Tuesday, March 31, 2020

David Schramm and Wings

David Schramm has died at 73, USA TODAY reports.

He played Roy on Wings. Wings shows up on my Hulu so let's talk about that. I haven't watched the show since it was on NBC. It started off so-so. Tim Daley and Steven Webber played brothers Joe and Brian. They ran an airplane service out of Nantucket. Crystal Bernard was very good as Helen who ran the lunch counter at the airport. Rebecca Schull played Faye who worked the ticket counter. David played Roy who was a rival to Joe and Brian. Roy was not a nice person . . . until his young son showed up and revealed he was gay. That added a layer for Roy. David was always funny on the show. All of the cast members that I have mentioned were very funny and really delivered.

One I have not mentioned? Farrah Forke. She played Alex.

Remember how I said it started off so-so? The show got better with every season up to season four. Season four was Wings at its finest. Helen was being given better situations and storylines. Joe and Brian were advancing as characters -- Joe and Helen were a couple. And then came Alex. She was the best addition to the show. She was a character that every other character had a reaction to. She made the show stronger. She was a helicopter pilot, she'd been in the Gulf War and she didn't take any crap. When the immature Brian tried his usual moves, they didn't work. And he had to rise to her level for them to become a couple.

Alex made Brian a real person and not just a sketch character.

Helen became a stronger character because she had Alex to bounce off of. Alex was the only woman Joe related to as an equal. He was Faye's boss and he was Helen's boyfriend and he didn't take Helen all that seriously.

When she left the show at the end of the season, it wasn't worth watching. They tried to bring her back in the fifth season to make us hate Alex. We didn't. They tried to turn her into Diane Chambers (Cheers) or something for an episode so we'd quit complaining. But we didn't stop. The show sucked when she left.

Season five was awful and we were calling for her to return. And because the outcry was so loud, they announced she would be back. We thought as a regular character. Instead, they brought her back, had her and Brian move in together and then she was a total pain and we were supposed to hate her. Instead, we hated the show and bailed -- check out the ratings after what they did to Alex. The episode after that got 20 million plus viewers (as did the Alex episode) as we tuned in to see if Alex was going to show up again but she didn't. And that was it. Having worked up to 20 million or more viewers in season four, the show's ratings dropped.

Season six they added Helen's sister Casey (Amy Yasbeck) and she was hideous, an awful character. Please note, I am not trashing Amy. She seemed like a good sport but her character was not needed. The show did not need a Diane Chambers and they made Casey a snob. It wasn't funny and it was really anti-woman.

The show was always at risk of that because the bulk of the characters were men -- Brian, Joe, Roy, the mechanic, the cab driver (awful actors and I'm not naming them) versus Helen and Faye. Alex came in and she was an equal. She made the show better. They got rid of her and replaced her with a snobby, uptight woman -- more sexist jokes and nonsense. That's why the audience fled.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, March 31, 2020.  Joe Biden continues to stumble and bumble around, while the corporate media treats him like he's the nominee there are still 27 primaries to take place and over 1300 delegates up for grabs, the corporate media ignores that and they ignore Tara Reade.

Starting in the US where Joe Biden is not the Democratic Party's presidential nominee despite spin from the media.  1991 delegates are needed to win the nomination.  Currently, Bernie Sanders has 914 and Joe Biden has 1217 -- neither has reached the 1991 threshold.  More to the point,  Setting aside territories and DC, there are still 23 states that have yet to hold a primary.  Joe Biden is not the nominee.

When over 20 candidates were vying for the nomination, the corporate media insisted they couldn't cover all of them, they could only cover the top ones.  Well there are now only two candidates for the nomination and yet MEET THE PRESS and MSNBC and other garbage keeps bringing on Joe and acting as though he's the nominee.

No, we don't have a nominee until the primaries are over or one of the candidates reaches 1991.

That's reality.  The corporate media needs to be covering Bernie Sanders' campaign as much as they are Joe Biden's or they are not a free press, they are not journalists.  There are two candidates and the nomination could go to either right now.  The corporate media's decision to freeze out one candidate in an active primary is not journalism and needs to be called out.  Repeating -- neither has reached 1991 delegates and there are 23 states who have yet to hold their primaries.  Counting states, DC and territories, there are 27 primaries still to be held in this race and over 1300 delegates still up for grabs. The race is not over.

Appearing on in-the-tank-for-Joe MSNBC yesterday, Tim Haines (REAL POLITICS) reports Joe was still faced with the question on people's minds: "Where is Joe Biden?"

MSNBC, YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN: Mr. Vice President, I've got to be honest with you, over the last two weeks or so I've had a lot of people ask me online, every single day, where is Joe Biden? As a candidate for president, are you making yourself visible enough, especially during this crisis, because it is a fine line to walk. You certainly don't want to be seen as the candidate who is politicizing a pandemic when Americans face this crisis.

His answers included "I've been on the phone."  Yes, Joe, we saw that video.

It's rather embarrassing but if Joe wants to bring it up again, so be it.

Jack Brewster (FORBES) notes Joe declared in the MSNBC interview yesterday that the coronavirus has not led to him changing his mind about Medicare For All -- he still opposes it.  Is that really a surprise?  When has Joe Biden ever been able to learn from a mistake?


Eoin Higgins (COMMON DREAMS) adds:

"Are you now reconsidering your position when it comes to single-payer healthcare?" asked Vossoughian.
"Single payer will not solve that at all," Biden replied, referring to the strained U.S. healthcare system. 
The former vice president's rejection of Medicare for All in the midst of a global pandemic was not lost on observers.
"The primary voice speaking out against single-payer right now in the middle of an epidemic is Joe Biden," noted Dig Left researcher Andrew Perez.
Biden's remaining rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has made his outspoken support for Medicare for All a central plank of his campaign. 
Critics of the former vice president bemoaned his "doubling down" on a position which seemed sure to result in electoral ruin. 

"This is a losing politics," tweeted The Nation literary editor David Marcus. "In almost every state that's held a primary so far, including those Biden has won, exit polls show a majority of Democrats prefer single payer."
The question of whether the U.S. would be better suited to handle the crisis with a Medicare for All system has persisted throughout the coronavirus outbreak, which is expected to get worse and peak in the coming weeks and months. Progressives mourned a California teen who died last week, likely from the coronavirus, after being turned away from a hospital for a lack of insurance and questioned the viability and morality of a healthcare system where something like that could happen during a raging pandemic. 

"How can anyone defend this system?" tweeted Claire Sandberg, the Sanders campaign's national organizing director. "Treatment must be free for all."
In addition to the California teen's death, progressives have cited mass layoffs and unemployment as a reason to transition to a healthcare access arrangement not dependent on one's employer providing health insurance.

While Joe was denying the need for Medicare For All yesterday, Bernie was explaining the need.

Joe's inability to grasp why Medicare For All is a need is a lot like the people who refuse to grasp the need to address climate change.

On MSNBC, Joe gave  a very poor interview.  Joshua Caplan (of the right-wing BRIETBART) notes, "Appearing Monday on MSNBC, former Vice President Joe Biden erroneously referred to Wuhan — the Chinese city (of the Hubei province) in which the deadly coronavirus originated — as 'Luhan province."  William Davis (THE DAILY CALLER) adds that Joe stumbled throughout the interview and had to repeatedly refer to notes in his hand because he repeatedly got lost while answering basic questions.  Senility is not pretty.  Right-winger Pat Buchanan (at CNS NEWS) states, "He pops up infrequently in interviews out of the basement of his Delaware home where, sheltering in place, he reads short scripted speeches from a teleprompter."  No, Pat, that's not true.  He also does interviews from his basement where he has to repeatedly refer to note cards.  For those not grasping why we, a left-wing site, note right-wing outlets, have you forgotten that Joe's 'electable' -- or claims to be?  He keeps swearing he's going to bring in right-wing votes.  Right-wing outlets and polling (of independents, moderates and swing voters) are not bearing that out, but that is his claim.


Joe Biden’s latest poll numbers against Donald Trump should make every Democrat in this country nervous. The former Vice President is suffering from a near-complete lack of enthusiasm with American voters, including his own supporters, and that’s exactly what happened with Hillary in 2016. The establishment and the voters are making the same mistakes they made in 2016, and they’re going to yield the same results, as Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains. 

Farron Cousins: A new ABC news and Washington post poll was released over this weekend that shouldn’t leave anybody that calls themselves a Democrat feeling hopeful about the 2020 presidential election. This latest poll looked at the head to head match-ups between Donald Trump and Joe Biden and it looked at enthusiasm. It looked at where each candidate stood on the issues in terms of support from the public and it revealed that yes, we are reliving 2016 folks. Not only is Joe Biden statistically tied now with Donald Trump and head to head matches, whereas just a month ago before the whole pandemic, Biden was beating him by a fairly decent margin and now they’re tied. Even after Donald Trump bungled the response for the pandemic, he is still tied with Joe Biden. So impeachment didn’t affect him. Pandemics not affecting him. Joe Biden’s in trouble. But honestly, folks, that’s not even the worst part of this poll. The worst part is that much like Hillary Clinton, there is absolutely no enthusiasm among Democrats to vote for Joe Biden.
Only 24% of Democrats say that they are very enthusiastic about voting for Joe Biden. That number is over 50% by Republicans who say they’re very enthusiastic about voting for Donald Trump. That spells disaster, and that’s Joe Biden’s biggest problem. That enthusiasm gap. Why, why should we vote for you? What are you offering? How are you going to make our lives better? Here’s the thing I think a lot of people don’t quite understand. You know, we have sat here every single day for the last three plus years talking about all of the horrible things that Donald Trump has done. All of the people he is injured, all of the economic harm he has inflicted. All the attacks on healthcare, all the empty promises, all of it. But here’s the thing. Most of the things that Donald Trump has done do not personally affect most Americans. The trade wars have absolutely devastated American farmers.
That’s, that’s true. That is a policy that is 100% Trump that had a very real impact on these people’s lives. They have lost a lot. But look at the average person walking down the street. Okay. Has their life changed since Donald Trump came into office? Did it get worse? Did it get better or did it stay the same? For most people, the answer is it stayed the same. And that’s the problem, folks. If things aren’t getting worse for too many people and you have a candidate who’s not offering anything different than those people are thinking, well, nothing’s changed for me as it is. You’re telling me nothing’s going to change under you. So why should I switch horses right now in mid stream? Like, why not, why not just keep with the guy who hasn’t effected my life?

And that’s where the enthusiasm gap comes in. Now, if Joe Biden were actually out there offering something to benefit most people instead of a health insurance plan that still leaves 10 million to die, maybe he’d have a little bit more support. If he was offering debt-free college, student loan forgiveness, a green new deal, anything like that, there would be enthusiasm. But he’s not offering that. He’s offering people more of the same without realizing most people’s lives haven’t actually changed under Donald Trump. And I know that’s a sad reality for people to accept, but it’s reality nonetheless. Honestly, look at your day to day life. Tell me what’s different between now and five years ago. You’re still paying astronomical cost for pharmaceuticals, but you also did that under democratic presidents. If you’re not a minority, and I know that sounds horrible, but you’re not experiencing the hate crimes that we have seen increase under Donald Trump and most people don’t even think about those things.

Alex Swoyer (WASHINGTON TIMES) adds:

Exit polls from Michigan and Missouri on Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states cast their ballot for a Democratic nominee, revealed less than half of all Democratic voters were enthusiastic about Mr. Biden.

The lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Biden could be concerns over his age and health, said Towson University professor Richard E. Vatz, a scholar of political rhetoric and campaigning.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Joe has no answers.  When asked -- like on THE VIEW -- he refers people to his website where a confusing paper that someone wrote exists.  Branko Marcetic (IN THESE TIMES) notes that the paper answers nothing and we'll zoom in on this section of Branko's report:

On the other hand, Biden is supporting the coronavirus emergency bill that has been the subject of days of congressional wrangling, including its provisions of direct checks of $1,200 per American making less than $75,000 a year, and $500 per child. Biden has cautioned that “it’s not everything that I would want,” and indeed, these provisions have come under heavy criticism from progressives. Not only does the bureaucracy involved mean the payments will come far too late for many families, but the means-tested, one-time sum of $1,200 falls far short of the proposals for universal payments of $2,000 a month per family for the duration of the crisis, $1,000 a month per American until a year after the crisis is over following an initial payment of $2,000, and $2,000 a month per adult and $1,000 per child, all respectively proposed by progressives like Sanders, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Does Biden prefer a larger payment? If so, how much larger? Would it be means-tested or universal? Would it be a one-time check or continuous? How does he feel about the potentially months-long delay involved? And does he still prefer to devolve power to state and local governments to distribute this money?
Biden himself hasn’t clarified. His defenders say he’s trying not to step on Democrats’ toes during negotiations; yet as the prospective nominee, not only is he meant to be setting the party’s agenda, but he should also be putting forward ideas that will compete against Trump come the general election, who has improbably ridden his catastrophically bungled response to the crisis to his best-ever approval ratings.

Biden’s approach to mortgages and evictions faces similar confusion. Contrary to his statement on The View, there is no eviction freeze laid out in Biden’s plan. Rather, he leaves it up to governors and mayors to draw on the Emergency Fund “to implement rental assistance, no-interest forbearance or mortgage payment relief.”

Now Bernie and Elizabeth Warren were repeatedly hounded by the media with 'how will you pay for it' on plans related to Medicare For All, college tuition, etc.  But no one asks Joe how he will pay for his plan, nor do they even try to pin him down on specifics.

As for the $2,000 a month that Americans need?  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) explains why that will probably not happen -- the GOP and Donald Trump are saying last Friday's stimulus will be the last.  If that surprises you, you weren't paying attention.  It's now up to Nancy Pelosi to show some leadership and demand the American people get the money they need.

At THE NATIONAL, Toby Harnden points out:

Now he is unable to hold fundraisers at the homes of wealthy donors or whip up enthusiasm with large rallies. Trying to ask people facing economic ruin to donate cash to a politician can look unseemly. So, too, does running television advertisements lambasting Mr. Trump.
Mr Biden, a full-time politician for five decades, is a traditionalist who shows little aptitude for the mastery of digital tools. On camera, he is an uncertain performer prone to stumbles and misstatements of fact.
The former vice president’s impromptu home television studio is an imperfect setting for broadcasts. In a speech last week, he apparently lost track of his teleprompter and suddenly stopped talking before frantically motioning to off-screen aides.

Coughing repeatedly and often touching his eyes and nose, Mr Biden was chastised by one host for sneezing into his hand rather than his arm. At times he has been plain puzzling, such as when he stated: “We have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse no matter what.”

Regarding the first paragraph above, it wouldn't be that hard for Joe to note that, if he became the nominee, he would accept public financing for the general election.  That's what everyone did post-Watergate until Barack Obama's Wall Street contributions (passed off as small donors until the press finally took a serious look) in 2008 led him to become the first to opt out of public finance.

Meanwhile "Did Joe Biden assault staffer Tara Reade"?  That's a key question.  In RELEVANT MAGAZINE's latest podcast, they explore the charges of assault that Tara Reade, former staffer of then-Senator Joe Biden, has made against the nominee.  As  Mike noted in last week's community roundtable:

This week, Tara Reade became an issue for Joe when Ryan Grimm reported on her allegations for THE INTERCEPT and noted that TimesUp! refused to help her.  He then discussed that on THE HILL's RISING with Krystal BallKatie Halper interviewed Tara about her story.  Those late to the party can refer to my "Tara Reade was assaulted by Joe Biden" and "Joe Biden assaulted Tara Reade" and C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot."  Anna North (VOX) explains, "Reade says Biden sexually assaulted her, pushing her against a wall and penetrating her with his fingers. When she pulled away, she says, he said he thought she 'liked' him."  The corporate media has been reluctant to cover the issue all week. 

Robby Soave (REASON) notes the corporate media's silence on Tara Reade:

The mainstream media have remained bafflingly silent about Tara Reade, a former member of then-Senator Biden's staff who claims that he sexually assaulted her in 1993. Reade's name has only appeared twice in The Washington Post, and both were quick asides: A news roundup from April of last year briefly acknowledged an earlier, milder version of Reade's accusation, and a recent rapid-fire Q&A asked a Post political reporter to weigh-in on the political ramifications "of the Tara Reade bombshell." (The nature of the bombshell is not described.)
And while the coronavirus pandemic is obviously dominating news coverage, CNN has made plenty of time for Biden. Chris Cillizza is still ranking Biden's potential veep choices, and the network conducted a virtual townhall event with the candidate last Friday. Reade's name didn't come up, and it has never appeared at CNN.com. At NBC, it's the same story: Chuck Todd interviewed Biden but didn't ask about the allegation.

At INDIANA DAILY STUDENT, Liam O'Sullivan notes:

Sexual assault allegations obviously didn’t prevent President Donald Trump from winning the White House in 2016. But at the time, mainstream media networks urged us to believe the president’s accusers. This time, however, legacy news media has largely ignored the allegations. Tara Reade, a former staffer for then-Sen. Biden, told her story in an interview with podcast host Katie Halper that circulated across social media nearly a week ago, but mainstream liberal news organizations have not reported on it.
That same practice of believing women when they come forward has apparently not applied to Reade. If we are to believe the president’s many accusers, which I do, then we also need to accept that Reade’s accusations are being made in good faith.

Conservative outlets have seized the opportunity to point out the hypocrisy. The National Review, for example, published a story with the headline “Joe Biden, Democrats, and Sexual Assault: They Never Learn.”

[. . . ]

For some, Biden’s alleged conduct isn’t a barrier to support at all. Podcaster Stephanie Wittels Wachs said in a now-deleted tweet, “For the sake of argument, say Biden is a rapist. Trump is also a rapist. So why not vote for the rapist with better policies?”
That ghoulish sentiment is wrong on the face of it. We should not trust someone with credible sexual assault allegations against him with women’s policy, regardless of his political record.
Believing Reade and holding Biden to this standard may hand Trump the presidency. That’s a very real possibility, but if the Democratic Party has principles, it needs to follow them now.

Personally, when faced with a choice between two alleged rapists, I would elect to choose neither. It’s not like he has the nomination quite yet anyway. Bernie Sanders is still running and thus far has had no sexual assault allegations publicized against him. It’s time for principles to prevail, and that means not risking the election of another sexual predator.

We'll close with this ALJAZEERA report on Iraq's healthcare system:

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated:

What do we need?

Watch the roundtable from last night.  We need Medicare For All.  You have to be a Joe Biden not to grasp that.

Joe's a fool and a corporate tool.

We need Medicare For All and we need Bernie Sanders.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, March 30, 2020.  New Zealand follows France's lead in announcing a withdrawal from Iraq, thug Moqtada al-Sadr states same-sex marriage caused the coronavirus, Joe Biden continues to struggle but it helped by a corporate media that refuses to say the name "Tara Reade."

Starting in the US where nonsense prevails.  Senile and struggling Joe Biden remains a car wreck.  Mark Moore (NEW YORK POST) reports:

Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump are virtually neck and neck in the 2020 presidential race, a new poll released Sunday found.
Registered voters opted for Biden by 49 percent over Trump’s 47 percent, the Washington Post-ABC News poll shows — with the president closing a 7 percentage point gap from February as his administration responds to the coronavirus outbreak.
Registered voters by 47 to 43 percent said they “trust” Trump to handle the coronavirus pandemic over Biden, but thought the Democratic presidential candidate would be better able to manage health care than the president by 50 to 41 percent.

On who they trust on the economy, registered voters picked Trump 52 to 42 percent.

Martin Pengelly (GUARDIAN) reporting on the same poll notes:

Biden has not yet secured the Democratic nomination for 2020 but he is well ahead of the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the delegate count. Amid widespread public lockdowns as the coronavirus spreads, many primaries have been delayed, leaving the race in limbo.
The Post-ABC poll put Biden 55%-39% up over Sanders among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Bernard Goldberg (THE HILL) offers, "Joe Biden is the presumptive candidate for his party’s nomination for president. As such, he’s also, or should be, the one visibly leading the party. But that role has been left to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who, unlike Biden, aren’t under quarantine, self-imposed or otherwise. And since Biden didn’t lead the fight to get the bill passed, he’ll have a hard time taking credit for it if it works."  Emily Zanotti (THE DAILY WIRE) drops back to the WASHINGTON POST-ABC NEWS poll to point out that "the poll found that fewer than 35% of Democrats are 'enthusiastic' about casting a ballot for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee."  Fewer than 35% of Democrats are enthusiastic.  This 35% is "the lowest on record for a Democratic presidential candidate in 20 years of ABC [-] Post polls." Rick Klein and Mary Alice Parks (ABC NEWS' THE NOTE) report on that enthusiasm gap and explain, "Biden is behind where Hillary Clinton was in terms of enthusiasm four years ago, even though Biden's delegate edge over Sanders is larger than Clinton's was at the time."  Brad Polumbo (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) offers, "Turnout and enthusiasm are a big part of what wins elections. On this front, Trump looks strong while Biden looks downright awful. This poll suggests that Biden’s voters lean toward him because they think he’s the least-worst option, not because they’re passionate about supporting his candidacy. That’s a recipe for low-turnout and bad news for the former vice president."  REAL CLEAR POLITICS notes:

The "Joe Rogan Experience" host predicted that President Trump would eat Joe Biden alive in a general election: "Trump is going to eat him alive. He’s going to eat that guy alive. The guy can barely remember what he’s talking about while he’s talking."

"You have to be able to call out s**t that’s wrong on your side. That’s the problem the Democratic Party is having right now with that Joe Biden guy. You guys have to be able to call it out. You can’t let this slide, because everybody else sees it, and Trump is going to eat him alive," Rogan said. "He’s going to eat that guy alive."

"The guy can barely remember what he’s talking about while he’s talking," Rogan said. "I'm looking at this like a medical condition."

Call him on his s**t?  The corporate media won't even ask him about his former staffer Tara Reade who has accused him of assault.  Hayley Miller (HUFFINGTON POST) reports:

A former Senate aide to Joe Biden accused him this week of sexually assaulting her nearly 30 years ago. But television hosts who have interviewed the former vice president since she went public with her allegation have so far failed to ask him about it.
In an interview with podcast host Katie Halper published in part on Wednesday, Tara Reade said she had been working in Biden’s Senate office in 1993 when he kissed her and penetrated her with his fingers without her consent. Biden’s presidential campaign has denied the allegation.
Since Wednesday, Biden has appeared on CNN and NBC, as well as a makeshift quarantine edition of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that aired on YouTube. But none of the hosts broached the subject of the recent assault claim.

Neither ABC, CNN nor NBC immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

Javier Manjarres (THE FLORIDIAN), in his round up of news stories, notes:

“Biden sexual assault allegation goes unmentioned in another televised interview” by Fox News’ Gregg Re – Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, who has previously said that women leveling misconduct accusations should be presumptively believed, sat for another television interview Sunday — and again wasn’t asked about the recent accusation by former Senate staffer Tara Reade that the former vice president sexually assaulted her in 1993. Speaking to NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Biden discussed everything from whether sanctions on Iran should be suspended during the coronavirus pandemic (“I would need more information to make that judgment,” Biden responded) to whether Bernie Sanders should drop out of the race (“I think it’s up to Bernie to make the judgment whether or not he should stay in the race or not stay in the race,” Biden said.)  

Turning to Iraq, yesterday New Zealand made news by announcing they were withdrawing all of their troops from Iraq.   The NEW ZELAND HERALD reported, "Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark made the announcement today, saying it followed the successful conclusion of the mission at Taji to train Iraqi forces."  This follows last Thursday's announcement by the French government that France would be pulling all of its troops out of Iraq.  And the US?  Keeping the same troop numbers, just shuffling them around.  AP reports:

The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq withdrew Sunday from a military base in the country's north that nearly launched Washington into an open war with neighboring Iran.

The K1 Air Base is the third site coalition forces have left this month, in line with U.S. plans to consolidate its troops in two locations in Iraq.

In other news, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt (NEW YORK TIMES) report,  "The Pentagon has ordered military commanders to plan for an escalation of American combat in Iraq, issuing a directive last week to prepare a campaign to destroy an Iranian-backed militia group that has threatened more attacks against American troops."  Louisa Loveluck and Missy Ryan (WASHINGTON POST via PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE) report that this is in response to increased rocket attacks on US bases is prompting the move and that "American requests that Iraqi authorities track down and prosecute those responsible for rocket attacks have made little  headway."  Gregory Aftandilian (ARAB WEEKLY) adds, "The US military said the Katyusha rocket attacks that killed two US soldiers and one British soldier at Camp Taji base on March 11, which were preceded by other attacks, were coordinated by Kata’ib Hezbollah. In response, the United States struck the militia but the Iraqi government accused the United States of killing and wounding Iraqi soldiers and civilians in the process."  i24 NEWS notes:

The US Department of Defense issued an order last week commanding top generals to come up with a plan to step up the action against an Iraqi Tehran-backed militia seen as the force behind a string of rocket attacks at bases hosting international troops, New York Times reported Friday.
Citing officials with knowledge on the matter, the newspaper says the Pentagon was seeking a plan to destroy Kataeb Hezbollah in a drastic escalation against the Iranian proxy that is formally operating within the Iraqi chain of command.
The order was authorized by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the officials told the NYT.

THE NATIONAL explains:

The Pentagon blamed Kataib Hezbollah for a March 11 rocket attack that killed one British and two US personnel in Iraq.
The order was described by officials with knowledge of the internal communications to the New York Times.

But the order faced resistance from within, the military's top commander in Iraq, Lt Gen Robert P White, who said thousands more US troops were required in the country for any such campaign to take place. He also said that such an operation would risk war with Iran.

Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) observes, "This comes amid the recent US handover of two key military bases to Iraqi forces. Al-Qaim and Qayyarah military bases were signed over to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) recently, and a US withdraw from Kirkuk’s K1 airbase is expected in the coming weeks."                                                                         

Maira Fantappie and Sam Heller offer their take at WAR ON THE ROCKS:

This dynamic is two-sided, of course, but the armed factions demanding a U.S. exit have little reason to stop it. The asymmetric campaign paramilitaries are waging is low cost and sustainable. And for them, violence is working — they now seem on their way to dramatically reducing U.S. influence in Iraq, tilting Iraqi politics toward their agenda, and, if they run the United States out of the country entirely, scoring a major strategic victory regionally.
If anyone is going to break this retaliatory cycle, then, it has to be the United States. But it cannot be done by doubling down on threats and reflexive deterrent responses. Nor can the United States realistically expect the Iraqi security forces to confront these paramilitary factions, risking wide-open civil conflict. Instead, America’s best chance is to exercise restraint, consult with its Iraqi partners, and provide an opportunity for the formation of a new Iraqi government.
With a new government in place, the United States and its coalition partners could negotiate a new agreement on the deployment of foreign forces in the country that reasserts Iraqi authority and supervision; reduces the U.S. footprint in Iraq, even if only symbolically; and ensures countries other than the United States are the face of the coalition effort to support Iraq. An agreement of this kind would both solidify the legitimate legal basis for coalition forces’ presence and undercut the argument of those denouncing the U.S. presence as a foreign occupation violating Iraqi sovereignty. If the controversy over the legitimacy of foreign forces’ presence can be dialed down, political and popular forces that advocate more balanced relationships with both the United States and Iran should be in a stronger position to reassert themselves. Washington will also be freer to partner with Baghdad on initiatives that could win lasting Iraqi goodwill for the United States, such as support for the country’s coronavirus response.
This broader political shift could also constrain anti-American paramilitaries, which would be defying the country’s government and laws if they continued armed “resistance” against U.S. and foreign forces. These factions are not wholly immune to Iraqi politics; they have an ideology and an agenda, but they also must take into account Iraqi public opinion.

It may be a long shot. Still, this could be the United States’ best hope to remain in the country under relatively stable conditions, both to continue a counter-ISIL fight that is an important U.S. priority and to balance Iran’s influence in Iraqi politics. De-escalation in Iraq is a U.S. interest — it can help create conditions for the formation of a new government and for putting U.S.-Iraqi relations on more solid footing. That is what would represent a genuine strategic victory, albeit not a victory won on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Thursday, the US Treasury Dept issued the following:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated 20 Iran- and Iraq-based front companies, senior officials, and business associates that provide support to or act for or on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) in addition to transferring lethal aid to Iranian-backed terrorist militias in Iraq such as Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH). Among other malign activities, these entities and individuals perpetrated or supported: smuggling through the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr; money laundering through Iraqi front companies; selling Iranian oil to the Syrian regime; smuggling weapons to Iraq and Yemen; promoting propaganda efforts in Iraq on behalf of the IRGC-QF and its terrorist militias; intimidating Iraqi politicians; and using funds and public donations made to an ostensibly religious institution to supplement IRGC-QF budgets. The terrorist militias supported by the Iranian regime such as KH and AAH have continued to engage in attacks on U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq.
“Iran employs a web of front companies to fund terrorist groups across the region, siphoning resources away from the Iranian people and prioritizing terrorist proxies over the basic needs of its people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations for humanitarian aid including agriculture commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to help the people of Iran combat the coronavirus.”
Today’s designations were taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorists and those providing support to or acting for or on behalf of designated terrorists or supporting acts of terrorism.


The Reconstruction Organization of the Holy Shrines in Iraq (ROHSI) is an IRGC-QF-controlled organization based in Iran and Iraq whose leadership was appointed by the late IRGC-QF Commander Qassem Soleimani. Though ostensibly a religious institution, ROHSI has transferred millions of dollars to the Iraq-based Bahjat al Kawthar Company for Construction and Trading Ltd, also known as Kosar Company, another Iraq-based entity under the IRGC-QF’s control. Kosar Company has served as a base for Iranian intelligence activities in Iraq, including the shipment of weapons and ammunition to Iranian-backed terrorist militia groups. 
Additionally, Kosar Company has received millions of dollars in transfers from the Central Bank of Iran, which was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 in September 2019 for its financial support of the IRGC-QF and Lebanese Hizballah. Both the IRGC-QF and Hizballah have been designated by the U.S. Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
In addition, IRGC-QF officials have used ROHSI’s funds to supplement IRGC-QF budgets, likely embezzling public donations intended for the construction and maintenance of Shiite shrines in Iraq. 
ROHSI and Kosar Company are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned, controlled, or directed by, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF.
OFAC is also designating Mohammad Jalal Maab, the current head of ROHSI, who was personally appointed to the position by former IRGC-QF Commander Soleimani. Jalal Maab succeeded Hassan Pelarak, an IRGC-QF officer and co-owner of Kosar Company, who was selected by Soleimani to serve as his special assistant on an IRGC-QF-led committee focused on sanctions evasions activity. Pelarak also worked with IRGC-QF officials to transfer missiles, explosives, and small arms to Yemen, intensifying the Yemeni conflict and exacerbating one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes.
Mohammad Jalal Maab is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being a leader or official of ROHSI. Hassan Pelarak is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF. 
Alireza Fadakar, another co-owner of Kosar Company, has worked in Iraq on behalf of the IRGC-QF for several years and is an IRGC-QF commander in Najaf, Iraq. Muhammad al-Ghorayfi is an IRGC-QF affiliate and employee of Kosar Company who provides administrative support to Fadakar and has facilitated the travel of IRGC-QF officials between Iraq and Iran.
Alireza Fadakar is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF. Muhammad al-Ghorayfi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Alireza Fadakar.
Masoud Shoustaripousti, another co-owner of Kosar Company, has worked in Iraq on behalf of the IRGC-QF for several years and has laundered money for the group. Shoushtaripousti worked with Mashallah Bakhtiari, who used Kosar Company to launder money and worked with officials at the Baghdad-based branch of Iran’s Bank Melli to deposit funds for the IRGC-QF in Iraq. OFAC designated Bank Melli in November 2018, pursuant to E.O. 13224, for acting as a conduit for payments to the IRGC-QF which also used Bank Melli to dispense funds to Iranian-backed terrorist groups in Iraq.
Masoud Shoustaripousti is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF. Mashallah Bakhtiari is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.


Separately, OFAC is taking action against Al Khamael Maritime Services (AKMS), an Iraq-based company operating out of Umm Qasr port in which the IRGC-QF has a financial interest. The IRGC-QF leveraged Shiite militia group contacts to evade Iraqi government inspection protocol at Umm Qasr port and has charged foreign companies and vessels fees for services at its terminal at the port. AKMS also worked to sell Iranian-origin petroleum products in contravention of U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime.
AKMS is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned, controlled, or directed by, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF. 
OFAC is also designating Hasan Saburinezhad, also known as Engineer Morteza, who is involved in the finances of AKMS. As a representative of AKMS, Saburinezhad worked to facilitate the entry of Iranian shipments into Iraqi ports for the benefit of the IRGC-QF. Saburinezhad is also involved in IRGC-QF financial and economic activities between Iran, Iraq, and Syria, including smuggling activities along the Syria/Iraq border. Saburinezhad also runs smuggling routes to help Iraqi terrorist group KH and the IRGC-QF smuggle goods into Iraq from Iran, and has assisted KH in funding the acquisition and transfer of goods out of Iran.  
Saburinezhad is the Managing Director and a member of the board of directors of Mada’in Novin Traders (MNT), an Iran- and Iraq-based company associated with multiple IRGC-QF officials, including Vali Gholizadeh, who has worked with Saburinezhad for the benefit of both AKMS and MNT. 
Hasan Saburinezhad is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF. Mada’in Novin Traders is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned, controlled, or directed by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Saburinezhad. Gholizadeh is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being a leader or official of Mada’in Novin Traders.
OFAC is also designating Mohammed Saeed Odhafa Al Behadili, the Managing Director of AKMS, and Ali Hussein Falih Al-Mansoori, also known as Seyyed Rezvan, the company’s deputy managing director and head of its board of directors. Additionally, as of 2018, Al Behadili was focused on facilitating shipments and business transactions to circumvent U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime. Al-Mansoori has worked with IRGC-QF officials on business issues related to AKMS. 
Mohammed Saeed Odhafa Al Behadili is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, AKMS. Ali Hussein Falih Al-Mansoori is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being a leader or official of AKMS.
Sayyed Reza Musavifar, who is responsible for the accounts and finances of AKMS, has worked with the IRGC-QF to transfer money to terrorist militias, including KH and Lebanese Hizballah. In 2014, Musavifar transferred the equivalent of millions of dollars of foreign currency to senior IRGC-QF officials. 
Musavifar is a part owner of Middle East Saman Chemical Company, an Iran-based company that maintained an account at Rashed Exchange, an Iran-based exchange house used to convert currency for the IRGC-QF that was designated in May 2018 for being owned or controlled by Mohammadreza Khedmati, an individual designated for support to the IRGC-QF. 
Sayyed Reza Musavifar is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF. Middle East Saman Chemical Company is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for being owned, controlled, or directed by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Sayyed Reza Musavifar.
Additionally, Ali Farhan Asadi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, AKMS.


IRGC-QF official Sayyed Yaser Musavir has been deployed to Iraq extensively since early 2014 in support of the IRGC-QF, and he has coordinated operations between the group and Iraqi terrorist militia group officials. In 2019, Musavir coordinated with IRGC-QF officials to sell Iranian petroleum products to Syria. In 2018, Musavir coordinated propaganda efforts with AAH on behalf of senior IRGC-QF officials. AAH was designated in January 2020 by the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to E.O. 13224.
Sayyed Yaser Musavir is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF.
Mehdi Ghasemzadeh is an IRGC-QF official and is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF.


Shaykh ‘Adnan Al-Hamidawi is a Special Operations Commander for KH who in 2019 planned to intimidate Iraqi politicians who did not support the removal of U.S. forces from Iraq. KH, an Iranian-backed terrorist militia group that has been a U.S. Department of State-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and SDGT since 2009, receives lethal support from the IRGC-QF, and has been responsible for numerous terrorist acts against Iraqi, U.S., and Coalition forces in Iraq for over a decade, including bombings, rocket attacks, and sniper operations.  
Shaykh ‘Adnan Al-Hamidawi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, KH.


As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in or come within the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve and property or interests in property of blocked persons.
In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant transaction on behalf of individuals and entities designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through account sanctions.
Identifying information on the entities designated today.

In coronavirus news, TREND NEWS AGENCY notes, "Iraq's Health Ministry on Saturday confirmed two more deaths from COVID-19 and 48 new cases of infections with the virus, Trend reports citing Xinhua. The new cases included nine in the capital Baghdad, 10 in Najaf, six in Basra, five in Erbil and Duhok each, four in Muthanna, three in Karbala, two in Wasit and one in the provinces of Kirkuk, Sulaimaniyah, Diyala and Maysan each, the ministry said in a statement."  KURDISTAN 24 notes that the number of confirmed cases is now 506.

AFP notes:

Fearing the respiratory illness could somehow spread from the corpses to nearby population centres, Iraqi religious authorities, tribes and townspeople have sent the bodies of COVID-19 victims back to hospital morgues, where they are piling up. 
"We couldn't hold a funeral for him and haven't been able to bury his body, even though it's been more than a week since he died," Malik told AFP, his voice laced with bitterness.
Armed men claiming to be tribal leaders threatened Malik, his family and his friends, saying they would set fire to his car if they tried to bury the body in their area. 
"Can you imagine that across this huge country Iraq, there aren't a few square meters to bury a small number of bodies?"

Still on coronavirus, The whispers on social media that Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is gay won't go away.  In Iraq, you can be killed if someone suspects you are gay and Moqtada's thugs have killed many thought to be gay over the years.  Moqtada?  He'll never be killed even though many suspect he is gay because Moqtada has his own militia -- his only claim to power beyond his shrinking cult at present.  Moqtada's latest announcement is only yet again fueling the rumors on social media.  Yasmine Mosimann  (RUDAW) reports:

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is the latest global religious leader to ignore scientific consensus and accuse the LGBT+ community of causing the coronavirus pandemic.

“One of most significant things to cause the spread of this epidemic is the legalization of same-sex marriage,” said the top cleric in a tweet on Saturday, adding “hence, I call on governments to repeal this law immedietely, without delay.”

Sadr’s comments come at a time when coronavirus has rapidly swept across the world, devastating countries with and without same-sex marriage alike.

Stephen Hickey, British ambassador to Iraq, responded to Sadr’s comment in a tweet saying the United Kingdom “will not change its law on equal marriage, which they are proud of.”

“Instead, let's work together on a better foundation of medical and scientific advice to win the battle against coronavirus,” added the ambassador.

Amir Ashour, founder and executive director at IraQueer, says tweets like Sadr’s are dangerous for Iraq’s LGBT+ community: “We believe such tweets are not only misleading the public scientifically, but are also an attempt to weaponize the current situation and capitalize on the fear of people from the unknown to increase attacks against LGBT+ people.”

“Muqtada al-Sadr is leading a militia which has a documented history of torturing and killing LGBT+ people in organized campaigns using horrific means,” added Ashour in an email statement to Rudaw English.

IRAQUEER, an LGBTQ organization in Iraq, released the following statement:

We condemn Muqtada Al Sadr's statement which claims that same sex marriage is the cause of the coronavirus.  Such statements do not only lack scientific grounds, but are also weaponizing Iraqi people's fears during stressful times to target LGBT+ people. Making such ignorant statements will not only endanger LGBT+ people's lives, but will also put the lives of all Iraqis at risk.  The coronavirus is a pandemic that must be dealt with seriously and medically, and Muqtada Al Sadr's tweet will only distract us from what is really important, which is to save Iraqi lives.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Roundtabling the allegations against Biden and other things

C.I.: We're doing another roundtable and it wasn't planned but the Biden campaign really ticked me off so Ava and I called around and invited everyone to attend.  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jess, Ava, and me, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;   Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.  We'll be covering Joe Biden, the allegations of assault against him, Bernie Sanders, coronavirus and much more.  You're reading a rush transcript.  Mike, let's start with you.  Tell us about Tara Reade.

Mike: Sure.  First, to reply to four e-mails I got today, no, it's not the actress Tara Reid.  Tara Reade is a different person.  Among other things, she worked for Joe Biden's office in the 90s when he was a US Senator.  He is currently running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  This week, Tara Reade became an issue for Joe when Ryan Grimm reported on her allegations for THE INTERCEPT and noted that TimesUp! refused to help her.  He then discussed that on THE HILL's RISING with Krystal BallKatie Halper interviewed Tara about her story.  Those late to the party can refer to my "Tara Reade was assaulted by Joe Biden" and "Joe Biden assaulted Tara Reade" and C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot."  Anna North (VOX) explains, "Reade says Biden sexually assaulted her, pushing her against a wall and penetrating her with his fingers. When she pulled away, she says, he said he thought she 'liked' him."  The corporate media has been reluctant to cover the issue all week.  Tossing to Ann.

Ann: Thank you.  On Friday, with no real pressure from the media -- CNN, CBS, NBC, TIME, NEWSWEEK, THE NEW YORK TIMES, etc. -- none of them were covering it -- the Biden campaign finally 'responds' and now -- only now --  NEWSWEEK finds the story.

Biden's campaign team has categorically denied the allegations, which Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield called "false."
"Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims," Bedingfield said. "We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false."
Marianne Baker, who served as executive assistant to then-Senator Biden from 1982 to 2000, also rejected the assertions, saying that in the nearly 20 years she worked with Biden, she had never witnessed, heard or received reports of inappropriate conduct.

Ann (Con't): C.I.?

C.I.: And that's what really pissed me off and made me call for a roundtable.  Marianne Baker?  No one should take that woman seriously, she spent her whole career carrying a torch for Joe and everyone made fun of her for that.  But set that aside for a moment.  Tara Reade has made a very significant accusation.  It needs a response.  Where's Joe?  Don't give me 'his campaign responded for him.'  Not when his buddy Glenn Kessler 'fact checks' for THE WASHINGTON POST by repeatedly allowing conflicting statements from Joe and the campaign to be smoothed over and called 'truth' as long as either the campaign or Joe was correct.  Joe says the sun is purple, the campaign says orange and Glenn rushes in with "True!  Because a week later the campaign said . . ."  Joe is the candidate and we don't need a statement of "We" from the campaign, we need a statement from him.  Why is he so scared to issue a statement in his name?  The campaign is happy to issue a statement from Marianne Baker.  Who the hell cares what that motivated by self-interest piece of trash has to say?  She has every reason to lie.  It was her job to protect the workers.  Tara telling the truth means that Marianne didn't do her damn job.  You don't take a statement from trash like Marianne.  Her self-interest is showing.  Were she an impartial person, she wouldn't be providing a statement to the campaign.  This wasn't even the campaign steering the press privately to a friendly source.  Again, if Tara's telling the truth, this reflects on Marianne who clearly was not doing her job which was to ensure that the office was a safe environment for all.  She should not be seen as impartial or even as honest broker at this point.  And I'm so tired of women stabbing other women in the back.  When a charge of harassment or rape emerges, let it be sorted out.  To immediately respond with this sort of nonsense?  You're trying to stack the deck and people should not respect you for that.  There is no reason in the world for Marianne or any woman to weigh in right now.  The charge is not even a week old and it has not been investigated by the media.  More to the point, Joe has not made himself available to speak to the press so we don't need to hear from anyone -- certainly not horny Marianne who always wanted Joe to herself.  Ann?

Ann: When you called me about doing a roundtable, I was on the fence and then you told me about Marianne's statement and I wasn't on the fence.  I did not want to do a four a.m. roundtable -- which is when this started and when you thought it would probably have to for everyone to participate.  But then you told me about Marianne's statement and that pissed me off.  As  most of the people reading this know if they know my site, I am a rape survivor.  I did take my rapist to court.  I did win.  But when the court date was set, a few women tried to smear me, women who knew my rapist.  I wasn't telling the truth, he would never do a such thing, nonsense like that.  If someone wants to offer an opinion -- anyone -- after we've had this issue before us and it has been seriously investigated by the press, fine.  A woman or a man comes forward to say that they were assaulted or raped.  You don't have to believe them.  But take a moment to let a serious dialogue on the issue emerge.  Don't try to put your finger on the scales, don't try to spin the events.  Wait at least long enough for the accused to make a statement all by themselves.  Not through a campaign and certainly not via a "We" statement.  Tara made a serious allegation.  Is it true?  I don't know.  But I know it's a serious allegation and we should take it seriously.  We may all include that she's lying or that she's confused.  We may also end up concluding that she's telling the truth.  At this point, she had the courage to speak.  Joe Biden has refused to speak.  Until he does, I don't need to hear from his surrogates.  It's insulting to any person who has come forward to make a charge.  We need to hear from Joe Biden and only Joe Biden.  Efforts at anything else make me distrust Joe and lean towards Tara.

Marcia: I would agree.  The campaign is spinning and they issue a "We" statement on behalf of the campaign and then a personal statement from Marianne Baker but no personal statement from Joe Biden?  Why is Joe unable to make a statement?  Why is he unable to speak to the press about this?  Someone who's innocent should be able to.  They should be able to deny the charge -- all by themselves.  That Joe has not done that, as Ann was noting, makes me suspect of his actions.

Kat: I want to drop in the interview Krystal Ball has done with Tara Reade for THE HILL.

Ava: Done.  We're also going to include Krystal's take on the corporate media's response of silence to Tara Reade's accusations.

Stan: I'm sorry, if someone accuses me of assault, I don't need to struggle for words or time to respond.  That Joe does makes him suspect to me.  Wally?

Wally: I'm with you on that, Stan.  If you're innocent, why is it difficult for you to make your own statement?  It is suspect.

Betty: This Marianne Baker, why the hell are we supposed to believe her to begin with?  What has she ever done that makes her someone we should trust?

C.I.: Nothing.  She's not done a damn thing to earn anyone's trust.  Her time 'supervising' and "duties with respect to human resources"?  Don't make me laugh.  This occurs when he's paying women significantly less than men.  She took her job seriously?  No, she didn't.  If she wants to issue a statement, that statement needs to be, "I'm sorry that I allowed Joe to pay women 67 cents for every dollar a man made."  And that was in a 'good' year for women working for Joe, it dipped much lower in some years.  So if Marianne Baker wants to speak of hour she ensured HR practices were followed and blah, blah, blah, she needs to accept that she's a liar and the world knows she's a liar.  She's already allowed -- in her 18 years working for Joe -- women to be discriminated in pay. 

Betty: That is not a minor issue.  I had no help from my ex-husband, not even child support.  I had three kids.  I had to work, it pisses me off that Joe Biden or anyone is paying men more for the same job.

Ann: No one can afford to toss away money and let's also note the other issue, the insult being made when you do not have equal pay for equal work and the way you destroy and undermine a person's own self-confidence by doing that.

C.I.: Using the most favorable figure for Joe -- when he was paying women 67 cents for the dollar -- that means, if Betty worked for him, that she would take home $686.40 less in a year.  That would have meant that, in three years, she would have made $2059.20 less than her male co-worker working for Joe.

Betty: I mean, we're talking dentist bills, rent, school clothes, that would have been money my kids and I could have used.  And, let me leave my area of need for a moment.  It doesn't matter if the woman was Marcia who has no kids.  Being paid less than your co-worker because of gender?  That's outrageous and offensive.

Isaiah: If I can just toss this out, we're talking averages.  I bring that up because I'm willing to bet Marianne Baker ensured that she herself was paid well.  So she probably skews the average as a result and other women were paid far less well.

Rebecca: I'd agree that's very likely.

Marcia: Agreed and co-signed.

Elaine: I find it very telling that when Joe's accused by a woman, Marianne The Liar Baker wants to step in with a statement insisting nothing happened.  But when a news outlet documents the serious and troubling discrimination in pay, she has nothing to say.  I'm tired of people like that . . . person.  I'll keep it clean.  I'm tired of liars like Marianne.  She wants to flaunt her supervision expertise and her concern over human resources to shut down Tara but we already know she has no expertise or real concern over human resources because we're talking something as basic as pay -- you don't have to do an investigation, you don't have to speak to people, you just look at the numbers and there the discrimination is.  But that mattered not one bit to her.  So she just needs to shut the hell up and stop pretending that's she has any area of expertise to offer or that any of us take her seriously.

Stan: I guess, if confronted on that difference in pay, Marianne Baker would insist, "Those were different times."  Equally true, on office place harassment, those were different times as well.  She failed on one, she likely failed on all.  She has no standing and should shut her damn mouth.  No one needs her, no one wants her, shut the hell up.

Marcia: Agreed.

Rebecca: But if Joe couldn't hide behind Marianne's skirt, whose skirt would he hide behind?  I'm so sick of men who hide behind women when accused of assault or harassment and I am so sick of these women who provide cover for these men.

Ruth: And we should note that Ms. Reade is talking about assault and we have had other women already speak out about Mr. Biden making them uncomfortable: Lucy Flores, Amy Lappos, DJ Hill, Caitlyn Caruso, Ally Coll, Sofie Karasek and Vail Kohnert-Yount.

Rebecca: Good point.  And this allegation from Tara Reade -- who worked for him -- needs to be explored and assessed and, yes, Joe's pattern is an issue.  We need to figure out what is going on.

Cedric: Well no one needs to wonder for too long a Krassentein wife on Twitter explained that an expose on Tara was forthcoming.

Wally: I forget, who is the wife in that couple?  Brian or Ed?

Cedric: Brian Krassentein, of course.

Wally: Oh, right.  No one believes those two brothers are married to anyone except maybe each other.  And the 'wife' account really comes off like a way for the brothers to fake a person and get around the ban Twitter imposed on them because they're con artists.

Cedric: Time's up, game's over.  Time for Joe to address the allegation.  The con artists are rushing to smear Tara.  That includes Howard Dean.  So many of us were once taken in by him.

Elaine: I was.  I supported his 2004 run.  C.I. didn't.  She knew he was a fake ass even then.  He is a political operative and a liar.  In 2008, he refused to call out the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton, refused to even admit it was taking place or, after she had ended her campaign, that it had.  He's a liar and he's disgusting.  Cute the way, though, he enriched his own brother -- crooked, crony capitalism at its worst.

Trina: We've all been fooled before.  You can't live very long without a politician fooling you at least once.

Cedric: I've been fooled many times, sadly.  I think being a Democrat requires that I get fooled many times, I think it's written into the bylaws or something.

Mike: The bulk are liars and they proved it this week.  Americans need a minimum of $2,000 a month from the government during this pandemic.  Minimum.  The same Congress that's giving billions to business refuses to address the needs of the American people.

Kat: David Sirota Tweeted, "For $2 trillion, you could give $500 billion to frontline health care facilities and then cut a $10,000 check to every single worker in America.  Please try to explain to me how this wouldn't be better than giving much of the emergency stimulus money to corporations."

Stan: Exactly.

Marcia: And excuse me but corporations are supposed to produce something that sales.  So give the people the money and they'll buy what they want and the markets will determine how the corporations do.  People need money to ease the worries and the fears.  All the Congress did was enrich the corporations yet again.

Trina: They betrayed the people.

Jess: I would like to ask a rhetorical question: How did we get to this point when one of the two potential nominees for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination is accused of assault?

Ava:  A very good point.  And it has been worse before -- there was a time, 2016, when we had a nominee who was under criminal investigation so the FBI refused to use that term -- as though they conduct civil court investigations?

Jess: And they have worked overtime, the leaders of the DNC, to ensure that Bernie Sanders does not get the nomination.  While recent weeks have only raised more questions about Joe Biden -- including is he senile? -- recent weeks have demonstrated just how right Bernie is -- for this moment, for this time -- and I say that as a member of the Green Party.

Isaiah: I would agree with that.  The current pandemic makes it clear that we need Medicare For All.  As Trina has always said, it is a need not a want.  It is what the country needs.  The coronavirus pandemic has made that clear.  Currently, people are living in fear.  Some have already lost their jobs and fear losing their insurance.  Some are stressed every day as they wonder if they'll have a job next week and whether they'll have insurance.  If we had Medicare For All, no one would suffer from stress about whether or not they have insurance.  If we had Medicare For All, no one would have to fear economic wipeout if they get the coronavirus.

Rebecca: Right and, as C.I. has repeatedly pointed out, why is Bernie the only leader nationally who is talking about the "economic anxiety" that so many Americans are facing.  That is the correct term but does Joe Biden even want to acknowledge it?  No.  The stress from the economic anxiety could be easily avoided by Medicare For All and one other issue that'll I'll bring up when we're done talking about Medicare For All.

Trina: With the pandemic, America is only as healthy as its least insured.  Medicare For All would provide insurance for all and lift up our rate of health.  We spend so much money on so-called defense of the country -- that money goes to bombs and other weapons.  If we really want to defend our country, we need Medicare For All to ensure a strong baseline of health for every American.

Isaiah: It really is that simple.

Ruth: Senator Bernie Sanders Tweeted, "People today are dying, knowing they're sick, but they're not going to the hospital because they can't afford the bill that they'll be picking up.  That is an international disgrace.  We need to make health care a right."

Trina: We really do.  And this really is simple.  It really is.  But some want to lie and keep us from having what we need.  I will not forget what went down in 2019 and this year.  I will not forget the various whores that started out for Medicare For All -- or gave lip service -- only to then walk away and attack those who supported it -- that's Tiny Pete Buttigieg, that's Tulsi Fake Ass Gabbard, that's so many.  I hold trash like Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar responsible. So many of us have fought for Medicare For All and we have gotten so close this year but corporate media and corporate candidates have lied and whored to try to hold us back.

Cedric: The nonsense cries of "How are you going to pay for it!"  No one asked that about the defense industry, the ongoing wars, only when it's something that the American people need does that question even pop up.

Wally:  Heather Gautney Tweeted, "No Dem/Rep should ever get away with saying to Bernie Sanders 'how are you going to pay for it?' w/regard to Medicare For All or his other programs.  Our people are now paying dearly for decades of cuts to the safety net.  We must change course and think big."  She's a senior policy advisor to Bernie's campaign.

 Betty: I agree with that.  The safety net has been cut and gutted and no president has made an attempt to strengthen in.  Bernie wants to do that and that is apparently threatening to corporate America.  We should not forget that.  This crisis was the perfect time to strengthen the safety net but instead Congress is sending our money -- our tax dollars -- to corporations with a token, one-time payment of $1,200 for some Americans.

Mike: Nor should we forget, getting to Jess' point earlier, the way Barack Obama pulled the strings from behind the curtain, calling Tiny Pete, Amy Klobuchar and others to get them to drop out right before Super Tuesday to clear the field for Joe.  Barack's a bastard.

Cedric: Linguistically correct since his mother was not married to his father.  His drunk of a father came to this country with a wife already back in Africa.  We don't recognize multiple marriages in this country and bigamy is a crime.  Stanley the Ford Foundation whore was never married to Barack's father.  So, yes, he is a bastard.  And, yes, he needs to be called out for the work he put in trying to destroy Bernie's chances to get the nomination.  He is disgusting and his legacy is one of corruption and violence.  The Nobel Peace Prize committee revealed themselves to be a fraud by giving him a prize he hadn't earned and would not go on to earn.  He and his manly wife need to find another way to entertain because this is one African-American male who is not going to applaud Barack for his okey-dokes.

Kat: I think his ability to fool the people grows less and less each day.  But a large number of hopium addicts fell for St. Barack and many have still not faced reality.  They need that fix, they're addicts.

Betty: I hear the faux 'resistance' attack Donald Trump supporters and insist that they are fools to still believe him.  Uh, same with Barack supporters.  He was going to close Guantanamo, he wasn't going to reauthorize the Patriot Act, he was going to get US troops out of Iraq -- I'm confused, which promise did he keep?  When was he ever, as he promised to be, on a picket line?  When did he, as he promised to, end veterans homelessness?

Stan: Barack did nothing to help the American people and it should never be forgotten.  He oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from working people to the rich so the corporate media will lie for him so it is up to We The People to ensure that the truth about Barack is told and told frequently.

Ruth: That Mr. Obama and the corporate media worked so hard to try to destroy Bernie Sanders is the story of 2020 and probably the most important story of an election ever.  He spoke to the people and was supported by the people and that was a threat to the corporations so smear campaigns and lies were used to destroy him -- in full view of the American people.  It was the equivalent of an assassination.

Jess: I agree Ruth.  They've been using the media to assassinate for some time now.  And they did it to destroy Bernie.

C.I.: Ann and Jess are both Greens.  Did either or both of you want to weigh in on any Green issues?

Jess: I'll go first!  Ann wrote "I don't support Joe and I don't support Dario" this week noting she was switching from support of Dario Hunter to Howie Hawkins for the Green Party's presidential nomination.  She noted that Dario is doing nothing.  I like his views too but if he's not trying to campaign, he's useless.  If he got the nomination, then what?  Howie is going to campaign.  I understand her switch and I want to note that I'm now for Howie as well.

Ann: I'm not able to be a hypocrite.  I don't see how others are.  Kat and Betty were talking about the addiction some people have to a politician -- be it Barack or Donald -- and I'm not that way.  You're there to serve me, if you're not, you don't have my support.  Howie is busting his butt to get the word out on his campaign.  Dario doesn't really care.  He's made that obvious.  I've called Hidin' Biden out for his failure to show leadership during this pandemic, I have to call Dario out as well.  Otherwise?  I'm a hypocrite.  I kept waiting for him to get serious and he didn't.  So I'm done with Dario.

Jess: And I agree because all he's got to campaign on right now is social media and he has no presence on social media.  His campaign is too inept to even manage one daily Tweet.

Ann:  Not even one daily Tweet Monday through Friday.  It' pathetic.

Mike: I'd like to note, speaking of people having a social media presence, Bernie did another livestream yesterday.

Kat: And let me toss out that there is a new podcast of HEAR THE BERN.

Ava: Okay, good points and we're wrapping up.  Our main points are?  Tara Reade needs to be listened to.  Believed?  That happens after we listen -- we determine whether or not we believe her.  But her allegations have to get a public airing.  We can't just dismiss them.  Juanita Broaddrick did not get a fair hearing in the 90s and we still are grappling with how to make up for that.  Tara Reade could be a liar.  That's very much a possibility.  However, she may be telling the truth and this issue needs to be aired publicly and aired completely.  Joe Biden needs to speak to this issue and stop hiding behind campaign staff.  We don't need to hear from Marianne Baker or any other person in that office that enabled gender discrimination -- they're already suspect as a result of that.  Bernie Sanders was right to call for Medicare For All.  Bernie continues to provide leadership throughout this pandemic.  He's still in the race and we need him to be.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, March 27, 2020.  The corporate media continues to ignore the rape allegations against Joe Biden, coronavirus is a big pay day for corporations but not the people, a day after France announces that they are pulling their military out of Iraq four French hostages are suddenly freed, and much more.

Earlier this month, four US troops were killed in Iraq.  Tim Stanley (TULSA WORLD) reports on one of the four:

The state’s ongoing COVID-19 concerns didn’t prevent a fallen Oklahoma serviceman from receiving a stirring welcome home Wednesday.
Family members of late Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts of Owasso, who was killed two weeks ago in Iraq, were joined Wednesday morning by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, along with many friends and supporters, at the Tulsa Air National Guard Base for the return of his body.
After the transfer ceremony there, Roberts’ casket was transported to Floral Haven Funeral Home in Broken Arrow.

Emory Bryan (NEWS ON 6) adds:

Roberts was the first member of the Oklahoma Air Guard killed in action. He deployed from the 138th Fighter Wing with the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron in January, and died in a rocket attack, March 11th.
According to the Oklahoma Air National Guard, Roberts' wife Kristie is also a member of the 138th. He is survived by one daughter, Paityn.

NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

AP notes:

Ron Moseley was one of roughly 50 Patriot Guard riders who also escorted Roberts' body. He said he was “thrilled” by the turnout.
“We just want to let them know there’s still people who care,” he added.
Moseley said all the riders were instructed to comply with COVID-19 protocol, including social distancing rules, adding that he even brought “extra hand sanitizer."

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

The March 11th rocket attack that killed Roberts also claimed the life of Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias.

In other news out of Oklahoma, NEWS ON 6 reports:

One person has tested positive for the coronavirus at Fort Sill, officials at the Army post reported Thursday.
The person is a civilian employee who works for the Department of the Army and is a resident of Comanche County.
The person is isolation in their residence.

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders explained some parts of the bill that passed the Senate, the bill allegedly addressing the coronavirus.

Senator Bernie Sanders: This is a time in which we've got to spend what it takes.  This package provides the largest expansion of unemployment benefits in American history -- an increase of over $250 billion dollars.  Average Americans who have been furloughed will be able to receive up to 100% of their salary and their health insurance for four months.  Weekly unemployment benefits will increase by $600.  So if you are laid off, your unemployment benefit will increase by $600 above what it would otherwise have been.  And right now, the average benefit is about $364 for workers.  This expansion of unemployment will include part-time workers, it will include gig workers like those who drive Uber cars, it will include tip workers and the self-employed who would otherwise not be covered by unemployment insurance.  In addition, this bill provides $250 billion to go out in one-time checks of $1,200 for adults and $500 for kids.  Now let me be very honest, as some of you may know, I wanted much more.  I wanted every American family to be able to receive $2000 every single month that we continue to exist within the crisis. So this does not do that and this is clearly not enough to me, but that is what it is.  As you may recall, Republicans originally wanted to provide smaller checks or no financial assistance to the poor or very low-income Americans.  So in other words, I guess their mentality was that if you're poor, you deserve less even though you're struggling more than anybody else. But that is not going to be the case now.

Americans need that $2,000 a month.  They need it to take care of the bills.  They need it to keep the economy going.  They need it to reduce the stress and economic anxiety that millions are feeling right now.  It is appalling that Bernie is the only politician who has consistently spoken of the economic anxiety facing so many.

What got passed?  Bernie, Patty Murray and other senators had to fight for.  But it's not what's needed.  And so much of the rest of the bill is just garbage.  While some GOP members insist that we shouldn't provide welfare to the American people, they are more than willing to provide welfare -- which the American people will be paying for -- to corporations.  Moe Tkacik (IN THESE TIMES) explains:

The fundamental spirit of the CARES Act, the diabolical plutocrat bailout the Senate just passed, is summed up by the fact that it was inspired by the 60 billion dollar demand of a company whose business had not yet even been impacted by coronavirus. 
You read that right. When Boeing made its humble plea for $60 billion in coronavirus relief funds on Saint Patrick’s Day 2020, leading the pack of corporate supplicants, all its assembly lines unrelated to its notorious self-hijacking 737 Max jets, whose production halted in January, were still operating at normal capacity. They were still open in spite of the fact that Seattle public schools had been closed for six days at that point, in spite of the fact that every restaurant and bar in the state had been closed the weekend earlier, and in spite of the fact that the disease was quickly spreading among the factory workers, one of whom, a 27-year veteran of the company, would die within days. 
And they were still running in spite of the fact that demand for Boeing planes, thanks to the 737 crashes, is at an all-time low, with the company in January, a month in which its archrival Airbus sold 274 planes, reporting its first month in history without a single order. Which is to say, I can think of a lot of reasons Boeing might need a bailout. In December a space capsule the company designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station failed to launch into orbit during a test mission because its timer was eleven hours off, a potentially half billion dollar mistake that may cost the company billions more in lost NASA business to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. In January, the company revealed that its attempts to load a software fix onto the 737s was repeatedly crashing the planes’ computers. Not long after that, the company finally admitted that the three-year-delay on its KC-46 aerial refueling tanker was going to be, at minimum, another three years. And then of course there’s the $70 billion the company has squandered over the past decade on stock buybacks and dividend checks. 

What all of these problems have in common is that none of them has s**t to do with coronavirus. And neither does the $500 billion corporate bailout the Senate appended to an otherwise vitally important relief package. It’s an audacious power grab by the same bunch of monstrous grifters who’ve spent the past 20 years reverse mortgaging the American economy to finance Third World dictator lifestyles. It’s just like the secret multitrillion dollar scramble to throw money at insolvent banks in 2008, only a hundred times more craven, and even though the American public is also considerably less naive than we were when we assumed programs with words like “home affordable relief” might actually, you know, offer some relief to homeowners hit with extortionate mortgage payments, it doesn’t matter. We don’t matter. We don’t matter because we don’t have lobbyists.

It's a strong report, read it in full.  The House Democrats have not yet signed off on this bill.  They have the power to change it or nix it and push their own.  If Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to see Democratic wins and gains in the House next November, the easiest way to get there is to address the needs of the American people.  $2,000 a month is not extravagant -- we'll soon be in the summer months where electric bills will jump across the country, for example.  And Americans knowing that income is coming in every month throughout the pandemic will be under far less stress.  Stress weakens the immune system, did we forget that?  We're in the midst of a pandemic, we don't need to be weakening the immune systems of the people in this country.

US House Rep Pramila Jayapal: These have been incredibly difficult days for the entire country.  Across the country, what we're seeing is over 44,000 cases and 544 deaths.  First case diagnosed was here in Washington, just right outside of my district.  We had 2,200 cases and 110 deaths. Our state and local officials have acted very proactively and, frankly, we're very fortunate that we have a public health system in Washington state.  We are still very far  behind where we need to be and part of that is a far too uncoordinated federal response.  We also can't keep our health workers safe, grocery store workers, bus drivers, others who have to continue to keep our systems going.  But they're also dealing, you know, with "How do I take care of my mother? How do I take care of my kids? How do I pay my mortgage?" 

Bernie's campaign posted two videos yesterday.  That's in addition to all the work on social media that David Sirota, Nina Turner, Briahna Joy Gray and others with the campaign are doing.

What's Joe Biden doing?  Fumbling around, unable to get the name of a governor he chooses to mention right, unable to make sense even when appearing on THE VIEW where the ladies all but wipe his flop-sweat for him?

Are we about to see Hidin' With Biden again?  Is Joe about to disappear for a little bit again now that Tara Reade has detailed her allegations of assault by him?  #IBelieveTara is more popular these days than Joe is.

As one person Tweets:

It would be irresponsible and immoral to allow him on TV without asking him about Tara Reade #IBelieveTaraReade #IBelieveTara #IStandWithTara

So far, the corporate media has pretty much blacked out the story of the assault Tara describes.  See Mike's post last night for the coverage he found of the allegations.  Shane Ryan has covered the story for PASTE:

Yesterday, a woman named Tara Reade appeared on a podcast with former Paste contributor Katie Halper to discuss an incident that happened while she was working as a staff assistant for Joe Biden in 1993. This was not the first time Reade came forward—she told part of her story last year after Lucy Flores accused Biden of using his power to touch her inappropriately. At the time, Reade was smeared as a pro-Russian agent due to remarks she had written in a now-deleted Medium post. Reade has come forward again, and this time, in her interview with Halper, she went into specific detail about Biden’s alleged assault. You can listen to the audio here, and you can read below for Reade’s account, which has been transcribed on Reddit. Content warning: The text below contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

[A superior] called me in and said, “I want you to take this to Joe. He wants it. He wants you to bring it. Hurry. And I said, “Okay.” And it was a gym bag. She said, you know, take the gym bag. She called it an ‘athletic bag’. And you know she said he was down towards the Capitol and he’ll meet you. And so I went down, and I was heading down towards there and he was at first talking to someone. I could see him at a distance and they went away and then um we were in like the side. It was like the side area. And um he just said “Hey, come here Tara and then I handed him the thing and he greeted me. He remembered my name. And then we were alone, and it was the strangest thing. There was no like exchange really. He just had me up against the wall. And um I was wearing a skirt. You know a business skirt, but I wasn’t wearing stockings. It was kind of a hot day that day, and I was wearing heels. And I remember my legs had been hurting from the marble, you know of the Capitol. And so I remember that kind of stuff. I remember like I was wearing a blouse and he just had me up against the wall, and the wall was cold. And I remember he- it happened all at once. The gym bag – I don’t know where it went. I handed it to him and it was gone. And then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And um yeah and then he went um.. he went down my skirt and up inside it and he uh penetrated me with his fingers. And um I- uh he was kissing me at the same time, and he was saying something to me. He was saying several things, and I can’t remember everything he said. I remember a couple of things. I remember him saying first like as he was doing it, “Do you wanna go somewhere else? And then him saying to me when I pulled away he um got finished doing what he was doing and I kind of was pulled back and he said, “Come on, man. I heard you liked me.”

This morning at COUNTERPUNCH, Paul Street notes:

Speaking of corporate Wall Street Democrats, I hope everyone caught the drowsy Democratic Presidential frontrunner Joe “Look Fat” Biden’s dementia-driven comment on Trump’s call for opening up the U.S. economy: “We have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse no matter what.” Spoken like a true “dog-faced pony soldier,” Joe-Boy!
What the Hell did he mean by that? Don’t ask Joe “Vinyl New Deal” (“record players for the poor!”) Biden: he has no idea. He just wants to know what’s for dinner last night.

Now we have credible rape allegations against Biden from the former Biden staffer Tara Reade. For this and for countless other reasons (Google me up on Biden — I’ve done numerous pieces on his abject, mind-boggling awfulness) including his obvious dementia, the right-wing clown Biden must step down NOW.

The allegations are also discussed on POLITICAL MISFITS.

Turning to Iraq, BBC NEWS reports this morning:

Four workers from a French Christian charity who were kidnapped in Iraq in January have been freed, President Emmanuel Macron's office said.
The three French nationals and an Iraqi were abducted in Baghdad on 20 January at a time of heightened tensions.
Their release came a day after France said it would withdraw its troops from Iraq due to the coronavirus pandemic.
France's presidential Elysee Palace said it had made "every effort to reach this outcome".
"The president of the republic welcomes the release of our three nationals Antoine Brochon, Julien Dittmar, Alexandre Goodarzy and Iraqi Tariq Mattoka," it said in a statement.

Read the report in full and grasp what the BBC fails to note: The release of the four workers follows the announcement yesterday that France was pulling all of its troops out of Iraq.  We covered that development in yesterday's snapshot.

William Walter Kay (ANTIWAR.COM) sees a Tet Offensive looming:

Like their Vietnamese forebearers Iraqi national-liberationists demand the U.S. leave their homeland. Like their forebearers, Iraqi militias draw support from militaries within their country, and from foreign governments; yet, remain civilian/paramilitary affairs comprised of politicized week-end warriors with deep local roots.
Iraqi militia numbers match Victor Charlie’s pre-Tet numbers i.e. 70,000 combat-available. While not as centralized, Iraqi militias exhibit collective endeavour. In 2015 a 10,000-troop militia consortium overran ISIL’s Tikrit redoubt; breaking through ISIL’s perimeter at eight locations.
On January 3, 2020, upon leaving Soleimani’s funeral services (at Soleimani’s house) Iraqi militia chief Muqtada al-Sadr summoned a war-council for January 13 in the Iranian city of Qom. Kataib Hezbollah, Al Nujaba and others heeded.
At Qom, al-Sadr called for expelling Americans in a "humiliating manner" and for all contact with Americans to be criminalized.
Post-Qom, al-Sadr’s million-man anti-US march met expectations. Many marched in martyr’s shrouds. The 5,000-strong Kataib Hezbollah is closing outposts, repositioning arsenals and donning civilian profile. Al Nujaba posted a photo of a US helicopter in rocket-launcher sites, captioned: "the countdown has begun".
Militia surface-to-air capabilities remain unknown. Much of their kit saw service in Tet (AK-47s, RPGs, Katyushas). Distinguishingly, militias possess armoured vehicles, even M1 tanks.

Thirty-five times more U.S. personnel were in Vietnam 1968 than are in Iraq 2020. 

Kay is shaky on Moqtada -- most are when they don't follow Iraq daily -- maybe he'll develop this theme with an updated post that makes more sense, I'm struggling to understand what he's arguing.  He thinks he has a timeline but I see no indication that he grasps what the Tet Offensive in Vietnam was or how he's arguing it's coming.  I could see a Tet Offensive being carried out in Iraq -- it would be horrific -- but he doesn't seem to grasp what it was or what he's writing about.  It would be Moqtada attacking an area of Iraq -- most likely the Sunni and Kurd areas would be stand-ins for South Vietnam.  I don't see where he's made the case or even built the possibility in his writing.  He also fails to factor in ISIS which remains active in Iraq.

The following sites updated: