BarackObama

Barack Obama’s Long Game

AP Photo.

POLITICO MAGAZINE

Barack Obama is not a modest man, but when it comes to assessing his or any president’s place in the long American story, he has been heard to say, “We just try to get our paragraph right.” Yet the way a raft of recent events have broken sharply in his favor, Obama suddenly seems well on his way to writing a whole page—or at least a big, fat passage—in the history books.

From the Supreme Court decisions upholding his signature health care plan and the right of gay Americans to marry, to contested passage of fast track trade authority, the opening of normal diplomatic relations with Cuba and an international agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Obama is on a policy and political roll that would have seem unimaginable to many in Washington only a few months ago.

“Obama may be singular as a president, not only because of his striking background,” says Kenneth Adelman, who was Ronald Reagan’s arms control negotiator with the Soviets three decades ago, and who has his doubts about the Iran deal. “It may turn out that unlike virtually any other president, his second term is actually better than his first.”

Rallying his cabinet in January in the wake of the Democratic Party’s decisive defeat in last fall’s midterm elections, Obama himself maintained, “Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter.” This president has always been something of a clutch player, but his command of recent events—from his soaring eulogy for the victims of the Charleston church massacre, to his commutation of more sentences for non-violent criminal offenders than any president since Franklin Roosevelt—goes a good way toward proving the prescience of his words.

For much of the last five years, it had seemed Obama’s peculiar misfortune that the biggest achievement of his time in office—the adoption of his health care plan—might also prove his biggest defeat, because of the bitter and unyielding political and legal backlash unleashed by its narrow passage on a strict partisan vote.

Simultaneously, Obama’s ability to take decisive unilateral action on foreign policy—often a source of succor and satisfaction to second-term presidents—seemed highly limited, if only because he remained saddled with the ugly aftermath of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rise of the ISIL threat.

Not so long ago, much of the chattering class was reading the last rites over the Obama administration, and turning to the 2016 election as a test of whether anything would be left of the president’s legacy if a Republican succeeded him. That’s still an open question, of course. But the Court’s recent rulings and Obama’s own seemingly unplugged and swing-for-the-fences attitude on questions from race to criminal justice has given his presidency a sharply re-invigorated viability and relevance.

“It’s an unfinished chapter,” says presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, who is writing a new biography of Gerald Ford. “But he has already defied the second-term curse and the wisdom of just six months ago. ‘What can a president do if he doesn’t have either house of Congress?’ Well, guess what, he can reverse a 50, 60-year-old policy toward Cuba. But, more than that, he can still, even without the traditional televised Oval Office version of the bully pulpit, to a large degree set the terms of the national debate.”

The president’s very demeanor in his White House news conference on Thursday bespoke a renewed intensity and determination to make the most of the time he has left.  Much of the time, he fielded questions in a relaxed posture, leaning on the lectern with one elbow, but some of his answers were emphatic bordering on brusque. As the session wound down, he canvassed the East Room for more questions about the Iran agreement with a kind of “Hit-me-with-your-best-shot” bravado, as if to show how important he believes it to be. With a blithe air that belied the seriousness of the issue, he quoted that noted diplomat Ricky Ricardo to say that if Iran mined more uranium than it was supposed to, “They got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

“It is a measure of the times in which we live that we start the legacy discussion a year and a half before the end of a presidency,” says David Axelrod, Obama’s former longtime strategist. “But he’s had the most productive period he’s enjoyed since the first two years: Cuba, the climate agreement with China, action on immigration, fast track on trade, the SCOTUS decisions on health care and marriage and now this agreement on Iran. These are big, historically significant developments, in most cases the culmination of years of commitment on his part.”

Obama himself said he hoped Congress would debate the Iran agreement on the facts and the merits, but added, “We live in Washington and politics do intrude.” The sharp and instantaneous denunciation of the president’s comments by Republicans was a sure sign of the parallel universes that constitute American politics these days. Former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show that Obama was a “very, very naïve man,” who “cannot put the dots together,” while Glenn Beck’s daily email newsletter subject line was, “Obama continues to destroy the country.”

The Republicans are not the only obstacle that Obama faces. He won his fast track Asian trade authority with largely Republican support, and the Iran agreement has stirred significant Democratic skepticism, among even the party’s leaders in Congress. If the Greek financial crisis engulfs Europe and spreads to Wall Street, there is no telling what the American economy might look like when Obama leaves office in 18 months.

By definition, the success or failure of the Iran agreement will not be known until long after Obama has left office, and critics like Adelman worry that even if Iran cheats on its obligations, international sanctions will never be re-imposed, because violations will be so hard to prove and the global investment in Iran will be so entrenched that it cannot be unwound.

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Newspaper That Printed Letter Calling For Obama’s Execution: Oops!

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AP Photo | Jacquelyn Martin

That “oops” is so transparent…(ks)

TPM LIVEWIRE

The Daily Item, a newspaper based in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, ran a letter on Memorial Daytitled “What is a Ramadi?” in which a local man criticized Obama’s approach to the Islamic State terror group.

“To the families of those fallen heros whose blood lies on the sands of Iraq; don’t you think it might be time to rise up against an administration who has adequately demonstrated their gross incompetence?,” Lewisburg, Pennsylvania resident W. Richard Stover wrote. “I think the appropriate, and politically correct, term is regime change. Forgive me for being blunt, but throughout history this has previously been accompanied by execution by guillotine, firing squad, public hanging.”

The Daily Item’s editorial board wrote Thursday that while “no bells went off” when the editor who placed Stover’s letter in the opinion pages first read it, the reference to execution should have been removed.

“Nearly a decade of provocative and divisive rhetoric may have inured us to language that calls the president of the United States ‘the coward-in-chief’ and the disrespectful use of the president’s first name…But we should have recognized that the final two metaphorical paragraphs of the Ramadi letter were inescapably an incitement to have the chief executive of our government executed. They should have been deleted,” the editorial read.

The editorial board added that publishing the letter as is wrongly implied the newspaper found Stover’s call for the President’s execution to be acceptable.

“The Daily Item apologizes for our failure to catch and remove the inappropriate paragraphs in the letter directed at President Obama,” the editorial read. “We will strive to do better in the future.”

h/t Politico

CATHERINE THOMPSON

Fox Nation Readers React To Death Of Nelson Mandela With Racism, Death Wishes For Obama

Some might ask why bother to publish this stuff.  To that, I reply, why not?  Why protect the SOBs by not publicizing their inanity?

Newshounds

Fox Nation posted a respectful article about Nelson Mandela’s death – and many of their readers responded in kind. But many erupted in such shocking racism and/or death-wishing hatred for President Obama that words fail us. You really need to see them for yourself. (H/T Andrew S.) UPDATED

This is what passes for “tolerance” and “civil discourse” on Fox Nation:

 

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UPDATE: Apparently, Fox is embarrassed enough by their own readers that they have now removed the comments section along with the previously existing comments.

H/t: DB

Fox News Sunday Interviews Former Republican Activist as Everyday Obamacare ‘Victim’

No surprise here.  This is par for the course with Fox News.  Propaganda is their entire game.

Mediaite

If news consumers had a nickel for every bogus Obamacare horror story on TV, they wouldn’t need Obamacare. Add to the list the story of 34 year-old Georgia native Cade Joiner, who was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday this week. Introduced simply as a “businessman” who is “Losing Health Plan,” Mr. Joiner’s story, getting a letter in the mail cancelling his old health insurance, and “calling around” only to find the new plan cost much more, sounded familiar. Some of the language Joiner used about Obamacare being “not ready for prime time” sounded even more familiar.

In fact, Mr. Joiner might even look familiar to you, if you’re into Georgia Republican politics. Here is the same Cade Joiner introducing Ralph Reed at the 2001 College Republican National Convention:

At that time, Joiner had just finished a stint as President of the Georgia Association of College Republicans, but more recently, he was a campaign fundraising organizer, and then a campaign finance committee co-chair, for the successful reelection bid of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R-GA).

None of this necessarily means Joiner is a bad person, or even that he’s not a credible guest, but these are things that Fox News Sunday, and host Chris Wallace, should have disclosed to viewers. Wallace also should have asked Joyner where he “called around” to find an individual health insurance policy for over $500, when the most expensive policy available in his county of residence costs about $350.00, and there are several plans available for less than he was paying before. It might be tough to get viewers to sympathize with a Republican fundraising heavyweight whose insurance premiums went up, but nearly impossible if they went down.

Cade Joiner may have an honest gripe with President Obama’s assurance that he could keep his plan, and there may well be some tradeoffs for some people when it comes to individual insurance, but even though consumers like Cade Joiner are still having trouble using the Obamacare website, there’s little excuse for news outlets to fail to do such basic research. There’s also no good reason to conceal Mr. Joiner’s political activism, unless the point is to make him seem dishonest upon its revelation.

 

Juan Williams Accuses Republicans Of ‘Empty Rhetoric’ On Obamacare (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post

Fox News analyst Juan Williams hit out at Republicans on Sunday over their opposition to Obamacare.

Williams appeared on a “Fox News Sunday” panel. He responded to Chris Wallace’s charge that some Americans are losing their health insurance plans under Obamacare.

“I get the sense that people on the Republican side are enjoying this moment, but this is empty rhetoric,” Williams said. He added that some plans are being cancelled because they do not meet Obamacare standards, but that those affected have received offers “for better packages at lower costs with more benefits.”

“This is not the apocalypse,” Williams added.

Brit Hume disagreed, saying, “The president promised explicitly — we heard it on this program—if you like the coverage you have now you can keep it, period… They’re now being told they can’t have those polices anymore. They must have policies that involve coverage for things they may feel they don’t need.”

The two continued to clash in the clip above.

(h/t Mediaite)

Fox’s O’Reilly Says Obama Will ‘Seize-White-Assets’ To Implement Obamacare!

O’Reilly, et al insist that they are not the “race-baiters”.  Yeah, right!

H/t: TheObamaCRAT™

Friday Blog Roundup – 10-18-2013

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) speaks to reporters after a Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 15, 2013.

The GOP’s Alamo

Anatomy of a shutdown

The Tea Party’s International Counterparts

Cruz again huddles with his House GOP flock

One chart shows how badly the GOP hurt itself

Eye Opener: Convicts forge their way to freedom

Fake crises are distracting us from really serious ones

House Committee Calls Hearing Over Obamacare Rollout

Obama To Announce Homeland Security Nominee Today

Oregon Cuts Its Unsinsured Population By 10 Percent Over The Past Two Weeks

 

Thursday Blog Roundup – 10/10/2013

Meet the 10 most dangerous terrorists

Announcing Fed Nomination, Obama Praises Yellen

T-Mobile getting rid of international data, texting fees 

Oliver Willis: Inevitable: Fox News Hires Dr. Ben Carson

Paul Ryan adds Medicare and Medicaid to the ransom note

Obama chats up prominent figures from conservative media

John Boehner’s Claims On The Medical Device Tax Explored

Ted Cruz Conducts Own Poll To Show Things Aren’t So Bad For GOP

For Boehner, surrender may be only way out of shutdown and debt-ceiling mess

Obama invites all House Republicans to White House meeting, nearly all decline

The Big Lie Behind Rand Paul’s Pack of GOP Shutdown Lies

Rand Paul

PoliticusUSA

The GOP, driven by tea party extremism, has shut down the U.S. government, costing taxpayers on the order of $40-$80 million per day at a conservative estimate. Some estimates go as high as $300 million per day. According toShutdowncost.com, as I write this, the shutdown has cost in excess of $1,593,276,000 and it is literally climbing by the second.

Yet Rand Paul (R-KY) writes an op-ed on CNN.com on Fridaywith the disingenuous claim that he doesn’t understand why the WWII memorial isn’t open:

This week, we saw the outrageous spectacle of World War II veterans being told by our government that they couldn’t visit their own memorial. These former service members, who stared down the Japanese and the Nazis, were told that they couldn’t step through barricades arbitrarily placed in front of their memorial because the government has shut down. Some have speculated that it might have cost more to place the barricades there than to have done nothing at all.

This is a tear-jerker, and it is meant to be. But Paul is being as dishonest here as the day is long.

He says putting barricades up cost more than to have done nothing. But Rand Paul doesn’t mention that, the shutdown his party is responsible for is costing Americans more than if the Republicans had done nothing. And the shutdown is costing Americans more than a few barricades.

Let me put it this way: Not only do the spending cuts the GOP demands not reduce the federal debt, but the shutdown Republicans initiated claiming Obamacare is costing Americans too much money, costs more money than Obamacare.

If this makes sense to you, you are probably a tea partier.

Yet Rand Paul says Obamacare makes no sense, because, apparently, giving millions of Americans access to insurance for the first time, and forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, makes no sense.

He accuses President Obama of being “tone deaf” to Americans, completely ignoring the fact – and it is a fact – thatthe majority of Americans want Obamacare and that the majority of Americans do not want a government shutdown.

I think we know who is tone deaf, and it isn’t President Obama.

Then Rand Paul pulls out the Big Lie, the same one every Republican who began planning for this shutdown in 2010 are all using, that none of them wanted a shutdown. Keep in mind that they shut down the government using Obamacare as an excuse. Keep in mind that Obamacare is the law of the land, and more, a law upheld by the Supreme Court.

No one wanted a government shutdown. Republicans have continued to offer multiple compromises that would keep the government open. I offered an amendment to keep the government open an additional week while negotiations continued. My proposal was rejected. In fact, all of our proposals were rejected.

Paul tells another lie when he claims, “Every attempt to bargain, negotiate or compromise has been rejected by the Democrats.”

Let us be clear: The Republicans have offered no compromises. They refused from the start to negotiate. Their demands – and they can be construed no other way – have been predicated on 44 unsuccessful votes to defund Obamacare, and when that failed, to delay it for a year, when, they hope, a new majority in the Senate will kill it for good. In other words, delaying Obamacare is, from their point of view, no different than killing it. Some compromise. Either way, it’s “kill Obamacare.”

Apparently, Rand Paul yearns to be known as the biggest liar in Washington, D.C., to judge by this next whopper:

Pundits like to talk about dysfunctional government in Washington. This week demonstrated how right they are. Our government is too big, inefficient and incompetent to possibly handle American health care effectively. Why can’t this administration get its act together?

A Republican-dominated House of Representatives rushing down a road to nowhere with no clear end-game in mind save unconditional surrender by the administration, and Paul says the administration doesn’t have IT’S act together?

Paul pulls out one lie after another, each worse than the last, arriving at the tried and untrue Republican claim that Obama is building the deficit at a record pace:

And what do we have to show for this largely dysfunctional government? Annual trillion dollar deficits and a $17 trillion debt than keeps climbing.

The truth is exactly the opposite. In fact, Obama is reducing the deficit at a record pace. It is a fact, as Sarah Jones reported here in May, that the Obama administration has presided over the most rapid deficit reduction since World War II.

In fact, government spending under President Obama has grown at a slower rate than it did under any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Bloomberg(that’s over 50 years ago, if you’re counting).

Where does that leave Paul’s op-ed? Lie, lie, another lie, followed by more lies. So does Rand Paul have anything to say that is not a lie?

No, sadly he does not. All Rand Paul has is lies.

And so the liar from Kentucky concludes, dishonestly, that because his party has shutdown the government over a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court, that, “What Americans were reminded of this week — more than anything else — is that big government doesn’t work.”

What doesn’t work is the House of Representatives, which has spent 15+ percent of its time this year trying to get rid of a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. A law, moreover, that most Americans want.

The GOP, to nobody’s surprise, is a party these days of liars and shills. But Rand Paul, apparently – and this is saying something when you consider the company he keeps – wants to be the liar of the century.

Right now, he has that award hands down.

Colbert Hammers Koch Brothers, Right-Wing Pundits Over Obamacare Alarm

The Huffington Post

On Tuesday, Stephen Colbert took aim at the Republicans as they continue to lose the media narrative on the government shutdown over Obamacare. Check out the clip above as he offers some tongue-in-cheek mockery of right-wing panic over the Obama administration’s attempts to sell the program to young people, and the Koch Brothers’ attempts to convince them they don’t need insurance.