Saturday, November 21, 2020

5 great Fifth Dimenion TV appearances

The Fifth Dimension were a huge group in the sixties and early seventies.  They were a vocal group that had a series of hits.  The original group was Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr., Florence La Rue, Lamonte McLemore and Ronald Townson.  They had 20 top forty pop hits from 1966 to 1973, with 9 more pop hits on the top 100.  During the same time period, they had ten albums make the top 100 best selling albums -- with 3 more making the top 200.

Their hits included many songs written by Laura Nyro such as "Blowing Away," "Save The Country," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Sweet Blindness" and one of their number one pop hits "Wedding Bell Blues."  Their other number one hit was "Medley: Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)."  Those were their two pop number one hits.  They also hit number one on the adult contemporary charts with those two songs as well as "One Less Bell To Answer," "Never My Love" and "If I Could Reach You."  A strong number two on the AC chart was "(Last Night) I Didn't Get To Sleep At All."  Their biggest hit on the US sould chart was "Stone Soul Picnic" which made it all the way to number two.

Following 1975's EARTHBOUND, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. left the group.  There were no charting singles from that album; however, in 1975 "No Love In The Room" was the group's last hit with the original line up, it made it to number 11 on the AC chart -- that song was from their 1974 album SOUL & INSPIRATION. 

After leaving the group, Marilyn and Billy (who were married in 1969 and remain married to this day) had a number one hit on the pop and soul charts with "You Don't Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)."  The two also hosted a 1977 summer TV variety program THE MARILYN MCCOO AND BILLY DAVIS JR. SHOW and they had two other hits "I Hope We Get To Love In Time," "My Reason To Be" and "Your Love."  Marilyn would also be a host on SOLID GOLD (sometimes a co-host -- but she did not co-host with Dionne Warwick -- she and Dionne were never hosts on the same seasons).  

While the band was notching up one hit after another, the group appeared on many TV programs.  Those are the tracks I'm going to highlight here.

1) "One Less Bell To Answer."  Bones Howe was their producer (he's most famous for his worth with the group and his work with the Mamas and the Papas).  This is from the Robert Wagner TV show IT TAKES A THIEf.

2) "Wedding Bell Blues" performed on THE WOODY ALLEN SPECIAL -- again, this is a song written by Laura Nyro.

3)"Wedding Bell Blues" again -- but also "Aquarius" from THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW.

4)"Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" from a 1973 Burt Bacharach special.

5) They're joined by Dionne Warwick for a medly in the clip above.  That clip is from THE 5TH DIMENSION TRAVELING SUNSHINE SHOW.  That 1971 TV special was one of two the group did.  The other was the year prior and was entitled THE 5TH DIMENSION: AN ODYSSEY IN THE COSMIC UNIVERSE OF PETER MAX.

 Yes, the group was so popular that they had two TV specials.   

With all the biopics being made, it's really sad and telling that there has not been one about this group.  A biopic about them would provide five strong roles for African-American actors, would have a very popular soundtrack, would provide drama and romances and fun and humor.  Equally true, The Fifth Dimesnion remain a beloved group to this day.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Friday, November 20, 2020.  We explore continued talk about the announced drawdown of some US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tara Reade, the Iraqi militias, Joe Biden's efforts to staff a Cabinet, and much more

As noted in Wednesday's snapshot, US President Donald Trump has announced a drawdown of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Drawdown -- not a withdrawal.  For Iraq, it means 500 US troops will be leaving.  Why do we have IndyMedia?

We really don't.  Most of those sites closed long ago.  PORTLAND IMC continues.  Reading this article by Henry Browning, you have to wonder why?  He repeats the false claim of War Hawks of harm this would cause.  He offers no voices that dissent with that view and he certainly doesn't question it himself.  For those of us who were inspired by IndyMedia in the early '00s, this is very sad.  The only comfort is that the comments offer back and forth.

USA TODAY does what IndyMedia refuses to do, offers a voice not rejecting a drawdown.  Geoff LaMear offers:

After the Trump administration’s consideration of military strikes on Iran for its nuclear program, the rocket attacks in Iraq’s Green Zone, where the U.S. embassy is located, on Tuesday have the potential to draw the United States closer to a conflict with Iran. But President Trump should keep military retaliation off the table. Military action has incentivized — not deterred — Iran and its proxies in the past, endangering U.S. personnel.

Military force hasn’t made American personnel safe. In the last bout of hostilities with Iran, Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iran-aligned militia group in Iraq, conducted a rocket attack in December 2019 which killed a U.S. contractor. In response, the U.S. hit Kata’ib Hezbollah hard, striking five of the group’s facilities. If military action could deter further attacks, that should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t.

[. . .]

The longer U.S. forces stay in Iraq, the longer they are in harm’s way. And as was seen in the previous tit-for-tat last December, a single American death acts as a flash-point that risks a war.

 [. . .]

U.S. military presence in Iraq risks harm to personnel which in turn can bring the U.S. into a war with Iran. The costs are high and the benefits are nonexistent with the defeat of ISIS. The Iraqis are the ones best suited to preventing ISIS from reemerging and opposing a vassalization of their country by Iran. Therefore, it behooves both Trump and Biden to declare that that end has finally come.

Edward King is the president of Defense Priorities and he issued this statement:

Reducing US troop levels to 2,500 in both Afghanistan and Iraq is responsible – it would be irresponsible to not get to zero. The ongoing military occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the greater Middle East are costly mistakes that come at the expense of higher defense priorities.

Talk of a ‘conditions-based’ withdrawal is a stalking horse for staying indefinitely, or forever. There is no such thing as an immaculate withdrawal from these conflicts, and there’s no reason to think the ground reality will improve after nearly 20 years of waiting.

The militias in Iraq are now part of the security forces.  Supposedly, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is attempting to address this.  Supposedly.  Maybe the time to object was long before he became prime minister?  The move never should have taken place.  Since the merger, what's been learned is that they do not fall under the command of the prime minister.  So they get to be included with Iraqi forces and they don't have to follow the same rules and orders that the Iraqi forces are expected to follow.  They made news awhile back by announcing some form of cease-fire.  Now they are saying it's over.  Dilan S. Hussein (RUDAW) reports:

The leader of an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia group announced the end of a conditional ceasefire suspending attacks on American interests in the country after a child was killed by rocket fire on Baghdad’s green zone this week. 

“The truce with the Americans has ended due to its conditions not being met,” Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, said in a Thursday interview with Iraqi state media.

Late on Tuesday, rockets landed in Baghdad’s green zone killing a child and injuring five other civilians, just hours after the Pentagon announced it was reducing United States military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Iran's TASMIN offers:

The leader of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement said the Iraqi government is entitled to have a monopoly on carrying and using weapons in order to restore stability to the country.

However, Qais al-Khazali noted that the Iraqi resistance forces will continue carrying arms as long as the country is in danger.

Speaking in an interview with the Al-Iraqiya TV, which was aired on Thursday, Khazali said resistance forces carry weapons for a specific goal and reason.

“Once that goal is achieved, they will lay down their weapons,” he noted.

He said he is opposed to rocket attacks against the US embassy, and so are many other groups, as it is a diplomatic site.

"Resistance forces"?

Let's hope that term was applied by Iran's news outlet and was not used by al-Khazali himself.  First off, "the resistance" in Iraq, since the US-led invasion kicked off in 2003, has been Sunni, not Shi'ite. Second, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq is a Shi'ite militia.  al-Haq is stating that they will ignore the Iraqi order at the present time.  Again, there have been no benefits for the Iraqi government since they brought the militias into the Iraqi forces.

Yesterday, we noted that, after decades of being closed, Iraq and Saudi Arabia were reopening their shared border.  The editorial board of GULF NEWS (via EMIRATES NEWS AGENCY) weighs in with:

For the first time in 30 years, the border between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iraq is now open, with transport trucks, goods and food stuffs crossing between the two Arab nations at the Arar frontier post. The strategically important crossing had been closed since 1990 when the Kingdom severed ties with Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

The reopening of the border marks a new milestone in the long and historic relationship between these two Arab neighbours and it’s a day that has long been anticipated by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. By unsealing the gates, removing the physical barriers and letting traffic and trade flow once more, it is a clear statement that Iraq’s standing is now restored and it is indeed open for business once again.

The reopening of the border at Arar is the latest positive development to accrue from the ongoing dialogue between Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, and both deserve kudos for their efforts in bringing Iraq back into the tent of Arab brothers. Simply put, the reopening of the border is a good day’s work and positive for all.

The events of 1990 and subsequently have profoundly affected the region. But time, dialogue and goodwill between Arabs has triumphed; old quarrels have been set aside, and there is more to be gained by opening borders. Arabs together are much stronger.

THE NATIONAL weighs in with this video.

And FORBES offers this video report.

Also yesterday, we reposted an interview with Tara Reade and included this: "[Tara Reade's LEFT OUT: WHEN THE TRUTH DOESN"T FIT IN is available at AMAZON.]"  This resulted in drive-by e-mails.  Griping.  And we were already getting those.  (Drive-by e-mails refers to e-mails sent to the public e-mail account -- -- as opposed to community members who e-mail our private e-mail address.)  The drive-bys started with the claim that I wasn't supporting Tara because I wasn't supporting her book.  I've supported Tara throughout.  I believe her.  This was noted in Ava and my election overview earlier this month.

I twice noted her book was coming out.  And then I stopped.  Not because I didn't support Tara but because we've had problems before.  When I promoted it here, community members asked if I knew it wasn't available on AMAZON?  No, I did not.  It was available through some website none of us knew.  Probably a great website.  But we've danced this dance before.   Holly Near teamed up with Emma's Revolution and it should have been a great experience.  It wasn't.  I soured on the nonsense of including a man's song -- **Holly was a lesbian, she's now a straight woman who identifies as a lesbian, or whatever** and Emma's Revolution is supposed to be pro-women -- there was no reason to include it.  Don't want to study war no more?

I believe Laura Nyro wrote a song about that, did we forget that?

Come on, people, come on, children
Come on down to the glory river.
Gonna wash you up, and wash you down,
Gonna lay the devil down, gonna lay that devil down.
I got fury in my soul, fury's gonna take me to the glory goal
In my mind I can't study war no more.
Save the people, save the children, save the country now
Come on, people come on, children
Come on down to the glory river
Gonna wash you up and wash you down
Gonna lay the devil down, gonna lay that devil down
Come on people! Sons and mothers
Keep the dream of the two young brothers
Gonna take that dream and ride that dove
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build a dream with love, children,
We could build the dream with love, oh people,
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love.
Come on, people! Come on, children!
There's a king at the glory river

And the precious king, he loved the people to sing;
Babes in the blinkin' sun sang
"We Shall Overcome".

-- "Save The Country," written by Laura Nyro, first appears on her 1969 album NEW YORK TENDABERRY

I don't have a lot of interest in crap garbage and when supposedly pro-women artists go out of their way to do a self-proclaimed 'womanist' album and they're covering a song by a man when they should be honoring a woman -- who said it much better -- I don't have use for them.

But the point was we noted the album before it came out, noted it the day it came out and where to get it and it was a nightmare.  People paid two and three times for the album before getting the download file -- if they got it.  It was a nightmare for many community members and I said "Never again."  I'm not recommending an unknown site to purchase from again.  It was too much.  So, no, I didn't stop supporting Tara.  I did stop noting the book immediately with the plan to note it when it was at AMAZON -- it's now at AMAZON and has been for a couple of weeks.

[Added: In her review of Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoff's UNDER THE COVERS VOL. 2, Kat noted some of the problems with the Holly Near album and downloading -- noted it in the final paragraph of her review..]

As for the more recent slam, no, I do not get anything from that link.  I know there's some way you can refer and get a portion of the payment.  I'm not interested in that and it doesn't happen here for me.  If we highlight, for example, a COUNTERPUNCH article that notes a way to purchase a book, I do include that link and that portion of a purchase -- whatever the percent -- would go to COUNTERPUNCH.  

Here's another interview Tara's done this week with Ryan Glover.

I believe Tara.  I find her highly credible.  I don't find Joe Biden credible at all. 

Joe is said to be attempting to get a position in his administration (if he's sworn in -- no e-mails complaining, December 14th, the electoral college will decide the issue) for War Hawk Susan Rice. Glen Ford (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) notes:

No one in high levels of U.S. government has been more intimately complicit in the death of more than six million Africans in the Democratic Republic of Congo than Susan Rice, the bloodstained Democratic Party political operative who is actively seeking the job of secretary of state in the incoming Biden administration. If recent history is a guide, we can expect the entirety of the Black Democratic establishment to support this uber-criminal’s elevation as a fitting reward to Black voters for putting Joe Biden in the White House – thus implicating all of Black America in the largest genocide since World War Two.

Rice is a protégé of former secretary of state Madelaine Albright, who in 1996 infamously described the sanctions-induced death of half a million Iraqi children as “worth it ” to punish the Saddam Hussein regime. But Rice has bested her mass murderous mentor in total career body count. As President Bill Clinton’s national security advisor (1993 to 1997), senior director for African Affairs (1995 to 1997) and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1997 to 2001), Rice was the point person in Washington’s massive coverup of the invasion, pillage and depopulation of Congo by the armies of U.S. client states Rwanda and Uganda. In service to the Obama administration (ambassador to the United Nations, 2009-2013, national security advisor, 2013-2017), Rice smothered a United Nations Mapping Report  that documented Rwandan and Ugandan crimes against Congo, including potentially genocidal offenses, and protected Uganda from the International Court of Justice’s award of $10 billion in damages  to the Democratic Republic Congo. 

“Rice was the point person in Washington’s massive coverup of the invasion, pillage and depopulation of Congo.”

When the United Nation’s highest court issued its verdict in 2005, the death toll in Congo was estimated at 3 million. By 2010, with Ambassador Susan Rice at the United Nations, the uninterrupted genocide had claimed six million  lives, while the looting of Congo’s vast mineral resources financed the rise of a gleaming skyline over Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, a nation that has no significant mineral deposits. Multinational corporations are the biggest beneficiaries of the ”blood” minerals; it is these conglomerates whose interests Susan Rice protects. 

Today, Congolese speak of eight million dead, but nobody in the Congressional Black Caucus is listening. Half of the Black Caucus voted against a measure that would have halted President Obama’s bombing of Libya , in the summer of 2011. Obama claimed that the Euro-American air war in support of mainly jihadist opponents of Muammar Gaddafi’s secular government was not subject to the War Powers Act, because no Americans had died – a totally novel definition of war in which only American bodies matter. Rice was then ambassador to the United Nations, where she successfully pressed for a “no fly zone” as a cover for NATO’s war against Libya. “This resolution should send a strong message to Colonel Qadhafi and his regime that the violence must stop, the killing must stop and the people of Libya must be protected and have the opportunity to express themselves freely,” Rice told reporters . But the bulk of violence was committed by U.S.-backed “rebels” against Black Libyans and south Saharans working in the country. Tawergha , a Black Libyan town of almost 50,000 people, was utterly destroyed, its inhabitants killed, imprisoned or scattered – with not a peep of complaint from the Black American woman at the UN or the First Black President of the United States. The branded faces  of Black migrant workers sold into slave markets are Rice and Obama’s Libyan legacy. 

Erin Brokovich has an open letter to Joe at THE GUARDIAN over his attempt to bring DuPont into his administration.


**NOTE added by Dona to C.I.'s snapshot, Ava and C.I. covered Holly Near's 'whatever' back in 2019 with "TV: PBS' long con" which included:

AMERICAN MASTERS is on season 33 and imagine our shock to tune into it on KQED and discover that they were profiling Holly Near.

Holly who?


See, she has no real accomplishments.

And she also can't get honest.  That's why we really loved that moment of truth in the broadcast where, panning up the magazine cover featuring Holly's picture, the camera came across "Michelle Shocked on coming out."

Holly, like other 'lesbians' Michelle Shocked and Ani diFranco, used being a lesbian as a marketing strategy.  Without it, she'd have no career at all.  So it's really funny to watch someone (we'll abide by playground honor and not snitch) tells the camera, "I think her career suffered."

What career?


The following sites updated:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Turly and Ava and C.I.

 Jonathan Turley:

In a vivid demonstration of our political divide, less than half of the country believes that President Donald Trump should immediately concede. Only a majority of Democrats (by a wide margin) holds that view. Once again, the poll shows the hardened silos of American politics. It also shows how the media has detached itself and its coverage from half of this country. As it did before the election, the media continues to coddle Biden in press conferences and frame the news in a familiar slant. Within 24 hours of the election being called for Biden, many in the media declared any challenges to the election to be “conspiracy theories” and demanded an immediate concession of defeat from Trump.  While I have expressed great skepticism over many challenges and I have been critical of the failure of the Administration to “ascertain” the election for Biden for weeks, I have maintained that it is important for these challenges to be heard and resolved if we have any hope to unify this country. While the media and many Democrats were correct in calling for “every vote to be counted,” they have opposed efforts to recount those votes or address whether they have been counted correctly.  Again, there is no evidence of systemic fraud or errors, but the overwhelming pressure in the media to stop the challenges after the calling of the election has only deepened the suspicion and divide in this country — as has the President’s own rhetoric on a stolen election.  A recount in Georgia has found the type of human error that we have previously discussed and thousands of uncounted votes. Yet, that has not stopped the attacks on anyone, including lawyers, who are seeking such reviews.

The poll shows how the little penetration and credibility the media now has with much of the public. Over half of the public still want to see the challenges resolved despite the steady drumbeat of the media to denounce any challenges or the need for them to be fully addressed in the courts. Indeed, some academics are comparing questioning Biden’s victory to “holocaust denial” or going to court as itself a form of fraud or abuse.

The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that 46 percent of registered voters think Trump should concede to Biden “right away.” That includes 72 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of independents surveyed and 17 percent of Republicans.

The polls shows 32 percent of registered voters who believe that Trump should concede the election “eventually if he is unable to back up” his mass fraud claims. Notably, 21 percent of Democratic respondents and 34 percent of independent respondents are believe that Trump should not immediately concede but do so after the challenges are heard and resolved.

It is November 19th.  We waited until December 12th in 2000.  That's when the Supreme Court stopped the recount in Florida.  We can wait right now.  There's no need to be impatient.  Let the process play out.

Joe Biden supporter?  Donald Trump only looks worse as the recounts go on so don't sweat it.  Supporter of Donald's?  The law is on his side.  He has the right to challenge results.

Let it play out.  We have the time and we need to be open and transparent.

"TV: Looking back" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):

We're thinking of THE GREAT ROCK BIBLE -- have you heard of it?  

It's a piece of crap, it's garbage and nothing more.  'Critic' Martin C. Strong tries to pretend that (a) he's doing something of value and (b) something novel.  It's nothing new.  In fact, he's copying what Lillian Roxon did with LILLIAN ROXON'S ROCK ENCYCLOPEDIA   The book, published when Strong was nine-years-old, set a standard that many have copied -- and copied long before Strong got around to copying it.  It's a standard, a classic, to this day.  

Working to erase the accomplishments of Lillian -- and aided by sexist liars like Robert Christgau, Strong pretends he's doing something of value and something worthwhile.  

Reality?  He's erasing women's accomplishments, that's what he's doing.  And it's not just Lillian he's erasing.  The project pops up online with the 'chapters' then popping up in bad book form.

Pick any chapter, at random, and you'll marvel over how women's accomplishments get erased and ignored.  

Take the entry on the Mamas and the Papas.  Michelle Phillips co-wrote "California Dreamin'," but you'd never know that from Strong's bad writing which credits only John Phillips for writing the song.  In the entry, he does manage to note that Denny Doherty co-wrote "I Saw Her Again Last Night" with John but he never notes Michelle's co-writing of songs -- even when the songs are mentioned: "California Dreamin'," "Hey Girl" and "Creeque Alley."  For the record, something Strong is not concerned with, Michelle also co-wrote "String Man," "Free Advice," "I Wanna Be A Star" and "Trip, Stumble and Fall."  When not erasing the accomplishments of Michelle, Strong just invents lies.

Ava and C.I. posted that Tuesday night.  They wrote it early Sunday morning.  THIRD had no other content to go up as late as Tuesday night.  Ava and C.I. were tired of waiting and I don't think anyone can blame them.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Wednesday, November 18, 2020.   Another drawdown.

Yesterday afternoon, the acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller addressed the press.

ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHRISTOPHER C. MILLER: Good afternoon. I'm Chris Miller, acting secretary of defense, and I'm here today to update you on President Trump's plan to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion, and to bring our brave service members home. 

From Kabul to Kandahar and from Mosul to Fallujah, hundreds of thousands of America's finest sons and daughters, who selflessly answered the call to serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have brought us to this point. Their efforts and sacrifice will go down in history as epitomizing the strength, commitment, and empathy of a force that is unlike any the world has ever seen. 

Just last night, I joined Vice President Mike Pence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley to attend the dignified transfer of five American soldiers who perished on duty in the Middle East. This was a somber and humbling moment that reminded us of the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women of the United States military in service of freedom and security. 

Our armed forces take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. They serve not for personal gain, but for the protection and well-being of their fellow Americans and their homeland. They are champions for peace, liberty, and the rule of law, and unrelenting when called upon to defend our people and our values. We owe them and their loved ones an enormous debt of gratitude. 

This is why I'm enormously blessed and privileged to stand before you today to outline the next phase of our campaign to defeat terrorists who have perpetrated attacks on our homeland, including those who help and harbor them, and to prevent -- prevent future acts of terrorism against our nation. 

We owe this moment to the many patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice, and their comrades who carry forward their legacy. Together, we have mourned the loss of more than 6,900 American troops who gave their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we will never forget the more than 52,000 who bear the wounds of war and all those who still carry its scars – visible and invisible. 

In light of these tremendous sacrifices, and with great humility and gratitude to those who came before us, I am formally announcing that we will implement President Trump's orders to continue our repositioning of forces from those two countries. By January 15, 2001 – excuse me, I clearly am thinking of where this started in 2001 – by January 15, 2021, our forces, their size in Afghanistan will be 2,500 troops. Our force size in Iraq will also be 2,500 by that same date. This is consistent with our established plans and strategic objectives, supported by the American people, and does not equate to a change in U.S. policy or objectives. 

Moreover, this decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security cabinet over the past several months, including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States Government. 

I have also spoken with our military commanders, and we all will execute this repositioning in a way that protects our fighting men and women, our partners in the intelligence community and diplomatic corps, and our superb allies that are critical to rebuilding Afghan and Iraqi security capabilities and civil society for a lasting peace in troubled lands. 

And just this morning, I spoke with key leaders in Congress, as well as our allies and partners abroad, to update them on these plans, in light of our shared approach. We went in together, we adjust together, and when the time is right, we will leave together. 

One of my calls was to NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg. Another was to Afghanistan's President Ghani, who expressed his gratitude for every American service member who has fought for peace and strengthened the longstanding friendship between our countries. 

President Ghani highlighted the caliber of our troops, which he noted has always been more important than the quantity. We continue to stand with him as his government works toward a negotiated settlement for peace. 

Meanwhile, let us remind those who question our resolve or may seek to interfere with this prudent, well planned and coordinated transition – the United States armed forces remain committed to protecting the safety and security of the American people, and supporting our likeminded allies and partners worldwide. 

If the forces of terror, instability, division, and hate begin a deliberate campaign to disrupt our efforts, we stand ready to apply the capabilities required to thwart them. 

As a veteran whose life and family was irrevocably changed in the deserts, mountains, and cities of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops who have fought there and were forever transformed by their experiences, I celebrate this day, as we continue the president's consistent progress in completing the mission we began nearly two decades ago. 

I want to thank the Afghans and Iraqis who have partnered with us throughout, and who now carry the bulk of the fighting to secure their homelands. I want to thank our NATO allies and other partners who have fought alongside us and taken the lead on training and advising the Afghan and Iraqi security forces. We will continue to support their efforts. 

And thanks to our more than 80 partners in the Defeat ISIS coalition. We have destroyed the ISIS caliphate and will ensure they never again gain a foothold to attack our people. 

In closing, we set out to accomplish three goals in 2001. First, go abroad and destroy terrorists, their organizations, and their sanctuaries. Two, strengthen our defenses against future attacks. And three, prevent the continued growth of Islamist terrorism to include by working with allies and local partners to take the lead in the fight. 

Today is another critical step in that direction, and a result of President Trump's bold leadership. With the blessings of providence in the coming year, we will finish this generational war and bring our men and women home. We will protect our children from the heavy burden and toll of perpetual war. And we will honor the sacrifices made in service to peace and stability in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, and celebrate all those who helped us secure freedom over oppression.

God bless our women and men in uniform. Thank you very much.

This is a drawdown, not a withdrawal.  

I'm not applauding.  It's a step in the right direction, but I'm not applauding.  When I saw headlines and heard gasbaggery on TV about the above, I thought, "Well I'm going to have to praise Donald."  No, I'm not.

It's a drawdown, not a withdrawal.  If we're bringing the wars to a close, why are US troops remaining there?

In terms of numbers?  We already know from James Jeffrey's own mouth that we have no idea how many US troops are in the Middle East because he and others conspired to lie to US President Donald Trump so that they could countermand his orders.  

The acting secretary says that Iraq will draw down to 2,500 US troops.  If the number's correct, so what?

Don't tell me you're ending the Iraq War when you're not and when all you're doing is reducing US forces by 500 troops.  In Monday's snapshot, we noted that there are supposed to be 3,000 US troops (officially) in Iraq.  Bringing that number down by 500?  A step in the right direction but it's not enough.  

From the way some were being hysterical on TV, I thought Donald really was removing all US forces from Iraq except for those who guard the US Embassy.  I was ready to praise him because the war needs to be over.  

But all this is doing is removing 500 troops from Iraq.  

A step in the right direction but not what's needed.  

CNBC plays it's usual b.s. role:

Earlier on Tuesday, Stoltenberg warned that leaving the war-torn country too soon or in an uncoordinated effort could present unintended consequences for the world’s largest military organization.

“Afghanistan risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks on our homelands. And ISIS could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq,” the NATO chief said, referring to Islamic State militants. 

On that page, you'll also get the FOX NEWS refugee who's on 'our side' now because?  Because ethics flew out the window long ago and whoring for defense industry will always keep you employed.

Stoltenberg, by the way, is Jens Stoltenberg who is NATO's Secretary-General.  ISIS could rebuild?  

Maybe yes, maybe no.  I'd bet yes, myself.  But that terrorism threat is something countries need to be able to fight themselves and wars are supposed to come to an end.

I'm reminded of Tony Curtis in SOME LIKE IT HOT, "Jerry, boy, why do you have to paint everything so black? Suppose you got hit by a truck. Suppose the stock market crashes. Suppose Mary Pickford divorces Douglas Fairbanks. Suppose the Dodgers leave Brooklyn!"

All those things did happen.

And, again, my guess would be ISIS would rebuild -- it's not been vanquished or sent packing.  But those internal threats for countries to address themselves.

Equally true, the US government has never feared ISIS.  They funded it while Joe Biden was Vice President, that's who the US government backed in Syria.  But they've never feared it.  When did they move against ISIS?  Long after ISIS seized Mosul.  They really didn't care about Mosul.  They cared about Baghdad, specifically the Green Zone.  When 'chatter' said that ISIS was moving to seize the Green Zone, that's when the US government cared.

The US government created the dysfunctional and criminal government of Iraq.  US troops have been kept in Iraq to support that government, to keep it from being overthrown -- by ISIS, by the Iraqi people, by anyone.  It's a weak government for many reasons.  Two chief reasons?  The Iraqi people have seen that their votes do not count.  In 2010, thug Nouri al-Maliki was seeking re-election as prime minister.  The Iraqi people rejected him.  But they got Nouri as prime minister because Joe Biden helped negotiate a contract, The Erbil Agreement, that overturned the will of the Iraqi people and gave Nouri a second term.  That second term is how ISIS rose in Iraq.  The other chief reason?  This government does not serve the Iraqi people.  We're hearing now about Iraq being billions of dollars in debt.


Ask any struggling country if they could make it on the billions Iraq takes in from oil each year and they'd tell you they could make it and then some.  Grasp that Iraq's population is around 35 million -- CIA estimate (they haven't carried out a census in decades).   Where does the money go?  The billions brought in goes somewhere.  Into the pockets of so-called public servants.  The Iraqi people suffer, do without and their politicians get rich.  (That's not a problem just for Iraq, look at the US.)  It's how a Nouri al-Maliki struggles before returning to Iraq (after the US-led invasion), becomes prime minister and suddenly he's rich.  It's how his corrupt son has multiple residences in Europe and several expensive sports cars.  Meanwhile, the Iraqi people live in poverty.  What little they are provided by the government is always being cut -- the rations card program is only the best known example -- and there are no jobs for them.  The corruption is never addressed.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani strongly warned against taking foreign loans from the IMF (International Money Fund) and others.  And now, as the press beats the drum about the economic 'crisis' in Iraq, these bodies want to further gut Iraq's remaining social programs.

It's warfare, let's be honest.  

People in the US who've turned away and zoned out should honestly be ashamed of themselves.  As a US citizen, we are responsible for wrecking Iraq.  (That does not mean we keep US forces on the ground to 'fix' Iraq.)  Yes, our media failed us and continues to do so.  However, even a casual observer should have noted that every prime minister of Iraq under the US occupation has been a coward (let's be honest) who fled Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in power and only returned after the US-invaded.  That alone was your clue that this was not a representative government because no one is going to vote for a coward to lead their country.  But prime minister after prime minister, for three years short of two decades, has been someone who fled the country.

Forget everything else, don't get lost in the weeds on anything else, just that basic fact told you that the government was not representative.

The US government has tried to control Iraq.  It's not alone.  Certainly, the Iranian government has as well.  But so has the French government, the . . .

The Iraqi people deserve to steer their own destiny.  The whole point of US troops on the ground in Iraq is to keep the government in power with the hopes that eventually the Iraqi people will be exhausted and just accept it.  

In other words, the US is hoping to push it as close to the limits of date rape as possible.  No?  Are you sure?  Are you still sure?  What about now?

Above TRT speaks with retired US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt who notes, "There's never a right time but the fact remains we've pretty well finished the job in both of the countries. [. . .]  So if not now, then when?"

US House Rep Justin Amash Tweets:



, you still have an opportunity to bring home all the troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria (not just a partial drawdown), and to pardon Snowden and Assange. Millions of Americans will support you in these efforts.

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


 Jonathan Turley:

For those of us who have been critical of the growing anti-free speech movement in the Democratic Party, the Biden transition team just took an ominous turn.  The New York Post reports that Biden tapped Richard Stengel to take the “team lead” position on the US Agency for Global Media, including Voice of America, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. As I previously addressed in a column, Stengel has been one of the most controversial figures calling for censorship and speech controls. For a president-elect who just called for everyone to “hear each other,” he picked a top aide who wants to silence many.  Since it would be difficult to select a more anti-free speech figure to address government media policy, one has to assume that Biden will continue the onslaught against this core freedom as president.  This is not the first Biden aide to indicate a crackdown on free speech in the new Administration and Biden himself has called for greater censorship on the Internet.

Last year, Stengel wrote a chilling Washington Post op-ed that denounced free speech as a threat to social and political harmony.  Like a number of liberal and Democratic figures, Stengel struggled to convince readers that what they need is less freedom:  “All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I’m all for protecting ‘thought that we hate,’ but not speech that incites hate.”

You're either for free speech or you're not.  I'm so tired of people who think they can limit it 'just a little.'  It's called a slippery slope for a reason.  I wish we had the National Speech Association, you know?  A radical organization dedicated to free speech with slogans about 'try to pry it out of my cold, dead mouth.'  The NRA exists to defend the Second Amendment.  If only enough people gave enough of a damn about free speech.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Tuesday, November 17, 2020.  We look at the claim that Kamala Harris delivered nothing towards the election of Joe Biden and we look at the way the media is reporting a possible departure of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Starting with RISING.

Krystal Ball makes some interesting arguments.  But they amount to nothing in the general election.

Yes, Kamala was not a first choice for a number of people in the primary.  We're not talking about the primary.  We're talking about the general election.  

Krystal's judgments may be right, they may not be.  Nothing she said baked up her claims.  "Identity politics"?  

Did Kamala help the ticket as a bi-racial person?  

Show the proof that she didn't.  I don't see any proof.  A bi-racial woman -- Kamala is Black and Asian -- may have helped the ticket.  It's strange that Krystal kept citing African-Americans.  Kamala is bi-racial, she's not just Black.

More to the point, Krystal plays "identity politics" when she examines Kamala's support.  Why are only African-Americans supposed to be influenced?

Here's the thing, Joe Biden is hugely unpopular with younger African-Americans based upon Bernie Sander's winning their votes and based upon what I heard over and over, even after Joe got the nomination,  .from young adults.  

Without Kamala on the ticket, can Krystal demonstrate that Joe Biden would have done better, worse or the same?  No. 

I agree with Krystal that we need to move beyond "Our first!!!!"  Whether it's gender, race, what have you.  I agree with those points and her large argument.  But she's building it on Kamala making no difference to the votes -- that's her argument -- but Kamala may have saved the ticket. At present, no information says she did, no information says she didn't.  

Younger people we spoke with who were voting Joe Biden noted repeatedly that Joe wasn't up to the job but would state that Kamala could "step up when needed."  

Joe, with his history, probably needed a balance on the ticket and that would be someone of color due to Joe's racist roots.  Joe was balance in 2008 for those who feared Barack Obama might come off too inexperienced, or did we forget that?  Joe balanced the ticket with his 'experience.'  

Let's move over to Glenn Greenwald talking about the three most likely danger areas from a Biden-Harris administration.

I guess I'd take Krystal's argument more seriously if it had facts to back it up or if it wasn't coming from a woman who co-hosts a show that refuses to feature female guests in equal measures.  Why do I even have to raise that issue in 2020?  I'm tired of it.  We should have progressed to the point that we all agree that since women are move than 50% of the population, they should make up at least half the guests.  If you can't do that, don't talk to us about 'identity politics.'  Too often, that term has been used by people trying to justify their refusal to embrace equality.

I know RISING is trying to do better.  I know Katie Halper (on her own show) is trying to do better.  And I do appreciate that.  But if you don't like being singled out, if you think that's just so off putting, imagine for one moment having to be the one to single you out?  To call you out?  There are a ton of people with platforms larger than this who could call you out and want to call you out but don't.  I hear from the constantly -- most of the time over the phone because I know them personally.

Why can't you clean up your own mess and not make be Mommy telling you no X-Box until you've cleaned up your mess?

It's like James Jeffrey, that discussion we've been having.  Friends who are Constitutional Law attorneys can't stop calling, "Right on!  That's the call to make!"  Well, why don't you make it?  I'm out on the limb here all alone.  I can handle it, I've been here before and will be again.  But if you really agree that the conspiracy that Jeffrey took part in and bragged about to the press was wrong and was treason, then why don't you say so publicly?  Many of you write op-eds.  Why can't you write it?  

And don't think I don't toss that back to them on the phone.  

FOX BUSINESS discusses, with US House Rep August Pfluger, the talk that Donald Trump may withdraw US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.


NPR's Dustin Jones types:

The White House will bring home 2,500 troops from Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of the year against the guidance of top military officials, a drawdown order that reduces the American presence by about a third, from 4,500 to 2,500 in Afghanistan and 3,000 to 2,500 in Iraq, according to a U.S. official.

NPR's Tom Bowman reported the move is opposed by senior military leaders, given Afghanistan's fragile state. Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have seemingly stalled, and violent attacks have risen 50% in recent months. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, have advised the troop reduction be pushed to the spring, Bowman reported.

Do military officials and leaders tell Tom Bowman that, Dusty?  

Well what do the others say, Dusty?

Where's the balance?

Cindy Sheehan has dedicated her life to peace.  What's her reaction, Dusty?  What's US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard's reaction?  How about the reaction from people who were members of the Out of Iraq caucus?  Where's Senator Russ Feingold's reaction?  Where's the reaction from Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh and other veterans who spoke out against the US being in Iraq?  Where's Mike Gravel?

Where's that, Dusty?

Why do the American people not matter?  Why does the defense industry matter so much to you?  Because of who pays the bills, Dusty?

Eric Schmitt, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Charlie Savage and Helene Cooper (NEW YORK TIMES) offer:

President Trump is expected to order the U.S. military to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia by the time he leaves office in January, using the end of his time in power to significantly pull back American forces from far-flung conflicts around the world.

Under a draft order circulating at the Pentagon on Monday, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan would be halved from the current deployment of 4,500 troops, officials said.

In Iraq, the Pentagon would trim force levels slightly below the 3,000 troops that commanders had previously announced. And in Somalia, virtually all of the more than 700 troops conducting training and counterterrorism missions would leave.

Taken together, the cuts reflect Mr. Trump’s longstanding desire to stop shouldering the cost of long-running military engagements against Islamist insurgencies in failed and fragile countries in Africa and the Middle East, a grinding mission that has spread since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Here's CBS NEWS reporting on the developments:

At WSWS, nothing on this development.  But Ray Coleman and Nick Barrickman did examine the team Joe Biden is building:

Last week, President-elect Joe Biden named key members of his Department of Defense transition team. Eight of Biden’s 23 team members are from pro-military think tanks. Kathleen Hicks, senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington D.C. think tank with close ties to the US military and intelligence agencies, will head Biden’s Pentagon transition team. Hicks is also “Henry A. Kissinger chair” and director of the International Security Program at the CSIS.

The CSIS gets significant funding from war contractors such as General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. According to Hicks’ profile on the CSIS website, her areas of specialization include Asia, climate change, counterterrorism and homeland security, the defense industry, defense strategy and capabilities, NATO and weapons of mass destruction proliferation.

She is a member of the board of trustees of the Aerospace Corporation and sits on the board of directors of the US Naval Institute. She has received distinguished service awards from three secretaries of defense and a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Hicks was a high-ranking Pentagon official in the administration of President Barack Obama during the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. She served as principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy in the Defense Department. She also held the post of deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and forces.

The CSIS has supplied several other individuals chosen for Biden’s Pentagon transition team. Melissa Dalton was a Pentagon official from 2007 to 2014, a period that spanned the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Her focus is the Middle East.

Another member of Biden’s defense transition team is Andrew Hunter, who served in the Pentagon from 2011 to 2014.

“The DC think tank scene is well represented” on Biden’s military transition team, states Defense News.

Jimmy Dore covered the issue of possible withdrawals last night.

The following sites updated: