Saturday, October 28, 2023

Let's all applaud Becca Balint

Would anyone miss her if she were gone?  The question could easily apply to either Marjorie Taylor Green or Lauren Boebert and the answer would be the same -- a resounding "NO!"  But I was asking specifically about Marjorie Taylor Greene.  I can't imagine anyone missing her.  Or lamenting her passing.  You have to be a pretty awful person for people to say that about you.  Darragh Roche (NEWSWEEK) reports:

Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene's effort to censure Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib may have backfired as Greene is now facing potential censure herself.
Representative Becca Balint, a freshman Democrat, introduced a resolution aiming to censure Greene in the House of Representatives on Thursday and accused the Republican of using "Islamophobic" rhetoric.

Greene has called Tlaib, who is Muslim, an "Israel hating America hating woman who does not represent anything America stands for" and introduced a resolution to the House floor on Thursday to censure the Democrat over her response to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Balint originally introduced a resolution to censure Greene on July 25, listing a number of statements Greene has made and accusing her of "perpetuating conspiracy theories" related to the 9/11 attacks and the January 6 Capitol riot.

The resolution also highlights that Greene showed explicit images of President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, during a congressional hearing as part of a series of other criticisms.

You know what?  I am all for that censure.  I'll do one better.  Everyone in the Congress pushing one conspiracy after another?    Censure them.  If they want to stand by those theories, take a censure.  

I'm tired of wack jobs in Congress.

In fact, let's note Chelsea Handler taking on MTG.

Marjorie Taylor Greene: I have people come up to me and say crazy things to me out of the blue in public places that they believe because they read it on the internet.

Chelsea Handler:  Well if that's not the pot calling the kettle QAnon.  This woman thought 9/11 was a hoax, that the Clintons killed JFK Jr. and that Jews are in charge of space lasers.  But please, don't come at her with some crazy ideas -- she might believe them. 

It took Rep. Becca Balint (I-Vt.) nearly 12 minutes to get through her 40-plus reasons to censure Greene, who herself is trying to get Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) censured for attending a pro-Palestine demonstration. 

Balint’s resolution says Greene “repeatedly fanned the flames of racism, antisemitism, LGBTQ hate speech, Islamophobia, anti-Asian hate, xenophobia, and other forms of hatred.” 

That includes Greene speaking at a white nationalist event last year, calling Black Americans “slaves to the Democratic Party,” posting doctored videos online, spreading 9/11 conspiracy theories and defending the Jan. 6 insurrectionists, among other reasons. 

Good for Becca Balint.

It's long past time that members of Congress stood up to Crazy Marjorie Greene and her bullying.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, October 27, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues.

As the Israeli government's assault on Gaza continues, Imogen Foulkes (BBC NEWS) reports, "The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 7,028 people have now been killed in Gaza and, as reported in my previous post, that 41% of them are children."  Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) notes:

On Wednesday, Oxfam accused Israel of intentionally starving Gaza’s 2.3 million people. Oxfam’s regional Middle East director said, “The situation is nothing short of horrific — where is humanity? Millions of civilians are being collectively punished in full view of the world, there can be no justification for using starvation as a weapon of war.”

Lynn Hastings, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, on Thursday reiterated the agency’s concern over Israel’s demand that residents of northern Gaza move to the south of the enclave, pointing to continued airstrikes even in those areas.

“For people who can’t evacuate—because they have nowhere to go or are unable to move --advance warnings make no difference,” Hastings said. “Nowhere is safe in Gaza.”

Arab governments -- even those that have drawn closer to Israel in recent years -- have condemned the country’s military assault on Gaza. Among them are states that stood by as the U.S.-led peace process collapsed and Palestinian suffering festered -- a neglect that analysts attribute to a mix of hopelessness, antipathy to Palestinian leadership or a focus inward, on domestic concerns.

Yesterday, Nermeen Shaikh and Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) spoke with Dr Judith Butler about the ongoing assault.  One segment was broadcast on the show and then, the one we're noting, there was a second segment that was a web exclusive:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Butler. I’d like to ask first about the open letter that you signed along with others, other Jewish writers and scholars, urging President Biden to support a ceasefire in Gaza. I’ll just quote a line from the letter, which says, quote, “We condemn attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians. We believe it is possible and in fact necessary to condemn Hamas’ actions and acknowledge the historical and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians. We believe it is possible and necessary to condemn Hamas’ attack and take a stand against the collective punishment of Gazans that is unfolding and accelerating as we write.” So, Professor Butler, could you, you know, talk about that? I mean, why — it seems so self-evident, of course, that one can condemn what Hamas did and simultaneously oppose this brutal, ongoing assault on Gaza.

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, it seems to me that one can be opposed, and should be opposed, to the killing of civilians. And that’s a basic ethical precept of war. And so it’s only logical to say that one objects to the killing of civilians on both sides. I think that what is problematic is how often many people who understand themselves as Zionists have said that the Hamas attacks justify the present response on the part of the Israeli military. But as we see, the military powers are radically asymmetrical. And this is not a conflict where, oh, both sides are at fault in some equal way. We have to understand the history of the violence that has been inflicted against Palestine, including Gaza, and I would include as part of that violence the deprivation of the people of drinking water, of healthcare, of basic foods and electricity, that, in other words, the very conditions of life itself have been attacked systematically.

So, I think that I can’t speak for all of the people who signed that letter. But as Jews, we do say, “Not in our name.” This is the — what the Israeli state is doing, what the Israeli military forces are doing does not represent us. It doesn’t represent our values. And because, as I’ve said, I think what we’re seeing is the implementation of a genocidal plan, according to international legal definitions of genocide, as Jews, it is imperative, ethically, politically, to speak out against genocide, just as it is to speak out against the production of a new class of refugees or the intensification of refugee status for so many Palestinians, who have, in some cases, been refugees since 1948. Their families have. So, that’s, I think, the basic thinking behind that petition.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Butler, I wanted to turn to John Kirby, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, who was speaking this week at a White House press briefing.

JOHN KIRBY: This is war. It is combat. It is bloody, it is ugly, and it’s going to be messy. And innocent civilians are going to be hurt, going forward. I wish I could tell you something different. I wish that that wasn’t going to happen. But it is. It is going to happen.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the killing of civilians is just going to happen. Judith Butler, if you could respond also, as a Jewish professor, for those in the Israeli government, like Naftali Bennett, who have said, “Are you seriously talking about Palestinian civilians?” that if you are to raise your concerns about Palestinians, that it somehow minimizes what happens on — what happened on October 7th, the killing of 1,400 Israelis, the worst killing of — mass killing of Jews since the Holocaust?

