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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Senate Impeachment "Trial" A Disturbing And Shameful Joke - Local stats: TIJ in 2019 Total= 2,185 - Baja California in 2019 Total=2,845 - Nationwide 2019 Total Highest Ever 34,582 Homicides/Exections - January 2020 we Are Up To In TIJ 124 executions - 2019 Ensenada Over The Top - - Javier Sicilia's March Coming Up.....

I am emotionally distraught over the Senate Impeachment "Trial" - so much so I almost could not bear to turn it on this morning.  I said almost. Mike is furious, more blunt; he said, "..this is bullshit!"

So, you can watch it here:

Democracy Now! 


Also here - and love the George Conway comments on sidebar: 

CNN


Here's a good one:


~ From MSN - Law & Crime:

 Impeachment Manager: Trump Just Confessed To Obstructing Congress
by, Jerry Lamb

Will return with the situation here, which is not good and begs the question, has the drug war become normalized at least in Baja California ? Kind of feels that way.

 P.S.  Blogs are appearing completely jumbled up and out of order on Google, appearing under fake sites, etc...ha ! Just like the old days.

~~~~~

I was able to pull up a few reports on the social violence here and nationwide in an attempt to make sense of the mess, but I really recommend  you keep in touch with the Mexican news sources like Zeta and Proceso; The Guardian also has fabulous coverage, as well as Justice In Mexico.


Fifteen years ago, most of us who lived here and were paying attention to the drug war developments were in a state of unrest which some have described as a social-psychosis caused by the unfolding and constant drug violence surrounding us, which then was such a shocking aberration.. We're no longer traveling in caravans to go to the Playas or Ensenada, it doesn't seem that most people are holding on to their steering wheel so tightly making deep finger impressions in the hard plastic with eyes darting around to survey conditions or even following the directives and warnings from local authorities. In these recent times, there really haven't been any warnings from local authorities such as leaving at least two car spaces in between you and the guy in front of you in case of a shoot out so that you give yourself room to escape.


I'm finding that most of the Mexican Nationals I speak with- and this is north of Ensenada; I have no idea what folks are saying down in Ensenada - simply don't talk about the violence; but this time I haven't yet decided whether that is due to the overwhelming nature of the violence, fearfulness or the fact they have grown used to it. Overall I have noticed the jitteriness which was so obvious in the earlier years is non apparent. Of course, gringos are nervous over if or not they can sell their houses and leave.


The drug war violence is old news and doesn't seem to make the headlines in the States as it did several years ago except in select hideous massacre cases involving US citizens.  What impacts should we expect from non coverage ?

From Zeta, November 2019:

En 11 Meses 53 Masacres en Mexico


From Zeta , 01/16/20:

Agreden a Militares en Tamaulipus; 11 Civiles Muertos




~~~~~



Let's take a look at the local stats:

 ~  The month of December in Tijuana closed with 148 executions, bringing the YTD Tijuana total to 2,185 people killed.  This number  is actually 323 executions less than the YTD 2018 Tijuana total.
Baja California overall stands at 2,845 people executed in 2019.


From Zeta:

Suman 2 Mil 185 Homicidios en Tijuana al Cierre de 2019


~~~~~


 ~ In the beginning of this month, Zeta reported that there have been no positive results fighting the violence in Ensenada - 275 executions in 2019, not counting the human remains of dozens located plus hundreds missing. femicides on the rise:

From Zeta:

Sin Resultas en Combate a la Violencia en Ensenada
Por Lorena Lamas



~~~~~



 ~ A summary of the Nationwide violence:

From Zeta:

  2019, Ano Mas violento de la Historia Reciente: 34 Mil 582 Homicidios
Por, Carlos Alvarez 


During 2019, 34 thousand 582 malicious homicides were registered, so the first year of Andrés Manuel López Obrador's government was the most violent in the recent history of Mexico, according to figures published Monday by the Executive Secretariat of the National Security System Public (SESNSP).

 The previous figure represents an increase of 2.48 percent with respect to the homicides that were committed in 2018, year in which 33 thousand 743 were registered. In addition, the Executive Secretariat, under the Ministry of the Interior (Segob), reported that there were records of 1,006 femicides committed during the past year.

 Also, during the past five years, murders have grown 93 percent, while femicides increased 136 percent and kidnappings rose 23 percent.

 Since 2015, when the new SESNSP methodology was implemented to date, malicious homicides have increased by 93 percent.

 In that year, 17,886 victims were reported. While in 2016, 22,554 were counted; for 2017, 28,871 were registered; and for 2018 there were 33,743.

 On the other hand, during 2015, 426 victims of femicide were reported; for 2016 it was 642; already in 2017 765 were counted; while in 2018 912 were registered.

 On the other hand, kidnappings also increased, since in 2019, 1,614 victims were counted, a figure higher than 1,559 in 2018.


 In 2017, 1,390 were reported; in 2016 there were 1,381 and in 2015 there were a record 311 victims."


~~~~~

What's Happening With The Violence? I'll be back with last month's report from Riodoce via Zeta of Luis Astorga who offers his perspective on the "non-security" measures in Mexico.  Most importantly tomorrow Javier Sicilia's march from Cuernavaca to Mexico City begins to support the victims of the violence and a call to end the violence.  It's safe to say that Javier is on AMLO's shit list right now and has been for months.

This should hold you over.

Have to run up to states tomorrow.

Meanwhile....

 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Drug War & Violence in Baja California Superseded By Iran Crisis - Ed Vulliamy's Report on Julian Leyzaola

It's not that I am not keeping tract of the drug war & violence  in Tijuana and Baja California, I am and it has never stopped.  We are to put it mildly, consumed with the Iran Crisis and Trump's repulsive lies one right after the other and his beyond disturbing behavior as is most of the world.

There have been so many terrific responses to Trump's self indulgent and perverted rigging of the Senate Impeachment "Trial" (what "Trial"  - ain't no fuckin witnesses !) and his murderous escapade in Iran which has shaken the entire Middle East  and the world  - well except for Boris Johnson who is an asshole -  but here's one which is notable for present and prescient USA characteristics:



 ~ From Truthdig:

America Could Look Like Hungary if Trump Is Re-Elected
by, Thom Hartman


"Now that we’ve entered an election year, there is a lot of speculation about what America could look like if Donald Trump gets another term, by hook or by crook. As Trump uses a crisis he created in the Middle East to distract us from impeachment, increases his chances of reelection, and boosts the fortunes of his buddies in the Military-Industrial Complex, it’s important to understand how other demagogic leaders consolidate their power.


Steve Bannon has said that Hungary’s strongman prime minister Viktor Orbán was “Trump before Trump.”


In August of 1989, my best friend Jerry Schneiderman and I spent the better part of a week sitting in outdoor cafes on the Buda side of the Danube River, eating extraordinary (and cheap!) food, staying in a grand old hotel, and generally exploring Budapest.


Two months earlier, there had been massive pro-democracy demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people, demanding that the Soviet Union let Hungary go. The summer we were there, over a quarter-million showed up in Heroes’ Square for the reinterment of the body of Imre Nagy, a hero of the ill-fated 1956 rebellion against the USSR. The final speaker was 26-year-old Viktor Orbán, a rising politician who would soon be a member of Parliament. To an explosion of enthusiastic cheers, Orbán defied the Soviets (the only speaker to overtly do so) and openly called for “the swift withdrawal of Russian troops.”


Nine months later, in March of 1990, Hungary held its first real elections since 1945; in 1999, it joined NATO; and in 2004, it became a member of the European Union.



For 20 years, Hungary was a functioning democracy; today, it’s a corrupt oligarchy.


In nine short years since he was elected in 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, now fabulously wealthy by Hungarian standards and an oligarch himself, succeeded in transforming his nation’s government from a functioning European democracy into an autocratic and oligarchic regime of single-party rule.


Orbán took over the Fidesz Party, once a conventional “conservative” political party, with the theme of restoring “Christian” purity and making “Hungary great again.” His rallies regularly draw tens of thousands.


 He campaigned on building a wall across the entirety of Hungary’s southern border, a promise he has largely kept.


He altered the nation’s Constitution to do what we’d call gerrymandering and voter suppression, ensuring that his party, Fidesz, would win more than two-thirds of the votes in pretty much every federal election well into the future.


He’s now packed the courts so thoroughly that legal challenges against him and his party go nowhere.


His party has rewritten grade school textbooks to say that refugees entering the country are a threat because “it can be problematic for different cultures to coexist.” Using this logic, he has locked up refugee children in cages.


When the Hungarian Helsinki Committee said “the indefinite detention of many vulnerable migrants, including families with small children, is cruel and inhuman,” Orbán said the influx of Syrian refugees seeking asylum “poses a security risk and endangers the continent’s Christian culture and identity.” He added, “Immigration brings increased crime, especially crimes against women, and lets in the virus of terrorism.”


Five years and one week before American Nazis rallied in Charlottesville and murdered Heather Heyer, a group of some 700 right-wing “patriots” held a torchlight parade that ended in front of the homes of Hungary’s largest minority group, chanting “We will set your homes on fire!” Orbán’s police watched without intervening. In 2013, Zsolt Bayer, one of the founders of Orbán’s party, had called the Roma “animals… unfit to live among people.” Orbán refused to condemn him or the anti-Roma violence.


Orbán has handed government contracts to his favored few, elevating an entire new class of pro-Orbán businesspeople who are in the process of cementing control of the nation’s economy, as those who opposed him have lost their businesses, been forced to sell their companies, and often fled the country.


Virtually the entire nation’s press is now in the hands of oligarchs and corporations loyal to him, with talk radio and television across the country singing his praises daily. Billboards and social media proclaim his patriotism. His media allies are now reaching out to purchase media across the rest of Europe to spread his right-wing message.


Last year he began dismantling the Hungarian Science Academy, replacing or simply firing scientists who acknowledge climate change, which he has called “left-wing trickery made up by Barack Obama.”


The world, in particular the EU, has watched this nine-year political nightmare with increasing alarm, and even the EU’s 2015 and 2018 attempts to essentially impeach Orbán have backfired, increasing his two reelection margins as his handmaids in the media proclaim him a victim of a European “deep state” and meddling foreigners, particularly George Soros (who, ironically, once paid for a young Orbán to study in Britain).


While he blasts Soros and his own country’s Jewish leaders with anti-Semitic tropes, he was feted by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who called him “a true friend of Israel.” Orbán replied, “A Hungarian patriot and a Jewish Israeli patriot will always find something in common.”


In May, the same month Rudy Giuliani said he had a former Ukrainian prosecutor willing to testify that Joe Biden was corrupt, Donald Trump invited Orbán to the White House for a state visit; Orbán has been one of Trump’s two primary sources of information about how Ukraine opposed or tried to sabotage the U.S. president.


In a rally three months before his White House meeting, Orbán said that countries that accept refugees are producing “mixed-race nations.”


Orbán is now back in Hungary, ruthlessly using his own nation’s diplomatic and criminal justice systems to aid foreign criminal oligarchs, having hired his own local versions of Bill Barr and Mike Pompeo.


Before you say, “It can’t happen here,” you may want to make a trip to Budapest."


~~~~~~

The Links:

Democracy Now! 


Democracy Now|Iran  

***


Informed Comment

(Note 01/15 report on million person march)

***

The Intercept 

The Intercept|Targeting Iran  

***

 Counterpunch 

***

 Truthdig

***

Common Dreams 

***

Truth Out 

***


Courtesy The Guardian



 ~ I promised this report a few blogs back and never delivered due to Holiday chaos.  Personally, since I  am a foreigner and live here (even though we are "permanente") I'm not allowed to comment on Ed Vulliamy's focus, Julian Leyzaola.  However, one of my neighbors who is a Mexican National did comment and he said, " ...Leyzaola is a social pariah for the simple reason that he knows too much, he knows who all is involved or connected to the drug business."  He was speaking about government & business models.


 ~ From The Guardian:


The Man Who Took Bullets Waging War On Mexico's Cartels Is Now Taking On Politics 
By, Ed Vulliamy


~~~~~

Going to make some banana bread, later everyone. 

 Still, Julian Leyzaola has always reminded me of Paladin.






 He reminds many people of Marshal Will Kane who believed that " running away does not solve the problem" and like Leyzaola, was abandoned by his close friends.

 Both are strong characters who bear a steadfast sense of decency and fortitude, a rarity these days.


~~~~~ ~~~~~

Edit 01/16:

Not to bore you with even more character analogies, but late last night Mike reminded me that there are many realists who compare Leyzaola to  Alonso Quixano (aka Don Quixote).  But, to win either battle, to eliminate organized crime through a militarized drug war or to fight for the legalization of all drugs with the creation of rehab treatment and education facilities on both sides of the Border seems to me impossible dreams.

Sort of like the Impeachment "Trial" happening now in the US Senate...anyways,  Gary Cooper was sure outasight, wow. And, maybe we should be handing this over to Saint Jude (the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes) for help, it has been known to work.

" ...and the world will be better for this,
that one man scorned and covered with scars
still strove with his last ounce of courage,
to fight the unbeatable foe,
to reach the unreachable star."


~~~~~

  end edit.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

US - Iran UPDATES & LINKS - Don't Miss Major Danny Sjursen

Courtesy CNN, Jane on the right !


 ~ From CNN:







27 min ago

Pelosi says the House will introduce a resolution limiting Trump’s military actions


Late Sunday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter stating that the House of Representatives will introduce and vote on a war powers resolution to limit President Trump’s military actions regarding Iran.
The statement said:
As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.
This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran. This resolution is similar to the resolution introduced by Senator Tim Kaine in the Senate. It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days."
Pelosi reiterated that the killing of Soleimani “endangered our service members, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.”

~~~~

BTW, just noticed at top of page, you can also hit The Impeachment Updates. Unsure of Bolton, with the Iran Crisis playing out, he might flip the other direction; remember he is a die hard hawk and wanted a US attack on Iran last June - so would he now testify against Trump? .....haven't heard anyone actually say that...but who knows:
 



~~~~~ 


 ~ From Mexico's Zeta:



"The Mexican government called on the United States, Iraq and Iran to act with restraint and avoid escalating regional tension, following threats made by US presidents Donald Trump and the Iranian, Hassan Rouhani, after the death of General Qasem Soleimani, the January 3 last.
 
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) stated in his Twitter account that the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador following with concern the recent developments in Iraq and Iran.

 
"In compliance with the constitutional principles of foreign policy,  we endorse the value of dialogue and negotiation in the resolution of international disputes," wrote the agency, headed by Marcelo Ebrard.




~~~~~



Except, it wasn't just a death, it was an assassination.

 ~ From Truthdig:

by, Maj Danny Sjursen 

"Bio

Maj. Danny Sjursen, a Truthdig regular contributor, is a retired U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, "Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge." He lives in Lawrence, Kan. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast "Fortress on a Hill," co-hosted with fellow vet Chris "Henri" Henrikson."

~~~~~


"Violence begets violence; revenge engenders cycles of vengeance. This is exactly why war, or acts of war, must not be taken lightly. It also explains why America’s recent adventurism in the Middle East has only increased Islamic terrorism, killed hundreds of thousands worldwide, and ultimately left the U.S. no better off than when it began its crusade after the 9/11 attacks. Instead, this cycle of violence and revenge has produced nothing but “blowback” in the form of global anti-Americanism.


Which brings me to President Donald Trump’s worst decision yet, one for which he actually should be impeached: the assassination of Iranian general, and head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, Qassem Soleimani. The weapon of choice in this genuine act of war, was, fittingly, the era’s ubiquitous armed drone. Soleimani, perhaps the second or third most powerful figure in Iran, was blown away in Baghdad, where he’d long led intelligence and military proxy operations for Tehran. And more than any of America’s many provocations of late, this killing might just lead to war—a war that would, even more than the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, inflame, destabilize and perhaps destroy the region for good.


With so much on the line—both for the United States and the world—the time for silence is over. Public resistance is the only tool we the people have left.


It doesn’t get any more illegal than a war with Iran or even the singular killing of Soleimani. The assassination of foreign leaders has long been prohibited under both national and international law, even if the U.S. hasn’t always followed such strictures. As has long been the case in the so-called war on terror, the President’s action was unilateral; Congress, it seems, wasn’t consulted, and it certainly didn’t provide sanction. And to be clear, while the assassination of a foreign general is an overt act of war, the U.S. is distinctly not at war with Iran, despite appearances to the contrary.


Few of the reports on the mainstream cable networks have even bothered to mention this salient fact. Why would they? U.S. troopers are engaged in combat in West Africa, Somalia and Syria, to name but a few countries. Washington is not technically at war with any of them. Congress, for its part, has shirked its constitutionally-mandated duty to declare (or at least sanction) America’s wars for nearly two decades—at a minimum. One wonders if this latest act of unvarnished militarism will alter the calculus on Capitol Hill. I remain doubtful.


Iranian pride, nationalism and basic sense of sovereignty, deeply wounded by Soleimani’s assassination, may demand an actual hot war with the U.S. But even if it doesn’t, this won’t end well for either side. Call me treasonous, but I, for one, would hardly blame Iran if it decides to further escalate. It’s not that Tehran is innocent, of course. Its domestic repression is sometimes abhorrent; the foreign militias it backs are often destabilizing, and some even killed U.S. troops during the height of the last Iraq War. Nonetheless, it bears repeating that unlike the U.S., Iran was invited into Syria, has many friends in Iraq, helped fight ISIS in both of those countries, and, as a sovereign state, is allowed to set its own domestic policy. The United States military’s interventions in the Middle East, by contract, frequently violate international law.


Doubtful a single, high-level assassination could cause an all-out conflict? Well, history disagrees. The British Empire once went to war with Spain over an alleged atrocity against a single merchant sea captain. Known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear, it was in part precipitated by the amputation of Capt. Robert Jenkins’ ear in the West Indies in 1731. A century and a half later, that same British Empire fought a decade-long war in the Sudan, after one of its former celebrity generals, Charles “Chinese” Gordon, was killed by the forces of “The Mahdi” in the city of Khartoum. Ironically, one of the anti-American Iraqi militias that Iran loosely supported back in 2007-08 was called the “Mahdi Army,” named after that 19th century millenarian Sudanese Islamist leader. What’s more, I’d be remiss should I fail to remind readers that the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian nationalists in the Balkans provided the immediate catalyst for World War I—up until then humankind’s bloodiest.


Sure, that’s “ancient” history, one might retort, but imagine how the U.S. government would likely respond if one of our top generals was killed by Iran under similar circumstances. My guess is poorly. There seem to be, according to Washington, two sets of rules in international affairs: one for America and another for the rest of the world. Nevertheless, and while I doubt my advice will be followed, I’d urge restraint from Iran and the U.S. each. Both sides have powerful weapons, large, nationalistic armies, and a slew of nuclear-armed friends and backers. If one were to assess the risk versus reward of military escalation, the results would prove rather lopsided.


Then there’s the problem of evidence—specifically what, if anything, the Trump administration will present the American public to justify its act of war. The Pentagon claims, of course, that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” But in the interests of “secrecy” and “national security,” it has yet to furnish any tangible proof to support such a bold assertion. Once again, we are being asked to take our government’s word for it. Then we are expected to collectively malign Iran, cheer U.S. intelligence efforts and “support” the troops.


Problem is, I’ve seen this movie before—three movies, actually, and very recently. Each is based on a true and increasingly prescient story. Just yesterday, I happened to rewatch “Shock and Awe,” which follows the only group of reporters to get the Iraq War “right” prior to the 2003 invasion. They uncovered a conspiracy by the Bush administration to cherry-pick and/or manufacture evidence, then leak it to the mainstream press in order to drum up an illegal war.


One week before, I viewed “Official Secrets,” the tale of a British intel analyst’s decision to risk her career and freedom by leaking a document that proved the U.S. National Security Agency planned to spy on and blackmail foreign delegates on the U.N. Security Council just prior to the Iraq War vote. Just one publication picked up that story and, predictably, it too failed to stop the invasion.
Several weeks ago, I watched “The Report,” a staggering drama about one Senate staffer’s years-long quest to investigate and publish his findings on the incompetence, crimes and lies of the CIA’s torture program under George W. Bush.

Sure, these are just films, but they hew incredibly closely to events as they happened. And while they’re yet to be dramatized, the Afghanistan Papers have shown definitively that senior U.S. military and civilian officials lied and obfuscated about that ongoing war for at least 17 of its 18-plus years. The point I’m making is this: Americans should never again blindly trust government efforts to either start a war or justify an act thereof. The risks—to U.S. soldiers, to the republic and to global stability—are far too weighty for all that.



Finally, the details of Soleimani’s assassination have thrown into relief the rank folly of American military policies. The Iranian general was killed in Iraq—a country the U.S. ought never to have invaded and whose institutions Washington has effectively shattered. Soleimani would never have been there had the U.S. not provoked a civil war whose centrifugal force has divided Iraq’s various sects and ethnicities while empowering a chauvinist Shia government.



Furthermore, Soleimani was killed even though one of the general’s major opponents in Iraq—the Islamic State—was one he shared with the United States. That one of the Shia militias he backed was allegedly responsible for the recent death of an American contractor that set this tit-for-tat in motion shouldn’t be too surprising, either. Many Iraqi nationalists have long seen American troops as occupiers, and with good reason. A quick glance at a map of the Middle East would suggest that Iran, bordering Iraq, has a greater claim to influence in the region than the U.S., which is some 6,000 miles away.



If Trump’s provocation is at once illegal, risky and impeachable, he’s not alone in carrying the blame. Both Bush and Obama helped normalize the kind of drone strikes in the region that made this mad act possible. Yet Trump’s assassination of Soleimani is unique in its peacetime targeting of a uniformed leader from a sovereign nation. It’s possible, then, to see Trump as the perfect candidate, temperamentally, to take matters to their logical, if farcical, conclusion in America’s off-the-rails war on terror. And I fear he just has.



Now, I’m no fan of Qassem Soleimani and the Quds he led. Because although the veracity of the U.S. government’s case may be less certain than it seems, it appears the Iranians did support militias that killed perhaps 600 American troops with advanced IED technology. Two died under my command—Alex Fuller and Michael Balsley—blown to pieces on a dusty East Baghdad street by elements of the Mahdi Army on Jan. 25, 2007.



I took it personally. But personal emotion ought to carry little weight in the development of national strategy, in honest old-school journalistic analysis, and any other empirical activity."




~~~~~


Tune In to the Best Writers, Movers & Shakers:















~~~~~
   Local events on the way.....I'm behind...





Saturday, January 4, 2020

Shields & Brooks And Juan Cole On The Middle East Situation - Adding More From Counterpunch - 1962: Bob Dylan's "John Brown" Fabulous Cover By Phil Doran




Happy New Year and hope ya'll acclimated to the forever freezing cold weather we've been having, I'm still cold despite the forecast of another Santa Ana over the next few days. I have one last Holiday Dinner scheduled for Sunday the 5th to make, a sort of early celebration of "Dia de Los Reyes", then that is it thank goodness. Wait, there's still "Dia de La Candelaria" next month ! But of course just when everyone was somewhat relaxed and renewed, Trump is attempting to pull another fast one in the Middle East. So, we really cannot relax can we ?

In love these guys, this is from last night's broadcast:

 - From PBS: Shields and Brooks On Iran: 

 


~~~~~

 ~ From Informed Comment - 01/03/19:

Trump Troll-In-Chief, Wags the Impeachment Dog by Going To War With Iran  (with video)
by, Juan Cole


"Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The madman in the White House has been sulking and raging for weeks about his impeachment proceedings, tweeting manically on some days more than 100 times. With the release by JustSecurity.org of unredacted emails on the Ukraine scandal showing that Trump personally (and illegally) withheld congressionally mandated military aid to an ally, the Republican defense of the president is collapsing. Some GOP senators such as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski seem to be weakening on calling witnesses and subpoenaing records for the Senate trial, and the Democrats only need four Republican senators to ensure a proper proceeding, which would certainly put Trump’s presidency in peril.


It is extremely suspicious that Trump has abruptly begun trafficking in the sanguinary merchandise of all-out war just at this moment when his throne is on the brink of toppling.


My title is a reference to the 1997 Barry Levinson film, “Wag the Dog,” starring Anne Heche, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert De Niro. Its story line at IMDB is, “After being caught in a scandalous situation days before the election, the president does not seem to have much of a chance of being re-elected. One of his advisers contacts a top Hollywood producer in order to manufacture a war in Albania that the president can heroically end, all through mass media.” Only, Iran is not Albania.


Trump has from the beginning of his presidential campaign appealed to the worst and most fascistic elements in American political life. At a time when the US has no credible peer military rival, he added hundreds of billions of dollars to the Pentagon budget, and the pudgy old chicken hawk lionized war criminals. Up until now, however, Trump shrewdly calculated that his base was tired of wasting blood and treasure on fruitless Middle Eastern wars, and he avoided taking more than symbolic steps. He dropped a big missile on Afghanistan once, and fired some Tomahawk Cruise missiles at Syria. But he drew back from the brink of more extensive military engagements.


Now, by murdering Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Jerusalem (Qods) Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Trump has brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran. Mind you, Iran’s leadership is too shrewd to rush to the battlements at this moment, and will be prepared to play the long game. My guess is that they will encourage their allies among Iraqi Shiites to get up a massive protest at the US embassy and at bases housing US troops.


They will be aided in this task of mobilizing Iraqis by the simultaneous US assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces. Al-Muhandis is a senior military figure in the Iraqi armed forces, not just a civilian militia figure. Moreover, the Kata’ib Hizbullah that he headed is part of a strong political bloc, al-Fath, which has 48 members in parliament and forms a key coalition partner for the current, caretaker prime minister, Adil Abdulmahdi. Parliament won’t easily be able to let this outrage pass.


The US officer corps is confident that the American troops at the embassy and elsewhere in Baghdad are sufficient to fight off any militia invasion. I’m not sure they have taken into account the possibility of tens of thousands of civilian protesters invading the embassy, who can’t simply be taken out and shot.


Trump may be counting on the unpopularity among the youth protesters in downtown Baghdad, Basra, Nasiriya and other cities of Soleimani and of al-Muhandis to blunt the Iraqi reaction to the murders. The thousands of youth protesters cheered on hearing the news of their deaths, since they were accused of plotting a violent repression of the rallies demanding an end to corruption.


Iraq, however, is a big, complex society, and there are enormous numbers of Iraqi Shiites who support the Popular Mobilization Forces and who view them as the forces that saved Iraq from the peril of the ISIL (ISIS) terrorist organization. The Shiite hard liners would not need all Iraqis to back them in confronting the American presence, only a few hundred thousand for direct crowd action.


You also have to wonder whether Trump and his coterie aren’t planning a coup in Iraq. In the absence of a coup, the Iraqi parliament will almost certainly be forced, after this violation of Iraqi national sovereignty, to vote to expel American troops. This is foreseeable. So either the assassination was a drive-by on the way out, or Trump’s war cabinet doesn’t plan on having to leave Iraq.


Although Trump justified the murder of Soleimani by calling him a terrorist, that is nonsense in the terms of international law. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is the equivalent of the Iranian National Guard. What Trump did is the equivalent of some foreign country declaring the US military a terrorist organization (some have) and then assassinating General Joseph L. Lengyel, the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau (God forbid and may he have a long healthy life).


UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard tweeted,





What American corporate media won’t report is that Trump has put Iran under an almost complete economic blockade after breaching the 2015 nuclear accord that the US had signed. That accord removed economic sanctions on Iran in return for it mothballing 80% of its civilian nuclear enrichment program. That agreement could have formed the basis for reintegrating Iran into the world system and greatly reduced the tensions in the region for a generation.


 Although Iran was certified by UN inspectors as abiding by the accord as long as it was in effect, Trump abruptly trashed the agreement. He then not only put the severest economic sanctions on Iran that have ever been applied to any country in peacetime, he went around the world twisting the arms of South Korea, Japan, India, and even China, pressuring them not to buy Iranian oil. There is no UN Security Council resolution imposing economic sanctions on Iran, so this is a rogue unilateral blockade imposed by Trump alone. It has strangled the Iranian economy, and people can’t afford key medicines for loved ones. A naval blockade is considered an act of war in international law, and Trump’s trade embargo is analogous in every way to such a blockade.


I predicted when Trump started doing these things that it would lead to conflict between Iran and the United States in ways that Trump himself could not foresee (people like Trump with narcissism personality disorder cannot empathize with the pain of other people, so Iran is invisible to him). The economic strangulation of Iran was bound to lead to pushback, as with encouraging Iraqi Shiite militias to target Americans, and to an escalation between the two countries.


 If the Middle East now spins out of control, it is on Trump and his desperation to undo every good thing Barack Obama ever accomplished."


~~~~~

 ~ Latest Brief From Juan Cole, a must read...with video:


BRIEF:

Iranians React After US Strike That Killed Top Commander
Trump Unites Iran and Iraq against the United States


~~~~~ 

Edit:

In between making more cranberries for tomorrow...no, these folks are not vegans, they are full on carnivores being treated to grass fed prime rib and you are probably going "Oh Yuck !"...but I could not find any lamb...adding real organic wild rice & green beans, seared potatoes and carrots and a homemade cheesecake, I found more anti-Trump over on Counterpunch:

 ~ From Counterpunch:

After Mossad Targeted Sulemani; Trump Pulled the Trigger 
By, Jefferson Morley 


"Last October Yossi Cohen, head of Israel’s Mossad, spoke openly about assassinating Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.


“He knows very well that his assassination is not impossible,” Cohen said in an interview. Soleimani had boasted that the Israel’s tried to assassinate him in 2006 and failed.


“With all due respect to his bluster,” Cohen said, “he hasn’t necessarily committed the mistake yet that would place him on the prestigious list of Mossad’s assassination targets.”



“Is Israel Targeting Iran’s Top General for Assassination?” I asked on October 24. On Thursday, Soleimani was killed in an air strike ordered by President Trump.


Soleimani’s convoy was struck by U.S. missiles as he left a meeting at Baghdad’s airport amid anti-Iranian and anti-American demonstrations in Iraq. Supporters of an Iranian-backed militia had agreed to withdraw from the U.S. diplomatic compound in return for a promise that the government would allow a parliamentary vote on expelling 5,000 U.S. troops from the country.


The Pentagon confirmed the military operation, which came “at the direction of the president” and was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.” The Pentagon claimed in a statement that Gen. Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”


Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, under indictment for criminal charges, was the first and only national leader to support Trump’s action, while claiming that that Trump acted entirely on his own.


“Just as Israel has the right to self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right,” Netanyahu told reporters in Greece. “Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the deaths of American citizens and other innocents, and he was planning more attacks.”


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed retaliation for the general’s death,  tweeting that “Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime.”


Soleimani was the most capable foe of the United States and Israel in the region. As chief of the Al-Quds force, Soleimani was a master of Iran’s asymmetric warfare strategy, using proxy forces to bleed Iran’s enemies, while preserving the government’s ability to plausibly deny involvement.


After the U.S. invasions of Iraq, he funded and trained anti-American militias that launched low-level attacks on U.S. occupation forces, killing upward of 600 U.S. servicemen and generating pressure for U.S. withdrawal.


In recent years, Soleimani led two successful Iranian military operations: the campaign to drive ISIS out of western Iraq in 2015 and the campaign to crush the jihadist forces opposed to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. The United States and Israel denounced Iran’s role in both operations but could not prevent Iran from claiming victory.


Soleimani had assumed a leading role in Iraqi politics in the past year. The anti-ISIS campaign relied on Iraqi militias, which the Iranians supported with money, weapons, and training. After ISIS was defeated, these militia maintained a prominent role in Iraq that many resented, leading to demonstrations and rioting. Soleimani was seeking to stabilize the government and channel the protests against the United States when he was killed.


In the same period, Israel pursued its program of targeted assassination. In the past decade Mossad assassinated at least five Iranian nuclear scientists, according to Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, in an effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. Yossi Melman, another Israeli journalist, says that Mossad has assassinated 60-70 enemies outside of its borders since its founding in 1947, though none as prominent as Soleimani.


Israel also began striking at the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq last year. The United States did the same on December 29, killing 19 fighters and prompting anti-American demonstrations as big as the anti-Iranian demonstrations of a month ago.


Now the killing of Soleimani promises more unrest, if not open war. The idea that it will deter Iranian attacks is foolish.


“This doesn’t mean war,” wrote former Defense Department official Andrew Exum, “It will not lead to war, and it doesn’t risk war. None of that. It is war.“​


The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported a year ago that Washington had given Israel the green light to assassinate Soleimani. Al-Jarida, which in recent years has broken exclusive stories from Israel, quoted a source in Jerusalem as saying that “there is an American-Israeli agreement” that Soleimani is a “threat to the two countries’ interests in the region.” It is generally assumed in the Arab world that the paper is used as an Israeli platform for conveying messages to other countries in the Middle East.


Trump has now fulfilled the wishes of Mossad. After proclaiming his intention to end America’s “stupid endless wars,” the president has effectively declared war on the largest country in the region in solidarity with Israel, the most unpopular country in the Middle East."


~~~~~

 ~ From Counterpunch: 

Opening Pandora's Box In Iraq (must read, excellente)
by, David Lindorff


The Killing of General Soleimani: Hail Mars ! Hail Pluto ! (another outstanding post)
 by, Matthew Hoh


 ~ More Information Here:

Democracy Now !


 ~ Some of the best: 


The Intercept


~~~~~


 I'll be back with the year's end stats, and Ed Vulliamy's coverage of Julian Leyzaola.





Wednesday, December 25, 2019

It's Christmas Day !


Wishing all of you a Happy and Merry Christmas, and that all of your dreams come true,

Maggie, Mike, Paris-Simone, Daca Bob and  The Eight Sleepy Kittens  







xxxooo

Thursday, December 19, 2019

TRUMP IMPEACHED ! Steny Hoyer's Remarkable Closing Speech - Happy Day !

In case you might have missed it this afternoon, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer gave the most remarkable closing speech before the votes were taken to impeach Donald Trump, the rest is history:

 





~ From The Baltimore Sun:


Transcript of U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer’s speech on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump:


“Madam Speaker, I’ve had the honor of serving in this House for over thirty-eight years. I’ve served during six presidencies. I’ve been here through moments of tremendous progress and terrible tragedy. I’ve seen periods of rank partisanship and patriotic bipartisanship. I’ve seen our two-party system work, and I’ve seen it break down.

“Never, in all my years serving in this great institution and the people of my district, did I ever expect to encounter such obvious wrongdoing by a President of the United States. Nor did I expect to witness such craven rationalization of presidential actions, which have put our national security at risk, undermined the integrity of our elections, and defied the Constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct oversight.

“We’ve heard from Republicans that this impeachment really has to do with policy differences or concerns about the President’s temperament or that we simply dislike the President. They’ve alleged that Democrats have been itching to impeach him since he first took office. The facts say otherwise.

“Throughout the Trump presidency, Democrats have resisted pursuing impeachment even as we watched with dismay and disgust at a pattern of wrongdoing. That pattern included ordering federal agencies to lie to the public, firing the FBI Director for refusing to end an investigation of his campaign, siding with Vladimir Putin over our intelligence agencies, taking funding away from the military to put toward an ineffective border wall, and setting policies that have led to the separation of families and the caging of children. We have, to be sure, deep disagreements with the policies and actions taken by this president. But they are not reasons to pursue what Chairman Schiff has called, ‘a wrenching process for the nation.’

“In fact, Democrats rejected that process emphatically in three specific votes. In December of 2017, Democrats overwhelmingly voted against pursuing articles of impeachment, including the Speaker and myself. We did so again in 2018, with over sixty percent of Democrats rejecting that path. Again, in July 2019, just days before the infamous July 25 telephone call, we did the same, with sixty percent of Democrats voting not to proceed.


 “It was not until there was clear evidence that the President was abusing his power to serve his own interests – at the expense of our democracy, our national security, and the safeguarding of our elections from foreign interference – that we were compelled to consider articles of impeachment. Credible witnesses, many of whom were appointed to office by President Trump, have corroborated the details and timeline of his abuse of presidential power, which forms the basis of the first article of impeachment in this resolution. I will not recount them here. They have been laid out fully in the articles before us and by colleagues in their remarks.

“What I will do is remind Americans that the House provided President Trump every opportunity to prove his innocence. Instead, he ignored Congressional subpoenas for documents and for testimony by White House officials and ordered his subordinates not to cooperate. This itself is unprecedented. When Presidents Nixon and Clinton were asked to hand over documents and allow officials to testify, ultimately both complied. Because it is the law. Such actions of the President can be taken as further evidence of his obstruction and abuse of power. It is itself impeachable conduct, the subject of the second article in this resolution.

“These two articles before us concern two very profound Constitutional issues about the abuse of power in our republic. First, whether it is acceptable for the President of the United States to solicit foreign interference in our elections, undermining our national security and the integrity of our democracy. And second, whether it is permissible for the president to obstruct Congress and act as if he is above the law and immune from Constitutional oversight.

“On December 4, the Judiciary Committee heard the testimony of Constitutional law experts who weighed in on these points. One of them, Professor Noah Feldman, cautioned: ‘If we cannot impeach a president who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy. We live in a monarchy, or we live under a dictatorship.’

“The votes we are about to take concern the rule of law and our democracy itself. Let us not forget the words of the philosopher John Locke, so influential to the Founders of our republic. He warned: ‘Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.’

“This impeachment asks whether we are still a republic of laws, as our Founders intended – or whether we will accept that one person can be above the law. In America, no one is above the law, but only as long as we hold every person accountable for breaking the law – even a president. Especially a president.

“If the House does not act – if we wait and delay – we run the risk of allowing the President’s misconduct to be repeated at the expense of the integrity of our elections, our national security, and our Constitutional system of separation of powers. Democrats did not choose impeachment. We did not wish for it. But President Trump’s misconduct has forced our Constitutional republic to protect itself.

“These votes we are about to take – and the process that will follow in the Senate – are not only an assessment of the President’s commitment to the Constitution or to his oath of office. It is, as well, a test of our own. Damning evidence of the President’s high crimes has emerged. Nevertheless, Republican Members of this House and of the Senate have continued to defend a President whose actions and statements are indefensible.

“All of us feel a sense of loyalty to party. It’s what makes our two-party system function. It’s what helps hold presidents and majorities accountable. But party loyalty must have its limits. And as evidence of the President’s impeachable offenses has mounted, it has become increasingly clear that the limits of partisanship have been reached and passed.

“Now, Democrats and Republicans together face a test before our constituents, our countrymen, and our Creator.

“The New York Times on October 18 summarized the question now posed to House and Senate Republicans: ‘Compromise by compromise, Donald Trump has hammered away at what Republicans once saw as foundational virtues: decency, honesty, responsibility. …Will they commit themselves and their party wholly to Mr. Trump, embracing even his most anti-democratic actions, or will they take the first step toward separating themselves from him and restoring confidence in the rule of law?’

“Madam Speaker, we have seen Republican courage throughout our history, from the Civil War to the Cold War. In 1950, Margaret Chase Smith, the Senator from Maine, spoke bravely against the cancer of McCarthyism in her party, leading six of her Republican colleagues in a ‘Declaration of Conscience’ against their own leadership.‘We are Republicans,’ they declared, ‘but we are Americans first.’

“In 1974, one Congressman took the brave and principled step of becoming the first Republican on the Judiciary Committee to support impeaching President Nixon. He said to his colleagues and to the country: ‘…It isn’t easy for me to align myself against the president to whom I gave my enthusiastic support… on whose side I’ve stood in many legislative battles, whose accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs I’ve consistently applauded. But it’s impossible for me to condone or ignore the long train of abuses to which he has subjected the presidency and the people of this country. The Constitution and my own oath of office demand that I bear true faith and allegiance to the principles of law and justice upon which this nation was founded. And I cannot in good conscience turn away from the evidence of evil that is to me so clear and compelling.’

 “That Congressman’s name was Larry Hogan Sr. He represented the Fifth District of Maryland, which I now represent. His son is presently the second-term Republican governor of our state. When Larry Hogan Sr. died in 2017, every obituary led with praise for his great act of political courage. Who among us, many years from now, will receive such praise as a man or woman of courage? Who will regret not having earned it?

“When Rep. Justin Amash left the Republican Party, he admonished his colleagues that: ‘This president will only be in power for a short time, but excusing his behavior will forever tarnish your name.’ Rep. Amash, of course, is the only Member of this House who has no allegiance to either party. He is supporting both articles of impeachment.

“We need not ask who will be the first to show courage by standing up to President Trump. The question we must now ask is: who will be the last to find it?

“The pages of our history are filled with Americans who had the courage to choose country over party or personality. But, as President Kennedy wrote: ‘The stories of past courage …can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.’

“I urge my colleagues in the House and in the Senate: look into your soul. Summon the courage to vote for our Constitution and our democracy. To do less betrays our oath and that of our Founders, who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Let us neither turn away from the evidence, which is so clear, nor from our good conscience, which compels us to do what in our hearts we know to be right. Let us not allow the rule of law to end or for tyranny to find its toehold.

"With our votes today, we can ‘bear true faith and allegiance’ to the vision of our Founders. And we can show future generations what it truly means to be ‘Americans first.’”


~~~~~

 I understand Nancy doesn't want us hoopin', hollerin' and cheering but you have to admit....it is a Happy Day. Richard W. Behan sure hit the nail on the head yesterday.  Stretch it out Nancy, make 'em sweat.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Some Advise For Nancy Pelosi - Bernie in San Diego the 20th !

Tomorrow is D-Day and I'm hoping these high winds will not blow out the electricity as they have been doing. As you already know, you can watch the proceedings of the big day here:


Democracy Now !

Democracy Now|Impeachment 


Adding this one....

~ From CNN:

The Trump Impeachment Vote - 10/18/19


~~~~~ 

Meanwhile, some good advise for Nancy Pelosi:


 ~ From Counterpunch:

Nancy Pelosi: Pull a Mitch McConnell, and President Trump is Toast 
by, Richard W. Behan 


"Speaker Pelosi: when the Impeachment Resolution is passed, do not send it immediately to the Senate. Withhold it instead until the court cases are settled, until Don McGahn and others are forced to respond to their subpoenas, until the President is forced to submit his tax returns, until all the evidence has come to the surface and makes an airtight case to remove him from office.

Take a page from Mitch McConnell’s playbook and game the system.  Remember what he did to Merrick Garland?  The hundreds of passed House bills he refuses to bring to the Senate floor? Use your power the way he does.

Sending the Resolution to the Senate right away hands the initiative to McConnell, and he will game the system, beyond doubt.  He’s already disclosed how he’ll do it, boasting he’ll align Senate procedure with the wishes of the White House. If he could, he’d refuse to act on the Resolution at all, but by law he can’t do that. So he’ll orchestrate a short trial with no witnesses and call for a quick up-or-down vote and he’ll win as he always does—with foul means or fouler. If you let McConnell proceed the President will not be removed from office in January, when the Senate is scheduled to undertake the trial.

So finesse the Majority Leader. Withhold the Resolution. The court cases should all be resolved by June, say (not incidentally when Bill Weld’s primary challenge will be blazing full tilt).

Then hold some more hearings. Answer the Republicans’ demand for “fact witnesses” by calling McGahn, Pompeo, Bolton, Pence, Giuliani, and Mulvaney to testify. Make the Trump tax returns public. The lurid truth of his misconduct will dominate the nightly news for weeks.

When all the bombshells have exploded, then hand off the Impeachment Resolution to Mitch McConnell. Now you have set the stage, not the Majority Leader—and what could be more politically damaging to Trump than standing trial during the heat of his reelection campaign?


The case against Trump is not at the moment open-and-shut. Committee chairs Schiff and Nadler may claim the evidence is “overwhelming,” but Republican Senators hotly deny that, and so do half of the American people. When the damning evidence now blocked by lawsuits is a matter of record, the case will be unassailable: it will be impossible for Republican Senators to deny, and McConnell’s capacity to game the system will vanish. The Senate will have no choice but to vote removal.

Speaker Pelosi, wait until you have an airtight case and then spring."


~~~~~

Received this email afew days back - sharing it with ya'll:

" We're just 81 days from the California primary, Marjorie:
Over the course of these next 81 days, Bernie supporters all across the country will be doing everything we can to help build our movement in California.
That's why we wanted you to be among the first to know that your next chance to do exactly that is coming up very soon. Bernie's headed to San Diego on Friday, December 20, and he's hoping you'll be able to join him.
Immigration Rally in San Ysidro with Bernie Sanders
Friday, December 20
Event starts at 6:00 p.m.
San Ysidro High School Athletic Quad
5353 Airway Rd.
San Diego, CA 92154
If we're going to win California in March, it's going to take an unprecedented grassroots effort that gets hundreds of thousands of people to come together and get involved. That's what this campaign has always been about, from the very beginning.
Not me. Us.
Bernie knows that he can't do it alone. That's why we hope you'll join us in San Diego — because if we build a mass movement across the state and all do our part, we are going to win.
Use this link to RSVP and join Bernie on Friday.

In solidarity,

Team Bernie"

~~~~~



 Hope you are all having a Happy Christmas Holiday ! Of course I wish we all could sneer at Trump after the vote tomorrow...but it looks as though the Republicans are bound and determined to follow their Master to the bowels of Hell. I hope Nancy follows Richard Behan's advise. Stats coming up shortly.


Monday, December 9, 2019

Another Dead Body On Avenida International Just In Time For Christmas & Thank You Linda Ronstadt

Yesterday was supposed to be a fun day out and a special day for Paris...a trip to the Spa at PetCo  in Eastlake as a reward for putting up with the kittens.  It felt Christmassy.  We left here a little late - it was 10:35am. Mike put on an old Aaron Neville Christmas CD , the traffic was heavier than usual with some drizzle but this morning it didn't really bother us.

As we drove up the Avenida International hill moments later we were talking about the all of the landslides around us due to the storms. Then I saw it first out the front window then clearly out my passenger window, close enough to touch, a body of a man thrown to the side of the road, obviously dead. He was wearing a heavy sweater, lying on his side facing the cliff surrounded by rocks and wet debris.

Mike turned the CD off, silence. I guess we thought we could escape it, but we couldn't.  I mentioned that I haven't blogged the latest attack on Zeta for their coverage of corruption in the new Jaime Bonilla regime, Javier Sicilia's latest talk where he blasted AMLO at the Gudalajara Writer/Book Festival, AMLO's latest speeches and promises, Padre Solalinde's current stance on the migrantes (which blew most of us away) or even Anabel Hernandez's new book which throws  light on organized crime's position in present Mexican government at the highest level, or even the number of human rights activists across the nation since the beginning of the year who have been simply, killed. It's raining again right now and the wind is blowing, but it doesn't feel very Christmassy . 

When we came home the electricity was on and I checked the news: El Sol covered the body on Avenida International and I wondered how many hundreds of other people saw it and what their thoughts were. 

~~~~~

The greatest news I thought was this:





 ~ From CNN:

 Linda Ronstadt's Delicious Takedown of Mike Pence
By, Peggy Drexler


"(CNN)Saturday night, in one of the year's more deliciously awkward celebrity moments, singer Linda Ronstadt went head to head with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Pompeo's own turf. At a State Department event celebrating the year's Kennedy Center honorees, of which Ronstadt is one, she did away with niceties and politesse and instead told Pompeo, the evening's host and the country's most senior diplomat, exactly what she thought of him, which is not very much. 

Pompeo never saw it coming — although he set up the jab quite well. During his pre-dinner address, Pompeo referenced Ronstadt's 1975 hit "When Will I Be Loved." "Ms. Ronstadt," he said, "thank you and congratulations. And I will say my job, as I travel the world, I just want to know when I will be loved?"  


Later, when Ronstadt had the opportunity to take the microphone, she delivered her response. In front of more than 200 guests, Ronstadt, who has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration, stood up and looked straight at Pompeo's table and said, "I'd like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he'll be loved, it's when he stops enabling Donald Trump." 


It was a risky move. The politicizing of Hollywood awards events is nothing new, of course, especially in recent years. But few celebrities have taken the opportunity to issue their criticisms so directly, and so boldly. And those who have spoken out have largely done so to far safer crowds of mostly liberal celebrities: Meryl Streep's anti-Trump Golden Globes speech in 2017, for example, or Robert DeNiro's Trump takedown at the 2018 Tony Awards.  


This, however, was a government event, held at the US State Department. The audience was politically split, the award itself politically-bestowed, even as it is non-partisan in tone and tradition. And unlike Ronstadt, few Trump administration critics have had the chance to issue criticism in person.  


Ronstadt's remarks were unexpected not because her views of Trump weren't known, but because they were not polite. They did not follow traditional rules of decorum expected — from women, especially — at such events. It was not ladylike or demure. It was not "so grateful to be here tonight accepting this award," as so many so often are.

Instead, it was honest. It was unapologetic. And it was about time.

At 73, Ronstadt, who is suffering from a condition similar to Parkinson's disease and retired in 2011, can no longer sing. But she has not lost her voice. That Pompeo told the crowd he was "a big fan of Linda Ronstadt ... an icon of folk and country music" did not matter to her. What did? Speaking her truth.
Her boldness may come with age, which for many can carry with it a "nothing to lose" mentality. Or it may come with the knowledge of her own power, which at this point in her life is no longer derived from pleasing others. She was not there for his, or anyone's, praise. Her career no longer depends on that. 
The fear of alienating audiences, or of being "unlikable" in any way, is perhaps why more female celebrities aren't similarly bold. Although a few of Ronstadt's younger, female contemporaries have spoken out against Trump — including Adele and Rihanna, who both refused to let Trump use their songs during campaigning and endorsed Hillary Clinton — famous women are, for the most part, still expected to be polite, pretty, grateful for what they are given, and always occasion-appropriate. That's one reason it took pop star Taylor Swift so long to voice her political opinion.
But while Ronstadt has always been known in the industry as being "difficult" simply because she did what she wanted and not what others expected, she has now earned the right to speak her mind wherever and whenever she wants — without fear of industry blowback and without concern for being a "likeable"  lady.
 Certainly, she benefited from the fact that the public is likely to be more open to hearing such remarks from a person who speaks from time, experience and perspective — one advantage older female celebrities may have over their younger counterparts. But one lesson anyone of any age, gender or level of fame can take from Ronstadt's bold statement is that the more women use their voices, and speak their minds, the more likely doing so will become the expectation, and not the exception."
~~~~~


  Thank You Linda...and you know what, she's still runnin'.

So many songs, I chose this one, the back up band on this album BTW was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: