Monday, March 8, 2021. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin jerks the chain for more war, Pope Francis wraps up his visit to Iraq, Dems in Congress fail the working class yet again and Jimmy Dore catches the hideous Ryan Grim in yet another lie.
Yesterday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared on ABC's THIS WEEK. Tony Czuczka (BLOOMBERG NEWS) notes, "The U.S. will respond as appropriate to a rocket attack last week on an air base hosting U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said."
Austin said that if the U.S. decides to respond to the attack it will be "at a time and place of our own choosing."
Austin elected to make his threats of violence on Sunday -- considered a day of worship by many in the United States and a day that Pope Francis made calls for peace as he wrapped up his visit in Iraq. Also mocking the notion of peace and better angels was the US Senate. Barry Grey (WSWS) reports that the Senate spent Saturday gutting any significant benefits to the working class:
Last week, the House passed the package as initially announced by the White House, including a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a one-time cash stipend for all adults earning less than $100,000 a year and all couples earning less than $200,000, and an increase in the weekly supplemental unemployment benefit from $300 to $400. The one-time cash payment is set at $1,400 for individuals making less than $75,000 and $2,800 for couples earning less than $150,000, with additional cash aid for families with children.
However, Biden and the Senate Democratic leadership agreed to drop the minimum wage increase—the most significant concession to working people included in the package—in compliance with an advisory ruling by the Senate parliamentarian. The unelected official said the minimum wage hike could not be passed under the budget reconciliation process used by the Democrats in order to prevent a filibuster, which would require 60 votes to break, and obtain passage of the relief bill with a simple majority in the evenly divided chamber.
Manchin, who had already declared his opposition to the proposed minimum wage increase, used the threat of withholding his vote to demand as well a lower eligibility cap on the cash stipend—from $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples to $80,000 and $160,000, respectively, a cut that will exclude an estimated 17 million people from receiving the benefit. He then obtained a cut in the weekly jobless benefit from $400 to the current level of $300, itself a 50 percent reduction from the supplemental jobless pay enacted under the CARES Act passed in March 2020.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced over the weekend that the House would vote Tuesday on the version of the bill passed by the Senate.
The right-wing character of the Biden administration and the further shift to the right of the Democratic Party as a whole are exemplified in the emergence of Manchin as the dominant figure, exercising virtual veto power of the policies of the government. While Sanders and the so-called “progressives” are relegated to the role of rubber-stamping Biden’s pro-Wall Street and militaristic policies, Manchin and other conservatives are brought forward, as part of the administration’s efforts to reopen the economy and suppress the opposition among workers. It is noteworthy that the senator from West Virginia appeared on virtually all of the Sunday morning interview programs yesterday.
Sunday, Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Congressional Millionaires" went up.
Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Congressional Millionaires." A woman declares, "Well Congress doesn't think we need Medicare For All or an increase in the minimum wage." A man replies, "The same Congress made up of millionaires who already have free health care that we pay for." Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.
Fact checks or 'fact checks' rushed to dispel the notion that Congress gave itself a raise last year. But what they often failed to note was that Congress attempted to give itself a raise last year but was stopped. From the office of US House Rep Jared Golden:
WASHINGTON — Congressmen Jared Golden (ME-02) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) announced today that they had defied party leaders and secured a provision to block a pay raise for members of Congress in the government funding bill that passed Congress last night.
“If representatives find it difficult to live on $174,000 a year, they should try supporting a family on a third of that or less, as many of my constituents do,” said Congressman Golden. “No one should be in Congress to make money; it’s about public service, not a paycheck. I’m proud to work across the aisle with Congressman Fitzpatrick to block the scheduled pay raise for Congress. Rather than being outraged that we blocked this pay raise, I encourage party leaders to join me in calling out irrelevant and unnecessary provisions that benefit the wealthy — like tax exemptions for corporations’ three-martini lunches — that were allowed to become part of this bill.”
“Hardworking Americans across the country do not receive automatic raises every year, and neither should Congress. Congress needs a reality check, not a raise,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “For far too long, Congress delayed bipartisan relief during a pandemic to score political points. Gridlock on major issues must not, and will not, be rewarded. We need to be working to help our constituents and fix real issues, not give ourselves a pay raise.”
Earlier this year, Golden and Fitzpatrick formally requested the language be included in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill. They also jointly testified in favor of the provision before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative Affairs, which writes the funding bill language that covers congressional pay. The exact language Golden and Fitzpatrick advocated for can be found in Section 7 of the final bill text.
Is that 'fake news'? Because I consider 'fact checks' by various news outlets that tell you 'no, Congress didn't give itself a raise last year' but leave out the work of US House Rep Jared Golden and Brian Fitzpatrick to stop the pay raise (which, by the way, is supposed to take place automatically) to be falsehoods.
Congress last gave itself a raise in 2009 which may seem like caring on their part -- that was the same year that they last raised minimum wage. However, while Congress raised minimum wage in 2009 to $7.25 an hour, it raised its own salary to, per REUTERS, $174,000 -- a 2.8% increase for them. 2009 is also when minimum wage last rose for hourly workers in the US -- from $6.55 an hour to $7.25 an hour.
From 1997 to 2007, the hourly minimum wage had been set by the government at $5.15 an hour. Yet, during that same time, the salaries of members of Congress grew dramatically. In 1997, per the US Senate, $133,600 was the yearly pay. Regular increases (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009) led them to the $174,000. Grasp that -- Congress gave itself raises nearly every year from 1997 through 2007 while refusing to raise minimum wage.
As Trina likes to repeatedly point out about how some are getting rich during this pandemic, no, we are not all in this together.
Barry Grey observes:
He [Biden] downplayed the concessions to the right wing, citing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who called the Senate bill “the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working families in the modern history of this country.”
Sanders’ hyping of the scaled-back bill followed his token effort on Friday to override the parliamentarian’s ruling on the minimum wage. His proposal fell far short of the required 60 votes, as eight members of the Democratic caucus joined all 50 Republicans to vote it down.
The falling into line of the Democratic “progressives” was underscored by the remarks of Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, who said, “Despite the fact that we believe any weakening of the House provisions were bad policy and bad politics, the reality is that the final amendments were relatively minor concessions.”
Not getting $15 an hour is a "relatively minor concession"? Really? Tell it to someone making $7.25 an hour.
This is outrageous. Bad enough that Congress denied the needed raise but now Jayapal wants to tell you no big deal? That's outrageous. The fake assery is appalling.
"The minimum wage remains essential policy and we must deliver on this issue," CPC chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said in a statement.
"We call on the president to lay out his plan in the coming days for providing a desperately needed raise for 32 million Americans," said Jayapal.
Which is it Jayapal, "essential policy" or a "relatively minor concession"?
Turning to Iraq . . .
Iraq's President Barham Salih Tweeted:
Riya Baibhawi (REPUBLCWORLD.COM) explains, "Pope Francis, who, on March 7, concluded his three-day visit to Iraq, said that the country would always remain with him. The top pontiff stopped by the ruins of homes and cathedrals in ISIS destroyed Mosul before finally attending Mass at the jam-packed Franso Hariri Stadium in Kurdistan’s Erbil." This was a historic trip, the first visit of a Pope to Iraq. It was a defining moment for the pope and it was a defining moment for the press.
The western press clearly was not up to the job -- a reality made clear by one western outlet after another -- especially in the US -- carping and and fretting while ignoring the true intent of the visit. Once Pope Francis landed in Iraq, western outlets didn't get much better as Martin Chulov (GUARDIAN) made clear, "The pope concluded his two-day trip to Iraq with two highly symbolic stops in areas [. . .]" Huh? Do they no longer teach basic math in the United Kingdom? Pope Francis landed in Iraq on Friday (one day), he continued his visit Saturday (two days) and he concluded his trip on Sunday (three days). Martin Chulov reduces a three day visit to Iraq to a "two-day trip." And it's not just his stupidity but the editors at THE GUARDIAN as well. By contrast, VATICAN NEWS gets it right even in a headline "Highlights of Pope Francis' third day in Iraq." The lack of care with basic facts taken by THE GUARDIAN is a telling as any lengthy report that they could have filed (but didn't). THE GUARDIAN can get that it was a three day trip in a photo caption, at least.
Despite an underlaying xenophoia to the western coverage ahead of the visit, Pope Francis made it through Iraq without any attempt being made on his life. The Iraqi people more than lived up to the spirit of the pontiff's visit. And the United Nation's News Center explains, "Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth of the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the historic papal visit to Al Tahera Church, one of the sites of the UNESCO-led Revive the Spirit of Mosul initiative."
The Popes visit, as Philip Pullella and Michael Gregory (REUTERS) note, was about healing and peace. He had already defined himself ahead of the trip as "a pilgrim of peace."Alex Arger (THE DENVER CHANNEL) reports that Pope Francis spoke of the importance of hope and of it being "more powerful than hatred and peace more powerful than war." Francesco Bongarra (ARAB NEWS) quotes Pope Francis declaring in his remarks at the Syriac Catholic al-Tahira Church in Qaraqosh today, "Even amid the ravages of terrorism and war, we can see, with the eyes of faith, the triumph of life over death." SCRIPPS MEDIA notes "he called for unity and forgiveness for Muslim extremists, as he visited several churches destroyed by ISIS." Nicole Winfield and Samya Kullab (AP) observe, "Bells rang out in the town of Qaraqosh as the pope arrived. Speaking to a packed Church of the Immaculate Conception, Francis said “forgiveness” is a key word for Christians."
In Mosul, John Bacon (USA TODAY) notes, the Pope declared, "Here in Mosul, the tragic consequences of war and hostility are all too evident. How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people -- Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, who were cruelly eliminated by terrorism, and others -- forcibly displaced or killed." Cindy Wooden (CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE) quotes the Pope stating, "If God is the God of life -- for so he is -- then it is wrong for us to kill our brothers and sisters in his name. If God is the God of peace -- for so he is -- then it is wrong for us to wage war in his name. If God is the God of love -- for so he is -- then it is wrong for us to hate our brothers and sisters." Mosul is the city that ISIS seized in 2014 and controlled for three years until June of 2017.
Mosul, Rasha al-Aqeedi Tweets (with photos), is "Where the Iraqi government could not masquerade its failure, inefficiency, and corruption. 3 years later and Mosul's historic Old Town remains as it was. The Pope sees it."
Before he began speaking in the KRG area of Iraq today, he first arrived at the airport there. Fazel Hawramy (RUDAW) explains that those greeting the Pope upon arrival included KRG President Nechirvan Barzani whom the Pope told, "I am grateful that, despite being in war, you received the displaced Christians and other minorities from Mosul, Nineveh Plains, and Qaraqosh. You opened your arms to Christians. The enemy came to destroy this country but you served and opened your arms to the displaced Christians and other groups. War brings destruction, but you defeated the enemy and reconstructed your country.”
Erbil witnessed the largest turnout for the Pope as over 13,000 turned out in and around the stadium he spoke at. FRANCE 24 explains it was The Franso Hariri Stadium which was "named after an Iraqi Christian politician who was assassinated by extremists 20 years ago." Franso Toma Hariri was a member of the Kudristan Democratic Party who faced assassination attempts in 1994 and 1997 before being assassinated February 18, 2001. The stadium is now the official home for Iraq's national football team. Andrea Tornielli (VATICAN NEWS) notes that Erbil is where many Christians went to flee Mosul when ISIS took over the city. Chris Robertson (SKY NEWS) explains Erbil was the last event of the trip and that the Pope will be back in Rome on Monday. VATICAN NEWS quotes Pope Francis declaring everyone should "work together in unity for a future of peace and prosperity that leaves no one behind and discriminates against no one." Alice Fordham tells Michel Martin (NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED), "He spoke in Erbil - I saw him this afternoon - about not seeking revenge. And he said things about not having a narrow idea of community and faith, but the importance of inclusion, of building an open society. And I've spoken to several priests here and to local leaders, and they very much hope that his message will encourage Christians to return to their villages, to stay in Iraq and to build a diverse Iraqi society."
In Erbil, he delivered the following Homily:
Saint Paul has told us that “Christ is the power and wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:22-25). Jesus revealed that power and wisdom above all by offering forgiveness and showing mercy. He chose to do so not by displays of strength or by speaking to us from on high, in lengthy and learned discourses. He did so by giving his life on the cross. He revealed his wisdom and power by showing us, to the very end, the faithfulness of the Father’s love; the faithfulness of the God of the covenant, who brought his people forth from slavery and led them on a journey of freedom (cf. Ex 20:1-2).
How easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that we have to show others that we are powerful or wise, into the trap of fashioning false images of God that can give us security (cf. Ex 20:4-5). Yet the truth is that all of us need the power and wisdom of God revealed by Jesus on the cross. On Calvary, he offered to the Father the wounds by which alone we are healed (cf. 1 Pet 2:24). Here in Iraq, how many of your brothers and sisters, friends and fellow citizens bear the wounds of war and violence, wounds both visible and invisible! The temptation is to react to these and other painful experiences with human power, human wisdom. Instead, Jesus shows us the way of God, the path that he took, the path on which he calls us to follow him.
In the Gospel reading we have just heard (Jn 2:13-25), we see how Jesus drove out from the Temple in Jerusalem the moneychangers and all the buyers and sellers. Why did Jesus do something this forceful and provocative? He did it because the Father sent him to cleanse the temple: not only the Temple of stone, but above all the temple of our heart. Jesus could not tolerate his Father’s house becoming a marketplace (cf. Jn 2:16); neither does he want our hearts to be places of turmoil, disorder and confusion. Our heart must be cleansed, put in order and purified. Of what? Of the falsehoods that stain it, from hypocritical duplicity. All of us have these. They are diseases that harm the heart, soil our lives and make them insincere. We need to be cleansed of the deceptive securities that would barter our faith in God with passing things, with temporary advantages. We need the baneful temptations of power and money to be swept from our hearts and from the Church. To cleanse our hearts, we need to dirty our hands, to feel accountable and not to simply look on as our brothers and sisters are suffering. How do we purify our hearts? By our own efforts, we cannot; we need Jesus. He has the power to conquer our evils, to heal our diseases, to rebuild the temple of our heart.
To show this, and as a sign of his authority, Jesus goes on to say: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). Jesus Christ, he alone, can cleanse us of the works of evil. Jesus, who died and rose! Jesus, the Lord! Dear brothers and sisters, God does not let us die in our sins. Even when we turn our backs on him, he never leaves us to our own devices. He seeks us out, runs after us, to call us to repentance and to cleanse us of our sins. “As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek 33:11). The Lord wants us to be saved and to become living temples of his love, in fraternity, in service, in mercy.
Jesus not only cleanses us of our sins, but gives us a share in his own power and wisdom. He liberates us from the narrow and divisive notions of family, faith and community that divide, oppose and exclude, so that we can build a Church and a society open to everyone and concerned for our brothers and sisters in greatest need. At the same time, he strengthens us to resist the temptation to seek revenge, which only plunges us into a spiral of endless retaliation. In the power of the Holy Spirit, he sends us forth, not as proselytizers, but as missionary disciples, men and women called to testify to the life-changing power of the Gospel. The risen Lord makes us instruments of God’s mercy and peace, patient and courageous artisans of a new social order. In this way, by the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the prophetic words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians are fulfilled: “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s wisdom is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1:25). Christian communities made up of simple and lowly people become a sign of the coming of his kingdom, a kingdom of love, justice and peace.
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19). Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body, and about the Church as well. The Lord promises us that, by the power of the resurrection, he can raise us, and our communities, from the ruins left by injustice, division and hatred. That is the promise we celebrate in this Eucharist. With the eyes of faith, we recognize the presence of the crucified and risen Lord in our midst. And we learn to embrace his liberating wisdom, to rest in his wounds, and to find healing and strength to serve the coming of his kingdom in our world. By his wounds, we have been healed (cf. 1 Pet 2:24). In those wounds, dear brothers and sisters, we find the balm of his merciful love. For he, like the Good Samaritan of humanity, wants to anoint every hurt, to heal every painful memory and to inspire a future of peace and fraternity in this land.
The Church in Iraq, by God’s grace, is already doing much to proclaim this wonderful wisdom of the cross by spreading Christ’s mercy and forgiveness, particularly towards those in greatest need. Even amid great poverty and difficulty, many of you have generously offered concrete help and solidarity to the poor and suffering. That is one of the reasons that led me to come as a pilgrim in your midst, to thank you and to confirm you in your faith and witness. Today, I can see at first hand that the Church in Iraq is alive, that Christ is alive and at work in this, his holy and faithful people.
Dear brothers and sisters, I commend you, your families and your communities, to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, who was united to her Son in his passion and death, and who shared in the joy of his resurrection. May she intercede for us and lead us to Christ, the power and wisdom of God.
Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis at the conclusion of Mass in Erbil
I greet with affection His Holiness Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, who resides in this city and honours us with his presence. Thank you, dear Brother! Together with him, I embrace the Christians of the various denominations: so many of them have shed their blood in this land! Yet our martyrs shine together like stars in the same sky! From there they call us to walk together, without hesitation, towards the fullness of unity.
At the conclusion of this celebration, I thank Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda as well as Bishop Nizar Semaan and my other brother Bishops, who worked so hard for this Journey. I am grateful to all of you who prepared and accompanied my visit with prayer and welcomed me so warmly. In a special way, I greet the beloved Kurdish people. I am particularly grateful to the government and the civil authorities for their indispensable contribution, and I thank all those who in various ways cooperated in the organization of the entire Journey in Iraq, the Iraqi authorities – all of them – and the many volunteers. My thanks to all of you!
In my time among you, I have heard voices of sorrow and loss, but also voices of hope and consolation. This was due in large part to that tireless charitable outreach made possible by the religious institutions of every confession, your local Churches and the various charitable organizations assisting the people of this country in the work of rebuilding and social rebirth. In a particular way, I thank the members of ROACO and the agencies they represent.
Now the time draws near for my return to Rome. Yet Iraq will always remain with me, in my heart. I ask all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to work together in unity for a future of peace and prosperity that leaves no one behind and discriminates against no one. I assure you of my prayers for this beloved country. In a particular way, I pray that the members of the various religious communities, together with all men and women of good will, may work together to forge bonds of fraternity and solidarity in the service of the good and of peace salam, salam, salam! Sukrán [Thank you]! May God bless all! May God bless Iraq! Allah ma’akum! [God be with you!]
At the conclusion of the Eucharistic liturgy, Pope Francis blessed a
statue of the Virgin Mary that had been vandalized by Islamic State
militants. The head and hands of the statue had been cut off, but the
head was later recovered and reattached.
Father Samir Sheer, director of Radio Mariam in Erbil, explained that the statue originally came from the Christian village of Karamles. "After the blessing," he said, "the statue will return to the Nineveh Plain. The hope of local Christians is that Our Lady will soon return to embrace her children in Karamles."
Historic Meet: Pope Francis Meets Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani
In other news, Jimmy Dore calls out 'reporter' Ryan Grim for lying yet again.
Ryan Grim is a liar. He lies over and over -- including portraying a Democrat that hasn't been a Green for over 17 years as a Green. He's a liar.
Jimmy wonders how any woman could sleep with Ryan? Jimmy, is the photo you use of Ryan current? If it is, I can't imagine any woman gladly sleeping with Ryan. That hair? It's hideous. Yes, he did improve it by getting rid of the white hair on the sides. As I pointed out here when he had that hairstyle, it looked like a cheap dye job. I'm glad he listened then. Here's another tip, Ryan, lose the Moe Howard look. It's ridiculous. Unless you're trying to get a pity f**k.