I seem to be turning into Athenae. If I only I could emulate her thin, girlish figure only manlier like Big John here:
Mr. Kerry’s visit to Iraq on Sunday was the first by an American secretary of state since 2009. He came at a time when concerns are growing over Iraq’s role in the crisis in Syria, and when the United States’ influence in Iraq has been dwindling.
The State Department has been sharply reducing its huge presence here, and its diplomats have seemed powerless to affect the course of events on two of Washington’s pressing concerns: Iraqi tolerance for the Iranian weapons shipments to Syria and issuance of arrest warrants for certain Sunni leaders by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
The Obama administration has appeared to be less engaged in Iraq in recent months, as it has sought to “normalize” relations, and the Iraqis have distanced themselves from their former occupiers. And there is a sense among many Iraqi officials that the Americans are no longer willing to marshal the influence they still have.
“The Americans are not using claws or teeth,” Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Mr. Maliki’s former national security adviser, said shortly before Mr. Kerry’s visit.
Well, it worked out so wonderfully last time we tried it. I mean, in all seriousness, are we the assholes for blowing up the country and making grand promises and then not doing anything about them? Absolutely. Would continuing to do so actually change anything? Absolutely not, and while I'm not crazy about the idea that we are just gonna forget all about this war until it takes a big karmic bite out of our ass and we go through another round of "why do they hate us" 20 years from now, you tell me what would be the best alternative here. GTFO is the worst policy, except for all the other ones:
American promises to help shape a stable democracy in Syria have been met with skepticism by some Iraqi officials. In an interview late in 2012, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, the chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, recalled a visit in September from A. Elizabeth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. “What she said was that they would educate the Syrians on how to be a democracy,” Mr. Hamoudi said, adding with a hint of sarcasm, “just like what happened in Iraq.”
John Kerry, delivering a blistering, fierce, loving, rambling, inspiring farewell address to the Senate today:
I came to the National Mall in 1971 with fellow veterans who wanted only to talk to our leaders about the war. President Nixon tried to kick us off the Mall. We knocked on door after door on Capitol Hill, but too often couldn’t get an audience with our representatives. A precious few, including Ted Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, came to where we were camped out and heard what we had to say. And I saw first-hand that our political process works only when leaders are willing to listen — to each other, but also to everyone else.
That is how I first came to the Senate — not with my vote, but with my voice.
This guy fought in the nastiest war the world had to offer at the time and, age 27, came home and took the immensely unpopular stand that this war was bullshit and had to end, and he acted on it. Nobody particularly liked that then.
Nobody particularly likes it now. Look at the way we treat the anti-war movement in this country. Look at the contempt with which we treat those who stand up to power in this country. Look at the way we justify others' suffering by using our own: I went through this, so why should you be spared it? I fought, so why shouldn't you fight? I killed, so why shouldn't you kill? I was wounded, so why shouldn't you bleed?
How many times do we hear this? I got hurt, it toughened me up, so why are you being such a baby about it? I survived, so quit whining. I don't talk about my problems, so why should I listen to yours? You don't understand what I went through. Maybe you need to suffer some, so you do. How many times do we hear this? How many times do we say it? It poisons us day by day.
Very, very rare is it said that I suffered, so that you shouldn't have to. I fought, not so that I could rest but so that you could. During his confirmation hearings Kerry talked about working with McCain, who had every reason to hate the Vietnamese, to normalize relations with Vietnam. He understands that the tests aren't when all things considered you could give a damn. They're when you loathe the prospect with every fiber of your being and lay down that loathing anyway. It's not a burden if it isn't heavy, but forgiveness isn't for others, it's for you, and learning that makes you a grown-up, and these men grew up together.
We have an embassy in Vietnam right now because John Kerry (and, to be fair, John McCain) got the United States to look at Vietnam as a country, and not simply as a war. (If people had done that same thing in, say, 1965, neither Kerry nor McCain might be in the Senate right now, and millions of other people would still be alive.)
And if we had elected him in 2004, if we had managed to be just a little bit less shit-stupid and scared, we'd have a better country now. I felt like 2004 was our chance to stop it; for all my joy in the good things Obama has done and in the prospect of further Democratic gains and more importantly progressive Democratic gains, I felt like 2004-2009 was a time when all the horrors got cemented and maybe some of them might not have been.
The late great Steve Gilliard put it best, in a piece I keep going back to whenever the "Kerry was a shitty candidate, blah blah blah" argument comes up:
I do understand the frustration of liberals who wonder why they can't run a real liberal for the White House. Of course, these liberals miss the point that Kerry IS a liberal, a real, bona fide liberal with one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate's history to match. He's far more liberal than Bill Clinton. In fact, if a few of these people were less reflexsive and contemptuous, they might find that Kerry was to the left of Howard Dean on many issues over his career.
I'm also tired of the lesser of two evils crap. Kerry isn't evil, he isn't a crook, he doesn't bang interns in his office. He's stood for most of what the left wing of the Democratic Party has stood for since 1972. Unlike many rich people, he didn't stick his money in his pocket and walk away.
Now we have four years of him as Secretary of State. And after that? I still have my Kerry-Edwards sign. Just saying.
"Tea Party House Republicans have had a rough month … We have a few suggestions for House Republicans that might make their next month a little bit easier," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson in a release.
Among the "suggested" agenda items complied by the DCCC: breakfast paid for by lobbyists, "Science 101," a workshop on "How to stop talking about 'legitimate rape' and insulting women," a math course on "counting to 218 votes" — and, of course, trust falls.
Also on the suggested topics to be discussed: "How to increase our approval ratings: What root canals, traffic jams, cockroaches and head lice are doing right."
This is why Joey is the best vice president ever. Because he's storing all the fucks in his Camaro and not giving any of them to anyone.
Via Balloon Juice.
The founder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, John O’Neill told Fox News’ Hannity that if Barack Obama nominates John Kerry to Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense the group will “do the very best we can” to protest the appointment.
Twitter is full of this bitchery this morning, armchair warriors yelling about the sacredness of our military and how JOHN KERRY IS A GAY FAGGORT and all manner of other oldsauce nonsense.
The only saving grace in trying to re-run smears is that in our brand-new information superhighway magical mystery Internet wonderland, anything we've heard more than twice is ancient history and an official Nobody Cares is decreed, and then a Kardashian does something somebody deems slutty and we're all on to the next thing.
This is a distinct disadvantage when trying to point out, say, that somebody took the country to war and lied about why, or blew up the whole economy and then tried to blame poor people and union workers. However, it can just as well work for making sure we don't re-run the greatest hits of the Bush Administration's surrogates.
Also? Happy Kerry photo:
President Barack Obama jokingly mimics U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney's "not impressed" look while greeting members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams in the Oval Office, Nov. 15, 2012. Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics President, and Savannah Vinsant laugh at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)I don't know if you've noticed or not, but the President of the United States is kind of cool.
AP photo via Politico. I know. I feel dirty, too.
Already down almost 10 points in the PollTracker Average, Tommy Thompson has now shown up in a video from a Tea Party meeting in June bragging that who better than him to “do away with the Medicare and Medicaid”.
Ask Osama bin Laden is he is better off now than he was four years ago.
You know it isn’t -- it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to say that Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position.
He -- he was against -- he was against setting a date for withdrawal. Then he said it was right. And then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon. He said it was tragic to leave Iraq. And then he said it was fine. He said we should have intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to run away from the reporters who were asking questions. Then he said, the intervention was too aggressive. And then he said the world was a better place because the intervention succeeded. Talk about being for it, before you were against it.
(APPLAUSE) Mr. Romney -- Mr. Romney -- Mr. Romney, here’s a little advice; before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you’d better finish the debate with yourself.
Now -- President Mitt Romney -- President Mitt Romney, three very hypothetical words that mystified and alienated our allies this summer. For Mitt Romney an overseas trip was what you call it when you trip all over yourself overseas.
You know, it wasn’t -- it wasn’t a goodwill mission. It was a blooper reel.
Folks, Sara Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska. Mitt -- Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.
At which point the watching party I was at lost its goddamn collective mind.
People are always surprised whenever I tell them my one true political love is John Kerry. I mean, John Kerry? He's boring. He lost. And conventional wisdom is that he lost because he was boring and elite and lacked backbone and what have you, he windsurfed and shit. He's French.
Well, call me a Frog because hot damn, last night he walked out onto the stage and told Mitt Romney his other ride was Mitt's mom and next time if Romney doesn't shape up he might not use the saddle.
And immediately the commentary was WHERE WAS THIS GUY FOUR YEARS AGO, because certainly our noble political punditry couldn't possibly have fallen all over itself to make Kerry unsuitable despite the hockey-playing, liberal-lion-2, war-hero story he had to offer them. Surely they couldn't have missed something.
(And before anybody starts in with me about Edwards, ask yourself if the worst thing he has ever done is still nicer than the nicest thing Dick Cheney has ever done. As long as he wasn't Vice President of Being Responsible With One's Penis, he probably could have muddled through.)
In fact, watching Kerry actually made me remember my biggest disappointment with Obama, his truly dismal record on civil liberties. That was what Kerry ran on in 2004, and the biggest wrong he would have righted if we could have pulled our heads out of our asses and elected him. It was why, all kidding about OMG WHATTA BABE aside, I fell in love with him: He went to war and came home and at the age of 27 walked into the halls of Congress and said stop this, stop this now before it gets any worse.
We all should have listened then, and again in 2004. Maybe we'll listen now.
I am thinking about all the dicks you're going to have to eat, pal.
When the it comes to the contentious topic of Mitt Romney’s tax returns, the Romney campaign has invoked precedent, defending their decision to release just two years worth of returns as the standard set by the campaigns of John McCain and John Kerry. The Romney campaign renewed this argument on Sunday.
In fact. Sen. Kerry (D-MA) had released 20 years of tax returns when he ran for president in 2004.
And also, I thought Kerry was an America-hating Commie Frenchman. Since when is anything he did the new normal?
On climate change:
I just love how after the kid (a remarkably composed and mature child, as I would probably have been stuttering and tripping over myself at his age) says he shoots marshmallows from the air cannon, Obama looks around like, "and I don't have one with the presidential seal on it WHY, now?"
I think we should go back to electing the VP separately, because I want to keep Joe forever.
I'm sorry, it's been completely years, and I should be over him by now.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts has introduced federal legislation to expressly prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in housing.
The bill, known as the Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act, or HOME Act, would amend the 1968 Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, as well as amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prevent such discrimination in lending (the bill would also bar discrimination based on source of income and marital status). A House version of the bill will be introduced later today by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York.
Update III: Not only have Dems walked out but local media say they've left the state. Capitol cops, who are NOT exempt from the bill, are looking for them. If you are in Chicago, Wisconsin Dems, I will buy you all the beer that exists on the planet, just call me.
Update II via Jude: Dems have just walked out of the statehouse, denying the Republicans quorum to conduct business. Hey national Dems, in case you were wondering what more you could have done in the past 10 years, here's a clue: THIS. Scout says it's peaceful inside the capitol, though at least one reporter saw an arrest being made.
Update: Jude sends along a poll what needs some help.
While other states have proposed bills curtailing labor rights, Wisconsin's measure is the most aggressive anti-union move yet to solve state budget problems.
This will not solve state budget problems. It's not intended to solve state budget problems. It won't even come close to keeping the state solvent on its own, much less make the state rich. And look, where exactly is the call for corporations to kick in to solve state budget problems?
And hey, Mr. President, anytime you want to show up and put on a cheesehead, Bucky's ready for you:
In an interview with Milwaukee television station WTMJ, President Barack Obama said he was monitoring the situation in Madison and acknowledged the need for budget cuts. But, he said, pushing public employees away from the bargaining table "seems like more of an assault on unions."
SEEMS?!? You're welcome for that fucking election, Obama.
But hey, really, it's all just a difference of opinion:
Walker has argued the concessions are modest compared with those suffered by many other Americans. Democratic opponents and union leaders say his real motive is to strike back at political opponents who have supported Democrats over the years.
He said, she said, who knows what the truth is? Christ. As good as Wisconsin's local journalism has been this week and it's been pretty fucking great, our national press is working overtime in the sucking ass department. As if to compensate.
WILMINGTON, Del. – Joe Biden may be the nation's vice president, but that doesn't mean he can avoid fulfilling his civic duty.
Aides say Biden reported Monday morning for jury duty along with 100 others at the New Castle County courthouse in Delaware after receiving a jury summons.
"I don't consider myself different than any other person," Biden told The News Journal of Wilmington, Del. "This is important ... It is an honor to be a part of the system."
Biden and several Secret Service agents waited with other prospective jurors in the jury assembly room. During a break, staffers and security poured in from a side door to consult with the vice president. Biden said he had to make several calls on a secure telephone during the break, including one to President Barack Obama.
One of the things my distinguished colleague from the great state of Illinois and I have in common is a fondness for John Kerry. He's not my boyfriend and he wasn't always a great candidate but he's a good guy. He's gone back to the Senate, rolled up his sleeves and gone to work instead of petulantly pouting like Senator Walnuts.
Bruce Springsteen's No Surrender was Kerry's theme song in 2004. Best campaign song since Happy Days Are Here Again. Too bad the campaign didn't have a happy ending, no lewd jokes please. Hush Jude.
Here's a live peformance by the Boss and the E Street Band during the 2004 general election campaign. It not only rocks, it rules:
Austin Futch, 10, from Memphis, Tennessee, said he quizzed the first lady about a few things on his mind concerning life in the White House.
He wanted to know how it felt to be surrounded at all times by Secret Service agents -- not too bad because they are nice guys -- and if it was hard being married to the president.
"No, he's a pretty good guy," Michelle Obama told him, according to a transcript of the calls released by the White House.
"I mean, it's a tough job and sometimes you want to do everything you can to help him, but it's pretty easy being married to him. He's kind of funny -- fun to hang out with."
Even in the moments when I've wanted to chuck her husband, I hoped we could keep Michelle. What's it like being married to the president? "Eh, he doesn't suck."
"This is the defining civil rights initiative of this decade," Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said after the repeal passed on Saturday.
"Congress has taken an extraordinary step on behalf of men and women who've been denied their rightful integrity for too long."
ever notice how repub tlkg heads spin company line while dems get all analytical? Me 2
more 2 come, but big message in MA tonight re real choices Glen
In CA with Barbara Boxer, she's a fighter, I love her.
But now I'm convinced he's on some kind of epic bender to deal with the fact that he's got to deal with these Republicans all over Capitol Hill, touching his things and flirting with his staffers and generally getting in his way:
“Politico was wrong, Huffington Post was wrong, hell, all the pundits were wrong. Harry Reid isn’t just Dracula, he isn’t just Lazarus, he’s our Leader and our whole caucus is thrilled that he’s unbreakable and unbeatable.”
Whoever is letting him write his own shit, please, don't ever make him stop.
“However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.”
And to people whining who should know better:
"The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones said in a statement. "Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents - the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted."
Oh, God Almighty, calm down. Your president got elected on the premise that the war was fucked up and he'd have to unfuck it. It's not like you didn't know this stuff. And to be all I do declare Miss Scarlett about the rest of the American public getting to know this stuff strains credulity and moves the focus from what could have been, "Yeah, this is why you elected us, to fix this shit" to "no no no no bad journalism!" is just amateurish. Anyone paying attention knows how this works.
Surprise us, wouldja, and for once deal with the substance instead of the bunting it's wrapped in?
Cornyn: clean power ideas like nuclear power are great but better environmental policies would kill the American economy
Tapper: of course
Cornyn: let the Japanese hit home runs - America can bunt and hit singles or better still get hit by a Chinese pitch and draw a walk
Kerry: Babe Ruth didn’t call a motherfucking single! And by the way there are no fucking taxes in the bill shithead!
Kathleen Sebelius warned the insurance industry Monday not to look for loopholes in health care legislation and informed it that she will be writing regulations to ensure that the industry covers children with preexisting conditions, which some insurers insist is not a requirement of the law.
"The American people debated and discussed health insurance reform for more than a year. Congress and the President have acted. Now is not the time to search for non-existent loopholes that preserve a broken system," writes Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary. The letter was sent to top insurance lobbyist Karen Ignagni on Monday and provided to HuffPost by a third party.
I WILL AIRLOCK YOU MOTHERFUCKERS. DON'T TEST ME.
Today in pictures:
Reuters Pictures 15 minutes ago
"You have a choice," she said. "You can choose to continue your opposition to reform."
Or, she said, there's the other option. "You can choose to take the millions of dollars you have stored away for your next round of ads to kill meaningful reform, and use them to start giving Americans some relief from their skyrocketing premiums," Sebelius said. "Instead of spending your energy attacking the parts of the President's proposal you don't like, you can use it to strengthen the parts you do."
Via Sebelius's stalker one-man fan club, joejoejoe.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, I-- I-- I would hope I-- look, it's one thing to be outspoken. It's another thing to be outspoken in a way that misrepresents the facts. And I-- I guess-- again, I-- it's almost like Dick is trying to rewrite history. I can understand where the-- why that would be-- you know, an impulse. And maybe he isn't-- literally, I'm not being facetious. Maybe he's not fully informed of what's going on. I mean, the progress we have made. There has never been as much emphasis and resources brought against Al Qaeda. The success rate exceeds anything that occurred in the last Administration. And they did their best. I'm not-- I'm not impugning their effort. It's simply not true that the President of the United States is not prosecuting the war against Al Qaeda with a vigor that's never been seen before. It's real. It's deep. It's successful. (emphasis mine)
"Exceeds anything that occurred in the last Administration."
We've had Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in custody in Karachi since last week, Dick.
Seriously, I don't know if I'm overreacting or what, and obviously Dorgan's a bigger deal because it will be harder to hold that seat, but ... Dodd, man.
In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) picked up on the legislative overreach and asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to sift through its database to find which contractors might be caught in the ACORN net.
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman both popped up quickly, with 20 fraud cases between them, and the longer list is a Who's Who of weapons manufacturers and defense contractors.
The language was written by the GOP and filed as a "motion to recommit" in the House, where it passed 345-75.
POGO is reaching out to its members to identify other companies who have engaged in the type of misconduct that would make them ineligible for federal funds.
Grayson then intends to file that list in the legislative history that goes along with the bill so that judges can reference it when determining whether a company should be denied federal funds.
The Florida freshman is asking for direct assistance. He has set up a Google spreadsheet where people can suggest contractors who have been charged with violations and include a link to a media or government report documenting the alleged transgression.
Via the Crack Den.
I could spend all day combing the wingnutsphere for the worst of what's being said, but I don't know, those aren't the people whose opinions I care about. Not today.
“I will always remember Teddy as the ultimate example for all of us who seek to serve, a hero for those Americans in the shadow of life who so desperately needed one.
“He worked tirelessly to lift Americans out of poverty, advance the cause of civil rights, and provide opportunity to all. He fought to the very end for the cause of his life – ensuring that all Americans have the health care they need.
“The commitment to build a stronger and fairer America, a more perfect union, was deeply ingrained in the fiber of who he was, and what he believed in, and why he served.
“That’s why he stands among the most respected Senators in history. But it was his sympathetic ear, his razor wit, and his booming, raucous laugh that made him among the most beloved."
No words can ever do justice to this irrepressible, larger than life presence who was simply the best -- the best Senator, the best advocate you could ever hope for, the best colleague, and the best person to stand by your side in the toughest of times. He faced the last challenge of his life with the same grace, courage, and determination with which he fought for the causes and principles he held so dear. He taught us how to fight, how to laugh, how to treat each other, and how to turn idealism into action, and in these last fourteen months he taught us much more about how to live life, sailing into the wind one last time. For almost 25 years, I was privileged to serve as his colleague and share his friendship for which I will always be grateful.
For five decades,
virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights,
health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and
resulted from his efforts. I valued his wise counsel in the Senate,
where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new
colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race
for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a
mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and
For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.
I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.
Because. Sometimes that's all it takes.
And yes, I know it's a Politico link, but for whatever reason they have the best John Kerry-related stories. I know, I feel funny about it too.
Via leinie in the blogwhoring kitteh thread, get well soon, Senator:
First, I feel fine. As you have probably noticed, I’m working some long and hard hours lately. And that will continue.
Second, I’m going to be fine. We caught this early. The biopsies I had showed a minimal amount of cancer, and that it hasn’t spread. My prognosis is excellent.
Third, as a Member of Congress, I have good health insurance. I was able to seek the opinions of highly skilled doctors, consider all the available options, and choose the treatment that’s right for me.
When the Senate adjourns at the end of next week, I’m going to have surgery. After a brief recuperation at home, I’ll be back at work.
My hope is that we will pass the Health Care bill that we passed in the HELP Committee in the Senate so that every American will be able to get an annual physical and talk to their doctor about screening so that problems like this can be caught early and treated.”
Those of you what are n00bs, this is the reason I will always love him:
As Justice Robert Jackson said in his opening statement at Nuremberg: “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.”
Mr. President, what is the tribute that Power owes to Reason?
That America stands for a transcendent idea.
The idea that laws should rule, not men.
The idea that the Constitution does not get suspended for vengeance.
The idea that this nation should never tailor its eternal principles to the conflict of the moment, because if we did, we would be walking in the footsteps of the enemies we despised.
The tribute that Power owes to Reason is due today. I know that we can find the strength to pay it. And if we can’t? We will all have to answer for it.
Via Balloon Juice.