Thursday, May 16, 2019

We are really sad and pathetic

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Prisoner de Blasio: Number 24."

number 24

Great comic.  Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) has a great column:

This columnist has spent many years predicting a United States war on Iran. There is now a president who may finally make good on that long expressed threat. Donald Trump is deep in the thrall of Saudi Arabia and Israel, the two nations that pose the greatest risk to Iran. He happily does their bidding and is in a position to bring the sick neocon fantasy to reality. 
But the U.S. excels at nothing except creating misery for millions of people and raising the risk of an all out hot war.  Cuba recently instituted rationing after Trump returned to the bad old days of strict sanctions enacted against that nation. More than 40,000 Venezuelanshave lost their lives as a result of the crushing sanctions imposed on that country. Iran suffered catastrophic flooding but not one country would provide them with needed aid because U.S. sanctions prevented them from doing so.
Aside from starving civilians and depriving them of medical care, the U.S. can’t do much else that doesn’t create dangerous consequences. The latest regime change attempt failed miserably and exposed the limits of U.S. power.  The Venezuelan coup attempt was a complete farce . Hand-picked puppet Juan Guaido never had more than 25 soldiers on his side, and those few were tricked into showing up for what amounted to a photo-op.
In the interim, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Pompeo have proven themselves to be the worst in a long line of bad foreign policy decision making. First they accused Iran of some unspecified aggressive act and sent a fleet of ships to make their case for a war of aggression. Then Pompeo scheduled meetings with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to be followed by talks with Vladimir Putin himself. But he chose to cut short his time in Russia in order to meet with Europeans and enlist their support for action against Iran. 

How can they even consider war on Iran?  We should be outraged and ashamed -- we've created a slave market in Libya, we've destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan, we've brought nothing but pain to Yemen.  At what point do we buy a clue?  We certainly seem unable to learn from our mistakes.

In fact, we ignore them.  We grab a broom and sweep these ongoing wars under the rug and pretend they ended or never started.

We lack humility and we don't do accountability.

It's really sad.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, May 16, 2019.  Senator Elizabeth Warren gets the attention she so desperately wanted -- even if it's not the kind of attention she wanted, war with Iran appears to move closer and US House Rep Barbara Lee provides the joke for the day.

Yesterday Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Scream" went up, noting Senator Elizabeth Warren's latest attempt to get attention for her floundering campaign via a public tantrum.  The reactions to Princess Bubble's announcement that she wouldn't do a town hall on FOX NEWS have not been as kindly received as she may have hoped.  The editorial board of THE BOSTON HERALD points out:

Last week it was a bold call for impeachment, before that it was a wealth tax, and then there was reparations for slavery and then the Green New Deal and then universal healthcare and before that there was free childcare for all and free college for all and before that she was breaking up the big tech companies and then another wealth tax and weeks and weeks ago we were abolishing ICE.
Now this week’s Elizabeth Warren is telling last week’s impeachment-themed Elizabeth Warren to “Hold my beer,” as she one-ups herself with a new declaration: She’s boycotting Fox News.
[. . .]
Inspiring stuff from the senior senator from Massachusetts, who also represents more than a million Donald Trump voters who undoubtedly prefer Fox News. The toxicity will continue while Warren continues to underachieve in the race and next week will likely bring another bombastic display of desperation.

Desperation.  Well, she did seek the attention, too bad it hasn't resulted in the praise she was hoping for.  Editorial boards weren't the only ones weighing.  Cable news had thoughts as well.  Justin Baragona (THE DAILY BEAST) reports:

A day after Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren rejected Fox News’ offer to participate in one of the its town halls, calling the network a “hate-for-profit racket,” the crew at MSNBC’s Morning Joe criticized the Massachusetts senator’s decision while also suggesting she was right to claim the network peddles in bigotry and conspiracy theories.
Co-host Joe Scarborough kicked off the conversation Wednesday morning by asking if Warren would be able to reach out to swing voters by going on Fox News, especially since some of their anchors like Chris Wallace are “pretty darn straight.” 
This prompted Mika Brzezinski to concede that the network was “exactly as Elizabeth Warren describes it” as it has a “direct connection from a corrupt president who is a racist” before ultimately chastising Warren for rejecting the invitation.
“I would argue that a presidential candidate should be able to walk into any situation, walk into any fire, and have the confidence and the ability to put it out by spreading the democratic values and his or her beliefs,” Brzezinski declared. “I think they should go into Fox and do all the town halls they can do. Fox, you could argue, is smart to be doing these. That’s a sign of some sort of change.”

And on the broadcast networks?  Becket Adams (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) notes:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., threw out a hunk of red meat to the left wing this week when she announced she had turned down Fox News' offer to join them for a town hall event to discuss her 2020 campaign. But it does not look like the base is biting, if the reactions of the hosts of the generally Democratic-friendly talk show “The View” are any indicator.

“I think that it’s being very dismissive of so many Americans for her not to go on Fox News,” said host Sunny Hostin.
[. . .]
Her colleague, Joy Behar, sounded a note of agreement. Behar also pointed out that the president “never goes” on left-leaning networks like MSNBC or CNN, which, in this context, is not a comment that reflects well on Warren.

Yet another host, Whoopi Goldberg, added later, “If you can’t face the Fox audience, you can’t face the U.S. — it’s that simple.”

The topic will probably be a focus for many columns to come but already S.E. Cupp (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES) offers:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Trump. She’s a liberal policy wonk. Yet she’s similarly turned on by punishment politics. For all her talk of uniting the country, she sure seems hell bent on keep it divided.
This week, she turned down a Fox News invitation for a town hall and launched an angry tirade against the news outlet. “I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates — especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers,” she wrote.

What she concedes in this protest, though, is that she doesn’t think the millions of Fox viewers — otherwise known as voters — are worth showing up for. If she has a message about the dangerous values Fox personalities are proliferating, where better to make the point than on Fox, where those viewers are watching. She’d be their president, too. But rather than trying bring them into the fold, she’d rather malign a news outlet she doesn’t like and its viewers — and that sounds a lot like Trump.

And Meagan Day (JACOBIN) explains:

When Sanders participated in the network’s town hall event, I explained why that was a good idea. Fox News is the most-watched cable news network in the country, and its viewers have the lowest average income of any major news network or outlet. Sanders’s campaign is centered around demands for ambitious redistributive reforms that will directly and materially improve life for all working-class people — some of whom, unfortunately, watch Fox News and currently vote for Republicans.
Sanders sees those viewers as part of the project of remaking society. Speaking directly to them about how the Right is pulling the wool over their eyes is therefore an important political task.

Sanders is familiar with basic socialist ideas: that the interests of workers are fundamentally opposed to the interest of capitalists, that workers have common cause across their differences, and that workers uniting en masse in pursuit of their common cause is the best way to exercise power, force concessions from elites, and make society more equal.
[. . .]
Even if Warren doesn’t really believe her own stated rationale, her abstention still demonstrates a myopia about mass politics that will not serve her well in either her campaign or her hypothetical presidency. Many of Warren’s best policy ideas involve taking on the power of the capitalist class directly. That can’t be accomplished by well-meaning progressive politicians alone; they need millions of people in motion to make it happen. This is the meaning of Bernie’s slogan “Not Me, Us.”
For those of us who prefer Sanders to Warren, this is the real sticking point: we think the power to change society rests with the working class itself, not with politicians who have its interests at heart. The major contest in society is between a handful of economic elites and everyone else who sells their labor for a wage in order to survive. Morally upstanding politicians are not the hero of the story. Working people are.
Politicians who understand this have a specific role to play: they have to use their campaigns and their offices as bully pulpits for a mass political perspective that unites working people against capitalists. And to do that, they must take every available opportunity to speak to every section of the working class about what they stand to gain from a Left agenda — and in many circumstances, what they have to lose by continuing to support the Right.

By refusing to go on Fox News, Warren has demonstrated that she doesn’t take this task as seriously as she ought to. As Sanders has plainly stated, the power of the capitalist class is so formidable that it will take a huge movement of millions of united workers to actually overcome it in reality. Warren’s policy ideas are frequently excellent, but without a fundamental orientation toward the very people who stand to benefit from them, they stand little chance of materializing.

Elizabeth Warren is getting the attention she so desperately sought -- it's just not favorable attention.  We should note that Chris Matthews praised Elizabeth's decision.  We should remind that this is the same Chris Matthews who used his show to pimp the Clintons as murders -- as Bob Somerby always reminds -- and did again just this week:

By the summer of 1999, press corps favorite Gennifer Flowers was deeply involved in peddling the Clinton Body Count through her pay-to-read, for-profit web site. In a complete and total accident, Chris Matthews invited her to appear on Hardball for a lengthy half-hour interview without having any awareness, knowledge or understanding of this unfortunate fact.

We should note that Senator Kamala Harris is joining Elizabeth Warren on the boycott.  She's a joiner, that Kamala.  As crazy and destructive as Elizabeth's decision is, at least Elizabeth led on it.

Turning to Iraq, Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

Washington has ratcheted up war tensions in the Persian Gulf with an order to evacuate all non-essential US personnel from its embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil, the de facto capital of the Iraqi Kurdish region.
A State Department spokesman said the drastic action had been taken in response to “the increased threat stream we are seeing in Iraq,” but refused to provide any details on the supposed danger.
The US has carried out a massive military buildup in the region on the pretext of a supposed threat from Iran or so-called Iranian “proxies” among various Shia militia, from those organized in the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) formed to fight ISIS in Iraq and now integrated into the Iraqi security forces, to those fighting ISIS in Syria, the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
A State Department spokesman told CNN Wednesday that “any attacks by the Iranian regime or its proxies against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response.”
Sources in Baghdad reported that all day Wednesday helicopters were ferrying US personnel from the embassy on the Tigris River—the largest such US facility in the world—to a US military base at the Baghdad airport. The last time such an evacuation was ordered was in 2014 after ISIS had captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and appeared poised to march on Baghdad.
In the midst of this dramatic US action, the top British general deployed as part of “Operation Inherent Resolve” (OIR), the US-dominated intervention in Iraq and Syria, told Pentagon reporters that there was no increased threat to Western forces from Iranian-backed militias.

“There’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, the deputy commander of OIR in charge of intelligence and operations. “There are a substantial number of militia groups in Iraq and Syria, and we don’t see any increased threat from many of them at this stage.” Officially, these militias are on the same side as the US and NATO forces in fighting to defeat ISIS. In reality, the US is keeping 5,000 troops in Iraq and roughly 2,000 in Syria for the purpose of countering Iranian influence in the region.

Trillions in debt over the current, never-ending wars and now there's a push for more.  Trillions in debt.  Grasp that.  Not trillions paid off.  These wars have not been paid for, they've been borrowed for.  The US government -- Republicans and Democrats -- have been unwise with the charge card and expect current and future generations to foot the bill for these wars of choice.  Now they want to add more wars to the bill.  There is not enough money to have these forever wars and to supply the American people with their basic needs.

A presidential candidate wants to unite the country, you can unite them on that.  Over on the left, we call this nonsense out.  On the right, they do as well.

"Iraq is going to be a two-month war, not an eight-year war" - Bill Kristol, March 29 2003 It is now 2019 and we are still in Iraq

This is throwing our future and our children's future, our country's future.  The costs keep mounting and, yes, this is how empires fall apart -- and it's one of the reasons the Soviet Union fell apart as well.

Senator Bernie Sanders' foreign policy advisor Tweets:

People who say we need to move past the Iraq war are wrong. When you really consider the scope of the disaster -- to the region, to its people, to our politics, to our military, and more -- we have barely started to talk about it.

This should be front and center for every presidential candidate's campaign yet only Bernie, US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard, former Senator Mike Gravel, former US House Rep Beto O'Rourke and Marianne Williamson seem aware of the ongoing wars.

Ray McGovern (ANTIWAR.COM) warns of a Gulf of Tonkin-like push:

Over the weekend, four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged near the Strait of Hormuz. Last evening The Wall Street Journal was the first to report an “initial US assessment” that Iran likely was behind the attacks, and quoted a “US official” to the effect that if confirmed, this would inflame military tensions in the Persian Gulf. The attacks came as the US deploys an aircraft carrier, bombers and an antimissile battery to the Gulf – supposedly to deter what the Trump administration said is the possibility of Iranian aggression.
On Tuesday, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, with whom Saudi Arabia has been fighting a bloody war for the past four years, launched a drone attack on a Saudi east-west pipeline that carries crude to the Red Sea. This is not the first such attack; a Houthi spokesman said the attack was a response to Saudi “aggression” and “genocide” in Yemen. The Saudis shut down the pipeline for repair.
Thus the dangers in and around the Strait of Hormuz increase apace with U.S.-Iran recriminations. This, too, is not new.
Tension in the Strait was very much on Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen’s mind as he prepared to retire on Sept. 30, 2011. Ten days before, he told the Armed Force Press Service of his deep concern over the fact that the US and Iran have had no formal communications since 1979:
“Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran. So we don’t understand each other. If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right, that there will be miscalculations.”
Now the potential for an incident has increased markedly. Adm. Mullen was primarily concerned about the various sides – Iran, the US, Israel – making hurried decisions with, you guessed it, “unintended consequences.”

With Pompeo and Bolton on the loose, the world may be well advised to worry even more about “intended consequences” from a false flag attack. The Israelis are masters at this. The tactic has been in the US clandestine toolkit for a long time, as well. In recent days, the Pentagon has reported tracking “anomalous naval activity” in the Persian Gulf, including loading small sailing vessels with missiles and other military hardware.

And to end on a note of hilarity, US House Rep Barbara Lee Tweeted the following

Bolton, Pompeo, and Trump are heading towards an ideologically driven war with Iran. We have seen these warning signs before with Iraq. Let me be clear: Congress has not authorized the use of military force against Iran and we won’t stand for this.

You won't stand for it, Barbara?  You were part of the Out of Iraq Caucus in the House when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House, remember?  And US troops are still in Iraq -- and still dying in Iraq, one just a few weeks ago.  What have you done?  What hearing have you held on Iraq?  On how the US gets out of Iraq?  You've done nothing on Iraq.  On Afghanistan?  You're even more of a joke.  Each year of Barack Obama's presidency, you swore that if US troops weren't out of Afghanistan by the next year, you were going to . . . What?  Put your shoes back on, march down to the Oval Office and blister Barack's bottom?  You never did a damn thing.  You are the queen of empty promises and empty threats.  If you want anyone to take you seriously, you'll have to start working to end the ongoing wars and you're not doing that and you haven't been doing that.

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