Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The true reality

Donald Trump appears to be headed out of the White House, Joe Biden appear to be heading in.  It is what the powers-that-be want.  Mr. Biden is a better face for war, after all.  Jonathan Cooke (ICH) writes about the reality of empire:


New Salesman Needed

The cynical way this works was underscored in a classified 2010 CIA memorandum, known as “Red Cell”, leaked to Wikileaks, as the journalist Glenn Greenwald reminded us last week. The CIA memo addressed the fear in Washington that European publics were demonstrating little appetite for the US-led “war on terror” that followed 9/11. That, in turn, risked limiting the ability of European allies to support the US as it exercised its divine right to wage war.

The memo notes that European support for US wars after 9/11 had chiefly relied on “public apathy” – the fact that Europeans were kept largely ignorant by their own media of what those wars entailed. But with a rising tide of anti-war sentiment, the concern was that this might change. There was an urgent need to further manipulate public opinion more decisively in favour of war.

The US intelligence agency decided its wars needed a facelift. George W Bush, with his Texan, cowboy swagger, had proved a poor salesman. So the CIA turned to identity politics and faux “humanitarianism”, which they believed would play better with European publics.

Part of the solution was to accentuate the suffering of Afghan women to justify war. But the other part was to use President Barack Obama as the face of a new, “caring” approach to war. He had recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – even though he had done nothing for peace, and would go on to expand US wars – very possibly as part of this same effort to reinvent the “war on terror”. Polls showed support for existing wars increased markedly among Europeans when they were reminded that Obama backed these wars.

As Greenwald observes:

“Obama’s most important value was in prettifying, marketing and prolonging wars, not ending them. They saw him for what U.S. Presidents really are: instruments to create a brand and image about the U.S. role in the world that can be effectively peddled to both the domestic population in the U.S. and then on the global stage, and specifically to pretend that endless barbaric U.S. wars are really humanitarian projects benevolently designed to help people — the pretext used to justify every war by every country in history.”

Obama-style Facelift

Once the state is understood as a vehicle for entrenching elite power – and war its most trusted tool for concentrating power – the world becomes far more intelligible. Western economies never stopped being colonial economies, but they were given an Obama-style facelift. War and plunder – even when they masquerade as “defence”, or peace – are still the core western mission.

That is why Britons, believing days of empire are long behind them, might have been shocked to learn last week that the UK still operates 145 military bases in 42 countries around the globe, meaning it runs the second largest network of such bases after the US.

Such information is not made available in the UK “mainstream” media, of course. It has to be provided by an “alternative” investigative site, Declassified UK. In that way the vast majority of the British public are left clueless about how their taxes are being used at a time when they are told further belt-tightening is essential.

That is the true reality.


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

 Tuesday, December 1, 2020.  All you writer boys?  Can you just cup your groins and shut your mouths for a few minutes?  As usual, your critiques of Neera Tandem miss the point and, yet again, feminists have to step up to cover what you refuse to see or at least refuse to emphasize.

Starting and staying in the US with Neera Tanden.  Neera cannot be made OMB.  Will she be?  It's very likely.  But there is one main reason she should not be.  We've noted multiple videos since Team Biden announced that Neera would be Joe's nominee for OMB: 

If someone in the above has stressed the point I'm about to make, my apologies.  I don't have time watch everything that I'm asked to highlight here.  I have read a great deal of written commentary about Neera.  The main point is either ignored or glossed over.

Neera's Twitter rages are well known and that might be the only good thing about her becoming OMB -- that Joe would insist she stay off Twitter.  But there's no way feminists can support Neera.  Nor can they remain silent.

We've already collectively sent a bad message with some of us supporting Joe in the face of Tara Reade's credible allegations of Biden assaulting her.  I believe Tara.  If you do and you're a feminist who supported Joe, shame on you.  You sent a message -- the same way Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan  sent a message when they refused to stand with Phyllis Chesler when she was raped.  Instead of supporting her, they made excuses for her rapist Davidson Nicol.  In 2020, you have said you believe a woman who says Joe Biden assaulted her but that that woman can be sacrificed.

In doing so, you've made girls and women collateral damage.  Supposedly, on the left, we decry that term and we loathe it being used to justify the US government killing innocents.  However the soap boxes some of us are standing on currently?  They're caving in a little bit and may collapse shortly.  Because we have no right to call out the US government's justifying deaths as "collateral damage" when we ourselves are turning girls women into just that.

Neera is a woman.  She is not a feminist and she should not have the support of any feminist in the United States.  Walter Bragman (JACOBIN) writes of Neera's attempts to gut Social Security.  So what?  Do I agree with that?  Hell no.  But Walter's already documented -- throughout the primary -- Joe Biden's stance and it's in keeping with Neera's stance.  I don't think you defeat her the way Bragman's trying.

You defeat her by making the case that she's either incompetent or flat out hostile to other women.  She has demonstrated that she should not be in a position of authority.

Sarah Mimms (BUZZFEED) 2018:

Two days after BuzzFeed News unveiled allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation at one of the nation’s top liberal think tanks, the Center for American Progress's president, Neera Tanden, met with staff to restore confidence in the organization’s ability to handle the issue and ensure that employees feel safe.

But during the meeting Wednesday afternoon, Tanden named the anonymous victim at the center that story — a revelation that a CAP spokesperson said was unintentional — and what began as a tense meeting became what three staffers in the room described as a textbook example of the organization’s failures to appropriately handle sexual harassment cases.

"There is literally one thing you cannot do in this meeting and that is out the victim and Neera did it multiple times...It also destroys whatever small level of confidence in the system remained," one CAP employee who was in the room said in a text to BuzzFeed News. “As a manager I don't know how I can tell staff to trust the system when the head of the organization just outed the victim in front of the entire organization. It is impossible to trust her.”

“Neera lost the organization today,” another CAP employee who was in the meeting said. “There was so much angst in that room. She outed the victim, and the subtext of every question was a lack of confidence in her leadership and ability to create trust within the organization.”

Let's note this from Sarah's earlier article:

The Center for American Progress, the politics and policy hub for the Democratic establishment, has put out four different policy proposal papers on handling sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as data on how pervasive the issue is “across all industries.”

The organization’s president, Neera Tanden, has vehemently criticized Republicans for their reaction to the accusations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump and wrote in a tweet still pinned to her profile, “I don't think the country has understood how psychologically wounding it was to so many women that Trump won after the Access Hollywood tape.”

But only an hour after the Access Hollywood tape was made public, top officials at CAP received an exit memo from a young woman who'd just quit detailing the sexual harassment she experienced from Benton Strong, a manager on her team — harassment, she wrote, that management already knew about — and how she faced retaliation for reporting it.

In the email, the junior staffer, who asked that BuzzFeed News refer her to as Mary, which is part of the woman’s formal name, wrote that “on several occasions, myself and others on the team felt as if reporting had been a mistake and that the retaliation, worsening of already tenuous team dynamics, and treatment by supervisors outweighed the seemingly positive act of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.” When contacted about this story, the woman confirmed the authenticity of the exit memo, but declined to comment further, except to respond on Saturday to a statement from CAP.

“CAP’s culture obscures its mission,” Mary wrote, toward the end of her memo. “All of this to say, I surely expected better out of an organization that housed a national campaign on sexual assault.”

Get it and grasp it: Harassment took place repeatedly at CAP while Neera was the head of it.  The harassment was known by management and the women being harassed were not assisted in anyway by Neera.  Instead, she made a point to look the other way.  Once Sarah Mimms reported what was going on, Neera immediately called a meeting and outed a woman being harassed.  

That's what Neera did. 

In terms of management skills?  She has none.  She is not fit to be in any position let alone the head of the OMB.  What she did would not fly in corporate America.

Glenn Greenwald writes a very long article.  But like everyone else, he's not addressing actual issues.  Oh, Neera was mean to Bernie!!!! Do you think the Congress is going to give two s**ts about that?  Do you think every action Joe's taking right now isn't already spitting in Bernie's face?

Can we focus on reality?  Joe wants to put Neera in charge of an agency, a federal agency.  But Neera's history -- and we're only going back two years, demonstrates that she is not up to being in management.  She had one duty at CAP: To protect her employees.  And she failed.  And when her failure was exposed, she outed the woman who spoke to BUZZFEED about the harassment.

In corporate America, that would be it for Neera.  Not saying others don't do worse and get away with it.  But anyone in corporate America who did what Neera did and the press covered it?  That person would be dismissed immediately.  

That Joe has nominated Neera goes to just how much we have collectively failed as feminists.  Joe's not a clean slate.  Even those of us who set aside Tara Reade (I don't, I believe Tara) have to admit Joe's pattern of harassment.  Amanda Arnold and Claire Lampen (THE CUT) detailed some of the other harassment of women:

Ahead of former vice-president Joe Biden’s expected 2020 presidential bid, women are speaking out about their personal interactions with him — alleging he physically touched them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Last week, the Cut published an essay by Lucy Flores, a former Nevada lieutenant governor nominee, who wrote that Biden smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head at a campaign event in 2014. In the week since, several more women have come forward.

Below, here’s a running list of the allegations against Biden.

Lucy Flores
On March 29, in the aforementioned essay published on the Cut, former Nevada lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores alleged that Biden smelled her hair and gave her “a big slow kiss” on the back of her head at an event for her 2014 campaign. In that moment, she wrote, she felt “embarrassed” and “shocked.”

“I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me,” she continued. In response to the essay, Biden claimed that he had no memory of having “acted inappropriately,” but added that if he was in the wrong, he would “listen respectfully.”

Amy Lappos
When Amy Lappos was a congressional aide for U.S. representative Jim Himes in 2009, she claims that Biden touched and rubbed his nose against hers during a political fund-raiser. “It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” she told Hartford Courant on April 1. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”

After the incident, Lappos didn’t file a formal complaint. “He was the vice president,” she told the Courant. “I was a nobody.”

D.J. Hill
D.J. Hill was one of two women to come forward with allegations in the New York Times, which referred to Biden’s conduct as “tactile politics” in a report published on April 2. At a 2012 at a fundraising event in Minneapolis, Hill alleges that Biden rested his hand on her shoulder, and then started to move it down her back, which left her feeling “very uncomfortable.”

“Only he knows his intent,” she told the Times, adding, “If something makes you feel uncomfortable, you have to feel able to say it.”

Caitlyn Caruso
In the same Times report, a woman named Caitlyn Caruso claimed that after sharing the story of her sexual assault at a University of Nevada event in 2016, Biden hugged her “just a little bit too long” and laid his hand on her thigh.

“It doesn’t even really cross your mind that such a person would dare perpetuate harm like that,” she told the Times. “These are supposed to be people you can trust.”

Ally Coll
On April 3, Ally Coll told the Washington Post that at a 2008 reception, Biden squeezed her shoulders, complimented her smile, and held her “for a beat too long.” A young Democratic staffer at the time, Coll said her initial reaction was to shrug it off. But she told the Post she now feels the alleged incident was inappropriate, adding, “There’s been a lack of understanding about the way that power can turn something that might seem innocuous into something that can make somebody feel uncomfortable.”

Sofie Karasek
In 2016, Sofie Karasek was photographed holding hands and touching foreheads with Biden at the Oscars, where she stood alongside 50 other sexual-assault survivors during Lady Gaga’s performance. It was a moment that soon went viral, and was described then by the Post as “powerful.” But in the Post’s report published this week, Karasek says she believes that Biden violated her personal space. She also told the Post that she wasn’t impressed with Biden’s two-minute-long video response to the growing unwanted-touching allegations against him — in which he never says he’s sorry — as he “didn’t take ownership in the way that he needs to.”

“He emphasized that he wants to connect with people and, of course, that’s important,” she told the publication. “But again, all of our interactions and friendships are a two-way street … Too often it doesn’t matter how the woman feels about it or they just assume that they’re fine with it.”

Vail Kohnert-Yount
In the same Post report, Vail Kohnert-Yount alleged that when she was a White House intern in the spring of 2013, Biden “put his hand on the back of [her] head and pressed his forehead to [her] forehead” when he introduced himself, and that he called her a “pretty girl.” She was “so shocked,” she said, “that it was hard to focus on what he was saying.” Though she told the Post that she doesn’t believe Biden’s conduct constituted sexual misconduct, she described it as “the kind of inappropriate behavior that makes many women feel uncomfortable and unequal in the workplace.”

If you remember, many rushed forward with garbage about 'that's just Joe' or 'he's just touchy.'  What he did was unacceptable.  It was wrong.  It caused enough of a problem for him that he taped a video 'apology' (even before the pandemic, he was refusing to deal with the press with regards to tough issues).  And then what happened?  Seth McLaughlin (THE WASHINGTON TIMES via AP):

Speaking at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers construction and maintenance conference in Washington, Mr. Biden opened his remarks by assuring the audience that the hug he gave IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson before taking the stage was consensual.

“You know as the say in parts of my old neighborhood in Scranton, you guys brung me to the dance, you really did, and I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie,” Mr. Biden said with a grin, sparking laughter and applause from the crowd.

These jokes came two days after his so-called apology.  Sabrina Siddiqui (GUARDIAN) noted:

On Wednesday, Biden pledged in a video to change his behavior.

“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying,” Biden said. “Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful of personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

Speaking to reporters after Friday’s event, Biden was asked if he would apologize to the women directly.

“I’m sorry I didn’t understand,” he said. “I’m not sorry for any of my intentions.”

Joe got a pass and he learned nothing.  This goes to what his administration will be.  He has offended women -- I think even non-feminists can agree with that -- and his actions since have not demonstrated that he's the great supporter of women.  

And yet here he is nominating a woman who presided over an unsafe work culture, who did not address the workplace harassment until after BUZZFEED exposed it and who then outed a victim of the harassment to the entire workplace.  

Neera's actions are outrageous, offensive and go to how she's not fit to preside over any agency.  But equally true, that after Tara has accused Joe of assault, after eight other women have detailed harassment, Joe has learned nothing and is willing to nominate someone who is the poster of a workplace harassment.

This is offensive and shame on anyone -- feminist or not -- who doesn't speak out.

I wanted to cover Iraq and the assault Moqtada carried out.  But as often happens, my dreaming hours were on a problem and the solution popped up.  Neera is unqualified to head an agency. 

Yet our left -- and, let's be honest, it's our left men -- wants to tear her down because of Social Security (I don't support her position but it's in keeping with Joe's position) or because she was mean to Bernie or because she's a conspiracy nut or because . . .

At what point, Walker and Glenn and all of you, at what point do you value women?  At what point do you see someone who presided over a toxic workplace and refused to address it until the press exposed it?  That goes directly to whether or not she's qualified to run anything -- let alone the OMB?

Glenn and Walker aren't the only ones at fault.  There should be hyperawareness about harassment in the workplace.  But we spent too much time in 2019 and 2020 minimizing Joe's actions.

Neera's unfit.  What does it say about Joe that he's nominated her?

It calls into question his own judgment and it certainly tears at his pose of being the great supporter of women.

Girls lives matter.  Women's lives matter.

We have treated women and girls, over and over, as collateral damage.  We've said it's for the greater good.  It's not. 

It's not for the greater good of any girl or woman because the message is repeatedly sent that assault is okay if it's just a girl or just a woman. 

We need to rise up and make it clear that we will not be your collateral damage.  Our lives matter.

And excusing an attack or an assault on one of us is excusing an attack or assault on all of us.

I want to be clear, as I've noted before, that some feminists don't believe Tara.  That's fine.  We all have to make the judgment ourselves.  If you didn't believe Tara and you're a feminist, did you not believe Lucy?  If you didn't believe Tara and you're a feminist, are you okay with toxic workplace leader Neera being put in charge of a government agency?

There's no excuse for this nomination.  It is appalling.  And if we are feminists, we need to be calling it out.  Loudly.  

Last Wednesday, we noted The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  We focused on the violence aimed at women in Iraq and the US.  Did anyone else?

I didn't see men rushing to cover the topic.

And now we've got Neera nominated to head an agency after she failed employees and I'm not seeing men stepping up and tackling this.  They should be.  It goes to her qualifications -- her lack of them.  But they'd rather zoom in on any other topic.

This is the topic.  How can she head an agency when she's already demonstrated that she's a failure and that those under her are at risk?  

This is the issue and it's always feminists that have to raise it.  There's no greater issue that goes to why she's not fit to head the OMB but look at the discussion and grasp how men are using anything and everything to go after her except for her actual appalling record. 

The following sites updated: