let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Friday, February 3, 2023. Hours after a journalist has to flee Iraq for his own safety Joe Biden's chatting with the leader of Iraq about everything but the threat to the press, Marjorie Taylor Greene readies her Dewars profile by admitting she likes water sports, and much more.
At nine o'clock last night EST, the White House issued the following:
February 2, 2023
Readout of President Biden’s Call with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani of Iraq
President Joe Biden spoke today with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani of Iraq to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Iraq and consult on regional developments. The President reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq and commended the Prime Minister’s efforts to strengthen Iraq’s sovereignty and independence. The leaders discussed the Prime Minister’s economic agenda and plans to ensure that Iraq’s economy is delivering for the Iraqi people, policies the U.S. is prepared to fully endorse. The President welcomed the upcoming visit by Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and an accompanying delegation next week to Washington to further discuss these programs. The two leaders recommitted to ensuring that ISIS can never again threaten the Iraqi people or regional and international security. The President took the opportunity of His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan’s visit to the White House to invite him to join the call. King Abdullah stressed Jordan’s support for Iraq, including through joint strategic infrastructure projects. The President and Prime Minister agreed to stay in close collaboration over the coming months.
First off, prior to the Gulf Cup, there was talk of the prime minister himself taking part in the visit. Apparently the comments about keeping US troops in Iraq, made by the prime minister to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, caused a little more conflict in Iraq than anyone cares to admit and now he can't leave the country. He'd already been criticized by Shi'ite groups close to him (meaning part of the militias linked to Iran) for allowing the US to dictate and vet who would be going on the trip -- some of his closer and more trusted allies do not meet US security standards.
But what's more interesting probably is US President Joe Biden's lousy record.
So he spoke to him yesterday, did he?
Did they discuss the latest attack on the press inside Iraq?
Germany's DEUTSCHE WELLE produces the show JAAFAR TALK. They're still producing it, just not right now in Iraq. DW explains:
One of the most successful talk shows in the Arab world, the weekly DW program JaafarTalk tackles topics deemed taboo in the region, including violations of human rights and the lack of equal opportunities for women. With 1.4 million followers, JaafarTalk is currently the most successful TikTok channel run by a German media outlet.
The show was intended to address youth unemployment, political participation and women's rights. The plan was to record the episode in Zawraa Park, Baghdad's highly secured Green Zone. Members of the Iraqi protest movement and government officials were among those scheduled to speak. Around 50 members of the audience were also invited.
Abdul Karim faced several threats in the run-up to the planned recording. An Iraqi media outlet, for example, published a video on Instagram accusing the DW presenter of trying to spread "abnormal and perverted" sexual behavior in Baghdad. Featuring clips from JaafarTalk's previous broadcasts that discussed homosexuality, the post called on Iraqi authorities to prevent the planned recording.
Abdul Karim reported that he and his team subsequently came under increasing pressure from high-ranking Iraqi officials. He said that Iraq's State Communications and Media Commission suddenly demanded a special filming permit for the planned recording despite having applied for and been granted the usual permits in advance.
Late Wednesday night, representatives of Iraq's Interior Ministry demanded to speak to Abdul Karim at his hotel, stating that he would not be allowed to continue working without a special permit and could face arrest if he did not comply. They added that the government could not guarantee his safety.
Deutsche Welle has lodged a protest with the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin against the treatment of its employees and the obstruction of journalistic work. "This massive coercion by official authorities of the Republic of Iraq is an unprecedented restriction of press freedom," the protest note says.
Did you notice "Wednesday"? The day before Joe spoke to the prime minister of Iraq.
Of course, Joe said nothing about this attack. How could he? He's persecuting Julian Assange and he's trying to dismantle The First Amendment in the process. Maybe silence was better than Joe's usual tactic of telling Iraqi leaders how Iraq is just like Ireland?
But usually when the President of the United States -- regardless of who holds the office -- is honoring some other leader with a personal phone call, that other leader isn't attacking the press.
SHAFAWQ NEWS covers it here.
It's just not starting to be noted on Twitter. Hey, who's the idiot at the White House -- no, not Joe -- that let the call go through? Who's the fool who didn't raise this issue and wonder if the call shouldn't be rescheduled for another day? A DW reporter has to flee Iraq to avoid threats and arrest and, hours later, Joe's on the phone chatting with the leader of the country? No one saw a problem with that? They're really all that stupid?
Below is a JAAFAR TALK clip where they're speaking with the mother of an activist who was killed. Her child was part of The October Revolution that began in 2019 -- when young Shi'ite Iraqis rose up to call out the government for its corruption, for the lack of jobs and the lack of accountability. The response was to hunt down and kill these activists.
The episode that would have been filmed this week -- the one the government and thugs shut down -- would have included activists with The October Revolution.
Even with a new prime minister, they won't punish the killers of those young activists but they will stop any press coverage of what took place.
Meanwhile Glenneth Greenwald Paltrow was busy this week promoting gal pal Marjorie Taylor Greene. Maj also made time to show up in the halls of Congress to unleash some more of her crazy on the country. John Russel (LGBTQ NATION) notes:
Greene, who is a cosponsor on Steube’s bill, touted her history as “a former athlete,” playing softball and soccer as a kid, as well as spending “a lot of time in water sports” and competing “at the top level” in CrossFit as an adult. She also claimed to have stopped competing in CrossFit because she would have had to compete against transgender women.
Greene claimed that cis college athletes who oppose competing against transgender women are being silenced by college athletics programs and that “woke politics” are destroying women’s sports.
“I don’t care if it’s a mental illness, I don’t care what it is. It’s straight-up evil,” Greene said of trans women, “And they do not belong in women’s sports.”
Oh, Glenneth, the gals you do hang with. She's almost crazy as your 2008 hag. And I can see Majorie devoting "a lot of time to water sports." I also think it's funny that her former pal US House Rep Lauren Boebert is whispering that she thinks Marjorie's marriage ended because Marjorie's a lesbian. What a world we live in where even Lauren Boebert might get something right.
At any rate, Marjorie, we get it. You're into water sports and when you look around the locker room -- as you love to do, scoping out all the ladies with that intense stare of yours -- you want to be the butchest thing in the room.
Marjorie, trans women are not a threat to you. They're not going to dildo-block you in the locker room. They're not there to stare at others. Unlike you, they just want to change into their sports outfit, go work out or compete, come back in, shower, put on their clothes and go. Not a one of them, I'm sure, is going to walk up and interrupt you while your cruising the tits of some suburban home maker.
Does Marjorie, as Lauren's been insinuating, like the ladies? That would be so poetic, wouldn't it? No, I think she just lives in fear because she is so masculine, look at her, and this is after years and years of learning how to cover it. There's nothing wrong with being masculine, Marjorie. But she's been ashamed of it and probably more than baker's dozen have mistaken her for gay and its why she has to attack gay people now.
Just as all effeminate men are not gay all butch women are not lesbians. But it is cute that Lauren's spreading that rumor. And at a time when the LGBTQ+ community is under attack, it's nice to laugh at Marjorie and her love of water sports.
Steve Benen? I'm not a fan but he has a column worth reading. I'm not going to quote it or excerpt from it because I really don't want to feed the notion that someone on the ropes and struggling might be a contender. Hopefully, those days are long gone. If we have to mention that person's name, we will. But as he goes after the LGBTQ+ community in a desperate bid to get press attention to his dead-in-the-water campaign, we're not going to do him any favors. But Benen did write a good column so we will link to it (even while we avoid naming who the column is about).
At THE TENNESSEAN, Emma Chinn writes:
Tennessee has begun a new legislative session and the state’s LGBTQ residents are bracing for impact.The General Assembly’s hostility towards its LGBTQ constituents has resulted in one of the most unsupportive legal systems in the country for LGBTQ people.
As a result of Tennessee state laws, transgender people struggle to access life-saving healthcare, teachers fear the repercussions of discussing LGBTQ identity at school, and same-sex couples worry that adoption agencies may refuse them the chance to raise a child.
The trend of anti-LGBTQ hostility is set to continue in 2023, with a slate of discriminatory bills already moving – including a complete ban on transgender-related healthcare for people under the age of 18 and a bill banning public drag performances written so broadly that it could result in public erasure for all trans people.
Bianca Quilatan (POLITICO) reports:
ANOTHER LEGISLATIVE SESSION FILLED WITH ANTI-LGBTQ BILLS — More than 180 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced so far this legislative session, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, with dozens centered on restricting transgender students in school.
— Last year, state legislators introduced 315 anti-LGBTQ bills, according to the Human Rights Campaign.More than 90 percent of the legislation failed as only 29 bills were signed into law, but HRC said it still “marked the passage of the most anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-transgender legislation in recent history.”
— In 2023, more than 80 bills look to restrict the rights of transgender students in schools, according to the ACLU, which is tracking the legislation. The bills include preventing transgender students from participating on sports teams that match their gender identity, restricting access to bathroom facilities and preventing teachers from using their students’ pronouns. About 59 bills restrict access to gender-affirming care.
At SALON, Amanda Marcotte writes:
In the past few years, right-wing activists agitating against LGBTQ rights and freedoms insist that they aren't acting out of bigotry towards trans or queer people. No, they argue, they are doing this to protect "the children."
In Florida, Republicans defended a law critics dubbed the "don't say gay" law with risible accusations that erasing LGBTQ identities from the classroom is necessary to prevent "grooming" of children, equating, for instance, a book that features a same-sex married couple with a pedophile manipulating a child into accepting sexual abuse. The escalating protests of drag shows and brunches around the country are justified with claims that the shows expose "children" to "sexualized" material, even though performers and audiences have testified that shows geared towards families with small children don't feature the ribald jokes of more adult fare. Republican legislators and conservative activists have targeted trans kids in schools, saying their access to sports teams and restrooms must be restricted in order to protect the "privacy" of cis children. A growing national moral panic over gender-affirming care for minors has even led to protests and threats against children's hospitals, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics describes the treatment as the "accepted standard of care for adolescents at risk of or suffering from gender dysphoria." In fact, it's rare to unheard-of for minors to get major surgical interventions.
Skeptics, however, have long argued that concern over "the children" is just a convenient fig leaf for homophobia and transphobia.
The goal "is to stop people from being trans," ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio told GQ in May 2021, noting that the right only targets children because kids are a "group of people who don't have as much power."
"Bigots aren't freaking out about drag queens reading to children because they're confused about the nature of these events," Michael Hobbes of the Maintenance Phase podcast recently tweeted. "They're freaking out because they're bigots." The heavily orchestrated moral panic is "not about children," journalist Jill Filipovic wrote in a recent newsletter. It's "about criminalizing adults simply for existing and doing their thing."
These hateful voices get amplified. And it's not just the crazies in Congress. THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST are both getting on board with providing platforms for hate merchants. Chloe Simon and Alyssa Tirrell (MEDIA MATTERS) note:
The Washington Post, whose news-side coverage of LGBTQ issues in the recent past has been notably excellent, recently hired three opinion-editorial columnists who have a history of making anti-LGBTQ statements, primarily against the transgender community.
On January 25, the Post announced it was adding seven new opinion-editorial columnists to its staff. Three out of the seven columnists — Ramesh Ponnuru, Ruy Teixeira, and Jim Geraghty — have conservative backgrounds, with positions of leadership or fellowships with organizations like American Enterprise Institute and National Review. All three are slated to write weekly and monthly columns regarding politics and related topics.
While right-wing media networks such as Fox News and One America News Network have been consistent in their blatant, anti-LGBTQ coverage, mainstream media have at times resorted to presenting LGBTQ rights as a political debate. The New York Times has repeatedly given cover to anti-trans extremists and hired anti-LGBTQ contributors; meanwhile other outlets such as The New Yorker have published puff pieces on controversial, anti-LGBTQ figures.
Among its mainstream media peers, The Washington Post has generally provided fair coverage of LGBTQ issues, including recent anti-LGBTQ educational initiatives, the Respect for Marriage Act, and anti-drag sentiments. The paper’s decision to hire three columnists who have repeatedly heaped scorn on the LGBTQ community is a backslide, and an especially harmful one in a time when violence against LGBTQ people is an everyday threat.
The Post’s new conservative columnists
- Geraghty is currently a senior political correspondent for the National Review and is known for his conservative blogs, books, and journalism.
- In a 2015 piece on media personality Caitlyn Jenner, Geragthy claimed, “It’s not too much to ask that somebody like Jenner not be assaulted, not be harassed, not be deprived of any rights that anybody else has. But it is a bit much to ask the rest of us to not find [her] decision, or the entire process, at least a little weird.”* In 2016, Gerarghty published another piece for the National Review which characterized anti-trans bathroom policies and Jenner’s canceled reality TV show as proof that “the right is winning the culture war.”
- As recently as December 2021, Geraghty overreacted to the possibility that James Bond could be rewritten as a non-binary character, saying that it continued “the unpleasant new trend of taking an established and beloved character and changing the character to fit some sort of woke category.”
- Right-wing media figures often spread misinformation and bigotry under the guise of passively pointing out supposed flaws in progressive logic. In accordance with this trend, some of Geraghty’s tweets “just ask questions,” like “How about those who self-identify as ‘gender-fluid’? Are they feminine enough to qualify for roles specified for women in society?” or “Can a transgender individual attend a women-only class at Curves?”
- Geraghty’s previous Washington Post contributions include op-eds that praise anti-LGBTQ Govs. Glen Youngkin and Ron Desantis, and he’s referred to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law as “a common-sense restriction keeping explicit materials out of elementary school classrooms.”
- Ponnuru is the current editor of conservative publication National Review and a nonresident senior fellow at American Enterprise Institute.
- In 2016, Ponnuru told Boston Review that religious people needed “protections of our liberty as dissenters,” in reference to states enacting bathroom laws and defending Christian businesses from having to employ or serve members of the LGBTQ community.
- As recently as 2020, Ponnuru was still using “gay” as a slur on Twitter.
- He also recently promoted on National Review’s site an essay by Manhattan Institute’s Leor Sapir that argued against a Washington Post op-ed piece calling for children with gender dysphoria to receive “comprehensive assessment and gender-exploratory therapy” as well as parental support. According to Ponnuru, “This part (among many others) had the ring of truth” in the piece:
“Over the past two decades in the United States, pediatric gender transition has evolved well beyond, and even against, the original intentions of the Dutch experts. American-style affirmative care has taken on all the trappings of our therapeutic-oriented, pharmaceutical-driven, individualistic culture.”
- Teixeria is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor-at-large of the Liberal Patriot substack. Teixeira recently left liberal think tank the Center for American Progress due to, according to Politico, the “relentless focus on race, gender, and identity” and the difficulty in having conversations about “race and gender and trans issues.”
- In the American Enterprise Institute Banter podcast, Teixeria expressed contempt at the fact that if it is “express[ed] otherwise” that “trans women are women” one would get called a bigot. He also argued this was due to people “feeling the gap” with politics over religion.
- On The Bulwark podcast with Charlie Sykes, he argued that Democrats should portray themselves as the party that doesn’t “want kindergartners taught about gender ideology and gender fluidity” and should say it even if they’re uncomfortable doing so.
- For an article on his Substack titled “How to Fix the Democratic Brand”, Teixeira questioned whether “personal pronouns [are] necessary” and if “transwomen [are] exactly the same as biological women.” (The term “biological women” is a right-wing dog whistle that implies trans womanhood is artificial by comparison.) He also stated that those who question trans women are being “expunged from the left coalition.”
- In an article titled “Ruy Teixeira Asks Whether America Has Reached ‘Peak Woke,’” Teixeira wrote that “woke stances on crime, immigration, race essentialism, gender ideology and school curriculums” are still alive in the Democratic Party and the things that could “touch that off” is a viral video involving “race (or perhaps gender).” He bemoaned:
It is in America’s institutions where the wokeness curve seems still to be on the rise. In academia, the arts, mainstream media, advocacy groups, ngos, foundations, school administrations, professional organizations and corporate human-resources departments, it is hard to detect an ebbing of the tide.
Wokeness is stubbornly entrenched in these institutions, and it is there that it will make its stand. Millions of people have jobs, money, positions and influence that are now bound up with wokeness, and they will not give it up easily. The world they inhabit is more insulated from the views of ordinary people than those of social discourse and political competition. We may not yet have seen “peak woke” in that world—which means many of us, unfortunately, may yet face being called out, canceled or targeted in some other way.
*In accordance with the Trans Journalists Association style guide, Media Matters has replaced Jenner’s pronouns in this quote.
Yesterday, "Is Biden begging for impeachment?" went up here and we're going to wind down with it.
The following sites updated: