Thursday, February 16, 2023

Confirm Gigi Sohn already

I noted the politics of destruction being aimed at Gigi South awhile back.  Rae Hodge (Salon) reports:

Senate Republicans have again dug in their heels against President Biden's nominee to fill the vacant fifth seat on the Federal Communications Commission, reflecting what some Democrats call a smear campaign directed at a lesbian woman with progressive politics. During a Tuesday hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee, FCC nominee Gigi Sohn faced a third round of Republican-led criticism — but embraced the moment to denounce the role of dark money groups in the ongoing smear campaign against her.

Sohn, a board member at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a left-leaning internet advocacy group, would unfreeze the FCC's current 2-2 partisan deadlock and secure Democrats a 3-2 majority. 

Tuesday's hearing was Sohn's third before the committee after being nominated in October 2021, and the first since Biden renominated her last month. Her stalled confirmation has so far scuttled Democratic promises to restore the landmark net neutrality rules ended under Donald Trump.

In a prepared statement, Sohn said Tuesday that her appointment has faced significant delays at the hands of telecom and internet service provider lobbying groups.  

"It is critical for at least one member of the FCC to be a consumer advocate who has spent a career not beholden to any interest but that of the public," Sohn said

Agreed.  Here's her prepared remarks in full:

Good morning, Chairwoman Cantwell, Ranking Member Cruz, and members of the Committee. 
Today I am joined by my wife, Lara, our daughter Yosselin, and my brother Adam. I want to acknowledge my mother, Roma, who can’t be here today. People who know her would say that I get my determination and fortitude from her. 
Since there are several new Committee members, let me introduce myself. I grew up with three brothers in a middle-class household on Long Island. My father was an accountant for the Grumman Corporation and my mother was one of the first Physician Assistants certified in New York State. My formative years were filled with sports and music, including cheering for my beloved Mets and Jets. A Broadcasting Law course in my sophomore year at Boston University changed my life. I was fascinated with the power of communications networks to inform public discourse and promote democratic values and was awakened to the important role government can play in ensuring that all voices are heard. After law school and private practice, I started what has been a nearly 35-year career as a public interest lawyer advocating for policies that ensure that modern communications networks are available to everyone, regardless of who they are or where they live. For the past two decades, I have worked towards the goal of ensuring that every US household has robust and affordable broadband Internet access. From 2013 to 2016, I was privileged to serve as Counselor to then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, where I gained the invaluable experience of working inside the agency and learning the different tools needed to be an effective policymaker. 
Today, at my 3rd confirmation hearing, 15 months after I was nominated, I’d like to answer a question that I know is on the minds of many on the dais and in this room: Why am I still President Biden’s nominee for the 5th seat on the FCC? There are four reasons. First, I care deeply about the mission of the FCC and have dedicated my entire career to that mission – ensuring that everyone, regardless of income level, race, gender, sexual orientation, or where they live – has access to affordable and robust communications networks so they can be full participants in our economy, our education and health care systems, our culture, and our democracy. I’ve accomplished a great deal as a public advocate, but after I left the FCC, I knew I wanted to one day return as a public servant to continue this important work. 2 Second, I believe it is critical for at least one member of the FCC to be a consumer advocate who has spent a career not beholden to any interest but that of the public. I’ve certainly worked with industry towards common goals and many in industry are among the over 400 groups that support my confirmation, but my roots and my heart are with the everyday Americans the FCC by law is tasked to serve. Third, I am extremely well qualified. Even those who oppose my confirmation agree that I have a deep knowledge of the issues before the FCC and thanks to my time working at the agency, I know how it operates. 
I am proud of my bipartisan network that includes pretty much every FCC stakeholder, including state, local and tribal officials, industry, academia, public interest, public safety, civil rights, and the disability community. I know everybody and they know me. They also know, regardless of whether we agree on policy, that I’m a straight shooter who will listen, try to find common ground, and take their equities into account. Lastly, I believe deeply that regulated entities should not choose their regulator. 
Unfortunately, that is the exact intent of the past 15 months of false and misleading attacks on my record and my character. My industry opponents have hidden behind dark money groups and surrogates because they fear a pragmatic, pro-competition, pro-consumer policymaker who will support policies that will bring more, faster, and lower-priced broadband and new voices to your constituents. The FCC has been without a majority for the entirety of the Biden Administration – over two years – at a time when closing the digital divide is front and center. There are too many important issues in front of the Commission to lack a full complement of members, including improving the broadband maps, fixing the Universal Service Fund, closing the Homework Gap, ensuring fair access to broadband, and protecting consumers’ privacy. 
Americans deserve a full FCC where I could play a critical role in addressing every one of these, but time is of the essence. In closing, I want to give my heartfelt thanks to President Biden for his belief in me, to Chairwoman Cantwell and her staff for their constant support and to the other Committee members and their staffs who have worked so hard on my behalf and on behalf of the American people. If I am confirmed, I look forward to working with all the Members of the Committee as well as the sitting Commissioners to achieve universal connectivity in the United States. Thank you.

Confirm her already.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2023.  Like the US, Iraq has their own crazy Marjorie Taylor Greenes, and the Tara Reade crazies in the US are losing it in front of our very eyes.  

Starting in Iraq, Ammar Karim (AFP) reports:

Dancing to Iraqi pop made TikTok personality Om Fahad a hit among tens of thousands of followers, but now she is in prison, caught up in a state campaign targeting "decadent content".        

The young Iraqi woman using that pseudonym was sentenced early this month to half a year behind bars for the light-hearted video clips that show her in tight-fitting clothes.

A new government campaign aims to cleanse social media platforms of content that breaches Iraqi "mores and traditions", the interior ministry announced in January.

A specialised committee now scours TikTok, YouTube and other popular platforms for clips deemed offensive by many in the largely conservative and patriarchal society.


A few days later, another TikTokeuse – under the pseudonym of Assal Hossam – was sentenced to two years in prison, for videos in which she showed off her forms, sometimes dressed in a military uniform.

A total of ten people have been arrested for decadent content, according to an official from the Ministry of the Interior, who wants to keep the Ministry of Interior. anonymity. Via a platform set up by the authorities, 96,000 reports were sent by the general public, according to the same source.

Six verdicts have already been pronounced in these cases, according to justice.

And in Amarah, southern Iraq, an investigative judge recently heard from four minor social media celebrities, suspected of offending the public morals and indecent assault, says a statement from the Supreme Judicial Council. 

NET reports:

On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, the Karkh Misdemeanor Court issued prison sentences against content creator Hassan Sajma and content creator Ghufran Mahdi Sawadi, known as "Umm Fahd", on charges of "bad content" by "publishing several films and videos containing obscene and indecent statements and displaying them to the public on social networking sites".

Sajma was sentenced to two years in prison, and Umm Fahd to six months' imprisonment based on the provisions of Article 403 of the Penal Code No. 111 of 1969, as amended, which stipulates that "Any person who produces, imports, publishes, possesses, obtains or translates a book, printed or other written material, drawing, picture, film, symbol or other thing that violates the public integrity or decency with intent to exploit or distribute such material is punishable by a period of detention not exceeding 2 years plus a fine not exceeding 200 dinars or by one of those penalties. The same penalty applies to any person who advertises such material or displays it in public or sells, hires or offers it for sale or hire even though it is not in public or to any person who distributes or submits it for distribution by any means. If the offense is committed with intent to deprave and corrupt morals, it is considered to be an aggravating circumstances."

At the same time, the head of Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council, Faiq Zidan, directed "general deterrence" by taking strict legal measures against anyone who publishes content that "offends public decency and constitutes immoral practices."

Don't they have better things to than try to attack content creators and censor?  Aren't there a ton of corrupt officials who should be standing before judges right now for having ripped off millions each year from the Iraqi people?

Or is this what that's really about?  Create some nonsense like this to distract from just how awful the elected officials are?  Oh, look, it's Tara Reade's little friend Marjorie Taylor Greene.  Little?  Honey, anyone who Tara stands next to is going to look little.  Alex Bollinger (LGBTQ NATION) reports:

Out Rep. George Santos (R-NY) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) are cosponsoring a bill that could restrict students’ access to books that discuss LGBTQ+ themes.

Santos is one of 11 out LGBTQ+ members of the House of Representatives and the only one advancing an anti-LGBTQ+ equality agenda. The other 10 LGBTQ+ House members are Democrats.

Does Tara not realize that her erotic Putin fan fiction might get banned by her new friend Marjorie -- the woman she can't stop reTweeting?

Tara's too busy snacking between, before and during meals to think about it too much and besides she's about to be on stage shortly at the faux fest that is RAGE AGAINST THE WAR MACHINE.  Joseph Kishore (WSWS) serves up some reality about that nonsense:

The demonstration being held in Washington D.C. on February 19, under the headline “Rage Against the War Machine,” is opposed to a socialist and genuinely anti-war perspective. Based on the most shortsighted, pragmatic and opportunistic calculations, this event promotes an alliance and collaboration with the political right and even openly fascistic forces.

The primary organizers of the rally are the Libertarian Party, led by Angela McArdle, and the “People’s Party,” led by Nick Brana.

The platform of the right-wing Libertarian Party is the demand for the full and unrestrained right of the capitalists to exploit the working class. It is virulently opposed not only to socialism, but to all social reforms. One of the main speakers at the rally is the former Libertarian Party candidate for president, Ron Paul, who has advocated the elimination of income taxes, minimum wage laws, unemployment insurance and Social Security.

Angela McArdle is a member of the “Mises Caucus” of the Libertarian Party. Named after the fanatically anti-socialist economist Ludwig von Mises, this faction virulently upholds the absolute right of private property.

Under the direction of McArdle and the “Mises Caucus”, the Libertarians have made a more direct orientation to the fascist right and the anti-Semitic groups involved in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In early 2021, McArdle defended the invitation of an anti-Semitic provocateur to the Mises Caucus convention in California, writing that a “truth-seeker” who asks “the question about whether or not Jews run Hollywood” is not an anti-Semite.

The “People’s Party” originated in the “Movement for a People’s Party” (MPP), which held its inaugural convention in August 2020. Its purpose, indicated in its name, is to oppose the organization of the working class as an independent political force. The specific social identity and interests of the working class are dissolved into the amorphous category of “the people.” The program of the “People’s Party” is nationalistic and anti-socialist. The WSWS called attention at the time to the MPP’s orientation to the far right, which has in the intervening two-and-a-half years exploded to the surface.

The Libertarians and the People’s Party have, for their own purposes, assembled an assortment of “left” speakers to participate in the rally. They includes comedian Jimmy Dore and the editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal. Both Dore and Blumenthal have previously promoted an alliance with the far right forces that oppose all critical health measures to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. The have downplayed the significance of the January 6 coup. Dore’s response to the coup was to promote an alliance with the fascistic Boogaloo Boys militia.

While oriented to the far right, the rally also draws upon many of the conceptions of the Stalinist Popular Front and the subordination of political opposition to the Democratic Party. This is represented by figures such as former Democratic Party presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and Green Party politicians Jill Stein and Cynthia McKinney. Also speaking is former Democratic Party Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is currently an active lieutenant colonel in the US Army.

The most putrid element of the rally is the direct involvement of fascists. Among the featured speakers is Jackson Hinkle, a supporter of Trump and promoter of “MAGA Communism,” who has said it is his aim to “finish the job of Donald Trump” by “uprooting liberalism from America and getting rid of the globalists out of the MAGA movement.” Another participant is Jordan Page, a libertarian who in 2015 wrote the fascist “Oath Keeper” anthem, entitled “Arm Yourselves.”

Given the far-right element at the rally, several groups refused to participate, including Veterans for Peace and Code Pink.

Pacifist columnist and author Chris Hedges, who will also be speaking at the rally, attempts to legitimize and defend his own participation in a statement published on his Substack this week, “There Are No Permanent Allies, Only Permanent Power.”

Hedges is known as a radical critic of American imperialism. Heavily influenced by Noam Chomsky and substituting middle-class moralizing for scientific political analysis, Hedges rejects Marxism and is implacably hostile to the “Trotskyites,” an element of his politics that has become ever more explicit. His writings are characterized by a demoralized, even obsessive, pessimism, and explicit opposition to the organization of the working class as an independent political force. He is not necessarily opposed to working class participation in a popular movement, but only in a subordinate political role. This has now led him to calling for and legitimizing a completely unprincipled and reactionary alliance with the far right.

According to Hedges, “We will not topple corporate power and the war machine alone. There has to be a left-right coalition, which will include people whose opinions are not only unpalatable but even repugnant, or we will remain marginalized and ineffectual.” Not only is it politically permissible to forge an alliance with the extreme right, Hedges insists, it is a necessity, a “fact of political life.”

Hedges argues that it is possible to build a movement against war in alliance with the far right in isolation from any other social or political issue.

“The rally on February 19 is not about eliminating Social Security and Medicare or abolishing the minimum wage, which many libertarians propose,” he writes. “It is not a rally to denounce the rights of the LGBTQ community, which have been attacked by at least one of the speakers. It is a rally to end permanent war. Should these right-wing participants organize around other issues, I will be on the other side of the barricades.”

How does one begin to unpack all this political nonsense?

Hedge’s assertion that legitimizing the claim of these far-right forces to be opposed to war in no way aids their anti-democratic and anti-working class social and political agenda is a political absurdity. Of course it helps the political right. The presence of Hedges and others claiming to be on the left assists the right-wing organizers in disorienting and deceiving workers and young people and provides a false “progressive” cover for their reactionary politics. Whtever his private intentions, Hedges’ public message is that the right wing Libertarians and the fascists are really not so bad, they have their good sides, and one can find common ground with them.

Hedge’s claim that he would be “on the other side of the barricades” should his far-right collaborators “organize around other issues” is theatrical demagogy pure sophistry. When his present right-wing friends combine their criticism of the Ukraine with American nationalism, anti-Semitism, rejection of even marginal social reforms, promotion of anti-vaccination madness, and other utterly reactionary policies, what are they doing if not “organizing around other issues?” 

We took on Chris yesterday and I called him out but also noted he had done many things worth applauding.  The failure to offer blind worship has offended a number of drive-by e-mailers.  Some think I was much too hard on Chris.


Because what I could have done -- and maybe should -- is this.

That's from WILL & GRACE, episode "24" written by Gail Lerner, Kari Lizer, Jhoni Marchinko, Tracy Poust, Jon Kinnally and Bill Wrubel.  Via DURFEE.NET, here's the part to emphasize from the above.


JACK: You must be dying!



JACK: Aren't you dying?! Your husband is going to Guatemala with that! I would die!

KAREN: I know! That bod! She could be in a Whitesnake video! Whoo!

JACK: Just! die!

WILL: That is some lucky flesh-eating virus that gets her.

ROSARIO: What is she a doctor of? Foxology?


JACK: [CLAPPING] Die! Die! Die!

GRACE: Okay! I get it! She's gorgeous and she saves lives, big whoop. I look good sometimes. And I let people cut in front of me in line at the supermarket. Well, I haven't, but I've thought of it.

WILL: Come on, Gracie. You have nothing to worry about.

GRACE: I know that! I'm very secure in my relationship. I love my husband, and I know that he loves me.

JACK: I would die!

So what I could have said regarding Chris Hedges?  

I would die!

If I wrote the November 8, 2001 NEW YORK TIMES cover story "A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SCHOOL; Defectors Cite Iraqi Training For Terrorism" -- later exposed as fraudulent by Jack Fairweather's "Heroes in Error" (MOTHER JONES, March/April 2006) -- an article that was nothing but lies and falsely linked Iraq to 9/11, I would die!

I would die! Realizing that my work helped start the lie, helped start the war, a war that killed millions, I would die!

And, again, over a million did.

And this has nothing to do with Judith Miller.

This is a 'report' that the great Chris Hedges 'wrote' (stenography, that's all he did).  

I would die!

Over a million Iraqis dead and it was my fault?

I would die!

So, no, I don't feel I was too hard on Chris Hedges yesterday.

As Mike noted last night, one idiot just keeps trying to defend her actions and gets hit back with a Tweet full of reality:

 And one more time, if you're throwing the party, it's incumbent upon you to do the invites.  People you haven't invited aren't supposed to be calling you up and saying, "Hear you're having a party is it okay for me to invite myself."  The lack of diversity in your guests is a reflection solely on the choices you made.  You can't turn around now and blame others.  Own your damn actions.  Pathetic.

Be sure to read Ann's "Anya, do they give you bathroom breaks on the plantation?" about how the faux test had to deploy the only person of color they could hide behind.  Then take a moment to notice that it's not just the faux text.  It's also their supporters who are White and hissing and screaming at people of color to fall in line.  Screaming that this is identity politics.

As though what they're doing with the White Power rally isn't?

It's always interesting when someone tries to fight for their own dignity and the majority White response is to scream, "Identity politics!"  I believe this is called self-repsect.  But go to Anya's Tweet and look at all the White bullies attacking people of color in their Tweets.

What they're really expressing is anger that as White people they can't just call the shots and get everyone to fall in line behind them.  The planned 'action' in DC is racist but note that the defense they're mounting online for their 'action' is also highly racist as well.

Let's wind down with this discussion on the topic from BLACK POWER MEDIA.

The following sites updated:

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