Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said comparing Republican treatment of President Obama to how Democrats handled President George W. Bush is a false equivalence and that Democrats don’t bear culpability for the comparatively fewer number of bills being passed by Congress and signed into law.
“Let me just say that any of this equivalence, both sides, this or that, no — we never treated President Bush the way they treat President Obama,” she said Monday on MSNBC. “It’s no use whining about it; we just have to get people out to vote” and make people aware there’s an election this year.
“Most people don’t even know there’s a midterm election – it’s not in their universe of things to look forward to,” she said. “And so much is at stake. So much is at stake in the election and I would hope, if I could put one word on the ballot, it would be bipartisanship.”
Mrs. Pelosi said she hoped things might return to a time where common ground could be found between the parties.
“But they have said President Obama’s failure is their top priority and they will not — anything he proposes, it’s never, that’s our timetable for that, Mr. President,” she said. “So again, it is a fact — we just move on [from] that and we want to give people positive reasons” to vote.
Throughout his presidency, President Obama has emphasized one point while talking about Islamist extremists: They are not practicing Islam, he has said, they are perverting it.
He took that a step further Wednesday night. While announcing that he’s expanding the campaign against the Islamic State extremist group into Syria, Obama said flatly that this group, which is trying to install a caliphate in the Middle East, “is not Islamic.” He didn’t say they are perverting their religion; he said they’re not even part of that religion.
“No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of [the Islamic State's] victims have been Muslim,” Obama said. (Obama refers to the group as ISIL; more on that here.)
While the rest of his speech avoided polarizing language, this statement stands out. That’s because it’s very polarizing. And, in fact, Americans are more inclined to disagree with Obama on this point.
A Pew Research Center poll released just hours before Obama’s speech showed that 50 percent of Americans see Islam as a religion that “is more likely than others to encourage violence among its believers.” The figure’s up sharply from earlier this year and is the highest since Pew started asking that question in 2002.
A sixth-grade teacher at a Washington, D.C. public school will apologize to students but otherwise is receiving no punishment whatsoever for sending students home with an assignment this week instructing them to use…
A copy of the assignment, made by the parent, instructs students to draw examples from two texts they were assigned and to fill in a Venn diagram with similarities and differences between the two men.
“Now that we have read about two men of power who abused their power in various ways, we will compare and contrast them and their actions. Please refer to your texts, ‘Fighting Hitler — A Holocaust Story’ and ‘Bush: Iraq War Justified Despite No WMD’ to compare and contrast former President George W. Bush and Hitler. We will use this in class tomorrow for an activity!” reads the text at the top of the assignment.
In this hyperpartisan age, there is one point of agreement between Republicans and Democrats on foreign policy–that is, in addition to the newfound conviction that Congress need not exercise its constitutional authority over war: namely, that there shall be no “boots on the ground in Iraq.” It is a view requiring immediate clarification: there may be more U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq, but no combat troops will be sent.
President Barack Obama offered that reassurance in his addresses to the nation. His former rival, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said the same in an interview with the BBC on Hard Talk this week. No one, he said testily, was proposing sending U.S. combat troops to Iraq. And they have their finger on the American pulse–and the polls: nearly two-thirds support fighting ISIS, but only one-third supports sending combat troops to the region.
The distinction between “troops” and “combat troops” turns out to be politically convenient–and one that I will leave more qualified people to explain. Suffice it to say that it is probably a distinction easily fudged. And it is far from clear that merely bombing ISIS is going to be enough to “degrade” the proto-state, much less “destroy” it. Just ask Israel (and the Palestinians) whether superior air power alone is sufficient to destroy a terror network.
The war that Obama is asking Americans to endorse is exactly the kind most prone to “mission creep”–and, it must be said while wishing fervently otherwise, to failure. It is true that sending troops to fight in Iraq might, as David Frum points out, have some unpleasant strategic consequences. But if we accept that we cannot avoid this conflict, our task is to wrestle with those strategic problems in advance, not to attempt to win half a war.
Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” host Chuck Todd took President Barack Obama to task for the optics of going golfing moments after his statement on ISIS beheading journalist James Foley. Obama complained during his vacations he would “love” not to be followed by the press.
“You know, it is always a challenge when you’re supposed to be on vacation, because you’re followed everywhere, part of what I would love is a vacation from the press,” Obama said.
The president did take some responsibility saying, “But there’s no doubt that after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going through, after the statement that I made, I should have anticipated the optics. That’s part of the job.”
Referring to the Foley insensitivity as ‘theater” he said, “But part of this job is also the theater. It’s not something that always comes naturally to me. But it matters, and I’m mindful of that.”
I’ve got a suggestion, Barry. Resign.
While the agency continues to blame “computer crashes” for the now more than 20 people whose emails are “missing,” no IRS official has yet to identify when or how each computer crashed—much less why. We know Lois Lerner’s hard drive, which was “scratched” only a matter of days after receiving a letter from Congress requesting her emails. The IRS then destroyed it. The IRS followed a year later with the destruction of her unimpaired Blackberry containing emails for the same period. As we reported first, it made no effort whatsoever to obtain information from the Blackberry—despite being well into the Congressional inquiry. That is obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence—worse than the conduct for which Leslie Caldwell, now head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, destroyed Arthur Andersen LLP and its 85,000 jobs.
Any number of federal criminal statutes might apply to these facts, including Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1505—Obstruction of proceedings before department, agencies and committees; and Section 1519—Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations. Section 1505 is also a predicate offense for the federal Racketeering Statute, Section 1961, which provides that a “pattern of racketeering activity” can be proved by committing two predicate acts. These statutes are punishable by terms of imprisonment varying from five to twenty years.
While Lois Lerner and her husband vacationed in Nantucket, Judge Sullivan gave Magistrate Judge Facciola until September 20 to “assist the parties” in finding the emails from other sources. The IRS has admitted there is a massive back-up of all federal emails, but prefers to continue to obstruct justice rather than go to the trouble of finding the emails. I wouldn’t want to be the Department of Justice lawyer making that argument to Judge Emmet Sullivan.
The IRS says it has lost emails from five more workers who are part of congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status.
The tax agency said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings.
On Friday, the IRS said it has also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status.
The agency blamed computer crashes for the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said it found no evidence that anyone deliberately destroyed evidence.
And it’s an absolute coincidence that they are from employees that could have been subpoenaed…
Amid all this incoherence, there is one point on which Obama has been remarkably consistent. In that 2002 speech, he said: “Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.”
Last Friday, he struck the same theme, though without bad-mouthing our so-called allies: “We have seen, frankly, in this region, economies that don’t work. So you’ve got tons of young people who see no prospect and no hope for the future and are attracted to some of these ideologies.”
Compare these quotes with candidate Obama’s notorious 2008 remark: “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” . . .
It bears emphasis that the problem here is not Obama’s conjectural lack of faith or insincerity. It is, rather, his utter incomprehension of religious sentiment. How does one develop a strategy against an enemy one cannot understand?
“We didn’t see this coming,” one former member of Mr. Obama’s national security team said this summer, “and there’s a lot of debate about how to counter it.”
In vowing in Estonia on Wednesday to defend vulnerable NATO nations from Russia “for as long as necessary,” President Obama has now committed the United States to three major projections of its power: a “pivot” to Asia, a more muscular presence in Europe and a new battle against Islamic extremists that seems very likely to accelerate.
American officials acknowledge that these three commitments are bound to upend Mr. Obama’s plans for shrinking the Pentagon’s budget before he leaves office in 2017. They also challenge a crucial doctrine of his first term: that a reliance on high technology and minimal use of a “light footprint” of military forces can deter ambitious powers and counter terrorists. And the commitments may well reverse one of the critical tenets of his two presidential campaigns, that the money once spent in Iraq and Afghanistan would be turned to “nation-building at home.”
In facing the more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, he must find a way to confront a different kind of terrorist group, one determined to use the most brutal techniques to take territory that the backwash from the Arab Spring has now put up for grabs. The American bombing campaign against ISIS targets in Iraq does not approach the costs of invading and occupying that country, but Pentagon officials say the weapons, fuel and other expenses of taking on the Islamic extremists are running up bills of about $225 million a month, a figure that will rise if Mr. Obama has to take that fight into Syria.
ISIS “is not invincible,” Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in a talk at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, and ISIS does not yet pose the kind of direct threat to the United States that Al Qaeda did before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But it is “brutal and lethal,” he said, and defeating it will require a long-term commitment of a kind Mr. Obama clearly did not anticipate earlier this year.