|9:09 PM, Jan 25, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Speaker of the House John Boehner told CBS's 60 Minutes that he's "interested in working with" President Barack Obama:
"Listen, the president and I talk, and I know Mitch [McConnell] talks to the president. Wnd we had a meeting at the White House last week. It was all very cordial, it was all very straightforward. I don't think that's the issue," said Boehner in response to a question about whether Republicans and Democrats can work together.
"You know, the president could have, at the State of the Union, just put out an olive branch, could've taken just a little bit different tone that would've indicated to us that there's some interest in working with us. I can tell you, we're interested in working with him."
'I hope to leave a favorable impression.'8:53 PM, Jan 25, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama will give a Super Bowl Sunday interview to a host of NBC's Today Show, Savannah Guthrie. The news tucked away in a Los Angeles Times profile of the host.
On Sunday, she will have the plum assignment of interviewing President Obama live from the White House during NBC's pre-game coverage of the Super Bowl, likely putting her before more viewers than ever before. The previous two presidential Super Bowl interviews on NBC had been handled by her co-anchor, Matt Lauer.
"I hope to leave a favorable impression," she said, failing to keep a straight face as she did.
For Guthrie, 43, the new deal is recognition of having successfully navigating one of the most tumultuous transitions in the 63-year history of "Today."
She took over the co-anchor chair alongside Lauer in June 2012 after Ann Curry was yanked from the job after one year. Curry's tearful sign-off was so emotional, there was talk in the "Today" control room about cutting the audio feed from her microphone.
12:18 PM, Jan 25, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says it won't be easy to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The outgoing Pentagon chief made the comments to NPR:
Can Obama keep his revised promise to close the Guantanamo facility before leaving office? "It's going to be very difficult," Hagel said, "especially if the Congress further restricts where these last 122 detainees go." Congress has already barred them from being sent to the United States.
NPR has more:
Hagel's resignation, never fully explained in public, was privately blamed on a variety of factors – one of them being White House frustration with his handling of Guantanamo. No detainee could be transferred out of the prison until Hagel certified that the prisoner would be placed in some other situation where he would not pose a threat to the United States. This was not easy to do.
In the NPR interview, Hagel said that transferring any detainee required action from many parts of the federal government. Diplomats, for example, had to find a country willing to receive each detainee, since there is no political appetite to allow them into the United States. Hagel added that he had a duty not to formally certify that any detainee could leave until there had been "substantial mitigation of risk of these individuals returning to the battlefield to threaten the United States or our people or our allies."
"Has there been a slowing of that [process], which hasn't always made me popular in some quarters? Yes," Hagel said.
"I've made that very clear to the president and to everyone, to the Congress: If it's my responsibility by law, which it is as secretary of defense, then I will do everything I can because the American people rely on that."
Of course, as NPR notes, Obama promised to close Gitmo as soon as he became president of the United States.
10:41 AM, Jan 25, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Denis McDonough appeared to slip up in an interview with ABC when he revealed the previously unknown name on an American being held by ISIS:
Asked the ABC News anchor: "We also have that threat from ISIS. Any hope of saving that second Japanese hostage? And do we have any information on the American woman still being held?"
"Well, the president had a good talk overnight our time here with Prime Minister Abe, underscoring our continued support for and partnership with the Japanese. They making this huge investment halfway around the world like we are in Iraq and Syria against ISIS," said McDonough.
"And as it relates to our hostages, we are obviously continuing to work those matters very, very aggressively. We are sparing no expense, and sparing no effort, both in trying to make sure that we know where they are and make sure that we're prepared to do anything we must to try to get them home. But [REDACTED] family knows how strongly the president feels about this. And we will continue to work this."
The name of the American woman being held by ISIS was previously unnamed.
McDonough's mistake was first noticed by ABC foreign editor Jon Williams:
UPDATE: Citing security concerns, someone close to the family of the named ISIS hostage asked for her name to be removed from this post.
9:23 PM, Jan 24, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
"The United States is losing the war with radical Islamists," Newt Gingrich told a group of conservatives at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines.
And while Gingrich skewered President Obama and his foreign policy, he said part of the problem resides with Republicans as well. "We have an elite, frankly in both parties, unwilling to tell the truth."
While many of the speakers at the Iowa event suggested they'd be running for president, Gingrich made no suggestion himself (and has previously said he won't run again in 2016).
8:49 PM, Jan 24, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
New Jersey governor Chris Christie spoke earlier today at Rep. Steve King's Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines. Christie may well have been the 2016 presidential candidate at the confab with the reputation for the most moderate conservative views. But while at first he was greeted with very modest applause, at the end of his 25 minute speech, he received a standing ovation from the conservative crowd:
"The world can't do without a second American century, and neither can my children or yours do without America being a strong, resolute leader in this world. I will guarantee you this, for me, I will not be willingly a part of a generation that makes John Adams repent in heaven for having made the sacrifices that he and our Founding Fathers made for the liberty we enjoy and the freedom we live under today, and I'm here today because I do not believe that any of the patriots in this room want to be a part of a generation that turns over to our children a lesser, smaller America than the one that was given to us.
"It is time for us to stand up and fight together for the country that we were given, for the country we believe in, for the country the world needs, and for the country I want my children and your children's to have. If you are willing to fight with me, I will always stand with you and fight with you and tell you the truth. God bless this country, and God bless all of you."
Christie was certainly not the best received candidate at the confab. But he was apparently able to win over the crowd.
3:38 PM, Jan 24, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama confirmed and condemned the death of a Japanese man at the hands of the Islamic State in this statement:
"The United States strongly condemns the brutal murder of Japanese citizen Haruna Yukawa by the terrorist group ISIL. Our condolences today are with the people of Japan for their terrible loss. We renew our call for the immediate release of Kenji Goto and all other remaining hostages. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally Japan and applaud its commitment to peace and development in a region far from its shores. We will work together to bring the perpetrators of these murders to justice and will continue to take decisive action to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL."
His words still call to us.
4:01 PM, Jan 23, 2015 • By RICHARD M. LANGWORTH
Anyone reading this knows where he was on September 11, 2001. A diminishing number remember where they were on January 30, 1965—the day we said farewell to Winston Churchill. (He died fifty years ago, January 24, 1965.)
For me it was a life-changing experience. Suddenly, unforgettably, on my flickering, black and white TV screen in New York City, the huge void of Westminster Abbey filled with The Battle Hymn of the Republic. He was, we were reminded, half-American, an honorary citizen by Act of Congress.
That day was the start of my 50-year career in search of Churchill—of what his greatest biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, calls, “labouring in the vineyard.”
After the funeral I picked up The Gathering Storm, the first volume of his World War II memoirs. I was snared by what Robert Pilpel called his “roast beef and pewter phrases.” It’s biased, as he admitted—“This is not history; this is my case.” But it is so ordered as to put you at his side for the “great climacterics” that made us what we are today.
Churchill’s life spanned sixty years of prominence, unmatched in recent history. Of course, he insisted, “nothing surpasses 1940.” That was the year Britain and the Commonwealth—“the old lion with her lion cubs,” as he put it, “stood alone against hunters who are armed with deadly weapons” until “those who hitherto had been half blind were half ready.”
But I soon learned there was more to Churchill than 1940. Martin Gilbert wrote: “As I open file after file of Churchill’s archive, from his entry into Government in 1905 to his retirement in 1955, I am continually surprised by the truth of his assertions, the modernity of his thought, the originality of his mind, the constructiveness of his proposals, his humanity, and, most remarkable of all, his foresight.”
And what foresight. Churchill predicted mobile phones, jet and rocket travel, 24/7 media, genetic engineering. He warned of the dangers of nuclear war, fifteen years before Einstein wrote his famous letter to Roosevelt on the implications of splitting the atom. This so-called war enthusiast said of war: “What vile and utter folly and barbarism it all is.”
This same Churchill negotiated the nonnegotiable—a treaty establishing Irish independence. Michael Collins, one of the IRA revolutionaries who worked with him, declared: “Tell Winston we could have done nothing without him.”
In Cairo he helped draw the boundaries of today’s Middle East—an act some say we should not thank him for. Yet they established a stable Jordan, which is there yet. Vainly he tried to create a Kurdish homeland, “to protect the Kurds from some future bully in Iraq.” The optimist in him called for a Jewish homeland: He could not understand how the Arabs would not welcome Jews who made “a fertile garden” of the land both inhabited.
3:05 PM, Jan 23, 2015 • By JAY COST
News today came that Marco Rubio looks likely to run for president. What to make of this?
The knock on Rubio, of course, is his support for the Senate immigration bill. I second these criticisms -- and have written about how the bill is bad for the middle class and is riddled with payoffs to corporate America. I don’t think Rubio is reliable on immigration, although I am guessing that he feels duly chastened by his experience in 2013 and 2014.
But then again I do not think any of the major Republican contenders -- outside Ted Cruz -- is reliable on this issue. The fact of the matter is that there is a disconnect within the Republican party on this issue. The financial interests that bankroll the party’s campaign want one thing -- something akin to the Senate bill -- while its grassroots voters want something else. So long as campaigns cost so much money, while grassroots voters have no practical alternative but to back the GOP, ambitious Republicans will lean to the “left” side of this issue. That’s just politics -- hate to say it, but it’s true.
That being said, the grassroots has a powerful ally on this issue: Southern Republicans, especially in the House. They fought back corporatist immigration reforms twice in the last decade. One of the great things about the South coming into the Republican party is that the Southern populism that made the Democrats so interesting from 1880-1930 is now ensconced in the GOP. Combined with the small-town Midwesterners who have been in the party since its founding -- it is darned near impossible, I reckon, to sneak a bad immigration bill through the House.
By the same token, these regions are notably weak in influencing presidential nomination processes because they don’t pony up the scratch to influence the field as it starts to form. They just get to make a selection between two, maybe three, candidates after it has winnowed.
So, Rubio’s “heresy” on immigration is not actually that heretical if you take a money-weighted average of party sentiment (i.e. the opinions of those who contribute more count for more). And, I’m guessing, most of the major aspirants would have supported the bill if the conservatives in the House hadn’t forced them to oppose it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the status quo in the nominating process is awful. Money matters far more than it should, and I think it is ultimately inhibiting the party from rebranding itself as a true reformist coalition. Jeffrey Anderson and I have criticized the nomination process at length in other venues. But our efforts to get the powers-that-be to take a closer look at sensible reforms went off like a lead balloon. The process is what it is for the foreseeable future, and I think it guarantees somebody who basically agrees with Rubio on immigration reform.
2:35 PM, Jan 23, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Japan’s government is running out of time, writes Adam Pasick at Quartz:
A Friday deadline looms for demands made by the Islamic State, which says it will kill two Japanese hostages if it doesn’t receive a $200 million ransom payment. That’s the same amount of aid that prime minister Shinzo Abe pledged to countries that are battling ISIL during a Middle East tour last week.
The Japanese government hopes to prevent the execution, and is, according to a spokesman:
… trying to tell ISIL that its ransom demands were due to a “misunderstanding,” since the aid was designated for refugees and humanitarian programs, not to kill Muslims, as the group has claimed. “We are sending the message that, contrary to what the criminals are saying, we are absolutely not trying to kill people in the Muslim world.”
'Obviously the biggest error that we could make would be to blame Muslims collectively for crimes not committed by Muslims alone.'1:19 PM, Jan 23, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Secretary of State John Kerry argued that, as the Associated Press phrased it, "violent extremism is not Islamic" in a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos:
"Today we are witnessing more than a form of criminal anarchy. A nihilism which illegitimately claims an idealogical and religious foundation," said Kerry.
"Against this enemy we are increasingly organizing and fighting back. But in doing so, we have to also keep our heads. Obviously the biggest error that we could make would be to blame Muslims collectively for crimes not committed by Muslims alone. Crimes that the overwhelming majority of Muslims oppose. Crimes that their faith utterly rejects. And that Muslim leaders themselves have the greatest ability to address.
"Religions don't require adherence to raze villages and blow up people. It's individuals, with a distorted and an even ignorant interpretation of religion who do that."
12:12 PM, Jan 23, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Louisiana governor and potential presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said it was a "shame" that House Republican leaders had to put aside a bill banning abortions occuring after the 20th week of pregnancy. Speaking on Fox News Thursday night, the Republican said, "it shouldn't take a lot of political courage to stand up and say we are going to end late-term abortions in America."
Jindal was responding to the decision by the Republican House to table a bill after some members of the GOP conference raised concerns about some of the language regarding rape exceptions. This, despite the fact that these members had voted for a bill with the exact same language in 2013.
"I wish the leadership had had the courage of their convictions," said Jindal. "Yesterday they said they were going to bring this bill up for a vote today. They blinked. They didn't do it. Now they are saying some time in the future. I think it's a shame." Watch the video below:
The House did pass a bill to prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for abortions.
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