From Sunday, that's Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "A Couple Of Paramedics Just Standing Around Talking."
That's funny and it's supposed to be. Unlike the WSWS which is just a mockery of what it once was. I'm finding Jacobin is actually focusing on issues. This is from an important article they have by Luke Savage:
Socialists and progressive liberals alike find plenty to criticize about American democracy. For the socialist left, democracy is fatally compromised by both the dominance of markets and the stratification imposed by class society. While most do not extend it to a critique of capitalism itself, progressive liberals tend to agree that organized wealth enjoys a dangerous and outsize influence in twenty-first-century America — there also being consensus around the need to extend voting rights, combat gerrymandering, and fight voter suppression.
Worthy and necessary as these critiques are, there’s also a far more basic one to be mounted of what passes for “democracy” in the United States. Which is to say: even with the standard left and progressive analyses set aside, America’s political institutions are considerably less democratic and egalitarian than those of other liberal states. Measured against rudimentary principles like one person, one vote and rule by a popularly elected majority, much of the American system effectively works as a giant check against small-d democracy.
Just how antidemocratic is the United States? The Trump era has offered up some particularly striking case studies.
Thanks to the outcome of the 2016 election, which saw Donald Trump win the presidency with a record 2.8 million fewer votes than his opponent, the Electoral College is increasingly taken for the absurdity that it is. The recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and subsequent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett only underscores further the profoundly undemocratic character of American institutions, which may see a president chosen by a minority of voters place no less than three justices with lifetime appointments and the power to strike down legislation passed by Congress (Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh) onto the Supreme Court.
Undergirding it all is the body that will ultimately confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: the Senate. Arguably the most unrepresentative legislature found anywhere in the democratic world, the principle of equal representation regardless of population gives wildly different weights to individual votes and effectively empowers a small minority to overrule the rest of the electorate. As Daniel Lazare noted in a 2014 essay, California and Wyoming both get two senators despite the former having sixty-five times the population, the upshot of which is that a voting-age Californian has about 1.5 percent the electoral clout of a voting-age Wyomingian. A majority of Americans live in just nine states and thus command only eighteen votes in the Senate, compared to eighty-two for the minority that lives in the rest of the country. Owing to filibuster rules, lawmakers representing less than 11 percent of the population can block any bill from coming to a vote on the floor.
Even putting aside the influence of billionaires and organized money, the trifecta of the Electoral College, Supreme Court, and Senate functions as a constitutionally embedded check on popular and majority rule. Antidemocratic and counter-majoritarian institutions are, of course, structural features rather than incidental bugs: the country’s founders being notably hostile to majority rule and fearful of mass democracy.
We need to have real conversations right now and pursue real changes. Nutty conspiracy theories won't get us there but that's all WSWS has to offer these days.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:
Wednesday, October 14, 2020. The media's fluffing of Joe Biden gets some media attention, militias remain an issue in Iraq, and much more.
This morning at THE NEW YORK POST, Emma-Jo MOrris and Gabrielle Fonrouge report:
Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to e-mails obtained by The Post.
The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.
“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the e-mail reads.
An earlier e-mail from May 2014 also shows Pozharskyi, reportedly Burisma’s No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.
The blockbuster correspondence — which flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claim that he’s “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings” — is contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer.
The computer was dropped off at a repair shop in Biden’s home state of Delaware in April 2019, according to the store’s owner.
Other material extracted from the computer includes a raunchy, 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter, who’s admitted struggling with addiction problems, smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images.
Joe Biden repeatedly has denied knowing anything about son Hunter’s lucrative work on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
“Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer. The former vice president does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company,” a spokeswoman for Joe Biden said in a December 2015 statement to The New York Times.
Biden has stonewalled on the topic ever since.
“I’ve never discussed my business or their business, my sons’ or daughter’s. And I’ve never discussed them because they know where I have to do my job and that’s it, and they have to make their own judgments,” he told the “CBS Evening News” last October.
And yet, an e-mail obtained by The Post shows a senior Burisma executive thanking Hunter for the opportunity to meet Joe Biden just 12 months after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.
The claims come as Mike Allen and Hans Nichols (AXIOS) observe the easy ride that Joe Biden has gotten from the press:
Since Aug. 31, Biden has answered less than half as many questions from the press as Trump — 365 compared with 753 — according to a tally by the Trump campaign, which the Biden campaign didn't dispute.
- In that time, Biden has done approximately 35 local TV interviews, three national interviews and two town halls.
- Biden went almost three months without taking questions from beat reporters.
- Biden aides say one reason there's less scrutiny of Biden in the general election is that he already was examined thoroughly in the primary election and over decades in public life.
- Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesperson, said: "Who's ‘scrutinizing’ Trump more, Maria Bartiromo or Sean Hannity?"
Biden has yet to be pinned down on an array of legitimate questions, including:
- His blunt view of adding new justices to the Supreme Court, which will be a priority for progressives if Judy Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. Biden, who had criticized the idea in the past, finally said he's "not a fan of court packing."
- Biden also has mostly gotten off easy on Medicare for All, police funding, Pentagon spending, fracking, reparations for African Americans, the Green New Deal and his support for the 1994 crime bill.
- Per Trump campaign spokesperson Andrew Clark: "Biden has been the least-scrutinized presidential candidate in modern history at great disservice to the voters, but the press still has time to rectify that.”
Click here to listen to the topic discussed in an AXIOS podcast. Scott Jennings (LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL) also marvels over the lack of real media scrutiny of Joe, "Biden changes his stripes more than a chameleon in a Skittles factory. And he’s doing it again by claiming the mantle of unity in this election. Today’s Biden is a made-for-media candidacy untested by interactions with his base." On court packing, Jonathan Turley points out, "A recent Rasmussen poll found that 55 percent of Americans opposed any court packing plan and only 27 percent was in favor of the idea." John Kass (CHICAGO TRIBUNE) reminds:
Biden once thought court-packing would undermine the court’s independence and called it “boneheaded” years ago.
But he’s been dodging the court-packing issue on the campaign trail for weeks.
Just the other day, a reporter in Las Vegas pressed Biden, asking: “Don’t the voters deserve to know where you stand?”
“No, they don’t deserve,” Biden said. “I’m not going to play (Donald Trump’s) game.”
Another day, another crazy way Joe Biden tries to get out of answering a simple question.
When asked by reporters on October 10 whether, if elected, he would seek to create additional Supreme Court seats, a radical plan known as "court packing," the former vice president replied that "[i]t's not constitutional what they're doing." This baffling response apparently refers to President Trump and Senate Republicans, who are working to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
This clip spread quickly, and it is easy to see why. Many Democrats have condemned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham's plan to confirm Judge Barrett before the election, using adjectives like "wrong," "hypocritical," "shameful" and "stupid." While these comments have no basis regarding a confirmation timeframe comparable to those of many justices who came before her, "unconstitutional" carries far more serious implications. Biden must explain what he meant by this allegation.
Joe Biden just declared “You'll know my opinion on court packing when the election is over.” So the Democratic presidential candidate is telling the voters that he will not tell them if he plans to destroy a core institution in our constitutional system...
...this is an idea put forward by the Democrats, including Biden's own running mate, and a major issue in this election. The test of principle is when it is neither popular nor convenient...
...this is why James Freeman Clarke said that "a politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation." Which is Biden thinking about in refusing to tell the voters whether he will pack the Supreme Court?
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi continues to embarrass herself and look out of touch to everyone. She scolded Jake Tapper during an interview and everyone largely looked the other way. So now, instead of answering questions, she thinks it's acceptable to act like an ass. Well, maybe not act. Here she is with Wolf Blitzer.
Jimmy Dore addresses Nancy's nonsense in the commentary below.
She can't answer the question. She just distracts and scolds. She has nothing to offer and has accomplished nothing in her time of leadership. Her claim to represent her constituents is a joke. I'm one of them. We supported marriage equality long before Nancy finally came around. She doesn't represent us. We were opposed to the Iraq War before it started. She promised in the 2006 elections to win the Iraq War if the American people gave the Democratic Party control of just one house of Congress. We gave them control of both houses. The Iraq War continues to this day.
The relationship between the controversial Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the activists supporting the popular protest movement in Iraq has moved towards increased tension, after Sadr attempted to put the brakes on the momentum of the popular demonstrations by placing a number of conditions on the street movement, described as arbitrary.
Sadr had hesitated a lot before siding with the protest movement that began in October 2019. Activists said that the Sadrists, the moniker given to Sadr’s followers, did not join in the protests until they realised that they were overwhelming; so they jumped on the wagon of the protests for fear to see their place on the street disappear.
During the months-long series of demonstrations, the relationship between the protesters and the popular current affiliated with al-Sadr was erratic at best. The two parties converged repeatedly at some points but also diverted repeatedly at some others. This relationship, however, witnessed a clear turning point when the United States killed the commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qassem Soleimani, and the field commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a raid near Baghdad airport in early 2020.
While the protesters welcomed the US action and saw in it an opportunity to reduce Tehran’s dominance of political, security and economic decisions in Iraq, Sadr and his followers sided with Iran and participated in a partisan demonstration demanding the condemnation of the United States, before the representatives of the Shia cleric in the Iraqi parliament participated in drafting a resolution compelling the government to remove US troops out of the country.
The protests continue. Moqtada lost all standing long ago. He turned on the protesters then retracted the turn, then spun around again. After that? He just became a sad joke. He didn't want men and women protesting together. He issued an order. His order was ignored. It was mocked. Protesters -- men and women -- carried signs mocking him.
Moqtada has his cult. But that's all he has right now. He had a great deal of power; however, he lost it and became a joke. He might regain it, he might not. But no one's really listening to him. Even his recent call to disband all militias got little attention from the press.
On the issue of the militias, MIDDLE EAST MONITOR notes:
Washington called on Iraqi factions to surrender their weapons to the government in Baghdad, following the Hezbollah Brigade’s announcement that it would suspend attacks on US forces in the country.
The US Department of State told Al Jazeera that America urged all armed parties in Iraq to act responsibly and surrender their weapons to the government, adding that the actions of “Iraqi militias” jeopardises the government’s attempts to attract international investment.
It added that the United States and its partners are focusing on helping Iraq face the ongoing economic crisis, security instability and the coronavirus pandemic.
Following successive missile attacks on the Green Zone, seat of US embassy’s headquarters, and military bases accommodating US and International Coalition troops, the US last month threatened to close its embassy, which many Iraqi observers considered as a prelude to launching air strikes on the factions.
We'll wind down with this from The Feminist Majority:
Join us for our virtual conference Fired Up Ready to Vote this Saturday!
Dear Common Ills,
We don’t have to tell you that feminists are fired up for the election this November and ready to vote for the future that we know is possible. Join the Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women (NOW) for aon and on the power of the women’s vote and what is at stake during the first 100 days of the presidency.
This exciting conference will bring together a host of feminist leaders, thinkers, speakers and activists as well as top political leaders to discuss the issues that matter most to feminists, collaborate and share ideas, and strategize for the future of the movement.
Workshops will include facing the most consequential election of our lifetime, the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, expanding LGBTQIA+ rights after the historic June Supreme Court ruling and more.
Our two engaging plenary sessions will feature legendary feminist activist Gloria Steinem, and many feminists already in Congress including Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), former Senator Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) and newcomers Gina Ortiz-Jones who is running for the U.S. House in Texas and Jaime Harrison who is running for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina against Sen. Lindsey Graham.
You won’t want to miss this opportunity to engage with important feminist leaders and organizers who are working to protect the decades of progress made and are paving the way for even more feminist victories this November. Register now!
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