That's Jack Johnson performing one of his classics ("Banana Pancakes") live because he has just started his latest tour.
One more time with "Banana Pancakes."
He has a new album MEET THE MOONLIGHT (Kat praised it here) and it's a great album with songs that are crying out for a live performance. He'll be in California at the end of September and the start of October so that's when I'll see him -- probably in Berkeley. Click here for the tour dates.
Now I'll note this from Jonathan Turley's website:
I am happy to report that my law review article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy is now out in print. The article entitled “Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States,” explores the anti-free speech movement in the United States and the increasingly common claim that free speech itself is harmful. I wanted to thank the journal editors and staff for their tireless efforts to bring this rather lengthy work to print. It was a great pleasure to work with each and every one of the law students who contributed to the editing and sourcing of this law review.
Here is an excerpt:
Throughout its history, the United States has struggled with movements that aim to silence others through state or private action. These periods have been pendulous, with acute suppression followed by relative tolerance for free speech. This boom–or-bust pattern for free speech may well continue. However, the United States is arguably living through one of its most serious anti-free speech periods, and there are signs that the current period could result in lasting damage for free speech due to a rising orthodoxy and intolerance on our campuses and in our public debate.
Where fighting for freedom of speech was once a near-universal rallying cry, opposing free speech has now become an article of faith for some in our society. This has led to a rising movement that justifies silencing opposing views, often on the grounds that stopping others from speaking is, in fact, an exercise in free speech. This movement has both public and private components, but it is different from any prior period due to new technological, political, and economic pressures on the exercise of free speech.
The struggle for free speech in the United States is interwoven with our history, from the colonial period to the present day. From the outset, there was a clear concept of free speech, but not a clear commitment to protecting it. Indeed, figures like Thomas Paine and John Peter Zenger raised many issues against the English Crown that are still debated today in conflicts over free speech and the free press. Anti-free speech movements tend to rise from deep fractures in our society in periods of unrest. The sense of great injury felt by many can be translated into a license to silence those who are seen as causing or exacerbating that injury. These periods provide an opportunity not only for government abuses but also for extremist groups to feed on social unrest. In recent years, various extremist groups have emerged on both ends of the ideological spectrum, from the Boogaloo movement on the far right to the Antifa movement on the far left. However, the greatest threat to free speech today is the growing support for censorship and speech codes in the mainstream of political and academic thought.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Hundreds of Democratic candidates on federal ballots this November have tethered themselves to President Joe Biden’s political fortunes. The Democrats’ chances of keeping a majority in the U.S. House and Senate have been as weak as he is.
According to new polls, Biden has now become a first-term lame duck. Since he will not be the party’s standard-bearer in 2024, Democratic Congressional candidates can focus on winning in 2020 even if it means straying from Biden’s policies.
1. New polls
The President’s current job approval rating is down to 38.4%, from 55.8% on Inauguration Day.
A bracing new Harvard-Harris Poll finds that registered voters have now written Biden off, with 60% having “doubts about his fitness for office,” 64% saying he is “showing he is too old to be president,” and 71% concluding he “should not run for a second term.”
2. Getting worse
Things are likely to get worse as the midterm elections approach. Of course, every consumer purchase brings new evidence of inflation. Within a few weeks, we may be in a recession, too. The U.S. economy shrank by 1.6% in the first quarter of 2022. The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank is projecting another drop, of 2.1%, when second quarter estimates come out on July 28. When the economy declines for two quarters in a row, a recession has begun, according to the common rule of thumb.
Registered voters see inflation as the “most important issue facing the country today,” and only 28% approve of Biden’s job performance at handling inflation, according to the Harvard-Harris poll.
These findings should not come as a surprise. Instead of tackling inflation, Biden has spent months trying to blame a certain someone for it.
Asked about rising anger at his inaction, President Joe Biden dismissed the critics: "I'm the only president they got," he snapped.
Joe might want to reflect on the vibrant history of American democracy: If leaders don't lead, the people will, even if that means getting a new president.
It's a serious handicap for an elected leader to be considered a lame duck. Far worse, though, for the "leader" to be considered just plain lame.
He has tumbled into both ditches of lameness and lame duck. He set himself up for lame duckism in the 2020 race by promising voters that he would merely be "a bridge, not... anything else." He portrayed himself as a trusted, bipartisan inside player, an interim senior statesman who would calmly pilot the ship of state from Trump's bombast to wherever, whatever and whomever was next. Now, just a year and a half into his presidency, the duckism syndrome has kicked in, and he's scrambling to insist that he's still the president and making plans to run again in 2024. But that only highlights Biden's chief flaw: his inherent lameness.
He's playing president rather than being one. Take his embarrassingly meek response to the Supreme Court's six partisan extremists who just nullified the fundamental freedom of all women in America to control their own bodies. Biden called the court's dictate "terrible," but what did he do? His first "action" was to send out a fundraising mailing asking for $15 donations to reelect Democrats. Then he flew off on a four-day trip to Europe. Roundly condemned for being AWOL, he belatedly held a press conference in Spain, calling the Court's attack on women "destabilizing." Gosh, Joe -- so harsh! Then he called on Congress to do something.
But wait -- aren't you the president?
The US Senate could flip Republican in November, if retired football star Herschel Walker defeats incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock. Walker was in the lead until recent revelations that he has several unacknowledged children, despite railing against fathers who don’t fulfill their parental responsibilities.
Warnock is now holding a 10 percent lead four months ahead of the election. However, now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, Georgia is about to enact a bill banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, and it will no doubt become a contentious issue in this race, with Warnock backing womens’ right to choose and Walker backing states’ right to choose.
With the Senate majority and now the possibility of somehow restoring abortion rights at stake, the race is attracting national attention and record-breaking amounts of money. With the Senate majority and now the possibility of somehow restoring abortion rights at stake, the race is attracting national attention and record-breaking amounts of money.
I spoke with Ethiopian American activist Tsehai Alemayehu about how he thinks his community will vote this time.
Ann Garrison: Tsehai, can you tell us about the Ethiopian American community’s relationship to the Democratic Party and to Joe Biden and Senator Raphael Warnock in particular?
Tsehai Alemayehu: The Ethiopian and Eritrean American community here in Georgia, like most immigrants everywhere, have traditionally supported the Democratic Party. I have personally been a Democrat for all the many years I’ve lived in this country and have always voted Democratic. And during the 2020 election, we organized our communities to support the Biden campaign and to support the Senatorial campaigns of Reverend Warnock and Jon Ossoff as well. So we thought, given our work, and given the results that we delivered to the Democratic Party, that we would have great supporting relationships going forward. Unfortunately, once this gentleman got into office, when trouble started in Ethiopia and we sought support for our issues, they turned their backs on us. So we haven’t had much of a relationship with Senator Warnock or President Biden since the 2020 election, not since they took office.
And in fairness, because we are a small Georgia group here, our relationship with Joe Biden would have been through our elected representatives rather than directly with the White House. We don’t have lobbyists. We only use our voices and the voices of our representatives to speak with the White House. And of course, like I said, the main actors, Senator Warnock and Senator Ossoff, whom we contributed to electing into office, were not willing to speak on our behalf with the Biden administration.
AG: Did you attempt to meet with Senator Ossoff and Senator Warnock?
TA: Yes, we did. We spent many, many, many months trying to meet with Senator Ossoff and Senator Warnock. We have spoken many times with their staffers, first in Washington, actually, in the case of Ossoff, only with his staffers in Washington and the local office. In the case of Senator Warnock, we have spoken to his Senatorial staff, as well as with his campaign staff. We have also met with Senator Warnock himself on two different occasions.
AG: And what happened in Ethiopia after the election that made you seek their help?
TA: In the first hours of November 3, 2020, which was election day in the US, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which had been removed from power just a couple of years earlier, declared war and attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), who were stationed with in Tigray. And initially, the Ethiopian government organized a response, and fairly quickly, the TPLF leadership was chased out of the main urban centers. And it looked like the war was quickly over. So in December, January, February, we had no reason to worry about the issues across Ethiopia. And we had no reason to speak with our representatives to develop policy in support of Ethiopia.
AG: And what happened then? Why did you then need the support of the Biden administration and your representatives, your senators?
TA: So a number of things happened. On the warfront, the TPLF—with the support of many of its sponsors, which, to our regret, include the United States—were able to dislodge the Ethiopian National Defense Force from Tigray. And when they crossed over into Amhara and Afar territories, in town after town, they committed gross human rights violations and war crimes. They engaged in public mass rape of men, women and children, entirely designed to dehumanize, humiliate, and break the fighting spirits of people.
We engaged our representatives, asking and expecting that they would condemn these inhumane acts and persuade the Biden Administration to condemn TPLF and use its influence to rein in that organization. We spent months, first just trying to get audiences, and then to educate staffers and legislators about what was going on in Ethiopia.
To the contrary, right about that time, the State Department was engaged in pronouncements of its support for the TPLF. Going a step further, the State Department issued daily threats against the government of Ethiopia, the Amhara and Afar state governments, and even the peoples of Amhara and Afar. The State Department was insisting that the TPLF should have a free run of the house not only in Tigray, but also in Amhara and Afar Regions. Neither the people of Afar and Amhara, nor the ENDF, were supposed to defend themselves and their fellow citizens from the TPLF.
And we were first confused as to why exactly this was happening, how could pursuing this line of policy possibly advance the interest of the United States. We were appealing to our Senators and Congressmen to please listen to us to learn what exactly is going on. We tried to educate these men in the recent history of Ethiopia believing that their positions arose from ignorance. We spent nearly six months pursuing this dead end strategy. But none of them were anxiously awaiting to hear from us. Not our senators and not the White House.
It was as if the Biden administration had decided it would have the final say as to how Ethiopia governs itself, and the US’s preferred Ethiopian partner would be the TPLF. We tried to tell all within earshot how dangerous that line of thinking is. But we were rebuffed at every turn.
Biden’s effort to portray the war in Vietnam as a noble cause, “to defend our nation and our values,” is a travesty. Vietnam was 8,000 miles from the United States. No Vietnamese was engaged in threatening the United States, and most Americans had never heard of Vietnam before the Kennedy administration began the US intervention in that country’s civil war.
Nearly 60,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam, compared to at least two million Vietnamese. Of the Americans, one third were actual draftees, while many others were National Guard and Reserve soldiers or “volunteers” who joined a specific military service rather than be drafted and take their chances on what the Pentagon would choose to do with them.
Biden chose to honor the four Vietnam veterans, and through them, rehabilitate the war itself, only a few weeks after he signed a massive spending bill bringing total US military and economic aid to Ukraine to more than $60 billion. The United States and its NATO allies are for all intents and purposes at war with Russia, in a conflict whose escalation could well lead to direct combat between US and Russian troops. This war will continue, according to Biden, “as long as it takes.”
Under such conditions, the White House feels it necessary to bury the collective memory of the Vietnam War, and particularly the mass popular opposition to the innumerable crimes of American imperialism which were exposed at that time. Instead, the Vietnam War is being treated as one more example of the nobility and heroism of America’s military operations overseas.
A member of the committee, Representative Aref Al-Hamami, told the Iraqi News Agency (INA): "It was agreed within the parliament to collect signatures after returning to session to legislate a law prohibiting homosexuality in Iraq."
He added that "legislation of such a law will be reinforced by legal provisions that prevent homosexuality and the perversions associated with it."
The leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, had earlier proposed that there be a special day against homosexuality .
Iraq’s Coordination Framework, a pro-Iran Shia alliance, faces disagreements among its ranks on who should be the next prime minister, as a large faction seems keen on avoiding a confrontation with populist leader Moqtada al-Sadr.
Local media reporst indicate that there are five figures vying for the post. However, Iraqi experts believe that competition is virtually limited to the leader of the State of Law coalition, former prime minister and vice-president, Nuri al-Maliki and the former minister of labour and social affairs, Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani.
Those experts say that an agreement could be reached soon on Sudani’s nomination to avoid a consequent political confrontation with the leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada Al-Sadr, who strongly opposes the return of Maliki to the premiership. Sadr could also use the street again to topple the government and call for new elections.
Observers believe that the nomination of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, as well as the current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, was merely a manoeuvre aimed at indirectly blocking Maliki’s bid.
The leaders of the Coordination Framework intend to hold wide discussions on a list of candidates before agreeing on a personality that meets their requirements.
Their agreement is almost certain to end the ongoing political crisis that has followed last October’s parliamentary elections.