Via ThinkProgress, an important moment in the discussion regarding US foreign policy with respects to Iran occurred between Senator Marco Rubio and Secretary of State John Kerry:
During a tense exchange with Kerry at a Senate Foreign Relations committee on Wednesday, Rubio confronted the former Massachusetts senator. “I believe that much of our strategy with regards to ISIS is being driven by a desire not to upset Iran so they don’t walk away from the negotiating table on the deal that you’re working on,” the potential GOP presidential candidate declared. “Tell me why I’m wrong.”
Kerry responded forcefully. “Because the facts completely contradict that,” he said, before offering to discuss more details in classified session with Rubio. But the likely GOP presidential contender didn’t take up the offer and pressed on with the line of questioning, claiming that the United States is going easy on terrorism because Iran does not support America’s campaign against ISIS.
But of course, the two assumptions that he has are false—of course, the US is involved in fighting ISIL, whether Sen. Rubio thinks the response is adequate or not, and of course, Iran is also opposed to ISIL, because why in the world would a Shiite government want a radical Sunni Wahhabist caliphate in their backyard? To think, nay, insist, that the Obama Administration is soft-pedaling the fight with ISIL to please Iran would be weapons-grade ignorance. And that is precisely where Rubio is coming from.
I read about the open letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran last night and was just appalled. I couldn’t put my finger on why, at first. They weren’t offering aid and comfort to an enemy, per se, so you couldn’t call it treason. They weren’t in direct, private communications, solicited or otherwise, with the foreign government, so I don’t know if you could consider it a violation of the Logan Act. But is very unusual, and the tone was, I thought, disrespectful to the President, to other negotiators at the table, and disrespectful of their offices as US Senators. Because while this letter isn’t necessarily treason or sedition—it’s a political stunt over foreign policy made wide-open, which does not strengthen the President’s hand in making a good executive deal, but rather aims at diluting the nation’s effectiveness to carry out successful diplomacy.
I know this was the aim of the letter, because the freshman Senator who spear-headed the effort, Tom Cotton, has previously admitted he wanted to sabotage the negotiations. What astonished me is that he managed to get 46 other senators to go along with him. Not a one of them read the thing and thought it might be a bad idea?
I think it is unfortunate that there is increased violence in Iraq and a bloody shame that al-Qaeda seems to have control of Fallujah. Based on the aftermath of first, the invasion of Iraq, then the war there, then our withdrawal, it is likely that reasonable people could predict that there would be increased violence, and that Fallujah was a likely place for a bunch of it. And, sure as fire is hot and water is wet, Senators McCain and Graham are all over it, and if you’ve been reading the libretto thus far, I bet you know what song they are singing:
McCain and Graham had been vocal critics of President Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, and they called the reports of al Qaeda gaining control in Fallujah and elsewhere “as tragic as they are predictable.”
“While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” the Republicans said in a statement. “When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests.”
“Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever,” McCain and Graham said. “What’s sadder still, the thousands of brave Americans who fought, shed their blood, and lost their friends to bring peace to Fallujah and Iraq are now left to wonder whether these sacrifices were in vain.”
It’s very sad that the country was destabilized by a decade of war, and it is President Bush who signed the status of forces agreement that led to the withdrawal, and ending the presence of US troops in Iraq was overwhelmingly in accordance with what the US public wanted. That decision has consequences—and so would staying. If Sens. McCain and Graham are under the impression that brave Americans specifically fought, shed blood, and lost friends to bring peace to Fallujah, they might want to ponder a rationale for the AUMF that started with weapons of mass destruction that no longer existed, and contemplate also why Fallujah does not happen to have peace today. The presence of US soldiers battling ISIS today would not constitute peace, and if the size of the conflict was smaller because of our continued presence, it would be somewhat like a lid on a pot that’s boiling over. Asking us to take into consideration whether the living or the dead Americans who fought in Iraq wonder whether their sacrifices are in vain—is itself a vanity.
The use of the deadly attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans as a political tool has frankly astonished me since the foreign policy naif Mitt Romney had the bad taste to broach it the very evening that it happened. For that reason, I see a kind of lukewarm vindication of the Obama Administration’s public statements regarding the matter in the NYT’s in-depth study on it, which draws two meaningful conclusions: that al-Qaeda was not involved in the attack and that it did stem in part from the widespread protests over a rather dumb bigoted little video, just as was stated by current NSA Susan Rice.
It has long seemed to me that the Benghazi affair as initiated by the Romney folks was a matter of using President Obama’s perceived strength (as having authorized the successful raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden) against him. The failure on the Romney side began with the claim that a statement attempting to ameliorate matters from the Cairo embassy was a sign that the Obama Administration actually sided with radical Islam, but this blew up into a claim that the administration was actually somehow derelict in defending the Libyan embassy from attack from several others on the Republican side, including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa. The use of the Benghazi tragedy as an indictment of the Obama Administration spans a number of criticisms that conservatives have had with the Commander-in-Chief—that he is Muslim or more sympathetic to radical Islam, that he isn’t a real leader, or that he wants America to fail.
It’s pretty much always been bullshit. Senators McCain and Graham did the best job of giving the game away when they failed to attend a briefing on the matter, opting instead to hang their faces in front of a camera pointing fingers. Rep. Issa, supposedly a kind of watchdog, has fluffed the matter at intervals, but is mostly of the school of investigation that insists that if he doesn’t hear what he thinks he ought, there is surely a cover-up afoot.
On Sunday, “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Issa to respond to The Times story, which was published online Saturday. The story also said the Benghazi attacks were “fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
“We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi,” Issa said Sunday. “People from this administration … have said under oath there was no evidence of any reaction to a video.
“What we know, David, is the initial reports did not name this video as the prime cause,” he added.
Is that so? (No, it is not. And being a very concerned person, he might perhaps have looked at more than a few media accounts, no?) He’s also said that if a group alleges it has some connection with al-Qaeda, then that is good enough for him, which must be very validating to jihadi-come-lately groups who can at least claim to know somebody who knows somebody.
I’m afraid until Fox News gives the high sign, the idea that there was something more than usually rotten in Benghazi will be as certain a thing as the unbearable whiteness of Santa Claus in some quarters.
What I do want to point out, though, is that there is a sobering side to this in that the militants who made this attack came from the people the US supported in the overthrow of Qaddafi. I think there is an analogy that could be preemptively applied to involvement in Syria, for example. If anyone has the ear of, say, Sen McCain, they might want to try to explain it to him. I sort of hope President Obama has figured it out, but I’ve no real idea. Something about good intentions.
This weekend, President Obama partially convinced John “Bomb-Bomb-Bomb” McCain and his zany sidekick, Lindsey “More Butch than 10,000 Teabaggers” Graham, of the wisdom of his Syria intervention policy. The hotheaded duo imply they were lured onboard by assurances of extra ka-booms, covert operations and other cool war-stuff executed by not-their-kids.
Good for Obama for passing the Syria hot potato to Congress, as is right and proper. But this Obama supporter will be rooting for Congress to say no. Having McCain on the “other side” makes that a little easier.
McCain, who had previously rejected the administration’s Syria intervention proposals because he deemed them too soft, and who surely knows that the public will reject a full-blown war as too hard, requires a war footing that his Goldilocks sense gauges as “just right.” McCain and Graham’s comments after their weekend meeting with the president signaled their tentative willingness to climb into the sack: McCain said a vote against the authorization of force resolution “would be catastrophic” and “undermine the credibility of the United States.”
But as Steve Benen notes, that rationale doesn’t make much sense:
By his reasoning, any time any president prepares to use military force abroad, Congress must agree or risk undermining the credibility of the United States. But what if lawmakers have sincere policy differences with an administration and they’re right to oppose intervention abroad? To hear McCain tell it, that wouldn’t much matter—lawmakers should feel an obligation to approve a resolution anyway.
And, as Benen also noted, McCain and his South Carolina appendage appear poised to withdraw their support if they deem the strike plans insufficiently warlike after the details emerge. Sadly, this pair of Klingon wannabes is what passes for foreign policy “wise men” in the Republican Party.
With Boehner now signaling his willingness to go along, it’s clear that Obama has dialed the correct sleep number into the GOPosturepedic—so far. How far rightward is he willing to be dragged to keep their support, if at all? Launching an attack on another country invites all sorts of unpredictable outcomes, which is one reason it truly should be a last resort. Aligning an agenda with the likes of McCain, Graham, Boehner, etc., also has all kinds of potential for blow-back. Still thinking this is a mistake.
Wow, Uncle Grumps McCain seems to be morphing into yr creepy step-uncle who ya don’t really want to hug if you can avoid it.
For background, the DOJ, after investigating charges that colleges and universities were pretty much ignoring or down playing charges of sexual assault and harassment on campuses has put out new guidelines for reporting instances of unwanted sexual conduct.
The OCR has responded by ratcheting up enforcement of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in colleges, to introduce new regulations on sexual assault policies. And out of that effort comes an agreement so mild that it has elicited only hopeful skepticism from campus activists. But the mere assertion that it is possible for speech to be harassing under certain conditions, and that colleges ought to investigate harassing behavior on their campuses, has conservatives in uproar.
Surprise, surprise. I mean since college co-eds are basically just sexy sluts anyway, shouldn’t the menz be able to *wink wink* give them what they know they want anyway!!
One, totally not creepy, pundit has even suggested that we are de-eroticizing our universities! Yes, because consent is not a thing, you know, so without the ability to disregard the word “no” sex and eroticity will totally disappear from the college environment.
“In this audio obtained by XXX media outlet at this private event” is a phrase heard often enough that you’d think politicians would have wised up by now, but “wised up” is not a phrase often associated with the breed. And so it was that Bill Clinton appeared at famed diplomatic scholar John McCain’s Institute For International Shit-Stirring and opined that Obama risked “looking like a wuss” on Syria, which country is a hot mess to the naked eye, but these men of celebrated discretion can descry that Syria is begging for a little intervention! To blazes with Barack’s cautious approach, which must be poll-driven! Onward, ever onward, arm those rebels and ignore those polls, the two old mavericks agreed. Because there’s nothing worse than being shown up by history as a fool.
Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton had no comment on the matter, just a long sigh. Update: Uh-oh.
As usual, whether it’s warmongering or attention whoring, McCain’s always the first out of the box! Obama may as well stay home: President McCain has already told the American People. Make with the weaponry, and full speed ahead!
Really this is one of those stories where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry ROTFLMAO.
According to Joshua Green at Bloomberg BusinessWeek, heading into the Michigan primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who at that point still had some sort of chance in the race, hatched a plot to combine forces and run Romney off the road:
As Mitt Romney struggled in the weeks leading up to the Michigan primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum nearly agreed to form a joint “Unity Ticket” to consolidate conservative support and topple Romney. “We were close,” former Representative Bob Walker, a Gingrich ally, says. “Everybody thought there was an opportunity.” “It would have sent shock waves through the establishment and the Romney campaign,” says John Brabender, Santorum’s chief strategist.
“Oh noes” we are supposed to say in retrospect! Such a stupendous charismatic pair as Serial Adulterer Newt and Colossal Dick* Santorum could totally have upset OBamz apple cart and WHERE WOULD WE ALL BE TODAY!!
Well, we know it didn’t happen and Romney pulled out a squeaker win in Michigan. The coalition collapsed and, as much as anything, from the stupendous weight of their own egos.
But the negotiations collapsed in acrimony because Gingrich and Santorum could not agree on who would get to be president. “In the end,” Gingrich says, “it was just too hard to negotiate.”
And the rest of us were denied the spectacle of a truly great clown show of a campaign, surpassing even that of Grandpa Grumps and Klondike Barbie. If only.
*Thanks to Charlie Pierce for the oh-so-apt moniker.
Today I thought it might be instructive to introduce one Todd Kincannon, Esq., one of the Republican Party’s bright young things waiting in the wings. Young Guns, I think they call themselves, as they noisily racket around trying to reinvent the GOP for the eleventy-eleventh time.
By my reckoning the GOP change-meisters have managed—by hook or by crook—to drag the party into the 20th century and appear to be hell-bent on emerging into a solidly 1950’s mindset. What next?
It is true that as far as flippant jackassery goes, Sen. McCain’s Tweet implying that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a simian astronaut probably isn’t as purely awful as his improvised song parody, “Bomb, Bomb Iran”, but it is up there, even drawing criticism from fellow Republican, MI Rep. Justin Amash, who Tweeted in return: “Maybe you should wisen up & not make racist jokes.”
We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging to report that FauxNews has dropped Klondike Barbie’s contract! Yes, she has become too whiny, resentful and uninteresting even for Fox viewers!
What will she do now? Well, according to a source *close to Palin* “She remains focused on broadening her message of common-sense conservatism across the country and will be expanding her voice in the national discussion.”
*scuse me just a jiff* *SNORT, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! wipes eyes, sighs*
That is all. You may now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.
Rachel Maddow showed part of this clip last night from a 2007 Democratic presidential candidate debate. Candidates Biden and Richardson respond to a YouTube question on gun control from a Ted Nugent wannabe who fondly strokes his assault weapon, referring to it as his “baby” and asking how the candidates will help him protect his “baby.” Watch:
Richardson attempts a boilerplate response that won’t unduly alarm gun-fondlers. Biden questions the mental health of anyone who would refer to an assault weapon as his “baby.” I’m glad Biden is heading up the gun control taskforce.
I suppose if there’s one silver lining to come from Susan Rice’s decision to withdraw her name from the running for Hillary Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State, it’s that Sen. John McCain has to stop his tantrum regarding her. (Oh, but how long before the next tantrum commences?) I suppose I can see where people are coming from if they feel a little ripped off that she didn’t get further in the process because it just feels like giving in to the angry old GOP bastards, and who wants to give them an inch? On the other hand, I lean towards this being her decision to make, and getting out before it gets uglier (as McCain was threatening) is very sensible.
But where does the White House go from here regarding SoS Search? I know the current narrative is the next at-bat goes to Sen. John Kerry, because that’s who the Old Boys’ Club deems acceptable, and also they want a crack at slipping Scott Brown back into the Senate. Me, I don’t see why Obama doesn’t consider Samatha Power. (Well, actually I kind of do. I must be part troll that I’d be looking forward to “Shit-show 2: Power Boogaloo”, because if the GOP wanted to shit-stir regarding Power, well, I guess they would. But I’m a blogger and that’s blog-fodder. I’m capricious like that.)
But regarding the idea that Sen. Kerry accepting a role as SoS necessarily means losing that seat, I’m not convinced. The people of the Commonwealth have seen Brown’s act, and it’s not like there isn’t anyone who could run against him. I rather like the idea of Barney Frank in the Senate (we should be so lucky!). Although more than a few people on Twitter have mentioned Rep. Ed Markey, who I also rather like.
It’s starting to really shape up that the criticism of the Obama Administration regarding the attack on the consulate at Benghazi is a lot of outrage about….the Obama Administration even existing. I was astonished that then-Republican candidate for the presidency, Mitt Romney, chose to opportunistically seize on the deaths of four Americans because it was the sort of flail a losing campaign with a candidate who neither seemed to know or care to understand much about foreign policy might launch. Astonished that no one called it off—not astonished that it occured. The point being—I could remember exactly that sort of fail-flail occuring with a candidate who attempted to grandstand on an issue—the economy, which was not his known strong point, in exactly the same point in his campaign;
The candidate was Senator John McCain, and the event was the nonsensical suspension of his campaign and the further subsequent flail of calling together a group of his peers to try and hash out a plan. From then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s version of the events:
It was brilliant political theater that was about to degenerate into farce. Skipping protocol, the president turned to McCain to offer him a chance to respond: “I think it’s fair that I give you the chance to speak next.”
But McCain demurred. “I’ll wait my turn,” he said. It was an incredible moment, in every sense. This was supposed to be McCain’s meeting—he’d called it, not the president, who had simply accommodated the Republican candidate’s wishes. Now it looked as if McCain had no plan at all—his idea had been to suspend his campaign and summon us all to this meeting. It was not a strategy, it was a political gambit, and the Democrats had matched it with one of their own.
Finally, raising his voice over the din, Obama said loudly, “I’d like to hear what Senator McCain has to say, since we haven’t heard from him yet.”
The room went silent and all eyes shifted to McCain, who sat quietly in his chair, holding a single note card. He glanced at it quickly and proceeded to make a few general points. He said that many members had legitimate concerns and that I had begun to head in the right direction on executive pay and oversight. He mentioned that Boehner was trying to move his caucus the best he could and that we ought to give him the space to do that. He added he had confidence the consensus could be reached quickly.
As he spoke, I could see Obama chuckling.
McCain had nothing, then, and got called on it, just like Mitt Romney had nothing when, during the second debate, he stepped into the trap (“Please proceed, Governor”) that invited the moderator to actually perform an act of journalism and check the factual record, acknowledging that Obama from day one did consider the Benghazi assault an act of terror.
How is it then, that right after Mitt Romney’s notable shellacking in the election, that Senator John McCain decides to jump on the Benghazi bandwagon with both feet, so eager to publically smear Obama that he calls a potential nominee for Hillary Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State “none too bright” whilst he is literally blowing off a briefing to potentially get the kind of answers that he was seeking?
How does one shriveled human actually contain so much bitterness? I don’t even know. In his wake, the wingnuts who were in mid-flock are caught spouting gibberish by journalists who smell a rat.
This leaves me with the happy thought, espoused by Booman, that just like this was a non-story, maybe this means John McCain is finally persona non grata. I, too, have longed for the time when McCain inserted his platinum card to draw from the old Bank of American Trust, and finds it declined (hell, he should get a bill with penalties for being well and truly overdrawn). But I treat this non-story as a bloggable event in much the way a doctor is interested in symptoms—“He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.” I’d like to see the symptoms abate—and yet, I am watchful in the event that the screamers on the right will try to actually get their “Watergate-style” hearings—facts be damned! They see the ghosts.
They need them. Or they would have to face the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Obama Administration’s greatest success is in not really being fuck-ups.