AP Photo

The Word from the War (What Is This Thing Called Hope?)

A Turkish army tank stationed near the Syrian border, in Suruc, Turkey, Saturday, 3 September 2016. Turkey's state-run news agency says Turkish tanks have entered Syria's Cobanbey district northeast of Aleppo in a "new phase" of the Euphrates Shield operation. Turkish tanks crossed into Syria Saturday to support Syrian rebels against the Islamic State group, according to the Anadolu news agency. (AP Photo)

Via Associated Press:

Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels expelled the Islamic State group from the last strip of territory it controlled along the Syrian-Turkish border on Sunday, effectively sealing the extremists’ self-styled caliphate off from the outside world, Turkey’s prime minister and a Syrian opposition group reported.

The question does arise, occasionally, what constitutes good news in war. As the Syrian government prepares to lay siege against Aleppo again, it seems reasonable enough to temper any celebration of the announcement from the Turkish government.

To wit, while Daa’ish might well have “lost its link with the outside world”, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights suggests, “after losing all border areas”, it would also seem that constitutes progress vis à vis one human rights disaster that pretty much prevents the world from reasonably addressing another.

Two words: Aleppo roses.

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Image note: A Turkish army tank stationed near the Syrian border, in Suruc, Turkey, Saturday, 3 September 2016. Turkey’s state-run news agency says Turkish tanks have entered Syria’s Cobanbey district northeast of Aleppo in a “new phase” of the Euphrates Shield operation. Turkish tanks crossed into Syria Saturday to support Syrian rebels against the Islamic State group, according to the Anadolu news agency. (AP Photo)

Mroue, Bassem and Zeynep Bilginsoy. “Turkey: IS has lost all territory along Syria-Turkey border”. The Big Story. 4 September 2016.

The Mike Huckabee Show (Great Guy)

"Mike Huckabee, who apparently is still running for president, said yesterday that President Obama's 'new domestic terrorism plan probably requires Americans to memorize Koran verses.' Dear Beltway pundits who told the public Huckabee is a great guy: you were wrong." (Steve Benen, msnbc, 24 November 2015)

“Mike Huckabee, who apparently is still running for president, said yesterday that President Obama’s ‘new domestic terrorism plan probably requires Americans to memorize Koran verses.’ Dear Beltway pundits who told the public Huckabee is a great guy: you were wrong.”

Steve Benen

Just to be clear, yes, Mr. Huckabee actually said that.

Armed with grenades and guns, Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic radicals struck again, taking 170 people hostage at the Raddison hotel in Mali. These barbaric terrorists spared the lives of hostages who proved their Islamic bona fides by reciting the Koran, while 27 innocent civilians were killed.

After this attack in West Africa, Obama’s new domestic terrorism plan probably requires Americans to memorize Koran verses.

(sigh)

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Image note: Source photo by Associated Press.

Benen, Steve. “Tuesday’s Campaign Round-Up, 11.24.15”. msnbc. 24 November 2015.

Huckabee, Mike. “Huckabee: Obama’s idealistic and outright dangerous Syrian refugee relocation plan”. FOX News. 23 November 2015.

The Marco Rubio Show (Aid and Comfort)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo)

“George W. Bush said America was at war with an ideology that had ‘hijacked Islam’ in the same way Nazism had hijacked Germany or communism had hijacked Russia. Barack Obama has argued that even this assessment gives violent jihadists a stature they don’t deserve. Rubio, by contrast, is going far beyond Bush. And he’s doing exactly what the Islamic State wants: He’s equating ISIS with Islam itself.”

Peter Beinart

There really is nothing like giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Or, rather, this is how you run for president in 2016 if you are a Republican.

Peter Beinart of The Atlantic dissects the Florida junior’s remarks regarding the Paris terror, a case study in getting everything wrong while running for president.

One would think the general threat Daa’ish presents against humanity would suffice, but for Republicans that isn’t good enough. In February, Congressional Republicans refused a specific authorization for use of military force against Daa’ish because it wouldn’t have been a big enough war for their satisfaction. Meanwhile, Sen. Rubio, whose campaign slogan is itself a war cry, has shown himself something of a dim bulb in questions of foreign policy. Steve Benen notes, “the Republican field is dominated by candidates with no meaningful experience in or understanding of foreign affairs”, and at some point along the way this ought to become a relevant consideration. Whether it means anything to Republican voters at present remains to be seen; whether it means anything when voting starts is an unresolved question. Still, though, the seeming now-more-than-everism among warmongering Republicans is a bit unsettling; if they intend to keep it up through the general, we might also hope they will at some point find a clue. Otherwise, it is all noise and fury, and not even a spark of useful thought.

Something goes here about the soft bigotry of low expectations, and the devastating toll it can incur.

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Image note: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo)

Beinart, Peter. “​ISIS Is Not Waging a War Against Western Civilization”. The Atlantic. 15 November 2015.

Benen, Steve. “GOP offers a lesson on how not to respond to terrorism”. msnbc. 16 November 2015.

An Important Difference

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signs new legislation allowing one-year prescriptions of birth control, 11 June 2015, in Salem. (AP Photo)

Sometimes it really does make a difference.

With Gov. Kate Brown’s signature Thursday, Oregon women will be the first in the nation who can get a year’s supply of birth control with one prescription.

When the change takes effect Jan. 1, women will no longer have to renew their prescriptions every 30 to 90 days. After an initial three-month supply, refills of the same prescription can be obtained for one year.

“We knew that the medical research was very clear that filling a yearlong prescription all at once is a significant contributor to improving the effectiveness of birth control,” Mary Nolan, interim executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, told the Associated Press before the signing.

(Winter)

Many are the occasions on which we might hear a neighbor bitterly proclaim that politicians are all the same, that it doesn’t matter who you vote for because it doesn’t make a difference. This argument is intended to help one of the parties. As Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) reminds yet again, there really is a difference, and some days it can be really, really important.

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Image note: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signs new legislation allowing one-year prescriptions for birth control, 11 June 2015, in Salem. (AP Photo)

Winter, Michael. “Oregon women first to get yearlong birth control”. USA Today. 11 June 2015.

Madness for a New American Century

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015.  (AP Photo)

Trevor Timm for The Guardian:

The New York Times detailed many of the Republican candidates’ nebulous “criticisms” of the Obama administration, most of which assume a fantasy world in which Obama is not sending the US military to fight Isis at all, even though he’s authorized thousands of airstrikes per month in both Iraq and Syria. Most of the candidates, while competing with each other over who can sound more “muscular” and “tough”, are too cowardly to overtly call for what they likely actually want: another ground war in the Middle East involving tens of thousands of US troops.Project for the New American Century

The vague, bullshitt-y statements made by Republican candidates would be hilarious if it wasn’t possible that they’ll lead to more American soldiers dying in the coming years. “Restrain them, tighten the noose, and then taking them out is the strategy” is Jeb Bush’s hot take on Isis. Thanks, Jeb – I can’t believe the Obama administration hasn’t thought of that! Marco Rubio’s “solution” is even more embarrassing: according to The Times, he responded to a question about what he would do differently – and this is real – by quoting from the movie Taken: “We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you.”

Rubio has also called for “strategic overhaul”, but his radical plan seems to be virtually indistinguishable from what the Obama administration is actually doing – yet another sign that Republicans tend to live in a fantasy land where Obama is an anti-war president rather than someone who has bombed more countries than his Republican predecessor. (That is not a compliment, by the way.)

This is one of those things where we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned. Consider that Mr. Rubio’s campaign slogan is “A New American Century”.

Just think about that for a moment.

They really are promising us a war.

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Image Note: Top ― Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo) Right ― Logo of the Project for the New American Century.

Timm, Trevor. “Republicans’ ‘plans’ for Isis would drag us into Iraq for another ground war”. The Guardian. 27 May 2015.

SourceWatch. “Project for the New American Century”. 19 February 2012.

The Jeb Bush Show (Anticlimatic)

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits backstage before speaking at the Iowa Agriculture Summit, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

“The climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it even.”

Jeb Bush

Could someone remind me again, just why did we think Jeb Bush would be the “serious” candidate?

The Washington Post account of a New Hampshire fundraiser really does make the former Florida governor sound petulant:

The issue of climate change came up as the host of the house party asked Bush to comment on a speech given Wednesday by President Obama, who said that climate change is a “serious threat” to national security.

“Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security,” Obama told Coast Guard graduates in their dress white uniforms at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, “and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act— and we need to act now.”

In response, Bush said that climate change should be just “part of, a small part of prioritization of our foreign policy.” He suggested that the United States should encourage countries that have higher carbon emissions rates to reduce them.

But, he added, “We’ve had a pretty significant decrease and we’ll continue on, not because of Barack Obama, but because of the energy revolution.” He credited hydraulic fracking, horizontal drilling and an increased use of natural gas for helping cut American carbon emissions.

Just a hint for the Most Serious Clown in the Car: Pulling it out of the ground has nothing to do with reducing the exhaust.

Kind of like the whole Underpants Gnomes thing:

Step One: Get more oil and natural gas out of the ground.

Step Two: [???]

Step Three: Reduce carbon emissions.

And that’s what we get from the (ahem!) “serious” clown.

(more…)

The Point of the Day (Dissonance)

President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Steve Benen gets our nod for the Point of the Day:

When Republicans aren’t blaming intelligence agencies for what transpired in 2003, they’re blaming President Obama – the one who was right about Iraq from the start – for the war they apparently find tough to defend.

Reality paints a very different picture. Bush/Cheney lied the nation into a disastrous war, mismanaged it in every way possible, strengthened U.S. foes, and destabilized the entire region. All of this transpired, of course, before Obama even launched his national campaign. Indeed, the catastrophe began unfolding when Obama was still a state senator.

The crux of the bizarre talking point is that the Democratic president withdrew U.S. forces in Iraq, consistent with the Status of Forces Agreement reached between the two countries. And which bleeding-heart pacifist thought it’d be a good idea to endorse this withdrawal plan? That would be George W. Bush, who negotiated the SOFA in 2008.

But there’s no reason to accept the premise – the Status of Forces Agreement was not responsible for creating a disaster in Iraq. Invading the country in the first place created a disaster in Iraq.

We might also take a moment to note a point about sources; Mr. Benen might be an msnbc producer and blogger, but set that aside for a moment and tell me he’s wrong.

(more…)

The Red Balloon

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), ca. 2015, in Associated Press photo.

This is a question:

As recently as Tuesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) sounded very much like he was moving towards the 2016 presidential race. Just one day later, however, Politico reported that the Republican governor had decided to bow out ....

.... So, that settles that? Oddly enough, no. Late last night, the MLive Media Group that covers Michigan news confirmed with the governor’s spokesperson that Snyder “has not made any decisions” about the presidential race, pushing back against the Politico report, which cited unnamed sources.

The governor’s press secretary specifically said that when it comes to Snyder’s possible national plans, nothing has changed. “On 2016, he’s watching the presidential race closely and hoping a common sense problem-solver emerges,” press secretary Sara Wurfel said. “He has not made any decisions about entering the field at this time.”

What’s left is a confusing picture.

(Benen)

Why doesn’t everyone just say, “trial balloon”, and get on with it?

(more…)

The Mike Huckabee Experience (Sixteen Candles Pilot Episode)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

There will be plenty of fun stuff to cover, to be certain; Mike Huckabee has a history. For now it is enough to note that the former governor of Arkansas has entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Mike Huckabee had a pretty good record as governor. It’s too bad he can’t run on it. Better known in recent years for saying occasionally outrageous things as a commentator, Huckabee governed Arkansas for more than a decade as a pragmatist, devoting his attention to basics such as roads, schools and health care. On those issues, though, Huckabee generally took positions too liberal to suit a Republican presidential prospect in 2016—posing a conundrum for him as he plunges this week into the 2016 presidential race.

(Greenblatt)

Alan Greenblatt’s report for Politico notwithstanding―and there’s a hell of a flick of the wrist, eh?―msnbc blogger Steve Benen wonders if Mr. Huckabee stands a chance, and suggests, “by most measures, Huckabee remains a factional candidate who will struggle to compete for his party’s nomination”.

Mr. Benen’s analysis notwithstanding―what? couldn’t see that coming?―we might simply consider that the Republican (ahem!) clown car just got a headline absurdist.

Perhaps “notwithstanding” is the wrong word to abuse today. Benen reflects that Mr. Huckabee “enters the race as a credible, second-tier contender, leading much of the large GOP field”, and when we stop to consider that the professional huckster’s more clownish aspects are what lead him to this prestige, reflecting at once upon Greenblatt’s point about the former Arkansas governor’s gubernatorial record and the seemingly obvious juxtaposition of what it takes to achieve such popularity among conservatives. Mike Huckabee has another record, and that will be in its own way representative of the current conservative ethos. And, you know, zeitgeist. Just, well, right, you know, because the word goes in here somewhere. Actually, you know, Benen gives a pretty good thumbnail sketch, but still, this is what it feels like, and this is what it takes.

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Image note: Detail: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Greenblatt, Alan. “Mike Huckabee’s Love Affair With Big Government”. Politico. 4 May 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Does Mike Huckabee stand a chance?” msnbc. 5 May 2015.