Archive for August 30th, 2013

30
Aug
13

Oslo, 2009

If only some of his opponents – not least on the left – actually listened to his words….

30
Aug
13

The World On His Shoulders

President Obama pauses after speaking to members of the media about Syria during his meeting with Baltic leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House

@petesouza: President Obama holds Situation Room mtg today w his natl security team to discuss Syria

Chat away.

30
Aug
13

President Obama’s remarks on Syria

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Food For Thought

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30
Aug
13

The Problem of Syria

Crossposted on The People’s View.

Map released by the White House detailing the Syrian government’s nerve gas attack – more at WH.gov

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I am far from sanguine about the inevitable strikes against Syria in retaliation for the government gassing civilians.

The pitfalls to such an action are legion. The UN Security Council is unlikely to give the US (and France) the green light to go ahead and bomb the Assad regime. Any strikes against the regime will likely inflame the Middle East, with Iran going even further in on supporting their co-sectarians in Damascus. A strike may push Hezbollah to strike against Israel in retaliation. And, of course, there’s Russia, the unknown factor. It’s Vladimir Putin’s greatest dream to claw back Russia’s superpower status, lost in 1991. Its interest in the Middle East has nothing to do with resources; Russia has more than enough oil and gas, and delights in upping production when OPEC tamps down its drilling. But what having a client state in Syria allows it to do is to continue to operate in the world’s pre-eminent region for power politics. Going against Western, specifically American, interests in the Middle East allows it to believe it’s still a major world power, able to affect the course of events. The fact that Russia has devolved to basically a kleptocratic, autocratic, quasi-mafia state which is now protecting a regime which has blatantly violated the conventions against the use of chemical weapons hasn’t intruded on its bubble; Putin sees himself as the restorer of Russia’s greatness, of its destiny, and his reaction to a US intervention in Syria is both hard to predict and frightening. In fact, it’s the Russian factor which scares me the most, specifically because of Putin’s megalomania.

But then we come back to the simple fact: Bashar al-Assad has gassed his own people. The evidence of that attack will be released by the Obama Administration. The Syrian regime has violated the oldest convention against the use of weapons of mass destruction in international law.

Continue reading ‘The Problem of Syria’

30
Aug
13

Chat Away

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12:45 EDT: Secretary Kerry makes a statement on Syria

CBS

30
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

@petesouza: President Obama in the Oval Office, talking on phone to German Chancellor Merkel

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Today:

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

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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.

More here

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Steve Benen: The prospect of going alone in Syria

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….

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: Another Story of Obamacare Rate Shock That Isn’t

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….

More here

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Jonathan Bernstein: Here comes more Obamacare misinformation

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.

More here

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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…..

Full post here

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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.

More here

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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.”

More here

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David Frum is hardly in a position to comment, but he’s right on this:

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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.

More here

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Seamus Heaney, the Irish Nobel Prize-winning poet, died today.

This poem, which I used in an abysmally made YouTube video back in 2008, was, I always thought, perfect for the campaign – and still is:

“History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.”

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Morning everyone.

30
Aug
13

Early Bird Chat

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Morning everyone! Thanks to Meta for the heads-up on Joshua Foust’s tweets this morning, absolutely incredible stuff. Check his timeline for more.

Back in a while with R&S.




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