Saturday, March 2, 2024

A fashion doll in an action movie

DUNE II is better than DUNE (2021) -- though neither is as good as 1984's DUNE.  The film works best when it emphasizes Timothee Chalamet the least.  He still can't carry an action film -- not on those petite shoulders.  He comes across less an action figure and more a fashion doll.  Early on, he is supposed to be triumphant over an ambush but comes across as though he's working the runway.  Instead of DUNE II, it should have been entitled DUNE: A FOP IN EMPEROR SHADDAM'S COURT.  Frank Herbert wrote some great books.  At least he died before Timothee was born and didn't have to see this abomination.

It'll be a hit but mainly just because there's nothing else to watch.  This is the worst time for movies right now.  They don't have enough product and they're not working to bring in audiences with anything that qualifies as quality.

It's such a shame because DUNE II would really be something with Keith Powers or Michael B. Jordan in the role.  


Other news.  PARAMOUNT cancelled WOLF PACK.  I didn't know.  I was mentioning to C.I. that I wondered if there would be a season two?  She said only if another streamer picked it up.  Huh?  At the end of January, it was learned that PARAMOUNT+ wasn't interested in a second season.


WOLF PACK brought in viewers.  There's nothing else that's been on PARAMOUNT+ that I have watched.  It's a useless streamer.  Old people shows for the elderly.  The one good show that they had and they axed it.

It would be great if NETFLIX picked it up or PEACOCK.  THE TOURIST was a hit for HBO MAX but now just MAX dumped it.  NETFLIX has season two.  Be great if they'd grab WOLF PACK as well.  PEACOCK dumped GIRLS5EVA after two seasons but NETFLIX is giving the show a third season. 


Please read Mike's "You know Dusty Springfield used to tuck a maxi pad under there to give it more oomph" which sums up FEUD: CAPOTE VS THE SWANS and Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Lorne Michaels tries to shift the overton window" which addresses SNL letting a hate merchant host last week. 

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 

Friday, March 1, 2024.  Marianne Williamson delivers a major speech in San Francisco, THE NEW YORK TIMES mythical rape 'report' continues to fall apart, instead of answering questions about that report the paper is trying to figure out who is speaking to the press, and much more.

Marianne Williamson announced Wednesday that she was unsuspending her campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and was back in the race..  She spoke at an event in San Francisco last night.


Excerpt.

Marianne Williamson:   The Battle of Gettysburg was the battle at which it was decisive.  Once the North won that battle, it was decisive that the Union would in fact survive.  So Abraham Lincoln himself went to the battlefield.  And his words, of course, in The Gettysburg Address is that the men who died there -- for the North -- he said that they had given their last full measure of devotion so that a government of the people and by the people and for the people would not perish from the earth.  My message to you is, once again, although we don't already know this, is it's perishing now.  It's perishing on our watch because we are for all intents and purposes a government of the corporations and by the corporations and for the corporations.  And ever since particularly CITIZENS UNITED and the unlimited permission given to corporate forces to flood our political system with the undue influence of their money, at this point, they hold Washington hostage. Washington is a system of legalized bribery.  I can tell you from being in the belly of that beast, this is how the system operates.  If you don't have, I mean huge money -- I don't mean money, I mean huge money -- Remember the President has a billion dollars for this campaign. If you don't have either huge amounts of money or access to people with huge amounts of money, you don't have a chance of being anywhere near the pinnacles of power in this country.  And that's why you might ask yourself, 'Well given all the things we've been talking about tonight, why don't they pass policies in Washington that make it better?  Why don't they pass policies that help the average American?"  That's because there are so few average Americans in that place.  And how much power is exerted to make sure the average American either doesn't get in or once they do get in they're manipulated to the point where there's just more suckers for the same establishment?  There's only one way to override this at this point. And that is for a peaceful revolution -- a peaceful revolution at the ballot box. John F. Kennedy said that those who keep us from peaceful revolution make violent revolution inevitable. So I believe that we are at a crossroad.  I think we all know that we're at a crossroad. But like I said before, this is a moment for data analysis.  I didn't say anything tonight that everybody here doesn't already know.  I mean maybe I gave a statistic or two that you might not have considered.  But in general it's like the dots are scrambled.  It's not like the dots aren't there.  And it's not that we're stupid people.  It's that we've been trained -- we've been trained to expect too little.  We've been trained to farm out our best critical thinking.  And we've been -- even those of us who are Democrats -- we've been trained to give up the democratic process.  We've returned to Tammany Hall politics -- to men around a table a hundred years ago who got together with cigars and decided who the candidates would be and would come up with these ridiculous policies like, "Oh, no, no, we don't primary an incumbent president." Tell that to those of us who remember Lyndon B. Johnson because Eugene McCarthy primaried him, Bobby Kennedy Sr. primaried him.  We didn't think that was weird.  We thought it was democracy.  People primary sitting senators all the time.  People primary sitting Congress people all the time. But we've just been 'oh! oh! oh!'  This is codependency now.  Because the DNC said "Oh, no, we have to go with Joe.  The DNC says we're going with Joe."  Who the hell is the DNC?    I'll tell you something, political parties are not mentioned in the Consitution. And George Washington, in his farewell address, warned us about them.  He said, he predicted -- and, man, this one rings true -- he said they could form factions of men who were more loyal to their party than to their country.  John Adams would then say he saw political parties as the greatest threat to our democracy.  And I -- many of us in this room -- grew up in a time when political parties sat in the background.  We still honored that democratic principal that political power lies in the hands of the people.  The people would make a decision in a primary who to nominate.  The party would have nothing to do with it until the people had chosen and then they would step in.  But, of course, they decided once Bernie Sanders came along, "Oh, we're not going to have any of that." And then they got away with that.  And then they did it the next time and they got away with that.  And now they don't even pretend. Now they don't even pretend. And we're just going along.  So I ran for president because I feel that we need an economic u-turn -- an economic u-turn in this country. Because I feel we're like a ship headed for the iceberg here and that one major party just heads right towards it and another major political party heading more slowly and will hit it at a different angle.  We have one major political party representing a total nose-dive for our democracy because you can't have a thriving democracy where you don't have a thriving middle class. And the other major political party is moving in the direction of a managed decline. These political parties do not just chop wood and carry water for these corporate forces, they are huge corporate forces.  So seems to me we need to turn the ship around. Now I was very enthralled by Franklin Roosevelt's Economic Bill of Rights which would include universal healthcare, Medicare For All, tuition free college and tech school, a complete elimination of the college loan debt by using   The Higher Education Act.  It would include all of the things we've mentioned.  It would include things like ramping down fossil fuel extraction rather than ramping it up which all of those presidents of the modern era -- Democrats and Republicans -- end up falling in line with Big Oil.  Now one of them pretends not to.  See, one of them has learned what we want to hear so will say things like "I'm the Climate President" and will even make sure that there are healthy investments in green energy in The Inflation Reduction Act and we say, "Oh, that's so good! There are these wonderful, wonderful, very beneficial in the Inflation Reduction Act.  Oh, yes.  Oh, yes."  Guess what?  It's a classic purse thief distraction technique.  That same president has given more oil drilling permits than even Trump did.  That same president okayed The Willow Project.  That same president must know that all of the investment in dirty energy completely nullifies the investments in healthy, green energy.  We are suckers if we're okay with that. And all of the presidents in the modern era -- Republican or Democrat -- are willing to fall in line -- obviously -- with the defense industries.  And so what we need is a guaranteed living wage.  What we need is guaranteed sick pay.  All of those things.  And we need to repudiate the permanent war machine.   Americans are figuring this out.  We need to play peace games, not just war games.  We need a peace academy, not just military academy.  We need armies of peace builders just like we have armies of military personnel. We need a peace academy, not just a military academy, because we need to learn to wage peace.  Even Donald Rumsfeld said we need to learn to wage peace. 


The speech was broadcast live on YOUTUBE (2,844 views -- those may not include live views) and TWITTER (9448 views).  (TWITTER -- I don't work for Elon Musk and I don't have to indulge him.)

It was a major speech covering many important topics and explaining why she was back in the race -- a candidate unsuspending their campaign is news -- it's always news in the rare times that it happens.  Most infamously, it happened in 1992 when H Ross Perot came back into the race.

So news outlets can hire reporters to cover just Taylor Swift or just Beyonce, but there's no one who could cover a speech in a major US city -- one also broadcast live over the internet?

That's rather sad and one more sign of a democracy in peril.

And I'd rather money be spent covering the arts than covering sports so let's add in all the reporting that took place after the Superbowl ended.  I think everyone who wanted to see it, watched it.  The coverage in the days after the game was not needed.






Gaza.

ELETRONIC INTIFADA continues to cover the mythical rapes of October 7th that have still not been documented.  And the revelations that THE INTERCEPT and others have turned up in the last days.




New doubts are emerging about the New York Times’s coverage of sexual violence during the October 7 Hamas-led attack — and the paper owes its readers an open and transparent explanation. 

What’s more, its reporting on this issue has become so questionable that it should assign new reporters to go over the entire story again.

The latest questions are centered around Anat Schwartz, an Israeli who co-authored several of the paper’s most widely circulated reports, including the now well-known and scrutinized December 28 article headlined: “‘Screams Without Words’’ How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7.

Independent researchers scrutinized the online record, and raised serious questions about Schwartz. First, she has apparently never been a reporter but is actually a filmmaker, who the Times suddenly hired in October. You would expect the paper to look for someone with actual journalistic experience, especially for a story as sensitive as this one, written during the fog of war. Surely the paper had enough of its own correspondents on staff who could have been assigned to it.

Next, the researchers found that Schwartz had not hidden her strong feelings online. There are screenshots of her “liking” certain posts that repeated the “40 beheaded baby” hoax, and that endorsed another hysterical post that urged the Israeli army to “turn Gaza into a slaughterhouse,” and called Palestinians “human animals.”

(Just this morning, more evidence emerged online; Schwartz apparently also served in Israeli Military Intelligence.)

Finally, one of her co-authors on two of the reports was Adam Sella, who is her nephew. ********* [see note added below]*****

Let’s pause here. What would happen if the Times suddenly hired a Palestinian filmmaker with no journalistic background, who had recently publicly “liked” posts that called for “pushing Israeli Jews into the sea,” to co-write several of its most sensitive and contested reports? 

(We don’t have to speculate. The Times fired Palestinian photojournalist Hosam Salam in 2022 after one of the pro-Israel media watchdog groups protested about his social media posts.)

After Anat Schwartz’s online history became public, she locked down her accounts and then deleted much of the incriminating content.

The New York Times imposes strict rules on its reporters to maintain the appearance of objectivity. Reporters are not supposed to attend demonstrations of any kind, wear campaign buttons, or post opinions on social media. By hiring Anat Schwartz, the paper clearly violated its own guidelines, and it should publicly explain and apologize.


***********[Added 3/1/24 2:49 PM EST, not her nephew.  Jeremy Scahill explained that on today's DEMOCRACY NOW!

And her partner in this, Adam Sella, is the nephew of Anat Schwartz’s partner, and they’re not married. In fact, Amy, The New York Times, they requested a correction from us, because we had initially said that it was her nephew, which I think in the context of America and other countries you would say. If you’re somebody’s longtime life partner, you would say, “Oh, yeah, this is my nephew.” OK, they’re not blood relatives, and they emphasize that she’s not married. Fine, we corrected that.

My question is: Where are the corrections in The New York Times piece? The New York Times has grave, grave mischaracterizations, sins of omission, reliance on people who have no forensic or criminology credentials to be asserting that there was a systematic rape campaign put in place here. And to publish this article at a moment when Israel was intensifying, after that brief pause where captives were exchanged — intensifying its genocidal attack against the people of Gaza, this played a very, very significant role. And the more we learn about this, the more we discover that the reporting tactics that The New York Times used are certainly not up to the standards that the newspaper claims to be promoting. They will not issue any corrections on what has already been documented to be very problematic sins of commission and omission in this piece.

Use the link for Jeremy and Ryan Grimm's discussion with Amy Goodman on today's DEMOCRACY NOW!]



Jeremy Scahill, Ryan Grim and Daniel Boguslaw (INTERCEPT) reported Wednesday:



Thursday, February 29, 2024

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS

I really like Vanessa Redgrave but sadly she alone is not the reason I watched MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS.  I was on AMAZON and they have a 'last chance' to watch section.  I guess they're trying to be TUBI? 


And I stopped on MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS because I thought it was a Vanessa film.  And a clip started playing of an angry Queen Elizabeth played by Glenda Jackson.  That cinched it for me and we watched the film.


It's from 1972 and still part of AMAZON PRIME for a little while now.  It's worth streaming.  Glenda Jackson was one of the few actresses who could hold her own with Vanessa.  That's not to say that Vanessa dominates her co-stars -- she usually blends with them very well onscreen but a lot of them can't carry the scene let alone live up to what she's providing.


I don't watch THE CROWN and don't care about the British monarchy.  I can't attest to the historical accuracy.  But it's a film and not a documentary.


And it's a very entertaining film.  Historical dramas usually bore me.  This held my attention.  


The 'virigin' queen of England, Queen of Elizabeth (Glenda Jackson), is on her boat with her lover when she receives a message that her lover's wife has died.  They return and Elizabeth is advised that she must break with the man because people already talk of them and now they will say that he murdered his wife so that he could marry the queen. 

 

She doesn't care.  She should, she's told because Queen Mary could return.  Yes, she's married to the King of France, but he may be dying.  She could return to England.  She could go to Scotland where her mother is Queen.   She could . . .

 

Mary (Vanessa Redgrave) does become a widow and returns to Scotland resulting in various maneuvers -- mainly on Elizabeth's part -- and intrigue.  


It's a very fast moving film and it has twists and turns as well as excellent acting.  Along with Redgrave and Jackson, there's also Timothy Dalton,

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 

Thursday, February 29, 2024.  Marianne's back in, Joe's slow on the uptake, Junior steps on more corpses as he tries to climb the political ladder, the 30,000 mark has been passed in Gaza and much more.

We start in the US with major campaign news.  Marianne Williamson announced yesterday that "as of today, I am unsuspending my campaign for president of the United States." 

The moment is important for a number of reasons.  First, if you suspend you campaign, you can start it back up.  Something Ron DeSantis reminds himself daily as he waits to see Donald Trump convicted.  So it's teachable.  Second it also shows the need for something more.  Marianne suspended her campaign.  And then we ended up with Michigan's primary this week which was noteworthy for a number of reasons including that despite having suspended her campaign on February 7th, this week she still got 3% of the vote.  She beat the forgettable and unlikable Dean Phillips who was still in the race.  She didn't campaign, she did do meet-and-greet, buy ad time, phone bank, media, you name it.  And she beat Dean Phillips giving it presumably his best shot.

There is a hunger for something more and there is a need to push the Democratic Party presidential candidate -- whomever that may be -- to fight for the American people.  

Yesterday, her campaign released a video of her explaining why she was unsuspending.  You can also read that at her website:

As of today, I am unsuspending my Presidential campaign.

All of us have noticed America’s political dynamics are moving in a disturbing direction. Donald Trump’s power is on the incline, and President Biden’s is on the decline. More and more people are saying the quiet part out loud: that despite the fact that the President deserves credit for many of his accomplishments, he is clearly a weak candidate to defeat Donald Trump in 2024.

I, however, am not. My ability to arouse in Americans the angels of our better nature is the most powerful antidote to Trump’s dark and authoritarian vision.

I suspended my campaign because we were losing the horse race. But there is something much bigger than the horse race that’s at stake here. In the words of Mohammed Ali, ‘When the mission is right, the odds don’t matter.”

We cannot sit idly by while the  D.C. political class sleepwalks this country into disaster. Too many have followed the directives of the status quo for too long, but we are awakening now. We are ready to act, to take the wheel of history into our hands and turn it in another direction.

We need a President who stands for a new beginning in America, and whether I can help do that as President or in some other way, unsuspending the campaign is a necessary next step.

We will win on the promise of restoring America’s middle class and waging peace both domestically and internationally. From #MedicareForAll to #CeasefireNow in exchange for the hostages, from tuition free college and tech school to a guaranteed living wage, from waging peace to repudiating America’s forever war machine, from subsidized child care to ending America’s War on Drugs, our platform is the winning one.

I will respond to the cult-like personality of Donald Trump with a light-filled vision of hope and possibility. We will become once again a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” at a time when corporate interests have taken Washington hostage.

I hope you are as moved by this vision as I am. You have supported the campaign before, and I hope you feel moved to support it again.

We must rise to the occasion like never before; so much is riding on what we do now. Even if the most I can do is influence the President, that in itself is a goal worth striving for.  For those of us who are deeply committed to Trump not returning to the White House, it’s imperative that we do everything possible to help mount a winning campaign in 2024.

I hope you will help me do this. There is no time to waste. Please give generously so we can restart the engines and race to the top.


They also released the video below that gets to why she is running and why you should care.




Marianne Williamson:  I'm Marianne Williamson and when I was growing up, America had a vibrant middle class.  The average American worker had decent benefits, could afford a home, could afford a car, could afford a yearly vacation, could afford for one member of the couple to stay home if they wished and could afford to send their kids to college.  But over the last fifty years, there's been a massive transfer of wealth to the tune of 50 trillion dollars from the bottom 90% of Americans to the the top 1% -- decimating America's middle class.  We all owe President Biden a debt of gratitude for defeating President Trump in 2020.  But with the things that they're going to be throwing at us in 2024?  We need to submit to the American people an  agenda of fundamental economic reform:  universal healthcare, tuition-free colleges at state colleges and universities, higher education including tech schools, paternity and maternity leave, free child care and a guaranteed living wage.  These are things that are considered moderate positions in every other advanced democracy .  But in the United States, people have been trained to expect too little.  The American people have been played.  What the Democratic Party should do is to truly return to the principles of Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- not just alleviate their suffering but offer them genuine economic reform, not just help people survive in an unjust system, the Democratic Party should end an unjust system.  Washington DC, with a few brave exceptions, is filled with two major categories of leaders: Those who don't even care about all the suffering that is going on out there and those who do not have the moral courage to fix it.  Let me in there, I will.



That's a powerful message and she's speaking to us.  

I don't know a kind way to say this so let's not try to pretty it up: Who the hell is Junior speaking to?

My phone hasn't stopped ringing since the e-mail his campaign sent out late yesterday afternoon "Let’s send a powerful message" (afternoon my time -- PST). 

Marianne just spoke about the needs of the American people.

Bobby Kennedy Junior can't do that.  

Junior yammered away for over 1600 words and the only time "you" were mentioned was to beg for money.

What did he offer instead?

More attempts to climb on top of the shoulders of his father and the late President John F. Kennedy.  For variety, he threw two more men in the mix -- Martin Luther King Jr. -- mentioned only in passing -- and Malcolm X.  The last one, that was the most offensive. 

Right now, as you read this, you're in the world and you're trying to learn and grow.  Some people stop.  Junior stopped growing long ago.  Which is why he offers the Whitest and most insulting take on Malcolm X you could imagine.  I can remember when, in the 80s, his take began to become a dominant take.  Articles and books appeared.   It was a different take than the spit-on-Malcolm take that was so popular among many.  But I don't know that it was a better take.  At least when the enemy spits on you, they realize you're a force -- even in death -- to be reckoned with.  The new Malcolm was more like a child who returned from a journey and was petted on the head.  That's 'history' in Junior's warped mind.

In fairness, it's history he was 'taught.'  Lucy Hughes-Hallett wrote an excellent book entitled CLEOPATRA: HISTORIES, DREAMS AND DISTORTIONS.  The 1990 book is a must read for critical thinkers and traces how history is flexible and how in one time period one thing is emphasized and in another it's something else.  Same person: Cleopatra.  But the history and the stories a society tells itself change over time.  

Bobby's become fixated on the last century and that's becoming ever more clear.  It's the 21st century and he can't cope with it.  

And it's bad enough that Junior keeps trying to pretend he can speak for his father (who does have eight other living children) and his uncle but now he's trying to speak for MLK  and Malcolm as well?  

"What's next?" a friend asked over the phone, "His donation plea where he channels the ghost of Kitty Genovese?"  

Exactly. 

He's useless as THE DAILY SHOW made clear this week. 


 Back to the real world, the Michigan primary was important this week.  Let's note this from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!



AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Michigan, where President Joe Biden won the Democratic primary Tuesday but faced a significant backlash over his support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. Biden won about 81% of the vote, but over 100,000 voters, or more than 13%, cast their ballots for “uncommitted.”

In recent weeks, the group Listen to Michigan urged Democrats to vote “uncommitted” to pressure Biden to call on Israel to end its assault on Gaza. Organizers of the campaign had said they were hoping for 10,000 “uncommitted” votes, pointing to Donald Trump’s win of less than 11,000 votes in 2016, to show the significance of that number. Tuesday’s vote shows they got 10 times that amount.

Michigan is the first major battleground state in the general election to hold its primary. It’s also home to one of the largest Arab American populations in the country. Top White House officials visited Michigan earlier this month to meet with Arab and Muslim leaders after a number of them refused to meet with Biden’s campaign manager.

The movement to vote “uncommitted” will likely spread to other states. Organizers of the movement are holding a call with supporters in Minnesota, which will vote next week, and Washington state, which holds its primary March 12th.

For more, we’re joined by two guests. James Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute. His new opinion piece for Pakistan Today is titled “Why the USA Continues to Fail the Arab World.” He’s joining us from Utica, New York. We’re also joined by former Democratic Congressmember from Michigan Andy Levin. He’s joining us from Southfield, Michigan.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! You’re a former congressmember, Andy Levin. You’re also a former synagogue president. Talk about this “uncommitted” campaign. For every six votes President Biden got yesterday in the primary, “uncommitted” got one. Talk about the organizing effort and what message that you hope that those who supported “uncommitted,” like yourself, sent to President Biden.

ANDY LEVIN: Well, good morning, Amy and everyone. I don’t have much of a voice left, so sorry about that.

It was really an incredible thing, Amy. You know, I’ve been organizing for peace for 40 years, and I’ve rarely seen such an organic and authentic movement come together in, as you say, just three weeks. And we got over 100,000 people to vote “uncommitted.” This was something that grew up out of the Arab American and larger Muslim communities in Michigan, but it had great power among progressives, among Jewish people, Christians, Muslims, people of other faiths, people of no faith. College campuses were aflame about this.

And the idea was that Michigan has this “uncommitted” box on our ballot, because, remember, this is a presidential primary, and some other states do the same thing. You’re voting to send delegates to a convention, so you could vote to send delegates “uncommitted.” And, in fact, we won so many votes, I believe we will send at least one delegate from two congressional districts: the 6th District, represented by Debbie Dingell, and the 12th District, represented by Rashida Tlaib.

I think the significance of this, Amy, is that the president’s people, and maybe the president himself, there’s a danger that they see this as sort of like a political problem: “We need to send surrogates. We need better messaging. People just need to realize what a disaster Trump would be, which, of course, we can never let him get near the White House again. So they’ll come around all of this.” No. This is war. This is the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people, leveling whole neighborhoods, most of the Gaza Strip. We don’t just want you to use a better message.

The message from us to the president yesterday was: You must change course. You must change course for the sake of your political reelection and because it’s the right and necessary thing to do from every point of view, including U.S. national security interests, for God’s sake. The message to the president is: Stop treating what Bibi Netanyahu says as the boundary of the possible. You’ve got to move towards an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to this carnage, free all the hostages, free political prisoners among the Palestinians, including leading longtime prisoners who — if you don’t like Hamas, free Marwan Barghouti, who’s been in prison for so long, whom many Palestinians might support to change the situation there. So, we really need actual change in policy, and I think we sent that message strongly last night.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Andy Levin, I wanted to ask you — I was particularly struck by the turnout. The Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said this was a record turnout on Tuesday for a presidential primary. Compared to, for instance, South Carolina, where only 4% of Democrats voted in the primary, here we had over, it looks like, 50%? Could you explain this issue of turnout, as well?

ANDY LEVIN: Well, one thing is that there were more — quite a greater number of Republicans voting, or people voting in the Republican primary than the Democratic primary. That’s also something that’s not great for President Biden. But there was some sense of a contest on that side, right? Even though we all know that Nikki Haley was going to trail by a wide margin.

But it is remarkable, Juan. Think about it. We have an incumbent Democratic president running for reelection. We all know he’s going to be the nominee. Most Democrats feel like maybe he’s done a really great job in other areas. Personally, I was really proud to serve with him in the 117th Congress. I’m proud of the Investing in America agenda that we passed, having some, at least a semblance of, industrial policy in America for the first time in many decades, and on and on. But what’s remarkable is that this 100,000-plus people who voted “uncommitted,” almost all of them, Juan, wouldn’t have showed up but for this. They’re mad at the president. They would have stayed home.

And our message was: Wait a minute. That would be a disaster if you stayed home. He won’t get the message. He won’t understand. Come out and express your rage. Shake your fist at the president and say, “Look,” for most of them, “I voted for you in 2020. I’m really mad at you right now, and I have to tell you.” So, that, I think, juiced turnout.

And look at East Lansing, where Michigan State University is. Look at Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is. It’s not just Dearborn and Hamtramck, with our incredible, beautiful concentration of Arab American and other Muslim voters. It’s also young people across the state and progressives across the state who said, “We’re your base. We want to win in November. In order to win, we want peace now.”

AMY GOODMAN: Andy Levin, the last time we talked to you, you were a congressmember. You were running for reelection. AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, had invested millions in Democratic primaries to defeat progressives who supported Palestine. You were one of those they were trying to defeat. You’re a self-described Zionist who supports a two-state solution. But earlier, before that primary, a former president of AIPAC described you as “arguably the most corrosive member of Congress to the U.S.-Israel relationship.” Can you talk about what happened to you then? You lost that election. But do you see your point of view being embraced much both in Michigan and around the country in a way that AIPAC never imagined?

ANDY LEVIN: I do, Amy. I mean, basically, they spent millions of dollars of dark money. They raised a huge amount of so-called hard money for my opponent in that primary, who basically toed the AIPAC line completely. And now they say they’re going to spend $100 million in 2022, and evidently they’ve already raised $44 million to take out progressives in Democratic primaries. And much of their money is coming from Republican billionaires, who don’t have any place in a Democratic primary. And shame on us, as Democrats, if we continue to allow Democratic candidates to take Republican money in Democratic primaries.

But here’s the situation. This avalanche of mostly dark money coming to try to interfere with Democratic primaries is running into a tsunami of upset by Democratic base voters who say, “The Jewish people deserve self-determination. What about the Palestinian people? And, in fact, there is no peace and security for the Jewish people in the Holy Land unless and until we realize the political and human rights of the Palestinian people. And we have to love each other. We have to support each other. We have to find a way to live together.” And, yes, this is a huge rebuke to that point of view that we must support the Israeli government no matter what they do.

I mean, why are we letting Bibi Netanyahu set the boundary of the possible? This man has never been for a just peace for one day in his life. He has actively opposed Palestinian self-determination his whole career. Like some other people we know, he’s fighting to stay in office so that he doesn’t go to jail. I mean, come on. You can support the people of Israel and the people of Palestine without supporting these horrible policies and this horrible war.

I mean, you know, think of the average — I think of myself, Amy, 40 years ago, when I was a college student. And if I read what The New York Times reported, for example, that the U.S. was supplying 2,000-pound bombs to Israel, and the IDF was dropping them not just on densely populated areas but on places where they had told the Palestinians to flee, and then, at the end of the article, “By the way, we’ve sent 5,000 more of one type of 2,000-pound bombs to Israel since October,” that Andy Levin 40 years ago is not unlike college students and other young people all around Michigan’s campuses and working people, saying, “Whoa! This is unacceptable.” And we showed the president that we don’t accept it yesterday.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’d to bring in James Zogby to the conversation, get your reaction to the vote in Michigan, and also whether you think that this “uncommitted” movement could spread across the country, especially now as we head into Super Tuesday on March 5th.

JAMES ZOGBY: Well, look, number one, I want to thank Andy Levin for his leadership. He made an enormous difference here, and we’re so pleased to be partnering, as we were, in this campaign.

Secondly, I think, message sent. A hundred-plus thousand “uncommitted” votes, much larger than anyone anticipated, makes a point: President Biden, you ignore this vote at your risk.

And thirdly, I think, there, frankly, is not a need to go any further. And I think that it’s very clear. We can extrapolate from the rest of the states what the turnout would be in November if we ignore this issue and continue to ignore this issue, not only, as the congressman said, with the Arab American vote, but with young voters, Black voters. We’ve done polling. My brother John has done polling on this among American voters, not just Arab American voters. The impact that the Gaza war is having on voters under 29, the impact it’s having on Black, Latino and Asian voters, who are core to the Democratic coalition, is very clear.

We just wanted to make a point in Michigan. It was the place to make the point. But, frankly, it can also be read in Virginia. It can be read in Georgia. It can be read in Pennsylvania. You ignore this war, and you continue to offer nothing but anodyne, “Well, we’re really with you, and we feel bad, too, and we’re paying attention and working every day,” that does not cut it at this point. There is genocide unfolding. People want it to end. The president either is going to have to act decisively to end it, or it’s going to have an impact in November.

And as the congressman said it, as the organizers of this movement have been very clear, this is not the abandon Biden movement. This is the, for God’s sake, shape up or you might lose in November Biden movement. And the fact is, is that the president has to listen and change. It’s going to be too late for some. The fact that 30,000 have already died, that famine is on the way, that genocide has continued is going to mean a lot of people are going to say, “I can’t do this. I just can’t do it.” But if there’s to be any effort at all made to bring some voters back, something dramatic has to happen and change from the White House to say, “Let’s give him another shot.”

But, frankly, right now we’re having trouble finding that message. And I think Michigan sends a very strong signal, that doesn’t have to be repeated anywhere else. Look, when I saw the Emerson College poll out the day before this vote, I said, “Message sent.” They had 11%. We got a little — you know, we did a little better than that. They said youth vote was voting “uncommitted.” We did that. We showed that. In college towns across the state, we won. “Uncommitted” won in Dearborn. It beat Joe Biden. “Uncommitted” won in Hamtramck. It beat Joe Biden. Those are the two concentrations of Arab American voters. The president needs to pay attention. And I hope he does. And, you know, I hope he does in a way that is decisive and clear and actually turns the corner.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, James Zogby, of course, in Michigan, the participation of elected officials like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and other local Michigan officials did have an impact on that vote. Do you see other Democratic Party officials in other states following that lead?

JAMES ZOGBY: Well, look, we’ve already seen city councils in 70 cities do this. And that number is growing. There is, not just among Arab American, like — you know, we saw a lot of that in Michigan. We also saw Black officials. We saw progressive Jewish officials. And as important as Rashida was, Andy Levin was an important message sender here that this is a broader movement for justice. And let’s not forget that. City councilwoman in Detroit came out just a couple of days before the vote, saying, “I am with 'uncommitted.'” That’s important, having Black elected officials, Arab American elected officials, progressive Jewish elected officials saying, “We want this to end, and we want President Biden to make a difference.” That’s important.

And so, yeah, I think this is going to have a sort of an effect across the country. And we don’t need to do it in other states. We just don’t, because the message is very clear. Number one, you know in Michigan there’s no way to create an electoral map that you win in November. But, number two, we can extrapolate what happens in Michigan and say, “Hmm, it’s going to happen in Virginia. It’s going to happen in Georgia. You’re going to lose youth vote, Black vote, Arab American vote. And you don’t win Pennsylvania if that’s the case.”

So, I think, you know, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time, and I know that these voter groups have to have a reason to turn out. I think what was important about this — and, Congressman, I thank you and others for it — was that you gave people a reason to turn out. These “uncommitted” voters would not have turned out, and they would not turn out again in November, if they didn’t have a reason to turn out. We gave them a reason with “uncommitted.” Joe Biden’s got to give them a reason in November.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk, Jim Zogby, about the other states. Talk about Minnesota and other states who are now, apparently, adopting this “uncommitted” vote. But in Michigan, what’s different — right? — is it’s actually printed on the ballot. And I think you can also add — I mean, most people didn’t — they talked about Dean Phillips, but Marianne Williamson, who suspended her campaign, came in third, and she was the one Democrat for a ceasefire. So you could probably add her votes to the “uncommitted” votes.

JAMES ZOGBY: [inaudible], for example, the Arab community said, “Let’s back Marianne Williamson, even though she dropped out,” because she’s on the ballot and there is no other option. Look, let me say, I’m not going to discourage anybody from trying to do it in other states. I just — like I said, I don’t think you need to. And I would rather have energy focused on city council resolutions and getting people to sign on to ceasefire resolutions across the board.

There is a — I did the Palestine statehood resolutions in 1988 with Jesse Jackson. We passed them in 11 states. We got to the national convention, had the first-ever debate from the podium on a minority plank. After that, everybody continued doing it, but without Jesse in the mix, we never had the momentum to carry it through.

We had a number of ideal things come together in Michigan: a huge concentration of Arab Americans, the support of elected officials, local elected officials, mayors, state reps, etc., city council people. We also had Congressman Levin, who was great on college campuses in terms of mobilizing and bringing people forward, and a great collection of organizers and a budget to make it happen. We’re not going to have that in Minnesota. We’re not going to have that in other states. And so, I don’t want to see people set up for failure. And so, I think you take what happened in Michigan, you extrapolate it to your state, you send the message to President Biden: “It happened here. It can happen elsewhere.” There’s no need to try to replicate what can’t be automatically replicated, given the ideal composition of forces in Michigan that made this happen.

And so, I, frankly, think — I don’t know what’s going to happen in other states, but I don’t want to take a defeat in Minnesota, because it’s not even on the damn ballot, and say, “Oh, look, it’s” — and give the other side a crowing rights. They’re going to try whatever they can do to crow and say we really didn’t — “They didn’t accomplish anything, because 81% still voted for Joe Biden.” Well, of course 81 voted for Joe Biden. But that’s not going to mean November, because in the Emerson poll, Joe Biden is losing by two points. Eleven percent “uncommitted,” and Joe Biden loses by two points, hmm, does that — DMFI, Democratic Majority for Israel, don’t you get what that means? That means that you need that 11% to come to your side in order to put you over the top. We can say that in every state without having to go through this whole process, especially when it’s not even on the ballot and you can’t really get the same outcome you get in Michigan.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to end with Andy Levin. You come from a political dynasty. Your uncle was the late senator who headed the Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, I’m sure a close friend of President Biden; your father a congressman, as well, Sandy Levin. What do you think they would say at this point about this movement, about this demand and grassroots organizing?

ANDY LEVIN: Well, Amy, Uncle Carl passed away, as you know, several years ago. My dad is 92 and going strong. And he is really proud of what I’m doing. He, you know, was involved in helping Soviet Jews flee to Israel. You know, he supported U.S. policy for a two-state solution forever. But I think he understands that there is no way now, after 54 years of occupation and things going in the wrong direction, there’s no way forward unless the president of the United States steps up and leads much more strongly as a peacemaker.

And, look, I’m going to end on a hopeful note. Joe Biden, with this long history of chairing the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate — and, you know, he says he’s known all the Israeli leaders, all the Palestinian leaders. You’ve got to step up, Mr. President, and now end this carnage and lead a diplomatic effort, not a military effort, to end this conflict. It can be done. You’ve got to step up and do it, both because it’s the right thing to do and because your politics depend on it. As Jim Zogby said, the other states are fine. Michigan is a must-win state. Minnesota isn’t, you know, for example. He’s going to win Minnesota anyway, I think. But you’ve got to win Michigan to put the Electoral College math together. And I think it’s just going to be hard to do unless you change course. So let’s get going.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, clearly, President Biden is hearing people. When he was with Seth Meyers the other night, the late-night comic, in an ice cream store, as he was licking his mint chip ice cream, a reporter asked a question about a ceasefire, and he said, yes, he thinks it’s going to happen on Monday. That surprised both Israel and Hamas. We’ll see what happens. But it was on the eve of the Michigan primary that he said that. Andy Levin, I want to thank you for being with us, former Democratic congressmember from Michigan, and James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.



Over the next two newsletters I’ll look at very two different elections that are thousands of miles apart but similarly fractured by the war in Gaza. Today we will be in a midwestern state in the US, and tomorrow we’ll be in a small town in the north of England. Stay tuned.

Normally, an uncontested Democratic primary race with an incumbent president running is not big news. But in Michigan a group of relentless grassroots activists turned what was supposed to be an uneventful election into a symbol of the dissatisfaction and anger at Joe Biden over his continued support of Israel in the war in Gaza.

Though the president has sharpened his criticism of Israel’s military response, the damage, in the minds of many voters, has been done. Vetoing the latest UN security council resolution that called for an immediate ceasefire and supplying military aid to Israel has earned Biden the stark moniker of “genocide Joe”, a reference to the allegations made by South Africa that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, which Israel has strongly denied.

The campaign, Listen to Michigan, started just a few weeks before the primary election, urging the public not to vote for Biden and instead vote uncommitted, to pressure the president to support an immediate and permanent ceasefire. They were more effective than even they had hoped, with the uncommitted movement receiving more than 100,000 votes. Though Biden still won by 80%, the uncommitted movement has rattled the White House, as they wonder if this is a sign of what is to come in the run up to the November general elections.


This morning, Wafaa Shurafa and Kareem Chehayeb (AP) report, "Israeli troops fired on a crowd of Palestinians waiting for aid in Gaza City on Thursday, witnesses said. More than 100 people were killed, bringing the death toll since the start of the Israel-Hamas war to more than 30,000, according to health officials."  The horrors in that single sentence.  The assault continues, the death toll is now over 30,000 and those in need were fired on by Israeli forces.  It's horrific.  

And it's never ending and Joe Biden's not demanding a cease-fire.  We need Marianne in this race now more than ever -- see Betty's "All in for Marianne" and Revecca's "we need to find our way - maybe marianne's the answer."   Of the 30,000,   and Abeer Salman (CNN) report:

             

The towering figure underscores a horrific, months-long ordeal for Palestinians inside the strip, during which Israel’s bombing and ground campaigns have displaced the vast majority of the population and created a dire humanitarian crisis.

In all, 30,035 people have been killed so far, the ministry said Thursday, adding that the number of injured is over 70,000.     


30,000.  Gaza remains under assault. Day 146 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  As noted earlier in the snapshot, the death toll now stands at 30,035 with over 70,000 injured and thousands missing. Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:







And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."   


 If the bombs and the bullets don't kill you in Gaza, there's still starvation.  ALJAZEERA reports:

Six children have died from dehydration and malnutrition at hospitals in northern Gaza, the Health Ministry in the besieged Palestinian territory has said, as the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the besieged enclave worsens.

Two children died at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the ministry said on Wednesday. Earlier it reported that four children died at the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, while seven others remained in critical condition.


Larissa Gao (NBC NEWS) reports, "Reports that at least six more children in northern Gaza have died of dehydration and malnutrition are 'horrendous,' the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said on X today.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency also called for 'unimpeded access' across the enclave and an immediate cease-fire."  At COMMON DREAMS, Phyllis Bennis addresses this topic:

  Earlier this year, the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s actions in Gaza plausibly constitute genocide. The world’s most influential judicial body ordered Israel to stop killing civilians and to admit more humanitarian aid.

Unfortunately, Israel was having none of it. Israel’s killings have continued, with over 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza now dead and tens of thousands more at risk of dying from hunger and disease. Precious little aid is getting in.

And worse, the U.S. has joined Israel’s efforts to incapacitate Gaza’s most important relief agency.

Just hours after the Court’s decision was announced, Israel alleged that 12 Gazan employees of the UN’s Relief Works Agency (UNRWA)—the primary body responsible for providing humanitarian support to Palestine refugees—were Hamas members connected to the October 7 attacks.

Defunding the agency further undermines Palestinians’ access to water, food, medicine, shelter, and fuel.

For more than half a century UNRWA has provided all the services in Gaza that would ordinarily be provided by a government. Most of Gaza’s doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, and street sweepers are UNRWA employees. Without UNRWA, all the other U.N. agencies and nonprofits would be unable to carry out their crucial work in the region.

UNRWA employs thousands of people in Gaza. Israel’s claim about 12 of them was dubious—and the country’s government offered no evidence for it.

In fact, the names of all UNRWA employees had been provided to Israel earlier in the year for vetting and no concerns were raised. But just in case, UNRWA immediately announced it was firing the named employees (minus two who’d been killed). And the U.N. launched two separate investigations.

Instead of waiting for these investigations to play out, the Biden administration immediately cut its entire aid allocation to UNRWA, despite the agency’s irreplaceable role in getting desperately needed aid into Gaza. Many key U.S. allies followed suit, and the U.S. Senate voted to explicitly bar UNRWA from receiving future humanitarian aid.

Some in Washington suggested they might redirect UNRWA funds to organizations like UNICEF and the World Food Program, but UNICEF and WFP together have less than 70 staff on the ground in Gaza—UNRWA has over 13,000. U.S. officials themselves had admitted earlier that UNRWA was “the only game in town” in terms of getting any significant aid into Gaza.

The impact of these cuts on the already threatened lives of 2.3 million displaced Gazans—as well as millions more Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria—can hardly be overstated. Defunding the agency further undermines Palestinians’ access to water, food, medicine, shelter, and fuel—and alongside ongoing U.S. military support for Israel, makes Washington complicit in genocide.

Thousands of Palestinians—especially babies, children, pregnant women, and the elderly—will die as a result of these cuts. And the millions of Palestinian refugees throughout the region will lose the only international agency in the U.N. system that’s mandated to protect their rights, including their right to return someday to their homes in what’s now Israel. 



As we wind down.  Aaron Bushnell. He took his own life on Sunday to protest the assault on Gaza.  That is news.  It needs to be noted and we did note it.  Some of you are e-mailing asking what I think about it?  I really haven't.  I've noted it here but refrained from offering personal thoughts.  Clearly, he weighed his decision.  Clearly, it's sad when anyone takes their own life.  Clearly, as well, sometimes, in the world we live in, there is no choice involved in suicide.  Conditions, lack of access and opportunities,  and realities being what they are, a person is forced into that decision. It is news, his action was news, and we covered it.  Some of you don't want to hear about it in the snapshot anymore and I can understand and that's why I'm putting this at the bottom so you could read the above before bailing.  

I don't know him and I don't know his friends or family.  I won't try to speak for him and I am bothered that others have.  So I can understand why some of you are sensitive to the coverage -- any coverage -- of this.  When I learned Monday that a group was organizing some sort of 'memorial' for this weekend, I found that sad and distasteful.  That may be for others but it's not for me.  It feels like someone trying to use the death to promote themselves.  

This same group, by the way, was egging on a US veteran to kill himself a few years back.  You may remember that and remember that we called them out for it. Tomas Young did not end up taking his own life.  He died of natural causes.  It was his decision to make but, it became clear if you paid attention, that he was moving away from taking his own life -- but people weren't paying attention to Tomas, they just saw the headlines and the news coverage to come and kept pushing  suicide as a political protest to Bully Boy Bush.  That's why we called it out.  When he initially announced his decision, that was his decision and I believe we covered it here as that.  But, again, it became obvious that he was moving away from that decision despite various 'personalities' -- including a 'rocker' as well as the elderly girlies -- demanding that it happen.

If there's a news development, we will certainly note it but I do understand that for many of you -- for various reasons -- this is a topic you'd prefer we close the book on now that it's been covered here.  Heard and respected.

The following sites updated: