Drowning in deadlines here and headed off to California tomorrow and even though I’m not thrilled that he’s brought us into it again, I need to say to ‘Hell of speech Barry. Hell of a speech.’
Drowning in deadlines here and headed off to California tomorrow and even though I’m not thrilled that he’s brought us into it again, I need to say to ‘Hell of speech Barry. Hell of a speech.’
Who lost Iraq? Two views:
Fareed Zacharia says that first, above all, Nouri Al-Maliki lost it.
The prime minister and his ruling party have behaved like thugs, excluding the Sunnis from power, using the army, police forces and militias to terrorize their opponents. The insurgency the Maliki government faces today was utterly predictable because, in fact, it happened before. From 2003 onward, Iraq faced a Sunni insurgency that was finally tamped down by Gen. David Petraeus, who said explicitly at the time that the core element of his strategy was political, bringing Sunni tribes and militias into the fold. The surge’s success, he often noted, bought time for a real power-sharing deal in Iraq that would bring the Sunnis into the structure of the government. . .
But how did Maliki come to be prime minister of Iraq? He was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” — the administration needed to find local allies. It quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed. These moves — to disband the army, dismantle the bureaucracy [Moe: thank you Paul Bremmer you creep] and purge Sunnis in general — might have been more consequential than the invasion itself.
Dexter Filkins, noting among other things that the border between Iraq and Syria has been erased, names three causes: 1) the Syrian war, and 2) Al-Maliki, whose thuggery since the US withdrawal (which itself was necessitated in part by his absolute refusal to sign the usual Status of Forces Agreement to provide legal protections to remaining US Troops), and 3) . . .
Which brings us to the third reason. When the Americans invaded, in March, 2003, they destroyed the Iraqi state—its military, its bureaucracy, its police force, and most everything else that might hold a country together. They spent the next nine years trying to build a state to replace the one they crushed. By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job . . .
Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq.
So Bush broke it and Obama left before it was finished (I’m surprised that Filkins beleives we could ever actually ‘finish’ it). By the way, Filkins is a war correspondent of the ‘old school’ and spent years in Iraq during the war and his book about that time, The Forever War, is just stunning.
. . . for those who rail incessantly about ‘failed’ economic policies, get real (and stop pretending that stimulus was all spending . . .a big part was tax cuts).
The 2014 World Press Freedom Index is out. Nasty news – again – for the old U-S-of-A where we’ve been sliding into the badlands ever since 9/11. And where my President and his Attorney General have some ‘splainin’ to do. Which will not happen with this President or any future President unless we get really really lucky.
Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example . . . Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices.
This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks. The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest.
US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a “shield law” to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information. And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government.
The United Kingdom (33rd, -3) distinguished itself in the war on terror by the disgraceful pressure it put on The Guardian newspaper and by its detention of David Miranda, journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner and assistant, for nine hours. Both the US and UK authorities seem obsessed with hunting down whistleblowers instead of adopting legislation to rein in abusive surveillance practices that negate privacy, a democratic value cherished in both countries.
At least the UK was spared the shame of our double-digit decline in press freedom. USA!
Rep. Steve King:
“I think it’s a constitutional violation” and “We’ve never had a president with that level of audacity and that level of contempt for his own oath of office.”
“There’s a Constitution that we all take an oath to, including him!”
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) said Tuesday night he left President Obama’s State of the Union speech early after “hearing how the president is further abusing his Constitutional powers.”
“I could not bear to watch as he continued to cross the clearly-defined boundaries of the Constitutional separation of powers,” Stockman said in a press release shortly after Obama’s speech ended. “Needless to say, I am deeply disappointed in the tone and content of tonight’s address.”
Stockman said Obama was promising to “break his oath of office and begin enacting his own brand of law through executive decree.”
The whole story of the ACA roll out is yet to be reported in depth, but this morning in his Wonkbook email, Ezra Klein provides a credible – and disturbing – overview of what led up to the massive failure of the web portal. There’s a lot more at his Wonkblog at the Washington Post.
The best news for Obamacare is that almost everyone — including the Obama administration — realizes the crucial online portal is currently a disaster. . . Actually, that’s been the problem: President Obama didn’t know that. Nor did White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. Nor did Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who will be testifying to that fact next week.
It would be one thing if Obamacare’s problems had been unknowable. But they weren’t. Staff at HHS and CMS saw this coming for months. Insurance companies began predicting a mess long ago. But the bad news was shaded and spun as it made its way up the chain of command. The alarming failures seen in the (inadequate) load tests were written off as bugs that would soon be fixed.
As Lena Sun and Scott Wilson reported, “Days before the launch of President Obama’s online health insurance marketplace, government officials and contractors tested a key part of the Web site to see whether it could handle tens of thousands of consumers at the same time. It crashed after a simulation in which just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously.”But staff was terrified to speak on the record, or even on background. Some of the concerns slipped out, like in this Wall Street Journal story. . . . As Jonathan Cohn writes, “the management failures here were real and took place on multiple levels.”
Obamacare has a chance because those management failures are over. The White House now has a brutal clarity about the depth and extent of the system’s problems.
. . . Managers up and down the chain realize their careers are in jeopardy if they deliver sunny reports that prove false.. .For all that, no one actually knows whether the system will be fixed in the next few weeks — the crucial window, experts think, before the problems begin to degrade the risk pool and raise premiums.
So far, there’s been huge improvements in the number of Americans able to get into the site and create accounts, but insurers aren’t reporting much improvement . . .
The White House is optimistic that the problems will be solved in time. . . If there’s a reason to believe them, it’s that they’ve learned how dangerous unfounded optimism is.
Did Obama really hand this off and assume it would be okay? Or did he ride HHS for progress updates but never insist on hearing the downside reports? Did Sebelius do the same thing?
Will the very same Administration that succeeded in taking took us a step closer to the century long battle for universal health care also be the Administration responsible for its failure?
I think it’s a fair question.
Just as the right wing noise machine always says, that liberal media will spin every which way to make their guy look good. Like with this screaming front page at Huff Post right now:
Of course, I will allow as they aren’t calling for impeachment, so there’s that.
The WWII Memorial in D.C. that Obama closed. Apparently he still refuses to explain why he hates Americas vets.
Because nothing else happened tonight.
Laraine posted this one . . .
I’m listening to an Obama press conference. It’s been going on for a while and he’s answering a lot of questions.
He sounds like the man who ran for office in ’08. Clear, detailed answers. Solid explanations of how the economy works – at home and around the world. Utterly different from the usual sputtering defensive stance.
If the American people heard more like this, we’d be in a whole different place.
UPDATE: Just checking out Balloon Juice and they seemed to like it too. Plus they have links to vid and transcript.
ETA: Presser concluded. From this day forward, October 8th shall be known as National Pony Day in honor of President Obama’s stellar performance. Well, I’ll observe NPD, anyway. It was a tonic for any liberal who longed to see the Tea Party loons get kicked in the junk repeatedly. I’ll post a video and transcript when I can find one.
ETA: Transcript and video via WaPo here. Watch it and rejoice!
Interesting that President Barry made this exact point yesterday. I guess he’s reading my Facebook feed cuz I said this on Monday in a comment thread – and in a post here. And I wish he’d said it sooner.
Obamacare is the law, as passed by the Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the US Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by the American people when they re-elected that President. That’s the way the US gov’t is designed to work. Half of those who tell pollsters they disapprove do so because it doesn’t go far enough – they wanted a single payer plan. The demand to defund or delay Obamacare comes from a single branch (and only a small minority of that branch) trying to undo – by holding hostage – a law created in the way designed by the Constitution.
I hate that we might do anything military at all in Syria. I hate that if we do, it could be because President Barry was a little careless with his language last year with “a red line”, and the year before with “Assad has to go”. (Hey, maybe he should go to Congress and let them say ‘no’ and then either he can have it both ways or if they say ‘yes’ he’s got cover and isn’t in this alone.)
But I’m also cynical. More cynical than a sweet woman like myself ought to be. So I will wonder: is this waffling and the promises of ‘limited strikes’ a ruse? Is it a delay so Assad can act now to mitigate the damage to come?
Do we perhaps want Assad to survive after all because we believe anything that follows would be more unstable? Have we made a quiet deal to buy some time to transition to another government without those Islamists rattling the palace gates?
UPDATE: He is going to Congress – just saw it at The New York Times; it must have been a few hours ago, so I’m guessing it’s not because of my post.
My review of the speech given by President Obama at the ceremony marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
Because he doesn’t want trillion dollar deficits, see.
Just got to watch Obama’s press conference from this afternoon. I’ve watched a few of these and I think this was better than the others. With one exception, his answers were crisp and confident. I liked how he dealt with the gotcha type questions from the likes of Chuck Todd and Ed Henry; he didn’t take the bait. So pretty good.
The President needs to stop this and find a way out. But he isn’t. He’s defending it. The inhumanity of force-feeding political prisoners plays out in the wider world just like Abu-Ghraib. But this time, it’s my guy doing it. Shame, shame, shame.
MIAMI, July 3 (Reuters) – The U.S. federal court has no jurisdiction and no legal basis to intervene in the force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo naval base, the Obama administration argued in a court document on Wednesday
Granted there was major competing news over the last few days, but I’ll go out on a limb and say this chart would look exactly the same in a slow news week.
Oh the ugly . . . anger spreads today across the land because the First Family spent lottsa taxpayer money staying in Ireland. And the First Lady is bad. Bad, bad, bad . . . here are the first six comments from a post at something called reagancoalition.* (The story began at the Moonie-owned, barely subscribed financial failure The Washington Times, and then went to Newsmax where this coalition-of-racists picked it up.)
So she’s a low class n—ger with a big black butt whose kids hate her. Obviously. But it’s sooo classy to make fun of the kids (later comments savage them). I remember Limbaugh going after then 12 year old Chelsea Clinton and making fun of her looks. That was classy too.
An aside: the Obamas made a State visit the UK in ’10; Bush did the same in ’03. In 2011, the BBC compared costs and other aspects of the visits. It’s here and is very interesting. Note that Bush brought 700 people with him; Obama brought 500. Pretty much this is what happens when a President of the United States goes calling.
*(Stipulated: 1) this looks like a wing site, and 2) I remember the Bush/monkey stuff but he was the president and she isn’t.)
Anyway, the story that occasions this post popped up on my timeline on Facebook as a ‘share’ from a second cousin. When I first went onto Facebook, I was delighted to find relatives I hadn’t communicated with in decades and we began some lovely getting re-acquainted dialogue. I even joined this cousin’s sister in a genealogy project which we conducted via email. It was a great deal of fun and very rewarding. She was deeply interested in family history – unlike my own nieces and nephews – so I sent her many heirlooms from my own great-grandparents, grandparents etc; it was mostly original photos, letters, even some wedding veils . . . it was a wonderful year or two for both of us.
Until last year. That’s when I began streaming this blog onto my facebook page. The communications died, emails were only answered in the most cursory way and eventually not at all. I had all along been quite familiar with these women’s politics and knew we were very different that way. But that wasn’t the sort of thing what we talked about, so it didn’t matter. Or so I thought.
I’ve not unfriended either of them and never will, but it’s a loss.
I’m skimming Bob Woodward’s book on the Obama Administration – The Price of Politics. I’ve read his books for years. They’re dry recitations of his reporting, utterly passionless and very readable.
In the last few years though, he’s begun to sound a bit like the ‘get off my lawn’ guy (encroaching on traditional McCain territory!). Still, he writes a good book. So I sat down and I began.
By page 20, Woodward is giving credence to a complaint uttered by Eric Cantor after the vote on HR1, the first bill of that congress, Obama’s stimulus package. Cantor had whipped the congressional Republicans so effectively that not a single one of them voted for the bill. Not one.
What. . . surprised Cantor was how badly the White House had played what should have been a winning hand. Though Obama won the vote, he had unified and energized the losers (really? he was the one that did it?). . . . he had actually pushed them away . . . there had been no sincere contact, no inclusiveness, no real listening.
The vote, and Cantor’s complaint, came on January 28, 2009, eight days after Obama was inaugurated. A period during which Obama had met three times with the House leadership – including Cantor.
The latest meme in Perpetual Outrage Land has former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman practically living in the Oval Office. It’s a scandal ya’ see – and a perfect example of how to gin up outrage over the thinnest bit of information.
Bill O’Reilly: “You must explain under oath what you were doing at the White House on 157 separate occasions.”
The Daily Caller: “IRS’s Shulman had more public White House visits than any Cabinet member.”
Brit Hume tweeeted: “Sooner or later this will have to be answered. What was the ex-IRS chief doing at the White House all those times?” (Ahem, answered by whom Brit? Does FOX News not have any reporters?)
Did. Not. Happen. An actual reporter went and actually reported the charge and it turned out that it Did. Not. Happen.
First, she explains how visitors logs work, what they mean and how they very often only mean that a name is ‘precleared’ for a meeting or event, even if the person never attended. And, she informs us, ‘White House’ usually means either the Eisenhower Executive Office Building or the New Executive Office Building (17 blocks away). And then, doing the ‘reporting’ thing, she look things up and gets into the weeds.
Here’s a taste. This is just 2010 (the other years are at the link); this is the year of the bi-weekly health reform deputies meetings, i.e. regularly scheduled working meetings.
Eisenhower Executive Office Building, recorded as Old Executive Office Building
New Executive Office Building
(actual) White House (but not Oval Office)
I’m not seeing much this morning – perhaps someone inside the right-wing noise machine (so named by Eric Alterman?) read her story and send out a memo to find a new narrative for this week.
It’s the right response to the AP/Fox abuses.
I never liked him anyway. He heads a Justice Department that didn’t bring a single fraudster bankster to trial.
Don’t slam the door on your way out fella’.
UPDATE: Lois Lerner too.
Charles Pierce at Esquire tells us today that Wall Street Journal columnist and TV pundit, Peggy of the Noonans, thinks Obama was rude to Dubayew Thursday down at that library opening. She scolds:
He veered into current policy disputes, using Mr. Bush’s failed comprehensive immigration reform to buttress his own effort. That was manipulative, graceless and typical.
Here’s what the fake President said, what Noonan described as ‘graceless’:
Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year, with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today, that we bring it home – for our families, and our economy, and our security, and for this incredible country that we love. And if we do that, it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush.
And there was this:
Back to the point. What was nice was that all of them-the Bush family, the Carters and Clintons-seemed like the old days. “The way we were.” They were full of endurance, stamina, effort. Also flaws, frailty, mess. But they weren’t . . . creepy.
PIERCE: Back when the Clintons actually were in the White House, Peggy Noonan called the First Lady at the time, among other things, “a highly credentialed rube,” a “person who never ponders what is right,” and “a squat and grasping woman.” But not creepy, not like the current First Family.
(Psst, Peg doesn’t like the Kenyan much. And as she’s speaking here in family plurals – FLOTUS and the daughters? Also creepy. )
Maureen Dowd, who often makes my teeth hurt as much as Wolfe Blitzer, gets it exactly right today. The gun purchase background check legislation should have passed the Senate and could have passed the Senate, if it had just a little push from the Oval Office.
How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system . . . It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him . . .
President Obama thinks he can use emotion to bring pressure on Congress. But that’s not how adults with power respond to things. . . .
The president was oblivious to red-state Democrats facing tough elections. Bring the Alaskan Democrat Mark Begich to the White House residence, hand him a drink, and say, “How can we make this a bill you can vote for and defend?”
Sometimes you must leave the high road and fetch your brass knuckles. Obama should have called Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota over to the Oval Office and put on the squeeze: “Heidi, you’re brand new and you’re going to have a long career. You work with us, we’ll work with you. Public opinion is moving fast on this issue. The reason you get a six-year term is so you can have the guts to make tough votes. This is a totally defensible bill back home . . . ”
. . . Obama should have pressed his buddy [Sen Tom Coburn]: “Hey, Tom, just this once, why don’t you do more than just talk about making an agreement with the Democrats? You’re not running again. Do something big.”
This is where Obama fails. He needs to remind himself that he is “the most powerful man in the world” and then he needs to get his hands dirty.
From today’s New York Times:
The official American delegation named by the White House was led by two more [Kissinger was there, but not as part of the official delegation] former secretaries of state, George P. Shultz and James A. Baker III. But some British Conservatives complained that President Obama did not send a senior serving member of his administration.
Asked if Cameron thinks the U.S. had snubbed the U.K., the prime minister’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, said“absolutely not.” “The seniority of the dignitaries in the U.S. delegation that includes two former secretaries of state with whom Lady Thatcher worked with very closely herself, is testament to her global stature,” he said.
I think this is odd. And I’ve no idea if this is a breach of protocol or is protocol. All the news stories make note of this, but the criticism I’ve seen so far seems to be coming entirely from the right.
Step aside Michelle Bachmann, there’s a new piece of low hanging fruit in town.
It seems Obama recently said “Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” when he was asked if he’d ever fired a gun.
Oh yeah? A statement like that calls for serious congressional attention because it’s an important matter and we can’t just take the word of the President of the United States. Because it’s too important.
Meet Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn:
“If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos? Why hasn’t he referenced this at any point in time?” Blackburn said Monday on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
Today, Americans celebrate the inauguration of our 45th president and 224 years of continuity of government – 224 year of bloodless constitutional transitions.
But not all Americans are happy.
According to Forbes, golfer Phil Mickelson may give up his career because he may have to pay higher taxes.
For starters, courtesy of President Obama’s re-election and the subsequent fiscal cliff negotiations, Mickelson will experience an increase in his top tax rate on ordinary income from 35% to 39.6%, and an increase in his top rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends from 15% to 20%. Clearly, when faced with tax hikes of that magnitude, it stops making economic sense for Mickelson to continue to swing a metal stick up to 70 times a day in exchange for the $48 million he earns on an annual basis.
Let’s repeat that last sentence:
Clearly, when faced with tax hikes of that magnitude, it stops making economic sense for Mickelson to continue to swing a metal stick up to 70 times a day in exchange for the $48 million he earns on an annual basis.
Either that is tongue-in-cheek or this is the most spoiled brat in sports.
Bit the first: Why do I turn on Fox News? Why?
Right now, they are covering:
Kind of nice how Gun Appreciation Day falls on the MLK Holiday weekend, isn’t it.
Bit the second: in news from my old backyard, a cross-dressing Monsignor in Bridgeport CT has been arrested for dealing crystal meth. He had been pastor at the Catholic Cathedral there before he resigned last summer.
Since his resignation, he has been receiving a stipend from the Diocese and they had intended to keep paying it until:
. . . reading in the Connecticut Post that Wallin, 61, is accused by federal authorities of making so much money from selling the drug that he purchased an adult sex shop in North Haven named The Land of Oz to launder the money, Wallace said the diocese may stop the payments.
May stop paying him. May.
Sources with knowledge of the case told the Connecticut Post that while pastor, Wallin was observed dressing as a woman and was visited in his residence by men dressed as women who performed sex acts with him in the cathedral’s rectory. The sources said an assortment of sex toys was found in Wallin’s residence.
I guess Mother Church can be allowed a sigh of relief on that particular. It, at least, was consensual.
And bit the third: CNN has been covering the Inauguration since early this morning from a cold outdoor location facing the Capital. Because you can’t grab a seat too early. Or because they think it’s the Superbowl maybe?
That’s kind of comforting actually. Seeing CNN be CNN reminds me that some of the world’s silliness has survived the world’s madness.