Saturday, December 07, 2019


A lot of books came out in November and, for me, the best one was by Joni Mitchell.  Joni is probably America's best songwriter.  Her songs are textured and beautiful.  This isn't Bob Dylan searching through early folk music for melodies in the public domain and then attaching words to them.  Joni writes her music.

That music includes "River," "Court and Spark," "Lesson In Survival," "Help Me," "Cactus Tree," "Ladies of the Canyon," "Both Sides Now," "A Case Of You," "Coyote," "Woman Of Heart and Mind,"  "If I Had A Heart," "Car On The Hill," "Good Friends," "You Turn Me On I'm A Radio," "I Had A King," "Come In From The Cold," "The Circle Game," "The Beat Of Black Wings," "No Apologies," "Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free)," "All I Want," "Hejira," "Chinese Cafe," "Strong and Wrong," "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire," "Night In The City," "Carey," "Turbulent Indigo," "Big Yellow Taxi," "Willy," "For The Roses," "Night Ride Home," "I Don't Know Where I Stand," "Fiction," "Don't Interrupt The Sorrow," "Dog Eat Dog," "Shine," "My Secret Place," "Man From Mars," "Let The Wind Carry Me," and many more.  Her classic albums include BLUE, FOR THE ROSES, COURT AND SPARK, HEJIRA, THE HISSING SOUNDS OF SUMMER LAWNS, DOG EAT DOG, SHINE and NIGHT RIDE HOME.

Joni's MORNING GLORY ON THE VINE: EARLY SONGS & DRAWINGS is a collection of lyrics and illustrations.

So where is the thief
Who could not help but steal
And where was the burglar bell
I did not hear it peel

Some of the lyrics are from songs we know like "Carey" but some (like what I quoted above) are from songs that didn't appear on her albums ("Where Is The Thief") is the name of the one above.

In the introduction she wrote this year for the volume, Joni notes:

In the early 1970s I used to carry a sketchbook around with me everywhere I went.  I drew with colored pens.  Once when I was sketching my audience in Central Park, they had to drag me onto the stage.  After a while I had quite a collection of drawings. The drawings were becoming more important to me than the music at that time.
Christmas rolled around in 1971; all my friends were kind of nouveau riche, so buying Christmas presents was going to be really difficult.  I had put the drawings into a ring binder accompanied by hand-written lyrics.  Elliot Roberts, my manager, and David Geffen, my agent, took my binder of drawings and lyrics and had a limited edition of books made up, which I called "The Christmas Book," and I was able to give them out for presents that year.  People really liked them.
Years ago there was a fire north of Malibu.  Henry Lewy, my engineer, and his wife, Nadine, lived there, and I drove over to see them to make sure they were okay.  They had packed up a lot of their belongins in bags, and the bags were standing in the hallway of their house.  As I walked in, I saw my Christmas book on top of one of the bags.  I couldn't believe that was one of the things they were saving.
It's been a long time coming in making this book public, but we're publishing it now.  Work is meant to be seen, or heard, as the case may be.  It's always exciting to launch your work into the world.

And it's exciting to look at the illustrations.

There are 34 in all.  One you will recognize is the illustration featured on the front cover of the album COURT AND SPARK.  Her SELF PORTRAIT, I'm familiar with from her songbook collection JONI MITCHELL SONGBOOK: COMPLETE VOLUME 1.  There are also wonderful illustrations of Neil Young, David Crosby, Abigail Haness, Georgia O'Keefee and three of Graham Nash.  Of all of the illustrations my favorites, however, come down to "Calico" and the two both entitled "Dining Room, Laurel Canyon."

This is book that inspires and thank you to Joni for sharing it this year with everyone.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, December 6, 2019.  Another journalist is kidnapped in Iraq, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand talks endless wars and Hillary Clinton proves to be an embarrassment on so many levels.

There is something deeply pathetic -- and pathological -- about Hillary Clinton.

Our supposed feminist went on Howard Stern and right away that's a problem. 

Howard has a gutter trash program that sports sexism and racism and always has.  Hiding behind Robin or whatever cost host does not change the nature of Howard's program.  It's gutter trash.  A feminist, let alone a former US senator, a former First Lady of the United States and a former presidential candidate (let alone the first woman presidential candidate of the Democratic Party) needs to have higher standards than "I'll do anything to please my publisher and try to sell this book no one wants to buy."

She should be leading but instead she's an embarrassment.  This is not a new development.  Part of being a leader is admitting mistakes.  And yet she continues to act as if everyone in the world is responsible for her loss while she's innocent.

She ran a hideous campaign in 2016.  She was the wrong candidate, at the wrong time, yes.  She ran timid at a time when the country wanted bold.  She would extend what was at a time when the country wanted different.

But she was also a lousy candidate.

In 2008, she ran against a press anointed darling (Barack Obama) and held her own -- and would have been the nominee in a primary system (caucuses hurt her).  She ran against a popular and beloved by the press candidate and more than held her own.  She did that by rubbing shoulders with the people.  Beer drinking in Philly?  She was there?  On the ground in this or that state?  She was there.  She was everywhere and she was accessible to the people and to the press.

2016, she ran from everyone.  Little Princess was too tired to campaign.  Like Bully Boy Bush in 2000 and 2004, she grew weary, delicate flower, and needed to be home in her own bed.

That led her to overlook many areas where an on the ground presence could have helped.  That led her to rely on star power which was always problematic for Democratic Party candidates -- as Anne Richards herself observed many years ago.  You use celebrities strategically, Anne noted.  Instead, Hillary used them constantly and it was both a distraction and an annoyance.

Given a choice between noting Hillary spoke about policy X today or that she was on stage with Jennifer Lopez, which do you really think the press is going to write up?

It made an already problematic campaign look feather light.

In 2008, she was about "I will fight for you."  And that message resonated -- especially with all the ground work she was putting in.  In 2016, it was all "I'm with her" -- and America wasn't going clubbing with her.

There was also additional baggage she had.  It's so funny to watch various security types from Barack Obama's administration whine about Hillary's loss in 2016.

They are the ones who helped create so much baggage.  It wasn't, for example, Donald Trump who told the press that she was a "monster."  No, that was Samantha Power promoting Barack in 2008.  It wasn't Black Lives Matter raising Hillary's use of "super predator" to describe young African-American males, it was the Barack supporters screaming racist at her (and at Bill) in 2008.  The racism charge was so great, remember, that her remarks to an editorial board were distorted by Barack supporters like Keith Olbermann and Marjorie Cohen to insist Hillary was calling for Barack's assassination.

Long before Donald Trump ever thought of chanting "Lock her up!," it was Barack on stage with her sneering, "You're likable enough."  Or flipping her off with the bird to the ecstatic glee of his supporters.  Or saying sexist things like: Periodically when she's feeling blue the claws come out.

She was the wrong candidate at the wrong time because Americans wanted change but she was also the wrong candidate at the wrong time because no one could recover from 2008.  No one could be smeared and slandered the way she was in 2008 -- by her own party! -- and go on to be the next person to run in 2016.  Her own party destroyed her reputation.  That's even leaving out her many problems as Secretary of State.  And, yes, her problems in that job outweighed her accomplishments.

Hillary had roadblocks and difficulties before she even announced her intent to run for the 2016 nomination.  That is true.  But she should have been aware of them if she was stupid enough to run (and she was stupid enough) and grasped that this meant she was going to have to be on the ground everywhere even more so than in 2008.  She didn't grasp that and instead ran a campaign like the presidency was owed to her.

She lost and that's on her.  She needs to own it.  Because that's what leaders do.  Also because the election was three years ago and she looks like a very poor sport.  If we had a wealth of women who had gotten to the same mark she has, that would be fine.  She would be one of many women and we could note the differences.  She is not one of many.  At present, she is the only.  And she needs to take that role seriously and use it to uplift all women not to drag us down and make us look like we're poor sports who can't handle competition or can't handle losing or can't admit mistakes or can't whatever.

She didn't want the role?  Oh, yes, she did.  She actively sought it.  She notes that role whenever she's gone too far and needs the public to rally around her.

She can't continue to make the statements she makes and count on our support.

I'm referring to her I'm-not-a-lesbian shameful stance on Howard Stern.

Hillary's a professional speakers -- she's been paid millions to speak.

Her remarks about transgendered women were off putting and tone deaf.  That was already out there and, no, her daughter Chelsea can't -- and shouldn't -- be able to smooth things over for her.

Following up on that, she's now made insulting remarks about lesbians.

‘I Actually Like Men’ – Hillary Clinton Shuns Lesbian Rumor

"I like men!" Hillary snarled.

Okay, you're a professional speaker, you know the importance of choosing your words.

"I like men" which implies to many people what exactly?

That lesbians hate men.

Thank you, professional speaker Hillary, for reinforcing ugly stereotypes.

Lesbians do not hate men.  Some women and some men of everywhere on the sexuality scale hate men -- or hate women.  That is true.  But being a lesbian is not about hating men.  Or disliking them.  It's about not being attracted to them.  There's a world of difference and a professional speaker should get that.

If a professional speaker does not get that, she shouldn't be speaking publicly.

She was never 'tempted' -- Rebecca's already taken on that use of terms so see her fine remarks on that.

This was not a minor mistake, it was a huge one.

There are two big points to make her.

First, her stance was off putting and insulting to lesbians.

Take away Hillary's lesbian support and she doesn't have a lot.

The biggest group supporting her all along has been lesbians -- that goes back to when she stepped onto the public stage in 1992.  Ron Brown and I spoke of that -- many others did as well -- in 1992.  Some found it shameful or something off putting -- some in Bill Clinton's campaign.  Ron and I didn't.  We were puzzled by what she was getting across that was connecting (we decided it was that she was coming off as an outsider and one who stood up and didn't apologize -- it was that strong stance that would hurt her in DC as First Lady -- in DC social circles), but she was clearly connecting.

After lesbians, gay men and straight women were her next core of support.  But they came after lesbians.

You do not insult your strongest group of supporters.  The people who have been there for you all along. 

Equally true, if someone has always stood by you, you don't repay them by repeatedly distancing yourself from them.

Hillary's distasteful remarks -- including the tone she said them in -- are an insult to lesbians.  And they just remind everyone that she didn't lead on marriage equality.  She didn't co-lead on it.  She was not a friend on that issue.

She repeatedly lets down her core group of followers.

There's another thing to be said about your legend.  If you're accused of being gay, whether you are or not, be thrilled.  That's not something that hurts you long after your dead. That's something that people debate and talk about and makes you someone worth remembering.

At the very least, you'll be seen as gay friendly.  That's not an insult now and it won't be as society continues to progress.

But the reality is that Hillary's too dull and boring to be gay -- as she put it, it's never even entered her head.

The second issue is that she's now opened a huge can of worms.

'Don't you dare mention Monica to her!  Don't you bring up Juantia!'  That has been the protective (panty)shield around her, right?  What Bill did was so awful don't you bring it up to her!

Poor little victim, and all that.  But she's now raising sexuality as a topic.  She's opened the topic up.  Reporters now can and should ask her about Monica -- why she smeared Monica.  She did.  She said Monica was lying.  In fact, her whole "vast right-wing conspiracy" was an attack on Monica's truth -- that's why she was on THE TODAY SHOW to begin with.  And she should be asked about Juanita who states she was raped by Bill Clinton.

I believe Juanita.  Many of us do.  Now that Hillary wants to invite the world into her bedroom, she needs to be addressing the things her husband has done.

It was a stupid move on Hillary's part in every way -- stupid in terms of legacy, stupid in terms of the questions it opens her up to, stupid in terms of being seen as a feminist worth admiring, stupid in each and every way.

(I like Bill.  For any wondering, he knows my thoughts on Juanita.  He has not commented back but he knows I believe he believes he had sex with her.  I believe he thinks it was consensual and 'exciting'  I also believe it was rape and that he was too rooted in that time period and in that machismo and ignorance to realize that a woman could say "no" and a woman, Juanita, was saying "no." That's my own personal belief.)

Hillary is said to be thinking of running.  She shouldn't.  She carries too much baggage and has only made things worse for herself every year since 2016.  That includes her nutty conspiracy talk that has attempted to paint Tulsi Gabbard as a Russian tool and, in the Howard Stern interview, now attempts to do the same with Bernie Sanders.   This nutty conspiracy talk is making her sound as unhinged as Richard Nixon in his final days.  Equally true, combat veteran Tulsi is someone Hillary should be applauding and welcoming.  I don't mean she has to say, "Vote for Tulsi!"  But, as a feminist, her comments about Tulsi should note what a groundbreaker Tulsi is.  It's one thing for the US press to refuse to note that (and they do refuse to), it's another for feminist 'hero' Hillary to do that.

There's a lot more that needs to be said on this topic but we are limited on time this morning. One topic that needs to be explored is the shame many women -- who are straight but rank low on what society has insisted feminine is -- feel if they are mistaken for lesbian or fear that someone seems to see them that way.  That is not a minor issue and it has always been one that the feminist movement has had to struggle with in the Second Wave -- and it's still a struggle for some today.

Turning to Iraq, where protests continue.  Amnesty International is noting an important development, the kidnapping of a journalist.

Alarming reports of 22-yr-old photographer Zaid Mohammed Al-Khafaji who was abducted this morning outside his home in by unknown actors after returning from protests. Local authorities have denied knowledge of the incident or his whereabouts. That is not good enough!

Throughout the protests, journalists have been attacked.  The Iraqi government is still cracking down on TV networks who cover the protests.  And journalists and medical workers have been kidnapped throughout the last months if they were seen as pro-protests or helpful to the activists.

Zaid's kidnapping is noted in the following Tweets.

Photographer Zaid Mohammed al-Khafaji is kidnapped by unknowns about 4:00 AM, when he reached his home in . Cc:
Zaid Mohammed al-Khafaji is kidnapped by unknowns about 4:00 AM, when he reached his home in . Cc:
Photographer Zaid Mohammed al-Khafaji is kidnapped by unknowns about 4:00 AM, when he reached his home in . Cc:
Photographer “Zaid Mohammed al-Khafaji” was kidnapped by unknowns about 4:00 AM, when he reached his home in . Cc:

Also making news out of Iraq this morning, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani calling on demonstrators to counter violent rioters
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani calling on demonstrators to counter violent rioters, ,,
| Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani says new PM must be chosen without foreign interference
♥️ Long live Ayatullah Al-Sistani! Long live Representatives of Awaiting Imam!
Al-Sistani says new PM must be chosen without foreign interference

A few weeks back, I was hoping to note Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the endless wars.  There was never time or space for that.  So let's note this press release her office issued yesterday:

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, today wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News on her landmark legislation, the War Powers Reform Resolution, that would restore Congress's leadership in the nation’s foreign policy and finally put an end to unauthorized forever wars.

Specifically, Gillibrand’s War Powers Reform Resolution would amend the War Powers Resolution to ensure no Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs) are used to continue perpetual wars that compromise the country’s national security. In order to deploy armed forces into hostilities, the legislation would require the president to provide Congress with a clear objective for military action; evidence that the use of the United States’ armed forces is necessary, appropriate, and proportional to the mission; a finite list of adversaries; and the names of the countries where the US military will deploy. Critically, the legislation would place a two-year limit on any future authorization, and deny appropriations for unauthorized wars. It would also repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.

The full text of Gillibrand’s op-ed may be found here and below.

Last week, I returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Kuwait, where I visited our brave service members and thanked them for their many sacrifices during the season of Thanksgiving. These troops are some of the best and brightest our country has to offer. I am grateful and humbled by their dedication to serving our country.

Their continued deployment in places like Afghanistan, however, is a reminder that they are fighting a war that has gone on for almost two decades and has expanded to over a dozen countries — nearly all of it without specific congressional approval.

Congress granted President George W. Bush the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, for a quick military response to the terrorists who attacked us on our own soil. A year later, it passed the AUMF authorizing war in Iraq. But Bush, and the presidents who followed, used these authorizations to involve our military in other conflicts far beyond their original intents. Service members have fought and died in Niger, Syria and Yemen on the basis of these authorizations.
The founders of our country gave only Congress the power to declare war. They understood both the danger of giving any one person too much power and the fact that when war is waged, it is the American people who bear the burden and should thus have their voices heard. In recent years, Congress has relinquished its power to authorize war against new enemies or in new countries, and failed to meet its fundamental responsibility to hold presidents accountable for endless and unnecessary wars.

A healthy recent exception was when the House and Senate voted to end U.S. military support for the disastrous Saudi war in Yemen. But this exception is a unique circumstance that proves the rule.
Of course, we know that terrorism has not been extinguished. Even after the death of Osama Bin Laden and the decimation of Al Qaeda’s leadership, terrorists aiming to harm Americans have continued to metastasize. One need look no further than ISIS, which has inspired or claimed terror attacks in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and more.
But meeting the terror threat does not require sending U.S. troops to fight foreign battles. Today, terrorists recruit and plan online, and they have struck us and our allies regardless of who physically controls a country.

To combat terrorism, we must leverage the sophisticated strategies that are America’s advantage. We have the best-trained intelligence professionals, quickest reaction forces, and top military assets deployed around the world. There is no geography we cannot reach on short notice. Our toolbox of diplomacy, alliances and development assistance has served us for decades, and we must double down on these tools once again.

We also can put an end to these forever wars by passing my legislation, the War Powers Reform Resolution. It would reinstate Congress’ authority to review military action from the president and end the manipulation of congressional authorizations for use of military force.
My legislation would repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, eliminating the ability of President Trump or any future president to continue the nearly two-decades-old wars our service members are still fighting. It would limit all future AUMFs to two years and require the president to provide Congress with the specific military objective, enemy and location for the military action, along with a clear justification for that action.

It would also renew Congress’ power to end wars by allowing them to narrow or repeal an AUMF through the same expedited procedures used for creating one. Lastly, it would limit the use of congressionally appropriated funds to support only the actions authorized under the AUMF, restricting actions beyond its scope.

It is time to reclaim Congress’ full foreign policy and national security role by changing the way military action is authorized. Endless wars, and ill-advised deployments, must be things of the past. Instead, focused and deliberate military action must be used sparingly and only when we need it most. We owe it to our service members, their families, and to the American people.

The following sites updated: