Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Iraq snashot

Wednesday, July 10, 2019.  Joe Biden's business activities have been obscene, another candidate enters the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, journalists and protesters are being arrested yet again in Iraq, and much more.

Starting in the US where the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues.  Former Vice President and former US Senator Joe Biden is among the 25 seeking the nomination -- yes, it's back up to 25.  Eric Swalwell did drop out but another person has announced they're running.

For now, let's focus on Joe Biden.  Yesterday, we noted the charges that his brother -- not his son Hunter, his brother James -- had profited from the Iraq War.  Now the focus on Joe who's been feathering his own nest.  Scott Detrow (NPR) reports:

Former Vice President Joe Biden has referred to himself as "middle class Joe" throughout his political career, and used to regularly joke about being the "poorest person on Congress."
Those terms no longer apply.
Biden and his wife, Jill, have together earned more than $15 million since Biden left office. That's according to tax returns and other financial disclosure forms released by Biden's campaign on Tuesday. The bulk of the Bidens' earnings come from book sales and paid speaking engagements – two routine sources of income for former high-ranking public officials.

The documents show Biden has earned far more than the rest of the 2020 presidential field, with the likely exception of billionaire Tom Steyer, who entered the race Tuesday.

It's tacky and it's crass.  Being president or vice president should be an honor, not something to profit from.

He left the White House in January 2017.  About 30 months later, he's raked in $15 million?  That's beyond appalling.  It's also an argument for ending the perks.  If Joe's made 15 million in 30 months, why are US taxpayers footing the bill for his security detail?  Why is he getting a pension that the US taxpayer foots the bill for?  Why is he not picking up his own healthcare costs?

The role of president and vice president is an honor and, especially after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the American people made certain moves to underscore that these positions were an honor.  Would anyone have bothered if they'd known how crass they'd all become?


You can probably leave Jimmy Carter off the list but everyone else you'd have to include. 

They have disgraced and defiled the office as they've transformed into an excuse to print money.

The greed and the avarice is appalling.

I'm reminded of Joni Mitchell's "Tax Free" from her classic album DOG EAT DOG.

How can he speak for the Prince of Peace
When he's hawk right militant
And he's immaculately tax free

Over the weekend, Joe got around to an apology or what passes for one from him.  He's really, honestly and truly, sorry if his praise and warm words for racist segregationists hurt anyone's feelings.  He did not say he was sorry for demanding an apology from Senator Cory Booker.

  1. Cory Booker: I’m sorry it took Joe Biden 18 days to apologize for comments on segregationists – NEWPAPER24
  2. Corey Booker calls Joe Biden out without the asinine flip flopping of Kamala Harris. lets talk about the devastation of Joe Biden’s policies. Why no appearances on Independent Media? My audience matters. We vote too.

Meanwhile Natasha Korecki (POLITICO) reports:

Since Kamala Harris cold-cocked him on the debate stage two weeks ago, Biden has had to recalibrate. The former vice president, who rarely submits to TV news interviews, granted a sit-down to CNN. His surrogates have been unleashed to deliver more pointed attacks on Harris. In speeches, he’s now more directly referencing his eight years with Barack Obama as a defense.
Perhaps most revealing of all, after repeatedly insisting he said nothing wrong in his controversial comments about working with segregationist senators, Biden finally conceded — he offered an apology over the weekend for the “pain and misconception” his words caused.
“There are people that are all over Joe to get more aggressive,” according to a source who spoke with Biden in recent days. “People are very nervous.”

The source added that the debate will be Biden’s next big test. “If he doesn’t come out strong and swinging, you’re going to see a lot of people leaving him.”

A lot to cover on that.

First off, his surrogates attack on Kamala have already hurt him.  Hiding behind others didn't make Joe look strong and attacking women -- especially a woman of color -- just reminds everyone how he betrayed Anita Hill and how he never apologized to her. 

New Joe?  A cranky old man on stage during the debates isn't likely to inspire.  I don't remember, for example, Bernie setting the nation on fire when he was on the debate stage last month.  He looked old and cranky. If Joe wants to try that, have at it.  But Joe has far less personality than Bernie and he also doesn't have Bernie's proposals that so many Americans embrace.

Joe's a little bit racist, a little bit sexist and a lot of out of touch.  Adding cranky and old won't seal the deal for him but have at it if that's what he wants.  The sooner he's out of the race, the better.

Out of the race.  Eric's out but someone else has jumped in.  Betty asked "Tom Steyer?" last night.  It's a good question.  She also noted this from Molly Jong-Fast (INDEPENDENT):

I remember a few months ago watching a Tom Steyer impeachment ad and thinking: this very boring white guy is going to run for president, isn’t he?  But then he kept promising that he wasn’t going to run for president. In January, Steyer went to Iowa and said, “Most people come to Iowa around this time to announce a campaign for president,” but instead “I am proud to be here to announce that I will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to remove a president.”
But it didn’t smell right. After all, why was this man doing the ads himself if he wasn’t trying to build a presidential-feeling brand? People who aren’t running for president don’t generally feature themselves prominently in the ads they pay for. So I wasn’t much surprised this week when Steyer decided that 23 candidates aren’t enough. That what the Democratic primary contest really needs is yet another white guy.
Perhaps Matt Ford put it best when he wrote in the New Republic: “Though he’s mirroring the language of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and other candidates who are running on themes of inequality and corruption, it’s unclear whether a hedge-fund manager with no experience in elected office is the best evangelist of that message.” In fact, a hedge-fund manger running on the idea of taking money out of politics and committing to use $100m of his own money to get there sort of reminds me of a real-estate “billionaire” who ran for president to represent the forgotten men and women of West Virginia.    

Tom's announcement was underwhelming and the press reacted with yawns.  On Twitter, the best comment may have been the following:

As says in his op ed today... there are lots of better ways to spend $100M that would accomplish a helluva lot more than just joining an already overcrowded field.

Tom said he wasn't going to run.  Yesterday, he announced he was going to run.  Fitting that it was on the same day news of H. Ross Perot's death was in the cycle.  Perot said he would pull out in 1992 but he got back in.  Was he the early Trump?  Possibly.  He tried to pretend he was about a populous movement but I always found that claim as fake as so many of his made up stories. 

If that hurts anyone's feelings, I really don't care.  I'm biting my tongue on the use of helicopter (the Perots will know what I mean -- and know I'm not referring to any faux rescue effort but the use of it for other reasons) and that's about as nice as I can be. 

The Iraq War hasn't stopped Joe Biden from raking in $15 million.  But the war he ushered in does prevent Iraqis from employment.

The only thing we ask for is our right of getting employed. Is it imposible in IRAQ?

The lack of jobs was at the heart of the 2018 protests.  Protests which, by the way, are continuing this summer.

  1. Basra activists as they call for jobs, water and electricity -- that the protesters arrested were not "authorised to protest, they have no permission to do so"-- Colonel Bassem Ghanem. Needs time to develop democratic structure.. via
  2. Basra protests have encouraged people in the neighbouring city of Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar province to take to the streets
  3. Protests in Basra in recent weeks over unemployment, a lack of electricity and water and corruption faced a fierce crackdown by security forces
  4. Protests in Basra. Will there be any coverage?
  5. Major General Nazzal stated that his forces would arrest any journalist who covers the Basra protests

MIDDLE EAST EYE's Azhar al-Ruabie reports:
Ahmed Mehalhal, a protester in Basra, told Middle East Eye that he and others initiated a small demonstration on 29 June at Abdel Karim Qasim square in the city centre, leading people to a market to try and draw more supporters.
"Immediately, the Iraqi forces shot us with sound bombs and hit us with black rubber pipes," he said.
"After hours we returned home when the night came, Iraqi forces entered protesters' houses and arrested many protesters."
Mehalhal, 23, said that while he was away from his home at the protest, two Silverado pick-ups, a white Dodge Charger and GXR carrying 25 men wearing black, forced their way in to his property.
The men claimed to be from national security, but he said they did not show any identification. One was wearing "dishdasha" - a traditional long white robe - rather than official uniform.
"They took my father's fingerprints, and scared my mother," said Melhalhal. "One of them told my father that 'If not today, we will arrest your son tomorrow.'"
He added that Major General Qassem Nazzal, the commander of Basra operations, called him twice and told him to "go to the nearest police station to give myself up".
"The only thing I have done is to demand my rights," Mehalhal said.

Where's the international outrage?  The start of this month saw the arrests of ALSUMARIA journalists Najah Alabdy and Salam Sami for covering the protests.  Where's the outrage? 

In the US, are we too busy pretending the illegal war is a success to note the ugly reality?

I see Joel Wing flooding everything with 2018 protests.  Why?  To distract from what's going on today?  I have no idea.  But he's yet again rendered himself useless. 

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