Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tulsi, fake ass Bill and Melinda Gates, and Pierre Omidyar

First off, Tulsi Gabbard's running for president.  We need her as president.  Right now though?  We need her on the debate stage.

TULSI 2020

Aloha friends,
Do you want to see Tulsi on the debate stage? The DNC just released its criteria for candidates to qualify to debate, and there is only one person who can get her on that debate stage: YOU. The DNC wants to see 65,000 unique donors. That means if you haven't donated yet, we need your help.
If you want to make sure Tulsi’s message is heard loud and clear, click here to donate just $10, $5, $25 or whatever you can afford.
Tulsi has been a singular voice calling for an end to regime change wars, an end to the new Cold War and an end to the new nuclear arms race. We need to take the trillions of dollars being spent on these endless and unnecessary regime change wars and re-invest that money right here at home ― to provide the health care that’s so desperately needed, tackle the crisis of student loan debt, rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and create a clean energy economy that responds to the threat of climate change while providing jobs in sustainable industries.
The American public needs to hear this message. We cannot allow one of the only voices working for peace to be silenced!

We can’t do this without you. If we don’t get on the debate stage, we won’t have the chance to make this call for peace a central part of the conversation. Our campaign depends on you. If you have a dollar in your back pocket right now, your spare change can make real change ― even if you donate less than a dollar, you are counted!
When we stand united in the spirit of service, with care for each other and love for our country, we can overcome the forces of corruption that drag us into an unnecessary regime change wars and the new Cold War. Let’s show the power of our voices when we come together!
With aloha,
TULSI 2020

PO Box 75255 Kapolei HI 96707

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says being confronted with "the high human cost of war" while serving in Iraq influenced her anti-interventionist stance. "I was struck with the names and the faces of my brothers and sisters who were paying the price for this war"

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she is against U.S. intervention in Venezuela because "every time the United States, and particularly in Latin America, has gotten involved in regime change ... there have been both short and longterm devastating impacts"

I just watched Tulsi Gabbard on The View get chastised for opposing US wars by Megan McCain, who’s father loved American wars, and Ana Navarro, who’s father was a Contra (that’s something she is proud of šŸ˜®). Unbelievable.

New topic, Chris Orlet (COUNTERPUNCH) on the fake ass Bill and Melinda Gates:

Billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, appearing recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, said a number of things that made Colbert’s liberal audience squeal with delight.
When told that the very existence of billionaires was a signal that capitalism doesn’t work for the many, and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had mused that America could do without billionaires, the Gates laughed politely and talked vaguely and approvingly of raising taxes on the ultra-wealthy. To those who are given much, much is expected, Melinda Gates said.
Then, after those platitudes were exhausted and the TV audience had slipped into a warm coma of semi-consciousness, the Gates’ let show their true colors and uttered a good old-fashioned Trumpism.
Melinda Gates started by criticizing European countries that have higher tax rates than the U.S., and claimed such rates stifle innovation. “In fact there have been many times when you’re in France and they’ll say, ‘Gosh, we wish we could have a Bill Gates, we wish we could have such a vibrant tech sector,’” Gates said. “But the taxes have been done there in such a way that it doesn’t actually stimulate good growth. So we believe in a good tax system that should tax the wealthy more than low-income people for sure.”
Colbert let that criticism slide. The host probably has no idea what Europe’s economic growth is like or whether France’s tech sector is sluggish or booming, or whether France has a “Bill Gates.” Just as he is doubtless unaware that France has been called “the Next Silicon Valley.”

A bit of research shows that (surprise) Melinda Gates doesn’t know what she is talking about. Apparently Ms. Gates had one conversation with one critical right-wing Frenchman and decided France’s tech sector sucks due to high taxes on billionaires.

And, by the way, Stephen Colbert is one of the biggest fake asses himself.

Let's also note this:

  1. A must read

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

Thursday, February 21, 2019.  Iranian press reports the US government is helping ISIS, Burn Pits 360 is getting organized, can  a musician aid the protesters in Basra and we look at the US race for president.

Starting with Burn Pits 360.

Let's get America organized.

Dear friend,

We mentioned earlier this year that 2019 is going to be the year that we make major strides in our fight for those suffering from the toxic wounds of war. While we are working diligently on our end, we need your help to get the conversation moving in your community. The more we are having public discussions on this, the more we can see real advances in our collective cause.

That is why we want to encourage you to do a few things, but first, you need to know who your Member of Congress is. You can do that here.

1) Press your Member of Congress to hold a town-hall in their district.
2) Write to your Member of Congress to support proposed legislation.
3) Call your Member of Congress and demand they support veterans suffering from burn pits.

We will be hosting three townhalls this week with Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), and are encouraging all of you to contact your Member of Congress to do the same.

Also, we are encouraging all of you to write to your Member of Congress to support legislation that is currently being proposed. Click on the link on #2 above to print the letter, sign, date, label, and stick it in the mail!

Let's make 2019 be the year that brings us past the finish line for those suffering from the toxic wounds of war. Let's get organized and fight for our veterans.

Thank you,
Le Roy & Rosie Torres

And US House Rep Julian Castro leads us into the issue of the race for president.

In searching for 2020 presidential candidates to support. Adam Kokesh of the Libertarian party and Julian Castro of the Democratic party are the only two who have yet to piss me off so it could be one or the other I will support.

While Julian is seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh is seeking the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination.

Julian's made an interesting pledge.

Julian Castro pledges to visit all 50 states during presidential campaign

And he'll be in Des Moines, Iowa today.

Join me in Des Moines tomorrow! RSVP for our Town Hall at :

Staying with the Democratic race, Margaret Kimberly (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) who examines Kamala Harris and Harris' pursuit of the US presidency:

It is painfully obvious that Kamala Harris is unprepared for the scrutiny that comes with waging a presidential campaign. But it is equally obvious that her lack of gravitas may not matter at all. The fix is in as the old saying goes. She is the choice of the Democratic Party leadership, the black misleaders, and their partners in corporate media. They will give her cover whenever she needs help. Gaffes and comical pandering at the expense of black voters may not hurt her chances at all.
Kamala Harris has no natural constituency. She is a relative newcomer on the national political scene and is known only for somewhat close questioning of Trump appointees during Senate hearings. Her record as a prosecutor and California attorney general ought to make her persona non grata with the black voters who she sought to lock up as often as possible. But she is being foisted upon voters because the party and their rich backers have made her their choice.
The Democrats are hoping that having another biracial black person on the ticket can make up for their lack of substance and hers. All Harris knows how to do is pander, and she doesn’t even do that very well. On The Breakfast Club radio show she was asked if she opposed marijuana legalization. “That’s not true. Look, I joke about it, I have joked about it. Half my family is from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?” The promotion of a stereotype didn’t go over very well, including with her own father, who was angry enough to call her out in public. Donald Harris said that his ancestors “…must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics.” Not only had she offended her father but she was also lying. As attorney she opposed a 2010 proposition that would have legalized recreational use. She opposed it as late as 2015.
Not content to offend her own father she followed Hillary Clinton with another reference meant to make herself appealing to people she doesn’t respect. Hillary Clinton famously sought to ingratiate herself with black voters with cultural connections. She claimed, also on The Breakfast Club radio show, that she carried hot sauce in her purse at all times. Harris can now be seen putting hot sauce on her collard greens too but the absurd mimicry isn’t hurting her any. The endorsements are already coming her way.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee has long ago dispensed with the progressive stances that put her on the political map, but the old reputation still matters. Her endorsement of Harris is significant as is the fact that her position as an elected official makes her a super delegate at the 2020 Democratic Party convention. Lee’s endorsement was followed by Dolores Huerta’s, who may also have an undeserved progressive credentials. This process will go on with a new heavy hitter who can provide her with cover coming on board every week.
Harris would be a bad joke were it not for the fact that the right people are behind her. Not only did she needlessly include every person of Jamaican ancestry in her bad joke, but she claimed to have gotten high while listening to artists like Tupac and Snoop Dogg who weren’t even recording when she was a young student. She ought to be a laughing stock, but the misleaders and their patrons are serious. They have made their choice and they won’t allow her own foolish words to take her out of the running.

Senator Bernie Sanders announced this week that he was running for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination.  Glen Ford (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) observes:

If there was anything “democratic” about the Democratic Party, Sanders would be the consensus choice for the nomination and an odds-on favorite to evict Donald Trump from the White House in 2020 -- a fact painfully understood by the institutional servants of capital, if not the oligarchs, themselves. However, the Party is not a democratic institution, but an embedded apparatus of capitalist governance, control of which is not negotiable. If anything, the Democratic Party has become even more strategically vital to capitalist governance, in the U.S. and globally, since the takeover of the Republican half of the electoral duopoly by the erratic and untrustworthy real estate magnate, Donald Trump. The bulk of the ruling class has arrayed itself against Trump in the most serious split among the Lords of Capital since the Great Depression, throwing the whole system into a crisis of legitimacy. For most of finance and high tech capital, the Democratic Party has become an indispensable tool whose loss is unthinkable. But, here comes Bernie Sanders – again -- threatening to mobilize millions to seize control of the oligarchs’ favored party of governance. When combined with the raging crisis of legitimacy, this is a volatile brew. 

The billionaires will never assent to allow the Democratic Party to be deployed against their core policies of endless war and austerity: the ruling class consensus. Bernie Sanders “socialism” is not the issue. The Lords of Capital know as well as real Marxists do, that Sanders is a “semantic” socialist, not the kind they are sworn to kill (or else he would likely be dead already). But, Sanders’ New Deal proposals would mean an end to domestic austerity, and would almost certainly also unleash irresistible pressures to dramatically shrink the war budget. This is totally unacceptable to the Lords of Capital and their servants, whose political task is to pacify society while wealth and power continue to devolve to an ever-shrinking group of oligarchs. The very idea of redistribution is anathema, a Pandora’s box that must not be opened, lest it never be shut. Endless warfare keeps the people’s minds on fake “existential” problems (“Russians”) instead of the real, metastasizing crises of capitalism.

US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard is also seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Robin Opsahl (DES MOINES REGISTER) reported on Tulsi's visit to Iowa last week:

Zach Young, a Des Moines resident, said he supported Sanders in the 2016 election, and came into Monday's event with positive views on Gabbard. He said she was better prepared to take on foreign policy than others because of her time in the military and her 2017 trip to Syria.
"I supported Bernie Sanders in the last go-around, and I think the thing that was really missing from his campaign was he didn't touch on foreign policy," Young said. "I think Tulsi has the best of both aspects, both the foreign policy and the domestic policy."
Gabbard said she does not support the "Green New Deal" legislation, an environmental policy other Democratic presidential candidates say they back. While Gabbard said she cares about the environment and is still reviewing the legislation, she said it is "vague" and does not take on important issues like nuclear power and fracking.
Although she has not backed the "Green New Deal," Iowa Democrats say her emphasis on the environment puts her ahead of other Democrats. Jennifer Hamilton, a Fairfield resident, said the environment is her top concern in choosing a 2020 candidate — and Gabbard impressed her.
"It was the first thing she brought up," Hamilton said. "It showed she was serious about taking on climate change. I'll need to wait to see the details of how she wants to address this crisis — the devil is in the details — but its not an afterthought for her campaign, like it is for other Democrats running."

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says being confronted with "the high human cost of war" while serving in Iraq influenced her anti-interventionist stance. "I was struck with the names and the faces of my brothers and sisters who were paying the price for this war"

John Stauber offers two takes:


James M. Lindsay (Council on Foreign Relations) notes another candidate, Marianne Williamson:

Marianne Williamson doesn’t have the traditional background of a presidential candidate. She has never held political office, served in the military, or been a Cabinet officer. She is instead a best-selling New Age self-help guru best known for being Oprah’s spiritual adviser. But Williamson has a pointed response for anyone who doubts her qualifications to be commander in chief: “Seasoned politicians took us into the Vietnam War and Iraq and the greatest income inequality since 1929. Americans need to disenthrall ourselves of the myth of the political expert.” She now has her chance to persuade Americans that continuing the pursuit of a “more perfect Union” requires a different kind of presidential leadership.
The Basics
Name: Marianne Deborah Williamson
Date of Birth: July 8, 1952
Place of Birth: Houston, Texas
Religion: Jewish  
Political Party: Democratic Party
Marital Status: Divorced
Children: India (28)
Alma Mater: Pomona College (dropped out after 2 years)
Career: Motivational speaker and author (1983-present)
Campaign Website:  
Twitter Handle: @marwilliamson
Williamson’s Announcement
Williamson announced her candidacy in Los Angeles, at the Saban Theater on January 28.

She talked in depth about her personal upbringing as well as her spiritual beliefs. She says she’s running because of the “spiritual and moral rot” in Washington.

Two things.  First, if you're with a campaign and want something noted, is the address to e-mail it.  Second, I know Kamala and Marianne.  I've met Bernie Sanders, I don't know him.  On Marianne, a year ago, she offered "War, Iraq, Enlightenment" (INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE) which opens:

Sometimes, it's when all hope is seemingly lost that the greatest breakthroughs occur in life. Whatever forces us to recognize the limit to what we can do by ourselves, opens the mind to consider the possibility that there might be another way. When everything is all messed up, we've played all your cards, and we don't have a clue what to do now - that often becomes a magic moment. Commonly called "bottoming out," it's the point when we realize that our way isn't working - and then miraculously, things start working.

Nations can bottom out, just like individuals. And the situation in Iraq is just such a moment. You know the government is running out of cards to play when they're thinking maybe Iran can help. Or when the media's idea of great coverage is to call and ask the people who got us into Iraq for any great ideas they might have now that it's all exploded in our faces. To say we're grasping for straws is an understatement. Looking at the power of ISIL leads to horrifying possibilities that make the most varied sets of people, from the most disparate places and viewpoints, all ultimately come to the same conclusion: "We really, really have a problem here."

If REVENGE was a solution, then US would have solved Afghanistan and Iraq decades ago Find out what is making more and more youth becoming militants now. Address the social, political and economical environment in Kashmir to save precious lives of our soldiers šŸ™

While many have declared, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to flirt with a run.  What's stopping him?  Apparently, he wants an outpouring of support demanding he run.  He had such an outpouring in 2015 and 2016 and ignored it.  As a result, it appears he's lost that support.

Biden wants "Democrats to get off their knees and remember who we are"? Is he for real? Did anyone tell HIM that when he voted for Bush's Iraq war, championed the pro-bank bankruptcy bill and helped put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court?

In other news, Matthew Cox (MILITARY.COM) reports:

A former 1st Cavalry Division soldier will receive the nation's second-highest award for valor for saving three fellow service members from a suicide bomber attack during a 2007 patrol in Iraq.

Former Sgt. Daniel E. Cowart, who was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, will have his original Silver Star upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross in a March 20 ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas, according to a Feb. 19 base press release.

After careful consideration and reviewing recommendations, the Sec. of the Army determined that Sgt. (Ret) Daniel E. Cowart, be awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross. The ceremony is March 20, 2019 at 4:30 p.m.

Currently in Iraq, protests continue in Basra.  AP reports on a new development.

A youth-led protest movement in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra, which saw riots last summer over failing services and soaring unemployment, has found an artistic outlet in the words and beats of homegrown rapper Ahmed Chayeb.
The 22-year-old rapper, also known as Mr Guti, says his generation is fed up with the false piety of politicians and religious authorities who preach about faith and duty but have let Basra fall apart.
"We need to be critical of everything that's not right," Chayeb told The Associated Press in a recent interview in his home studio, where he recorded This is Basra, lashing out at the powerful Shiite religious establishment.
Mr. Guti's expertly produced music videos have drawn tens of thousands of YouTube viewers but his new-found fame has also brought danger: threats from hard-liners are common and two of the city's protest organisers have been killed in recent attacks. Their killers remain at large.

Meanwhile, Iran's FAR NEWS AGENCY offers:

"The US Army troops are preparing and training the ISIL militants in al-Qadaf and Wadi al-Houran regions of Al-Anbar province with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks and restarting insecurity in Iraq," the Arabic-language website of al-Ma'aloumeh quoted Kazim al-Haaj, an Iraqi security expert, as saying.
He noted that according to the intel obtained from Iraqi security forces in Al-Anbar province, the US has transferred the ISIL terrorists on Apachi and Chinook helicopters to Iraq.
Pointing to the occupation of several regions in Western Iraq, including Wadi al-Houran and al-Qadaf, al-Haaj reiterated that the US Army is using this opportunity to deploy the ISIL terrorists after training them in areas where it plans to make hot.
In relevant remarks earlier, the Iraqi security experts accused the US of preparing a plan to use mercenaries other than the ISIL terrorists against the Arab country's security forces and Hashd al-Shaabi in the Western parts of Iraq.
al-Haaj said that the US is plotting to hire mercenaries other than the ISIL to implement its plots in Iraq.
He added that the US plans to use a number of Iraqi mercenaries against the security forces and Hashd al-Shaabi as well as a number of figures in Western Iraq and Nineveh, noting that the Iraqi nation's opposition to the US military deployment in Iraq has made Washington use other mercenaries than the ISIL.

True?  False? Part of the propaganda efforts both the US and Iranian governments use to smear one another?  Who knows?  On the topic of the militias, RUDAW reports:

Gunmen tied to the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitia have set up a checkpoint in Sharqat, south of Mosul, where they are taxing truck drivers, a local official confirmed to Rudaw, adding security forces are unable to stand against the Shiite group.

“There is a security checkpoint in Sharqat run by Hashd al-Shaabi, forcibly taking taxation from people,” Ali Dahduh, the mayor of Sahrqat, told Rudaw.

“Whoever passes by the checkpoint, they will be taxed.”

Dahduh said he contacted Joma Inad, commander of the Saladin Operations, but he said they had no authority over the Hashd al-Shaabi.

“I have informed all parties of the Hashd al-Shaabi checkpoint on the Sharqat four sided road forcing commuters into paying them taxes. I am ashamed when officials and MPs from Karbala and Hilla call me complaining that their trucks were stopped at the Sharqat four sides road,” he said. 

The following sites updated: