Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Again on Chadwick

 When I called out the hype of Chadwick Bosworth's death (including the nonsense served up on DEMOCRACY NOW by Amy Goodman) some e-mails whined that I was unfair.  I have noted Chadwick was a good actor.  But the nonsense in the wake of his death was nonsense.  Here's Carlos Delgado addressing the same topic at WSWS:

The low point of his career was the miserable Black Panther, a militarist, pro-CIA comic book superhero film steeped in racial politics.

The expressions of sadness from admirers and the public at large have been accompanied by a deluge of exaggerated tributes from the media and numerous figures in the financial-political elite. Democratic Party politicians such as former president Barack Obama and presidential and vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris released statements praising Boseman, as did wealthy media moguls Bob Iger and Oprah Winfrey. Obituaries referred to his death as “devastating” and “unbelievable” (Variety) and painted his loss as a major blow for the black population as a whole.

On the Sunday following the news of his death, ABC television aired a showing of Black Panther without advertisements (what a sacrifice!) followed by a special program titled Chadwick Boseman—A Tribute for a King, in which Boseman was raised to near-mythic status and praised as an “icon” and a “generation-defining actor.” Invariably, the media commentary has sidelined his better work in order to hold up Black Panther, by far his weakest film, as the pinnacle of his career. Countless media commentaries have referred to Boseman as a “superhero” and a “king,” referencing the actor’s Black Panther character King T’Challa.

It is not an insult to Boseman’s memory to point out the dishonest and manipulative character of this effort to canonize him. Far from honoring Boseman’s life, the media campaign around his death demeans his work and serves reactionary political ends.

[. . .]

Of Black Panther, the WSWS wrote: “The film has been overwhelmingly hailed as a ‘defining moment’ in African American and movie history... Such praise, however, only testifies to the general degradation of art, culture and film criticism in contemporary America. The film’s supposed achievements do not save it from being a vacuous work, which does not withstand a moment of serious reflection... Apart from its racialist theme, the film is nothing more than a conventional Hollywood ‘blockbuster,’ chock full of action sequences, explosions and the rest.”

No actor could do much with such rotten material, and Boseman ends up giving a rather stiff and lifeless performance in the film (Boseman claimed to have used US president Barack Obama as inspiration for the character). It is notable that, in addition to T’Challa/Black Panther, the filmmakers include a CIA operative among the heroes.

Nevertheless, the film was seen as a watershed moment for the race-obsessed layers of the upper-middle-class. The New York Times called the film “a jolt of a movie” that “creates wonder with great flair and feeling.”

The Times’ Manohla Dargis went on, “[I]n its emphasis on black imagination, creation and liberation, the movie becomes an emblem of a past that was denied and a future that feels very present. And in doing so opens up its world, and yours, beautifully.” The film, of course, is and does none of these things.

The enormous commercial success of the film was considered a milestone in the ascendancy of the African American upper-middle-class to the significant levels of wealth and power. The depiction of Wakanda as a racial-exclusivist utopia drew praise from both the identity-obsessed pseudo-left and the fascist far right.




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

 Wednesday, September 9, 2020.  More troop reductions in Iraq, military suicides continue in the US, Iraq grapples with redistricting, and much more.

The term for the day is "drawdown."  Not "withdrawal."  I wish withdrawal were the term for the day.  But what the press is talking about is a drawdown.  AP notes:

The Trump administration will announce Wednesday that it is withdrawing additional troops from Iraq, as President Donald Trump tries to make good on his campaign promise to disentangle the country from “endless wars.”

A senior administration official discussed the draw-down with reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday night, on condition of anonymity. The official said the administration is also looking to announce the withdrawal of additional troops from Afghanistan in the coming days.

The planned announcements come as the president has been trying to make the case that he has fulfilled the promises he made four years ago as he tries to secure a second term.

CNN reports that it's been announced this morning by US Gen Frank McKenzie that the number will fall from 5,200 troops to 3,000.  Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) observes, "The decision follows a meeting between Mr Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi in August, in which the two sides discussed the status of the remaining forces in Iraq."  BBC Tweets:

US to withdraw more than a third of its troops from Iraq within weeks, its top Middle East commander says

AFP notes, "British, French and US special forces are expected to remain deployed in undisclosed locations around the country, diplomatic sources said."

Already, there are drive-by e-mails in the public account from Trump supporters insisting this or that.  Donald is reducing the number.  We have noted that.  This is not a withdrawal, it's a drawdown.

I lost respect for Danny Schechter for many things -- including his defense of Ike Turner beating Tina Turner, terrorizing her -- but when he was long past the point of return to sanity, he posted this nutty, long-winded post at his NEWS DISSECTOR site where he defended Barack Obama's drawdown.  He called it a withdrawal and offered all these nutty notions that if Barack went further the CIA would kill him, that the NSA had all this dirt on him, that . . . 

I don't whore for politicians.  I also don't create scripts to justify their actions.  Barack promised to end the Iraq War and bring all the troops home -- he did not do that.  Even when the bulk were removed, special forces remained in Iraq -- and see AFP above for how that will be happening again.  

The number will drop.  I have noted that and he has credit for that.  But the number dropping is not withdrawal.  Nor does it mean that more US forces can't be sent in at any time.

That happened in 2014, remember?  (Actually, it happened in the fall of 2012 -- as Tim Arango reported -- but no one wanted to pay attention then.)  

And keeping 3,000 on the ground may well be the recipe for sending in more should anything go wrong.

I will give him credit for reducing the numbers.  I will not pretend that this is a withdrawal or offer up excuses for why a president of the United States is unable to withdraw troops.

I don't live in the land of crazy, I don't visit it.  But I think we can all see it from our front porch on a clear day.  Matt Yglesias is a permanent resident in the land of the crazy.  He has a new book of slobbering ravings where he fears that China will overtake the US in something.  First off, isn't his book a little late?  Secondly, his solution is for the US population to increase to one billion.

Why in the world would you advocate that?  The earth is already overpopulated.  The US offers no Medicare For All, what remains of a safety net is nearly non-existent.  We're in the midst of a pandemic.  Why would you --

Oh, that's right.  You want cannon fodder.  

Matt pimped the Iraq War and he's ready for the US to go to war with China -- provided it's far enough ahead in the future where he won't have to enlist himself.  People like this should be shunned.  Matt is responsible for the deaths of many.

Ellen Killoran (CRIME DAILY) reports on an apparent death:

An Iraq war veteran reportedly took his own live during a Facebook live video that spread to multiple social media platforms.

Citing the Daily Star, the New York Post reports that 33-year-old Ronnie McNutt fatally shot himself in the head while recording a Facebook live stream on August 31. An online obituary appears to confirm McNutt’s death. According to the obituary, McNutt is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq. He lived in New Albany, Mississippi, at the time of his death and worked at a Toyota plant. He was also involved in theater.

The video of McNutt’s death has reportedly been seen on multiple social media platforms, including TikTok. According to the Daily Star report, some have used social media to warn others who might encounter the disturbing video.

Alexis Tangman Tweets:

IMMINENT TRAUMA/PTSD WARNING: My friend Ronnie McNutt committed suicide via hunting rifle on a FB livestream in front of myself and 200 others. The video is now making its rounds on

. If you see a video of a bearded man at a desk on TikTok, CLICK AWAY AND REPORT IT.

Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh offers his take in the video below.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

David Roza (TASK AND PURPOSE) reports:

The second-most senior officer in the U.S. armed forces on Tuesday called on military leaders to help end an ongoing suicide epidemic by checking in with their subordinates and removing the stigma around seeking treatment for mental health issues.

“There are no negative consequences to your career and only positive results for you personally, for your family and your friends,” said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, about seeking professional mental health treatment, in a video tweeted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday. 

“It’s important that the US military brings light to this complex issue of suicide because regardless of which uniform we wear, we’re not immune from life’s challenges, including thoughts of suicide," he added.

Though much time has been spent trying to reduce the number of military suicides, the effort has not reached success.  It probably doesn't help, for example, when a service member reaches out for help through a hotline and the son-in-law of a sitting Secretary of Defense -- Timonthy Heaphy whose father-in-law is Eric Shineski -- tries to put him in jail for seeking help.  That happened in 2012.  There are many obstacles but when someone is seeking help, seeking help should never be one of those obstacles.  THE CT MIRROR notes:

Sgt. William Davidson had been struggling with mental health problems since his deployment to Afghanistan. When he didn’t attend at least one of his Connecticut National Guard drill weekends, the Guard declared him AWOL (absent without leave) and discharged him with a “bad paper” separation. Four months after his discharge, Davidson, 24, fatally shot himself.

Davidson, who had two younger sisters, is one among thousands of veterans who die by suicide each year. Despite national goals to prevent veteran suicides, they occur at disproportionately higher rates than in the general population.

More than 78,000 veterans died by suicide between 2005 and 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veteran suicide deaths rose from 5,787 in 2005 to 6,139 in 2017. In the active military, the National Guard, with a suicide rate of 30.6 per 100,000, has the highest rate of any branch, according to the most recent Department of Defense Annual Suicide Report. The overall rate among all active military components was 24.8. This is occurring against a backdrop of rising suicides among all Americans.

“The numbers don’t do anything but grow,” said Davidson’s mother, Donna Chapman of Suffield. “We’re continuing to fail. I’m sick of it. Everyone’s sick of it,” she said.

In Iraq today, the Cabinet of Ministers issued the following:

The Cabinet held its weekly meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

The Cabinet agreed to hold a special meeting early next week to discuss the 2020 Federal Budget which was delayed because of the circumstances and events in the country.

The Cabinet discussed the implementation of the e-government project. The Prime Minister underscored the importance of this project and directed that a progress report be submitted to him within a week.

The Cabinet received a briefing from the Minister of Health on Covid-19 related developments and the ongoing national efforts to combat the coronavirus.

The Cabinet received an update from the Minister of Electricity on the current state of the grid, and on plans to improve the generation and transmission of power in Iraq.

Following discussions, the Cabinet agreed to:

  • Authorise the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to coordinate with the Ministry of Youth and Sports on the implementation of the National Project for Youth Employment
  • Approve the financial conditions of two loans from the Saudi Fund for Development, and to authorise a representative of the Ministry of Finance to sign the necessary contracts for the construction of a silo for wheat storage in Diwaniyah and the Saqlawiya Hospital in Anbar
  • Authorise the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority to negotiate and sign a draft air transport agreement between the Republic of Iraq and the Kingdom of Bahrain, as amended by the State Council

The Cabinet discussed other items on its agenda and agreed a number of measures.

Iraq is planning to hold parliamentary elections in June of next year.  There are new issues coming up.  ARAB WEEKLY explains:

A fierce political battle is taking place in Iraq over electoral districts, which will eventually have to be finalised and documented in the annexes of the election law approved by parliament in an amended form, at the request of the angry Iraqi street, with the aim of preventing the domination of the Shia parties loyal to Iran.

In previous elections, Iraq adopted the proportional representation method while treating each governorate as a single constituency and using the system of closed and open lists, which allowed candidates with few votes to nevertheless win just because the lists supporting them got many votes.

When Iraqis took to the street early October 2019, in the largest popular protests the country has ever seen that lasted several months, one of their top demands was the adoption of a system of multiple districts in the election law, which was actually approved by the Iraqi parliament a few months later.

The multi-district formula stipulates that each governorate be divided into as many districts as the number of its seats in parliament, and the winner of the seat be the candidate with most votes, regardless of that candidate’s ranking on the nomination list.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi has been very busy since last month trying to mobilise the necessary political support for the multi-district formula. However, he faces fierce opposition from prominent Shia political figures and parties, led by the State of Law coalition of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who wants to maintain the single-district formula for each governorate, regardless of the number of its seats.

In the US, the presidential election is scheduled for November.  Luke Savage (JACOBIN) observes of Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's presidential candidate:

Much like Hillary Clinton did in 2016, Biden is aiming to win the presidency by motivating conservative-leaning suburban voters and some Republicans — with more traditional (and liberal- and progressive-minded) Democratic constituencies turning out in sufficient numbers where it counts. The former group was largely the target audience for this year’s DNC, which  pandered endlessly to the sensibilities of anti-Trump Republicans and rich suburbanites. The latter, meanwhile, gets lectures about how they need to be more enthusiastic while young voters get virtual Biden/Harris lawn signs in Animal Crossing instead of Medicare For All.

Centrist Democrats do want the support of young and left wing voters, of course. But they uniformly want it on their own centrist terms.

All this may be a strategic choice on Biden’s part, but it’s also a feature endemic to the faction that controls the Democratic Party as a whole. Biden’s nomination, which party power brokers ultimately did everything they could to ensure, represented a very conscious repudiation of the alternative course offered by Bernie Sanders — one which was decidedly less interested in the votes of suburban conservatives and, perhaps more importantly, which pledged to reject the dictates of the donor class that Democratic elites have long embraced.

As such, there is simply no incentive structure in place to shift Biden from his current course.

The following sites updated:

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