Archive for September 1st, 2013

01
Sep
13

The President Likes Food!

Obama-eating

Continue reading ‘The President Likes Food!’

01
Sep
13

Chat Away

01
Sep
13

Yes, You Can Laugh

Continue reading ‘Yes, You Can Laugh’

01
Sep
13

War and peace in a democracy

Cross-posted at The People’s View

Even if you were stuffing yourself full of the first weekend of college football, by now you know that President Barack Obama conducted one of the most important Rose Garden addresses in the history of the modern Presidency.

Taking the baton from his Secretary of State John Kerry, he again laid out, in forceful, passionate language, the situation as it was in Syria. He explained that the intelligence community had concluded with great certainty that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical attacks in contested areas of Damascus the week before. He passionately argued that American values and national interest dictated that Assad’s regime be punished militarily for the use of those chemical weapons against civilians. He stated that the military had assets in place and was ready to go at any time.

And then he did something no modern president had done. Even though he believed he had the authority to act, he knew that this was a divisive issue, and that the people’s representatives had to join in the decision. He called for Congress to debate and vote on a resolution granting him specific authority to militarily strike Assad for violating international treaties banning the use of chemical weaponry, some of the oldest weapons conventions in international law. He had heard the rumblings from Congress saying that he had to seek approval before any strike, and agreed.

But why did he agree? This is where he pivots beyond what all the pundits and talking heads expected. Just before declaring that he would seek Congressional approval, he reiterated that he believed that he had the authority to conduct the attacks with or without Congressional approval. But such an action, in a region of the world where such action could quickly spiral out of control, needed more than just Barack Obama’s say-so as Commander in Chief. Syria is not Libya. In the Libyan crisis, the President had a UN resolution with which to work. As a signatory to the UN charter, all member nations had a duty to enforce Security Council resolutions. That was all the authorization he needed.

Continue reading ‘War and peace in a democracy’

01
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

Sept. 1, 2010 – Photo by Pete Souza

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Presidential Daily Schedule

Today and tomorrow: The President has no public events scheduled.

Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House. In the evening, he will depart Washington, DC en route Stockholm, Sweden.

Wednesday: The President will arrive in Stockholm. While there, he will hold a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Reinfeldt. He will then participate in an event honoring Raoul Wallenberg at the Great Synagogue in Stockholm and tour an expo featuring clean energy innovations at the Royal Institute of Technology. In the evening, he will take part in a dinner with Nordic Leaders.

Thursday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the King and Queen of Sweden. He will then depart Stockholm en route Saint Petersburg, Russia where he will attend the G-20 Summit.

Friday: Attends the G-20 Summit. Returns to Washington, DC on Friday evening.

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Secretary John Kerry will be on five Sunday shows today: NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN.

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Text of the draft legislation from the President of the United States to the speaker of the House and president of the Senate regarding authorization for the use of the U.S. armed forces in connection with the conflict in Syria.

Whereas, on August 21, 2013, the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria, killing more than 1,000 innocent Syrians;

Whereas these flagrant actions were in violation of international norms and the laws of war;

Whereas the United States and 188 other countries comprising 98 percent of the world’s population are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons;

Whereas, in the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, Congress found that Syria’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States;

Whereas the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1540 (2004), affirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security;

Whereas, the objective of the United States’ use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade the potential for, future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction;

Whereas, the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement, and Congress calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to participate urgently and constructively in the Geneva process; and

Whereas, unified action by the legislative and executive branches will send a clear signal of American resolve.

SEC. ___ AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES

(a) Authorization. — The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to —

(1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors), within, to or from Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or

(2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.

(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements. —

(1) Specific Statutory Authorization. — Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) Applicability of other requirements. — Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

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Steve Benen: Congress, Be Careful What You Wish For.

The funny thing about a dog that chases a car? Sometimes it catches the car and has no idea what to do next.

Over the last several days, members of Congress have spoken out with a variety of opinions about U.S. policy towards Syria, but lawmakers were in broad agreement about one thing: they wanted President Obama to engage Congress on the use of military force. Few expected the White House to take the requests too seriously.

Why not? Because over the last several decades, presidents in both parties have increasingly consolidated authority over national security matters, tilting practically all power over the use of force towards the Oval Office and away from the legislative branch…..

That is, until this afternoon, when President Obama stunned everyone, announcing his decision to seek “authorization” from a co-equal branch of government.

It’s one of those terrific examples of good politics and good policy.

More here

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Business Insider: Obama’s ‘Blink’ On Syria Is Politically Brilliant

For much of the past week, Congress has grown louder and louder with calls that President Barack Obama go through them for any authorization of military action in Syria.

Saturday, Obama gave them their wish.

Congress is now the “dog that caught the car,” tweeted former senior White House adviser and chief Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod.

Obama blinked, but he blinked with a dare. He is daring Congress to say no to limited action against a dictator for the brutal use of chemical weapons against his own people — an attack that the U.S. says killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.

More here

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Slate: Obama’s Gamble – Seeking Congressional Approval For His Syria Strike Was Risky And Right.

President Obama is taking a monumental gamble with his Rose Garden statement on war with Syria, but it’s a worthwhile one.

In recent days he and Secretary of State John Kerry have made a powerful case that Bashar al-Assad’s regime launched the chemical weapons that killed more than 1,000 civilians …. Obama has also made a strong case that a military response is the proper action … to enforce a long-standing global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

However, this rationale for military strikes puts him in a box. The organizations charged with enforcing international law are not joining in the attack. The U.N. Security Council is “paralyzed,” as Obama said in today’s speech, because Russia will certainly veto any resolution to use force….

….. To gain some measure of legitimacy, Obama at least needs domestic support…. Maybe we will learn – contrary to the experience of the past decade – that a democracy can go to war in a full and open vote without deceit.

Full post here

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James Fallows: A Very Wise Decision By Obama

He moves himself, and the country, out of a corner, with two important choices.

The two crucial parts of his announcement:

1) No rush about doing whatever needs to be done with Syria. This is a punitive rather than a preventive action, which should be undertaken with deliberation and — if and when it happens — by surprise.

2) Recognizing the higher wisdom — for himself, for the country, for the world — of taking this to the Congress.

This is the kind of deliberation, and deliberateness, plus finding ways to get out of a (self-created) corner, that has characterized the best of his decisions. It is a very welcome change, and surprise, from what leaks had implied over the past two weeks.

More here

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Boston Globe: Nelson Mandela Discharged From Hospital

Nelson Mandela was released from the hospital on Sunday while still in critical condition to his Johannesburg home which has been set up to provide intensive care, South Africa’s president said. ‘‘His home has been reconfigured to allow him to receive intensive care there,’’ the statement said. ‘‘The health care personnel providing care at his home are the very same who provided care to him in hospital. If there are health conditions that warrant another admission to hospital in future, this will be done.’’

Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is feted around the world as a towering figure of reconciliation. Despite being jailed for 27 years for his prominent role in opposing white racist rule, Mandela was seemingly free of rancor on his release in 1990, becoming the unifying leader who steered South Africa through a delicate transition to all-race elections that propelled him to the presidency four years later. The United Nations has recognized Mandela’s birthday as an international day to honor themes of activism, democracy and responsibility embodied by the former leader.

More here

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@CallOut4

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Ellen KnickMeyer: Arab League Set To Meet On Syria

The Arab League is due to meet Sunday amid a flourish of diplomatic activity aimed at strengthening the group’s public stance for U.S.-led strikes on Syria. President Barack Obama’s unexpected announcement Saturday that he would wait to put U.S. military action to the U.S. Congress could change the stance of Arab leaders.

The meeting of Arab foreign ministers Sunday, two days earlier than planned, came at the request of Gulf states, Arab League and Saudi government officials said. An Arab League meeting last Tuesday on Syria identified Mr. Assad as the culprit in the Aug. 21 attack in a Damascus suburb.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have helped to arm and fund rebels fighting Mr. Assad’s regime behind the scenes, U.S. and Gulf officials say. Publicly and privately, they long have pushed the U. S. and international community for tougher action. Saudi Arabia shares some tribal ties with Syria and wants to contain Mr. Assad and his allies Iran and Hezbollah. Qatar has been more active than other Gulf states in supporting Arab Spring revolutions.

More here

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Craig Whitlock: Sarin Gas Used In Syria Attack, Kerry Says

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Sunday that fresh laboratory tests show that Sarin nerve gas was used in an Aug. 21 attack in Syria that killed more than 1,400 people, the first time that U.S. officials have pinpointed what kind of chemical weapon was used.

In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Kerry said blood and hair samples from emergency workers in east Damascus had tested positive for Sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent. He said that U.S. officials learned of the lab results in the past 24 hours, citing the evidence as yet another reason for Congress to pass President Obama’s request to authorize the use of military force against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

More here

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Think Progress: Poverty Has Same Effect On The Brain As Constantly Pulling All Nighters

The mental strain of living in poverty and thinking constantly about tight finances can drop a person’s IQ by as much as 13 percent, or about the equivalent of losing a night of sleep, according to a new study. It consumes so much mental energy that there is often little room to think about anything else, which leaves low-income people more susceptible to bad decisions.

One of the study’s authors, Harvard economist Sandhil Mullainathan, told the Washington Post, “Poverty is the equivalent of pulling an all-nighter. Picture yourself after an all-nighter. Being poor is like that every day.”

Poverty has other negative impacts. The chronic stress of growing up in poverty has been found to impair children’s brains, particularly in working memory. A study of veterans found that poverty is a bigger risk factor for mental illnessthan being exposed to warfare. The mental stress of being poor is also a major reason for why low-income people tend to have negative health outcomes like high blood pressure and cholesterol or elevated rates of obesity and diabetes.

More here

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Sept. 1, 2012: “The overview of a campaign rally in Urbandale, Iowa” (Photo by Pete Souza)

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01
Sep
13

Early Bird Chat

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MooooOOOOooooOOOOoooorning early birds!




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