Thursday, April 25, 2013

Last Call: Not Blowing Up In Our Faces

Just another reminder while the Village is celebrating the opening of the Bush Presidentin' And Stuff Center in Texas this week and furiously rewriting the history on how we got into two brutal wars that cost us thousands of lives, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars and all, it's gratifying to see that the current President is trying to not get us into another decade-long Middle Eastern ground war.

The Obama administration shares the suspicions of several of its allies that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, a senior official said Wednesday, but it lacks the conclusive evidence that President Obama has said would lead to American intervention.

Faced with mounting pressure to act against Syria — including a new assertion by an Israeli military intelligence official on Tuesday that Syria repeatedly used chemical weapons — the United States is waiting for the results of an exhaustive analysis of soil, hair and other material to determine whether chemical warfare agents have been used

You mean we're actually waiting to gather evidence ourselves before making it up and plunging the country into combat?  How novel.

Even if that investigation proves the use of chemicals, this official said, the White House must determine who used them and whether they were used deliberately or accidentally. He did not offer a timetable for that process. 

It is precisely because this is a red line that we have to establish with airtight certainty that this happened,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could discuss internal deliberations. “The bar on the United States is higher than on anyone else, both because of our capabilities and because of our history in Iraq.” 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking in Cairo during a Middle East tour that has been dominated by worries about Syria, said, “Suspicions are one thing; evidence is another.” 

Amazing.  Here we have the Obama administration, including the Secretary of Defense, actively saying that after Iraq, we need to have a higher threshold of evidence before we commit to using our military.  The President will continue to fail to get any credit for that, Team Drones will just yell "Drones!" some more and the right will say that his lack of thirst for ground war means he's a wimp, unlike Bush who totally won Iraq by himself.

But here we are, not invading a country for once.  And silence from the usual suspects.  That is, unless we actually do find that evidence, in which case things get really interesting...

The U.S. intelligence community has uncovered strong evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria. Several blood samples, taken from multiple people, have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, an American intelligence source tells Danger Room. President Obama has long said that the use of such a weapon by the Assad regime would cross a “red line.” So now the question becomes: What will the White House do in response?

We're going to find out very soon.

The Southern Suppression Strategy Continues

North Carolina is finding out the hard way what happens when the GOP has one party control of a state:  Republicans have no problem with taking voting rights away from thousands of the elderly, college students, and working-class African-Americans and Latinos in the name of preventing non-existent "voting fraud".  The Charlotte Observer:

“Our system of government depends upon open and honest elections,” said Rep. David Lewis, a farm equipment dealer from Dunn and a Republican. “Having people prove who they say they are as a condition of voting makes sense and guarantees that each vote is weighted equally and cumulatively determines the outcome of elections.”

But the move was strongly opposed by Democrats who said a photo ID would create longer lines at the polls, make it harder for the elderly, African-Americans and some students to vote, and would unconstitutionally create different categories of voters.

“This bill would attempt to turn back the strong voting we’ve had in North Carolina,” said Rep. Garland Pierce, a Baptist minister from Laurinburg, noting that the Tar Heel state had the 12th-highest turnout in the country last November.

Takes 5 paragraphs to get to the real reason why Republicans made voter ID a top priority in NC, and of course high turnout is bad for Republicans.  Target Democratic voters, make voting onerous, and classify thousands as "provisional" voters  you can disenfranchise if there's any dispute, putting the onus on the voter to prove they have the privilege and not the state to preserve as a right. 

And let's not forget Republicans want to get rid of all early voting in the state, too.

The voter ID issue resonated powerfully in the black community throughout the weeks of debate, with African-Americans comparing the measure to historical efforts to restrict blacks from voting. Complicating the voter ID debate are companion election bills being sponsored by Republicans, not debated Wednesday, that would restrict early voting, Sunday voting and same-day registration – all of which affect African-Americans disproportionately.

After the vote, the Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP, called the voter ID requirement an act of voter suppression. 

Funny how it seems like Republicans are targeting the most vulnerable and easiest groups to disenfranchise.  The state must spare no expense in defending the political process against fraud with a voter ID measure that will cost the state millions, but these same Republicans declare early voting is too expensive for taxpayers to foot the bill.

Of course it's an obvious scam.  But as with all the other Southern red states, it's too late now for North Carolina.  Giving in to fear and Obama Derangement Syndrome gave you the Republican nightmare you get to live with, and I don't feel sorry for my home state one bit.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Granite State Punishment Detail

New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte has largely been singled out as the 41st Republican to vote against the Manchin-Toomey gun legislation, meaning that she was the vote that effectively killed the bill.  Public Policy Polling took a look at Ayotte's numbers and found that yes, she's currently paying a price for that vote, and a steep one.

Ayotte now has a negative approval rating with 44% of voters giving her good marks and 46% disapproving. That's down a net 15 points from the last time we polled on her, in October, when she had a 48% approval with 35% disapproving. 75% of New Hampshire voters- including 95% of Democrats, 74% of independents, and 56% of Republicans- say they support background checks. And 50% of voters in the state say Ayotte's 'no' vote will make them less likely to support her in a future election, compared to just 23% who consider it to be a positive.

Ayotte won her seat in 2010 by 23 points. But in a very early hypothetical match up between her and new Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan, she trails by a 46/44 margin. This issue is really giving her some trouble.

Ahh, but the key word in the top of the post is currently.  Ayotte will not face voters again until November 2016 should she run again for Senate, and while it may hurt her now, something tells me voters will have other things on their minds by the time New Hampshire gets around to the 2016 elections.  If this gun vote somehow does cost Ayotte her seat, that will certainly be one thing...but in the meantime, gun control legislation is effectively dead until further notice. 

The prospects of a new President raising this as an issue in 2017 is certainly possible, but meanwhile, the NRA will have had four years to lobby the rest of the Senate.  It's very, very unlikely that voters will remember anything Ayotte voted on this month when it comes to 2016.


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