Politico columnist Roger Simon wonders why the U.S. has stumbled into a third war, which is costing millions a day on top of the ongoing price tag in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps President Barack Obama is trying the hit the trifecta, Simon muses, although the author does ask some serious questions.
Who are the rebels? Who is arming them? What is their agenda? What kind of government — democratic, religious fundamentalist, terrorist — will replace Muammar Qadhafi? We do not know. Those parts of Operation Odyssey Dawn — the first military operation named after a stripper, as David Letterman dryly put it — are not specified.
Meanwhile, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has handed Republicans an issue for her 2012 re-election bid by announcing her family failed to pay taxes on a private airplane parked at a suburban St. Louis airport. Not sure which is more disturbing — that McCaskill “forgot” about paying taxes or that she could immediately cut a $287,000 check to cover the oversight.
The Daily Beast chronicles the most powerful, deadliest earthquakes ever, and provides photos and video from the earthquake in Japan — where the death toll is expected to top 1,000. Click here for the report.
Mark Halperin, writing in Time magazine, believes President Barack Obama will need some luck to win back the core groups that helped elect him in 2008. That usually translates into an “event.” For Bill Clinton, it was the Oklahoma City bombing. For Geroge W. Bush, it was 9/11.
The coalition that got Barack Obama elected President just two years ago has been shattered. Gaming out the trajectory of the next two years can be done any number of ways, but Obama’s efforts to rebuild a politically robust alliance will be the most telling. It may be the biggest challenge of his career — and he will need happenstance along with skill if he is going to get it done.
The New York Times reports that the mounting debt facing states like Illinois, which is still paying off billions in bills that it got from schools and social service providers last year, is stoking fears of a future financial crisis.
While next year could be even worse, there are bigger, longer-term risks, financial analysts say. Their fear is that even when the economy recovers, the shortfalls will not disappear, because many state and local governments have so much debt — several trillion dollars’ worth, with much of it off the books and largely hidden from view — that it could overwhelm them in the next few years.
With WikiLeakls next release apparently targeting Bank of America, traders fear a subprime lending scandal will be exposed. Charlie Gasparino talks with someone who has read the leaked files and offers his assessment for The Daily Beast.
Fifty years ago, the world was shaped in a certain way, to promote certain values, because America had the leverage to shape it that way. We have been steadily losing that leverage because of our twin addictions to Middle East oil and Chinese credit — and the WikiLeaks show just what crow we have to eat because of that.
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is disheartened by a poll earlier this month that shows 47 percent of Americans believe the country’s best days are behind us. That sobering assessment doesn’t come from worry about the rising national deficit, which the flood of recent campaign ads suggested, but rather because most people do not see a plan — a hybrid political plan — that would make America great again.
… We have to get this plan for nation-building right because we are driving without a spare tire or a bumper. The bailouts and stimulus that we have administered to ourselves have left us without much cushion. There may be room, and even necessity, for a little more stimulus. But we have to get this moment right. We don’t get a do-over. If we fail to come together and invest, spend and cut really wisely, we’re heading for a fall — and if America becomes weak, your kids won’t just grow up in a different country, they will grow up in a different world.
Despite the many advances in technology that have created a 24/7 news cycle, it appears a lot of people aren’t paying attention.
Meredith Shiner of Politico points out that fewer than half of all Americans know that Republicans will have a majority in the House next year, but not the Senate, according to a new poll.
Only 46 percent of respondents in a Pew Research poll released Thursday knew that the GOP had taken over only the House, while a mere 38 percent can identify Ohio Republican John Boehner (at left) as the incoming speaker. Three times as many young people, aged under 30, could properly identify Google’s new phone software, Android (at right), as could identify Boehner.
Additionally, 27 percent of Americans do not know if the Republicans won either chamber of Congress while 5 percent believe the Democrats kept both chambers. Fourteen percent said the Republicans won both chambers. Most respondents said Republicans generically did better than Democrats this cycle. Seventy-five percent of all respondents regarded the GOP as “doing the best” in the 2010 elections.
What’s scary is that some of these people who have no grasp on the issues are voting. Others are commentators on cable TV.
The Watergate legend is out with his 16th book on Monday, “Obama’s Wars,” this time after being granted access to the Obama White House. Politico reports that administration officials hope their cooperation will lead a largely sympathetic portrait, although President George W. Bush was hoping for the same thing, gaining mixed results.
The New York Times says the picture that emerges is of an administration grappling with tough questions of war and peace, but doing so amid the palace intrigue of who’s up, who’s down and who’s not on speaking terms.
The Washington Post says the book reveals President Obama urgently looked for a way out of the war in Afghanistan last year, repeatedly pressing his top military advisers for an exit plan that they never gave him. The Post notes that the book focuses “on the strategy review, and the dissension, distrust and infighting that consumed Obama’s national security team as it was locked in a fierce and emotional struggle over the direction, goals, timetable, troop levels and the chances of success” in the Afghanistan war.
The book notes battles with former military commanders — and with Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, the Post said in a story.
Guess I will have to make room for another volume on the Woodward shelf in the mancave, just below the David Halberstam shelf.