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“Rubio Blasts ISIS Strategy He Supports”: His Own Views On Foreign Policy Need Quite A Bit Of Work

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is clearly aware of the fact that many of the Republican presidential candidates are current or former governors. But the Florida senator believes he would have an important advantage over his GOP rivals.

“The next president of the United States needs to be someone that has a clear view of what’s happening in the world, a clear strategic vision of America’s role in it and a clear practical plan for how to engage America in global affairs,” Rubio said. He added that for governors running for the White House, international affairs will be “a challenge, at least initially, because they don’t deal with foreign policy on a daily basis.”

On the surface, that’s not a bad pitch. Indeed, presidential candidates from the Senate have made similar arguments against governors for many years. But listening to Rubio’s remarks this morning at CPAC, the trouble is that his own views on foreign policy need quite a bit of work.

“ISIS is a radical Sunni Islamic group. They need to be defeated on the ground by a Sunni military force with air support from the United States,” Rubio said.

“Put together a coalition of armed regional governments to confront [ISIS] on the ground with U.S. special forces support, logistical support, intelligence support and the most devastating air support possible,” he added, “and you will wipe ISIS out.”

Rubio’s remarks solicited applause from the mostly college-aged audience, as did the senator’s claim that “the reason Obama hasn’t put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS is because he doesn’t want to upset Iran,” during sensitive negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

Given Rubio’s interest in the issue, and the months of research and preparation he’s completed, I’m genuinely surprised at how bizarre this is.

Right off the bat, the notion that the president wouldn’t go after ISIS because he “doesn’t want to upset Iran” is bizarre – ISIS and Iran are enemies. Tehran is more than happy to see U.S. forces go after ISIS targets; in fact, Iran has done the same thing. When it comes to the terrorist group, Americans and Iranians are on the same side. How could Rubio not know this?

For that matter, the argument that Obama “hasn’t put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS” is plainly untrue. Rubio should know this, not only because he’s a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an unannounced presidential candidate, but also because Obama’s strategy to defeat ISIS is largely identical to Marco Rubio’s.

The senator fleshed this out at CPAC: target ISIS by using local ground forces, coupled with air support from the United States, all while U.S. officials take the lead in assembling an international coalition.

That, as of this morning, is Rubio’s plan. It’s also exactly what Obama has been doing since August.

This isn’t even the first time the senator has run into this problem. A month after the president launched a military offensive against ISIS targets, Rubio wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post with the following pitch:

To confront the Islamic State terrorists, we need a sustained air campaign targeting their leadership, sources of income and supply routes, wherever they exist. We must increase our efforts to equip and capacitate non-jihadists in Syria to fight the terrorist group. And we must arm and support forces in Iraq confronting it, including responsible Iraqi partners and the Kurds. In addition, we must persuade nations in the region threatened by the Islamic State to participate in real efforts to defeat it.

I’m not accusing Rubio of plagiarism, but this is awfully close to a word-for-word summary of the Obama administration’s policy.

If the senator wants to complain about the pace of progress against ISIS, fine. He’s not alone. But for Rubio to criticize Obama for adopting a policy Rubio endorses, all while getting Iran’s position backwards, is a bad sign for a guy whose “clear view of what’s happening in the world” is supposed to set him apart from his GOP rivals.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 27, 2015

March 2, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, ISIS, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“President Obama’s Impact On Racism”: Exposing The Reality Of The Continued Normalization Of Racism Ignored For The Last 40 Years

A lot of pundits have suggested that the presidency of Barack Obama has polarized the racial divide in this country. And there’s some truth to that. At no point in my adult life has race been more front and center as an issue than its been over the last 6 years. And so the question becomes whether this President has moved us forward or backwards when it comes to the racial divide in this country.

From the 1970’s through the early 2000’s, most white people could simply ignore the question of racism. There were times it came out of the woodwork and surprised us – like the reaction to the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trail. But if we were successfully able to segregate ourselves from the every day lives of black/brown people, we could reach the conclusion that the Civil Rights Movement had tackled that problem and it was time to move on. When it came to politics, that included both white conservatives and liberals.

Then we elected our first black president. Leonard Pitts suggests that has led us to a moment that resembles something in our recent past.

Six years ago, there was wistful talk of a “post-racial America.” But today, we find ourselves in the most-racial America since the O.J. Simpson debacle. It’s not just income inequality, voter suppression and the killing of unarmed black boys. It’s also the ongoing inability of too many people to see African Americans as part of the larger, American “us.”

Most of them no longer say it with racial slurs, but they say it just the same. They say it with birther lies and innuendo of terrorist ties. They say it by saying “subhuman mongrel.” They say it by questioning Obama’s faith. They say it as Rudy Giuliani said it last week. They say it because they have neither the guts to say nor the self-awareness to understand what’s really bothering them:

How did this bleeping N-word become president of the United States?…

The day the towers fell, Giuliani seemed a heroic man. But he has since made himself a foolish and contemptible one, an avatar of white primacy struggling to contend with its own looming obsolescence.

And the question once famously put to Joe McCarthy seems to apply: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

Those same events led Ezra Klein to write about Obama Derangement Syndrome.

But then, that’s why Obama Derangement Syndrome is different than Bush Derangement Syndrome: it’s not really about Obama’s presidency. It’s about Obama himself. It’s about his blackness, his father’s foreignness, his strange name, his radical pastor. Obama’s presidency is in many ways ordinary, but the feelings it evokes are not. There is something about seeing Obama in the White House that deeply unsettles his critics. Obama Derangement Syndrome rationalizes those feelings.

I don’t know that much about Klein’s personal life other than that he’s young, smart, liberal and wonky. So I don’t want to make this all about him. But for the cohort he represents, it’s obviously pretty difficult to continue to ignore the reality of racism in this country as we watch the reaction to this President.

And so I am reminded of what Derrick Jensen wrote in The Culture of Make Believe.

Several times I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, “normal,” chronic state—where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised—to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized.

Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.

The presidency of Barack Obama has threatened the normalization of racism that allowed too many white people in this country to ignore it for the last 40 years. It’s now out in the open and time for us to reckon with it.

And so I’ll repeat the question Pitts asked: “Have you no sense of decency, sir/madame?

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 1, 2015

March 2, 2015 Posted by | President Obama, Race and Ethnicity, Racism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Three Legs Of The Conservative Stool”: The ‘War On Women’ Is The Latest War That Republicans At CPAC Want To Win

All political movements, to some extent, sound nonsensical to outsiders because groupthink elides the needs for certain connective thoughts to be voiced aloud. CPAC, a celebration of orthodoxy among a bullet-point-equipped faithful who all try to sound more stridently like everyone else than anyone else, magnifies this tendency to maddening degrees. Two separate subjects are mentioned with the causal relationship omitted. Facts appear without context; good things are named as though good outcomes inevitably eventuate. When cause-and-effect statements appear, they aren’t much better.

By this process, you can arrive at a conclusion like this: To win the War on Women, you better put a ring on it.

At CPAC, conservatives dedicated an entire panel to “The Future of Marriage.” One could be forgiven for assuming it tackled the issue via the sub-topic “Gays, and the Ickiness Thereof,” because that was the default assumption among those attending CPAC as part of an ongoing More Jaded Than Thou contest. Instead, the panel bypassed halting marriage equality and went straight for a return to celebrating a time when women had few stable life opportunities outside of marriage.

Heritage Foundation vice-president Jennifer Marshall signaled the need for conservative candidates to “be indivisible” on the matter of the “very interrelated” three legs of the conservative stool – marriage, small government and a stable economy. What a weird stool. Why these three things? Why not neighborhood bowling leagues, usury and the gibbet?

Marshall answered that question by explaining that “the sexual revolution has made relationships between men and women much more challenging”. Naturally, as polyamory and bed hopping have had very little effect on bowling or usury. Still, it was an important statement to make, because it implied that women had been complicit in the destabilization of their economic security.

Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute – employer of such luminaries as Iraq War stooge Judith Miller, invariably wrong William Kristol and racist hack Charles Murray – was willing to go even further than Marshall in placing the blame for women’s economic travails on alienation from “the family” and then further blaming women’s thoughts for turning women against where they belong.

“Feminists have taken over college campuses. They run the bureaucracy. People are losing the vocabulary to say fathers are essential,” she said. “I predict there’s going to come a time when Father’s Day is hate speech because you’re dissing a lesbian couple.” Piles of unsold real, comfortable Wrangler Jeans clogging up landfills. Tasteful Methodist sex harnesses going unsold at tasteful Methodist sex harness shops. Ships teeming with rear spoilers for family sedans being turned away from the nation’s harbors. A chilling vision of dadless things to come.

Nonetheless, vague problems demand vague solutions. Thus MacDonald advised 2016 Republican candidates: “If you want to eliminate poverty overnight, you can wipe it out by having stable, two-parent households.” (Note the weaseling inclusion of “stable.”) After all, we determine income inequality by households, so take two people living together in poverty, marry ‘em, and presto! No more poverty. Statistical problems go away if you stop gathering statistics. That only sounds nutty if you don’t already know that global warming isn’t real because thermometers lie.

That more or less made sense if you’d listened to the previous hour’s explanations that everything is bad in the inner city, and too many urban folks don’t get married, so, like, the two things are connected, man. Meanwhile, according to MacDonald, “The most affluent members of American society are still getting married.”

Shortly after this, Wade Horn, former assistant secretary for children and families, weighed in with the observation that marriages save money and diversify productivity because “marriages allow for economies of scale and specialization” within the household. (For those scoring economies of scale at home, presumably because specialization has made one of you an actuary: economies of scale good when you are married to someone; bad when buying prescription drugs for nations.) When your bridesmaids give you bewildered looks at the altar, point at your groom and cross their eyes while miming throwing up, just hold your hands apart to show how much he scales your economy.

To a cynic, that might read like a heartless thought. But do you know what’s really heartless? Government. “Children need their mothers and fathers. There is no government program that can possibly substitute for the love and guidance and sense of place in the world that parents provide,” MacDonald explained. “What we’re seeing now in the inner city is catastrophic. Marriage has all but disappeared. When young boys are growing up, they grow up without any expectation that they will marry the mothers of their children.” And she’s right; people who think government will love you or your abandoned children are idiots. The Department of Love has been a failure since 1967, and large faceless institutions will never care for human beings no matter how well they claim to mean. Those “inner city” people shouldn’t have been trying to hug America. They should have hugged something more practical like each other and that smiley face from Wal-Mart.

But if these problems and solutions got too specific for you, there was always Kate Bryan of the American Principles Project and moderator of “The Future of Marriage in America” panel. Sometimes it’s all just The Culture. The Culture — the Great Silent Chobani — depicts marriage as negative. Example: “The old ball and chain.” Why, if we could just get rid of this expression that zero non-horrible people have used unironically for at least a generation, we could have this thing licked in no-time. Women, inequality, stability, stools, the Whole Chobani. Good talk, everyone.

 

By: Jeb Lund, The Guardian, February 28, 2015

March 2, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, CPAC, War On Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Remember At The Polls”: No One In Wisconsin Asked To Kill Unions Except Special Interests

It was the question no Republican in Wisconsin could answer.

“What beating hearts are asking you to pass right to work legislation?”

Senator Janet Bewley, a Democrat, put the simple query to the other side of the aisle Tuesday night while the chamber debated a “right to work” bill that will effectively kill private sector unions in the state by ending the requirement that workers pay dues for representation.

The answer, of course, is no one. That much was clear at the state capitol. There were no signs asking to join a union shop but not the union; no bullhorns asking to skirt paying dues.

If there was anyone at Monday’s hearing on the bill who asked lawmakers to pass right to work, their names weren’t mentioned by any of the Republicans. In fact, the only Republican to mention someone’s name was Senator Jerry Petrowski.

“I’m a Ronald Reagan Republican, and like President Reagan I was a union member for many years,” he said before becoming the only member of his party to vote against the bill. Nevertheless, it passed 17-15 and sets Wisconsin up to become the 25th right-to-work state.

This death warrant for unions wasn’t drafted in Wisconsin though. The fingerprints of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing special-interest group, were found all over the bill. Nevertheless, Governor Scott Walker is ready to sign it after dealing unions a mortal wound in 2011 by ending the right to collective bargaining for public employees.

“Walker said that it wasn’t time for this, that it would be a distraction,” said Tom Much, a 58-year-old retiree from the Communications Workers of America. Hundreds of union supporters and Much stood outside the Capitol as snow fell Tuesday afternoon, about an hour before debate over the bill began.

What did Walker think the bill was distracting from though?

“You tell me,” Much said.

It could be the state’s $2.2 billion deficit, often cited by Democrats as they futilely filibustered the bill . More than likely, though, it is Walker’s presidential ambitions that right to work would distract from. So, while much of the talk regarding Walker in the past few days and weeks has revolved around his no-comment status when it comes to President Obama’s religious beliefs, and prior to that his punting on the question of evolution, in Wisconsin, the governor’s about face on the law has gone almost unnoticed by national political reporters.

“Now, he says that he will sign it,” Much said, noting Walker’s intent to approve the right to work bill when it reaches his desk, something the governor always insisted was unlikely to happen. “Seems to me to be a bit of a turnaround.”

Not quite. Walker has avoided talk of making Wisconsin a right to work state—until recently—and has let his Republican allies in the legislature perform most of the heavy lifting regarding the bill.

His fellow Republicans didn’t have much to say during Tuesday’s proceedings, instead letting their votes do the talking. Fitzgerald began by introducing the bill, saying it would be a boon to the state’s economy. Almost all other comments from the GOP came in the form of bickering with Democrat Sen. Chris Larson over the previous day’s hearing, which ended abruptly when Republican Sen. Stephen Nass cited a “credible threat” that the proceedings would be disrupted by protesters. Twenty-five minutes before the scheduled end of the hearing, Nass called it quits, fueling anger among some in the crowd who had waited hours for their chance to speak.

“Are we afraid of what the public is going to say?” Larson said Tuesday night in arguing for a failed attempt to push the bill back to committee. “Maybe if we go back there someone will show up who’s not from a right wing think tank to speak for (right to work). I know I was on the edge of my seat waiting for that to happen.”

Larson was likely referring to James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation, who testified in support of the bill on Monday and has been extolling the virtues of right to work for the conservative think tank in op-eds at National Review. Larson noted that, in eight hour’s worth of testimony, more than 1,700 voiced their opposition to right to work, while just 25 expressed support for the bill, including Sherk.

This was the backbone of the Democratic argument against Walker’s policies Tuesday night: they represent special interests, not the people. Walker and his allies would likely reply that groups like ALEC, the Heritage Foundation, and those represented by the Kochs have just as much a right as any to have their voices heard as anyone else, but that they might lack the “beating hearts” that Bewley asked about.

“At issue here is the simple matter of individual freedom,” Fitzgerald argued in introducing the bill.

Who those individuals are—the corporate or manufacturing interests who backed Wisconsin’s right to work bill, or the men outside in hard hats and Carhart jackets who voted for union representation—is up for debate. But it’s a back-and-forth that Walker has so far stayed out of. His job is simply to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

That will likely happen soon: Republicans have a 63-36 majority in the state assembly, where the bill is headed next week. If it does and right to work becomes law as quickly as everyone anticipates, the distraction to Walker’s increasing presidential hopes will be minimal. But a few people won’t forget what happened Tuesday. Among them, Tom Much. Watching through the snowflakes as his fellow union members had what will likely be their last and loudest stand, Much held a sign, aimed at the Capitol steps.

“Remember at the polls.”

 

By: Justin Glawe, The Daily Beast, February 26, 2015

March 2, 2015 Posted by | Right To Work Laws, Scott Walker, Wisconsin Legislature | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Just Do It And Move On”: John Boehner Can’t Bring Himself To Rip Off The Band-Aid

Mitch McConnell knows what John Boehner doesn’t, namely that when you have to do something painful, it’s best to get it over with quickly. Rip off the Band-aid, chop the zombie-bite-infected leg off with one blow, just do it and move on. But we’re a day away from a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, and Boehner can’t bring himself to do it.

So here’s the current status. McConnell decided that the Senate would take two votes, one on a “clean” DHS funding bill—i.e., one without a rider reversing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration—and one addressing just those executive actions. That way DHS stays open, Republicans get to cast their symbolic vote against Obama, and everybody goes home. The funding bill is already moving through. And of course, Tea Partiers are outraged (here’s one colorful post from Erick Erickson entitled “Eunuch Mitch McConnell Squeals Like a Pig“). Which, I’m pretty sure, doesn’t bother McConnell all that much, because he knows what’s in his party’s interest and what isn’t.

Boehner is still saying “nuh-uh!” But to what end? What does dragging this out actually accomplish for him? Here’s a report from Politico:

Boehner is playing a game of political survival. Most of his inner circle knows that the House will be forced to swallow a clean DHS funding bill at some point. But if the speaker wants to keep conservatives from launching a rebellion, it may be too early to capitulate. Boehner is aware of the perilous situation he’s facing—which is why, in private conversations with lawmakers, he’s telling them to “stay tuned” without tipping his hand on his next move.

Speaking to his caucus Wednesday, Boehner said he hadn’t spoken to McConnell in two weeks, an apparent attempt to distance himself from the Senate GOP leader’s plan. It seemed to highlight what will likely be an unfolding dynamic in the coming Congress, particularly over fiscal matters: The Senate will be forced to cut deals on politically toxic issues, and Boehner will ultimately be forced to accept them in order to avoid potential crises.

So the outcome is inevitable, but Boehner seems to be operating on the assumption that if he holds out a while longer, the crazy caucus will be less angry with him. And when has that ever worked? We’ve been through this multiple times now, and at the end of it they dislike him just as much as they did at the beginning.

There are three things Boehner could be thinking. The first is that if there’s a partial shutdown, the administration will give in and undo Obama’s executive actions. No one is dumb enough to believe that. The second is that he or someone else will have an extraordinary flash of insight and devise a clever stratagem that will get the Republicans everything they want. That’s possible in theory, but highly unlikely to say the least. The third is that this shutdown fight will end the same way all the other shutdown fights ended: with Boehner giving in and allowing a vote on a bill to end the crisis, a bill that passes with the support of Democrats. He will be decried as a capitulator and a RINO, and nothing will have changed.

But is Boehner really in a “perilous situation”? The reason he’s still the speaker isn’t that he’s done such a masterful job of keeping Tea Partiers happy. It’s that nobody else wants the job. When he retained the position in January, 25 Republicans voted for somebody else, but the votes were entirely symbolic. There’s no other candidate, there’s no rebellion planned. He’s secure in his miserable position.

So really, Mr. Speaker, just rip off the Band-aid. Hold the vote to fund DHS. We all know how this ends.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor,  February 26, 2015

March 2, 2015 Posted by | Dept of Homeland Security, Immigration, John Boehner | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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