Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Traveling during the holidays

Elaine's "Traveling during the holidays" went up a few minutes ago.  We're both writing about traveling during the holidays.  Elaine, Mike and their daughter flew in from Hawaii (to San Francisco) a few weeks ago.  They did that to celebrate with C.I. and then, next month, hopefully with Mike's family.

They discussed it for months and did what felt best for them.  That's all anyone can do. 

I won't be going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I love my family and I miss them.  But flying to Atlanta from California?  We're a state that has over a million cases of Covid.  I don't see getting on a commercial flight.  C.I. was kind enough to offer to charter a plane if I wanted to go but there's also the fact that I am just not comfortable with traveling during Covid.

Am I over-reacting?  I very well may be.  But it is what felt right for me.  Elaine and Mike did what felt right for them.  That's all any of us can do.  I respect everyone's position on this and know that we are all making hard and difficult decision.  I don't shame anyone for disagreeing with me.  

And I really hope that, Thanksgiving 2021, I'll be sitting at a table with my parents, sisters and brother, all my nieces and nephews and in-laws and we'll be laughing about how I wasn't able to be there last year and how it now looks a little silly.  I would love for that to be the outcome.

I let my children make their own decision.  They are old enough.  I trust them to do what they think is best.  Was I relieved when it turned out that they all decided the same as I had?  Yes.  But, while I would've been nervous and worried had they decided to travel to Atlanta, I would've respected and understood their decision.  

Elaine and I are writing about our decisions because they were difficult to make and we know that others are having to make them as well.  Where ever you end up coming down on the topic, there are no judgments from us.  We hope the decision you make is what's best for you.


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Tuesday, November 24, 2020.  Joe Biden wants to surround himself with War Hawks (as long as Barack Obama didn't suggest them) and Iraq is having huge cash problems.

Starting with news of War Hawks.  Dave DeCamp (ANTIWAR.COM) reports:

On Monday, Joe Biden announced he will nominate his long-time advisor Anthony Blinken to be the secretary of state for the incoming administration. Blinken has a long history of advocating for intervention in places like Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

Blinken was Biden’s top aide in 2002 when Biden was leading the charge in the Senate to give George W. Bush his invasion of Iraq. In 2006, Biden penned an Op-ed for The New York Times that called for dividing Iraq into three separate autonomous zones with a central government in Baghdad, later referred to as a “soft partition.” According to the Times, Blinken helped craft Biden’s proposal.

There is a portion of the choice that's not being addressed and we'll get to it in a moment.  But let's note another reaction to the news.  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) observes:

When Biden, then a senator and chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted in 2002 to authorize the Bush administration's disastrous invasion of Iraq—a decision he has since described as a mistake—Blinken was the Democratic staff director of the committee. The Intercept's Ryan Grim reported last July that Blinken "helped craft Biden's own support for the Iraq War"; speaking to the New York Times earlier this year, Blinken characterized the vote to invade Iraq as "a vote for tough diplomacy."

"So we will have a president who supported the invasion of Iraq, and a secretary of state (Tony Blinken) who supported the invasion of Iraq," tweeted Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war group CodePink. "In the U.S., there is no accountability for supporting the worst foreign policy disaster in modern history. Only rewards."

Blinken?  A lousy choice.  But if we step away from that, as one of Joe's chief campaigners told me on the phone, there's a message being sent.  The message is "I'm not your puppet."  Joe's saying that to?  Barack Obama.  Joe's making clear, I was told, that he is president, not vice president.  He does not forgive Barack for not supporting him in 2019.  He does not feel that Barack did enough for him in the general election.  (That infamous Saturday campaign event where Joe didn't hear his cue?  He heard the cue, he just wasn't in the mood to be "summoned" onstage by Barack.)  Barack has pressured Joe to nominate Susan Rice for this post.  Joe found that perplexing at first.  He and Susan did not personally get along.  He also feels she comes with too much baggage.  What felt like an unasked for suggestion from Barack soon became strong arming.  That decided it for Joe, it would not be Susan Rice and he would make it clear that he might entertain suggestions but he will not be taking orders.  "He's no longer the vice president," I was told, "and he won't let anyone treat him as though he is -- not even Obama."

Now let me give you the low down on what's going on in the UK Parliament behind the scenes.  Oh, wait!  I'm not busybody Naomi Klein.  I don't pretend I know everything and weigh in with stupid interviews like she did that are void of substance but heavy on flash cards and trading cards and shout outs to AOC!  She truly is worthless and reading the comments to her video interview this week explains how pathetic our culture is.  They worship her and she's done nothing for years.  Her 'green' action is not real action it's corporate action.  "She's a bit of legend" one person commenting on the interview enthuses.  Typo?  You mean "she's a bit of a liar," right?

We don't get substance with Naomi, she just repeats what you already thought -- whether your thought was right or wrong -- and she pretends it's fact.  I'm beginning to grasp just how big of an apology  I owe to Anthony Lappe -- you were so right, I was so wrong.  Hope that's public enough for you, Anthony.  And to be clear, you were right about Naomi, I'm not giving you a blanket you were right -- just about Naomi.

In the video above, Katie Halper hosts Briahna Joy Gray and Rania Khalek about Joe's immigration observer for his transformation team Cecilia Munoz.  So we're back to being okay with putting kids in cages?  The same way we were okay with an ongoing Iraq War when the administration flipped to Democrat in 2009?  So we don't really stand for anything.  Our beliefs collapse because we have no core?  That's what it appears. 

Here's Glenn Greenwald (at INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE) writing about a CIA classified memo WIKILEAKS released:

What made this document so fascinating, so revealing, is the CIA’s discussion of how to manipulate public opinion to ensure it remains at least tolerant of if not supportive of Endless War and, specifically, the vital role President Obama played for the CIA in packaging and selling U.S. wars around the world. In this classified analysis, one learns a great deal about how the “military industrial complex,” also known as the “Blob” or “Deep State,” reasons; how the Agency exploits humanitarian impulses to ensure continuation of its wars; and what the real function is of the U.S. President when it comes to foreign policy.

What prompted the memo was the CIA’s growing fears that the population of Western Europe — as evidenced by the fall of the Dutch Government driven in large part by the electorate’s anger over involvement in Afghanistan — was rapidly turning against the War on Terror generally and the war in Afghanistan specifically. The CIA was desperate to figure out how to stem the tide of anti-war sentiment growing throughout that region, particularly to shield France and Germany from it, by manipulating public opinion.

The Agency concluded: its best and only asset for doing that was President Obama and his popularity in Western European cities.

Not all that surprising.  We noted, throughout 2008, that Centcom would be moving operations to Africa at the end of the year and that Barack could pose the smooth face that John McCain couldn't to allow entry.  

Kevin Gosztola discusses Joe's picks with Scott Horton on ANTI-WAR RADIO.  I'm linking but I'm not listening.  As I've noted before, I can't stand the squeal that so many podcasts have.  I tried listening for Kevin's point which are usually sound but that squeal hurts my ears and that's why we highlight YOUTUBE and not podcasts.

 Patrick Martin (WSWS) weighs in on Joe's six announced nominees:

The first and most obvious fact about all six nominees is that they are dedicated defenders of American imperialism and the interests of Wall Street. Several are multi-millionaires, while all are comfortably within the top tier financially. Blinken, for example, is the son of a founder of Warburg Pincus investment bank, Donald Blinken, who was for 12 years chairman of the board of the State University of New York.

For all the hosannas in the media over the “diversity” of these initial appointees—one African American, one Hispanic, two women—these facets of their identities are entirely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter to the victim of torture in a CIA secret prison that the torturer (or her boss in Washington) is female. It doesn’t matter to refugee children separated from their parents by immigration agents that the DHS secretary is Hispanic. It doesn’t matter to the victims of US military aggression that the diplomat who defends this violence before the world is black.

The emphasis on diversity is used to distract from the reactionary character of the foreign policy orientation of the incoming Biden administration, which his apologists seek to disguise using the skin color, gender and national origin of the personnel who will carry it out.

There has been little discussion in the media of the significance of Biden choosing, in the midst of a nationwide and worldwide public health catastrophe that has already taken the lives of a quarter million Americans, to announce his foreign policy team first. If victory over coronavirus was the number one priority, as Biden claimed during the fall campaign, why not announce those who will head up the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies with the main responsibilities for the fight against the pandemic?

In other news, APN reports, "French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that Washington’s intention to pull out its military personnel from Iraq is dangerous, as the threat posed by the Islamic State terror group still persists."  500.  That's how many US troops will be pulled out of Iraq.  500.  On top of that, if France is so concerned they can send 500 more of their own in to bolster their troops in Iraq and -- What's that?  Oh, right.  The French government pulled their troops out of Iraq in March.  But they want to jump on a high horse about 500?  Hypocrite -- which is the same in English and in French. 

The editorial board of THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER notes:

It's too soon, too abrupt to pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, critics say.

We've heard this refrain for decades now. Enough is enough. The time to end America's endless wars was many, many years ago.

Expediting the removal of some troops -- well short of the proper goal of completely withdrawing troops from these countries -- won't be the end of the world. It's just inching things in the direction they should be headed.

Enough is enough.  That should be the cry of the American people.  Iraq War and Afghanistan War veteran Timothy Kudo has a column at THE NEW YORK TIMES:

The cost of these wars has been astronomical: Roughly $6 trillion in government spending, with the Defense Department spending alone costing each American taxpayer an estimated more than $7,000. Additionally, today’s young veterans face a legacy of psychological and physical injury, as well as illness from our war’s Agent Orange: the toxic burn pits whose smoke we inhaled.

Even more costly are the approximately 515,000 people killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, including more than 260,000 civilians. And for what? Iraq remains a tenuous democracy teeming with militias while Afghanistan is locked in a conflict with a resurgent Taliban, and peace talks are in deadlock.

Both countries fail to meet the objectives of freedom and democracy set when President George W. Bush started those wars. They fall short of President Obama’s goals when he sent me and 30,000 other troops to Afghanistan and of the claims he made when declaring an end to combat operation in Iraq only to see the Islamic State undo those gains. President Trump does not seem to even have a purpose for those 5,000 troops who will remain in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, REUTERS notes, "Iraq is seeking its first ever crude oil prepayment deal to boost its finances as the country struggles to cope with lower oil prices and demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, its oil ministry said on Monday."  Pre-payment? 

Iraq's having serious cash problems.   Javier Blas and Laura Hurst (BLOOMBERG NEWS) note:

The Middle Eastern country is grappling with an economic crisis caused by the combination of low oil prices and OPEC+ output cuts. As state coffers crumble and school teachers go unpaid, the country risks a repeat of the upheaval that brought down the government and saw hundreds of protesters killed last year.

In a letter to oil companies seen by Bloomberg News, the Iraqi government sought to mitigate its dire financial position by proposing a five-year supply contract delivering 4 million barrels a month, or about 130,000 barrels a day. The buyer would pay upfront for one year of supply, which at current prices would bring in just above US$2 billion, according to Bloomberg News calculations.

Interestingly enough. the reporters somehow ignore the biggest thing creating the crisis: Corruption within the government.  At any rate, you can't steal from the public bank and still use it to pay the bills.  So they are going deeper into debt because that's apparently easier than addressing the corruption in the government.  Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) explains, "The Iraqi parliament approved Nov. 12 the funding deficit law, entitling the government to borrow 12 trillion dinars ($10 billion) from internal and external parties in an effort to pay state employees who have seen their salaries delayed for nearly two months. The loan value decreased from 41 trillion dinars ($34 billion) to 12 trillion dinars under the new law."

 Since October, we've been noting that the praise over Iraq closing displacement camps was wrong because there were no plans in place to house the displaced.  Amnesty International issued the following on the topic today:

A house daubed with the words 'This is the home of Daesh dogs' in the town of Hammam al-Alil in Ninewa governorate
© Amnesty International

‘Marked for life’ report calls for halt to hasty camp closures

Those detained in anti-ISIS sweeps have suffered years of detention and mistreatment

‘Nothing is bigger and more dangerous than someone calling you Daeshi’ - Abed

Thousands of Iraqis with perceived ties to the Islamic State armed group are at risk as the Iraqi authorities close displaced-person camps, Amnesty International said in a new report today. 

In recent weeks, the Iraqi authorities have begun closing camps - shutting down Ninewa and Karbala camps in Baghdad among others - putting thousands at risk of ending up in precarious shelters or being forced to return to their areas of origin despite safety fears. 

There are an estimated 240,000 people in camps across various Iraqi governorates who were forced out of their homes during fighting with the Islamic State armed group, and between November 2018 and October 2020 Amnesty interviewed 119 people from seven camps. 

Amnesty’s 43-page report - Marked for Life: Displaced Iraqis in cycle of abuse and stigmatisation - includes testimony from women and children in the camps who explain their fears over being stigmatised because of perceived links to ISIS fighters. Some men and boys arrested in largescale sweeps but later released also have grave fears for their safety outside the camps. Interviewees stressed that the camps were their only safe option. 

All the men and boys who spoke to Amnesty after having been released from detention in Iraq’s Kurdistan region expressed fears they would be rearrested by the central Iraqi security forces - and likely face torture and unfair trials - if they sought to return to their homes in the governorates of Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din. They said they knew of relatives and others who were re-arrested or suffered threats to them or their families. Arrests were often carried out by Iraq’s National Security Service.

People with perceived ties to ISIS - and their relatives who are equally stigmatised and punished - have long faced a range of barriers to obtaining, renewing or replacing civil documents in Iraq. At official buildings the security forces have routinely subjected them to harassment and intimidation, and many told Amnesty they would not attempt to obtain their civil documents to avoid this mistreatment.  

“Abed”, aged 23, who was released from detention by Asayish (the Kurdistan authorities’ main security agency) where he was held for nearly three years before being acquitted of ISIS affiliation by a court, told Amnesty he now feared for his safety:

“In Iraq, nothing is bigger and more dangerous than someone calling you Daeshi [ISIS member]. One word and you’re gone. I used to have hope for a normal life. But now there are red sniper dots on all of us.” 

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said: 

“The internally displaced must be given a meaningful choice about their future and any returns must be dignified, safe and sustainable.

“The Iraqi authorities and KRG must address the continuing collective punishment of IDPs with perceived links to ISIS as an integral part of any national plans to close camps - currently the only option for shelter for thousands of people.

“To prevent further cycles of abuses, Iraq’s authorities must guarantee that no-one is punished for the crimes of others; that all Iraqis can obtain civil documentation; and that the whereabouts of those disappeared is revealed.”

Detention and torture in Kurdistan

In the fight against ISIS, the central Iraqi and Kurdistan authorities arrested thousands of displaced men and boys at checkpoints during military operations and in displacement camps, as well as in their areas of origin after return. The Kurdistan authorities subjected men and boys as young as 14 to arbitrary detention, torture and unfair trials, and the Iraqi security forces arrested men, women and boys who later disappeared. These actions have left released detainees - including those acquitted or released without charge - their families and the families of those who disappeared unable to escape a stigma that has hindered hopes for a safe future. 

Of the 115 cases documented by Amnesty, the Asayish security agency detained 48 men and boys, while the Iraqi military and security forces subjected 67 persons to enforced disappearance in Ninewa. Asayish members carrying out arrests either gave no basis for them or said the person’s name was on a “wanted list.” In some cases, the Iraqi security forces beat those they arrested, placing them in stress positions while they were handcuffed and blindfolded before dragging them away. This likely constitutes torture or other ill-treatment under international law.

All the men and boys detained by Asayish said that they were subjected to torture or other ill-treatment in an attempt to force “confessions” from them. Many were beaten with pipes or hoses, while one man was threatened with sexual violence against his female relatives. Amnesty’s report shows how those detained were held for weeks or even months without being referred to the judicial authorities. 

Detainees brought to court in Erbil were frequently convicted under the Kurdistan region’s vaguely worded Anti-Terrorism Law, and trials failed to comply with international fair trial standards. And when they were freed without charge, acquitted or released after completing a prison sentence, former detainees have faced arbitrary restrictions on their movement.

ISIS crimes

Amnesty has extensively documented ISIS crimes in Iraq, some of which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and recognises that the armed group’s activities continue to pose a threat to civilians in Iraq today. Amnesty has also acknowledged the immense challenges facing the Kurdistan and Iraqi authorities, and their duty to protect the security of all civilians on their territory and to ensure that ISIS perpetrators are held accountable. However, Amnesty remains seriously concerned at the authorities’ failure to conduct fair trials of ISIS suspects, and of their failure to hold accountable those members of the Iraqi or Kurdistan security forces responsible for their own serious crimes. 

You can also refer to this press release from Amnesty International.

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Words Are Cheap and Easy" went up yesterday.  The following sites updated:

Monday, November 23, 2020

Diana Ross deserves her own day on TCM

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Words Are Cheap and Easy" went up today.


It's the return of Valerie Jarrett!!!  Obviously, the return of Barack but Valerie Jarrett was always the focus in any comic she appeared in.  And, yes, Barack lied through his teeth, over and over.  He was the King of the Okey Doke.

Anyway.  Last time, I offered "I can't stand TCM anymore ."   One of the thing that really irritates me about TCM lately is that they show TV movies from time to time.  Now that's fine.  If you're going out of your way to rescue something really great and powerful, that's fine.

But I'm not seeing OUT OF DARKNESS>  Diana Ross gave an amazing performance in that film.


It's an ABC TV movie from the 90s.  ABC?  Same parent company as TCM. 


So why can't they show that.  And why is it that, even in Black History Month, we can't get a block saluting Diana Ross?  She was the first Black female superstar of film. 


They could air her Oscar nominated performance in LADY SINGS THE BLUES, MAHOGANY, THE WIZ, OUT OF DARKNESS and DOUBLE PLATINUM -- they could even mix in a variety special (RED HOT RHYTHM AND BLUES was an ABC special) or concerts.  They could do a whole day on Diana.  I have no idea why they won't.  But it is irriating.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Monday, November 23, 2020. Joe Biden's putting the old gang of War Hawks back together again apparently. 

A supposed change was going to come.  Are you seeing it?  Before we get to that, let's note this from Kate Randall (WSWS) on the state of the United States:

As this week’s Thanksgiving holiday approaches, a social catastrophe is unfolding across America on a scale not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

As of Sunday, there were more than 12.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US and nearly 257,000 deaths. The past week has seen an average of more than 170,000 cases per day, an increase of 59 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

Hospitals are being overrun by the surge of cases. Thousands of nurses at hospitals across the country are coming down with the virus, leaving hospitals short-staffed and placing patient care in extreme danger. In El Paso, Texas, a unit of 36 National Guard troops has been mobilized to work through a backlog of close to 240 bodies, victims of COVID-19, at the county morgue. The bodies will be loaded onto refrigerated trucks.

The Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalism website, reports that as of November 17 at least 197,659 inmates in state and local prisons had contracted the virus and 1,454 had died, a likely undercount due to poor reporting.

As the rise of hospitalizations continues unabated, working-class families across the country are facing a crisis of hunger and poverty alongside the sickness and death from the pandemic. Tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs or been hit by cuts in pay or work hours.

Food lines that already stretch for miles, evictions and foreclosures, and the loss of health benefits are set to increase exponentially when what remains of government assistance runs out immediately after Christmas.

The hunger relief organization Feeding America warns that some 54 million US residents, or one in six, currently faces food insecurity. Many families with children were already facing hunger before the pandemic hit.

In Arlington, Texas, 6,000 families arrived for a distribution of frozen turkeys outside a sports stadium on Friday. On November 14, people in Dallas waited up to 12 hours to receive a turkey, 20 pounds of nonperishables, 15 pounds of fresh produce and bags of bread. Photos of the lineup at the food bank showed thousands of cars backed up across four lanes, spanning several miles.

On Saturday in Los Angeles, some 1,000 people lined up on foot for a food distribution at a church.

The moratorium on evictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expires on December 31. Since the order does not cancel or freeze rents, all back rent will come due January 1. An estimated 11 to 13 million renter households are at risk of eviction, according to investment bank and global advisory firm Stout.

As no actual relief dollars have been provided by the government to help families with their rent, landlords have used unscrupulous tactics to illegally evict tenants. They have allowed conditions in rental units to deteriorate, leaving renters a choice between leaving or living with mold or infestations of bed bugs, roaches and maggots. Families forced out of their apartments face living on the streets, doubling up with relatives or friends or sleeping in shelters—all of which increase the danger of contracting COVID-19.

Many families struggling with paying for food and housing face the cutoff of remaining COVID-19 relief funds by the end of the year. Long gone is the $600 federal benefit to boost weekly unemployment benefits. According to the Century Foundation, 12 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits on December 26 when two major pandemic programs expire. Another 4.4 million will have already exhausted these benefits before they expire.

And Congress has done nothing.  Excuse me, various members like AOC have expressed shock -- shock -- that they are being blamed by some of their own party.  Your stupidity is neither fresh nor attractive, Alexandria.

Nancy Pelosi, whether she's Speaker of the House or Minority Leader, is not your friend and your ridiculous attempts at making peace with the woman you call "mama bear" are humiliating.

I'm so sorry but does no one remember the way Nancy destroyed US House Rep John Conyers?  John wanted to impeach Bully Boy Bush.  And many of the electorate was in favor of that.  Nancy infamously took it "off the table."  She also undercut his efforts to impeach Bully Boy Bush after the fact.  Despite the fact that he had been a strong voice in the '00s (and long before that), Nancy undercut him at every chance she had.  She didn't reward members like Conyers who had laid it on the line.  She went to the center over and over.  She surrounded herself with center-right members: Steny, Rahm . . .  And she's been no friend to women as various female Democrats in Congress found out in 2008 when they strayed from her favored candidate Barack.  

Nancy is not an activist.  She's never been one in her life. Prior to being slid into a Congressional slot, she was money bags raising donations.  That's all she's ever done and when you repeatedly fail to grasp who and what she is, you not only embarrass yourself, you waste your time and our time.  

Elias Alsbergas (IN THESE TIMES) notes:

In the Unit­ed States, mean­while, Nan­cy Pelosi has led the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives since 2003. She has presided over numer­ous elec­toral cat­a­stro­phes. Her opin­ion polls are almost as bad as Andrew Little’s ever were. And in ear­ly Novem­ber, her House Democ­rats actu­al­ly lost seats in an elec­tion pre­dict­ed to be a blowout, but which instead became a mul­ti-day nail-biter. 

Pelosi has now over­seen mul­ti­ple Demo­c­ra­t­ic loss­es in the House in 2004, 2010, 2016 and 2020. She has deeply under­per­formed elec­toral­ly despite demo­graph­ic trends sup­pos­ed­ly favor­able to Democ­rats since she failed to stop the Tea Par­ty shel­lack­ing” ten years ago.

In the Sen­ate, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Minor­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer, who has nev­er served as Major­i­ty Leader, has bare­ly been able to ush­er mar­gin­al gains in the Sen­ate and, depend­ing on what hap­pens in Georgia’s two runoff races, may have failed again to win con­trol of the cham­ber this cycle. 

Both of these Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers have dis­played their inabil­i­ty to sub­stan­tive­ly stand up to Pres­i­dent Trump. Amy Coney Bar­rett eas­i­ly won con­fir­ma­tion to the Supreme Court, and she in fact gained pop­u­lar­i­ty in the process after Schumer declined to pur­sue any tac­tics laid out in a Capi­tol Hill memo detail­ing var­i­ous ways that Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers can try to block a nom­i­na­tion.” Trump’s tax returns were only made par­tial­ly pub­lic through the New York Times’ jour­nal­ism, despite Pelosi con­trol­ling a cham­ber with sub­poe­na pow­er for two years. Accord­ing to the Revolv­ing Door Project, Pelosi dis­played a lack of seri­ous­ness” on exec­u­tive over­sight for two years, allow­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to run amok in the mean­time. Regard­less, Pelosi and Schumer are set to con­trol the 2021 Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­isla­tive agen­da and direct vast flows of par­ty money.

Pelosi has failed at the most fun­da­men­tal task of House par­ty lead­er­ship: win­ning House elec­tions. And yet calls for her oust­ing, and of oust­ing failed Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship in gen­er­al, are often con­sid­ered by cen­trist, cor­po­rate Democ­rats as dan­ger­ous to par­ty uni­ty.” This would puz­zle denizens of oth­er lib­er­al democ­ra­cies, where par­ty lead­ers are rou­tine­ly sacked when elec­tion results aren’t up to snuff. 

As nonsense theatrics go on in the US Congress, presumed President Joe Biden is putting together his cabinet and filling core administration jobs.  On RISING, a panel discussed some of the names being floated.

As Krystal Ball notes in the above video, "There's no sign that the Biden administration actually cares about what the progressive groups are saying."

One name being floated is Susan Rice.  Glen Ford (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) notes:

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

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

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

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

Another name being floated is US House Rep Cedric Richmond.  David Sirota, Julia Rock and Andrew Perez (THE DAILY POSTER) report:

Following a campaign promising bold climate action, president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team named one of the Democratic Party’s top recipients of fossil fuel industry money to a high-profile White House position focusing in part on climate issues.

On Tuesday, Politico reported that Biden is appointing U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., to lead the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he is “expected to serve as a liaison with the business community and climate change activists.” 

During his 10 years in Congress, Richmond has received roughly $341,000 from donors in the oil and gas industry — the 5th highest total among House Democrats, according to previous reporting by Sludge. That includes corporate political action committee donations of $50,000 from Entergy, an electric and natural gas utility; $40,000 from ExxonMobil; and $10,000 apiece from oil companies Chevron, Phillips 66 and Valero Energy.

Richmond has raked in that money while representing a congressional district that is home to 7 of the 10 most air-polluted census tracts in the country. 

Richmond has repeatedly broken with his party on major climate and environmental votes. During the climate crisis that has battered his home state of Louisiana, Richmond has joined with Republicans to vote to increase fossil fuel exports and promote pipeline development. He also voted against Democratic legislation to place pollution limits on fracking — and he voted for GOP legislation to limit the Obama administration’s authority to more stringently regulate the practice. 

Overall, Richmond has received a lifetime rating of 76 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, and he scored 46 percent in 2018 — one of the lowest ratings of any Democrat in Congress. 

In addition, Julia Rock and Andrew Perez (DAILY POSTER) note:

Joe Biden’s early national security picks cashed in after their time in the Obama administration by consulting for defense contractors or working for think tanks funded by the defense industry and the U.S. government, or both.

On Sunday, Bloomberg reported that Biden has chosen his longtime aide, Tony Blinken, to serve as Secretary of State and will name Jake Sullivan, his senior advisor and a former Hillary Clinton aide, national security adviser. Former Obama Defense Department official Michèle Flournoy is considered the favorite to be Secretary of Defense. 

After leaving the Obama administration, Blinken and Flournoy founded WestExec Advisors, a secretive consulting firm whose motto has been: “Bringing the Situation Room to the board room.” Flournoy and Sullivan have both held roles at think tanks raking in money from defense contractors and U.S. government intelligence and defense agencies. 

Last week, two board members from Raytheon joined a small group to brief President-elect Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on national security issues. One of the two Raytheon board members, Robert Work, has also worked for WestExec.

Biden has been facing calls from Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocacy groups to end the revolving door between government and the defense industry. One-third of the members of Biden transition’s Depart­ment of Defense agency review team were most recently employed by “orga­ni­za­tions, think tanks or com­pa­nies that either direct­ly receive mon­ey from the weapons indus­try, or are part of this indus­try,” according to reporting from In These Times.

Winslow T. Wheeler and Pierre Sprey (COUNTERPUNCH) look at possible Secretary of Defense nominee Michele Flournoy:

Keep in mind Flournoy‘s extensive defense industry ties. In 2002 she went from positions in the Pentagon and the National Defense University to the mainstream but hawkish Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is largely funded by industry and Pentagon contributions. Five years later, she co-founded the second-most heavily contractor-funded think tank in Washington, the highly influential Center for a New American Security (CNAS). That became a stepping stone to her role as under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration. From there she rotated­­ to the Boston Consulting Group, after which the firm’s military contracts expanded from $1.6 million to $32 million in three years. She also joined the board of Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm laden with defense contracts. In 2017 she co-founded WestExec Advisors, helping defense corporations market their products to the Pentagon and other agencies.

Though WestExec Advisors does not reveal its clients, Flournoy has stated, “Building bridges between Silicon Valley and the U.S. government is really, really important,” even a “labor of love.” WestExec is also careful not to designate Flournoy as a lobbyist, which could run afoul of Biden’s likely prohibitions against appointing “lobbyists” to senior positions. But a WestExec source did tell an interviewer, “We’ll tell you who to go talk to” and what to tell them. This simply circumvents the legalities; it is lobbying by remote control.

In a CNAS article this July, Flournoy laid out a plan embraced by candidate Biden and other Democrats, “Sharpening the U.S. Military’s Edge: Critical Steps for the Next Administration.” The piece reveals Flournoy’s corporate outlook and outlines how the next secretary of defense should manage the Pentagon.

The nature of any Pentagon administration stems from the quality of the people selected to run it. Addressing this central question, Flournoy states:

It will be imperative for the next secretary to appoint a team of senior officials who meet the following criteria: deep expertise and competence in their areas of responsibility; proven leadership in empowering teams, listening to diverse views, making tough decisions, and delivering results; mission-driven and able to work well in a team of strong peers … and diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that will ultimately contribute to better decision making and organizational performance.

Nowhere does she list ethics, character, objectivity, or independence from contractor, service, or political biases, all qualities stunningly missing from Trump’s Pentagon as well as earlier ones.

Joe is also supposed to announce this week (according to NYT) Antony Blinken as Secretary of State.  Walker Bragman Tweets:

A pretty good indication we are getting a war presidency. Blinken is a hawk. He was an adviser to Biden when he voted for the Iraq War.

A war presidency?  Maybe that's guaranteed when you keep nominating a presidential ticket with one or two candidates on it who led the country into the illegal war?  It's really past time, in 2020, that the Democratic Party -- the officials in charge -- stop gaming the system and imposing these War Hawks on the people.  But they did it in 2016 and they did it in 2020 and too many people would rather look the other way so expect it to continue for some time to come. 

At MILITARY TIMES, former Lt Col Daniel L. Davis calls for all US troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan:

Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller on Tuesday announced that Trump had ordered a reduction in the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving 2,500 in both countries prior to Biden’s inauguration. This is good news and long overdue — but also insufficient. What is most needed is a complete end to the military mission and a total withdrawal.

 While it may sound good on paper to keep 2,500 troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq, doing so will perpetuate the decades’ long military failure. I served on the ground in both countries during my Army career and could not more emphatically declare that such a small number of combat troops are woefully insufficient to accomplish any outcome of strategic utility to the United States.

It should be a non-negotiable requirement that any combat deployment of U.S. personnel abroad include a clearly defined mission and assign a force of sufficient strength to accomplish militarily-attainable tasks in direct support to the mission. There is presently little more than a general and opaque mission and there are no identifiable military tasks which would signal mission accomplishment.

New content at THIRD:

We're closing with this from Ms.:

Ms. Magazine

DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT: We've just gotten the exciting news that a generous donor has pledged to match 20 donations of $500—if we raise $10,000 by Thanksgiving! This challenge grant will allow us to report on the damaging actions by the outgoing Trump administration during the lame duck period—but we need your help to make it to $10,000.


Dear Common Ills,

Though we have much to celebrate – including the election of Kamala Harris, the first woman and first Black and South Asian vice president – we also have no time to waste. Our opponents will use the lame duck period—the time between now and when the new President is inaugurated, and a new Congress convenes—to do as much damage as they can.

We want you to know that the Ms. team has already hit the ground running in this critically important post-election period. We’ve moved swiftly on the digging, reporting and story assignments to prepare for what could—in all likelihood—be the most challenging and dangerous “lame duck” period for women and for equality in our nation’s history. 

As Ms. writer Carrie Baker reported on the Ms. website: 

"With two months left in office, Trump is attempting to hobble the next administration by making it difficult for Biden and Harris to reverse some of Trump’s most harmful policies. 

The Trump administration is rushing through last-minute regulations and signing contracts with Republican governors designed to prevent the incoming administration from restoring civil rights protections and expanding health care access...

Activists are organizing to block these new regulations, and if they are adopted they will surely be challenged in court. But legal challenges would take time…” (Read the full article here.)

Reporting on this critical post-election period, and in the early weeks of the new administration, is a herculean task. And we’re up to it. In fact, we can do no less because so much is at stake for women and for equality.

This is why I hope I can depend on you to help us meet what will be extraordinary budget demands. You can do this by chipping in to help us launch the Ms. Emergency Reporting Fund.

Frankly, we had no choice but to start this fund. Why? Because immediately after Joe Biden won the White House, we have seen that the defeated, reactionary Trump administration, on their way out of town, is doing all it can to turn back the clock on women’s rights and equality.

They are also attacking our democracy itself. Unlike every candidate in our nation’s history regardless of political party who lost the presidential election, Trump has refused to acknowledge his loss. He and many Republicans are instead sowing seeds of unrest and touting conspiracy theories. Trump has refused to allow departments and agencies to begin the transition process, and he is appointing right-wing ideologues to civilian positions that make it very difficult for President-elect Biden to remove them.  

That’s why we hope you will chip in $10, $20, $50 or even $100 or $500 to get the Ms. Emergency Reporting Fund rolling.

And remember: every $500 donation up to $10,000 will be matched by a generous donor—if we reach our goal by Thanksgiving!

We must get ready right now. We must make sure you and our other readers get full, updated information each day online and in our daily newsletter, each week in our weekly digest and, of course, in our print edition and popular podcast, On The Issues with Michele Goodwin.

With your support, we’ll quickly alert our readers to the threats and opportunities during the lame duck period between now and when President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are inaugurated and a new Congress is convened in January.

What’s more, we know there will be victories to celebrate in the days ahead. We’ll tell you about the massive turnout of women voters and the decisive role of the gender gap in the election outcome.

In short, together women made one hell of a winning difference.

This is why we’ve rushed to set up the special Ms. Emergency Reporting Fundand why I’m urging your immediate help with whatever size contribution you can make.

Although feminists can claim victories today, we don’t have a moment to lose in taking the critical next step and preparing for the Lame Duck Congress: whether it’s the Trump Administration’s continued attacks on Title IX aimed at gutting protections against sex discrimination and sexual assault and sexual harassment… or the Administration’s continued efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act… or Trump’s attack on the legitimacy of the election.

What every reporter, editor and digital expert here at Ms. absolutely agrees on about this election is that there is much work to be done during the lame duck period as we prepare to move forward in 2021.

Our drive for guaranteeing equality starts with being as fully prepared and informed as possible. So, before you do anything else, please let us know you’ll join with us in launching Ms. Emergency Reporting Fund

Help ensure Ms. remains strong and independent during this period of challenge and change.

Together we have made a difference. Together we will finish the job.

For equality,
Kathy Spillar
Executive Editor

P.S. With so much at stake please help us open the new chapter by joining us as part of the Ms. Emergency Reporting Fund. Thank you.


Enjoy this newsletter? Forward to a friend!
Was this email forwarded to you by a friend? Subscribe.

Ms. Magazine
1600 Wilson Boulevard
Suite 801
Arlington, VA 22209
United States