Thursday, September 12, 2019

We need real leaders

Must read by John W. Whitehead at INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE which opens:

It’s been 230 years since James Madison drafted the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—as a means of protecting the people against government tyranny, and what do we have to show for it?
Nothing good.
In America today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.
We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable, is still our governing document, but the reality of life in the American police state tells a different story.
“We the people” have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance by a government that cares nothing for our lives or our liberties.
The bogeyman’s names and faces have changed over time (terrorism, the war on drugs, illegal immigration, etc.), but the end result remains the same: in the so-called named of national security, the Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded to such an extent that what we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago.
Most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights.

A recitation of the Bill of Rights—set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches (all sanctioned by Congress, the White House, the courts and the like)—would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

So true.  Ever get the feeling that if James Madison or Thomas Jefferson were around today, they'd be on some terrorist round up list?  And that's not a crack at Donald Trump.  The same would be true under Barack Obama.

And things won't get better under a President Joe Biden.

Biden is expected to go after Warren for failing to disclose details of private income during the 1990s and 2000s. But his charge of a lack of transparency is badly undercut by his own financial opacity — not decades ago, but in the last two years.

We don't need Joe Biden, we need better than Joe Biden.  Much better.

Elizabeth Warren?  She would be so much better.  Bernie Sanders?  He would be so much better.

And we deserve better.

9/11/01 was the worst day of my life, to be so close to so much murder. And the day has grown much worse since as U.S. politicians from Bush/Cheney to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden have used it as carte blanche to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands more.

I'm tired of the craven.  We need real leaders.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019.  Joe Biden continues to seek the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- even as news of a 2004 effort to bribe Russia emerges.

Starting with the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  War Hawk Joe Biden can't stop lying about the Iraq War.  Last week, he lied on NPR that he was immediately against the Iraq War after it began.

Joe Biden has falsely claimed on two occasions that he opposed the Iraq war from “the moment” it began, even though he voted to authorize it. He now says he misspoke.

Before that, he has lied that Bully Boy Bush tricked him.  All along, he's acted as though all he did was vote for the Iraq War.  That's not true.   Michael Tracey has a bad column at REAL CLEAR POLITICS:

Not only did Biden avowedly support the war before it began, he furnished some of the key pro-war talking points that the Bush administration used to convince the country of the invasion’s legitimacy. The day of Colin Powell’s infamous speech at the United Nations Security Council – on Feb. 5, 2003 – Biden, then the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, addressed reporters to praise Powell’s performance. “I think Secretary Powell made a very powerful, and I think irrefutable, case today,” Biden said. “… The evidence he produced confirms what I believe and I have known for some time now: Saddam Hussein continues to – he continues to attempt to maintain and garner additional weapons of mass destruction.”
“The case is overwhelming,” Biden said.

Why is it a bad column?  "Infamous speech"?  That speech was 16 years ago.  It was full of lies.  No where in his column does Tracey note that.  The closest he comes is "infamous" and while many adults do remember that speech, it's also true that, if you were five-years-old then, you're an adult now (if you were two years old then, you're an adult now).  Point?  What Tracey is accepting as common knowledge may not be for a number of adults.

Colin lied.  It's not hard to explain that clearly unless you're Lawrence Wilkerson who lied for years on MSNBC -- and people like Rachel Maddow let him lie.  Colin lied.  That speech was not accurate.  It was dismissed by many in real time.  Colin knew that and knows it today.  It's why, in 2005, he called it a "blot" on his record.  Ava and I covered that in real time with "Colin and Barbara Remake The Way We Were:"

They've updated the testimony. Instead of naming names during the McCarthy period, Powell lies to the United Nations and the world. What they miss is the heart breaking scene when Streisand explains to Redford that people are their beliefs. Probably too much a laugh getter if it came out of Walters' mouth. But if they were worried about unintended laughs, someone should have spoken to Walters about the three strands of red, worry beads she's wearing.

Walters says, unable to look at him while she does -- oh the drama!, "However, you gave the world false, groundless reasons for going to war. You've said, and I quote, 'I will forever be known as the one who made the case for war.' Do you think this blot on your record will stay with you for the rest of your life?"

Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.

Walters: How painful is it?

Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's painful now.

Has a less convincing scene ever been performed?

Possibly. Such as when Powell informs Walters that the fault lies with the intelligence community -- with those who knew but didn't come forward. Unfortunately for Powell, FAIR's advisory steered everyone to a Los Angeles Times' article from July 15, 2004:

Days before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was to present the case for war with Iraq to the United Nations, State Department analysts found dozens of factual problems in drafts of his speech, according to new documents contained in the Senate report on intelligence failures released last week.
Two memos included with the Senate report listed objections that State Department experts lodged as they reviewed successive drafts of the Powell speech. Although many of the claims considered inflated or unsupported were removed through painstaking debate by Powell and intelligence officials, the speech he ultimately presented contained material that was in dispute among State Department experts.
Well movies always rewrite some details to make the characters more sympathetic and, presumably, that happened in this remake as well.

Having dismissed the need for facts, the "reluctant warrior" Powell now wants to weigh in on the invasion/occupation. Powell explains that we can't "cut and run" with regards to Iraq. We have to stay. He offers that "I'm not a quitter" himself -- amidst his stay the course nonsense. All this from the former Secretary of State.

If it's so damn important that we "accomplish" over there, that we "stay the course," are the words really convincing coming out the mouth of the cut and run Secretary of State? Seems to us if you believe in this war as much as you say you do, and believe in staying the course, you . . . stay the course in your job. Powell didn't. There are the Rules for Powell and there are the rules for the rest of us.

Take Cindy Sheehan. She's a grieving parent and he feels sorry for her. Walters actually wakes up for this moment. And, in one of the few times prior to Powell's wife being brought on, she actually looks him in the eye while delivering her line.

Walters: But if you feel the war is just -- that's a different feeling than if you feel the war is is not.

Powell: Well, of course, for the person that is effected, it is. If they don't feel the war is just, they will always feel it as a deep personal loss.

Unlike Powell, we'd argue that regardless of beliefs on this war, the loss is a "deep, personal loss" for most, possibly all, who've lost family members. Maybe if he sent fat-boy Michael over there, he could find out for himself what it feels like? Till then, by his remarks, he's not anyone effected. How nice that must be.

But is the war just?

It's not a moral issue for Powell. He's already informed Walters of that. He lied. Well if he had to lie, forget the pre-emptive war debate for a moment, if he had to lie, what does that say about the war? Seems to us that a just war wouldn't be a war that required you pulling one over on the public to get support for.

It wasn't a moral issue, Powell states, going to war. Then what does it matter that he lied?

If it's not a moral issue, then what does it matter?

Powell's mea culpa is not only unconvincing, it's illogical. He's glad Saddam Hussein's gone. So why's he concerned with his "blot?" He's completely unconcerned that we're in a war that's based on lies. "I'm glad" he says. Sure he admits that he lied (by proxy -- it's others faults, you understand, nameless people in the intel community), but there's no moral concern. He's only worried about the slug line that now accompanies his name. The "blot." The tag 'liar, liar.'

Colin Powell lied to the United Nations. Not by proxy, he lied. His testimony. A testimony he made the decision to give. Despite objections from people in the department he headed. His accountability pose is hollow and unconvincing. Shrugs? "What are you going to do?" shrugs? That and the shiftiness during the exchange (he can't sit still during the exchange) back up his words. This isn't any big deal to him, that he lied and we went to war. He's just concerned that he's a known liar. For the rest of his life.

Colin lied repeatedly in the speech he gave.  Since 2005, he's acknowledged that it's a "blot" on his record.  To this day, Joe Biden has not walked back his praise for Colin's lies -- let alone apologized for being wrong in his judgment of the speech.

Joe was also a voice that slammed dissent.  He was also a liar who kept the Iraq War going.  He was part of the team that overturned the will of the Iraqi people when the 2010 votes were trashed so that US puppet Nouri al-Maliki could have a second term -- even though the Iraqi people had voted him out.  (The Erbil Agreement, a legal contract, gave Nouri the second term that the Iraqi voters did not.)  There's so much that Joe did with regards to the Iraq War -- most of it appalling.

Brent Scher (FREE BEACON) reports another hidden detail:

Joe Biden sought out Russian president Vladimir Putin before the 2003 invasion of Iraq to propose a deal in which Russia would be given the oil profits from the war if they entered alongside the United States.
Biden told of his attempt at "creative diplomacy" during a July 2004 event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Biden, then the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined on stage by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for a discussion on foreign policy in the upcoming presidential election.
One of Biden's main criticisms of former President George W. Bush during the event was his failure to unite "nations of the world in a common cause" after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Among the nations Biden had an engagement plan for was Putin's Russia.

Biden said during the event that he, along with a Republican senator he chose not to name, asked for a meeting with Putin and proposed a deal where all proceeds from seized Iraqi oil would initially go to cash-strapped Russia. Biden viewed it as an offer Putin wouldn't be able to refuse and was disappointed the Bush administration didn't consider it.
According to a Kennedy library transcript of the event, Biden said he approached Putin and asked him the following question: "What if, in fact, President Bush would agree that the first proceeds coming from Iraqi oil would pay off the roughly $12 billion owed by direct hard currency that the Russians needed?"

So on his own, with no input from the executive branch, Joe and some unnamed Republican senator, initiated contact with Putin?  Offered Putin "the oil profits from the war"?

Without first going to the White House before making this offer?

The rabid Alyssa Milano crowd would insist this is a crime and be hollering impeachment if it were Donald Trump.  However, my issue is who the hell is so stupid that they make and offer they (a) can't really guarantee and (b) that they haven't cleared with the branch that can approve it?

What if Putin immediately said "yes"?  The White House then says "no" and Joe Biden has created an international incident by making offers that don't exist.

Now Joe lies and maybe his campaign will issue a statement tomorrow insisting that Joe misspoke.

But that's yet another sign that Joe is not fit to be president.  He's trying to broker a deal that he has no say in and has not been given a go-ahead on.  He's not even consulted the White House about it.

Joe isn't fit to be president.

The article contains another passage we'll note:

In his remarks at the Kennedy Library, Biden said he had "an inordinately high regard for the men and women in the Bush administration."
"They're among the brightest, the most patriotic Americans that I have encountered in my almost 32 years as a United States senator, and I do not question their motives," Biden said.

"Those proposing what we all are characterizing as a neoconservative view of American foreign policy, truly believe it's the way to make this country safer, and they believe it's the way to make the world safer, and they truly believe that if the power is used well, it will in fact mean that in the future we're less likely to have to use military power," he added.

Again, he is unfit to be president.  No, Dick Cheney is not among the most patriotic Americans, nor Stephen Hadley, nor . . .  Go down the list.

On October 26, the Patriot Act will become older than any child in the U.S. supports its repeal & the end of all forms of warrantless mass surveillance that have turned our country, especially its Muslim citizens, into a nation of suspects.

Dario Hunter is seeking the Green Party's presidential nomination.  We know where he stands on the PATRIOT Act, where does Joe stand?

The US senator Joe served with that should be running for the nomination -- instead of Joe -- is Russ Feingold.  Russ voted against the PATRIOT Act.  Unlike Joe, Russ grasps the importance of addressing the environmental crisis.

I am happy to announce that I am now serving as an Ambassador for the , a global effort to raise awareness of the threats facing our natural world and inspire world leaders to take action to protect it. 1/5

  • Campaign for Nature is working with a growing coalition of scientists, indigenous groups, & conservation advocates calling on leaders around the world to commit to clear & ambitious targets--protecting at least 30% of the planet by 2030. 2/5

  • If you were as alarmed as I was about the study that came out saying "as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems" then you will like the Campaign for Nature! 3/5

  • Protecting 30% of the planet by 2030 is a critical milestone toward preserving the half of the planet that remains in its natural state and represents our best opportunity to protect the ecosystems that are critical to our survival. 4/5

    I'll be continuing to teach at various universities in over the coming years, but am very pleased to join the Campaign for Nature to help address an emergency on our planet that we can't afford to ignore. 5/5

    Joe Biden is a weak candidate, he's a War Hawk and he's forever bending over so far backwards that he could carry out his own prostate exam.  He is not the candidate with the best shot of defeating Donald Trump nor is he the best of the Democratic lot to become president.  Norman Solomon is attempting to explain this but, as he notes at COMMON DREAMS, DNC leaders don't want an honest discussion, they just want voters to do what they're told.  From Norman's column:

    Refusals to examine the patterns of the past render many party leaders unable to recognize or acknowledge what a disaster a Biden campaign against Trump would so likely be. It’s of little use to plead for strong turnout from “Democratic base voters” after nominating a weak and uninspiring candidate.
    “A core challenge for the Democratic Party will be to raise the voter participation rate while drawing presently apathetic and uninvolved nonvoters and occasional voters into the process -- largely younger people and African Americans,” the report “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” said two years ago. The report (which I co-authored as part of a task force) pointed out that “a party doesn’t grow by simply tallying up members and scolding them into showing up.”
    The specter of Joe Biden as the party’s nominee runs directly counter to what the Autopsy called for: “To flourish, the Democratic Party needs an emphatic mission and a clear moral message that excites and provides a purpose that is distinct from the otherwise cynical spectacle of politics. Inspiring programs for truly universal health care, racial justice, free public college tuition, economic security, new infrastructure, green jobs and tackling the climate crisis can do this. This is about more than just increasing voter turnout. It is about energizing as well as expanding the base of the party.”
    As presidential candidates crisscross the country, only two are showing how to energize activism on a large scale while inspiring voters. That was apparent again inside the arena in New Hampshire, where Bernie Sanders (who I continue to actively support) and Elizabeth Warren delivered high-voltage progressive speeches that left others in the dust.

    Biden’s mediocre speech at the New Hampshire convention on September 7 is already a historic record of a dismal candidate for president whose nomination promises to be a disaster. To pretend otherwise is hardly a service to the crucial task of defeating Donald Trump.

    Joe Biden is opposed to Medicare For All.  And when he's not lying about Medicare For All, he's using his dead relatives to try to make the case that the facts don't.  Joshua Cho (FAIR via SALON) explains:

    If Joe Biden wants to get personal, I can also get very personal. Before my mother passed away last month, following an amputation for bone cancer, I was caring for and accompanying her to many doctors’ appointments, and I recall the numerous times my mother was rejected from hospitals for not having the proper insurance, along with delays, redundant tests and the frequent anxiety of wondering whether her insurance would cover her treatment — because we don’t live in a country where health care is a human right.
    People can use personal tragedies as justification for perpetuating and inflicting injustices on others, and they can also use those tragedies as inspiration and motivation to prevent others from going through the same hardships. Biden’s latest ad is an example of the former masquerading as the latter, and corporate media’s coverage of it exemplifies how some personal tragedies are amplified and others neglected to protect corporate profits.

    For more reality about Medicare For All (and reality about Joe's lies) see the video below.

    Tonight in things that shouldn't need to be said (especially to Democrats): Providing health care to all is not in fact equivalent to taking health care away from 150 million people. FULL:


    Medicare For All is a need, not a want.  FDR grasped its importance.  Joe fails to.  He fails to grasp so much which is one of the reason why the other candidates turn out enthusiastic crowds and Joe's events turn out small numbers -- and the few that do show are not very passionate.  Christa Case Bryant and Story Hinckley (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR) capture one such event:

    “Do you like Biden?” a reporter asks those waiting to see the former vice president. “Sure,” three people say. They like him. They think he’s a good guy. But they’re listening to everyone.
    Some 200 or so file in, packing the modest room, with some attendees left standing in the back. Former Gov. John Lynch tries to warm up the crowd: “President Joe Biden – doesn’t that sound nice?” 
    There is a pause, then a smattering of applause, spearheaded by volunteers and campaign workers in the back. The audience follows suit and dutifully claps, before subsiding back into silence. 
    Later, a golden retriever in the crowd with a JOE sticker on its head punctuates the quiet atmosphere with a bark.

    It's got everything but a tumble weed slowly rolling on the ground as Joe speaks.

     A new NPR-PBS NEWSHOUR - MARIST poll looks at all registered voters and finds that 45% have a favorable view of Joe Biden and 41% have a favorable view of Elizabeth Warren while the unfavorable on both is 46% unfavorable on Joe and 42% unfavorable on Elizabeth.  There's a 5.6% margin of error on the poll so they are basically tied on favorable and unfavorable. Domenico Montanaro (NPR) zooms in on registered Democrats and notes:

    Seventy-five percent of Democratic voters now say they have a favorable impression of Warren — that's up from 53% in January, the last time the poll asked the favorability of candidates or potential candidates. That's a whopping 22-point jump.
    What's more, those saying they have a negative impression has gone down from 17% to 11%.

    "Elizabeth Warren seems to be on the verge of starting to make significant and serious inroads into this contest," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducts the poll. He added, "Heading into the debate, she's very well positioned."

    Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination as well.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

    More than 100 national education leaders are publicly backing 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan to reform the American school system, his campaign announced Tuesday.
    Unveiled in May, the Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education calls for "a transformative investment in our children, our teachers, and our schools, and a fundamental re-thinking of the unjust and inequitable funding of our public education system."
    "No president or presidential candidate has offered a proposal so bold and sweeping, which directly addresses the fiscal starving of American public education at the same time that the federal government got into the business of regulating, mandating, and controlling the nation's schools and classrooms," declared Diane Ravitch, former U.S. assistant secretary of education and research professor at New York University.

    Sanders aims to address "the serious crisis in our education system by reducing racial and economic segregation in our public school system, attracting the best and the brightest educational professionals to teach in our classrooms, and reestablishing a positive learning environment for students in our K-12 schools," according to his campaign.

    Diana Babineau Owen (IN THESE TIMES) explores the topic of unions and the Democrats.

    Meanwhile, in Iraq, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:

    At least 31 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in a stampede in the Iraqi city of Karbala, as Shia Muslim worshipers commemorated Ashura on Tuesday, according to Iraq's health ministry.
    Thousands had jammed the streets to attend festivals marking the most important Shia holy day of the year. 

    And Richard Hall (INDEPENDENT) reports:

    The US air force has released a video showing fighter jets carpet-bombing an island it said was “infested” with Isis fighters. 
    The footage shows the small, tree-covered Qanus island, in Iraq’s Saladin province, peppered with a series of huge explosions in quick succession. 

    A spokesperson for the US-led coalition to defeat Isis said the strikes on Tuesday were aimed at destroying a “major transit hub” for Isis forces moving between the Jazeera desert into the Mosul region. It was followed by a ground operation by Iraqi forces. 

    The following sites updated: