Posts Tagged ‘syria

31
Aug
14

‘The Punditry vs. the Presidency’

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Michael Cohen: The Punditry vs. the Presidency

How the constant chorus of ‘do something’ Obama foreign policy critics gets it wrong

There is a fun foreign policy game making all the rounds in Washington D.C. this summer: Pin the tail on Barack Obama.

Its appeal is not hard to understand; it’s so easy to play.

Step 1: Pick a foreign crisis that touches even slightly on U.S. national security interests. This shouldn’t be hard, because the United States defines practically everything in the world as being an American interest.

Step 2: Make clear that this is no garden-variety problem but rather “the defining crisis of [OBAMA'S] presidency”……

….. Step 6: Publish your condemnation in a major newspaper or news outlet. Wait for a phone call from a booker with a Sunday morning talk show.

There are no points for understanding how international relations work, how U.S. power is actually utilized or how other countries interpret their own interests. There’s no space on the board for tracking the real-life impact of your recommendations.

Foreign policy stewardship would be easy if it were as simple as playing this game. If, as President Obama joked recently, America “control(led) everything around the world,” there wouldn’t be much to decide at all.

More here

31
Aug
14

Dianne Feinstein! Go Fight In Iraq Yourself!!!!

Dianne Feinstein, Go fight in Iraq yourself!

by @zizii2

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I, and many Americans, have had it up to our eyeballs with greedy Military Industrial Complex shills like Dianne Feinstein!! What the hell is wrong with these MIC stooges, regardless of party affiliation? And Dianne Feinstein’s incessant disrespect towards the leader of her own party and President of this country is all the more unforgivable! Did she stop to look in the mirror to examine that her own shortsighted votes in Congress metastasized the deep canker tearing the Middle East apart? Or worse that her greedy actions to shovel taxpayer $$$ to defense contractors like her husband have nasty consequences?

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How many Americans does she want DEAD and MAIMED just when President Obama has toiled to clean up the mess of the last blunder of a war under George Bush, that she voted for? It is bad enough that we have war snake oil salesmen McCain, Graham and Mike Rogers preening daily in front of cameras without being held accountable for their dangerous and always inconsistent warmongering statements. They wanted us arming ISIS to the teeth in Syria last year. Now they turn around and Chicken Little about ISIS in Iraq means the Caliphate is at America’s doorstep!! Sheesh!!

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How about we get a buy-in from the many factions inside the strained powder keg that is Iraq, especially Sunnis who are vital to any strategy to root out ISIS? They must be assured that their interests are better served in a national coalition with Shia and Kurds AGAINST ISIS precisely because ISIS is claiming to act on their behalf having been shut out of power by Al Maliki’s government. That delicate cultivation of a NATIONAL front against the terrorists is EXACTLY what President Obama is working on in order to neutralize the potential for BLOWBACK that sustained military action against ISIS could generate. But NO!!! Dianne Feinstein finds cheap thrill in playing to the cameras of our moribund media. The conniving media then latches onto her words like they did Hillary’s 3 weeks ago to malign President Obama.

Continue reading ‘Dianne Feinstein! Go Fight In Iraq Yourself!!!!’

29
Aug
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama hugs Vicki Kennedy as he touches the coffin of her husband, Senator Edward Kennedy during his funeral at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston, Aug. 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Today (all times Eastern)

11:30: Press Briefing by Josh Earnest

12:30: President Obama departs the White House

1:55: Arrives Westchester County, New York

2:40: Attends a DNC fundraiser, private residence, New Rochelle, New York

4:35: Attends a DNC fundraiser, private residence, Purchase, New York

5:20: Departs Westchester

6:10: Arrives Warwick, Rhode Island

7:35: Delivers remarks at a fundraiser for House Democrats; private residence, Newport, Rhode Island

8:50: Departs Rhode Island for DC

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President Obama talks with staff during a meeting in the Oval Office, Aug. 28, 2014 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Steve Benen: Obama crafting plan for ISIS threat in Syria

For good or ill, President Obama sometimes offers candid, shorthand assessments without much regard for how they’ll be perceived by the political world – or how easily the comments might be taken out of context. From a distance, I get the sense he just doesn’t care what offhand phrase might send the Beltway into a tizzy and generate a half-dozen Politico items. After nearly six years on the job, Obama just seems to have bigger things on his mind.

But those of us who regularly swim in these waters – and who’ve internalized Republican talking points to the point at which we can visualize Fox News segments before they even air – tend to see the pointless uproars coming.

More here

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BBC: What is Putin’s Ukraine strategy?

Alarm is growing in Kiev and the West over Russia’s role in eastern Ukraine. But what is Russian President Vladimir Putin trying to achieve?

The indications are clear that Russia is being more confident and less discreet about the presence of its troops and equipment in eastern Ukraine.

As well as sightings of Russian tanks, and reports of Russian paratroopers not only captured by Ukraine but also killed “while carrying out their duties”, statements by separatist leaders have changed too.

After months of calling for assistance from Russia, separatist leaders now say that they can “do without outside help”. All this could indicate that Russian planners felt the military situation of Russian-backed separatists was severe enough to need more direct assistance.

Equally, it could be that Russia is simply less concerned at this stage about discretion and deniability.

More here

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Was I the last person on planet earth to see this splendiferous suit? I was? Okay. And am I the last person on earth to learn that the media didn’t listen to a single word he said, they were too busy commenting on the suit? I am? Okay……

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TPM: Obama Did A Huge Thing For Workers, Now States Should Do The Same

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer as well as a chance for us to reflect on the achievements of American workers. This year, workers across the country have a lot to celebrate, thanks in part to a series of executive orders signed by President Obama, including the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which cracks down on federal contractors who violate labor laws.

In a significant step towards greater accountability for private contractors, corporations will be required to report their labor violations in updates to government agencies every six months, and contractors will also be responsible for making sure any subcontractors are playing by the rules as well. Additionally, the report directs contractors not to require employees to enter into pre-dispute arbitration agreements for sexual assault and harassment crimes, as well as violations of the Civil Rights Act.

Most importantly, any contractor that’s found to violate labor laws will be restricted from competing for certain contracts, and government agencies will have additional guidance on how to take labor violations into account in their process of awarding contacts. This will help keep taxpayer dollars out of the coffers of companies that are guilty of repeated violations that endanger the lives of workers and cheat employees out of pay.

More here

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On This Day: President Obama salutes a veteran in the crowd after delivering remarks at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 29, 2010

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STL Today: St. Ann lieutenant resigns, Glendale officer fired after actions, comments during Ferguson protests

Two police officers are no longer working at their departments due to their actions during the protests in Ferguson.

A Glendale police officer suspended last Friday after commenting on Facebook that he thought Ferguson protesters should be “put down like rabid dogs,” has been fired, officials say.

Meanwhile, a St. Ann police lieutenant resigned Thursday after he pointed an assault rifle at protesters and cursed at them, officials said.  Lt. Ray Albers had worked for the department for 20 years.

More here

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I went out yesterday for a minute for a worky thing and didn’t get home until after one in the morning – does this phenomenon happen anyone else on a regular basis?

Any way, wasn’t ready for sleep, so began watching PBS’s Emmett Till documentary that I’d recorded a while ago. There were so many details about the case that I’d forgotten, and I’d forgotten too what an extraordinary woman Mamie Till was.

The Emmett Till and Michael Brown cases were, of course, hugely different, but they had the same outcome: ie murdered black boys. And, I fear, Michael Brown’s family will receive as much justice: none.

What struck me last night, though, was the part about the locals raising money – a lot of money – for Emmett’s murderers, and I thought of the people donating huge money to Darren Wilson.

Not content with cheerleading the killers of black boys, they are intent on helping them profit from their crimes too. For reasons of pure, unadulterated hate.

So, I went to sleep thinking, some things just never ***ing change.

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Bloomberg: Obama’s Advisers in Final Review of Immigration Options

President Barack Obama’s lawyers are finishing months of work on a legal rationale for unilateral action on immigration that will have to withstand Republican assaults in the courts and during the congressional election campaign.

With a self-imposed deadline three weeks away, Obama has kept his deliberations closely held, even among White House advisers, while requesting information from staff, according to an administration official. The legal review of his authority hasn’t been presented to Obama yet, the official said.

No announcement is likely until after Obama returns from a trip next week to Estonia and Wales, according to the official…

More here

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I’m seriously late posting this after a crazy week or two – apologies Tally, and thank you!

A Word From Tally

Why Health Care Matters, and why the US is still vulnerable

The US is the only country on Earth where it’s legal to make a profit on someone’s illness. I understand why; it’s a giant conflict of interest. But because of that profit, the system is still out of reach for many, especially in red states with asshole GOP governors who refused the Federal Medicaid expansion funds.

So…… what if something like the West Africa Ebola outbreak happens here?

If EVERYONE doesn’t have affordable access to healthcare, how do you contain such an outbreak?

As awesome as the ACA is, Obamacare doesn’t cover all our citizens yet, and we must clear the way for everyone in this country to have access to healthcare, yes, even illegal aliens and people visiting here from other countries.

Viruses don’t care where you were born, how much money you make, what color your skin is, what sex you are, what religion (if any) you practice, what your sexual orientation is,  who you voted for, what flavor of ice cream you prefer, or where you live.

They’re equal opportunity killers, and you aren’t magically protected from getting a virus from someone who is uninsured, even if you are.

The US is a sitting duck when it comes to this, and healthcare access should be a National Security issue. We’re the country who’s population never take vacation, and suck it up when we’re sick by going to work anyway, less we appear weak. By doing so, we’re spreading our germs everywhere, allowing the virus to spread far and wide, mutating in the process.

It would be easy to lay us low between our work-at-all-costs attitude, and lack of access to affordable care.

There’s a reason other countries have Nationalized health care systems, and don’t drive their citizens into financial ruin if they get sick. It’s better, and healthier when people just go to the doctor when they’re sick, then go home and get better.

It’s only in the US where working yourself to death is a badge of honor, and denying citizens health care is acceptable to some.

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On This Day

The white draped casket of Senator Edward Kennedy sits before (from left) the Senator’s son Edward Kennedy Jr., his widow Vicki Kennedy, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former president George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife Jill Biden, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and former President Jimmy Carter during funeral services at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, Mass. on Aug. 29, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait to be introduced at Xavier University in New Orleans, La., before delivering remarks marking the five-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina, Aug. 29, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama shakes hands with spectators at Xavier University on August 29, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet members of Maude Smith’s family at her home in New Orleans, La., Aug. 29, 2010. The President and First Lady were visiting New Orleans to mark the five-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama walks with daughter Malia Obama on August 29, 2010 upon their return to the White House. The First Family completed their 10-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard and spent August 29, in New Orleans, Louisiana

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 First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a “Pop the Question” question and answer segment during a taping of the “Rachael Ray Show” at Chelsea Television Studios in New York, N.Y., Aug. 29, 2012.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Mehmet Oz jump rope during a taping of the “Dr. Oz Show,” at Rockefeller Plaza in New York, N.Y., Aug. 29, 2012.

President Obama reacts after recognizing actress Sissy Spacek in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 29, 2012. The President happened upon Spacek while greeting people following a stop in the town (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Morning!

22
Jul
14

A few thoughts on Putin’s “strategic genius”

Middle aged Russian man searches for his masculinity.

It wasn’t so long ago that gumflappers on both the left and right were swooning over Russian president Vladimir Putin’s vim and vigor.

Pat Buchanan, that defender of all that is sacred and American, had this to say:

Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?

In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?

While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president’s state of the nation address.

With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered.”

“They’re now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil.”

Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.

No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.

President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire “the focus of evil in the modern world.” President Putin is implying that Barack Obama’s America may deserve the title in the 21st century.

Yes, because America is, finally, evolving beyond a blinkered social parochialism, it is now the “focus of evil in the modern world”. I wonder what Mr. Buchanan’s former boss Pres. Reagan would have to say about that?

Then on the left, we have the likes of Stephen Cohen, professional leftist apologist for the Putin regime. New York Magazine has a rather quick and dirty precis on Prof. Cohen:

The most prominent intellectual apologist for Putin is Stephen F. Cohen, Princeton professor, Russologist for the left-wing Nation. Cohen is a septuagenarian, old-school leftist who has carried on the mental habits of decades of anti-anti-communism seamlessly into a new career of anti-anti-Putinism. The Cohen method is to pick away at every indictment of the Russian regime without directly associating himself with its various atrocities. Is Putin persecuting gays? Well, Cohen wants us to know that various Ukrainians nationalists dislike gays, too. And also Barack Obama’s claim to snub Sochi because of gay rights is probably not on the level. Is Putin bullying and killing journalists? Eh,says Cohen, “Every time a journalist breaks a leg, they say the Kremlin did it.” Accidents happen.

This Vladimir Putin must be some sort of man to unite people as supposedly disparate as Pat Buchanan and Stephen Cohen.

But, with a bit of thought, it’s not that amazing that elements of right and left should view Putin as some sort of savior. What unites them is a vitriolic hatred of Barack Obama and the depths to which they view the country as having sunk. Thus on the right Putin is lavished with praise for his virility and family values. On the left, he’s seen as a thorn in the side of US imperialism, and that black president who dares to work for US national interests, instead of abjectly apologizing for past US sins and ceding influence in the international sphere.

What both sides prattle about is that Pres. Putin is smarter than Pres. Obama, running rings around him diplomatically.

Yes, about that.

Continue reading ‘A few thoughts on Putin’s “strategic genius”’

26
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama watches the U.S. vs. Ghana World Cup Soccer game before a meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today

10:50 EDT: The President departs the White House

12:25 CT: Arrives Minneapolis

2:15 CT: Hosts a town hall meeting, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis

7:30 CT: Delivers remarks and answers questions at a fundraiser for congressional Democrats, private residence, Minneapolis

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The Week Ahead

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Needs Your Help —> OFA

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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.

 More here

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@petesouza: Pres Obama, VP Biden, & Speaker Boehner walk along WH Colonnade to event in East Room for President’s Cup golf teams

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Charles Pierce: John Boehner And His Frivolous Lawsuit

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.

More here

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NYT: Ikea To Increase Minimum Hourly Pay

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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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.”

More here

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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.

More here

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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….

More here

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Jonathan Capehart: Speaker Boehner’s Obama Impeachment Dress Rehearsal

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.

More here

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On This Day

 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)

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 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)

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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

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25
Jun
14

Syria? Disarmed. Russia? Backing down. Obama? Still black.

Over the past two days, the Obama Administration has scored two major foreign policy triumphs. (Yes, despite what the darker corners of the neocon bazaar may say, for the most part the Obama record on foreign policy has been quite fruitful.)

First, all of Syria’s declared chemical weapons have been destroyed. This was after the usual critics were calling Pres. Obama weak, feckless, and abandoning the Syrian people by not bombing them. (You have to bomb them to free them, of course. Lesson no. 1 in the Bush/Cheney Manual To Win Hearts and Minds.)

Secondly, Vladimir Putin ordered his version of the Senate to rescind the authorization it gave him to intervene militarily in Ukraine. (That’s the wonderful thing about being a strong man: you can tell your legislature to give you authority to invade a neighboring country, and then turn about and tell it to take it away.) Meanwhile, the West is warning Russia that harsher sanctions are still on the table should this be but yet another of Putin’s many feints. And again, this was after the usual critics called Pres. Obama weak, feckless, and abandoning the Ukrainian people by not skirting with starting World War III. (You have to destroy the world to make it free.)

Of course, if George Bush the Second had accomplished any of his objectives without impoverishing the Republic and stirring animosity abroad, every second high school in the country would be named after him. (The ham-fistedness was a feature, not a bug, however.) Pres. Obama achieved two signal achievements: getting the Assad regime to declare and allow its chemical weapons to be destroyed, and herding the European cats to stand against Putin by squeezing his economy. All without firing a shot or spending treasure. This, by any measure, should win accolades.

Continue reading ‘Syria? Disarmed. Russia? Backing down. Obama? Still black.’

24
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama waits to be introduced in the Blue Room for ABC’s “Prescription for America” town hall conversation on health care at the White House on June 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

12:0: The Vice President ceremonially swears in Sylvia Mathews Burwell as Secretary of Health and Human Services

12:45: Josh Earnest briefs the press

6:30: President Obama hosts the 2013 Presidents Cup Team, East Room

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The Week Ahead

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Ariel Hart: ‘Fair Housing’ Gets New, Expanded Push

Forty-six years after the Fair Housing Act took aim at racial segregation and poverty in America, the federal government has declared the effort half-hearted and is setting out to fix it. Within months, the Obama administration is expected to require local governments to devise new strategies to give people in poor, racially segregated areas better access to jobs, transportation, and, particularly, good schools. At stake locally are tens of millions of dollars in federal grants distributed across the region, from Atlanta to Marietta to Gwinnett County. If governments fail to satisfy the mandate, they could lose that money. To date, few outside of Washington have even heard of the proposal. Where it is known, it tends to draw sharp reactions across the political spectrum:

Liberals, who have waited decades for an administration with moxie enough to confront the issue, cheer it; conservatives blast it as an assault on local communities. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was one of that decade’s signature civil rights laws. Its intent, confirmed in some subsequent court decisions, was not just to prevent obvious discrimination, such as refusing to sell or rent homes to racial minorities. By that definition, things that may stand in the way of “fair housing” might include zoning that keeps apartments or affordable houses out of good neighborhoods. It might include a lack of public transportation from poor neighborhoods to the areas with jobs that pay well. It might include fewer and shabbier parks or weaker police protection in poor areas than affluent ones, or benign neglect of troubled public schools.

More here

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Jeffrey Goldberg: No, President Obama Did Not Break The Middle East

A brief note on a new Elliott Abrams essay in Politico Magazine that appears under the eye-catching headline, “The Man Who Broke the Middle East.” The man in question is not Sykes or Picot or Nasser or Saddam or Khomeini or George W. Bush or Nouri al-Maliki, but Barack Obama. A few points. The first is to note that the Middle East Obama inherited in early 2009 was literally at war—Israel and the Gaza-based Hamas were going at each other hard until nearly the day of Obama’s inauguration. Obama managed to extract himself from that one without breaking the Middle East. In reference to a “contained” Iran, I would only note that Iran in 2009 was moving steadily toward nuclearization, and nothing that the Bush administration, in which Elliott served, had done seemed to be slowing Iran down. Flash forward to today—the Obama administration (with huge help from Congress) implemented a set of sanctions so punishing that it forced Iran into negotiations.

(Obama, it should be said, did a very good job bringing allies on board with this program.) Iran’s nuclear program is currently frozen. The Bush administration never managed to freeze Iran’s nuclear apparatus in place. I’m not optimistic about the prospects for success in these negotiations (neither is Obama), but the president should get credit for leading a campaign that gave a negotiated solution to the nuclear question a fighting chance. It’s also worth noting that when Obama came to power, he discovered that the Bush administration had done no detailed thinking about ways to confront Iran, either militarily or through negotiations. There was rhetoric, but no actual planning. Obama applied himself to this problem in ways that Bush simply did not.

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AP: Kurdish Leader Cites ‘New Reality’ In Iraq

The president of Iraq’s ethnic Kurdish region declared Tuesday that “we are facing a new reality and a new Iraq” as the country considers new leadership for its Shiite-led government as an immediate step to curb a Sunni insurgent rampage. The comments by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani came as he met with visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is pushing the central government in Baghdad to at least adopt new policies that would give more authority to Iraq’s minority Sunnis and Kurds. Kerry has repeatedly said that it’s up to Iraqis — not the U.S. or other nations — to select their leaders. But he also has noted bitterness and growing impatience among all of Iraq’s major sects and ethnic groups with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Barzani told Kerry that Kurds are seeking “a solution for the crisis that we have witnessed.”

Kerry said at the start of an hour-long private meeting that the Kurdish security forces known as peshmerga have been “really critical” in helping restrain the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a Sunni insurgency that has overtaken several key areas in Iraq’s west and north, and is pushing the country toward civil war. “This is a very critical time for Iraq, and the government formation challenge is the central challenge that we face,” Kerry said. He said Iraqi leaders must “produce the broad-based, inclusive government that all the Iraqis I have talked to are demanding.

More here

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Bill Scher: Who Says Obama Can’t Lead?

Last week, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found President Obama tying his record low approval rating of 41 percent. NBC’s Chuck Todd, referring to another poll result showing that 54 percent of Americans “no longer feel that he is able to lead the country and get the job done,” told the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” “Essentially the public is saying, ‘Your presidency is over.’” But one morsel from the NBC/WSJ poll didn’t fit that narrative: 67 percent of respondents are in favor of the president’s newly announced regulations “to set strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants.” And when the pollsters re-asked the question, after presenting supporting and opposing arguments, including charges of “fewer jobs” and “higher prices,” approval held with a healthy 53 percent to 39 percent margin. That’s a hell of a lot of support for a major presidential initiative from an electorate supposedly no longer listening to the president. What did Obama do right? Adhering to a favorite maxim of U.S. presidents of both parties that it’s remarkable how much you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit, Obama tapped EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to announce the plan and stump for it in media interviews. By keeping a relatively low-profile, Obama tempered the media’s tendency to polarize everything while dampening conservative backlash, a strategy that previously helped shepherd the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law and the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gays and lesbians.

While Obama was exhibiting leadership with finesse, Republicans decided to run into a wall. Instead of training their fire on the climate proposal in the days following the June 2 release, they obsessed over freed prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl. The president has bucked the trend of history and successfully used the bully pulpit to advance another major goal: raising the minimum wage. Anticipating obstinacy from House Republicans, he told the states during his January 2014 State of the Union address, “You don’t have to wait for Congress to act.” He followed up that call with several outside-the-Beltway stump speeches urging states to raise their minimum wage above the federal standard. The stumping is working. So far this year, eight states have raised their minimums and later this week Massachusetts will make it nine. If I were a Republican, I would not be savoring Obama’s 41 percent approval rating and presuming his presidency was done. I would be worried about my party’s 29 percent approval rating, its 15 percent level of support among Latinos and Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration reform if House Republicans don’t act by July 31. If you think Obama isn’t able to lead on immigration, after what he has done on climate and minimum wage, you haven’t been paying attention.

More here

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Greg Sargent: Care About Minors Crossing Border? Then Pass Immigration Reform Now!

Amid all the noise over the crisis of minors crossing the border into South Texas, a basic fact about this debate has gotten lost: The humanitarian disaster we’re now seeing is actually an argument in favor of immigration reform, not against it. Republicans have suggested the crisis proves they are right about Obama’s lawlessness (he cannot be trusted to enforce the law or secure the border, so they shouldn’t make a deal with him) and that the general promise of reform, or “amnesty,” is acting as a magnet for kids. All of this makes it more certain they will not embrace reform this year. But this has it exactly backwards. The crisis underscores the need for reform. In the days ahead, you may see Dems amplify this case. Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network, who has been working on this issue for a decade,

offers this simple explanation for why the crisis is an argument for action: “If Congress wants to help solve the border migrants crisis, the single most consequential thing it could do would be to pass the Senate immigration bill or something similar in the House. Nothing else would do as much to clear up the confusion in Central America about how our system works or do as much to make clear that recent arrivals will not be able to stay under some form of future legalization. Congress will have spoken with a loud and clear voice, making it near impossible for criminal elements south of the border to exploit our current inadequate system for their own ends.”

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Hayes Brown: Nobody Thought Syria Would Give Up Its Chemical Weapons. It Just Did.

Last year’s deal to remove all of Syria’s chemical weapons was widely recognized to be extremely ambitious, with a timeframe that few expected would actually be achievable. On Monday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that beyond many expectations, Syria has turned over all of its declared chemical weapons stockpile for destruction. As the process was ongoing, critics lashed out at the framework negotiated between Russia and the United States last year as a strategic failure. “This removal of chemical weapons…[is] the very thing that has validated [Assad]; it’s the thing that we did to put him in the strongest position he’s been in since this conflict began,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in March. At the announcement of the deal last September, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said it “requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything than the start of a diplomatic blind alley,

and the Obama Administration is being led into it by Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin.” Still now these weapons are out of hands of Syria, a fact that might not be said if the administration had launched the air strikes it threatened prior to the compromise between Moscow and Washington. And the grounds for legitimacy that the international community needed to bestow upon Assad to facilitate the removal process is gone. With that complete, the international community will now likely return its attention to figuring out how to remove Assad without further emboldening the more extreme militants operating in Syria — including the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) which is currently in possession of several cities across the border in Iraq.

More here

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Thanks, First Lady Michelle Obama

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On This Day

President Obama his personal aide Reggie Love share a laugh outside the Oval Office in the White House, June 24, 2009. Personal secretary Katie Johnson is in the background (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, during a meeting with governors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with assistant Eugene Kang in the Oval Office, June 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama tosses a football in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama holds the door for military families exiting the West Garden Room of the White House where they were to meet with the President in the Oval Office, June 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama in the Oval Office with former White House Communications Director Ellen Moran and her family, June 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hosts First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva of Russia, right, on the Truman Balcony of the White House, June 24, 2010 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady of Russia Svetlana Medvedeva depart after watching a music and dance performance at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington on June 24, 2010

President Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia ride together to lunch at Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., June 24, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have lunch at Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., June 24, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Robinson watch as traditional dancers perform during their arrival at Gaborone, Botswana, June 24, 2011

President Obama delivers remarks following a tour of the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., June 24, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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12
Jun
14

John McCain, do you think we are dumb?

John McCain do you think we are dumb?

by @zizii2

I am very angry! Just what do you take us for, John McCain? Fools? You think we are the rubes in your base whom you’ve whipped up over the decades into backing all your sponsors’, the Military Industrial Complex’s, greedy siphoning of taxpayer $$$ in the name of “keeping America safe”? Or you think we are the fawning media that laps up every turd you have dropped in your public life, even if every prescription you have ever uttered has been deadly and wrong? No you cannot hoodwink the rest of us. Ah ah!!! Naw!

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Barely a few months ago you and your comrade in wingnuttery, Lindsay Graham, pranced in front of every damn camera in the land to deride President Obama for not jumping in to arm the anti-Assad factions in Syria. Those factions happen to heavily comprise the SAME damn al Qaeda insurgents (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/ Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant — ISIS/ISIL) whom you now want us to go fight in Iraq!!! Before that you had called for airstrikes, and before that you called for the US to enter the Syrian war. Never a dustup anywhere in the world where you didn’t get your bomb bomb bomb war-gasm on. Just what is it that feeds this bloodlust and gunpowder-lust in you so much?

mccainSource: Time

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Source: BBC

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Let me REPEAT what I just said. John McCain & ilk in 2013 vilified President Obama for not going into Syria to arm the mostly Sunni insurgents to fight against Assad’s regime, and also for not bombing up Syrian military & strategic installations. The free-Syrian rebels who may have had a noble cause against Assad’s brutal regime had already been heavily infiltrated by Sunni insurgents pouring in from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and every damn rabbit hole in the Middle East. Yet McCain wanted us turning into the Jihadists’ airforce and arming this unsavory dangerous band of religious fanatics.

interventonistsSource: Andrew Sullivan

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So it is especially galling that McCain should think we wouldn’t notice now that it is this same al Qaeda group ISIS/ISIL that he wants us to go back into Iraq to fight against. Even the 3 stooges wouldn’t do anything this stupid, that is, arm the very villains who would turn us into targets! But stupid is what McCain thinks we are. That’s because this disingenuous practice of profiting off all sides of global conflicts is what McCain’s paymasters, the Military Industrial Complex, is well practiced in. They have gotten the American people over the decades to become googly-eyed anytime the con-men feed them pabulum about “sacrifice for our freedoms”, string yellow ribbons and “Support our Troops” bumper stickers, while turning coddled military brass into media celebrities & “analysts” whose word is to be taken as “gospel” by all of us, but most especially the president who must never challenge the word of these gods. When all the while the real intent was to profit off our soldiers backs and taxpayers’s purse.

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The misadventure in Iraq saddled us with more than one trillion dollars in debt, more than 4,500 dead soldiers, and more than 30,000 physically wounded, and God knows how many have been PTSD. But Dick Cheney and co made out like bandits, and siphoned $39 billion to his former employers, Halliburton. Thirty-nine billion US dollars plus fat civilian contractor gigs, not to mention the money creamed off the expansion of the national security apparatus, and phony intelligence contracting shell companies set up to extend the milking of our government.

halliburton

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And you John McCain have the nerve to tell us to go back into Iraq to fight the ISIS? Why, your campaign coffers dried up? Or you want a war-on so you can retire to a cushy job as head lobbying honcho of your paymasters when your terms is up in 2 years? Oh no we see your nakedness.
Just you look at this diagram and tell me you can make some damn sense of the Gordian Knot that is the Middle East. Whom and what will we be fighting, yet punching our own faces in the process?

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Now sit your ass down and git your hands out of our pockets. Adults are deliberating!




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