Archive for Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton Left Sucking Elizabeth Warren's Fumes

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While Hillary plays, Warren soars. That's something that is quite interesting and intriguing to consider. We know what Hillary Clinton has done in the past and her wealth of experience. But lately there's a new kid on the block who's pushing some very strong changes in Washington. They're being met with a good amount of skepticism on the right, as would be any change. But on the left and in the all important center, she's scoring some major points.

Here's what Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has been up to lately -- in no order of intended importance.

  1. She's been fighting for lower cost educational  student loans, which happened.
  2. She's been leading the way for the new Dodd-Frank banking regulations bill. It's moving through committee as we speak.
  3. She's proposed INCREASING Social Security payments, not decreasing them, allowing seniors more buying power. That's gaining great attention among the lawmakers.
  4. She's stood up to President Obama on his judicial nominations, pointing out that too many of them come from Wall Street banking and not enough from tort and criminal law. She's against too much big business influence on laws and regulations.
  5. She's been fighting and gaining traction against the too big to fail excuse. She's pushing for jail terms for the banking execs who have lead their investors into huge, risky and in some cases, scandalous investments.
  6. She's leading the move to help the post office support itself by giving it more financial services it can perform like check cashing.  Details here
  7. She proposing changing student loans to be more like house or car loans -- renegotiable if the rates go down.

According to The Daily Beast:

Elizabeth Warren4

 Unlike a loan to pay for a house, a vehicle, or just about anything else your heart desires, you can’t refinance a student loan. The result is that student loans have become a rare way for the federal government to generate revenue, making $66 billion in profits off them between 2007-2012.  Warren told The Daily Beast that she is discussing legislation with colleagues that would allow students to refinance their federal loans at rates currently offered to new borrowers. 

Perhaps the presumptive front runner on the Democratic side Hillary C., might want to get off her recliner and start making a little more noise and taking stands on some issues. Senator Warren has the pulpit right now, with her current upper house seat. But Ms. Clinton better get a move on before the the party starts looking at a fresher, younger and quite vibrant up and comer. 

If not, come 2016, the Dems might just go with a fresh face and some strong ideas -- consumer protections might be more important that 22 trips to Benghazi.

Take a look at this short ad that Ms. Warren put out when running for the Senate. She's made her goals known, and she's making great headway toward them.

Important for Hillary to consider: The longer you stand on the sidelines and let others define you, the harder it is to later define yourself.

The Democrats might just have a primary race yet, and if Joe Biden jumps in, all eyes might just move to Elizabeth Warren. She says she's not interested, but we've all heard that denial before.

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Harry Reid's Sneaky Plan To Destroy Mitch McConnell's Reelection

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Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell

According to Talking Points Memo:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he won't campaign against his arch rival, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is up for reelection in 2014.

"Oh, no. No, I -- that -- I'm a traditionalist here, and that isn't anything I've ever done and will not do," he told Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt" in an interview set to air Friday night.

At first I was a bit surprised, even disappointed. First, there's no love lost between Reid and McConnell. And secondly, Kentucky Democratic senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is really in a winnable dogfight that the would knock the sitting Senate Minority leader not only off his chair, but out of the senate all together. This contest sets up to be the most watched in recent history at the Senate level.

As Ludergan Grimes is hardly a household name, even in her own state where she serves as Kentucky's Secretary of State, you would think that she could benefit from the current Senate Majority Leader's support. So when he declared he's not going to actively take part or campaign on her behalf, I was wondering what's going on. Ginning up interest for the Democratic candidate, by a powerful Democratic leader, to knock off the most powerful opposing senator seems like an important endeavor. But Harry publicly says, "no."

Then I got to thinking about why Reid would sit this one out, tradition be damned. Leader Reid says it's customary for leaders of opposing parties not to take a direct shot at their cross-party counterparts. Tradition. Well, so was the filibuster rule in the Senate and Harry had no problems sidestepping tradition there. So why would this be any different?

For a long time I've heard that the generally laconic Harry Reid didn't become Senate Leader without having some political savvy. And then it occurred to me, he is using it right now.

fox

Reid is being cagey like a fox. He's not avoiding this showdown. He's actually, by drawing attention to his not taking sides, helping Alison Lundergan Grimes. What he's doing is very smart. He's appearing to back his comrade McConnell by not only ignoring the urge to say politically damaging things about the Minority Leader, he's making it sound like they're friends. They agree on a lot of things. They can work together. Talk about backhanded praise. There isn't a conservative Republican or Tea Party member in Kentucky who wants to accept compromise and a willingness for their representative to work WITH the Democrats.

Therefore, a vote for Mitch is to vote for the democratic way of thinking and of compromise. Or at least that's the vapors Harry Reid is putting out to Kentucky.

Republicans would rather stay home, than vote for a Mitch McConnell republican the way he's being painted. Democrats will turn out to support a change -- to Alison Ludergan Grimes.

You go Harry, you sneaky fox. Keep saying nice things about your ability to work with Mitch McConnell. Alison Ludergan Grimes, the more Harry "stays out of your campaign," the easier your path to the Senate Chamber is going to become.

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Deniers, Deny This!!!

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Just the facts 2

How serious is global warming?

It depends on who you ask. To most Republicans, it's not really an issue. It's just part of the natural cycle of events. Every so many years or so, there's an anomaly. There's nothing to worry about and certainly no reason to toss money at a problem that doesn't exist but in our minds.

I'm inclined to agree with these GOP sages except...

I'm not crazy!!!

Maybe if these flat earth society members looked at this very clever and BTW,entertaining clip, they might just wake up and smell the coffee, which brewed itself today due to global warming.

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Bibi Netanyahu - A Hawk Among Hawks

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Hawk

If there's two people who've never met a war they didn't like, it's Lindsay Graham and John McCain. Now you can add a third name to that list-- Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu. He's the Israeli who's no Disraeli.

Tuesday, the Israeli Prime Minister flexed his wings, his sharpened talons and his polished beak and took to the podium to address the United Nations. What was this staunch leader's purpose? Peace? Trust? Unity?

None of the above. He came to stir the pot. He came to instigate potential war with Iran. If Netanyahu really cared about the safety of his country he would be rooting for US/Iran accords on nuclear weapons, not trying to start a war. Why are peaceful negotiations any less valid than winning by war?

Now is there reason for concern? You bet.

worried

HUFFPO:

Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that Israel's future is threatened by a "nuclear-armed" Iran seeking its destruction. He urged the international community to keep up biting sanctions against Iran, saying the greater the pressure, the greater the chance for diplomacy to succeed.

He also accused Iran of lamenting the human tragedy in Syria, but at the same time directly participating in "Syria's murder and massacre of innocents."

"Diplomacy to succeed." Now that's the kind of talk we all should have on our minds. Not war. Not nuclear, chemical or traditional warfare. And certainly not accusing a country of aiding in murder and massacre of innocents.

Talks, sanctions and emissaries is the way to proceed. A process that's been woefully lacking with the US and Iran -- over 30 years since their respective leaders have talked, until last week.

Now that direct interaction is beginning, one of the largest recipients of successful talks, Israel, is tossing fuel on the fire, not water. Through Netanyahu, they are stoking the fires and trying to instigate a war-like posture, not a peaceful one. That's just wrong.

It's fine to share your doubts on the credibility of the process and even the partners in the discussions, but not resulting in name calling. Unsubstantiated claims and rumors. Is Iraq to be trusted? That remains to be seen. But with a new regime, don't they deserve a chance to prove that they've changed before calling them names?

Netanyahu accused Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of masterminding Iran's strategy to advance the country's nuclear weapons program and said his goal was the same as his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing," Netanyahu said.

Bibi needs to tone down his rhetoric. There's no doubt Israel knows very well what's going on in the middle east. And they are in a very close proximity and reach of a nuclear weapon -- which, BTW, they have for themselves. So their input is valuable. But in needs to be tempered and privately discussed with the US. Not at the UN. Not unless you're going to bring names, dates and proof of verifiable complicity in war atrocities.. Rumors and innuendo aren't going to cut it. And waving a piece of paper around with dates and locations isn't enough. We learned that with Colin Powell. He had "proof" too. Show us the money.

When we were on the brink of a vote to go to war with Syria, we reached, with Russia's assistance, an accord on chemical weapons. That went to the UN and it was signed by the United Nations Security Council. Despite hawkish opposition in the US (McCain and Lindsay) the seemingly achievable and peaceful solution was reached. Will it succeed? We don't know yet. But we're not bombing and killing people just  to arrive at the same solution.

If we had listened to the hawks, we'd currently not only have a government shutdown, we'd be bombing Syria and as John McCain loved to sing, bombing Iran. Lindsay Graham had already announced a military action plan in formulation by him and other warmongers.

We have to give peace a chance. That doesn't mean surrender. But it also doesn't mean going to war to win a peace. It rarely happens that way.

Netanyahu should stay vigilant. But he also should watch his mouth and the inflammatory statements he's making. Despite what he may believe, he serves at the pleasure of the United States. If we didn't back Israel as we rightfully do, he very well could be under Palestinian rule in Jerusalem, and not the other way around.

Bibi's a good head of state but perhaps lacks the discipline, nuances or patience of a great leader. He needs to tone down the disruptive rhetoric and threats, stop shouting "...Or Israel will go it alone." They're not going anywhere alone. They walk with the US and we're proud of that alliance. They don't need to be undercutting what hopefully will be a peaceful solution to the potential nuclear weapons issues in Iran.

Chill, Bibi. If you have to shoot something, try clay pigeons, not people. As always, America's got your back.

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When You Aren't Totally, Fully, Without A Doubt, Absolutely, Completely Sure, Be Quiet

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SYRIA-CONFLICT

We all know that there's a looming crisis in Syria. We're also quite aware that the public is not in favor of the US taking any miliarty action at this time regardless of the horrific poison gas murders of innocent civilians by the Assad regime this past August 22nd.

Fortunately, through a series of planned or unplanned events, a crack in the diplomatic door has been opened and Obama has chosen to pursue that potential avenue. This must be applauded. Despite all the rhetoric by the McCain hawks or the Rand Paul doves, the drumbeat for war was becoming quite alarming.

What we should be alarmed at is not our determination to make a stand against the use of chemical weapons. But that it took this August massacre to be the flash point. There have been reports of much earlier use of CW's that rose to the White House's attention.

LA TIMES:

WASHINGTON — In July 2012, senior U.S. intelligence officials drove to the Capitol to secretly brief top lawmakers on the first indications that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people.

SNIP

But it was the beginning of a stream of intelligence documenting what U.S. officials say was a yearlong escalation in the use of the banned weapons by the government of President Bashar Assad, a far more extensive record of the incidents than previously known. The Obama administration did not publicly acknowledge the attacks for months, and declared in April that it believed Syria had used chemical weapons.

So if Obama knew this information that chemical weapons were being used, why is it that it took this large scale attack in August to trigger his "line in the sand?"

The Daily Beast.

Though President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other officials have asserted there is "no doubt" Assad was behind the attack, they have been careful to refer to "Assad's regime" or the "Syrian regime" to avoid stating it outright. Outside the administration, analysts with senior-level intelligence clearance say there is real doubt that Assad has command of his chemical weapons.

It's this kind of tenuous reassurance or double talk that has me worried. I personally think Assad is in charge of his current regime and anything they do, whether with his explicit, implied or even blind eye are still his responsibility. Just as Obama is ultimately responsible for the US response.

With this question of who really has control of the chemical weapons in Syria, this is the time to tread lightly and continue to investigate. The Washington Times also echos this concern of who's really in command of these CW's.

U.S. intelligence has yet to uncover evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad directly ordered the chemical attacks last month on civilians in a suburb of Damascus, though the consensus inside U.S. agencies and Congress is that members of Mr. Assad’s inner circle likely gave the command, officials tell The Washington Times.

If we don't know for sure if it's Assad or his lieutenants, there's something interestingly optimistic in this. Russia also may not know who's really pulling the strings in Syria. And they have a huge stake in making sure these CW's don't end up being used against them down the road. If they back Assad and someone else is capable of using the Sarin gas, then they have a fear that Chechen's or others within Russia may seek out an alliance with the real person responsible and that could bring about an attack on Putin's land.

Just a thought -- if it wasn't Assad himself who gave the order, look for some close adviser to the President of Syria to suddenly go missing, under Putin's secret authority.

Everyone's got some skin in this game. And for a change, the outcome for both the Russians, despite their bluster, and the US are the same-- elimination of the chemicals. So while we give negotiations a chance, let's keep some optimism alive. And maybe during that time, we'll find out who really pulled the trigger on the August 22 chemical attack. It just might be the Syrian Minister or General who doesn't answer "here" when they do the next role call.

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Give Credit Where Credit Is Due -- Manchin/Heitkamp

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joe_manchin_heidi_heitkamp

I believe there's a good chance we avoid firing a single missile into Syria and we can accomplish much more than the intended cruise missile could. We will be potentially saving millions of lives, not taking them. And this supposedly all came about by an off the cuff remark attributed to the dullest man on the planet, Secretary of State, John Kerry.

But was it really an off-guard moment, a spontaneous thought that just occurred to the SOS? That would sure make for a good TV series plot -- but it's not at all the case. Oh, Kerry was genuinely asked the question that resulted in that "throw away" response, but the reply was hardly his.

This idea of Syria giving up it's chemical weapons was introduced five days before -- by the two real engineers of this plan. These two should be heralded as the architects of this possible solution which is getting embraced in every corner of the world (I say corner because the the vast numbers of Republicans in the Flat Earth Society).

Back on September 5th, five full days before Kerry's remarks, POLITICO reported on a widely circulated, proposed senate bill:

The United States would give Syria 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the wrath of American military might, under a draft resolution being circulated by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

Now I'm not saying Obama nor Kerry aren't ultimately going to make this happen, along with Putin and Assad and the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon. I'm hoping they pull it off. But let's give credit where credit is due.

Two visionary U.S. senators, Manchin and Heitkamp are their names. They should, if this all falls into place, be given great praise for preventing more bloodshed and a world-wide blame on our country should something go wrong and we end up with another Iran or Afghanistan. At this writing, things seem to be headed in the peaceful direction. There are plenty of obstacles ahead, but West Virginia and North Dakota may have provided us with the two people who saw a potential war and found a peaceful solution.

In a face-saving statement, which is perhaps born in fact, Obama has said that it was his threat of the use of fire power and retaliation that has brought about the potential for this hopeful resolve. Maybe he's right. There's enough praise to go around. But sometimes the real brains behind the victories are lost in the rush to congratulate the titular leaders. At no point did I hear Kerry or Obama publicly mention a plan like that of these two senators. Perhaps in the strategy rooms it was discussed, but not with the people of the US, or in the Congressional briefings.

It was only Manchin and Heitkamp who put their thoughts and this option out there publicly.

For that we owe them a great debt of gratitude. They not only saved us money, lives and a potential war. They also saved Obama the embarrassment of not getting Congressional approval to take these warlike actions he's proposed -- then forcing him to act alone, or face the humiliation of dropping the plan all together.

Let's keep our fingers crossed. There's a long way to go. But two new heroes have joined the ranks of people we should look at for the future when crisis or the need for leadership comes a calling.

UPDATE: (though real credit goes to the above)

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Senator McCain, You Get Paid For This SH**

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John McCain poker

Oh, John McCain. You can't win for losing. You’re a hawk in search of a war and when you finally find it, what do you do? You play games.

If you were in class, being educated by a teacher and were caught playing with an electronic device, you’d have had it confiscated and you’d be sent expelled from the class. Instead, you sit there, flip-flop on your important hawkish views, then finally vote. But based on what? A pair of sixes?

America’s future isn’t a poker game unless you make it one. We’re expecting you to make decisions about our future, and our safety. And how do you treat it? Like it’s a game. A silly game. And you’re not very good at it. You self-profess to have lost thousands in your fantasy play yesterday. I don’t think I want a man like you representing me in life and death decisions.

Whether or not US troops will be in harm’s way will be directly impacted by your vote. Syrian civilians – men, women and children – are sure to be collateral damage. Isn’t that more important than drawing to an inside straight?

Inside Straight poker hand

You owe your fellow senators, the President, the SOS and the American people an apology. You cheated us of your time and experience by disrespecting all of us with your silly poker game. Show some courage. Do what a true soldier should do. Take responsibility and accept your punishment – listening to the monotonous, droning on of the most boring man in America, John Kerry. I’ll agree his tedious tones challenge sardines not to roll up the tin lid on their cans but if we have to pay attention, so do you. You get paid very well for this. We don’t. So man up, John McCrime.

And we've had enough of your goofy expressions having been called out on your antics. If you’re not sure about what you did wrong, listen to Professor Jon Stewart as he explains:

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