billy joel was right

Laudatory remarks were already underway Thursday when Brian Kim entered Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s outdoor memorial service clutching a protest sign.

“If you want the People to feel sad when you die, retire before you go senile,” it read. 

Feinstein died last Friday at age 90.  Her death came after years of concerns about her health and mental acuity, during which time the senator and others continued to defend her job performance.

i wouldn't have done it.  i'm not big at protesting funerals - though when henry kissinger dies (finally dies), i might be tempted.  but i do agree with his sign.

omg.  i just looked it up because difi is dead at 90.  how old is henry kissinger?

he's 100.

i guess it's true, what billy joel sang, only the good die young.

be sure to read betty's 'DiFi dies.'

let's close with c.i.'s 'iraq snapshot:'

Friday, October 6, 2023.  Iraq is phasing out the US dollar for the Iraqi people, hate merchants in the US continue to lie to the press and to the courts in their efforts to destroy democracy and humanity, Cornel West has another campaign announcement, Robert F. Kennedy Jr goes extremely tacky in his use of his uncle's image, and much more.

A lot to cover.  Some community members wished we'd opened with the issue of human rights in the US yesterday instead of concluding with it so we'll open with it today.  University of Michigan political science professors Pauline Jones and Andrew Murphy write at THE CONVERSATION:

When the Supreme Court ruled in 303 Creative v. Elenis in 2023 that a businessperson could not be compelled to create art that violates their religious beliefs – specifically, a wedding website for a same-sex ceremony – supporters of the decision celebrated it as a victory for freedom of religion and expression.

On the day the ruling was issued, the conservative Family Research Council called it “the latest in a trend of victories for free speech and religious liberty,” while the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression hailed “a resounding victory for freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.”

But contrary to these claims, the Supreme Court’s decision does not protect the freedoms of all Americans. Rather, it represents the culmination of a decadelong strategy by conservative Christians – known sometimes as the Christian right – to use the courts to limit the freedoms of groups of Americans of whom they disapprove. On issues where the Christian right’s First Amendment claims directly threaten the equal citizenship of sexual minorities, for example, the court left no question about which side it was on.

As experts on religion and politics globally and in the United States, we think the effectiveness of this strategy has the potential to degrade both the quality of American democracy and freedoms of religion and expression.
The First Amendment protects a cluster of core rights and freedoms: religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly and petitioning the government.
The 303 Creative decision threatens to undermine this crucial set of rights by privileging a particular group’s version of what it means to exercise speech and religion. We believe that will have harmful consequences for sexual minorities’ pursuit of inclusion and full citizenship across a range of domains, from intimate behavior and expression to inclusion in the commercial and economic realms.

Hate merchant Lorie Smith and her lying attorneys.  They all damn  well knew that no one asked her to design a same-sex wedding website but they lied to the court.  If you believe in hell, they'll all rot there.  Regardless, history will remember them as liars, as trash and as hate merchants.  Samantha Riedel (THEM) reports:

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a far-right Christian group at the forefront of recent anti-LGBTQ+ business lawsuits in the U.S., founded companies and staged fake weddings to claim their clients’ religious rights were being violated, according to a new investigation in the Washington Post.

The ADF has for many years represented conservative clients who claim anti-discrimination laws violate their religious rights, and scored a major victory in 303 Creative v. Elenis this summer when the Supreme Court ruled that a web designer could not be compelled to create a wedding site for a gay couple, even if they provided the same service for straight couples. In their arguments to the Court, ADF attorneys cited several of their previous victories on behalf of wedding vendors like Masterpiece Cakeshop who demanded the right to refuse service to LGBTQ+ customers. But in its investigation, Post reporters found that not only did many of those clients leave the wedding industry entirely after their lawsuits were over, some of them did not even have such a business until the ADF established one on their behalf.

According to the Post’s report, ADF lawyers signed off on incorporation documents and drafted policy frameworks for several new companies, which in turn were used as justification to bring lawsuits challenging local nondiscrimination statutes. To promote some of the lawsuits, the ADF distributed “videos and images of plaintiffs photographing women in bridal gowns,” reporters found, which were fabricated at “staged events featuring ADF employees.”

One such client was Chelsey Nelson, a Louisville woman who claimed she had always wanted to be a wedding photographer. The Post reported that ADF lawyers approached Nelson in 2018 and founded a business in her name a month before filing suit against the city. Nelson has since moved to Florida, leading city attorneys to ask to have the case thrown out; although the ADF claimed in a court filing earlier this year that Nelson was still somehow open to bookings in Louisville and had photographed two weddings this summer, reporters noted that one of those events was for a family member and neither took place in Louisville.

Another ADF case concerned two Minnesota videographers who said they refused to film same-sex weddings. Although the ADF cited the case in their eventual 303 Creative petitions, Minnesota officials claim that the group withdrew the case to avoid handing over evidence that would have revealed the videographers did not actually have a viable business, according to the Post. The judge overseeing the case agreed to throw it out, writing that the ADF had “conjured up” the case as a “smoke and mirrors case or controversy from the beginning.”

[. . .]

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year, the ADF’s 303 Creative case appears to have similarly spurious foundations, according to recent reporting. While the plaintiff claimed to have been approached by two gay men in 2016 about creating a wedding site for them, no evidence was ever presented that this actually took place; a report by the New Republic found that the couple in question did not actually exist and that one of the men in question was already married to a woman. Still, the decision holds, and has already had trickle-down effects on LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. One justice of the peace in Texas began refusing to sign marriage certificates for LGBTQ+ couples just two weeks later.

Through trickery and deceit, they have sought to strip the rights of others.  That's not democracy and that's not how human rights work.  They had to lie because they couldn't achieve their goals with truth. 

They've got this strategy of lies and they're renaming things to work their lies.  again, must reads for the week THE NEW YORKER's "The Next Targets for the Group That Overturned Roe" by David D. Kirkpatrick and WHOWHAT WHY's "Catholic Crusaders Find Forbidden Fruit in Bookshelves of Local Library" by Bethany Carlson. 

Yesterday, Peter Smith (AP) reported on the rise of the non-religious in the US:

As Dulak rejects being part of a religious flock, he has plenty of company. He is a “none” — no, not that kind of nun. The kind that checks “none” when pollsters ask “What’s your religion?”

The decades-long rise of the nones — a diverse, hard-to-summarize group — is one of the most talked about phenomena in U.S. religion. They are reshaping America's religious landscape as we know it.

In U.S. religion today, “the most important story without a shadow of a doubt is the unbelievable rise in the share of Americans who are nonreligious,” said Ryan Burge, a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University and author of “The Nones,” a book on the phenomenon.

Yet some zealots want to destroy the separation of church and state in the US and inflict their views on all of us.  Remember, the Supreme Court that allows that can also allow burkas and other things from other religions.  We have a wall between church and state for a reason.  "You get witch-hunts and wars when church and state hold hands," Joni Mitchell observed in "Tax Free."

By the way, Joni's JONI MITCHELL ARCHIVES, VOL. 3: THE ASYLUM YEARS (1972 - 1975) is out today.  Many must hear tracks but top among them is "Piano Suite: Down To you/Court And Spark/Car On A Hill/Down To You" a 12 minutes and 33 second track.

Back to the topic, it's not about helping anyone, these attacks on LGBTQ+ people.  It's certainly not about helping children.  Don Kusler (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE) explains:

I exercise my parenting rights directly with my children daily by sharing my thoughts, inquiring with questions, and supplementing those classroom and life lessons in my own way. The parents of my children’s peers do or don’t do the same to their own degree.

However, those actions on my part don’t come from storming school board meetings, trashing or threatening school and classroom leaders, or trying to impose my worldview on the school and community at large.

The “parents' rights” movement is not new, although it has seen a boost in visibility in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The topics falling under this umbrella over the decades have covered what books are in schools (and libraries), what material is taught in lessons, homeschooling, charter schools, dress code, sexual content, bathroom usage, sports participation and even the censoring of history lessons.

Parents should be involved in the education and upbringing of their children. We have that right.

While it may be my right to direct the education and upbringing of my children, it is not my right to impose my views on parenting on my child’s entire classroom, school or community.

That, sadly, is precisely what the culture warriors of the current parents' “rights” movement are trying to do.

Instead of this polarizing tactic, a collaborative approach that includes a professional methodology, supplemented at home by the individual desires and experiences of parents, provides a solid balance for the educational outcomes of our students. This has been and continues to be happening in school communities nationwide.

The leaders of the parents' rights movement and self-serving political actors are jeopardizing every child’s educational opportunities and experiences to serve their selfish, short-term political goals.

Self-serving certainly gets at the heart of it.  Joey Nolfi (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY) reports:

Billy Porter has voiced frustration with education systems that ignore the contributions of queer artists to American culture.

The Pose star appeared on Live With Kelly and Mark on Thursday to promote his new musical, Billy Strayhorn: Something to Live For, currently playing in his and the legendary jazz musician's hometown of Pittsburgh.

"Everybody knows Duke Ellington, but very few people know one of the mastermind behind Duke Ellington, and his name was Billy Strayhorn," Porter explained to cohosts Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos. "He's one of he greatest jazz musicians, writers, and arrangers of all time."

We're robbed of knowledge and we're robbed of humanity when we try to suppress the full text and scope of humanity.  But that's what the hate merchants want.  That's why they attack education, that's why they attack Civil Rights.  They'd rather lie -- and teach a lie -- that slavery was beneficial then acknowledge the truth and reality that slavery was one of the gravest sins on this planet and that until we address that, we aren't free from it and we can't recover from it.

They seem to think, the hate merchants at war with African-Americans, women and the LGBTQ+ movement, that we can ignore the past but all that does is imprison everyone in the past.  It's not helpful in any manner and I believe the AA mantra is "secrets keep us sick."

Recent legislation signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week includes a number of bills that bolster support for LGBTQ youth in schools. Advocates and researchers say that continued protections are necessary in the face of increasing policies and legislation that specifically target students to exclude them from participating in sports, from classroom discussions and lessons that include representation of diverse families, from feeling safe in their identities and expressions of those identities at school.

"And it's troubling, but we have a reality here in California where some people say, 'Gosh, do we even need to do LGBTQ inclusion work? We live in a blue state,'" said Vincent Pompei, an assistant professor in the doctoral program for educational leadership at San Diego State University, and a member of a state advisory committee to create online training courses for school faculty to support LGBTQ students who are experiencing bullying, harassment, discrimination, or rejection at school or at home. "Well, advocates like myself, who are entrenched in this work, have always known that not to be true, but it's becoming more and more clear what our current state is of LGBTQ young people living and trying to survive and thrive in California," he said, citing survey statistics on the mental and emotional health and well-being of LGBTQ kids compared to their heterosexual, cisgender peers.

To discuss about some of these new bills, the arguments around notifying parents if a child prefers to identify at school in ways that don't align with their assigned gender at birth, and what may shift a collective understanding of the experiences of LGBTQ students to one of greater support and inclusivity, Pompei is joined in conversation by Emily Fisher, a professor in the school psychology program at Loyola Marymount University where her work is focused on increasing school support and creating safe and supportive learning environments for LGBTQ-plus students. (These interviews have been edited for length and clarity. )

Q: California is among a group of states rated by the Human Rights Campaign to have a broad range of equality protections for LGBTQ people; what are your thoughts on these recent bills and why they're necessary?

Fisher:There's been a lot of attempts to try to deny the existence and the basic humanness of LGBTQ individuals. What schools have done, and districts that have tried to put policies in place, is that they don't even acknowledge that LGBTQ youth exist. I think that the bills that the governor signed [last] weekend really say that there are basic human rights that are afforded to all young people and that your sexual orientation or gender identity should not determine your right to exist. You should be able to be yourself, you should feel supported, and you should be able to access the academic and social curriculum that your peers do.

Pompei:My wish is that we wouldn't need legislation to protect the human and civil rights of another human being. Unfortunately, because of bias and stigma and misinformation, we have to pass policies that provide further protection to prevent harm, but also to send a message to vulnerable populations — in this case, LGBTQ young people — that even in light of these attacks that they're experiencing, the state of California and their government have their back. They are listening to the voices of LGBTQ young people, to the research about what these students need in order to learn, in order to engage in their education, and in order to thrive in school and beyond. Part of me wishes that this was not necessary; that we were just decent human beings and said, 'Hey, you know, everyone's treated with dignity and respect.' That's, unfortunately, not the world that we live in today.

Any time I hear a school board passing anti-LGBTQ policies or proposing anti-LGBTQ policies, they're never discussing the disparities that we continue to see, and the data as it relates to LGBTQ students compared to their non-LGBTQ peers. That relates to feeling connected, feeling safe, feeling cared for, experiencing mental health challenges, and even suicide. They're passing policies without talking about what the school district is going to do to address them. From the California Healthy Kids Survey, the latest public data that they have available on their dashboard for San Diego County, shows that 68 percent of LGB students and 79 percent of trans students indicated chronic sadness or hopelessness in the past year, compared to 25 percent of straight students and 30 percent of cisgender students. Forty-four percent of LGB students and 57 percent of trans students in our county seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, compared to 9 percent of straight students and 12 percent of cisgender students. So, it's troubling to me that we're passing policies rooted in transphobia, homophobia, biphobia, rather than actually looking at what the research says about what will help all students, including LGBTQ students, learn and engage and thrive in school. It's hard to answer that question without painting a larger picture, but I can say that yes, I'm excited, I'm celebrating, but I'm also sad that we have to pass laws to protect students from our elected officials who have made an oath to serve all children in public school. It's troubling to me.

America’s 300,000 transgender youth are under attack. In 2023 alone, Republican lawmakers have introduced nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, more than any year in recent history. More than 80 of these bills have already passed into law, and the bulk of which target trans and nonbinary youth. States like Florida and Iowa have stripped their access to medically necessary gender-affirming healthcare; others, including Kansas and Missouri, have banned trans student athletes from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity. Additional attacks include bills that would forcibly out trans students to their parents if they’re out at school or prevent them from discussing queer and trans issues in classrooms.

Policymakers typically push these bills under the guise of “protecting women and children” or “defending fairness in sports.” In reality, this year’s deluge of legislation is the latest in a series of ongoing, coordinated political attacks against the trans community. It’s been mounting since 2016, when GOP lawmakers in North Carolina advanced the nation’s first anti-trans “bathroom bill.” And with the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, advocates expect to see right-wing politicians double down on anti-trans attacks as a means of galvanizing voters.

Every child deserves the freedom to be their authentic self without persecution. And although transphobia may seem like a niche issue, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Attacks on trans kids hurt all children, including those who are cisgender by jeopardizing their rights, safety, and education. This is how.

First and foremost, every form of systemic oppression — from transphobia, to sexism, to racism — is interconnected. It’s no mistake that this wave of transphobic bills has cropped up alongside anti-abortion laws and book bans. The conservative politicians who back these harmful policies are one and the same.

A political attack on one marginalized group invariably affects others. To grasp this, it’s helpful to understand intersectionality, a term coined by feminist scholar KimberlĂ© Crenshaw to describe the ways Black women experience intersecting dimensions of gender- and race-based oppression. If we examine systemic transphobia through an intersectional lens, we see that Black and Brown folks experience the brunt of transphobic violence, and anti-trans sports bans, for example, disproportionately impact girls and young women, cis and trans.

So, anti-trans laws don’t just harm trans kids; they create an overarching climate of fear and prejudice that endangers cis girls, queer kids, and children of color, too.

Let's turn to the US political circus.

The numbers.  That's really been the failure of 'analysis' of late.  The numbers don't add up.  That was true of those trying to pimp Barbara Lee and insisting that Gavin Newsom must, MUST, appoint her to fill Dianne Feinstein's seat.  In a three-way race with Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, Lee came in a distant third -- in the single digits.  Why would he ignore the Democrats of California's preference for Adam and Katie to appoint the loser Lee?  He wouldn't.  No sane politician would.  The numbers told the tale but you know your deluded crazies.  You should know them very well.  Look at those who have pimped Cornel West.  The numbers never added up there either.  Didn't stop THE VANGUARD, Bri-Bri, Sabby White Gal Sabs and countless others from pimping Cornel.

They spat out lies and delusions.  The numbers never made the case that their spin tried to.

Hard to believe it's only October.  It was June 5th when the Democratic Socialist took to Russell Brand's online program to declare he was running to be president of the United States -- because an accused rapist and harasser is the natural platform for other crazies, apparently.

He was running for president as the presidential nominee for The People's Party!  See Ava and my "Media: How can you trust a journalist today?"  and this Iraq snapshot for how Cornel spilled the beans in an interview with Jared Bell (without knowing it apparently) about how Chris Hedges negotiated that nomination (with himself as the vice presidential nominee until Mrs. Hedges nixed that at the last minute) and then pretended to be just a reporter covering a story -- never revealing in his 'reports' that he had approached The People's Party to make Cornel the nominee (CRAPAPEDIA still can't get that right but CRAPAPEDIA doesn't stream BLACK POWER MEDIA -- or anything with "Black" in the title or on the screen).  Backward channels, no real democracy at all.  How sad, how pathetic and how telling.

It only got worse.  Cornel decided that he didn't want to be associated with those accused of harassment -- Russell Brand was only one, turns out Cornel wasn't aware of the allegations regarding Nick Brana.  As people began asking WTF was wrong with him, Cornel quickly announced he wasn't running with The People's Party.

He -- and his liars -- began promoting him as the Green Party's presidential candidate.

They were lying.  And they knew it because when this nonsense started, the Green Party -- nationally -- got more complaints than they've ever gotten as members reached out to say not just "no" but "Hell NO!" to Cornel being gifted with the nomination.  Jill Stein and Chris Hedges thought they could strong arm the party into gifting the nomination to Cornel.  Green Party members pointed out to leadership that the bylaws were in place and had to be followed: No one was handed the nomination, they had to compete for it and it would be decided at the 2024 summer party convention and not until then.

And by attempting to steal the nomination -- that's what Cornel and his supporters were trying to do -- he had so ticked off the rank-and-file that there was little chance he'd be getting the nomination a year from now.  

Again, the numbers didn't add up.

Greens were furious that yet another non-Green was trying to steal their party's nomination and step ahead of actual Green Party members running for the nomination.

That is not democracy.

As late as last week (see Marcia's ""), Cornel was still misrepresenting (and the press allowing him to do so) as the Green Party's presidential nominee.


Yesterday, Cornel did what has been the hallmark of his brief political career so far:  Abandoned ship.

Someone who is so politically stupid that they take the nomination of The People's Party only to reject it a week later is someone that's not fit to run for the presidency.  You do the due diligence and research before you announce you're running on a party's ticket.  Not after.  That's insane and it marked Cornel as a joke from the start of his political career.

That really should have been the end of it.

That's a disgrace.

If it had been Donald Trump or Joe Biden, people would have been loudly mocking the candidate.

And they should have.

70 years old and you don't know enough to check out a political party before accepting their presidential nomination?

It's also disgraceful to go around claiming your another party's nominee when, in fact, you're just a candidate for their nomination.  But it sure did get you a lot of media time, didn't it?  Further pissing off the Green Party rank-and-file who pointed out that this was him using the party to get press attention and that this was at the expense of the other two declared candidates for the nomination.

Cornel finally did the math.

West said Thursday he would seek the presidency as an independent candidate, choosing to forgo a run with the Green Party. The decision complicates his ability to get on the ballot—if he had won the Green nomination, it would have ensured ballot access in nearly 20 states with the potential for close to all 50 states. 

West dismisses talk that he could serve as a spoiler in the race and says he is in the campaign with a message tailored to disaffected voters. And even though he has raised minimal funds, Democrats are fretting about him for two reasons: he has the ability to appeal to elements of the Democratic Party that are central to President Biden’s re-election campaign. And in an election that may again be decided by thousands of votes in a handful of states, every vote for West could aid the public intellectual’s larger target: Donald Trump.

[. . .]

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.), a Biden supporter who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus’s political-action committee, was dismissive of West’s effort. “He’s basically in this presidential election just as a side show with no organization,” he said. “People will know that this is a time for seriousness and not a time for individuals looking for publicity.”

Now let's note another thing about the numbers, it's over.  There's no reason to waste time on Cornel and his 'campaign.'  

He's not going to win -- the numbers.  He's an independent candidate who owes a half million dollars to the US government.  He is not H. Ross Perot.  He will not be able to mount a ballot access campaign.  He may still have the endorsement of the Socialist Alternative Party but they don't have ballot access in federal elections. The Libertarian Party isn't going to take him.  No Labels isn't going to take him.  He's left without ballot access.  It's time to move on and focus on real candidates -- and that can be candidates who are running to build a party.  

AP claims he left the Green Party.  When?  When was he ever a member?  In 2020, he was endorsing Bernie Sanders, for example.  Cornel has never been a Green.  He's a Democratic Socialist.  

A number of e-mails came in from people regarding a YOUTUBE program.  I'm not ignoring the e-mails.  Ava and I are going to address that at THIRD.  Yes, the writers' strike is over; however SAG remains on strike so we aren't covering entertainment programs still. 

Let's note the ridiculous Robert F. Kennedy Jr who entered the race with promise and hope and then opened his mouth and lost Democrat support.  Again, the numbers told the story there and we were noting -- before most polls came out backing up our observations -- that Junior had turned off Democrats.  That was due to his homophobia and transphobia, that was due to his efforts to end abortion (which he later backtracked on).  That was due to one too many crazy statements.  That was due to racism that went far beyond his claims that certain groups were exempt from COVID (due to biological engineering supposedly).  That was due to his outlandish claim that big business could be trusted to address climate change.  That was due to his getting in bed with Moms For Bigotry (and only stepping back when it was made clear that would be the final nail in the coffin that was becoming his wife's career thanks to his stupidity, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, et al).

The campaign sent out a mailing on Wednesday at 5:31 pm EST:

Thank you for signing up to receive the details for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s major announcement on October 9 in Philadelphia, PA, the birthplace of our nation. We are proud to share the official invitation for the event.  We hope you will join us.

In his speech on Monday, Mr. Kennedy will lay out a path to the White House that involves a major shift in American politics. We invite you to witness history in the making, at the very spot where our founding fathers launched this nation in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. On Monday, we come together again to reset the course of our nation.

This is an event you won’t want to miss. We hope you will join us.  Please RSVP to be there in person.

If you can’t make the event in-person in Philadelphia, we will be livestreaming the event as well. If you would like to register for the livestream event, you can register for that as well.

This is a free event.

And then they begged for money, of course.  But what I found more distasteful was this:

Donate today to put a Kennedy back in the White House — Elect Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as President to unite America in 2024!

I've disabled the link on "Donate today" because I find that sentence disgusting.  "Put a Kennedy back in the White House"?  He has nothing to run on but that his uncle was President.  And even after his uncle's grandson has called him out -- and his uncle's daughter Caroline has made it clear that she agrees with her son -- he's trying to use his uncle to get to the White House.

That's really tacky.  

At any rate, he's expected to announce he's leaving the Democratic Party.  He'll paint is as freedom move and argue that's why he's making the announcement in Philadelphia.  He can stand in front of The Liberty Bell while Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" blasts over the p.a. system -- and if he can't use Elton's version, maybe Lara Trump will sing it for him?

Turning to Iraq, Joshua Ramos (WATCHER GURU) notes, "In a rather surprising development, Iraq has officially announced its intention to ban all cash withdrawals and transactions in US dollars. The country’s Central Bank official has announced the ban, as it hopes to lessen misuse of the current reserve and US sanction evasion."  REUTERS adds, "People who deposit dollars into banks before the end of 2023 will continue to be able to withdraw funds in dollars in 2024, Ahmed said. But dollars deposited in 2024 could only be withdrawn in local currency at the official rate of 1,320."  Amr Salem (IRAQI NEWS) reminds, "The Governor of the CBI, Ali Al-Alaq, mentioned last month that the CBI intends to limit all domestic trade transactions to the local currency starting next year.  Al-Alaq elaborated that this step aims to limit dealing in the US dollar outside the banking sector in Iraq, contributes to reducing smuggling of foreign currency abroad, and supports the Iraqi dinar." Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) offers:


[. . .] Washington has been pressing Iraq to slow the flow of dollars through the foreign currency auction run by the CBI to countries under US sanctions, including Iran, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon, where some people and groups have been sanctioned by the US Treasury.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has applied strict measures on requests for international transactions from Iraq, rejecting many and delaying others.

It has also blacklisted several Iraqi banks suspected of money laundering and carrying out suspicious transactions. The latest restrictions were put in force in July, when 14 private Iraqi banks were barred from conducting dollar transactions.

This has led to an increase in demand for US dollars on the black market in Iraq.

The government has taken several measures to protect the dinar, including a currency revaluation, banning dealing with the greenback in the market, and offering a specific amount of hard currency for traders and travellers at the official rate.

Iraq is seeking a special shipment of $1 billion in cash from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but U.S. officials have withheld approval, saying the request runs counter to their efforts to rein in Baghdad’s use of dollars and halt illicit cash flows to Iran.

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq two decades ago, the U.S. has supplied $10 billion or more a year to Baghdad on semimonthly cargo flights carrying massive pallets of cash, drawn from Iraqi oil sales proceeds deposited at the Fed. In Iraqi hands, the bank notes have become a lucrative source of illicit dollars for powerful militias and corrupt politicians, as well as for Iran, U.S. officials say.

In making a request for an extra shipment of $1 billion, Iraq says it needs the cash to help prop up its stumbling currency. After the U.S. denied Iraq’s initial appeal last month, the Central Bank of Iraq last week submitted a formal request, which the Treasury is still considering, a senior Iraqi official said.

The behind-the-scenes wrangling highlights Baghdad’s unique dependence on the dollar and the little-known system for supplying it with prized U.S. currency. A vast amount of dollars flows through loosely regulated Iraqi banks and currency-exchange shops, which U.S. and some Iraqi officials say are rife with fraudulent transactions and money laundering. Since last November, Washington has banned 18 Iraqi banks from dealing in dollars and adopted stricter rules for electronic dollar transfers from its banks.

Winding down, Cher will have a Christmas album out shortly -- her first.  Her video for "DJ Play A Christmas Song" came out last night.

The following states updated:


another person executed

josh dumal needs to shut up.  he keeps running his mouth this week about fergie, his ex-wife.  supposedly, he's now happily remarried.  if that is the case, leave fergie alone.  what a passive agressive p.o.s. he is.

next up, michael zak was executed by the state of florida.  he murdered 3 women.  luke funk ('the messenger) reports:

In a long final statement, Zack took responsibility for his crimes and apologized to the victims’ families, as well as his own.

“I make no excuses. I lay no blame. But how I wish that I could have a second chance, to live out my days in prison and continue to do all I can to make a difference in this world," Zack wrote in remarks released by the advocacy group Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP) on his behalf.

[. . .]

Zack's final statement starts: "Twenty-seven years ago, I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. I did things that have hurt a lot of people—not only the victims and their families and friends, but my own family and friends as well. I have woken up every single day since then filled with remorse and a wish to make my time here on earth mean something more than the worst thing I ever did."

After apologizing and thanking the lawyers and activists "working so hard to fix the juvenile justice and child welfare system in this country", he ends: “To Governor Desantis and the Clemency Board: I love you. I forgive you. I pray for you.”

i don't believe in the death penalty.  i see it as cruel and unusual punishment. 

again, i oppose the death penalty.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, October 5, 2023.  Barbara Lee may be popular in the offices of JACOBIN but she's not in the state of California (check the numbers), THE VANGUARD finds time to give voice to the neglected White male (that was sarcasm), destroying ROE was just the beginning for the crazies on the right who hate everyone but hate democracy most of all, and much more.

As Stevie Nicks sings in "Wild Heart," "You say don't even know/How to start, how to start."  

Let's start with the new fact-free group.  It's on the left or at least the faux left.  They're called Whiners For Elderly Barbara Lee.  If you missed it, for the JACOBIN fakes, the worst thing in the world was that California Governor Gavin Newsom didn't pick Barbara Lee to fill Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat.  Why would he?  She's useless and California doesn't want her.

Oh, I'm sorry, did liar John Nichols not tell you that in his wordy column yesterday? Time for all those baseless whines but no room for facts?  Marcia called Nichols out in "John Nichols, shut up already."  The only thing I'll add to that is that Barbara Lee is not popular within the state of California.

Is that confusing to anyone?  

Gavin (who I've known for years and consider a friend) did not back Barbara Lee for the Senate spot.  In other words, pay attention here, Gavin didn't back the candidate that most of the left in California refuses to back.  As the start of last month, Sarah Fortenski (THE HILL) noted:

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) lead a new poll measuring voter preferences ahead of the 2024 U.S. Senate race in California, but a plurality of likely primary voters in the state are still undecided. 

In a Berkeley IGS poll released Thursday, Schiff led with 20 percent support among likely voters, Porter followed with 17 percent support, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) had 7 percent support and Democratic tech executive Lexie Reese had 1 percent support. Among Republican candidates, James Bradley received 10 percent support and Eric Early received 7 percent support. 

Do you get that?  It's too damn hard for John Nichols to understand -- or he pretends it is.  Three Democrats are declared -- three are seeking the seat that Dianne Feinstein occupied (no "puddles" jokes, please).  Of the three, Barbara Lee trails badly behind the other two.  Not only do Schiff and Porter have double the support that Barbara does, Adam has almost three times as much support.  She single digit.  No one wants her.  She can't win a statewide race because she is so disliked.

B-B-But, she's our great left hope!

Yes, you deluded idiots who read John Nichols can believe that.  

But those of us in California are fully aware that she is a do-nothing who accomplishes zilch.  Nationally, the 'independent' media has created this fantasy about her and possibly if you don't live in California it's easier to be foolwed about reality.  But, again, when she wants to talk her 'big' 'success' she has to go back to a vote from 22 years ago.  You've all bought her mythology -- which includes a lot of lies including about her birth. 

She's not impressive.  She's a fake ass.  She has no leadership skills and never has.  

Most important, she's elderly.

The US government needs another elderly person serving in it?


As Marcia made clear:

Equally true, she's too damn old.  Let me repeat for the old girl, "YOU'RE TOO DAMN OLD!"  She's 77 right now.  She'd be running in 2024 when she's 78.  Her first year on the job, 2025, she's be 79.  It's a six year term meaning she'd be 85 if she lived that long.  She's too damn old.  And her crusty face is cracking, get that loser out of here.

Barbara, you're a loser.  John Nichols can lie all he wants (like he usually does) but nobody wants you.  

She's a loser.  The Democrats in the state don't want her.  (Redistricting ensures she can remain in the House until she dies. She just can't get elected outside that House district.)  And she's too damn old.  In fact, she needs to apologize to the country for even wasting her time pursuing the seat.  78 when she would be sworn in?  Oh, hell no.  Dianne refused to step down and she was too old.  We don't need a 78 year old filling Dianne's seat.  (The puddles will never dry!!! Okay, one puddles joke.) 

And back to liar and hack John Nichols.  Am I weighing in on who should run for the Senate from Wisconsin?  No, I'm not.  Why are you butting into the politics of my state?  If you idiots and liars hadn't done so back in 2018, Dianne might not have run in which case she wouldn't have died in office and might not have lived such a pathetic and embarrassing life.  She could have used the last five years to try to give her life some real meaning.

Next up, the post of Speaker of the House.

Tuesday, the Speaker of the House was expelled from that position.  Anthony Zurcher and Sam Cabral (BBC NEWS) remind:

Kevin McCarthy has been toppled in a right-wing revolt - the first time ever that a US House of Representatives Speaker has lost a no-confidence vote. 

The final tally was 216-210 to remove the congressman as leader of the Republican majority in the lower chamber of Congress.

Hardliners in his party voted against him after he struck a deal with Senate Democrats to fund government agencies. 

There is no clear successor to oversee the House Republican majority.

On Tuesday, all Democrats and eight Republicans voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker in a historic 216-210 vote. This is the first time something like this has ever happened, leaving the House in disarray and confusion.

Though an interim speaker was named, the fact that Republicans joined in with their opposition to take down McCarthy reiterates a strong underlying message:

The right remains downright messy as hell.

No clear successor yet some deluded fools thought they (finally) had an answer.  And did someone say "messy"?   Marjorie Taylor Greene, step on down, and bring those flabby upper arms with you.  Yesterday, Rachel Sharp (INDEPENDENT) noted:

growing number of far-right Republican lawmakers including Marjorie Taylor Greene are calling for Donald Trump to become the next House speaker – following Kevin McCarthy’s ousting after less than nine months in the role.
The Georgia congresswoman and MAGA Republican took to X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday night to claim that the former president is the “only candidate” she will back to take the gavel.

While Trump would be eligible to become speaker since House rules do not require the position to be filled by a member, he has previously indicated that he is not interested in the role.

If the former president were to accept his nomination and managed to become the next speaker, it would represent an extraordinary turn of events as he campaigns to regain the presidency in 2024.

But critics poured cold water on the idea. Sherrilyn Ifill, the former president of the NAACP legal defense fund, warned that electing Trump speaker would "accelerate the 14th amendment Sec 3 showdown" because "Trump returning to the House - the literal scene of the insurrection - to try & serve as Speaker might be an even more grotesque Section 3 violation than trying to be President." Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., pointed to a GOP conference rule requiring leaders to step down if they are indicted for certain felonies.

But even if Trump had full Republican support in the House, Rule 26 of the GOP Conference states, "A member of the Republican Leadership shall step aside if indicted for a felony for which a sentence of two or more years imprisonment may be imposed." The conference's rules are voted on by all members in the November before each congressional session.

Trump has been indicted four times in the past six months. He is facing charges in two federal cases—one related to the classified documents held at his Mar-a-Lago estate and the other in connection to his election interference efforts, culminating in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

He has also been indicted in Manhattan in connection with a hush money payment to an adult film star and in Georgia in a case involving efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results there. In total, he's been charged with 91 felony counts, many of which carry sentences greater than two years of imprisonment.


A fan of THE VANGUARD e-mailed that this is the must stream video and "so important."

I don't see anything important about it.  Nice tat they finally realized Bri-Bri is a bit of a con artist and that she's not as smart as they've made her out to be.  If that's what you're talking about, they seem to tip-toe around it.  And if that's what the person who wrongly -- wrongly! -- gave them ten dollars was talking about, he was right.  

The ten dollars?  That's reason enough to sour me.  You're on air begging for money, someone gives you ten dollars and you give a lecture about how they're wrong and about how they should try watching the show more.

You begged for money.  Someone was nice enough to give you ten dollars and all you can do is insult him?  That's pretty much gqrbge behavior and I can't imagine most parents raise their children to take money from others and then to insult the people who hand over money.  

And then David Griscom.

Never heard of him before and why the hell should I care now?

That's their guest.  Friday, they'll have Ryan Grim.  Monday, people will pretend like they don't always bring on White males as their guests.

I don't know how they think they come off.  They love to toss the name of some dead African-American activist out there in conversations.  They just don't seem to like to bring guests of color who might speak for themselves.  

I don't know who David is, never saw him before the segment.  After watching?  He's a White man with a bad speaking voice.  He's not particularly attractive so I kept waiting for him to share some deep insight.  It never came.  At the end of the segment, the only reason to bring him on appeared to be he was another White man in their White Man Circle Jerk.  

Do Zac and Gavin not realize that the two of them are already presenting the White male perspective and that a third man doing so only makes it more superfluous (and vapid)?

Apparently the way White YOUTUBE likes people of color is dead so that they can tell you what they would have said (even when the YOUTUBER gets it wrong) and what they would have done (ibid) if they were alive.  In other words, the only people of color that White YOUTUBE likes are the people of color who can't comment back.  How very Norman Finkelstein of them.

And on that, we get to work our way back to note (again) one of the best segments on YOUTUBE this week.

Also check out the discussion about the above in the episode below of THE REMIX MORNING SHOW (approximately 40 minutes in).  It's a perspective of Norman you don't get when White YOUTUBE fawns over him (see especially the nonsense of Chris Hedges and Katie Halper).

Now let's continue coverage of Banned Book Week.  Michael Hiltzik (LOS ANGELES TIMES) reports:

Over the last year, according to Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, what has been most striking is the pivot of censorship advocates from books in school libraries to books in public libraries.

"Last year, about 16% of demands to remove books involved public libraries," Caldwell-Stone says. "This year, to date, it's 49%."

That's a sea change, she told me, because "public libraries are the places that we've created for freewheeling inquiry, for the marketplace of ideas. Demands to remove books because they don't comport with someone's beliefs or their political or religious agenda are attacks on the very thought of a library as a place that protects 1st amendment rights to access a wide variety of views."

These amount to demands that "the government tell us what to read, what to think, what to believe," she says.

That's how it always starts, with Moms For Bigotry pretending their efforts are about children.  They never are.  We'll come back to that.  In the meantime, Joe Chaisson, Abigail Murillo Villacorta and Andrew Evans  (WGGB) report:

Town by town is taking you to Agawam, Springfield and Chicopee.

It’s day two of banned book week at the Agawam Public Library with displays of challenged and banned books over the past 50-plus years.

“Let Freedom Read” is the official 2023 campaign from the American library association and the Agawam Library is encouraging visitors to learn about banned books and what it means to have the freedom to read.

Let Freedom Read events are taking place around the country. Moms For Bigotr?  They don't believe in freedom so they won't be celebrating Let Freedom Read.  They will be scolding and nagging and doing whatever else the sexually frustrated do in order to give their pathetic lives meaning.  When Ronald DeSantis started his "Don't Say Gay" policy in Florida, he stood beside Kyle Lukoff's book CALL ME MAX.  The book offended Ronald because Max identifies as a boy.

This was upsetting to Ronald DeSantis because he's never been able to identify as male at any point in his life -- to this day.  So he attacks others and wants them to be just as miserable as he is.

 Scottie Andrew (CNN) speaks with author Kyle Lukoff:

Kyle Lukoff, the author of “Call Me Max” and the Newbery Honor book “Too Bright to See,” among others, said the national publicity did little to nothing to improve sales of “Max.” Instead, it introduced his work to people who want to remove it from bookshelves in their local schools and libraries.

“I’ve had this said to me many times — ‘I wish my book would get banned because that’s the best way to get it on the best-seller list,’” Lukoff said in a phone interview. “That certainly never happened for me.”

Lukoff hasn’t yet earned royalties from “Call Me Max” or the other two books in its series, he said. His advances were $2,500 per book, and he won’t earn those royalties until all of them earn the money back.

Lukoff’s experience — and the experiences of hundreds of authors whose books have been banned in the last school year — contradicts a common refrain among some authors and anti-censorship proponents that banning a book results in a sales surge.

“When books get banned, even when authors do see a spike in sales, it is much more devastating for careers in the long run,” Lukoff said. “If your book is kept out of libraries and schools in entire states — that does translate to a long-term consistent drop in sales.”

Phil Bildner, a children’s book author and advocate for fellow writers, said that “having a book banned is not a badge of honor.”

“I still don’t think most people grasp just how financially devastating this book banning era is to queer authors and authors from marginalized communities,” said Bildner, who runs the Author Village, a group that represents authors and illustrators for school visits. “And I know most people don’t grasp the emotional toll it’s having on the authors in the crosshairs.”

Up until recently, a list of banned books was a blend of the usual suspects — “The Catcher in the Rye,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Bluest Eye” — and newer favorites like “The Hate U Give” and “Thirteen Reasons Why.”

But book bans have surged in the last year. PEN America, an organization that supports and protects First Amendment rights for writers, journalists and other communicators, reported that more than 3,300 books were banned in the 2022-2023 school year, a 33% increase from the previous school year. These bans “overwhelmingly” target books about race and racism, as well as books with LGBTQ characters, PEN America said in its September study on school book bans.

There are concentrated efforts from groups like Moms for Liberty and LaVerna in the Library, an offshoot of Utah Parents United, to ban dozens of books at once. These groups compile comprehensive lists of books that contain what these groups point to as objectionable material. Websites like Rated Books and BookLooks grade books based on their content and highlight potentially objectionable paragraphs on their sites, posting entire pages out of context.

Vocal individuals have also had immense power in banning books: The Washington Post reported in May that 60% of book challenges in the 2021-2022 school year came from just 11 people.  

Wadzanai Mhute (OPRAH DAILY) speaks with author Isabel Wilkerson about being banned:

It’s been three years since Casteby Isabel Wilkerson, was published, and in the intervening years, political, cultural, and racial divisions have intensified. According to a report by PEN America, from 2021 to 2022, more than 1,600 books were banned in school districts across the nation. The impact on children, the educational system, and culture will reverberate for years to come.

Oprah Daily spoke to Isabel Wilkerson about book bans, including that of Caste, which has been removed from some libraries. A film version of Caste, titled Origin and directed by Ava DuVernay, premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month.

How did you find out that your book was banned?

My name came up in social media when The Washington Post ran a piece last spring about a library system in Texas that shut down all its libraries, and when the libraries reopened, Caste had “mysteriously vanished.”

How did it make you feel? What did you do? Is there anything you can do?

I was saddened but not surprised. These bans only affirm the forewarnings in the book. We’re in a period of backlash and retrenchment, which the book attests to and foreshadows. The only thing I can do is to keep pressing forward in my work, knowing that we can’t run from history and that the truth will win out in the end.

Putting aside your own work, what do you think of the situation overall?

In writing Caste, I had to do a tremendous amount of research into India and Germany during the Nazi era. The Nazis studied the United States’ Jim Crow laws in creating the Nuremberg laws. We are coming perilously close to the spirit of what they were doing in another century with the banning of books. It’s revisiting a past that we should never want to experience again.

This is coming at the worst possible time for us as a nation. We have an existential crisis in our demographics, politics, policing, and women’s reproductive rights. We’re a country on parallel tracks, and from responses to my books (The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste), I can see that some people are hungry and thirsty to understand the history of how we got here and what we can do. Then you have another segment that’s closing the door as quickly as others are pushing it open. It becomes yet another symbol of how deeply divided we remain and how these enduring divisions have managed to intrude upon us in this century. As we’re looking back at previous centuries to understand this one, we are, at the same time, replicating much of what we thought was in the past.

I was in shock when I read the 2023 list of banned books. I have to be honest in  saying I have not been paying close attention with the news and conversation around band books. I guess, since I am an older person it didn’t really apply to me. But then I thought about  my  young nieces and nephews along with other children who might have challenges reading some of the classics  and best sellers I’ve enjoyed reading.

[. . .]

One of my favorite readers,  LeVar Burton  is the Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week. I listen faithfully to his podcast   where he reads a short story. Some years ago, I had the privilege of hearing him live doing a wonderful reading from a local author. He is a reading advocate, writer, and television and film star

Now, for the main event-the list of banned books. Some of the books I have read and enjoyed. As I said before, I was in shock  and even  saddened because I don’t think these books should be banned. I will list mine here but to get the whole list visit the American Library Association’s website.

For my blind and low vision  readers the Perkins School for the Blind listed them too along with their availability in braille, large print and audio.

My Books on the List

1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Challenged for depiction of sexual abuse, EDI content, claimed to be sexually explicit

2. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Banned due to themes of death and the fact that the main characters are talking animals.

3. Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank

Banned mostly in regard to passages that were considered “sexually offensive,” as well as for the tragic nature of the book, which some felt might be “depressing” for young readers. The passages in question regarded Anne describing her anatomy, sexual feelings, and homosexual descriptions of her friend. 

[. . .]

After you read the list, make a plan. Find a way to get involved. You can sound the alarm. You can read these books to know why they are banned in the first place. You can participate in events like Library Card Sign Up Month. You can start a banned book club. For more suggestions check out the ALA website or talk to your local librarian for help.

The list continues beyond the books above, use the link to read in full. 

That's how it starts, we said we'd come back to it.  THE NEW YORKER published David D. Kirkpatrick's "The Next Targets for the Group That Overturned Roe" earlier this week.  I keep trying to work it into a snapshot but so far no luck.  ROE was destroyed and it was from years of planning.  The same groups have plans for further destruction.  

They've invented jargon that you need to listen for so you will know if it's friend or foe.  They know that they can't continue beating up on lesbians and gays so they're trying to hide it as 'concern for children' and pretending that they're going after pornography.  It's smoke and mirrors.  

You should pair Kirkpatrick's article with Bethany Carlson's for WHOWHATWHY where she documents a specific case of how they twist language to try to destroy a library -- a historic one at that -- how it's about their hatred of LGBTQ+ people and of reproductive rights and how they'll cheat and lie and whore to destroy our liberties.

The following sites updated: