Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, May 13, 2022. The confused Joe Biden furthers the ball of confusion, workers aren't protected, he's attacking Medicare, doing nothing to protect ROE V WADE . . .
Back in 1963, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland wrote "Can I Get A Witness?" These days, however, with out of control inflation, endless wars and so much more, the trio would need to write something like "Can i Get A Leader."
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden finally acknowledged that over 1 million Americans have now died from COVID-19. He did so by issuing a perfunctory written statement and a pre-recorded video, both of which were characterized above all by their cynicism and indifference to the lives of those lost and their loved ones still mourning.
Various COVID-19 trackers rely on different data sets, and the Biden administration artificially delayed official recognition of this horrific milestone, choosing to use the Reuters tracker. The 1 million death milestone was first reached by Worldometer nearly two months ago on March 22, which only the World Socialist Web Site commented on at the time. This was followed by the NBC and News Nodes trackers last week, which led to a handful of additional comments in the corporate media but continued silence from the White House.
Estimates of excess deaths, rarely referred to by politicians and the media, found that by mid-December over 1 million Americans had died directly or indirectly due to the pandemic. Today, excess death estimates place the real US death toll at above 1.2 million, while over 20 million people have likely perished worldwide due to the pandemic.
Biden’s written statement comes out to just 213 words and has the character of being drafted by a low-level staffer. After repeating the hackneyed military phrase from his State of the Union speech, “One million empty chairs around the dinner table,” it states, “I also know the ones you love are never truly gone. They will always be with you.”
No, in fact, all of those killed by COVID-19 are gone forever. Their lives were needlessly cut short due to the policies implemented by the entire American political establishment. The majority of the 1 million deaths in the US have taken place under the Biden administration which has pursued a vaccine-only approach and adamantly refused to close schools and nonessential workplaces as part of a broader strategy to eliminate the virus.
The most absurd portion of Biden’s statement reads, “As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before. It’s critical that Congress sustain these resources in the coming months.”
What incredible hypocrisy!
As soon as the Omicron BA.1 subvariant began ripping through the US last December, the Biden administration spearheaded a bipartisan, media-backed campaign to “numb” the population to mass infections and deaths, lift all mitigation measures, and do everything possible to falsely portray the pandemic as over.
This reached a crescendo at the April 30 White House Correspondents’ Association propaganda dinner, at which Biden declared, “We’re here to show the country that we’re getting through this pandemic.” Over the past two weeks, the politicians and reporters present at the dinner have deliberately concealed dozens and possibly hundreds of infections that took place at the super-spreader event.
Biden’s claim that the US has “more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before” is a bald-faced lie. Federal pandemic funding dried up in March, and over 30 million uninsured Americans can no longer access free testing or treatment.
But he's sending more money to Ukraine. In fact, he's sending $40 billion more. Americans are suffering but Joe has decided it's the best thing to instead support a reacist regime in Ukraine, one in place only due to Joe and Barack Obama's efforts in 2014 when they overturned an election there.
When the country needs a leader who works for the people, Joe biden decides to work for Ukraine. As a character in Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Overheard Conversation" asked, "Does he think its a U.S. state?"
Despite the hogwash from aging pigs like Bette Mdiler, no the American people are not saying, "Let's sacrifice our own future so that some rcists in Ukraine can have the lives we con't." Patrick Martin (WSWS) points out:
No less historically important are the domestic implications of the Ukraine war for the working class in the United States. It is working people who will pay for this war, as they have paid for all the overseas acts of aggression by US imperialism.
The $40 billion bill approved by the House of Representatives, and expected to pass the Senate within days, brings the total allocated to the war in Ukraine in less than three months to a staggering $53 billion. This new spending is larger than the total budget for the US Marine Corps. It is greater than the entire budgets of five federal departments, or of all independent federal agencies combined. It is more than total federal spending on housing and homelessness, more than total state and federal spending on public health.
What would $53 billion buy, if this sum was devoted to the needs of working people? It could hire 500,000 teachers at $106,000 a year in salary and benefits, or a similar number of nurses. It could provide a $6,000 raise to every nurse, teacher and nursing home worker in America (9.25 million workers). It could provide a $1,000 raise to every worker in America making less than $15 an hour (52 million workers).
None of these things, of course, will happen because the American government operates not in the interests of working people but of the financial aristocracy.
We'll note THE KATIE HALPER SHOW on this topic.
Joe likes to pretend he's pro-worker. He likes to pretend that. And the media helps him out having never once seriously questioned how a US senator could amass the weatlh Joe did. Excuse me, how a sitting US senator could legally amass the wealth Joe did. The greed is an addiciton and Joe got sloppy with the family grift which is why Hunter's in trouble today.
But look at Joe's salary from the Senate and then as Vice President and note that there's no way he ended up legally with the pot of gold he has.
Joe's not a friend of the worker. And he focuses on things like destroying Medicare. Branko Marcetic (JACOBIN) reports:
There’s good news and bad news about the Joe Biden administration’s ongoing pursuit of the Direct Contracting Entity (DCE) program, also known as ACO REACH. The bad news is that the idea remains a threat to the health of seniors, and an alarming Trojan horse that could lead to the privatization of Medicare. The good news is that resistance to it is beginning to gain some traction.
Late last month, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution “to stop privatizing the United States Medicare system.” The resolution, which warns that the introduction of the DCE pilot program “opened the door to the complete privatization of Medicare” and urges equity issues be resolved “within the traditional Medicare system,” was introduced by councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who is far from being a radical. (While a progressive, Mosqueda has repeatedly butted heads with socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant, watering down the latter’s proposed “Amazon tax” — a sign of how potently unpopular the Medicare contracting program is.)
Three days earlier, the Arizona Medical Association (ArMA), the state’s four-thousand-member-strong American Medical Association (AMA) chapter, passed a similar resolution in its House of Delegates, calling for the program to be “terminated” and warning that seniors could find themselves thrown into a moneymaking system that “limits care to provide maximum profit.” The ArMA, which has previously voted down a resolution backing a single-payer health care system, also based its opposition on concern for doctors, pointing out they could end up enrolled in the program without choosing to be.
It’s a good sign for DCE’s opponents, for whom half the battle has involved simply alerting people to its existence. Though the controversial program began under Donald Trump, the Biden administration has quietly continued it, with a late groundswell of opposition earlier this year forcing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to rebrand it as “ACO REACH” — but fundamentally changing nothing about the actual program or what led to such an outcry in the first place. All the while, seniors continue to get mail informing them their doctor is now part of the pilot program, but not to worry, because their Medicare benefits haven’t changed.
Danny Haiphong (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) explains:
Amazon Labor Union (ALU) organizer and former Amazon worker Chris Smalls testified in a Senate Banking Committee hearing called by Bernie Sanders on May 5th to investigate whether Amazon and other monopoly corporations that violate labor law should receive federal contracts. That Amazon would receive federal assistance despite accumulating record profits amid a global pandemic is bad enough. Worse yet is that it took months before so-called progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged the efforts of workers organizing a union within the corporate behemoth.
The hearing proceedings went viral after Smalls replied to Republican Senator Lindsay Graham’s screed against the “demonization of companies” by reminding him that “the people are the ones who make these companies operate, and when we're not protected, the process for when we hold these companies accountable is not working for us, then that's the reason why we're here today.” Smalls continued: “It's not a Democrat or Republican thing. It's a workers' issue, and we're the ones that are suffering.”
Smalls affirmed a fundamental truth of Marxism on Karl Marx’s birthday. Marx argued that the development of capitalism is characterized by the socialization of labor and the concentration of the means of production in private hands. The workers drive all production but it is the capitalist class which appropriates the surplus. Surplus under capitalism is derived from the unpaid labor of the worker; the basis of exploitation and profit.
Amazon is the quintessential example of Marx’s thesis. The mega-monopoly is the second largest employer in the U.S. and has posted record profit margins during the COVID-19 pandemic . Amazon’s profits are derived from the super exploitation of the working class. Low wages, long hours, and disastrous working conditions subsidize Amazon’s growth. It also helps that the corporation pays zero in federal taxes. Smalls thus made a positive contribution to the spread of class consciousness at the Senate hearing by pointing out the centrality of the working class in the production process.
However, not everything about the ALU’s visit to the halls of Washington was positive. In typical Democratic Party fashion, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris exploited the moment to score a photo opportunity with the ALU. Bernie Sanders congratulated Biden for “standing” with union organizers and the trade union movement.
In many ways, this obvious example of electoral posturing makes sense. Joe Biden’s public favorability rating has declined significantly in recent months amid the persistence of COVID-19, rising inflation, and the U.S.’s role in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The problem is that Joe Biden has demonstrated that his administration has nothing to offer the trade union movement, particularly the ALU. Amazon scored a Biden-approved contract from the National Security Agency (NSA) worth $10 billion in late April . The contract runs in complete contradiction to Biden’s campaign promise to end federal contracts to union-busting corporations such as Amazon. Furthermore, Biden has dragged his feet in convincing so-called “moderate” Democrats to support the PRO Act. The PRO Act would remove barriers to unionization by placing heavy restrictions on employers that illegally interfere in the organizing process.
Joe Biden shook hands with Chris Smalls but has shown little indication that he will move an inch in favor of working people. This is the same Joe Biden that voted for the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the elimination of welfare during the Clinton administration. It’s also the same Joe Biden who stayed silent during the unionization campaign at the Bessemer Amazon facility last year while nominating union-busting former president of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden , to head his Office of Management and Budget. And we shouldn’t forget that Biden served as Barack Obama’s Vice President when the Democratic Party held a majority in Congress yet failed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA ), a less comprehensive version of the current PRO Act.
And Kim Kelly (IN THESE TIMES) makes clear that abortion rights are workers' rights:
Anything less than a full-throated defense of workers’ rights — including their right to to make their own decisions about their health, body and sexual life — is unacceptable.
There is no time to mince words: Abortion rights are a labor issue, and this is a moment in which the labor movement needs to make clear that bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom are core issues that unions will fight tooth and nail to preserve. The right to control our bodies is part and parcel of our centuries-old battle to control our labor, and they cannot be separated from one another. It matters that so many workers are not only at risk of unwanted pregnancy themselves, but are also expected to engage in reproductive labor—the so-called “women’s work” that is so often undervalued and underpaid (or wholly unpaid). It matters that pregnant workers face discrimination as well as physical and medical hazards on the job, and that far too many don’t have access to quality healthcare or paid parental leave. It matters that workers who do not want to have a baby or cannot do so safely are about to have that choice stolen from them, and that forced birth is the only option on offer from the most powerful court in the land (as illegitimate as it is and always has been).
For those who can’t afford to travel to other states or overseas to get the care they need — the poor and the working class, the very people who the labor movement has pledged to liberate and uplift — this assault on abortion rights is a disaster, one that can lead only to desperation and death. Many have already been living through it, and now that the net has widened, abortions will still not stop — they will just get more dangerous and less accessible, and more lives will be destroyed as a result. Low-income women workers of color will be hit the hardest. “Our patients of color already face deep systemic barriers to accessing health care, and now would bear the most harmful impacts of this ban, including potential deadly consequences of forced birth,” Ross noted in her statement.
nd of course, Joe Biden's doing nothing to protect ROE V WADE. He offers mealy mouthed statements. He lived in the Senate. Grasp that. H e knows better than anyone how to get Congress on board with something. He's the one who told most of us about Barack's plane ride with Dennis Kucinich. Remember that? ObmaCare was a faud and Dennis said so. Dennis made clear he would not vote for it. Ever. Then Barack took a plane ride with Dennis and explained how he would pour his weight behind a Democratic challenger and Dennis would be out of Congress. Dennis caved and announced, when he got off the plane, that he was going to vote for ObamaCare.
Joe's told that story for years -- including to me. so he knows how to strong arm when carrots don't work. But he does nothing of value. Olivia Alperstein (THE BLACK COMMENTSTOR) observes:
Forget A Handmaid’s Tale — we’re at risk of going full Crucible: “I saw Goody Proctor at the clinic. Burn the witch!”
But Roe doesn’t just protect people seeking abortions. The rationale underpinning that ruling protects all of us from government interference in the most intimate areas of our lives: who we love, who we marry, and how and whether we choose to raise a family.
If Roe falls, the right to take birth control — something relied on by millions of people of child bearing age, including me — could also become a thing of the past. So could the right to love or marry someone of the same gender, or a different race. All of these deeply personal decisions could end up falling under the purview of politicians.
Joe does nothing. He leads no serious effort. He uses no knowledge he has from living four decades in the Senate. He's not helping anyone.
Nor is NOW or any other organization providing cover for the Democrats and telling you that the answer is oting for them this November. No, that's not an answer. The answer is demanding that the party act now and mking it clear that we won't be held hostage.
It's a "Ball of Confusion" as Tina Turner sings.
Why, because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run but you sure can't hide
Vote for me and I'll set you free
Rap on, brother, rap on
And it seems nobody's interested in learning but the teacher
Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration
Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation
Oh yeah, that's what the world is today
Woo, hey, hey
Young folks walking round with their heads in the sky
The cities ablaze in the summer time
Shooting rockets to the moon, kids growing up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will solve everything
-- "Ball of Confusion," written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, first recorded by the Temptations for their GREATEST HITS II album..
In Iraq, the most under-reported story of the week -- in the US press -- is that the US military shot up eleven houses in Iraq in what the US government is terming a "mistake." That's not resulted in any real coverage or even questions at press briefings by the government.
Meanwhile, the political stalemate continues. Suadad al-Salhy (MIDDLE EAST EYE) reports:
Fresh from offering Iraq’s independent MPs the chance to nominate a prime minister, Muqtada al-Sadr is already looking at the next option to break the country’s political stalemate: keep Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
It’s seven months now since Iraqis went to the polls in October’s parliamentary elections, and fierce rivalry between two camps - one led by influential Shia cleric Sadr, the other backed by Iran - has stopped anyone from forming a government.
A week ago, Sadr called on the 40 or so independents elected to parliament to form their own bloc and nominate a prime minister that his alliance - made up of Sadr’s MPs, Sunni parties and the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) - would support.
There are three leadership positions in the Iraqi government: Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament and President. There was no change in the Speaker. Now Moqtada's leaning towards keeping the same prime minister. Why did people even bother to vote>
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