Archive for September 14th, 2013

14
Sep
13

Chat Away

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Huuuuuuuuge thanks to both LL and Zizi for their wonderful posts today, both of which got an amazing response on the Twitter machine. Add this one to your collection of today’s must-reads, in case you missed it:

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He’s good, this Obama fella, he’s good.

Now, chat away.

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PS From the archives:

14
Sep
13

Obama: Please Proceed, Vlad

by @zizii2

If you read between the lines in Krauthammer’s recent spittle laced rant against Pres Obama on his Syria decision, you’ll realize just how earth-shatteringly PBO has upended Cold War residual thinking about the Middle East and power alignments. Of course Krauthammer is so blinded by bloodlust to obliterate Iran on behalf of Israel that he fails to see the tectonic shift at hand. Other teatards are so insecure that every Obama move is filtered through their castration anxieties. To them every US action must be a dick-waving exercise, even if such action results in us literally losing our limbs & heads. To them the Amurkin phallus MUST reign supreme even if it is just a severed appendage sputtering on a deserted battlefield.

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But Krauthammer’s description of the historical lay of the land and power relations are accurate. There’s been longstanding opposition in Europe and among US ME allies about allowing the Soviet Union and later Russia any inch into the Eastern Mediterranean as a power player. Of course that ignored the fact that Russia as Assad’s patron ALREADY had a foothold. As a Dailykos commenter said:

“Russia was already in the Middle East: they are Assad’s backers. Now they’ve got a few “responsibilities” to match all their “rights.” Why the heck not?”

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If anything’s been most consistent in President Obama’s foreign policy positions, it is his conviction that all nations MUST bear their responsibilities; that the US has been vilified enough by nations who hide behind platitudes yet foist off tangible action onto the US. Time to put up or shut up.

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Now, whether you believe Pres Obama’s saber rattling was right or wrong, the fact is the prospect of military strikes, like Drano, unclogged the state of play in the 2.5 year old Syria civil war. And after 2.5 years of hiding behind the veto pen at the UN Security Council, Putin strutted out this time. The question is why? Hubris and/or fear?

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Corporate media, neo-cons and those afflicted with Obama Derangement Syndrome settle on the facile idea that Putin seized initiative to show how manly he-manish he is to one-up Pres Obama on Syria. If it’s HUBRIS, then it means that in spite of discussions at G20 meeting in 2012 and this year, Putin mistakenly thought that PBO facing possible “humiliation” with a congressional No vote, would “lash” out with unilateral strikes as insecure US presidents in the past were wont to do. So he positioned himself as foil to PBO to score PR points.

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Continue reading ‘Obama: Please Proceed, Vlad’

14
Sep
13

How “Obama Derangement Syndrome” is unlike that of Bush

When we accuse some right-winger of having “Obama Derangement Syndrome”, he will just scoff and point out that the Left was consumed with “Bush Derangement Syndrome” from 2001-2009. And to a certain extent, they’d be somewhat correct. For myself, I could only grudgingly applaud Mr. Bush for such things as AIDS initiatives for Africa, and his support for immigration reform.

But here’s the difference: I could acknowledge his (few) successes. For a Republican, reaching out to Africa and immigrants were things which went against the base, and required a certain bravery. The thing is, however, that the rest of his policies were so disastrous for the country that his few successes were dwarfed by them. From squandering record surpluses to crashing the economy to getting us mired in two mismanaged wars, his administration was a catalog of failure. It was already heading toward failure before 9/11; there was no doubt that he’d be a one term president. When the attacks occurred, he was able to refashion himself as a “war president”—a war he proceeded to prosecute in the most incompetent manner, sullying the nation’s ideals and honor. There was “Bush Derangement Syndrome” because everything he touched turned to lead. He didn’t kill bin Laden; he trapped us in disastrous wars; he oversaw a mass transfer of wealth to the already wealthy. So, while I agree that in some things he did well, they were drowned by his cacophony of failure.

Now let us turn to President Obama’s record. It began by him being the first African American elected president. He was able to pass a stimulus package which stanched the bleeding of the Great Recession. The US economy runs on two pillars: real estate and automobile manufacturing; real estate was on its knees; he saved the auto industry, without which the whole world would have sunk into a depression. He then fulfilled the great Democratic dream, passing comprehensive health reform, which would bring affordable health care to nearly every American. That achievement led to the GOP takeover of the House in 2010 in backlash, because some on the Left had a snit (more on that later). With the GOP in control of one house, he brilliantly conducted actions which stymied their most cherished goals, and preserved his priorities in the budget. Then against all the caterwauling of the media, he won a second term, in a convincing fashion. Then just this weekend, rattling a saber which opponents know he will use, he achieved a diplomatic resolution to Syria’s chemical weapon use, making the Autocrat of All the Russias climb down from his recalcitrant stance. And, of course, we can’t forget his other great triumph, along with Obamacare: healing that great wound in the American psyche by finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.

Continue reading ‘How “Obama Derangement Syndrome” is unlike that of Bush’

14
Sep
13

Statement by the President

14
Sep
13

A Tweet or Two

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Continue reading ‘A Tweet or Two’

14
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

…. and then:

ABC News: US-Russia Agreement On Syria Weapons

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reached agreement Saturday on a framework for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons, and said they would seek a U.N. Security Council resolution that could authorize sanctions — short of military action — if President Bashar Assad’s government fails to comply. The deal calls for international inspectors to be on the ground in Syria by November and to complete their initial work by the end of that that month. All of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, material and equipment would have to be destroyed or removed by mid-2014.

The resolution would allow for punitive measures for non-compliance, but stop short of military action, if the 16-nation Security Council approves them. The U.S. and Russia are two of the five permanent Security Council members with a veto. The others are Britain, China, and France. Another major feature of the agreement is that the U.S. and Russia plan to give Syria one week, until Sept. 21, to submit “a comprehensive listing, including names, types and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and local and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.”

In addition, the U.S. and Russia have agreed that international inspectors should be on the ground in Syria by November and complete their initial work by the end of the month. They must be given “immediate and unfettered” access to inspect all sites. Notably, Kerry said they had agreed on grounds under which they might request a Security Council “Chapter 7” resolution at the United Nations, which is a measure that could include military and non-military sanctions.

More here

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Oooooh, Teenage Sleuth was so right:

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As was Jim Camp – worth reading again:

Jim Camp (Forbes): Obama’s Magnificent Stealth Negotiation with Putin

With nearly 30 years’ experience as a negotiation coach, I have what I call an excellent “negotiation radar.” I can spot a negotiation a mile away, even when it doesn’t call itself one. And these negotiations-in-disguise are what I’ve termed “stealth negotiations.”

….. the stealth ones are, well, pretty hidden from the layperson’s eye. For negotiation professionals, pinning such a negotiation down is often a tremendous source of pleasure. That’s because these arrangements are supposed to be under the radar and appear as something else entirely, such as a discussion.

And if you think that it was only a “discussion” President Barack Obama had with Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 6, you’ve missed one of the greatest “stealth negotiations” ever conducted.

More here

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden greet athletes during an event honoring the 2012 United States Olympic and Paralympic Teams on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Steve Benen: Victory Has A Thousand Parents, But Defeat Is An Orphan

It’s obviously too soon to say with any confidence whether the diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria will prevail, but unlike a week ago, it exists. In fact, the current plan offers enough promise – Syria filed the paperwork yesterday on formal membership in the chemical weapons treaty – that there’s been a debate of sorts over the last few days about who can rightly take credit for it.

…. I’ve seen some criticisms of Obama over the last couple of days that seem to come from an overly simplistic perspective – POTUS said he’d use force if Syria used chemical weapons; Syria used chemical weapons; and POTUS went to Congress instead of ordering strikes. Ergo, Obama = weakness and indecision.

And every time I see the argument, it seems a little dumber.

…. The point is, Obama didn’t say, “Screw it; bomb him anyway.” Rather, he adapted to changing circumstance, which is exactly what a responsible leader must do, especially when dealing with a delicate national security crisis.

More here

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Paul Krugman: Obamacare Doublethink

I’m sure someone else has pointed this out, but there’s a fundamental contradiction at the heart of the right’s anti-Obamacare strategy — I mean, aside from the fact that it isn’t going to work, and may do immense damage both to America and to the Republican brand.

politically the right is acting as if it fears that Obamacare will, in reality, be highly popular — that once the exchanges and the Medicaid expansion go into effect, people will decide that they like the new system, and strongly oppose efforts to reverse course. (This is almost surely the more realistic view.) So the law must be stopped at any cost before it goes into effect, and people learn first-hand that the anti-Obamacare propaganda was false.

So which is it? Are Republicans sure that disaster looms, or are they terrified because they suspect that things will be OK? My guess is, both: clear thinking is not exactly a hallmark of the modern GOP, and may indeed be a positive disqualification for career success.

More here

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Jonathan Chait: Boehner To Obama: Can I Please Take You Hostage?

House Republicans have spent weeks fending off right-wing demands that they shut down the government unless President Obama agrees to destroy his own health-care reform. They’re currently trying to wriggle out of this demand by promising instead to use the debt ceiling to force Obama to destroy his health-care reform, which is an even more dangerous threat. So how do House Republicans plan to wriggle out of that promise? By getting President Obama to help them. John Boehner is pleading with Obama to combine negotiations over the debt ceiling and the budget.

Boehner is desperately trying to combine two separate issues: negotiating over budget policy and negotiating over whether Congress should trigger a default on the national debt. Why negotiate the two together? So we have two arguments here. The first one is that there have been times in the past when Congress has lifted the debt ceiling and also passed changes to fiscal policy. That is true. It can be convenient to wrap up the automatic step of lifting the debt ceiling into bills that change levels of taxes and spending, because a separate vote is unnecessary in the first place……

More here

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President Barack Obama stands with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during the transfer of remains ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 14, 2012, marking the return to the United States of the remains of J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya; Sean Smith, Information Management Officer; and Security Personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who were killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Steve Benen: Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Coherent

The Hill published a curious piece this morning with a provocative headline, “Putin gets his revenge on Obama.” I’ll concede I’m not an expert in the nuances of international diplomacy, but the notion that the Russian president has exacted “revenge” on President Obama seems odd to me.

Let’s take stock of what happened this week: (1) the United States threatened Syria, a Russian ally, over its use of chemical weapons; (2) Syria then vowed to give up its chemical weapons; and (3) Russia has committed itself to the diplomatic process the United States wants, which is intended to guarantee the success of the Syrian disarmament plan. So, Obama, at least for now, ended up with what he wanted, which was then followed with more of what he wanted. If this is Putin exacting revenge, I suspect the White House doesn’t mind.

Indeed, the op-ed certainly caused a stir, but let’s not exaggerate its significance. “Putin gets his revenge on Obama” sounds awfully dramatic, but I don’t imagine President Obama was reading the NYT with breakfast yesterday, telling those around him, “Putin wrote a newspaper piece? And it chides the United States? I’ve been foiled by my strategic better! Curses!”

More here

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk in the West Garden Room of the White House, prior to an event with the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams on the South Lawn, Sept. 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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MooooOOOooorning again everyone, welcome to the updated R&S – huuuuge thanks to UT for lots of the good stuff in the post.

Happy Saturday!




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