Friday, August 21, 2020. The informercial wrapped up last night. Did anyone rush to the phones to buy up what was being sold?
Last night, and the infomercial passed off as a convention came to an end. It could have come to a noble end or just continued to be a public embarrassment. Which do you think happened?
Joe Biden: Thank you. Thank you. I could talk at length tonight about my experience in the Senate, as Vice President, things like that. But I want to be worthy of your vote and I want to be worthy of your trust. So let's get things straight from the start, America. I have made mistakes in my life. And I am making real efforts to learn from them. My vote for the Iraq War was a mistake -- a huge mistake. In the past, I've sounded like a spoiled child as I tried to pass that vote off as being the fault of someone else. I voted for it, it was the wrong vote. That's on me and I want to learn from that moment. I want to grow from it. There are so many Americans and, yes, so many Iraqis who lost their lives. Earning your trust means acknowledging also my mistakes after the war started. Instead of demanding accountability and a strategy and goals that could be measures, up until February 2008, I repeatedly focused on splitting Iraq up into three parts as though that was an answer. I finally gave up on that misguided idea not because the Iraqi people had rejected the idea -- they had long rejected it -- but because my fellow senators made it abundantly clear that this idea had no Congressional support. Still, I did not call for all US troops out of Iraq.
I'd like to tell you that I had this blistering moment of insight and, from that moment forward, I was on a steady course. But that wasn't the road I took. Yes, in April of 2008, I did issue a statement where I declared, "The President confirmed what I've been saying for some time -- he has no plan to end this war. His plan is to muddle through and then to hand the problem off to his successor. So the result of the surge is that we're right back where we started before it began 15 months ago: with 140,000 troops in Iraq, spending $3 billion every week, losing 30 to 40 American lives every month -- and still no end in sight." Even more important, and more on the money, I chaired a Senate Committee hearing on April 11, 2008. In that hearing, I made several statements that, even right now, I am proud of.
I talked of the agreement the Bush White House was trying to put together with Prime Minister Nouri al-Malikki and how it raised "many red flags with me and other Americans. We've pledged we're not only going to consult when there is an outside threat, but also when there is an inside threat. We've just witnessed when Mr. Maliki engaged in the use of force against another Shia group in the south, is this an inside threat?" Maliki turned out to be an inside threat. When I was Vice President, we began a drawdown -- not a withdrawal as promised -- and, the day after the drawdown, Maliki began using tanks to circle the homes of his political opponents in Parliament He began openly persecuting his political rivals. Whereas before he had used secret prisons and torture cells on various Iraqi civilians, he was not declaring war on elected officials who did not agree with him.
Now in that April 2008 hearing, I did have the insight or luck to see what lay on the road ahead. That is why I noted that Bush's proposed agreement was requiring that we "take sides in Iraq's civil war" and that "there is no Iraq government that we know of that will be inplace a year from now -- half the government has walked out."
Let's stop for a moment register that. In April of 2008, I made some very accurate remarks.
In March of 2010, two years later, when I was Vice President, Iraq held elections. The big loser? Maliki. And he refused to step down. For eight months he refused to step down. President Obama had tasked me with Iraq, put me in charge of Iraq. The Iraqi people, despite threats and despite violence on election day, turned out to vote for their future. We, the United States, said we were bringing democracy to them, gifting them with democracy, if you will. And yet we did not stand by the results of that election. Instead, we went around those results. We tossed them aside. I was part of the American group that negotiated a treaty or contract known as The Erbil Agreement. It gave Maliki a second term -- a second term the voters did not give him. To get that second term, we drew up this contract among the various political parties. To get them to sign on, we had promises written into the agreement that they wanted -- the Kurds, for example, wanted the referendum on Kirkuk -- promised in the Iraqi Constitution -- finally implemented. We swore this was a binding contract. Maliki got his second term with that contract and then refused to honor the agreement. What's worse? We didn't demand that he honor it despite our earlier promise that we would -- a promise that President Obama repeated to Ayad Allawi, the winner of the election, November 11, 2010, when The Erbil Agreement seemed in jeopardy, President Obama personally called Allawi to assure him that we would stand by that contract which, included for Allawi, becoming the chair of a newly created National Council On Higher Policy.. As Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) reported, "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."
Throughout 2010, I failed to step in. I failed to insist that we stop making deals with Maliki. I failed to insist that we show the Iraqi people the importance of voting and that their vote matters. Since 2010, the voter turnout in Iraq has gone down and that's a direct result of the US government, of me, tossing out their votes in 2010 because we thought Maliki would better serve the United States.
Not only did that undercut belief in democracy for the Iraqi people, it also set the stage for the rise of ISIS in Iraq. It was a disaster, Maliki's second term. As he persecuted Sunnis, ISIS rose in response. Were it not for his second term, you can argue that ISIS would not have risen in Iraq.
How did I, in 2008, realize what Maliki was? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while she was a US Senator in 2008, called Maliki a "thug" in an open hearing and she was correct about that.
So what changed?
What changed was that 'we' were in charge now. Not the Bush administration, us. President Obama, Samantha Power, Hillary Clinton, myself and others. We were in charge. Instead of working from what we knew, we worked on hubris. We were so much smarter that we could do all the things Bush had tried already and that had failed already but because we were doing them, somehow they would magically work out this time.
As I look back on Iraq, my biggest regret is how hubris misled me. It was and is a hard lesson to learn. But I'm standing here before you -- goodness knows, this is an open setting -- and I'm explaining what went wrong and what I did wrong.
My belief is that I have learned from these things. But by sharing this with you, I can make sure that you will hold me accountable. I can make sure that if I'm president and start talking war on some nation, you the America people will say, 'Hey, Joe, reflect for a moment and make sure this is what your gut is telling you is right and that you're not a victim of your own hubris again.' Because we are in this together and I want to be your president. But, more than just wanting to be your president, I want to be the best president you can have. That requires us working together: You supporting me when I'm right and you questioning me when I'm wrong. We can only do that by being honest with one another.
That was a great speech.
Sadly, Joe didn't give it.
Joe has never gotten honest about Iraq and, as we learned last night, he probably never will.
Where is the foreign policy discussion? Many people keep asking that. It's not at the convention. It's not in the press. They can't talk foreign policy, apparently, while Joe refuses to honestly reflect on his role in one of the worst foreign failures of this century. It wasn't just the vote. It was all that followed after.
It is all the continues to this day. But we pretend that the Iraq War ended, that the occupation ended, that all US troops left that country. That's not what happened at all.
And we certainly did not 'gift' Iraq with democracy. Instead, we have repeatedly installed one corrupt leader after another who has refused to meet the basic needs of the Iraqi people -- it's as though all these despots are cousins of Nancy Pelosi.
Joe was dishonest to his core. He looked like a liar onstage because he was one.
He's the guy that assaults a girl in high school and then gets his friends to shut her up so he can accept the honor of class valedictorian and give a speech that ignores all his vile actions.
And on that? No, he did not apologize to the various women he made uncomfortable and groped over the years. I suppose the bar is so low now that we're expected to be grateful that he didn't make jokes about it -- the way he did in April 2019 when speaking before a union. He did not apologize to Tara Reade. He did not take ownership for anything.
He stood on stage with no remorse and no humility. He pretended he was the choice of the people when, in fact, he was the choice leaders in the party enforced upon the people. He pretended the country loved him when, in fact, if he wins it will only be because the country dislikes Donald Trump more.
He had no remorse, no humility and no modesty.
Should he win the presidency, be prepared for a nightmare. His attacks on the press, for example, are treated as funny or something to be ignored and not as the actual warning signs that they truly are.
The Democratic National Convention concluded Thursday night with the formal acceptance of the party’s presidential nomination by former Vice President Joe Biden, after a final two-hour session that was full of empty clichés, inane rhetoric and nauseating insincerity.
The atmosphere Thursday was more of a religious revival than a political event. There was incessant emphasis on the personal moral superiority of Biden compared to Trump, accompanied by increasingly maudlin testimonials to Biden’s alleged deep concern for children, the downtrodden, and virtually anyone who crossed his path. One former White House official referred to Biden’s “empathy skills,” a phrase which recalls the old wisecrack: “Sincerity—if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
The sheer contempt for the intelligence of the population and the viewing audience was summed up in Biden’s acceptance speech. His speechwriters appeared to have been trying to cram every possible trite phrase into a single 20-minute address.
He ran through a laundry list of promises, from climate change to racism to student debt, none of which the Democratic Party has the slightest intention of actually carrying out. Only two phrases had real meaning.
Biden reassured Wall Street and the billionaires, “I’m not looking to punish anyone.” This sent a message to the financial aristocracy that, while the candidate was compelled to make demagogic attacks on the wealthy for electoral purposes, these would have no lasting consequences. “Nothing will change” for the super-rich, he told a Wall Street fundraiser last year, and that pledge he will keep.
And the former vice president denounced Trump for being too soft on Russia, threatening to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for allegedly paying bounties to Taliban fighters who attacked American troops in Afghanistan. This phony story is just the latest fabrication by the New York Times in its four-year-long campaign to provoke a US war with Russia.
The tone for the convention’s final day was set by the report Thursday afternoon that a group of 73 former national security officials from four Republican administrations were endorsing Biden and denouncing Trump in an open letter to be published in the Wall Street Journal. The list includes an array of militarists and police-state operatives who are responsible for the death of millions of people in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Among the most prominent and most deserving of prosecution for war crimes endorsing Biden are:
- John Negroponte, with a bloody record from the contra terrorist war against Nicaragua to the occupation of Iraq in the 2000s;
- Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991
Persian Gulf War, and secretary of state during the 2003 Iraq War, in
which he played a central role in justifying a war based on lies;
- Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and
later CIA director, who oversaw CIA torture programs and domestic
- Robert Blackwill, deputy director of the National Security Council with responsibility for Iraq war policy in 2003–2004;
- Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center under the younger Bush; and
- William Webster, director of the FBI under Reagan and of the CIA under the elder Bush.
The support of these former leaders of the military-intelligence apparatus only underscores the real character of the conflict between the Democratic and Republican parties, the twin political instruments of the American ruling elite.
Howie Hawkins is the presidential candidate from the Green Party. He offered the following response to Joe Biden's speech.
Thursday, his campaign issued the following:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2020
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Kevin Zeese, Press Secretary
Robert Smith, Media Coordinator
RELEASE: Hawkins Calls for Biden to Stand Up to the Fossil Fuel Industry
Charges that the Democrats have weakened his initial Green New Deal Proposal
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for President, said today that America needed a true Green New Deal, not the watered-down version that the Democrats have used for branding and from which they are increasingly running away from.
Hawkins, who initiated the call in the U.S. for a Green New Deal in his 2010 campaign for Governor of New York, co-authored an op ed that outlines the history of the proposal. Whatever Happened to the Green New Deal?
Hawkins advocates a ten-year timeline (now 2030) to get to zero greenhouse emissions.
Hawkins and Angela Walker, his VP running mate, challenged Biden and the Democrats to stand with climate activists to end subsidies for fossil fuels, to immediately halt both fracking for natural gas and any fossil fuel infrastructure, and to rapidly phaseout the use of fossil fuels. The Democrats recently dropped the ban on subsidies from their revised platform and have always opposed a firm goal of halting fossil fuels. The Democrats also diluted their restriction on taking campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests.
“Scientists tell us that we have years, not decades, left to avoid catastrophic climate change. Already tens of millions are being negatively impacted by extreme weather and air pollution. The number of climate refugees are rapidly expanding, including at our own borders. We need a full-scale emergency mobilization to confront this crisis, similar to what we did in World War II, not some tinkering with the all-of-above energy policy promoted by the Obama-Biden administration,” noted Hawkins.
Hawkins noted that many of the key provisions of his ecosocialist GND were missing from even Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’ initial proposal, such as the need for public ownership and democratic control of the energy system and cutting the military budget by 75% or more to help pay for the program. Many proposals labeled by Democrats as GND promote a 2050 timeline to get to “net zero” emissions while failing to include the Economic Bill of Rights included in Hawkins’ proposal, building upon FDR’s proposals in 1944: a guaranteed living-wage job, a guaranteed income above poverty, affordable housing, Medicare for All, lifelong tuition-free public education, and a secure retirement by doubling Social Security benefits.
Hawkins proposes a 10-year, $27.5 trillion a program to achieve zero-to-negation carbon emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030. It also includes an additional $1.4 trillion a year for the Economic Bill of Rights. Hawkins supports the conversion of industrialized, pesticide-dependent corporate agriculture to organic farms owned by working farmers that rebuild carbon-capturing living soils. Hawkins also supports taxing the rich and making corporate polluters pay to help fund the GND.
“The ecosocialist approach recognizes that capitalism’s destruction of the climate and exploitation of people are part of the same process. It recognizes that in order to harmonize society with nature we must harmonize human with human by ending economic exploitation and all forms of oppression. It calls for an ecosocialist economic democracy that meets the basic needs of all within ecological limits,” added Hawkins.
Yesterday's snapshot led to an angry e-mail from an aged journalist. You know the three-name I mean. The idiot who attacked me for getting his name wrong here -- when, in fact, I had pull quoted Bob Somerby and it was Bob Somerby who got his name wrong but Bob's a man so three-name never contacted Bob. By the same token, three-name thought he could go to war on Ruth. That didn't work out for him either.
Is he retired? Does he just show up DEMOCRACY NOW! for a living these days?
At any rate, three-name wanted to me to know that "there's such a thing as lead time! You don't understand that we write and then it gets published. That could take two to three days!"
Old man, no one asked you for a damn thing, certainly not your useless opinion.
My comments were about alternative media being silent on the conventions. IN THESE TIMES, COUNTERPUNCH and anyone else does not worry about lead time. This isn't the world of print journalism. WSWS has been able to run articles every day about the convention. RISING has been able to do segments every day about the convention.
Go back to sleep because maybe, when you wake up next time, you'll be in the 21st century. But even then, we won't need to hear from you.
(He had time to Tweet about Steve Bannon yesterday, I see. Didn't need lead time for that, did he?)
Gloria La Riva is the US presidential candidate for the Party of Socialism and Liberation. She Tweeted:
And she Tweeted:
I saw the genocide committed against the Iraqi people, due to George H. W. Bush's bombing war in 1991, Bill Clinton's sanctions that killed over a million Iraqi people and Madeleine Albright's despicable claim that it was worth those 500,000 dead children by total blockade.
Joseph Kishore is the presidential candidate from the Socialist and Equality Party. He offered the following Twitter response regarding Joe's supporters:
1) War criminals and militarists supporting Biden in the 2020 election: A thread.
2) John Negroponte. Former DNI, oversaw vast expansion of NSA spying. Former US ambassador to Iraq. US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985, overseeing US support for the contras' vicious war of disappearances, torture and mass killings against the Sandinistas.
3) Colin Powell, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff [C.I. note: actually Secretary of State] during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. At the United Nations, provided the case for the Bush administration, consisting of lies, to launch a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
4) Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA (1999-2005) and the CIA. Implicated in mass illegal surveillance of the American population. Supervised the CIA’s “black site” torture centers under Bush.
5) John Bellinger, national security legal advisor under Bush. Implicated in the CIA torture program.
6) Robert Blackwill, US national security council deputy for Iraq from 2003 to 2004, during the invasion. Leading member of the Council of Foreign Relations, who in 2015 wrote “Revising US Grand Strategy Toward China” advocating confrontation with China.
7) Joseph Collins, US deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations under Rumsfeld during the Bush administration. Key planner for the US occupation of Iraq.
8) Chester Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1981-1989) under Reagan. Architect of the "constructive engagement" accommodation of the Reagan administration with apartheid South Africa.
9) Richard Falkenrath, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor under Bush, instrumental in developing and strengthening the DHS to oversee anti-immigrant policies and attacks on democratic rights within the US.
10) Aaron Friedberg: Deputy assistant for national-security affairs and director of policy planning for vice president Dick Cheney (2003 to 2005). National Security Advisor for the Romney campaign in 2012. Strong proponent of more aggressive action against China.
11) Colleen Graffy, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy under Bush. Said of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who committed suicide: "It does sound like this is part of a strategy... a good PR move."
12) Miles Taylor, intern under VP Cheney during the Bush years, staffer throughout the Bush administration, chief of staff for Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen under the Trump administration.
13) Michael Vickers, longtime defense department official under Republicans and Democrats. Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under Obama. Under Reagan, a senior CIA agent who helped direct its huge covert war to oust the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
14) Ken Wainstein, Homeland Security advisor under George W. Bush.
15) William Webster, director of the FBI (1978-1987) and director of the CIA (1987-1991). Among those who signed a letter to Obama demanding the quashing of investigations into CIA torture under Bush. (Obama agreed).
16) Dov Zakheim, Defense Department official under Reagan and then part of Bush's foreign policy team during the 2000 elections, along with Condoleezza Rice, Richard Armitage, Robert Blackwill, Stephen Hadley, Richard Perle, Robert Zoellick and Paul Wolfowitz, and Scooter Libby.
17) Philip Zelikow, member of the George W. Bush's transition team. Executive director of the 9/11 Commission, which whitewashed US foreknowledge and complicity in the 9/11 attacks.
18) Barack Obama, president of the United States. Shielded Bush admin war criminals from prosecution. Continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Implemented a policy of drone assassination without due process, including of US citizens.
19) Joe Biden... US Senator from Delaware and vice president under Obama. Voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, based on lies. Instrumental in supporting war in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and many other countries.
Jo Jorgensen is the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.