Saturday, October 28, 2023

Last Call For A Pence-ive Retreat

Former VP Mike Pence has dropped out of the 2024 GOP primary contest, to the surprise of nobody, and to the loss of no great value.
Former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his 2024 presidential campaign Saturday, with his campaign running low on money and the Republican Party moving in a different direction than the longtime Indiana conservative.

He made the unexpected announcement at the annual Republican Jewish Coalition convention in Las Vegas.

"I came here to say it’s become clear to me this is not my time. So after much deliberation I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today," he said onstage. "I have no regrets. The only thing that would have been harder than coming up short would have been if we never tried at all."

His spokesperson Devin O’Malley said Pence chose the convention for the announcement because “the conflict in Israel is a microcosm of what Pence has been evangelizing regarding populism and traditional conservative values."

“RJC provided him one last opportunity to make that case and do so in front of a supportive audience," O'Malley added.

Republican candidates praised Pence following his announcement. "He’s been a good man of faith. He’s been a good man of service," said former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted: “Vice President Mike Pence is a principled man of faith who has worked tirelessly to advance the conservative cause."
For all the (unfair) flak that current VP Kamala Harris gets about people not liking her (which is untrue) it's important to remember that Pence's party is currently eulogizing him even though he's you know, still alive.
His political career is quite dead however, and I'm sure he'll get a lobbyist job somewhere soon where he can be on the letterhead and give speeches where a whole 16 people will show up. Maybe he can hang out with Dan Quayle some more.

Nobody really cares, and good riddance to a man who took Trump's 30 silver in order to betray the country.


Israeli Getting Serious Out There, Con't

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu failed miserably to protect the Jewish state from Hamas, and whether it was intentional or not, the world will pay a heavy price in the weeks and months ahead.
Hamas’ massacre of more than 1,400 Israelis and kidnapping of over 200 others on Oct. 7 was more than a national tragedy for Israel — it was also a massive intelligence failure. Now, as Israel goes to war against Hamas, vital questions abound: Why didn’t Israeli leadership see this coming? If Israel defeats Hamas, what will take its place? And what are the odds that Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, could get pulled into a direct role in the conflict?

Amos Yadlin has unique insights into all these questions. The 71-year-old former Israeli intelligence chief, who oversaw the destruction of Syria’s nascent nuclear program and the serial sabotage of Iran’s, has emerged as a key voice on the crisis, briefing members of Israel’s war cabinet. For the last 12 years, he’s served as the head of Israel’s highly influential Institute for National Security Studies, and he remains a security eminence grise.

In a new interview with POLITICO Magazine conducted via Zoom over two days last week, Yadlin offered a useful window into official Israeli thinking on the escalating war — from solutions to the ongoing hostage crisis to the challenge of avoiding Palestinian civilian casualties.

Yadlin made clear that Israel’s policy in this war was not simply to retaliate for the massacre or weaken Hamas, but to definitively end the jihadist group’s 16-year rule in Gaza.

“We are going to destroy Hamas, as Nazi Germany was destroyed,” he said, adding that Israel would mount a global assassination campaign against Hamas leaders akin to the one it launched following the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

Aligned politically with the country’s center left — he was the Labor Party’s candidate for defense minister in the 2015 elections — Yadlin attributed much of the blame for the catastrophe to the national distraction of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push to overhaul the country’s judiciary: “Netanyahu got all the warnings — from his defense minister, from the chief of staff, from the head of intelligence, from the head of Shin Bet and from independent writers like me, like others — that this is weakening Israel deterrence and endangering Israeli national security.”

Complicating matters in recent days, the Israeli media has been abuzz with reports of internal Israeli government deliberations over a second front with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, with the defense minister and other Israeli officials reportedly advocating a preemptive strike on the militant group and the U.S. cautioning against it.

Yadlin said Hezbollah’s “very cautious” behavior indicated a low likelihood of a second front developing. But while declining to go into details, Yadlin — who is privy to recent discussions between U.S. and Israeli officials — hinted that, in the event Hezbollah were to initiate a full-blown war with Israel, the U.S. might join “shoulder to shoulder” with Israel: “If Hezbollah attacks first, don’t be surprised — the U.S. may participate in this war.”
So yeah, expert after expert agree on two things: Bibi dropped the ball, and that the odds of a much bigger -- if not global -- conflict are ridiculously high as a result. This should all look familiar to Americans after 9/11, because we're headed down the same path with the same results.

Meanwhile, the ground invasion in Gaza is getting underway.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced Friday that they are "expanding ground operations" in the Gaza Strip, according IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

“In addition to offensive operations we carried over the past few days, the IDF ground forces are expanding their ground operation this evening,” Hagari said.

“Hundreds of thousands of IDF soldiers are all around the borders of the state — in the air, ground, and the sea — to protect the state," he added.

The announcement comes as CNN reports a large series of explosions rocked Gaza City on Friday night. 

Large swaths of buildings around Gaza City, Beit Lahya and Beit Hanoun have been destroyed. A big amount of the damage that CNN was able to confirm is in northern Gaza.

Hundreds of craters across northern Gaza have also been identified.

CNN was able to identify the areas of destruction in Gaza through satellite imagery from Planet Labs, and by working with Synthetaic — a company that utilizes AI to identify and classify data, including satellite imagery.

Using imagery of the entire Gaza Strip from Planet Labs, Synthetaic is analyzing and comparing it through its proprietary AI-driven Rapid Automatic Image Categorization (RAIC) system, looking for destruction such as damaged and destroyed buildings, as well as impact craters. Aided by what RAIC identified as destruction, CNN is taking the Planet Labs imagery and conducting its own analysis to independently confirm the destruction.

The result is a snapshot of the destruction that's occurred across Gaza.

More than two weeks of intense negotiations to evacuate foreign nationals out of Gaza have yielded few signs of progress, leaving hundreds of desperate civilians stranded inside the war-torn strip of land as Israeli ground operations expanded amid a barrage of airstrikes on Friday.

Multiple sources involved in the diplomatic talks tell CNN that the effort to open a key border crossing in southern Gaza remains stymied by Hamas’ control of the enclave, Israel’s blockade and bombing, as well as Egyptian security concerns.

Now that the Israeli defense forces have announced an expansion of their ground operations, the situation for civilians and foreign nationals who remain trapped in Gaza has become even more dire. Aid officials and other individuals on the ground had expressed fears even before the expansion of operations that nowhere in Gaza was safe, and despite US officials saying they were working with Israel to establish civilian safe zones, such areas have not been fully stood up.

People who have family in Gaza told CNN on Friday they have not been able to make contact with them after communications went down in the strip amid the barrage of strikes.

Negotiators have been furiously working to find a solution to appease Egypt’s concerns about refugees entering the country through the Rafah crossing in southwestern Gaza, the border between Egypt and the Sinai. Complicating things are Israeli and American claims that Hamas has blocked the way out, as well as the inherent difficulties that come with processing thousands of people who claim to be foreign nationals.

The US had also been rushing to negotiate the release of hostages held by Hamas ahead of the incursion, talks that the US government insisted will continue amid Friday’s intensified airstrikes.

The Biden administration said Thursday it was hopeful that a deal will be reached in the coming days to allow US citizens to evacuate Gaza through Egypt, though the State Department had previously issued an alert saying the crossing into Egypt would open but it never did.
The catastrophe continues as the UN demands a cease fire, falling on deaf ears in Tel Aviv and Washington.
The U.N. General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution Friday calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza leading to a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, the first United Nations response to the ongoing war.

The 193-member world body adopted the Arab-drafted resolution by a vote of 120-14 with 45 abstentions after rejecting a Canadian amendment backed by the United States. It would have unequivocally condemned the Oct. 7 “terrorist attacks” on Israel by Hamas and demanded the immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas.

The votes came part way through a list of 113 speakers at an emergency special session on Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian territories. Jordan’s U.N. Ambassador Mahmoud Hmoud, speaking on behalf of the U.N.’s 22-nation Arab group, had called for action on the resolution because of the urgency of the escalating situation on the ground.

The Arab group went to the General Assembly after the more powerful 15-member Security Council failed to agree on a resolution after four attempts over the past two weeks. While council resolutions are legally binding, assembly resolutions are not, but they do serve as a barometer of world opinion.
Things always get darker right before it goes pitch black.

Unimpeachable Me, Con't

Lost in the Clown Show was news that Kentucky GOP Rep. James Comer continues to be the dumbest hammer in the box with his attempted "President Biden took direct payments" story last week. And Biden did...getting a loan repayment from his brother Jim in 2018, when Joe Biden was not in government at all.
Republicans announced Friday that they had uncovered a “direct payment” to President Joe Biden — exactly the kind of evidence they’ve sought linking Biden to his family’s foreign business deals.

But the March 2018 payment came from Joe Biden’s brother James, not a Ukrainian oligarch or Chinese tycoon, and the check was marked as a “loan repayment.”

Still, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), who obtained the records via subpoena, said the $200,000 check looks suspicious for the president.

“Does he have documents proving he lent such a large sum of money to his brother,” Comer said in a video, “and what were the terms of such financial arrangement?”

Comer has been leading Republicans’ investigation and impeachment inquiry into President Biden, which so far hasn’t implicated Biden himself and in recent weeks has been overshadowed by infighting among Republicans that has paralyzed the House of Representatives.

Democrats on the Oversight Committee say the personal bank records recently provided to the committee do show that Biden loaned his brother the money.

“These records actually show that President Biden was the one who stepped in to help family members when they needed support, including by providing short term loans to his brother,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement.

Raskin added that the 1,400 pages of records Republicans got from their subpoenas, which asked banks for several years of records relating to the president’s brother and son, show no wrongdoing, but do reveal “payments for things like groceries, vet visits, and plumbing repairs.”
Yeah, 200 grand is a lot of money to most of us. I wish I had that kind of scratch, sure. But there's the thing: Joe Biden helped out his brother, and his brother paid him back. That's not illegal, and in fact Joe Biden reported it on his income taxes.
Unlike, you know, Trump.
Clowns. Absolute clowns. James Comer is yet another Republican member of Congress I have to apologize to the rest of America for and I'm tired of these assholes.
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