As Seth wrote, it looks as if House Republicans are beginning to come around in favor of the Boehner plan. It’s also being helped along by the support it’s receiving from high-profile fiscal conservatives in Congress, Politico reports:
Support from some of the more prominent conservative members could provide cover to the other members to support the bill.
“I’m a conservative, you guys say I’m a pretty hard-line conservative,” Rep. Allen West, a Tea Party favorite among the freshman class, told reporters. “I’m going to support this.” West said he “would almost put my retirement check” on the bill passing Thursday night, adding, “when you give people the opportunity to sit back and evaluate things and look at their integrity of heart, they come back and make a better decision.”
Jonathan Tobin is right that Britain and France’s new-found willingness to let Muammar Qaddafi remain in Libya represents a humiliating down-sizing of NATO’s objectives. Whether it amounts to a defeat, as Jonathan suggests, remains to be seen. Much would be determined by the sort of conditions Qaddafi would agree to if he stayed in Libya. Would he truly divorce himself from politics, as Britain and France demand, or would he try to manipulate the government from the sidelines?
He would not pose a major threat if he were removed in the way Hosni Mubarak was removed in Egypt, with the onetime dictator going into internal exile and concentrating on fighting various ailments and charges of corruption. But we are a long way from that happening. The priority now for NATO must be to get Qaddafi to step down, period; whether he remains in the country or not should be a secondary concern.
On Tuesday, the United States reaffirmed its opposition to Palestinian plans to sidestep negotiations with Israel and declare a state this fall at the United Nations. But Ambassador Susan Rice, Washington’s top representative at the UN, was apparently nowhere to be found. At the last open meeting of the UN Security Council prior to the Palestinians’ expected unilateral declaration of independence (UDI), Rice’s deputy, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Rosemary DiCarlo, pronounced that “symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September will not create an independent Palestinian state. The United States will not support unilateral campaigns at the United Nations in September or any other time.”
While the statement was reassuring, Rice’s absence is troubling.
The tide is turning in favor of John Boehner on the debt ceiling debate within the GOP. I wrote this morning that perhaps Tea Party Patriots leader Mark Meckler had overplayed his hand, causing him to lose leverage over House Republicans who were suspicious of Boehner’s bill but still want to see the debt ceiling raised. Meckler’s comments this morning made Boehner the only game in town for such congressmen.
Now it seems a second case of overzealous opposition to Boehner has worked in Boehner’s favor. Some Republican Study Committee staffers were caught whipping up opposition to Boehner’s deal among House members, infuriating the GOP caucus. The description of the confrontation inside a party meeting about the incident is jarring. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” one GOP aide told Politico. One congresswoman is contemplating quitting the RSC. Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the RSC, seemed humbled.
When Americans think of the homegrown terror threat, many tend to think of al-Qaeda — and names like Anwar Al Awlaki and Adam Gadahn, who are associated with the recruitment of U.S. citizens.
But House Homeland Security investigators found that Qaeda-linked Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab may be just as much of a danger when it comes to the recruitment of young Muslim Americans. Committee chair Peter King revealed during a hearing today that at least 40 Americans have joined Shabaab since 2007.
The Tea Party has taken a number of hits this week. Some of those associated with this movement have assumed an absolutist position on the debt ceiling debate that could make it difficult if not impossible to resolve the crisis on terms even most Republicans could accept. But while it is one thing to call them obstructionist, has the tone of public discourse in this country sunk so low that it is acceptable to call them terrorists?
Apparently the New York Times and its Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman think so.
The Congressional Budget Office analysis of Sen. Harry Reid’s deficit reduction plan found that it saved $2.2 trillion, which is less than the $2.7 trillion touted by the senator. But the CBO’s number also includes roughly $1 trillion in savings from the wind-down of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which Republicans argue have already been accounted for.
Senate Republicans quickly jumped on the findings to slam Reid for using “accounting gimmicks” to give the appearance that his plan includes far more reductions than it actually does.
Yesterday, the White House let it be known that if House Speaker John Boehner’s latest debt ceiling proposal passes Congress, President Obama would veto the bill. Considering at the time the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives seemed to be in a state of pandemonium that seemingly doomed the Speaker’s chances of getting it passed, it seemed like a fairly safe bet the president wouldn’t have to make good on this threat.
But a day later, the situation may be a bit different.
Alana Goodman provides an infuriating example of the European capacity to blame the victim. While Norwegian Ambassador Svein Sevje was referring to Palestinian terrorism, the Palestinians do not exist in a vacuum. Quite the contrary. The Iranian government quite openly supports terrorism in the guise of “resistance.” Accordingly, it would be appropriate if Sevje would revisit his remarks given those of Iran’s Basij [paramilitary] Chief Mohammad-Reza Naqdi who just the other day said, “In order to safeguard the country [Iran], we have no other solution but to eradicate the Zionist regime.”
I’ve written here before about how Turkey surprised the Pentagon by holding war games with the Chinese Air Force. I also raised concern about the Obama administration’s willingness to sell Turkey our next generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighters without so much as reporting to Congress on the possibility the stealth technology upon which U.S. national security will depend might be reverse engineered should Turkey give its new allies China and Iran access to the plane. On this latter issue, the Senate Armed Service Committee is asleep at the switch: All it needs to do is demand the Pentagon report to it about the possibilities and vulnerabilities of the leakage of F-35s technologies should a current or future Turkish government, or rogue individuals within, allow the Iranians or Chinese to access the plane. The Pentagon will not conduct a thorough assessment unless an appropriate committee in Congress mandates it.
While Senators Carl Levin and John McCain drop the ball on American security, however, NATO is becoming increasingly concerned about Turkey’s outreach to China and Russia. The Turkish military is now considering the purchase of its own air defense system from either Russia or China. Because neither the Chinese nor Russian systems are compatible with existing NATO systems, Turkey would need to share NATO codes and technology with our adversaries to make its systems work. An unnamed Western expert quoted in the Turkish press explained, “If, say, the Chinese win the competition, their systems will be in interaction, directly or indirectly, with NATO’s intelligence systems, and this may lead to the leak of critical NATO information to the Chinese, albeit inadvertently. So this is dangerous.”
Last week’s terror attack in Norway prompted various commentators to try to draw analogies between right-wing and Islamic terror (here, for instance). There are two problems with this. One is the sheer falsity of the analogy, beyond the obvious fact that both are appalling and inexcusable. The other is that right-wing terror has a real analog – namely, left-wing terror. And by omitting this from the discussion, and instead treating terror as the exclusive province of one political camp, it becomes all too easy to use attacks like last week’s as fodder for cheap political point-scoring rather than trying to address a real problem.
While many people tend to associate terror with the right rather than the left, it’s important to realize this is false. Indeed, as the International Herald Tribune reported this week, European police were more concerned about left-wing than right-wing terror as recently as April, and for good reason: Right-wingers didn’t commit a single terror attack in 2010, according to Europol, whereas left-wing and anarchist groups perpetrated 45, up 12 percent from 2009.
My colleague Ali Alfoneh, who compiles an indispensable daily round up of the Iranian press, points me to this embarrassing catch from an Iranian website.
On July 23, assassins in Tehran killed 35-year-old nuclear scientist Daryoush Rezaei. Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency originally reported that the scientist had been involved in nuclear weapons work. That’s not something Iranian officials are allowed to admit, however, and so now Fars News has rewritten the story to omit that detail. How do you say Freudian slip in Persian?
House Homeland Security Committee Chair Peter King said today he would “not back down” from his hearings into Muslim American radicalization, despite pushback from Democrats and liberals who say the recent right-wing terrorist attack in Norway is proof the congressman is unfairly targeting the Muslim community.
“Let me make this clear to the New York Times and their acolytes in the politically correct media. I will not back down from holding these hearings,” King said at the beginning of his third hearing on Muslim radicalization, which is focused on the threat of Al-Shabaab recruitment of American citizens.
As I noted yesterday, President Obama’s request that Americans deluge Congress telling them to give in to his demand on taxes to solve the debt ceiling crisis resulted in a massive surge of phone calls to House and Senate offices. Congressional websites were also jammed up. The calls resulted in a fair amount of inconvenience for members and their staffs, but it isn’t likely it changed anyone’s mind. Considering the day ended with sentiment shifting against a deal within the Republican caucus, let alone Obama’s tax increases, it’s clear such stunts have little use except in terms of public relations.
But it turned out the switchboards on Capitol Hill weren’t the only ones lit up on Tuesday. According to the Daily Caller, conservative groups counter-attacked with their own surge. Going into action shortly after the president’s address to the nation on Monday night, groups like the American Action Network went to work urging their members to swamp Obama with responses that were the opposite of what he had asked for. And like the effort to overwhelm congressional offices with pro-Obama messages, the conservative push also worked. Apparently, the White House comments line and the phone lines were down for the better part of the day as activists decried higher taxes and urged the president to support entitlement reform.
This phone war illustrates both the strength and the limits of activism.
Does an extremely tough position by official Tea Party groups on the debt ceiling herald the end of John Boehner’s attempts to pass legislation on the issue, or does it paradoxically breathe new life into the negotiations?
Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots–the nation’s largest Tea Party group–was interviewed by the Daily Beast’s Patricia Murphy, who asked him whether Tea Party chapters would organize primary challenges to House Republicans who followed Boehner’s lead and struck a deal on raising the debt ceiling. Here was Meckler’s response:
It’s hard to predict exactly what will happen. But I can tell you that there are certainly a lot of thoughts out in the Tea Party network across the country about primary-ing people, including freshmen who seem to be going off the rails so early.
Frank Newport, editor in chief of The Gallup Poll, writes that President Obama averaged a 43 percent job approval rating for the week of July 18-24, tied for the lowest weekly average of his administration.
A separate poll, this one from the Washington Post-ABC News, finds the number of liberal Democrats who strongly support Obama’s record on jobs plunged 22 points from 53 percent last year to 31 percent today. The number of African Americans who believe the president’s actions have helped the economy has dropped from 77 percent in October to just over half of those surveyed. A staggering 90 percent of those surveyed said the economy is not doing well. More than four out of five report that jobs are difficult to find. And only 41 percent approve of the job the president is doing when it comes to creating jobs.
Yesterday, I wrote that Sen. Harry Reid was obscuring the numbers of his deficit reduction plan by including $1.2 trillion in “war spending cuts” that were already planned for. But a Republican Senate Budget Committee aide now tells me Reid appears to have also inflated his $1.2 billion in deficit reduction from discretionary spending caps.
According to committee analysts, Reid’s baseline doesn’t include $400 billion in savings already enacted in the continuing resolution. Which would mean there’s only $800 billion in new savings in his plan. Add that to the $1.2 trillion in phantom war spending reductions, and it makes you wonder exactly how much of of Reid’s “savings” are real, and how much are just number tricks.
Despite his pose of moderation, President Obama has maintained an obstructionist attitude throughout the debt ceiling crisis. By demanding higher taxes and engaging in class warfare rhetoric, the White House demonstrated that what it wanted was not a solution to the problem of how to raise the debt ceiling but to avoid one. Its apparent goal was to set off a chain of events that would recreate the government shutdown of 1995 with Obama playing President Clinton and House Speaker John Boehner in the role of Newt Gingrich.
Up until this point, the House Republican leadership has managed to avoid playing into Obama’s hands. They have continued to negotiate and to stick to their guns on taxes. But rather than merely stamp their feet, they proposed solutions and made it clear if anyone was going to endanger the country’s credit rating, it was the scaremongering president, not them. But if rebels within the GOP caucus reject Boehner’s current proposal, they will be doing exactly what Obama wants them to do.