You’ll no doubt recall the hue and cry when Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his stand on nuclear non-proliferation and his attempts to engage the Muslim world. Both the right and left in this country had great sport at this — and here I’ll agree — premature awarding of a prize to a man with few signal accomplishments in foreign policy, apart from being “not Bush”.
Six years later and I think it’s time to give him the Prize for real this time. Think about this past year: for a man who started his administration hoping to hit singles and doubles in foreign policy (consumed as he had to be by the domestic economic crisis), he’s kind of knocked a couple out of the park, provoking admiration from aboard and from mainstream Americans, and consternation from the idiot fringe that will sit on perches and poop all day, parroting “Obama bad, BRAWK!” Continue reading
The ugly ramifications of the Trade in Services Act (TiSA)
Wolf Street, By Don Quijones, December 25
Much has been written, at least in the alternative media, about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), two multilateral trade treaties being negotiated between the representatives of dozens of national governments and armies of corporate lawyers and lobbyists (on which you can read more here, here and here). However, much less is known about the decidedly more secretive Trade in Services Act (TiSA), which involves more countries than either of the other two.
At least until now, that is. Thanks to a leaked document jointly published by the Associated Whistleblowing Press and Filtrala, the potential ramifications of the treaty being hashed out behind hermetically sealed doors in Geneva are finally seeping out into the public arena.
The preliminary numbers are in, and voter turnout was at a record low nationwide.
Conventional wisdom says that each party, Republican and Democrat, can count on roughly 45% of the vote, no matter what. The last ten percent is what you need to win an election.
President Obama announced today that in the spirit of bi-partisanship he will agree to repeal Obamacare.
The press release follows:
The shocker victory of Republican governor-elect Larry Hogan here in deep blue Maryland is a vivid example of how the Democratic Party is paying the price for having sold its base down the river. Here is WaPo on the physics of Tuesday’s gubernatorial Democratic unraveling here in the Free State:
With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, [expected winner Democratic Lieutenant Governor Anthony] Brown was winning handily in [heterogenous] Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and he was well ahead in the city of Baltimore. But turnout appeared fairly low in those populous jurisdictions. And Hogan led everywhere else, including in the Baltimore suburbs.
That is the gist of how Brown, the anointed successor to two-term Democratic governor and presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley, became the latest poster child for his party’s haplessness in the face of an auspiciously divisive Republican Party. Hogan will be only the third Republican Maryland governor since Spiro Agnew. The secret of the Dems’ undoing in this election? Inspire your base to stay at home while the Repubs fire up angry voters to stride into the voting booth and whack away at false enemies.
New language declassified from DOJ says a president can violate an executive order. Here’s what that could entail.
Salon.com, By Marcy Wheeler, October 30
A presidential order that governs the bulk of the NSA’s spying (and a good deal of other agencies’ spying), Executive Order 12333 has gotten a lot of attention lately. In July, a former State Department official, John Napier Tye, laid out how the order can be abused to permit the government to spy on Americans’ communications collected overseas. More recently, coverage of documents obtained under an ACLU FOIA have introduced new people to the order.
In addition to describing the structure of the intelligence community and prohibiting assassinations, the EO lays out some limits on the spying intelligence agencies can do on Americans.
But there’s something missing from this recent discussion. Indeed, it is missing even from the government’s response to ACLU’s FOIA, even though it probably shouldn’t be.
On December 7, 2007, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse took to the Senate floor to read out language he got declassified from DOJ Office of Legal Counsel opinions that had authorized President Bush’s illegal wiretap program. “An executive order cannot limit a President,” Whitehouse read from his declassified language. ”There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.”
In short, if the President does something (or orders something done) that is prohibited by his own Executive Order, no biggie. He can do that if he wants. Without even changing the language in the order!
Via Hullabaloo: Rolling in the Deep State
They’re back! John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Bill Kristol, Dick Cheney – the people who pushed the U.S. into the devastating mistake that was the 2003 invasion of Iraq, have discovered yet another existential threat ready and able to destroy the world. Back then it was Saddam Hussein and his mythical cache of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now it is ISIS and its army of fanatical jihadists who are torturing, raping, crucifying, decapitating and genocidally killing anyone who stands in the way of the new caliphate they are building in what is left of the nations of Iraq and Syria. It is precisely because there is a political, military, and economic vacuum in the heart of the Middle East that ISIS is able to thrive and expand.
The tragedy of American foreign policy is that the people who helped create that vacuum – who set into motion a war of aggression and choice – have never been held accountable for their mistake. So here they are, this time doing the bidding of ISIS, spreading terror and fear into the hearts of the American people, priming the country for yet another war of aggression. The foreign policy of these cheerleaders is encapsulated in one sentence, which ought to be carved on the tombstone of Bill Kristol, the man who said this: “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens?” Continue reading
Putin is on the horns of a dilemna. For the first time since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Russia faces a severe economic crisis – after enjoying years of relative prosperity – and she has a warmongering chief executive. This is a nexus of events that will shape and define Russia for at least the next decade.
So the Teabaggers have another chance to pick off a few incumbent Republicans that they deem as too cozy with Obama.
Voters head to the polls today in six states to cast ballots in a the latest round of primary and runoff elections in the heart of nominating season. The marquee congressional contest is in South Carolina, where there is really only one number on the mind of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R): 50 percent.
Fifty percent would mean Graham can avoid a runoff. His numbers hover just below that mark, a sign of voter anger (and let’s face it, apathy) over Congress.
Also in the spotlight today, Eric Cantor also faces a must-win situation, which is very likely, but the margin of victory will be closely watched for keys to Teabagger frustration with his performance these past two years. If he comes in under 20%, it could stoke the fires for further Teabagger unrest.
The really interesting race is out in Nevada, where the Lieutenant Governor’s spot is up for grabs. If a Democrat – in this instance, Lucy Flores – wins the general election, Governor Brian Sandoval may have to postpone his attempt to win Harry Reid’s seat, as the governor’s office would flip parties. Sandoval has to count on the lesser of two evils to win the Republican primary today, in order for Flores to face a real challenger in November.
As noted earlier this year, the Teabagger influence in elections is waning, and this is most notable in this primary season: Primaries are where hardcore voters turn out, and the numbers of overall votes are lower, reinforcing the influence a voting bloc may have.
By blowing up early this year, the Teabaggers have pretty much slid into obscurity. It will be a long time before Republicans have any influence in the nation.
People are allowed to think, say, and yes, even tweet whatever the hell they want, so long as their actions do not contravene the law. They are still American citizens:
Since Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2009, his father had become an expert on Guantanamo Bay’s detainees. It was out of necessity, because the Taliban demanded that the United States free prisoners from Guantanamo in exchange for Bergdahl.
“No family in the United States understands the detainee issue like ours,” Robert Bergdahl said in a 2011 plea to his son’s captors.
So it wasn’t entirely unusual when Bergdahl apparently published a tweet last week about Guantanamo’s detainees. Except this tweet was directed at a Taliban spokesman. And it came just four days before it was announced that his son was finally being released.
“I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners,” the tweet said, according to various screen grabs. The tweet was subsequently deleted. “God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen.”
(The Independent) – A letter sent by Tony Blair to George Bush that is “critical” to the Iraq Inquiry has gone missing from official White House records, it has been reported.
The publication of secret correspondence between the UK and US administrations in the build-up to the Iraq War has become a major stumbling block for Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the 2003 invasion.
While the Cabinet Office has said privately that it wants to release as many of the Blair-Bush communications as possible, there is one letter which lawyers at the White House say they have “not been able to locate”.
I’m shocked I say, just shocked!
Who would ever have thought that the five stages of grief could apply to politics? And yet, Nick Gillespie (!) and The Daily Beast gives us the first hard evidence that the GOP has reached acceptance:
Last month, even as President Obama touted the “8 million people” who signed up for individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act, he granted that the program was far from perfect—or even complete. “There are going to be things that need to be improved,” he told the press, insisting that there wouldn’t be “any hesitation on our part to consider ideas that would actually improve the legislation.”
OK then. Even though I think Obamacare is a truly epic mistake (more on that later), here are three obvious ways to make the president’s signature legislative achievement better, cheaper, and more cost-effective.
The three ways?
The Obama administration has decided to move the national dialogue forward, to try to take a pro-active position on climate change:
Washington (CNN) — Flooded rail lines. Bigger, more frequent droughts. A rash of wildfires.
Those are some of the alarming predictions in a White House climate change report released Tuesday, part of President Barack Obama’s broader second-term effort to help the nation prepare for the effects of higher temperatures, rising sea levels and more erratic weather.
“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the National Climate Assessment says, adding that the evidence of man-made climate change “continues to strengthen” and that “impacts are increasing across the country.”
…Joe Biden got out in front of the White House and shamed them into a policy change: Continue reading