Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 9


Fox News Host: 'The Terrorists Have Won' …Because Beer Ad Omitted God From Its Commercial


This feels like a trial balloon to me, but is the Administration testing Karzhai, or Congress? Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg, in the NYTimes:

Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a "zero option" that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.

Mr. Obama is committed to ending America's military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small "residual force" behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014…

Within the Obama administration, the way the United States extricates itself from Afghanistan has been a source of tension between civilian and military officials since Mr. Obama took office. American commanders in Afghanistan have generally pushed to keep as many American troops in the country as long as possible, creating friction with White House officials urging a speedier military withdrawal.

But with frustrations mounting over the glacial pace of initiating peace talks with the Taliban, and with American relations with the Karzai government continuing to deteriorate, it is unclear whether the Pentagon and American commanders in Afghanistan would vigorously resist if the White House pushed for a full-scale pullout months ahead of schedule.

As it stands, the number of American troops in Afghanistan — around 63,000 — is scheduled to go down to 34,000 by February 2014. The White House has said the vast majority of troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of that year, although it now appears that the schedule could accelerate to bring the bulk of the troops — if not all of them — home by next summer, as the annual fighting season winds down…

Outside of the neocon one-percenters making a living off the Permanent Global War beat, and those hardcore RW fanatics who would guzzle Drano if President Obama spoke out against ingesting household chemicals, there doesn't seem to a strong voter bloc in favor of keeping 'a presence' in Afghanistan. On the other hand, there is no stronger adherent to the sunk cost theory than the Pentagon, is there?


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According to the National Journal, House Republicans, under the leadership of John Boehner, are drafting a plan to hold the debt ceiling hostage, and their ransom demand will be to enact the Paul Ryan Path to Poverty budget. Because everything old is new. Second verse same as the first.

House Speaker John Boehner is now working with several leading conservatives–including Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin–to draft the options menu.

It is based on what's known as the Ryan budget, according to Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a far-right spending plan passed by the House that's been written off by Democrats as nothing more than a political document that decimates support for the poor and hurts the middle class. And it will outline what Obama will have to agree to for whatever length extension he wants.

For a long-term deal, one that gives Treasury borrowing authority for three and a half years, Obama would have to agree to premium support. The plan to privatize Medicare, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Ryan budget, is the holy grail for conservatives who say major deficit-reduction can only be achieved by making this type of cut to mandatory spending. "If the president wants to go big, there's a big idea," said Scalise.

For a medium-sized increase in the debt limit, Republicans want Obama to agree to cut spending in the SNAP food-stamp program, block-grant Medicaid, or tinker with chained CPI.

For a smaller increase, there is talk of means-testing Social Security, for example, or ending certain agricultural subsidies.

Implement the horrible policy proposals we ran on in 2012 or else!

What's mystifying to me is the idea that this is a winning message to springboard into the 2014 campaign on. More cuts to food stamps, ending Medicare as we know it, and the block-granting of Medicaid. Vote for us!

I don't believe the Republicans will emerge from this any more successful than their last attempt to hold the debt ceiling hostage which, as you may recall, ended with them more or less throwing in the towel entirely. And the stakes are higher now, because while they will be holding the debt ceiling hostage on one hand, they will also be holding immigration reform hostage on the other, demanding that we remove the path to citizenship and build an electrified fence with an alligator-filled moat on our southern border.

And did I mention that the House still hasn't passed a farm bill?

House Republicans will be defying the will of the people on all fronts this Fall.

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