Monday, September 30, 2013

Government Closed but ACA is open

++If you don't have health insurance,the exchanges are up and running. If you do have insurance, check the rates in states where you live.

++Tampa Bay Rays beat the Rangers.

It's Official-Government Closed

++The Obama Administration has put out directives to the appropriate agencies that the government will close down the first time in 17 years.

++The House Rules Committee fight was something to behold with both sides screaming at each other.

++Rachel Maddow, here in D.C., had an excellent segment on how the GOP since 2010 planned to shut down the government. The saddest part of the segment was the list of accomplishments that passed Congress in the first two years of Obama's presidency. After 2010, when the GOP won the House, zip ,nada, zilch. In fact,she made the excellent point that the whole point of shutting down the government was in fact the whole raison d'ĂȘtre of the GOP. They have literally no plans for governing, nor do they want to, nor do they care.

Boehner Wants Conference

++Remember the House has refused to meet in conference on any budget issues with the Senate this year. At 10:30Pm, Boehner proposed sending his last amendment which had failed in the Senate back to conference.

++Heritage Action felt this was a stupid idea. 

++It seems Harry Reid thinks so too saying he would not hold a conference with a gun at his head.

We are about 18 minutes to shutdown.

Senate Rejects House Again

The Senate rejected the latest House plan 54-46. So we are now in a countdown with the government shutdown looking very likely.

Congratulations to the Cleveland Indians for making the Wild Card slot.

Government Shutdown Ping-Pong

++The House just passed another bill shutting down the government if Obamacare isn't postponed. This time they lost a few Republicans as so-called "moderates" are beginning to tire of this charade.

++President Obama spoke well today about how you don't get a ransom for doing your basic job and told the nation that tomorrow the health exchanges are being set up with or without the government operating.

++Elizabeth Warren, the Senator of Commonsense,was impolite to note that the Senate passed a budget in March that rolled back the Sequester but the House refused to meet in conference to negotiate a compromise budget that would have kept the government funding for a whole year. Then she was impolite to note that the Senate a few months later passed individual funding bills but the House could not. The noticeable failure by the House was the Farm Bill, which ended up with the passage of subsidies for the private farms of House members but another bill to cut $50 billion from foodstamps.

++Steve Benen, whose voice hasn't been amplified now he is at Rachel Maddow blog, points out today that the closing of the government has been the GOP plot since March, pointing to the same disturbing facts Senator Warren did in her Senate speech this afternoon. 

++At slightly after 9pm EST, I have no idea where this will end, except to note that this is a CR for only two months. It is absurd for the President and the Senate to make even one concession for a nothing burger. 

++The New York Times had an excellent op-ed this morning on why President Obama must raise the debt ceiling himself because he would be facing the possibility of breaking several laws at once and raising the debt ceiling would be the most fruitful of all his options. Apparently, the President did consider this last time and Huffington Post submitted a Freedom of Information Request which was turned down by the DOJ.

++Eric Holder didn't let the shutdown talks stop him. The DOJ is suing North Carolina on its Voter ID law.

++Late last Saturday night, the House pulled another boner by inserting language that companies can deprive women of birth control coverage in insurance. I was not even a teenager when the issue of contraceptives was decided by the Supreme Court. So the government could shutdown on the issue of contraceptives and a tax on medical devices, which I suppose the tea baggers think are dildos and other adult toys. 

++One think to consider if you already have health insurance,if the House had succeeded in postponing Obamacare, your premiums would rise from 10-15%. 

++Preliminary polls show over 60% blame the GOP for closing the government and only 13% the President. But I have also seen polls in states like Texas, which blame the Democrats more than Republicans. But I still bet on the GOP taking the blame. Unfortunately, it will not affect the end results in House races in 2014 because Larry Sabato said today there are in good shape and have sufficient money. Voter suppression and gerrymandering will not weaken their position.

++Another side debate is whether John Boehner will crash and fall. Conservatives are all over the map on this. Byron York argues Boehner is immune from a tea party revolt. But then again he won't bring a clean CR to the floor. He must be afraid of something. A straight up and down clean CR vote would pass with Democratic support. 

++Ezra Klein appeared the other night on the Rachel Maddow Show to say a government shutdown will allow the Tea Baggers to get their Ya-Yas out. Ezra thinks that's a good think and then we could have a straight debt ceiling raise. I sincerely doubt it. House Republicans are thrilled at closing the government down. This was the Reichstag fire they wanted all along. And a vast majority do not believe stopping a debt ceiling would matter any. This is a dangerous area to explore and the Teabaggers, who show no signs of understanding basic economics, would go there in a minute.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The White Man's Burden--The House

++I'm tempted to rant after a run-in this morning with a fat, short, rich white man who backs the "Cooch" in Virginia's governor's race. But I must try to rehabilitate the reputation of white males, who have brought this country to its knees.

++Last night's booze fest at the House was amazing. Nancy Pelosi celebrated her fiftieth wedding anniversary so she stayed away. So, the tea baggers egged on by Calgary Cruz, who undercut Speaker Boehner decided their "compromise" would be to postpone Obamacare's exchanges set to launch October 1,end taxes on medical devices and allow companies to invoke a "conscience clause" to avoid providing coverage for contraceptives. Remember this is all for only two months of funding.

++The House has had since last March to prepare a funding bill and they haven't done it. The current CR by the House would add $50 billion to the deficit. What is it with the GOP that everything they propose always adds to the deficit without producing anything for the American people.

++The President and Harry Reid said "Nix,Pix". Dead on Arrival in the Senate. So the government will shut down for the first time since the mid-1990s. The irony is that the federal government is almost exactly the same size now as then. 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed. It is unclear whether they would get back pay when they return to work. 

++An employee at DOJ told me he is half-tempted to fill up his van of criminals and drop them off at the Capital if the government shuts down. He,however, is an essential employee.

++Tipsy House Republicans boasted their act was like the passengers storming the hijackers on 9-11. More like Al Qaeda seeking the destruction of the U.S. economy. 

++John Boehner, who has totally lost control of the House,complained that President Obama negotiates with Putin and Rouhani but not him. The difference is that the House is threatening to blow up the world economy and they aren't. 

++Paul Ryan proclaimed last night that Obama would in fact negotiate over the debt ceiling. Please, President Obama, don't. Call the Congressional leaders in and sign it in front of them. Let the courts decide and let the House do what they have always wanted--impeach the first black President. Let the world know what a menace the House is.

++I have told conservatives that their fascists are so inept,they couldn't even create an Autobohn. 

++The sabotage of the American economy by the GOP has been awesome. Mark this day. We have 7.3% unemployment--maybe the last two days when we actually will know the economic figures of the country. If President Obama's Jobs Act had not been filibustered,we would be enjoying a 5.8% unemployment rate and estimates are that it would be 5.0% by 2014.  In other words,the economy would have completely healed by next year and the economy would have soared. With the House antics,it is very unlikely that this would ever occur.

++The civil war within the Republican Party will cause massive collateral damage to the country. Progressives are kidding themselves if they think they can overcome gerrymandering and voter suppression to take back the House. The only way the poison can be purged from the system, is if high-rollers and normal Republicans start waging primary fights against tea baggers. The Koch Brothers' wing of the GOP has to be defeated from within. Consider this awful fact--155 GOP congress critters will not be facing any opponent in the next Congressional election.

Andy Petitte Retires a Winner

++Andy Petitte pitched his last game--a complete game over the Astros. He ended his 18-year career without posting a losing season. Adios, Andy.

++On Thursday, Mariano Rivera pitched in relief of Pettite at Yankee Stadium, his last appearance at home. Having set four men down in order,Derek Jeter and Andy Petitte made their way to the mound and Jeter told Rivera, "It's time to go". You can access videos of this moment. A sell-out crowd gave Rivera a four minute standing ovation. After the game ended, you could see Rivera at the pitcher's mound prying up the rubber to take as a keepsake. It was a nice moment and the way the Yankees handled his retirement was classy. Rivera had asked before his retirement whether he could play an inning in centerfield since he always wanted to be Mickey Mantle. Plans were being made for him to do just that in yesterday's game but Petitte didn't need Rivera, who would have entered the game an inning early.

++Congrats to the Pirates, the Oakland A's, Detroit, St. Louis. Boo, Braves. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Obama's Mistake

++President Obama's approval rating has dipped to a new two year low at 43%. Of course, the GOP who has been saying this is the the time to strike is at 9%.

++Nancy Pelosi yesterday said that on the debt ceiling, she would invoke the 14th Amendment about the faith and credit of the United States. 189 Democratic representatives have signed onto this notion as of yesterday. But what I was most disturbed by was that Jay Carney reiterated President Obama's reluctance to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally. He referred to last year's statement by the President, where he ruled this action out. At that time, President Clinton urged President Obama to raise it and let the courts decide. 

++President Obama said this year he would not negotiate on the debt ceiling. He said it several times and often. Today,the GOP leaked their demands on raising the debt ceiling, which resembled the Romney-Ryan platform with everything from repealing Dodd-Frank,Obamacare, approving the Keystone Pipeline,banning late term abortions,and ending EPA's attempt at regulating carbon emissions. These demands should be saved for people who want to know the essence of the New Republican Party. Basically,total capitulation to corporate interests, the thorough gutting of the safety net,the privatizing of Social Security and the elimination of Medicare. 

++But President Obama by negotiating in the past blundered and letting Carney tip his mitt this time weakens him. Jason Linkins, who is a must read every Sunday if you want a hilarious synopsis of the Sunday news shows,today has an excellent article on the whole debt ceiling fiasco. Very few times was there are any negotiations over it. It was raised constantly under President Reagan and under W. But Jason is right that President Obama blundered by negotiating in 2011. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Beat Goes On

++The Senate voted 100-0 for cloture so they can debate the House bill. This was after Senator Cruz said such vote was for funding Obamacare. Naturally, he voted along with his colleagues. There is still a far way to go before we are near anything like funding the government for a whopping two months.

++John McCain resented Cruz' analogy of not defunding Obamacare to those who appeased Adolf Hitler.

++The new debt ceiling deadline is October 17. Over 170 House Democrats wrote a letter to President Obama demanding a stand alone vote. After the budget agreement, I would like Obama to raise the debt ceiling by himself and let the courts decide.

++Immigration reform is not dead yet. Rep. Goodlatte from Virginia says he will bring a bill to the House floor this year but without a path to citizenship, even though 11 million undocumented workers could get green cards. Some immigration reform advocates are gaming this idea out to see whether in fact such undocumented workers could then get citizenship. The House is committed not to go into conference with the Senate on their immigration bill. Stay tuned.

++The vitriolic anti-Obamacare e-mails have tapered off today because the news about premiums being offered by the exchanges have stalled the momentum until someone can figure out a new hook. That is why the House going after the individual mandate is crucial for tea baggers so as to inflate the premiums. As it is ,since the Affordable Healthcare Act passed,premiums have only increased at a rate below the inflation--for the first time in 50 years. Kaiser reports that businesses will now save billions on COBRA. Conservatives made much of the delay in the employer mandate, saying it signified the administration's admission of failure. But, the delay only affects 500,000.

++Repeat after me--Social Security has nothing to do with either the deficit or the national debt. You will hear it often until the 2014 elections.

++Also,The SNAP or foodstamp program gives back $1.79 for every $1 in foodstamps. The average period of being on foodstamps is one year. And,despite cries by the Right to make everyone work who receives foodstamps, the vast majority--over 70%--already do.

++Going into the 2014 mid-terms, the GOP appears in disarray without any policy initiatives. 

Green Ham, I am

++Ted Cruz just ended his 21 hour monologue in time to speak on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. For my druthers, I take Bernie Sanders' faux- filibuster on extending the Bush tax cuts. At least Senator Sanders prepared for his talk with economic data and got a book out of it.

++House Republicans plan to attach an amendment to delay Obamacare for one year, putting the exchanges in dire jeopardy. This would in fact screw up the health insurance industry who have taken three years to prepare for this eventuality. The whole point of kicking off the exchanges in 2013 was to avoid an election year. 

++Now House Republicans are scheming to condition a debt ceiling vote on a number of noxious elements. Another shot at Obamacare,adding the Keystone pipeline. Think of whatever would further destroy the economy and they will include it.

++The GOP approval rating is around 9% right now. Only 16% say shutting down the government over Obamacare is a good idea. When John McCain's alter-ego Mark Salter feels he has to write an op-ed going after the Tea Party and Ted Cruz, you know a civil war has erupted in the GOP.

++The NYTimes/CBS poll has 80% of all Americans,83% of all independents, and 75% of all Republicans believing that the GOP threatening a government shutdown is unacceptable. 70 to 23% believe the GOP is not trying to work with President Obama , while 51% believe that President Obama is trying to work with the GOP.

++Former President Bill Clinton and President Obama spent an hour explaining the Affordable Healthcare Act at the Clinton Global Initiative. If you can access the tape, do so because it explains what's at stake and why Obamacare is important.

++The preliminary numbers for the healthcare changes are out today. 95% of Americans' healthcare premiums will be 16% lower than was expected. The average of healthcare premiums will be $328 and young healthy people will pay about the cost of their cellphone bill. That's without the tax credits.

++But Bill Clinton made an important point. Because the Supreme Court allowed states to refuse Medicaid assistance for poorer citizens, you have the bizarre probability that the poorer citizens might lose out on the Affordable Care Act unless they live in states where the governors have bought into this aspect of the healthcare law.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Give it up for Bill McKibben

++Don't be surprised in twenty years when Bill McKibben receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is a special American, who has contributed to our understanding of the environment with scores of books and is now a nonpareil organizer on a global scale against climate change.

++He is the founder of, which is the first global environmental group which organizes at a grass-roots level against climate change. You might have seen his work with the protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline wrapping around the White House.

++His latest book Oil and Honey,The education of an Unlikely Activist,is a semi-memoir of how he went from being an author in upstate Vermont to a world-class organizer, even if he didn't know it at the time. The oil in the title is obvious, the honey is a story that is woven through the text about the life and times of Kirk Webster, who has bee yards in Vermont and has established a lifestyle of no debt,little consumption and production on an old-fashioned scale. 

++I have always found McKibben's writing accessible, humane and encouraging. I have always argued that organization will beat money. But,that attitude is more an attitude than real. McKibben's account of organizing is worthwhile for anyone interested in advocating for an issue. He doesn't hide the slips, pitfalls and other disasters that await the organizer around each bend. 

++Unfortunately,the struggle to fight climate change does demand going after the juggernaut of the fossil fuel industry. McKibben is painfully aware that members of Congress have been bought and sold by the fossile fuel industry. McKibben cites that John Boehner has received nearly $1 million in campaign contributions from that industry. McKibben neglects to mention Boehner's PAC received $237million from the industry at the end of the 2012 campaign. 

++But McKibben and his merry band have marched on--creating the divestment movement around 250 colleges. From the small Unity College in Maine, McKibben has moved on to bigger pastures in the divestment struggle. The divestment movement takes its lead from the struggle against apartheid and the pressure brought against colleges to divest from companies that did business with the apartheid regime.

++I admire the lifestyle of Kirk Webster and would love to live the same but I am too plugged into our consumer-information system. I suspend my pessimism on the ultimate result of and greet it with the same support I had for Occupy Wall Street. Whatever the verdict on Occupy, it did make the issue of income inequality central to our national debate. Hopefully, for all our sakes,McKibben's crusade will have even more positive results.

++And if you have tuned out on the issue, it is still a good read. 

Obama at the United Nations and Cruz' Fake Filibuster

++ President Obama spoke today at the UN General Assembly and made overtures to Iran on negotiations and re-emphasized his argument on Syria, while firmly stating America's commitment to a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He told the General Assembly that John Kerry would be negotiating with Iran's Foreign Minister, the first such talks since the Iranian Revolution. A much ballyhooed meeting between President Obama and Iranian President Rowhani could not take place because the Iranian side could not get their act together. 

++Syria has submitted his list of chemical weapons which an American official said was fairly complete. Next week, more UN weapons inspectors will depart to Damascus to investigate claims more chemical weapons attacks occurred. It is believed that in November more inspectors will arrive to locate the government's chemical weapons and President Assad has promised to dispose of them within a year.

++Both Ayatollah Khomeini and President Rowhani has promised the world community Iran would not develop nuclear weapons. However,this would require    a fairly stringent regime of aggressive inspections by the international community. Realists claim the process would last several years before the international community was satisfied.

++While world politics is happening in New York City,theater is occurring in Washington,D.C. Senator Cruz is "filibustering" the continuing resolution, demanding the defunding of Obamacare. He likens his stance to those lonely souls who warned against Adolf Hitler. Cohort Senator Mike Lee of Utah likens himself to the American revolutionaries. One problem--this is not a filibuster, despite Cruz saying he will talk until he drops,Harry Reid declared cloture last night and the bill will be voted on tomorrow about 1pm. This was just the time for discussion so Cruz decided to hog the time. There is not filibuster.

++Remember--this Continuing resolution is for two months until December. Then we begin it all over again. John Boehner did in fact win on this because Democrats are accepting his budget's limit, which factored in the sequester cuts. 

++House Republicans are readying their demands for the debt ceiling issue. They have been all over the map--approving Keystone Pipeline as a condition, cutting Medicare,etc. I think it is time for President Obama to act unilaterally and test whether the debt ceiling is constitutional at all.

++Three new polls have come out showing that the Cooch is trailing Terry McAuliffe in Virginia's governor's race--from 7-8-10 points.

++The Libyan government informed the Republicans on Darryl Issa's Benghazi probe that the country was not safe enough for them to arrive and investigate the incident. Democrats protested that Issa planned all this without consultation with the Democrats on his committee.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sorry to all you Obamacare Haters

++The weekend saw an amazing rise of propaganda and hate against the Affordable Care Act. Senator Ted Cruz, the Junior Senator from Canada,again went on the tube to argue against his fellow Republicans that you can defund Obamacare. Of course, this is all a stunt for his fund-raising. Fox News Chris Wallace was flabbergasted that he would believe this, even quoting faxes sent to him from GOP staffers. Even Karl Rove grumpily read off Wall Street Journal poll numbers that showed Americans don't support this.

++Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal reported on conversations he had with both Cruz and the head of Heritage Foundation former Senator Jim DeMint, who both admitted you can't defund Obamacare. But both men know a goldmine among the conservative base for this issue. This will be the fund-raising issue through 2014 and into the presidential primaries.

++The success of Obamacare will depend on how well the states, who are friendly to ACA, carry out the reform. Because large states like Texas and Florida will not be extending Medicaid benefits to the uninsured,the number of uninsured will not diminish by the 11 million  contained in these states. The other problem will be in explaining any premium increases. Your health insurance policy now must meet all the criteria of Obamacare and therefore it is a much stronger insurance policy than before. No one seems to get this. 

++If the federal government collapsed tomorrow because of the budget fight, the state exchanges and the federal component to this will still leave the station on October 1. The next attacks will occur when people complain that they haven't received any benefits, which start January 1. Republicans are betting that the roll-out will be rockier than Medicare Plan D under George W. Democrats are betting the more the American public now the more appeal it will have.  It's going to be better than Plan D and slightly worse than Democrats think.

++Remember Social Security when it began did not cover farm workers and African-Americans.

++Bloggers from red states like Texas are reporting that those states' are kicking off people from catastrophic health insurance now so they must wait until January 1 to get coverage under ACA if they can access it. The increase of insurance rates in red states are being blamed on ACA,when they are the result of insurers taking advantage of deliberately not participating in the program.

++The campaign for young people not to get insurance is really not aimed at colleges like the Americans for Prosperity claim. These students have access to cheaper college programs and are covered by their families plans. It is all about raising money.

++The latest stunt of the day by Senator Carnaval Cruz is that he will submit CR's to cut military spending until the Democrats cry uncle. Representative Nancy Pelosi warned Republicans that there is nothing more to cut from the federal government. 

++Just a FYI, when the government shut down in the mid-1990s under Newt Gingrich, the size of the federal government, meaning employees, was the same size as today. Think about that--in over 18 years, the size of the federal government has not grown. Also note the House budget factors in the savings from Obamacare while defunding it. It also represents a budget that factors in sequestration cuts that already were made and hence lowers the overall budget considerably. Smoke and Mirrors.

++I expect Janet Yallin to be nominated as FED Chairperson. I also like Democrats again raising the issue that President Obama should raise the debt ceiling himself and let the courts decide.

Exit the Sandman

++It was a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium to say goodby to Mariano Rivera, the Sandman. It was supposed to recapture the Yankee aura from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Andy Petitte would pitch his last game and Rivera would come in an close. In older days, it would be Whitey Ford with Luis Arroyo closing. Unfortunately, despite Petitte pitching superbly, Robertson blew the hold and Rivera closed in his typical fashion.The Yankees lost 2-1. The core of the Yankees from those days is now down to Derek Jeter, who may or may not come back next year.

++All the New York papers gave the appropriate run-up to Rivera's farewell. Sports Illustrated put him on the cover. The Yankees retired his number while he still has games to play and his memorial plague was put in the Stadium next to legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He will be the last major leaguer ever to wear the number 42 because of the decision by Major League Baseball to retire the number in honor of Jackie Robinson, whose widow was at the game.

++Mariano Rivera will retire this year as the only reliever to save over 40 games at the age of 40. He is now second in the American League and could even  win as reliever of the year with the games remaining.

++In five years, this son of a Panamanian fisherman will enter the Hall of Fame on the strength of a 19-year career built on only one pitch. He appeared in 1,114 games, double the next Yankee pitcher. He has saved 642 games, the most in major league history. He will be the major league's greatest reliever even after I die because no one is even close to making a run to top his record.

++He will also set another record when he enters the Hall of Fame. He will be the only player inducted in the Hall,who has a .000 batting average. He went 0 for 6 in his career, one walk and one R.B.I.

++For this blogger, it is a sad day. There are only a few pitchers I loved to watch. Rivera, Valenzuela,Koufax and Bob Gibson. I've seen the greats like Clemens, Catfish Hunter,Tom Seaver and Palmer but they don't compare to the beauty of those four.  Sandman, you will be missed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bosox Clinch AL East

++If you have a moral compass or a brain, nothing happened it Washington today, except the new GOP revealed its true face. Besides slashing food stamps and "de-funding" Obamacare, the House approved a budget at the sequester level, which will lead to further cuts when the next sequester hits in January. Immigration reform looks dead as two Republicans quit the six-person bipartisan group in the House working on the House plan. The House approved mining for minerals on Park Lands and encouraged more logging in national forests. One member is submitting a bill that would provide a license to states  to prohibit benefits to same-sex couples.

++The Bosox clinched. Andy Petitte announced his retirement,A-Rod set the record for most grand slams in a career and Mariano "seemed" to have saved the game. I say "seemed" because the Yankees won but Mariano has been accused of blowing saves but the Yankees win anyway. I have no idea how that works. Sunday is Mariano Rivera last regular season game in Yankee Stadium. The Nats have not been eliminated yet. They have been on a tear the last couple dozen games but it probably is too late.

++Mark Twain's Autobiography Volume II is out. Unbelievably the last volume reached the bestseller list. 

++Tired of reading J.D. Salinger married a Gestapo agent and had one nut, try a true recluse. We don't know where he lives. We really don't know what he looks like. He has been spotted at rock clubs in Manhattan. He is the 76-year old Maestro of American Letters--the Greatest of all-time--the one and only Thomas Pynchon. His Bleeding Edge came out with reviews everywhere you look. When the AP does a story on the release of his book you know it might be time to consider Pynchon too commonplace. It is a terrific read and he delights with his surreal sense of humor. Have we come to the time when Pynchon without changing his style really should be considered a realist? Give the man the Nobel Prize for Literature so we know what he looks like.

++By the way, while J.D. Salinger lived in Cornish,New Hampshire, he really did continue writing. If you like him--I don't--he left several manuscripts which will be published starting next year.

++Runner-up in the category of making New York City seem cool--Pynchon ranks first but has too much a California gloss on Manhattan--is Jonathan Lethem's Dissent Gardens. From the days of the Communist Party to 9-11. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dodgers Win

++After a sluggish start that went into a white hot winning streak, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West and clinched a playoff spot by beating the Arizona Diamondbacks today. The Dodgers made their fans wait for today by blowing several of their last games. 

++Meanwhile the New York Yankees are almost dead. Jeter is gone, A-Rod is injured again. But Mariano Rivera still keeps saving games,although this year he has blown more than usual. It is not a good sign he has won 6 games this year. 

++The Nationals are barely hanging on. Winning against the advice of the Amazon Post's sportswriters,who are beginning to notice that the Redskins suck eggs.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The News From D.C.

++Another American male commits mass slaughter--this time at D.C.'s Naval Yard. 

++Tan Man Boehner decides to "defund Obamacare" with his continuing resolution. All this maneuver does is close the government until both chambers can get it right.

++Eric Cantor wants to condition the debt ceiling hike on Obama approving the Keystone Pipeline. What other agenda items from the Romney campaign can the GOP sneak through?

++President Obama called the GOP's demands extortion and urged the Business Roundtable to use its influence on Congress to try and act normal. He said again there would be no negotiating over the debt ceiling.

++Rumors have Janet Yallin being nominated by President Obama to the Fed Chair next week.

++Now I hope President Obama would raise the debt ceiling on his own and invoke the Constitution.

++We are back to the Obama is weak meme. I guess people prefer the white male sociopathic form of leadership, which served us so well in the financial crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

++The House Benghazi Crowd looks like they are lowering their sights and trying to nail Hillary.

++For those people who get off on the pseudo-drama of Congress, remember the budget,the debt ceiling and the immigration reform bill would have been solved by now if Boehner jettisoned the Hastert rule, which not a law but just an understanding among Republicans.

++Eric Cantor call off the House recess because he thought the Teabaggers might have to work next week.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Week Ended with Good News

++The United States and Russia agreed to a deal to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control. As President Obama said,he wasn't looking for style points but the right policy. Now we have to get rid of 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons. The possible complications are vast. The key to the American position was the non-proliferation of WMDs.The Syrian war will continue and the humanitarian crisis will worsen, but for now America's role in the war making end of things will be less, not more.

++Larry Summers withdraw from being a candidate for the Fed Chair. At this stage, not giving it to Janet Yellin would be spite.

++The President told ABC he wasn't going to negotiate on the debt ceiling, saying the House was upsetting the constitutional order by holding a piece of law hostage--meaning Obamacare.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sorry, You Missed It

++Congress recessed today at 2:30pm. The House will not be back until September 23. 

++But don't worry, the House in a strictly partisan vote repealed Obamacare again. This time they voted to delay the subsidies for poorer and middle class citizens until a new way of measuring a person's income can be determined. As it is, in normal America, it usually is the tax return. Maybe they'll count cars, guns and whether you have a mortgage. So no budget deal anytime soon. 

++The House managed the day before to cut food stamps for nearly 50 million people. 

++If you want the House to stay in session,urge your congress critter to impeach President Obama. Then the House will stay open 24-hour a day.

++Meanwhile the Tan Man is under very serious investigation for massive campaign finance violations. The industry groups listed in the story out of Cleveland lasts two lines. Previously, the SEC was tempted to investigate the Tan Man for his investments in companies with interests in the Keystone Pipeline.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Could We Get Real?

++The Republican House is now at war with Republicans in the Senate because they want the Senate GOP to take the lead in de-funding Obamacare. Tan Man Boehner's idea of getting a temporary budget solution by adding defunding Obamacare has now been withdrawn by the House Republicans because it did not suit The Club of Growth and Americans for Prosperity and other right-wing interest groups. They knew that it would be stripped from a Senate version and sent to Obama for his signature. The GOP budget would hamper Medicare, cut foodstamps by $50 billion and continue the sequestration. This little gambit by Boehner and Cantor didn't even sell well to their own Caucus.

++Nancy Pelosi rightfully called this the abyss of GOP dysfunction. How anyone in their right mind could vote for a Republican now is beyond me. They are virtually incapable of any form of governing. 

++House Teabaggers wants to throw the ball to Ted Cruz and a handful of Senators to force the Senate to vote on defunding Obamacare and face a veto by President Obama. 

++Remember all this is just to avoid a government shutdown, which both the House and Senators went off to recess, pledging to avoid. 

++None of this makes any rational sense. The GOP criticize President Obama has embarrassed the United State before the world. What do you think the last three years of incompetence by the GOP done?

++President Obama needs to do two things to avoid the total meltdown of the political system into Teabag anarchy. 1. Appoint Janet Yellin as the new Fed chair to avoid a long drawn-out battle in the Senate. 2. By executive order, unilaterally raise the debt ceiling to avoid market chaos. 

++Sequestration will start taking big hunks out of the military budget this year and less than the devastation it has wrought to domestic discretionary spending. The Democrats have a logical plan for ending sequestration but they have to remember the other side is a few planks short of a full deck. It is unlikely there can be any meaningful bipartisan movement on the budget this year and the next.

++One of the cut tricks little Ricky Cantor came up with was to pass a budget at the current sequestered amount that is about $200 million less than the Senate approved cuts. That would mean the base budget would be the already reduced budget and then add on the mandatory cuts for this year. All this in the pursuit of cutting the national government below 2008 levels.

++Remember, dear reader, the majority of Republicans do not want Obamacare defunded. This is the sole interest of the corporately funded anarchists.

Obama's Syria Speech

++Before listening to the President's speech, I read Andrew Bacevich's new book Breach of Tust:How Americans failed their Soldiers and their Country. And sadly, it has to be said that no one has any skin in the Syrian game from the American side, except the servicemen and women who might have to respond. Bacevich does a brilliant job of analyzing the changing military strategies from WWII on and how the divide between the state and the society widened so that there exists no accountability or desire for accountability of the gigantic war machine. 

++Having said that President Obama's speech was surprising in some aspects. I expected an Oval Office War Speech. Instead, it was delivered in the East Wing. Yesterday's flurry of events forced the speech to be about fluid events with two dramatically opposed endings--war or peace. The President made mention of the enormous war-power capabilities which have accrued to the executive branch and spoke how it was better that Congress share in the responsibility. While noting he has the constitutional right to strike, he believed it was best if a President made military actions with the full support of Congress. He distinguished this strike from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in terms of scale and duration. He also mentioned the history of the use of chemical weapons. My great uncle Paul Demme would have been pleased since he was attacked with mustard gad during WWI and remained badly scarred for the rest of his life. President Obama said it was imperative that the United States act to prevent these attacks again. Then he sequed into the recent diplomatic offers that Syria surrender its arsenal of chemical weapons to the international community. For this diplomacy to take place, he was sending John Kerry tomorrow to Geneva to meet the Russian minister in charge of Syria. 

++So The President requested the Senate suspend consideration of the authorization of military force. 

++I thought the speech was fine basically framing the call for permission to use force as a deterrent to enhance a diplomatic solution. It reminded me of diplomatic gambits from yesteryear.

++Parenthetically, President Obama gave an even more moving speech today at the Pentagon to commemorate the real 9-11 attacks. But sometimes I wish he would pull back from the scripture. President Obama quoted at least six biblical passages, which even the Fundies would be hard pressed to quote.

++So how did the Syria speech go over. The CNN/ORC poll said 69% were favorably disposed to the President overall. 61% support Obama's position.37% oppose.  On the question of whether Obama was convincing on his position: 47% said he did; 50% said he didn't. 

++Andrew Sullivan, who spent the past week in different states of cardiac arrest because he feared Obama had made a blunder, called the talk "the clearest, simplest and most moving presidential speeches to the nation I can imagine."  Read his full analysis at Daily Dish and subscribe to his blog. It is well worth the read. 

++Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast also writes favorably about President Obama's speech and position but says he still has an uphill battle.

++Former Obama aide, John Faureau writes about why this was the man he supported.

++John Podhoretz writes in the New York Post that President Obama shamed the country. 

++Charles Pierce in his blog for Esquire writes a perfect analysis of why Washington doesn't understand Obama because they like "guts" and not someone who engages in the active process of deciding among options. I think Pierce is right on the money because I thought President Obama had an abstract goal to sell and more sophisticated options to consider than the win-lose media could comprehend. 

++John Stewart did a marvelous attack on Fox News caterwauling about Obama "losing" to the Russians. Stewart likened John Kerry to Mr. Magoo who gaffed into a diplomatic solution. Stewart asked," Do we care who gets the credit if there is no war." He cut to videoclips of people shouting they Obama lost. "Who did he lose to? Do we lose if there is no war?"

++Today's drumbeat from the Right is that Obama is letting Russia back in as a major geopolitical force. 

++Marco Rubio and John Boehner spent this 9-11 blasting President Obama for failing to bring the perpetrators of the 9/11 Benghazi attack to justice. No mention he brought the perpetrator of the original 9/11 to justice when their President didn't. 

What Would Reagan Do?

++Stephen Colbert did a fun spoof on Bill O'Relly,Ileana Ros-Letinnen, and others appearing on Fox News opining about what President Reagan would do about Syria. Colbert said they invented Super Reagan, who can solve all present problems.

++Invoking Reagan to contrast with President Obama has been a constant practice of the Right thoughout Obama's presidency. We had the Zombie Reagan in the 2012 presidential primary, who would cut taxes, balance the budget and create millions of jobs. Now we have the Reagan who would simply warn Assad not to use chemical weapons and if he did,Assad would be assassinated. And certainly Reagan wouldn't trust the Russkies in any negotiated settlement.

++This is what the real Reagan did in the Middle East on such matters. To secure the release of the Iranian hostages, his envoy made a commitment that the United States would not invade Iran or destabilize the  Iranian Islamic Republic. 

In 1983,the marine barracks  in Lebanon were attacked by suicide bombers of Hezbollah and 299 American and French servicemen were killed. Reagan promptly withdrew from the country.

From 1986-1988, Saddam Hussein conducted the Al-Anfal campaign against Kurds and other ethnic minorities using chemical weapons. Separate from that campaign was the gas attack in 1988 on Halabja, a Kurdish territory, between 3,200 and 5,000 were killed and 7-10,000 were injured and thousands more died years later. From classified documents, we know the United States knew all along in great operational detail about these attacks and did nothing because we wanted a tie in the Iran-Iraq War. Ronald Reagan did nothing about the largest use of chemical weapons since WWII.

Saddam Hussein attacked the U.S.S. Stark and killed 37 Americans. Ronald Reagan simply accepted Saddam's apologies.

With the war in Afghanistan, USIA became the world's largest distributor of literature prompting Islamic fundamentalism, surpassing the Saudi efforts to spread Wahhabism. Islamic fundamentalism was seen as the appropriate ideological counter-balance to Communism.

I don't think it is wise for conservatives to invoke the Big Ron on matters concerning Syria.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Washington Confused

++At 2:30pmEST,Syria said it would sign the international chemical arms treaty, reveal its arsenal and open it to international inspection. Previously, they agreed to have the international community take control of them. 

++Ezra Klein pronounces Obama a winner in this since he narrowed his focus to the use of chemical arms and deterring Syria from using them again. Signing the treaty would mean Syria would face retribution if they used them again.

++The Senate is now furiously re-writing the authorization for military force. Meanwhile, President Obama's writers are running around re-writing tonight's speech.

++Russia is opposing France's Security Council resolution because it wants a commitment from the West it will not use force against Syria. Stay tuned since earlier in the day both Russia and China said they would not veto a resolution against Syria. I imagine there is the usual dickering around with wording.

++David Ignatius also proclaims Obama won this one by the threat of force.

Reality Check

++The war in Syria will still continue and the UN now estimates the displaced at 6 million.

++The rapid movement toward a UN resolution for international control of Syria's chemical weapons has thrown Washington off-kilter. Expect a change in Obama's address to the Nation tonight and a revamping of the military authorization resolution.

++Spend the next couple days reading how the pundits try to get a grip on the events and how they back peddle like crazy. What has become obvious is that the D.C. punditry haven't a clue as to the diplomatic history on Syria and how it seemed to have changed on a dime. 

++Remember what Shimon Peres said two days ago,"Have patience." He tweeted last light, rather cryptically," Syria is about to change."

++If this potential conflict gets settled diplomatically,which I think it will,the drama queens will move on to some other egregious error of President Obama. I guess I have become too jaundiced after hearing on issue after issue,"Can Obama succeed? If he fails he is a doomed President."

++A leftwing blogger posted on DailyKos his belief that President Obama will resign in 2014. This mirrors Dick Morris' prediction that because Obama was so depressed he would resign before the end of his first term.

++As you watch the television coverage, remember almost all talking heads are rich,white people, who are clueless about diplomacy and foreign affairs.

Tick-Tock The Congressional Clock Winds Down

++Those eagerly awaiting a Syria vote from the House,forget about it. Yesterday they said they might get around to it in two weeks. Well, there are only 8 days left before another recess. 

++The House agenda is packed with things that may never see the light of day. Since tomorrow is Benghazi Day for the Right, over 170 House members are co-sponsoring a bill to create a special investigative subcommittee on the issue. Reading the New York Times this morning, it seems the administration has run into difficulties getting Libya to arrest those in the sealed indictment of the DOJ. However, the Pentagon is preparing drone strikes. What happens to the vaunted committee when the culprits are captured or destroyed?

++Eric Cantor is trying to dance about on the debt ceiling issue. He says that by continuing the sequester the Obama Administration will have cut all the discretionary spending increases since 2008 so no problemo. He is arguing to his Caucus that there is little wiggle room for demanding more cuts.

++Tan Man Boehner, whose staff announced he was retiring in 2014, says he will get Democrats to vote on defunding Obamacare or delay its implementation for a stopgap budget. The measure would be stripped from the budget by the reconciliation process with the Senate. But Boehner wants to boast he got Democrats to vote against Obamacare.

++The GOP's Farm bill hasn't materialize yet. Remember the Senate passed one last year and the GOP had to withdraw theirs.

++Eric Cantor said he didn't know whether the House would even get around to submitting their piecemeal immigration reform. If Boehner had lifted the Hastert rule, we would have immigration reform now and the Senate version would pass.

++The Administration took the war against Obamicare "navigators" seriously, so instead of the non-profits having to fill out the lengthy forms and answering insane questions, HHS has done this for them with a sharp accompanying letter to cease interfering with the "navigators" lawful work.

++So debt ceiling raised--perhaps with a promise that Senate begin work on tax reform. A temporary budget--with or without some meaningless Obamacare repeal or delay. The Farm Bill--who knows. Immigration Reform--probably not. And I doubt Syria will come to a vote.

++Events yesterday caused Harry Reid to postpone the Syria vote until after President Obama addresses the nation. The Senate vote has gotten trickier because some of the "no's" may go "yes" on the idea that this would put more pressure on Syria to surrender their chemical weapons.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Possibly the Lucky Man

++President Obama said that the Russian offer may be a breakthrough and that, while he was skeptical, he would pursue the issue.

++Breibart and others on the Right said that Russia used Kerry's flub against the United States, even though today's CNN/ORC poll showed large majorities of Republicans oppose the military strike.

++Ezra Klein examined what the failure of the war vote on the Hill would do to Obama's agenda. Not much since he can't get anything through Congress anyway. Klein felt that there was considerable risk to Republicans because it would expose their deep divides on foreign policy.

++For an excellent run-down on the whole Russian proposal and how it came about,Andrew Sullivan, who has been despairing for Obama since the Syrian situation began, give an excellent series of analyses on the Daily Dish.

++John Kerry stumbled through the day by saying that the military strike would be "so small". He was dutifully attacked as either not urging a larger attack or by downplaying the notion the United States would "degrade" Assad's assets.

++Parts of the anti-interventionist Left, resume talk that President Obama was playing 3-D Chess and that his military posture made Russia flinch. The other line was that Obama could not advocate this because it would be rejected as Obama's idea. 

++CNN has Obama's approval rating on foreign affairs at its lowest, a paltry 33%. If a deal can be reached to pull the chemical weapons out of Syria,it would be a success, even though the Right is already grousing about it. Such an event would erase the Administration objective for going to war. O' Lucky Man Obama. 

Tides May be Turning

++Kudos to Richard Trumpka, the President of the AFL-CIO, for being the only one I have read that emphasized the humanitarian crisis being faced by Syria's refugees and displaced people. None of Sunday's talking heads mentioned the issue. Although  the Nation's Publisher Ms. VanderHeuval did emphasize this later in the morning shows.

++Luis Ocampo, the lead prosecutor for the ICC,wrote an Op-Ed for Huffington Post that made the point that the EU,UK,and the Arab League has a consensus that there are crimes against humanity being committed in Syria. He suggested that the international community take the lead by creating the types of adhoc tribunals they had for Yugoslavia. Through this mechanism, perpetrators of the crimes should be prosecuted. He points at that Russia had a similar draft before the United Nations that included the insurgents. 

++President Obama has an absurdly abstract case to be made for the authorization for the Syrian strikes. People don't get an act of war for 1,000 people killed by nerve gas as opposed to one for 110,000 killed by conventional weapons. 

++But no need to fret, the House is too tired from their five week recess so they may--again--may vote on the authorization in two weeks! 

++The Senate is to take up a procedural vote today to test whether the bill can get to the floor without a filibuster.

++This morning John Kerry said that an attack would be called off if Syria surrendered their chemical weapons. Shortly thereafter Russia proposed that Syria put their chemical weapons under international control. The Secretary General of the United Nations said that if the report by the end of the week shows that chemical weapons were used he would propose to the Security Council that they make Syria surrender their chemical stockpile. Earlier this afternoon, Assad said he agreed with the Russian proposal. Delay or actual compliance would mean the difference between a military attack or a stand-down of American forces. Hillary Clinton on a visit to the White House said that Russia's initiative was significant.

++According to John Kerry, at least a dozen nations have signed on to participate in the military attack if it happened. 

++A historical note. Saddam Hussein under pressure from the international community has agreed to leave Iraq if he was allowed to keep a billion. What a difference that would have made! There is an offer to Assad in the same range for him leaving the country.

++Bloggers note that dictators always give "death interviews". Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafhi,Mubarack (not dead but toppled) just before it is politically curtains for them. So Charlie Rose's interview with Assad now joins the ranks. Assad basically said that there is no evidence he used chemical weapons and the Devil did it or some such thing.

++Ted Cruz said the whole Syrian crisis was to divert Americans attention away from Benghazi. It should be noted that Cruz said to the moderator that 9-11 was the anniversary of Benghazi. Nothing else seemed to have happened that day. Other conservatives are using this refrain,neglecting to mention their hero letting the Twin Towers and the Pentagon get hit by Al Qaeda. Michelle Bachmann, appearing at a Cairo press conference, with Steven King and Louie Gohmert said that she applauded the military coup in the country and that the Moslem Brotherhood was responsible for 9-11. I didn't figure out which 9-11 since the Right also believes the Moslem Brotherhood was involved in Benghazi.

++We are getting the whole refrain that President Obama by doing the right thing--bringing a request for military action to Congress is a lame duck President. In the Beltway, it's about personal wins and losses--not solutions. Frankly,if chemical weapons were removed from Syria, I would take it as a win.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

More Thoughts on Syria

++Does anyone remember George McGovern advocating re-invading Cambodia to prevent Year Zero,the genocidal plan of Pol Pot?

++Do the Nuremberg Principles about Crimes Against Humanity trump the UN charter, which prohibits a country from unilaterally attacking another one without the grounds of self-defense? 

++John Kerry speaking his perfect French was in Paris again saying this was "Our Munich Moment". Having suffered through Tony Blair warning about the impending mushroom cloud from Saddam Hussein,one wonders why Kerry uses this language. Howard Fineman at Huffington Post tried to explain that Kerry loves the limelight and Secretary of Defense Hagel does not and that Kerry is basically hamming it up. But that doesn't explain Kerry's emotional commitment to this issue. 

++If you want a glimpse of Kerry's motivation , you only have to replay the video of his clash with Rand Paul over the authorization request. He said the strike would be a deterrent to Assad's use of chemical weapons. Paul claimed we don't know that and Kerry asked back whether Rand knew. In the exchange, Kerry went close to making his real point that intelligence showed that ,indeed, Assad was planning to use chemical weapons again unless stopped. 

++You can doubt the intelligence but it seems strange to question the integrity of Kerry and Hagel, who actually did serve in the military unlike the primary architects of the Iraq War. 

++This morning Der Speigel printed an account of German intelligence from their spy ship off the Syrian coast. For months,the Syrian military begged Assad for permission to use chemical weapons against the insurgents. A German daily paper claimed that the use of chemical weapons was by a commander without Assad's permission. Does that change things?

++The United Nations inspectors will have their preliminary report by the end of this week. If it shows the regime used these weapons,then it seems appropriate for the United Nations to call for their removal from Syria and to make provisions in the Security Council for an international force to engage in that operation. Actual proof from the United Nations would put Russia on the spot as Putin thought the charge was ridiculous. 

++As I wrote yesterday,we still have not heard constructive responses by any side in this debate about the humanitarian crisis in the country. Nicholas Kristof, who has done superb reporting on human rights issues around the world,weighed in with an article in the New York Times about the on-going crisis in the country, where 5,000 are killed everyday. Kristof argues that intervention is the least bad option. Kristof pointed out that sometimes intervention does work as in the case of Bosnia, Kosovo and Sierra Leone.

++The Syrian opposition posted a long plea to anti-war activists on Facebook, which details the last two years of peace efforts by the Arab League and the failed efforts at ceasefires and negotiations. They criticized Western anti-war activists for failing to recognize they are being bombed now daily by their own government. 

++Peggy Noonan, President Reagan's former speechwriter, weighed in with a an article titled,"Wrong War, Wrong Time, Wrong Man", which basically argued that President Obama is not the man to lead the country in war. 

++Anonymous contributed a broadcast that "their research" showed that the Syrian crisis is just an effort to ultimately attack Iran for its resources. Other anti-interventionists argue that this is all about oil and cite The New American Century group as the masterminds of all this. Ladies and Gentlemen, the largest oil reserves in the world are now in South West Australia, surpassing Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran combined. Resources have little or nothing to do with the considerations over Syria, which produces little oil. Others have argued that the real target of American interests is the projected natural gas pipeline from Iran to Syria. Rubbish.

++I get a sense that we are all falling into our political subcultures now without any imagination how to deal with this crisis. I like hearing old Phil Ochs' tunes but to use the occasion for nostalgia isn't helpful. 


Saturday, September 7, 2013


++Samantha Powers spoke to the Center for American Progress, (not Future). It gets weird distinguishing between interventionists. 

Late Night Legal Puzzle

++When President Obama asked Congress for authorization, it took his advisers by surprise because no one had been consulted on this. I thought it was a shrew move since Congresspeople from both sides of the aisles were clamoring for it. Alright guys,I see you and call your bluff. You have to own part of this. Clever, no. Some believe it was a clever way the President could have Congress make him not to strike Syria.  But John Kerry keeps insisting that the President has the authority to do it anyway.

++From President Obama's subsequent actions, it is quite clear he does want to launch surgical strikes against the regime. His own emotional statement at the G-20 about the children being gassed shows that he honestly wants to act. Clearly,his dozens of consultations with Congress types prior to their return from recess showed a man amping up his case. Coupled with that, John Kerry two very emotional arguments for the strikes.

++Blurred in the last week has been the defeat of Prime Minister Cameron in the UK, the first loss on a military movement in Britain since 1782. Next, the French parliament demanded that President Hollande consult with them. Bernard Henri-Levy, who is for the strikes against Syria, explained in an op-ed posted at the Daily Beast that there is absolutely no requirement under the French constitution or tradition for a President to do any such thing. 

++Which brings me to John Kerry's frequent statements about the President's authority. Someone at Democraticunderground posted a comment tonight that sheds some light over this. Anti-interventionists have been gearing up to defeat the resolution as if that resolved the whole issue. The poster said,"au contraire " ,if the authorization is defeated,it means Congress said literally nothing, nothing was passed,hence legally nothing was said. To actually prohibit the President, you would have to affirmatively pass a bill that prohibited the President from acting. In that case, you would most likely have to pass a bill prohibiting the use of funds for the Syrian action. 

++We were once at this place when then Representative Chris Dodd got the house to pass the Boland Amendment that prohibited funding the contras in Nicaragua. But a close reading of the law at that time actually had a loophole that the Reagan Administration cunningly exploited. Because Congress could not constrain the executive totally they allowed that NSC could work on the issue. Hence, you had Bill Casey teaming up with Oliver North to secure third party funding for the contras. The rest is history with the Iran-Contra scandal. But it is wrong to assert that the Boland Amendment legally shut down the whole contra initiative.

++The odds of either the House or the Senate prohibited the President from action are slim. Rand Paul tried that the other day when he was concerned about statements from Kerry that the President could strike anyway. Paul wanted language in the authorization insisting the President couldn't. The Senate turned him down. So, next, we have Rand Paul threat of filibustering the authorization. Let's say he succeeds, then the Senate has not acted, as we have seen countless times in Congress. Then there was no action, no bill, no act of Congress. And yes , the President could act unilaterally. In fact, I believe a Rand Paul filibuster would provoke a negative popular reaction and Harry Reid would then pull his nuclear option. To filibuster an issue of war and peace, would be totally outrageous.

++What President Obama did by asking Congress for a vote was buy time. The naval vessels are already there in the Mediterranean. He could strike today, tomorrow or a few weeks from now. In essence, he is practicing his own form of gunboat diplomacy. Their presence has been enough to disrupt Assad's plans and force him to recalibrate the positioning of his forces. Meanwhile, President Obama continues to secure the military assets from other countries he will need. It also buys him time to generate sufficient concern about Syria in the international community.

++The optics of a political defeat are something intangible. But if he manages to persuade enough people with his interviews and address to the nation,he can feel free to strike. We know that there will always be about 40% against any action he makes, so he needs to get it close to a tie in popular opinion to feel he has enough popular support for the move.

++As for impeachment,the poster said basically you can be impeached for spitting on the sidewalk. The way the House is composed,they could impeach just because he exists. To make striking Syria an impeachable offense, they would have to pass a law saying that "attacking Syria is a high crime". Of course, remember Assad was our ally against terror. Under George W. Bush, the CIA renditioned prisoners to Syria where they were tortured under Assad. So the pro-Assad Republicans might actually argue for such a law. But Congress gets skittish about restricting the power of the Commander-in-Chief to act. 

++This leaves us with a split vote: Senate votes for and the House votes against. Does that do anything to Obama's willingness to act? Don't know.