Thursday, August 27, 2020

I vote my beliefs

 Not voting for Joe Biden, no, thank you.  I have to live with myself and I will not vote for a War Criminal.  I will not disrespect over a million Iraqis dead to vote for Joe Biden.  I will not disrespect women who have been assaulted by voting for Joe I-raped-Tara-Reade.

If Trump gets re-elected that's on the crooks who gave Joe the nomination.  That's not on me.  My duty is to vote my beliefs.  That means I am following the campaigns of Howie Hawkins (Green Party nominee), Gloria La Riva (Party of Socialism and Justice nominee) and Joseph Kishore (SEP nominee).  I'm even following Jo Jorgensen's campaign (she's the Libertarian Party nominee).  I will vote my belief system.

Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) notes:

The Democratic Party has ended any debate or dispute about its true nature. It is a party representing neo-liberal interests and international gangsterism, just like their putative opposition, the Republican party.

Even a cursory observation of the recent Democratic National Convention proves that this assessment is correct. There were paeans of love to the late warmonger John McCain and even an appearance from his widow. A special segment was set aside for Republicans like John Kasich whose speech was used in part to beat down progressives and make clear that Joe Biden wants nothing to do with them. Not to be outdone with Kasich and McCain’s ghost, war criminal Colin Powell was dragged out to put the bipartisan imperialist seal of approval on Biden.

The convention was high on production value but skimpy on details. Speaker after speaker repeated that Donald Trump is a very bad, terrible, awful, pandemic denier who cozies up to dictators. They didn’t say how they would undo his evil deeds or make life better for the average person in this country. The awful Biden slogan of Build Back Better is meaningless. That of course is why they use it. The slogan may as well be He’s Not Trump because that is all the Democrats had to say.

She's exactly right.  

I believe in something bigger than this life and I believe my actions matter.  I will vote my beliefs.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:

 Thursday, August 27 2020.  The GOP convention continues, as does violence in Iraq, CNN has some ethical issues to address, and much more.

The Republic Party's convention continues.  We're dropping back to Tuesday because of Ruth's "CNN's conflict of interest when they attack Nick Sandmann" -- she is correct.  Elaine noted Jonathan Turley's commentary:

We have previously discussed the case of former Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann who was repeatedly and falsely called a racist in an encounter with a Native American activist in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Various media organizations have apologized or settled cases with Sandmann for their unfair coverage, including CNN. However, when Sandmann spoke at the Republic National Convention, CNN’s political analyst Joe Lockhart again attacked him personally after he criticized how the media got the story wrong.  CNN’s Jeff Yang also attacked the teenager and even suggested that his speech proved that he was not innocent. Fellow CNN analyst Asha Rangappa attacked former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley as yielding to a racist America for not using what Rangappa suggested was her real name as opposed to “Nikki.” It turns out that Nikki is her lawful middle name and the Hill’s Saagar Enjeti noted it is “a Punjabi name.” That however is an appeal to reason not rage which seems to have little place in our national discourse or media coverage.

The personal attacks on speakers were beyond the pale, but hardly unprecedented.  What happened to Sandmann was a disgrace for the media and he had every right to speak publicly about his treatment by the media.

Sandmann is a pro-life kid who wanted to demonstrate against abortion.  He sought to play a meaningful role in his political system, which is what we all have encouraged.  Indeed, CNN has aired many such calls for young people to have their voices heard. He was in Washington as part of the annual “March for Life.” This is one of those voices.  Sandmann spoke about his horrific experience in being labeled the aggressor in the confrontation when all he did was stand there as an activist pounded a drum in his face. Sandmann said this morning in an interview that he only learned at 3 am in the morning on the bus home that he was being labeled a racist who attacked or harassed this activist.

In addition to Lockhart, CNN opinion writer Jeff Yang said that the speech confirmed to him that he was guilty all along.

Ahsa's an idiot and liar who doesn't understand the law and we've called her out many times before.  But in terms of her stupidity, she's free to flaunt it -- no idea why CNN wants to pay for it, however.  But Joe Lockhart and Jeff Yang and anyone else paid for by CNN?

They just had a huge ethical violation.

CNN settled with Nick.  That would mean he was off limits unless disclosure was involved -- Twitter really doesn't allow for disclosure in a single Tweet so they should have stayed off Twitter.  They also should have gotten permission from CNN before offering any opinion about Nick.  

CNN discredited and smeared Nick.  Nick sued.  CNN settled out of court. 

That puts CNN staff in a position where there is a conflict of interest.

News coverage alone -- forget the opinions of CNN opinion writers -- would be problematic at this point.  Ethically, it would be very problematic.  Though, maybe like Chevron planned, they could buy off Columbia Journalism Review to look the other way?

That wouldn't change the ethical issues involved. 

Yang and Lockhart shouldn't have opined in any form about someone who successfully won -- a settlement is a win -- against CNN.  They are biased on the very face of it.  This is unethical.  CNN needs to address this internally.  I spoke to a news producer at CNN about this a few minutes ago and was told that they were mortified that CNN employees were offering personal opinions on Nick.  It doesn't look good for the company.

Lockhart and Yang can insist that they are opinion writers and they were offering their opinions.

Guess what?  No one's disputing that.  The issue is this is someone who brought a lawsuit against their employer.  That is a conflict of interest.  The ethical code requires them to avoid the appearance -- even the appearance -- of a conflict of interest.  There is no question it is a conflict of interest for them to weigh in on someone who sues the company they work for.

Joe Lockhart is pure trash and always has been.  He's not George S, naive and young and hopeful and taken by an administration that was 'all too human.'  Joe came in when the corruption was evident and he used his position in the Clinton administration to trash women.  He's filth and it doesn't speak well for CNN that they hired him.

Now let's drop back to Monday.  Monday, Donald Trump spoke about something.  I really don't care.  But certain stupid elements in the Democratic Party did.  (Some smarter ones had no problem and noted just give Donald enough to rope to hang himself in front of the American people with airtime.)

What was their problem?


Shut up, cry babies.  You regularly work to exclude the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and anyone else from the debates, you actively seek to keep the Green Party off the ballots and you want to whine that a sitting president got airtime during the day?

The hypocrisy displayed by certain elements within the Democratic Party is appalling.

The Green Party got no live national TV coverage of their convention and even go-to-where-the-silences-are Amy Goodman didn't note the convention or that Howie Hawkins became the party's nominee.  So stop whining and stop being so entitled.

Donald's concerned some smart elements of the Democratic Party.  Not because of Monday but because he is out and about.  They're starting to note what I've already said long ago (and I've said it to some of the ones now noting it): Hidin' with Biden isn't going to be an effective campaign strategy.

Donald can stumble and fumble.  And he'll look inept.  As long as his opponents are out and about.  If they're hiding?

The average American is going to look at it as Joe's is sheltering and providing no leadership at all while Donald is out among the people at least trying.

Some are insisting that Kamala is the answer.

She is not the answer.

People foolishly insist that Kamala shouldn't have to answer questions about Tara Reade.  That's nonsense.  Al Gore was forced to answer questions regarding Bill Clinton.  Kamala is on the ticket with Joe and that alone means she should answer questions -- and that's before we get into any previous comments she may have made on the topic.

But Kamala has baggage.  She needs to be likable and she needs to be a solid running mate.  That means you don't outshine the top of the ticket.

She can easily do that without even trying.

But when the campaign starts using her as the focal point -- as they plan to this week with her delivering a 'response' to Donald Trump's acceptance speech -- it's not a good look.

She is not top of the ticket.  Were this 2004 and she were John Edwards, we would rightly ask, "Why is he speaking?  Where's John Kerry, the actual presidential nominee?"

They cannot continue to hide Biden away and not have the American people notice and risk the American people concluding that Joe Biden just isn't up for the job.

Is Kamala qualified to be president?  I have no doubt that she is.  But she's not top of the ticket, Joe is.  And the v.p. nominee is not supposed to outshine the presidential nominee.

Kamala brings another risk, of course, and that's her gender.  Hillary cemented hatred against herself during Bill Clinton's initial run for the presidency.  Two-for-one, co-presidency and other foolish ideas pushed by the press went a long, long way towards souring some against Hillary.

In what is expected to be a close election, can the Democratic Party really afford to let Kamala outshine Joe?  

At WSWS, Patrick Martin offers his take on last night's convention.  I don't find anything of value in the critique, to be honest.  Patrick's a Socialist -- which is fine, nothing wrong with that -- and he's offended by the notion that Joe Biden will deliver Socialism to the US -- something Republican speakers at the convention keep stressing.

To a Republican, Joe may very well come off as a Socialist or Socialist leaning.  That's partly due to our inability and refusal in this country to allow Socialist viewpoints in the MSM so that people could know what an actual Socialist is.  Joe is a corporatist War Hawk who works overtime to appease the Republican Party -- a point Patrick doesn't really make in his commentary.

I found nothing illuminating in his work.  I find the hysteria over Q-anon or whatever his or her name is to be silly in the extreme.  A very offensive racist has endorsed Joe Biden.  I haven't wasted our space here with that tidbit or tried to make it about Joe.   I did not and do not believe that it was Bernie Sanders' responsibility to denounce any of his supporters -- whether it was Joe or Cenk. 

There are very real issues and Patrick doesn't seem up to discussing them in his essay -- we all have off days and maybe that was one for Patrick (or maybe I'm having an off day this morning -- I certainly was earlier this week when I think I dictated the worst snapshot ever -- I had a fever and was throwing up in the midst of that -- throwing up from the chemo.  I would have liked to see him take on the notion of what Socialism is and what Socialists are because that should be the main purpose of WSWS -- educating the country about what our media does not deliver to most Americans.

Senator Rand Paul spoke on Tuesday night.

He's been slammed for his remarks regarding the Iraq War or had 'mostly true' from so-called 'fact-checkers.'  Jordain Carney, at THE HILL, offers nonsense:

 Paul, speaking as part of the virtual Republican National Convention, sought to contrast Biden with President Trump. Trump ran in 2016 as a noninterventionist candidate, and Paul, a GOP senator with libertarian leanings, said Trump agreed with him that "a strong America cannot fight endless wars."

"Compare President Trump with the disastrous record of Joe Biden, who's consistently called for more war. Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War, which President Trump has long called the worst geopolitical mistake of our generation," Paul said.

"I fear Biden will choose war again. ... Joe Biden will continue to spill our blood and treasure. President Trump will bring our heroes home," Paul added. 

Though Biden has said since 2005, and reiterated during the 2020 primary, that his vote for the Iraq War was a mistake, it sparked years of skepticism from progressives and provided an opening on foreign policy for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who voted against the 2002 authorization.  

He hasn't called it a mistake.  He's called trusting Bully Boy Bush a mistake.  There's a difference, there's a huge difference.  I'm sick of the garbage in American media that either can't follow Iraq or just don't care to.  Your stupidity is appalling and it's intentional.

Joe's actions go beyond the vote.  And we long ago noted how media favorite Michael R. Gordon suddenly was disappeared when he started calling out the Obama administrations actions -- led by Joe -- in 2010 and how it impacted Iraq.

Nikki Haley offered this Tweet in the last 24 hours:

Joe Biden was Vice President when ISIS emerged, following the Obama administration’s decision to basically abandon Iraq. The terrorist group carved out a caliphate across the Middle East, beheading Americans along the way.

I'm including it because I want to address it in tomorrow's snapshot.  

Violence continues in Iraq.  AL-MONITOR notes:

The United Nations said one of its convoys was hit by an explosion Wednesday in northern Iraq; there were few other details. Two UN employees were reported injured.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who heads the UN’s Iraq mission, told the UN Security Council via videoconference that an improvised explosive device had detonated near the convoy. “Conditions for humanitarian actors are also hazardous in certain areas as was starkly highlighted Wednesday by the IED explosion that impacted a World Food Program convoy in Ninevah,” she said.


Human Rights Watch issued the following yesterday:

Unidentified gunmen have since August 14, 2020, assassinated two protesters and wounded another four, all linked to a youth protest group with political aspirations in Basra, in southern Iraq, Human Rights Watch said today. They are the most recent victims of killings of hundreds of protesters in Baghdad and southern Iraq since October 2019, including by abusive security forces.

The authorities have done little to stop the killings. Despite promises since May from Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi for accountability for excessive use of force by security forces, no senior commanders have been prosecuted. Instead, a few commanders have been fired, and low-level security force members have been prosecuted.

“The situation in Iraq has devolved to the point that gunmen can roam the streets and shoot members of civil society with impunity,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It’s unclear whether the federal government is even able to rein in the violence at this point and ensure justice for victims.”

The recent Basra victims had ties to the Al-Basra Civil Youth group, which youth protesters founded in 2014 to organize protests in the city, three members told Human Rights Watch. Members of the group recently decided to form a new political party to participate in parliamentary elections planned for June 2021.

“Since then, unknown Facebook accounts have launched a defamation campaign against our group, including by calling us anti-Islamic, because we are a secular movement,” one member said. Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) forces beat at least two journalists covering security force abuses at a protest in demanding justice for the killings.

On August 14, two masked armed men in civilian dress shot and killed Tahseen Osama Ali, 30, in his apartment and wounded his brother in the leg. The group members said that Ali was a prominent member of the group. In an August 9 Facebook post, Ali accused Basra’s police chief, Lieutenant General Rashid Falih, of failing to protect protesters and allowing criminal gangs to roam the city and kill activists and journalists.

On August 16, one of the group members said that as he was returning home from Ali’s funeral at about 10 p.m., he spotted a white Toyota Crown Royal Saloon car with blank license plates following him, but he was able to evade it. He said that someone knocked on his door two hours later, but when he opened it he only saw a car speeding away.

On August 17, Ludia Remon, an activist with close ties to group members, said unidentifiable armed men in a white Toyota Crown Royal Saloon opened fire outside her home on her and two friends involved in the protest group, Fahad al-Zubaidi and Abbas al-Subhi. Remon was hit in the leg and al-Subhi in his back, wounding both, she said, before they were able to drive away. The attackers’ car was visible in CCTV footage of the incident.

On August 19, an unidentifiable armed man on the back of a motorcycle shot and killed a protest movement leader, Reham Yacoub, as she was leaving the gym in her car. The attack also wounded a friend of hers in the car. Yacoub also had ties to the group.

“We are under threat,” said the member who had been followed. “A senior security official that I know warned us that our group is being targeted but didn’t know by whom. I have now gone into hiding.”

On August 17, after the attack outside Remon’s home, Prime Minister al-Kadhimi fired Chief Falih, and the governorate’s director of the National Security Service, an intelligence agency that reports to the prime minister. But he did not refer anyone in Basra for prosecution for the killings, as far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine.

In 2018 in Basra, Interior Ministry forces injured dozens of people and killed several with excessive force when trying to disperse protesters.

On August 16, 2020, protesters gathered outside of the home of the Basra governor, demanding accountability for Ali’s death. Two journalists who attended the protest said that armed forces in SWAT uniforms beat them with wooden batons, kicked and slapped them when they saw the journalists filming SWAT forces beating protesters, and opened fire with live ammunition into the air. Some protesters were also throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at SWAT forces and lighting cars on fire, the journalists said.

One of the journalists said she went to court on August 18 and filed a criminal complaint against a SWAT commander for hitting her so hard that it burst her eardrum. “Since that day, unknown Facebook and Instagram accounts have been attacking me, accusing me of being supported by the US, and accusing me of giving money to protesters to turn out,” she said. “If they know about the criminal complaint I filed, I don’t know how they found out, I didn’t post anything about it.” She said that these allegations were tantamount to calling for her to be assassinated.

The protests across Iraq that began in October 2019 have continued. Clashes with security forces have left close to 560 protesters dead in Baghdad and Iraq’s southern cities, according to the federal government’s own estimates. In May. when al-Kadhimi took office, he formed a committee to investigate the killings of protesters. But as of late August, the committee had yet to announce any findings. In July, the federal government announced it would compensate the families of those killed, and that it had arrested three low-level security forces members. As far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine, no senior commanders have been prosecuted.

On July 6, unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle assassinated a prominent political analyst, Hisham al-Hashimi, outside his home in Baghdad. Al-Hashimi was well connected to Iraq’s political elite, including its prime minister and president. Before the killing, al-Hashimi had focused much of his work on researching and criticizing abusive behavior by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashad), formally under the prime minister’s control. Despite commitments from al-Kadhimi, as far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine, no one has been arrested for the killing and authorities have not provided any transparency on the progress of the investigation.

The Iraqi federal government should make the preliminary findings of the investigative committee into the deaths of protesters public immediately and set out a clear timeline for the committee’s final report.

The government should make public the number of investigations it has referred to the judiciary into armed forces’ behavior, including into PMF members, since protests began in 2019, including the most recent killings. It should include details of the outcomes of the investigations, including sentences given and sentences served, as well as other disciplinary action taken. The government should publicize the steps it is undertaking to investigate killings by non-state armed actors and results achieved. It should present publicly all measures it is currently undertaking to prevent future abuses by armed forces in protest contexts.

“The renewed targeting of protesters in Basra highlights the continued climate of impunity and efforts by armed actors to silence dissent,” Wille said. “Until authorities properly prosecute these horrific killings, protesters are risking their life every time they head out into the streets.”

We noted that with a Tweet in yesterday's snapshot because there wasn't room to include it in full.

The following sites updated: