MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Martin Bashir’s assessment of President Obama’s policy speech on counter-terrorism was the clearest and most detailed explanation I’ve heard all day…
In advance of Barack Obama‘s counterterrorism speech at the National Defense University in Washington Thursday, senior White House officials briefed reporters on the meat and potatoes of the president’s address. If you don’t have the time to watch the entire speech (you can livestream ithere), this is your perfect Cliff Notes guide:
On closing Guantanamo: All those Democratic lawmakers writing letters to the president will be pleased: He’s taking their advice. The president will reiterate his call to close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and take up a number of steps to accelerate this process that wererecommended this week. Those include: Designating a location in the United States to conduct military commissions to try Guantanamo detainees, lifting his self-imposed moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, and appointing a State Department and Pentagon envoy to personally oversee the transfer of detainees to other countries. “He will reiterate his call for the closure of Gitmo” and emphasize its “cost to our reputation,” said a White House official.
On court oversight of armed drone strikes: The president will not wholly endorse the establishment of new powers for federal courts to oversee drone strikes, but he will tell the public he supports a dialogue about how to constrain the executive branch’s ability in this area. Officials specifically mentioned an authority patterned after the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which oversees surveillance of suspected foreign spies. “He will indicate that he is open to working with Congress to review those options,” said one White House official.
On codifying drone policies: The president is expected to discuss a new policy guidance he signed limiting the use of lethal drone strikes to targets who pose a “continuing, imminent threat to Americans” and cannot otherwise be captured. A drone strike will require “near-certainty” that civilians will not be killed, and the president will convey his preference that the U.S. military carry out drone strikes as opposed to the CIA. When asked how this policy differed from earlier policies, a senior official dodged, saying the administration was simply codifying best practices for drone strikes that have evolved over the years.
The end of the war on terrorism: Finally, the president will say that the so-called War on Terror “will come to an end at one point,” after the administration’s “focused effort” against al Qaeda and its affiliates is won. A White House official added that the president rejects the notion of a “global war on terror,” noting that terrorism is a tactic that can never be completely rid from the world.
From time to time, I enjoy marveling at the kind of questions that appear in ostensibly neutral Fox News polls. This latest entry only helps reinforce suspicions that the network asks questions intended to get an ideologically satisfying result.
C’mon. Does anyone seriously believe an independent poll would ask whether respondents feel like “the federal government has gotten out of control”? I think it’s far more likely Fox wanted to tell it’s viewers about results that reinforce a preconceived narrative, so it asked a question to illicit a predictable response.
As for the underlying point, it’s also worth noting that Fox did not ask whether the public believed “the federal government has gotten out of control” when the Bush/Cheney administration said warrantless wiretaps of Americans were legally permissible.
Let’s also not overlook the larger polling pattern. I’ve long marveled at the kind of questions that make their way into a Fox survey, starting in March 2007 when the network’s poll asked, in all seriousness, “Do you think the Democratic Party should allow a grassroots organization like Moveon.org to take it over or should it resist this type of takeover?” Soon after, another Fox poll asked, “Do you think illegal immigrants from Mexico should be given special treatment and allowed to jump in front of immigrants from other countries that want to come to the United States legally, or not?”
In 2009, a Fox poll asked, “Do you think the United Nations should be in charge of the worldwide effort to combat climate change and the United States should report to the United Nations on this effort, or should it be up to individual countries and the United States would be allowed to make decisions on its own?”
In March 2013, a Fox poll asked, “Former President George W. Bush stopped golfing after the start of the Iraq war. Do you think President Barack Obama should stop golfing until the unemployment rate improves and the economy is doing better?”
As a rule, professional news organizations put a great deal of care into how they word polling questions. To get reliable results that accurately reflect public attitudes, surveys have to be careful not to guide respondents or skew their answers.
It’s possible Fox is less concerned about accurately reflecting public attitudes.
Wait for it…wait for it, I gauarantee you Obama haters and conspiracy nuts will have a field day deciphering this evidence of Obama’s youth activities.
This article appears in this week’s magazine underneath the title, “Obama’s Grand Old Party.”
Tucked away in someone else’s shoe box of adolescent artifacts, there might be a picture of you in garish clothes and with an outdated ‘do, your arm around a high school squeeze. The President of the United States is no different. These previously unpublished photos, obtained exclusively by TIME from Obama’s schoolmate Kelli Allman (née McCormack), show a 17-year-old Barack Obama on the night of his senior prom.
Barry spent his days at the Punahou School in Hawaii studying, shooting hoops and goofing off with his friends. Greg Orme, a fellow varsity basketball player, was Obama’s constant companion. “They were like brothers,” says Allman. On prom night, the pair double-dated. Obama and his date Megan Hughes, a student at the Hawaii School for Girls at La Pietra, joined Orme at Allman’s house, where the two couples sipped champagne before going to the dance and then an after-party. “It was a really fun, happy time. We were all cracking up, and everyone was smiling,” says Allman. “It was pretty typical from there out as far as what happens at prom: the dinner and the dancing and the photos.”
Millions of American teenagers will go to proms this year. Their photos are more likely to be stored on Facebook than in a shoe box. But it’s fun to imagine that in one of those pictures, there’s a girl in a pastel dress or a lanky guy in a white sport coat who will end up becoming the leader of the free world.
I find Glenn Beck’s statement shocking and quite offensive. All too often I’ve heard politicians refer to anything they imagine President Barack Obama to be involved in stark, double-entendres. In my opinion, Beck’s statement is just one example.
Conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Wednesday compared the U.S. government to “rapists” over recent so-called scandals, from the Internal Revenue Service’s practice of scrutinizing conservative groups to last year’s terrorist attacks in Benghazi.
In a bizarre rant on his radio show, Beck said that he didn’t know why Congress was bothering with an investigation into the scandals because the federal government had been building a massive spying database in Utah.
“What is being built in Utah is the largest storage facility ever known to mankind,” he explained. “They are storing all of the information. They have already admitted during the Boston bombings that they collect all emails and file it. Why are you asking the White House for the emails? Who is this security system for? Is it to protect the American people?”
“What the hell are we doing? What’s wrong with us, America?” he continued. “You paid for it. You own it. You’re the boss or are they? Why ask for it? Just go into the system that we paid for and you built for for our — quote — protection. You want to find it? Why are you waiting? The more you wait, the more time they have to delete. Go in and get it. You have it.”
“Or is that security system you built for our protection not really for our protection?”
Beck added: “The American people have just been raped. Why are you asking rapists to hurry up with the swab test?”
Watch this video from The Blaze, broadcast May 22, 2013.
It’s not enough to write that our hearts and prayers go out to the residents of Moore, Oklahoma. It’s not enough to look at the devastation on TV or on the internet.
Reading about this tragedy just reminds me of how vulnerable we all are against the forces of nature.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, I wanted to do something, anything to help, so I decided to volunteer my services to the American Red Cross. It allowed me to help in some small way.
I write a political blog and I’ll talk about the politics of disaster relief in a forthcoming post.
For now, the following is from the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross has one shelter open in Moore and is working on locating others; we continue to operate three shelters that were opened Sunday in the Oklahoma City area following the storms on Sunday.
Red Cross volunteers are out tonight with food and supplies supporting first responders.
More than 25 emergency response vehicles are positioned to move at first light Tuesday, and we expect that the number will increase. The Red Cross is also sending in kitchen support trailers to support the upcoming operation to provide meals to those forced out of their homes.
People in Oklahoma near the tornado area are encouraged to connect with one another and let loved ones know that they are safe. This can be done through the I’m Safe feature of the free Red Cross tornado app. In addition, if you have access to a computer, go to redcross.org/safeandwell to list yourself as safe. If not, you can text loved ones or call a family member and ask them to register you on the site.
This has been a major disaster, and the Red Cross will be there for the people in this state and this community.
People who wish to make a donation can support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas as well as disasters big and small throughout the United States by visiting redcross.org, dialing 1-800-REDCROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
This is long overdue…
The Secret Service is following up on recent comments by right wing radio host Pete Santilli, who claimed to want to shoot former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the vagina and see President Obama tried and shot for treason.
“We are aware of Mr. Santilli’s comments and will take the appropriate follow up action,” Edwin M. Donovan, a Secret Service spokesperson, told TPM on Monday. “He certainly has a right to free speech, but the Secret Service has a right and an obligation to determine what a person’s intent is when making comments like this.”
He made the threatening comments the week before last on his eponymous Internet based radio program. Santilli is a fringe figure who has made threatening comments on his program in the past. But he’s gained some quasi-mainstream attention recently with guests like Ted Nugent and Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt.
‘Miss Hillary Clinton needs to be convicted, she needs to be tried, convicted and shot in the vagina,” he said. “I wanna pull the trigger. That ‘C U Next Tuesday’ has killed human beings that are in our ranks of our service. I want to remind you that in Benghazi, Miss Hillary ‘the fricken’ biggest vagina on the face of the planet’ told troops to stand down and to not go in and interfere with the operation that they set up because they’re moving arms; Barack Obama is moving drugs through the CIA out of Afghanistan and Barack Obama needs to be tried, convicted, and shot for crimes against the United States of America.”
The website Hypervocal has posted the audio.
Fifty-three percent of Americans said they approve of the job the president is doing, while 45 percent said they disapprove. That’s virtually unchanged from an early April survey in which Obama’s approval/disapproval split was 51 percent to 47 percent.
The poll is one of the earliest indicators of how Obama’s image has been affected during one of the worst weeks of his presidency. As questions about the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, and news that the Justice Department secretly obtained journalists’ phone records have fueled Republican attacks, the president has been put very much on defense.
Legalized abortion causes school shootings, Obamacare will lead to conservatives being denied health services, and other wacky assertions from our political leaders.
North Dakota: Legalized Abortions Cause School Shootings
U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer knows the answer to why there have been so many school shootings in the U.S. over the past few years, and it’s not easy access to guns or inadequate treatment of the mentally ill. No, the Republican from North Dakota insists, the rise in school shootings is directly connected to the legalization of abortion and a supposed decline in Christian values. “We learned this week that the Pentagon is vetting its guide on religious tolerance with a group that compared Christian evangelism to rape, and advocated that military personnel and colluding chaplains who proselytize should be court martialed,” Cramer said during a commencement speech at the Catholic University of Mary that, miraculously, went unnoticed by the national media until this week. “Forty years ago, the United States Supreme Court sanctioned abortion on demand. And we wonder why our culture sees school shootings so often.” Cramer’s link between “normalized perversion” and mass murders rings eerily similar to Michele Bachmann’s argument that the September 11 terror attacks in 2001 and 2012 were God’s way of passing judgement (sic) on our country’s moral demise.
Missouri: The Gays Killed the Bullying Bill
Missouri’s Republican Representative Sue Allen has called on her constituents to contact openly gay lawmakers Jolie Justice and Mike Colona and blame them for the death of her anti-bullying bill. The key difference between Allen’s bill and other, more successful anti-bullying legislation is that it bans enumerated lists of specific groups of people that need protection–such as gay and transgender students–because she believes they are too partisan. “I typically try to keep partisanship out of my message, but this is an issue for the Democrats who wish for certain students (LGBT-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) to be ‘enumerated’ within school policies…What they [Justus and Colona] don’t seem to understand is that stronger policies help ALL students, even those they would have characterized.” The problem with Allen’s argument is that enumerating specific groups does not, as she suggests, negate protection for anyone else, it simply ensures that any bullying of people who identify with these particularly at-risk groups is reported.
Kansas: Let’s Rise Above the N-Word
Kansas State Board of Education member Steve Roberts stood his ground Tuesdayin the face of offended fellow board members, defending his use of the N-word during last month’s meeting “100 percent.” In response to a comment from Topeka’s former NAACP president about the need for more African-American history in schools, Roberts launched into his own monologue about pushing “the frontiers of political correctness” with regards to the N-word–using it in full. When the board reconvened this week, Roberts was confronted about his use of the word, and how it offended people in the room, but he was remorseless. “I did my best to say the ‘N-word’ clinically. I’m willing to be considered politically incorrect, I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” Roberts said, suggesting that his critics were simply seeking media attention.
MInnesota: What’s Next, Political Bias for Health Care?
Michele Bachmann wouldn’t say she was happy to find out that the IRS had, in fact, been targeting conservative groups seeking nonprofit status, but the revelation did bring her some satisfaction. The Representative from Minnesota jumped at the chance to use the IRS scandal as evidence that the overreaching of big government has gotten out of control, suggesting that if non-profit organizations were targeted for their political beliefs, who’s to say they same system of discrimination won’t be used for other programs, such as health care. “Knowing it’s the IRS who will be the enforcing mechanism for this new entitlement program of Obamacare, it is very important to ask–and now it is reasonable to ask–could there be potential political implications of access to health care, denial of health care? Will that happen based on a person’s political beliefs or their religiously held beliefs?” Bachmann asked at a Capitol Hill rally on Thursday. “Those questions would have been considered out of bounds a week ago. Today those questions are considered more than reasonable, and more than fair for the American people.”