Open Thread for August 31, 2013…Syria …What Now?

British PM Cameron goes to HIS parliament  (even though he doesn’t have to) and gets a NO on following the American’s into the Syrian Skies….

American President Obama lays down a ‘ line in the sand’ and then get into heavy flack and punts to HIS  Congress….

Are these guys giving up their powers to deliberating bodies that can’t chew gum and walk at the same time?

Has the ghosts of Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan robbed them of leading?

Have we decided to turn a deaf ear to the atrocities around the world and the men who carry them out?

Our has the world becomes a terribly complex place whose problems and issue have become just too darn messy ?

Obama is pictured with his Cabinet. | White House photo

President Barack Obama believes congressional authorization for strikes in Syria will strengthen his hand — and is confident that he will win votes on Capitol Hill, senior administration officials said Saturday afternoon.

But he is reserving the right to exercise his legal authority to launch limited reprisals in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s reported use of chemical weapons, even if Congress turns him down.

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The President Punts a Syria strike to Congress……

Are Conservatives in the House gonna vote FOR something that seems to HELP Obama off the Hook and put them on it?

The President WILL try to dump this the GOPer’s laps ….(King is the first out the dugout leading the charge it seems)

But I see a LOT of Democrats joining to vote against this….

It’s gonna be a hard sell…..

Obama and Vice President Biden in the Rose Garden. (C. Dharapak/AP)

In an afternoon appearance in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama said he had decided that the United States should use force but would wait for a vote from lawmakers, who are not due to return to town until Sept. 9. Mr. Obama said he believed he had the authority to act on his own, but he did not say whether he would if Congress rejects his plan.

“I’m prepared to give that order,” Mr. Obama said. “But having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interest, I’m also mindful that I’m president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.”

Going to war with the support of the people’s representatives, he added, “I know the country will be stronger.”

The president’s announcement effectively dared Congress to either stand by him or, as he put it, allow President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to get away with murdering children. By asking lawmakers to weigh in, he is trying to break out of his box of isolation of the last week, in the face of deep skepticism at home and around the world about the strike. His decision indicates he does not want to go forward without Congress and the American public.

But it represents a major political gamble for a president with marginal command of Congress. Officials said he is likely to win support in the Senate, where leading Republicans quickly issued statements welcoming his decision, but the House is more of an open question given its strong current of antiwar sentiment in both parties.

The decision also means that the period of vacillation before a strike will extend until after Mr. Obama travels to St. Petersburg, Russia, for a summit meeting of the Group of 20 nations, a session that now seems certain to be dominated by the question of what to do about Syria…..

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Note from the Dog….

Obama was going because of the ‘line in the sand’ thing….
EVERYBODY
Questioned that….
And President Obama just blinked….

Oh, And gave David Cameron some back on his mistake….

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There ARE some success in Afghanistan….

The NY Times does piece on a piece of territory in Afganastain that American solider fought hard for, then left to the Afghan’s to hold , and they have do just that….

Held the place….

Pech Valley…..

So far their efforts where not in vain….

Interviews with American and Afghan officials and local residents paint the progress as an amalgam of many things: the absence of foreign troops as an irritant, the weakening of the Taliban and an improved Afghan Army. Officials also noted the beginning of de facto agreements in some areas between Afghan soldiers and militants about what is and is not off-limits — not a particularly positive sign, but still an indication of how the battle might change when it is Afghan fighting Afghan.

The insurgents long promised that if Americans left, the violence would subside — a narrative American commanders seized on at the time. The thinking went like this: Foreign fighters drawn to Afghanistan would lose interest, or go elsewhere, like Syria, and locals who were not so much pro-Taliban as anti-outsider would ease their militancy.

That seems to mostly be the case in the Pech now; locals say the insurgents have been more reluctant to attack fellow Muslims, though they are still far from docile.

“When Americans were here and were driving around or patrolling the area, nobody looked at them as friends or liberators,” said Hajji Yar Mohammed, a tribal elder in nearby Manogai District. “Everyone in the villages was trying to fight them for the sake of jihad.”

The combination of Taliban determination, local hostility and dauntingly rugged terrain made the valley particularly deadly for Americans, who over all lost more than 100 dead during the last offensive here.

When it started in 2009, the Pech offensive was billed as a critical chance to bloody the Taliban in a place they had kept in their grip for years. But by the time the mission was called off, in early 2011, there were open assertions that the valley was not worth the losses being inflicted. Some American soldiers quietly expressed the view that their Afghan successors were being given a suicide mission.

So the Americans left, and the Afghan forces moved into the outposts the troops left behind. No one gave them much chance.

Two years later, the commander of the American battalion’s overall brigade combat team decided to orchestrate the trip to Pech to show that, instead, the Afghans had made good on American sacrifices….

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Chris Christine did a Sports Show for four hours this week….

Co-hosting a sports radio show this morning, Gov. Chris Christie sounded off on everything from Jets Coach Rex Ryan and legalized sports betting to the 2014 Super Bowl and his favorite punching bag, former Gov. Jon Corzine.

Seventy-one days out from Election Day, the Republican governor spent four hours on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” show.

Christie set the trash-talking tone early in the show with a guarantee that next year’s Super Bowl in New Jersey will avoid the pit falls of New Orleans. He guaranteed no power outages and, given the Farmer’s Almanac prediction of a snowstorm, plowed streets. He also encouraged fans to take mass transit.

“We’re from New Jersey. It snows all the time. What’s the problem?” Christie told host Craig Carton, joking: “Blinding snowstorm during the game. It’d be amazing.”

photo…cbssports.com

 

Carton teased Christie about this frustration over New York teams who play in New Jersey. “If you rebranded the New York Giants as the New Jersey Giants, you’d lose money,” Carton said. Christie didn’t miss a beat: “Maybe when Corzine was governor you might have lost money…”

Christie saved his biggest insults for a reporter, slamming a New York Daily News reporter as a “dope” who he “couldn’t pick out of a lineup” for tangling with Ryan at a recent news conference.

On Ryan’s decision to play Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium last week, Christie defended the man who once gave him advice on getting lap band surgery…..

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RATINGS CHANGE: Illinois Governor…Stu Rothenberg

No Lisa Madigan means Democrats may have trouble…..

Democrats had a much easier road to victory next November in Illinois, but state Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s decision not to run for governor will take her party down a much messier path.

The party now faces a competitive primary between incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, whose job-approval rating has been dismal in limited public polling, and former White House chief of staff/former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley.

African-American state Sen. Kwame Raoul considered a run and would have shaken up the field, according to longtime Chicago-based analyst Russ Stewart. But Raoul announced Friday that he would pass on a gubernatorial bid.

There are two things we know right now: 1. None of the Democrats will start the general election as strong as Madigan would have, and 2. the Illinois Republican Party is at least slightly dysfunctional.

Republicans are headed for a crowded primary. Wealthy venture capitalist Bruce Rauner starts as a political unknown but plans to spend millions of dollars on his campaign. State Sen. Bill Brady (who lost the 2010 general election to Quinn), state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard (who lost in the 2010 gubernatorial primary) are running as well.

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While the U.S. does the fighting in Afghanistan…the Chinese have snuck in and are trying exploit the Copper….And there is more….

(originally posted in Dec 2009)

I have written here before that  Afghanistan is a barren place with no value….

I was wrong……you hear me?……I was wrong!…….

Today I sat down and read an astounding story that may be the hidden story of the Afghan campaign…..I fact I’m sure this story is rebounding thru the bowels of the CIA and other Intel agencies around the globe as I type……..here’s the meat of the story…….

After the American-led invasion of Afghanistan, Afghan geologists rescued the Soviet surveys of Aynak and hid them until more detailed exploration could resume.

That exploration — a detailed overflight of much of the country by American surveyors in mid-decade — showed Afghanistan to be far richer in oil, natural gas, iron, copper and coal than anyone had imagined. Aynak, in particular, was judged a world-class copper deposit, not just huge but of unusually rich quality, and the government chose it as the first major mineral concession to be auctioned to developers.

The place is frigging rich in natural resources!

Afghanistan………

This story is a walking time bomb……while the guest of the piece in the New York Times is about the Chinese sneaking in with their vast money pockets to claim the work in the first area in Aynak……and the American and NATO armies making that possibe….the piece gives a justification for the war!……Come on now folks!

If I was the President of the United States, at some point I would be saying to the American public…..’this war is not just to rub out Bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban’…

….’I would say that this war is to secure an avenue for the Afghans and the United States to SHARE NATURAL RESOURCES…you digg?’

While the Chinese are bidding on a second project in the country….without compitition from the west…..I’m sure that the United Staes is going to figure out a way to get a piece of the fee’s that the Afghan’s will collect from their resources coming out of the ground……

The fact is the Chinese (their government) are willing to take all sorts of risks(war zones, disease ridden area’s, jungles, etc) to corner world’s resource markets…..and they have the money….but the even more short-term political and economic payoff for the U.S. is the fact there is something to get back from the Afghan’s for cleaning up their country…..I smell a deal coming……first a piece of the Iraq oil action…then Aftghanistan….

.maybe George W. Bush wasn’t so dumb after all!

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Labor looking to join the effort to turn Texas into a Blue State…..

AFL-CIO may target Texas in 2014 elections

Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson

Texas state flag

Changing demographics will make Texas purple, even blue, sooner or later, and the AFL-CIO is hoping to make it sooner. The labor federation is looking at Texas as part of its 2014 effort, Richard Trumka says:

“It’s a majority minority state, and right now the minorities are denied the voice they should be entitled to,” he told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor roundtable Thursday morning. […]Laying out plans for 2014, he said AFL-CIO would focus on taking on states where the immigration battle was most at play, and in doing so, branch into some new territory.

“We’ll be involved at the state level, county level and district level, playing in some states where we haven’t in the past,” Trumka said.

As Markos has written:

Let’s be clear about this: If Latinos voted at the same rates as whites, Texas would already be Purple. And all other things remaining equal, it would’ve provided Mitt Romney with his second closest victory margin last year. Except that all things wouldn’t have been equal—a five-point race would’ve meant lots of money. Democrats would’ve poured resources into the state, while Republicans would’ve been forced to divert their cash to playing defense. […]So the math is clear—Texas would be purple of Latinos voted. But they don’t, so who cares, right? Well, Republicans should, because even with the same existing shitty turnout rate the growth in the Latino and Asian communities will erode the GOP’s base by about 5 1/2 points every four years, or about 1.4 points per year.

What if union efforts could increase Latino turnout? Or persuade even a fractional percentage of white voters away from Republicans? The tipping point that’s coming to Texas because of demographics could move a cycle closer…..

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The Republican Primary thing continues……

The GOP keeps having a fight with the right….

In the last few elections we’ve seent how the Democrats have grabed victory for the actions of infighting within the Republican Party…And it’s NOT gonna stop anytime soon…

Despite their careful efforts, some of the best-known and most influential Republicans in the Senate have been unable to shake threats from the right and have attracted rivals who portray these lawmakers as a central part of the problem in Washington.

In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, the party’s Senate leader, is fending off a charismatic and wealthy conservative challenger. In South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, one of the Senate’s most reliably conservative voices on foreign policy, is being painted by primary opponents as a veritable clone of President Obama.

In Tennessee, Tea Party activists have vowed to take out Lamar Alexander, the veteran senator, former cabinet officer and two-time presidential candidate. “Senator Alexander has never been a true conservative,” said Ben Cunningham, president of the Nashville Tea Party. “His support for the amnesty bill has caused great problems for us,” he said, referring to the Senate immigration bill. “He is at best a moderate.”

Tea Party candidates have also emerged in races against Democratic incumbents in Alaska — Joe Miller, who beat Senator Lisa Murkowski in her last primary, has resurfaced — Colorado, Louisiana and North Dakota, and for open seats in Georgia, Iowa and South Dakota. Democrats hope they can benefit from a divided Republican electorate.

The Republican incumbents and party officials say they have learned from the hard lessons of the past when Tea Party candidates from the right were ignored or dismissed, only to prevail in primaries and lose in general elections……

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John Kerry has No Doubts…..

photo…abcnews.go.com

While the President seems a bit solemn…..

His Secretary of State seems resolute on the Syria……

( The buck stops at the President’s Desk not Kerry’s )

A former assistant district attorney in Massachusetts, Kerry delivered a point-by-point closing argument Friday, spending nearly 20 minutes detailing why the U.S. intelligence community has “high confidence” that Assad killed 1,429 people in a chemical weapons attack last week.

And it was Kerry — not Obama — who in a private conference call Thursday night challenged members of Congress for concrete proposals on how Obama should retaliate.

For Kerry, the Syria crisis is an opportunity to step out of the shadows of both Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and establish himself anew in front of the American people. Kerry has long shuddered at the thought that he’s dovish or too soft, and his aides have privately argued that he’s been more forward leaning on a Syria strike than some other administration officials.

Obama, aware that the American people are weary of war, has thus far remained comfortably seated in the second chair on the prosecution’s side.

That dynamic suits the designs of both men, according to one former senior State Department official.

“Having Kerry out front gives Kerry what he wants, a visible public profile on the burning issue of the day, and gives the White House what they want, a measure of remove from a no-win conflict,” the former official said. “If things go surprisingly well, the president can always swoop back into public view.”

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The Soul Searching by the Parliment vote in the UK…..

 

Was the vote to NOT hurry into standing with America on Syria just a one time ‘No Thanks’…

Or was it a strategic adjustment for the Brits?

In Britain, prime ministers, and not Parliament, have traditionally been the deciders on military intervention. But the extraordinary events Thursday night appeared to signal a change.

It left Britons engaged in a bout of national soul-searching, with top officials saying the political earthquake in Parliament had raised a fundamental question about what kind of nation Britain ought to be. Would it remain a global force or begin to drift, as some suggested Friday, into a diminished state of splendid isolation?

Britain, a U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, might watch from the sidelines if Washington launches a Syrian strike and turns to France for a European stamp of approval. (Could we see the debut of “liberty muffins’’ a decade after the derisory “freedom fries”?)

For the United States, a less reliable Britain would be undeniably damaging. British military involvement was key to U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, with troops from these isles making up the single largest foreign force on the ground after that of the United States. In addition, Britain’s decision to sign on to U.S. operations lent them international legitimacy.

Yet Britain might have even more to lose. Its close relationship with the United States gave it a global footprint decades after Britain shed superpower status on its own. The relationship afforded not only diplomatic clout but also boosted British trade and industry around the world.

“I think this is more than a one-off decision. I think Parliament has set a precedent with the intention that it, not the prime minister, is going to decide whether or not we go to war in the future,” said Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. “I think the British people, the many who say we have been America’s poodles for far too long, will now get much more used to this idea of saying no.”

During Thursday’s marathon debate, resistance appeared to be rooted less in straightforward anti-Americanism than in fatigue, distrust and frustration over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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UK, USA & Syria…The Oligarch Kings….

by  @ The Oligarch Kings

syria 001

Heh, heh, cute little guy eh?

 

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The White House gets ready to Finally Sell The Affortable Healthcare Law…

It’s about time!…..

Three years after signing Obamacare into law, President Barack Obama finally looks eager to talk about it.

The White House is mapping out a strategy to deploy the president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden in what will be their most coordinated effort yet to sell Obamacare, senior administration officials said.

A burst of activity will coincide with the October opening of the insurance marketplaces, but the West Wing views this next phase as something more akin to a political campaign’s push for early votes. Over the six-month enrollment period, the White House will use the Obamas and Bidens strategically, tracking the turnout for the exchanges in key states and sending them into weak markets to boost numbers.

Obama’s deepening engagement stands in contrast to his arms-length treatment of the law since the legislative fight, bruising and endless, drew to a close in 2010. He moved onto other priorities — and only rarely, if not reluctantly, looked back.

But in the last month alone, Obama has plugged the new health benefits on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” convened a videoconference with state health officials from the Situation Room, devoted a weekly address to the law and tweeted about it with Katy Perry, who boasts 41 million followers.

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Justice Department will NOT challenge state laws legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington state If?

The Justice Department will take a wait and see attitude as long the states show they are keep an eye the places that dispense marijuana….

But the states are essentially decriminalizing small grass sales and procession…

The Obama administration said Thursday that it would not challenge laws legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington state as long as those states maintain strict rules involving the sale and distribution of the drug.

In a memo to U.S. attorneys in all 50 states, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said the Justice Department is “committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats in the most effective, consistent and rational way.” He stressed that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The memo, which was welcomed by proponents of marijuana legalization, directs federal prosecutors to focus on eight areas of enforcement rather than spending time targeting individual users. Those aims include preventing distribution of marijuana to minors, stopping the growing of marijuana on public land, keeping pot from falling into the hands of cartels and gangs, and preventing the diversion of marijuana to states where it remains illegal.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called the governors of Colorado and Washington about noon Thursday to inform them of the decision. A Justice official said Holder told them that federal prosecutors would be watching closely as the two states finalize a regulatory framework for marijuana and that prosecutors would be taking a “trust but verify” approach.

Last fall, Washington and Colorado approved initiatives to legalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, becoming the first states to approve the drug for recreational use. Twenty states and the District have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Until Thursday, the administration had remained silent about the initiatives in Colorado and Washington, despite requests for guidance from state officials…..

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Political Roundup for August 30, 2013…Wendy Davis Moneying Up for a Blue Texas?…Red Racing Horses

by: Ryan_in_SEPA

States/Local

NY Mayor: Public Advocate/Bold Progressive Bill de Blasio is surging in the NYC mayoral primary as he has opened up a double digit lead on Bill Thompson (32-18) and is leaving City Council President Christine Quinn in the dust.

PA-Gov: While I put little faith in Franklin & Marshall polls as they seem to push nobody to make choices, they have some awful numbers for Governor Tom Corbett. President Obama does not have hot numbers either in Pennsylvania.

Texas: Yes the Democrats are going to try to turn Texas blue. They seem to be stuck on running Bold Progressives (by Texas standards) instead of running conservaDems that would appeal to the state’s moderate Hispanic population.

More Texas: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka hopes to make an organized labor push in Texas in 2014. The high number of low skilled workers in the state seems to be a good target for organized labor which has suffered from dwindling membership and lack of recruitment opportunities. I invite Trumka to waste union resources on a lost cause instead of trying to undermine incumbents in states like Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

TX-#StandwithWendy: State Senator Wendy Davis has raised $1.2 million since her infamous filibuster of a bill banning abortions later than 20 weeks. As Davis plots a kamikaze run for statewide office, it will be interesting to see if more national money gets set on fire in Texas….

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Apple will buy your used iPhone for up to $280….

Yup…..

Apple wants you to trade in your old iPhone for a brand new iPhone 5S or 5C which will launch shortly….

And they’ll offer you money ……

iphone 5 Apple store

photo…ap

When you buy a new phone, it comes with a bit of remorse.

You’ve got a great new toy. But you’re also laying to rest a device you paid a lot of money for just one year or two prior.

Many people have turned to Craigslist or eBay to sell old devices. Soon, they’ll be able to turn to Apple. Apple is reportedly launching a buyback program in the next few weeks.

The initiative will be called the iPhone Reuse and Recycle Program, 9To5Mac reports.

It will work like textbook buyback programs at colleges. But instead of receiving cash for old items, users will receive Apple gift cards that can be put toward a new iPhone purchase. BrightStar, a company that works with retailers and manufacturers, is reportedly partnering with Apple on the initiative.

9to5Mac says the program will soft launch on August 30th and become more wide-spread by mid September.

There are multiple reports about how the program will work, but the gist is this:

A user will walk in with an old phone, intending to buy a new one. Old devices will be valued by store clerks with EasyPay, a  tool Apple employees currently use to sell products to customers. The value of old phones will be determined based on the model, functionality and physical appearance of each device.

You’ll likely make less reselling your phone to Apple than you would on a website. But the program should motivate more casual consumers, who don’t currently bother to resell old phones, to upgrade devices more often….

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Grover Norquist thinks Defunding Obamacare is ‘not wise’

Well….Well…..

Even this anti-tax guy KNOWS some in his party are barking up the wrong tree on the Affordable Healthcare Law ….

And look….

He thinks that in the end the Republicans will try get some sort of Immigration Reform….

What’s up with this guy….Is he losing his Conservative?

Norquist: GOP must ask for ‘reasonable things’ in fiscal showdown with Obama  

Grover Norquist says Republicans must ask for “reasonable things” in this fall’s fiscal showdown with President Obama.

In an interview with The Hill, the head of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) criticized the strategy of some Republicans on defunding ObamaCare as “not wise.” Norquist noted the Senate and White House remain in Democratic hands and that President Obama is not going to agree to gut the landmark achievement of his first term.

However, Norquist believes a one-year delay of ObamaCare could be ultimately accepted by the president because some vulnerable Democrats on Capitol Hill are worried that implementation problems of the healthcare overhaul will hamper their reelection bids. He also said the eradication of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a controversial part of ObamaCare, is possible in the coming months.

Other highlights of the interview include:

* Norquist predicts immigration reform will pass before the 2014 elections. He claims that the GOP has moved significantly away from its anti-immigration reform stance last year. The ATR president has praised the Senate for its passage of immigration reform earlier this year.

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