Elizabeth Preza

Critics warn there's 'no accountability' for foreign wars as Biden taps Blinken for secretary of state

With the upper ranks of President-elect Joe Biden's foreign policy team beginning to take shape after new reporting indicated he plans to nominate long-time adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of state, progressives raised alarm over Blinken's support for the disastrous 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the 2011 assault on Libya as well as his recent consulting work of behalf of corporate clients in the tech, finance, and arms industries.

Blinken served as deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and, as the Washington Post reported Sunday, "has been described as having a centrist view of the world" and "has also supported interventionist positions."

"He once broke with Biden and supported military action in Libya, for example," the Post noted, referring to the Obama White House's catastrophic decision to join with NATO to bomb that country, an armed intervention that helped unleash a violent civil war that is still ongoing.

When it came to Syria policy under Obama, Blinken is also reported to have supported more aggressive military measures against the government of President Bashar al-Assad and more recently has indicated that the Biden administration would opt for leaving U.S. troops in the war-torn country.

When Biden, then a senator and chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted in 2002 to authorize the Bush administration's disastrous invasion of Iraq—a decision he has since described as a mistake—Blinken was the Democratic staff director of the committee. The Intercept's Ryan Grim reported last July that Blinken "helped craft Biden's own support for the Iraq War"; speaking to the New York Times earlier this year, Blinken characterized the vote to invade Iraq as "a vote for tough diplomacy."

"So we will have a president who supported the invasion of Iraq, and a secretary of state (Tony Blinken) who supported the invasion of Iraq," tweeted Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war group CodePink. "In the U.S., there is no accountability for supporting the worst foreign policy disaster in modern history. Only rewards."

Biden's choice of Blinken—expected to be announced publicly on Tuesday along with a slate of additional nominees—was not universally criticized by progressives. Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), called Blinken "a good choice."


"Tony has the strong confidence of the president-elect and the knowledge and experience for the important work of rebuilding U.S. diplomacy," said Duss. "It will also be a new and great thing to have a top diplomat who has regularly engaged with progressive grassroots."

After leaving the Obama administration, Blinken in 2017 co-founded the consultancy firm WestExec Advisors with Michèle Flournoy, who is believed to be a leading candidate to serve as Biden's defense secretary. As The American Prospect reported in July:

WestExec would only divulge that it began working with "Fortune 100 types," including large U.S. tech; financial services, including global-asset managers; aerospace and defense; emerging U.S. tech; and nonprofits.
The Prospect can confirm that one of those clients is the Israeli artificial-intelligence company Windward. With surveillance software that tracks ships in real time, two former Israeli naval intelligence officers established the company in 2010...

Despite multiple requests, neither the firm nor the Biden campaign would provide WestExec Advisors' client list. "Transparency is very important to us," said a Biden spokesperson. Blinken had recused himself from work at WestExec, according to the campaign, yet his profile remains on the consultancy's website.

Biden's reported selection of Blinken, and potential selection of Flournoy, to serve in two of his administration's top foreign policy roles is likely to draw rebuke from progressives who have demanded that the president-elect assemble a cabinet committed to peace and diplomacy and free from the corrupting influence of weapons manufacturers, defense contractors, and other powerful corporate interests.

"Biden has been facing calls from Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocacy groups to end the revolving door between government and the defense industry," The Daily Poster's Julia Rock and Andrew Perez noted Monday morning. "One-third of the members of Biden transition's Depart­ment of Defense agency review team were most recently employed by 'orga­ni­za­tions, think tanks, or com­pa­nies that either direct­ly receive mon­ey from the weapons indus­try, or are part of this indus­try,' according to reporting from In These Times."

"Meanwhile," Rock and Perez added, "defense executives have been boasting about their close relationship with Biden and expressing confidence that there will not be much change in Pentagon policy."

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the first vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), pointed out on Twitter that, similar to Blinken, "Flournoy supported the war in Iraq and Libya, criticized Obama on Syria, and helped craft the surge in Afghanistan."

"I want to support the president's picks," added Khanna. "But will Flournoy now commit to a full withdrawal from Afghanistan and a ban on arms sales to the Saudis to end the Yemen war?"

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), also a member of the CPC, said in response to Khanna that the "bigger question is will Biden commit to that."

"Ultimately," said Omar, "it will be Biden's foreign policy that his administration will execute."

'Hero' retiree turns 'Florida man' trope on its head with incredible rescue of puppy from gator's jaw

While a certain Florida man plots how to squat in the White House long past his unceremonious eviction, a venerable Floridian hero is reshaping what it means to be a "Florida man" after surveillance cameras caught him on-tape rescuing his puppy from the jaws of an alligator.



AS CBS Miami reports, Richard Wilbanks, a retiree, wrestled the alligator in his backyard ponds after the reptile snatched up his 3-month-old puppy Gunner.

"We were just out walking by the pond, and it came out of the water like a missile," Wilbanks told CNN. "I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick."

"I just automatically jumped into the water," Wilbanks said of the rescue.

In addition to single-handedly prying open the gator's mouth to free his puppy's leg, observers note that this gentleman is likewise single-handedly redefining what it means to be a "Florida man." Some are also pointing out that this Florida man completed his heroic feat without even dropping his cigar.

Check out some responses below. And learn from Wilkens, who now walks Gunner on a leash, at least 10 feet from the pond's edge.











Pennsylvania GOP senator says Trump has 'exhausted all plausible legal options' as he urges cooperation on Biden transition

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) on Saturday said President Donald Trump has "exhausted all plausible legal options" as he encouraged the Trump administration to "facilitate the presidential transition process" with President-elect Joe Biden.

Toomey referenced U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann's decision Saturday to dismiss a Trump campaign suit that sought to block the certification of Pennsylvania's election results. In his decision, Brann said the suit "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations" as it urged the court to give the state legislator legal authority to assign Pennsylvania's electoral votes.

"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state," Brann wrote in his opinion.

"This is simply not how the Constitution works," he noted.

Pointing to that suit's dismissal, Toomey explained the Trump campaign is out of legal options in Pennsylvania.

"With today's decision by Judge Matthew Brann, a longtime conservative Republican whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist, to dismiss the Trump campaign's lawsuit, President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania," Toomey said in a statement Saturday.

"I congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory," the senator continued. "They are both dedicated public servants and I will be praying for them and for our country."

Earlier this month, Toomey urged his colleagues to cooperate with the Biden transition.

"We're on a path it looks likely Joe Biden is going to be the next president of the United States," Toomey told Pittsburgh's Action News on November 11. "It's not 100% certain but it is quite likely. So I think a transition process ought to begin."

In his statement Saturday, Toomey once again called for the Trump team to cooperate with Biden on the presidential transition.

"To ensure that he is remembered for these outstanding accomplishments, and to help unify our country, President Trump should accept the outcome of the election and facilitate the presidential transition process," the statement said.

Biden beats Trump in Arizona: AP and Fox News

Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the state of Arizona, the first time it's gone for a Democrat in 24, the Associated Press reports.


That adds 11 points to Biden's Electoral College total. As it currently stands, Biden has 238 EC votes to President Donald Trump's 213.

Democrat Mark Kelly also beat out Sen. Martha McSally, though the latter has yet to concede the race.


Trump advisers kicking themselves for focus on failed Hunter Biden laptop smear: report

According to a report from the Daily Beast, aides close to Donald Trump are regretting letting the president make the debunked story about Hunter Biden's laptop emails become the main focus of the president's campaign in the waning days — saying the story flopped if new polling is to be believed.

The laptop story which was pushed by the Trump-friendly New York Post after multiple outlets — including Fox News– passed on it dominated headlines for a week as the president tried to use it as a cudgel against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

However, the story only appealed to the president's rabid base and didn't do anything to bring new voters into the fold, which has led to the president's campaign to move on as if it never happened.

According to the Beast, now that the story has fizzled "some Trump advisers are regretting the decision to try to put Hunter Biden and his emails front and center."

The report goes on to note that, "Though the president has repeatedly mentioned the allegations in rallies, on Twitter, and at a presidential debate last week, his campaign has barely supplemented it with its paid media," only mentioning it in two of the 29 television ads the campaign has run since the Post story broke.

Worse than the voting public ignoring the sketchy allegations is the fact that members of the President's own staff have become increasingly disenchanted and bored with attacks on Biden's son in the last days of the 2020 campaign.

"Among senior aides to the president, some Hunter-fatigue has already started to seep in. One official working on the Trump reelection effort privately expressed to The Daily Beast this week that they saw little point in harping on the Hunter Biden emails and foreign-dealings stories, as it had little chance of significantly altering the narrative, even at the margins<," the report states with one Trump aide lamenting, "I don't know what's going to happen in this election, you don't know what's going to happen, nobody knows. But I will bet a lot of money that Hunter Biden is not going to win Pennsylvania for [Trump]."

That can be borne out with the Beast reporting that Trump fans on 4Chan — who are not hesitant to push outlandish conspiracy rumors — "are starting to get fed up. The forum's pro-Trump denizens had embraced the hype around a Biden story that was set to be published Monday morning on The Gateway Pundit. But when the story failed to deliver a bombshell about Hunter Biden, 4Chan posters began to gripe that the Hunter Biden "scandal" had failed to meaningfully affect the election."

While noting that the Post story failed to implicate the older Biden, the Beast reports, "the Trump campaign signaled on Monday that themes like the economy and Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation—issues that would likely be emphasized by any presidential campaign—will be far more central to its messaging in the days before voters go to the polls than anything to do with Biden's family members."

You can read more here.

Harris slams WH after chief of staff 'admits defeat' on COVID: 'Greatest failure of any presidential administration' in history

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Sunday slammed the Trump administration for "admitting defeat" in the fight against COVID-19 after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN "we are not going to control the pandemic."

Meadows made the remark Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, telling host Jake Tapper that the president's strategy is "to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," even as cases skyrocket across the United States.

"They are admitting defeat," Harris told reporters when asked about Meadows' comment. "This is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of America."

Noting that Meadows told Tapper that COVID-19 "is a contagious virus just like the flu," Harris ripped the administration for once again "suggesting to the American people that this is like the flu."

"We have known from the beginning — and they knew since January — that it's five times more deadly than the flu," Harris said

"We are breaking records for the number of people that are contracting a deadly virus," she continued. "And this administration fails to take personal responsibility or responsibility in terms of leading the nation through this dangerous and deadly mass casualty event. And that's why they have forfeited their right to a second term."

Asked about Vice President Mike Pence refusing to quarantine despite his chief of staff Mark Short testing positive for coronavirus, Harris argued her team has been a model for how to handle outbreaks during a tough campaign season.

"They should take our lead," she said.

Watch the video below:


Trump privately admits it will be 'very tough' for Republicans to maintain Senate majority: report

President Donald Trump on Thursday admitted to donors it will be "very tough" for Republicans to maintain their Senate majority during a private closed-door gathering at the Nashville Marriott, the Washington Post reports.

According to an anonymous attendee who spoke with the Post, Trump claimed "there are a couple senators" who are struggling with races he "can't really get involved in."

"I think the Senate is tough actually," Trump said. "The Senate is very tough. There are a couple senators I can't really get involved in. I just can't do it. You lose your soul if you do. I can't help some of them. I don't want to help some of them."

Despite his pessimistic outlook on the Senate, Trump also told donors he thinks Republicans "are going to take back the House." The president echoed that sentiment later Thursday evening during a debate with former Vice President Joe Biden.

As USA Today notes:

"Analysts have predicted that Democrats will not only keep the House, but have many opportunities to pick up seats. The non-partisan Cook Political Report predicts Democrats may expand their majority."

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Jesse Hunt tried to downplay the president's lack of support for certain senatorial candidates, arguing "The Republican-led Senate and President Trump have had a great partnership over the last four years."

You can read the full report at the Washington Post.

'Without my permission': Fauci says he was 'taken out of context' in Trump ad touting coronavirus response

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said an advertisement from the Trump campaign that featured a quote from the renowned immunologist was taken out of context, telling CNN's Kaitlan Collins that he did not consent to be the president's ad.

"In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate," Fauci said. "The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials."

The ad, which can be seen below, features Fauci appearing to praise the Trump administration's COVID-19 response, insisting "I can't imagine that anybody could be doing more."

That quote came from a Fox News interview in March during which Fauci praised the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

"Since the beginning, that we even recognized what this was, I have been devoting almost full time on this," Fauci said in that interview. "I'm down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. It's every single day. So, I can't imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more."

The White House this weekend blocked Fauci from appearing on ABC's "This Week."


Carefully youtu.be

White House blocks medical experts on Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force from appearing on ABC's 'This Week'

The White House refused to allow expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci or another medical expert on President Donald Trump's Coronavirus Task Force to appear on ABC's "This Week," Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl said Sunday.

Karl told viewers that while Fauci was "more than willing to join" the program to discuss the nation's faltering response to COVID-19, as well as the White House's current status as a coronavirus hot spot, "the White House wouldn't allow you to hear from the nation's leading expert on coronavirus."

"In fact, they wouldn't allow any of the medical experts on the president's own coronavirus task force to appear on this show," Karl said.

On Twitter, the correspondent added that "The White House press office would not allow anyone on the President's task force to be interviewed."

"Quite remarkable that they would muzzle the health experts in the middle of a pandemic," Karl said.

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan likewise said he's tried to book interviews with top Trump administration health officials "for months," but "the interview requests keep getting rejected or slow-walked."

The press blackout comes as the White House struggles to contain an outbreak inside its own walls. As the Washington Post reports, Trump and at least 34 White House staffers have tested positive for the virus. Per the Post:"The CDC began offering help last Friday, after President Trump announced he had tested positive, only to be repeatedly spurned, according to a CDC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. On Wednesday, an arrangement was made for 'some limited CDC involvement,' the official said."
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