Sunday, August 31, 2014

War Drums along the Potomac

++Saudi King Abdullah says the terrorists will hit Europe this month and America next month. As Steve Benen notes that the Saudis are one of the reasons we are faced with ISIS today. Sultan Bandar, removed from his position as counter-terrorism chief in Saudi Arabia,was responsible for shipping arms to ISIS in the Saudi attempt to overthrow Assad.

++Prime Minister Cameron of the UK has announced the UK is canceling the passports of those who went to Syria to join the jihad. The UK also announced that the threat level in the country was "High".

++Homeland Security has announced they have not seen any evidence of any immediate threat to the United States by ISIS.

++Conservatives criticize the FBI's recent Terrorism report because it does not list Islamic terrorism as a major current threat to the United States.

++John Kerry has called for a global coalition against ISIS. 

++While he may not have a strategy,President Obama has persuaded Australia to ship arms to Iraq. Germany, Australia and France assisted yesterday's humanitarian relief mission to airdrop supplies to the Turkmen population in Iraq surrounded by ISIS.

++Bill Richardson popped up on the Sunday News Shows to support President Obama taking his time to create a deliberate strategy to deal with ISIS. John McCain and his sidekick Lindsey Graham wrote in the New York Times that President Obama should not dawdle any longer in dealing with this threat.

++The New York Daily News printed an editorial entitled "The Pundits and the Presidency", which went after the punditry for chastising the President constantly over foreign policy while making impossible recommendations that could never see the light of day,especially with this Congress. It suggests that the actual threats in the world have gotten less and the actual direct national interests--either in Gaza,Syria or the Ukraine--are not of sufficient importance to get hysterical about. They also pointed out that their our limitations of America's power and that managing the world or our own foreign policy is a more deliberate exercise than pundits admit.

++The overseas media and the New York Times today focused on ISIS' use of the social media to horrify the West and recruit more jihadists who view themselves as marginalized in Western societies.

++The State Department has opened a social media offensive against ISIS using twitter and social media to counter their image.

++When you dig down into the issue of who and what is to counter ISIS, you get some interesting questions to ask. Which Kurds are you arming? The PKK has been one of the most successful forces in both Syria and Iraq fighting ISIS. Yet,they are on our terrorist list. If you don't want boots on the ground--at least no more than the 1,000 in Iraq and the special forces in Syria, do you ally yourself with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is on the ground both in Iraq and Syria? But if you do, then do you also support Assad fighting ISIS since he has killed over 150,000 of his countrymen and caused the exodus of 3 million Syrians to neighboring countries of Turkey,Lebanon and Jordan? If you are going to bomb, why don't the Saudis and Jordanians bomb with you? 

++Those are some of the questions that President Obama has to answer to develop a strategy against ISIS. There is a reason President Obama is taking his time. Then if you degrade ISIS to an ineffectual force,what political entity takes its place in Syria? The answer may take years to develop and determine.

++Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has declared the future of Russia lies in the Arctic. Even so, he would like to make Eastern Ukraine and state within Russia. He ominously refer to it as New Russia. This goes on while he invaded Ukraine in the past two days after the Ukrainian military had surrounded the pro-separatists in Donetsk. 

++Carnival Cruz said that President Obama is a"pussycat" compared to that "bear" Putin. Fox News again this week declared they would like to see Putin run the United States because he gets things done.

++President Obama is off to Europe to discuss further sanctions on Russia and to visit the Baltic states. NATO has announced it was forming a rapid-deploymemt force for Ukrainian types of situations. Europe now is debating whether to answer the Ukraine's request for military assistance. Already congress critters are becoming their chorus in the United States.

++Harold Koh, the former Counsel for the State Department, has argued that President Obama needs a Security Council Resolution if he is to bomb ISIS positions in Syria. Rachel Maddow has argued that he needs at least an authorization under the War Powers Act to continue his bombing in Iraq. President Obama has argued that his bombings to save the Turkmens and others under humanitarian grounds and to preserve "national interests" like protecting American personnel in Erbil and Baghdad are covered under his rights as Commander-in-Chief. Watch this space as this legal debate continues, which it will through the fall.

++Coming up this fall, President Obama will personally chair a United Nations Security Council Meeting.

Books To Come

++ This fall will bring the return of some of my favorites. James Ellroy has a new huge novel. William Gibson brings forth another cyberfi tome. Mary Oliver adds another volume of poetry. A new and advance word is, a definitive biography of Tennessee Williams.

++I received today my advance copy--for some reason--advance copies of David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks hyped as the most ambitious novel of ALL TIME. It weighs in at 642 pages. I'll let you know how it turns out.

++The book of this month for me has been David Shafer's Whiskey,Tango, Foxtrot. I wish publicists won't do this. They say "It is the spirit of William Gibson and Chuck Palahniuk." As Bill Burroughs said, "Paranoia is having all the Facts." We now accept the NRA siphons off all on-line data. And we know that this data is used by corporate interests. What happens when The Committee, a global corporate cabal seeks total dominance over information,and is challenged by a resistance called Dear Diary. Shafer actually pulls this novel off as both a thriller and a thirty-something meditation on contemporary life. Given it's August, I found it less funny than depressing since I know character types that work for The Committee-like structures. For the thirty-somethings, it would be funny and encouraging to those more independent-minded. I hope Shafer pulls off a sequel.

++The most depressing book I've read this month is Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge:The Fall of Nixon and The Rise of Ronald Reagan. A masterful history of the time with ample use of local papers to give the flavor of events that I have even forgotten. Perlstein has been criticized as some contemporary historians for posting their footnotes and research on line to save paper. The book weighs in at 804 pages. 

Kentucky Poll

++When this election year started, I wrote that Mitch McConnell always had tough elections. In the past, he would grind it out and go negative. The latest Bluegrass poll seems to bear this out.

++The Bluegrass poll, conducted by Survey USA and the Courier-Journal, shows McConnell at 46 to Alison Grimes at 42.

Phew! August Almost Done

++As if on clue, the largest BP refinery in the U.S. blew up, reminding us of the Gulf disaster of past summers.

++California remains in the most severe drought condition in its history.

++The U.N. climate change report was leaked before it gets redacted showing that we may have gone beyond the point of no return.

++The Right is screaming that President Obama is moving toward a climate change agreement which will not be a treaty but will shame countries. This is to avoid the necessity of trying to ratify a Treaty, which will never pass.

++Mitch McConnell told the Koch Brothers he will attack the EPA and try and roll back environmental regulations.

++Word has leaked out of the Obama Administration that the President will delay his executive orders on immigration until after the mid-terms.

++Oh, by the way, President Obama worn a tan suit. The last guy who wore a brown suit at a press conference was Ronald Reagan.

++ISIS water boarded their hostages and adopted the Gitmo orange jumpsuits for their prisoners. Could we please release the Torture Report!

++Republican Senate candidates in Colorado,Iowa, and Arkansas praised the Koch Brothers for saving their campaigns.

++13% of the Ferguson Police Department has been investigated for police brutality.

++The audio of the shooting of Michael Brown has been verified. It shows that 10 shoots were fired.

++The St. Louis Police Department is trying to get Michael Brown's juvenile records released. A local paper is trying to get the policeman's juvenile records released.

++Senator Gillibrand said that male Senators have made sexist remarks to her. Of course, the media spin is that she should name them. 

++The Beltway pundits have jumped on President Obama for saying he doesn't have a strategy for fighting ISIS. Diane Feinstein, still pissed that the Administration redacted so much of the torture report, said that President Obama was too hesitant in his response against ISIS. Billy Kristol said that we should just randomly bomb them and see what happens.

++The Washington Post says President Obama should get tougher with Russia and ISIS.

++Henry Kissinger, now in his late 80s, says the world order has collapsed.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random Polls, which are interesting

++In Pennsylvania, Franklin and Marshall has Democrat Wolf crushing Corbett by 49 to 24. Corbett today announced Pennsylvania would expand Medicaid. Too late to influence anything but it would aid 500,000.

++In Kansas,Survey USA has Democrat Paul Davis beating Brownback 48 to 40.

++EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan has Democrat Schauer barely inching out Governor Snyder at 45 to 43.

++The Marquette University poll on the Wisconsin governor's race has Walker leading in registered voters 47.5 to 44.1%, but Mary Burke leading in likely voters 48.6% to 46.5%.

++And the only Senate poll today, Rasmussen has Pryor at 44 and Cotton at 43 in Arkansas.

Sam Wang Is Not Impressed

++You will not read it in the Beltway analysis or in the New York Times where the Republicans are thought to win the Senate this year. Democrats are writing that 2016 will be better for them because of the number of GOP seats being contested. The GOP is now crowing about how they are going to shut down the government and making promises to the Koch Brothers seen on tape. 

++But Sam Wang is not impressed. He pointedly indicates his analysis is running against the conventional wisdom. Sam has the probability of the Democrats retaining the Senate at 70% and its meta-margin at 4%. His point is that his analysis rests solely on polls and not on the interpretations inserted in the analysis of the data.

++Sam Wang had a better 2012 than even Nate the Great Silver, now of ESPN fame. Interesting. Read his analysis at Princeton Electoral Consortium.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nice Job

++Andrew Sullivan is off on vacation so he has invited some talented people to edit the Dish in his absence. Today's nice surprise was Bill McKibben,environmentalist and organizer of Real nice move, Andrew.

Daily Kos Pollexplorer Data

++Read David Jarman's post this morning on the methodology for the Daily Kos polling data. He has the Democrats only having 47% chance of retaining the Senate. But read the fine print and why these probability numbers are only guides to the races.

++He predicts the Democrats will win Iowa,North Carolina,Colorado, Michigan,Alaska and New Hampshire. The last two are at high probability.

++He predicts Democrats will lose South Dakota,Montana,West Virginia, Arkansas and Louisiana. All season long I have seen this said about Pryor and Landrieu but I never seen aggregate polling data that actually shows this.

++He says the Democrats will retain the same number of governorships. They will lose four--Illinois,Arkansas, Connecticut and Hawaii.

++The Democrats will pick up Pennsylvania,Maine,Kansas and Wisconsin, which is closer to a toss-up.

Sam Wang's Analysis

++Sam Wang says the 2014 Senate contests will be as closely fought as the Kerry-Bush race in 2004.

++From the 9 races worth watching, Wang is left with four--Kentucky,Iowa,Louisiana and Colorado. He has Georgia now slipping into non-competive with Perdue winning the GOP nomination, and Begich leading in Alaska because of his unorthodox campaign. TPM has an article this morning on Begich's campaign. Another thing to watch is Angus Reid, who caucuses with the Democrats but suggested he might cross the aisle.

++At present Wang has it 48 to 48. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Born To Run the

++Tom Gardner does his regression model and comes up with the GOP wins less than 10 House Seats or maybe none. He believes the GOP will net +1. The reason is the 2010 blowup with the GOP and gerrymandering doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room and districts are not subject to change. Remember when the government shutdown happened, polls indicated that the Democrats could take back the House. I've felt that won't happen until 2020, when the new census is done.

++Sam Wang has pointed out that Reince Preibus predicts a Republican wave election but Wang wrote in the New Yorker it looks like a ripple. The Generic poll shows it even, which means advantage the GOP.

Daily Kos Elections Projections--Now

++Steve Singiser has been tracking the top 10 Senate races for 2014. They bounce around in terms of importance but factor in probable Democratic losses in South Dakota and Montana,the GOP only needs 4 more wins to take back the Senate.

++Here are the races. I will spare you the excellent analysis. Just visit the website and read.

#10--Kentucky (Republican) Leans Republican
#  9--North Carolina (Democrat) Toss-up.
#  8--New Hampshire (Democrat) Likely Democrat
#  7--Louisiana (Democrat) Toss-up.
#  6--Iowa (Democrat)  Toss-up.
#  5--Alaska (Democrat) Toss-up.
#  4--Colorado (Democrat) Toss-up.
#  3--Michigan (Democrat)  Toss-up.
#  2--Arkansas (Democrat)  Toss-up.
#  1--Georgia (Republican)  Likely Republican.

Two most disappointing are Colorado and Iowa, where the GOP candidates are certifiable. Democrats need to win 5 out of 7. A win in either Kentucky or Georgia would be special.

A note: Harry Reid, who can count, has the Democrats still holding the Senate even though he publicly wrote off South Dakota. 

Princeton Electoral Consortium

++Sam Wang as of today has the probability of the Democrats holding the Senate at 55%. He tweeted that if Scott Brown wins in New Hampshire he'll eat a bug.

++He still has it 50 Democrats 50 Republicans so I guess Joe Biden casts the deciding vote.

Last Fragments on Ferguson

++ No, Michael Brown did not have an arrest record.

++Charles Pierce at Esquire had an excellent op-ed on The Body on the Ground. Michael Brown's corpse was allowed to stay on the road with blood coming from his head for four hours before it was removed.

++Darren Martin, the cop, was not mangled and his eye socket fractured by Michael Brown. His neighbor say him mowing his lawn short thereafter.

++Darren had worked for a Police Department that had been so corrupt and racist it had to be disbanded. I guess he picked up his habits then.

++Fund-raising for Darren has overtaken the fund-raising for Michael Brown's family. The KKK is fund-raising for him as well as conservative blogs.

++The District Attorney will not recuse himself even though he has three generations of relatives on the Ferguson police force and his father was killed by a black man.

++Missouri law gives the benefit of the doubt to police who kill unarmed citizens.

++President Obama sent three White House aides to Michael Brown's funeral.

++Eric Holder flew out to Ferguson and has had the DOJ all over the ground there. Kudos to Holder.

The Last Days of Domestic Policy

++Now that the country and the media is back on war-footing, we shouldn't expect much more on domestic policy initiatives.

++President Obama unveiled his alternative to the HobbyLobby decision that corporations who believe they are religions can oppose contraception. It seems to do the job.

++President Obama in his Friday address urged Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Eliminating it has become another Hobby Horse for the Right. It's only been in existence since 1934. 

++The Hill did a full page article that President Obama will continue his environmental regulations even though it may endanger Democrats in their mid-term elections.

++President Obama is ordering a review of the authorization of military equipment to local police forces. 

++Chief Justice Roberts ordered a stay on same sex marriages in Virginia. Observers think the issue will make the SCOTUS docket in the fall.

++A federal judge declared Florida's ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional.

++Five children that were deported to Honduras were killed. Expect President Obama to issue executive orders on immigration.

++Harry Reid says South Dakota is lost to Democrats in the Senate races.

++Mitch McConnell has vowed to shut down government if elected majority leader and to force President Obama to accept GOP bills. Paul Ryan says that the House will pass a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling.

++Rick Perry was indicted and has taken this as a badge of honor. Scott Walker has been shown to have had the Club of Growth illegally coordinate the funding of his campaign and serve to launder a hefty contribution from a mining firm. Chris Christie's little scandal keeps percolating. It looks like to become the GOP presidential candidate you have to be indicted.

++Willard Romney says that President Obama is worse than he expected. Paul Ryan wants Romney to run again in 2016. 

++Rand Paul attacked Hillary Clinton as being a warhawk, which she is.

++Jeff Greenfield writes in the Daily Beast that there is a tendency to have a political party gain a third term in the White House. He pointed out 1968 and 2000 had their own unique issues, which would have led to Democratic victories.

++Lindsey Graham says we must assume the worse when it comes to ISIS attacking the United States. Rick Perry claims jihadist cells are already penetrating the US from Mexico. The Heritage Foundation wants to raise money for militias to patrol the borders to guard against jihadists.

++In gratuitous good news, a Landmark poll has Michelle Nunn leading GOP candidate Perdue 47 to 40 and 3 percent for libertarian Amanda Swafford.

Monday, August 18, 2014


++So now what could possibly go wrong after all the tone-deaf actions from the local authorities all the way to the Governor?

++First the leaked police reports on the so-called shop-lifting of the cigarillos that Michael Brown supposedly stole from the Mart. First, the market said they never reported a "robbery" and never called 9-11. The videos from the security camera shown tonight indicated that he actually paid for the cigarillos. 

++Secondly, the next leaked report from the County indicated he had the residue of marijuana in his blood. As Jonathan Capehart in the Post writes this shows he was a normal teenager and not some young man revved up on PCP. The same smear occurred in the Treyvon Martin case. Treyvon had been expelled from school because he was found to have an empty baggie.

++It is important that these reports were leaked by the County but no official report on the shooting itself. Later today, on Facebook Ferguson police posted messages saying they had Darryl Martin's back.

++President Obama addressed the issue today and while he urged calm he also suggested citizens had a right to organize and the press had the right to cover the events. He was not very pleased with Governor Nixon calling out the National Guard.

++So with the President weighing in and saying that Eric Holder would be traveling there by Wednesday,what happens? The curfew is lifted. The National Guard is positioned to defend the police headquarters, not the population itself. The press? Well,a Getty photographer and a CNN reporter were arrested. 

++But aware that they had an image problem, the town hired a PR firm to handle questions about this "difficult" situation. The entire staff of the firm is white. 

++This is like watching a domestic version of the Iraq invasion unfolding. Both autopsies --the County and the family's--agree that at least 6 bullet holes were found in the boy's body and no one has disputed he had been unarmed. They can't even get the story straight about why the police showed any interest in him. The "alleged robbery" was still unknown. The story has moved from blocking the road to "jaywalking". Even with his slain body in the street a car could get around him.

++The reasons for his killing keep changing on the rightwing blogs. Now he is a rapper,and a doper. An extreme right blog intuited he was a gangster and made hand signals known to gangs. Of course,the origin of this urban myth was a white supremacist website.

++No, there can be no justice. Michael Brown was another young African-American male gunned down for no reason. The sooner the authorities of Ferguson admit this,they can stop making asinine mistakes that only outrage the community and the country.

Elvis is back in the building

++President Obama returned from Martha's Vineyard last night. Today. he was briefed on the events in Ferguson, Missouri as well as the situation in Iraq. Apparently,the White House was not informed by Governor Nixon that Missouri called out the National Guard after more outrage last night during the curfew.

++The family's autopsy revealed that Michael Brown was hit by six bullets, two in the head. The head shoots meant that there was no chance to revive him. The bullet wounds suggested that he had his hands and arms in a position of surrender.

++On another subject,Eric Reeves,professor at Smith College and a former classmate of mine at William, has a superb op-ed on the problems with Darfur and the UN-AU peace keeping force that seems unable to protect the people there. Eric has been a one man campaigner on Darfur from the beginning and deserves a great deal of praise for his meticulous work.

++Meanwhile as the Kurds took back the dam near Mosul, Eli Lake is thrilled that President Obama is moving to a big war against terrorism. Lake complained that President Obama only considered Al Qaeda a threat to the West and not every jihadist group. To bolster his argument,the Vatican let it leak that even though Pope Francis has denounced the war in the Middle East and the Ukraine,he really wants the populations protected by force. The Archbishop of Canterbury attacked the Cameron government for failing to have a strategy to fight Islamist threats and urged it to protect the Anglican community in Iraq.

++Over the weekend I watched Noam Chomsky's talk to the Palestinian students at UCLA. Chomsky said many things of interest, particularly his historical rendition of how we got to where we are in Gaza. But the striking thing to me was his analysis--which I believe is true--that the United States basically destroyed secular Arab political forces in favor of Islamists. In short, we created an ideological vacuum that is being filled with jihadists from Al Qaeda to ISIS, from the Hezbollah to Hamas. Chomsky was no apologist for regimes like Saddam Hussein but pointed out that the nationalist, secular strain of Arab politics we saw during Nasser and others has vanished. And we are now confronting the outcome.

++Neocons who are urging President Obama to get more aggressive in the Middle East fail to appreciate the $4-6 trillion mistake of Iraq. You are not starting a square on in dealing with this issue but behind the eight ball with the long term damage of the Iraq War affecting our economy and the escalating costs of dealing with veterans suffering from a host of illnesses.

++Consider this sad irony. President Obama did orchestrate regime change in Iraq with the removal of al-Maliki. We have to be very reflective on whether we want more of that in the future. 

++Over the weekend, I received strange e-mails from the Heritage Foundations and Guns and Patriots. They read "The American Empire is threatened". Only in the last administration did conservatives refer to the American empire. Usually, that has been the language of the Left in a negative sense. Here it was a positive idea that President Obama is jeopardizing. A Worrisome trend.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I was just wondering

++We expect Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson to show up and preach in Ferguson. But if you think back to the Trayvon Martin killing,there is a deafening silence from the clergy of white Christians.
Rand Paul gave them an opening with his criticism of the militarization of the American police. So where is Franklin Graham,Jr., Mike Huckabee,and the white clergy who showed up at the President's swearing in. Their silence is deafening as a Midwestern suburb burns down after a young black man is shot down. Where are the family values crowd? Too upset that bakers might have to sell wedding cakes to same sex couples that they can not comprehend bloodshed in our towns. Shame on them. 

Tipping Point-Game Changer

++ An infant was killed by a stray bullet in Maryland. It had been asleep in a car when a firefight between the police and local teens broke out. The police said "their sympathies are with the family." The local radio station said,"the community hopes this will become a teachable moment."

++It comes out that Robin Williams committed suicide because he was depressed and in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease. Commentators say that  this will be a tipping point in our public treatment of depression.

++A conservative send me a video of Ferguson which he claims it will be a "game-changer"--meaning it will change the way you understand Michael Brown. Yes, he's dead and was shot down when he was unarmed.
So it must mean he did something bad sometime somewhere in his life.

++Gabby Giffords being shot at was a Teachable Moment. The slaughter of children at Newtown was a teachable moment. Everyday the LAPD operates in the Hispanic community is a teachable moment. But despite the best efforts of activists and others nothing happens.

++In every election, they say something is a game-changer. In 2012,there were no game-changers. In 2008, there was no game-changer.

++There are few Tipping Points. We heard this all through the last Iraq War. Maybe we will hear this through this Iraq War. But there are no Tipping Points.

++Could we get rid of these words from our vocabulary? As Isaiah said, "Without vision the people will perish."


++It's tough to keep the curfews and ceasefires straight these days--Ferguson, Gaza. There is nothing to add to the chaos in the St.Louis suburb that hasn't been in the blogosphere and the mainstream media. The awesome terribleness of the Ferguson police even got Ross Douhat's attention in the New York Times. His main point in all this is why do we equip our police like an army and isn't this silly.

++You can drill down as far as you want into the racism at work. Michael Brown was shot once and pleaded for his life and then was shot five more times and no one did anything to check on whether he was still alive. The Feds have now stepped into the situation to perform the autopsy.

++The wave of rioting that triggered the state of emergency declared by Gov. Nixon was caused by the release of a video showing Brown swiping a box of cigars. The white policeman who gunned down Brown had no idea about the theft. The DOJ pointedly told the police not to release the video because it would trigger a violent reaction, which it did. 

++The prosecutor is a piece of work. He continues to build the case to defend the police but is working at this date on the robbery. The whole police apparatus and the local prosecutor should be removed to a desert island--as far from Ferguson as possible.

++Fox News got in the act by warning their audiences the Black Panthers were getting involved. Yes, they were--to help maintain order and protect shops from getting destroyed by further rioting. 

++One of the tragic ironies of the situation is that none of the young will listen anymore to the established African-American leadership, including Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Last night something called the Revolutionary Club arrived and tried to counterman the Black Panthers.

++On a national level, the incident has raised the issue of the Pentagon giving local police forces upgrades in weaponry and militarized vehicles. Over the past year, the Pentagon has given $500 million in equipment to local communities. Studies show that outfitted in military gear, police stop acting as law enforcement and act as if they are military with higher civilian casualties. 

++The abandonment of Posse Comitatus came after 9-11. Police were interconnected with federal agencies in the fight against terrorism. So naturally anything became tinged with the possibility of terrorism.

++Take the race out of the Ferguson situation and you have what the Fusion Centers did against Occupy Wall Street across the country.

Friday, August 15, 2014

As Mid-terms Start in Earnest

**In one of my favorite races,PPP released a poll on the South Dakota Senate race,which everyone has as a certain GOP pick-up. Rick Weiland,who did get noticed by Elizabeth Warren,has traveled to every berg in the state and vows to do it again by the time the election is over. Very heavily favored and funded Mike Rounds holds a 39 to 31 lead over Weiland. Larry Pressler, former very conservative Senator running as an independent, is at 13% and independent Howe is at 5%. But those who actually know who Weiland is favor him 42 to 33%. 

++Fox News has an anomaly--at least for them. Among registered voters Democrats are favored by 46 to 39 over Republicans. But among "interested" voters Republicans have a 45 to 44 lead.

++On favorability, Democrats have 47 favorable, 45 unfavorable. Republicans are 42% favorable to 50% unfavorable. 

++By the wild card is that both North Carolina and Wisconsin had their Voter ID laws approved by a judge for this election.

The Dog Days of Summer

++A new report finds that the Keystone XL pipeline emits 4x the carbon emissions than the State Department claims. The GOP is trying to become the "yes" party for 2014. So naturally,they have proclaimed that one of the first things they will do if they take control of the Senate is to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline. 

++Rachel Maddow raised an indelicate question about our Iraq activities. The 60 day period for Congress to vote on authorizing these actions has expired. So our airstrikes and escalation of American forces to 1,000 has no authorization.

++Yes, Hillary Clinton is a hawk but her dispute with President Obama of arming the Syrian "moderates" is based on a fantasy as Fareed Sakaria writes in today's Washington Post.

++The Imperial Post laments that President Obama doesn't have a clear strategy for crushing ISIS. Eli Lake claims that one of the problems is that the CIA and NSA have no clear understanding of how large ISIS really is and who really is in the leadership. Best bit on ISIS is that it is really led by a Jewish character actor. Read a thought piece on that speculated that President Obama didn't act sooner because he allowed ISIS to basically destabilize the region so that he could engineer a regime change in Iraq because Maliki had gotten too close to Iran.

++The last of the "W" characters in Iraq, Maliki finally did resign because Ayatollah Sistani sent a letter with his notarized signature to parliament that he had to go. General Sulieman of the Qods forces fighting both in Iraq and Syria for Iran called Maliki a "moron". 

++Bibi and Barack are on the outs because the White House claims that President Obama did not authorize the transfer of weapons during the Gaza fighting and that he refuses to send Israel Hellfire Missiles.

++Louie Gohmert said that "undocumented Democrats" were entering the country and spreading Ebola.

++Rick Perry in his new quest for the presidency claims he is sending the National Guard to the Mexican border for national security not politics. The Border Patrol claim that the Guard makes things worse.

++The President is expected to take a break from his Martha Vineyard's vacation to appear in Washington to announce far-ranging moves on immigration.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Things You Might Have Missed

++Tony Perkins of Focus on Your Family, Not Mine criticized the GOP for running three openly gay candidates this year because he said it was against Republican principles. Usually they run closeted gays. I guess that's what he means.

++Republican-leaning Rasmussen poll has Democrat Paul Davis leading Sam Brownback for governor of Kansas. 51-41. 5% are undecided and 3% prefer another candidate.

++Democrat-leaning PPP has Mitch McConnell leading Alison Grimes 44 to 40, with 7% for the libertarian.

++US troop levels have hit 1,000 in Iraq according to the New York Times.

++Before vacation, President Obama signed the VA Reform Law and the Highway Trust Law. In labor rights he signed an executive order preserving labor rights for federal contractors.

++Gay rights advocates lost their first same sex marriage case in Tennessee where a state judge ruled the state ban was legal.

++Today the Circuit Court ruled in Virginia that it would not put a hold on its decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Marriages could start next week.

++The New York Times finally decided that it was OK to call torture torture. Maybe it was because President Obama said "we tortured some folks." According to a new report by Amnesty International, we also committed war crimes in Afghanistan and tortured some folks under President Obama's watch.

++Ayatollah Khamenei says there is no need for bilateral talks with the United States. Iran has renewed support for Hamas and pledges to resupply them with rockets. The relationship had cooled when Hamas moved its headquarters from Syria to Doha. 

++ExxonMobil has began drilling in the Arctic tundra as part of their deal with Putin. The mysterious craters that have emerged in Siberia are the result of methane released from the melting of the permafrost. With oil exploration in that region, climate models are now probably behind the actual pace of climate change.

++President Obama stressed the reason he needs a Democratic Senate is that he expects to nominate upwards of three more Supreme Court justices. That seems motivation enough.

++The U.S. Senate before it left on vacation passed a bill to give Israel $250 million more for their Iron Dome. But experts now question whether the $750 million we have provided for its development was worth it. The stellar claims for its performance seem overblown.

++Robin Williams daughter wrote a letter thanking everyone for the support and said she has received nasty comments. She said that her father would send pigeons to poop on these peoples' cars after they washed them. Her father enjoyed a good joke she said.

The Winds of War

** First, Robin Williams' suicide took a lot out of the last two days. Been enjoying watching his television talkshow appearances over the years and his "interview" at the Actors' Workshop. Defense Secretary Hagel released a statement today praising Williams' support for the troops. Williams constantly entertained troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan but never mentioned it in his interviews. In recent years, he has been frank about his alcohol and drug use and his various stays in rehab. His death provoked sick comments from the right. The Right to Life organization claims it was the abortion--we do not know if this event is even accurate--by Williams girlfriend in the 1970s that caused his suicide. Rush Limbaugh claimed it was his "leftist" views that drove him to suicide. Gee, I remember Robin Williams as a regular Noam Chomsky. Fox News said his act was cowardly.  If you never experienced severe depression, you are lucky. If you have,you can empathize with Robin. It feels like being in a dark tunnel that just gets darker as you walk along. What all his professional colleagues report is the tremendous generosity of the man. Take the time to look at the YouTube clips of his one-man concerts at Constitution Hall and the Metropolitan Opera House. 90 minutes of pure manic genius. He leaves behind four finished films. God Bless you, Robin.

++If you thought we escaped insanity because Congress is on a prolonged recess, we have entered the Twilight Zone of pundits of the past emerging again to lecture us on our responsibilities to engage in war again. Of course, Dana Millbank complains that President Obama's vacation shows he has a tin ear. The Imperial Post has been ginning up war fever in a town that has been emptied of everyone except people who work for a living.

++John McCain and Ms.Lindsey Graham weighed in pretending they told President Obama so--about what no one can remember. We are moving into dangerous territory again as America experiences amnesia about how events in both Iraq and Syria evolved and our culpability for these events.

++John McCain had tweeted after our last troops left Iraq that George W. Bush deserved some of the credit. Indeed he does. But so does Iraq Prime Minister Maliki who crushed the Sunni protests in their version of the Arab Spring. The only time I was in Iraq a few years ago Maliki had over 100,000 Sunni prisoners in prison without any charges. It's little wonder that the Sunnis felt that they were being liberated in the first waves of ISIS. Now the brutal killings and rapes by ISIS have turned the Sunnis against ISIS.

++We are at the stage--the first time since W's Administration--where you can't believe a word that you hear on the radio. And how much is that deliberate or because the media has been so conditioned to be for war--any war--that truth does become the first casualty.

++In Iraq, it got so serious that Ayatollah al-Sistani actually made two statements--one urging resistance to ISIS, and the second for the removal of Maliki.

++The United States and France are now arming the Kurds. America is providing airstrikes against ISIS and the Kurds have taken back some of the towns captured by ISIS. 

++The Imperial Post urges President Obama to appoint General Petraeus and former Ambassador Ryan Crocker as special envoys to Iraq. Ironically, some of those Iraqis who fought in the surge have joined ISIS as have veterans of Saddam army.

++Steve Coll wrote in Politico that beyond the humanitarian concerns in our defense of Erbil is our interest in their oil. Coll, who wrote a book about Exxon Mobil, enlarges on the issue. But actually President Obama for his whole term has discouraged both Exxon Mobil and Chevron from investing in Kurdish areas.

++The situation in Iraq and Syria has brought the worst out on both sides. Hillary Clinton danced away from President Obama by saying she opposed his policy in Syria and if he had supported the "moderate" Syrian rebels then ISIS would not have grown so fast. It's true she dissented while as Secretary of State but no one can explain how further militarizing the situation would have ameliorated the situation. 

++In the Gaza War, we have experienced a ping-pong of ceasefires. Today,Egypt proposed a longer ceasefire with a slight lessening of the embargo against Gaza by Israel. They are offering a broader solution also. So naturally, the Imperial Post says the Obama Administration must get tougher on Egypt for its massive crushing of dissent. While the same Post backs Bibi in his actions against Hamas. No one mentions the deaths of the children,the deliberate targeting of the schools and hospitals. Since the Israeli response to the Hamas rocket attacks,Palestinians on the West Bank have protested throwing stones while met with gunfire.

++To give you some flavor of the wayback machine and its reoccurrence, Lady Lindsey Graham warned that an American city would be in flames if President Obama didn't do more against ISIS. He wasn't talking about Ferguson, Missouri when he talked about a city in flames.

++President Obama was criticized for taking a vacation among rich white people in Martha's Vineyard. I don't remember George W. Bush being criticized for meeting Tony Blair in Crawford to plot invading Iraq. 

++The Dixie Chicks must be jealous. Every Republican and conservative,except Laura Ingraham. has criticized President Obama during a war-time situation without any blowback about their patriotism.

++With Republicans urging sending more troops to Iraq, how is that going to turn out when Maliki refuses to step down and has Iraqi social forces defensing him in the Green Zone? Feels like Diem and Mossadegh all over again.

++The religious right has sided with ISIS calling the beleaguered Yazidis, devil worshippers, and Bryan Ferry says it is natural President Obama would want to save them.

++There are certain elements that seem to escape our American pundits. We seem to be giving air cover to the Iranian forces who are already in Iran in big numbers. And the troops that have rescued the Yazidis in the last two days are apparently Kurdish members of the PPK, whom the United States had put on our terrorist list. 

++The Kurds have asked for Humvees and tanks to fight ISIS. As Yogi used to say,it's deja vu all over again.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Obama Africa Summit

++Been out of pocket the last few days because of events surrounding President Obama's African Summit. The Administration invited over 50 African heads of state to discuss for two days private/public partnerships to broaden American investment in Africa and the strengthening of that continent's health and education systems. The agenda of the summit was prepared in consultation with the ambassadors of the Africa Union and later at a summit of the heads of state for the AU.

++Prior to the summit there were several seminars among civil society and human rights groups to get into the program. The NAACP held a counter-summit because human rights groups criticized the government receiving certain heads of state. 

++Interestingly only a few op-eds appeared in the Imperial Post and the New York Times supporting this summit. Earlier this year,the old imperial powers of the EU held a similar summit in the Hague. Interestingly, American coverage of Obama's Summit never made reference to the continued hold of Europe on some of their former colonies.

++Sadly, the White House dinner for the heads of state simply became another opportunity to show fashions. The daughter of the Rwanda President scored big and Cameroon's first lady got mention for her hair. 

++The news of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia,Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau over shadowed the new coverage of the substance of the Summit. Oddly enough, a Gallup poll of Teabaggers really showed that a vast majority of them believe that Ebola is President Obama's birthplace. The religious Right hyped panic over Ebola saying that it would wipe out gays,atheists and sluts.

++The African delegations contained a whole new generation of young technocrats who will fuel the continent's future. A primary theme of the Summit was "the Spring of Hope" and building an African continent worthy of its younger generation.

++Prior to the Summit, President Obama met with his Nelson Mandela students, a program he created while in South Africa. His talk to the young generated such concerns among the African delegates that Susan Rice was tasked with addressing the diplomatic corps to put out the flames of discontent. Her speech was an extended exposition on the Administration's Africa policy. Actually it was terrific.

++The US-Africa Summit brought together Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama. The two first ladies hosted a Women's Summit on empowering women in Africa.

++You can find in the weeds several programs that will alter the development of Africa. The Administration recruited GE in its plan for electrification of rural areas. The various side venues such as the Chamber of Commerce and the World Bank meetings entailed pitches from governments to the American private sector to invest.

++In the end it was one of those small things President Obama has a done that will have a large impact. Of course,what publicity it got was focused on the human rights abusers and the dreaded Ebola virus.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sam Wang Thinks Nate Could Be Off

++Nate Silver at 538 says that the GOP now has a 60% chance of winning the Senate, bringing his estimate to 52 Republicans-48 Democrats.

++Sam Wang at Princeton explains that this is statistical way of saying "I don't know yet". Wang explains Silver's method and his averaging percentages. 

++Wang points to the several races where Silver has the odds at 50-50. Louisiana, North Carolina and Arkansas he has it less than that. Wang says a coin toss can come up Democratic. He points to Alaska where pundits favor the GOP but that the only poll out has Begich in a double digit lead. Wang's point is that of the truly contested races the Democrats only have to win a few to keep the Senate.

++Wang's header has the Senate at 50-50 right now. 

++But there is good news emerging from the Nate Silvers of the world. There really doesn't seem to be the makings of a wave election like in 2006 and 2010. But Silver warns that such elections break late in the campaign season.

Friday, August 1, 2014

"We tortured some folks"

++Said President Obama in a long-ranging press conference. The Torture report's summary has been declassified and gone to the Senate intelligence committee, which will decide when to release to the public. The report however doesn't not use the word torture for the abuse uncovered in the four year review of the CIA's program of torture and rendition.

++The State Department has been crafting talking points to explain the US's actions for the audience overseas.

++Meanwhile the report will have a Republican rebuttal and a CIA response. No one knows as yet how much of the report will be redacted. 

++The pro-torture crowd is already lining up the defense of the CIA and blame the report on the Democrats, who apparently didn't torture anyone.

++Lost in the flap is that under the Torture Convention these acts should be prosecuted under the law as is obligatory under the conditions of the treaty. Eric Holder had investigated these cases and opted not to prosecute.

++The issue will be spun by the torture crowd such as the Washington Post's Marc Theissen who is a torture enthusiast. This should not come as a surprise because a plurality in any culture favors torture.

++President Obama also defended John Brenner for calling for the Inspector General Report that concluded that indeed the CIA spied on Democratic Senators. Senator Mark Udall demanded that Brenner be fired

++In other news, the Senate went home yesterday and the House will meet again tonight to vote on an extreme right border bill supported by Michelle Bachmann and Steven King, which would reverse the Dream Act making those 550,000 Latino kids vulnerable to deportation, modify the 2008 law that forbids the deportation of minors without due process, and would only provide a couple of a million for the border crisis itself. The House is now saying that the Senate should come back from recess to act on their bill, which is going nowhere. The whole point was to make a statement against President Obama and do nothing constructive about the crisis.

++As a warm-up to the Bachmann-King act,Michelle Bachmann charged the Obama administration with designing  medical experiments to be conducted on the kids. Steve King said they were all potential rapists. I guess they were't old enough to get calves as big as cantaloupes from smuggling drugs.

++In his press conference, President Obama said that funds to deal with the border crisis are running out and he would have to make decisions on immigration himself. He hinted that he would during the congressional recess.

The Bizarre Finale to Congress

++After passing the resolution to sue President Obama, Speaker Boehner requested the President deal with the border crisis by executive action,precisely the thing he's suing the President for the use of executive orders.

++The new House Whip is as bad as the old House Whip. Speaker Boehner had to pull the border bill from the floor because he  didn't have the vote right. Carnival Cruz interfered with the House and persuaded the tea baggers to nix the bill.

++Governor Perry was amazed that the House was letting the border bill die.

++In the area if slim good news,The Sanders-Miller VA bill has gone to the President's desk. The Senate bought the bullet and passed the House version of the Highway Trust Fund bill that kept it solvent until May of next year.

++Senator Enzi put a hold on the diplomatic nominees by the Obama Administration,depriving us of an ambassador to Russia.

++Ruth Bader Ginsberg said she is sticking around for awhile and that her male colleagues are clueless about women's issues. She did say the Supreme Court will not dodge the issue of same sex marriage.

++The Competitive Enterprise Institute wants to hot-wire the case to the Supreme Court on subsidies for Obamacare. Interestingly, insurance premiums are rising where states opted out of having their own exchanges. Red states are scrambling to see whether they can get state exchanges up if their own lawsuit succeeds and dooms 5 million more Americans to lose their health insurance.

++Little Ricky Cantor is resigning from Congress on August 18th after his defeat in the primary. 

++Senate Republicans are trying to holdup the border bill and the bill on wildfires. 

++The umpteenth Gaza ceasefire is over because Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

++Ukrainian separatists ambushed soldiers trying to protect inspectors at the Airliner's crash sight. Russian soldiers have flashed Instagrams on them being inside the Ukraine fighting.

++Next week, President Obama hosts over 40 African nations at a first-ever summit.

++The economy added 209,000 new jobs, a lower than expected figure, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.2%. This was the first time in 15 years the economy added 200,000+ jobs for six straight months. 

++The Social Security issued its 2014 report that the trust fund will be exhausted by 2090. Last year's report had SS exhausted by 2068. Medicare has added a few more years because of Obamacare.