JUDITH BUTLER: So, when the national security spokesperson claims that it’s just too bad that civilians will lose their lives in Gaza, and that he wishes that it were not the case, he is, in fact, lying. Civilians are targeted. And I think we can also say that one of the things that is happening right now is that — and it has been happening for some time — is that the Israeli state claims that all these civilian targets it hits are shields for military installations. Well, that’s a very convenient explanation, but it doesn’t explain the bombing of homes, the bombing — and the targeting and bombing of people as they are fleeing the north to the south. So, I think that this is bad faith, at best, and a brutal lie, if we’re to be honest.

I think, as well, that there are, unfortunately, some Jewish groups and Zionist groups that care fully or exclusively or primarily about Jewish life, and their position is that the destruction of Jewish life is the worst possible thing in the world — and it is terrible. It’s absolutely terrible. But Jewish life is no more valuable than Palestinian life. And I think that you might find a number of people who agree with that in the abstract, but they take the massive targeting, the slaughter campaign against Gaza as justifiable, because no amount of violence can possibly compensate for their sense of injury.

I would just add that it is extremely difficult to get the media and the press to offer graphic and detailed descriptions of what the suffering is in Gaza. We hear much more, say, in The New York Times about Israeli lives and the losses they’ve endured. But we never get the same kind of coverage of Palestine. We sometimes get numbers. And as you’ve seen, those numbers could be disputed, even by Biden, even though they’re supplied by United Nations agencies or respectable agencies on the ground. So, there are all kinds of ways of minimizing and derealizing — that is to say, making fake or making illusory — Palestinian deaths. And I think our job, as scholars, activists, people in journalism, is to bring that into the open and make these lives and these deaths meaningful for the greater public.

THE MAJORITY REPORT yesterday also addressed media portrayals.

Emma and the TMR gang are analyzing a clip from SKY NEWS and in case anyone's not following the broadcast media, that will provide an example of the kind of message the media repeatedly sends.

Now back to the DEMOCRACY NOW segment.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Butler, I’d like to ask about your own work. You’ve written extensively on the question of why certain lives are valued more than others. If you could speak specifically about how this is reflected not only in the comments we just heard from John Kirby, but also in media coverage, mainstream media coverage, of the war here in the U.S. I’ll just quote from your 2009 work, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? In the book, you write, quote, “When we take our moral horror to be a sign of our humanity, we fail to note that the humanity in question is, in fact, implicitly divided between those for whom we feel urgent and unreasoned concern and those whose lives and deaths simply do not touch us, or do not appear as lives at all.” So, if you could, Professor Butler, speak about this and how it’s manifest, in particular, as you were talking about earlier in The New York Times, in the U.S. media? And you’re in Paris at the moment, so you could perhaps also address this as it’s reflected in the European media.

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, first of all, let’s just state what I take to be obvious and true, which is that the settler colonial framework of Israel’s occupation of Palestine is a racist one, and Palestinians are figured as less than human. They’re among the non-Europeans. There are obviously Jewish non-Europeans, as well. But they are racialized, and they are treated as less than human. So the loss of those lives is not marked and acknowledged as a loss. Of course, it is within Palestine. I mean, there are always ways of gathering and mourning and carrying the dead and honoring the dead. So, we’re talking only from the point of view of those who believe that the elimination of Palestinian lives or the constant damaging of Palestinian lives is somehow justified. They’re not seeing those lives as human lives, according to the idea of the human they have.

And we’ve seen this when Netanyahu calls them animals or others call them barbaric, or, let’s keep in mind, when they are understood to be just a strategic problem: “Oh, here’s this population that has to be managed. Maybe it can be deported.” So, you know, when someone like — when someone from the Israeli government talks about relocating Palestinians to Sinai, making them into an Egyptian problem, investigating housing that’s available outside of Cairo, they are actually talking about deporting people as if they’re goods or chattel, as if they have the right to do so, as if they own these people or that these people are somehow movable goods. This is already not just a radical dehumanization, but it makes possible the brutal treatment, the deportation and the killing that is in play right now. And I think we’re not just seeing random acts of bombardment. We’re seeing a plan unfold. And unless it’s interrupted by the U.S. and other major powers, it will be devastating.

Of course, in Europe, and in Paris, there was, for a time, an interdiction against supporting Palestine through public protest. And luckily, the Constitutional Court here struck that executive decision down, and at least 20,000 people were on the street just last weekend. And, of course, we’re seeing it more and more in U.S. academic circles, but also in European ones. Unless people condemn Hamas, they are not considered acceptable. They’re considered to be antisemitic. Unless people support Israel unequivocally, they are understood to be antisemitic or aligned with terrorism. And, of course, as soon as that happens, those who want to object publicly or at their universities to the injustice that’s being committed risk losing support, losing their jobs, becoming stigmatized. I know academics who have been suspended here and in Switzerland. I know, certainly, academics in Germany who try to speak out, who are then tarred with the accusation of being antisemitic.

It’s not antisemitic to criticize the state of Israel if the state of Israel is a settler colonial state that’s doing violence of an extraordinary kind. One objects to violence. One objects to settler colonial arrangements. One objects to injustice. Indeed, as a Jew, you’re obligated to object to injustice. You would not be a good Jew if you were not objecting to injustice. So, to be called antisemitic — and I have been called that for years by those who oppose me — because I stand for values that are also Jewish values, shared values, but Jewish values, too, is simply appalling.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened to you in Bern. In fact, we thought we were going to be interviewing you in Switzerland, but you had a talk canceled.

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, I canceled my own talk, because I saw that speaking at the University of Bern under these conditions would have produced a controversy and could have possibly hurt my hosts and their department. But it is true that there are certain places where people who are clearly anti-Zionist or who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which I do, that there are protests, that there are efforts to censor, there are efforts to take away forms of recognition or to block the gate. I mean, this is only intensifying on U.S. campuses. And, of course, we need to protect the right of assembly and protest and demonstration. To be in solidarity with Palestine is not necessarily to agree with all the military actions of Hamas, but it is to stand with the people who are being targeted in a genocidal manner.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Butler, if you could also speak about what you think a possible resolution to the present crisis is? Also, in the context of your 2020 book, The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind, how is it that we take your injunction, your urging of nonviolence — and, of course, it’s a complicated position that you take — to understand how this situation could potentially come to an end?

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, I do think, first of all, a ceasefire is immediately necessary. But then I think there will be no resolution unless Gazans are allowed to return to their homes and to rebuild them and to undertake the mourning and the living that is theirs to do. I think the occupation has to come to an end, and I include the siege of Gaza as part of the occupation. It’s sometimes said that, oh, Gaza is no longer occupied, that the occupation ended in 2005. That’s not true. It may be that troops pulled back, but every bit of that border, except perhaps the Rafah gate, is patrolled and controlled by Israeli state authorities. And that means that goods and people can’t come and go without Israeli authority. So there’s no political autonomy to speak of under conditions such as those.

But I also think that the kind of deportations we’re seeing right now, they happened in 1948, when the Nakba began. The Nakba is not just a single event that happened in 1948. It is an ongoing condition. So the violence we see now, the killing, the massacre, the dislocation, is a continuation of the Nakba. It is perhaps its most graphic moment in the present. But we should not be imagining that, oh, if we solve this particular conflict now, we will have gotten to the root of the problem. The root of the problem involves finding a way for Palestinians to have full power of self-determination, to live in a democratic society, for dispossession to come to an end, for stolen lands to be returned or acknowledged or for reparation to be given, and also a right of return for a lot of people who have been forced to leave under terrible circumstances.

AMY GOODMAN: Judith Butler, we want to thank you very much for being with us, philosopher, political commentator, gender studies scholar, distinguished professor in the Graduate School at University of California, Berkeley, and the Hannah Arendt chair at the European Graduate School, on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace. Since we have two minutes on the satellite left, that title of the Hannah Arendt school, if you could say where you think Hannah Arendt would stand today?

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, there are different parts of Hannah Arendt, but I would say that she was very smart in 1948 when she wrote that basing the state of Israel on the principle of Jewish sovereignty is a terrible mistake, and that it would produce conflict of a military character for decades to come. She was arguing for a binational structure, a pluralistic structure, where Jews and Palestinians could cohabit the land, where there would be some form of equality. I’m not sure her plan was totally worked out. It seemed to be derived from Martin Buber to a certain degree. But she did think that no state could be based on an ethnic or religious form of sovereignty without producing displacement for all the people who don’t belong to that religion, that ethnicity. So, she did predict that Israel would produce a massive class of refugees, and that it would be mired in conflict for years to come.

And it’s also why I think we have to remember the right of return. We will not get to the root of the problem unless we understand the more than — the millions of Palestinians whose families have been living in forced exile for all these years, and give them some acknowledgment, some reparation, some way of honoring the right of return.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much. To see Part 1 of our conversation with the professor at University of California, Berkeley, we want to urge you to go to I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

On the language used, Ramzy Baroud (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

  Indeed, effective political or military actions anywhere in the world hardly take place without an edifice of text and language that facilitates, rationalizes, and justifies those actions. Israel’s perception of Palestinians is a perfect illustration of this claim.

Prior to the establishment of Israel, Zionists denied the very existence of the Palestinians. Many still do.

When that is the case, it becomes only logical to draw a conclusion that Israel, in its own collective mind, cannot be morally culpable of killing those who have never existed in the first place.

Even when Palestinians factor into the Israeli political discourse, they become “bloodthirsty animals,” “terrorists,” or “drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”

It would be too convenient to label this as just “racist.” Though racism is at work here, this sense of racial supremacy does not exist to merely maintain a sociopolitical order, in which Israelis are masters and Palestinians are serfs. It is far more complex.

As soon as Palestinian fighters from Gaza crossed into the southern border of Israel, killing hundreds, not a single Israeli politician, analyst, or mainstream intellectual seemed interested in the context of the daring act.

The post-October 7 language used by Israelis, but also many Americans, created the atmosphere necessary for the savage Israeli response which followed.

The number of Palestinians killed in the first eight days of the Israeli war against Gaza has reportedly exceeded the number of casualties who were killed during the longest and most destructive Israeli war on the strip, dubbed “Protective Edge,” in 2014.

According to The Defense for Children International–Palestine, a Palestinian child is killed every 15 minutes, and, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 70% of all of Gaza’s casualties are women and children.

For Israel, none of these facts matter. In the mind of Israeli President Isaac Herzog, often perceived as a “moderate,” the “rhetoric about civilians not (being) involved (is) absolutely not true.” They are legitimate targets, simply because they “could’ve risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime,” he said, referring to Hamas. 

Norah Barrows-Friedman, Alia Abunimah, Asa Winstanley and Refaat Alareer had a roundtable discussion yesterday on recent Gaza events.

The US government tries to make Iran the scapegoat of foreign countries over the assault of Gaza.  This is not about Iran -- though the US government will gladly and happily use Gaza to go to war with Iran.  This is about the Palestinian people and they are the reason the other Middle East governments are not pleased with the US government.  This is all avoidable, no matter what John Kirby or any other US government hack says.  It was avoidable, further slaughter still can be avoided.  But instead of being a rational voice, the US government is part of the slaughter.  And it's Jordan and it's Iraq and it's Egypt and it's everyone in the region that is dismayed by the US refusing to call for a cease-fire -- by the US stopping a resolution for a cease-fire at the United Nations.

The support of Washington and the European powers for Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinians in Gaza and the looming prospect of a US war with Iran have provoked a desperate crisis in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.

After the Israel-Gaza war broke out on October 7, Erdoğan initially tried to block a mass movement against Israeli bombings in Gaza. Turkish riot police assaulted solidarity protests with Gaza, as Erdoğan called for “de-escalation” and a “ceasefire,” equating the violence of the Palestinians with the imperialist-backed Israeli state. On Wednesday, however, as the Israeli regime ignored his calls for “restraint” and outrage mounted in the overwhelming majority of the Turkish people, he was forced to suddenly shift his policy.

In a speech at a meeting of his party, Erdoğan said: “We have made every effort in order for this crisis to not further escalate, and will continue to do so … We have clearly stated that we never approve of any acts against civilians, including Israeli civilians, no matter who carries these acts out.” He added: “We do not have any problem with the State of Israel, but we never have and never will approve of Israeli oppression and their course of action, which resembles that of an organization rather than a state.”

Even a butcher like Recep is calling the US government out.  Even Recep.  That's how wrong the US has been in this conflict. 

And this hatred and violence that the US is targeting on the Palestinian people is washing right back to our own shore.  Lauren Sforza (THE HILL) notes:

The number of Islamophobic incidents in the United States has dramatically spiked since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the militant group Hamas, according to an advocacy group.
The Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced Wednesday that it has received 774 complaints and reported incidents of bias from across the U.S. since Hamas launched its deadly surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

 The advocacy group estimated that this is the largest number of complaints received in a similar time period since former President Trump, a presidential candidate at the time, announced his intentions for a Muslim ban in the United States in 2015.

“Anyone with a conscience should be deeply concerned by this sudden rise in complaints amid an atmosphere of rampant anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Palestinian racism,” Corey Saylor, research and advocacy director at CAIR, said.

“Public officials should do everything in their power to keep the wave of hate sweeping the nation right now from spiraling out of control,” Saylor added. “That includes bringing the horrific violence overseas to an end before it endangers more innocent people there and here at home.”

As the violence increases abroad and at home, Joe Biden's poll numbers decrease.  Zachary Basu (AXIOS) reports:

President Biden's approval rating among Democrats has plummeted to a record low of 75% — down a staggering 11 percentage points over just the last month, according to a new Gallup poll conducted between Oct. 2 and Oct. 23.

Why it matters: Biden is at risk of alienating members of his own party with his unequivocal support for Israel, which has carried out a weeks-long bombardment and total siege of Gaza in response to Hamas' Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.

The polling wasn't in yet but we were noting that reality two Fridays ago -- based upon the years and years of on campus speaking we've been doing. 

Joe has painted himself into a corner with his response.  It was out of touch and alienating.  That's not surprising.  Joe spent his entire adult working life in the US Senate.  That position doesn't bring a lot of awareness with it.  His stand is one that would be widely supported . . . if it were 1973 -- the year Joe was sworn into the Senate.  But it's actually 2023.  Rolling Stones, sing the song:

You don't know what's going on
You've been away for far too long
You can't come back and think you are still mine
You're out of touch, my baby
My poor discarded baby
I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
Well, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
You are left out
Out of there without a doubt, 'cause
Baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
== "Out of Time" written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, first appears on AFTERMATH.

We'll wind down with this from THE BLACK COMMENTATOR:

The Black Commentator Issue #975 is now Online
October 26, 2023

Read issue 975

Our email address is

Our voicemail number is 856.823.1739

The following sites updated:

Friday, October 27, 2023

Did Boe-Boe's side hustle hurt her?

Mini Racker (TIME MAGAZINE) reports;

Rep. Lauren Boebert seemed to be turning things around. After squeaking out a surprisingly narrow victory in a Republican district last year, the Trump-loving firebrand spent the August recess at home in her Colorado district winning back trust. She sat for interviews with hometown newspapers, met with local officials to discuss issues like water and health care, and helped combat veterans receive the medals they’d been awarded. Given her penchant for provocative statements that made national news, Colorado Republicans were pleasantly surprised.

Then it all came undone. In mid-September, the Denver Post reported that Boebert had been escorted out of a local performance of Beetlejuice. The venue accused her of vaping, recording the show, and otherwise disturbing the performance. After her office denied that she had been vaping, video clips proved that she had been, and that she and her date had also been groping each other. 

Boebert apologized, but damage control may prove difficult. Now, in addition to another challenge from the Democrat who came close to unseating her in 2022, Boebert may also face a competitive primary.

She was already struggling before she decided to give a performance at a performance of BEETLEJUICE: THE MUSICAL but, yes, Boe-Boe's pursuit of adult entertainer as a side-hustle has harmed her re-election chances.  Turns out, what people might enjoy watching on their cellphone, they don't necessarily want to see in public and see it performed by a member of Congress.  

Colorado Republicans are rejecting Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and lining up behind her primary opponent, Jeff Hurd, after she was caught vaping and groping her date during a September 10 performance of Beetlejuice at the Buell Theater in Denver.

Several prominent state Republicans recently endorsed Hurd and slammed Boebert in interviews with Time magazine — including former Colorado Governor Bill Owens, Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes, and Mesa County Commissioners Cody Davis and Bobbie Daniel.

Though she initially denied doing anything wrong at the Beetlejuice performance, auditorium camera footage showed that Boebert was indeed vaping, as well as groping and being groped by Quinn Gallagher, the owner of an Aspen bar that holds drag performances. Boebert also took a picture of the cast, which is forbidden by theater rules. After multiple patrons complained about her behavior, she was kicked out. While leaving, she flipped her middle finger at the usher and yelled, “Do you know who I am?”

Bye, Boe-Boe?

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, October 26, 2023.  The Australian government continues to fail Julian Assange and Robert Pether, Gaza remains under assault, verbal attacks are launched on the UN Secretary-General while -- in Florida -- Ronald DeSantis appoints himself classroom monitor, Riley Gaines is not just a transphobe, she also bullies high schoolers, and much more.

The stakes are high as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives in Washington, D.C., today to meet with President Joe Biden. The U.S. government hopes to obtain Australia’s support for its cold war initiatives against China.

Australia is one of the United States’ closest allies. Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. comprise “AUKUS,” a trilateral “security” alliance in the Indo-Pacific.

This is a crucial issue for Australia as well. Before Albanese left for the United States, he told parliament that the AUKUS transfer of U.S. and British nuclear submarine technology to Australia was critical to the future of the alliance.

Three e-mails wondered why we didn't note that?  

Because we're covering the assault on Gaza primarily right now.  Because if Julian were deported to the United States (by England) right now, with protesters already organized in this country demanding a cease-fire, that would only explode and I believe the White House knows that.  I could be wrong but I think they'd be stupid to make any more on Julian right now.  

Another reason is I don't share Marjorie's belief regarding Australia's prime minister.

Anthony Albanese.  What is that a sandwich?  A pasta?  It's certainly not a leader.  

He can't even stand up to Iraq and demand Australian citizen Robert Pether be released.  

Australian officials do not give a damn about protecting their own citizens.  Three days ago, at WSWS, Oscar Grenfell reported:

Further evidence of Labor’s refusal to defend Assange was provided last Thursday by former independent senator Rex Patrick. In an article co-authored with Philip Dorling and published by Michael West Media, Patrick reported on the results of recent freedom of information (FOI) requests for Australian government documents relating to Assange.

The headline sharply summed up what those documents exposed: “Jail, then jail, and more jail. Labor’s Assange strategy revealed.”

Patrick and Dorling note that Labor’s Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has postured as a supporter of media freedom, but has said hardly anything about Assange’s plight during his more than year-long tenure.

They report: “Perhaps the first glaring thing that comes from the latest FOI disclosure on the US espionage prosecution of Julian Assange is just how little Australia’s first law officer has been engaged with the matter.

“A request for all briefings and submissions provided to Dreyfus by his department between June 2022 and September 2023 netted just five documents; only one ministerial submission, two parliamentary question time briefs, one ‘hot topic’ brief, and another set of talking points. Five documents across fifteen months.”

The other striking thing about the list of documents is that they appear to have little or nothing to do with the complex legal intricacies associated with trying to liberate a publisher being framed up on major criminal charges in the US. They seem to all relate, primarily, to public relations, i.e., the appearance that the government is doing something, as opposed to the government actually taking action.

The documents contain no indication of substantive diplomatic activity, directed towards encouraging the US to end the prosecution of Assange. Nor do FOI documents obtained from the Australian embassy in the US.

Patrick and Dorling write: “Prime Minister Albanese’s platitudes that the case has gone on too long and should be brought to a close are shown to be just that, platitudes. One of the Government’s standard talking points in Dreyfus’ briefings is to say that ‘not all foreign affairs are best conducted with a loud hailer.’ In this case, however, the documents provide no evidence that any quiet conversations have been had, either.”

The most substantive internal government document to have been released, relating to Assange, remains a June 2022 departmental briefing note by Dreyfus.

The sole references in that document to any action by Labor relate to a period after Assange has been extradited to the US, tried before a national-security kangaroo court and convicted. Under those conditions, the document floats the possibility of a transfer that could see Assange dispatched from a US prison to an Australian one.

Marjorie is very smart.  She's not always right.  We certainly disagreed over her 2008 election nonsense (where she had one candidate for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination trying to physically assassinate another -- yeah that was crackpot theory time) and certainly we disagreed over Lt Ehren Watada -- specifically over the last call the judge in the court-martial made.  I think it was a couple of hours but it might have been a day before she grasped what had just taken place.  Check the archives we said it as soon as it happened.  I immediately dictated the snapshot announcing that Ehren was now going to be free because Judge Toilet (John Head) had just stopped the case because the prosecution was clearly losing.  That's not how the law works.  You don't get to call a do over.  Double jeopardy attached.  I was right on that.  Marjorie did grasp it before Norman Solomon (who was whining about the judge's action when he should have been celebrating because that was the best thing that could have happened to Ehren) but she should have gotten it before Norman, she's a trained attorney.  

Again, Marjorie's very smart.  But she's got a faith right now in the Australian government that I don't have and I'm expecting reason here, not blind faith.

A bipartisan duo in Congress has launched a fresh effort to push President Joe Biden to drop the Department of Justice’s extradition request against Julian Assange and to stop prosecutorial proceedings against him.

Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., are asking their colleagues in the House to sign on to a letter to the Biden administration by Thursday, noting that opposing Assange’s prosecution is important not only for press freedom, but also to maintain credibility on the global stage. 

McGovern, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who co-chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Congress, told The Intercept that the charges against Assange are part of an alarming global trend of increasing attacks against the press, including in the U.S. “The bottom line is that journalism is not a crime,” he wrote in a statement. “The work reporters do is about transparency, trust, and speaking truth to power. When they are unjustly targeted, we all suffer the consequences. The stakes are too high for us to remain silent.” 

The lawmakers will send the letter to Biden as well as Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The letter follows a similar effort by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., earlier this year and comes amid Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to the U.S. this week. Buoyed by cross-partisan Australian support for the cause to free Assange, an Australian citizen, Albanese himself has previously expressed frustration with Assange’s situation, saying it had gone on far too long.

“The fact that it’s a bipartisan effort is extremely important, showing that Julian’s issue is not a left or a right issue, but it’s an issue of principle,” Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, told The Intercept. 

I always forget Jim McGovern is still in Congress.

Yesterday, Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) noted, "Israel is lashing out at the U.N. after Secretary-General António Guterres said it was guilty of 'clear violations of international humanitarian law' and that the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel 'did not happen in a vacuum.' The Israeli envoy to the U.N. demanded Guterres resign over the comments, as Israel has reportedly refused a visa to U.N. humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths to 'teach them a lesson'."  It's not just about carrying out an assault on Gaza, it's about bullying and frightening anyone who might speak up.  

A New York University Law School student whose job offer from an international law firm was rescinded for remarks seen as insensitive to victims of the Hamas attack on Israel said they would continue to speak out.

Ryna Workman, who uses the pronouns they/them, told ABC News that speaking out was a matter of human rights.

"I will continue to speak up for Palestinian human rights and use whatever platform I have available to me to call for a ceasefire and end this occupation that's harming the Palestinians," Workman told ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis Tuesday in an exclusive interview.

And political hacks -- especially those who are unpopular -- will always try to ride a wave of censorship to score points.  Kathryn Varn (AXIOS) reports:

Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered Florida university officials to shut down their pro-Palestinian student groups.

Driving the news: State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues said Tuesday in a letter to university presidents that their chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) "must be deactivated."

  • Only the University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of Florida in Gainesville have active chapters registered with the schools but the organization appears to have a presence at other universities, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Details: Rodrigues' letter pointed to a "toolkit" released by the group's national chapter that said early October's Hamas attacks on Israel were part of "the resistance" and says: "Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement."

  • Rodrigues did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

The other side: The University of Florida SJP chapter told Axios in a statement that it found the "recent attempt by the DeSantis administration to shut down our chapter disgraceful."

  • "If followed through, a precedent would be set to shut down any organization that does not align with the ideals held by Governor DeSantis," the group added.

The assault on Gaza, which is not a war since only one side has the means to destroy a whole population, will cement what some in Washington wanted all along, more lies and more war. Now, speaking out for Palestine is conflated with supporting terrorism.
Another lie that spread like COVID-19 was that progressives and those on the left opposing war are empowering terrorists. Actually, terrorism thrives in war. Like a virus, it grows away from light and oxygen. Those who oppose war give the human family hope for curing a cancerous disease.

On 9/11, I was on my way to the White House to meet with President George W. Bush, and en route, I learned about the targeting of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Our meeting was canceled along with years of work for civic engagement, for getting moderate Muslim voices seen and heard, for resolving crises in the Middle East without war, for peacemaking among followers of the Abrahamic faiths, and for a future of America that included Islam.

Immediately after 9/11, the American people demonstrated their greatness by reaching out to Muslims and learning about Islam as a religion that created a great civilization, much like Western civilization. The Quran became a best-seller at bookstores. Muslims at every local level learned the art of public speaking and became spokespeople for the faith. They aspired to marginalize Osama bin Laden rather than be marginalized. But then the war drums began beating louder and louder, first Afghanistan and then Iraq, both strategic errors by the United States. We never learn from our mistakes.

We certainly don't appear to.  Ronald DeSantis thinks he can control free speech and dole it out only to those he agrees with.  That's frightening all by itself.  It's even more frightening and more upsetting when you grasp this piece of filth wants to be President of the United States and tip-toe on his tippy toes across the Constitution. 

They can certainly try to censor but I don't think the American people will be silenced.  Nor do I think YOUTUBE's efforts at censorship are 'winning.'  We're about to note a DEMOCRACY NOW! segment and you can stream it at the link but we're not putting the video in because YOUTUBE is censoring it and now allowing people to share it.

AMY GOODMAN: The death toll in Gaza has topped 6,500 as Israel continues to bombard the besieged territory for a 19th day. According to Palestinian health authorities, the dead include 2,700 children.

Israel, with the backing of the United States, has rejected calls for a ceasefire. On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the U.N. Security Council and called for a ceasefire.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their lands steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence, their economy stifled, their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing. But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas, and those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

AMY GOODMAN: Israel condemned Guterres’s comments and has vowed to stop issuing visas to U.N. representatives. Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. is also calling for Guterres’s resignation.

This all comes as the humanitarian situation in Gaza grows worse by the hour, as dwindling fuel supplies could soon force the closure of all hospitals in the territory. Israel is also continuing to carry out attacks on the occupied West Bank. An Israeli drone strike on the Jenin refugee camp has killed at least three Palestinians. Israeli security forces and settlers have killed at least a hundred Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since October 7th. And even before that, this was the deadliest year for Palestinians, at least one killed a day in the West Bank. Meanwhile, the number of Palestinians jailed by Israel has doubled over the past two weeks, from about 5,000 to 10,000.

In other developments, the prime minister of Qatar says he hopes there will be a breakthrough soon on the Israeli hostages being held by Gaza. Hamas and other groups are believed to be holding about 220 people seized on October 7th in the Hamas attack that left around 1,400 people dead in Israel.

We begin today’s show in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, where we’re joined by Budour Hassan, Amnesty International researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Amnesty International published a report last week headlined “Damning evidence of war crimes as Israeli attacks wipe out entire families in Gaza.”

Budour, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you lay out your findings?

BUDOUR HASSAN: A hello, Amy, to you, to Juan and to all listeners and viewers.

With the help of our field worker who is based in Gaza and testimonies that we gathered from witnesses, victims and relatives, in addition to open-source evidence and photographs examined by our evidence lab team, we found out that Israeli forces carried out indiscriminate attacks, killing and injuring civilians, and in some cases that we documented, and that barely scratch the surface of the horror that is unfolding in Gaza, entire families were wiped out during this bombing campaign, which is only escalating. In addition to indiscriminate attacks by Israeli forces, we also documented the ongoing use of collective punishment, which is a war crime, that even where Israel alleged that there was a military target, a legitimate military target, the attacks failed to abide by the principle of proportionality.

And just, Amy, to go further, because we keep hearing numbers, and sometimes we may be desensitized and even inured to the extent of horror that we are witnessing, that behind each of these number there are stories. So, as part of our work, Amnesty International researchers have been listening to testimonies of people in Gaza, of victims, talking directly to people over the phone. And when we talk to people — for example, we talked to Tahir al-Zaizi [phon.], who lost 26 members of his family. All of his family were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Deir el-Balah. Tahir al-Zaizi’s two children, aged 8 and 6, were among those killed — his mother, his father, his brothers, his nieces, everyone of his family. And when we talked to him, he simply said, “You know, in my heart, there is no room for all of this.” And he started reciting the names, ages of his relatives lost. And I was reminded by Scholastique Mukasonga, the Rwandan writer, when she was remembering her loved ones who were killed in the Rwandan genocide and said that “They are all killed. No one has remained.” And this is exactly what happened to Tahir.

Another father we talked to, when we talked to him over the phone, he was removing rubble with his own hands, because bulldozers couldn’t make it to the neighborhood. And there are no — bulldozers can’t even make it because there is no fuel to power bulldozers and to remove the rubble. So he was left with trying to remove the rubble and to excavate the shreds of his daughter. And then, while we were with him on the phone, someone told him, “We found the toe of your little daughter.” And he started kissing her toe. This is the only thing that was left to him from her. We talked to people who don’t even have photographs to remember their loved ones with. They only have rubble, because their phones, their laptops were all destroyed in airstrikes.

We also talked to relatives of the family of al-Dos in al-Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City. Fifteen members of this family were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the first day of the bombings on the 7th of October, including a 12-year-old named Awni al-Dos. We did not realize at the time that Awni was a talented gamer and YouTuber. Only later did it emerge from his friends that one of his dreams was to have more than 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, which he will never see. And these are just some of the faces.

Right now, as we speak, people in Gaza have not been able to mourn or to grieve properly. There are no funerals for the dead. It’s very hard. There are more than 1,000 bodies buried under the rubble, and people cannot get. Even when people manage to bury their loved ones, they just bury remnants. And even when they share with us testimonies, with the difficulty of getting to people, what they share with us almost are fragments of testimonies, not really testimonies, because of the devastation that they’re living through and because simply they say, “We need time to at least think about mourning our loved ones, about reflecting on all that we’ve been going through.” And with this incessant bombings and war, they don’t even have time for that.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Budour, I wanted to ask you: What did your report find about the Israeli military warning civilians before dropping these bombs or missile attacks? And also, Israel has claimed that the people of Gaza should move out of northern Gaza into the south. But what are you finding about attacks in the south?

AMY GOODMAN: Budour? We’re talking to Budour Hassan, who is Amnesty International researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We’re having a bit of a sound issue. Amnesty International has published a new report headlined “Damning evidence of war crimes as Israeli attacks wipe out entire families in Gaza.” Go ahead with what you were saying, Budour.

Why don’t we turn to a clip as we fix the sound with Budour Hassan? More than half of Gaza’s population has been displaced by the Israeli assault. This is an 18-year-old Palestinian named Dima Allamdani. She had fled to southern Gaza after Israel ordered Palestinians to leave their homes in the north. Much of her family died in an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, where the family had sought temporary shelter.

DIMA ALLAMDANI: [translated] I went to look for my mother, my father and my siblings at the morgue. At first they told me, “Come, see your mother.” They didn’t show me her face, but I recognized her from what she has on her feet. God bless her soul. I felt heartbroken. It was like a nightmare. They opened my father’s coffin, and he had no signs of injuries, but he died. God bless his soul. I had a 16-year-old sister among the dead, and they wrote my name on her coffin since they thought it was me. Her body didn’t have any signs of injuries, but maybe she died from internal injuries. … They also showed me my little sister. She’s in first grade. And they asked me, “Who is she?” At first I didn’t recognize her due to all the cuts and burns on her face. Then they wrote her name on her coffin. I would have never thought that my family would end up like this. I felt heartbroken. It’s a nightmare. I can’t believe it, until now, that they’re all dead, no one left.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I think we have the connection straightened out with Budour Hassan. I was asking you, Budour, about the Israeli warnings to civilians before attacks, what you’ve learned about that, and also about the Israeli claim that the Palestinians of northern Gaza should move to the south for safety.

BUDOUR HASSAN: Juan, in the majority of cases that we did document, there were no warnings before the airstrikes, so the families did not receive at all any warnings. Even in cases where there was advance warning, that advance warning was not effective, because it was only informed to one of the family members, not to the entire family or the residents of the buildings. And it failed to meet the standards that require to make a warning effective, with no clear timeframe.

With regards to the warning, the initial warning by the Israeli army issued on the 13th of October for all of the residents of north of Wadi Gaza to evacuate to south of Wadi Gaza, this amounts to a forced displacement, simply because this is unfeasible for this community to leave. They cannot leave. Obviously, there are thousands of people with disabilities, wounded people. This number of people simply do not have the means and cannot leave. And then that was later followed by leaflets dropped by the Israeli army warning people to leave and then saying that anyone who chooses to stay north of Wadi Gaza will be considered accomplice with armed terrorist organizations, as per the words of the army, which again amounts to collective punishment, fails to meet the principle of distinction, because an entire area, hundreds of thousands, nearly a million people are treated just like an open fire zone, which also signals that the Israeli army intends to not distinguish between civilians and military target, because an entire area is transformed into one.

And even if we support that many of these people were to leave, the situation in southern Gaza, and especially in Rafah and Khan Younis, is particularly dire. The UNRWA-run schools are barely — they’re not capable of dealing with the amount of people, the influx of people into south Gaza, in addition to the incessant bombardment also targeting areas in southern Gaza, especially over the last five days. So, these coercive conditions in which the Israeli army is trying to force people out, which, again, amount to forced displacement, knowing that people in Gaza absolutely have nowhere safe from bombardment and airstrikes.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about the West Bank. That’s where you are right now, Budour. You’re in Ramallah. In the occupied West Bank, health officials say at least a hundred Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and armed settlers amidst mounting military raids and arrests. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has documented some of the attacks. In one video shared online, an Israeli settler, accompanied by an Israeli soldier, shoots a man at point-blank range. Major protests also across the West Bank have taken aim at the ruling Palestinian Authority, which has launched a violent crackdown on demonstrations. Last week, a 12-year-old Palestinian girl named Razan Nasrallah was shot and killed by PA security forces during protests in Jenin following the deadly bombing of Gaza’s Al-Ahli Hospital. Still not clear what that explosion — who was responsible for that explosion. But, Budour, if you can talk about what’s happening also with Gazans who had work permits in the occupied West Bank, what has happened to them, and what’s happening in the prisons, where thousands of Palestinians are held?

BUDOUR HASSAN: Since the 7th of October, after the Hamas attack, thousands of workers from Gaza who had valid work permits to work in Israel and the occupied West Bank had their work permits unilaterally revoked. So, they could only learn about that through an application. And then Israeli forces started rounding them up and detaining them in military bases in cage-like conditions. One prisoner who was later released, because he was actually a resident of the West Bank, spoke about torture and other ill-treatment to which these workers are subjected. Families of workers who contacted Israeli human rights organizations, including HaMoked, Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights, said that they have no clue where their family members are. So, Israel now is treating — is arbitrarily detaining thousands of Palestinian workers, almost treating them like hostages, denying them due process, denying them meetings with lawyers. There is not even a hint of due process, in addition to torture.

All that in the context of increasing numbers of detentions, and before that, before all of this started, the number of Palestinians administratively detained without charges or trial has hit a 20-year high. And the number has doubled just since the 7th of October. And Palestinian families obviously have not been able to visit their loved ones in prison. In addition to that, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, adopted an amendment that would authorize the Israeli prison authorities to not limit the number of people who can be detained in one cell, which has made the conditions of imprisonment absolutely dire and amounting to torture and other ill-treatment.

All of that, Amy, as you said, in the context of increasing number of unlawful killings of Palestinians, including Palestinian children, mostly during protests, and many of these cases where state-supported settlers have also been rampaging across the West Bank, leading to unprecedented levels of forcible transfer in areas around Ramallah. And unfortunately, this level of pressure, of coercion, of oppression that Palestinians have been facing in the West Bank, which is part and parcels of Israel’s apartheid regime, has received such a scant attention, because all eyes now are on Gaza, which has given the opportunity to Israeli settlers and to Israeli policymakers to actually escalate their campaign of forcible transfer and of settlement expansion.

AMY GOODMAN: Budour Hassan, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Amnesty International researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Again, we will link to Amnesty’s report headlined “Damning evidence of war crimes as Israeli attacks wipe out entire families in Gaza.”

When we come back, we speak with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen about his new memoir, A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, a History, a Memorial. A major talk in New York was canceled after he signed, along with hundreds and hundreds of writers, a letter calling for a ceasefire. Stay with us.

The chief of Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau, Wael Al-Dahdouh, learned while reporting on-air Wednesday that his wife, son, daughter, and grandson had been killed in an Israeli airstrike like the ones the veteran journalist has been covering for nearly three weeks.

Al-Dahdouh was reporting live near Wafa Hospital in Gaza City when someone spoke to him about his family.

"What, what happened? They don't know where they are?" he asked, before being told that his daughter had been hospitalized.

His colleagues later broke the news to viewers that Al-Dahdouh's family members had been killed.

The channel aired footage of the bureau chief weeping over his son, who appeared to be laying on the floor of the nearby hospital. Medical providers have been warning for days that hospitals are overrun with victims of airstrikes and medical supplies and fuel and running dangerously low, putting the healthcare system in Gaza at risk of collapse.

Another son of Al-Dahdouh's, Yehia, was seriously injured and had to be operated on in a corridor, with doctors resorting to nonsurgical thread to stitch his wound.

While kneeling over his son, Al-Dahdouh reportedly said, "They're taking revenge by killing our children."

AMANPOUR & COMPANY (CNN) did a strong interview with Queen Rania of Jordan.  We noted that interview last night and we noted it from Rania's website because AMANPOUR & COMPANY have still not posted it online at their YOUTUBTE page..  

The points Rania's making need to be heard.  They especially need to be heard in the United States.  

"It's not about me, it's about speaking up for humanity," Rania rightly notes in the interview.

An angry e-mail to the public account ( insists that I am friends with Rania and have known her my entire life.


I have never met her.  I do know her step-mother-in-law and have known Noor for decades.  But I've never met Rania.  So she's not a friend.  If you need me to disclose that her husband's step-mother is someone I've know for decades, I gladly will disclose that and have before.  Don't see how that's pertinent to what Rania -- the child of two Palestinians is saying.  We highlighted that video for two reasons.  First, she is a Palestinian voice.  Second, a CNN friend raised the issue of how CNN wasn't posting that video to YOUTUBE.  After we noted two times -- the snapshot was the second time -- CNN did post it.  That was the point of noting it.  

I did not, as the e-mail insists, get a call from Rania asking me to "do a favor as a friend."  I've never physically met her and I've never spoken to her on the phone or exchanged texts or e-mails with her.  

I'm not bothered by the accusation because it gives me another chance to post the video.  But the accusation is false.

Let's move over to a hate merchant.  The ugly Riley Gaines -- seriously, did she abuse steroids, is that why she has no breasts and that mannish face?  I have no idea.  But she is a hate merchant and yet the press wants to give her a pass.  No.  That's not acceptable.  At the start of this month in "Media: The week of WTF?," Ava and I noted: 

You can't have WTF without the transphobic, ugly faced trash that is Riley Gaines.  What caused the sewer dweller to come to the surface?
Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Missouri named Tristan Young their homecoming queen.  A trans-female, she competed against four female students and the high school body voted her homecoming queen.  It should have been a great moment for her, a special moment for her.

 But Riley had to claw her way in and start trashing Tristan.

No one called that out by the way.  Tristan is a high school senior.  Bully Gaines is an adult.  A bitter, ugly adult who lies and lies again.  

Grasp that.  She's an adult, a college graduate (if you can believe it), and she was publicly bullying a high school student.  That should have been the end of her.  But the press refuses to note that she's a bully.

And a liar.

She makes up physical attacks that never happened.  The press also refuses to follow up on that.

But the end of her should have been her bullying a high school student.

That is not acceptable.  

That should have been it for her and the public square.

One of the lies the bully has repeatedly told -- and the press reported it as gospel -- was that she wasn't a transphobe.  Yes, she was and, yes, she is.

A student body voting a trans student as home coming queen has nothing at all to do with sports.  That is who she was bullying.

And now she goes around the country preaching her hate.

I get it, I do.  If I looked in the mirror and saw that ridiculous face -- the head is too big and the features look tiny and plopped in the middle -- like a pizza that's all crust except for three peperoni slices in the middle -- I'd probably hate the world too.  I'd probably rage, "Why!" -- as I'm sure she does daily.

But her being punished with that face and body does not provide her with a get-out-of-jail-free card.  

Iowa's Terry Lowman writes the editors of THE DES MOINES REGISTER about how his church became trans inclusive and how, for nearly two decades, there has been no problem with Iowa's bathroom policy which allowed the person to choose which bathroom they wanted to use.  But now Riley, Tennessee trash that does not live in Iowa, has taken it upon herself to fundraise for Iowa's governor and racist Kim Reynolds.  As Terry notes in his letter, "And now we have Riley Gaines telling Gov. Kim Reynolds’ followers at the governor's fundraiser that this is an issue of moral vs evil. Reynolds says her heart goes out to parents of trans children, but apparently her heart stops when it comes to embracing trans children. According to research in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 82% of trans kids think about killing themselves and 40% attempt suicide."  Riley's tax filings will be very interesting and not just for the thousands Ronald DeSantis paid her.  Grifters like Riley make big bucks from right-wingers in the shadows.

Returning to the topic of a judge who believes she doesn't have to follow the law, Zachary Schermele (USA TODAY) notes:

Oral arguments began Wednesday in the case of Dianne Hensley, a justice of the peace in Waco who was reprimanded by the state’s judicial conduct commission in 2019 for presiding over only heterosexual weddings. 

The new phase of the litigation is the first page in the final chapter of a controversial case that has lingered in the Texas court system – and hung over LGBTQ+ people in the state – for years. It’s yet another legal fight at the intersection of religious freedom and the civil rights of queer and transgender Americans. In recent years, as the makeup of the nation’s highest court has grown more conservative, that fight has only become more pronounced in lower courts across the country.

[. . .]

But the commission's lawyer argued Hensley violated her judicial oath when she chose to discriminate against select Texans.

"It flies in the face of impartiality," said Douglas S. Lang, a former appeals court justice representing the judicial commission.

According to a public warning issued by the commission four years ago, which also cited reports in the Waco Tribune-Herald, Hensley and her staff started turning gay couples away around August 2016, about a year after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in the landmark ruling Obergefell v. Hodges.

She's a bigot and she doesn't belong on the bench.  She should actually be impeached for this behavior.  She ran for this position, was elected to it but doesn't want to follow the law or fulfil her duties.  She shouldn't be trusted with any kind of legal decision at this point.  How can anyone trust a judge who is a known bigot and thinks that if she disagrees with a law, she can ignore it?  That's not how the American legal justice system works.  She's not fit to serve on the bench.

Back to the article:

In an email to USA TODAY, Lang said the public warning wasn't about Hensley's religious beliefs. It was about her behavior, which he said demonstrated bias. 

“The Commission will stand up and argue for the preservation of the compelling interest to assure judges’ impartiality and support Texas citizens’ trust in the impartiality of the judiciary,” Lang said.

In an interview this month with the Dallas Morning News, Hensley said she didn't want to be “caricatured” as the case reenters the spotlight. She never received any complaints about turning away same-sex couples, she said. But she couldn't be held responsible for other people's feelings.

“There have been many situations in my life when I didn’t feel overly welcomed or endorsed or whatever,” she told the newspaper. “I’m an adult. That’s just how life is.”

Johnathan Gooch, the communications director for the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas, took issue with those comments. He told USA TODAY that gay couples in Texas haven’t complained about feeling unwelcome. 

“They’re complaining that their rights are being ignored or overlooked,” he said. “That’s a very different situation.”

The following sites updated: