We're sampling KINDLE UNLIMITED this year to increase our book coverage and to rate KINDLE UNLIMITED.
My selection was Sara Davidson's JOAN: FORTY YEARS OF LIFE, LOSS, AND FRIENDSHIP WITH JOAN DIDION. Joan Didion is a writer of legednary talent. THE WHITE BOOK is where I first discover Joan's talent. Of course, I've since read her earlier book SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHELEHM. I also really love POLITICAL FICTIONS and THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING.
JOAN: FORTY YEARS OF LIFE, LOSS, AND FRIENDSHIP WITH JOAN DIDION was written by Sara Davidson. She became friends with Joan in the early 70s. The book traces their friendship. Over the years, Joan's life and her viewpoint change. She had seen herself as self-reliant and optomistic. Then the '00s arrive and first her husband the writer John Dunne dies. Then their daughter dies. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING is about the loss of her husband. The one-woman play that was later staged (starring Vanessa Redgrave) included the deaths of both her husband and their child.
When Joan is first met by Sara, Joan lives on the beach with John in Trancas (near Malibu). They then get a home with a pool before finally moving to New York City. That is where Joan still lives, surrounded by photos of her late husband and child. Sara writes that Joan refuses to have anyone live with her although family would prefer that she did. She does not want anyone to live with her. She also does not believe in an after-life so she's not eager to die, she tells Sara.
I'm sure she told Sara a great deal -- over their forty years -- but the 'book' is actually only 47 pages. I was not informed of that when I selected it from KINDLE UNLIMITED. What's there is well written but I probably would not have selected this 'book' if I had known that it was only 47 pages.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, February 26, 2021. The US government bombs Syria because, they insist, Iran bombed Iraq. After that 'logic,' we take another look at a Subcommittee hearing (and will probably do that on Monday as well).
The Iranian government is accused of many things. Accused. The US government has long accused it of meddling in other countries -- usually countries that the US government is itself meddling in. A prime example would be Iraq. Bombings in Iraq thought to be targeting the US are blamed on Iran (by the US) just as they were making the same claims back in 2005 and 2006 (usually these claims were given the most airing -- and least questioning -- in reports by Michael Gordon who was at THE NEW YORK TIMES back then). The accusations of meddling have resulted in the US government bombing Syria.
Richard Medhurst addresses the bombings in the video below..
The US military has carried out an air strike targeting Iran-backed militias in Syria, in the first military action undertaken by the Biden administration.
The Pentagon said the strike was ordered in response to attacks against US and coalition personnel in Iraq.
The action destroyed "multiple facilities" used by Iranian-backed Iraqi militant groups, it said.
Militia officials said one person had been killed but a war monitor reported at least 22 fatalities.
Vanessa Romo (NPR) also notes the official response, "The Department of Defense said the strikes are a response to recent rocket attacks against Americans in Iraq, including one in which a civilian contractor working with American forces was killed and several U.S. service members were injured. Officials believe the Feb. 15 attack in Erbil, Iraq, was conducted by Shia militants."
Glenn Greenwald makes an observation:
So in April 6, 2017, Jen Psaki was opposed to strikes against Syria because it was "a sovereign country." Now she's the White House spokesperson. She does need to be asked about this so we can all watch her dance around the question.
Iran's PRESS TV offers:
One person has lost his life and four others have been wounded in the US military’s air raid against positions of resistance forces operating against terror groups on the Iraqi-Syrian border, an informed source tells Press TV.
The casualties were caused in the early hours of Friday, as the American airstrike targeted facilities used by forces of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) — better known as Hashd al-Sha’abi — at a border point in eastern Syria,
To remind Iran who’s boss — rather than conduct the diplomacy he promised — Biden opts to act as ISIS’ Air Force. (That’s who “Iranian-backed militia” have long been fighting)
"For me news is about searching for verifiable actual information and bringing that to the public," claimed Soledad O'Brian when she spoke before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Committee on Energy and Commerce on Wednesday (stream it here). Some rush to cheer her on -- oh, she criticized Rachel Maddow!!! -- and ignore the long reality of Soledad's work. It can be difficult to follow because she's been repeatedly fired from so many outlets. "Not a team player," that was the NBC NEWS eval that led to her departure. They weren't going to fire her for cheerleading the Iraq War. That's this site's focus so I'm not really hear to applaud her for going after Rachel Maddow. When it comes to Iraq, Soledad is a liar and she pimped lies. For anyone who actually knows the record, her record, she needs to be called out. But most people don't know the actual record. And that can be due to the fact that she was all over the place -- hopping here, there and everywhere and hoping to somehow become a star. I don't think most even understand that the 'reporter' (ha ha ha!) 'reports' on sports and has fort he last few years. Before that? The bulk of her career was sitting in front of the camera at a desk and pretending to be an anchor. "I left live reporting eight or nine years ago," she told the Subcommittee.
The role of the press, as she saw it, was "how they can serve their public." Okay, fine, Soledad, please explain how your one-sided presentation of going to war with Iraq helped the public? Let's hear about how your attacking any colleague at NBC NEWS who questioned internally whether more voices -- including voices of dissent -- needed to be on the airwaves.
I'm sorry but Soledad's a whore and all the things she said that are being applauded? She's all talk. Unless and until she takes accountability publicly for her Iraq War 'coverage.'
Carmen Chao. 30 ROCK had Carmen Chao. That was their send up of Soledad. She's desperate to climb that ladder and suspects Avery may be pregnant and that she could grab Avery's CNBC spot. She'll resort to anything, she's completely lacking in scruples. 30 ROCK based that on Soledad.
Carmen was meant to be funny. Soledad is just sad.
As is US House Rep Marc Veasey. He's already started the year embracing and fighting for fracking. The hearing on Wednesday was about the news media. Veasey supports fracking so his comprehension abilities are already in question. That questioning only strengthens after his performance Wednesday.
The news media. That was the focus. So he brought up THE BIRTH OF A NATION.
That's a racist, silent movie from 1915. It was very popular in real time. I'm not aware of the riots he speaks of that the film caused in its release. He claimed riots and other violence. Maybe he's right, I have no idea.
It's a racist film. I ended up with a C -- my only C as an undergraduate -- because of that film. This was being presented as history and it's a film. It's not factual, it's racist. And this was not going to be addressed. The visuals and the narrative and the sweep and scope were going to be addressed. I brought up the racism and the inaccuracies in the film. And got an F on that (which brought my grade down to a C for the course). Fine with me, I spoke my truth and I don't really care (the F brought that.
So I'm not a fan of that film. But I didn't confuse it with news media. Veasey did.
He also wanted the world to know that, as a Black man in Black History Month, he wanted to highlight it.
I was in college decades ago. When I spoke against it, I noted the NAACP protested the film, how this is not about things we see today, this was seen in real time. If you wanted to see it, you could have seen it. Yes, the press applauded in real time (which could have been something to address but Veasey didn't even raise that issue), but many people could see reality and the NAACP spoke out and organized protests.
To me, the NAACP's response is part of Black History and goes to the strength and power of the people. Veasey didn't do anything that noted African-American accomplishments in his remarks. He just offered a bad film and then tried to link that to the violence in DC last month.
Legal expert, Jonathan Turley testified to the Subcommittee as well. He writes of the hearing:
Rep. [Anna] Eshoo insisted that the hearing itself was guilty of the type of disinformation that she was combatting in her letter co-authored by Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.). That itself was disconcerting since we were sharing opposing views on the import of her letter, including widely shared views that the letter was pressuring these companies to drop Fox News and other networks from cable programming.
The First Amendment Argument
Eshoo started out by objecting by reading the First Amendment on the government abridging free speech. She then added:
“The First Amendment prohibits Congress from enacting laws abridging the freedom of speech. . . It does not, however, stop us from examining the public health and democratic implications of misinformation. The idea that members asking questions violates the First Amendment is absolutely absurd; it’s our job to ask questions.”
She then added that she had submitted the letter to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to see if there was such a violation in the letter. The problem is that I did not say that the letter itself was a violation of the First Amendment. Indeed, my testimony said the opposite while noting that free speech values go beyond the First Amendment. Indeed, I raised the danger of letting members do indirectly what they cannot do directly. Asking the CRS to look for First Amendment violations is about as useful as asking them to look for endangered species violations. It was answering a question not asked.
Ironically, the emphasis on the narrower test under the First Amendment is precisely what some of us have objected to in this and other controversies. As I stated in my testimony:
What is particularly concerning is the common evasion used by academics and reporters that such regulation is not really a free speech issue because these are private companies and the First Amendment only addresses government restrictions on free speech. As a private entity, companies like Twitter or publishing houses are clearly not the subject of that amendment. However, private companies can still destroy free speech through private censorship. It is called the “Little Brother” problem. That does not alter the fundamental threat to free speech. This is the denial of free speech, a principle that goes beyond the First Amendment. Indeed, some of us view free speech as a human right.
Consider racial or gender discrimination. It would be fundamentally wrong even if federal law only banned such discrimination by the government. The same is true for free speech. The First Amendment is limited to government censorship, but free speech is not limited in the same way. Those of us who believe in free speech as a human right also believe that it is wrong to deny it as either a private or governmental entity. That does not mean that there are no differences between governmental and private actions. For example, companies may control free speech in the workplaces and companies have been recognized as having their own free speech rights. However, the social media companies were created as forums for speech. Indeed, these companies sought immunity on the false claim that they were not making editorial decisions or engaging in viewpoint regulation. No one is saying that these companies are breaking the law in denying free speech. Rather, we are saying that they are denying free speech as companies offering speech platforms.
Some have noted that it is possible for pressure from government officials to constitute state action for the purposes of an actual First Amendment claim. Thus, they cited cases when a borough president in New York City asked a billboard company to take down a sign or when a village official wrote to a local chamber of commerce objection to an ad. In both cases however the standard involved a dismissal where all facts must be inferred in favor of the opposing party. The point is valid that letters can cross the line as a threat of retaliation or action against a private company. Yet, there are countervailing political speech and legislative interests for members of Congress. Courts are often uncomfortable in drawing such lines between advocacy and coercion by elected officials. A great variety of letters can be taken as veiled threats of possible congressional action. I know of no case where a letter of this kind ultimately resulted in a successful claim. There is also the question of relief. If a court were asked to enjoin Eschoo, what would the court order her not to do? She is engaging in free speech as a representative of her district as well as inquiry as a member of the legislative branch. If the relief is a declaratory judgment, what would be declared? That it is unconstitutional to encourage companies to apply misconceived moral standards?
"Considerably." That's a term US House Rep Robin Kelly needs to learn. She also needs to learn about the history of the press before she weighs in. No, Sandy Hook was not the first widely covered shooting or even the first that noted the killers. It might have been the first widely covered school shooting, I don't know. But I do know that her comments on the news industry just revealed her own ignorance and that's really sad that she shows up at a hearing on a topic and doesn't know the basics -- not even about what she chooses to talk about in her own remarks.
That's an excerpt.
The following sites updated: