Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Nomentum Joe Biden and Mueller's snoozefest

Last time, I wrote "We need enthusiasm" about how Joe Biden provides none and we need a better presidential candidate than Joe.  Today, Jennifer Epstein (BLOOMBERG NEWS) observes:

Joe Biden campaigns like time is the only thing standing between him and the Democratic nomination. But there are growing signs that his third bid for the presidency is anything but inevitable. The former vice president offers a message of inclusivity with a moderate policy agenda aimed squarely at President Donald Trump in the general election. But a wide range of vulnerabilities, already evident
in polling, fundraising and field organization, could get in the way. Biden is facing nearly two dozen opponents trying to knock him off, even as he often takes a posture reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, when she only had one viable opponent. And his late entry into the field -- two to four months after the other top-polling candidates -- has had him playing catch up.

Perhaps most worrisome for Biden is that he doesn’t appear to excite passions among Democratic voters or insiders like the last two nominees. 

There is no enthusiasm for Joe.

It's probably one of the biggest reasons he needs to go.

The nonsense of Robert Mueller needs to go to.  Michael Tracey Tweeted the testimony and the aftermath:

  1. It would be a mistake to look at Mueller's sleepy performance and conclude that impeachment is now "off the table." On the contrary, Dems who were once opposed are now saying that it's a virtual inevitability. And Pelosi's attitude has shifted
  2. Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff, and Cummings all basically said that impeachment is just a matter of time
  3. Pelosi isn't ruling out impeachment or even arguing against it. In fact, she's setting out the logic of her strategy with impeachment as the ultimate objective: "The stronger our case is, the worse the Senate will look for just letting the president off the hook"
  4. Rep. Elijah Cummings says people will be talking about the Mueller Report 500 years from now
  5. At first blush the hearings seemed disastrous for Dems, largely because Mueller could barely stay awake, but they only need 20-25 more members to back impeachment to make a majority in the caucus. There were a handful of "moments" they can latch onto to keep the dream alive
  6. This answer apparently excited people but Mueller thoroughly examined every aspect of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting and concluded that nothing occurred which constituted a crime
  7. Based on his drowsy performance, Robert Mueller is presumably in bed sound asleep right now
  8. There are so many issues, foreign and domestic, that Trump should genuinely held accountable for, and today's embarrassment once again underscored how absurd it is that Dems have devoted so much energy to demanding accountability for a non-existent fairy tale
  9. The all-knowing has blamed and myself for two lines of questioning from GOP members. It’s true, we orchestrated a multi-year international conspiracy to funnel both rubles and talking points to these Congressmen. Konstantin Kilimnik was also involved
  10. Chuck Todd just suggested on NBC that the Mueller investigation is “not complete” because something something Manafort. This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends...
  11. Six hours, two committees, countless questions, and the Democrats managed to extract virtually nothing which meaningfully strengthens their case against Trump
  12. The dominos keep falling. Mueller says no one instructed him not to investigate Trump’s personal finances
  13. I’ve seen pee-wee football coaches with better time management skills than some of these Congresspeople
  14. Most if not all of the new information revealed during these two hearings has been elicited by Republicans. Democrats have largely just prompted him to orally confirm things in the Report, which provides nothing of value
  15. Mueller says the longstanding, hotly-touted allegation that the Trump Campaign illicitly communicated with Alfa Bank is "not true"
  16. Mueller's refusal to comment on so many aspects of a *closed investigation* could theoretically be portrayed by the media as stonewalling, excessive secrecy, etc. but of course it won't be, because he's an American Hero™
  17. Mueller had an incredibly expansive investigative "purview" and successfully requested that it be expanded even further (which he confirmed today) yet somehow he can't comment on issue after issue, even issues which relate directly to his investigation
  18. Mueller says Trump touting WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign is "problematic" and "calls for investigation." Wasn't he supposed to be the "investigator"???
  19. Mueller was just given the opportunity to deny that information on the predawn raid of Roger Stone was leaked to CNN, and he declined to do so
  20. Mueller gives the impression that he was hidden away in an assisted living home while other people conducted his investigation and wrote his Report

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2019.  Joe Biden stumbles again as the debates loom, Iraq's latest prime minister makes a for-show effort, and much more.

Starting in the US where the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues.  There are 25 candidates and 20 of those will participate in the debates next week.  War Hawk Joe Biden is one of the 20 who will participate.  Who knows what he'll say?  And does anyone listen to what he says now?

I'm looking at a Tweet and wondering why the stupidity isn't a major story.

Too many people are incarcerated in the US – and many don’t have resources to successfully rejoin society after serving their time. That’s why I’m releasing my plan to reduce our prison population, create a more just society, & make our communities safer.

Too many people are wrongly incarcerated?  Sure, I'll support that.  Too many are incarcerated for charges that shouldn't carry imprisonment?  I can go along with that as well.

But that's not what 'Joe' typed, is it?

What Joe typed is the sort of gift Republicans love to run against.

"Too many people are incarcerated in the US" is what 'Joe' typed.

He's not saying they're innocent, he's not saying that the deck was stacked against them (due to race or other issues), he's not saying that mandatory sentencing is responsible.

All he's saying is our prisons are full so let's start letting people out.

That's what that Tweet says.  Does no one remember how the Poppy Bush campaign used Willie Horton and furloughs in the 1988 election?

And you've got a press declared front runner Tweeting "Too many people are incarcerated in the US" and here's my plan to release them.

Joe is a nightmare.  He is one gaffe after another.  The bumbling vice president might be cute and funny but for the person who sits in the Oval Office, that's not what we want.

Yes, Gerald Ford got in there but on a pass.  He only got him because he was an (unelected) Vice President.  When he finally faced an election, he lost to Jimmy Carter.

Joe last delivered a plan or 'plan' with his healthcare proposals.  Natalie Shure (JACOBIN) explains:

Bidencare concedes none of this, opting instead to hitch its wagon squarely on Obama’s legacy. “For Biden, this is personal,” his website reads, despite having privately cautioned against the ACA as vice president. “He believes that every American has a right to the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have access to affordable, quality health care. He knows that no one in this country should have to lay in bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering, ‘what will I do if she gets breast cancer?’ or ‘if he has a heart attack?’ ‘Will I go bankrupt?’ He knows there is no peace of mind if you cannot afford to care for a sick child or a family member because of a pre-existing condition, because you’ve reached a point where your health insurer says “no more,” or because you have to make a decision between putting food on the table and going to the doctor or filling a prescription.”
The whole paragraph is a brazen lie. Joe Biden does not, in fact, believe that health care is a right. The ACA doesn’t make it one. His proposed changes don’t either. Every one of the scenarios he lists off in his folksy “I’m a good person” spiel persist today, and still would under his plan. Tens of millions of uninsured and underinsured people can hardly be assumed to have “peace of mind.” Breast cancer patients delay treatment when their insurance plans have high deductibles. Medical bills are still a factor in some two-thirds of personal bankruptcies. If insurers can no longer flat-out deny patients with preexisting conditions, they can certainly still bilk them with high deductibles and coinsurance. While reporting recently on skyrocketing insulin costs, I was struck by just how many diabetes patients burdened by these prices have insurance but nonetheless struggle to pay out-of-pocket until they hit their deductible. Several of them explicitly mentioned skimping on groceries to buy insulin instead.

Truly codifying something as a right means more than just making it “affordable” to “access.” It requires public administration and financing to guarantee it universally, free at the point of use. Under the ACA, health care is still overwhelmingly distributed based on wealth rather than need. You can either uphold health care as a right, or fight for Bidencare, but you can’t do both at the same time.

Joe's new plan is already receiving critiques.  Senator Cory Booker is running for the presidential nomination and he will be onstage with Joe at next week's debates.  He has stated, "Joe Biden had more than 40 years to get this right. The proud architect of a failed system is not the right person to fix it."  And he's Tweeted:

It’s not enough to tell us what you’re going to do for our communities, show us what you’ve done for the last 40 years. You created this system. We’ll dismantle it.

Jonathan D. Salant (NJ.COM) explains:

Booker, who has made criminal justice a signature issue since winning election to the U.S. Senate in 2013 and helped write a bipartisan law last year that provided alternatives to incarceration for many nonviolent offenders, said Biden’s proposals didn’t go far enough to reverse the harmful effects of the 1994 law.
“Joe Biden had more than 40 years to get this right,” Booker said. "The proud architect of a failed system is not the right person to fix it.“
Booker will have a chance to take his concerns directly to Biden next week when they share the stage at the second Democratic debate in Detroit.
“We need to fundamentally dismantle our broken criminal justice system as we know it,” Booker said. "Our next president must both heal our country from decades of racist and unjust policy, and put forward a sweeping vision for how we can rise together Joe Biden’s plan doesn’t do that.”

Cory will be onstage with Joe as will Senator Kamala Harris.  It should be a very trying debate for Joe.  Amie Parnes (THE HILL) notes:

Joe Biden knows the upcoming Democratic debates matters more for him than anyone else in the crowded race, allies of the former vice president say. 
Biden is increasingly viewed as a weak front-runner after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tore into him on the second night of the first debates over his past opposition to federal busing. 
Since that debate last month, Biden has retained his lead in a number of polls, but the field is closing and doubts about the vice president are growing — even among those who have said they will vote for him. 

And Mark Caputo (POLITICO) observes:

He dished out soul food at Dulan’s on Crenshaw, an iconic Los Angeles restaurant, talked youth empowerment in New Orleans and basked in the endorsement of a senior black congresswoman from Texas.
In advance of speeches this week to the NAACP in Detroit and the Urban League in Indianapolis, he released a criminal justice plan that addresses concerns many African Americans have about his past record, including his role on the 1994 crime bill. The campaign then touted the plan in a web ad featuring an African American adviser.
Amid signs that his sizable advantage among black voters is slipping, Joe Biden has embarked on a coast-to-coast blitz to shore up his position.
Biden’s campaign says it always made black-voter outreach a hallmark and the recent focus has nothing to do with Kamala Harris’ recent gains among black voters or last month’s debate, when the African American senator from California put Biden on defense over race. But as Harris rises and fellow African American senator, Cory Booker, has stepped up his criticism of Biden’s record, the former vice president’s support among black voters is being put to the test — with potentially serious consequences.

For many voters, especially young voters, the biggest mark against Joe is his support for and selling of the Iraq War.  Joe continues to refuse to learn from his mistakes as evidenced by his latest campaign hire.  Ryan Grim (THE INTERCEPT) reports:

Joe Biden’s new foreign policy adviser was a supporter of the Iraq War while serving in the George W. Bush administration, though he now says it was “a pretty serious blunder.” Nicholas Burns, whose hiring was first reported by CNN on Monday, has also called NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a “a traitor.”
Biden, of course, was a supporter of the war himself and later advocated splitting Iraq into three independent countries along sectarian lines. In the runup to the war, Biden was chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Burns worked on the National Security Council staff under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He then served as ambassador to NATO, and later undersecretary of state for political affairs, the third-ranking position in the State Department, under George W. Bush. Burns retired in 2008 from public service and has since been a senior counselor at the Cohen Group, a global lobbying and influence firm, as well as a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He was an adviser to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. 
According to his Harvard resume, he is a consultant for Goldman Sachs. His Harvard bio also lists speeches he gave in 2018, some of which he says he was paid for. He spoke to Bank of America, State Street, CitiBank, Honeywell, and a number of other companies, universities, and associations. 

“The most important thing Joe Biden needs to prove regarding foreign policy is that he has learned from his disastrous decision to support going to war in Iraq and other foreign countries around the globe,” said Alexander McCoy, political director of Common Defense, a progressive, grassroots veterans organization. “It’s not encouraging that, out of countless possible choices, Joe Biden selected a foreign policy advisor who also supported the invasion of Iraq, the biggest foreign policy mistake of a generation — a mistake that veterans like us still are suffering the consequences of.” McCoy added that Biden had yet to sign the group’s pledge to end the nation’s “forever wars.”

Meanwhile the Iraq War continues and the Iraqi people suffer.  MIDDLE EAST MONITOR ONLINE notes:

Some 6,000 people were displaced from various parts in Iraq and took refuge in the Kurdistan region during the first half of 2019, the Barzani Charity Foundation announced yesterday.
“The refugees included 1,586 families,” the humanitarian organisation explained, noting that the displacement was a result of the “vulnerable security situation in some areas in Iraq.”

Meanwhile Mohammed Ebraheem (IRAQI NEWS) reports, " An Iraqi soldier was wounded Wednesday in a sniper attack by the Islamic State militant group in the eastern province of Diyala, a security source said."

Things might be different if Iraq had a real government instead of the puppet government vetted by the US government.  At the top of the heap is Adil Abdul-Mahdi, already seen as one of the worst prime ministers of Iraq since the invasion.  OCCRP notes:

The Iraqi government issued warrants for 26 former and current top officials, including 11 ex-ministers who are suspected of corruption, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told the press on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister also noted that over 1,200 graft cases have been sent to various courts in the past six months, and that there are over 4,000 current investigations underway across the country.
"The Anti-Corruption Council has strengthened its measures to fight corruption and to pursue the corrupt. We will mention the names of the accused if the investigations prove their corruption," the Prime Minister said.

It's more theatrics.  There's no one high up being charged.  Most of the ones charged no longer live in Iraq (extradition is unlikely).  It's for show because Iraq remains one of the most corrupt nations in the world and the Iraqi people are sick of the corruption.  The previous two prime ministers swore they would address it.  They didn't.  (And thug Nouri al-Maliki stole freely from the Iraqi people.)  Adil is going through the motions, he's not leading.  Could he lead?  Well probably not him, he's ineffectual.  But could any one lead in that position?  It's doubtful.  It's hard to represent the Iraqi people fairly while also dancing for your American masters.

Lastly, at ANTIWAR.COM, Danny Sjursen shares his experience speaking with other veterans:

As I listened, hour after hour, it struck me that each of these vital problems ought not to be covered the way mainstream media and most other activists tend to do so. No serious antiwar movement can take root as long as "kitchen table" issues like healthcare and immigration are disjointed from "overseas" affairs such as war and human rights. These vets in little Red Wing, Minnesota, on the banks of the Mississippi, got that, and it was refreshing. See, empires, all empires, including the latest American manifestation, always come home to roost. 
As such, there is a direct line between the military occupation of Baghdad and the police occupation of communities of color in Baltimore; between Guantanamo Bay and detention camps on the U.S. southern border; between Abu Ghraib and domestic mass incarceration; between drone assassinations abroad and warrantless surveillance at home. Citizen apathy about matters of foreign policy, as was so clearly demonstrated in the first serious of Democratic primary debates, won’t change unless a newly invigorated antiwar movement clearly connects military waste of lives and cash in perpetual war to the national debt and lack of domestic social programs back in the civilian world.

It matters not, for now, whether one would rather transfer the trillions of dollars saved to poverty reduction programs or tax cuts. Progressives and libertarians must forge an alliance to end forever war or there’ll be no hope of doing so. Until Rand Paul types and Bernie Sanders supporters truly find common cause in a broad sense, the militarist establishments of both political parties will feed the American people endless war.

The following sites updated: