Common Grounds

SPECIAL EDITION | What the World Reads Now!

July 01, 2024


Thrown in a Wood Chipper?


Ohrid, North Macedonia, 1 July 2024 | If you know of a decisive story, tell the world! We're still searching.




Biden’s decline has been known to friends and insiders for months.

SPECIAL EDITION | What the World Reads Now!

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden during last night’s debate in Atlanta. / Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images.


By Seymour Hersh
28 June 2024


Readers of this column know that President Joe Biden’s drift into blankness has been ongoing for months, as he and his foreign policy aides have been urging a ceasefire that will not happen in Gaza while continuing to supply the weapons that make a ceasefire less likely. There’s a similar paradox in Ukraine, where Biden has been financing a war that cannot be won and refusing to participate in negotiations that could end the slaughter.


As I’ve been told for months, the president is no longer there to understand the contradictions of his and his foreign policy advisers' policies. America should not have a president who does not know what he has signed off on. People in power have to be responsible for what they do, and last night showed America and the world that we have a president who is not in that position today.


The absolute disgrace is not only Biden’s but those of the men and women around him who have kept him more and more under wraps. He is a captive and has rapidly diminished over the past six months. I have been hearing for months about the increasing isolation of the president from his one-time pals in the Senate, who find that he cannot return their calls. Another old family friend, whose help has been sought by Biden on critical issues since his days as vice president, told me of a plaintive call from the president many months ago. Biden said the White House was in chaos and needed his friend’s help. The friend said he begged off and then told me, with a laugh: “I would rather have a root canal procedure every day than go to work there.” Biden invited a long-retired Senate colleague to join him on a foreign trip, and the two played cards and shared a drink or two on the Air Force One flight going out. Biden’s staff barred the senator from joining the return flight home.


I have been told the increasing isolation of the president on foreign policy issues has been in part the doing of Tom Donilon, whose younger brother, Michael, a key pollster and adviser in Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and the current re-election effort, was part of the team that spent much of the week briefing Biden for last night's debate. Tom Donilon, who is 69, was Biden's national security adviser from 2010 to 2013 and sought unsuccessfully to be named Biden's director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He remains very much an insider.


Given Biden’s apparent decline in recent months, an outsider can't understand why the White House agreed to any debates with Donald Trump before the election, let alone committing to the earliest presidential debate, the first of two, in modern history. One thought, I was told, was that if Biden performed well, as he had in his State of the Union speech in March, the issue of his mental capacity would be tabled. A poor performance would give the Biden campaign time to do a better prep job for the scheduled second debate.


There also was pressure from the major Democratic fundraisers, many of them in New York City, for the campaign to do something to counter the perception of the president’s apparent growing impairment, as reported and filmed by major media. I have been told that at least one foreign leader, after a closed meeting with Biden, told others that the president’s decline was so visible that it was hard to understand how, as it was put to me, “he could go through the rigors” of a re-election campaign. Such warnings were ignored.


What now? One of Washington’s political savants told me today that the Democratic Party is now facing “a national security crisis.” The nation is backing two devastating wars with a president who is not up to it, he said, and it might be time to start drafting a resignation speech that would match or outdo the one given in March of 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson after his narrow victory over Senator Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary.


“They’re trapped,” he said of the senior advisers in the White House who hoped that Biden would do well enough in last night’s debates to carry on with the much-needed support of the more skeptical financial supporters in New York City.


Not everyone I talked to today agreed that it is time to force a Biden resignation and hope for the best at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August—to dump the ticket and seek new candidates. “My humble opinion,” one longtime contributor to the Democratic Party told me, “is to let the dust settle. We must examine the realistic options before some quick reaction creates an internal Democratic Party split with far-reaching consequences beyond 2024. Accept reality . . . 2024 is likely beyond recovery at this point. Too steep a hill to climb. Plan and execute a long-term plan to counter Mr. Orange and build a moderate platform for the recovery . . . and let Biden wander off to the Jersey Pine Barrens.”


Another political guru expressed a differing view. “This is the age of social media—TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and X—and a political campaign can go very far very fast.”


Whatever happens, we have a fully unveiled president who may not be responsible for his actions in the coming campaign, not to mention his actions in the Middle East and Ukraine.


Whatever happened to the 25th Amendment that authorizes the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president incompetent? What is going on in the Biden White House?



What is the Side of the Story that is Not Yet Decisive? Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen.





Democrats need a nominee to unite the country and articulate a compelling vision.


Credit...Kenny Holston/The New York Times


By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist

New York Times
28 June 2024


I watched the Biden-Trump debate alone in a Lisbon hotel room, which made me weep. I cannot remember a more heartbreaking moment in American presidential campaign politics in my lifetime — precisely because of what it revealed: Joe Biden, a good man and a good president, has no business running for re-election. And Donald Trump, a malicious man and a petty president, has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. He is the same fire hose of lies he always was, obsessed with his grievances — nowhere close to what it will take for America to lead in the 21st century.


The Biden family and political team must gather quickly and have the most challenging conversation with the president, a conversation of love, clarity, and resolve. To give America the most incredible shot of deterring the Trump threat in November, the president has to come forward and declare that he will not be running for re-election by releasing all of his delegates for the Democratic National Convention.


The Republican Party — if its leaders had an ounce of integrity — would demand the same, but it won’t because they don’t. That makes it all the more critical that Democrats put the country’s interests first and announce that a public process will begin for different Democratic candidates to compete for the nomination — town halls, debates, meetings with donors, you name it. Yes, it could be chaotic and messy when the Democratic convention starts on Aug. 19 in Chicago. Still, the Trump threat would be sufficiently grave that delegates could quickly rally around and nominate a consensus candidate.


Please read more …




Editor’s Note | Entrapped?


Was Mr. Biden entrapped on the world stage? Was it planned? Did the President’s men and women throw him under the bus? Did Mr. Trump fall into a trap? In any event, many Dems are calling for Biden to let go. Is that a ‘Win?’ Will it give them a second chance? Maybe! Could Trump have acted more Presidential? November is around the corner.


I can’t help but postulate that Mr. Trump possibly fell into a trap, as inferred by Pulitzer Prize journalist Sy Hersh’s article published in Our Friday News Analysis of 28 June 2024: ‘Biden’s First Re-Election Test.’ A week before the debate, Sy portended what Thom Friedman now implores: ‘Dear Joe, do your country a favor. Leave the White House. Thanks so much for trying. You’re a friend.”


If my hunch is correct, the debate could be a game-changer, significantly influencing the upcoming election. This could be the result of a meticulously planned and executed DEMS strategy.


Nothing happens by chance in the world’s capitals. Everything is rigorously choreographed. Irrespective, everyone in Macedonia would still vote for Mr. Trump if they could.





While Joe Biden struggled onstage, party plotters scripted his premature exit.


The original title of this masterpiece is: ‘The Democratic Coup.’


By Matt Taibbi

28 June 2024


When the most deranged and disturbing presidential debate in our history was over, the event’s cable hosts, CNN, tossed to mild-mannered John King for instant reaction. The silver-haired anchor, whose typical specialty is fussing over the “Magic Wall” electoral map on election nights, performed a grimmer duty last night:


               “There is a deep, a wide, and a very aggressive panic in the Democratic Party… It involves party strategists, elected officials, and fundraisers. And they’re having conversations about the president’s performance, which they think was dismal… They’re having conversations as to what they should do about it. Some of those conversations include, “Should we go to the White House and ask the president to step aside?


Whoa. Murder on the CNN Express continued around a table of analysts who’ve been telling us for years that Joe Biden is a fit president. Each now echoed King. “The panic that I am hearing from Democrats is not like anything that I have heard,” concurred Abby Phillip. “They are now seeing a President… they do not necessarily believe they can do this for another four years.”


Barack Obama’s right hand, David Axelrod, said: “I can’t argue with either of them about how Democratic leaders are reacting.” Playing the schmaltz role, Van Jones said tearfully, “I love Joe Biden,” but “We’re going to want to see him consider taking a different course now.”


On MSNBC, whose brand is more hysteric loyalism, Joy Reid read the same script:


My phone never stopped buzzing throughout. The universal reaction was somewhere approaching panic… It’s not a whole drumbeat yet, but there is talk of… I happen to know a lot of politicians. They all believe they have a unique ability to run the race they passionately want, and I know that Joe Biden believes he is the only person who can beat Donald Trump… The problem is, after tonight, his party doesn’t think that.


Was that sentiment really “universal?”


Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe seemed to say yes. Introduced by a crestfallen Rachel Maddow as someone who’d been on the phone all night with “muckety-mucks” and people “we gingerly call the donor class,” Plouffe laid down a grim sound bite. “It’s a DEFCON 1 moment,” he said. Regarding Trump and Biden, he added. “They’re three years apart. They seemed about thirty.”


If you listened closely, you would hear different camps. Back on CNN, former Biden press secretary Kate Bedingfield, passing on views of the Biden campaign, offered that “their dials started moving away from Trump” as the debate progressed. Jill Biden — we have to consider Jill Biden — shouted with the vigor her husband needed, “Joe, you did such a great job… You knew all the facts!” But this was after guiding him down debate stairs in an instantly viral scene, and by morning, the firing squad across from her family had expanded exponentially. The judgments seemed too unanimous to be coincidence:


The New York Times op-ed page was an unbroken mass of calls for Biden to step down. “President Biden, I’ve Seen Enough,” declared Nicholas Kristof. “Joe Biden Is a Good Man and a Good President. He Must Bow Out of the Race,” agreed Thomas Friedman. “was Frank Bruni’s offering. The Times “Matter of Opinion” podcast saw Ross Douthat, Michelle Cottle, and Ezra Klein unite under an “I Don’t Think Joe Biden should be running” headline. Calling Biden “ancient,” Michelle Goldberg added, “There will now be a new chorus of cries for him to drop out, and I’ll be joining it.”


It was the same thing all over. The Atlantic headlines were “Time to Go, Joe” by Mark Leibovich and “Dropping Out is Joe Biden’s Most Patriotic Option” by Jerusalem Demsas. At the Washington Post, Ramesh Ponnuru’s construction, which will be famous, was, “Trump is too dangerous for Democrats to stick with Biden.”



Opinions also converted to news quickly. “Here’s How Democrats Could Replace Biden,” offered Politico, in a handy field guide to how a voterless coup would be executed (over half of Biden’s pledged delegates would have to renounce him to open a floor fight on the convention).


“‘WTF’: Panicked Dems start looking for alternatives to Biden” seemed to promise that Politico reporters would produce a list of new candidates, but the body of the piece featured both Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and California’s Gavin Newsom, who just happened to have a televised press availability late last night, dutifully refusing the crown (“You don’t turn your back because of one performance,” said Newsom). The rest of the Politico article offered quotes like this:


               “Our only hope is that he bows out, we have a brokered convention, or dies,” the donor adviser said.


               “Otherwise, we are fucking dead.”


What happened in the debate Thursday night was so inexplicable in so many respects that it’s hard to know what we watched. An event featuring Donald Trump will be remembered almost entirely for quotes by Joe Biden, from “We finally beat Medicare” to the 32 (reportedly) uses of “The idea!” to the word salads about in-law rape and “the total initiative relative to what we’re going to with Border Patrol” and many other moments.


It is hard to believe that Biden’s circle didn’t know this would happen. It’s not particularly easy to think of a scenario in which he was intentionally thrown in a wood chipper as a trigger for this seemingly coordinated assassination last night and this morning.


The scenario that makes the most sense to me at the moment is that Biden’s inner team thought they could pull this off — he’s survived so many previous tests, like the State of the Union — but a waiting gang of party vultures led perhaps by figures from Chicago, decided to pounce mid-debate and put calls into media mouthpieces before the end of the event. This looked, in other words, like a genuine coup, with party figures agreeing in Shakespearean fashion to take frail Caesar out before his convention coronation.


Whatever the explanation, it’s game on now. Having all committed to Biden’s removal, the press and the people “we gingerly call the donor class” can’t back out now. If the President doesn’t go quietly, we’ll see something unprecedented unfold.


The Greeks are cool with it. Close your eyes, Joe.


Walter and I will do a brief “Morning After: Recapping the Trump-Biden Debate” livestream at 11 AM ET today. Click here for YouTube, for Rumble, or go to @mtaibbi to watch on X/Twitter.





Making a Difference – The Means, Methods, and Mechanism for Many to Move Mountains


Photo Credit: Abraham A. van Kempen, our home away from home on the Dead Sea


By Abraham A. van Kempen

Senior Editor
Updated 19 January 2024


Those who commit to 'healing our broken humanity' build intercultural bridges to learn to know and understand one another and others. Readers who thumb through the Building the Bridge (BTB) pages are not mindless sheep following other mindless sheep. They THINK. They want to be at the forefront of making a difference. They're in search of the bigger picture to expand their horizons. They don't need BTB or anyone else to confirm their biases.

Making a Difference – The Means, Methods, and Mechanism for Many to Move Mountains

Accurate knowledge promotes understanding, dispels prejudice, and awakens the desire to learn more. Words have an extraordinary power to bring people together, divide them, forge bonds of friendship, or provoke hostility. Modern technology offers unprecedented possibilities for good, fostering harmony and reconciliation. Yet its misuse can do untold harm, leading to misunderstanding, prejudice, and conflict.


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