Cross-posted on The Obama Diary
Of course it’s not good enough for Scahills, Greenwalds, and Benjamins. Nothing other than a strict policy of non-violence, irrespective of the dangers this country faces, would be good enough. And for the Limbaughs, Hannitys, and O’Reillys, it is nothing less than the affirmation of all their fears: that he’s a Manchurian candidate out to deliver the land of the free to its enemies.
But Barack Obama’s speech at the National Defense University on Thursday heralds nothing less than a total upending of the prevailing US security stance post-9/11.
For the past 12 years, we’ve been, quite frankly, in a perpetual state of war. The one in Afghanistan, it can be quite cogently argued, was a war of self-defense, pursued in pursuit of those who rammed planes into New York City, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. Very few people in this country argued that it wasn’t a war worth waging to extract an enemy who had struck deeply inside our territory.
We know what happened next. We installed a flawed strongman in Hamid Karzai. We gave cursory aid to the new regime, both financially and militarily, allowing Al Qaeda and the Taliban to regroup and carry on the war. And why? Because the neo-con dream of having a nation up in righteous indignation was too good to pass up to pursue its true project, which was to attack Iraq, remove Saddam Hussein, and remake the Middle East into an American satrapy. Gas would be under $2 a gallon forever, oil companies would reap the rewards of lucrative contracts from an Iraqi regime indebted to the US, and the Palestinians would lose their one ally in the region, leaving Israel to range freely. The new American Century would be born on the streets of Baghdad. And Karl Rove’s dream of a permanent Republican majority would be the fruit of a short, sharp, successful war, fought on the cheap, because the Administration knew that Saddam didn’t have the military capability to hurt his neighbors, much less withstand an invasion by the US.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
Cross-posted on The Obama Diary
Well, there goes another scare tactic. You know how Obamacare was supposed to EXPLODE (!!!!!!!!) the cost of health insurance? Well, that's not happening.
Health insurers in California will charge an average of $304 a month for the cheapest silver-level plan in state-based exchanges next year, according to rates released Thursday by Covered California, which is implementing the Affordable Care Act there. But many residents will pay a lot less than that for coverage.Factor in the subsidies for those who are eligible (at the start, up to $45,000 for individuals and $92,000 for a family of four) and most will pay a lot less. How much less? Here's an idea.
The least expensive silver plan for a 21-year-old could cost $216 a month, but those earning only 150% of the poverty line (or $17,235 annually) may pay only $44 after receiving federal subsidies. A 40-year-old may pay $276 a month, or $40 after the subsidies.
“Today it became clear that our so-called ‘friends’ don’t have the courage or the spine to stand up for what’s right,” Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, co-director of the social-justice organization GetEQUAL, said.While I am not happy either that the president's proposal to create immigration equality is not included as part of the immigration reform bill, I have never cared for the extremist tactics of groups like GetEQUAL (think chaining yourself to the fence of the friendliest White House in history). They are trying to create another public option pony demand, when it is pretty clear that the entire immigration bill would likely fail should provisions for same sex couples be included. It's not a good thing, but it is fact. Unfortunately, there is nothing false about this choice, as disheartening as the choice may be.
Sousa-Rodriguez said Democratic lawmakers “are content to buy into the false choice that Republicans created — holding a sorely-needed immigration bill hostage in order to cement inequality into law.”
So, you know, last week was the worst week ever in the Obama presidency, and the Republicans really got him on the SCANDALS!!!!! See for yourself:
53% of Americans say they approve of the job the president is doing, with 45% saying they disapprove. The president's approval rating was at 51% in CNN's last poll, which was conducted in early April. [...]Ha! They got him now! Wait, what? His approval rating actually ticked up? That is... but but... Benghazi!!!!!
The CNN poll is in-line with Gallup, which also indicated a very slight rise in Obama's approval rating over the same time period.
But there is a more important subtext in these numbers, and it's demographics. The tectonic shift in demographics that elected and re-elected Barack Obama remains in place, and remains in favor of him. According to the crosstabs, only 41% of whites approve of the president's performance, while an overwhelming 78% of non-whites approve. Men approve the president's performance by a 50-49 (+1) margin, while women approve the job he's doing by 56-42 (+14). That is a 13-point gender gap. Young people (18-34) overwhelmingly approve of the president 63-34, while those over 65 disapprove 44-54.
Cross-posted on The Obama Diary.
If one lives in an oppressive system, like Iran or North Korea, then, yes, one can quite easily make the claim that government can be evil.
Modern history is littered with examples of evil governments, from Stalin’s USSR to Pol Pot’s Cambodia.
But what all these governments have in common is a lack of agency among its subjects. The people who lived and continue to live under those regimes have no political control over their lives. Decisions are mandated from some remote source, and all opposition is quashed. With my cantankerous nature, I certainly wouldn’t want to live in the Iran of Ahmedinajad, or the Belarus of Lukashenko.
This is not the case in the United States of America.
For all our faults, citizens are in control of their own destinies, or should be. Elections are frequent, common, and free. Whether we like it or not, Tea Party governors and legislatures were elected openly, and their policies have the imprimatur of the electorate.
Did you know that this is the Month of ScandalsTM that will once and for all bring down the evil Obama conspiracy? Neither does most of America.
PPP's newest national poll finds that Republicans aren't getting much traction with their focus on Benghazi over the last week. Voters trust Hillary Clinton over Congressional Republicans on the issue of Benghazi by a 49/39 margin and Clinton's +8 net favorability rating at 52/44 is identical to what it was on our last national poll in late March. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans remain very unpopular with a 36/57 favorability rating..... and
One interesting thing about the voters who think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in American history is that 39% of them don't actually know where it is. 10% think it's in Egypt, 9% in Iran, 6% in Cuba, 5% in Syria, 4% in Iraq, and 1% each in North Korea and Liberia with 4% not willing to venture a guess.Not that not knowing where some place is has ever stopped any wingbat from thumping their chest about it. I have met more than one who insisted that India was in the Middle East.
Cross-posted on The Obama Diary.
You will have to have been under a rock for the past two weeks to have missed the feeding frenzy being engaged in by what passes as the other major political party and its enablers in the press. Between BENGHAZI!!! and IRS-gate, it seems that nothing at all of importance has been happening in the world.
The GOP and the press finally feel they have what they’ve been looking for: a political “mistake” by Barack Obama which they can use to cut him down to size. One has to admit, that the nation’s first black President has been quite scandal-free since his first Inauguration, in spite of the usual suspects’ best efforts. Obamacare was supposed to be his “Waterloo”; it now promises to cement a generation of Democratic dominance as citizens benefit from a new social program, one which will guarantee that they don’t have to choose between the rent and their health. Obama brought Osama Bin Laden to justice, something which the previous administration had no interest in doing. And of course, before he was even elected, he had the Reverend Wright “scandal”—a moment he used to give the nation a sorely needed lesson on race. The scandal-mongers have, quite frankly, lacked decent material with which to work.
That's the way the story about the IRS giving extra scrutiny to Tea Party groups sounded to me. For all the concerns about the IRS' Cincinnati office's higher-than-usual scrutiny of Teabagger groups, here's something that's gone unnoticed in all the reportage about the story:
The appendix of the inspector general’s report — which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be publicly released — chronicles the extent to which the IRS’s exempt organizations division kept redefining what sort of “social welfare” groups it should single out for extra attention since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That decision allowed corporations and labor unions to raise and spend unlimited sums on elections as well as register for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, as long as their “primary purpose” was not targeting electoral candidates.Citizens United was a group that basically were the Tea Party before it came to be known as the Tea Party. It was that case that made it possible for overly political groups to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on politics and still be tax exempt - which, by the way, created a huge, tax-payer subsidized sector of political speech - and in turn created room for the extra scrutiny under the IRS.
The number of political groups applying for tax-exempt status more than doubled in the wake of the Citizens United ruling, forcing agency officials to make a slew of determinations despite uncertainty about the category’s ambiguous definition.
The Republicans have called in their old chit: Benghazi. The media is doing its best to quickly paint this in the light of a scandal. Coverup! Outrage! OMG! Did you know that the CIA told the administration that it was a terrorist attack from the get-go but the State Department conspired with the OFA to edit the talking points to a mere spontaneous demonstration?
Ironically, some truth did come out in the fog of the dramatic scandal music from the GOP and the media. After testimonies, email revelations and fundraising grandstanding by the Republicans, at the end of the day, the story remains an incredibly simple one: before Susan Rice's now-famous appearance on the Sunday TV shows, the intelligence community was not only uncertain about the source of this attack, but they in fact thought that it was inspired by protests.
There's an easy way to find out whether the administration was trying to mislead the American people, however. Compare what Susan Rice actually said with what the CIA said, even in its first drafts, before the Evil EditsTM suggested by State (and ultimately accepted by the CIA). Well, here's what Rice actually said. Let's take Rice's ABC News interview, where she said, after cautioning that there was an ongoing FBI investigation:
We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to -- or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in -- in the wake of the revolution in Libya are -- are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.And here's what the same news organization reported about the first CIA drafts:
Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA's first drafts said the attack appeared to have been "spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" but the CIA version went on to say, "That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa'ida participated in the attack."
After four years of trillion-dollar deficits, the red ink is receding in Washington, easing pressure on policymakers and shattering hopes for a summertime budget deal.Wait, what? Increasing taxes on the rich is actually raising revenue? I thought it was going to kill jobs! You mean there's no magic fairy dust to punish the socialist nemesis for raising taxes on our venerable "job creators?" And what is all this about the Big Black Spender actually paying down the national debt? Someone, please, stop the presses!
Federal tax revenue is up and spending is down thanks to an improving economy, January tax hikes and the budget cuts known as the sequester. As a result, the U.S. Treasury has slowed the pace of borrowing and actually was able to repay a tiny fraction of the $16.8 trillion national debt in the first quarter of this year.
Here's a bio on Dr. Seema Jilani:
Seema Jilani is a physician who specializes in Pediatrics, and concentrates on International Health Care. She has worked in Israel, Palestine, Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt and the Balkans. She has been a freelance journalist for Pacifica Radio for eight years. Her radio documentary, Israel and Palestine: The Human Cost of The Occupation, was nominated for The Peabody Award. Dr. Jilani's work has been published in The Guardian, The Independent, Newsweek, The Washington Post and McClatchy Newspapers.Dr. Jilani also blogs on Huffington Post, and yesterday posted the most extraordinary piece, detailing the unmasked bigotry she suffered at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Left without keys to her room, she tried to get into the ballroom to find her husband and retrieve her keys. Security staff disdainfully told her "no", saying she had no ticket—something which didn't seem to preclude Caucasian attendees easily passing through the security cordon.
“There are very few issues that are as personal and as tangible as health care, and the implementation of the law over the next year is going to reveal a lot of kinks, a lot of red tape, a lot of taxes, a lot of price increases and a lot of people forced into health care that they didn’t anticipate,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “It’s going to be an issue that’s front and center for voters even in a more tangible way than it was in 2010.”With spokesmen like these, is it any wonder that the people in charge of Republican senate campaigns keep introducing us to talents like Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell and Todd Akin? Not that it merits any sort of a serious policy response, but let's point out first of all that in 2014, Republicans will have to run against actual health care people are getting - people who never would otherwise get such care, and their families and neighbors and friends. Unlike 2010, Republicans will not be able to run against a caricature of Obamacare, they have to run against the real thing.
So, this morning I was treated to the gob-smacking news that Carla del Ponte indicated that there was strong evidence of sarin gas use in Syria—by the rebels.
BEIRUT — A leading member of a United Nations investigatory commission says there are “strong concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that Syrian rebels have used the nerve agent sarin.
Carla del Ponte, a former prosecutor for U.N. tribunals investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, made the comment in an interview Sunday with a Swiss television channel, the BBC reported.
- The beginning of the end of perpetual war
- The End of Obamascare: Affordable Care Act Premium...
- Why Dropping LGBT Equality from Immigration Bill i...
- President Obama's Teflon Coating: Demographics
- If government is evil, then so are we
- Open Thread: GOP Shocked to Learn American People ...
- The last play in the playbook
- How Citizens United Came Back to Bite Teabaggers i...
- Benghazi: The New Old Shiny Object
- Obama Pays Down Debt, Smashes Republican House of ...
- Did Christians apologize for Timothy McVeigh?
- Aw, That's Cute: Republicans Dreaming About Using ...
- Open thread - Bush Library toon time
- Open thread - competing claims in Syria
- Open thread
- Repeat after me: "Andrew Shepherd is a fantasy"
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President Obama 1 - Glenn Greenwald 0 (zilch, nada)46 minutes ago