Saturday, June 13, 2020

Women in the grunge genre and era

Please read Kat's "This is news?"  The unnamed woman is Kelly Clarkson.  I don't think Kat's going to be mad that I've revealed that.  I agree with Kat, the media's obsession with Kelly on Thursday was way too much.  Yes, her divorce is news because she is news.  But it should not have been, as it was for over eight houts, the biggest news story -- entertainment -- of the day.  As Kat says, it was a headline that should have fallen down the list quickly.

There were two e-mails asking if the woman Kat was writing about was Kelly (yes) and what was the one classic that Kat loved?  "Stronger" is a solid song and I'd argue a classic but the one Kat's referring ot, her favorite single of that year, in fact, is "Mr. Know It All."

On the e-mail topic, Louise e-mailed to ask if there were any women rocking during the grunge era?

Stevie Nicks was rocking, Tina Turner was rocking, the Heart sisters (Ann and Nancy Wilson) were rocking as Heart -- but they were also rocking as the Lovemongers -- a grunge group.  I believe that's the sort of thing that Louise is asking about -- women from that era that emerged with grunge?

If so . . .

You have to start with Tori Amos.  Kurt Cobain was the male musical genius of grunge and alternative rock, Tori was the female genius.  Tori was tied with Kurt for overall genius -- regardless of gender.  No male that emerged -- no matter how many back pats and jerk offs male critics gave them -- ever came close to Tori.  She established her genius with "Silent All These Years."  There are nothing but stand out tracks on that first album, one classic cut after another.  That said, I have to note "Pretty Good Year."

The second album is also a classic and I love "Cloud On My Tongue" and "God" and "The Waitress" and "Cornflake Girl" and . . .  The whole album.  But "Pretty Good Year"?  It's an especially amazing song.

2) Liz Phair.

"Never Said" was Liz's big song on TV and radio.  Mainly because the rest of EXILE ON GUYVILLE was harder to play due to language.  "Circle the cherry," "F**k and run," etc.  Liz laid it out there on that album.  She never came close to that moment again.  The albums that followed were weaker and less focused and had filler on them with one exception: LIZ PHAIR.  She was villified for this album -- too poppy! She sounds like she's trying to be Avril!  Looking back, Liz was right and the critics were wrong.  It's a solid album, it's one to be proud of.  Good for Liz.  Favorite song on GUYVILLE? 

For me, it's got to be "The Divorce Song."  I remember C.I. calling me and telling me about Liz and playing that song for me over the phone.

And it's true that I stole your lighter
And it's also true that I lost the map
But when you said that I wasn't worth talking to
I had to take your word on that
But if you'd known how that would sound to me
You would have taken it back

And boxed it up and buried it in the ground
Boxed it up and buried it in the ground
Boxed it up and buried it in the ground
Burned it up and thrown it away

3) Hole

"Asking For It" was a great song and from their second album (LIVE THROUGH THIS).  Courtney Love?  What do you say there?  The woman had talent.  Where did it go?

She apparently thought acting was the way to go.  I liked AMERICA'S SWEETHEART, her solo album.  I still probably listen to it three times a year.  She released it in 2004.  To date, it remains her only solo album. After 1994's LIVE THROUGH THIS, Hole only released two albums: CELEBRITY SKIN in 1998 (I like the album) and NOBODY'S DAUGHTER in 2010 (I have grown to like it, I didn't care for it when it was released).  That's it.  She should be rocking but she thought she was a film star.  Yes, she proved herself a better actress than Madonna -- but I think that statement could be made about most women -- even if they never acted in their lives.  She should find her way back to music.

4) The Breeders.

"Cannonball."  Yes, the band contains a man -- Jim Macpherson.  He's a great drummer.  Josephine Wiggs is a great bass player.  But the band's heart and soul is and always will be the Deal sisters -- twins Kim and Kelley Deal.  "Cannonball" is a gorgeous song.

That's also the problem for the Breeders.  They are a great concert act.  They have probably had at least two gorgeous tracks on each album.  But they never made a great album.  They made good albums.  But no great ones because they weren't focused, it was scattershot.  They're a band that's perfect for a BEST OF collection.  Some artists aren't album artists.  In terms of concerts and in terms of scoring two strong tracks every album, they were outstanding.

 5) PJ Harvey.

That's "Down By The Water."  PJ Harvey is probably the biggest grunge solo act out of England.

"50 Ft. Queenie" would be another of her early songs from the grunge period that, if you know the genre, you'd know the song.

PJ's a problem for me.  It's hard for me to be as excited about her early 90s work now as I was back then.  That's because in 2000 she released a masterpiece -- STORIES FROM THE CITY, STORIES FROM THE SEA.  Then, in 2011, she released an even stronger masterpiece with LET ENGLAND SHAKE.  She is so far beyond what she was in the early 90s.  She was great then, make no mistake.  But where she's gone?  Few artists show the growth that she has.  As a result, I don't think I now give her early 90s work as much due as they deserve and as much acclaim as I did in real time.

Okay, so who else?

Not Fiona Apple.  I love Fiona and she's a huge talent.  But she comes along around 1998 as grunge has gone and been replaced with a lot of nonsense -- that would include Limp Bizkit. 

Grunge women who deserve shout outs but didn't make my top five?  That would include Veruca Salt, Julianna Hatfield, L7, Lucious Jackson, Babes in Toyland, Elastica, Belly, Bikini Kill, the Cranberries, the Shirley Manson fronted Garbage and especially Sleater-Kinney (like PJ Harvey, S-K is someone whose albums post-grunge era are stronger THE WOODS and THE CENTER WON'T HOLD are classic albums).

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, June 12, 2020.   The talks between the US and Iraq yield only vague pledges, Joe Biden -- of all people -- wants to talk about stealing elections -- except as it relates to him.

Starting in Iraq, REUTERS notes, "Iraq and the United States have affirmed their commitment to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq without giving a timeline, state news agency INA said on Friday, citing Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi."  Is anyone leaving Iraq?  There's nothing that says anyone's leaving.  Equally true, Mustafa's original statement to the press was that all US troops were leaving Iraq.  He had to walk that one back.  Louisa Loveluck (WASHINGTON POST via STARS AND STRIPES) notes, "Seventeen years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the talks, which began Thursday, focus on a wide range of issues. Thorniest among them is the question of foreign troop presence: Iraq's parliament has urged the U.S.-led coalition to leave, and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is under pressure to satisfy that demand without risking security gaps that Islamic State fighters might exploit."  Of the alleged 5200 US troops on Iraqi soil, how many would be leaving?  Probably none.

It's hard to believe that if there was any real advance on this issue one side -- or both -- wouldn't be trumpeting it.  Especially considering how quickly Mustafa ran to the press with his 'all US troops are leaving' claim.  And "alleged"?  There is no verification and the US government tosses out the unconfirmed number of 5,200.  The 5200 would not include a number of additional service members that were present for surveillance operations, special-ops, etc.

Not only has no number been given for any troops being withdrawn -- actual number, percentage, nothing, Loveluck quotes US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs stating, "There was no discussion of a timeline."

The Trump administration is worried that Iraq is falling short on human rights obligations to detainees and is hampered by widespread corruption, according to a State Department assessment obtained by Foreign Policy, as the United States kicks off talks on Thursday that will help determine the future of the U.S. presence in the war-torn country.
As thousands of Islamic State prisoners sit in lengthy and sometimes undocumented pretrial detention that may pose constitutional questions, the Iraqi legal system is bogged down by an insufficient number of judges, overflowing facilities, and the use of bribes, a snapshot of Iraq’s corruption challenges that kicked off widespread anti-government protests last year.

Falling short on human rights obligations and widespread corruption?  

Yes, that is why the ongoing protests, which started September 30th, have been taking place in Iraq.

Let's turn to Killer Joe Biden.  Killer Joe wanted the Iraq War.  All the Purell in the world won't remove the blood from his hands.

Dithering Joe the killer.

Where do we go from here?

Let's stay with the killing for a moment.


FRANC ANALYSIS.  We noted that in yesterday's snapshot.  There are people who are supposedly independent that are now trying to tell you who to vote for.  Trying to tell grown ass people who to vote for.  Because we're all too stupid, right?

It's the come-to-Jesus tale.  It's supposed to motivate you to do the same.  We called it out in 2008 -- the laughable liars the DEMOCRACY NOW! brought on.  Especially, the liar who is also a lousy daughter because she claimed her mother was ill, implying the end any moment, but she goes to Denver for a convention she's not paid to be at, not obligated to be at?  Remember that liar?  She was a Hillary supporter who had gone over to Barack and we were supposed to relate to her and follow her lead.  Of course, she was a f**king liar, a piece of trash who thought she could con the American people.  Liars always trip up.  She was a firm supporter of Hillary -- when?  If you listened to her remarks after they moved on to another topic, you quickly grasped that she started supporting Barack in February of 2007 for the 2008 election.  Exactly when was she ever a Hillary supporter?

Lying whores.  We don't need them.  

So Krystal Ball and Kyle Kulinski want to trick you.

They think it's important because of the violence in the US.

What about the violence the US does around the world?

Kathy Kelly stumbles around useless (intentionally -- her career would argue "Yes!") at COUNTERPUNCH offering:

And if we’re to learn how to live together without killing one another, how can we dismantle and repurpose the vast killing machine that protects our unfair white privilege?

White privilege exists.  But let's stop pretending that the US government isn't at war with the Muslim world.  Let's stop pretending that it was an accident or an 'overreach' to round up and jail Muslims after 9/11.  These were planned actions.  And it is the height of xenophobia to look the other way regarding Joe Biden's actions in the Arab world.   Franco notes this Tweet by Richard Medhurst:

Kyle and Krystal are saying they might vote for Biden because Trump crossed the line when he deployed the military. Which essentially means “we’re fine with our imperialist military on OTHER PEOPLE’S streets just not ours”. Your american exceptionalism and privilege is showing.

The Arab world has suffered because of people like Joe Biden.  This notion that he's an answer and you need to herd people over to him?

He's a bloody killer who never did a thing in his life except hide away in Congress.

When he was draft age, he didn't serve.  Though he played football and baseball in high school and college, when it came to go to the draft board what did Joe claim?  Asthma.  His asthma wouldn't let him serve.  What a load of, yes, malarkey.

He has no shame.

I don't know what to say here.  On the one hand, I try to grasp that the American people are poorly served by their media but it's 10 years since Iraq held elections in March of 2010.  Yes, the media did a lousy job covering it.  But at some point, grow the hell up and take responsibility for yourself.

If you aren't put off by Joe's words in the clip above then you either don't care about other people or you're not just trying to inform yourself.

Karma.  That's the word that would be applied should Donald do what Joe's floating.

It would be karma for Joe.

In 2010, Iraq held elections.  

The Iraqi people voted out thug Nouri al-Maliki.

But Nouri got a second term.

How did that happen?

If you don't know by now that's on you.  If you're not watching the coverage of Joe's remarks and not being appalled, that's on you.

No one else at this late date.

Your government does things in public?  It's your job to know about it.  Or else just shut up about who to vote for.  Truly, no one needs your ignorance.

In 2010, the world knew Nouri was a thug.  Sunnis were targeted and being disappeared.  Secret prisons and torture centers -- the kind Saddam Hussein ran and we were supposedly outraged by -- were back in Iraq.

But that didn't matter to the US government.

They wanted Nouri to get a second term.

So Joe sold The Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract signed off on by all the leaders of Iraq.  It ignored the results, overturned them, and gave Nouri a second term.

How did they get others to sign off?

By lying.  They said the contract was legally binding and had the full backing of the US -- and written into the contract were certain things that the various blocs wanted.  

They lied.

The contract was used to give Nouri the second term and then ignored.

And the US government did nothing.  Despite their earlier lies.

That's bad but let's zoom in on the overturning.

'Liberation' and 'democracy' were the terms people in the US government -- Democrats and Republicans -- used to describe the Iraq War.

But when there was time to show what democracy was and how elections work, the US government -- led by Joe Biden (he was Barack's lead on Iraq) -- shredded any hopes of democracy.  The people risked everything to vote -- including their lives.  And they voted real change, voting Nouri out.

And Joe Biden backed Nouri.  Joe didn't back democracy.  Nouri was a thug and that didn't matter to Joe.  Nothing did except keeping the thug in power.

The message this sent to the Iraqi people?  Election turnout has gotten lower as a result.  They are in the streets because the ballot box has failed them repeatedly.

Joe wants to talk about stolen elections?  Then the press needs to ask him to justify giving Nouri a second term after the Iraqi people said no.

et's again note the August 2015 broadcast of Kevin Sylvester's THIS SUNDAY EDITION (CBC) which featured Emma Sky discussing Iraq:

Emma Sky: And that [2010] national election was a very closely contested election. Iraqis of all persuasions and stripes went out to participate in that election.  They'd become convinced that politics was the way forward, that they could achieve what they wanted through politics and not violence.  To people who had previously been insurgents, people who'd not voted before turned out in large numbers to vote in that election.  And during that election, the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, lost by 2 seats.  And the bloc that won was a bloc called Iraqiya led by Ayad Allawi which campaigned on "NO" to sectarianism, really trying to move beyond this horrible sectarian fighting -- an Iraq for Iraqis and no sectarianism.  And that message had attracted most of the Sunnis, a lot of the secular Shia and minority groups as well.

Kevin Sylvester:  People who felt they'd been shut out during Maliki's regime basically -- or his governance.

Emma Sky:  Yes, people that felt, you know, that they wanted to be part of the country called Iraq not -- they wanted to be this, they wanted Iraq to be the focus and not sect or ethnicity to be the focus.  And Maliki refused to accept the results.  He just said, "It is not right."  He wanted a recount.  He tried to use de-Ba'athification to eliminate or disqualify some Iraqiya members and take away the votes that they had gained.  And he just sat in his seat and sat in his seat.  And it became a real sort of internal disagreement within the US system about what to do?  So my boss, Gen [Ray] Odierno, was adamant that the US should uphold the Constitutional process, protect the political process, allow the winning group to have first go at trying to form the government for thirty days.  And he didn't think Allawi would be able to do it with himself as prime minister but he thought if you start the process they could reach agreement between Allawi and Maliki or a third candidate might appear who could become the new prime minister. So that was his recommendation.

Kevin Sylvester:   Well he even calls [US Vice President Joe] Biden -- Biden seems to suggest that that's what the administration will support and then they do a complete switch around.  What happened?

Emma Sky:  Well the ambassador at the time was a guy who hadn't got experience of the region, he was new in Iraq and didn't really want to be there.  He didn't have the same feel for the country as the general who'd been there for year after year after year.

Kevin Sylvester:  Chris Hill.

Emma Sky:  And he had, for him, you know 'Iraq needs a Shia strongman. Maliki's our man.  Maliki's our friend.  Maliki will give us a follow on security agreement to keep troops in country.'  So it looks as if Biden's listening to these two recommendations and that at the end Biden went along with the Ambassador's recommendation.  And the problem -- well a number of problems -- but nobody wanted Maliki.  People were very fearful that he was becoming a dictator, that he was sectarian, that he was divisive. And the elites had tried to remove him through votes of no confidence in previous years and the US had stepped in each time and said, "Look, this is not the time, do it through a national election."  So they had a national election, Maliki lost and they were really convinced they'd be able to get rid of him.  So when Biden made clear that the US position was to keep Maliki as prime minister, this caused a huge upset with Iraqiya.  They began to fear that America was plotting with Iran in secret agreement.  So they moved further and further and further away from being able to reach a compromise with Maliki.  And no matter how much pressure the Americans put on Iraqiya, they weren't going to agree to Maliki as prime minister and provided this opening to Iran because Iran's influence was way low at this stage because America -- America was credited with ending the civil war through the 'surge.'  But Iran sensed an opportunity and the Iranians pressured Moqtada al-Sadr -- and they pressured him and pressured him.  And he hated Maliki but they put so much pressure on to agree to a second Maliki term and the price for that was all American troops out of the country by the end of 2011.  So during this period, Americans got outplayed by Iran and Maliki moved very much over to the Iranian camp because they'd guaranteed his second term.

Kevin Sylvester:  Should-should the Obama administration been paying more attention?  Should they have -- You know, you talk about Chris Hill, the ambassador you mentioned, seemed more -- at one point, you describe him being more interested in putting green lawn turf down on the Embassy in order to play la crosse or something.  This is a guy you definitely paint as not having his head in Iraq.  How much of what has happened since then is at the fault of the Obama administration?  Hillary Clinton who put Chris Hill in place? [For the record, Barack Obama nominated Chris Hill for the post -- and the Senate confirmed it -- not Hillary.]  How much of what happens -- has happened since -- is at their feet?

Emma Sky:  Well, you know, I think they have to take some responsibility for this because of this mistake made in 2010.  And Hillary Clinton wasn't very much involved in Iraq.  She did appoint the ambassador but she wasn't involved in Iraq because President Obama had designated Biden to be his point-man on Iraq and Biden really didn't have the instinct for Iraq. He very much believed in ancient hatreds, it's in your blood, you just grow up hating each other and you think if there was anybody who would have actually understood Iraq it would have been Obama himself.  You know, he understands identity more than many people.  He understands multiple identities and how identities can change.  He understands the potential of people to change. So he's got quite a different world view from somebody like Joe Biden who's always, you know, "My grandfather was Irish and hated the British.  That's how things are."  So it is unfortunate that when the American public had enough of this war, they wanted to end the war.  For me, it wasn't so much about the troops leaving, it was the politics -- the poisonous politics.  And keeping Maliki in power when his poisonous politics were already evident was, for me, the huge mistake the Obama administration made. Because what Maliki did in his second term was to go after his rivals.  He was determined he was never going to lose an election again.  So he accused leading Sunni politicians of terrorism and pushed them out of the political process.  He reneged on his promises that he'd made to the tribal leaders who had fought against al Qaeda in Iraq during the surge. [She's referring to Sahwa, also known as Sons of Iraq and Daughters of Iraq and as Awakenings.]  He didn't pay them.  He subverted the judiciary.  And just ended up causing these mass Sunni protests that created the environment that the Islamic State could rear its ugly head and say, "Hey!"  And sadly -- and tragically, many Sunnis thought, "Maybe the Islamic State is better than Maliki."  And you've got to be pretty bad for people to think the Islamic State's better. 



Wednesday night was a group post night with the topic of what live TV production NBC and FOX need to do next: Ann's "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,"  Marcia's "Jelly's Last Jam," Rebecca's "jamaica," Stan's "MEMPHIS," Mike's "THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE," Trina's "Pajama Game," Ruth's "I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE," Elaine's "THE FANTASTICKS," Betty's "SOPHISTICATED LADIES" and Kat's "BEAUTIFUL."

  • The following sites updated:

    Thursday, June 11, 2020

    The hate monster wants to help?

    It's amazing how many 'friends' are showing up these days.  All the sudden, people who have done nothing for years -- or worse, actively harmed communities for years -- are showing up to insist that now, finally, they're going to do something.

    Case in point, hate monster Hillary Clinton.  Alan Macleod (MINT PRESS NEWS):

    After the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis two weeks ago, a spontaneous nationwide movement of millions of people protesting racist policing has gripped the country. Politicians of all stripes have staked out their positions, condemning, endorsing, or trying to co-opt the radical movement. The latest of these is failed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The former New York senator published her thoughts on her on Medium blog, where she appeared to endorse the Black Lives Matter movement, something she has previously stayed well clear of doing. “George Floyd’s life mattered. Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor’s lives mattered. Black lives matter,” she began by stating.
    “I promise to keep fighting alongside all of you to make the United States a place where all men and all women are treated as equals, just as we are and just as we deserve to be,” she added, positioning herself on the same side as the protestors, many of whom are demanding the abolition of the police. Clinton commended the amazing “power of solidarity” she had seen and promised to “speak out against white supremacy in all its forms,” declaring that America is long overdue for “an honest reckoning” with its racism problem.
    However, an honest reckoning with Clinton’s past unearths a myriad of troubling incidents and positions that are difficult to square with her newfound radical antiracist stance. She supported her husband and Joe Biden’s 1994 Crime Bill that led to an explosion in mass incarceration across the country. In 1996, she went further, using well-established racial dog whistles to argue that a new class of people had emerged in America: that of the superpredators, stating:
    We need to take these people on, they are often connected to big drug cartels, they are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called superpredators. No conscience. No empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way but first we have to bring them to heel.”

    In practice, this largely meant young men of color, and was part of the “New Democrats’” swing to the right, turning against working-class people and racial minorities.
    Clinton has hardly been an ally to black people outside the United States either. In 1998, she supported her husband’s missile strike on a Sudanese drug factory, a largely forgotten attack that the German Ambassador to Sudan estimated killed “several tens of thousands” of civilians by depriving them of much-need medicines. President Clinton also continued George H. W. Bush’s destruction of a fledgling democracy in Haiti, giving his support to the removal of the newly elected head of state Jean-Bertrand Aristide. After the 2010 earthquake that wrecked the country, Clinton, in her role as Secretary of State, presided over what amounted to a U.S. invasion and occupation of the island, one whose consequences reverberate to this day.
    In Libya too, Clinton pushed for a supposedly humanitarian intervention in the country, cajoling other nations into complying. Leaked emails show that she was aware that the extremist groups they were funding were carrying out massacres against black Libyans and that NATO was committing war crimes. However, she was triumphant in her achievement; speaking of the deposed and executed head of state, Muammar Gaddafi, she laughed, stating, “We came, we saw, he died!” Today, the extremist groups who control the country regulate open slave markets where black Africans are bought and sold.

    Hillary is only a friend to those corporations that have lined her pockets.  The rest of the world?  Her attitude has consistently been: F**k them.

    But this time it's going to be different?  This time, Hillary is going to stand up for the people? 

    Yeah, I think she needs to find some woods to hide out in again.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Thursday, June 11, 2020.  The US and Iraq are engaging in talks to determine the future relationship between the two countries, the State Dept has released their annual report on religious freedom around the world, JEZEBEL details the very real issues at play in the attacks on Tara Reade, and much more.

    Yesterday at the US State Dept in DC, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo declared: 

    On Iraq:  The Government of Iraq has agreed to the Strategic Dialogue proposed in April, beginning tomorrow.  Under Secretary Hale will lead that discussion with the representatives from Department of Defense, Treasury, Energy, and other agencies, and their Iraqi counterparts.
    In keeping with previous dialogues based on our 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement, the dialogue will cover all of the areas of interest between our two countries: politics, economics, security, culture, and energy.
    With new threats on the horizon, including the global coronavirus pandemic, collapsed oil prices, and a large budget deficit, it’s imperative that the United States and Iraq meet as strategic partners to plan a way forward for the mutual benefit of each of our two nations.

    Yesterday a dialogue started between the governments of Iraq and the United States.  It continues today.  

    On the verge of crucial strategic talks between the United States and Iraq set to take place on June 10, former Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim said the process is a necessary, long-planned step in ongoing bilateral ties between Baghdad and Washington.
    But he took pains to call the process a dialogue involving the US government and the sovereign state of Iraq, one which will define the Pentagon’s future presence in Iraq as well as non-military aspects of the relationship including education, energy, culture, trade, and foreign investment.
    “Here in the local papers, they’re calling it negotiations, but we are not negotiating anything,” Alhakim said. “It’s an agreement signed by the two sides. The only thing we need to do is figure out the bits and pieces.”
    Speaking June 9 in a webinar with Abbas Kadhim, director of the Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative, Alhakim noted that because of COVID-19, the upcoming talks will be held virtually—a departure from the long-standing arrangement of alternating the sessions every six months between Washington and Baghdad.

    AFP quotes the Middle East Institute's Robert Ford who declares, "The entire US-Iraq bilateral relationship will not be fixed in a single day. But for once, we seem to have the right people in the right place at the right time."  May 7th, Mustafa al-Kahdemi became the latest prime minister of Iraq.    Ali Mamouri (AL-MONITOR) notes that the talks were accompanied with a rocket attack on Baghdad.  

    Ali Mamouri also notes that unlike Adel Abdel Mahdi, the previous prime minister, al-Kahdemi "included the strategic dialogue with the United States as part of his plan of action presented to the parliament. The plan, which was approved by the parliament, does not mention the departure of US troops from the country."  MIDDLE EAST ONLINE cites two unnamed Iraqi government officials who state "Kahdemi has been invited to the White House this year, a diplomatic olive branch his predecessor Adel Abdel Mahdi had never received."  Mahdi did call for US withdrawl but did so only after he had resigned (and over a month after Parliament accepted his resignation).  While that might explain the lack of invitation to the White House since January (when he called for withdrawal of US forces), it doesn't explain why there was no invitation since October 2018 (when he became prime minister).  Mahdi had huge support in the US from the intelligence community which had been pimping him as the answer to Iraq ('liberating' it or just controlling it) since 2006.  ALJAZEERA offers the following prediction:

    The main event will be the fate of US-led troops, deployed in Iraq from 2014 to head a military coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group.
    "Whatever comes out of the dialogue is going to set the future of our strategic relationship," an American official from the coalition told the AFP news agency.
     "Am I still going to fly surveillance drones or not? Do you still want our intelligence?" he added.
    The coalition has already consolidated to just three bases in recent months, down from a dozen, and the talks would likely bring a further drawdown.
    "There are no details yet on troop levels, but the US draft on a joint statement mentions a 'reduction of US forces'," one senior Iraqi official told AFP.
    ALJAZEERA also offers this video report by Simona Foltyn.

    Simona Foltyn explains in the video above, "The US and the Iraqi governments both appear to favor a partial reduction of troops but the question is whether they will agree on the terms that will govern their future presence.  Whatever the outcome, the dialogue is likely to usher in a new chapter of US - Iraqi relations."  So the withdrawal -- not drawdown -- that the world wants, that Iraq needs, is not likely to happen according to the media.

    John Davison (REUTERS) accompanied the current prime minister of Iraq to Mosul yesterday.  He reports:

    Three years ago, the world
    rejoiced when Iraqi forces backed by the United States and Iran
    liberated this ancient city from the brutal rule of Islamic
    State. The people of Mosul hoped to rebuild their shattered
        Today, a different battle plays out.
        Taking place largely behind the scenes, from legislative
    halls that overlook the city's bombed-out streets to hotel
    meeting rooms in Baghdad, it is a power struggle among parties,
    politicians and militiamen. Some are backed by Iran. Others
    favour the United States.
        At stake: political control of Nineveh province, of which
    Mosul is capital – a region rich in natural resources and a link
    in a supply route from Tehran to the Mediterranean. The route
    serves Iran-backed militias, Washington's fiercest enemy here
    since the defeat of Islamic State.
        Iran's allies had been winning. They installed a governor
    favoured by Tehran a year ago. But then anti-government
    protests, U.S. sanctions and the assassination of Iran's
    military mastermind Qassem Soleimani challenged Iranian
    influence. The pro-Western camp replaced the Nineveh governor
    with a longtime U.S. ally.
        The contest mirrors a wider struggle over the future of Iraq
        Speaking to Reuters over the span of a year, around 20 Iraqi
    officials involved in the political tussle over Nineveh
    described how Iran and its allies developed the networks to
    influence local government, how pro-Western officials tried to
    hit back, and how this tug of war has crippled Mosul's recovery.
    If any side prevails, many of these insiders believe, it will
    ultimately be the side aligned with Iran. Iran helps its allies
    with money, political backing and sticks with them, explained
    Nineveh councilor Ali Khdeir. The United States, in contrast,
    "has left no real mark on Iraq."

    Dropping back to the May 28th Iraq snapshot:

    MIDDLE EAST MONITOR ONLINE reports that Iraqi Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul is insisting that ISIS "has already been vanquished, no longer poses a threat to Iraq."  Unfortunately, reality slaps Rasoul in the face.  ISIS has never been vanquished.

    Monday, ALMASDAR NEWS reported, "The Iraqi security forces announced on Monday that an Iraqi military plane was hit by terrorist forces in the Al-Rutbah Desert during an operation to destroy Islamic State"  Iraqi security forces said a member of ISIS had "14.5 mm mono weapon and fired at one of the planes, lightly wounding the plane."  Doesn't sound like it's been vanquished or that it no longer poses as a threat.  Monday night, David Rose (THE AUSTRALIAN) reported:

    Islamic State has waged its deadliest terrorism campaign in Iraq for nearly two years, raising fears jihadists are staging a resurgence.
    In the past month, since the start of Ramadan, Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has claimed responsibility for more than 260 attacks across Iraq, allegedly killing or wounding 426 people.
    The attacks form part of the group’s self-proclaimed “battle of attrition” campaign, which also has inspired violence by Islamic State branches in Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Niger, Congo and Mozambique in recent weeks.

     The assailants came at dusk, creeping on foot through the dusty palm groves near the Tigris River, armed only with a rocket-propelled grenade, a light machine gun and Kalashnikovs. They had laid roadside bombs to kill anyone who rushed to help the unsuspecting local guards, who were in their sights.
    When the attack on the village last month was over, nine members of a Sunni tribe that had opposed the Islamic State were dead and four were wounded, one of them nearly burned to death.
    This is the Islamic State in Iraq in 2020: low-tech, low-cost, rural, but still lethal. And while it has not carried out attacks on the scale that it did a few years ago, the number of attacks has begun to grow again.
    As American and Iraqi negotiators begin a new round of strategic talks on Thursday, the question of how to respond to the Islamic State’s quiet resurgence — and how much American help is required to do so — will be at the center of the discussion.

    We called out the lie on May 28th because it was a lie.  It's a shame the military spokesperson felt he could lie, it's a bigger shame that no one in the press called him out in real time.  

    Calling out?  Some have called Tara Reade out.  She's the woman with the credible allegation that Joe Biden assaulted her in 1993 when she was working in his office.  Rubbish like Michael Tracey have tried to attack her because they can't attack her charges.  They pretend that talking about her unpaid bills somehow tells you whether or not she was raped -- in their biased minds, only women of wealth can be raped.  

    A narrative has emerged from this reporting that ties questions of Reade’s trustworthiness to her financial background. Economic class is brought in as character evidence.  At JEZEBEL, Tracy Clark-Flory observes:
    In May, the New York Times published a lengthy report that forwards this framing. It spins Reade’s economic background, financial struggles, and history of intimate partner violence into a tale of a “messy life,” a “tumultuous journey,” a “shambolic life.” As the article puts it, “If the national stage is new for Ms. Reade, the sturm and drang is anything but.” Much of that “sturm and drang” relates to abuse and poverty, yet the piece includes no discussion of how these two things are cyclical and interconnected. Instead, in the Times piece and others like it, a case is made for the way that trouble has followed Reade around—the implication being that she creates it.
    Reade’s class permeates the Times’ discussion of Reade’s time working in Biden’s office in the 1990s. “The Biden Senate world was populated by striving Type A’s, and had a small-c conservative culture in which Ms. Reade didn’t quite fit,” the piece reads. “Former aides remember her as prone to storytelling and oversharing personal information.” It continues to note that she “rarely socialized with colleagues after work” and chafed “at the Ivy League tilt of the staff” while :arguing for more interns from state schools.” These facts set the stage for interpreting Reade through the lens of an outsider, that she didn’t gel with the staff is seen as a telling detail of her character.
    Additionally, the Times reports that Biden’s office manager “admonished [Reade] to dress more modestly,” which not only has potential class insinuations but also recalls the long history of sexual assault victims being assessed by their clothing. This is not the first time reporters have clung to the subject of Reade’s attire in Biden’s office. Previously, in late May, Buzzfeed interviewed former Biden staffers and “two people brought up the clothes [Reade] wore to work—specifically recalling that she wore capes and dressed in a ‘hippie’ style.” Cara Ameer, then a legislative correspondent, said, “You were in a professional environment, so you wanted to be professional in every way—to look and act that way.” Ameer added, “She definitely seemed to me to march to her own drum. Maybe she didn’t like us. Maybe she thought we were a bunch of preppy Capitol Hill staffer types. If there was a mold of a Capitol Hill staffer, I would kinda say we probably fit it. We were well dressed.”
    The assessment of her dress is not merely aesthetic but rather mired in class-based assumptions. This evaluation recalls Paula Jones, who in 1994 alleged that Bill Clinton exposed himself to her. (Note that Jones’ allegation came a year after Reade alleges that she was assaulted by Biden. ) In return, she was relentlessly mocked as low class: James Carville famously responded to her allegation by saying, “If you drag a $100 bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” A journalist from Newsweek referenced her reputation as “just some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks.” Four years later, Jones got a makeover and the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan wrote: “Her braces are gone. She has smoothed the frizzy mane of curls that once reached to such dazzling heights. Her makeup is now subtle and based on natural, not neon, hues. Her clothing is inspired by the boardroom instead of the secretarial pool.” By modeling herself on the aesthetics of DC’s professional set, Givhan wrote that Jones had “embraced the markers of dignity, refinement and power.” Most relevantly: the markers of class. “She is not white trash. She is not a big-haired floozy,” her spokesperson said of the image overhaul.
    The Times continues its focus on Reade as an outsider in discussing a later job as an aide for State Senator Jack O’Connell, reporting that “two people familiar with her tenure said she regularly failed to appear at constituent meetings.” Then, “as the complaints about her work continued, Ms. Reade confessed that she was having a hard time at home, these people recalled.” Those hard times are unspecified, but the Times notes that Reade had feared for her safety after her then-husband, Ted Dronen, responded to news of her pregnancy by “slamming things around the house.” The Times continues, “She was given a lighter schedule, but when the behavior repeated itself, she and the office agreed to part ways.” The “behavior repeated itself” is an awfully blameful way to refer to a woman who is, it is implied, struggling at work alongside fear of her own husband. The Times fails to note research showing, as a Purdue University report puts it, that the impacts of domestic violence can “lead to tardiness, absenteeism and lack of productivity.”

    Tara Reade's allegation was credible and remains credible.  Assaults and smears on her do not change her allegation.  Assaults and smears do not erase the corroborating witnesses she has.  The attacks and smears on her have taken place with far too many feminists either staying silent or joining in (Joan Walsh, Katha Pollitt and others have joined in).  How this is supposed to help survivors is beyond me and a lot of people should be ashamed.  Nick Givas (FOX NEWS) notes, "Former Colorado governor and current Senate candidate John Hickenlooper said Wednesday that he believes allegations made by Tara Reade against 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden are true but will still be voting for him anyway."

    A lot of people are covering for 'innocent' Joe Biden.  They appear unaware of what he's done to the world and unaware that politicians serve us, not the other way around.  

    We'll note that video again tomorrow.

    We started with Mike Pompeo, we'll close with him.  His remarks about Iraq (quoted at the start) were made at the press briefing he gave for the release of the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report.

    SECRETARY POMPEO:  Good morning, everyone.  It’s great to be with you all today.  I’m here one more time, proudly, to talk about freedom and free societies.  And while America is not a perfect nation by any means, we always strive towards that more perfect union, trying to improve.  We remain the greatest nation in the history of civilization.
    One of the good things that we do in this administration is our dedication to the protection of religious freedom all around the world.  Last week, President Trump signed the first ever executive order that instructs the entire U.S. Government to prioritize religious freedom.
    Here at the State Department, I’ve hosted the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom now twice.  We’ve launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance.  We’ve trained our Foreign Service officers to understand religious freedom issues much more deeply.
    And today, I’m proud to release the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report.  There is no other nation that cares so deeply about religious freedom, that we gather accounts from all across the world – it’s an enormous, it’s a comprehensive accounting of this fundamental human right.
    Let me highlight a few positive developments we’ve observed in this past year:
    The Gambia, an International Freedom Alliance member, has courageously brought a case before the International Court of Justice regarding crimes against the Rohingya.
    The United Arab Emirates, long an ally for religious freedom in the Middle East, has become the first country in the Middle East to permit the construction of a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    In Uzbekistan, steps have been taken to improve its record on religious freedom, and those steps continue.  I had a great chat with religious leaders where I was there earlier this year.
    We documented no police raids of unregistered religious group meetings during 2019, compared with 114 such raids in 2018, and 240 – 240 the year before that.  These are great strides, real progress, the efforts of our State Department team showing or bearing fruit.
    But there’s also a great darkness over parts of the world where people of faith are persecuted or denied the right to worship:
    The Nicaraguan Government harasses and intimidates religious leaders and worshipers and desecrates religious spaces, often using proxies.
    In Nigeria, ISIS and Boko Haram continue to attack Muslims and Christians alike.  ISIS beheaded 10 Christians in that country just this past December.
    And in China, state-sponsored repression against all religions continues to intensify.  The Chinese Communist Party is now ordering religious organizations to obey CCP leadership and infuse communist dogma into their teachings and practice of their faith.  The mass detentions of Uighurs in Xinjiang continues.  So does the repression of Tibetans and Buddhists and Falun Gong and Christians.
    I commend the report released today to everyone.  Its very existence is evidence of our strong resolve to defend human dignity.

    The following sites updated:


    NBC scored big with their live production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC and THE WIZ, FOX with GREASE. Other notables? THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, RENT, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!, A CHRISTMAS STORY and the hideous PETER PAN LIVE! Most of the efforts were based on stage productions (THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW started as a film, the GREASE production owed more to the film than the original Broadway production).

    HAIR and BYE-BYE BIRDIE were planned but then cancelled.

    In this group post, we are all picking a play or movie that we think would make a good live TV production.

    I'll go with THE FANTASTICKS. 

    A bad movie was made of the musical.  So most people have never seen the musical unless they saw it on stage.

    Barbra wasn't in the musical but she did record one of the best known songs from the musical, "Much More." 

    The movie was large and overblown.  Cast well, this could make a strong TV production.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Wednesday, June 10, 2020.  More on the US plane that crashed in Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr returns to an old cry, the US and Iraqi representatives begin meetings today to outline future steps, and much more.

    THE WYOMING TRIBUNE EAGLE notes, "A Wyoming Air National Guard member and three others were injured after a cargo plane crashed in Iraq."  Yesterday's snapshot noted the US cargo plane crash in Iraq that left at least four on board injured:

    A US military transport plan has crashed in Baghdad leaving at least four service members injured.  The US military says the plane "overshot the runway" while the Iraqi Revolutionary Group states it shot the plane down.

    Of the four injured, Stephen Losey (AIR FORCE TIMES) notes, "The service members’ injuries were not life-threatening, and they are being treated at the base’s medical facility, according to a release by Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve."  THE DRIVE adds, "The C-130H, which is assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, crashed at Taji, which is situated approximately 17 miles north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, at around 10:10 PM local time."

    Of the wounded from Wyoming, AP notes:
     The Wyoming Guard member’s condition wasn’t available but wasn’t life-threatening, Wyoming Military Department spokesman Rusty Ridley said Tuesday.
    Three of the four hurt were released after treatment, Ridley added.
    Though crewed by the Wyoming Air National Guard, the plane wasn’t among the Guard’s C-130s. U.S. military officials said they didn’t suspect hostile activity but were investigating. 

    Spanish troops are planning to withdraw from a strategic Iraqi military base in southeast of Baghdad at the end of this summer, according to the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

    In an official statement sent to Rudaw on early Wednesday, the US-led coalition announced the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Besmaya Range Complex, a military base in southeastern Baghdad province that is under the control of the US-led coalition.

    “In the late summer, Spanish troops will be withdrawn from the Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq. The base is one of the Building Partner Capacity centers run by the US-led international anti-ISIS Coalition,” the statement reads.

    Iraqis have called for the US to leave their country.  One who has long made that call is Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.  THE NEW ARAB notes he has renewed his call:

    Prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on the US to remove its "occupying forces" from the country, just hours after four American soldiers were injured in an attack on a military base in Baghdad.
    The Shia Muslim cleric demanded Washington "withdraw its occupying forces from all countries, especially Iraq, in a manner the preserves peoples’ prestige and dignity".
    "I think it's necessary for America to change its hostile and arrogant approach with its people first and the people of the world, second," Sadr said in a statement, addressing recent anti-racism protests in the US.

    Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) insists, "But more importantly, Sadr is a major political player in Iraq, and the Iraqi parliament wants the US out of the country. Pushing this position is an obvious position to take, and one that makes clear that a violent US reaction would be unwelcome."


    Moqtada is not "a major political player."  He was.  In 2012, he was rebuilding his brand.  By 2016, he was a very important player.  But he lost that power by a series of idiotic and stupid moves.  Originally, he supported the protests in the fall of 2019.  Then he withdrew his support in January, then he returned it maybe, then he withdrew it again, then he insisted that men and women should not protest together and then . . .

    Iraq has a young population.  They are laughing at him.  They mocked him in the protests after his call for men and women to protest separately.  He has not been able to come back from that moment so far.  He might at some point, but right now he remains a joke.  He had supporters, now he has a small cult.

    No one listened to him before on his call for the US to withdraw.  I doubt he expects the US to listen now.  But he does see it as a cry that got him attention and support so that might be why he's making it now.

    Yesterday's snapshot included this:

    Mustafa Habib notes another political twist:

    Wild move, Iraqi PM Al-Kadhimi appoints judge Raed Jouhi as the director of the his office, Jouhi became known as he issued judicial warrant to arrest Muqtada Sadr in 2003 for the murder of Majid al-Khoei, & he the first judge who investigate with Saddam Hussein after his arrest

    Moqtada has regularly and repeatedly fled to Iran since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.  During the years Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, the fleeing was so he could avoid arrest.  Now the person responsible for issuing that arrest warrant is part of the prime minister's office?  That's got to worry Moqtada.

    And the terrorism of gay men and men suspected of being gay is something he got away with in Nouri al-Maliki's second term but it's not something the young people of Iraq are embracing.  Human Rights Watch's Belkis Willie notes:

    An important report from
    documenting the most recent wave of attacks against LGBT people in #Iraq, particularly by Moqtada al-Sadr, that according to the org has led to the killings of six young LGBT+ members since May 17

    In Baghdad, there has been a non-stop barrage of criticism of the US-Iraqi talks beginning today.
    The criticism and smear tactics have gone on despite the fact that the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi went out on a limb to clarify matters for the political parties and the public in general.
    According to unofficial information, the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue starts Wednesday and will continue Thursday.
    The final phases of the preparations for the dialogue were completed with US Ambassador Matthew Toler paying a visit to the new Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein on Monday, according to informed sources.
    Iran’s allies in Iraq are trying to hammer home the idea that the Baghdad-Washington talks are focusing on the status of American forces in the country, while Kadhimi’s team has suggested that economic development will be the top priority.
    FOREIGN BRIEF offers, "A major component of the talks today will consider US efforts aimed at diminishing Iran’s influence in Iraq as part of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign. For Iraqi policymakers, the focus is expected to be the question of whether to request the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq or to seek to keep those troops in country until the Islamic State has been completely defeated and ousted from the country; Iraqis are sharply divided on the issue."

    May 7th, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi became the latest prime minister of Iraq.  His is supposed to be a brief term, his main goal being to set up elections.  REUTERS' John Davison Tweets:

    Iraq’s newish PM Mustafa Kadhimi is taking press on his first tour since he formed his full govt - to Mosul and its surroundings. Mins of reconstruction, culture and others are also here. #iraq 1/

    It’s a whistle-stop tour. Been to Q West air base (recently exited by US troops), Nineveh ops command, Nuri mosque (where ISIS leader Baghdadi declared a caliphate), multi-ethnic and religious Bartella, and shortly an IDP camp and a church 2/

    The new PM’s message so far: Mosul and Nineveh like the rest of Iraq need to be restored; Iraq’s strength will be its plurality; Iraq is in this state because of both Saddam and the leadership and governing post-2003. ‘Mismanagement’ is a word he keeps repeating 3/

    There’s a lot of hope being placed on Kadhimi’s government by senior officials and Western capitals. He’s being projected by his own office as a strong, non-sectarian leader who can row back foreign influence including Iran and its miltias, especially with US help 4/

    But Kadhimi was brought in by the same parties which many Iraqis allege have ruined the country and which have clung onto real power despite mas protests. He does not have his own party. Some see him as just as hamstrung as his predecessor Abdul Mahdi. 5/

    So no matter how strong Kadhimi is, it will require a heck of a lot more to change Iraq’s current course. Corruption is so entrenched, and foreign powers continue to compete over influence here. And the parties and militias are still here fighting over reducing resources. 6/

    A visit to Mosul is a strong statement 6 years after ISIS took it. But his meetings with sheikhs and leaders and officials reveal a litany of complaints and demands that any government would find it hard to address. 7/

    Reuters will soon be publishing a report about why it’s so difficult to get a city like Mosul off the ground, how we got here, and what that means for Iraq. Stay tuned. END

    Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has promised change.  He's made a lot of statements about the protesters right to protest, about releasing them from prisons, about investigating the assaults carried out against them . . . Lots of pretty words.  But what's changed?

    What's changed now that Mustafa is prime minister?  Apparently, not one damn thing.

    ALJAZEERA reports on how corruption is effecting farming in Iraq.

    The following sites updated: