Saturday, March 28, 2020

A roundtable

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. - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

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:

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    Monday, March 23, 2020

    The Reality Show

    reailty show

    From March 25, 2018, that's "The Reality Show."  C.I. noted:

    Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Reality Show."  Donald Trump tells Rex Tillerson, Andrew McCabe, James Comey and Sally Yates, "You're fired."  Stormy Daniels explains,, "I just want to talk" while assuming a traditional conversation pose.  Vanessa Trump tells Donald Jr., "We are divorcing!"    Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    I like that comic.  And I really like C.I.'s description.  "While assuming a traditional conversation pose."  Oh, someone (Brent?) e-mailed asking why does C.I. explain the comic?  We have some community members who are blind.  Some use a device that reads and it will read text out loud but my drawings are jpegs and will not read them.  And we also have some community members who are blind and have a spouse who reads to them -- those members are why C.I. originally started putting in the descriptions -- the spouses had e-mailed because at first there was just the comic and no descriptions.

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

    Monday, March 23, 2020.  Hidin' With Biden may emerge today but let's hope Joe doesn't see his shadow and then hide out for another week, Bernie Sanders shows leadership yet again, rumors abound that the DNC might have their eye on a new candidate, Iraq's new prime minister-designate is fending off rumors, and much more.

    In the e-mails, a lot of you are noting this FOX NEWS article which opens:

    Have Democrats found an alternative to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination?
    Some seem to think so: The hashtag #PresidentCuomo -- referring to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo -- was trending on social media Saturday as the party’s voters continued to mull who should take on President Trump in November.
    Just a day earlier, the hashtag #WhereIsJoe was trending as some wondered why Biden's national profile seemed to shrink amid the crisis -- a situation Biden said he planned to address next week.

    Some of you are curious, some of you are in a panic.  I doubt that's a serious option; however, if it is, we could all do much worse than Andrew Cuomo.  Joe Biden, for example, is much worse than Andrew Cuomo.  Andrew is a leader.  I am supporting Bernie Sanders.  If Bernie does not get the nomination, I will gladly support Andrew.  If Joe gets the nomination, it is extremely doubtful I will be voting for him.

    There is his Iraq War history (see Ava and my "TV: The Lemmings" because it goes way beyond just voting for the war).  There is his inappropriate behavior with girls and women and his refusal to take it seriously.  There is his crooked family profiting constantly from his holding public office.

    But most of all, there is right now.

    The last two weeks have been his chance to prove me and anyone else who says he's not fit to be president wrong.  We don't say he's not ready because unless we live to be 120, Joe will probably never be ready.  But we note his inability to speak accurately, his other health problems, etc and we note that he's not fit to be president.

    The nation is in the midst of a crisis and it's Hidin' With Biden time.

    He could have proved me wrong.  But he didn't.  He failed to show leadership.

    Bernie Sanders?

    Here is Bernie hosting a roundtable on coronavirus live that was streamed online.

    That was Friday.  Saturday?

    The live stream teach-in.


    "AOC, OMAR, TLAIB AND BERNIE ON CORONAVIRUS: This is an unprecedented moment and we have got to think in an unprecedented way. Join our livestream on the coronavirus response with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, featuring musical guests including Grandson."

    While Bernie's addressing the American people, it's Hidin' With Biden time.

    He is unfit for office.  He has shown no leadership at all and he's no leadership because he has none to give.

    THE HILL notes that he has not spoken on camera since last Tuesday and that a big donor raised the issue in a fundraising call yesterday.

    So Joe's big donors are worried and that may get him off his lazy ass and he may something this morning.  Because his big donors are worried.

    Otherwise, he'd be silent.

    Useless Joe.

    Hidin' With Biden is not leadership.

    I want Bernie to get the nomination.  As the Stones long ago warned us, you can't always get what you want.  If Bernie doesn't get the nomination, I have no problem with Andrew Cuomo getting the nomination.  I know Andrew and I like Andrew.  But, whether you like him or not, I don't think you can deny that he's shown leadership in the last weeks while many others haven't.

    Bernie's shown leadership.  He is my first choice.  But, yes, I could accept Andrew over Joe because Joe's done nothing -- as usual.  This is the Joe we all know, inept, rudderless, unable to lead.

