Saturday, July 29, 2023

Joe and Hunter Biden

 Joey Garrison (USA TODAY) reports:

You can end any speculation about a possible Hunter Biden pardon.

The White House ruled out President Joe Biden using his presidential authority to pardon his son Hunter, who is set to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax and gun charges.

"No," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday when asked whether there is any possibility Biden would pardon Hunter Biden, putting to rest a theory pushed by conservative critics.

A plea deal in Hunter Biden's criminal case unraveled in Delaware federal court Wednesday after a judge raised concerns about the terms of the agreement including assurance Hunter Biden's legal team sought for immunity from any other criminal charges.

President Biden has given no indication that he planned to pardon Hunter Biden, but that hasn't stopped some on the right from suggesting he might. Former President Donald Trump issued pardons and commutations to multiple political allies including Stephen Bannon and Roger Stone.

Where I stand?  If President Biden says he is not going to pardon his son, I believe him.  Not everyone I know is so kind or trusty.  My oldest son says that just means he would use something else instead of a pardon -- clemency, for example.  My granddaughter Tracey says she believes Mr. Biden would pardon him and then tell the public that he himself never said he would not and that his spokesperson spoke without his permission.

What do you think?  

I could be wrong but that is where I fall on this: If the President said he would not do it, then I believe he would not do it.

Crazy Jonathan Turley is trying to 'adjust' to the news having already written his column about how President Biden would pardon his son and then announce he was not running for re-election. 

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

Friday, July 28, 2023.  A helicopter crashes in Iraq (a US helicopter, in case you weren't paying attention before), protests outside the banks, RFK Junior tries to spin a likability poll into how someone plans to vote, a church is attacked, and much more.

Starting in Iraq, FIRST POST reports, "A military helicopter from the U.S.-led coalition crashed on Thursday in northern Iraq while making an emergency landing attempt, the coalition said in a statement, adding that no one was hurt."  THE NEW ARAB notes the official reason being given for the crash is an " in-flight mishap" -- which, of course, could be anything from a blown fuse to having been hit with missile.   THE CRADLE provides this context:

A widely held view among Iraqis is that the US helped ISIS grow in Iraq and Syria to weaken and divide both countries. The US then sought to maintain influence in Iraq by joining the fight against ISIS once it was initiated by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and the Iraqi army, with the strong support of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

ISIS was defeated and lost its territory in Iraq in 2017 and Syria in 2019. However, remnants of the group remain and carry out attacks from time to time in both countries.

US officials cite the ongoing presence of ISIS as a pretext to maintain forces in both Iraq and Syria.

Currently, there are nearly 3,500 US troops and coalition troops in Iraq who train and advise local security forces.

The US coalition forces are stationed at bases shared by the Iraqi military, including the Ain al-Asad base in Anbar, Camp Victory near Baghdad's international airport, and Harir airbase in Erbil, the IKR capital.

In other news, financial unrest leads to protests in Iraq.  AP reports:

Dozens of people protested in front of the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad and bank owners called for official action to stem a sharp increase in the dollar exchange rate Wednesday, after the United States blacklisted 14 Iraqi banks.

Over the past two days, the market rate of the dollar jumped from 1,470 dinar per dollar to 1,570 dinar per dollar. The jump came after the US listed 14 private Iraqi banks among banks that are banned from dealing with US dollars due to suspicions of money laundering and funneling funds to Iran. 

The currency fell after new action by the US government to curb the flow of dollars to sanctioned Iran. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the US Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York barred 14 Iraqi banks from dollar transactions. Restriction on US dollars limit the currency's supply, thus boosting its value against the dinar. 

The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York did not respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment.

The Central Bank of Iraq issued a statement in response to the news, saying the barred banks can still conduct business in Iraqi dinars. The Central Bank also said that these banks only constitute 8% of foreign transfers, according to a statement.

The dinar’s depreciation led to protests in Baghdad outside the central bank on Wednesday, with people demanding government intervention to prevent the currency from falling further.

ALJAZEERA notes, "The protests outside the central banks were organised by the Thuwar Tishreen (October Revolutionaries), a group that started mass protests in 2021, calling on the government to take action to halt inflation."

Let's turn to the US and let's zoom in on the pathetic.  A friend of several decades is someone I often rag on and I'm not going to name him today but I've probably done so before, so if you figure it out, good for you.  But when he reads this, I didn't name you in this.  So my issue with him for years has been that he's the male Joan Crawford onscreen.  I find his films formulaic but, most of all, I don't like them because he's Joan Crawford.  Now I like THE DAMNED DON'T CRY, for example, it's a great film noir.  But all the suffering and all the melodrama needed to elevate Joan above everyone else in the cast is present in his films and so is the victimization that is the hallmark of the average Joan Crawford character.

I bring that up because I finally get why the right-wing is so obsessed with masculinity.

I get it.

It's because they have none.

They have no strong men.  They only have strong shoulders -- shoulder pads -- because they're an army of Joan Crawfords.  They can't stop playing the victim.  

It's there in Ronald DeSantis crazed attack on the world, it's there in pathetic Jason Aldean who secretly edited the video recently to take out some of the more objectionable parts and wants to pretend like it's the same video that's been airing this whole time and that he's the victim.

It's so bad even Mona Charen is calling him out in her syndicated column (briefest up to speed for those who don't know Charen, no one would ever call her "left" or even "center"):

And it’s notable that some awfully famous images of rioters attacking an iconic American landmark, desecrating the American flag and spitting on cops — those from Jan. 6 — didn’t make the cut. 

Asked if he would play the song even after the controversy, Aldean took refuge in the familiar pose of victimhood. Because he’s being criticized, he thinks he’s being “canceled.” Gushing about his “bada—” fans, he whined that “Cancel culture is a thing ... which means try and ruin your life, ruin everything.” Of course he would perform the song, he declared, because “the people have spoken and you guys spoke very very loudly.” So matters of decency get decided by plebiscite? 

Look, Aldean imagines that he is merely standing up for the “feeling of a community that I had growing up.” But if he really was raised with good values, where is the fellow feeling? Where is the sense of community with other Americans who may not be from the same town but are just as worthy of respect and consideration as his high school buddies? If this were really a call to community, he would have included at least one or two images of Americans who weren’t white or rural. Don’t we expect all Americans to honor their neighbors and compatriots? Isn’t that part of what being “raised up right” includes? Don’t rural people reach into their wallets when hurricanes or tornadoes hit cities and vice versa? 

Aldean’s defense is fatuous. The music video is belligerent and divisive. In this age of ugly partisanship, the cheapest clicks can be purchased with us-vs.them incitement. It’s unworthy. Don’t try that in a good country. 

When I read her column and thought of how pathetic Aldean is, I thought of how pathetic Jonathan Turley is who uses social media to divide the country constantly and can always be found inciting attacks on DISNEY, Bud Light, Target and anyone objecting to Aldean's racist video.  

They play the victim because that's how they see themselves.  It's why they're so enraged.  It's why they attack everything.  They're not men, if they're lucky they're boys.  But they're not men.  A Joan Crawford character was many things but it was never a man -- not even in JOHNNY GUITAR.

If you're not getting it, go to YOUTUBE, search "REASON" and pull up that nonsense outlet's interview with victim Matt Taibbi.

Did you know that poor Matt is so troubled and so hurt and it's all because, grasp the tissue, he refused to support Hillary Clinton in 2016 and, sob, sob, he didn't get on board with Russia-gate.  The left turned on him!  The left turned on him!!!!

Grow the hell up, you fat f**k.  You're the most spoiled brat in the world -- and it shows in that creepy baby face.  Have you been out in the sun ever?  To be fat and have that skin?  We're talking THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS grotesque.  

And most of the left does not care one way or another who you voted for in 2016.  

Hillary Clinton, in 2016, wanted to be Barack Obama in 2008 which is why she ran such an awful campaign.  It was inauthentic and it relied on celebrities.  Not only did she not photograph with them as well as Barack had -- it's an issue of body types and an issue of crips lines in the clothing -- Hillary didn't have it -- but it just never rang real and only reminded people of other times when she'd come across fake thereby daily playing to her weaknesses and elevating her negatives.

