The predictable aftermath of the Israeli response in Gaza

The steady killing by Israel of the entire population of Gaza continues with their total blockade of the territory that prevents anyone from entering and leaving while denying them the basic essentials of life such as water, food, medicines, and fuel. At the same time, we see the Israel lobby in the US spring into action to try and control the narrative here to limit any criticism of the actions of the Israel government and. military. Norman Solomon writes that right from the beginning, Israeli spokespersons have laid the groundwork for creating a massive death toll among the Gazans.

When Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations spoke outside the Security Council on Sunday, he said: “This is Israel’s 9/11. This is Israel’s 9/11.” Meanwhile, in a PBS NewsHour interview, Israel’s ambassador to the United States said: “This is, as someone said, our 9/11.”

While the phrase might seem logical, “Israel’s 9/11” is already being used as a huge propaganda weapon by Israel’s government — now engaged in massive war crimes against civilians in Gaza, after mass murder of Israelis by Hamas last weekend.

On the surface, an analogy between the atrocities just suffered by Israelis and what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 might seem to justify calls for unequivocal solidarity with Israel. But horrific actions are in process from an Israeli government that has long maintained a system of apartheid while crushing basic human rights of Palestinian people.

What is very sinister about trumpeting “Israel’s 9/11” is what happened after America’s 9/11. Wearing the shroud of victim, the United States proceeded to use the horrible tragedy suffered inside its own borders as a license to kill vast numbers of people in the name of retaliation, righteousness and, of course, the “war on terror.”

It’s a playbook that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is currently adapting and implementing with a vengeance. Now underway, Israel’s collective punishment of 2.3 million people in Gaza is an intensification of what Israel has been doing to Palestinians for decades. But Israel’s extremism, more than ever touting itself as a matter of self-defense, is at new racist depths of willingness to treat human beings as suitable for extermination.

On Monday, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant described Palestinians as “beastly people” and said: “We are fighting animals and are acting accordingly.”

Imagine the reaction if anyone had used that language about Israelis.
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Lewis Black is not a fan of The Golden Bachelor

I have not seen any episodes of the TV series The Bachelor but have seen clips and read enough news items to know that it is a show where multiple women compete to gain the affection of a man, with successive women being eliminated until just one remains, who becomes his fiancee. It all seems rather degrading to me but people seem to be willing to be embarrassed just for the chance to be on TV. Like all so-called reality shows, it is contrived and partially scripted, but it seems be very popular.

The show originated in 2002 sand its success has (of course) spawned multiple variations and latest known as The Golden Bachelor makes the participants all older people, with multiple women aged 60 or more competing to ‘win’ a 71-year old man.

Lewis Black is not impressed and lets loose with one of his typical rants.

Robert E. Lee statue melted down in secret

The US may be one of the few countries where people who tried to destroy their nation are honored as heroes and have statues put up of them in public places. I am referring of course to the attempt by the states of the Confederacy to dismantle the Union and create a separate nation. They were defeated by president Abraham Lincoln and for a while the people who led that rebellion were viewed as treasonous. But over time, a revisionist movement sprang up that portrayed the goals of the Confederacy as not the actual one, which was to preserve slavery, which by then had become seen as indefensible, but as a fight over so-called ‘states rights’ against the power of the national government and that the leaders of the insurrection needed to be honored and not vilified. This is the ‘Lost Cause’ narrative.
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(Non Sequitur)

If you click on the link and see the strips for the five subsequent days, you get the full range of weasel words and phrases used to actually escape responsibility while claiming to accept it.

When someone in an official position says “I take full responsibility” for some disaster, it is meaningless unless it is immediately followed by “So I am resigning”.

Death and suffering inside Gaza

The slow and steady strangulation of the entire population of Gaza, all two million of them, continues. Israel has cut off all water, food, medicines, and electricity, in addition to steadily bombing the area. What aid that has been allowed in has been tiny, nowhere near enough to meet the needs. Now the internet has also been cut off so that people cannot even call for help when they are injured or dying. Hospitals are suffering without power, with doctors having to perform surgeries by the light of their cell phones. The Gaza Ministry of Health reports that more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed, including nearly 3,000 children.

In the US, to voice even the slightest concern for the lives of people in Gaza is to risk being condemned. Anything other than unequivocal support for anything and everything that Israel doses, however monstrous, is portrayed as making one a terrorist sympathizer, such is the powerful propaganda machine of the Israel lobby here. The political class in the US, including the Biden administration, has fallen in line, with only the mildest of calls for Israel to show restraint. The US and Israel were joined by only 12 other countries in voting against a UN resolution calling for a humanitarian truce.

The US has ended up looking quite badly isolated after only 12 countries joined Washington and Israel at the UN general assembly in opposing a motion calling for a sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.

One hour after Israel had extended its offensive in Gaza, Jordan’s motion was passed in New York by 120 votes to 14, with 45 countries abstaining. The outcome was remarkable for showing the limited direct support for the world’s greatest superpower, with even France, Spain and the UK refusing to join the US in voting against the motion.

Israel is ignoring even those calls and seems intent to starving the people to death. Now they have even started casting doubts on the death tolls put out by the Gaza ministry of health, this being another way of making Gaza lives seem less valuable.
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Stephen Colbert on the Maine shooting

He delivers a powerful editorial on the latest mass shooting, this time in Maine where 18 people were killed and many others injured and condemns the weaselly response that people like the new speaker Mike Johnson give after these needless tragedies that keep happening over and over again. The suspected shooter was later found dead, probably self-inflicted.

For corporations, money excuses everything

Megan Twohey has an investigative report into the relationship between Kanye West (who now goes by the name Ye) and shoe maker Adidas. It is astonishing the extent to which the company was willing to overlook Ye’s behavior because he was bringing in money.

For almost 10 years, Adidas looked past West’s misconduct as profits soared. The partnership, which began in 2013, boosted company profits and made West a billionaire. But West subjected employees to antisemitic and other abusive comments. And though their contract for years had a clause allowing Adidas to end the agreement if West’s behavior harmed the company’s reputation, it’s not clear that executives ever considered invoking it before terminating the deal last year.

West showed a troubling fixation on Jews and Hitler. At a 2013 meeting with Adidas designers at the company’s headquarters in Germany, he drew a swastika on one of their sketches. He later told a Jewish Adidas manager to kiss a portrait of Hitler every day. And West told Adidas colleagues that he admired Hitler’s command of propaganda.

He brought pornography and crude comments into the workplace. Weeks before the swastika episode, West made Adidas executives watch pornography during a meeting at his Manhattan apartment. Last year, he ambushed Adidas executives in Los Angeles with a pornographic film. Staff members also complained to top executives that he had made angry, sexually offensive comments to them.

Big demands and mood swings weighed on the relationship. West, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, at times rejected the assessment and resisted treatment. Tears were common; so was fury. In 2019, he abruptly moved the operation designing his shoes, called Yeezys, to remote Cody, Wyo., and ordered the Adidas team to relocate. In a meeting with company leaders that year to discuss his demands, he hurled shoes around the room.

Adidas adapted to West’s behavior. Managers and top executives started a group text chain, called the “Yzy hotline,” to address matters involving West. The Adidas team working on Yeezys adopted a strategy they likened to firefighting, rotating members on and off the front lines of dealing with the artist.

I am not naive about the extent to which corporate America makes everything subservient to its search for profits but usually they try to avoid those things that might harm the corporate brand and turn off customers. But here it seems like anything Ye said and did, however outrageous, was tolerated and worked around, like the indulgent parents of a a spoiled toddler. Surely they must have known that these things would eventually come to light.

Lesson of Johnson’s election: The squishes always cave in the end

One of the widely held beliefs of politics is that the squishes always cave. ‘Squishes’ is the pejorative term given to those in the minority of some political group who oppose some policy or action of the majority but are not strong-willed and can usually be bullied into acquiescing. In the UK, Margaret Thatcher used the term ‘wets’ to describe those in the Conservative party who were not sufficiently gung-ho about her policies.

In British slang, “wet” meant weak, “inept, ineffectual, effete”. Within the political context, the term was used by Thatcher’s supporters as both as a noun and as an adjective to characterise people or policies which Thatcher would have considered weak or “wet”.

In the GOP, squishes are those who opposed the various appalling candidates like Jim Jordan who were being put forward to be the speaker. But when they held firm in opposition despite intensive bullying and tanked Jordan’s bid, it seemed like the squishes had suddenly developed some backbone and there was even an article describing their behavior as “the revenge of the squishes”.

But that did not last long. When Mike Johnson was proposed as the Speaker nominee, the squishes returned to form and all fell in line, although Johnson held all the attitudes that they said they objected to in Jordan. They all caved, every one of them.
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A test of how prudish Virginia’s electorate is

The US is a prudish country when it comes to issues of sex. While sexuality is rampant in films and TV, and pornography is easily available and consumed widely, in public people tend to espouse a Christianity-based attitude that frowns on sex outside of marriage, same-sex relationships, and the like.

An upcoming election to the Virginia House of Representatives will provide a test of how prudish the people in that district are. It appears that the Democratic candidate for the seat had in the past live-streamed sex acts with her husband. Now people who have obtained footage of the videos are circulating it in an effort to damage her candidacy. To the credit of the Democratic party, they are not backing away from her.

Democrats in Virginia are defending their candidate for a competitive statehouse seat against “desperate” efforts by Republicans to exploit her appearances on an adult porn website.

The state’s Republican party has admitted it sent out several thousand “explicit” flyers to voters in House district 57 containing still images reportedly of Democrat Susanna Gibson engaged in live-streamed sex acts with her husband.

The nurse practitioner and first-time candidate denounced as “gutter politics” the publication of a report last month that the couple had performed on the pornographic website Chaturbate in exchange for electronic “tips”. Videos of their encounters were archived last year, according to a Washington Post report, although it is unclear when they were shot.

Election day is just two weeks away on November 7 and Gibson is in a close race with Republican David Owen. The Republican governor Glenn Youngkin. has weighed in on the issue.

Youngkin told the station he had not seen the mailers, but felt Gibson should be held accountable. “This candidate’s personal life is something that that candidate needs to explain to people, and the Democratic party needs to have an opinion on this,” he said.

What is she being ‘held accountable’ for? Why should she explain her personal life to others? And what is there to explain, anyway? Gibson and her husband did something that was completely consensual and legal. If they had livestreamed the two of them renovating houses or cooking, shows that seem to be very popular,, there would be no issue. It is purely the fact that they engaged in sex that Republicans are trying to exploit.

I would like to think that voters nowadays are sex positive enough, or outraged enough by this dragging of the candidate’s personal life into a political campaign, that they would vote her in. But I am not sanguine. We live in a very prudish, uptight, hypocritical society and Virginia is not noted for its broadminded outlook.