Saturday, May 16, 2020

What I can say

Jenna Cooper Tweets:

Using a survivor's past mistakes to discredit them is an ancient patriarchal standard I hoped we'd made progress dismantling. Yet, here we are: nearly the entire political spectrum of American media will use any mistake against you to shame you into obscurity. #MeToo
6:37 PM · May 15, 2020Twitter Web App

I don't know what to say here.

Let me start by saying thank you to everyone in the community who has written about this issue already:

  • I wish I could be C.I.  And I cringe when I type that because I know that puts so much on her and I know we all do that to her.

    If you haven't read her piece yet, please do.  She talks about her assault when she was a child.  That was so brave of her.  She's written about it before for many years but I know she feels like she's cutting open a vein when she has to address that.  And yet she does.

    It was important as Politico attacked Tara Reade that the point be made that there is not one kind of survivor and that we do not all experience the same things and that we do not have to play the perfect victim to have been assaulted.

    I saw the Politico rape culture garbage at the same time that Elaine and C.I. wrote their pieces.

    And I wanted to write about it here.  I would start and I would stop.  And I would delay and postpone and anything but writing about this.

    I can talk about this topic when things feel safe.   But not when it's active.

    When it's active, it is fresh and brings back everything I went through.

    I'm not talking about my rape, I'm talking the lead up to the trial and the trial itself.  I got very lucky and the system worked in that my rapist was convicted.  But before that took place, he had smeared me and attacked my character.  That was especially hard to sit through in court.

    So seeing Tara being smeared now, being victimized by rape culture, I just want to bury my head in the sand.  A week or two from now, I could easily write about this topic because I would be used to it and calmer.  But talk about right now and talk about a trigger.

    Politico has attacked Tara -- and Michael Tracey and other dirt bags have gone along.  They won't investigate the actual rape charge, grasp that.  But they will try to tear her character apart.

    Sorry but you don't have to be a nun or Mother Tereasa to be raped.

    You can be flawed and be raped.

    The nonsense that is being promoted is rape culture and it is appalling.

    And this is why MeToo and Times Up are a joke now.  They refused to stand up for Tara and now rape culture is becoming the norm.  Thank you, Alyssa Milano, for betraying survivors.

    I told my truth and had to battle to do so.  It kills me that so much work has been done by the press to attack Tara Reade for the 'crime' of being poor and so little work has been done to address the charge of assault.

    I wish I could write something better than this.  I wish I could be C.I. and just open that vein and do so without hesitation because it's what's needed.  And I'm sorry that she has to do that and so many of us depend on her doing that.  It's not fair to her.

    And it's not fair to any of us that Politico and Michael Tracey and others are promoting rape culture.

    That does not make for a better world or a safer world.

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

    Friday, May 15, 2020.  Joe Biden tells people not to vote for him (again, he tells them this), an old bully uses THE NATION to attack a Howie Hawkins supporter, and much more.

    Sharon Delgado writes the editors of THE UNION to note:

    Since Tara Reade is local, I need to say publicly here in my community, as a survivor of sexual assault myself, that I support her right to speak out and abhor the way she has been insulted, abused, and threatened.
    Not only are these attacks traumatic for her and for other survivors, they have a chilling effect on anyone who might consider sharing similar stories — about Joe Biden or anyone else.
    People who support a woman’s right to tell their stories must be careful not to turn it into a partisan issue. I don’t want Donald Trump to win reelection, but I also don’t want the Me Too Movement to lose ground. The movement was finally challenging the centuries-old narrative that women (and children) need to keep silence when sexually assaulted or be subject to questions and comments that imply that they are lying, all to cast doubt on their accusations and to protect the man.

    Tara has accused Joe Biden of assault.  Many of us find Tara credible.  That number has only increased since she did her interview with Megyn Kelly which was posted on Megyn's YOUTUBE CHANNEL last Friday evening.

    Though it has not yet been a full week (that'll be around 6:30 pm EST tonight), the interview already has over 851,000 streams on Megyn's channel alone.  In addition, it has aired on many TV outlets -- in part and in full.

    Joe has been on TV.  On MORNING JOE, he insisted he didn't do anything -- as best he could recall.  Then he repeated that when GOOD MORNING AMERICA tossed a minor question at him.  On THE LAST WORD last night, he again issued a denial.  As Christo Avialis explains below, a majority of voters believe Tara.

    On THE LAST WORD, Joe offered a solution, "If they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn't vote for me."  And while some will not vote for him because they believe Tara, others feel more can be done.

    And many are also calling for an investigation.  Unlike the editorial board of THE NEW YORK TIMES, most aren't calling for the DNC to conduct the investigation.  Instead, many backing this avenue insist it should be an independent investigation.

    Joe keeps insisting that Tara should be vetted but also insisting that vetting should not go on in his own papers stored at the University of Delaware.  He's always hidin', that Joe Biden.

    In other political news, Clintonite Peter Dreier brings his old man smell to THE NATION where he types:

    Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of the provocative and popular socialist Jacobin magazine, tweeted last week that he intends to vote for Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins in November. And yes, it matters. Jacobin has a considerable reach. It claims to have a paid print circulation of 50,000, while its website draws over 2 million visitors a month. Jacobin is particularly influential among young leftists, with more-radical-than-thou tendencies that reflect the idealism of recent recruits to left-wing ideas. It was near-messianic in its devotion to Bernie Sanders’s candidacy.
    The danger here is obvious. It only takes a small number of votes in key swing states—Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, Iowa, and Florida—where the margin of victory could be a few thousand or a few hundred votes, to hand Donald Trump a victory, as we saw in 2016. In Wisconsin, Trump’s margin over Clinton was 22,748 votes, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein won 31,072 votes. In Michigan, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 10,704 votes, while Stein got 51,463 votes.

    Who the hell cares you musty old man?

    First, no one owns someone else's vote.  If a candidate wants a vote, they need to campaign for it.  If they're unable to reach the voter then a candidate has failed at their most important job: attracting voters.

    Second, your vote is your vote and you are allowed to use it however you want.  You can -- I always encourage this -- vote for anyone who speaks to you.  You can also chose not to vote.  You can vote some form of protest vote.  And you can let someone bully you into voting for candidate X.

    But it's your vote and how you choose to vote is your business.

    Third, Bhaskar Sunara isn't a Democrat.  How dare elderly Peter Dreier try to shame him into voting for Biden.  This is a point that Dreier doesn't get from the nursing home of his mind, not everyone in this country is either a Democrat or a Republican.  As Ann likes to point out, her parents are Greens, she was raised a Green.  That's a hard reality for Peter Dreier to accept because he doesn't accept any events that happened after 1970.

    Howie Hawkins is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination.  He doesn't have the nomination yet.  Dario Hunter is still in the race.  But Ann will vote Green because she is a Green.  Idiots like Dreier don't get that and think they can bully people like Ann into dropping their beliefs and their political party to vote for Joe Biden.  That's nonsense.  (In fairness, we should note that the disaster that was David Cobb's 2004 presidential campaign included Cobb urging voters not to vote for him if they lived in a 'swing' state.)

    Bullies like Dreier need to be called out.

    He has no business shaming anyone for their choice of who to vote for.  If you want to go after politicians (Dreier only goes after Republican politicians), that's fine.  But stop attacking We The People.  And stop attacking democracy and freedom.  That's what you do when you try to bully someone into voting your way.

    It's a sign of just how weak a candidate Joe Biden is that his supporters have to resort to shaming and bullying to try to drum up support for their pathetic candidate.

    Chris Hedges interviewed Howie Hawkins earlier this week.

    I don't care who you vote for.  I'm not here, this site doesn't exist, to order you how to vote.  I do hope, however you vote or not vote, what you do is what you believe in.  If you believe in the way you use your vote then it is never wasted.

    You can visit JACOBIN and read their arguments.  We've highlighted them before and will highlight them again.  David Sirota is someone we highlighted a great deal.  He is now working with JACOBIN and you can find his work there.

    Site issue.  We're not doing Tweets here -- not a post full of Tweets.  If you use Google Chrome, it's not a problem.  But I'm tired of the people who don't use it e-mailing the public account to complain.  Martha and Shirley are the main ones working the public account and they have enough to do without having to explain that it is Twitter and their 'blue check' nonsense that causes a big black box on reposted Tweets if you're viewing this site through Firefox of something else.

    In Iraq, the big news remains Mustafa Al-Kadhimi who became prime minister on May 7th.  Abdulrahman Al-Rashed (ARAB NEWS) offers:

    Al-Kadhimi’s most difficult tasks will be to save Iraq from Tehran, which wants to control its neighbor, and to steer his country away from the dangers resulting from the US-Iran conflict. This escalated after Washington revealed Tehran’s intention to cause political and security chaos in Baghdad. Soon after, the US assassinated Soleimani, Iran’s most prominent military leader, and several militia leaders, which was followed by an escalation of protests against the American military presence in Iraq. This was the highest level of confrontation on Iraqi soil.

    Soon after Al-Kadhimi was confirmed as prime minister, the US government announced that, as an exception to its sanctions, it had given Iraq permission to buy oil from Iran. The move was designed to encourage the Iranians to curb their disruptive activities in Iraq.

    However, Al-Kadhimi inherits the same problems that faced his predecessors, Haider Abadi and Adel Abdul Mahdi. Iran has infiltrated Iraq’s security, military and religious institutions. Sectarian and regional rifts have grown and corruption has increased. Government fiscal deficits have multiplied as a result of the collapse in oil prices and the recent street protests, which could return at any time.

    The new prime minister needs to build public confidence in the government and secure the cooperation of parliament to meet the demands of demonstrators. He will also have to quickly control the militias and “restore prestige to the military and security institutions,” as he himself said on Tuesday.

    At GULF NEWS, Osama al-Sharif notes:

    Kadhimi, a former journalist and a fierce opponent of Saddam Hussein, has never joined a political party and until his nomination held the important job of head of the National Intelligence Service.

    Most importantly his nomination was backed by both Washington and Tehran; paving the way for breaking of the stalemate that derailed the nomination of two ideologically opposed predecessors; Mohammed Tawfik Alawi, a former communications minister, and Adnan Al-Zurfi, the governor of Najaf.
    [. . .]
    But while Kadhimi was able to navigate his way through a divided parliament — he picked mostly independents and technocrats as ministers although he followed the same ethno-sectarian quota system shunned by protesters — lawmakers had delayed approval of seven key portfolios, including foreign affairs and oil. This could turn to be his Achilles heel.

    In his first address Kadhimi promised the Iraqi people to oversee early elections, contain the spread of the coronavirus, pass an “exceptional” budget law, stem out corruption, bringing armed groups under the control of the state, and repatriate the displaced.

    The Atlantic Council had a discussion yesterday with Luay al-Khatteeb who, until the new prime minister formed his new cabinet, had been Iraq's Minister of Electricity.

    We'll close with this short video from Amal Clooney.

    The following sites updated:

    Thursday, May 14, 2020


    I am supporting Howie Hawkins for president.  He's running for the Green Party's presidential nomination.

    And here's another video.

    Joe Biden and Donald Trump are not the only choices.

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

    Thursday, May 14, 2020.  Public servants continue to try to bully the public, Iraq remains in shambles -- funny how Joe Biden's connected to both topics.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein insists the matter is over so does Senator Chuck Schumer.  They seem to think the American people work for them and not the other way around, that because they're friends with Joe Biden, no one can ask further questions about Tara Reade's allegation that he assaulted her.  It doesn't work that way.  Tyler Pager (BLOOMBERG NEWS) reports:

    Democrat activists and women’s groups say they saw a familiar and distressing playbook unfolding when Joe Biden addressed the sexual assault allegation against him by denying them and largely moving on.
    Now, they’re trying to convince Biden that if he doesn’t continue to address the issue head on, he risks depressing turnout of women voters, potentially giving a boost to US President Donald Trump. Their goal is to get the party’s presumptive presidential nominee to unequivocally show that his views and behaviour around women have changed since his rough questioning of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 and his history of inappropriate touching, both of which he has apologised for.
    They say it’s not enough to just tout his work on the 1994 Violence Against Women Act and It’s On Us movement, an Obama-era project to fight sexual assault on college campuses. They are looking for more policy and personnel commitments beyond his promise to choose a female running mate.
    “That he has to be pressured every single time something in his past is brought up, a mistake that he’s made, a position that he’s taken, etc, is just a complete failure as it relates to leadership,” said Lucy Flores, a former Democrat state assemblywoman in Nevada who has accused Biden of touching her inappropriately.
    “This isn’t to discount some of the good things that Joe Biden has done, and that’s part of his problem is that he tries to constantly use some of the good things that he has done as if it settles all of his debts in some way and it doesn’t,” she said, pointing out that she will still vote for him, but knows a number of women who say they do not think they can stomach it.

    No, Joe can't gender wash.  He doesn't have Gender Credit Capital that he gets to cash in when he's accused of being assaulted.

    Ana Kasparian and John Iadarola take on Schumer and his nonsense in the video below.

    Maybe Chuck Schumer needs to learn to just sit his useless ass down?  At least he needs to learn to um-um-um-um speak.

    Rosie O'Donnell.  A number of e-mails note my 'silence' on Rosie.  I believe Rosie just spoke yesterday.  I was 'silent' on a so-called feminist who wrote a column for THE NEW YORK TIMES.  I wasn't in the mood to deal with her nonsense.

    Rosie.  Like myself, Rosie has disliked Donald Trump for years and years.  I am not surprised by her attitude (she feels Joe is the only alternative to Donald) and I feel it's completely consistent.  I don't feel she's being a hypocrite.  Do I wish that she had a different take?  Absolutely.  But she's her own person and I don't have a problem with her opinion or her expressing it.

    I have a problem with stupidity and hypocrisy.  I have a problem, therefore, with Moria Donegan's nonsense for THE ATLANTIC.  Wait for the third paragraph and see if you don't agree:

    Rank-and-file Biden supporters, along with the liberal and anti-Trump commentariat, have been much more aggressive in their attacks on Reade. They have smeared her as a quack or a plant; to discredit her, they have pointed to her support for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and a weird, since-deleted Medium essay she wrote praising Vladimir Putin, although feminists have spent much of the past three years explaining that such non sequiturs do not diminish a woman’s testimony. Darkly, Reade has also been cast as suspicious because for a time she lived under another name—a step she took in response to a domestic-abuse situation. Reade has received death threats, in addition to the usual slew of disbelieving and cruel missives. Even journalists covering her story have come under fire. New York magazine’s Rebecca Traister received threatening texts after publishing a piece on Reade. When the MSNBC host Chris Hayes devoted a segment on his show to the allegations, activists on Twitter called for him to be fired.
    This kind of vitriol is supposedly justified by the moral imperative of denying Donald Trump a second term. But the argument that Reade’s allegations must be refuted lest the country reelect Trump is undermined by Trump’s presidency in the first place: If an allegation of sexual assault by the candidate were enough to fatally harm a campaign, Trump would never have become president at all. Meanwhile, survivors are seeing members of the political party that is more amenable to women’s rights disbelieve a story of assault, and smear the accuser—as if #MeToo had never happened.
    Nor can these survivors find comfort in the actions of Biden’s opponents, who have taken on the issue of sexual assault with conspicuously convenient timing, understanding the gravity of sexual violence just in time to use the suffering of survivors for their own ends.

    What a stupid and idiotic piece of b.s.

    As a feminist, I am glad anytime we get a conversation going about real issues.  As a leftist, I am glad that the right is discussing rape allegations.  If in a year, right commentators and outlets have dropped the issue, I won't be surprised.  But I also realize that during the time this is being discussed, there will be people paying attention who will be moved by the issue and the discussion and will look at it differently.  That's how the feminist movement succeeded in raising serious issues like rape, assault, battering.  That's how we fought back to begin with against the people who insisted these were "personal problems" or the ones who tried to put them into 'spheres' and insisted these were not issues for the public sphere.

    I don't trust someone who sneers at conversations about rape where the survivor is getting to tell her story.  I'm not going to be a partisan.

    Equally true, there are young adults and children paying attention who live in homes with parents who are to the right politically.  The right outlets covering this are reaching the parents and some of the children.  The conversation is one that needs to take place and I applaud any segment of the political spectrum that's covering the story.

    People want answers, not silence.  Here's a part of a letter to the editors of THE GAZETTE EXTRA:

    We deserve answers from Joe Biden, and it’s time to stop silencing Tara Reade. It’s hypocritical that Wisconsin Democrats rushed to condemn Kavanaugh but have yet to even acknowledge Tara Reade.
    Before Joe Biden is confirmed as the nominee, we need answers, and Tara Reade deserves to be heard. It’s up to the Democrat Party to complete a thorough and complete investigation into Biden’s past.

    That's a paper in . . . Wisconsin.  Wisconsin, a battle ground state.

    But then if the DNC was actually interested in reaching voters, they wouldn't have gone with such a pathetic and uninspiring candidate.  Paul Heideman (JACOBIN) reports on Joe's surrogates determination to attack segments of the left:

    In the New York Times yesterday, Mitchell Abidor added his voice to the swelling chorus hectoring young leftists to support Joe Biden. Leaning on the bathetic open letter published by veterans of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Abidor chides the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) for not heeding their elders and endorsing a candidate whose career has been spent opposing everything they stand for.
    Abidor’s letter is remarkable for the utter lack of effort it puts into making a single convincing argument. He scoffs at Daniel Finn’s argument in Jacobin that Donald Trump is no fascist, but he evidently doesn’t believe his reader requires any convincing on the point. (The irony involved in comparing Trump to fascists openly, in the pages of the country’s leading newspaper, is evidently lost on him.)
    But Mr. Abidor’s op-ed isn’t actually about convincing socialists to vote for Joe Biden. Instead, it’s about reassuring liberals that socialists are bad and irresponsible.
    Everyone knows that attacking leftists for abandoning decency will probably not convince them to vote for Biden. And if convincing people to vote for Biden is so important that it merits denouncing DSA in the New York Times for declining to do so, you’d think that such convincing is what Abidor would try to do. The fact that he himself declines to do so undermines his presentation of his position as the result of sober consideration, and DSA’s as driven by self-righteousness. Abidor attacks the Left for not wanting to elect Biden, but he himself cares more about attacking the Left than electing Biden.

    Joe Biden is not up to being president and he's a joke.  Michael Smith (LEGALIENATE) uses humor to get those points across:

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden suffered a massive brain hemorrhage today as he practiced reciting the days of the week for upcoming debates with President Trump. Campaign staff members say it will not affect his work, and insist he has no plans to withdraw from the presidential contest, unless “something serious happens.”

    “We’ve been through this before,” explained senior advisor Symone Slanders. “Joe will have a stroke or two before breakfast, but by mid-morning he’s his old self again, sniffing our hair and fondling the volunteers. It’s nothing to get upset about, and we frankly resent attempts by Donald Trump to politicize it.”

    Reached for comment at Bethesda Naval Hospital where he was having a brain installed, Biden said, “old people are just as sharp as senile people,” and expressed gratitude for get-well calls from Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman. 

    Joe Biden is a joke and he's a joke with blood on his hands.  Danny Sjursen (ANTIWAR.COM) notes:

    Biden’s foreign policy has been one big series of gambles. In the past, he’s even framed it as such. Undoubtedly, few remember the time way back in Barack Obama’s first term, when Biden – assigned as the administration’s point-man on all things Iraq – predicted with absolute certainty that the Baghdad government would accede to the enduring presence of small numbers of American troops after the December 31, 2011 “end of combat operations.” In fact, the ever-folksy Biden told the New York Times he would bet his vice presidency that Iraq would extend this Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA). It didn’t. Nevertheless, Joe reneged on the wager and kept the number two spot in the land. Biden, like just about every establishment policymaker in both major parties, underestimated the independence and growing hostilityof the Shia strongman Nouri al-Maliki, whom the vice president himself helped install after the prime minister had lost an election.
    Yet Biden’s Iraq War record goes far deeper. Sure, he voted for Bush’s initial invasion. Only that’s not the half of it. From his senior perch as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the future vice president quite literally sold the war to his more doubtful colleagues – twisting arms, making calls, and applying the classic Biden-charm – and to the American people writ large. Then, months after it was crystal clear that the invasion had been built on lies (no WMDs, no Saddam-Al Qaeda connection, etc.) – and by which point chaos and local resistance already reigned – Biden continued to defend the war and the “popular” president who orchestrated it. Biden didn’t just vote for aggression and mayhem in Iraq; he championed it.
    Beyond Baghdad, Biden’s national security positions have also been abysmal. What’s more, based on his own published campaign vision, other than the discrete Iraq War vote itself, the presumptive Democratic nominee is unwilling to apologize for, or meaningfully alter, his past formulas for failure. It’s what Biden’s “vision” doesn’t mention that’s most troubling: Obama-destroyed Libya, his old boss’s floundering quagmire in Syria, any meaningful challenge to Israeli apartheid, or commitment to a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Mideast disaster areas. Better yet, the word “drone” doesn’t appear once – so one assumes the terror bombing won’t abate under Biden. In the final analysis, Joe offers little more than the status quo from West Africa to Central Asia – an intolerable situation he himself crafted over decades as the Democrats’ leading foreign policy guru.
    When it comes to war and peace, nominating Biden is like assigning the criminal with solving the crime.

    Human Rights Watch issued the following this morning:

    The Iraqi government and parliament should pass legislation to address key human rights shortcomings in Iraq’s legal system and take measures to minimize the risks Covid-19 poses to people in prison, Human Rights Watch said today. With the formation of Iraq’s government on May 7, 2020, parliament can now focus on legislative reform.
    Human Rights Watch has identified four key areas to advance human rights in Iraq, around which previous governments and parliaments have drafted and reviewed legislative proposals but did not pass them. There are many areas for which legislative reform is needed to bring Iraqi law in line with international standards, but the bills already offered address legal representation, torture, enforced disappearance, and domestic violence.
    “Iraq has entered a new phase, with fighting against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) largely over,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government should seize this opportunity to focus on protecting Iraqis’ basic rights and bringing Iraq’s laws in line with international standards.”
    On March 29, 2018, before the May 2018 elections, the previous parliament completed an initial review of amendments to the Bar Association Law of 1965 that would guarantee defendants the right to have their lawyer in the room during an interrogation. Following this first reading, parliament members transmitted the amendments to the parliamentary legal committee for a second review. The bill carries no budgetary implications so is still pending before parliament and does not require further government action.
    The Iraqi Constitution grants detainees the right to pick their own lawyer, or to ask to have one appointed by the government, who is allowed to be present throughout the investigative period. But detainees and lawyers have reported to Human Rights Watch for years that the authorities are not allowing lawyers to be present during interrogations. The amendments would require all facilities housing detainees and all courthouses to provide adequate space to allow for consultations with lawyers, including private rooms.
    The amendments would require all authorities to allow lawyers to be present throughout judicial and investigative functions, to review all related documents, and to be alerted in advance about upcoming procedures in a case. It would prohibit interrogation of a suspect unless they are accompanied by a lawyer and nullify any interrogation in which that did not happen. The amendments include sanctions for authorities who interfere with lawyers’ rights and professional duties and order the authorities to inform the Bar Association if any criminal complaint is filed against a lawyer.
    The parliamentary legal committee should support passage of the bill, Human Rights Watch said.
    With the support of Heartland Alliance International, a human rights organization working in Iraq on detainees’ rights, a group of parliament members also prepared a draft Anti-Torture Bill in May 2017. The bill would require a judge to order a medical examination of any detainee alleging torture within 24 hours of learning of the allegation, which is often not occurring, Human Rights Watch said.
    The bill also lays out the criminal sanctions for those who torture someone in their custody, calls on judges to dismiss all evidence gathered through torture and to dismiss the person who allegedly used torture from their role in the criminal case, and requires having a lawyer present for all detainees throughout the investigative period. Passage of this bill will help to address the extensive use of torture to extract confessions, Human Rights Watch said. The government should resubmit it to the parliament for review.

    On May 14, 2020, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the new government urging it to take steps to immediately further reduce the number of people of prisons, jails, and other places of detention in Iraq to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For years, Human Rights Watch has documented the acute overcrowding in Iraqi prisons in extremely unsanitary conditions. Media reports allege that authorities released 20,000 prisoners in April as a preventive measure, but they have not shared any information publicly on which detainees were selected for release and the criteria for selecting them.
    Human Rights Watch has repeatedly asked Iraqi authorities over the past four years to share or make public the total number of people in Iraqi prisons. So far, authorities have refused to do so, making it impossible to assess whether the releases thus far have sufficiently reduced the acute overcrowding to enable social distancing.
    An individual with knowledge of the situation inside Iraqi prisons told Human Rights Watch that he knew of at least one prison in Baghdad where prisoners and guards contracted Covid-19. Human Rights Watch was unable to verify this information.
    In May 2017, Heartland Alliance International and a group of parliament members prepared the Bill for the Protection of People from Enforced Disappearance, which would make enforced disappearance a distinct crime under Iraqi law. The International Commission on Missing Persons, which has been working in partnership with the Iraqi government to help recover and identify the missing, estimates that the number of missing people in Iraq could range from 250,000 to 1 million. The International Committee of the Red Cross states that Iraq has the highest number of missing people in the world. Some of them are the subjects of enforced disappearances, including most recently some participants in the protest movement that began in October 2019.
    Since 2014, Iraqi military and security forces have disappeared hundreds of people, mostly Sunni Arab men and boys, often during counterterrorism operations. The bill calls for appropriate restitution for victims of enforced disappearance and their families. The government should resubmit it to the parliament for review.
    Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadhimi committed on May 9 that the government would investigate the killings of over 600 protesters since October 2019. As part of the investigations, it should identify and make public the groups and security forces who engaged in or coordinated these killings and hold those responsible to account. It should compensate victims of all unlawful killings. Efforts are needed to locate demonstrators who were abducted and are still missing, with full accountability.  
    Finally, the government should make key amendments to an Anti-Domestic Violence bill and resubmit it to Parliament. The strengths of the draft bill, which has been pending before the previous parliament since 2015, include provisions for services for domestic violence survivors, shelters, protection orders, restraining orders and penalties for their breach, and the establishment of a cross-ministerial committee to combat domestic violence. Measures to combat domestic violence are all the more urgent in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “In recent years, security has dominated the legislative and governmental agenda in Iraq,” Wille said. “Under this new government, human rights should be the priority.”

    The following sites updated:

    Wednesday, May 13, 2020

    Worthless Democrats in Congress can't stand up for Tara

    I'm not sure if I've noted Megyn Kelly's interview with Tara Reade yet.  Here it is.

    I found it very informative.  I believe Tara Reade.

    I don't give a damn about Joe Biden, sorry.  I was raped.  Tara's story rings true to me and I find her credible and honest.

    So f**k Joe Biden and the Shetland Pony he rode in on.

    Gabriel Kuhn (Counterpunch) notes:

    In a New York Times piece titled “I believe Tara Reade. I’m Voting for Joe Biden Anyway”, Linda Hirshman conveyed a simple message: Like it or not, Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee, he is better than Donald Trump, and so we have no choice but vote for him, no matter what happened to Tara Reade. I think there are good reasons to disagree with this conclusion, but at least it is honest and coherent. Yet, it doesn’t resolve what might be the most disturbing political aspect of this sad affair, namely the Democratic Party’s apparent belief that their best shot at replacing the most ludicrous president in U.S. history is to field a 77-year old white Washington veteran with – to say the least – a dubious relationship with both women and the truth. Really? This is the best you can do? In that case, no matter the outcome of the next presidential elections, you have already lost.

    Elected Democrats are outright sick.  Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Bob Casey, Patty Murray (yeah, I went there), Nancy Pelosi -- all of them.  They refuse to support Tara Reade.

    They're full of s**t hypocrites.  That's all they are.  Thank the good Lord that I'm a member of the Green Party.

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

    Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Big Stacey lies, Little Chuckie Schumer stomps his feet and another smear against Tara Reade gets exposed.

    The attacks on Tara Reade continue.  Big Stacey Abrams, for example, took the time to tell VICE that Tara is lying -- so says the woman who regularly swears to wait staff that it's just her first time through the line and gets insulted when they explain to her it's not an all you can eat buffet.  Big Stacey is a big fish in no pond and she's also taken to telling reporters that she's up for any position in a Biden administration though not necessarily the court.  She's not fit to preside over traffic court, let alone the Supreme Court.  Big Stacey's life is a series of insignificant accomplishments.  She makes Mayor Pete look like FDR in his third term as president.

    Already busted once for using the talking points put out by the Biden campaign, one wonders at what point Joe's going to sit before a real interviewer who doesn't let him slide with everyone gets to tell their story -- as George did on GOOD MORNING AMERICA yesterday -- and instead points out that Joe is hiding behind advocates who attack Tara, that he never calls them out and just sits back and pretends he's innocent.

    He's not.  In 2008, Alexander Cockburn was writing about Joe Biden hitting on Senate staffers.  Joe's creepy behavior is caught on camera and all over YOUTUBE.  He's made other women uncomfortable.

    Roger Sollenberger (SALON) reports on a smear that many (Michael Tracey) have been passing around about Tara Reade since she came forward to accuse Joe Biden of assault:

    Last week, Guy Benson — a Fox News contributor and conservative talk radio host, as well as political editor of Townhall — published an article in Townhall headlined, "Court Records: Biden Accuser Tara Reade was Charged with Check Fraud Days Before Leaving His Senate Office." That article's central claim was based on an email chain with an officer of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court in California.
    Salon has since learned the court official's statements in the email were edited, and did not corroborate Benson's central claim, which has not been confirmed by any source.
    [. . .]
    The court is not able to confirm or deny the specifics of the charge, the officer said. So far, that charge has not been independently confirmed from any other source
    It is unclear whether Benson altered the email himself or obtained the altered email from another source. According to a conversation with the court officer, a larger crop of the screenshot would have revealed more.

    By the way, how long has it been -- a week? -- since Michael Tracey trashed Katie Halper, Krystal Ball and others for believing Tara Reade and insisted he was working on a huge expose that would prove Tara was lying?

    I don't know what's funnier -- that Michael could produce something huge or that he's working.  Beggar boy is a lot like John Nichols.  We don't cite John Nichols here anymore.  In 2008, he went on DEMOCRACY NOW! when Barack Obama was in trouble for telling the Canadian government that anything he said about NAFTA and overturning it was just for show to get votes.  The AP broke that story.  John Nichols took to DEMOCRACY NOW! to insist that wasn't true and that it was actually HIllary Clinton who had been telling the Canadian government that about herself and that he was working on this story and would have a big expose soon.

    He never had one.  It didn't exist.  The spotlight was on Barack and the point was to get it off Barack so John Nichols lied.

    Just like Michael's lying now.

    By the way, anyone noticing a trend in 2008 and right now?

    How many weeks are we supposed to ponder who will be Joe Biden's running mate?  Which woman will he give the rose to?

    If you've forgotten, Barack's 2008 campaign used that tactic to distract the media as well when Barack was in trouble.

    This is a non-story.  When Big Stacey is on camera, it's a non-story.  Everyone backing Biden that has his ear will tell you that fat woman is a joke and will not be on the ticket.  But there she is all over the media -- fake news with a pulse.

    Tiana Lowe (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) quotes Joe stating yesterday on GOOD MORNING AMERICA:

    Well, that’s their right. Look, here — look: I think women should be believed. They should have an opportunity to have their case and state it forthrightly — what their case is. Then, it’s the responsibility of responsible journalists like you and everyone else to go out and investigate those. The end of the day, the truth is the truth. That’s what should prevail, and the truth is: This never happened. This never happened. I assure you. That’s the truth."

    Eddy Rodriguez (NEWSWEEK) offers the same quote.  So (a) why isn't he being asked about his attack dogs and (b) why isn't he being investigated?

    The ridiculous Senator Chuck Schumer wants you to know that the matter is over because . . . well, because he says so.  No, it's not over.  Nor does doing two hand picked interviews end the issue.  Joe continuing to hide in his basement does rule out press conferences for the moment.  For the moment.  But this isn't over.  And let's stop pretending he's been asked any real questions.

    By the way, let's note Megyn Kelly's interview with Tara again.

    It currently has over 721,000 views but, if I were THE NEW YORKER, I guess I'd just say over 500,000 (see Elaine's "THE NEW YORKER struggles to cover serious issues").

    Staying with numbers, Michael Keogh (NEWSDAY) reports:

    Nearly half of Democrats in the US are satisfied with former Vice President Joe Biden as the party’s presidential nominee, a new poll finds. The poll also indicated that nearly a third want to replace him.

    Only 54% of Democratic voters want the party to keep Biden at the top of its presidential ticket, while 28% want to replace him with another candidate, and 18% remain undecided, according to a poll published Tuesday by Rasmussen.

    The poll was conducted May 10-11 among 1,000 likely voters, and has a margin of error of roughly 3%.

    Let's note this from Scott Jennings (BOWLING GREEN DAILY NEWS):

    These allegations went largely ignored for weeks by the media types and Democratic politicians who pilloried Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. Biden finally denied them and a horde of liberal politicians and talking heads now say they “believe” Biden, or, even if he did it, so what?
    “Compared with the good Mr. Biden can do, the cost of dismissing Tara Reade – and, worse, weakening the voices of future survivors – is worth it,” wrote Linda Hirshman, a well-known feminist author who believes in “sacrificing Ms. Reade for the good of the many.”
    Of Kavanaugh, she demanded his impeachment: “Kavanaugh … can be unbenched. Women are simply not going to accept this monumentally unfit man remaining on the Court regardless of what the Republicans manage to ram through this week.”
    Now, with Hirshman and other liberal hypocrites cheering them on, Biden and his party are doing the ramming. There was no corroborating evidence against Kavanaugh whatsoever. Biden’s creepy shoulder rubs and unwanted hair sniffs are, on the other hand, legion, not to mention Reade telling people about it at the time.
    It is clear now that Democrats never cared about the truth when they were grilling Kavanaugh, a sacrifice made for the sake of abortion. And it is clear they are again willing to sacrifice any objective view of a sexual assault allegation, again for the sake of abortion.
    What’s a red-cloaked “Handmaid’s Tale” protester to do with her time, I wonder?
    U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, who detonated the Christine Blasey Ford bombshell late in Kavanaugh’s process after sitting on the allegations for weeks, made a disgusting about-face when confronted with Reade’s allegations. The California Democrat savaged Reade, blaming her for waiting too long to come forward.
    “And I don’t know this person at all who has made the allegations. She came out of nowhere. Where has she been all these years? Why didn’t she say something – you know, when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee or after that?” Feinstein said.
    Her tune, of course, was far different during the Kavanaugh hearing. When Republicans raised similar questions, Feinstein said: “Victims must be able to come forward only when they are ready.”

    Call it the Politics of Hypocritical Convenience, wherein you say whatever gets you through the moment regardless of what you said when the shoe was on the other foot.

    Every presidential cycle finds the Democratic Party refusing to court the left.  These days, they take their orders from the neocons who can't stand Trump.  Without a left base of support, who will hand them victory in 2020?  The independents and swing voters?

    No, they tend to feel the way Scott does.  Polling backs that up.  And every time a Dianne Feinstein or a Big Stacy attacks Tara, it only hardens the middle's distrust of Joe Biden.

    There was never enthusiasm for him to begin with.  And that's only more true as he brings on predators like Chris Dodd to his team.

    Iraq?  Over at WAR ON ROCKS, Doug Ollivant offers:

    “Iraq is like a race car that has been neglected and repeatedly wrecked. Al-Kadhimi is not the race car driver. He’s the tow truck driver.” This is how Yazan al-Jabouri describes the task ahead for Iraq’s new prime minister. And it makes clear the need for all observers to take an appetite suppressant, as it were, when judging the potential — and eventually the accomplishments — of the new Iraqi government. The electoral results of 2018 still govern the universe of possible outcomes, none of which are favorable to major reform. Iraq is still a “race car” with immense potential (human capital, educational institutions, oil, rivers, fertile land, access to the sea, road networks), as anyone who visits sees clearly. But the world should expect little from this prime minister, other than setting conditions for the next prime minister’s success.
    More than six months since the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, and after failures to form a government by two previous prime minister-designates, Iraq’s parliament confirmed the majority of Iraq’s proposed ministers early in the morning of May 7, 2020. Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a former journalist and human rights activist turned spymaster, was sworn in as Iraq’s latest prime minister. Once again, Iraq has executed a peaceful transition of power, an accomplishment that — despite all the necessary caveats — must be noted and applauded. Furthermore, this transition is particularly notable as the resignation of Abdul Mahdi was caused by nationalist demonstrators. The Iraqi political system — for all its very real flaws — was able to react to this resignation in a way that appears to have modest approval from some (though by no means all) factions of the demonstrators. Finally, this government was formed in the shadow of incredible tension between Iraq’s two most important patrons: the United States and Iran. The Iraqi political system seems to have walked the tightrope to arrive at a solution that appears acceptable to both.

    Let's wind down with this:

    We are very excited to announce that our Summer 2019 cover has been nominated for the 2020 Best Cover award by the American Society of Magazine Editors!
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