But here's the thing, Matty, speaking out against Hillary didn't cost you a damn thing.

I was opposed to Barack.  I knew, from Elaine and my meeting him before he was in the US Senate, that he had no plan to end the Iraq War.  He made that clear which is why closed our check books and left the fundraiser.  We had planned to max out because we were -- and remain -- against the war.  But when we got our face time and raised Iraq to this 'anti-war' person and he told us it didn't matter anymore because "we" were in Iraq now, we left.

Barack didn't end the war.  He didn't even ever pull out all US troops.  There was a drawdown -- as the Pentagon rightly termed it -- not a withdrawal.  And we had noted that Barack would send troops back into Iraq -- if elected president -- and we'd done that by looking at the raw interview NYT did with candidate Barack as opposed to the garbage filth they published.  He said very clearly -- but they didn't put it in the article -- that he was fine with pulling troops out and with putting them back in.

ISIS was his excuse for that in 2014.  

That's probably not going to cause anyone to spew their coffee today.  But the media was for Barack at the time.

And he was a very popular president.

We went campus to campus speaking out against the war before he was president and we did it after.  And telling the truth, especially in the weeks and months right after the election?  People didn't want to hear that.  They wanted to believe that the war was over, all the US troops were coming home, blah blah blah -- Hillary had a funny on that in 2008 ("the heavens will open . . .").  

Point being, you tell the truth.  If you have any integrity, you tell the truth.

I did.  I was booed.  Didn't bother me, didn't make me cry.  It wasn't the first time I'd ever been booed.  I know how to work a crowd and, each time, was able to turn it (the booing) into a joke so we could laugh together and them move back to the topics and reality at hand.

I think if that had happened to Matt, 15 years later, we'd find him still seated on that stage in a pool of his own urine as he sobbed.

Grow the hell up.

You chose a position.  Are you happy with what you chose to fight for?  Then you won.  Stop the whining.  Stop pretending you're a victim.  

And stop pretending that you're transphobia isn't the reason most people hate you today.

You actively courted the right-wing and you served them.  You betrayed yourself as a journalist -- hell, even Glenn Greenwald told THE VANGUARD that he wouldn't have agreed to the terms you did to get access to The Twitter Files.  You are an embarrassment.  You are a goober.  You are this fat, ghostly white sloth that is physically repugnant.  

You're a grifter and people caught on.

No, there was no excuse for you to be attacked in a Congressional committee and we defended you on that.  But you're not eleven years old, grow the hell up.

If these pathetic right-wing males could, we'd have a better world.  But too many of them are nursing perceived hurts and feeling victimized.  How pathetic.

Did someone say RFK Jr?

He's begging money again.  He's trying to sell the latest Harvard-Harris poll as a win.  He's moved nothing and he thinks that's a victory.  "I'm the same as I was last month," he brags.  

The numbers aren't increasing, are they?  Not the numbers of people who support you.  You had name recognition and you've failed to build on it.  

And the poll doesn't say what he wants it to.  In the campaign e-mail, the campaign's insisting that it means he would be president if the election were held today.  That's not what it means at all.  This was not an issue of who would you vote for?  That question was not asked -- which is why various people listed -- such as Hillary -- are people who aren't even running for office.  He's such a liar.

When conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. isn’t busy spouting racist and antisemitic trash, he can be found campaigning for a clearly doomed 2024 Presidential nomination. And the way he’s doing it…not exactly the most creative approach.

Over the weekend, RFK Jr. spent some quality birthday time with his son Conor, who recently celebrated his 28th birthday. But while Kennedy Jr.’s blatant attempt to cash in on his son’s abs might seem like an obvious move out of the wacko candidate’s playbook, it’s not quite working as intended.

Let’s be clear: Conor is a fine-looking gentleman, and yes, those abs could certainly have launched a thousand ships in a simpler time—in fact it’s rumored that Taylor Swift’s 2012 Red track “Begin Again” was written about the socialite. Still: nobody’s biting, and for good reason.

Basically…it’s giving classless. It’s giving desperate. It’s giving…please just stop.

What does it say to you?  To me, it just emphasizes how Junior's always been a little thinner on the right side of his face -- as though that side didn't develop normally.

+ RKF, Jr. during his “Combatting Antisemitism, Championing Israel” event in New York City: “Israel has…Israel is not going to use their nuclear weapon unless they’re attacked and we know that.” In fact, I’m pretty sure we don’t know that.

+ Every nuclear state is a terrorist state, using the threat of its arsenal to bully non-nuclear states into submission. Moreover, Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear power plant in 1981 was a kind of nuclear strike, given the amount of highly-enriched uranium released by the attack.

+ At nearly the same time RFK, Jr. was “championing Israel,” Tamir Pardo, the former head of Mossad, told an Israeli radio station that the Israeli right is similar to the KKK.  Pardo said that many of the Israeli government’s legislative initiatives are tantamount to “antisemitic laws,” and would be labeled as such were they passed in any other country.

+ RFK, Jr. to Greta Van Susteren: “I’m the only one who has called for Biden to retract the $2 billion payment he’s giving to Iran, which you know will be used for genocidal purposes.” How can Dennis Kucinich continue to front for this maniac?

[. . .]

+ Ron DeSantis has now fired one-third of his paid campaign staff. Among the terminated was Nate Hochman, the communications staffer who made and Tweeted out a pro-DeSantis video with Nazi imagery.

+ People generally like their kid’s school, which may be one reason the smoke from DeSantis’s scorched-earth campaign against them is blowing back in his face. According to a recent Gallup poll, 80% of parents said they were somewhat or completely satisfied with their child’s school, which in most cases was public. This approval rating was actually a little higher than in most years before the pandemic.

+ As part of its public school “turnaround” vision plan, the Houston Independent School District–the largest in Texas– is shutting down 28 school libraries and turning them into disciplinary centers.

+ Eleven paragraphs deep into Nicholas Kristof’s interminable NYT column arguing that legacy admissions for the offspring of privileged elites aren’t a problem, we are confronted by this staggering parenthetical admission: “(Conflict alert: I was a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers and my wife, Sheryl WuDunn, is currently a member and previously served on the Princeton and Cornell boards; our three children also attended Harvard.)” I wonder how many people leapt that hurdle and kept reading for any reason other than the laughs, which, otherwise, come so infrequently in his writing.

+ Political punditry is the sub-basement of journalism. For a year or more, the opinion pages were flush with columns promoting DeSantis as the rational alternative to Trump, when really his only political skill is his viciousness. Even Trump could occasionally feign compassion. Now DeSantis is getting whacked by Christian conservatives for assailing Trump’s meagre criminal justice reforms.

+ DeSantis said this week that while he wouldn’t pick RFK Jr as a running mate, he would consider him to be in charge of the FDA or CDC “if he’d be willing to serve.” Maybe DeSantis will tap Ammon Bundy to run the BLM…Looks like he’s going to need the money.

Lastly, let's see what all the attacks from Ron DeSantis, MTG, Lauren Boebert, Jonathan Turley, Matt Taibbi, Moms For Bigotry and so many more are now resulting in.  Caroline Radnofsky and Colin Sheeley and Eric Carvin (NBC NEWS) report:

Authorities in Plano, Texas, are investigating what they call "an intentionally set fire" at a Unitarian Universalist church Sunday, just weeks after it was targeted for criticism in a video by an anti-LGBTQ Christian YouTuber.

A passerby spotted flames coming from the Community Unitarian Universalist Church early Sunday, Plano Fire-Rescue said in a statement. The fire was around the front door and was extinguished quickly, causing no injuries, it said.

The department is leading the criminal investigation into the fire, with the city's police department working on its own investigation, authorities told NBC News.

The church called the incident "a firebomb attack" in a statement on its Facebook page, saying "an incendiary device with a chemical accelerant was thrown or placed at the front doors of the main church building."

It also referred to the visit from right-wing content creator Bo Alford, who goes by "bodittle" on social media, less than a month earlier.

"Church officials have been reviewing building security and working with the Plano Police Department since the intrusion of a hate group in the church building during and after Worship Service on Sunday, June 25. That group has posted video of their activities inside the church on various social media sites."

The following sites updated: