Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Iraq snapshot

 Tuesday, January 26, 2021.  "Bored"?  That's how they feel at THE PROGRESSIVE.  As the Mamas and the Papas sang, "Man, can't they see the world's on fire?"

Starting in the US where new president Joe Biden refuses to fight for the $2,000 checks.  We're talking one check for $2,000.  Not what's needed, mind you.  That would be $2,000 a month.  And other 'developed' countries have been supplying their citizens with regular checks throughout the pandemic.  Joe was never pressed by journalists during the campaign.  Now to win Georgia, Joe did go out on a limb -- $2,000 checks.  If they won the Georgia races a few weeks back, Joe insisted in campaign mode, the American people would get the $2,000 checks.  He walked away and ignored that promise before he was even sworn in.  

Yesterday, on RISING, the topic was addressed.

"Biden's just sitting back," Saagar Enjeti observes.  "I don't know what the hell he's doing."

That's leadership!!!!  

Turns out having a foot in the grave still doesn't mean you're ready to be president.  Joe remains immature and stunted.  

Krystal Ball notes that Senator Angus King is worried about a bill being left for "our grandchildren."  That bill's already left, the Iraq War.  Generations to come will be paying off that bill -- that still growing bill -- and Angus hasn't uttered a peep about that.  Krystal also wants us to know that she's waiting to see what Joe's going to do before rendering judgment.  We're seeing what Joe's doing.  Wasn't he supposed to be ready on day one.  Wasn't his having been a vice president for two terms part of the 'electibility' that the press kept pimping.  Did Joe not realize he got elected president back in November?  I know the mind's gone, but did he not realize that, did he not spend the last months planning what programs he would back and what his administration pursue?

If he didn't, he's not up for the job.  It's a little late in the day for Joe Biden to need time to figure out where he stands on stimulus checks for the American people.  David Sirota (DAILY POSTER) explains:

On January 4, Joe Biden made an unequivocal pledge, telling voters that by electing Democrats to Georgia’s senate seats, “you can make an immediate difference in your own lives, the lives of people all across this country because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble.”

Less than four weeks later:

  • Biden is pushing $1,400 checks, rather than using his election mandate to demand new, full $2,000 checks.

  • Democrats are now suggesting that it could take at least until March to even pass the legislation, even as the economic crisis worsens.

  • Biden is now responding to threats of Republican obstructionism by floating the idea of reducing the number of people who would even get the checks. Reuters reports that “he is open to negotiating the eligibility requirements of his proposed $1,400 COVID stimulus check, a nod to lawmakers who have said they should be more targeted.”

  • The signals of retreat are happening even as new polling data show that the original promise for a full $2,000 survival check is wildly popular. 

The good news is: there’s still time to reverse this trajectory, so now is not the time to give up hope and stop pushing.

However…if all of it feels familiar, it’s not just because it seems like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute — it is because it feels like we’ve gotten into a flux-capacitor-powered Delorean, flown back in time and dropped ourselves back into the year 2009. 

You’ll recall that back then, Barack Obama and Biden got themselves elected in the middle of an economic crisis after promising to pass a public health insurance option. It was a promise as clear and explicit as the $2,000 checks promise is today — their platform was explicit in pledging that “any American will have the opportunity to enroll in the new public plan.”

But then over the course of the year, as Republicans in the congressional minority kicked and screamed, the administration ever so gradually started backing down, rather than using the election mandate to try to shame the GOP into submission. 

By the middle of the year, Obama said: "The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform.” His Health and Human Services secretary said that it was "not the essential element" of health care reform. 

By the winter, Obama flatly lied, insisting “I didn’t campaign on a public option.”

And then by 2010, the Obama White House had killed the plan, and Senate Democrats refused to even bring it up for a floor vote when they had the chance. Soon after, voters delivered what Obama called a “shellacking” in the midterm election, effectively foreclosing on the possibility of transformative change during Obama’s presidency.

A little more than a decade later, the public option fight should be a harrowing cautionary tale for Biden on both the policy and the politics. He had a front-row seat in watching a bad-faith Republican opposition kill a much-needed initiative, and then use Democrats' failure to deliver to win at the polls. He of all people should know that this story never ends well.

The question is: Can he and Democrats learn from the past? 

The $2,000 checks initiative does not have to go down the same way the public option went down. The president and congressional Democrats do not have to do what weak-kneed, wimpy Democrats of the past have so often done. They do not have to negotiate against themselves, word-parse their way out of campaign pledges and delude themselves into thinking that Republicans are good-faith legislative partners.

Over at THE PROGRESSIVE, you can see just how empty 'loyal opposition' will be in the next four years.  There's not one article about the $2,000 stimulus check -- let alone an article about the need for these to be not one-time only checks.  But the whores do have time for other things.  Bill Lueders, "What a relief it is to hear decency and coherence from the nation's chief executive."  Oh, Bill, if only the people of the world who are bombed and killed by the US government could be as insipid as you are.  Mark Fiore gushes, "Boredom is a treat!"  Boredom?  If you live in a bubble, maybe.  But on the streets of the US, things aren't pretty.  People are losing their jobs.  People are dying.  People can't afford rent and groceries.  Overseas?  Six attacks on US convoys in Iraq last Friday, over 30 people killed in a Baghdad bombing on Thursday -- In fact, let's go the statement from the United Nations on that bombing:

At least 32 people died, and more than 100 were injured, in the blasts, which were carried out that morning by two suicide bombers who detonated their vests at the market in Tayaran Square in the capital, Baghdad. 

The last time that the Iraqi capital was hit in a deadly suicide attack, was two years ago, when 35 people were killed, in the same square. No group has yet claimed Thursday’s attack. 

The incident comes just a few days after the Iraqi Government announced that it was postponing the general election from 6 June until 10 October, to give authorities more time to register voters and new political parties, according to news reports. 

Early elections have been a key demand of anti-government protesters who staged months of mass demonstrations beginning in October 2019. 

Reject attempts to ‘spread fear’ 

The UN chief has expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims, and to the Government and people of Iraq, his spokesperson said in a statement. 

“The Secretary-General appeals to the people of Iraq to reject any attempts to spread fear and violence aimed at undermining peace, stability and unity. He calls on the Government to ensure that those behind these horrific crimes are swiftly identified and brought to justice”, it said

The Secretary-General underscored UN support to Iraqi authorities, and to the country’s people, in their efforts to consolidate peace

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres,  calls it "horrific" but Fiore gushes on about "boredom" and it being  "a treat."  I think someone's had too many treats and needs to go to his room and I also think there's a good reason so many of us refer to THE PROGRESSIVE as THE REGRESSIVE.  Let's dedicate a song, a Diane Warren song, to 'bored' Fiore who wallows in his own uselessness while the world burns.

You say I'll get along, sure I'll get along
You're so nonchalant that it's unreal
Well I thought this love would be all I needed
I thought this love was something to believe in
Now you, you say sorry babe, it didn't work out that way
Don't let it ruin you're day babe

Don't lose any sleep now babe
It's just my heart you're breakin', it's just my heart you're breakin'
Don't lose any sleep now babe
Just don't worry 'bout me, don't you worry 'bout me
I'll be all right, oh, yeah

-- "Don't Lost Any Sleep," written by Diane Warren, first appears on John Waite's ROVER'S RETURN.

Don't lose any sleep, don't let the real world ruin your day, pathetic excuse for an adult.  Over fifty and still not able to grow the hell up.  Sad.

At the United Kingdom's Stop The War, Chris Nineham offers:

Most worryingly, Biden has spent the last year doing his best to outdo Trump in hostility to China. In April, the Biden team released a digital ad attacking the president as too willing to accept Chinese government explanations about the virus. Trump “rolled over for the Chinese,” the ad says, a message delivered over footage of what appear to be Chinese security forces.

Biden has been quick to take on China verbally wherever possible and his top foreign policy aide Tony Blinken is clear that Biden is prepared to make confrontational threats, including over Taiwan. Biden, he says, would “step up defences of Taiwan’s democracy by exposing Beijing’s efforts to interfere.”

These moves go way beyond electioneering. They reflect the fact that there is bi-partisan support in Washington for a much tougher attitude to China which is now not just almost an economic equal, but in danger of becoming a serious military competitor. Containing China’s global ambitions will be the main foreign policy imperative of the new government and it will continue to shape the whole of US foreign policy.

The new Democrat administration will no doubt declare a new era for foreign relations. But what it will actually do is offer a slightly different answer to the question of how to restore US influence and control around the world. If it is less unilateral than Trump this will not make it any less deadly or dangerous.

There is strong anti-war sentiment in the US, and it has already had a profound and complicated impact on elite politics. But it will need to be mobilised on a serious scale to reign in the warmakers in Washington. The campaign starts on 25 January with the global day of action against the war on Yemen. Make sure you are involved.

Make sure you are involved -- or go take a nap out of boredom like Mark Fiore.  Your choice, of course, your choice.

On Joe Biden, Iraqi journalist Mustafa Habib Tweets:

1)To Iraqis & those around, who are optimistic about , let's remember that he oversaw bad negotiations led to withdrawal all U.S forces & gave Iraq (with his insistence) to Nuri Maliki, for two terms, witnessed deep penetration by Iran & militias into state structures.

2) Now After we all finish roast Trump, It cannot be denied that he give excellent negotiating cards in the Middle East, especially against Iran. The U.S now has a much better negotiating position than it was in 2015 when the nuclear agreement was signed.

3) Let's remember that the Iraqis considered the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015 as a betrayal by the U.S to them, some of them described the deal as the U.S sold Iraq to Iran for cheap price. Old story back to 2015:

4) Now what is Biden going to do? If he smart enough, he will continue the foreign policy of the Trump administration in the Middle East, BUT he will run quickly out of the Middle East, and will return to the nuclear deal. He is old & wants to rest and sleep early.

5) For example, if Biden were assigned the task of supporting Arab-Israeli normalization, he would take, according to his experience in the region, 20 years to achieve what the Trump administration has achieved in 4 years.

6)If Biden wants to achieve success in the ME, he should end the crisis w Iran by deal ends Iran's influence in the region & neutralizes it in the conflict w China, by giving it economic benefits,or change Iranian regime.Does he have the ability?Or we wait until term!

Meanwhile, at ARAB NEWS, Osama al-Sharif demands Joe Biden increase support for Iraq's current prime minister Mustafa al-Khadimi.  I've read this column several times now.  Where's the disclosure?  You know, the one that notes that ARAB NEWS had a columnist -- one who left when he became prime minister of Iraq?  It's a clear conflict of interest so where's the disclosure?  ARAB NEWS is not impartial to Mustafa.  They basically run interference for him and take any news and repackage it so Mustafa's failures can be blamed on someone else.

XINHUA reports, "Unknown gunmen assassinated a campaign manager for a candidate for the upcoming elections and his brother on Tuesday in the eastern province of Diyala, a provincial police source said."  May 7th, Mustafa became prime minister.  Though ARAB NEWS won't tell you, he was supposed to hold power briefly.  He was put in place to bring about early elections and then, per his own words, step aside.  But now he wants to remain as prime minister.  Last summer, he announced early elections would take place in June and people rightly complained that it was too far out.  Guess what?  They've now been pushed to next October.  But let's pretend Mustafa's doing a bang up job when he can't even accomplish what he was put in place to do.  

ARAB NEWS also doesn't want to report on the humanitarian crisis that Mustafa has created in Iraq.  We called it out in October when they announced the closures of the camps for the displaced.  That's Mustafa.   Khazan Jangiz (RUDAW) reports:

For some of those jolted out of camps in Kirkuk province by the Iraqi government’s mission to rapidly close displacement camps across the country, living in unsafe structures in the provincial capital is preferable to returning to their areas of origins.

“We are in a rented house here, although it’s not even a house,” Samr Raad, an IDP from the Kirkuk’s Riyadh district, told Rudaw’s Hardi Mohammed on Monday. He now lives in an illegal construction in Kirkuk city’s Wahed Huzairan neighborhood.

There are more than 90,500 IDPs in Kirkuk, and more than 300,000 returnees in the province, according to data released in late December by the International Organization for Migration.

The ministry's mid-October decision to accelerate camp closures with limited notice to camp residents has left many displaced families vulnerable. The move has put more than 100,000 people in "tremendous peril," according to the Norweigian Refugee Council (NRC). 

Scores of displaced people come from areas where they could potentially be blocked from passing or arrested at checkpoints due to a lack of security clearance or a belief they are part of armed groups, aid organizations warn.  

While returning families have been promised a grant of $1,250 from Iraq's Ministry of Migration and Displaced People to help them resettle back into their communities, a limited number of returnees are reported to have received the compensation. 

“They told us to go back to our places and we will compensate you with one million and a half (Iraqi dinars), and we will do everything for you from Migration and Displacement. We left with our official documents, we give them the documents, they tell us to get support documents, and then they asked for cards,” Muthanna Mahmoud, an IDP from Kirkuk’s Hawija district, told Rudaw on Monday. “The conditions are hard to get by with and we haven’t had an outcome [from our compensation application] yet.”

UNICEF in Iraq notes:

UNICEF and International Labour Organization met last week in Dohuk to launch their joint collaboration under the Prospects partnership in Iraq, supported by the Government of Netherlands.

The partnership will provide forcibly displaced and host community young people with skills-development and access to employment services and opportunities in #Iraq.

The following sites updated: