Archive for here we go again

Pres. Obama promises to increase intelligence support, provide new weaponry to Iraq

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back to the future

Here we go again. Hello Iraq.

It's understandable that President Obama would feel it necessary to go back to Iraq if it means eliminating or at least containing an increasingly out of control Al Qaeda, but America no longer has the stomach for it. I know I don't.

And this puts the president in the tough position of sticking to withdrawal from Iraq while feeling obligated to counter a growing problem that threatens our national security. But to put it in the simplest terms possible: Oy vey.

The Los Angeles Times has a lot more, but here are the bare bones:

Facing a deadly resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, President Obama signaled Friday that he would begin increasing U.S. military support for Baghdad after five years of reducing it.... Administration officials said this would include growing intelligence support and new weaponry. [...]

And the Obama administration, despite a deep reluctance to become more entangled in the Middle East, believes it cannot afford a further strengthening of the Al Qaeda affiliate, which is also called the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant. [...]

Maliki, who had not visited the White House for two years, spent the week in Washington lobbying administration and congressional officials for more arms, intelligence help and training.

Iraqi officials said they did not ask for special forces or CIA advisors, but were not ruling out such things.

American drone strikes, carried out with the support of Maliki's government, are another option.... But Maliki's aides said Iraq could turn to other world powers if the United States turned down its request.

Back to the future...

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ENTIRE VIDEO- Obama remarks on budget deal, blasts GOP: "Turns out we rely on government in a whole lot of ways."

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Obama budget deal

Here is a video of President Obama's entire speech, during which he pretty much kicked ass. WaPo provides the transcript. Here are some excerpts:

At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we've got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what? There was no economic rationale for all of this. Over the past four years, our economy has been growing, our businesses have been creating jobs, and our deficits have been in half. We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the American economy. But nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.

And you don't have to take my word for it. The agency that put America's credit rating on watch the other day explicitly cited all of this, saying that our economy remains more dynamic and resilient than other advanced economies and that the only thing putting us at risk is -- and I'm quoting here -- "repeated brinksmanship." That's what the credit rating agency said.

That wasn't a political statement. That was an analysis of what's hurting our economy by people whose job it is to analyze these things.

That also happens to be the view of our diplomats, who have been hearing from their counterparts internationally.

Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we're strong.

But probably nothing has done more damage to America's credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we've seen these past several weeks. It's encouraged our enemies, it's emboldened our competitors, and it's depressed our friends, who look to us for steady leadership....

And when we disagree, we don't have to suggest that the other side doesn't love this country or believe in free enterprise or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year. If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on and get some stuff done....

First, in the coming days and weeks, we should sit down and pursue a balanced approach to a responsible budget, a budget that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further....

And we shouldn't approach this process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise, just cutting for the sake of cutting. The issue's not growth versus fiscal responsibility. We need both. We need a budget that deals with the issues that most Americans are focused on, creating more good jobs that pay better wages....

Our deficits are half of what they were a few years ago. The debt problems we have now are long term...

Number two. We should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system... That bill's already passed the Senate. And economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 percent larger two decades from now. That's $1.4 trillion in new economic growth....

Number three. We should pass a farm bill... It's sitting in the House waiting for passage. If House Republicans have ideas that they think would improve the farm bill, let's see them. Let's negotiate. What are we waiting for? Let's get this done....

We shouldn't fail to act on areas that we do agree or could agree just because we don't think it's good politics, just because the extremes in our party don't like the word "compromise." I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done. And there's no good reason why we can't govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.

In fact, one of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important. It matters. I think the American people, during the shutdown, had a chance to get some idea of all the things large and small that government does that make a difference in people's lives.

And we hear all the time about how government is the problem. Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways...

I've got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who've either worked without pay or have been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you. Thanks for your service. Welcome back. What you do is important. It matters...

We come from different parties, but we are Americans first. That's why disagreement cannot mean dysfunction. It can't degenerate into hatred.

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Rant Time: GOP humiliated; Cruz delusional; temporary fix; Americans suffer. In other words, business as usual.

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rant alert

Rant commences:

Today I tweeted, "Anybody who votes Republican in 2014 should have their head examined after what GOP put us through. Destroying this country." Of course in 140 or less I had no space to add that nobody should have or should be voting for these self-serving, willfully ignorant fools ever, but hey, Twitter has its limitations.

On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell asked, "What have we learned?" Answer:

GOP: Nothing.

The rest of us: Vote Progressive.

Speaking of Twitter:

"Good fight"? That's what it was, "Mr. Speaker, a "good fight," a big game? No. Wrong. It wasn't a good fight nor was it a game. Not at all. It was a terrible fight, a futile fight, a destructive, sado-masochistic fight that should never have happened.

But that's what these contemptible, irresponsible Republicans do: block, obstruct, project, whine, lie, and create conflict where there is none, especially the most conservative wing of the GOP to whom others defer, all in the name of more power and money.

They have no principles.

Back to The Boehner:

Blocking "will not be a tactic for us" ... today. But there's always tomorrow, right Boehner? His next statement pretty much suggests that very thing: The fight to kill Obamacare "will continue." In fact, I just got an email alert from the New York Times that begins with:

Coming out of a closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon, Republican lawmakers are already regrouping for the next fight.

They actually want deeper cuts than have already been inflicted by the sequester.

Are we having a good time yet? Enough wasn't enough? They're actually planning to inflict more pain and damage on this country, they thrive on that. This is who they are, these are the radicals who Republican voters continue to support with gusto.

Speaking of damaged, did I mention Raffy Cruz continues to be utterly delusional?

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Yes, he actually declared victory over Obamacare. Wonkette:

Asked what had been accomplished by the shutdown, since the Affordable Care Act was not repealed, defunded, delayed, or even modified, Cruz rejected the question’s premise and declared the House of Representatives’ shutdown a “remarkable victory” and a “profile in courage,” since the House listened to the American people (who overwhelmingly opposed a shutdown, and over the course of the shutdown have actually increased their support of the ACA).

Not nauseous yet? Ted Cruz Admits Budget Standoff Was All About Building Fundraising Lists.

And guess what? Come February, we get to do this all over again. No long term solutions here, America, just another postponement and yet another round of unnecessary fighting, angst, manufactured crises, and excruciating impasses:

(CNN) -- Reid said the Senate deal under discussion would reopen the government by funding it until January 15. It also would raise the debt limit until February 7 to avert a possible default on U.S. debt obligations for the first time.

So what was the point of all the extortion again? I can tell you what it wasn't: "The real fight under way isn't primarily about the size of government but rather who benefits from it."

If all this isn't painful enough, you and I both know that Republicans will do all they can to make it appear as if they were the good guys, and look at this go-nowhere economy, exclamation point! and, hey we tried to compromise, exclamation point! and-- say it with me-- blame Obama, many exclamation points!!!!

Memories are short, red state voters are notorious for not paying attention or remaining stubbornly, self-defeatingly loyal to their right wing extremist base, there are too many gerrymandered districts, and the media is GOP-compliant.

On the other hand, President Obama handled this well, Cruz is despised, Dems are pissed off and ready to Get Out The Vote, and many more Americans have noticed what infantile jerks congressional Republicans are, and how they once again brought us to the brink of economic disaster.

Did I say brink? We're already seeing the effects of their stupid "showdowns." The Government is Already Defaulting. And the Shutdown Has Cost The Economy $24 Billion. Oh, and the Perpetual Budget Crises Have Already Cost 900,000 Jobs.

Did I mention that Republicans Shut Down the Government for Nothing?

So as they bellow about economic loss and slow growth, Republicans created more economic loss and slow growth.

Remember who voted enthusiastically for the unfunded Iraq War and Bush tax cuts? Me too.

They failed. They embarrassed themselves. Their party members are self-absorbed, hypocritical, frivolous, criminally negligent loons. America is suffering even more now because of their ineptitude, self interest, and calamitous policies.

But hey, at least the Dow is back up.

dow up 200

In other words, business as usual.

Rant over.

And if you like what I wrote: Autumnal Fundraiser- Please Help Support Us!

If you're feeling especially wonky, here’s the bill that will end the government shutdown.

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Kerry Tells Congress That Oil Sheiks Will Pay US for War to Unseat Assad

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red line syria

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

In a rare moment of diplomatic candor, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional hearing Wednesday that oil sheiks have offered to pay the United States to unseat Bashar al-Assad as Syrian strong man.  [...]

Apparently trying to assuage concerns about billions and billions of taxpayer dollars financing a "punishment strike" that most legislators know in their guts is the opening salvo in another Libyan style war of degrading the Syrian military (while untold numbers of civilians are also killed in the process), Kerry, according to The Washington Post, revealed more than he probably meant to [...]

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.” [...]

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done."

The conundrum for Kerry is that you can't say "nobody's talking about it" when you've just said that an offer is on the table in case the Syrian conflict becomes a full-fledged Libyan style regime replacement operation. [...]

The only thing that has been stopping the US up until now from dislodging Assad is that the Syrian rebels are split among many different ideological groups, with the most powerful segment perhaps being Al-Qaeda or Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers.  So if Assad is overthrown, it could open the way for a pro-Iranian Islamic fundamentalist government.  [...]

So what's the end game?  That's the question that has everyone scratching their heads in Washington.  If Obama is authorized to strike Syria to punish Assad and the military for an alleged chemical attack, what will be the targets?  They can't be the chemical weapons themselves because that would cause a disbursement that would probably kill tens of thousands of civilians.

What could the US military do that would actually deter the Syrian army from using chemical weapons, if they were the ones that actually did?  And what would prevent the "radical" Islamic forces from seizing the chemical weapons (the largest stockpile in the world, according to President Obama) amidst the chaos created by a "shock and awe" attack.  Then who might the chemical weapons be used against, us?

So much for protecting Americans.

Please read the entire post here.

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U.S. relies on appalling death toll from #Syria attack to make case, but our casualty figures "much higher than others'"

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drumbeat to syria

Via a New York Times email alert:

A divided Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved an authorization of force against the Syrian regime, setting up a showdown next week in the full Senate on whether President Obama should have the authority to strike.

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are pushing as hard as they can to persuade us that bombing Syria is the right thing to do. In fact, per another email alert I received, Kerry is saying that the administration wants a “trigger” that would authorize military action for 60 days each time al-Assad’s regime uses chemical weapons.

But they're getting a lot of resistance and for good reason. There are still unanswered questions, Americans are queasy about jumping into yet another conflict in a volatile region, and some of the answers we've gotten don't sound as convincing as they should.

And now this from the Los Angeles Times:

The death toll given by the Obama administration for an alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack is far higher than confirmed counts of two key allies and a main activist group, which said it was shocked by the U.S. figure.

In pressing Congress to authorize a military strike against Syria, the administration has asserted that the government of President Bashar Assad killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children, in an Aug. 21 attack on the suburbs of Damascus.

But Britain and France have cited far lower numbers of confirmed deaths, raising questions about the intelligence the White House is using to make its case to launch missile strikes against Syria.

"Raising questions about intelligence" is not a welcome phrase right about now.

British intelligence came up with 350 as the number of people who had been killed. French intelligence said there were at least 281 confirmed deaths, but maybe as many as 1,500.

But so what, right? The point is that civilians were murdered. Not so fast.

The casualty figures are important because the administration is resting its case for military action in part on the scale of the attack.

If we're going to commit an act of war (and yes, bombing another country is an act of war), then it goes without saying, especially after the fraudulent Iraq debacle, that we should base our actions on reliable intel.

The precision of the U.S. figure, given the initial confusion surrounding the attack and the often contradictory reports of the violence in Syria, also raised questions among some observers.

But never mind all that.

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Also for your consideration, Mark Karlin at BuzzFlash has posted this: What Congress Will Be Voting on Is Another War, Not a "Limited Punitive Strike"

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VIDEO: Alan Grayson spars with Alex Witt on #Syria. Grayson wins.

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alex witt alan grayson

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I've had my problems with Alex Witt in the past, but in today's interview with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), she was more unprepared, flustered, and inaccurate than I've seen her in some time.

Witt came at Grayson with challenge after challenge of his positions on Syria, and he batted them away the way Mr. Ed swatted flies with his tail. When she got her facts wrong, he wasted no time in correcting her, and without even trying, he embarrassed her as badly as she embarrassed herself.

As a Twitter pal put it:

"He sorta ate Alex's lunch on the media hype of war with Syria. She was speechless and there was a moment of silence as if everything had gone off script."

Agree with Grayson or not, he speaks his mind, he's blunt, and gets right to the point. In this instance, he wasted no time and had ready answers to unWitting (bygones), uninformed questioning. Here are some excerpts:

Witt: You have been very vocal in your opposition to any kind of intervention. What's your argument against this?

Grayson: First it's not our responsibility. Secondly, whatever we do won't actually accomplish anything useful. Third, it's expensive. And fourth it's dangerous.

Witt: Okay. Uh. You're pretty definitive in that. How much pushback are you getting...?

Grayson: No, my position is actually the popular position here. We set up a website called DontAttackSyria.com and within a few hours we had 10,000 signatures petitioning the president against this action. The polls now show and will continue to show that Americans understand that it's simply not our responsibility. We are only one country out of 196. We have our own problems to deal with, and we're not the world's policeman, nor the world's judge, jury, and executioner.

Witt: You have said that you don't even think it's clear a chemical attack occurred. Now Doctors Without Borders, which is a completely impartial group, says its partners have treated 3,600 people for chemical weapons symptoms. Do you not believe them?

Grayson: No, no. You're misquoting me out of context. I said that several days ago before that evidence came in...

[But] I've yet to hear anybody explain to me why our attacking Syria will take away their ability to commit such an attack in the future.

Witt: Do you question, sir, the president saying that this is a threat to our national security, the use of chemical weapons in Syria?

Grayson: Absolutely. We haven't been attacked at all. Not a single American has been attacked during the course of this entire civil war. And I think Americans understand that. Let's tend to our own garden. ...

Witt: What's your response to [the clip of President Obama's remarks]?

Grayson: Not a single other country feels that way. Just a few days ago we had British parliament debate --

Witt: (She interrupted quickly and loudly here) France does, I believe!

Grayson: Well, no. France is saying we'll wait and see. So that's not the case at all. How is it that this is always our responsibility? And by the way, the treaty that the president's citing says that in case of violations of that treaty, you take the perpetrators to the International Court of the Hague, you don't bomb them.

Witt: (Sigh) Okay. Uhh.. Are you going to be on that conference call, sir, at 2:00... ?

Grayson: No, there is no conference call at 2:00 with general membership... I've arranged for a separate briefing... next week.

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FULL VIDEO: Pres. Obama: "I've decided the US should take military action against Syrian regime targets."

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obama biden syria attack announcement

President Obama from the Rose Garden. Some of the following is taken from my live tweeting and paraphrased:

After careful deliberation I have decided the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.

No boots on ground, no open-ended intervention. Limited in duration and scope.

I'm confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons.

I'm confident we can hold them accountable, we can degrade. We're prepared to strike whenever we choose.

This mission is not time sensitive.

It will be effective tomorrow, next week, next month, I'm prepared to give that order.

But I'm mindful of our democracy. I will seek authorization for the use of force from Congress.

I'm confident in our case. I'm comfortable going forward without approval from the UN Security Council.

I believe I have authority without Congressional authorization, but the country is stronger if we have this debate.

I respect the views of those who call for caution.  But we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing.

An atrocity committed with chemical weapons must be confronted. Not all will agree, privately we got support.

I know we're weary of war. We can't resolve the underlying conflict with our military, it will take years to resolve, so we won't put our troops in the middle of someone else's war.

I look forward to the debate. I ask that Congress to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences. This is not about who's in White House.

Our democracy is stronger when the president AND the people's representatives stand together.

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