Thursday Reads: Syria, Snowden, and the G20

barack obama reading

Good Morning!!

Syria policy has pretty much eclipsed everything else in the national and  international news (heard anything about Egypt lately?), with the NSA story still a close second. The G20 is also beginning in Russia, and that’s also “all about Syria.” So these are the stories this morning. This will also be a quickie post, because I overslept and I have someone coming to fix my electricity pretty soon.

As you all know, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved limited strike on Syria yesterday, although there is still wrangling among Senators about how aggressive the U.S. action should be. From NBC News:

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry and other top administration officials went before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to confront skeptics and press the administration’s case. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel estimated the cost of a limited strike at tens of millions of dollars.

However, Kerry told the hearing that Arab League countries had offered to pay for the unseating President Bashar Assad if the United States took the lead militarily….

The Senate yes votes comprised seven Democrats and three Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, who had expressed reservations that the United States was not doing enough to arm the rebels fighting Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

“We commend the Senate for moving swiftly and for working across party lines on behalf of our national security,” read a statement from the White House. “We will continue to work with Congress to build on this bipartisan support for a military response that is narrowly tailored to enforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and sufficient to protect the national security interests of the United States of America.”

NBC News also reports that Russia’s Putin is warning the US against ‘aggression’ in Syria without UN approval.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the United States and its allies against unilateral action against Syria on Wednesday – but said he “doesn’t exclude” backing a U.N. resolution if evidence proved the use of poison gas against civilians.

As the White House stepped up its efforts to secure political approval for retaliatory strikes on the regime of Bashar Assad, Putin said acting without the approval of the U.N. Security Council “can only be interpreted as an aggression.”

In an interview with The Associated Press ahead of President Barack Obama’s arrival in Europe for meetings with G20 leaders, Putin said video footage of the suspected Aug. 21 chemical weapons attackoutside of Damascus could have been fabricated by groups “connected with al Qaeda.”

According to Time, Putin also warned that indiscriminate bombing in Syria could lead to a “nuclear catastrophe.”

Russia is warning that a U.S. strike on Syria’s atomic facilities might result in a nuclear catastrophe and is urging the U.N. to present a risk analysis of such a scenario.

The warning comes from Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich. He said in a statement Wednesday that a strike on a miniature reactor near Damascus or other nuclear installations could contaminate the region with radioactivity, adding: “The consequences could be catastrophic.”

Who knew Syria had “nuclear installations?”

The Christian Science Monitor: G20 economic summit: It’s all about Syria.

As world leaders gather in St. Petersburg, Russia, today for the annual two-day Group of 20 summit, economic policy may be overshadowed by what’s not on the agenda: Syria.

Divisions over how to respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons in August grow as the US continues to lobby for support for military action and Russia digs in its heels against it. President Obamawon initial domestic political backing on Wednesday after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly authorized military measures in a 10-7 vote, according to The Associated Press.

“My credibility isn’t on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line,” Obama said in a press conference before flying to Russia. “The moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing.”

Obama canceled a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on the sidelines of the summit after the Kremlin offered asylum to former NSA employee Edward Snowden, who leaked classified US documents.

According to The Christian Science Monitor’s Moscow correspondent, Fred Weir, President Putin has argued there “is no convincing evidence” that Assad launched a poison gas attack. Putin has exercised his veto power on the UN Security Council repeatedly against any military intervention in Syria since the two-year-old conflict began.

The Guardian on the troubled U.S.-Russia relationship: Putin and Obama apart in more ways than one at G20 table.

In terms of table placement at least, the Russians are trying to avoid a fight. When world leaders file into St Petersburg’s imperial Constantine Palace on Thursday, with the nightmare of Syria and a wider Middle Eastern war on their minds, presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obamawill be distant from one another literally, as well as politically.

The seating order, which would have had the Russian and US leaders separated only by the Saudi king, has been reshuffled to put five leaders, including David Cameron, between the two key adversaries over Syria and much else.

“The seating will be arranged according to the English alphabet,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told the Moscow newspaper, Izvestiya. Had the Russian alphabet been used, Putin and Obama would have been almost cheek-by-jowl.

If the rushed re-seating is one measure of the US-Russian tensions militating against a breakthrough arresting the slide to greater conflict over Syria, there are plenty more. Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower, holed up in Russia, wanted in America, is the most recent.

The summit should be interesting; I hope Obama and Putin don’t come to blows.

Putin reads

On the Snowden front, there is quite a bit of speculation going around about how involved Russia was with Snowden even before he arrived in Moscow.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported: Putin Says Snowden Was In Touch Before Coming To Russia. Putin just can’t keep his story straight. First he said he was taken completely by surprise when Snowden landed in his lap–he’d hardly even paid any attention to him before that. But lately he’s been gradually admitting that wasn’t true. From the WSJ:

MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted that Edward Snowden contacted Russian diplomats in Hong Kong a few days before boarding a plane to Moscow but that no agreement was reached to shelter him and he decided to come to Russia on his own without warning.

Mr. Putin had initially said Mr. Snowden’s arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on June 23 was a “complete surprise,” but now acknowledges that he had some prior knowledge that the fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor might be headed Russia’s way.

“Mr. Snowden first appeared in Hong Kong and met with our diplomatic representatives. It was reported to me that there was such an employee, an employee of the security services. I asked ‘What does he want?’ He fights for human rights, for freedom of information and challenges violations of human rights and violations of the law in the United States. I said, ‘So what?’,” Mr. Putin said in an interview with Russia’s Channel One and The Associated Press.

Actually Russia had publicly “offered to consider [Snowden’s] asylum request” in June when Snowden was still in Hong Kong, but that fact seems to have gone down the corporate media’s memory hole at this point. Everyone also seems to have forgotten that the U.S. voided Snowden’s passport before he left Hong Kong and flew to Russia–supposedly on the way to Cuba and the Ecuador. Putin is still trying to blame the U.S. for Snowden’s failure to take his scheduled flight to Cuba, claiming it was because of the cancelled passport.

In an interview to Russia’s state-run Channel One and The Associated Press published Wednesday, Putin responded to various questions about touchy subjects in U.S.-Russia relations.

When asked about Snowden, who found himself the world’s most wanted fugitive after leaking top secret documents on U.S. surveillance programs, Putin said U.S. authorities could have grounded the plane that Snowden boarded to come to Moscow from China’s Hong Kong just as they did with the plane of Bolivian leader Evo Morales after they suspected that Snowden was on board.

Or, he said, U.S. intelligence officers could have let Snowden leave Russia —which was initially meant to be only a transit stop on his way to another country that would grant him asylum — and then could have grabbed him in a country “with a relaxed security regime,” Putin said, the Kremlin website reported.

“They could have done that in relation to Snowden. What prevented them” from doing that? Putin said.

Um…. you did, Mr. Putin. We’ve read the reports that Snowden was surrounded by a crowd of FSB officers before his feet even hit the floor in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport transit zone.

More foreign affairs writers are beginning to question just how much of an “accident” Snowden’s defection to Russia actually was. At Business Insider, Michael Kelley summarizes the growing suspicions among intelligence experts: Did WikiLeaks Sell Out Snowden To The Russians?

Is it just a coincidence that former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, a valuable intelligence asset, ended up in the hands of Russia’s security services?

Or did WikiLeaks, the “anti-secrecy” organization that has taken responsibility for Snowden, send him there in collaboration with the Russians?

Former senior U.S. intelligence analyst Joshua Foust makes a compelling argument that Wikileaks may have been infiltrated by Russia’s Federal Security Bureau, the post-Soviet successor to the KGB.

His argument is based on the shared history between WikiLeaks and Russia, how Snowden ended up in Russia, and what happened to Snowden once he landed in Moscow.

Looking at the same evidence, we think this is certainly a possibility.

Read all about it at the link, and if you have time, read Foust’s longer piece. It’s fascinating.

I’ll end with a couple of articles on the damage done to U.S. Intelligence services by Snowden’s stealing and leaking the contents of top secret documents. From former NSA analyst and now academic John Schindler: Snowden, NSA, and Counterintelligence.

From nearly the outset I’ve stated that Snowden is very likely an agent of Russian intelligence; this was met with howls of indignation which have died down in recent weeks as it’s become apparent that Ed’s staying in Russia for some time, along with whatever classified materials he had on his person. (Since Glenn Greenwald’s partner when stopped by British authorities at Heathrow had 58,000 highly classified documents on him, thanks to Ed, one can only wonder how big the initial haul actually was.) That Snowden was in contact with the Russian consulate in Hong Kong during his pre-Moscow visit there, including spending his 30th birthday with his new friends, is now admitted. Even President Vladimir Putin has conceded that Ed’s contacts with Russian officials did not commence when he landed at Sheremtyevo airport, rather before.

But when? That of course is the key question that NSA counterintelligence surely wants – needs – to know. All roads here lead to Wikileaks. We know that Snowden in late 2012 reached out to Glenn Greenwald and other members of the spy-ring – all of whom can be considered cut-outs for Wikileaks when not paid-up members – that stands behind the massive leaks. After making this contact, Ed took a contractor job with Booz Allen Hamilton to increase his access to NSA secrets. I’ve been stating for a while now that Wikileaks is functionally an extension of Russian intelligence; it’s become a minor meme asa few journalists have decided that such a scandalous viewpoint is worth considering.

Of course, for anyone versed in the ways of Russian intelligence, the notion that Wikileaks is a Moscow front that’s involved in anti-US espionage is about as controversial as, say, the notion that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. Running false flags, creating fake activist groups, using Western journalists and activists for deception purposes – this sort of thing is in the DNA of Russian intelligence going back to the 19th century and is second nature to them. They call espionage tradecraft konspiratsiya (conspiracy) for a reason.

While there can be little doubt that the damage Snowden has wrought to the US and Allied SIGINT system is nothing less than immense, it will be some time before NSA and the US Government make any public pronouncements on such a touchy matter – not to mention that it will likely be several months yet before the Intelligence Community completes what will surely rank as the Mother of All Damage Assessments.

Without in any way diminishing the espionage losses that young Mr Snowden has caused, I want to suggest that the political damage in this case may loom larger, particularly as Putin savors his big win in this round, having humiliated American intelligence as it’s never quite been publicly humiliated before. The onetime Chekist in Putin surely is going to bed at night with a smile these days. “There are no ‘former’ intelligence officers,” Russia’s president once famously said, and he was also talking about himself.

Read the rest at the link if you can; this guy really knows his stuff–and he’s no right wing nut.

One more piece by British writer Chris Boffey: Why Edward Snowden is not a patriot, whistleblower or hero – but a spy.

Edward Snowden is a spy. The runaway CIA contractor may not know, or even care, whom he is spying for but the damage he is doing ranks alongside Philby, Burgess, McLean and Blunt. They comforted themselves with delusions that revealing the names of agents to the Soviet Union were for the greater good. Snowden was equally deluded when he opened up the secrets of western intelligence to one and all. Unlike the British spies, Snowden is not dealing in human information but electronic intelligence which in this day and age has more importance, but the results are the same….

Unlike Ames, Snowden was able to claim the moral high ground when spilling out the inner workings and policies of the US and UK security services to the world. Revealing how the state spies on its own citizens, without their knowledge or acquiescence, can be considered laudable but he lost the right to be called a whistleblower when he fled to negotiate first with the Chinese and then the Russians about political asylum and then it was revealed that he had taken with him the whole security shooting match.

Whistleblowers stand up and are counted; Snowden crawled out and ran away.

In sweeping up every secret he came across and downloading them to be dripped out is just plain treason and he knows this, given his determination not only never to return to the US but also to stay out of its legal jurisdiction.

Snowden justified his actions saying: “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things [surveillance on its citizens]… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded… My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

Presumably that is why he is now living in Russia, that Mecca of human rights.

Much more at the link. Check it out and see what you think.

That’s all I’ve got for you for the moment. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


67 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Syria, Snowden, and the G20”

  1. Fannie says:

    Great Post this Thursday morning……………..hope you electricity is back to working.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Fannie. My electricity is working. I’m just having a problem with one fuse that affects some of my overhead lights. I haven’t been able to afford to hire an electrician, but one of my late ex-husband’s friends is coming over today to look at it. He’s a licensed electrician. I don’t know why I didn’t think of calling him sooner. He was so nice when I talked to him about it.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Well that was quick. Bob–my ex-husband’s friend showed up and tested my fuses. All he had to do was tighten one fuse and now everything is working again. He said it would have cost me $140 just to get an electrician to show up. I’m going to have to send him a really nice thank you note.

  2. Beata says:

    Great post, BB. I admire the way you bring information together from such complex stories and help us understand them. Thank you!

    Putin has fascinated me for years and not in a good way. Where are Smiley’s People when we need them?

  3. RalphB says:

    Great post BB. I’m still interested in the Snowden story because I think it has the possibility to divide and conquer the Democratic party electorally going forward by splitting off the emoprogs and dudebros. I believe that’s Greenwald’s true reason for all his hysterical reporting.

    Then again he may be a spy himself, certainly an asset at this point.

  4. RalphB says:

    I find this to be a damn good question.

  5. RalphB says:

    Let’s hope this remains unique.

    lgf: Florida Man Cites ‘Bush Doctrine’ After Pre-Emptive Killing of Neighbors at Labor Day Cookout

    Lawyers for a Florida man this week cited President George W. Bush’s pre-emptive war in Iraq and the “Bush Doctrine” as a defense after their client killed two neighbors and attempted to kill a third on Labor Day.

    According to officials in Titusville, Woodward had snuck up on his neighbors while they were having a Labor Day barbecue. Police responding to the scene found that Gary Lee Hembree, Roger Picior and Bruce Timothy had all been shot.

    Hembree and Picior were later pronounced dead. Blake survived, even though he had been hit 11 times.

    In their motion, Woodward’s attorneys claimed that the victims had called him names and threatened to “get him.”

    The motion referenced Enoch V. State, which suggests that an “imminent” threat can include something that is likely to occur at sometime in the future.

  6. BB I disagree with your assertion that snowden is a spy . Spy’s don’t blow there own cover they don’t publicly tell the world who they are and what they have uncovered they usually don’t hold press conferences either. and the reason he left the US was they he felt feared for his life or maybe thrown in some deep dark hole. so if
    he is a spy he’s not a very good one

    • RalphB says:

      They do all that when they defect and are given an opportunity. You have no idea what you are talking about. Snowden is kind of a strange idiot though if he isn’t a spy in the traditional sense.

      • a good spy would never knew who he or she was ever. if he really was spy working with the Russians then you would have never know he existed . if he really was a spy and given why would he publicly tell the would about it and risk putting you life is peril of and if he is a spy he could never be used as one ever again for that reason . Ralph perhaps it is you who has no idea what you are talking about

        • bostonboomer says:

          No one is saying Snowden is a “good spy.” And I didn’t “assert” that he is one. I posted some links so people can make up their own minds.

          However, Snowden has managed to hand over the U.S.’s most valuable secrets and technology to China and Russia, whatever his motivation was. He has severely damaged our ability to prevent future terrorist attacks and to know what our enemies are planning. If you applaud that, good luck to you.

          Contrary to your claims, there are quite a few spies that we know existed–some are named at the aforementioned links. But I don’t believe you read much or you’d be better informed. I’d trust RalphB’s judgement over yours any day of the week.

          • your right there are a few spy’s we know about valerie plame is the first the come to minds but the only we know about her is the bush adim outed her. most spy’s don’t tell you who they are own their own accord. & what is your proof that exactly, Snowden has managed to hand over the U.S.’s most valuable secrets and technology to China and Russia, he did out the NSA and there illegal behavior perhaps your right maybe he was a spy but one that really sucked.

          • Reply
            BB I’m sure that , you trust RalphB’s judgement over mine he agrees with virtually everything you post . I however am critical of some of the things you post a present I differences od opinion .

          • bostonboomer says:

            I trust RalphB’s judgement more than yours because he reads and evaluates data in a logical manner. You appear not to read much and repeat back cliched phrases you’ve picked up from your desultory reading or TV-watching. I’ve never known you to offer evidence for your claims, yet you repeatedly demand evidence from me in comments instead of simply reading my posts.

            I don’t care if people agree with me. I do care if they waste my time with nonsense that isn’t in any way evidence-based. Have you even read any of the news reports of what Snowden has leaked? If you have and you think the revelations of how NSA collects foreign SIGINT haven’t harmed the U.S., then please explain why, citing your sources with links and quotes.

        • RalphB says:

          If you had read any of the links in BB’s post, you’d know better than that,

          • bostonboomer says:

            If you had read my links, you’d know the names of several spies who defected to Russia or were caught spying by Russia. No. Not Valerie Plame.

            Please name some of this “illegal behavior” you claim has been revealed. Good luck with that. On the other hand, Snowden and his “journalist” buddies have revealed means and methods used by the US to protect national security and have very likely endangered agents in the field. Again, if you support that good luck to you. But don’t complain next time there’s an unexpected attack on targets in this country.

  7. RalphB says:

    Americans Fear Hackers More Than the Government Over Online Privacy

    5% are concerned about the government spying on them. Greenwald FAIL.

      • Valerie Plame: Edward Snowden Deserves Thanks, ‘Will Be Abused,’ Clapper Should Resign .
        I think that Valerie Plame know more that you or me about the inner workings of the t intelligence community

        \http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/valerie-plame_n_3466824.html?ncid=webmail1

        • bostonboomer says:

          Snowden will be abused all right. He’s living in a country that kills journalists, spies constantly on its population, and abuses human rights in just about every possible way–including passing laws against talking about homosexuality. But the US can’t get at him in Russia, so you can’t blame your own country for anything that happens to him.

          • hmmmm but you seem to be advocating spying on one own population, you as long as it in the NSA says it ok right I mean it not like they would ever lie to us right? , oh wait they already done that that and nobody seemed to care . yet you condemn snowden as a spy for bringing the issue to light that right trapper lied to congress and the last time I checked lying to congress is an illegal act

          • bostonboomer says:

            What the hell are you talking about? When did I say it was OK to spy domestically. You’re not even responding to what I wrote, which is why I get frustrated trying to communicate with you.

            Unfortunately, since you don’t read much, you apparently don’t know that most of Snowden’s leaks have been about foreign intelligence gathering–not domestic surveillance. That is why many people like me have gone from cheering him to suspecting he’s not what he originally claimed to be.

            Sorry to be blunt, but you really do need to read carefully before opining on complex topics.

          • well lets see right now Russia it seems is trying to find a away toward peace in the Syrian issue will some in our government our doing everything in there power to start a new war. I’m not trying to prop up Russia or anything just stating facts

          • dakinikat says:

            Huhn? Russia is denying the chemical attacks … how is that being an honest broker with their client state?

          • RalphB says:

            Like dealing with GG drones, come up with some flaky accusation out of nowhere and think that’s the way to argue. Facts mean nothing. 🙂

        • as far as the gay issue in Texas anyway you can get fired from your job if the believe your gay or a lesbian.

        • BB my point is the even thought there it is very horrible for gays in Russia right here in the US we are not that far removed .

      • RalphB says:

        Poor poor babies.

  8. cygnus says:

    Sorry if this was posted here before; thought you might enjoy this latest Blurred Lines parody:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/defined-lines-robin-thicke-blurred-lines-parody_n_3860969.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

  9. RalphB says:

    Linda Greenhouse NYT: The Next Abortion Case Is Here

    It’s understandable if you haven’t heard of Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, which has received relatively little attention since the court accepted it on June 27, the day after the term ended. The lack of attention is itself understandable.

    The case is an appeal by the state of Oklahoma from a ruling by its Supreme Court striking down a law that limits doctors’ ability to prescribe the pills used to terminate early pregnancies. The medical abortion regimen, often referred to as RU-486, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 as a safe and effective alternative to surgical abortion early in the first trimester. It has been used since then by close to two million American women, currently about 200,000 a year out of some 1.2 million abortions performed annually. The Oklahoma law doesn’t ban the medical procedure. Rather, it requires doctors to follow the dosage and other instructions on the F.D.A. label. Viewed outside its context in the battle over abortion, the law looks perfectly sensible, a routine state regulation of medical practice. (Spoiler alert: it isn’t.)

    This case could go any direction.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    One lone hunter caused the giant California rim fire.

    AP: USFS: Hunter caused huge wildfire near Yosemite

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/05/5710012/usfs-hunter-caused-huge-wildfire.html#storylink=cpy

  11. RalphB says:

    These weak assholes will soon all be wearing tri-corner hats. Progressive my ass,

    House Progressives Look To Team Up With Tea Party On Syria Vote

    As the struggle to secure House votes for or against authorization for military strikes in Syria accelerates, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has started making plans to team up with isolationist conservatives to stop the resolution, TPM has learned.

    Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has become the leader of the progressive resistance. He is planning an “ad hoc whip operation,” as he called it in a phone interview with TPM. That includes supplying other aligned members with talking points and giving them the names of undecided colleagues to lobby for a no vote.

    Grayson’s office has also been in touch with staffs for Republicans who oppose military action against Syria, such as tea party favorite Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), about crafting an organized strategy for lobbying no votes.

    • I just don’t get the whole thing with “progressives” teaming up with right wing libertarians and tea-party dimwits.

      • RalphB says:

        It’s utterly stupid to me.

        • peej says:

          I’ve given up on “Progressives.” They’ve abandoned empiricism since the Snowden-Greenwald tirades. Grayson is one I had a tremendous amount of respect for until recently. Now, I can’t support him at all. He’s unfit to govern. Teaming up with Justin Amash — as Conyers did for the anti-nsa legislation? THESE are what Progressive “bipartisan” efforts look like? Sorry, no. I’m a committed Progressive, and I’m not buying this anti-pragmatic, Libertarian-leaning hogwash. Grayson is crafting an organized strategy for lobbying no votes? And this kind of tactical maneuver can’t be done for something genuinely progressive and forward-thinking in the domestic realm? Even Progressive rhetoric, irrationalist logic, and historical revisionism has been mirroring the the right wing. I can’t fathom it. I can understand the Progressive Caucus going into query mode – that’s sound. Grayson, however, is not. Dennis Kucinich is asking a number of good investigative questions, but I fear he might be conflating the run-up to Iraq with Syria. Bernie Sanders is keeping his mind open (wise), and is the only Progressive with any sensible reasoning for his skepticism, but unfortunately he seems entirely divorced from the empirical foreign policy considerations. He pays lip service to unilateral action, but offers no sophisticated analysis for why the world is “dragging its feet.” I’m not fond of military action, but Progressives are treating this as knne-jerk, trigger-happy intervention or something where no diplomatic efforts had been previously considered. I don’t get it.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Kucinich has always asked good questions, but he always folds in the end. Back in 2008, most of us Hillary supporters decided to call ourselves “liberals,” because progressives were anything but. I’ve never accepted the label “progressive” for that reason.

          • peej says:

            I didn’t experience the 2008 dynamic which seems to surface so often, so in some sense I probably have a skewed perspective on things. I’m a Progressive in the sense of its Gilded Age origins that evolved into the New Deal and later the Great Society, all of which were citizenry-centered (We the People), empirically-based approaches to governance. I suppose, at this juncture, it’s an economic ideology versus social agenda thing. For me, the social agenda is a given. Liberal, I associate with NeoLiberal or NeoClassical economic ideology, the liberalization of markets, free trade, and unfettered capitalism – all fundamentally conservative (hands-off governance) approaches. While I’m all for bipartisanship on genuine compromise, I’m not finding a whole lot of genuine compromise or rational compromise these days. Extortionist extremism on the Right is one example. The governor’s race in Wisconsin is leading to more “Centrist” crazy talk than I can fathom – compromising the social agenda simply to unseat Walker with a Conservative Democrat. I mean, Left Wing voters are willing to seat an anti-choice Democrat with a NeoLiberal economic agenda just to be rid of Walker. Yet, as a matter of governance and policy, an Anti-Choice, NeoLiberal Democrat has an agenda just a hair-breadth away from the Conservative-Libertarian agenda. “The World Runs on Wheels” … to my mind, it’s turning upside down.

  12. RalphB says:

    Rachel Maddow seems to know little of foreign affairs. She and Amnesty International etc think the US should impose sanctions on Syria instead of military action. Can anyone believe we haven’t already dobe so? Jeez.

    State Dept: Current Syria Sanctions

    There are currently three types of sanctions that the U.S. government has imposed against Syria. The most comprehensive sanction, called the Syria Accountability Act (SAA) of 2004, prohibits the export of most goods containing more than 10% U.S.-manufactured component parts to Syria. Another sanction, resulting from the USA Patriot Act, was levied specifically against the Commercial Bank of Syria in 2006. The third type of sanction contains many Executive Orders from the President that specifically deny certain Syrian citizens and entities access to the U.S. financial system due to their participation in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, association with Al Qaida, the Taliban or Osama bin Laden; or destabilizing activities in Iraq and Lebanon

    The other great idea was to refer Assad to the ICC (wheeee) or set up some kind of war crimes tribunal in Syria (yeah sure). We can take all these great non-military actions against war crimes.

    That segment was so dumb, I think I lost a lot of brain cells watching. Won’t do that again.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’ve practically given up on MSNBC. They campaigned like crazy for Obama last year, and now all they do is tear him down. They knew who he was last year so why did they support him then?

  13. RalphB says:

    Obama Assures Americans This Will Not Be Another 1456 Ottoman Siege Of Belgrade

    WASHINGTON—As fierce debate continued this week over a proposed military strike on Syria, President Obama stressed to all Americans Monday that any U.S. involvement in the Middle Eastern country would not in any way mirror the 1456 Ottoman Siege of Belgrade.

    “I of course realize that many people around the country are concerned that an intervention in Syria would devolve into another Siege of Belgrade, but I can assure you that this operation will be swift, decisive, and will in no way resemble the Ottoman Empire’s ill-advised invasion of Nándorfehérvár,” Obama told the assembled White House Press Corps. “Our mission in Syria is fundamentally different from that of the Ottomans 550 years ago—there will be absolutely no boots on the ground, the attacks will only last for two or three days at the most, and we will, under no circumstances, be deploying a fleet of 200 galleys and 300 cannons.” …

  14. RalphB says:

    I hate Bush and his Admin with the energy of a white dwarf!

    Timothy Egan NYT: The Bush Burden

    He’s there in every corner of Congress where a microphone fronts a politician, there in Russia and the British Parliament and the Vatican. You may think George W. Bush is at home in his bathtub, painting pictures of his toenails, but in fact he’s the biggest presence in the debate over what to do in Syria.

    His legacy is paralysis, hypocrisy and uncertainty practiced in varying degrees by those who want to learn from history and those who deny it. Let’s grant some validity to the waffling, though none of it is coming from the architects of the worst global fiasco in a generation.

    Time should not soften what President George W. Bush, and his apologists, did in an eight-year war costing the United States more than a trillion dollars, 4,400 American soldiers dead and the displacement of two million Iraqis. The years should not gauze over how the world was conned into an awful conflict. History should hold him accountable for the current muddy debate over what to do in the face of a state-sanctioned mass killer. …