Posts Tagged ‘remnick


Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office, March 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)


The Week Ahead:

Monday: President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. The Vice President will also attend.

Tuesday: The President will hold an event on the FY2015 budget and the plan to expand opportunity for all in Washington, DC. In the evening, the President will attend a DSCC event in the Washington, DC area.

First Lady Michelle Obama will join Secretary of State John Kerry to honor the recipients of the International Women of Courage Award in the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the U.S. Department of State.

Wednesday: The President will travel to the Hartford, Connecticut area for an event on the minimum wage. Following this, he will travel to Boston, Massachusetts for two DNC events.

First Lady Michelle Obama will participate in a conversation with Robin Roberts at the Leading Women Defined Summit, hosted by BET Networks. The discussion will be around the Affordable Care Act and a personal reflection on health and wellness. The First Lady will also visit a health center to highlight the work that hospitals, doctors and clinics are doing to educate their patients about the Affordable Care Act and how patients can get insurance.

Thursday: The President will hold an event on the economy and healthcare in Washington, DC.

Friday: The President and the First Lady will travel to the Miami area for an event on expanding opportunity for all.




Timothy Snyder: Beneath The Hypocrisy, Putin Is Vulnerable. Here’s Where His Soft Spots Are

Russian intervention in Ukraine is directed against the EU, which Moscow has now decided is a threat to its interests and indeed a civilizational challenge. How can Europe respond to the immediate problem of military intervention in Ukraine and the more fundamental political challenge to European values and achievements?  Much of the Russian elite has sent its children to private schools in the European Union or Switzerland. Beyond that, since no Russian of any serious means trusts the Russian financial system, wealthy Russians park their wealth in European banks. In other words, the Russian social order depends upon the Europe that Russian propaganda mocks. And beneath hypocrisy, as usual, lies vulnerability.

Soft power can hurt. General restrictions on tourist visas, a few thousand travel bans, and a few dozen frozen accounts might make a real difference. If millions of urban Russians understood that invading Ukraine meant no summer vacation, they might have second thoughts. If the Russian elites understood that invading Ukraine meant dealing with their disaffected teenagers on an indefinite basis, they too might reconsider. If wealthy Russians understood that their accounts could be frozen, as has just happened to Ukrainian oligarchs, that might affect their calculations as well.

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Andrew Ackerman: Obama To Request 30% Bump In CFTC Funding

President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget plan, set for release Tuesday, will request a 30% funding boost for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Obama is expected to request $280 million for the CFTC, these people said, a $65 million increase above the current-year funding levels of $215 million. The requested increase, which would be the largest in the agency’s history, would be funded through user fees to entities policed by the agency.  An administration official said the funding boost, if enacted, would allow the agency to increase its staff by more than one-third and modernize its technology systems.

“The president is committed to securing sufficient funding to enable the CFTC to effectively oversee the futures and swaps markets,” the official said. The agency, which is responsible for implementing dozens of new rules required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law, has consistently warned it is underfunded. The funding woes prompted the CFTC to furlough employees last year and delay or shelve certain enforcement matters. Under the White House plan, the user fees would ensure taxpayers don’t have to bear the agency’s funding costs and put the CFTC on equal footing with other financial regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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TPM: Hundreds Of Gunmen Surround Military Base In Crimea

Hundreds of armed men in trucks and armored vehicles surrounded a Ukrainian military base Sunday in Crimea, blocking its soldiers from leaving. The outnumbered Ukrainians placed a tank at the base’s gate, leaving the two sides in a tense standoff. In Kiev, Ukraine’s new prime minister urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his military, warning that “we are on the brink of disaster.” Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk spoke a day after Russian forces took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine without firing a shot.

“There was no reason for the Russian Federation to invade Ukraine,” Yatsenyuk said after a closed session of his new parliament in Kiev.  Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, announced late Saturday that he had ordered Ukraine’s armed forces to be at full readiness because of the threat of “potential aggression.” He also said he had ordered stepped-up security at nuclear power plants, airports and other strategic infrastructure.

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NBC News: Kerry Denounces Russian ‘Act Of Aggression,’ Warns Of Trade Freeze

Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the Russian movement of troops into Ukraine Sunday as “an act of aggression” and accused President Vladimir Putin of “possibly trying to annex Crimea.” “He’s going to lose on the international stage, Russia is going to lose, the Russian people are going to lose, and he’s going to lose all of the glow that came out of the Olympics, his $60 billion extravaganza,” Kerry said on NBC’s Meet the Press. He warned that Russia will suffer a loss of trade and investment if Putin does not reverse course.

Russia has “major investment and trade needs” which are bound to suffer if Russian troops don’t leave Ukraine, he said. “There’s a unified view by all of the foreign ministers I talked with yesterday – all of the G-8 and more — that they’re simply going to isolate Russia; that they’re not going to engage with Russia in a normal business-as-usual manner…. The ruble is already going down and feeling the impact of this,” he said.  He also warned that “there could even be ultimately asset freezes,” but did not specify how long it would take for foreign governments and banking authorities to freeze Russian assets held abroad. He also threatened bans on issuing visas to Russians seeking to travel to Europe, the United States and other countries.

More here (Video at the link)





Hayes Brown: 5 Ways The U.S. Can Respond To Russia Invading Ukraine – Without Going To War

1. Suspend Russia’s membership in the G-8 Russia joining the Group of 7 in 1998, despite being the weakest of the group’s economies at the time, was considered a huge boost to the prestige a country still recovering after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia is also due to host the next meeting of the G-8 in Sochi, the site of the recently concluded Olympics, this June. Rather than the U.S. simply boycotting the meeting, the Obama administration could lead the charge along with the other members to suspend Russia’s membership in the group.

3. Enact trade sanctions against Russia As recently as December, Russia was looking to boost trade with the United States — which already stands at about $40 billion annually — though remaining just shy of a free trade deal. Both Russia and the United States are members of the World Trade Organization, which brings with it certain obligations when it comes to tarrifs and trade embargoes. But insofar as those obligations allow, the U.S. can use reduced trade with Russia to show its displeasure.

4. Suspension of NATO cooperation and participation After the collapse of the USSR, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization welcomed in several of the formerly Soviet states, including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Russia has long seen this expansion as a threat, which is part of the reason Ukraine is not a NATO member state. To help assauge those fears, NATO began outreach to Russia in the late 1990s, including setting up a NATO-Russia Council to frequently meet and exchange concerns. In light of Putin’s move on Ukraine, the U.S. should move to have those meetings suspended and cooperation between NATO and Russia halted.

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Dexter Mullins: The ‘Invisible Man’ In The Age Of Trayvon And Jordan

With his widely read novel “Invisible Man,” Ralph Ellison ignited a conversation and an awareness of racial alienation in America that had the potential to help bridge the gap between the nation’s races. But as we celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday on Saturday, it is almost staggering to see how little has changed since Ellison published the book in 1952. Black people — and black men in particular — are still viewed and judged as though we are all one person, with one mind, and that we are all either criminals or about to become criminals. We are still treated as if we are less than everyone else, no matter the degrees we may possess, how impressive our job titles or our contributions to society. Indeed, as we celebrate Ellison today, it is a shame to have to say that the black man as an individual is still “invisible” and that the country has a long way to go.

There isn’t a black man or boy in this country who has not been told by someone in his family that while people may say we are equal, the reality is quite different and that — should you find yourself in a situation with any person of authority, or a rogue vigilante who thinks he’s above the law — it is better to hold your tongue and submit to the traffic ticket, search or humiliating line of questioning and get home alive than it is to try and make a stand to prove your point and come home in a pine box. At the end of Ellison’s novel, the main character learns to embrace his individuality after years of conforming to society’s perceptions and expectations of what a black man is supposed to be. Today, it is society that needs to embrace the individuality of minorities and re-examine where our nation’s race relations really are.

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David Remnick: Putin Goes To War

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and autocrat, had a plan for the winter of 2014: to reassert his country’s power a generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He thought that he would achieve this by building an Olympic wonderland on the Black Sea for fifty-one billion dollars and putting on a dazzling television show. It turns out that he will finish the season in a more ruthless fashion, by invading a peninsula on the Black Sea and putting on quite a different show—a demonstration war that could splinter a sovereign country and turn very bloody, very quickly.

Sergei Parkhomenko, a journalist and pro-democracy activist who was recently detained by the police in Moscow, described the scenario taking shape as “Afghanistan 2.” He recalled, for, an independent Russian news site, how the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, in 1979, under the pretext of helping a “fraternal” ally in Kabul; to Parkhomenko, Putin’s decision to couch his military action as the “protection” of Russians living in Crimea is an equally transparent pretext. The same goes for the decorous way in which Putin, on Saturday, “requested” the Russian legislature’s authorization for the use of Russian troops in Ukraine until “the socio-political situation is normalized.” The legislature, which has all the independence of an organ grinder’s monkey, voted its unanimous assent.

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Paul Carr: On The Importance Of Keeping Investors Out Of The Newsroom, And Not Treating Your Readers Like Fools

Yesterday afternoon, Pando published a report by Mark Ames showing that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Ukrainian opposition groups involved in the overthrow of the country’s government. Even more interesting, given that Omidyar is now publisher ofThe Intercept, a blog which vows to expose American government wrongdoing, is the revelation that his co-investor in the groups was… the US government. This morning, Omidyar Group staffer Glenn Greenwald spent almost three thousand words meticulously not responding to the piece. Whether Greenwald likes it or not, this is an important story and one we will continue to report. There is, however, one aspect of Greenwald’s post that demands a firm rebuttal, and that’s his continuing attempt to shrug off Pierre Omidyar’s $250 million investment in First Look as if it’s business as usual for a media organization.

To suggest Omidyar is just a passive investor in Greenwald, Scahill, Wheeler et al. is as ridiculous as claiming Jesus was just a passive backer of the disciples (“Nah, you’ve got it all wrong. He just gave us the bread and wine, it’s up to us what we do with it.”) Pierre Omidyar is not the dumb money behind First Look, he is the company’s founder and publisher. It was Omidyar who called Glenn Greenwald and personally hired him to head The Intercept, just as it was Omidyar himself who takes credit for having hired Matt Taibbi away from Rolling Stone. Even after making those key hires, Omidyar did not recuse himself from the day-to-day editorial operations.

Pierre Omidyar, First Look’s sole backer, has a vision. A vision he spends his day sharing with First Look’s reporters via their internal messaging. By Scahill’s own admission, Omidyar’s voice is heard more frequently than any editorial staffer at the company. And yet, by Greenwald’s admission, he has spent precisely no time investigating the business deals or conflicts of interest which might shape that vision, or might lead Omidyar to try to influence the reporting by the staff whose paychecks he alone signs. If that’s how Omidyar believes the business of media should be transacted, that’s his choice. And if Greenwald is convinced that he remains entirely incorruptible, despite the constant muzak of his master’s voice playing in the newsroom, that’s fine too. But it’s not how most media companies do things, and it’s not how we do things at Pando. By claiming otherwise, Greenwald is treating his readers as fools.

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Washington Post: Government Expands Help For Buying Health Insurance

With just a month left for Americans to select health plans this year through new insurance marketplaces, the Obama administration is bending some rules to prevent people from being stranded without coverage because of state-run exchanges riddled with computer problems. In states with dysfunctional insurance marketplaces, the government will for the first time help pay for certain health plans that consumers buy on their own. And once people in those states are able to sign up through the exchanges, their insurance can be made retroactive. These rewritten rules, laid out in a three-page memo,

can be used by any state but are aimed primarily at helping people in Maryland and three other states whose exchanges have not been working well. The four states are among 14 that have each created an insurance marketplace under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The rewritten federal rules would allow people to receive federal subsidies for health plans outside exchanges as long as the covered benefits are comparable to those of plans sold through the exchanges. In order to get retroactive subsidies, people will have to start to pay the full price of their health plan, then get the reduction once their state’s exchange is working well enough to determine whether their incomes make them eligible for the help.

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President Obama with Donna Brazile and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz at the DNC Winter Meeting in Washington, Friday


On This Day:

Senator Obama holds up a baby as he greets supporters during a town hall meeting in  Westerville, Ohio, March 2, 2008


First Lady Michelle Obama with daughters, Malia and Sasha, sled in the snow on the South Lawn of the White House, March 2, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)


President Obama boards Air Force One, prior to departure from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., March 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Mona Sutphen, chief of staff for policy, Josh Earnest, assistant press secretary, and Jeffrey Lerner, of the Office of Political Affairs, aboard Marine One en route to the White House, March 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama signs H.R. 4691, Temporary Extension Act of 2010, in his private office in the residence of the White House, March 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)


President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait in the Blue Room of the White House before greeting recipients of the 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal, March 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama shares a laugh with National Humanities Medal honoree Wendell E. Berry, as President Obama talks with National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman in the Blue Room of the White House, March 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Colonnade prior to their meeting in the Oval Office, March 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a conference call about the “Let’s Move!” Healthier U.S. School Challenge in the Map Room of the White House, March 2, 2011. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined Mrs. Obama to speak with education stakeholders about doubling the number of schools participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama is briefed by Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan, during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, March 2, 2011. Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon are at right (Photo by Pete Souza)


President Obama and Vice President Biden talk following a meeting in the Oval Office, March 2, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama embraces members of the Johnson C. Smith ladies’ basketball team during a “Let’s Move!” physical fitness promotion between games at the CIAA basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C., March 2, 2012



The President Speaks Some Hard Truths



David Remnick: The Obama Tapes

On Robert Gates

“What I do believe is true, not just for Bob Gates and this National Security Council but for every national-security team in every modern White House, is that there is going to be some back and forth and give-and-take between Cabinet secretaries and White House staff. And the criteria that I imposed throughout my first term, and will continue to insist on in my second term, is: Are we getting it right? Even if it’s messy, even if sometimes folks are frustrated, even if the conversations get heated—in the end of the day, are we putting forward the best possible policies to secure this country, and protect our troops, and make sure that if we send them on a mission it’s the right mission and they’ve got the tools they need to succeed?


“And I think my understanding, at least, is that Robert Gates acknowledged that at the end of the day, in a very difficult circumstance, we made the right decisions and oftentimes ignored political expedience to do so. And that’s ultimately how I’m going to measure success, and, hopefully, how history measures success.

“The one thing—and I said this publicly, so you could probably get a transcript of this, when I was in a bilateral with the Spanish President—the one thing I did say, getting to my motivations or body language in some of these meetings, is that war should be hard for everybody involved, that you should be asking tough questions at all times—most of all, of yourself. And that, if you are not asking difficult questions of yourself and your team, then you can end up with bad policy that hurts the national interest and that, in my mind, is a betrayal of those young men and women who I’m putting in harm’s way.”


On Republicans

“There have been times where I’ve been constrained by the fact that I had two young daughters who I wanted to spend time with, and that I wasn’t in a position to work the social scene in Washington. But having said all that, on fundamental issues like getting Republicans to raise taxes or eliminate loopholes, or getting Democrats to consider reforms to entitlement programs, what matters is the makeup of their districts and their electorates, and I think probably, just from a purely political point of view, the bigger challenge that I’ve had has to do with the fact that there is a core group of Republican House members in particular who know that I lost their districts by twenty-five or thirty points, and that there is a Republican base of voters for whom compromise with me is a betrayal. And that—more than anything, I think—has been the challenge that I’ve needed to overcome. “Another way of putting it, I guess, is that the issue has been the inability of my message to penetrate the Republican base so that they feel persuaded that I’m not the caricature that you see on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, but I’m somebody who is interested in solving problems


when it comes to Democrats, the truth of the matter is, with fairly thin margins over the last five years, what’s been remarkable is the degree to which Democrats have been unified and worked with this Administration to accomplish some big things, even when there were a lot of political risks involved. And I’d like to think that part of that is because the Democrats up on Capitol Hill that I have relationships with know that the things I’m fighting for are things they care deeply about, and that I have a genuine commitment to seeing them succeed. You haven’t seen me, I think, go out of my way to play against Democrats on the Hill. But I’ve tried to be supportive of them in every way that I can.”



On Foreign Policy

“My working premise, what I believe in my gut, is that America has been an enormous force for good in the world, and that if you look at the ledger and you say, What have we gotten right and what have we gotten wrong, on balance, we have helped to promote greater freedom and greater prosperity for more people, and been willing, as I think I said to you earlier, to advance causes even if they weren’t in our narrow self-interest in a way that you’ve never seen any dominant power do in the history of the world.

“And so, to apologize for certain historic events out of context, I think, wouldn’t be telling an accurate story. On the other hand, I do think that part of effective diplomacy, part of America maintaining its influence in a world in which we remain the one indispensable power, but in which you’ve got a much more multipolar environment, is for other people to know that we understand their stories as well, and that we can see how they have come to certain conclusions or understandings about their history, their economies, the conflicts they’ve suffered. Because, if they think we understand their frame of reference, then they’re more likely to listen to us and to work with us.

More here



Portrait Of A President



David Remnick: Going The Distance

Obama really is skilled at this kind of thing, the kibbitzing and the expressions of sympathy, the hugging and the eulogizing and the celebrating, the sheer animal activity of human politics—but he suffers an anxiety of comparison. Bill Clinton was, and is, the master, a hyper-extrovert whose freakish memory for names and faces, and whose indomitable will to enfold and charm everyone in his path, remains unmatched. Obama can be a dynamic speaker before large audiences and charming in very small groups, but, like a normal human being and unlike the near-pathological personalities who have so often held the office, he is depleted by the act of schmoozing a group of a hundred as if it were an intimate gathering. At fund-raisers, he would rather eat privately with a couple of aides before going out to perform.

White house photo of the day

According to the Wall Street Journal, when Jeffrey Katzenberg threw a multi-million-dollar fund-raiser in Los Angeles two years ago, he told the President’s staff that he expected Obama to stop at each of the fourteen tables and talk for a while. No one would have had to ask Clinton. Obama’s staffers were alarmed. When you talk about this with people in Obamaland, they let on that Clinton borders on the obsessive—as if the appetite for connection were related to what got him in such deep trouble. “Obama is a genuinely respectful person, but he doesn’t try to seduce everyone,” Axelrod said. “It’s never going to be who he’ll be.”


Obama’s thoughts have been down in the city. The drama of racial inequality, in his mind, has come to presage a larger, transracial form of economic disparity, a deepening of the class divide. Indeed, if there is a theme for the remaining days of his term, it is inequality. In 2011, he went to Osawatomie, Kansas, the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 New Nationalism speech—a signal moment in the history of Progressivism—and declared inequality the “defining issue of our time.” He repeated the message at length, late last year, in Anacostia, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., this time noting that the gap between the rich and the poor in America now resembled that in Argentina and Jamaica, rather than that in France, Germany, or Canada. American C.E.O.s once made, on average, thirty times as much as workers; now they make about two hundred and seventy times as much. The wealthy hire lobbyists; they try to secure their interests with campaign donations. Even as Obama travels for campaign alms and is as entangled in the funding system at least as much as any other politician, he insists that his commitment is to the middle class and the disadvantaged. Last summer, he received a letter from a single mother struggling to support herself and her daughter on a minimal income. She was drowning: “I need help. I can’t imagine being out in the streets with my daughter and if I don’t get some type of relief soon, I’m afraid that’s what may happen.” “Copy to Senior Advisers,” Obama wrote at the bottom of the letter. “This is the person we are working for.”

Continue reading ‘Portrait Of A President’


‘leading from behind the scenes’

David Remnick (New Yorker): …. ‘Leading from behind’ ….  The phrase ricocheted from one Murdoch-owned editorial page and television studio to the next; Obama was daily pilloried as a timorous pretender who, out of a misbegotten sense of liberal guilt, unearned self-regard, and downright unpatriotic acceptance of fading national glory, had handed over the steering wheel of global leadership to the Élysée Palace.

We were, as Mitt Romney put it, “following the French into Libya.” The President was “dithering,” Sarah Palin declared. John McCain wanted boots on the ground. ….. Rick Perry, for his part, shot an elephant in his pajamas.

Six months later, as Libyans rejoice at the prospect of a world without an unhinged despot, many of Obama’s critics still view a President who rid the world of Osama bin Laden (something that George Bush failed to do) and helped bring down Muammar Qaddafi (something that Ronald Reagan failed to do) as supinely selling out American power.

….. a more apt description, admittedly, would have been “leading from behind the scenes” ….

….. Nothing guarantees that Libya’s path will be straight and pacific …. But these emergent institutions were developed above all by Libyans, not by Ahmed Chalabi or the Central Intelligence Agency. They are indigenous; they have legitimacy.

….. The trouble with so much of the conservative critique of Obama’s foreign policy is that it cares less about outcomes than about the assertion of America’s power and the affirmation of its glory. In the case of Libya, Obama led from a place of no glory, and, in the eyes of his critics, no results could ever vindicate such a strategy. Yet a calculated modesty can augment a nation’s true influence. Obama would not be the first statesman to realize that it can be easier to win if you don’t need to trumpet your victory.

Full article here



David Remnick (New Yorker): …In September, 2001, Obama was an obscure state senator from Hyde Park … little more than a week after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade towers, Obama’s local paper, the Hyde Park Herald, published a series of reactions to the events … in his brief article, Obama … talked about “the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness.”

“The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others,” he wrote. “Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity….”

“…..we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes of embittered children across the globe – children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin American, Eastern Europe, and within our own shores.”

It was precisely that kind of talk that was branded as “soft” in the wake of 9/11 and throughout the Bush years, straight through the 2008 election campaign. It was precisely that sort of attempt to talk not merely in the register of prosecution and military aggression, but also of understanding root causes, whether at an anti-Iraq war rally in Chicago or at a Presidential speech in Cairo, that left so many wondering if Barack Obama would have the strength to “go after” Osama bin Laden.

Now there is an answer.

Read full article here


Politicususa – Barack Obama: The Man Who Got Osama Bin Laden

Collective closure of our national 9/11 wound has finally come to America, as President Obama announced that the US military has killed, and is in possession of the body of Osama Bin Laden.

… The death of Osama Bin Laden is a cathartic moment for nation has never forgotten the horrific events of 9/11, but when the CIA took out Bin Laden on Obama’s order it did something else. It shattered the conventions of post 9/11 politics.

Obama has destroyed the GOP’s tough on terror talking point. George W. Bush may have swaggered and told the nation that Bin Laden was wanted dead or alive, but it was the calmer, less flashy Obama who actually got the job done.

…In 2008 John McCain vowed to pursue Bin Laden to the ends of the earth, but it was Barack Obama who made sure that there was no escape for one of history’s most famous mass murders…

…For the rest of human history when the story of 9/11 is told after pictures of that tragic day are shown, the face and words of America’s first African-American president will be forever etched into history as they announce the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Politically, everything has changed.

Barack Obama will now and forever be known as the president who got Osama Bin Laden.

Full article here


Steve Benen: The amount of work that went into tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden is pretty extraordinary. It took years, and involved military, law enforcement, and intelligence agency officials, most of whom we’ll never know and won’t be able to thank.

And while many patriots made this happen, it’s President Obama who’ll get much of the credit – and given the circumstances, he’ll deserve it. Slate’s John Dickerson had a good piece overnight (see below) on how Obama’s “focused, hands-on pursuit of Osama Bin Laden paid off.”

…Dickerson’s description of the president’s efforts as “hands-on” seems especially apt given what we know. It was Obama who instructed the CIA to make targeting bin Laden a top priority, breaking with his predecessor. It was Obama who oversaw five national security meetings to oversee plans for this operation. It was Obama who chose this mission, made final preparations, and gave the order.

There’s a difference between talking tough and being tough, just as there’s a difference between chest-thumping rhetoric and getting the job done.

Full article here

John Dickerson (Slate): …..Obama’s critics have said that he is a weak leader in general and in particular does not understand what must be done to combat terrorism. “They are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required,” said former Vice President Dick Cheney in March 2009, in a typical remark. Yet what emerges from the details of Bin Laden’s killing … is that from early in his administration Obama was focused on killing Osama Bin Laden and that he was involved in the process throughout.

In June 2009, Obama directed his CIA director to “provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice” Osama Bin Laden…

….The president went to sleep to the sound of cheering outside the White House. At Ground Zero in New York and towns across the country, people gathered to sing the national anthem and chant “USA! USA!” It was a flicker of the post-9/11 unity that the president had referenced in his remarks earlier in the evening.

In his remarks announcing the operation, the president sought to rekindle that feeling … All in all, it was a good night to be president.

Full article here

Marc Ambinder (The Atlantic): Bin Laden’s Death: A Pivotal Victory for Obama, U.S. Intelligence …. The president silences his national-security critics heading into 2012, and the CIA stands tall after the damage of 9/11

The death of Osama Bin-Laden is a transcendent moment for the country and a pivotal one for President Obama…..Now the CIA stands much taller. Its intelligence helped pinpoint Bin Laden, but so did its patience

…Bin Laden’s death is an undeniable success for an intelligence community that missed the connections that might have prevented the attack. It coincides with the unofficial kick-off of the 2012 re-election cycle, where the incumbent, President Obama, has had his credentials as commander in chief repeatedly questioned by opponents and his citizenship mocked. Having scored the victory that remained beyond the grasp of George W. Bush – who graciously congratulated the president tonight – Obama’s military bona fides will be harder to attack.

Whatever flaws the president’s national security policies may have, and however infrequently Obama may have mentioned bin Laden, history will record that, when it came to getting Bin Laden, Obama got the job done and his predecessor, George W, Bush, whose entire presidency was tormented by bin Laden’s actions on 9/11, did not despite Bush’s claim that he would capture him “dead or alive.”

Full article here

David Sirota (Slate): “USA! USA!” is the wrong response

There is ample reason to feel relief that Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the world … however, somber relief was not the dominant emotion presented to America when bin Laden’s death was announced. Instead, the Washington press corps – helped by a wild-eyed throng outside the White House – insisted that unbridled euphoria is the appropriate response. And in this we see bin Laden’s more enduring victory – a victory that will unfortunately last far beyond his passing.

For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death…. but in the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise …this isn’t in any way to equate Americans who cheer on bin Laden’s death with, say, those who cheered after 9/11. Bin Laden was a mass murderer who had punishment coming to him, while the 9/11 victims were innocent civilians whose deaths are an unspeakable tragedy. Likewise, this isn’t to say that we should feel nothing at bin Laden’s neutralization, or that the announcement last night isn’t cause for any positive feeling at all – it most certainly is.

But it is to say that our reaction to the news last night should be the kind often exhibited by victims’ families at a perpetrator’s lethal injection – a reaction typically marked by both muted relief but also by sadness over the fact that the perpetrators’ innocent victims are gone forever, the fact that the perpetrator’s death cannot change the past, and the fact that our world continues to produce such monstrous perpetrators in the first place.

When we lose the sadness part – when all we do is happily scream “USA! USA! USA!” at news of yet more killing in a now unending back-and-forth war – it’s a sign we may be inadvertently letting the monsters win.

Full article here


Joan Walsh (Slate): …..After years of Catholic school, I am constitutionally unable to feel joyous about anyone being killed, but I got close tonight with bin Laden. He killed thousands of innocent people – and again, it was that incomparable American tableau: Muslims, Jews, Catholics; waiters, firefighters, investment bankers; gays and straights; mothers and fathers of every race….

….I wish this achievement could mean we get our country back, the one before the Patriot Act, before FISA, before rendition and torture and Guantanamo; before we began giving up the freedom and belief in due process that makes us Americans, out of our fear of totalitarians like bin Laden. It won’t happen overnight, but I’m going to choose to think this could be a first step.

Full article here


Frank Schaeffer: …. This morning I got up at 4 AM to walk across the street to congratulate my Marine son (now home safe with his wife and two little children after 5 years service and war) on having been a small link in the chain of service that hunted down and killed bin Laden. I wanted to thank someone who wore the uniform of the US military. I also sent up yet another “up yours!” to the so-called “Real American” conservative critics of our president; those liars like Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin et al who have nurtured the racist-motivated attacks on our first black president.

Was the SUCCESSFUL hunter of bin Laden a “secret Muslim”? Was he “born in Kenya”? Was he “soft on terrorism” or as far right religious leader/birther Franklin Graham put it giving radical Islam a “pass”?

…While the war-loving “neocons” pontificated on American “exceptionalism” and power and went to parties in Washington DC hosted by the defense industry I stayed up at night worrying while my son was shot at. He came home safe, but no thanks to Fox News and the other perpetual war shills who talk “patriotism” while other people’s children – mine for instance – do all the heavy lifting.

…I know who the people are who aren’t “Real Americans” they are the unpatriotic liars wrapping themselves in the flag my son fought for and that they use to sell books, reality TV shows and their racist ideas with.

Today the American right wing phony patriots look smaller than ever, about as stupid as Trump’s hair.

Full post here


an atmosphere full of poison

David Remnick (New Yorker): Not long after the White House released the President’s birth certificate this morning, Donald Trump stepped off a helicopter, ambled up to a bank of microphones, and declared, “Today, I’m very proud of myself.” (One assumes this is a daily ritual for Trump, but today there were more cameras than usual.)

…What is there to say anymore about Donald Trump? That he is an irrepressible jackass who thinks of himself as a sly fox? That he is a buffoon with bathroom fixtures of gold?….

….What is truly disturbing is the game Trump has been participating in, the conspiracy thinking he was playing with. And here the polls — to the extent that they can be taken as hard fact — tell a disturbing story, in which no small part of the country has believed in a variety of tales about Barack Obama. There is the birther fantasy; the fantasy that Bill Ayers wrote “Dreams from My Father”; the fantasy that the President has some other father, and not Barack Obama, Sr.; the fantasy that Obama got into Harvard Law School with the help of a Saudi prince and the Nation of Islam. There is a veritable fantasy industry at work online and in the book-publishing industry; there are dollars to be made.

The cynicism of the purveyors of these fantasies is that they know very well what they are playing at, the prejudices they are fanning: that Obama is foreign, a fake, incapable of writing a book, incapable of intellectual achievement. Let’s say what is plainly true (and what the President himself is reluctant to say): these rumors, this industry of fantasy, are designed to arouse a fear of the Other, of an African-American man with a white American mother and a black Kenyan father. Obama, as a politician, is clearly not a radical; he is a center-left pragmatist. If anything, he believes deeply in his capacity to lead with subtle diplomacy and political maneuvering, with a highly realistic sense of the possible; in fact, to many he is maddeningly pragmatic.

…more than two years after the fact, this is deeply disturbing to many people, and, at the same time, the easiest way to arouse visceral opposition to him. Let’s be even plainer: to do what Trump has done (and he is only the latest and loudest and most spectacularly hirsute) is a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering. And if that makes Donald Trump proud, then what does that say for him? Perhaps now he will go away, satisfied that this passage has sufficiently restored his fame quotient and television ratings. The shame is that there are still many more around who, in the name of truth-telling, are prepared to pump the atmosphere full of poison.

Full article here







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