Friday, August 14, 2020

What do we need?

 I am going to note some videos.


We need Medicare For All.  If they're not going to give it to us, we don't need to roll over.  We need to keep fighting.

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

Thursday, August 13, 2020.  Senator Kamala Harris' record gets some examination from the media now that she's Joe Biden's running mate and Turkey issues a statement saying Iraq had this week's attack coming to them and refusing to acknowledge -- let alone apologize for -- murdering 3 members of the Iraqi military.

Senator Kamala Harris continues to dominate the news, having been selected as Joe Biden's running mate -- Biden being the presumed presidential nominee for the Democratic Party.   Dan Conway (WSWS) notes:

Joseph Biden’s selection of the first-term Senator and former state Attorney General from California Kamala Harris as his running mate comes as no surprise and solidifies the Democratic Party establishment’s right-wing ticket for the 2020 presidential elections.

As was the case in her bid for the Democratic Party nomination earlier this year, Harris’s mixed ethnicity—her father is Jamaican and her mother is Tamil—was a significant factor in the calculations behind her selection by Biden. In the remaining three months before election day on November 3, the Democrats are clearly doubling down on race and gender identity politics.

Indicating the consensus behind the Biden-Harris ticket, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders quickly endorsed her selection.

Also at WSWS, Patric Martin points out:

Harris has frequently traded on her status as the first black woman to be district attorney, the first black woman to be state attorney general, the second black woman to hold a US Senate seat, etc., as a political screen to cover the right-wing policies she advocates and the social class that she defends: the corporate elite of multi-millionaires and billionaires.

She has now joined this class herself, thanks in part to her marriage to millionaire entertainment industry lawyer Douglas Emhoff. The couple had an adjusted gross income of $1.88 million in 2018, putting them in the top 0.1 percent of American society.

Objectively speaking, there is little to distinguish Harris, with only four years in the US Senate, from other potential alternatives for the vice presidency. She is not notably more qualified than dozens of other senators, governors or representatives. But in the eyes of the advocates of identity politics, in and out of the corporate media, Harris’s mediocrity and right-wing politics count for nothing compared to her skin color and gender.

In her unbounded opportunism and ruthless pursuit of her own career and economic interests, Harris personifies both the social psychology and class basis of identity politics. It is the politics of privileged layers of the upper-middle class, including but not limited to minorities, that use race, gender and sexual orientation to conceal the fundamental class divisions in capitalist society, channel social opposition behind the Democratic Party, and carve out a greater share of the wealth of the top one percent for themselves. It is organically hostile to the interests of the working class and socialism.

Identity politics was the key to Biden’s own campaign for the presidential nomination, which he based on the mobilization of support from the Congressional Black Caucus and African-American businessmen and Democratic Party operatives, trading on his role as Obama’s vice president. Prior to the Obama administration, he had no significant connection to civil rights struggles and won no significant black support in either of his own presidential campaigns, in 1988 and 2008.

Branco Marcetic (JACOBIN) offers:

Harris’s possible ascension to the White House solidifies what Biden’s nomination already represented: the defeat, at least temporarily, of the left of the Democratic Party by the party’s corporate faction, and the determination of its elites to barrel ahead with the shallow, corporate politics of the Obama era, a politics mainly concerned with lowering the expectations of ordinary people.

Indeed, one of the reasons it was hard to imagine anyone else but Harris ending up on the ticket is that she so snugly embodies the modern Democratic Party — which also means almost everything you’re about to hear about her has little to do with who she actually is.

Far from the “progressive prosecutor” Harris has been masquerading as since angling for a 2020 run, her record bears no resemblance to figures who might actually fit that description, like Larry Krasner or Keith Ellison. Even in a party that embraced Biden- and Clinton-style tough-on-crime policies, Harris stands out for her cruelty: she fought to keep innocent people in jail, blocked payouts to the wrongfully convicted, argued for keeping non-violent offenders in jail as a source of cheap labor, withheld evidence that could have freed numerous prisoners, tried to dismiss a suit to end solitary confinement in California, and denied gender reassignment surgery to trans inmates. A recent report detailed how Harris risked being held in contempt of court for resisting a court order to release non-violent prisoners, which one law professor compared to Southern resistance to 1950s desegregation orders.

Harris loves to laugh. Watching Harris cackling like a cartoon villain about prosecuting parents of truant schoolkids is one of the more bone-chilling things you’re likely to see in politics. Other things Harris found funny? The idea of building schools rather than prisons, and the concept of legalizing pot. Five years later she laughed again, this time while running for president and fondly recalling her pot-smoking days, as she mugged for a younger audience. Extra hilarious was the fact that her office had convicted nearly 2,000 people for marijuana offenses while she was San Francisco’s district attorney.

Harris’s callousness toward the poor and powerless has been matched only by her sympathy for the rich and powerful. Most notoriously, Harris overruled her own office’s recommendation to prosecute the predatory bank of current Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, who later donated to her Senate campaign, then allegedly tried to cover up her inaction.

Responding to the announcement, Ajamu Baraka Tweeted:

Politics in the U.S. is so right-wing that a ticket of two neoliberal pro-imperialist servants is actually being pushed as progressive. Meanwhile, workers are living with uncertainty, fear & desperation while bourgeois politics play politics with providing social protections.

While Liza Featherstone offered:

no, no people, we really don't HAVE to spend any of our too-brief time on earth having feelings about Biden's running mate

At COUNTERPUNCH aka BEHIND THE TIMES, they publish an article this morning about . . . who Joe Biden might pick.  Yes, Joe made that announcement two days ago.  Shhhh, don't wake them, it's still early.  If COUNTERPUNCH is sleeping in, IN THESE TIMES is doing lines of the hard stuff.  How else to explain Natalie Schure's laughable article entitled "Now Comes The Difficult Work of Pushing the Biden-Harris Ticket Left"?

I'll snort where she's snorting.

But either she's all out or Natalie doesn't share.  Which would explain this sober analysis from Sarah Lazare:

Sen­a­tor Kamala Har­ris (D‑Calif.) has not made war and mil­i­tarism a cen­ter­piece of her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. She’s giv­en no major for­eign pol­i­cy” speech, and she did not respond to a series of sim­ple yes-or-no ques­tions about glob­al pol­i­tics from FiveThir­tyEight (Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg were the only oth­er major Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates to decline). On her cam­paign web­site, Har­ris’ only state­ment on for­eign pol­i­cy” is just over 500 words — and it’s more a screed against Trump (he’s men­tioned sev­en times) than a cogent vision. In the realm of inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics, she’s prob­a­bly best known for say­ing in Jan­u­ary that we can­not con­duct our for­eign pol­i­cy through tweets,” a state­ment that con­veys noth­ing, oth­er than oppo­si­tion to Trump.

But this cam­paign brand­ing doesn’t mean Har­ris has no for­eign pol­i­cy.” Just look­ing at war (with­out get­ting into oth­er crit­i­cal for­eign pol­i­cy issues, from cli­mate to trade agree­ments to covert oper­a­tions), Har­ris has dis­cern­able stances. A close look at her record shows that, to the extent she has tak­en posi­tions, they are defined by her close rela­tion­ship with the right-wing lob­by out­fit Amer­i­can Israel Pub­lic Affairs Com­mit­tee (AIPAC), bel­li­cose rhetoric toward North Korea and Rus­sia, and reluc­tance to cospon­sor key pieces of leg­is­la­tion aimed at pre­vent­ing war with Venezuela and North Korea. On issues of mil­i­tarism, she’s square­ly in line with — and some­times on the right of — a hawk­ish Demo­c­ra­t­ic establishment.

It’s now less palat­able for Democ­rats to be pub­licly cozy with AIPAC, due to grow­ing sol­i­dar­i­ty with Pales­tini­ans among the base of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, and dis­com­fort with AIPAC ally Ben­jamin Netanyahu’s open align­ment with Trump. Yet, Har­ris has forged close ties with the orga­ni­za­tion, which advo­cat­ed for the 2003 inva­sion of Iraq and opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. In March 2017, she told the AIPAC Pol­i­cy Con­fer­ence, Let me be clear about what I believe. I stand with Israel because of our shared val­ues, which are so fun­da­men­tal to the found­ing of both our nations.” At the 2018 con­fer­ence, Har­ris gave an off-the-record speech, in which she boast­ed, As a child, I nev­er sold Girl Scout cook­ies, I went around with a JNFUSA box col­lect­ing funds to plant trees in Israel.” The JNFUSA, or Jew­ish Nation­al Fund, has direct­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in land theft and eth­nic cleans­ing cam­paigns tar­get­ing Pales­tini­ans and Bedouins.

In 2019, Har­ris announced that she’d skip AIPAC’s con­fer­ence (along with Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Eliz­a­beth War­ren, and four oth­er can­di­dates) but then, a few weeks lat­er, host­ed AIPAC lead­ers in her office to talk about the right of Israel to defend itself,” as she put it.

These posi­tions are not just the­o­ret­i­cal. As Har­ris bragged in her 2017 AIPAC talk, “[The] first res­o­lu­tion I co-spon­sored as a Unit­ed States sen­a­tor was to com­bat anti-Israel bias at the Unit­ed Nations and reaf­firm that the Unit­ed States seeks a just, secure and sus­tain­able two-state solu­tion.” She was refer­ring to S.Res.6, intro­duced by Mar­co Rubio (R‑Fla.) in Jan­u­ary 2017, which object­ed to a UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion adopt­ed in 2016 that declared Israeli set­tle­ments a vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al law. By con­trast, Sanders and War­ren did not cospon­sor the res­o­lu­tion. It nev­er came to a vote.

Also at IN THESE TIMES, Marie Gottschalk observes:

When Har­ris was elect­ed dis­trict attor­ney of San Fran­cis­co in 2003, the prob­lem of mass incar­cer­a­tion was invis­i­ble to the wider pub­lic. To her cred­it, she chal­lenged the idea that pros­e­cu­tors should incarcerat[e] peo­ple for as long as pos­si­ble, no mat­ter the crime, no mat­ter how much it costs to incar­cer­ate them, and despite the doc­u­ment­ed fact that our cur­rent prison sys­tem rarely pre­vents offend­ers from com­mit­ting new crimes when they come back out.” Ear­ly in her tenure, she took a coura­geous stand not to seek the death penal­ty in the case of a man accused of killing a police offi­cer, and her office was also less like­ly than many oth­er juris­dic­tions to deploy Cal­i­for­ni­a’s dra­con­ian three-strikes law. 

These are ear­ly bright spots in what is oth­er­wise a trou­bling record. A judge exco­ri­at­ed her DA’s office for its lev­els of indif­fer­ence” to defen­dants’ con­sti­tu­tion­al rights in its fail­ure to dis­close infor­ma­tion about a scan­dal in the crime lab’s drug analy­sis unit that led to the dis­missal of 700 cas­es. A tech­ni­cian had been skim­ming cocaine and tam­per­ing with evidence.

As attor­ney gen­er­al, Har­ris suc­cess­ful­ly cham­pi­oned leg­is­la­tion to crim­i­nal­ize tru­an­cy and pun­ish par­ents with fines and incar­cer­a­tion. She also sided with Gov. Jer­ry Brown to stymie imple­men­ta­tion of Brown v. Pla­ta, the most con­se­quen­tial pris­on­ers’ rights deci­sion in more than a gen­er­a­tion, by repeat­ed­ly return­ing the case to the low­er courts. The U.S. Supreme Court had declared that Cal­i­for­ni­a’s gross­ly over­crowd­ed pris­ons were uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and ordered the state to reduce its inmate pop­u­la­tion. Andrew Cohen of the Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice char­ac­ter­ized these attempts to weasel out” of the Supreme Court’s rul­ing as noth­ing short of contemptuous.”

In The Truths We Hold, Har­ris lauds implic­it bias train­ing as her weapon of choice to reduce police shoot­ings of peo­ple of col­or. There are much more effec­tive and proven mea­sures, like stricter use-of-force reg­u­la­tions for police depart­ments and man­dat­ed inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tions of shoot­ings — but they are stri­dent­ly opposed by many police offi­cers and their unions, and Har­ris has not force­ful­ly advo­cat­ed them.

Har­ris has tak­en sim­i­lar­ly trou­bling posi­tions on many oth­er key crim­i­nal jus­tice issues, includ­ing the use of soli­tary con­fine­ment, civ­il asset for­fei­tures, the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of sex work, and puni­tive res­i­den­cy and oth­er mea­sures lev­eled on peo­ple con­vict­ed of sex offens­es. She resist­ed key efforts to mod­er­ate California’s three-strikes law. Har­ris peri­od­i­cal­ly has tout­ed her­self as a fierce oppo­nent of the cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, but as attor­ney gen­er­al, she appealed a fed­er­al judge’s rul­ing that the state’s enforce­ment of the death penal­ty was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. She con­tin­ued to come down on the side of the death penal­ty as the case made its way through the fed­er­al courts and took no pub­lic posi­tion on a 2012 bal­lot mea­sure to repeal cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in California.

Kate Sullivan (CNN) reports:

Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin offered advice and congratulations to Sen. Kamala Harris on Tuesday shortly after the California Democrat was announced as former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate.

Palin was on the ticket with Sen. John McCain of Arizona in 2008, the second woman to be on the ticket of a major political party. When Harris accepts the nomination next week at the Democratic National Convention, she will become the third woman and first Black and South Asian American woman nominated for the role.
"Congrats to the democrat VP pick," Palin wrote in an Instagram post. "Climb upon Geraldine Ferraro's and my shoulders, and from the most amazing view in your life consider lessons we learned." In 1984, Democratic Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York was the first woman to be on a major party ticket.

Jimmy Dore offers his thoughts on the selection of Harris in the video below.

We'll return to the topic of Kamala Harris in the future, hopefully, tomorrow  and, hopefully, we'll include "Oh, no, not Joe Biden."

But in Iraq . . . 

Yemen Details Tweets:

#Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, and Jordan express their solidarity with #Iraq and call on #Turkey to stop its violations against the country.


JUST IN: France says Turkey's drone attack in Iraq breached the country's sovereignty

If you thought the government of Turkey might share any remorse or regret over killing three members of the Iraqi military, you were wrong.  ALJAZEERA notes:

In a statement early on Thursday, Turkey's foreign ministry said the PKK presence also threatened Iraq and that it was Baghdad's responsibility to take action against the rebels, and Ankara would defend its borders if the PKK's presence is allowed.

"Our country is ready to cooperate with Iraq on this issue. However, in the event PKK presence in Iraq is overlooked, our country is determined to take the measures it deems necessary for its border security no matter where it may be," the ministry said. "We call on Iraq to take the necessary steps for this."

HURRIYET covers the statement here.

The government of Turkey violated Iraq's sovereignty and international law, their actions killed three members of the Iraqi military.  They issue a statement and it takes no responsibility for the deaths nor does it note regret.  It just says, in typical thug fashion, 'you made us do this.'  Selcan Hacaoglu (BLOOMBERG NEWS) notes:

Turkey rebuffed Iraqi criticism of its cross-border attacks on autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants, which Baghdad says killed two of its military officers this week. The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement didn’t refer to Iraq’s claim of a Turkish drone attack near their shared border, but told Baghdad it was responsible for taking measures against Kurdish separatists based in northern Iraq.

Read more at:
Copyright © BloombergQuint
Turkey rebuffed Iraqi criticism of its cross-border attacks on autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants, which Baghdad says killed two of its military officers this week. The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement didn’t refer to Iraq’s claim of a Turkish drone attack near their shared border, but told Baghdad it was responsible for taking measures against Kurdish separatists based in northern Iraq.

Read more at:
Copyright © BloombergQuint

 Turkey rebuffed Iraqi criticism of its cross-border attacks on autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants, which Baghdad says killed two of its military officers this week. The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement didn’t refer to Iraq’s claim of a Turkish drone attack near their shared border, but told Baghdad it was responsible for taking measures against Kurdish separatists based in northern Iraq.

Serge Tweeted:

Turkey is now not only occupying parts of Iraq but also killing Iraqi soldiers. There must be severe consequences for this, otherwise the killing of Iraqi soldiers by Turkey will be normalized as well.

In other news of occupying Iraq, Eric Schmitt (NEW YORK TIMES) notes:

Turkey rebuffed Iraqi criticism of its cross-border attacks on autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants, which Baghdad says killed two of its military officers this week. The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement didn’t refer to Iraq’s claim of a Turkish drone attack near their shared border, but told Baghdad it was responsible for taking measures against Kurdish separatists based in northern Iraq.

Read more at:
Copyright © BloombergQuint

 The top American military commander in the Middle East said on Wednesday that U.S. troop levels in Iraq and Syria would most likely shrink in the coming months, but that he had not yet received orders to begin withdrawing forces.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, said the 5,200 troops in Iraq to help fight remnants of the Islamic State and train Iraqi forces “will be adjusted” after consultations with the government in Baghdad.

General McKenzie said he expected American and other NATO forces to maintain “a long-term presence” in Iraq — both to help fight Islamic extremists and to check Iranian influence in the country. He declined to say how large that presence might be, but other American officials said discussions with Iraqi officials that resume this month could result in a reduction to around 3,500 U.S. troops.

Despite President Trump’s demand last fall for a complete withdrawal of all 1,000 American forces from Syria, the president still has some 500 troops, mostly in the country’s northeast, assisting local Syrian Kurdish allies in combating pockets of ISIS fighters.

The following sites updated: