Saturday, September 24, 2022

NPR needs to show Nina Totenberg the door

Do you get tired of being conned?  Maybe you are full of optimism and just manage to recharge constantly.  Or maybe you have grown tired of it all like me?  Too many politicians have lied to me too many times.  I bring that up because REUTERS reports:

President Joe Biden challenged Democratic voters on Friday that if they elect at least two more senators in November elections, it would open the possibility of Democrats removing the filibuster and restoring federal abortion rights for women.

At a Democratic National Committee rally, Biden suggested the two extra Democrats would allow the Democratic-controlled Senate to remove a legislative roadblock known as the filibuster that requires a 60-vote majority to overcome.

Democrats hold a bare majority in the Senate now, and two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema, have opposed ending the filibuster.

So we might get it?  He will not even say that we will get it, just that we might get it?


U.S. House Representative Nancy Pelosi told the world in the fall of 2006 that if we voted Democrats in charge of just one house of Congress, they would end the war.

That. Did. Not. Happen.

We gave them both houses of Congress and that did not happen.

I am tired of lies.  I am tired of "maybe"s.  I want action.

Mr. Biden wants me to show up and vote  -- possibly even donate money?

What are you promising me?

And why should I believe you?

Answer those questions first.

Just a few months ago, many of us were horrified to learn that a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio was forced to delay medical attention and travel to Indiana to get the reproductive health care that she needed. Sadly she is just one example of how our fundamental right to bodily autonomy has been stripped away following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Yet, as dangerous as this ruling is for more than half of the U.S. population, its impact on the right to privacy is much more far-reaching than you might think.   

Fundamentally, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, along with many other Supreme Court rulings including Roe v. Wade, deal with the right to personal privacy, which is an "unenumerated" right — meaning it is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.

Abandoning nearly 50 years of precedent, the Dobbs court said if a right is not mentioned in the Constitution, it needs to be "deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition," and defined "deeply rooted" by relying heavily on whether it was widely accepted by those in power at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868.

Of course the right to personal privacy and reproductive health care, as well as a number of other rights, were not accepted by those in power at a time when women and many others were excluded from the legislative process. And if that’s the test for when a right is constitutional, then what about the right to contraception? The right to certain forms of sexual intimacy? The right to same-sex marriage? 

The Supreme Court’s majority clearly knew these were obvious questions raised by their overall argument. And they even tried to tell us that we shouldn’t worry about these other rights — that the Dobbs opinion only applies to reproductive health care. But Justice Clarence Thomas proves that statement wrong when he says in his far-reaching concurring opinion that the Supreme Court should reconsider the constitutionality of those other rights.



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

Friday, September 23, 2022.  Did US forces  kill a 15-year-old girl in Iraq this week, does no one get insult humor when Whoopi Goldberg practices it, what MSNBC program brought on a guest to praise Joe Biden and the Democrats this week and failed to disclose that Joe Biden has nominated the guest's wife for a post? 

Starting with THE VIEW and Whoopi Goldberg due to e-mails.  Disclosure, I know Whoopi and she's much more reasoned and reasonable in real life.  As am I.  (I hope.)  But THE VIEW is a morning food fight.  We don't get to see the best of Whoopi on that program.  James Crowley (HOLLYWOOD LIFE) reports:

Whoopi Goldberg began a segment with an explanation for a joke she made at Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s expense during a discussion about abortion rights and marriage equality with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on The View on Thursday, September 22. After a commercial break, the moderator defended her comment. “It was a joke. Nothing more than that,” she explained.

The press secretary had referenced Graham’s recent proposal for a nationwide abortion ban, and she warned that such a bill would set a precedent for other issues. “It’s not just abortion. It’s going to be on marriage. It’s going to be on contraception. It’s going to be on our privacy,” she said, before mentioning that the South Carolina senator had made conflicting comments before proposing the bill. “Senator Graham had said—maybe about a month ago, early August—that he believes when it comes to marriage, when it comes to abortion, it’s for states to decide. So, Senator Graham, what changed?”

Whoopi responded to the question with a quip at Graham’s expense. “Maybe he’s getting married. Do it quick, because I know people are fooling around with our marriage rights,” she said. While the co-host didn’t make any outright statements about the senator’s sexuality, some interpreted the comment as such. An editor for Media Research Center and conservative outlet Newsbusters Nicholas Fondacaro accused Whoopi of “dabbling in homophobic bigotry,” on Twitter. “This plays to the smear that Graham is closeted,” he wrote.

When the show returned from a commercial break, Whoopi explained that she wasn’t making a serious statement. “I was doing what I do as a comic. Sometimes I make jokes,” she said. “I just got a whole conversation about people misunderstanding the joke. I mean, okay. I should probably never do this show again if this is what it’s coming to. It was a joke, guys.”

I've called Whoopi out here before and have no problem doing so again.  However, I don't think she did anything wrong.

I know Lindsey as well.  And I know his record.  (I'm not saying anything about his personal life.)  He is strongly opposed to marriage equality.  He supported DOMA.  He's made insane statements about marriage equality and about gay people.

Whoopi did a joke.  It was an insult.  She was joking that he should get married quick because the  life-long bachelor Lindsey wouldn't be able to marry a man for much longer if he had his way.

It's a joke.  "The joke is that he's gay!"

Is that what she said?

I didn't see that.

He is rude and evil to gay people and Whoopi insulted him.

Insult comedy.

Has no one heard of Don Rickles?

Whoopi especially has a defense because she actually is a comedian.  That's where she came up.  And it's insult comedy.  

It's not homophobia.  Whoopi supports gay rights.  Whoopi's not homophobic.  She did a same-sex kiss with Demi Moore in GHOST, she did a same-sex kiss with Margaret Avery in THE COLOR PURPLE, she played Jane in BOYS ON THE SIDE, go down the list.  And that may not seem like much today, but back then people were saying no repeatedly -- Patti Labelle was not the only woman who turned down the part of Shug over the same-sex kiss.  Patti's gay fan base, which is all she really has left, stayed mute and disappointed in the 80s, they would not put up with it today (and they shouldn't have then -- when your a performer whose base is over 50% gay, you either appreciate your base or you retire).  So this was not homophobia on Whoopi's part.

Lindsey thinks there's something wrong with people who are gay.  He's the one with the homophobia.  Whoopi played on that with her insult comedy.

On comedy, there are --

Jon Stewart.

I like Jon and I know Jon.  He's done many wonderful things.  His time at THE DAILY SHOW . . .

Love him but sometimes I wish he'd never done that (sometimes I wish that even more than I wish he hadn't had his scenes cut out of FIRST WIVES CLUB).  

THE DAILY SHOW made our comedy and our 'news' and public affairs programs worse, much worse.

Jon is a comedian.  He could (and can) do comedy.  The popularity of THE DAILY SHOW made THE WASHINGTON POST and Dana Milbank think anyone could do comedy and politics.  Dana's MAD DOG BITCH 'comedy' bit about Hillary Clinton should have ended that misguided notion for good but it did not.  

So we get various talking heads who are not comedians and have never done stand up hosting 'news' programs (talk shows) and thinking they're funny.  They mug, they joke, they do everything but news.  

They're like local 'news' teams.  You'd think they'd be thrilled to be journalists and take their occupation seriously but they think anyone can tell a joke and, as anyone who's watched MSNBC or FOX NEWS knows, many people cannot tell a joke and should not try.

Other comedians can do things similar to Jon but, as Trevor Noah proves nightly, there's only one Jon Stewart.  

Again, Whoopi offered insult humor.  If you didn't like the joke, you didn't like it.  That's your right.  But she was not being homophobic.  She was not saying 'gay is bad' -- she was taking Lindsey's anti-gay position and mocking it by joking he might marry a man.  Being a comedian does not give Whoopi a get out jail card if she's not joking.  "She's a comic!," for example, does not excuse her statements on the Holocaust earlier this year.  She was not joking in those comments.  Here she was clearly joking.  (And, if had not been clear, I'd still have given her the benefit of the doubt on this because Whoopi has faults like we all do but homophobia is not one of them.)

Media notes.  The ridiculous Chris Matthews was on MSNBC's MORNING JOE this week.  Why?  He was let go by MSNBC -- fired -- for cause.  More to the point, he was there to talk up Democrats and Joe Biden yet I never heard the needed disclosure from him or from the on airs at MORNING JOE:  "Joe has nominated my wife for a post."  Does disclosure not matter anymore to those who pretend to be journalists?

September 19th, the White House announced a series of nominations including this one:

Kathleen Cunningham Matthews, of Maryland, to be a Member of the International Broadcasting Advisory Board for a term expiring January 1, 2023.  (New Position)

That's Chris' wife of 42 years.  I'd say that disclosure's needed.  The media is supposed to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.  So pig boy Matthews shouldn't have been brought on for that reason.  He was brought on and Joe and Mika and company didn't feel a disclosure was necessary. The President of the United States is nominating your wife for a post, I'd say you need to disclose that before you begin uttering your hogwash spin.  I'd also argue that if what Chris did to women was wrong -- and it was wrong -- he shouldn't be invited back on MSNBC.  

Still on media, congratulations to Jimmy Dore who finally discovered African-American women and managed to have two on a segment.  It would be great if he weren't using them to hide behind and he grasped that African-American women can and do weigh in on war, the economy, peace, healthcare and so much more.  But at least he had them on his show to defend himself against women of color.  An e-mail said my calling him out "made" that happen.  I don't think so.  I do think his attacks on Nina Turner hurt and so now, when he wants to attack women of color, he'll bring on women of color to hide behind.  

Zainab Essam Majed.

That's a name the US media can't seem to find.  But others are noting her name.

Is anyone talking about Zainab Essam Al-Khazali? the 15 year old Iraqi girl who was shot and killed by US forces in Iraq yesterday. She wasn’t killed by Iran so her story does not matter to western media.
Zainab Al-Khazali, 15, was killed by US forces in Iraq. Her killing has been widely ignored.
U.S. occupation forces kill 15 year old Zainab Essam at Abu Ghraib, #Iraq, during a "live fire drill". She is the latest of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to fall victim to #Washington's extended slaughter in the Arab country. Press TV.
A fifteen-year-old girl named Zainab Essam Al Khazali was shot by the US military on September 20 near the infamous Camp Bucca in Baghdad but not even a single Western media outlet reported the murder, writes Hafsa Kara-Mustapha.
This is Zainab Essam Al-Khazali, a 15-year-old Iraqi high school student. She was killed in broad daylight by American troops during their military drill in Abu Ghraib area, west of Baghdad, while helping her father at their farm. Where is the outrage?
The US, even after its "withdrawal" of troops from Iraq, still maintains several military bases on Iraqi soil and apparently holds "training" drills near residential areas using live ammunition. As a result, a 15-year-old girl was shot dead by US troops.

THE NEW ARAB explains:

Iraqi security forces have vowed to reveal the "truth" behind the death of a 15-year-old girl killed on Tuesday.

Zainab Essam Majed was allegedly killed following a "random shooting" in the Abu Ghraib district of Iraq, just west of Baghdad, which has sparked outrage over her death.

Pro-Iran and Tehran-linked media outlets and militias have blamed "American army drills" at a "US military camp" near Baghdad Airport.

It did not mention which location the alleged gunfire referred to the former US base Camp Victory, located close to Baghdad Airport, was handed over to the Iraqi government in 2008. 

This has not prevented pro-Tehran militias from blaming US forces for her death and comes after international outrage over the alleged killing of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, by Iranian morality police.

AL BAWABA covers the events here.  This is a scandal brewing.  No, the facts aren't known yet.  Could be US forces had nothing to do with the death.  Could be they are responsible.  But this is a scandal and, for some reason, the US press isn't interested.

Just like Joe Biden's apparently not interested in meeting with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the caretaker prime minister of Iraq. Joe can dash off to London for the funeral of a woman who never attended the funerals of even one US president -- not the funeral of Harry Truman, not the funeral of Dwight Eisenhower, not the funeral of John F. Kennedy, not the funeral of Lyndon B. Johnson, not the funeral of Gerald Ford, not the funeral of Ronald Reagan, not the funeral of George H.W. Bush.  But Joe can scurry across the Atlantic to act like a royal subject.

This week, Joe wouldn't have even needed to take Air Force One to Baghdad in order to meet face-to-face with Mustafa because Mustafa came to the US to speak at the United Nations.  He's met with many leaders while in the US.  For example . . .

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi met Thursday with the SecGen of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. During the meeting, they discussed the situation in Iraq and the government's efforts

RUDAW reports on the above meeting here.  When not meeting with world leaders, Mustafa has been meeting the press.  

Mina al-Oraibi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Asked about the solution to the political crisis, Mr Al Kadhimi said one word: “Dialogue”.

He went on to say that there are two options: either “we go towards a clash in a society that has tried all types of violence or an opportunity for dialogue”.

Since taking office more than two years ago, some of the primary concerns for Mr Al Kadhimi have been to limit the role of militias, reinforce security in the country and re-establish an effective state.

But two years in, he is dealing with emboldened militias and complete political gridlock. His critics say he should take a stand against the militias, but that could lead to more bloodshed.

“A thousand years of dialogue is better than one moment of killing,” he said.

He said it was high time to “divorce the violent past and a future built on true democratic values built not just on the ballot box votes”.

But dialogue takes time. Though time is not in Iraq’s favour with all the crises it faces, he said: “What other choice do we have?”

For those who've forgotten -- or never knew -- his term is over.  Iraq held elections October 12th.  There's still no prime minister or president.  Both positions have still not been determined all this time later.  Joe Biden likes to go on and on about respecting election results.  Well he could have stood next to Mustafa and addressed the press pointing to what is happening right now in Iraq when the results (and the process) are not respected.  We'll note one more thing from Mina's interview in a moment but this is from Andrew Parasiliti's report for AL-MONITOR:

Kadhimi came to office in May 2020, in the wake of the resignation of his predecessor, Adel Abdul Mahdi, who stepped down after security forces and armed groups killed over 500 anti-government protesters between October and December 2019.   

The popular Tishreen movement, and the increased role of new independent parties in Iraq, is a sign of change, which Kadhimi takes to heart.

“My priorities are dialogue, then dialogue, then dialogue,” said the Iraqi prime minister. 

The government deadlock occurs in the wake of some noteworthy achievements in foreign policy and regional integration over the past two years.

Kadhimi’s regional policies have included being “very clear with the Iranians, telling them that we want relations, a state-to-state relationship, and we want noninterference in internal affairs.” 

“Iran has friends in Iraq, and it is able to influence them and push them toward dialogue rather than using the weapons that they currently possess,” Kadhimi noted. “We need a good relationship and we currently do have a good relationship with Iran.” 

Back to Mina's report, we'll note this section:

Another challenge is that of the disappeared in Iraq, some of whom were taken under the pretext of “fighting terrorism” at the height of sectarian tension several years ago, and others who were kidnapped during the protests of October 2019.

“Investigations are ongoing regarding the disappeared … we have been able to find those who took protesters [of October 2019] and last week we arrested a man who worked in one of the government entities and who played a large role in the kidnapping and assassination of protesters,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

He also said that one of the men responsible for killing analyst Hisham Al Hashimi in the summer of 2020 has been arrested.

As for those who have been kidnapped, particularly from Sunni-majority provinces, Mr Al Kadhimi did not have clear numbers of how many there are.

“This matter has to do with some political parties who are part of the political process … some use this issue for corruption and political aims,” he said.

While refraining from going into detail, Mr Al Kadhimi made clear that there are political forces behind the disappearances of ordinary Iraqi citizens and that it is a matter his government is working to resolve.

We'll wind down with this from Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT):

Every day the republican governors of Texas, Greg Abbott, and Florida, Ron DeSantis, eagerly announce that they are sending people generically labeled as migrants to what are known as sanctuary cities. The corporate media report that thousands of people have been convinced to board buses to New York City or Washington DC or Sacramento or Chicago or even chartered flights to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. What they don’t explain is who these migrants are and why their status is highly problematic and a function of imperialist foreign policy.

Republicans rail against what are called sanctuary cities and imply that federal law doesn’t apply in these places or that undocumented people get some sort of special deal. However, the term sanctuary city doesn’t really mean very much. In New York it means that the city government and its employees will not assist in the deportation process. It does not mean that no one is ever deported or that federal rules don’t apply. Undocumented people are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other benefits only under very limited circumstances and applying in a sanctuary city doesn’t change that fact. The media cannot seem to disseminate this easily provable information and people in this country are whipped into a frenzy over non-issues.

But there is a larger issue at work here that also goes unaddressed. The people taken to Martha’s Vineyard have made legal requests for asylum, which may be granted because of U.S. policy against their home country of Venezuela. Migrants from nations targeted by the U.S. are automatically eligible for asylum. In this hemisphere Venezuelans, Cubans, and Nicaraguans are likely to be granted asylum because the U.S. doesn’t like their governments. Ukrainians are favored because the U.S. supports their government’s role in attacking Russia and they are also given asylum when they arrive at the border. Some 100,000 Ukrainians have arrived here since February 2022.

Conversely, Haitians are routinely deported. Their country is in worse shape than any of the others mentioned and entirely because of U.S. interference in their sovereign rights. In 2010 the Obama administration even ordered Haiti to hold an election twice because they didn't like the initial result. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously pressured the Haitian government to lower the already low minimum wage there. Now the U.S. orders the current illegitimate president Ariel Henry to enact austerity programs that create misery. The U.S. coups, UN occupations and other interventions have made Haiti unlivable.

But the Joe Biden administration has no sympathy for Haitians fleeing the problems of U.S making. As of February 2022 more than 19,000 Haitians were deported in the first year of Biden’s term. That figure is more than three times the number deported in the last three administrations combined.

Not only do Abbott and DeSantis lie about who they are sending around the country, but no one in the media calls them out on their subterfuge. They are scoring points by claiming to send undocumented people when they are in fact sending people who under international law have a legal right to request asylum in the U.S.

The corporate media are complicit because they are joined at the hip with the Biden administration. Sloppy reporting is not a problem for them. Pointing out the inherent injustice of U.S. sanctions against Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela might damage precious connections and white house access. Any responsibility for informing readers and viewers doesn’t matter and journalistic ethics go out the window so that the media can be slipshod and curry favor simultaneously.

The following sites updated: