“No president has campaigned strongly for his chosen successor in at least 100 years,” NPR reports.
“Tuesday’s event, with President Obama campaigning for Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state and onetime rival, in North Carolina is remarkable for that reason. It kicks off what is likely to be a season of vigorous campaigning by the president.”
“There are reasons presidents haven’t campaigned strongly for a successor — sometimes they’re unpopular, some nominees try to distance, some presidents were in failing health.”
The two leaders managed to put their personal history aside Monday for an Oval Office meeting, with Netanyahu seeking military aid to guard against Iran, and Obama support for 2016.
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may put the best possible face on their relationship, but it’s the worst-kept secret in Washington that they don’t hold each other in high regard. In fact, the bad blood between the two men is likely the worst in modern times between two key allies.
“I don’t think either of them will be sorry that this is their last meeting,” said a former Senate Democratic aide, who is a bit freer to speak critically than officials at the White House, where everyone was on their best behavior Monday with the problematic prime minister visiting the Oval Office.
More important, the two leaders had urgent business to discuss, beginning with what really happened to that Russian jet that broke apart in midair over the Sinai Peninsula. If the crash was the result of a bomb placed by ISIS, it could be a game-changer in everything from how the Russians proceed in Syria to the conduct of global air traffic. “The Israelis have very good intel on what’s going on in the Sinai,” said the former Hill aide. “When interests are aligned, people work together.”
For all the dishing about the chilly relations between Obama and Netanyahu, officials in both governments have stressed that it’s business as usual when it comes to aid to Israel, or as Obama likes to put it, the administration has Israel’s back. Netanyahu is in Washington to nail down an increase in military assistance to deal with what he believes will be an increased threat from Iran in the aftermath of the nuclear deal that Obama negotiated and Netanyahu opposed.
There was even some nostalgia in the media coverage that for both leaders this could be their swan song, with Obama soon leaving office. As for Netanyahu, the former Hill aide scoffed at the notion that the Israeli prime minister is nearing the end of his political career. Unlike the U.S. presidency, which is term-limited, there is no limit on the number of times an Israel prime minister can serve. Netanyahu has already been elected prime minister four times—from June 1996 to July 1999 and from March 31, 2009, to the present—and he appears to be in a strong position domestically.
While some Democrats are amazed that Obama welcomed Netanyahu at the White House given the tension between them and the Israeli leader’s open support for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, Obama was not about to seed another round of stories about how they don’t get along—not with another presidential election just a year away.
The Jewish vote in America is strongly Democratic, but Jewish donors are another matter, and Democrats don’t want to alienate key funders. Netanyahu’s unabashed past backing of Romney, his close alliance with GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, and his aggressive lobbying against the nuclear deal with Iran disturbed the political balance that politicians in both countries rely on.
If the U.S.-Israeli relationship were only about Obama and Netanyahu, the president could have skipped Monday’s meeting and just left it to a handshake at next year’s U.N. General Assembly meeting. “It must stick in Obama’s craw to go through this dance, knowing he’s not running again—and that he’s doing it all for other candidates,” said the former Senate aide.
With Hillary Clinton running to succeed him, Obama has no choice really but to be magnanimous with a key ally. On Tuesday, Netanyahu will sit down with Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a strong Clinton supporter. Some Democrats are criticizing CAP for providing Netanyahu with a forum instead of giving him the cold shoulder. But the relationship between Israel and the Democratic Party is not one to be trifled with, and Clinton does not want any daylight between her campaign and the Israeli leader. Judging by the behavior of both Obama and Netanyahu at the White House on Monday, everybody is on the same page, for once.
Watching President Barack Obama explain and defend the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group, I was struck by how fragile are the attempts at peace, and how inertia – be it short-sighted stubbornness, ideology, political partisanship and expediency, or a lucrative status quo invested in armaments, brinksmanship, and a permanent war footing – often tends to lead us to disunity, lawlessness and chaos.
I was also struck by how this president, derided by his critics as dangerously naïve, feckless, a mere “community organizer,” embodies no less than the spirit and the vision of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who lifted this country out of the worst economic disaster in its history by first providing work, hope and inspiration to an impoverished nation and then, faced with the prospect of a holocaust engulfing Europe, organized the U.S. and other countries into an allied coalition which succeeded in turning the tide of history, liberating Europe and Asia from fascism, and ensuring decades of good relations between our former enemies.
Similarly, President John F. Kennedy sought to overcome the Cold War nuclear stalemate, brokering the historic Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets and staring down Premier Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis – but heroically avoiding war, over the objections of opponents who loudly urged him to show “leadership” and “strength.”
JFK also worked to promote American well-being and optimism through a widely shared prosperity and an emphasis on scientific, educational and cultural achievements, sought to community-organize through health care initiatives and civil rights reform, and promoted a sense of national purpose through initiatives such as the space program and the Peace Corps.
I was also reminded of last year’s US-Africa Leaders Summit – for which President Obama brought along 500 business men and women to forge greater economic ties with one of the world’s fastest growing regions – and how President Obama reached out to these nations as equals.
President Barack Obama summoned television host Jon Stewart to the White House on several occasions before he made major announcements, according to a Politico article that revealed the secret connection between “The Daily Show” host and the president. News of the private meetings surfaced Tuesday as Stewart prepares to end his tenure as host on Aug. 6.
Some have questioned Stewart’s ethics because he did not disclose his connection to Obama. “The summoning of Stewart to the White House validates the belief that the comedian is more influential on the public discourse than any journalist,” said a Minnesota Public Radio article Tuesday. “But do the rules of journalism apply to a comedian who doesn’t consider himself a journalist even as the people watching consider him one?”
While still at the White House, former Obama advisor David Axelrod kept in touch with the host by phone and email. In an interview, Axelrod said Stewart was “a useful prod” for the administration. “I can’t say that because Jon Stewart was unhappy, policy changed. But I can say that he had forceful arguments, they were arguments that we knew would be heard and deserved to be answered,” said Axelrod, who also makes appearances on “The Daily Show.”
Stewart visited the Oval Office to meet with Obama privately on at least two occasions, one of which was in fall of 2011 while the administration dealt with heated budget negotiations. “The president wanted to counter his critics on the left and lay the groundwork for his 2012 re-election campaign,” former Obama aide Austan Goolsbee said to Politico.
As the Ukraine crisis broke out, the president met with Stewart in Feb. 2014 before a significant announcement. Later that day, Obama went on air to say that “there will be costs” if Russia continued its aggression towards Ukraine.
Obama frequently appears on the “The Daily Show,” and he visited most recently last Tuesday, close to Stewart’s departure date. He used the segment to discuss topics such as the Iran nuclear deal. Three of the seven times Obama has been on the show have been when he was in office.
I’ve had some reservations about POTUS these past few months but I’m happy to see that he has prevailed over the GOP haters who wanted to see him defeated on every initiative he brought forth. It’s time to put our differences aside and support this man who put his legacy on the line for the events that have been certified legal by the highest Court in the land this week. (ks)
The remarkable week that roused the president from dejection and inspired a stirring call to action.
A week ago, Barack Obama looked dissipated and dejected. He’d come to the White House press room to speak about the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. The room, with its low ceiling and tight quarters, matched his mood. It’s a venue for tiny political fights relentlessly pursued in circles. The president testified to that lack of progress, showing visible frustration with his impotence in the face of gun violence and racial hatred.
A week later, the president’s mood had been transformed—he was as expansive as his new venue, the College of Charleston’s 5,000-seat arena. Out of the violence the president fashioned an argument for perseverance and found the spark for action that seemed to have been taken from him the week before.
The spark was located in the life of Clementa Pinckney, the state senator and pastor of the Mother Emanuel Church, whom the president was there to eulogize. It was also found in the grace he saw in the family members of the victims who had forgiven the shooter during his bond hearing, and in the reaction of the people of Charleston.
“This whole week I have been reflecting on this idea of grace,” the president said. He sure had. The speech wasn’t just a testimony about grace, it was a demonstration of it.
After talking about Pinckney, the president turned to the subject of grace and at that point, he stopped speaking sentences, but instead lines from the hymn “Amazing Grace.” In his rhetoric and in his preacher’s cadence, he was now praising Pinckney by channeling him. Then, for those not used to spending time in the pews, the president as professor returned. “According to the Christian tradition, grace is not earned, grace is not merited, it is not something we deserve … grace is the free and benevolent favor of God.”
Obama gave that Sunday school definition because he was preparing to make an argument. It was the preamble to the most religious speech of his presidency and one of the most overtly religious speeches from a president in a long while. How powerful was this grace, in the president’s vision? It had acted through the killer, who the president portrayed as an unwitting instrument of the Almighty: “He didn’t know he was being used by God.”
The president was no longer giving a speech about a tragedy; he was trying to leverage the grace displayed in the wake of that heinous act into a nation’s purpose. “As a nation out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us,” he said. “He has allowed us to see where we have been blind.” It was that grace, the president argued, that helped South Carolina lawmakers conclude that the Confederate flag should come down.
But there was more power in grace than simply providing the impetus to lower a flag. “He has given us the chance where we have been lost to find our best selves,” the president said. “We may not have earned grace, but we got it all the same. He gave it to us anyway.” And that means, he continued, that America has a duty: “It is up to us now to make the most of it. To receive it with gratitude and prove ourselves worthy of this gift.”
The president then outlined the worthy fights, from lessening gun violence to tackling poverty to improving race relations. If you were moved by the response to the shooting, he was arguing, then you have a commitment to be true to what inspired that moving response. If Americans make those commitments and stay focused on improving those injustices, the president said, “by doing that, we express God’s grace.”
This was not a rhetorical exercise, or not merely one. It was a demonstration of the power the president had found in the example of the people of Charleston—both the living and the dead. He wasn’t just telling. He was showing—the power he was trying to summon in this speech came from his own feeling of gratitude and obligation to serve as an example of grace. Even if you didn’t agree with any of what the president said, the distance the president traveled in this one week was a kind of testimony of its own. By the end of his oration, the president was leading the congregation in an impromptu rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
It was the second time in the day, and the third time in two days, that the president had made testimonials to the power of keeping the faith. Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled on a legislative interpretation that allowed the Affordable Care Act to survive, enshrining the president’s signature legislative achievement after years of pitched battle. Friday, the Supreme Court announced that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry, rooted in the 14th Amendment, written in the wake of the Civil War to grant citizenship to people once enslaved.
Speaking in the Rose Garden on Friday morning the president said the same-sex marriage ruling was a testament to the power of perseverance in the struggle. “Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes, there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”
The thunderbolts of change that struck this week seem to have energized the president. He might have given the same eulogy had he not had his opinions affirmed by the Supreme Court. But given the sense of vindication that he feels, it was easy to see how those secular victories gave him the confidence to make that soaring religious speech and to wipe away the intimations toward capitulation and defeat from just a little more than a week ago.
President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday met on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, marking the first sit-down between leaders of the two nations in a half-century. “It was my belief it was time to try something new, that it was important for us to engage with the Cuban government,” Obama said shortly after the meeting. For his part, Castro noted that the two countries have “agreed to disagree,” on certain points, but that Cuba is prepared to discuss issues such as freedom of the press and human rights in a bid to “make progress.” Obama and Castro had already given several nods toward the meeting at the summit; the two shook hands on Friday night, and each called for cooperation between their countries in speeches at the summit.
After years of buildup and tongue-in-cheek proto-campaigning, Hillary Clinton is expected to on Sunday formally announce her 2016 candidacy for the White House. Clinton will make expanding the middle class the focal point of her platform, much in the way Obama did in 2012, according to senior advisers to the former secretary of state who previewed the rollout to The Associated Press. Clinton is expected to make the official announcement on social media, and then follow up the long-awaited move with campaign stops over the next week in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Pope Francis on Sunday described the mass killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians as the “first genocide of the twentieth century.” Speaking during a ceremonial Mass to mark the centennial of the killings, the pontiff, citing a declaration from his predecessor John Paul II, called it the first of “three massive and unprecedented tragedies,” adding that, “A century has passed since that horrific massacre which was a true martyrdom.” Turkey, which continues to deny the genocide ever took place, immediately summoned a Vatican ambassador to explain the remarks.
An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced an American citizen, Mohamed Soltan, to life in prison for participating in a protest in support of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. The court sentenced nearly three dozen other defendants to life in jail for their ties to the group, and handed down death sentences for another dozen, including Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie.
Saudi Arabia on Sunday rebuffed Iran’s request that it halt airstrikes in Yemen aimed at halting the advance of the Iranian-affiliated Houthi militia. “We came to Yemen to help the legitimate authority, and Iran is not in charge of Yemen,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said. Since last month, a Saudi-led coalition has launched strikes in Yemen to aid the embattled government.
The U.S. Capitol on Saturday was locked down “as a precautionary measure,” following an apparent suicide near the West Front of the complex, according to a Capitol spokesperson. An unidentified man carrying a backpack and rolling suitcase walked onto public grounds near the building before shooting himself, and police initially treated his luggage as a suspicious package. After investigating the incident, authorities determined there was “no nexus to terrorism,” Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said.
One student died and an estimated 141 were injured on Sunday after a stampede broke out over a mistaken terror scare at a university in Kenya. Students mistook the sound of an electrical transformer exploding late at night for a bomb, triggering a panic and leading some to leap from high windows in their dorms. The nation has been on edge since earlier this month when the Islamist group al-Shabab killed 148 students at a college in northern Kenya.
Rapper Nelly was arrested in Tennessee on Saturday after police uncovered drugs during a traffic stop of his tour bus. Nelly and five others were in the bus when state troopers pulled it over for not displaying required stickers from the Transportation Department and the International Fuel Tax Association. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed “five colored crystal-type rocks” that tested as methamphetamine, according to a police statement, as well as marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and several handguns. Nelly, real name Cornell Haynes, was charged with felony possession of drugs, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
With the final round of the Masters set to get underway Sunday, Jordan Spieth held a four-shot lead over the competition at 16-under-par. Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson surged toward the top of the leaderboard on Saturday to finish at four and five shots back, respectively, while Tiger Woods climbed into a fifth-place tie at six-under-par. Spieth finished the first two rounds at 14-under-par, setting a record for the lowest score through the first two rounds of the tournament.
British actor Ian McKellen has signed on to play Cogsworth, a magical talking clock, in Disney’s live-action reboot of the 1991 animated classic Beauty and the Beast, according to Variety. The film, which has a March 2017 release date, will also star Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, and Josh Gad.
In yet another instance of conservatives accepting satire as reality, right-wingers were apoplectic after reading an uncited piece onQPoliticalthat claimed President Obama signed an executive order ripping away their beloved Ted Cruz’s access to insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
“In the midst of ISIS, Hillary, and Bergdahl- Obama has found time to make an executive order banning Ted Cruz from Obamacare. This is ridiculous,” writes “NPO” at QPolitical. What followed was a delusional rant that may dwarf anything Cruz himself could produce:
The dramatic action is Obama’s response to Cruz’s discussion about Obamacare with CNN. Cruz expressed his displeasure with being forced to sign up for Obamacare- like infinite politicians have previously. But for some reason Obama felt this extraordinary measure of singling out Cruz was necessary.
“Clearly the hardship of receiving Obamacare was causing Ted a great deal of pain. This should take care of that,” Obama said.
You can feel the insincerity in Obama’s remarks.
Obama then had the audacity to call the executive order designed specifically to make Cruz ineligible for Obamacare a “humanitarian gesture.”
“I never said I didn’t want to have it. I said I didn’t want everyone else in the country to have it,” Cruz said in an official statement after the childish executive order was signed.
Obama’s distortion of Cruz’s opposition to Obamacare and prioritization of this unnecessary executive order reveals a White House that is fundamentally flawed. What do you think of Obama’s latest executive order?
To most, this sounds like something one would find in a satirical Andy Borowitz piece for the New Yorker — and those people would be correct.
While QPolitical chose not to cite sources, the “information” seems to come from Borowitz’s March 24 column, which clearly notes it is satire right at the bottom.
Recently, Cruz signed up for Obamacare — the very thing he and his friends shut down the government trying to stop. The Senator was widely mocked for his choice to utilize the very benefits and protections of which he wants to deprive others.
It’s almost baffling that conservatives are so desperate to hate our President that they will quite literally believe anything — even if the source is clearly identified as satire — just to have more ammunition to throw at the President.
At least two suicide bombers blew themselves up in two mosques in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa during noon prayers Friday, killing more than 130 people and wounding at least 200 more. The mosques targeted are reportedly used mainly by supporters of the Zaidi Shia-led Houthi rebel movement, which is in control of the capital. The attacks come as fighting has escalated at the presidential palace in Aden, targeting forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
President Barack Obama on Friday announced the U.S. government’s first federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. While states have regulated hydraulic fracturing for years, this marks the first time the federal government has issued rules on the controversial practice, which has increased America’s oil and gas production but also raised health and environmental concerns. The new rules will require companies drilling on federal land to report what chemicals they are pumping into the ground to the Bureau of Land Management, and dispose of contaminated water safely. The regulations will affect roughly 100,000 wells across the country.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry conceded on Saturday that while “genuine progress” has been made between six world powers and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program, “fundamental decisions” must still be made. Kerry’s comments echo those he has made over the past few weeks as negotiations continue between Iran and the six-power group; Tehran reportedly wants an immediate lifting of sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program, while several countries within the six powers favor a more gradual drawback. Negotiators from the two sides began a recess on Friday; talks are expected to resume on Thursday of the coming week, ahead of the March 31 preliminary deadline that has been set for a deal.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled on Friday that the government must release photographs depicting abuse of detainees at sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense Department now has two months to consider an appeal before it must release the photos. The American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. government have been locked in a battle over whether or not to make the images public for more than a decade; the ACLU argues that the photographs’ release is “manifestly important to an ongoing national debate about governmental accountability for the abuse of prisoners.” The government has countered that releasing the images could incite attacks both in America and against U.S. troops abroad.
The Justice Department on Friday launched a formal criminal investigation into the congressional expenses and business deals of Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, a source told The Associated Press. FBI agents have reportedly begun subpoenaing witnesses, and a federal grand jury will begin hearing testimony in early April in Springfield, Illinois. Schock, 33, abruptly announced that he was resigning from office on Tuesday, following six weeks’ worth of reports about his questionable spending. The investigation will reportedly focus on Schock’s personal investments with political donors, as well as expenditures linked to his House expense account and re-election campaign funds.
Tunisian officials have arrested more than 20 suspected militants in connection to the Wednesday assault on the country’s Bardo museum, saying there is “a large-scale campaign against the extremists,” in process. Two gunmen attacked the Bardo museum and killed 20 foreign tourists and three Tunisians; officials said that of the arrested suspects, at least 10 are believed to have been directly involved in the attack. While Islamic State militants have taken responsibility for the assault, an Al Qaeda-connected group has also claimed that it was behind the operation.
The World Health Organization on Friday called for an “intensification” of routine vaccinations for preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough in Ebola-affected countries. “When there’s a disruption of medical services, measles is always one of the first ones in the door,” a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told Time. WHO officials warned that medical resources redistributed to help fight Ebola could lead to outbreaks of other, more easily treatable diseases, especially in hardest-hit countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation released on Thursday found that only about half of Americans are aware that they need to declare whether they have health insurance on their tax returns. This is the first year that Americans will be subject to a tax penalty if they do not have some kind of health coverage, as required by the Affordable Care Act. The continued confusion prompted the federal government and a number of states to instigate an enrollment grace period, which began this week and allows Americans to sign up for ObamaCare insurance plans before April 15.
A new U.N. report entitled Water for a Sustainable World claims that without substantial change, Earth could face a massive water shortage as soon as 2030, at which point it would only have 60 percent of the water its inhabitants need. Countries such as India are “rapidly depleting” their groundwater sources, and global rainfall is increasingly unpredictable, thanks to climate change. The report suggests increasing the price of water, reducing pollution to improve water quality, and developing new ways to recycle water as potential options for avoiding a dire shortage.
A.J. Pero, the drummer for heavy-metal band Twisted Sister, died on Friday of an apparent heart attack, the band said. Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French said Pero was on tour with the band Adrenaline Mob, but that when members of the group tried to rouse him on Friday morning, they were unable to do so, and he was taken to a hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he died. With Twisted Sister, Anthony Jude Pero played on such hits as 1984’s We’re Not Gonna Take It.