Monday, November 23, 2020

Montgomery Clift

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



 I am not doing politics tonight, sorry.  My stomach feels funny.  I think it is too much sweets for one night.  My granddaughter Tracey and I were making desserts for Thanksgiving -- pies, fudge, two cakes.  And we were sampling the icing, the cherries, etc.  

So I want to focus on something that makes me feel better.  Montgomery Clift.

Unlike a lot of teen idols today, Montgomery could act -- really outstanding as an actor -- and he was gorgeous.  

He made films like A PLACE IN THE SUN with Elizabeth Taylor, THE YOUNG LIONS with Marlon Brando, THE HEIRESS with Olivia de Haviland, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY with Frank Sinatra, THE MISFITS with Marilyn Monroe, JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG with Judy Garland, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER with Elizabeth Taylor, RAINTREE COUNTY with Elizabeth Taylor, WILD RIVER with Lee Remick, FREUD with Susannah York, and RED RIVER with John Wayne.  He worked with directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Eli Kazan, John Huston, Fred Zinnemann, Howard Hawks, William Wyler, and Stanley Kramer.

At the height of his career, and while making his second film with Elizabeth Taylor (RAINTREE COUNTY), he had a horrible car accident, he was leaving a party that Ms. Taylor had thrown.  It left his face disfigured.  Even surgery was not able to bring back the looks.  He also had a haunted look after that accident.


I am sure he was not my first film crush, but he was one of my earliest.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


 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.:

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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