Archive for category Barack Obama

Another Fake Crisis

Fake crisis

The looming shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at midnight Friday is a fake crisis. Speaker of the House John Boehner has the votes to pass a “clean” DHS appropriations bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already caved on the Tea-GOP’s shutdown threat.

This thing is totally fake. Why are the media talking about it as if it were real?

UPDATES:
1. Friday afternoon now,and Speaker Boehner is still refusing to allow a vote on the “clean” DHS appropriations bill.
2. Democrats to the Rescue: Congress Averts Shutdown for One More Week

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Rudy Giuliani: ‘I do not believe that the President loves America’

Dog whistle

Via Politico:

NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”

…“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

When you start out with, “I know this is a horrible thing to say…” maybe you should not say it?

I think it’s time to question whether the Tea-GOP “loves America.” The Bush administration failed to defend us from the single worst terrorist attack in history. They sent millions of Americans to fight unwinnable wars halfway around the world. They ruined America’s reputation as a defender of human rights, replacing it with wars of aggression and torture. They put the NSA to work spying on all of us. They abandoned New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They topped themselves by crashing our economy, causing millions of Americans to lose jobs, homes, and retirement savings. Then they waged a years-long campaign of economic sabotage in a failed attempt to stop the Obama administration from helping America recover from Bush’s Great Recession, including a government shutdown, a near-default on the National Debt, and the so-called “sequester” (aka austerity budgeting). Now they are trying to take away health insurance from 13 million Americans, and prevent millions more from getting any in the first place.

I am NOT feeling the love!

UPDATES:
Congressman Defends Outrageous Giuliani Remarks: Obama ‘Views America Differently’
Gov. Scott Walker: ‘I don’t know’ whether Obama is a Christian

23 Comments

Draft AUMF ‘Intentionally Fuzzy’

Countries bombed by USA
Source: The Daily Mirror

The Constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.

George Washington

Via MSNBC:

President Obama asked Congress on Wednesday for new war powers to go after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The draft resolution (PDF) asks Congress to enact a three-year Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS. The resolution notably restricts the use of American ground troops and seeks to avoid a prolonged conflict.

Obama announced his plan to launch airstrikes against ISIS back in September, and the White House’s AUMF resolution seeks to formalize the U.S. military campaign to “degrade and defeat” ISIS.

The draft AUMF has already been criticized as imprecise. For example, it defines the enemy as “ISIL [sic] or associated persons or forces.” But that would include the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels (armed by the U.S.), who routinely fight alongside ISIS. Like the 2001 AUMF (which would remain in effect), there is no geographical limitation in the new draft AUMF. Potentially it could authorize attacking Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Asked today if he agreed that language was “fuzzy,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied with a firm yes, saying it is “intentionally” fuzzy “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander-in-chief.”

I left the Army with the rank of captain, but it doesn’t take a four-star general to realize you can’t fight a war intelligently unless you know who the enemy is, and where to find them. Oh, and by the way this draft AUMF is probably a violation of the U.N. Charter – though that’s somewhat debatable.

UPDATE:
Hill Progressive Leaders Come Out Against Obama’s AUMF: ‘Too Broad’

“The devastating and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that when we give military authority to the executive, it should not be a blank check,” Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said.

“Unfortunately, the authorization proposed by the president this week is too broad. In order to ensure meaningful limits on executive branch authority, an AUMF should at a minimum contain a clear objective and geographical limitations. It should also include an enforceable ban on the deployment of ground troops with exception for only the most limited of operations, unambiguous language, and a repeal of the 2001 AUMF,” they said.

UPDATE:
State Dept. Official: US Can’t ‘Kill Our Way Out Of This War’ With Islamic State

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Because a Policy is Wildly Unpopular in America Doesn’t Mean It Won’t Happen

Comcast

Consumerist’s Worst Company In America for 2014 (you guessed Comcast, didn’t you? – right on!) is trying to get bigger and more powerful. Where is democracy when we need it?

Comcast is trying to merge with another of America’s largest cable and Internet providers, Time Warner Cable. The proposed Comcast-TWC merger would create a juggernaut of a company that almost no one would be able to compete with. The merged company — which will be named Comcast — would control more than two-thirds of all cable television subscriptions in the country, and some 40% of the home Internet market.

Alternet:

Survey after survey shows that Americans wholeheartedly oppose the proposed merger. The latest survey, by Consumer Reports, finds nearly three-quarters of Americans believe it will result in higher cable and Internet rates, while two-thirds say it will likely have a negative impact on customer service and that Comcast would have no incentive to improve.

Let’s recall that Comcast is an enemy of net neutrality, which they underscored by the Netflix shakedown last summer. They are notorious for throttling your Internet connection. Comcast is currently trying to turn user home routers into publicly-accessible hotspots without telling customers. Their prices are too high (but it’s a local monopoly controlled by nobody). And of course their customer “service” is totally evil.

Will the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice roll over and play dead, letting this merger go through? Stay tuned.

More info:
You Thought Comcast Couldn’t Get Any Worse? Think Again
When Your Cable Company Attacks: Why Comcast Abuses Its Customers
Insults directed at consumers are proof that Comcast is rotten to the core.

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Judge May Order Pentagon to Release Torture ‘Mementos’

Via Firedoglake (why does cable news ignore this?)

The United States government has been given a week to appeal or comply with a federal judge’s order to provide a justification for why approximately 2,100 photographs of torture and abuse of prisoners must remain secret.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein pointed out that the Protected National Security Documents Act of 2009 clearly says the Secretary of Defense must issue a certification for a photograph in order to keep it secret. It does not refer to photographs collectively. So, a process that attempts to justify blanket certification for secrecy is not in line with the law.

Journalist Jason Leopold reported last year that documents from the Defense Department show the photos come from “203 closed criminal investigations into detainee abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Leopold’s report suggested the soldiers had wanted to hold on to these photos as “mementos.”

7 Comments

Robert Reich: TPP is Part of the Global Race to the Bottom

Republicans in Congress want to work with the Obama administration to fast-track the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP is the largest—and worst—trade deal you’ve never heard of, having been devised in secret by representatives of some of the world’s largest corporations.

It’s so big and has the potential to do so much damage, it’s been likened to “NAFTA on steroids.”

Once you’ve watched the video, please join the growing chorus of Americans who are saying no to fast track and the TPP by adding your name to this petition from Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America.

UPDATE:

Media Matters: Trans-Pacific Partnership Barely Noticed By Weeknight News Over The Past 18 Months

66 Comments

Senator Joni Ernst Wants To Cut Wasteful Spending – Let’s Start With Farm Subsidies!

Via Media Matters:

Senator Ernst’s response to the President Obama’s State of the Union address focused on the Tea-GOP position that Congress should refuse to “pay for more government spending” and ought to “cut wasteful spending.”

Ernst’s Family Farm Benefited From Substantial Farm Subsidies. Ernst’s family farm in Red Oak, Iowa received over $460,000 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2006. Family members received conservation payments, commodity subsidies, and agricultural aid. [The District Sentinel, 1/12/15]

Federal farm subsidies amount to some $30 billion annually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends about $14 billion a year on crop insurance alone. Unlike direct farm aid payments, which are capped at $40,000 per farm, there is no limit on crop insurance subsidies. The names of those receiving payouts from the program are kept secret – but it’s a safe bet that nearly all of them are millionaires or corporations. Some recipients of farm subsidies are members of Congress and their families, including Tea-GOPers who voted to cut food stamps.

In 2011, the median income of commercial farm households — those deriving more than half their income from farming — was $84,649, almost 70 percent higher than that of the typical American household. Farm equity ended 2012 at $2.5 trillion, up 37 percent since the start of the recession in December 2007 — compared with a less than 1 percent gain in net worth for all U.S. households over the same period.

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Keystone XL Zombie Lie

Via Media Matters.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill approving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Virtually all the Republicans and 28 Democrats voted for this foreign-owned project, which is likely to impose significant environmental costs, cause an increase in American gasoline prices, and contribute to global warming. The proposed 1,200 mile dirty oil pipeline would carry bitumen — a tar-like substance mined from the Alberta tar sands, chemically diluted, and heated to improve flow — at high pressure across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Gulf Coast refineries. Existing pipelines of this type spring dozens of leaks every year, and the mess is much more difficult to clean up than a crude oil spill.

Why allow this? Right-wing propagandists insist that Keystone XL will create “42,000 jobs.” This is false.

The State Department concluded that the Keystone XL project will result in just 50 jobs, including “35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.” Further, their report stated that spending on the project would support only 3,900 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted one year and just 1,950 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted two years.

President Obama has threatened to veto the congressional attempt to force the issue, however he seems to be keeping the option open to ultimately approve this disastrous project.

UPDATE:
Senate Advances Bill To Approve Keystone Pipeline Despite Obama’s Veto Threat

15 Comments

Christmas Eve Document Dump Reveals US Spy Agencies Broke The Law And Violated Privacy

NSA surveillance

So far, nothing about this on cable TV news. Not even from MSNBC. Via Think Progress:

Around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the National Security Agency released hundreds of pages of heavily-redacted reports detailing numerous instances over the past decade in which agents intentionally or unintentionally violated the law and improperly collected private data. The revelations, triggered by a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union, still fail to disclose how many violations occurred and how many were unlawful.

…Jesselyn Radack with the Government Accountability Project, who has been working on Edward Snowden’s legal team, emphasized that these revelations would never have been possible without her fugitive client. “The ACLU only knew what to ask for because of the Snowden leaks,” she said. “There’s been semantics games with the NSA not using regular definitions for words like ‘collection’ and ‘analysis,’ which makes it very difficult to find the documents we’re looking for. Now, at least we have a road map and we know names of specific programs to ask about.”

Radack also told ThinkProgress that she suspects the release of the documents intentionally came at a time few would be paying attention. “It was an extremely conspicuous and shameless move to release this on Christmas Eve, but it’s entirely in keeping with the fact that the Director of National Intelligence has done similar kinds of document dumps on Friday afternoons in order to avoid the media cycle,” she said.

Of course, ALL the programs of widespread warrantless surveillance of Americans in their entirety violate the law because they are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

10 Comments

Jihadists Still Have The Initiative in Syria and Iraq

Ahrar al Sham T-72 tank
Ahrar al Sham T-72 tank at the recent battle of Wadi al Daif in Idlib province, Syria

It’s time once again to check in with The Long War Journal and see how things are going in Syria and Iraq. Oh, not good. The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, Ahrar al Sham, and elements of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army have reportedly taken Syrian Army positions in the northwestern province of Idlib.

The Al Nusrah Front, supported by jihadist groups Ahrar al Sham and Jund al Aqsa, and units from the Free Syrian Army, today claimed to have overrun Wadi Al Daif, a Syrian Army base located just east of the city of Maa’rat al Nu’man. In addition, Ahrar al Sham, Al Nusrah, and the Free Syrian Army also advanced on Al Hamadiya, which sits just south of the city; the groups claimed to have taken partial control of Al Hamadiya.

Control of the two bases is critical for the Syrian military as they straddle the M5 highway, the main road from Aleppo to Damascus.

Meanwhile in Iraq, ISIS has renewed its attack on Samarra and nearby towns.

The Islamic State seeks to control Samarra and towns and cites to its south in order to secure the northern Baghdad belt. Jihadist control of this area would make it difficult for Iraqi forces to resupply and reinforce military units north of the city. Additionally, the Islamic State would use this area to disrupt security in Baghdad.

The Iraqi government has allowed Shiite militias, including the Badr Brigade, Hezbollah Brigade, Asaib al Haq (League of the Righteous), and Muqtada al Sadr’s Promised Day Brigade, all of which are supported by Iran’s Qods Force, to reinforce beleaguered and demoralized Iraqi forces in Samarra. These militias have remained on the front line and have secured cities and towns, many of which are predominantly Sunni communities, along the road from Samarra to Baghdad.

ISIS is also trying to consolidate its hold on Anbar Province.

Islamic State fighters launched an assault on al Wafa, which is west of the provincial capital of Ramadi, on Dec. 12 and defeated Iraqi security forces and local tribal fighters.

…The Islamic State maintains the initiative in Anbar province, most of which is under its control. The provincial capital of Ramadi and the town of Haditha remain contested terrain. The Iraqi military, the Awakening, and Iranian-backed Shiite militias have been unable to wrest control of the province from the Islamic state since Fallujah and other cities and towns fell in January 2013.

What is the USA doing?

Since Dec. 10, the US has conducted 16 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, and the US and partners have carried out 29 airstrikes against the group in Iraq. President Obama told US troops: “The time of deploying large ground forces with big military footprints to engage in nation building overseas, that’s coming to an end.”

More info:
Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham advance in northwestern Syria
Islamic State releases pictures from recent fighting near Samarra (Note: some gruesome photos here)
Islamic State overruns town in Anbar, executes Awakening fighters
Al Nusrah Front uses American-made anti-tank missile in Idlib (Video)

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Nick Hanauer: Another Thing Obama Can Do Without Congress

Nick Hanauer

Seattle-based venture capitalist Nick Hanauer offers a smart policy proposal that President Obama could implement with a stroke of the pen. The President could raise wages and create jobs by directing the Department of Labor to expand the number of workers who can receive overtime pay. Sign the petition.

More from Democracy for America:

President Obama: Expand overtime pay!

We urge you to instruct the Department of Labor to significantly expand the number of workers eligible for federal overtime pay. By raising the salary threshold to $69,000, we would finally achieve the same eligibility for overtime pay that we had in 1975.

We also urge you to revise the rules in order to reduce the number of exemptions from overtime pay. Teachers, federal employees, doctors, computer professionals (anyone who uses a computer), and many more professional workers have been working overtime and increasing their productivity but aren’t seeing the benefits of their labor. They should also be eligible for overtime pay.

Revise the rules to expand overtime pay without delay.

More info:
Whatever Happened to Overtime?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Immigration: ‘We’re going as far as we possibly can without Congress acting’

Don't deport my mom

Obama Moves To Protect Millions From Deportation

WASHINGTON — In the boldest move on immigration policy of his presidency, President Barack Obama announced plans Thursday evening to dramatically increase deportation relief for an estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants. The executive action will protect parents, as well as those who came to the U.S. as children and others with long-standing ties to the country, from being forced out of their homes.

Oh, the quote at the top of this post? President George W. Bush’s press secretary Dana Perino, describing the Bush administration’s executive action on immigration in 2007.

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