U.S. Drone Strikes Plunge Under Biden

“Airwars, an independent nonprofit that tracks strikes and casualties in conflict areas like Iraq, Syria, and Libya, provides regular assessments of civilian deaths. And in their latest data which spans the first year of Biden’s presidency, civilian deaths and strikes plunged in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

The differences are striking, even keeping in mind we’re comparing just one year of Biden’s presidency with four years of President Donald Trump and eight years of President Barack Obama.

During the length of Trump’s four-year presidency, Airwars documented more than 16,000 air and artillery military strikes in Iraq and Syria, which itself was a decline of more than 1,500 strikes when compared to Obama’s second term. During Biden’s first year, there have been 39 total military strikes spread between both countries.

Alleged civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria skyrocketed under Trump’s four years in office to more than 13,000 compared to 5,600 during Obama’s second term. Thus far, Airwars reports only 10 under the Biden administration. There have been no reported civilian deaths in Somalia thus far during Biden’s term, compared to 134 under Trump and 42 under Obama over both of his terms. Strikes in Yemen, which had declined each year throughout Trump’s administration, have dropped to just four this year (Airwars did not provide civilian deaths for Yemen).

This follows reporting earlier this year that Biden had quietly imposed restrictions on the use of drone strikes outside of active war zones. Trump had eased restrictions and allowed the military and CIA to decide when to strike, thus explaining the dramatic increase in strikes and civilian deaths in Somalia during his term. Biden is now requiring the White House to vet and approve these strikes, for now, until the administration sets up new formal policies (about which we know very little, but observers hope will require more procedures to ensure that civilians aren’t killed).”

Biden is talking to Republicans, but for only so long

“As vice president, Joe Biden was among those repeatedly pushing President Barack Obama to negotiate with Republicans on everything from health care to fiscal crises — even if it led to delays, watered-down policies or nothing at all.

But these days, Biden and his team, many of whom worked in the Obama administration, are taking a different approach: Talking to Republicans, yes, but doing so with more skepticism and firmer deadlines”

““The lesson that this team learned, beginning with President Biden, from that experience is that there is a cost to waiting too long,” said Jay Carney, who worked for Biden before becoming Obama White House press secretary, and is now an executive at Amazon. “I think everyone is much more realistic about whether bipartisan cooperation is possible.”

Biden, the aides and lawmakers say, believes action is more important than bipartisanship, and is convinced Americans will support him in his efforts. He recognizes that his window for this approach may close by the midterm elections. That’s why, the aides and lawmakers say, he may be willing to give up the reputation, cultivated over decades, as a dealmaking lawmaker if he can be a transformative president who pushes through a once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure and social programs.

The president will talk with Republicans about his new pair of proposed spending plans — a combined $4 trillion in spending designed to ignite economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic — but he is prepared to back a congressional maneuver that would allow Senate Democrats to pass legislation without GOP support, perhaps within weeks, aides and lawmakers familiar with his thinking say.”

Tesla Wouldn’t Be Tesla Without Stimulus Spending

“About a month after Barack Obama won the presidency, a cash-strapped Elon Musk made it clear that Tesla Inc.—then a boutique maker of a $109,000 sports car—would have to delay the rollout of a less expensive electric sedan unless it got government support. It was the middle of what was then the worst American financial collapse since the Great Depression, and the markets had just taken too much of a beating. “We can’t move forward with that without a major amount of capital,” the chief executive officer said in an interview in December 2008.

Musk’s plea was well-timed: The incoming president was keen to use part of the approximately $800 billion stimulus package his team was preparing to create a new green energy economy. One year after Obama took office, Tesla got a $465 million federal loan to design electric vehicles and build them at a manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif. The company went public shortly thereafter, repaid the loan early, mainstreamed the electric vehicle, and now employs about 20,000 people in the Bay Area alone. It has the second-largest market capitalization of any automaker worldwide.

More than a decade after the financing came through, former heads of the office that approved it—a division of the U.S. Department of Energy known as the Loan Programs Office—point to the Tesla story as a best-case scenario for federal energy investment.”

Former President Obama: Attack on Capitol was a “violent crescendo” incited by Trump’s lies

““For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth — that this was not a particularly close election and that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20,” Obama wrote. “Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now, we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.””

Obama: The internet is “the single biggest threat to our democracy”

“you have a situation in which large swaths of the country genuinely believe that the Democratic Party is a front for a pedophile ring…I was talking to a volunteer who was going door-to-door in Philadelphia in low-income African American communities, and was getting questions about QAnon conspiracy theories.”

“If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false, then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. And by definition our democracy doesn’t work.”

Obama accuses Trump of trying to “kneecap” the Postal Service

““What we’ve seen, in a way that is unique to modern political history, is a president who is explicit in trying to discourage people from voting,” Obama said on Cadence13’s Campaign HQ podcast in a discussion with his former campaign manager David Plouffe. “What we’ve never seen before is a president say, ‘I’m going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to [discourage] voting and I will be explicit about the reason I’m doing it.’”

“That’s sort of unheard of, right?” he added. “And we also have not had an election in the midst of a pandemic that is still deadly and killing a lot of people, and we still don’t know the long-term side effects of contracting the illness.”

Obama’s comments were a response to Trump’s admission on Thursday that he opposes providing additional funding for the Postal Service — which is under huge financial strain due to the coronavirus pandemic and unprepared for a massive influx of mail-in ballots — because he doesn’t want everyone to be able to vote by mail.”

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

“I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”

“Obamagate”: Trump’s latest conspiracy theory, explained

““Obamagate” is a convoluted mess of conspiracy theories untethered to reality. It is a deflection from the utter catastrophe unfolding daily because of the Trump administration’s disastrous coronavirus response.

That may not matter. Trump has used the “witch hunt” strategy since the start of his presidency, and, when it comes to his base and his allies in Congress and the administration, it works.”