Critics of American military action in Syria are right to point out all the risks and uncertainties of missile strikes, and they have American public opinion on their side. But for those of you who oppose cruise missile strikes, what alternative do you favor?
It’s all very well to urge the United Nations and Arab League to do more, but that means that Syrians will continue to be killed at a rate of 5,000 every month….
…. A decade ago, I was aghast that so many liberals were backing the Iraq war. Today, I’m dismayed that so many liberals, disillusioned by Iraq, seem willing to let an average of 165 Syrians be killed daily rather than contemplate missile strikes that just might, at the margins, make a modest difference.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the number of dead in the civil war, is exasperated at Western doves who think they are taking a moral stance.
…. how is being “pro-peace” in this case much different in effect from being “pro-Assad” and resigning oneself to the continued slaughter of civilians?
Though his popularity is down from its peak in 2009, President Obama remains the world’s most popular leader among the world’s citizens as the G20 gathers for a summit in Russia, according to Pew Research.
“Only Angela Merkel comes close to the breadth of Obama’s popularity,” writes Pew’s Andrew Kohut. However, Obama inspired more confidence than the German chancellor in seven out of eight major German countries polled last year.
…. President’s Obama’s median popularity of 42 percent is more than double that of G20 summit host Vladimir Putin’s 19 percent. The only country where Putin inspires more confidence than Obama is China.
Smartypants: Why The Most Liberal President In A Generation Is Driving Some Progressives Bonkers
Just as President Obama is taking huge steps to walk back the imperial presidency and making tremendous strides on issues like health care reform and LGBT rights and ending the war on drugs and fighting to curb climate change and ending the perpetual war and taking on the NRA and fighting for immigration reform and trying to curb the rising costs of college tuition and proposing things like a minimum wage increase along with universal day care, there is a group of progressives who have gone absolutely bonkers with their conspiracy theories about him. As Bob Cesca points out this morning, many of them are are so deranged that they’re staring to line up with tea party libertarians to destroy the Democratic Party.
Its no wonder that many of us are saying “WTH? Why now? You want to jump ship just when we’re starting to make some progress?”
To be honest, I’ve been trying to understand this particular variety of Obama Derangement Syndrome for quite a while now.
If there’s anyone in America who should go enjoy a little quiet time right about now, it’s failed former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld. Nevertheless, he just keeps talking, appearing this morning on Fox News (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up) …Rumsfeld, who earned public scorn for his leadership of the Pentagon during the Iraq War, said Obama didn’t need to ask Congress for authorization and may have made a mistake in doing so.
Rumsfeld, who seemed generally supportive of intervention in Syria, added that President Obama “doesn’t have the kind of support that President Bush had in respect to his military actions.” Yep, he really said that. Part of me continues to wonder why Rumsfeld is still allowed to speak in polite company. Lance Armstrong isn’t asked for his opinions about athletes and performance-enhancing drugs; Miley Cyrus isn’t sought out for analysis on public modesty; so why should anyone take seriously what Donald Rumsfeld has to say foreign policy and the use of military force abroad?
Jonathan Cohn: ObamaCare Implementation: Clinton Speech Gives The Big Picture
The Secretary of Explaining Stuff is back on the job. On Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech about Obamacare—why it was necessary, how it will work, and what it will do in the future. In the speech, Clinton acknowledged some of Obamacare’s flaws and he urged Republicans to join Democrats in trying to fix them.
But Clinton also pointed out the benefits Obamacare has already produced. Young adults are getting insurance through their parents. The insured have new consumer protections, like those eliminating lifetime limits on benefits. Seniors have more coverage of prescription drugs and preventative services. The list goes on: In all, many millions of Americans are better off because of these provisions. Meanwhile, the year-to-year increases in health care spending have been lower than usual, which means government is saving money and premiums for the privately insured aren’t rising as fast as they would be otherwise. Obamacare isn’t the only reason for this change and it probably isn’t the primary reason, either. But most experts think it has played a role.
Those savings are likely to grow with time. Health improvement might follow, since the changes underway—like a reduction in hospital readmisisons—save lives as well as money. And that’s not all—not by a longshot. Starting next year, millions of people without insurance today will get coverage via expanded state Medicaid programs or through the new insurance exchanges. Thanks to generous federal subsidies, many people will pay less for their insurance than they pay now. And those who do pay more will at least have more comprehensive and stable coverage, while paying premiums that are pretty much comparable to what employer-sponsored insurance costs. Oh, and if the Congressional Budget Office is right, the deficit will be lower than it might otherwise be.
A Year Ago Yesterday (Chips had the photo and video ready to post yesterday, but then glitch-a-rama struck):
President Obama and his daughters Malia and Sasha watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama begins her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Sept. 4, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
On This Day:
President Obama hugs a woman in the crowd after addressing the Labor Day celebration in Detroit, Mich., Sept. 5, 2011 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Supporters engulf Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) during a rally at the Xcel Energy Center June 3, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination following primaries in South Dakota and Montana
Michael Cohen (The Guardian): What makes the Republican position on Medicaid expansion truly sick – In their ideological vendetta against Obamacare, red states seem more willing to let low-income people die than get healthcare
If you want to get a sense of the enfeebled and wanton state of the modern Republican party, there really is no better place to start than on the issue of Medicaid, the federal program that provides healthcare coverage for the poor.
In a desperate effort to undermine the law they hate, Obamacare, Republican governors and state legislatures in half the states have either rejected or intend to reject a key part of the president’s signature domestic initiative – namely, billions in federal dollars to extend Medicaid coverage to their poorest citizens. While Republicans argue they are acting out of high-minded fiscal rectitude, the reality speaks to something else altogether – petulance and hyper-partisanship.
…. Republicans are searching for ways to rehabilitate their image. It ain’t gonna be easy so long as they operate as though saving money – and keeping their ideological purity intact – is more important than reducing suffering and saving lives.
Jonathan Cohn (New Republic): If you want to know why we can’t have an honest debate about Obamacare, all you have to do is pay attention to some recent news from California – and the way a highly distorted version of it, by one irresponsible writer, has rippled through the conservative press.
Greg Sargent: John Boehner’s office is circulating Charles Krauthammer’s column, which argues that Republicans should call Obama’s sequester “bluff” and make no concessions whatsoever in revenues to avert the sequester. This is still more confirmation that the GOP’s explicit position is that allowing the sequester to happen – which Republicans themselves say will gut the military and tank the economy – is preferable to compromising at all with Dems, and that they will use the threat of disaster to force a solution that averts the sequester only by giving Republicans everything they want.
….. we’re back to exactly where we were during the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling fights. Republicans are explicitly and openly using the prospect of serious harm to millions and millions of Americans to force Democrats to agree to a deal that gives Republicans everything that they want, while requiring them to make no concessions whatsoever….
Steve Benen: When it comes to the looming, automatic sequestration cuts, there seem to be two broader debates happening simultaneously. The first, more important question deals with what’s going to happen with the policy itself, and the scope of the damage it could do to the economy, the military, and the country.
The second question is a little pettier: who came up with this awful idea in the first place? A Republican National Committee spokesperson, echoing his party’s favorite new talking point, insists this is all President Obama’s fault.
…. Does the GOP have a point on this? Was the policy actually Obama’s idea? No. The argument is not only wrong, it’s dependent on the entire political world having a very short memory …. Since this has become such an important element of the larger fight, let’s take a minute to set the record straight…..
Business Insider: …. Charles Krauthammer writes that Republicans should “call Obama’s sequester bluff.” It’s being passed around by Republicans and other conservatives on Twitter and in email blasts. His argument – which exemplifies a typical conservative shift on the sequester recently – is that Republicans now have leverage on the sequester over President Barack Obama…..
…. Krauthammer wasn’t always so bullish on using the sequester as a tool for leverage. Last May, he warned in an appearance on Fox News that letting the cuts go into effect would be a “catastrophe” for the nation’s defense…..
…. The conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal advanced a similar argument on Thursday. In an editorial entitled “The Unscary Sequester,” the editorial board disputed Washington’s “collective fit of terror.”
…. Then there’s the editorial the board wrote not even seven months ago. It used the same language as Krauthammer – “catastrophe,” which it wrote was “playing out in slow motion.” The board also said that Obama had the leverage, and that it would be a “dangerous game” to play with the sequester.
RollCall: President Barack Obama has agreed to do more than just raise money for House Democrats’ effort to win back the majority in 2014: He is also going to help with candidate recruitment.
Obama will headline eight fundraising events in 2013 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and more fundraisers are planned for 2014. But Obama’s agreement to help DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York make the sell to would-be candidates in targeted districts is also significant.
“It’s transformational,” Israel said in an interview, adding that House Democrats are “firing on all cylinders like I’ve never seen before.”
The president’s efforts to assist House Democrats politically are more than Israel initially even asked for.
Ari Berman (The Nation): In 2006, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for another twenty-five years. The legislation passed 390–33 in the House and 98–0 in the Senate. Every top Republican supported the bill …. Civil rights leaders flanked George W. Bush at the signing ceremony.
Seven years later, the bipartisan consensus that supported the VRA for nearly fifty years has collapsed, and conservatives are challenging the law as never before. Last November, three days after a presidential election in which voter suppression played a starring role, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Section 5 of the VRA, which compels parts or all of sixteen states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to clear election-related changes with the federal government. The case will be heard on February 27.
The lawsuit, originating in Shelby County, Alabama, is backed by leading operatives and funders in the conservative movement, along with Republican attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas….
Washington Post: First lady Michelle Obama will join some of Illinois’ most recognizable politicians and clergy Saturday to mourn a 15-year-old honor student whose death has drawn attention to staggering gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city.
But Hadiya Pendleton’s family says her Saturday funeral service won’t be about politics, but about remembering a girl who loved to dance, once appeared in an anti-gang video and died just days after performing at one of President Barack Obama’s inauguration events.
None of the dignitaries are slated to speak during the service. The teen’s pastor and brother will talk, and the musical group Pendleton was a member of will perform.
NYT: Among the victims of gun violence who will be sitting in the House chamber on Tuesday night when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address will be a teacher who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Natalie Hammond, who reportedly took bullet wounds to the leg, foot and hand but narrowly escaped with her life, will attend the speech as the guest of her congresswoman, Elizabeth Esty, the representative for Newtown, Conn.
Ms. Hammond, the school’s lead teacher, and another school employee were the only two people to survive after being shot by the gunman, Adam Lanza. Ms. Hammond will be one of the many victims of gun violence who will attend the State of the Union address.
WH: On Friday, February 15, President Obama will welcome the recipients of the 2012 Citizens Medal to the White House for a special ceremony to recognize their efforts to serve their communities, and inspire others to do the same.
10:40: Delivers remarks at Austin Straubel International Airport, Green Bay
11:45: Departs Green Bay
1:15: Arrives Las Vegas
2:10: Delivers remarks at Cheyenne Sports Complex, Las Vegas
3:25: Departs Las Vegas
5:55: Arrives Denver, Colorado
7:0: Delivers remarks at Coors Events Center, Denver
8:45: Departs Denver
1:05: Arrives Columbus, Ohio where he will stay overnight
Steve Benen: If the White House hopes to see initial unemployment claims drop just before the election, officials got their wish. The new figures from the Department of Labor – the last report before Election Day – show a move in the right direction:
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 363,000 in the week of Oct. 21-27, keeping them in a range that indicates little change in U.S. hiring patterns over the past few months. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to fall to 365,000. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 372,000 from an original reading of 369,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Toledo Blade: In the final few days of the presidential contest, Mitt Romney evidently recognizes that his opposition to the federal rescue of General Motors and Chrysler is costing him voter support he needs in Ohio and Michigan. So the Republican nominee is conducting an exercise in deception about auto-industry issues that is remarkable even by the standards of his campaign.
…. Mr. Romney’s own words make clear he is no friend of the auto industry, on which Ohio relies for one of every eight jobs. Voters in Ohio and Michigan — and the nation — need to remember that.
NYT Editorial: When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.
Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.
….. Mr. Romney is providing a grim preview of what kind of president he would be.
Greg Sargent: The chatter continues this morning about GOP Governor Chris Christie’s astonishingly effusive praise of Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy. After they toured the damage yesterday, Christie thanked Obama for their “great working relationship” and claimed Obama “sprung into action immediately.” The day before, Christie praised Obama’s storm response as “outstanding,” adding: “He deserves my praise, and he will get it regardless of what the calendar says.”
What’s striking about this is how directly it undermines one of the central arguments Mitt Romney is making against Obama, with only five days left until Election Day … Romney has been closing out the campaign with a series of ads claiming that he will work with Democrats to get things done in Washington and arguing that Obama utterly failed to persuade Republicans to work with him….
Now Americans are being treated to images of a Republican Governor extensively praising Obama for working with him cooperatively and displaying leadership and a propensity for quick action at a time of crisis.
Winston-Salem Journal: Americans have a clear choice between two presidential candidates with starkly different ideas for spurring the economy, providing for the health of our people, defending our interests abroad, educating our children and protecting our environment. We believe that President Barack Obama’s progress on these issues merits him a second term in the White House.
Four years ago on this page, we endorsed Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona over Obama. We wrote that we were impressed with Obama, but McCain would “bring the Iraq war to a successful conclusion, work to end American dependence on foreign oil, reduce America’s output of climate-changing gases and begin the rebuilding of our economy.”
The Democratic president has done all those things and more. He is calm under pressure and courageous in standing up for the rights of all Americans, including the poor, veterans, the elderly, women, gays and immigrants. In contrast, we’ve sometimes found it hard in the last few weeks to tell just what Obama’s challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, really stands for.
…. Obama has a keen vision that he has worked hard to achieve, against considerable obstacles and often courageously. But the goal is in sight: An America respected worldwide as much for its prosperity as its defense of liberty and justice.
The Journal editorial board endorses Barack Obama for president.
Kansas City Star: Barack Obama volunteer Marilynn Wadden rang more than a dozen doorbells in her first hour canvassing a tidy neighborhood here before stopping to take stock of her progress… If the race is close here and elsewhere, the outcome may come down to how well Obama volunteers like Wadden do their jobs – compelling everyone they can to go to the polls…
…. even Republicans acknowledge that Obama has an advantage on the ground in most if not all of the most hotly contested battleground states. In Iowa alone, Obama has 67 offices to Romney’s 13.
…. Obama backers refuse to cede ground in their quest to turn out every voter they can.
Not registered to vote? Obama’s team can help. Registered but not sure about plans on Election Day? Obama’s campaign can mail you a ballot. Forget to return the ballot? Obama’s volunteers offer a reminder. Need a ride to the polls? Obama’s volunteers can drive.
Obama’s volunteers appear to be having impact. Democrats report an almost 4-to-1 advantage among voters asking for ballots by mail in Iowa.
The vigor among the ranks appears to grow as Election Day nears.
“It’s our time to go out and lace up our sneakers, put on our walking shoes,” Norma Comstock, 71, a leader in the campaign’s Sioux City office, said recently as she gave her fellow volunteers a pep talk. “This isn’t a sure thing. We’ve got to fight every day between now and Nov. 6 so President Obama can keep fighting for us.”
Reuters: President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are neck and neck in opinion polls, but there is one area in which the incumbent appears to have a big advantage: those who have already cast their ballots.
Obama leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.
The sample size of early voters is relatively small, but the Democrat’s margin is still well above the poll’s credibility interval – a measurement of polls’ accuracy – of 10 percentage points
2:0: Michelle Obama speaks to grassroots supporters in Cincinnati
9:25: Michelle Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event in Seattle
CBS have the first speech in their schedule, not sure whether the second one will be shown
Detroit News: General Motors said its September sales rose 1.5 percent to 210,245 vehicles, marking its best September since 2008.
Chrysler Group LLC beat analyst expectations as its September sales rose 12 percent, while Ford Motor Co. sales remained flat in September compared to the same month a year ago.
GM said passenger car sales jumped 29 percent from the same month a year ago, while sales of mini, small and compacts shot up a combined 97 percent.
….. Chrysler reported its best September sales total in five years. The Auburn Hills automaker sold 142,041 vehicles last month; September also marked the 30th consecutive month that Chrysler has experienced year-over-year sales gains.
CNNMoney: American Express will refund $85 million for what government officials called deceptive practices involving about 250,000 customers.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday that American Express (AXP, Fortune 500) subsidiaries illegally charged late fees, deceived customers by promising non-existent money rewards, and discriminated against new applicants over the age of 35.
“Laws were violated at all stages of the game,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray in a statement …. In addition to refunding customers, American Express will pay a $27.5 million penalty…
Quinnipiac: An 18 point lead among women puts President Barack Obama ahead of Gov. Mitt Romney 49 – 45 percent among likely voters nationwide, and voters expect 54 – 28 percent that the president will win the debates, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
…. “It is very difficult to win an election when you are getting shellacked among women,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac.