President Obama Talks to Thomas L. Friedman About Iraq, Putin and Israel
President Obama’s hair is definitely grayer these days, and no doubt trying to manage foreign policy in a world of increasing disorder accounts for at least half of those gray hairs. (The Tea Party can claim the other half.) But having had a chance to spend an hour touring the horizon with him in the White House Map Room late Friday afternoon, it’s clear that the president has a take on the world, born of many lessons over the last six years, and he has feisty answers for all his foreign policy critics.
Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished. The United States is not going to be the air force of Iraqi Shiites or any other faction. Despite Western sanctions, he cautioned, President Vladimir Putin of Russia “could invade” Ukraine at any time, and, if he does, “trying to find our way back to a cooperative functioning relationship with Russia during the remainder of my term will be much more difficult.” Intervening in Libya to prevent a massacre was the right thing to do, Obama argued, but doing it without sufficient follow-up on the ground to manage Libya’s transition to more democratic politics is probably his biggest foreign policy regret.
This made me smile – Knoller has been getting epic push-back on Twitter in recent days for his shilling, and his obsession with the President’s vacation. So much so, he now has an army of Teabaggers following him (just check any of the comments under his tweets). So, maybe the pressure actually left him feeling obliged to tweet at least one bit of honesty:
Pete Souza: “The President, in the process of saluting, participates in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of U.S. and Afghan personnel who died in Afghanistan a few days earlier. Many family members and friends of the special forces who died in this incident requested a copy of the photograph and later wrote me how much it meant to them.” Aug. 9, 2011
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On This Day – Pete Souza: “We were walking through a locker room at the University of Texas when White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson stopped to weigh himself on a scale. Unbeknownst to him, the President was stepping on the back of the scale, as Marvin continued to slide the scale lever. Everyone but Marvin was in on the joke.” Aug. 9, 2010
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MoooOOOooorning everyone! Another rushed R&S, will try to catch up through the day.
Last night President Barack Obama announced that he had ordered airstrikes against ISIL positions in northern Iraq.
He didn’t do this to secure oil fields. He didn’t do this to project US power in the Middle East. He didn’t do this in some sort of misplaced revenge.
He did this, as he stated quite clearly, to prevent a genocide.
The Yazidi community—descendants of the Zoroastrians who used to rule the area—has come under attack by the militants of ISIL. ISIL’s intent is clear: wipe out the community. Whether it be starvation in the mountains or slaughter on the plains is of no matter to them. (Although I think those brainwashed fundamentalists would love nothing more than to mow down unarmed men, women, and children.)
Of course, ISIL is a direct result of the chaos unleashed by former president George W. Bush in 2003 with his invasion of Iraq. No, I’m not carrying water for Saddam Hussein. He was a murderous, psychopathic dictator. However, he maintained a level of stability via his terror. The Bush Administration had no plan for what would replace Saddam, Donald Rumsfeld famously saying that US troops would be out of Iraq within six months. Six months turned into seven years, while Mr. Bush’s best and brightest were found out to be the worst and dullest, fumbling around for one solution after another which never worked out. The solution finally decided upon—the regime of Nouri Al-Maliki and his Shi’ite maximalists—was probably the worst possible choice. Replacing a Sunni dictatorship with a Shi’a dictatorship proved not only hypocritical, but suicidal. Mr. al-Maliki, for all his venality, hasn’t been able to project the terror which Saddam did to keep the various sects in line. And the Iraq invasion unleashed all sorts of ethnic and confessional demands. But most importantly, al Qaeda, which had never been in Iraq or the greater Middle East before 2003, suddenly found purchase amidst the chaos. Mr. Bush’s lie that the US invaded Iraq to fight AQ became true after the hornet’s nest he stirred up. ISIL is a direct descendant of those first AQ cadres. So, as with our support of Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s leading to the formation of al Qaeda, our invasion of Iraq has led to predictable blowback in the form of ISIL.
Every time Mr. Bush had the chance to do the right thing in response to the 9/11 attacks, he chose to fulfill neo-conservative wet dreams of remaking the Middle East in America’s image, and subservient to US interests. And he never seemed to be bothered by the thousands of people—Americans and Iraqis—he sent to death.
Rabbi David Saperstein claps as President Obama approaches to sign an executive order to protect LGBT employees from federal workplace discrimination
Surrounded by LGBT supporters, including Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, President Barack Obama signs executive orders to protect LGBT employees from federal workplace discrimination in the East Room of the White House. President Obama’s executive orders prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender workers in the federal government and its contracting agencies, without a new exemption that was requested by some religious organizations
President Obama arrives to make a statement on the situation in Ukraine and Gaza
President Obama attends a town hall meeting to discuss his My Brother’s Keeper initiative while at the Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington. President Obama announced that leaders of 60 of the largest school systems have pledged to expand minority boys’ access to better preschools and advanced classes and to try to prevent grade retention, suspensions and expulsions
President Obama bestows former Army Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts with the Medal of Honor in the East Room of the White House. Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the nation’s highest decoration for battlefield valor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan
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Chips butting in on Nerdy’s post:
A year ago today, the weirdest thing happened: Manchester United and Chelsea teamed up.
Yup, it’s exactly 12 months since Chelsea Girl took over the running of TOD with me, and I don’t have to tell you how much she has contributed since then, or how much work she has put in to the site with wonderful posts like this, every single day. And without her, TOD honestly wouldn’t even exist any more.
Thank you for everything – your intelligence, your energy, your passion, your determination, your dedication, your friendship, and your support.
It was a very, very happy day when you came in to TOD’s life, and mine.
I woke up this morning to a disturbingly silly headline. President Obama is the worst president since World War II, according to a plurality of voters in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. When you look beneath the numbers, it’s not what it looks like. Only about 33 percent of those polled called Obama the worst president, but that number roughly mirrors the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans, a group which has tried to sabotage, block, sue and impeach the president in recent years. So for the moment, forget what the polls say. The facts tell the real story of the Obama presidency, and the facts are damn good, especially compared to his predecessor. Under President Obama, the unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent in 2009 to 6.3 percent today. Under George W. Bush, on the other hand, the unemployment rate rose from 4.2 percent to 7.8 percent. Under President Obama, the U.S. economy is gaining 200,000 jobs a month.
When Bush left office, however, we were losing 700,000 jobs a month. Under President Obama, at least 24 million people have gotten health insurance. The rate of uninsured has declined from 18 percent to 13.4 percent and the rate for Blacks has dropped dramatically from 20.9 percent to 14.7 percent. And despite all the exaggerated GOP claims that Obamacare would be a “job killer,” we’ve actually added more than 9 million new private sector jobs since the president signed the law. Under President Obama, businesses are also booming again. In the first few weeks of his presidency, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was sitting at 6547. Today it’s close to 17,000, a 10,000 point increase in five years!
And corporate profits hit an all-time record high just last year. President Obama ended the war in Iraq, drew down troops in Afghanistan, captured Osama Bin Laden, averted a second depression, helped to rescue the financial sector, stabilized home prices and saved more than a million jobs in the auto industry. At the same time, he enacted the most sweeping health care reform legislation in 50 years, something Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton couldn’t do, and which Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes never wanted to do. as a student of history, as an unapologetic liberal, as an African-American, as a gay man, as a supporter of equal rights for women and as someone who knows what it’s like to lose a job and live without health insurance, I’d say President Obama has done more good for this country than any president before him.
ThinkProgress: Boehner Will Sue Obama For Stuff He Thought Was Totally Fine Under George W. Bush
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) confirmed Wednesday that he will file a federal lawsuit challenging the executive actions of President Barack Obama, despite supporting President George W. Bush’s extensive use of executive authority. … President Obama has issued about 180 executive orders — a power that has been utilized by every president since George Washington except for the brief-tenured William Henry Harrison …. But Boehner embraced the power of a Republican president to take action, even at times when he would circumvent Congress by doing so… … As of February, Obama had issued fewer executive orders than all but one of the other presidents since World War II.
Steve Benen: Boehner Readies Frivolous Anti-Obama Lawsuit
I can think of some dangerous moves Boehner has made since becoming Speaker, including threatening to trash the full faith and credit of the United States on purpose. I can also think of some reckless moves he’s made, including shutting down the government. I can even think of some irresponsible moves from the Speaker, including refusing to compromise on pretty much any area of public policy. But I can’t think of anything quite as dumb from the last several years as this lawsuit.
Indeed, the Speaker himself couldn’t actually identify by name anything the president has done that warrants a legal challenge. Boehner is outraged by Obama’s use of executive power. And what, pray tell, has offended the Speaker? He didn’t say. I’m sure he’ll think of something to justify his lawsuit eventually, right? … It’s an embarrassment to the institution and the nation, but at this point, that simply means more of the same.
BBC: Iraqi PM Welcomes Syria Air Strike On Border Crossing
Prime Minister Nouri Maliki of Iraq has told the BBC he supports an air strike on Islamist militants at a border crossing between Iraq and Syria. Military and rebel sources say the strike took place inside Iraq, at the Qaim crossing, although Mr Maliki said it was carried out on the Syrian side. Isis and its Sunni Muslim allies seized large parts of Iraq this month. The government has struggled to hold back the militants’ advance from the north and west. It has also been receiving support from Iran, with whom its Shia Muslim leaders have close links. The Syrian air strikes show how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are merging together, with Isis as a common factor. Once-rival fighters on the Syrian side of the border at Qaim have now pledged allegiance to Isis, giving it control of both sides.
If US drones are not yet involved, they soon could be, illustrating how the threat posed by Isis is creating a convergence of interests between players who so far have been adversaries. That goes for Iran, too, which is deeply concerned about the sudden upheavals in Iraq. It has reinforced its positions along its own western border, where guards have been killed in an attack. There are reports that Iran has been heavily shelling border areas in the Kurdish mountains, where an Iranian Kurdish opposition group called Pejak has bases. The US, which also backs the government, has stressed that the militants can only be defeated by Iraq’s own forces. Mr Maliki is seeking to form a new government but has rejected calls to create an emergency coalition which would include all religious and ethnic groups.
Let us compare what Boehner says the president has done — which, by the way, he has done less than almost all of his immediate predecessors — and then let’s compare everything his House hasn’t done because it doesn’t like the president, his party, his politics, or (sadly) his race. Let us determine who is “faithfully executing” the jobs for which they all get paid.
Hell, let us determine who’s actually interested in governing the country, or is counsel for the plaintiff going to argue that, if the country elects a obstructionist Congress, and that Congress holds together, then the country need not necessarily be governed by anyone at all? That would be an interesting point to be litigated – if, again, this were a serious legal action, and not the latest and most elaborate clown show staged by a threadbare political circus.
Ikea plans to adopt a wage structure that it says will raise the average hourly minimum wage at its 38 stores in the United States to $10.76 an hour — a 17 percent increase. Ikea, which will be announcing its new wage policy on Thursday, said it would not impose an across-the-board minimum wage for its stores, but would instead set a minimum for each store based on the cost of living in that particular area. For example, the minimum wage will run from a low of $8.69 an hour at its stores in Pittsburgh and West Chester, Ohio, to $13.22 an hour at its store in Woodbridge, Va.
Ikea said that its new average minimum wage, $10.76 an hour, was $3.51 above the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The retailer’s decision was made as many low-wage workers and labor unions are pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage and after Gap Inc. informed its employees in February that it would set $9 as the minimum hourly rate for its United States work force this year and then establish a minimum of $10 next year.
The People’s View: Please Proceed, Mr. Speaker: Why John Boehner’s Hissy Fit Over Obama’s Executive Actions Will Backfire
John Boehner has decided to formalize his hissy fit in the form of a lawsuit against the President for acting on behalf of the American people by the means of administrative and executive authority, given the GOP’s absolute resolve to allow Congress to do nothing. I could walk you through the mind-numbingly boring and utterly clueless memo Boehner wrote to the House, but the gist of it is this: We, the GOP House will not do any work, and we will not let anyone else do any either.
The lawsuit, needless to say, is wholly without merit. So much so that Boehner’s own memo did not name a single executive action he believes violates or ovesteps the president’s Constitutional authority. Of course, sources say he will tell them later. I suppose the irony of asking his chamber to approve unchecked authority for him to pick and choose whatever he wants to sue the president Obama while complaining that Obama has acted in a “king-like” fashion is completely lost on the Speaker.
The Nation: The Media’s Disappearing Of Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program And Why It Matters
In Syria, the Obama administration just achieved an unprecedented foreign policy success in WMD nonproliferation, but you likely didn’t hear about it. Nine months after entering into joint negotiation with the Russians and Syria’s tyrannical President Bashar al-Assad, the last of that country’s 1,300 tons of declared chemical weapons began a journey to a chemical weapons-eating ship in the Mediterranean for destruction by the US.
The mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme has been a major undertaking marked by an extraordinary international cooperation. Never before has an entire arsenal of a category of weapons of mass destruction been removed from a country experiencing a state of internal armed conflict. And this has been accomplished within very demanding and tight timeframes. This successful dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons program by the US has been matched by an almost as successful disappearing of the news of it by the Beltway media, however.
Adam Chandler: Army Clears Bergdahl Of Any Misconduct During Captivity
As the Army continues to investigate whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is guilty of deserting his unit, this afternoon they said there is no reason to believe that Bergdahl engaged in any misconduct during his five years in captivity. In fact, that’s all that the Army said: We have no reason to believe that he engaged in any misconduct.”
Bergdahl electrified the national discourse last month after he was freed in a prisoner swap involving five members of the Taliban held at Guantanamo Bay. As charges against his character emerged, the narrative quickly shifted from Bergdahl as POW to Bergdahl as despicable deserter, unworthy bargaining chip, unwitting endangerer of America, and worse.
The People’s View: The Message from Mississippi: Democrats are Not Sitting it Out This Year
Last night marked the second high-stakes GOP primary where Democrats have screwed up the pollsters’ math. In Virginia’s 7th district, where knocking off an entrenched Republican incumbent in the primary would actually give the Democrat in the race a shot against a nutjob Teabagger, they knocked off Eric Cantor. Now in Mississippi, where a Democrat has a smaller chance of winning the Senate seat than a hailstorm in hell, Democrats – black Democrats – mowed down the Tea Party scourge like it’s nobody’s business.
TPM: First U.S. Appeals Court Finds A Right To Same-Sex Marriage
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Utah’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, becoming the first appellate court in the country to find a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.
“We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws,” Judge Carlos F. Lucero wrote in the decision for a three-judge panel. “A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”
Pew: After Decades Of Gop Support, Cubans Shifting Toward The Democratic Party
Cubans in the U.S. have long identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party, even as Hispanics overall have tilted Democrat. But the party affiliation of Cubans has undergone a shift over the past decade, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of survey data.
Less than half (47%) of Cuban registered voters nationwide now say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party—down from the 64% who said the same about the GOP a decade ago, according to 2013 survey data. Meanwhile, the share of Cubans who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has doubled from 22% to 44% over the same time period, according to the survey of Hispanics.
Washington Post: Brown, Hogan Win Gubernatorial Nominations; Democrat Frosh wins attorney general contest
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown cruised past his two rivals in Maryland’s bitter Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, setting up a November contest with GOP nominee Larry Hogan, a Cabinet secretary under the state’s last Republican chief executive. Brown would be Maryland’s first African American governor and only the third elected in the nation….
After going out on a not-so-wobbly limb to suggest that Republicans would push to impeach President Obama if they succeeded in retaking the Senate, George Will’s Sunday column read like a real threat. Fed up with what he views as Obama’s “offenses against the separation of powers,” the conservative columnist advocated that Congress sue the executive branch to stop a lawless president. Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner told the House Republican caucus that he was contemplating such a step.
The plan all along has been to crash the Obama agenda and then climb on top of the wreckage and seize power. Not only are Republicans complicit in the “failures” they rail against, but they are also the reason the president has had to resort to executive action to get some things done. Even Will agrees Obama is within his authority to do this. He just doesn’t like the degree to which he has done it. Poor dear.
President Obama jokingly reacts to news that staffer Nora Becker will be leaving to pursue a joint MD and PhD in healthcare economics, during the White House staff picnic on the South Lawn, June 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama holds a football while taking a phone call in the Oval Office, June 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama tosses a football with Trip Director Marvin Nicholson in the outer Oval Office on June 26, 2009. Personal Secretary Katie Johnson watches from her desk (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama stands in the Oval Office with a Hawaiian paddle that was given to him as a gift by chef Allen Wong, who catered the 2009 Presidential Luau, June 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany at the front door of the Oval Office, June 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron prepare to board Marine One at the Deerhurst Resort landing zone in Muskoka, Canada, following the conclusion of the G8 Summit, June 26, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama exits Bright Star upon her arrival at Joint Base Andrews, Md., June 26, 2012 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
VP Biden in Independence, June 26, 2012
VP Biden in Waterloo, June 26, 2012
President Obama at the Varsity, a restaurant in Atlanta, Ga., June 26, 2012