    The only thing America needs to hear from Joe is, "I'm closing my campaign and no longer seeking the party's presidential nomination."

    He's yet to say that and may never utter those words -- but they are clearly what his actions are stating.

    He's useless and he's made himself useless.

    The co-chair of Bernie's campaign, Nina Turner, Tweeted:

    Proud that our campaign is showing up and connecting every day. The resilience of our people has always come through in times of crisis. Together we pray, heal and inspire.
    is asking us to BE about it, not just talk about it. America needs an organizer-in-chief

    Bernie's showing up and Bernie's leading.  Joe?  He's making calls to big donors.  That's all he's doing.  Didn't Bernie and his supporters just raise money for others?  Marty Johsnon (THE HILL) notes that they raised over two million for charities that are working with coronavirus issues.  And Joe can't do that, he's too busy hitting up big donors for more cash for his campaign.

    COMING HOME.  A great film that Jane Fonda produced and that she won a Best Actress Academy Award for the film and a Golden Globe as well.  Though the soundtrack was never issued on vinyl or CD or (thus far) streaming, it's a strong soundtrack which includes this song by the Rolling Stones.

    You don't know what's going on
    You've been away for far too long
    You can't come back and think you are still mine
    You're out of touch, my baby
    My poor discarded baby
    I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time

    Well, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
    I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
    You are all left out
    Out of there without a doubt
    'Cause baby, baby, baby, you're out of time

    It's as though Mick and Keith wrote it about Joe.

    He doesn't know what's going on.  He's having a TV studio built in his home, that's what he told the mega donors, and he'll begin addressing the country that way.

    He needs a TV studio in his home?

    The world has truly passed Joe Biden by.  He apparently checked out some time in the 90s and is not even aware of the YOUTUBE stars that began populating the celebrity landscape in the '00s.  Or maybe he thinks they built TV studios in their homes too?

    He is so out of touch.

    The country is in a crisis and he'll address it . . . just as soon as the rec room's done being turned into a TV studio.

    He's crazy if he doesn't think people are noticing.  Sample comments from Twitter (search "Hidin with Biden"):

    Very presidential Sanders was telling people the path forward and having congress people share what they are doing. While lyin' Biden is hidin' away with staffers worried about how to prevent his gaffers. What'd he have, another aneurism?

    #WhereIsJoe Nobody knows and his fans are even freaking out thinking they can pull the same with Bernie. We're seeing the guy live in stream each day while Biden is Hidin'. #WhereIsJoeBiden #WheresJoe #BernieForPresident

    Bernie’s ass been everywhere this week...where you been? With hidinwith Biden??

    Watching him right now. He did a live stream round table discussing plans that need to be implemented. He had AOC, Omar and Tlaib on. You know, because his brain isn't stuck in the Jim Crow south of the 1950's. Where have you been? Hidin with Biden?

    Where's Bernie? He's where he always is. In the front line fighting for economic justice. Fighting to save the environment. Fighting to save American democracy. Fighting to end the greed & corruption that's destroying this country. THAT'S WHERE HE IS. #WhereIsBernie

    Very presidential Sanders was telling people the path forward and having congress people share what they are doing. While lyin' Biden is hidin' away with staffers worried

    The only leader that is presidential in this moment
    . We need someone who will #DumpTrump and isn't #HidinwithBiden. #WeDeserveBernie

    Joe has shown no leadership and the press has been fine with it.  It's the people who are calling it out and noting how non-presidential this is.  The press is acting like it's normal but that's the corporate press for you.  And, note, even Joe's mega-donors know this isn't normal and know that he can't continue to do this.

    The coronavirus is an issue around the world. Iraq is now on day five of its coronavirus curfew.  UN WOMEN IRAQ notes that women are greater effected in Iraq by the coronavirus because it places burden on the healthcare system -- nearly 1 in 5 women in Iraq are employed by the healthcare system -- and because women do the bulk of the care at work and home. They also note that the healthcrisis has exacerbated gender inequalities.   MIDDLE EAST EYE reports:

    Iraq has imposed a nationwide total lockdown until 28 March in order to enforce measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
    The country has logged a total of 233 coronavirus cases and recorded 20 deaths, but there are concerns that many more are going undetected as only 2,000 people of the country's 40-million population have been tested so far. 
    Most of Iraq's 18 provinces have already imposed their own local curfews, but the new measures will include the whole of the country, according to a  decision by the government's crisis cell.
    Schools, universities and other gathering places would remain closed, as would the country's multiple international airports, it said in a statement seen by AFP. 
    Many had feared a potential influx of cases from neighbouring Iran, where 1,685 people have died after contracting the Covid-19 respiratory illness, according to the latest official toll on Sunday. 

    Iraq first shut its 1,500km border with Iran about a month ago and deployed troops to enforce the decision.

    AFP adds, "Most of Iraq's 18 provinces had so far imposed their own local curfews but the new measures would include the whole of the country, according to a new decision by the government's crisis cell."  RUDAW's Lawk Ghafuri Tweets:

    The latest update from #Iraq - 33 new cases confirmed today by Iraq’s Ministry of Health. - 23 died, as 3 more died today after contracting #Coronavirus. - Total #COVIDー19 cases in Iraq so far is 266. #StayHome

    And AP's Samya Kullab adds, "Iraqi authorities began issuing #coronavirus-related instructions to the public via loudspeaker system that one civil defense official said hasn’t been used since wars of the 1990s.MIDDLE EAST MONITOR adds, "Meanwhile, the Iraqi Minister of Health, Jaafar Allawi, said the average number of coronavirus infections is 15 per day, stressing that the country is fully prepared to respond to any increase in the numbers of infected people."

    Daniel Benaim and Michael Hanna (THE NEW REPUBLIC) offer this assessment of Iraq:

    Iraq confronts coronavirus without a government in place. Iraq’s ineffectual prime minister, hamstrung by pressure from Iraqi militias and neglect from Washington, abandoned the job after the Soleimani killing. Millions of Iraq’s people live in urban slums; hundreds of thousands more Sunnis, displaced from areas once ruled by ISIS, are still living in tent camps, where social distancing will be impossible. Absent swift and affirmative action, coronavirus could spread quickly among the most vulnerable Iraqis. Yet the country’s political elites remain enmeshed in their parochial interests, unable to unite around new leadership at this critical moment. 


    The European Union Mission in Iraq has called for expediating the formation of a new Iraqi government in order to urgently deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
    The EU Mission expressed in a statement solidarity with the Iraqi people during this unprecedented crisis, adding that it hopes that a government is urgently formed to address challenges in the areas of health, security, politics, economy and human rights and particularly the disturbing spread of coronavirus.
    The mission called on everyone to deal with this threat very seriously, confirming the European Union’s unwavering support for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.

    Adna al-Zurfi is the current prime minister-designate and currently attempting to form a Cabinet in the designated 30 day period.  Adil Abdul Mahdi?  He was the prime minister and remains in a 'caretaker' role.  In November, he announced his resignation.  In December, he gave his I-really-really-really-mean-it-I'm-resigning notice.  Still no new prime minister.  Iraqi president Barham Salih announced Mohammed Allawi as prime minister-designate.  He wasn't able to put together a Cabinet and he announced that he was resigning as prime minister-designate.  As noted in the  Tuesday, March 17th snapshot, Salih has now named Adnan al-Zurufi prime minister-designate.  He has 30 days, per the Constitution, to put together a Cabinet or risk Salih naming someone else as prime minister-designate. 

    MEMO notes, "The Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq has disputed the appointment of lawmaker Adnan Al-Zurufi as Prime Minister-designate to form a transitional government on the grounds that the president has no constitutional right to appoint him."  Their power is questionable (as are their actions and have been for nearly two decades now), the federal court has already ruled Salih was within his rights.  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports he is under pressure and insisting that the US is not part of his being named prime minister-designate nor was there any backdoor deal:

    He noted that holding US citizenship doesn’t mean he was chosen by the US, rejecting such an “unacceptable alibi”.

    “I am mainly concerned about building balanced relations with all regional countries, as well as establishing balanced state relations with regional and international powers on the basis of shared interests while prioritizing our national interests.”

    Regarding his options in light of many crises, one of which is the relationship with his Shiite partners, Zurfi said he launched Sunday official consultations to form the new government.

    The Iraqi official stressed that he is working on forming a government in which all parties participate, pointing out that it is a crisis government due to the nature of the challenges it faces.

    He further noted that its mission will be only for one year, during which preparations will take place for holding early elections in the country.

    New content at THIRD:

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