Chris Hedges: Brace yourself. The American Empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying. Long, incredibly intelligent, insightful and pessimistic discussion of the current state of American politics and society, among other topics. Hedges is a long-time journalist, author and professor, winner of Pulitzer Prize and Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism for his work at the New York Times. [more inside]
Two days ago, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), "with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge". [more inside]
Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies: Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception. [more inside]
Robert Reich writes today: My political prediction for 2012 (based on absolutely no inside information): Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden swap places. Biden becomes Secretary of State -- a position he's apparently coveted for years. And Hillary Clinton, Vice President [more inside]
Tomorrow marks the official end of the Iraq war. The Obama administration describes it as a 'promise kept'. The war resulted in a great many casualties. Although the final troop movement out of the country is not scheduled to begin for a few days, history will record December 15 as the end of the war, as the flag of the American military mission in Bagdhad is lowered and returned to the US. Scholars at Brown University estimate the total cost of the war at 265,000 dead and $3-4 trillion dollars. The main contenders for the Republican party's 2012 nomination both expressed approval and disapproval. Previously, 339 times.
Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election. [SLYT] Via BigThink, "A knowledge forum featuring the ideas, lessons, stories and advice of leading experts from around the world."
"This is the true ‘bomb’ contained in Obamacare and the one item that will have more impact on the future of how medical care is paid for in this country than anything we’ve seen in quite some time. Indeed, it is this aspect of the law that represents the true ‘death panel’ found in Obamacare—but not one that is going to lead to the death of American consumers. Rather, the medical loss ratio will, ultimately, lead to the death of large parts of the private, for-profit health insurance industry."
In 2008, Barack Obama lit a fire among young activists. Next year, Occupy Wall Street could consume him.
...Happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing
If we trace liberal disappointment with President Obama to its origins, to try to pinpoint the moment when his crestfallen supporters realized that this was Not Change They Could Believe In, the souring probably began on December 17, 2008, when Obama announced that conservative Evangelical pastor Rick Warren would speak at his inauguration. “Abominable,” fumed John Aravosis on AmericaBlog. “Obama’s ‘inclusiveness’ mantra always seems to head only in one direction—an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right,” seethed Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow rode the story almost nightly: “I think the problem is getting larger for Barack Obama.” Negative 34 days into the start of the Obama presidency, the honeymoon was over.Jonathan Chait asks in New York magazine, When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable? [more inside]
Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is booked on all the major morning shows tomorrow, and with good reason. After two months of gaffes, impolitic stands, and bizarre speeches that quickly waned his once-strong odds of winning the Republican nomination, Perry went into Wednesday's CNBC debate sorely needing a win... only to deliver a tortuous, cringingly forgetful attempt [video] to recall just which three cabinet departments he'd vowed to abolish, a stunning failure political scientist Larry Sabato deemed "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate" in his memory. While Perry's slow-motion flameout has boosted the fortunes of dark horse candidate Herman Cain, the unlikely challenger is facing troubles of his own in a volley of sexual harassment claims -- an oddly ineffective scandal Cain is doing his best to (somewhat dubiously) disavow. If Cain collapses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may reap the benefits, but his moribund campaign has issues of its own. Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, Cain, Gingrich... the base is loathe to rally round him, but after so many failed, flawed, or forfeited challenges, can anyone topple Mitt Romney?
November 2007 -- Barack Obama: "[I]f the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana then that's something I'm open to ... But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want it prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs are prescribed." [more inside]
Tomorrow, Friday the 23rd of September 2011, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will go before the UN and set out his request for formal recognition of the state of Palestine. There are many problems with this, and not just for the Palestinians... [more inside]
A new book says women have been marginalized in Obama's White House, according to an article in the Washington Post. Former communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying the White House "fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women." The book also quotes an unnamed official saying that "the boys' club" was not "just Larry [Summers] and Rahm [Emanuel]," but that Obama himself was responsible: "The president has a real woman problem." [more inside]
Bob Turner, "a little-known Republican businessman from Queens" (who is also a former producer for the Jerry Springer show) has become the first Republican elected to New York's Ninth Congressional District since the 1920's. Democrats traditionally have a 3-to-1 advantage over Republicans in the district, which makes this upset even more ... upsetting. Many consider the loss of a Democratic stronghold to be a referendum on the Obama Administration itself. Nate Silver with more analysis. [more inside]
Yields of 2-year Greek government bonds have been skyrocketing today, and are currently at 76%. Credit default swaps show Greece with a 98% chance of default. Confidence in the Eurozone as a whole has been tanking recently after a series of setbacks that leave a political solution looking increasingly unlikely. There was a timely, gloomy discussion on RT yesterday on European and worldwide political/economic prospects
Obama to Congressional Republicans: pass this jobs bill, or take the blame. The Economist has the details of the plan. Paul Krugman describes the plan as significantly bolder and better than expected. Good news and bad news: Obama's plan would work, but GOP won't pass it. Why not? [more inside]
President Obama Backs Down On Ozone Standards As two weeks of protests outside the White House against a proposed oil pipeline from Alberta's tar sands through the United States ended Friday with a total of 1,252 arrests, President Obama shocked the environmental community by requesting that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after repeated delays since publication of new draft ozone standards in 2010 lowering permissible levels from 85 parts per billion (introduced during the Bush administration) to 60-70 parts per billion, postpone their implementation until at least 2013. [more inside]
White House economic policy largely originates with The Council of Economic Advisers, CEA, who directly advise the President of the United States. CEA research and publish the annual Economic Report of the President[ .pdf ], which details the state of the nation's economic health. Today President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Princeton Economist Alan Krueger as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger, who previously held the post of Assistant Treasury Secretary for Economic Policy, has written on a wide range of topics, from the economics of rock music [ .pdf ], the causes of terrorism [ .pdf ] and American's changing work / life balance. But Krueger is best known as a labor economist who has extensively researched long term unemployment. [more inside]
Categories as fundamental as fact and fiction, news and entertainment, gender and sexuality, have eroded away. In literature and architecture, in cuisine, in music, in fashion and furnishings, everywhere, everything—it’s fusion and mix. Barack Obama emerged as a literal embodiment of this age. To educated people, especially younger people with generally progressive views, other candidates suddenly looked parochial by comparison—or simply outdated. In his ethnicity and biography and in his personality and politics, Obama, the conciliator, was above all a combiner. Because he was from virtually everywhere—Kenya, Indonesia, Honolulu, Harvard, Chicago’s South Side—he was also from nowhere. The pastiche of his persona made him “his own man” in a new sense of the term.On the Politics of Pastiche and Depthless Intensities: The Case of Barack Obama
"The Justices all sit in high-backed leather swivel chairs, and Thomas has set his so that he can recline so far that he appears almost to be lying down. He stares at the ceiling. He rubs his face. He does not appear to be listening. He closes his eyes and sometimes appears to be asleep. The over-all effect is rude, if not contemptuous." The New Yorker profiles Justice Clarence Thomas, his wife Ginni's Tea Party connections and what they might mean for the inevitable SCOTUS ruling on Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and looks back on his confirmation hearings. Previously, Justice Thomas and Ginni; Obama and healthcare; SCOTUS.
Obama calls on Assad to step down. The US and EU announce sanctions on Assad's regime. The New York Times looks at the resistence in Homs. Al Jazeera has an ongoing Syrian Live blog. Enduring America continues to cover the Arab Spring.
Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education, former "CEO" (Superintendant) of Chicago Public Schools, announced that there will be a waiver from NCLB for schools that apply and can prove that "adopt standards designed to prepare high school graduates for college and careers, use a 'flexible and targeted' accountability system for educators based on student growth and make 'robust use of data,' among other things." Many school officials are wary of the strings that will inevitably accompany the waiver. This is after Duncan predicted that by the end of this year, 82 percent of schools would not be making AYP, or Adequate Yearly Progress - a measure of standardised test scores in American schools. [more inside]
"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
Drew Westen (discussed previously) has written a heartbreaking piece on the narratives the president has or hasn't told. [more inside]
With the conclusion of the debt ceiling debate ending in another defeat for liberals, the emerging narrative is that Obama is weak, a poor negotiator who was out-maneuvered by Republicans and forced into the agreement because of strategic errors. But Glenn Greenwald tells a different story: [more inside]
"History Changes". LG Telecom is Korea's perennial also-ran in the mobile telephone market. Their latest attempt at coming from behind includes another revision to their brand identity: "U+", replacing 2009's "Oz" rebranding effort. With operating profit down by half since last year, they are anxious to prove that they are as good as, if not better than, their competitors Korea Telecom (KT) and SK Telecom. Now that they are offering 4G service almost as soon as KT, LG sees itself as making history in the same way Barack Obama did when he demonstrated the equality of everyone in the
Korean telecom market United States.
Text overlay on images of Jim Crow-era American South: "It was utterly impossible for a black person to become the President of the United States."
Voiceover: "History Changes! Beginning with 4G service".
The talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner "collapsed" Friday with little more than a week to go before the United States may effectively default on its debt. The two parties have been in ongoing negotiations for months over GOP refusal to raise the legal limit on national debt unless tied to a significant package of spending cuts - with some members and activists opposed to any increase whatsoever [more inside]
Obama proposes Social Security cuts. Amid ongoing debt talks wherein the Democrats are seeking to raise the debt ceiling to prevent the default of Federal debt, "entitlement reform" has been a hot topic. This morning, Obama has taken the unusual step of proposing even larger spending cuts than Republicans have asked for, mystifying many. Has the Grand Bargain arrived?
Mark Halperin, currently of influential political site The Page, founder of groundbreaking Washingtonian blog, The Note, has been a journalist and political analyst for twenty years. Until yesterday, he was a popular talking head at the MSNBC network. Halperin drew criticism and landed himself out of a job after calling President Obama "a dick" on the air. Reactions are delightfully mixed. Of course, Halperin has already apologized.
Republican Leadership Conference hires an Obama impersonator. Hilarity does not ensue. [more inside]
In a 32 page report to Congress [pdf] President Obama concludes:
...the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of “hostilities” contemplated by the Resolution’s 60 day termination provision.Now, the New York Times reports that this legal opinion was reached by rejecting the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department. It is instructive to compare President Obama's actions with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. [more inside]
While pulling out of the American Embassy in Dublin this morning, Barack Obama's bullet-proof, missile-proof, nuclear launch-code enabled limo got stuck on an overly steep concrete incline.
While not being an outright example of a clash of civilizations in the Huntingtonian sense, elements of cultural misunderstanding and fears about the system-challenging tendencies of Iran do aﬀect Western perceptions and inﬂuence Western behavior toward Iran. Furthermore, these kinds of reciprocal identity-based fears and projections of the other side’s presumed malevolent intentions tend to be mutually reinforcing. The risk is that they eventually become self-fulﬁlling prophecies.Iran and the West - Regional Interests and Global Controversies [PDF]. [more inside]
The Legacy of Malcolm X: Why his vision lives on in Barack Obama is an affecting essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
A wave of powerful storm cells swept the southeastern United States this week, spawning hundreds of tornadoes that wreaked havoc from Texas to Virginia. While damage was widespread throughout the region, the most terrible toll was seen in Alabama, which has accounted for two-thirds of the more than 300 reported deaths -- the deadliest since the Great Depression -- and where many small towns were simply wiped from the map. Especially hard-hit was the university town of Tuscaloosa, the state's fifth-largest, where a monstrous F5 tornado (seen in this terrifying firsthand video) tore a vicious track through entire neighborhoods and business districts -- narrowly missing the region's primary hospital -- and continuing a path that rained debris as far as Birmingham, over sixty miles away. The disaster prompted a visit from President Obama today, who declared "I've never seen devastation like this" after surveying the area with Governor Robert Bentley, Senator Richard Shelby, and Mayor Walter Maddox. More: photos from In Focus and The Big Picture, aerial footage of the aftermath, "before and after" sliders, the path of the Tuscaloosa twister on Google Maps, People Locator, local aid information, MetaTalk check-in thread
What’s Left of the Left - Paul Krugman's Lonely Crusade for Liberalism. After President Obama met with a group of prominent economists in December of 2010, among them Alan Blinder, the latter remarked, somewhat bleakly and apologetically: "In the United States, there is no left left". Paul Krugman is a lonely man. [more inside]
"Surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith. Or for that matter my citizenship." - President Obama
Handwritten 1961 memo in father's immigration file notes Obama born in Hawaii. "Documents obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service through a Freedom of Information Act request offer evidence that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. A memo dated Aug. 31, 1961 from William Wood of Immigration and Naturalization Services indicates that Barack Obama, Sr., was attending the University of Hawaii on a student visa and that a son, Barack Obama, II, was born in Honolulu on Aug, 8, 1961." [Image of Memo]
“I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up … I finally wanted to speak the truth.”
Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously) Her replies: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," sparked media outrage, prompted her to issue an apology and retire. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite Amnesty's recent denouncement of his treatment and a State Department official's comment that it is "stupid" among other things, Obama apparently stands by the current conditions under which Bradley Manning is being held. [more inside]
Obama creates indefinite detention system for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The announcements, coming more than two years after Obama vowed in another executive order to close the detention center, all but cements Guantanamo Bay's continuing role in U.S. counterterrorism policy.
Cartoonist Tim Kreider (previously, previously) of The Pain talks about the last decade, our "disastrous decline" and his latest book of cartoons and essays, Twilight Of The Assholes. Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
SEIU past leader speaks on Wisconsin The battle is for the future our our country, the middle class, and public ownership of public goods
Inside the Secret Service. Sidebars: Radio Chatter and The Presidential Motorcade (Via) [more inside]
George Bush cancels a trip to Switzerland citing “threat of demonstrations” . However two victims of torture in U.S. detention have prepared a criminal complaint against Bush backed by a coalition of international human rights groups, two former United Nations rapporteurs, and two Nobel Peace Prize laureates. His legacy continues with the death in Guantanamo of Abdul Gul held without trial for 9 years. The official cause of Mr Gul's death is "Heart attack during exercise". The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trial nearly 50 detainees at Guantanamo.
The show Empire on Al Jazeera collects experts on various subjects and holds a roundtable discussion. This week was Obama 2.0, on the President's first two years, with focus on foreign policy. Guests this week are Ralph Nader, Roger Hodge, Stefan Halper, and As'ad Abu Khalil. Earlier weeks include: [more inside]