@petesouza: President Obama in the Oval Office, talking on phone to German Chancellor Merkel
2:15 EDT: The President meets with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania, and President Andris Bērziņš of Latvia; the Vice President also attends
CBS: Obama administration set to release Syria intel report
The administration will release on Friday a declassified version of its intelligence report on last week’s purported Syria chemical weapons attack, a senior administration official told CBS News late Thursday.
The official also said the administration would go public with its legal justification for taking military action against the Syrian regime if and when President Obama orders a strike.
A few days ago, it was largely seen as a fait accompli – British Prime Minister David Cameron would get approval from the British Parliament for the use of force in Syria, and a coalition would move forward apace.
With these expectations in mind, last night’s developments were as stunning as they were dramatic. For the first time in generations, a British prime minister’s appeal for military authorization was rejected by members of Parliament, even after Cameron watered down the scope of his original request.
It’s safe to assume the White House, which appears eager to intervene in Syria and assumed the UK’s support was in hand, was rattled by Parliament’s decision. Indeed, it left President Obama in an unsettling global dynamic….
Another Obamascare article is making the rounds. This one, from National Journal, is about what people buying their own insurance will pay on the new Obamacare exchanges — and how those prices compare to what people pay when they get coverage from their employers.
“For the vast majority of Americans,” reporter Clara Ritger writes, “premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. … Whether the quality of care in the new market is comparable to private offerings remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: The cost of care in the new market doesn’t stack up.”
…. this analysis doesn’t really tell us what the Obamacare critics think it does. In fact, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t really tell us what Ritger thinks it does….
Wow. National Journal really booted one today on the Affordable Care Act …..it should be tossed in the garbage…
….. National Journal only has initial estimates of what plans in the exchanges will look like; over time, we don’t know how they’ll change. And, yes, there is surely a fair amount of uncertainty about how employers will react over time.
What we do know, however, suggests that this National Journal analysis doesn’t get it right, at all.
Steve Benen: Eric Holder steps up, digs in, and breaks out
…. Eric Holder appears to have quietly positioned himself not only as a progressive champion, but as one of the more accomplished attorneys general in recent memory.
Think about some of the recent policies Holder has chosen to tackle: voting rights; sentencing reforms; condemnations of “Stand Your Ground” laws, and of course the drug policy announced yesterday. These are critically important law-enforcement policies, some of which have been neglected and ignored by officials in both parties for years, long in need of leadership – which Holder is now providing…..
FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence
The Obama administration announced two new common-sense executive actions to keep the most dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands and ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities. These executive actions build on the 23 executive actions that the Vice President recommended as part of the comprehensive gun violence reduction plan and the President unveiled on January 16, 2013.
Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the President and Vice President remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence.
Treasury: All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”
TPM: Is This The Beginning Of The End Of The War On Drugs?
It’s America’s 40-year war. From Nixon through Nancy — “Just Say No!” — to Clinton not inhaling. From coke to crack to meth.
Throughout the War on Drugs, the drive has been for more law enforcement, stiffer sentences and less tolerance. The limitations of interdiction and incarceration are well-documented. But the push for harsher penalties rarely abated, and the emphasis remained on drugs as a criminal matter for law enforcement. Until Thursday, when the first real retreat of any kind was made official.
The Justice Department’s announcement that it would not block Colorado and Washington from implementing state laws legalizing marijuana marked a sea change.
The biggest news of the day is the confirmation by the South China Morning Post that Edward Snowden went after the NSA job with the express purpose of accessing and leaking US security secrets. He has gone from “whistleblower”—which he never was—to pretty much of a spy and traitor.
Now he’s holed up in Russia, where it’s quite certain that the FSB is pumping him dry, at least as dry as Chinese intelligence did. And his whirlwind tour of quasi-democracies and outright dictatorships puts paid to the idea that he’s a starry-eyed defender of democratic ideals.
Daniel W. Drezner (Foreign Policy): Why Obama is arming Syria’s rebels: it’s the realism, stupid.
…. is this the first step towards another U.S.-led war in the region? No. Everything in that Times story, and everything this administration has said and done for the past two years, screams deep reluctance over intervention. Arming the rebels is not the same thing as a no-fly zone or any kind of ground intervention. This is simply the United States engaging in its own form of asymmetric warfare. For the low, low price of aiding and arming the rebels, the U.S. preoccupies all of its adversaries in the Middle East.
…. Now let’s be clear: to describe this as “morally questionable” would be an understatement. It’s a policy that makes me very uncomfortable… until one considers the alternatives. What it’s not, however, is a return to liberal hawkery.
So, to conclude: the United States is using a liberal internationalist rubric to cloak a pretty realist policy towards Syria.
Steve Benen: It was just three weeks ago that President Obama made a persuasive case for closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. He described a military prison that costs too much, has become an international embarrassment, and is filled with “people who have been charged with no crime.”
…. Last week, House Republicans once again barred the Obama administration from transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Friday, against a backdrop of a terrible hunger strike, a Democratic effort to do the right thing was easily defeated in the face of mindless, reactionary conservative opposition.
Kurt Eichenwald: PRISM Isn’t Data Mining and Other Falsehoods in the N.S.A. “Scandal”
I can’t stand it.
A few days ago, I wrote in some detail about the National Security Agency’s data-mining program in hopes of calming the hysteria that has been whipped up in the last number of days by incorrect and misleading reports, as well as by plenty of ill-informed commentary based on those errors. At this point, I’ve decided that I need to tell a little bit more…..
Tommy Christopher (Mediaite): …. Glenn Greenwald and his source, whistle-and-country-blower Edward Snowden, have completely taken over the political media with revelations that hype well, but don’t amount to much upon closer examination. Now, Greenwald promises more (and more devastating) revelations to come, but what has been revealed so far is about as alarming as an epidemic of Pac Man Fever….
…. That hasn’t stopped the media from going all Chicken Little, some because they’re desperate to “have the conversation,” some because they want to attack President Obama to prove varying types of cred, and some because they’d like even less fettering of the surveillance state. I think we do need to “have the conversation” about government surveillance, but it should begin in 1978, not last week, when the world discovered that the first black president was in charge of it….