Saturday, September 16, 2023

The 7 Lex Luthers

Fan Sided?  Don't know them.  At work, Paul saw an article of theirs where they ranked the Lex Luther actors.  We could not believe how wrong they got it.  So this is the 15 of us at work today ranking the same four actors from worst to best.

7) Jon Cryer -- on Supergirl.  He was not powerful enough for the role.  He was a joke and that only became more clear during a crossover storyline.  He can play the sexually ambiguous fool but he cannot play the menacing Lex Luther.  They ranked him the third best. 

6) Jesse Eisneberg.  They ranked him sixth, we ranked him sixth.  The only one we agreed with.  Jesse is best in small doses.  He benefitted from Holly Hunter as his enemy in Batman V. Superman.  She does not get the credit she deserves for that film and her performance. 

5) John Shea.  From Lois & Clark.  Shea's always a disappointment in every thing.  He's too interior to play a villain.  He doesn't jump from the screen and the best role for him would be Alan Alda in The Alan Alda Story.  They ranked him the 4th best. 

4) Kevin Spacey from Superman Returns.  Kevin was actually very solid.  The movie less so.  But Kevin and Parker Posey were the strongest parts of the film.  They ranked him the worst at number seven. 

3) Michael Cudlitz -- from The CW's Superman & Lois.  He had menace, he hit all the right notes. They ranked him number five.

2) Michael Rosenbaum -- from Smallville.  Amazing.  They ranked him number one. 

1) Gene Hackman -- the original Superman movies.  Were it not for Gene, Rosenbaum would have been the best.  Hackman had it all -- anger, menace, frolic, his Lex was a very developed character.  They ranked him number two. 


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

Friday, September 15, 2023.  The US Treasury Department's Elizabeth Rosenberg meets with officials in Iraq -- including one that has some shocked, Robert F. Kennedy Jr's poll numbers continue to drop, media malpractice is all around as Ron DeSantis is allowed to lie repeatedly on CBS EVENING NEWS and as Mike Pence lies about his state's law (just as Ron did before him) and gets away with it because, goodness, my, oh, my, it's so 'hard' for the media to fact check and do their damn job apparently.

Starting in Iraq. 

The US Treasury’s assistant secretary is in Iraq to meet with top officials on combatting corruption and the smuggling of the dollar abroad as the Iraqi dinar’s value continues to plummet and dollars remain scarce in the market. 

Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the US Department of the Treasury, arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday to make “progress on int’l [international] anti-money laundering & banking reform” to “help combat corruption & support international invest in Iraq,” US Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski said on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

Rosenberg met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani on Wednesday, discussing joint US-Iraq financial cooperation “and the Iraqi government’s measures to implement financial and banking reforms to reduce corruption in all its forms,” said a statement from Sudani’s office. 

Not everyone was pleased with the meet-up. 

October 11, 2020, Kataeb Hizbollah and the US government declared a cease fire.  That ended on both sides in February 2021. Kataeb Hizollah ended it on February 15, 2021 when they attacked a US base in Erbil (KRG part of Iraq).  For the US government, it ended on February 26th when they launched air strikes on Kataeb Hizbollah in retaliation for the attack on the US base.

The group came to prominence in 2007 for attacks against U.S.-led Coalition forces in Iraq,[35][51] and was known for uploading videos of its attacks on American forces on the internet.[52] The militia's main tactics were to fire rockets and mortar shells at U.S. bases, sniper attacks, and detonate roadside bombs along routes where the forces moved.[53]

On 15 March 2007, four U.S. soldiers were killed in eastern Baghdad when IEDs planted by Kata'ib Hezbollah detonated near their unit.[54][55]

On 25 September 2007, Staff Sgt. Zachary B. Tomczak was shot dead by a Kata'ib Hezbollah sniper in Baghdad. His killing was captured on video and posted online by the KH militia.[56][57]

On 4 October 2007, U.S. Army Spc. Avealalo Milo was killed by a Kata'ib Hezbollah sniper shot in Baghdad. The attack was recorded and subsequently published online by the militia.[58][59]

On 4 June 2008, Kata'ib Hezbollah conducted a rocket attack that was meant to target Coalition forces but instead killed 18 civilians in Baghdad.[60][61]

In mid-2008, U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a crackdown against the group and the "Special Groups", the US military term for Iran-backed militias in Iraq. At least 30 of its members were captured during those months. Many of the group's leaders were also captured and US officials claimed that "as result much of the leadership fled to Iran".[62][63]

On 2 July 2009, the group was added to the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The group was held responsible for numerous IED attacks, mortar, rocket and RPG attacks as well as sniper operations, targeting US and Iraqi forces, including a November 2008 rocket attack that killed two U.N. workers.[51]

In December 2009, the group intercepted the unencrypted video feed of MQ-1 Predator UAVs above Iraq.[64]

On 12 February 2010, a firefight with suspected members of the group occurred 265 km (165 mi) southeast of Baghdad in a village near the Iranian border, the U.S. military said. Twelve people were arrested, it said. "The joint security team was fired upon by individuals dispersed in multiple residential buildings ... members of the security team returned fire, killing individuals assessed to be enemy combatants," the military said in a statement. The Provincial Iraqi officials said many of the dead were innocent bystanders, and demanded compensation. They said eight people were killed.[65]

On 13 July 2010, General Ray Odierno named Kata'ib Hezbollah as being behind threats against American bases in Iraq. "In the last couple weeks there's been an increased threat ... and so we've increased our security on some of our bases," Odierno told reporters at a briefing in Baghdad.[66]

On 6 June 2011, Kata'ib Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in eastern Baghdad killing six U.S. soldiers.[67] Another five soldiers were also wounded in the attack.[68]

On 29 June 2011, Kata'ib Hezbollah fired IRAM rockets that struck a US base near the Iranian border – COP Shocker. The attack resulted in the deaths of three American soldiers.[69] A videotape of the rocket attack was published online by the militia.[70]

In July 2011, an Iraqi intelligence official estimated the group's size at 1,000 fighters and said the militants were paid between $300 and $500 per month.[71][72]

The Al-Qa'im border crossing has seen hastened military activity as the group is expected to play an important military and security role as the crossing with Syria is officially opened on September 30, 2019.[73][74]

Across the country, the hate merchants lie and sport stupidity.  Which was Mike Pence doing recently? Wednesday, NEWS NATION held a townhall where former US Vice President Mike Pence, now running for the GOP's presidential nomination, took questions.  Charlie Nash (NEWS NATION) notes one mother asked the following:

Melissa McCollister: Good evening, vice president. I am an LGBTQ member and I have trans individuals in my family. Recent anti-LGBTQ bills have been signed into law all around this United States, including here in Iowa. So far, in 2023, 15 transgender individuals and gender-nonconforming people have been murdered. The vast majority of those people have been Black and Latinx transgender women. It is very hard for me to ask these questions after just hearing what I heard. What is your policy plan to protect the transgender community, specifically Black and brown trans women from historically high levels of violence?

 You can read Nash's article for the long winded response from Mike Pence.  We don't have the time (as Ben Taylor sings).  What we do have time for is to correct the record.

It's the same incorrect information that Ron DeSantis declared and we called him out.  He's the governor of Florida, he should know Florida law.  Pence was governor of Indiana until 2017.  He should know the state's law.

More to the point, when are journalists going to do their damn job?

I'm really not in the mood.  

Here's the part of Mike Pence's response that is factually wrong:

For me, what adults do in their lives, decisions that they make, including transgender adults, is one thing, but for kids under the age of 18— there’s a reason why we don’t let you drive ’til you’re 16. In the state of Indiana, you can’t get a tattoo until after you’re 18, you can’t drink until after you’re 21, that’s because we understand that kids don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions.

"In the state of Indiana, you can't get a tattoo until after you're 18."  No.

That is wrong. 

It sounds wrong.  It should sound wrong to everyone.  And it is wrong.  It was wrong when Ron lied about Florida law.

All I did when I looked at the statement was GOOGLE "indiana tattoo laws for minors" and what do you immediately find out?  

That, say it with me, requires parental permission if you're under the age of 18.

Okay, I get ticked when reporters don't care about facts.  A NEWSWEEK editor can tell you how long I screamed over the phone at him in the 90s when they did a filler article about sex on TV and talked about how Matthew Perry's Chandler Bing on an episode of FRIENDS handcuffed Rachel's boss (Alison La Placa) while they were in a sexual relationship.

Do you see the problem?

Chandler didn't handcuff her, she handcuffed him.  And I still can't let it go.  All these years later.

Or the response which was, "It's just a TV show."  It's a TV show you elected to assign a writer to write about and then elected to publish an article about.  It does matter.  It's also true -- and I raised this in real time as well -- that the culture norms of the 90s were a lot more comfortable with a man handcuffing a woman.  Look at all the 90s films with any BDSM elements -- I'm talking mainstream films -- the worst is Madonna's BODY OF EVIDENCE but they're all pretty awful and they all feel the need to have the handcuffed man or the spanked man assert his 'dominance' over the woman.  (Reality, many S&M relationships have women in charge.)  

So they weren't reflecting reality, NEWSWEEK wasn't, but it was lying.

And that's the case with the media that covered Ron DeSantis lie and NEWS NATION covering Mike Pence's lie.  They're just typing up remarks.  They're not doing any real work and they're certainly not doing journalism.

If you are a parent or plan to be a parent or hope to be a parent and you hear a claim about how children can't do this or that, you're natural reaction should be, "Really?"

And, parent or not or not ever want to be, if you're in the media and someone's making claims about laws regarding children, you should immediately take five seconds to GOOGLE.

Lies have fueled the attacks on the transgender community.

At this late date, I don't feel like forgiving any 'journalist' who can't do their damn job on this subject.

Pence lied in front of a group of people, cited the Bible, tried to play caring and understanding while endorsing parents being stripped of rights.  It's not your damn business what medical attention a parent and a doctor decide is needed.  It's not your damn business.

But to justify this break with basic rights, to act like it's normal, Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence both resort to the exact same lie: You can't even get a tattoo if you're under 18!!!


In Indiana, as in Florida, someone under 18 can get a tattoo if the parent gives permission (Florida also allows medical tattoos -- Indiana law makes no mention of them).  

And that's how it should be.  If your parent (or legal guardian) says you can get a tattoo at whatever age, that's not my business.  

But they lie -- Ron and Mike -- and the media helps them lie so that we'll all cluck and say, "Oh, can't even get a tattoo why should they be allowed to be on hormone blockers or have surgery"?  Why?  Because the parent and the doctor have made the private, medical decision that is legal and should remain that way.  

THE NEW YORK TIMES has done so much damage with regards to the trans community and that goes far beyond their nonsense that egged on Bette Midler to make a fool of herself on Twitter.  (I'm with Kim Brown -- I don't work for Musk, I'll call it what it's known as: Twitter.) The paper has lied over and over and intentionally misled.  People think "liberal paper."  No, not really.  It not only did not lead on climate change, it never leads on science.  Look at their archives and see how they responded to the science on extinction level events.  That's not a pretty tale and, time and again, NYT has been reactionary with regards to science and medicine.  Look at their hideous and homophobic coverage of AIDS and grasp that we were calling that out in real time.  Don't say, "Oh, it was the 80s."  Yes, it was the 80s and, yes, their coverage was homophobic and, no, there was no excuse for it.

And when politicians start insisting that they have the right to interfere in your child's medical treatment that you and the doctor you have elected to take your child to because, they lie, you can't even get a tattoo when you're under 18, it is the job of the press to state, "This is not true."  

Instead, they keep letting Ron DeSantis and now Mike Pence lie.  

Journalism is supposed to hold the powerful accountable and that includes calling them out when they lie -- or, if you prefer, when they misspeak -- out of malice or stupidity.

It's not too much, especially on a charged topic like this, to expect journalist to do their damn jobs.  

When they fail to do so, they allow the lies and misinformation that created the culture of fear to begin with to flourish.  So do your damn job.  The hate merchants are very focused on the destruction they want to carry out.  If you're not up to the job of covering what's going on, admit it and quit.  Stop pretending you're a journalist if you're not doing your job.

The hate merchants of Moms For Bigotry remain busy.   Colleen Wixon (Treasure Coast Newspapers) reports on a school in Florida:

Another 128 school library books here are being reviewed — and will be permanently removed if found to have sexual content, district officials told the School Board this week.

All the books stem from continuing challenges made by the local chapter of Moms for Liberty, a conservative political group, over the past two years.

[. . .]

Among the books most recently removed: Alice Walker's "The Color Purple," which won a Pulitzer Prize; and "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult no longer comes up in a search of books available in the district's libraries, as 20 of her 30 novels made the list of challenged books to review.

In 2022, Moms for Liberty asked for 156 books to be removed, citing sexual or racial content. In February 2022, the School Board removed just five of them. Since then, the group found an additional 98 books to be challenged, said chapter President Jennifer Pippin.

In Chester County, Pennsylvania -- a suburb of Philadelphia -- Ronna Dewey, a mother with a recently graduated son, was alarmed when calls for the removal of certain books started occurring in her district in 2021.

"Two of the books in particular that they were targeting were written by and about people who identify as part of [the LGBTQ] community," Dewey, whose son is gay, told ABC News. "And so, it felt really personal to me. It felt like a direct attack on my son and my family."

If you're wondering, Shannon Grady is the hate merchant there.  She's a Moms For Bigotry hate merchant.  ABC notes:

Schools in many parts of the U.S. have become a battleground and parental involvement is one of the topics at the center. Fights in school board meetings, including in Chester County, have erupted over how race, sexual orientation, gender and other topics are brought up, or taught, in the classroom.

Moms for Liberty, in particular, has come under fire over its political ties and its calls to remove material from schools that, critics say, feature LGBTQ+ characters and promote racial inclusivity. The group has responded to this criticism in the past, calling it “laughable” and saying it lacks credibility.

Some parents are arguing their children don't need to be exposed to certain topics at certain ages while some parents on the other side of the debate say they trust the schools and teachers to determine which topics and materials are age-appropriate for the students.

And who's unhappy?  Not most parents with kids enrolled in schools:

Despite the seemingly contentious discussion about the state of the U.S. education system, a recent Gallup poll found parents are generally satisfied with the quality of their children's K-12 education.

At least 76% of parents of K-12 students say they are "completely" or "somewhat" satisfied with the quality of the education their oldest child is receiving.

[. . .]

Katie Paris, a mother in Ohio, and the founder of Red, Wine and Blue -- a progressive political mobilizing group -- said she saw these topics coming under attack during school board meetings.

"Anything that mentioned words like 'diversity' or 'inclusion' or 'equity' those all of a sudden, were becoming kind of lightning bolt controversial phrases," she told ABC News. "But just this small minority of people who were getting very loud … and I think parents were concerned about the impact that this was going to have on their kids."

"Our suburban communities are becoming more diverse, and we have a lot of pride actually in the steps for the progress that we're making together, in terms of better understanding [what it means] to really respect our differences and grow together in these communities and thrive in a diverse environment," she continued. "For me, as a parent, I know that for my kids to be successful, they need to be exposed to reality, and diverse viewpoints, learning real accurate history."

TEEN VOGUE explains what's going on:

Recent Republican efforts to curtail the preservation of LGBTQ+ history are threatening to erase the past. In June, Maigen Sullivan, PhD, cofounder of the Invisible Histories Project (IHP), gave a talk on Alabama’s Lesser Known LGBTQ History at the Alabama Department of Archives & History. The backlash was swift. Before the event even took place, state representative Jamie Kiel condemned it as part of a “woke liberal agenda”; soon after, Senator Chris Elliot authored a bill that would slash $5 million from the department’s total annual budget.

Elliot’s bill was introduced during a five-day special session that was originally called to address redistricting legislation. Though the bill ultimately did not make it to the floor, Elliot warned that this would not be the end of his interest in the archives department, telling Alabama Daily News, “What I was proposing was minor compared to what’s coming.”

This is new territory for IHP, which is headquartered in Birmingham and works to preserve LGBTQ+ history across the American southeast. Since Dr. Sullivan and her cofounder, Josh Burford, launched their project in 2018, presentations have largely taken place without scandal. But in a political climate that is partly characterized by attacks on trans youthgender-affirming care, and abortion services, it seems another element of queer culture is now under attack: history itself.

“There's something insidious about coming after archives, coming after history,” Dr. Sullivan tells Teen Vogue. “It's like, 'Let's go after the people. Let's push them back in the closet. Let's eradicate them from public view, and then let's erase any trace of the progress that they had made and that they were here previously.'”

Alabama legislators’ move to censor queer history comes at a time when a record number of anti-trans bills have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide, most of them targeting health carehigh school sports, and school bathrooms. Archives have so far mostly flown under the radar, but censorship has been on the rise in the form of book bans and restrictions on Black history curriculacritical race theory, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Says Molly Tepera, a digital archivist at the University of Texas at Dallas, book bans are easier for politicians to execute because they’re about censoring individual titles, not entire collections. Dr. Sullivan says it’s all part of a broader “anti-intellectualism” trend.

In other news of hate merchants, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.  Whiner and crackpot Junior.  We told you at the start of last month his support was dropping.  That was obvious, you just had to pay attention.  In the middle of August, Katherine Fung (NEWSWEEK) had the hard numbers:

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Kennedy with 13 percent support from Democrats or Democratic-leaning voters, a 3.5 percentage point decrease from June's survey.
The most recent poll, conducted from August 10 to August 14 among 1,632 likely voters, also showed a slight uptick in support for self-help author Marianne Williamson. She received 9 percent support in August, compared to 8 percent in June. Biden also saw a bump from 70 percent support to 72 percent in the last two months.
Those numbers are part of a national trend that shows Kennedy on a downward trajectory. He had a RealClearPolitics average of 20 percent in April, a stronger-than-expected showing that fell to 16.8 percent in June. As of Wednesday, his average from the polling data aggregator is 13.3 percent.

Quinnipiac has a new poll and Marianne's only dropped 1% (to 8) whereas Junior is now polling at 11%.   In June, he had 16.5% support in the Qunnipiac poll.  He's lost 5.5% support in four months. If this trend continues, he'll be in the single digits in no time. 

 Last week the RFK, Jr. Redemption Tour took him to the friendly confines of the Jimmy Dore Show, where he continued to grunt out slanders about Palestinians: “We give 800 million a year to the Palestinian Authority, which uses that money to pay bounties to Palestinians who kill Jews. Not government officials, but civilians. So if you go to Israel…Uhm…So if you kill a Jew anywhere in the world and you’re a Palestinian, the Palestinian Authority will pay you money for that…There’s this mentality, especially on the liberal left, that portrays Israel as a kind of occupying nation sitting on Palestinian land and the whole thing is a lie from start to end.”

Speaking of poor polling and likely voter drop off, Ron DeSantis.  Mike covers Doo-Doo Ron Ron Desantis at his site regularly, so be sure to check that out.  Due to poor polling, we're seeing a 'new' Ron of late.  Why he doesn't hate anyone.  He's not racist, he's not homophobic, he won't arrest women for having abortions. 

In case you forgot, as Aretha sang, Ron was supposed to be the front runner.  He's never been.  And his support has slid down so far that last week his campaign began saying that a second place win in Iowa would be great.  (In Iowa, the GOP does a primary.  The Democrats do a caucus.)  In case you forgot, when he failed to live up to the polling promises early in the campaign, they began calling mannish Casey DeSantis his "secret weapon."  Those days are long gone.  Casey couldn't save her friend's job on his campaign and she couldn't save Ron.  There are no more "secret weapons."

There is only reality and that reality decrees Ron needs to drop his war on 'woke' because it has run off voters and because that jibes with recent elections where the GOP's learned the hard way that 'woke' is not an issue animating voters.  So now Ron has to say new words.

And he wants to be believed.

But should we waste our time on that nonsense?


Appearing on CBS EVENING NEWS yesterday with Norah O'Donnell, he lied over and over.

Florida Gov. and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis said the NAACP is pulling a "stunt" by calling Florida hostile to Black Americans, other minorities and LGBTQ+ people. 

The NAACP has issued a warning that Florida is "openly hostile for African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals." In an interview with DeSantis, CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell asked if he would represent the entire country, and whether everyone could feel welcome in DeSantis' America. 
"A hundred percent," DeSantis responded.

No, he would not.  A real journalist who was prepared for the interview would have immediately offered examples of how that is not his history.

Let's focus on that first part of the report.  A "stunt."  The NAACP is pulling a "stunt."  Yeah, sounds like he's changed (that was sarcasm).  In case you forgot, he 'revised' the Florida curriculum.  This was done by his hand picked crew.  And they decided that slavery was nothing but a government works program -- kind of like FDR's WPA? -- that imparted valuable skills and knowledge.

And he has the audacity to accuse the NAACP of pulling a "stunt."  We're not done yet.  Because of his actions, Ryan Palmeter killed three African-Americans in a Dollar General shooting in Florida. The three killed were 19-year-old Anolt Joseph "AJ" Laguerre Jr., 29-year-old Jerrald De'Shaun Gallion and 52-year-old Angela Michelle Carr.  At the press event to garner attention on the backs of the dead, Ron DeSantis was booed loudly by the majority of African-Americans present.  We're still not done.  Then he ran back to the campaign trail and when an African-American who was a veteran of the US military 'dared' to question him, Ronald exploded and had the man kicked out of the campaign event.  

And he wants to accuse the NAACP of pulling a "stunt."

He went on to toss out figures that really have no bearing such as, "But in Florida, our unemployment rate amongst African Americans is way lower than New York, California and these blue states."  Florida is tied with Maryland with 3.6% unemployment rate among African-Americans.  Per the data from the Economic Policy Institute for 2023, the following states have African-American unemployment rates lower than 3.6%: George, Alabama (the lowest of the 50 states with 2.2%), Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Hampshire and Vermont.  Maryland (which is tied with Florida) is a "blue state" as are New Hampshire and Vermont.  He continues to struggle when it comes to being honest and truthful.  

A state judge on Saturday rejected congressional district boundaries affecting communities across North Florida, saying they unconstitutionally restrict Black voting power and that Florida’s Legislature must redraw them.
“By dismantling a congressional district that enabled Black voters to elect their candidates of choice under the previous plan, the enacted plan violates … the Florida Constitution,” Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh in Tallahassee ruled.
In the 55-page ruling, he also noted that throughout history "Florida has been a state home to discrimination in voting."

Golly Ronald didn't mention that (and Norah O'Donnell didn't raise it).  But it's the NAACP that's pulling a "stunt"?  

Back to the report on the very bad interview:

Still, O'Donnell pointed out that because of DeSantis' policies in the Sunshine State, some minorities and members of the LGBTQ community think he would discriminate against them. DeSantis said some of the blame for that lies with the media. 

"Well, part of the reason they think that is 'cause of narratives that are put out by media," DeSantis responded. "I mean, for example, when we had the fight with Disney over the elementary education about, should you have things about sex and gender identity telling a second grader that their gender's fluid? We said, 'Absolutely not.' Parents in Florida agreed. And throughout — the country I think agreed with that."

He wants to mention DISNEY?  With all the money he's lost Florida and is losing Florida because of his war with DISNEY?  Interesting.  

He lies again -- did Norah not push back -- "over the elementary education."  And then he wants to say second grader.


Because he's a liar who wants to make his actions seem far less extreme than they were.  If Norah didn't push back, shame on her.  Here's reality  CBS NEWS viewers were deprived of:

The Florida board of education has voted to expand the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, banning classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation to all grades.

Under the original Parental Rights in Education law, which was signed into law last year, instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation was banned for K-3 students, but teachers in grades 4-12 were allowed to offer this kind of instruction if it was deemed developmentally appropriate. What developmentally appropriate means is up to the Florida department of education to determine.

But under the expansion, which was proposed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration last month and approved on Wednesday, all public school students will be banned from learning about these topics, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can opt out of.

Eesha Pendharkar (EDUCATION WEEK) reported the above on April 19th.  Norah interviewed Ronald on September 13th -- five months later -- and didn't know that?

If that's the case, heads need to roll among her staff. Someone should have prepared her for that ahead of the interview.  

No this doesn't end in elementary school and Ronald knows that.  He lied to make it seem less extreme.

He is liar, a damn liar. 

And only an idiot's going to believe him when he claims that he'd be welcoming of all Americans. Let's note that again:

In an interview with DeSantis, CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell asked if he would represent the entire country, and whether everyone could feel welcome in DeSantis' America. 
"A hundred percent," DeSantis responded.

No, he's not going to.  And let's note that American citizens are people born in this country (as well as those who seek citizenship).  I can forgive Norah for not knowing one thing.  She's paid a lot of money to sit at that desk but she's only one person.  I cannot forgive her when the entire interview is one mistake after another.  He's going to be welcoming to all Americans?

She should have confronted him immediately about his plan to strip American citizens of citizenship. Max Greenwood (MIAMI HERALD) and Ana Ceballos (TAMPA BAY TIMES) reported at the end of June:

Andressa Reis, a 29-year-old from Coconut Creek, repeatedly refers to her U.S. citizenship status as a “privilege.” She was born in Florida after her newlywed Brazilian parents, who were in the United States at the time, decided to start a family.
“It was pretty common within my community to have people who were undocumented,” Reis said in an interview with the Miami Herald. “So I grew up recognizing the privilege I had. I didn’t have to go through a quarter of the fight that most people do.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, is promising that if he is elected president, he will eliminate the constitutional guarantee of citizenship for children born in the United States to migrants who entered the country illegally.

DeSantis made the promise to end birthright citizenship this week as he unveiled a host of hardline immigration policies meant to appeal to conservative voters. Former President Donald Trump also vowed years ago to do so through an executive order and, though he never followed through, has renewed the promise for the 2024 campaign.

Norah let him lie on national TV.  The media doesn't do their job over and over and it's how these hate merchants get away with so much.  We long ago noted that the backlash against them had started and it has.  But let's never forget that the media helped publicize these hate merchants and their programs by refusing to call out lies over and over.  People around the country suffer right now because the media refused to do its job.

Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) zooms in on this section of the interview:

 Ron DeSantis is only 44, but he may already have a kind of dementia that threatens US security, given this exchange with CBS News’s Nora O’Donnell on using the US military against drug cartels in Mexico…

O’Donnell: “Would you send missiles into Mexico?”

DeSantis: “We would use all available — the tactics, I think, can be debated. If you have something you want to accomplish, people would brief you on the different ways you’d be able to do it. So, that would be dependent on the situation.”

O’Donnell: “But launching military forces into Mexico is a much different standard, that’s why I’m asking the question.”

DeSantis: “The reality is they’re overrunning our border … Do we just throw up our hands and say there’s nothing we can do about it?”

Lastly, I wasn't planning on reviewing Naomi Klein's new book.  I like the book but I wasn't planning on reviewing it.  I'll look at my schedule for tomorrow later and see if I have time to do a review on Saturday.  Warning, I don't do fluff.  I have a serious problem with one aspect of the book.  If I do a review, I will probably focus on that because no one else probably is.  But I do think it's a good book and I do think it's worth reading.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Donald Trump veers from stupidity and to lying and back again

Donald Trump.  It's hard to tell when he's lying or when he's just sporting his stupidity.  Like here:

Former President Donald Trump took to his Truth Social account on Wednesday morning to attack The New York Times, and brag about his recent interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in a long-winded and rambling rant that involved Michael Jackson and the Panama Canal.

"Such dishonesty at The Failing New York Times," wrote Trump. "Recently I did an interview with Tucker Carlson, rather than the debate, which turned out to have more 'views,' at 265,000,000, than any interview ever done (The debate had 11,000,000). Second was the famous Oprah interview of Michael Jackson, which did far less."

He did not have 265,000,000 views.  Ava and C.I. exposed the reality of the 'views' when Tucker Carlson first moved to Twitter -- see their June 13th piece "MEDIA: No, Mother Tucker did not have 60 million people watch his video."

As they explained, that interview was reposted by many Twitter accounts.  If you landed on one that did, whether you watched it or viewed it or not, as soon as you hit their page and scrolled down, it started playing.  You weren't watching it or trying to.  

Speaking of Ava and C.I., please read their latest "Media: Hypocrisy, thy name is THE VANGUARD."

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

Thursday, September 14, 2023.  Efforts to ban books increase, the family of a woman with dual citizenship (she's a citizen of Russia and of Israel) wants the US to play "cops of the world," and much more.

Let's start with this from AP:

The United States should use its influence to help win the freedom of a Russian-Israeli academic at Princeton University who went missing in Iraq nearly six months ago and is believed to be held by an Iran-backed militia regarded by Washington as a terrorist group, her sister said Wednesday.

No, we shouldn't.  The woman is most likely a spy and, if not, she's an idiot.  Regardless, she had no business being in Iraq and she's not an American citizen.  She created her own little international incident and if she needs help now, she can turn to Russia or to Israel -- those her countries.  Stop pushing your problems off on others.  Deal with your stupidity -- and it's stupidity either way, actually.  She was stupid to have gone to Iraq as an 'academic' or she was stupid as a spy for being so obvious.

I don't know which and I don't care.  

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s."  Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London).  The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released.  This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq.  Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners.  So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages.  And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it.  At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject.  Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise.  What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did.  A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama."  Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them?  The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

There was no reason for the US to be involved in that issue.  Five American servicemembers were killed.  Their killers were in custody.  Four mercenaries from the UK and one computer consultant had been kidnapped two years prior.  Going in the chances were strong that every one of them was dead.  Turns out Peter Moore was alive (the computer guy).  (The four contractors were all killed: Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell, Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy.)  

Killers of five US troops in US custody -- one of which was the ringleader of the League of Righteous -- a terrorist organization.  The handover was beyond stupid and had no benefits for the US or for Iraq.  It was a huge mistake which is why so few people talk about today -- we must protect Barack at all costs.  

What he did was outrageous.  Not only was he making a deal with terrorists -- and letting them set the terms -- he was releasing the killers of Americans which was bad for the US.  And bad for Iraq was letting these killers out so that they could terrorize the Iraqi people -- which is what they continue to do.

And on top of everything, Barack looked like an idiot on the world stage and that's when the US media lost interest in the topic.  He gave the terrorists what they wanted: the release of all killers in custody.  And?  They released some.  Some.  Not all five.  A few months later, in August of that year, they were talking big to the press about how they'd do what they wanted and they didn't trust Barack.  Big talk was easy because Barack had released the killers.  Not handed them over to Iraqi courts and jails, mind you, just released them, like turning a turtle back into the wild.

They mocked him, the Arabic press was all over that story.

There was no great win in that.  And those five British citizens should have been the focus of their own government.

The Israeli-Russia woman and her family need to appeal to the countries she's a citizen of.  She's not an American citizen and US interests do not need to be wasted on her in Iraq.

Iraq has enough issues and enough problems that the US government could help with -- such as bringing people to the table to implement the Constitutional article to determine the status of Kirkuk.  When Bully Boy Bush was in the White House, the Iraqi Constitution called for that to be implemented.  Then prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki refused to do so.  Brookings warned that the failure to implement it presented real risks to Iraq's future.  

We've now seen that even more so.  

That's what our diplomatic mission should be.

And if the governments of Israel and Russia want to use their diplomatic resources to rescue the stupid woman, that's their business.  But she is not a US priority and she is not an Iraqi priority.  

And I'm not seeing any history of that woman or her sister advocating for the release of Julian Assange or any other political prisoner so apparently they only believe in themselves.  Not going to rush to help selfish people.

JEWISH NEWS SYNDICATE notes, "While Tsurkov is not a U.S. citizen, Emma is pressing Washington to use its financial support to Iraq as leverage to secure her sister’s freedom."  The US government is not and should not be the cops of the world.  Your sister has two countries who can help her due to her citizenship: Russia and Israel.  

Elizabeth Tsurkov is not a US citizen, limiting the tools at the American government's disposal and the direct ability of Washington officials to secure her release. But Emma Tsurkov contends that the US government still has substantial influence given that her sister has significant US ties as a “graduate student in an American institution that is approved and funded for research."

No that does not create a legal obligation and instead of fighting windmills, her sister should be using the resources she does have to appeal to the governments of  Russia and Israel.

Let's move over to the topic of books.  At THE NEW YORK TIMES, Naomi Klein writes:

Though doppelgängers reliably elicit feelings of vertigo, I find the sudden prevalence of doubles oddly comforting. For years I struggled privately with a problem I considered rather niche: being perennially confused and conflated with another writer and outspoken political analyst named Naomi, Naomi Wolf, even though I bear only a passing resemblance to her. (And I would see the same thing happening to her.) Once best known for best-selling feminist books like “The Beauty Myth” and for a controversial role advising Al Gore’s presidential run, Ms. Wolf has more recently distinguished herself as an industrial-scale disseminator of vaccine-related medical misinformation, as well as a fixture on pro-Trump shows like the one hosted daily by Steve Bannon.

I sometimes wondered what I had done to deserve my doppelgänger woes. With popular culture feeling increasingly like a house of mirrors with duplicated and simulated and similar selves endlessly refracted, many more of us may soon be dealing with versions of doppelgänger confusion. What role is this proliferation of doubles, twins and clones playing? Doppelgängers, which combine the German words for doppel (double) with gänger (goer), are often regarded as warnings, or omens.

In an attempt to better understand the warnings carried by my doppelgänger experience, I spent many evenings immersing myself in the rich repertory of doppelgänger films. One that proved particularly helpful was Jordan Peele’s “Us.” This 2019 horror film imagines a society much like our own, only sitting on top of a shadowy underworld, inhabited by warped doubles of everyone living aboveground. Every move above is mirrored below in darkness and misery. Until the underground doppelgängers get tired of the arrangement and wreak havoc.

Who are these underground people? one terrified character asks.

“We’re Americans,” comes the gut punch of an answer.

The film has been interpreted as an allegory for capitalism’s entanglements with racial and other forms of oppression, with the comforts of the few requiring the exploitation of a shadow world. That understanding landed particularly hard during the pandemic, when I watched the film. Those of us who were part of the lockdown class were able to shelter in place because we were being served by “essential workers,” many of whom did not have the ability to call in sick. Doubles often play this role, offering viewers and readers uncomfortable ways into their own story. By showing us a character facing her doppelgänger, we are exposed to parts of ourselves we can least bear to see, but at a slight angle, and through a warped mirror.

[. . .]

We are, once again, at a historical juncture where our physical and political worlds are changing too quickly and too consequentially for our minds to easily comprehend. This is why I decided to start regarding my own doppelgänger as a narrow aperture through which to look at forces I consider dangerous, and that can be hard to confront directly.

Rather than worrying about people thinking that she and I were one and the same, I got interested in the ways she seems to have become a doppelgänger of her former self. Because I have been getting confused with Ms. Wolf for close to a decade and half, I knew that she had been dabbling in conspiracy culture for years. (I would periodically get harangued online for positions she had taken.)

Before the pandemic, her underlying values seemed somewhat stable: feminism, sexual freedom, democracy, basic liberalism. Then, rather suddenly, they appeared less so. In a matter of months, I watched her go from questioning masks in schools to questioning election results alongside Mr. Bannon. Next she was engaging in Jan. 6 revisionism, condoning the Supreme Court’s assault on abortion rights, posting about her firearms and also warning that “war is being waged upon us.”

This is a phenomenon far larger than Ms. Wolf, of course. A great many of us have witnessed it in people we know, once respected and even still love. We tell one another that they have disappeared “down the rabbit hole,” lost to conspiratorial fantasies, embracing apocalyptic language, seemingly unreachable by affection or reason.

Naomi's book came out this week.  My apologies because I wrongly stated last week that it had come out.  I was reading a few weeks ago and thought it was coming out Tuesday of last week.  I strongly recommend the book and it's entitled DOPPLEGANGER: A TRIP INTO THE MIRROR WORLD.  That's by Naomi Klein -- Klein.

Let's note how far Naomi Wolf has fallen: She's now reTweeting Jordan Peterson.  If you're not getting it, Jordan Peterson is infamous for insisting that women's studies programs should be defunded.

I've said this many times before but I'm saying it again, should crazy get off the drugs and try to return to the left, you're an idiot if you let her.  It's not just that Naomi Wolf is bat s**t crazy, it's that she's done real harm to women and feminists do not need to be masochists.  She chose her side.  There is no return from the dark side for her..  She is not to be trusted.  She's a right winger who wants to vote for Donald Trump.  She hangs out with homophobes and transphobes.  Moms For Bigotry have the Naomi Wolf stamp of approval.  There is no forgiveness, there is no salvation.  She has stabbed feminism in the back and that's where it should stop.  We would be idiots to ever let her back in.  

The right-wing?  They're fools to embrace her.  Ava and I long ago -- back in the '00s -- exposed how she stole the work of Judith N. Shklar for her piece of garbage THE BEAUTY MYTH -- Shklar had given lectures Naomi attended and cribbed for without doing any attribution.  We've noted how, in FIRE WITH FIRE (her second book), she praises the 'beauty' of Victoria Woodhull while immediately then insulting the looks of Madam CJ Walker.  It was racist.  And, point of fact, Walker was cute, Woodhull had to be photographed from certain angles.  Then came PROMISCUITIES where she brunches the morning after with rapists and feels no concern for the woman who was raped the night before.  Hey, it's a frat house, Naomi's down with the bros.  MISCONCEPTIONS?  A book on motherhood which reads, naturally and obviously, like a book by someone who didn't raise children.  (Those kids were so lucky to have their father and step-mother.)  Crazy most recently took her dissertation -- which goes to how lousy Oxford has become -- and turned it into OUTRAGES: SEX, CENSORSHIP, AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF LOVE.

Want to read it?

You can't.  

It was pulped.  Her central thesis was based on her misunderstanding of historical records.

The publisher pulped all copies.  

But, explain this, Oxford didn't immediately pull her doctorate.  Her research -- that Oxford waived through -- was all wrong. Well, her conclusions from her research.  In the real world, that happens and you get your dissertation pulled and the university involved issues a statement if this was a public matter.  (It was a public matter.  Her turning her dissertation into a book made it a public matter.)  

She's nuts.  She's always been a huge question mark and we should be a closed community to her at this point.  She is not a feminist.  She has used feminism to grift and now she tries to use it to pretend she's not the idiotic reactionary, tin-foil hat wearer that she is.

As insane as she is, I haven't called for her book to be banned or burned.  And never would.  We don't ban books, we don't burn them -- even badly written ones.

But the other Naomi, Klein, has a good book worth reading.

During a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about book bans, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) read sexually explicit passages from two LGBTQ+ memoirs in order to justify censorship as a necessary way to protect children from pornography and sexual grooming.

However, other experts during the hearing pointed out book bans are also being used to ban non-sexual LGBTQ+ children’s books and other books about the anti-Semitic Nazi Holocaust, Native American genocide, and Black and Latino civil rights experiences.

The hearing, entitled “Book Bans: Examining How Censorship Limits Liberty and Literature,” featured testimony from five witnesses: two who claimed that the upset around book bans is over-exaggerated, and three who consider book bans an attack on democratic free-thinking.

[. . .]

However, Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) called the Republicans’ focus on overly sexual passages “a distraction from the real challenge,” adding, “No one is advocating for sexually explicit content to be available in an elementary school library or in [the] children’s section of the library.”

“I understand and respect that parents may choose to limit what their children read, especially at younger ages. My wife and I did. Others do, too,” Durbin said. “But no parent should have the right to tell another parent’s child what they can and cannot read in school or at home. Every student deserves access to books that reflect their experiences and help them better understand who they are.”

During her testimony, Emily Knox, president of the National Coalition Against Censorship, noted that the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom counted 2,571 unique titles targeted for in-school censorship in 2022 — a 38% increase from the number of titles targeted in 2021.

“Almost all of the books can be categorized as ‘diverse’ or books by and about ‘LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities,’” Knox said. “These attacks on our freedom to read, our libraries, and our schools are unconstitutional and unpopular. Seventy-one percent of Americans oppose book bans in public libraries, and 67% oppose book bans in school libraries,” she added, citing a March 2022 ALA survey.

The National Education Association (NEA) noted that recent book bans have targeted such titles as Art Speigelman’s Holocaust graphic novel Maus and numerous titles about the struggle for civil rights by people of color, including Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, and Duncan Tonatiuh’s Separate is Never Equal.

Sam Seder addresses the hearing in the video below.

 The League of Women Voters hosted a discussion on the topic of book banning this week.

NBC 5 CHICAGO notes:

As bomb threats earlier this week forced nearly half a dozen libraries in Chicago and the suburbs to evacuate, Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias testified at a U.S. Senate Judiciary hearing on the state's first-in-the-nation ban against book bans.

“…What I am concerned with is political attempts to ban books that are driving libraries to close their doors, stifle creativity, make librarians quit their jobs," Giannoulias said during Tuesday's hearing. "And just a few weeks ago, literally have to evacuate due to numerous bomb threats at multiple locations.”

The first-of-its-kind law, signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on June 12, states that Illinois public libraries that restrict or ban materials because of “partisan or doctrinal” disapproval will be ineligible for state funding as of Jan. 1, 2024, when the new law goes into effect.

Layne Ray (THE POST) provides context:

The American Library Association began observing Banned Books Week in 1982. According to its website, it “celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.” Teachers, authors, students, librarians and supporters of the First Amendment can all come together this Oct. 1-7 to bring awareness to this harmful form of censorship that affects our nation as a whole. 

Now more than ever, education is being censored. Topics like racism and sexism as well as LGBTQIA+ themes being put to a halt in certain places are disregarding all students’ First Amendment rights. Florida laws like the Stop WOKE Act and the “Don’t Say Gay” bill don’t directly prohibit any titles from being incorporated into the curriculum, but they freely open the opportunity for books to be challenged and removed from school libraries and lesson plans. Evidently, many have done so as Pen America named Florida as having the second-highest number of banned books between July and December of 2022 at 357 books. 

In a similar, but not as severe situation is Ohio. There have been 79 titles challenged in total, but House Bills 322 and 327 that prohibit teachings of “divisive concepts” being passed could increase that number quickly. The bills haven’t been dismissed but have been in the House committee since 2021. With the growing popularity and turmoil of such censorship, Ohio may follow the trend., a popular online bookstore, has an entry titled, “We Don’t Ban Books Over Here” in which readers can purchase books that are typically challenged or banned in some schools or libraries. It includes works such as “Lord of the Flies,” “The Hate U Give” and “The 1619 Project.” One of the more ironic ones found on this list, which has been read by a large number of students who attended public high schools, is “Fahrenheit 451.” While its significance went over my head as a 15-year-old, it is certainly one of the most crucial books for readers today. Banning a book about banning books is a terrifying level of censorship that is inexcusable. 

Banned Books Week is a week that highlights the undemocratic effort to ban books and celebrates our right to read.  This year, it will be October 1st through 7th.  ALA notes:

“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials. Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs.”
- Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom 

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For more than 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community — librarians, teachers, booksellers, publishers, writers, journalists, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

In a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. The unparalleled number of reported book challenges in 2022 nearly doubles the 729 book challenges reported in 2021. Of the record 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, most were by or about LGBTQIA+ persons and Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

The theme for Banned Books Week 2023 is "Let Freedom Read." When we ban books, we're closing off readers to people, places, and perspectives. But when we stand up for stories, we unleash the power that lies inside every book. We liberate the array of voices that need to be heard and the scenes that need to be seen. Let freedom read!


The following sites updated: