Starting in the US where the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues.
War Hawk Joe Biden. They've taken the audio of his talking about children rubbing on his hairy legs and bouncing in his lap and they've added a visual. This as MSNBC observers are saying he's lost MORNING JOE. If he's lost MORNING JOE how will he be able to keep the rest of the chattering class?
Supposedly, MORNING JOE's going all in with Tiny Pete which might explain the war Joe's declared on his own personal mini-me.
Joe Biden told reporters in Iowa Monday that Pete Buttigieg "stole" his health care plan, the WSJ and other outlets report. But Reuters found the mayor's "Medicare for all who want it" statements pre-date the former vice president's
For those tired of full size president, Tiny Pete hopes to be your fun size president. Tiny Pete's also being called "Mayo Pete." Tanya Basu (TECHNOLOGY REVIEW) reports:
The finishing touch: “Mayo Pete” flashes up, an unsubtle dig at the candidate because he’s white, has had trouble connecting with nonwhite voters, and is supposedly bland like the condiment. The meme seems to have first popped up earlier this year on Reddit among Bernie Sanders supporters and opponents of the mayor in South Bend, Indiana, but has only just caught on with TikTok users.
[. . .]
What Mayo Pete can teach us: Just because a sizable portion of the audience can’t vote doesn’t mean that TikTok should be ignored. Viral content has a way of spreading across social-media platforms, and memes hold outsize sway in shaping public opinions and conversations online. Less than a year out from the election, none of the major Democratic candidates have cultivated a presence on TikTok. One media strategist told Vox that candidates could use it to bolster their approachability in much the same way that Instagram videos have redefined access to candidates. It’s also a clear, accessible way for candidates to apologize or clarify errors.
Case in point: Mayor Pete’s social-media snafus. Buttigieg committed not one but two major gaffes in the last few days. Over the weekend, Intercept reporter Ryan Grim reported that a woman in an image included in Buttigieg’s plan for the “empowerment of black America,” the Douglass Plan, was in fact Kenyan. Turns out the stock photo Buttigieg’s campaign used was chosen by a contracting firm “without knowing that it was taken in Africa.” And an Instagram post from 2017 on Buttigieg’s husband’s account recirculated online, showing the candidate posing at a Holocaust memorial in Berlin.
Pete Buttigieg Admits Only Recently Realizing Black People Can Vote https://trib.al/AyKgpBH
Poor Tiny Pete.
In Iraq, protests continue.
Arwa Ibrahim (ALJAZEERA) reports on students who continue the protest:
Tiba says she decided to boycott her university classes the moment she learned that her friend Amer had been killed during clashes with Iraqi security forces.
The pair first met in October in Tahrir Square, the capital's main site for anti-government demonstrations which have continued for two months. Amer told her that he was protesting on behalf of his brother, who had died in clashes with security forces. Days later, Tiba received news that her new friend had joined a growing list of Iraqi lives cut short during the protests.
"When I saw his picture among the martyrs, I knew I had to do something for my country," said Tiba, a 23-year-old engineering student at Baghdad University. "The best thing I could do was go on strike," she added.
The western press largely ignored the women in Iraq participating in these protests. At first, they filed pieces saying women weren't participating. When the reality was obvious -- via photos and coverage from the Arab press -- they tended to just ignore the women participating. But women's participation in the protests is not only a key detail, it's a historic one as well.
Participation has required bravery for all. The government response has been to attack the protesters. Over 15,000 have been injured and the death toll has topped 400.
How is the government addressing all these deaths where security representing the government has killed the protesters? By changing the death certificates. In the hospital, the death is noted as a shooting death. But the government then issues a death certificate labeling it a "clinical death" as FRANCE24 reports.
COUNTERCURRENTS notes the Iraqi Communist Party:
The ICP, which topped polls as part of Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoun coalition in the 2018 general election, demand a transitional government with “exceptional powers” not formed on the current quota system, as well as a “peaceful and smooth constitutional handover of power” and fresh elections.
Political prisoners detained during the uprising must also be released and those who have killed protesters brought to justice, the ICP said.
The quota system was put in place after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, imposing an inflexible system through which key roles within the government are assigned to a Kurd, a Sunni Muslim and a Shia Muslim.
Yesterday, the US State Dept tried to hold a press briefing on Iraq. The official was the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker.
Most of the briefing is below. I stopped it before the last exchange which was not about Iraq. But you'll note that Iraq is spoken of but some -- Matt Lee of the ASSOCIATED PRESS -- refuse to cover Iraq. Matt's one of the screaming holler monkeys going on about Lebanon.
Let's be really clear that it's been forever since the US State Dept did a press briefing about Iraq. But Matt Lee's never given a damn about Iraq. Excuse me, that's just not true. Matt was all for starting the war back in 2002 and 2003. But, with the war started, Matt grew bored. AP needs to remove him. He offers nothing but show boating and distractions.
Here's the bulk of the transcript.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Any questions?
QUESTION: Can I ask you what you – one, how quickly are – how quickly would you like to see the situation resolve, at least politically, with the prime minister? Is that just as soon as possible or is there a step-by-step?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Listen —
QUESTION: And then can I just also ask you on a different subject of the Lebanon aid?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, I saw your article. Scoop – is that a scoop?
QUESTION: I don’t know about that.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, no, it’s true.
QUESTION: I know it’s true.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: All right.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) I would – but anyway.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I told you last week —
QUESTION: I know.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: — that it was going to be resolved soon, resolved – soon.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So I’m reliable.
QUESTION: Yes, you are.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. All right, so next?
QUESTION: Sorry – oh, wait a second. (Laughter.) That’s all you’re going to say? I wanted to know what —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No.
QUESTION: I had the Iraq question.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Ah yeah, no, no. Yeah, about —
QUESTION: We’ve got 15 minutes, come on.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, listen – so this is not about personalities, right. Once again, this is about reform. We want the Iraqis to get a government that is responsive to their legitimate demands – reform, anti-corruption. This is a process that should be handled by the Iraqis and managed by the Iraqis. We don’t have parameters for timing. We want to see an end to the violence. We want to see protestors being allowed to protest peacefully. But I’m not going to comment on the timeline here (inaudible).
MODERATOR: Okay, Michael.
QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up to on Lebanon?
QUESTION: Can I – just a quick one. The – you want to see reform in Iraq and – but the prime minister, the new prime minister is going to be chosen by the very same parliament that was elected in a vote in which there was very low turnout and which picked the previous prime minister. Does the U.S. Government favor – would it be advisable if there were early elections in Iraq to change the parliament so that – to move along the process of reform?
And since we’re on background, can you just please explain the Lebanon thing a little more than you’re reliable? What – what’s happened? Why was it held up?
QUESTION: Has it been resolved?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So on Iraq, there was a number of questions you had.
QUESTION: Do you support early – why not support early elections if you want change?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, so I – listen, I – the Iraqis are amidst a process of electoral reform, right? They have a system that, granted, decades ago we helped design, right – the Iraqi electoral process – but it is one in which Iraqis say that their representatives aren’t necessarily accountable to – to them. It’s a proportional representational system. There are other systems being discussed right now, mixed systems, et cetera. We are rooting for an Iraqi parliament that is once again responsive, more responsive to the Iraqi people. We’re I think one way or the other not talking about early elections.
QUESTION: I’m sorry?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: This is up for the – this is up to the Iraqi people to decide. I’m not going to comment about —
QUESTION: Okay. And can you explain Lebanon, please?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m not going to unpack the whole thing.
QUESTION: You don’t have to unpack the whole thing, but just a little explanation.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean – we – Matt, you had a piece that somebody wrote about this, right? You wrote about this before.
QUESTION: Come on, this is a serious thing. You’re [Senior State Department Official]; it’s a legitimate question.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, listen, I’m not —
QUESTION: You’re on background.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I know, I —
QUESTION: Whose decision was it to lift this aid?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Listen, as David Hale said during his congressional testimony, there were some disagreements about the efficacy of U.S. aid to the LAF. (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Can you confirm —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And – and —
QUESTION: Let him finish.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m not going to – I’m not going to comment. There’s been several pieces that have been written about this. I wish I could comment on it; I can’t.
QUESTION: But what’s the current status? It’s been released, right?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s been – yes, the money is good to go.
QUESTION: So when —
QUESTION: It is gone? It’s gone? Good to go or it’s gone?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s in the process of being gone, right, it’s gone —
QUESTION: Who made that decision?
MODERATOR: This is not a free-for-all.
QUESTION: Sorry, sorry.
MODERATOR: So Nick, you had your hand up, so you go.
QUESTION: So, if you could, when was that decision made? It’s been released or it’s in the process? Explain that a little bit. And I know —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So the process is done. It’s released, right.
QUESTION: It’s been released?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Now there is – for any – you know the FMF process, right? There’s letters of request, letters of agreement, et cetera. So that – the process is done, right, that’s – we’re – Lebanon will request certain things, we’ll sign agreements, and they’ll get it. They’ll get —
QUESTION: And then so the fundamental question is: Why was congressionally authorized aid blocked? Aid that was by the State Department and the Pentagon desired as part of U.S. policy?
MODERATOR: He’s already answered that question specifically.
QUESTION: And – I did.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Once again, though, this was a process, right. Nothing that was supposed to get to the Lebanese Armed Forces was delayed in any way.
QUESTION: Just timing wise, can you confirm that it was released before Thanksgiving and that Congress was notified on Monday?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What’s today?
QUESTION: Today is Monday.
QUESTION: The 2nd.
QUESTION: Was Congress notified today?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, I – I’m not going to talk about the timing.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I ask what is the argument to the people who took the other side, who said that the aid shouldn’t have gone to the military because they —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I can – I mean, I can – it’s out in the public sphere, the same type of arguments that people have in the U.S. Government, right. So, for example, when I worked at a think tank for 16 years, I’d oftentimes write about U.S. aid to Lebanon, the pros and cons of this. There are people at FDD who write about what a terrible idea it is, right, and they are good scholars, and what you read is – I think is – makes a cogent argument about why it’s not the best idea to do it. Other people have written about why it’s a great idea to do it. And so this is a kind of argument that we see on a broad range of topics that happen inside the government and outside the government, and that it’s just reflective of that.
QUESTION: Sorry for interrupting earlier– whose decision was it to release this hold and —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I thought we were talking about Iraq today.
QUESTION: — and why is it so important – just kind of to build off of what Abbie was saying, why is it important for the U.S. to important the Lebanese Armed Forces?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I’ll – I’ll answer the second part, right. This is an institution that is a national institution. It defends Lebanon’s borders. It is an excellent partner to the United States in counterterrorism, in fighting Sunni jihadi Islamists. They have developed in recent years a high level of capability on that regard. They have responded in recent weeks I think in impressive fashion in terms of protecting demonstrators from violence, demonstrating, I think, the fact that they are a national institution.
Now, there are detractors who would point to incidents, isolated incidents, of deconfliction with Hizballah in certain areas. But this is an institution that nonetheless has great merit.
QUESTION: And the first question? And the first question?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That’s the one I’m not answering.
QUESTION: You aren’t.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sorry.
MODERATOR: Yeah, Shaun.
QUESTION: Sure. I’ll go back to Iraq for a minute.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s an issue of process.
QUESTION: You were mentioning the Iranian influence in Iraq. Could you explain what you’re looking for in terms of the setup of the new government? I know you’ve said it’s not about personalities, but Abdul-Mahdi of course was very close to Iran, but also had a working relationship with the United States. In terms of how the U.S. sees the process now, to what extent do you – does the United States anticipate having some sort of advisory role, if you will, some sort of advice in terms of how to go forward?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So we continue to engage with the Iraqi Government. Adil is there; we continue to engage with him, a broad range of Iraqi political personalities. What do we expect, is that the question? Or —
QUESTION: Sure. I mean, what do you expect in terms of the relationship with Iran of the next government?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Listen, I think it’s Adil who says famously – the prime minister – Iran is our neighbor, you are our friend, right. I think we have been a reliable partner to Iraq. I expect that we will continue to be a reliable partner, helping to build their capacity to defend themselves and to exert their sovereignty, to help defeat ISIS and can you prevent a resurgence of ISIS in Iraqi territory. So I would expect that we will continue to have that kind of relationship with the Iraqi Government and also have economic investments in the country, et cetera, going forward.
QUESTION: Just briefly, does the U.S. have any comment on the torching of the Iranian consulate in Najaf?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Generally speaking – and specifically speaking – the United States believes that – the inviolability of the diplomatic facilities.
You've had over 400 activists killed, over 15,000 injured. You've had the activists force a sitting prime minister to resign. What follows now is all off the cuff, they're feeling their way forward because there's no real blue print for how you move forward at this point. This is historic and it's new and novel. It's got people power, violence, government suppression, rebellion, revolution, you name it. But it's all boring to Matt Lee. Again, AP needs to remove him. This was a briefing about Iraq and Matt had no questions or concerns about Iraq. This'll probably be the only briefing on Iraq for the entire year of 2019 but, hey, Matt and a few others don't give a damn about Iraq. Maybe next time when they don't have any questions, they just skip the briefing? People went after Helen Thomas for being 'off topic.' She was never off topic. She raised issues some people didn't like but those issues were raised in the context of the topic of a briefing. Matt Lee is off topic. Always.
The following sites updated: