DREAMS doesn't know the law and should really stop doing damage, the myth of Joe Biden Winner cannot be kept afloat as Iowa approaches, and much more.

In Iraq, the protests continue.  Why?  For a better way of life, a government that represents you, not one that rips you off.  Dirk Adriaensens explains at GLOBAL RESEARCH:

Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the Arab world, according to Transparency International reports. The country occupies the 168th of the 180 countries in the corruption index. Deep-rooted corruption in Iraq is one of the factors that has been hampering reconstruction efforts for more than a decade. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has “lost” $ 500 billion during his term of office (2006-2014), according to the Iraqi Integrity Committee (CPI). “Nearly half of the government’s revenues during the eight-year period were “stolen” or “disappeared”, said Adil Nouri, spokesperson for the CPl in October 2015. He called this “the biggest political corruption scandal in the history”. Iraq’s oil revenues amounted to 800 billion dollars between 2006 and 2014, and the Maliki government also received support of 250 billion dollars from various countries, including the US, during that period.
The World Bank ranks Iraq as one of the worst-governed states in the world, and the Iraqi government remains one of the most corrupt regimes in the world. The Iraqi government has so far made little effort to restoring the destroyed cities of its largely Sunni population after the fight against ISIS. It has done little to establish any form of ethnic or sectarian conciliation, and far too much of  the ‘oil wealth’ is consumed by its politicians, officials and a government sector that is one of the best paid and least productive in developing countries.
Corruption, waste of government resources and the purchase of military equipment have increased Iraq’s budget deficit from $ 16.7 billion in 2013, $ 20 billion in 2016 to $ 23 billion for fiscal year 2019. MiddleEastMonitor quoted the head of the parliamentary finance committee Haitham Al-Jubouri on 18 December: “Iraq’s foreign debt amounted to more than $50 billion. More than $20 billion was paid back over the last period”. According to the official, Iraq still owes $27 billion to foreign countries, in addition to $41 billion to Saudi Arabia given as a grant to the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraqi lawmaker Majida Al-Tamimi confirmed that Iraq borrowed $1.2 billion in 2005 and $1.4 billion in 2006 from the World Bank and external parties to support investment and bridge the budget deficit. Also the IMF came to the rescue with billion dollar loans that make the country even more dependent on the US and other foreign creditors. It’s not surprising that 78% of the Iraqi people consider the Iraqi economy as “bad” or “very bad”, according to IIACSS polling firm.
The constitution allows Iraqis to have two nationalities, but stipulates that the person appointed to a higher or security position must renounce the other nationality (Article 18, 4). However, no Iraqi official has complied with this Regulation.
Many senior Iraqi officials have dual nationality, including Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (France), former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and former Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (UK) and Parliament President Saleem al-Jibouri (Qatar). Of the 66 Iraqi ambassadors, 32 have dual nationality, as well as an estimated 70 to 100 MPs.
Then there are the ministers in the current Iraqi government with a Western background: Mohamed Ali Al hakim – Minister of Foreign Affairs (UK and US), Fuad Hussein – Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister (the Netherlands and France), Thamir Ghadhban – Minister of Oil and Deputy Prime Minister (UK).
Many officials accused of corruption by the Iraqi authorities have fled the country to escape persecution thanks to their foreign passport, including former ministers Abdul Falah al-Sudani (trade), Hazim Shaalan (national defense) and Ayham al-Samarrai (electricity).
Najah al-Shammari serves as the current defense minister from 2019 onwards in the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi. He is a Swedish citizen who is part of the Mahdi cabinet. The minister is under investigation for benefit fraud for claiming housing and child benefits from Sweden, according to the online news site Nyheter Idag and the Swedish newspaper Expressen. He is charged with “crimes against humanity” in Sweden.
President Barham Salih is a British citizen. A complaint was made against him by “Defending Christian Arabs”, who asked the Advocate General in Scotland to open an investigation against him for “crimes against humanity by giving permission or being complicit in the widespread attack on civilian demonstrations in Iraq that resulted in mass killings, injuries, illegal arrests and kidnapping of people. ”
Civil servants are known to demand bribes up to tens of thousands of dollars to give government contracts or even only to put a signature on a public document; also to arrange a lucrative function for a friend or family member. “Political parties are refusing to leave the cabinet because they will no longer be able to grab hold of the treasury”, a senior member of the ruling coalition told AFP.
Many appointments in the Cabinet, Directors General in Ministries and embassy staff are family members of Moqtada Sadr and Hadi Al-Ameri, the head of the Badr organization, the military wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the two largest parties in the Iraqi Parliament.

Amid the expected rescheduling of the cabinet, positions are already ‘bought’, according to a senior Iraqi official. “A political party is assigned a certain ministry and then sells that ministerial position to the highest bidder”. He described a transaction worth $ 20 million. It is a well-known script: the candidate pays the party for the position and then tries to appropriate as much public money as possible, with which the debt can be paid off. The system is so deeply rooted, observers say, that there is little that Abdel Mahdi can do to stop it.

Dirk's "Iraq: The October Revolution of 2019 and the Iran-US Conflict" is the best long-form report on Iraq.  In fact, it's the best report on journalism regardless.

Last night on THE NEWSHOUR (PBS), the protests were addressed.  Excerpt:

  • Lisa Desjardins:
    A lot of faces in that story just now.
    And, obviously, this is the third time in a month that Iraq has been unable to name a prime minister. Why is this so difficult and how far out of the norm is this?
  • Abbas Kadhim:
    Indeed, there are so many candidates, and all of them come from the same pool that is rejected by the protesters.
    The protesters are not protesting against a government or a party or a bloc. They are protesting against the entire political elite that has been in charge of Iraq since 2003 until now.
    The problems that have been accumulating in Iraq are the accumulation of 15, 16 years of failures. And people are fed up with everyone who was involved. So they are asking for faces that have not been involved in any stage of the past 15 years, and people whose hands have been — have not been polluted by Iraqi money or blood or dignity of the Iraqi people.
    And that's why it is very hard to convince the parties to bring an outsider.
  • Lisa Desjardins:
    And that leads to another question too.
    The protesters, much like Iraq's population itself, are generally young.
  • Abbas Kadhim:
    That's right.
  • Lisa Desjardins:
    You know, 60 percent, I think, of Iraq is 24 years old or younger.
    They clearly, as you say, don't — know what they do not want. But do these protesters know what they do want? Is there anything that will be acceptable to them?
  • Abbas Kadhim:
    That is the problem.
    So far, they have been only practicing their veto power. The parties are presenting names or the media and others who are floating out names, and they're saying, no, we don't want this person.
    Because the protesters do not have an organizing committee or a central nerve that will coordinate every activity they have, they are dispersed all over the south and Central Iraq. So it is very hard to speak to any group, or it is very hard also to find a — again, a spokesperson or a spokes — an entity that will speak on their behalf.
    And it is very hard to see them presenting what they want. And it is easier to see that they will wait for the political elite to present the name or the process to bring up a name, and then the action is normally automatic, no, we don't want this one, even though, in the last couple of days, we have seen some kind of signs that they might be entertaining some of the names that are — been floating around, like Faig Al-Sheikh Ali maybe, who is an M.P. and…
  • Lisa Desjardins:
    A member of Parliament.
  • Abbas Kadhim:
    A member of Parliament. And he is a secular member of Parliament.
    And that is somehow in his favor, because most of the parties that are blamed are the Islamist parties or the traditional parties. He is kind of a new slant of a politician.
  • Lisa Desjardins:
    Do the average Iraqi agree with the protesters?
  • Abbas Kadhim:
    Do they…
  • Lisa Desjardins:
    The average Iraqi, do they side with the protesters? Is this sort of a general sentiment?

  • Abbas Kadhim:
    The protesters are speaking on behalf of all Iraqis.

  • When they spoke, the big topic was how to replace a prime minister.

    But that's not the only replacement issue right now.  DEUTSCHE WELLE reports:

    Iraq's president offered to resign on Thursday after he refused to designate the prime minister candidate put forward by a pro-Iran coalition.
    Barham Salih's announcement plunges the country deeper into political crisis and uncertainty amid three months of anti-government protests.

    In a letter to parliament, he said that in order "to avoid more bloodshed and maintain peace" he refused to nominate Asaad al-Eidani to the premiership.

    Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) adds:

      Salih said he was prepared to submit his resignation to Parliament, as his refusal to designate al-Eidani could be construed as a violation of the constitution. He stopped short of actually stepping down, however, saying in a statement addressed to the Parliament speaker that he would leave it up to lawmakers to decide “as they see fit.” Shortly after issuing the statement, the president left Baghdad for his hometown in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah.
    Under the constitution, parliament has seven days to accept or reject a president's resignation before it automatically goes into effect. It was unclear how lawmakers would react, as Salih did not officially resign.
    Signaling a hardline stance, the Fatah bloc slammed Salih's decision to not name al-Eidani and called for his impeachment. “We call on parliament to take legal measures against the president for shirking his constitutional oath and breaching the constitution,” it said in a statement.

    In Baghdad's Tahrir Square, which has emerged as a focal point of their demonstrations, protesters gathered to celebrate the president's decision.

    ALJAZEERA notes, "Reporting from Baghdad, Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari said Salih's statement could be seen as an attempt by the president to pressure other groups within Parliament to try to come up with an alternative candidate to al-Eidani."  On BLOOMBERG TV yesterday, David Westin spoke about the possible resignation with Douglas Ollivant as well as the protests.

    Ollivant notes the attacks on the protesters and points out, "Last time I checked, the death count is approaching 500 officially and it's probably higher than that."

    While Iraqis fight for a better future, Americans in the US show a lot of stupidity.  I don't know how to put that nicely.

    Jake Johnson winds down the year on a high note of stupidity as he plays high drama that Donald Trump Tweeted a link to the article that names the "whistle-blower."

    First off, he's a leaker, he's not a whistle-blower.  As a member of the CIA, he would only be a whistle-blower if he was blowing the whistle on the CIA.

    He is leaking.  That's what he's done since Donald Trump was elected.

    Secondly, he has no legal protection from the press which should be naming him.  This month alone, THE NEW YORK POST has named him (finally) as has JACOBIN in an article by economist Doug Henwood.

    Eric Ciaramella.

    That's the name.

    We've noted it here before.

    There is no legal protection of your anonymity when your statements lead to impeachment.  The American people have the right to determine everything -- this is a democracy, grow the F**K up -- and everything includes the accuser.  In addition, in the US, our legal system is built around the premise that there are no secret accusers.  You make an accusation in court -- or to the House -- you don't get to hide in the shadows.

    Your accusation is your claim and We The People have every right to judge that claim based on you and what we can determine about your character.

    We've been nice and we've highlighting COMMON DREAMS again and pretending that they didn't waste 8 f**king years while Barack was president.

    But they did.

    They didn't lead on issues, they didn't defend the American people, they instead ran interference for Barack Obama.  I'm not a whore and I'm not a slut.  If someone has the Secret Service, seems to me they have enough protection.  I don't have to baby them, I don't have to coddle them.

    We spent those eight years telling the truth about the Iraq War.  COMMON DREAMS the same eight years ignoring the Iraq War.

    So if Jake Johnson wants to offer that bulls**t, we can walk away from that website with no problems at all.  It's not like it's doing groundbreaking work.  I've just been tossing them a line.  I don't have to do that.

    And, point of fact, I won't do that if they're pushing bulls**t like this to begin with.

    Eric Ciaramella.  Jake Johnson and COMMON DREAMS, there are two choices here: Grow up or shut the f**k up.  This is a democracy and you're not helping anyone at present with your bulls**t pretense that naming a leaker is against the law.

    We should all have the facts on him and we should able to determine his character based upon those facts.

    His attacking Trump -- and that's what gossip Eric supplied was -- does not make that s**thole a friend of the left and shame on anyone who tries to pretend otherwise.

    Grow the hell up or just sit out the election because you're not playing by the rules of democracy, you're playing by the rules of the deep state.

    And on that note, Michael Winship stop sending your crap to the public account of this site.  I haven't highlighted you in years.  You're a cheap whore.

    Now you could have redeemed yourself.  How?  You could have written about the deep state.  Remember when Bill Moyers -- your boss -- had a program on PBS?  Bill often addressed the deep state and that goes all the way back to the eighties.

    Just because Donald invokes it today does not mean we should look away or give it a pass.

    Bill Moyers is a homophobic bigot -- he even put that homophobia on the airwaves in 2008 -- we called him out on it but it sailed over the heads of many.  Just like his past in LBJ's administration where Bill couldn't keep his nose out of other men's beds and constantly told LBJ to drop this person or that person because the man was gay.

    That's all Bill is now, a homophobic bigot.  And he's only that because he's turned away from the one legitimate contribution he made to a discussion -- his research and work on the deep state.  By failing to enter into the current conversation, he demonstrates yet again that he has never been a journalist, he has only been a partisan in front of microphone.

    We don't have time for this crap.  We have real issues in the world.  And we can walk away from garbage like promoting anti-Muslim, anti-woman Michael Moore which COMMON DREAMS is also doing today.  This is garbage.  There are real life issues to cover.  I am appalled by what passes for the left in this country right now.

    In the real world, many things might trip up War Hawk Joe Biden as he attempts to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Eliza Relman and Walt Hickey (BUSINESS INSIDER) report on one hurdle:

    Former Vice President Joe Biden is struggling with Latino voters, according to recent Insider polling
    Satisfaction with Biden among Latinos who say they'll vote in their state's Democratic primary is about 40% — 15% below his support among white voters, 14% below his support among Asian voters, and a whopping 26% short of his support among black voters. 

    The top two candidates running to Biden's left — Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — both perform significantly better among Latinos. While Sanders' approval is at 57%, Warren's approval is at 54%.

    While reality crashes into Joe's heavily botoxed face, Bernie Sanders is doing better and better.  Holly Otterbein and David Siders (POLITICO) report:

    Suddenly, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is being taken seriously.

    For months, the Vermont senator was written off by Democratic Party insiders as a candidate with a committed but narrow base who was too far left to win the primary. Elizabeth Warren had skyrocketed in the polls and seemed to be leaving him behind in the race to be progressive voters’ standard-bearer in 2020.
    But in the past few weeks, something has changed. In private conversations and on social media, Democratic officials, political operatives and pundits are reconsidering Sanders’ chances.

    They have to reconsider him because they can't afford more egg on their face.  They are distrusted, the corporate press, and they are distrusted for a reason.  It's a point even Jake Johnson can't wrap his shrinking mind around.


    In a matter of weeks, the American people will see who Iowa really backs.

    Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders should do well there -- despite the repeated press attacks.  Now how is that going to look for CNN, MSNBC and assorted others who have insisted that they are non-candidates with not enough support to win?

    Bernie especially freaks them out regarding Iowa.  I guess Jake Johnson just knows how to repeat what he reads at other periodicals?  I talk to the corporate press, I have friends there.  I have friends in the campaigns of every Democrat that made the debate stage earlier this month.

    Bernie has everyone in a panic.  The great lie, the noble lie, call it what you want, stands a good chance of being exposed.


    Bernie stands a good chance of winning Iowa.

    Iowa is not a primary.  It is a caucus.

    It's about endurance and it's about support and Bernie has both.

    He also has knowledge.  He's done Iowa before.  In 2016.  He got 49.6% to Hillary's 49.9%.

    Joe's done Iowa before as well.  In 2008, he got 0.9%.  You read that correctly.  The candidate that the corporate press has pimped so hard for, lied so much for, shielded repeatedly?

    He's going into Iowa with a record of getting less than 1% the last time he tried to compete there.

    By the way, that year Barack got 37% -- again, in 2016, Bernie got 49.6%.

    These are facts and they worry the hell out of the corporate media right now because how do they build trust if Bernie wins Iowa?

    What you're seeing is the press finally trying to do their job -- but because they have to.  If Iowa was two months out, they'd still be lying about Bernie and insisting Joe was a sure thing.

    Liza Featherstone has an interesting article at JACOBIN where she examines donations by academics:

    Some intellectuals’ political contributions are even weirder. Martha Nussbaum is a giant in the field of ethical philosophy who has written that mainstream feminists should think more globally and be more centered on the problems faced by women in poor countries. She’s a liberal who has sometimes been critical of the Marxist tradition.
    So, Liz Warren, right? Wrong! Nussbaum has given thousands of dollars to John Hickenlooper — both his gubernatorial races and his brief 2020 primary bid. In the face of such news, so many questions go through one’s mind. The main one is probably, “Who is John Hickenlooper again?” Hickenlooper is the pro-fracking former Governor of Colorado who describes himself as a “fiscal conservative.”
    What’s equally striking, however, is that some intellectuals’ political contributions are absolutely consistent with the ideas in their writings. Noam Chomsky has written checks to only a handful of political candidates: Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader, most prominently. Marxist feminist Nancy Fraser has been donating to Bernie. Adolph Reed, Jr. gives so often to Bernie that it’s practically a tithe. Reed has given to other left candidates like Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, progressives like Paul Wellstone, and liberal Democrats like Jan Schakowsky and Alan Grayson, all of which is completely consistent with his lifelong body of writing arguing that the left should support strong social democratic organizing and also work with the Democratic Party when necessary.

    It’s vulgar to say this, but it’s may be true that we learn less about the materialist politics of academic writing by reading it — and some of it can be famously obscure; Butler was the winner of a Bad Writing contest in 1998 — than by looking up the author in the Federal Elections Commission records.

    Also looking at the money?  Patrick Martin (WSWS) who examines the self-funded runs of two 1%ers:

    The two billionaire candidates seeking the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party have already spent more than $200 million, accorded to figures reported by Politico this week, at least three times the combined spending of all other Democratic candidates.
    Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is the ninth richest person in the United States, with a $58 billion fortune derived from his media and information technology empire. Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund operator, is reportedly worth about $2 billion.
    Steyer has spent $83 million on advertising since he entered the race in July. Bloomberg has easily surpassed that total, pumping more than $120 million into media buys since he announced his candidacy last month.
    The two candidates are pursuing opposite tactics in their vote-buying. Steyer has run a conventional campaign targeting the four early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. All four hold caucuses or primaries in February.
    Bloomberg is skipping the four early states and focusing instead on the two-thirds of Democratic convention delegates who will be selected between March 3 and March 17. Given the scale of the voting, television and internet advertising will be the principal means of reaching voters. Bloomberg has already spent $13 million per state on advertising in California, Texas and Florida, the three biggest states among the March contests.

    Nearly a year before the 2020 election, Bloomberg is advertising at a saturation level.

    We may (again) address Tom Steyer's commercials at THIRD (Ava and I may).  In the meantime, Dave Lindorff (COUNTERPUNCH) zooms in on Michael Bloomberg:

    Michael Bloomberg, America’s 8th richest billionaire according to the latest annual survey by Forbes Magazine, owns one of this country’s biggest media empires, and is personally currently worth $56.1 billion. That makes him an oligarch, exactly like those oligarchs that the US media and US politicians love to accuse of polluting Russia’s political system.
    Yet American oligarch Bloomberg is seeking to be the Democratic candidate for president. He wants to be president so bad that before even making a single campaign appearance, he has already spent an astonishing $120 million of his own money on a nationwide TV ad campaign. That’s more than any other candidate for the nomination has spent in the first ten months of the campaign season and half the total spent by all the rest of the candidates who have been competing for the nomination. According to a Newsweek report, if Bloomberg continues at this burn rate he could end up blowing an astonishing $6.5 billion on his campaign before he’s through! Of course that’s peanuts to a guy for whom such a figure represents just 11.9% of his total wealth (which is always growing, sometimes by that much in a year).
    This report on RT-TV (in which yours truly offers my own comments toward the end), torches Bloomberg’s scandalous and hypocritical use of forced convict labor by women incarcerated in two prisons in Oklahoma.
    The story of the Bloomberg campaign’s unconscionabld use of prison labor in which prisoners earn less than $1.75/hour and possibly as little as $20/month for making campaign calls to potential California voters was initially exposed by the Intercept.

    Bloomberg’s ad campaign for the nomination is all about how he wants people to be able to earn a living wage on their jobs. His sorry excuse after being caught, is that he simply “didn’t know” his campaign had hired a call center firm that was employing forced prison labor doubly pathetic. This from a guy who hasn’t gotten his hands or fingernails dirty with the details of running a business for most of his adult life, preferring to pay other people to do everything for him. It’s the same way he approached “reforming” the New York City school system, and why he failed so abysmally at that, dumping his first schools chancellor after three months under intense criticism that she (like Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos) had no experience in education, and replacing her with a chancellor who then joined him in promoting charter schools.

    Bernie's campaign co-chair Queen Nina Turner dragged Sleepy Joe Biden and racist Mayo Pete Buttigieg on show. We love to see it! "We're not like other candidates who have a flat out disdain and disregard for the black community - HELLO somebody."


    Tiny Pete is also seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Max Blumenthal (CONSORTIUM NEWS) reveals the reality of Tiny Pete:

    In his quest for front-runner status in the 2020 presidential campaign, Pete Buttigieg has crafted an image for himself as a maverick running against a broken establishment.
    On the trail, he has invoked his distinction as the openly gay mayor of a de-industrialized Rust Belt town, as well as his experience as a Naval reserve intelligence officer who now claims to oppose “endless wars”.  He insists that “there’s energy for an outsider like me,” promoting himself as “an unconventional candidate.”
    When former Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed Joe Biden this December, Buttigieg went full maverick. “I have never been part of the Washington establishment,” he proclaimed, “and I recognize that there are relationships among senators who have been together on Capitol Hill as long as I’ve been alive and that is what it is.”
    But a testy exchange between the South Bend mayor and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard during a Nov. 20 Democratic primary debate had already complicated Buttigieg’s branding campaign.
    Like Buttigieg, Gabbard was a military veteran of the 9/11 generation. But she had taken an entirely different set of lessons from her grueling stint in Iraq than “Mayor Pete.” Her campaign had become an anti-war crusade, with opposition to destructive regime change wars serving as her leitmotif.
    After ticking off her foreign policy credentials, Gabbard turned to Buttigieg and lit into him for stating his willingness to send U.S. troops to Mexico to crack down on drug cartels.

    A visibly angry Buttigieg responded by accusing Gabbard of distorting his record, then quickly deflected to Syria, where he has argued for an indefinite deployment of occupying U.S. troops.
    n his quest for front-runner status in the 2020 presidential campaign, Pete Buttigieg has crafted an image for himself as a maverick running against a broken establishment.
    On the trail, he has invoked his distinction as the openly gay mayor of a de-industrialized Rust Belt town, as well as his experience as a Naval reserve intelligence officer who now claims to oppose “endless wars”.  He insists that “there’s energy for an outsider like me,” promoting himself as “an unconventional candidate.”
    When former Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed Joe Biden this December, Buttigieg went full maverick. “I have never been part of the Washington establishment,” he proclaimed, “and I recognize that there are relationships among senators who have been together on Capitol Hill as long as I’ve been alive and that is what it is.”
    But a testy exchange between the South Bend mayor and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard during a Nov. 20 Democratic primary debate had already complicated Buttigieg’s branding campaign.
    Like Buttigieg, Gabbard was a military veteran of the 9/11 generation. But she had taken an entirely different set of lessons from her grueling stint in Iraq than “Mayor Pete.” Her campaign had become an anti-war crusade, with opposition to destructive regime change wars serving as her leitmotif.
    After ticking off her foreign policy credentials, Gabbard turned to Buttigieg and lit into him for stating his willingness to send U.S. troops to Mexico to crack down on drug cartels.

    A visibly angry Buttigieg responded by accusing Gabbard of distorting his record, then quickly deflected to Syria, where he has argued for an indefinite deployment of occupying U.S. troops.

    Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Bodyguard II" and "Grand Dragon Greta and Her Little White Women" have gone up.   The following sites updated:

    Wednesday, December 25, 2019

    We can have better

    SCOOP: Bloomberg’s campaign was using prison labor to make campaign calls. They said they canceled the contract yesterday, when I asked them about it. My latest for

    That Michael Bloomberg, Joe Biden or Tiny Pete is a serious contender speaks to a very dangerous mood in this country -- the kind of despair that led to the election of our current president.

    Marianne Williamson has been correct all along, we will not correct course by being like Donald Trump. 

    The current president is like an opportunistic infection. His presidency couldn’t have happened had there not been a societally weakened immune system. Each citizen should think of ourselves as a cell in an immune system that needs to start functioning in a much more optimal way.

    We can have a better world but we're not going to get that from reactionary forces and that's what Michael, Joe and Tiny Pete represent.

    The star of Christmas is the idea that something new can be born even in a time of overwhelming darkness. If enough of us today consider that possibility, the world itself will have a chance to start over. Wishing peace and happiness to all the people on earth.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Tuesday, December 24, 2019.  Protests continue in Iraq, Joe Biden continues to be our modern day Ebaneezer Scrooge before the awakening, Elizabeth Warren makes the cover of ROLLING STONE, CNN lies about Bernie Sanders, and much more.

    Let's start with some basic reality for the US via Niles Niemuth (WSWS):

    This Christmas approximately 568,000 people, a population equivalent to the state of Wyoming, will mark the holiday in homeless shelters, tent encampments or in the rough, all across the United States.
    Some of the homeless will not make it to Christmas as the death toll continues to mount. In Los Angeles County, a focal point of the social crisis, one thousand of the estimated 44,000 unsheltered homeless population have died in both 2018 and 2019, nearly three lives per day, side by side with the glitter of Hollywood and the wealth and privilege of Beverly Hills.

    Here in the US, most of the year's press coverage has been consumed by the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Of the 'official' candidates, the year saw at least 29 -- it's now 15.  With 29 candidates, they must have really hit on the issue of homelessness, right?


    Seriously addressing the issue?  That would be US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard (I'm referring especially to her efforts to look into alternative housing in California, but she has focused on this issue in all states), Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker, Julian Castro and Marianne Williams.  Those are the only ones still in the race who have addressed it seriously.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has withdrawn from the race but she had serious proposals as well.  If that's surprising to you, you've not only ignored her campaign, you've also ignored her work as a US senator.

    Even with those people addressing it -- none of whom was seen by the press as a 'front runner' -- it was never a serious issue for the multitude of debates.  I guess when moderators with TV careers bring home seven figure paydays, they can't relate to being homeless.  (They might want to check with Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer on how quickly good fortune can turn ugly.)

    Maybe War Hawk Joe Biden doesn't worry about housing because no one he knows has a problem.  In fact, he probably wonders why they can't all do what his son Hunter did -- use their father's name in one unethical scheme after another to enrich himself.  THE NEW YORK POST notes:

    Recovering crack addict Hunter Biden owns a home in one of the swankiest neighborhoods in America, it was revealed Monday.
    The son of former Vice President Joe Biden shares a ZIP code in the Hollywood Hills with celebrities such as Ben Affleck, Christina Aguilera and Halle Berry, according to documents filed in Hunter’s Arkansas paternity case.

    The three-bedroom, three-bathroom mid-century home is valued at $2.5 million. It sits at the end of a private gated drive and includes a pool.

    Well it's good to know Hunter hasn't spent all of his money on hookers, drugs and dildos.

    It's Christmas time so let's stay with the topic of The Compassion of Joe Biden.  Eoin Higgins (COMMON DREAMS) explains:

    Dying healthcare activist Ady Barkan in an end-of-year video to his supporters Monday called out the one candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination who has refused to meet with him: Joe Biden. 
    "I got to sit down and talk about healthcare with every major presidential candidate," Barkan said. "Except for Joe Biden."
    Barkan, who is dying of ALS, or Lou Gherig's disease, met with Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination over the year and filmed the conversations.

    As Common Dreams reported in September, Barkan made an impassioned request of Biden to meet in the fall but the former vice president and his campaign have not as yet made time for such a vist. 
    "Look a dying man in the eyes and tell me how we fix this country," Barkan said at the time. 
    Monday's pointed barb at Biden was not missed on social media.

    "Joe Biden, are you kidding?" asked one Twitter user. "The clock is ticking and Ady should be one of those people to check on weekly."

    What a great guy that Joe Biden is.  Maybe he can laugh when Bully Boy Bush does his impersonation of Karla Faye Tucker asking for her life to be spared?  Joe loves him some Bully Boy Bush.  That's his kind of people.  And that's been rather obvious in recent months as Joe attacks voters and throws tantrums and refuses to admit that when he was Vice President it was unethical for his brother and for his son to profit off that public office.  Joe betrayed public trust.  Joe betrayed a lot more than that.

    I'm striking a passage I've dictated (striking before this posts) about a notorious cockhound in Hollywood who is backing Joe Biden, my whole thing about, "Of course, he'd back Joe."  I'm not going into the 'conversion' therapy with Mildred that, despite his claims, did not make him straight.  I'm not going into the very young men -- and maybe a boy or two -- that he's had sex with since Mildred 'fixed' him.  I'm being kind for now.  But maybe certain trash should remove themselves from the public square.  Especially when they are implicated in the death of a child star?

    Just saying . . .

    Back to Eion Higgins and COMMON DREAMS:

    After CNN on Monday reportedly twice displayed a six-week-old poll from Iowa showing Bernie Sanders in fourth-place among hopefuls for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to viewers, ignoring more recent polling showing the Vermont senator climbing to a strong second behind South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, progressives struck back. 
    CNN, which brands itself as "the most trusted name in news," used a CNN/Des Moines Register survey from mid-November showing Sanders in fourth place with 15% of Iowans backing his bid. Real Clear Politics shows the senator with support of 22% and 21%, second to Soouth Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, in more recent polling. 
    Sanders rival Julián Castro was among those who took to Twitter to decry the choice, saying that just because it was CNN's poll, that didn't justify presenting the old information to viewers in late December. 

    "Publish a timely poll instead," Castro added. "Journalistic integrity shouldn't be sacrificed for corporate interests."

    The media doesn't exist to inform.  It exists to lie for the establishment.

    I loathe Tom Cruise.  I do like Paula Wagner.  But the reason I stepped in on Tom was because the establishment -- including Redstone -- thought they were going to destroy him.  I'll defend anyone when that happens.  Tom survived and I'm happy for him.

    Marilyn Monroe really didn't.  These are both entertainment figures.  I'm using them because that's far less controversial.  That's what your press does.  It lies over and over.  At late as the 80s, Rose Kennedy was using her connections to Roone Arlidge to kill a 20/20 report on JFK's affair with Marilyn Monroe.  That affair was known in real time but most refused to cover it.

    Quit thinking you have a brave press.

    You don't.

    Currently, they pretend they're brave by going after Donald Trump.  They didn't do that with Bully Boy Bush or Barack Obama.  They're not brave.  They're not honest.  They're controlled attack dogs kept on short leashes until it's time to destroy.

    The media lies over and over.

    It always has.  It's not a flaw, it's a built-in feature.  It's why this country has so sorely needed Ida B. Wells, George Seldes, I.F. Stone, Margaret Kimberley and so many others who've dared to buck the system and pursue the truth.

    And they lie about Bernie day after day.  They lie and they think it's okay.  It goes to the fact that they're gutter trash who molest the truth daily.

    If they told the truth about Bernie, he'd be president.  That's the reality.  They grasp that so they smear him daily.  And then call what they do 'journalism.'

    Less than 100 to see . No enthusiasm for him but still the narrative Joe is most electable?

    Joe's most electable because the media has pimped that lie over and over.  They've also elevated Tiny Pete.

    "Vote like a Black woman."

    Remember that was going to be the rallying cry.

    But Tiny Pete doesn't really have the support of the African-American community.

    Oh, well, if the larger society couldn't use women of color and then discard them immediately after, they'd never note women of color to being with, right?

    In other news, Elizabeth Warren's made the cover of ROLLING STONE.

    elizabeth warren
    Elizabeth Warren photographed in Boston on November 24th, 2019, by Peggy Sirota.

    Inside the magazine, Tessa Stuart interviews her.  Excerpt:

    You were a Republican for much of your adult life. Does that give you an advantage to understand conservative voters, to be able to tailor your message—

    I would describe it not so much as tailoring as finding the part in the heart where we ultimately, as Americans, agree with each other. Much of the conversation that I now have publicly about corruption — how the rich guys are sucking up all the wealth and leaving everyone else behind — is a long-running conversation I’ve been having with my brothers for decades. They get it. My Democrat brother and my two Republican brothers understand that the rules for billionaires and corporate executives are not the same as the rules for their kids. And they don’t like it. And neither do I.

    Your family had financial trouble when you were a kid. Obviously, it’s shaped your political philosophy, but I’m curious how it impacted your personal relationship with money.

    I’ve always been afraid there won’t be enough money. Always. I’ve always saved. I’ve always watched the prices of everything. And I’ve always worried about the rest of my family, worried about making sure everyone is OK.

    Was your decision to go back to college after you dropped out to get married motivated by a need to feel financially self-sufficient?

    You’re right, it has that effect. But it was the other way round. I wanted to be a teacher. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since second grade. When I dropped out of school at 19 and got married, I thought I’d given that up. I knew that theoretically I could go back to school, but it would cost money. Finding a commuter college that cost $50 a semester was a door swinging open in a way that I had thought was impossible. So there I was, I could pay for it. And now that I could pay for it, I could be a teacher.

    Your dad was the breadwinner before he had a heart attack, and your mom had to go to work to provide for your family. You often describe your mom as encouraging you to get married rather than pursue your education, almost setting you up to end up in the same position she was in.

    I think she would have described it as “Be very careful about the man you marry.” That was the pathway to success, not “Go create a path for your own financial independence.” Now, it took a lot of courage for my mother at 50 to take on her first full-time job. But it was never something she was happy about. She didn’t say, “What a great and fulfilling opportunity that was!” She saw it as work born of necessity, because she had to take care of her family and she wanted me to be safe. And to her dying days she still believed that the best way for a woman to be safe was to be married to a man who earned good money.

    One of the things that I’m struck by is that, in just the past five years, you went from advocating for incremental changes — I’m thinking of the Buffett Rule, which would have lowered student-loan interest rates, versus the wealth tax, which would wipe out student debt altogether. Did you make a conscious decision to get bolder, or was it a function of the political climate?

    I’m actually going to argue with you on the premise of the question. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is big structural change. For a decade, a handful of consumer advocates and researchers had seen what was happening with deceptive mortgages, cheating credit-card companies, and really horrible payday loans. And every one of them had a little piece of the solution. “Let’s change this rule on mortgages. Let’s put in a new protection on credit cards. Let’s do something different about regulating payday loans.” My idea was to build an agency that would fundamentally change the relationship between the government, credit issuers, and tens of millions of customers. The government would act very much like the Consumer Safety Commission and say, in the same way that you can’t sell a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of burning down your house, no one gets to sell a mortgage that has a one-in-five chance of costing a family their home.

    Is it hard for you to see what’s happened to the CFPB under Trump?

    No. I mean, look, do I dislike his current director? Yes. Because she [Kathy Kraninger] has made clear she is on the side of the lenders, not the consumers. Mick Mulvaney did everything he could to try to hobble the consumer agency. But here’s the great thing about how that agency worked: When it’s got a good strong director, it’s nimble, and can move forward fast, and that’s exactly what it did in the first five years of its existence. And when it’s got someone who is trying to sabotage its work, it holds steady. It hasn’t gone backwards. The rules haven’t gotten easier. The agency still does its supervisional work, which is way out of the headlines. So I think, if anything, what Mulvaney has shown is you can try really hard to break that agency, but it hasn’t happened.

    The slate of plans you’ve proposed would be financed by a wealth tax — an idea that wasn’t in the mainstream before you proposed it. What was the moment that made you decide to target accumulated wealth, and what gave you the confidence Americans were ready for this idea?

    The truly wealthy in this country aren’t making their money through working and producing the kind of income that ordinarily gets taxed. Instead, they’ve built great fortunes that now have their own money managers and PR firms to protect those fortunes and make those fortunes grow, and, boy, are they growing — they are growing faster than incomes all around this country.

    But what was the moment for you, specifically, when you decided to take this on, when you decided this could catch on in America?

    I had a conversation with some tax specialists who showed me how much more money there was tied up in great fortunes than in annual incomes. In other words, they showed how much more money a two-cent wealth tax would raise, even though it’s only on the top one-tenth of one percent.

    A wealth tax is a tax on accumulated fortunes, not on [the income of] people that are going out and working every day. It’s time for us to look at those fortunes and think about the kind of country we want to be. Do we think it’s more important to keep [the people who own] those fortunes from paying two cents on the dollar or to have the money to invest in an entire generation?

    In Iraq, the protests continue.

    has never looked better than it does now with all those young and hopeful protestors outside. Grateful for the work that young change-makers like have done for so many years that helped create a more open-minded generation. Hopeful for 2020.

    THE NEW ARAB notes:

    Thousands of protesters blocked roads and bridges across southern Iraq on Monday, condemning Iranian influence and political leaders who missed another deadline to agree on a new prime minister.
    Anti-government demonstrators burned tyres in major cities across the south, forcing the closure of schools and government buildings, AFP correspondents reported as political paralysis deepened in Baghdad.
    Negotiations over a candidate to replace premier Adel Abdel Mahdi, who quit in November in the face of protests against corruption and unemployment, remained deadlocked as a midnight Sunday deadline expired.

    Al-Farahidi University`s students in come out with a massive rally, refusing to bargain with the blood of the victims.

    Photos from students protests in today

    New content at THIRD:

    The following sites updated: