Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Comic Book History of Animation: True Toon Tales of the Most Iconic Characters, Artists and Styles!

Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey are the authors of  THE COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF ANIMATION: TRUE TOON TALES OF THE MOST ICONIC CHARACTERS, ARTISTS AND STYLES! which I read on AMAZON KINDLE UNLIMITED.  It is an animated history of animation -- and I do mean animated -- Thomas Edison is a talking light bulb.

Walt Disney is drawn as Mickey Mouse -- but with a human face -- and we meet him early on and then see his move to California and his work on THE ALICE COMEDIES -- his first films.  Virginia Davis plays Alice (ALICE IN WONDERLAND) and Walt draws the animation in around Alice -- draws it onto the film.  It was an early form of green screening. 

Walt loses Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (his creation) and, in NYC, at an animator event, sees EVEREADY HARTON IN BURIED TREASURES (1928) -- thought to be the first animated porn.  Nine minutes of a man with a hard on (which he sticks in a woman, a man, tries to stick into a donkey and ends up getting licked by a cow).  With UNIVERSAL claiming ownership of Oswald, Walt comes up with Mickey Mouse.  And the authors offer a tip -- trace nickels and dimes for heads and half-dollars "and silver dollars" for bodies.  Max Fleischer then finds success at his studio with the Betty Boop cartoons. Then Popeye comes along. 

You learn about "Disney's Folly."  That's what the industry dubbed SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DRAWFS -- the film that spent three years in production.  He had the ladies in the DISNEY ink and paint department put their own make up on the animated Snow White.  Walt had to mortgage his home to help pay for the film as costs spiraled.  It would eventually be made for a budget of $1.7 million which was unheard of in those days.  In 1937, it was released.  It was a monster hit and changed the animation industry.

PARAMOUNT's noted for its animation (animated Superman).  WARNER BROTHERS has Tweetie Bird, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, etc.  In 1957, THE GERALD MCBOING-BOING SHOW becomes the US' first prime time animated cartoon.  It is quickly followed by THE FLINTSTONES.  FILMATION comes along and hits in the sixties with TV as superheroes take over Saturday morning TV with FILMATION serving up Superman, Superboy, Aquaman, Teen Titans, Hawkman, The Atom, The Flash, Green Lantern, the Justice League of America . . . 

I recommend the book strongly.  The history flows and the drawing is really solid.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 16, 2022.  We note the fluff parade that still has ended over a recent death, Iraq remains mired in the stalemate and the US Senate talks monkeypox.

Senator Patty Murray: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. now has over 21,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox -- more than anywhere else in the world, and my home state of Washington has over 500 cases. I've heard from families who are rightly concerned by how bad this has gotten.  And public health officials -- including back in Washington state -- who are frustrated to see our response run into issues we should be prepared for by now. That’s why I continue to push the Biden Administration about my concerns with the monkeypox response, and urge quick action: on testing, treatments, and vaccines, and on clear guidance to the public, health care providers, and state public health officials.  So it's reassuring to see we are making progress. On testing, capacity has increased one thousand percent, and FDA just approved a faster track for additional tests. On vaccines, BARDA is helping to stand up a new vaccine fill and finish site in Michigan, HHS is working to expand the number of distribution sites in states, and the Administration's advice for splitting doses has greatly stretched our vaccine supply.  On outreach, the Administration has started working with states to make vaccines available at events with many people from the LGBTQ+ community in attendance. And perhaps most importantly -- the rate of new cases is going down.  Now that is all encouraging news, but let me be clear -- we must remain vigilant in our response. And these promising improvements don;t excuse the issues I have been hearing about from communities, state health officials, and advocates from the start of this outbreak. Patients have spoken out about how hard it is to get tested -- some even waited days, despite having clear symptoms. Providers have had to jump through hoops to get their patients treatments. And I'm constantly talking to public health officials in my home state of Washington, who have told me how communications with states could have been far clearer -- and faster, and how the challenges in accessing tests and vaccines have delayed our response. I know states have especially struggled with the federal government's decision to forgo the system we typically use to distribute vaccines, the one we are already using for COVID vaccines. When it comes to vaccine distribution, some shipments have been sent to the wrong state, and even spoiled after storage at the wrong temperature. There have been issues with vaccine supply too -- like when thousands of vaccine doses were delayed because FDA had yet to inspect the new plant they were from, or when the Biden Administration missed an opportunity to procure more vaccines at a crucial point in this outbreak. And again, we are seeing inequities worsen this outbreak for some communities. Advocates in the LGBTQ+ community -- who have faced the vast majority of cases -- have also made clear they feel they are being overlooked, or in some instances stigmatized. We need to keep focusing and improving on outreach and on getting information and resources -- like vaccines-- to those who are most in need, and most at risk. And that must include communities of color, who we know don't have equitable access to vaccines. This is especially important as early data suggest Black and Latino communities are disproportionately burdened by this outbreak. We must do better. We need to be applying what we learned from the COVID response, and providing the resources communities have made clear they need.  Of course, there is an enormous difference between this and the COVID pandemic, which is: thanks to decades of investment in smallpox research, we already had tests, treatments, and vaccines ready to go before this crisis even began. That should serve as a reminder to all of us about the immense value of investing in public health preparedness. But it's also why the stumbles in getting these tools deployed were especially frustrating and inexcusable. To learn from this, we need to be clear-eyed about what went wrong. Not just on challenges we faced in the last several months, but that we have faced for decades --challenges that, to be frank, have spanned many Administrations, not just this one. For example, we had over 20 million vials of smallpox vaccine in our national stockpile -- but they weren;t replaced as they expired over the course of a decade. I know I join my Ranking Member and members of this Committee when I say we have to do better -- not just on COVID, not just on monkeypox -- but on public health threats, period. Because we know there will be more. Just last week New York declared an emergency due to polio -- yet another public health risk we need to watch closely. So I want to hear from our witnesses today about not just what they are doing right now to improve our response to the monkeypox outbreak  -- and fast -- but also how we can fix this in the long term and make sure the stumbles of the past couple months never happen again. I want to know what you and the Administration are doing to make sure we have enough tests, treatments, and vaccines for this outbreak-- and get them where they need to go while also maintaining an adequate stock of supplies for any smallpox threats. What are you doing to improve outreach to the LGBTQ+ community, address the disproportionate harm to Black and Latino communities, fight stigma and misinformation, and right the inequities we[ve seen in our response so far? How are we making the most of new research to develop promising vaccines and therapeutics, and then make them more quickly available -- while continuing to uphold the gold standard of safety and effectiveness? And are we getting schools and colleges everything they need to stay open and keep students and the school community safe? I'm glad CDC has provided guidance for K-12 schools -- and fortunately the science tells us elementary and secondary school kids are not at high risk right now, and CDC has also released resources for colleges which is critical with students returning to campus this fall. We need to make sure colleges and universities are equipped to prevent potential outbreaks as students move into dorms and live in close quarters with each other. I realize you've got your work cut out for you on all of this, especially with COVID still raging -- but there's no reason for us to fall behind. So I'm going to keep pushing you here, because families back in Washington state and across the country are counting on you to get it right. That's also why I'm going to keep pushing my colleagues here in Congress about the need for funding to support all this work. I know I'm not the only one here with concerns about the monkeypox response but we can't just say 'this isn't working' without providing the funding to end this outbreak and build the public health system Americans deserve.  So I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and push to deliver the resources that will help get families the testing, treatments, and vaccines they need.  And I'm interested in hearing from the witnesses on what the needs are when it comes to investing in our monkeypox response. It is also important to me we continue to keep our eyes on the horizon when it comes to future outbreaks and pandemics, and build a stronger public health system for whatever threat comes next.  As the saying goes -- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That starts with building a world class public health system, rather than one that lags behind our peers. Our communities deserve to be as safe as anyone in the world, which is why Senator Burr and I are continuing to work to pass our PREVENT Pandemics Act.  Our bipartisan legislation implements the lessons from our COVID response and improves our policies and processes on issues like strengthening supply chains, improving management of our national stockpile, modernizing data systems, and other items which would address many of the challenges we've faced with monkeypox. But a strong public health system also requires strong investments. Because our public health system was underfunded before COVID struck -- and it has been overwhelmed ever since. We have to end the cycle of crisis and complacency by making sustained investments that allow us to build, and maintain, robust public health infrastructure at all levels.  And I'm going to keep pushing for all of these steps, because we should all know by now just how much is at stake. I can tell you, families in Seattle know, parents in Spokane know, nurses in Yakima know, workers in Olympia know, people across Washington state, and across the country, know: COVID was never going to be the last public health crisis we face -- and neither is monkeypox. The question is not whether there will be a new threat -- it is when it will strike and whether we will be ready. The truth is, the monkeypox response so far has not been encouraging -- but there are some clear signs of progress, and there are clear steps we can, and should, take to improve. And I don't just want to hear today about the steps you will be taking -- I want to see action. And you better believe I'll be watching closely.

She was speaking Wednesday at the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  Appearing before the committee were Dr Rochelle Walensky (Director of the CDC), Dawn O'Connell (Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response), Dr. Robert Califf (FDA Commissioner) and Dr Anthony Fauci (NIH Director).  Murray is the Committee Chair, Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member.

Committee Chair Patty Murray: [. . .] I say, frankly, too many missteps were made early on in the response and a couple hundred cases turned into 21,000.  It is unacceptable to communities who already experience barriers to accessing healthcare like the LGBTQ+ and the Black and the Latino communities that are hardest hit by this outbreak.  Access to testing was an early challenge in the monkeypox response with many people reporting significant delays in both accessing the test and learning their results.  To continue to have these challenges around testing is just simply unacceptable.  So, Dr Walensky, let me start with you.  How is the CDC working to make sure that tests are more accessible and results are available earlier?

Dr Rochelle Walensky: Thank you, Senator, for that question.  One of the big challenges that we had in terms of access to testing was both patients understanding that they were presenting with a new infection and providers understanding that this was a new infection that they had to test for. Indeed, another important clinical consideration was that people were coming in requesting a test when they had no symptoms and they had no rash.  As Dr Califf noted, the test for this infection is a swab of the rash so if there is no other FDA approved test, we need to have a rash in order to conduct those tests.  So much of what we've done -- and I should mention that we've always had more capacity than we've had tests coming in -- to date, we've used about 14 to 20% of our capacity.  But to address these access issues, we had to work with clinicians, we had to work with patients, we had to do an extraordinary amount of outreach so that providers would understand how to test, patients would understand when to come in for a test and our public health partners would know not to gatekeep those tests.  And so that was a work that we did early on.

Yes, Walensky, and that is your job.  That is your defined job.  That's what the CDC does.  Stop making excuses and pretending you were suddenly tasked with new responsibilities.

Chair Patty Murray: Dr Califf, Secretary [Xavier] Becerra recently declared that FDA can use the emergency use authorization pathway for monkeypox tests.  How will that improve the availability of new tests and what steps are you taking to improve on the progress that you've made?

Dr Robert Califf:  First of all, let me concur with Dr Walensky, there's never been a shortage of tests but there's been a shortage of access to tests because of inefficiencies in the system so the EUA authority has enabled us -- we've given one EUA already but we also have five commercial labs which are offering the tests at this point and we issued a guidance just the other day which, uhm, makes it clear that individual institutions that are developing laboratory developed tests should proceed ahead and we've given people clear guidance templates for developing their tests and figuring out if they work.  So I'd say, on all fronts, the gates are open under a watchful eye because we also must keep in mind that one of the lessons from COVID was that when the gates were open a lot of the tests turned out to be not so good, got a lot of them out there and we had to reign them back in.

Chair Patty Murray:  I -- Well, look.  I'm encouraged by the declining cases.  But it really is imperative that we remain vigilant.  And despite efforts by HHS to increase access to vaccines, some people in my home state of Washington still go to great lengths to get one -- including crossing the border into Canada to get one.  Now people, understandably, want to be vaccinated before they get exposed but that means we need more vaccines.  Ms. O'Connell, some serious stumbles were made this year when it came to our vaccine supply.  What have you done to make sure that never happens again? And what are you doing to increase the supply and distribution of vaccines right now.

Dawn O'Connell: Chairman Murray, thank you so much for that question.  What's most important to us is that those who need access to this vaccine get it.  So if you continue to hear from constituents that are unable to access the vaccine or having to cross the border, please let us know.  We are in the business right now of knocking down those hurdles and making sure the vaccine can be accessed.  We did take a very small stockpile that was intended for small pox that was eventually intended to be lyophilized -- freeze dried -- for small pox and converted it to this active monkeypox response.  And that required a couple of challenging problems to solve.  We moved the fist 372,000 vials, as I mentioned in my opening statement, immediately.  We needed FDA to approve -- and they were terrific partners moving quickly -- to approve that second manufacturing line that began, uh, drew the 800,000 vials we were waiting for.  That's what it manufactured on. We needed that approval to happen before we could deploy those. FDA worked quickly and we got those out in July.  We have also ordered an additional 5.5 million vials of the bulk drug substance that was intended to be lyophilized for small pox -- we have ordered that to be filled and finished and shipped to the United States.  And the 2.5 million of those will be manufactured in the United States. 

 The hearing can best be summed up with one statement from Ranking Member Richard Burr, "You failed on vaccines."

There's no real progress here and things haven't changed much since Senator Murray sent the following letter last month:

 The Honorable Xavier Becerra


Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Ave SW

Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Becerra:     

The United States is reporting a historically high number of monkeypox cases with over 1,970 cases confirmed in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.[1] As I have raised on multiple calls with the Administration, I am concerned with the state of the U.S. response to monkeypox. The spread of monkeypox is a reminder that our work to protect families and strengthen our preparedness and response system is far from complete and cannot end with the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities across the country are relying on you to do everything you can to protect them from the threat of monkeypox. I write to request a briefing from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS or the Department) on the domestic response to the monkeypox outbreak, including understanding how it is applying the lessons learned from the COVID-19 response, as well as the additional resources and authorities it needs to respond to and stop the disease from spreading further.

The global monkeypox outbreak was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2022, and today, 13,340 cases related to this outbreak have been detected in 69 countries.[2] Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only highlighted the dangers of a fragmented, understaffed, and underfunded public health system, but has put an unprecedented strain on our front line public health and health care workers, who are now being tasked with addressing yet another emerging public health threat. It is critical that lessons from COVID-19 are incorporated into our monkeypox response.

HHS has already taken a number of steps to respond to the domestic monkeypox outbreak, include activating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Operations Center, releasing updated guidance and training for health care providers, mobilizing the Laboratory Response Network and working with commercial labs to expand testing capacity, deploying medical countermeasures, and releasing a vaccination strategy for close contacts.[3],[4]

However, it is clear more work is necessary to ensure that public health officials at all levels have the information and resources they need to respond quickly to this outbreak. 

Various reports indicate challenges at the local level, with some patients and providers stating they do not have the information and resources necessary to understand, test for, or respond to the disease, which is now presenting with uncharacteristic features.[5],[6],[7],[8] Since the disease spreads through close, intimate contact, some patients are seeking care at sexual health clinics, which are frequently under-resourced despite providing critical services to underserved communities, including the LGBTQ+ community.

Ensuring the public health system responds appropriately to monkeypox will require both decisive action from the Department and its state, local, and Tribal partners, as well as robust, sustained investments in public health. History repeatedly shows the critical importance of providing long-term investments in our public health and medical response systems to ensure the U.S. is prepared to respond to a variety of threats. The global eradication of smallpox, a virus in the same family as monkeypox, is a public health success story – and is a credit to sustained, bipartisan investment into the research and development of medical countermeasures.  The federal government stockpiled countermeasures, practiced responses with state and local health departments, and educated the public about smallpox.

While this investment in countermeasures has been sustained over decades, funding for the broader U.S. public health system has instead been subject to a cycle of crisis and complacency. That lack of consistency is why I have pushed for passage of the Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act[9], which would provide the sustained funding we need to handle emergencies such as monkeypox or COVID-19. Additionally, to ensure HHS has additional tools to respond efficiently to public health emergencies, I have worked with Senator Burr on our bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act.

Given the continued spread of this virus and the need to ensure that all public health officials have the guidance and resources necessary to respond, I request a briefing by August 2, 2022 to better understand both HHS’s immediate response and the additional resources and authorities it needs. Specifically, I request updates on: (1) HHS’s plan for responding to the current domestic monkeypox outbreak, including the guidance being provided to state, local, and Tribal health departments and to health care providers; (2) the current status of monkeypox vaccines, tests, and therapeutics, including their manufacture and guidance on the distribution of those countermeasures; (3) an overview of how the Department is applying lessons from the COVID-19 response to the monkeypox response; and (4) what additional resources or authorities are needed to respond to and stop the disease from spreading further.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. Please direct correspondence pertaining to this request to Jane Bigham at or

Maybe the next hearing can find witnesses less eager to pat themselves on the back and more willing to offer apologies to the citizens of this country for the lousy response.

THE WASHINGTON POST's Dan Diamond Tweeted this regarding the hearing.

Kicking off Senate hearing on monkeypox, retiring GOP praises FAUCI — comments that weren’t in Burr’s prepared remarks. BURR: Tony, I can’t thank you enough for your years of service. It’s been incredibly beneficial to the American people… I hate to see you go.

Turning to Iraq, at FOREIGN POLICY, Ahmed Twaij offers an analysis of the ongoing stalemate:

The catastrophic spiral of events that peaked with parts of Baghdad turning into a war zone was triggered by a largely overlooked statement by a religious leader. On Aug. 28, the Iraqi Shiite spiritual leader Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri shockingly announced his retirement from his position of religious authority with immediate effect. More surprisingly, Haeri proceeded to ask his followers to back Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei instead. Although Haeri is unknown to most outside Iraq and even to some Iraqis, he is a highly influential spiritual leader (marji) for Sadr’s supporters.

One central doctrine in Shiite Islam is the concept of marjiya, which is the need for every Shiite Muslim to have a selected spiritual leader whose edicts and fatwas are unquestionably followed. In order to become a marji, a religious cleric must go through decades of religious studying, as well as earn the support of fellow senior clerics, before being given the title of ayatollah. In Iraq, it is Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who yields the greatest influence over spiritual decrees, and he chooses to maintain a distance from politics. In Iran, however, the marji is the country’s supreme leader, Khamenei, who is very much involved in ruling his own country and attempting to influence its neighbor Iraq.

 Moqtada’s father, Ayatollah Mohammed al-Sadr, did have the qualifications to be both a spiritual leader and political leader. But upon the elder Sadr’s assassination in 1999, his loyalists split their political and religious allegiances. As the younger Sadr is not a qualified marji, his supporters—duty bound, according to Shiite Islam, to follow another cleric on matters of belief—turned to Haeri, who had earned the elder Sadr’s endorsement, for religious guidance.

Haeri’s decision to resign from religious authority is unprecedented in the marjiya system. The role is one usually held until death, regardless of age or well-being. Sistani, for example is 92 and continues his duties. Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah continued on as a marji despite his multiple hospitalizations, right up until his death in 2010. It is also not common for a living ayatollah to appoint his successor, much less for an Iraqi ayatollah to recognize the religious authority of Iran’s clerical city of Qom over the Iraqi city of Najaf. For Haeri to ambiguously claim health-related issues at the age of 83—the same age as Khamenei—and to endorse Khamenei as his successor suggests Iran’s political influence was at work in his decision, with an aim toward reducing Sadr’s influence.

Let's note this Tweet from John Pilger:

The dark power of royalty. In 1971, the Chagos Islanders were expelled by the British to make way for a US base. This was made possible by a meeting of the Queen's Privy Councillors (advisers) and approved in person by the Queen. Using the same power, Blair invaded Iraq in 2003.

And that brings us to the topic of the fluffing that never ends over the 'shocking' death of a 96-year-old -- so young!!! Taken so soon!  Robert Stevens (WSWS) notes:

Amid the mind-numbing eulogies to Queen Elizabeth II, it is frequently asserted that she was “one of us” and “everyone’s grandmother”. 

Commentator Andrew Marr, a pillar of the media establishment, wrote a fawning comment the Times, headlined, “Queen Elizabeth II: the majestic enigma who was one of us”. He went as far to declare, “During the rawest, roughest years of the Thatcherite experiment, the Queen even seemed dryly oppositionist.”

This claim has been made throughout the media and parroted in ruling circle everywhere. Nothing was ever further from the truth. The queen heads a family of billionaires and lived a life of fabulous and unearned wealth and privilege. She ended her reign at Balmoral Castle, her £140 million private residence, as over 14 million of her “subjects”, including over 4 million children, live in poverty.

As well as Balmoral, Sandringham, valued at £600 million, was also privately owned by the queen. 

Everything she and her family and relatives possesses is thanks to centuries of pillage and plunder by her forebears. Moreover, most of this staggering wealth is assiduously protected from taxation by the state.

The fortune of the monarch is shrouded in secrecy, but it runs into the many billions of pounds.

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, the queen was personally worth around £370 million. But this was only identifiable wealth. The Paradise Papers, leaked in 2017, show that among the queen hidden dealings, via the Dutchy of Lancaster estate she owned, was the parking of millions of pounds in a Cayman Islands fund. Part of that fund went to a retailer, BrightHouse, cited for exploiting poor UK families through its hire-to-own scheme.

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Question" went up and the following sites updated:

Read on ...

Sunday, September 4, 2022



This is a 1994 comic.  And, if you're not getting how far we've come, the cover features over 15 superheroes and only one, Batgirl, is a woman.

That's what passed for 'progress' in the 90s.  

Batgirl shows up early in the comic, roping Joker.  Shocking Batman and Robin who remember when Barbara Gordon was paralyzed.  Eventually, Hawkgirl shows up in a panel -- she doesn't get a line.  Eventually, Wonder Woman shows up and actually gets a line (worried to Power Girl, should Power Girl have responded to Superman's summons when she's pregnant?).  Then a panel with a ton of heroes behind her.  I recognized Lighting Lad, the Atom, Saturn Girl, Shazam, Green Lantern, Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Aquaman . . . 

Donna Troy shows up -- but which Donna Troy, from which reality?  Donna Troy is Wonder Girl. 

The comic brings past and present heroes together -- from different time lines  and realities.

Supergirl and Wonder Woman appear to take time mid-wifing Power Girl's baby.  At one point, a male hero I don't know offered to help because he's helped his wife deliver a baby and Wonder Woman sends him away saying he's needed for the battle outside and she's more than capable of helping Power Girl.  

When did Wonder Woman have a baby?  She didn't.  And her butt should have been in the battle.

A Green Lantern shows up calling himself Parallax.

Batgirl notes that it's "weird to hear I'm from an alternate timeline."  She insists she has feelings and memories.

Not for long.

She dies shortly after.  In a tiny panel.  It's a tiny story -- four comic book issues.  They use a lot of close ups and it's awful.  You want to see action in big panels.  Time and again, the action scenes are weak and the panels small.  (Yes, you can enlarge them by clicking on them. But I'm referring to the panels in relation to the original comic book page they appeared on.)  

They use way too many face shots on top of that.  

A dull comic.  

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 2, 2022.  The number of assaults within the US military continue to increase, The October Revolution returns to the streets of Baghdad, and much more.

Allison Jaslow is an Iraq War veteran and a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  She is in the news today because of an interview she gave this morning.  CNN reports:

An Iraq War veteran and former Democratic Party official on Friday criticized the presence of US Marines in the backdrop of President Joe Biden's speech in Philadelphia, during which he issued stinging political criticism of Republicans.

"We need to make sure that our military is as removed from politics as possible and it's not right if a Democrat uses the military as a political pawn and it's not right if the Republican Party does it as well. None of our politicians or elected leaders should do that," Allison Jaslow, a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told CNN's Brianna Keilar on "New Day."

She's on solid ground with that critique and she's not the only one making it.  CNN's Jeff Zeleny Tweeted:

There’s nothing unusual or wrong with a President delivering a political speech — it’s inherent in the job description — but doing it against a backdrop of two Marines standing at attention and the Marine Band is a break with White House traditions.

It's not a minor issue but expect the usual nonsense from the partisan patrol that poses as leftists and pretends to be fact based.  

Let's stay with Allison for a bit more.

MILITARY TIMES editor Leo Shane III Tweeted:

. at #ALConv2022: "We’re continuing to fight like hell to make sure that all veterans feel welcome and safe at VA. That means getting women vets -- our fastest growing cohort of vets -- the care they’ve earned, and deserve."

To which Allison replied:

Fighting like hell? I call bulls**t. Changing the motto outside

front door to be more welcoming to women veterans should be a lay up, but there's been 19 months of inaction by

on it. #ChangeTheDamnMotto

10:22 AM · Aug 31, 2022

And the motto goes to the lack of welcoming which goes to the reality of the way so many are treated within the military.  Allison more recently Tweeted:

Women in the military deserve a culture that respects them, this is not that: "A new Pentagon survey shows women in the military endured the highest level of unwanted sexual contact since the Defense Department began tracking the data sixteen years ago"

Important additional finding in here: "About one in five troops – 29% of women and 10% of men – reported their assault, and data show that trust in the military to protect privacy of victims, ensure safety, and treat victims with dignity and respect is declining."

And she reTweeted veteran and journalist Paul Szoldra on the same topic:

For years, officials have couched increases in sexual assault reports by claiming that survivors are becoming more comfortable with reporting, but for 2021, that math doesn’t bear out... So this year, officials aren’t couching it anymore: it’s not good.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been a fierce fighter on this issue (even calling out some members of her own party when needed).  Her office issued the following:

Senator Gillibrand: “This data shows a military in a crisis…We are betraying the trust of service members and their families and failing the most heroic among us.”

Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, responded to the release of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. The survey showed that 8.4% of active duty women and 1.5% of active duty men reported at least one unwanted sexual contact in the prior year, amounting to an estimated 35,900 total active duty service members – a disturbing rise from previous years. 

For years, Senator Gillibrand has fought the DoD to fundamentally reform how it deals with sexual assault among its ranks. She earned bipartisan majority support for her bill, the Military Justice Improvement & Increasing Prevention Act, which was blocked from receiving a vote in the full U.S. Senate.

In response to today’s shocking numbers, Gillibrand said: “This data shows a military in a crisis. Nearly one in ten active duty women reported unwanted sexual contact during a single year, and that number rises to one in four when the service member experienced an unhealthy command climate involving sexual harassment. When service members cannot trust their leaders to uphold the values of our military services it means we are failing. Finally, the percentage of cases preferred for court-martial charges continues to drop. These results are completely unacceptable.

“We are betraying the trust of service members and their families and failing the most heroic among us. The current versions of the National Defense Authorization Act in Congress contain vital military justice reforms that I have fought for for nearly a decade, and they should be passed and enacted with the urgency this crisis demands.”

The DoD’s full report can be viewed here.

Let's move over to Iraq where the press so frequently gets things wrong.  Let's start with ASIA TIMES because they've always been a garbage outlet but they tend to fool so many.  They're pimping a neocon whose sucked on the US government tit off and throughout his pathetic career.  His name is Hussain Abdul-Hussain and he's a 'journalist.'  He's a fool, an idiot and a whore and it's telling that ASIA TIMES wants to publish his latest garbage.

Ten months after Iraq’s pro-Iran bloc was soundly defeated in parliamentary elections, and less than a week after Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his retirement from political life, a stalemate between Shiites who oppose Tehran and those who support it seems to be leading the country toward civil war. Yet this is only half the story.

Yes, that is only half the story.  For example, the other half goes to the fact that the militias (that his pro-Iran bloc) were disenfranchised and I know the US government doesn't like that reality to be told but it is a reality.

I am not a fan of the militias, I have called them out forever and a day.  I strongly called out the move to make them part of the Iraqi security forces.  I still think that was a mistake.  Epic mistake.  

But I'm not a whore.  The prime minister, at the last  minute, pulled them out of early voting.  They weren't allowed to take part in the election as a result since they had to be stationed throughout Iraq on election day (to protect polling places).  Mustafa al-Kadhimi does not like the militias because they have mocked him and criticized him.  They do not support him so his move to disenfranchise them was not just illegal, it was anti-democratic and the thing a despot does.

A whore, like the one writing for ASIA TIMES, looks to see where the money is.  And the US government will always pay those who verbally attack the 'enemy' of the moment.  Hussain Abdul-Hussain gets paid for making it all about Iran.  Which is why he then types the garbage he does.  Iran this and Iran that.

The US gave money to Moqtada al-Sadr -- a killer of US troops.  They did that because Moqtada was preferred to the militias.  I really think they need to explain to the American people why their tax dollars went to a killer of US troops.  

The American people weren't consulted on this.  Moqtada was paid off in August of last year (only the latest pay off) to announce that he wanted his cult to vote in the elections held October 10, 2021.  

Hussain Abdul-Hussain wants to simplify the issue and make everything about Iraq or Iran.  Because that's where the money is and it's where the blood is and a neocon whore like Hussain Abdul-Hussain needs other people's blood to live off of.

Iran and Iraq share a border.  

The US government never learns a damn thing.  

If you want Iraq and Iran to bicker and the US to benefit, then stay the hell out of it.

It will happen because their border is in dispute.  And when it does happen, the US government can't just let it develop, they have to try bring in 800 other issues, "You should be upset about this and about that!"  And all that ever does, is remind the two how much the US wants them to be opposed to one another.

The US government is like a stupid person wanting a couple to break up so that they can grab one of the partners.  The US always overplays its hand and always makes a concealed motive clear, thereby bringing the couple back together.

Let's got to VOX, believe it or not.  Zach's not that smart but I was pleasantly surprised to learn Zach wasn't covering the topic.  Jonathan Guyer is:

 The ongoing conflict that has paralyzed the country is grounded in complex domestic politics — Sadr himself has long been a powerful figure in Iraqi politics. Its most recent roots, though, start about a year ago in a parliamentary election where Sadr’s movement won the most seats. In the ensuing months, Sadr was unable to secure a majority coalition to his liking, and in July, he urged the parliamentarians from his bloc to resign. But Iraqi politics quickly moved on, and as other parties jostled to form a new government, Sadr’s loyalists held protests outside of government buildings, at one point even occupying the parliament. Meanwhile, religious politics came into play as a prominent cleric in Iran urged his Iraqi followers to break with Sadr.

“For the average Iraqi who was living through that night of terror [Monday], it really felt like going back to the war, in which there was the constant sound of gunfire throughout the night,” [Marsin] Alshamary told me. “We didn’t know whether we would wake up to a civil war in the country.”

To understand why the resignation of a man who has resigned from politics several times before led to street violence, why elite politics in Iraq are so volatile right now, and why many Americans are misunderstanding both (hint: They’re overplaying Iran’s role in the crisis), I spoke with Alshamary, who had just returned from Iraq where she is based. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

[. . .]

JG: He resigned in a tweet on Monday. Does that mean he’s left politics?

MA: Excellent question, because really, he doesn’t make it clear. Muqtada al-Sadr has “left politics” several times before. Usually it’s before elections, because he’s trying to get concessions. We’re not sure what it means this time, because his members of parliament have already resigned. So what more does it mean? That he’s going to withdraw bureaucrats and high-level officials within the government institutions and tell them that they’re no longer participating in the government in any way? Does it mean that he will not make any political statements going forward? He doesn’t clarify.

After Muqtada’s statement on Twitter on Monday about how he’s quitting politics, all hell breaks loose in Baghdad and in the south.

The clashes between the protesters and paramilitary groups grew increasingly violent. We see the kinds of weapons that you would see on a battlefield being brought out. There’s a curfew imposed in Baghdad. The conflict extends beyond the Green Zone, it moves to neighborhoods in Baghdad, particularly ones where the Sadrists are, and we hear news of conflict in cities like Basra, which is the southernmost city in Iraq, Nazriya, and Diwaniya, other important cities in southern Iraq.

For the average Iraqi who was living through that night of terror, it really felt like going back to the war, in which there was the constant sound of gunfire throughout the night. We didn’t know whether we would wake up to a civil war in the country. Most analysts thought that this was going to be a long confrontation between Sadr’s militia — Saraya al-Salam, or the Peace Brigades — and other militias, other Shia militias in Iraq.

But the next day, a little past noon Baghdad time, Muqtada al-Sadr holds a press conference. In this press conference, he looks chastised, he’s apologetic, he apologizes to the Iraqi public for the violence, for what they had to go through that night. He chastises his followers, saying that their movement isn’t violent, that they shouldn’t drag Iraq into corruption and violence, like Iraq is already corrupt, we don’t need more problems. He even reaches a point where he says both those who were killed and the killers are all in hell, which is a very, very strong condemnation of his own followers. 

He also gives his followers an hour to leave the Green Zone and to stop all violence. And the effect is instantaneous, by the way. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when he told them to go because we knew they would follow him.

JG: That’s quite a turnaround. What triggered all of this?

MA: Can I get in the weeds of Shia political authority for a bit? Muqtada al-Sadr, although he wears a turban and looks very much like a cleric, doesn’t have the clerical authority to become a spiritual guide for Shia.

Shia Muslims have to find a particular high-ranking cleric who is able to direct them in personal matters, social matters, and sometimes even political matters. In order to become that person, though, you have to go through a lot of training and reach this level, where you become an ayatollah essentially. Muqtada’s father, who formed the base of the Sadrist movement that we see today, he was both an ayatollah and a social-movement leader.

Muqtada inherited this movement but couldn’t fill in that void of being a spiritual guide. The person who stepped in was someone named Kadhim al-Haeri, who was a student of his father’s and who became the spiritual guide for Muqtada and the movement. Him and Muqtada have had an on-and-off relationship; there were points of disagreement. But prior to Muqtada’s tweet, and what really prompts the tweet, is that last week Haeri releases a statement — keep in mind, he lives in Iran right now — and in the statement, there’s two things that are important.

First, he makes the unprecedented move of abandoning his office and saying he no longer wants to be a spiritual guide for anyone, and that if any of his followers are looking for where to go next, they should go to Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran. This is unprecedented in the Shia religious establishment; no one gives up their position as a spiritual guide and tells someone to go elsewhere. And it’s very strange why it’s Khamenei who he picks to be the next spiritual guide. This is the first blow in the statement for Muqtada al-Sadr, who built his entire movement around being an Iraqi nationalist and anti-Iranian, to be told that he and his followers should turn to Khamenei.

The second big blow is Haeri criticizes Muqtada in the statement. He says that he is not a true inheritor of the legacy of the Sadr family, this illustrious family of clerics who has been involved in Iraq for decades. He also says that Muqtada al-Sadr is creating this strife and chaos and a lot of tension among the Shia. He never says [Sadr’s] name, by the way, but it’s very clear who he’s talking about.

And this letter must be a slap in the face to Muqtada al-Sadr, to be so criticized by someone so close to your father, that the next day we see this response. So that’s the trigger point.

JG: Many observers in Washington frame all of this around Iran. And obviously, we’re talking about a very influential cleric who is based in Iran, but you’re saying a lot of this has much more to do with Iraqi domestic politics and the complexities of a parliamentary system in a post-civil war country than with outside powers?

MA: I think the simplicity around the Iran rhetoric is that everyone looks at this conflict as though Sadr was this anti-Iranian hero, and the Coordination Framework are the pro-Iranian villains — when in reality, everyone in the story is a villain. Everyone’s relationship with Iran is very complicated. The relationship that’s often portrayed to exist between Iraq and Iran is very much simplified.

To take Muqtada al-Sadr as an example: In many of my meetings and conversations with the Western diplomats, I’m astounded by the degree to which they want to believe that Muqtada al-Sadr will be an anti-Iranian force in Iraq, completely forgetting his violent history against Iraqis, against Americans, and how at the time, he was supported by Iran in those endeavors. Now, I expect them to look away as Iran seems responsible for manipulating Sadr to end the violence. I think they are misunderstanding Sadr’s intentions in being anti-Iranian. He is just trying to capitalize on popular sentiments in Iraq that are anti-Iranian.

There’s also a simplistic narrative around the Coordination Framework that they’re all pro-Iranian militias, when in fact, in the Coordination Framework, you have someone like Haider al-Abadi, the former prime minister during the ISIS war who was close allies with Washington, as well as Ammar al-Hakim, who was a cleric and a politician with ties to the West. So not everyone in the Coordination Framework is a staunch pro-Iranian politician, and Muqtada al-Sadr isn’t reliably anti-Iranian either.

Regardless of all that, what I find really mystifying is the willingness to allow Iraq to burn just so that Iran would lose a little bit of influence, when there is another opportunity to build on the civil society in Iraq, on the protest movement in Iraq that produced new members of Parliament and that produced independent MPs, and to actually support them because they represent the Iraqi street. Actually, they’re anti-Iranian too, but they don’t do it in a way that invites violence and confrontation, but they do it in a way that places Iraq’s interest front and center. 

It's an intelligent discussion that deals with reality.  She also offers her feeling on the future.  She's probably right there as well.  I disagree but I may be too hopeful.  She, for instance, feels that the next vote will be see either the same low turnout or maybe even worse.  I don't see that.  I see a higher turnout and, yes, that is based in part on what I hear from people who were members of The October Revolution.  Many of them sat out the election due to the corruption.  Their attitudes now are about developing politicians to run in the next election, taking part in the next election.  (These are a small number of members of The October Revolution and our communications are as individuals -- they are not speaking on behalf of the movement.)  I may be giving too much weight to that outcome because, historically, it is the natural outcome.  

Moqtada's violence has now spread to Basra.  All of Iraq is watching.  The October Revolution had a large number of potenial voters who sat out the election.  These young Shi'ites sitting it out weren't the only ones.  And as they see the violence in Baghdad and now in Basra, I also believe that they will be more likely to show up and vote.  Again, I could be wrong.  

The occupation of the Parliament triggered a large response that the western media ignored.  A large number of Iraqis were outraged by both the occupation of the Parliament and what they saw as the disrespect taking place during the occupation.  

Again, I could be wrong about what would happen at the next election.  

Read her observations and insight.  She's probably more on the mark than I am.

MEMO notes:

The leader of Iraq's Iran-backed Asaib Ahl Al-Haq militia, Qais Al-Khazali, yesterday ordered the closure of the militia's offices across the country following violent clashes that erupted in the southern city of Basra during which four people were killed.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Al-Khazali ordered the closure of the militia's offices until further notice and called on his followers not to respond to any provocations.

Earlier yesterday, Reuters reported that four men, including two members of Saraya Al-Salam, an armed faction linked to Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, were killed in clashes among rival Shia Muslim militants in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

OIL PRICE notes, "Violence in Baghdad is one thing, and has the potential to mildly move markets as fears increase of threats to the oil industry in OPEC’s second-largest producer nation. Violence in Basra–the heart of Iraqi oil–is quite another thing.  This is not a separate incident from what has happened in Baghdad, and that is significant. This is a spreading of the political unrest in Baghdad as rival Shi’ite groups vie for power."

Meanwhile, The October Revolution is back in the streets:

Chanting Anti-#Iran & #US Slogans. Dozens of #Iraqi protesters took to the streets in #Baghdad neighborhood of #NisourSquare, chanting slogans against Iran’s interference in #Iraq’s internal affairs. #ستنتصر_ثوره_تشرين
The protest were organized by The #OctoberProtestMovement, known in #Iraq as the #TishreenMovement.

THE NATIONAL's Mina Aldroubi Tweets:

Iraq's peaceful pro-reform protest movement has make a come back this afternoon in Baghdad. Protesters are shouting "Iran will not rule Iraq" #العراق_اولآ_واخيرآ

 The following sites updated:

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