Category Archives: To Save Democracy

Pelosi & Taiwan: Curtain Raiser On A New Nuclear Suspense Drama?

Taiwan – Nancy Pelosi’s Last Hurrah

Gwynne Dyer — Aug 04 2022

People walk past a billboard welcoming U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, August 2, 2022. Pelosi . . . becomes the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island claimed by China, which quickly announced that it would conduct military maneuvers in retaliation for her presence.
CHIANG YING-YING/AP

Gwynne Dyer is a UK-based Canadian journalist and seasoned commentator on international affairs.

OPINION: Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit to Taiwan this week caused
great if somewhat confected anger in Beijing, but the Chinese Communist regime was not her main target. Continue reading Pelosi & Taiwan: Curtain Raiser On A New Nuclear Suspense Drama?

Political “Miracles” of the Week

Some amazing things happened in public life the past few days. Here are a few of my picks:

Imagine that: Democrats came up with a brilliant political slogan.

I’m not sure that’s happened since “Yes We Can” burst on the scene with Barack Obama in 2008.

This one is the “rebrand” of the last year’s luckless “Build Back Better.” I was okay with BBB, but it sure went down, choked in  coal smoke from Manchin’s mines, then lost in Krysten Sinema’s deserts.

A caveat: I’m speaking here only of the title; what’s in it is another matter, as are its actual prospects for passage. But certainly it will be an asset in the Dems’ midterm electoral campaign.

Next, a spate of stunning campaign ads popped up. The best, which delivers a horror message worthy of Stephen King, with wickedly sardonic wit and wordplay, comes from Texas and a new PAC, Mothers Against [Texas governor] Greg Abbott “MAGA”:

In an instantly viral ad, a doctor tells a distraught couple that their fetus has suffered a catastrophic abnormality.
If she were to make it to full term, he continues, the baby girl would die just hours after birth. “She will suffer,” the doctor adds, before telling the tearful parents that a decision must be made on terminating the pregnancy — a choice that “only one person can make.”

“And that person is Greg,” the doctor says.
“Who the F—- is Greg?” The father asks. The doctor reveals a portrait of Abbott. With a direct phone line.
[Click here to watch the ad. ]

“Greg” turns thumbs down. Then . . . .

I think the ad is brilliant in every way: production, acting, targeting (Republican Abbott is up for re-election), its daggerlike wordplay, and packing its thrust into less than ninety seconds.

Speaking of a quick thrust . . .

 

PS. A real Grass-Roots snapshot, from In The Yard:

Welcome to your Weekend . . . .

 

 

New “MAGA” ad (Mothers Against Greg Abbott) Goes Viral in Texas Guv Race

Washington Post: In viral ad, doctor calls Texas governor to get permission for abortion

María Paúl – July 28, 2022
A new political ad targeting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) starts with a scene that could unfold in any hospital across the country — a doctor delivering gutting news to an expectant couple: “Your baby has a catastrophic brain abnormality.”

If she were to make it to full term, he continues, the baby girl would die just hours after birth.

“She will suffer,” the doctor adds, before telling the tearful parents that a decision will have to be made on terminating the pregnancy — a choice that “only one person can make.”

“And that person is Greg,” the doctor explains, revealing a portrait of Abbott.
[Click here to watch the ad.]

The ad, which quickly went viral,  was released Monday by a new political action committee Mothers Against Greg Abbott criticizes Texas abortion laws. Even before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Texas’s “heartbeat act” — which banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — was among the most restrictive in the country, relying on ordinary citizens to report suspected violations.

A “trigger law” banning abortions, with few exceptions, is set to take effect next month. As a result, clinics in the state have shut down, health providers are wary of providing certain medical interventions and some mothers have been left feeling “like a walking coffin” after suffering miscarriages, The Washington Post has reported.

The group’s video struck a chord nationally, garnering about 7 million views across Twitter, Instagram and YouTube within three days of its release.

A spokesperson for Abbott didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post early Thursday. The Mothers Against Greg Abbott political action committee released another ad earlier this month criticizing Texas policies on guns, the pandemic and education. The group says it includes mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts and grandparents “ready to fight” for change in their state.

The abortion ad mixes distress with dark humor, positing that reproductive health choices in Texas are now up to the state, leaving the parents-to-be utterly confused.

“Greg?” the woman in the ad says. Who’s Greg?! her partner asks, using a slightly more profane turn of phrase when the physician tells them only Greg can decide the next steps.

Then the doctor, wielding a red phone with a direct line to Abbott, has a brief conversation with the governor. With a shrug, the doctor proceeds to tell the parents: “Yeah, that’s going to be a no. Best of luck to you.”

The ad ends with a close-up of the stunned couple and a question splashed on the screen: “Whose choice should it be?”

Though sardonic in essence, the scene portrayed in the ad rings true  with some doctors. Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN and New York Times contributor, posted when sharing the video that she once called a state legislator for permission to perform an abortion in the 1990s.

“This is not a hypothetical people,” she added.

Since it was released, some candidates have cited the ad to persuade Texans to vote for Democrats who support abortion rights. Beto O’Rourke, who’s running against Abbott in what polls suggest is a tightening gubernatorial race, says he’ll “fight for Texas women to have the freedom to decide what is best for their health, family, and future.”

Still, others have called the video “poorly executed,” including one woman who received a terminal diagnosis when pregnant but chose to carry to term. “I’m left wondering if whoever wrote it has ever experienced a fatal diagnosis. And if they did, was their doctor this callous?” the woman shared on Twitter.

In response, Chelsea Aldrich, the video’s director, said the clip was based on the “real story about another real mother who chose to terminate.”

“This is not a judgment on any woman’s choice. It’s a referendum on lack of choice,” Aldrich wrote.

Israel & the Killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

 

Opinion by Lina Abu Akleh
 — July 27, 2022

Lina Abu Akleh is Shireen Abu Akleh’s niece.
Earlier this year, I began planning a summer trip from Jerusalem to the United States with my aunt. I was excited for her to show me cities she knew well and loved, including Washington.
I am now in Washington, but without my aunt, the renowned Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. All evidence indicates she was killed by an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin on May 11, just after she arrived to report on an Israeli military incursion. Instead of visiting monuments and museums with my aunt, I am in D.C. calling for justice and accountability for her death.

An image of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Since that horrible day when Shireen was shot in the space between her protective helmet and bulletproof vest clearly marked as PRESS, my family has called on the U.S. government to conduct an independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the killing.

It is a testament to Shireen’s impact and inspiration as an iconic and groundbreaking journalist that dozens of members of Congress have asked for the same. Yet until now, the Biden administration has refused. After meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, we hope President Biden will reconsider and finally act.

There have been multiple investigations by the United Nations, human rights organizations and major international news organizations, all concluding that Shireen was almost certainly killed by an Israeli sniper, and that the entrance of the Jenin refugee camp was quiet when she was shot.
Yet I read with bewilderment a statement that the Biden administration issued on July 4. Based on reviewing and summarizing the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority’s investigations, the United States concluded that Israel was likely responsible for my aunt’s killing, but that there was no reason to believe that it was intentional.
 Continue reading Israel & the Killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Benched: Ukraine’s Oligarchs Are Waiting for a Break

The Guardian: How the war has robbed Ukraine’s oligarchs of political influence
Analysis: Five months since Russia’s invasion started, Ukraine’s wealthiest have gone quiet – but for how long?

Isobel Koshiw in Kyiv — Sat 23 Jul 2022

Ukraine’s richest people, known in the country as oligarchs, are used to dominating political and economic life. But in the five months since Russia’s full-scale invasion started, they have gone quiet.

Political analysts and experts attribute this loss of influence to the fact that oligarchs and their businesses – like all Ukrainian citizens – need protection in the form of the military and diplomacy, state functions they have no control over.

Mykyta Poturyaev, an MP and former election campaign adviser to several Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians including the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said oligarchs are in the unusual position of not being able to influence the country at the moment.

“Unlike in 2014, when [Ukrainian oligarch Ihor] Kolomoisky, for instance, was involved in defending Dnipropetrovsk region, there is someone to do that now – the state, the regional administration,” Poturyaev said.

The war has seemingly enabled Zelenskiy to become the first Ukrainian president to sideline the oligarchs, who have traditionally competed to control the country’s political leadership.

But analysts say that only once the war is over will it be clear if Ukraine’s oligarchic era has ended or if the oligarchs will try to regain their influence. Continue reading Benched: Ukraine’s Oligarchs Are Waiting for a Break