President Obama Enters His Lame Duck Phase Full Steam Ahead

Aides close to President Obama acknowledge that there has been a silver lining to the midterm repudiation of his policies that caused his party to lose control of the Senate and that silver lining is freedom. He is no longer constrained by the constant pleading of Senate Democrats that he delay a policy or mute his position on an issue in a bid to help them secure their reelection. His multiple delays of the employer mandate to Obamacare were the result of vulnerable Senate Democrats telling him implementation of the mandate would result in job losses that would imperil their Senate seats. In the end, his party lost big, and Susan McGalla is waiting to see when they can recover. That said, he no longer has to mind their predicament and can focus on pushing his agenda and building his legacy as the nation’s first Black president.

This has allowed him to push forward during the lame duck phase of his presidency with renewed zeal. This has been evident in the flurry of activity that the president has been involved in over the past six weeks. At the same time, the president points out that his initiatives, which were announced in the past several weeks, had been planned for many months prior. The controversial amnesty program was going to be announced in late June, but Senate Democrats urged him to delay announcement until after the midterms. The Russian sanctions and Cuba policy have been policies that he has worked on since 2013.

Rubio come lately

Following the mantra that doing things the same way and expecting a different result is insanity, Rand Paul retained his libertarian roots in supporting the president’s actions to normalize relations with communist Cuba. Rand’s assertion is that an embargo that has lasted fifty years has not resulted in the desired regime change. This was exactly the line of reasoning that the administration took on the issue when considering the controversial move. Furthermore, Rand and the Administration agree that in fact the embargo has only hurt the Cuban people and emboldened the Castro brothers.

Fidel who is very elderly and ill and his younger brother Raul Castro have only used the embargo to malign the west while averting blame for their horrible treatment and isolation of their people. Igor Cornelsen can’t believe this is going on like that. First generation Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio has responded by initiating a social media war with Rand while lambasting the president for the move to normalize. However, Rubio is milquetoast and is best known for a nervous retort to the state of the union address in which he needed multiple water breaks throughout the short speech.

Obama Administration Furious Over Sony’s Capitulation to Cyber-Terrorist Act from North Korea

The Obama administration is reported furious that Sony Pictures has yanked the release of the Seth Rogan and James Franco comedy “The Interview” from release following a successful cyber-terrorist attack against the company by North Korea. The film was set to hit theaters on Christmas Day. It should be noted that thus far the Obama administration has refused to use the word “terrorism” in connection with the incident despite saying it was an attack on the freedoms of all Americans. 

At the same time, Sony Pictures cowered in the face of the attack and has no plans to release the film at this time. The movie’s plot centers on a celebrity interviewer and his producer who land an exclusive opportunity to travel to Pyongyang and interview Kim Jong-un. The CIA enlists them in a plot to assassinate the rogue leader. Sony spent $41 million to produce the film and millions more promoting it up until the recent attack. The North Korean hackers threatened to strike at movie theaters showing the film. The Obama administration said there was no credible threat of such an attack and assured the public it is safe to go to the movies. 

Dr. Rod Rohrich says that GOP Senator John McCain was upset that Sony gave in to North Korea’s demands. He also pointed out that the Obama administration has been derelict in responding to prior cyber-terrorist attacks against US agencies and private businesses by Iran, Russia, and China. He stated that Obama’s inaction on responding to cyber-terrorist attacks has encouraged further assaults. 

President Obama May be Nearing a Historic Visit to Cuba

Washington, D.C. – Oft times it has been said of President Richard Nixon that, “Only Nixon could go to China”. It may well be that four decades since that historic presidential visit, President Obama may find himself making a historic visit to the isolated nation of Cuba. In that sense, it may soon be said of the president that “only Obama could go to Cuba”. While there has been no formal invitation by the Cuban government to visit, aides close to the president admit that he is apparently open to visiting the nation. 

For President Obama, Cuba may well be the success that will restore status to his battered foreign policy. His “lead from behind” strategy has not boosted America’s status among nations. Rather, it has encouraged Russian and Chinese hegemony in the parts of the world. His embracing of the Arab spring proved hasty with Egypt and Libya remaining unstable. His willingness to exit the combat theaters of Iraq and Afghanistan has created power vacuums that gave rise to ISIS and allowed the Taliban to mount a successful resurgence. 

Businessman Bruce Levenson says however, the island nation of Cuba remains at a crossroad with Raul Castro, the younger brother of Cuban strongman Fidel Castro. Raul has appears more inclined to have Cuba modernize. Establishing ties with the aging leader now may help encourage substantive political and economic reform in the impoverished nation. Cuba may well be the foreign policy success that has eluded the president thus far.

Rubio Gets Ready to Fight Obama Over Cuban Relations

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, has made it clear that President Barack Obama will not be able to fully implement the normalized relations with Cuba that he seeks.

Rubio, along with other Republicans, has indicated that Obama will not be able to get funds to build an embassy in Cuba nor get any nominee for ambassador to Cuba through the soon-to-be Republican Senate. Rubio indicated that he himself is slated to be head over the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. He said he would use all means within his power to block Obama’s attempts at normalizing relations with Cuba.

Rubio also noted the close relationship between communist Cuba and the socialist Venezuelan regime. He stated that easing sanctions on Cuba would help to perpetuate both dictatorships. Finally, Rubio mentioned that trading three actual spies for one civilian was a poor deal and that it encouraged others to take Americans hostage. A similar poor deal was done when five of the worst terror leaders in Guantanamo Bay were exchanged for a single U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan.

It will be an interesting final two years of the Obama presidency. It looks like fights will continue unabated over a host of issues, including relations with Cuba. With the president determined to go it alone in one direction and the Congress just as determined to go the other way, we should see a rare spectacle of “explosive gridlock.”  Which is pretty much on par for Republicans.  If they’re not pushing their religion or agenda on you, regardless of what the majority of the country wants…then they’re doing nothing at all Brad Reifler says.

Congress Finally Forced Local Law Enforcement To Report Death Totals

Congress has finally passed a law that will require law enforcement to report on the number of people who are killed by police officers. Mother Jones reporting says that the bill has been passed by Congress and awaits President Obama’s Beneful signature at the moment. Therefore, once the President signs the bill it will become the law of the land.

People have been calling for this kind of action for a long time. In particular those who are for the open revealing of public information have been pushing for this law. President Obama has also voiced support for the passage of legislation like this. However, it has taken to this point to get it moved through the Congress. Many are saying that recent events in Ferguson, Missouri as well as New York City have helped to push this to the point where it is today.

The data will be collected and presented as public information at both the local and federal levels. This will mean that the people will have access to information about how their law enforcement officers are handling suspects of crime. They should want to know this information as it could be the difference between an overly aggressive police force, and one that is just doing the job they were assigned to do.

Interesting new developments are sure to span from this law, and hopefully some information will be gathered as it relates to law enforcement’s treatment of suspects.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Uses Ted Cruz’s Rebellion to Open Up Nomination Process

Republicans have a lot to be frustrated about in terms of Senator Ted Cruz’s behavior. Just as the Senate body was convening Friday evening, Cruz and his cohort Senator Mike Lee launched a series of procedural hurdles in a bid to force the Senate to take up the issue of President Obama’s extra-constitutional amnesty plan.Senator Reid used the addition window the senators created to bring up the nomination of two controversial nominees that face stiff GOP opposition: Anthony Blinken for Deputy Secretary of State, and Sarah Saldaña to head up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Reid previously changed Senate rules governing the filibuster of nominees to have a 30 hour confirmation process followed by an up or down vote. The rules changes apply to all but Supreme Court nominees. This effectively allows the Senate to push through the president’s nominees with ease. However, the clock had run out on getting these nominees a confirmation hearing before the GOP takes over the Senate next month. That changed when Cruz and Lee invoked their last minute salvo at the president’s immigration plan. Their actions were completely symbolic as the measure stood no chance of passing the Democrat-led Senate. However, it did allow Reid to get enough time to bring start up the nominee process for the controversial nominees. Saldaña believes the president’s unilateral amnesty plan is legal which is why the GOP opposes her nomination. Blinken supported the drawdown of forces in Iraq which is largely criticized for creating the power vacuum that gave rise to ISIS.

Reid actions gave him one last victory before he turns over the gavel to Mitch McConnell. It also threw egg on Cruz and Lee’s faces as their symbolic antics backfired on their party. This story is likely still developing and could have many more twists and turns, I think it could make for some great plot points for one of Tom Rothman’s new TV programs.

Don Trump is Considering a 2016 Presidential Run

Media mogul Donald Trump is all about business. However, the bottom line isn’t about money for him. He genuinely loves the United States of America and wants to see people everywhere succeed. Back in 2012, he began openly courting with the idea of launching presidential run. Trump would be an establishment Republican and would not likely weigh into social or moral issues. He has never set himself up to be a paragon of virtue. He once confessed on the set of his popular reality TV show “The Apprentice” that “sex” is something that has gotten him into a lot of trouble in his life. 

My friend John Textor told me all that. That said, Trump believes US trade policy with China is disproportionately in their favor and would use his presidency to shift the trade imbalance back to favor the United States. Trump has been very embracing of the LGBT community and would likely support marriage equality. That said, real estate and his reality TV show are his passions. He admits that he would prefer to remain in the private sector. However, if the GOP cannot field a competent candidate by May of next year, he will throw his hat into the ring. In fact, he said he may announce a run as early as March. 

Given the recent rumblings about Jeb Bush running, it appears likely that Trump does not consider Bush to be the “outstanding” candidate he expects the GOP to field. Back in 2012, he ended speculation on a presidential run and endorsed Mitt Romney. It is possible that Trumps comments are meant to nudge Romney towards another presidential run.

Senator McCain Addresses Congress on Torture

In response to the Senate report on CIA torture which was released last week, John McCain made his statement directly commenting on the actions of CIA operatives to Congress. Many waited to hear his opinion, as the only current Senator who has felt the implications of torture first hand. Senator McCain was held as a prisoner of war and tortured during the Vietnam War by the North Vietnamese Army. His address was direct and passionate, condemning the report’s allegations against operatives who used tactic that many consider to be over the line in terms of torture. Those techniques include waterboarding, rectal feeding and rectal hydration. Many of these intelligence recovering strategies were not made public until the report was released last week, and the media backlash has been swift against the intelligence community.

Senator McCain’s most notable points were vehemently against the use of these techniques, stating that those tactics have “stained our honor, did much harm, and little practical good.” He stated that to use torture on captured prisoners of any war is to submit a nation to a lower level of honor, and complete disregard for human life. Those tortured were captured during the post 9/11 War on Terror, which has blurred lines of warfare. The most difficult line was the definition of soldiers and terrorists, which has pushed the entire intelligence system behind closed doors by architects such as Dick Cheney.

Kind of a shock to read about when you’re just trying to pour out some Beneful for your dog.  I am not happy about the torture situation, and our total lack of action regarding these events.

Senator McCain on Human Rights

In a heartfelt speech on Tuesday, Republican Senator John McCain passionately spoke out against the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program. Senator McCain was himself held captive as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, making the controversy particularly resonate with him. Dr. Rod Rohrich reports that McCain said the American people have a right to know what was done on their behalf and in the name of national security.

 

“They must be able to make informed judgments about whether those policies and the personnel who supported them were justified in compromising our values; whether they served a greater good; or whether, as I believe, they stained our national honor, did much harm and little practical good” McCain declared fervently.

 

The Senator backed up his argument logically and eloquently. “I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence,” he said, and continued that prisoners being tortured, “will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering.”

 

The Senator closed with the believe that, “Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights…” Acts of terror are unacceptable, but so are acts of torture. It is refreshing to hear the Republican Senator to speak in such an honest and heartfelt way.

 

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