Friday, February 14, 2020

Joe needs to learn to read the room

First up, this.

That's Billie Eilish's "No Time To Die," the theme to the upcoming James Bond film.  What do you think?

Second, go read C.I.'s "Some thoughts on Cher, Carrie Fisher, David Geffen, Bill Cosby and much more" -- she guest posted for Ann. 

You won't want to miss it.

On missing it, how does Joe Biden miss the reality that it's over?  Jacob Ogles (FLORIDA POLITICS) notes more bad news for Joe Biden:

A straw poll released Thursday by the Sarasota County Democratic Party shows strong support for Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg. Results come weeks ahead of Florida’s March 17 Presidential Preference Primary.

That’s a major shift from when party leaders polled members just a few weeks ago, when former Vice President Joe Biden dominated. Now, Biden is barely on the radar.

Kevin Griffith, vice chair for the county Democratic Executive Committee, said a straw poll was taken Wednesday night at a regular meeting. He released the results on Twitter.

The poll, taken among 90 precinct captains in Sarasota County, shows support for the two former Mayors surging in Southwest Florida. Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor, and Buttigieg, former South Bend, Ind. Mayr, tied atop the poll with 26% each.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar came in third in the poll with 22%. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, came in fourth with 14%.

Biden this time polled in single digits, at 9%, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 3%.

I wish Joe would read the room, don't you?

He'd drop out if he'd read the damn room. POLITICO reports he was screaming on the phone with donors yesterday, "I'll be damned if we're going to lose this nomination!"

And donors are nervous and bailing.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2020.  Protests continue in Iraq, Iraqi women take to the streets (Moqtada, you have been rejected), Elizabeth Warren needs to examine her actions (and her candidacy), and much more.

Let's start with Iraq and start with THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR's editorial board which notes:

Iraq’s capital of Baghdad was carpeted with a rare snowfall Tuesday. It brought people onto the streets to make snowmen together and join in friendly snowball fights. The collective experience was an apt reflection of the past four months in Iraq. Since Oct. 1, tens of thousands of young people have maintained nonviolent and leaderless protests in major cities, hoping to redefine the meaning of community for Iraq. So far, despite the killing of more than 500 demonstrators, neither the protesters nor their shared vision has melted away.
With nearly half of Iraqis under age 21, the protesters are as difficult to ignore as are their idealistic aims. They focus on creating a secular state that respects civic rights and an end to a type of government in which power and oil wealth are divvied up by religious and ethnic groups. They also want foreign powers (namely Iran and the United States) to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs.

The protests have not gotten nearly the coverage they deserve in western media.  The protests have already forced the resignation of a prime minister (Adil Abdul Mahdi), led to the appointment of a prime minister-designate, they have thrived despite the thousands wounded and the over 500 killed.  They have even survived the betrayal of Moqtada al-Sadr who early on attempted to link himself to the protesters and who then used his goons to attack the protesters.

There's a great deal going on and, sadly, US media doesn't pay a lot of attention.  Which is how you end up with this hack writing being published at COUNTERPUNCH.  There's a lot of hack writing going on.  THE NATION published a piece just yesterday morning, for example.  And I just look the other way when I can and try to bite my tongue.

But this one is really bad.  First, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi is not the new prime minister. He's the new prime minister-designate and if you don't understand the difference maybe don't write a lengthy piece about who he is and what he means to Iraq?  The move from prime minister-designate to prime minister is neither a foregone conclusion or a simple formality.  It is a Constitutional requirement that you be moved from one designation to another (though  there is speculation that he won't even try to form a Cabinet).

Second, don't ever write this, not in the present day:

Even detractors dare not say that he ever was on Tehran’s payroll. In fact, he wasn’t—unlike another famous relative of his, Ahmed Chalabi, who is an Iraqi politician.

There are two things there.  First, yes, detractors (the protesters) do say he was on Theran's payroll.  Are you attempting to cover this issue without looking at their criticism of him?  They loathe him.  They have been very vocal about this and about why they feel this way.  And, yes, that includes him being a paid stooge of Iran (in their eyes).  Second -- and my jaw drops over this, "unlike another famous relative of his, Ahmed Chalabi, who is an Iraqi politician."

How ignorant is the writer?  The only thing Ahmed Chalabi "is" today is, thankfully, dead.

He has been dead since November 3, 2015.

That's all Ahmed "is" today: Dead.

When he was alive, what was he?  Another chicken who fled Iraq and then bitched and moaned and lied until he could get the US government to topple Saddam Hussein.  Too chicken and cowardly to fight Hussein himself, Chalabli fled Iraq and then sent Americans to die in order to get what he wanted.  He also lied to get what he wanted.

Like Chalabi, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi is yet another candidate for prime minister (Chalabi wanted the role but never got it) who fled Iraq.  Since the US-led invasion, every one of Iraq's prime ministers has been a man who fled Iraq under Saddam and only returned after the US-invasion began.  Cowards.  And yet Iraqis are supposed to be grateful that these cowards are being put in charge of their country?

COUNTERPUNCH has a real problem with Iraq.  They publish Patrick Cockburn whose relationship to the facts grows ever weaker and whose reputation in the Arab world is as an anti-Sunni.  And then they get this guy, an idiot pimping the Hong Kong 'protests' in a left journal?  I guess Medea Benjamin didn't have time to write, excuse me, co-write another one of her weak ass pieces?

Sometimes, no coverage actually is better than the coverage provided.

Here, for weeks now, we've been charting the political suicide of goon Moqtada al-Sadr.  He's gone from a movement leader back to leader of a cult and goon squad.  I said Mustafa Habib was dead wrong weeks ago when Mustafa was telling the world that they didn't understand what was going on in Iraq and Moqtada was still beloved and blah blah blah.  No, Mustafa, you're the one who didn't understand what was going on.

As his goons have killed protesters, his image has fallen.  His most recent move was to insist that women should not be protesting with men.  This has led to days of videos from the protesters mocking Moqtada -- as they should.

Moqtada's a strange old man of 45, forced off on a prominent family in an arranged marriage back in the mid-90s but unable to father any children.

One starts to wonder if all of Moqtada's well known attacks on gays has to do with someone living in a rather awkward closet?

At any rate, Moqtada is the joke of Iraq.

At Chatham House, Renad Mansour and Ben Robin-D'Cruz explore Moqtada's changing role:

There are signs that Sadr’s recent shift in position has exacerbated this fragmentation. His attempt to reposition the movement’s base within the ‘resistance axis’ that supports the Shia militias in Iraq has only been partially successful. On 24 January, responding to the US assassinations, Sadr called for a million-man march focused on expelling US forces from Iraq. However, turnout was poor, especially given the huge logistical support for the march, and it lasted only a few hours.
Equally revealing, when Sadr called on his supporters to vacate the squares, many refused. One Sadrist protester in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square told the authors: ‘We’ve been camping with our brothers and sisters for four months. Why should we leave them to die?’
Meanwhile, fissures have also opened up within the Sadrists’ clerical elite. One senior Sadrist cleric, for example, is openly defying Sadr’s authority and siding with the revolutionaries in Nasiriyah. 
Sadr’s attempt to dominate the paramilitary sphere is also unlikely to prove any more successful than his many previous failed attempts since 2003. He is neither trusted nor respected by the leaders of other groups. The Iran-brokered rapprochement is already showing signs of weakness. Two recent assassinations of Saraya al-Salam leaders in Basra and Maysan indicate a potential renewal of power struggles between the Sadrist militia and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.   
[. . .]
This is a transformative moment for the Sadrists. Sadr is now defying the popular sentiments driving protests across central and southern Iraq. The sense of betrayal among former allies and friends of the Sadrists is palpable. One senior activist involved in cooperation with the Sadrists wrote that, no matter what moves Sadr makes next, the cleric has ‘terminated all partnership with the protesters,’ and ‘shattered the framework for cooperation’. A line has thus been crossed that Sadr cannot reverse; he will not be able to recover what he has now lost. 
Iran, also, does not see Sadr as a dependable ally, and will look to isolate and side-line the cleric when the opportunity arises. Thus, in seeking to exploit a crisis for short-term gain, Sadr may well have sealed his fate – in the long term – as a declining force in Iraqi politics.

Taif Alkhudary (THE NEW ARAB) observes:

Al-Sadr and his supporters have not only tried to take over the physical sites of the protest movement, but also tried to claim its intellectual space. This was already apparent in the statements issued by the cleric at the beginning of February, when he declared "the revolution and I are one and the same".

It is further compounded in the 18-point "manifesto" where he instructs protestors to issue a set of unified demands, nominate an official spokesperson and keep out of "secondary political matters" such as the nomination of ministers.

In the process, he dismisses the fact that demonstrators have issued the most developed and comprehensive set of demands to have emerged out of any Iraqi protest movement since the Arab Uprisings of 2011.

In addition, he totally ignores the very content of those demands. That is, the fact that Iraqis want a say in the political system that was imposed on them by the US and exiled Iraqi politicians post-2003.  
What is more, in the very same manifesto, Al-Sadr calls for protest sites to be segregated by gender. This is a direct attack on the cultural revolution that the protests have ushered in, and which has seen women at the front and centre of protests, organising demonstrations, leading chants, providing medical assistance and painting revolutionary murals.

Ultimately, while many feared that the withdrawal of Al-Sadr's support would mark the end of demonstrations, what this has in fact done is brought his counter-revolutionary position into sharp relief.

If the thousands of people that flocked to protest sites to fill the gaps left by the "Blue Hats" are anything to go by, it has also heralded a new chapter for Iraq's October revolution, one free of the deeply sectarian and conservative baggage that comes with the uneasy allegiances that Al-Sadr has forged with protesters over the years.

Earlier this week,  Linah Alsaafin (ALJAZEERA) provided a look at the protesters:

According to the United Nations, nearly half of the Iraqi population is aged under 21.
High school and university students have staged several strikes, some prolonged and others short-lived. According to Muyed, public universities such as Baghdad University and Mustansiriya University went on strike for as long as 14 weeks.
Muyed's friend and fellow protester Mustafa Falah called the student strikes "the backbone of the protest movement".
"This movement derives its support from the presence, activism and volunteerism of students," he said. "Look around Tahrir: there are hundreds of tents representing different departments of universities."

Dameer Muhannad, 13, told Al Jazeera that the role of students was essential. She regularly goes to Tahrir Square with her mother and siblings, but she said some schools have spoken out against the demonstrations.
"Principals and teachers who are affiliated with certain political groups within the government have banned students from holding demonstrations within school grounds," the seventh-grader said. "They also don't accept students going to Tahrir Square as representatives of their schools."
But Dameer has been undeterred by such decisions.
"For me and my peers, we will continue to stand with our brothers and sisters at the protest sites until the demands have been met," she said. "The blood of our martyrs will not go in vain."
Falah said there have been initiatives and workshops given by university students to those in high school.
"We hold workshops to raise their awareness about their rights, and the importance of having a high sense of security, such as who to trust and who to keep an eye out on," he explained.

"We have a duty to them from one generation to another because they are the ones that will carry the torch forward."

While Moqtada hides in Iran, the protests continue in Iraq.

For the first time in recent history of Iraq, women take the initiative & organise a woman’s march to show solidarity w/ the protests but more importantly to say we are here. We have a voice & we”ll never be silent. We won’t subordinate to patriarchy in all its forms.

Well look at that, Moqtada, you tried to drive women out of the protests and they made clear that you do not speak for them.

Yes, Woman Can! “Those are your daughters, Iraq, sacrificed their blood for you & raised your flag” women chanting today.

  • Women’s march in ’s Tahrir Square. Thousands of women organized protests in different Iraqi cities today calling for real reform. Video:

  • Women, youth protest in Nasriya. Video:


  • 🇮🇶: thousands of women and men are participating in a women's march in , defying a call by that protests should be segregated.


    Naseriyah, southern Iraq, witnessing unprecedented mobilization of women. These protesters have persevered despite violent repression by security forces and pro-Iranian militias that have killed over 650 protesters & kidnapped protest leaders.

    Women of Iraq take to the streets defending freedom. Revolutionary Women who will change the history of Iraq.

    Students raise banners with their demands written on them during their march in this morning

    A million women marched today in Iraq as part of the ongoing protests against corruption in the country. The march came as a response against calls by prominent Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr's for protests to be segregated.

    Hundreds of Iraqi women gathered in central today, to defend their role in the four months long anti-government protests, waving ’s flag and vowing to continue

    Tahrir Square in today is packed with Iraqi women marching for the sake of the “Revolt, resist and smile because you are the nation, the revolution will be completed by you,” a poster says holding by an Iraqi woman. Photos via Ayman al-Mawsawi.

    Yes, we can! This is what women protesters chanted today.

    Huge number of students chant slogans as they march from al- Square toward the sit-in in


    The Iraqi women and the Iraqi men have lived through this ongoing war and they're sick of it.  They want all foreign forces out of their country.  They continue to protest even though they have been attacked and over 500 have been killed.

    And yet the war continues.  Sara Twksbury (KTVF) reported yesterday on the Fort Wainwright soldiers still in Iraq.  And, out of the UK, Luke Traynor and James Rodger (UK's BIRMINGHAM MAIL) report:

    A tragic soldier found dead in a children's play area was an Afghan and Iraq war hero with PTSD.

    The heartbreaking death of hero soldier and PTSD sufferer Wesley McDonnell was found dead in a children's play area in a St Helens Park.

    The Iraq War has not ended.  People continue to suffer.  That includes the veterans who are not getting the care they deserve.  That is not limited to the US.

    This can't be sugar coated or fancied up.  Truth is truth.  With that in mind, let's turn to Elizabeth Warren.

    Elizabeth is a US senator.  She's one of six women who sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination for 2020.  Three women, counting her, remain in the race -- Iraq War veteran and US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Amy Klobuchar.

    Elizabeth's part of history.  This run will always be remembered as the year that we had women in the race, not a token woman.  Elizabeth can be part of a strong history or she can be an embarrassment.

    Had Hillary Clinton followed Al Gore, John Kerry or any other example in the past and accepted defeat and not shot off her mouth every five minutes, she might have an okay reputation.  Instead, she's a joke, sour and bitter and she won't go away.

    Is that what Elizabeth wants for herself?

    I've looked at her polling.  I don't see how she wins the nomination.  Were I her, I'd drop out.  But I'm not her and she needs to continue as long as she feels she has a chance.

    But there is is a qualifier there.

    America needs Medicare For All.  It's also what the American people want.

    We are the closest we have been to this since FDR passed away.

    Anyone who is harming Medicare For All is harming the party.  And if Elizabeth is harming Medicare For All, we have every right to start calling for her to drop out.  She has gone beyond watering down her position and now she's providing cover for attacks on Medicare For All.

    This can't continue.

    This is a policy difference, a huge one, it impacts people's lives.

    If Elizabeth can't fight for the people, if she's now going to be undercutting Medicare For All, she needs to drop out and she deserves to be slammed for her position on this.  This is not a personal attack on her or an attack on her based on gender, this is about she is now harming the issue that won her supporters to begin with.

    The following sites updated: