You would think, from all the talk about the midterm elections and the final two years of the Obama Administration, that the president doesn’t matter anymore or that absolutely nothing will get done in Washington between now and January 2017. While we may be fighting political gridlock, and the possibility that few if any consequential laws will be passed soon, the rest of the world is not stopping nor is our country’s need for attention to our very real problems. The Republicans in Congress have made it clear that they do not want to work with Barack Obama or give him any victories from which the Democrats can claim any advantage going into the 2016 election season. This is no way to run a country, and we will pay a price in the future for our inability to act now.
There is no shortage of media stories purporting to paint Obama as a lame duck before his time, abandoning his legislative agenda in favor of executive orders and agency rule-writing. The problem with this interpretation is that Obama’s actions, especially on the environment, will have a profound effect on business and industry. New rules that detail how much a company can pollute and whether they need to clean up their emissions is no small matter. If it was, then the various business groups that oppose these changes wouldn’t be making so much noise.
The same is true with the Affordable Care Act. Yes, two Circuit Courts did issue contradictory rulings last week about whether people who buy policies on the federal exchange are entitled to subsidies, but in the end I believe that the law will be upheld and the subsidies will remain in place. I base this not on my fine reading of the law, but on the fact that by the time the Supreme Court gets the case, upwards of 30 million people will be covered by federal subsidies and the cost of ending them will be too much of a disruption to the country. Just as the Supreme Court ruled that police can’t search cell phones without a warrant mainly because the justices understood first hand what that would entail, so they will understand what it means to take health care away from people or make it unaffordable. Either Roberts or Kennedy will provide the deciding vote in any future case; the former to maintain his legacy, the latter because he tends to see applicability more than the other conservatives. The result of any case will be the president having to issue orders or to order executive branch offices to maintain the law so that it continues to honor its promises.
The president is never a lame duck when it comes to foreign policy, and Obama will not be an exception. The world is on fire as we speak and the United States will play a role in unwinding many of the conflicts that engulf it. Critics have been unsparing in their denunciations of Obama’s seemingly uninspiring handling of foreign affairs, but many on the right are calling for actions that the United States will not, and should not, take, such as sending troops or issuing ultimatums. Economic sanctions will have an effect on Vladimir Putin, and I think he understands this which is why he continues to push for separatist actions in Ukraine. Obama’s continuing contact with Benjamin Netanyahu will result in a cease-fire and long-term cessation of hostilities because the American president still carries great weight in the region. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya look hopeless, but a concerted American effort will yield some results. Ultimately, these countries will have to solve problems on their own, but each will look abroad for help. Obama will be there.
Labeling a president as a lame duck is dangerous business in today’s world technology has made everything faster and response time smaller. The economy is improving, but if the gains in the stock market prove to be a bubble, then the president will need to act quickly. Any number of natural disasters would require a response. And if the GOP ever gets the message that tax policy, infrastructure improvements and immigration really do need more attention than suing or impeaching Obama, then perhaps we could have a significant bill before the next election.
I can dream, no?
This story is still developing, but preliminary reports are saying the plane, carrying almost 300 passengers, may have been shot down when it entered Russian airspace. It crashed in Ukraine.
The jet was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
With Russian forces already in the area, the US Navy is now getting involved.
The U.S. Navy is sending a destroyer into the Black Sea in the coming days as a symbolic gesture of support for Ukraine and other allies in the region, according to two senior defense officials.
The USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer based in Rota, Spain, and will travel to the Black Sea “in the next week or so,” according to one senior defense official.
The ship will take part in to-be-scheduled exercises with allies in the region — most likely pass exercises, where ships from different nations pass one another while at sea — and the Donald Cook will make several to-be-scheduled port calls.
Mitt Romney seems to have all the answers, except how to win an election or how to accept the reality that he lost and bow out gracefully.
The two-time loser jumped at the opportunity to attack President Obama on his handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He actually called the president naive.
Said Romney on a Sunday talk show;
“There’s no question but that the president’s naivete with regards to Russia, and his faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives, has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face.
“And unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia’s intentions, the president wasn’t able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you’re seeing in the Ukraine, as well as the things that you’re seeing in Syria.”
Back in 2012 while he was running his failed campaign for president, Romney called Russia “our number one geopolitical foe.” For that statement, Romney took some well deserved criticisms from the president and he appeared weak on foreign policy like someone with no knowledge of what they speak, almost reminiscent of Sarah Palin.
This was Romney’s chance vindicate himself, to tell everyone that he was correct in calling Russia our number one foe. But again, he got slammed by the President.
“With respect to Romney’s assertion that Russia is our number one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that America has a whole lot of challenges. Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”
Time to have a seat Romney, this match was over almost two years ago.
Perhaps it’s just me, but this time of year seems to be the boring period between the fun of a nasty winter and the beginning of a well-earned spring. And I’m not just talking about the weather. American politics is on hiatus at this moment because it’s too early to get too riled up by the prospect of electing another do-nothing Congress, and since the one we have now is essentially done for the year, what else is there to talk about? The Affordable Care Act? Boring. Marriage equality? Done. The lost Malaysian plane? Probably found and the story will make a great movie one summer. Ukraine? Potentially deadly and maybe the foremost threat to world peace presently in the news.
This is not to say that these stories are not important because they are, but there doesn’t seem to be any movement or progress or yes-we-canism alive at the moment. The Republicans are still trying to figure out what it believes in and how it can appeal to groups that have shunned its message so far. The House will most likely remain in their hands, which guarantees us another two years of bills that will not become law until a GOP president is elected (shudder). And the Senate will probably also go red, but I’ve already treated that scenario.
I am not, though, down in the dumps. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about whether religious companies can stop providing certain forms of birth control the ACA requires because it would be a violation of their religious rights. I’m thinking that Justice Roberts is aching to get back on the conservative horse he dismounted two years ago in the health care law case, but Justice Kennedy might be the wild card in this one. It is certain that Justice Scalia will lament the end of the republic if he’s on the losing side.
And the health care law will survive because about six million people will have signed up for insurance through the exchanges or Medicaid and throwing them off the rolls is just too mean for even today’s Republican Party. The law needs fixing and that’s where the focus is going to be in 2014 and 2016 and 2018 as companies and states decide that insurance is too expensive and want employees to sign up for the policies on the website. This will be revolutionary and the effect will be profound. I’m not surprised that neither party is really talking about this out loud, but it’s almost certain to come to pass sometime within the next five years.
As for Vlad the Invader, I’m not ruling out a bit of shooting in Ukraine or areas local to it. It will depend on whether he heeds the economic warnings his aides are no doubt giving him. My sense is that Putin will ask for something big in return, negotiate, and take something smaller that gives him a say in Ukraine, but not the whole country. In the end, Ukraine will make a deal with the EU, but will always need to watch its eastern back.
All of this is in the future, and you can feel free to pay attention to it since you’re obviously not winning $1 billion dollars on March Madness because nobody has a perfect bracket left. The best we can hope for is common sense and pride in a job well done. Some things never change.
Despite earlier declarations from opposition leaders in Kiev that the Crimea referendum was illegal and Crimea would always be part of Ukraine, yesterday a plan was announced that Ukraine would pull out all its forces from Crimea. The forces, some 25,000 personnel, will be relocated to parts of Ukraine outside of the Crimea region.
Though not a formal recognition of Russian control over Crimea, it’s pretty close.
While the provisional government in Kiev has insisted that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is illegal and has appealed to international supporters for help, the evacuation announcement by the head of the national security council, Andriy Parubiy, effectively amounted to a surrender of Crimea, at least from a military standpoint.
It came hours after militiamen, backed by Russian forces, seized the headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy in Sevastopol and detained its commander, in what appeared to be the start of a concerted effort to oust the Ukrainian armed forces from outposts throughout the peninsula.
In his opening monologue, Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show briefly mentioned the incident involving Russia and Ukraine.