Morning Must Reads: October 22

In the news: drone strikes in Pakistan; the Obamacare rollout is a mess; Tuesday's jobs report; Chris Christie and gay marriage; Mitch McConnell's 2014 race; Government shutdown hammers Republicans in new poll

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Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

  • Obama: Government ‘Working Overtime’ to Fix Health-Law Problems [TIME]
    • Health insurance exchange launched despite signs of serious problems [WashPost]
    • Forty-six percent of Americans polled on Oct. 9 to 13, while the shutdown was in full swing, said the Affordable Care Act’s online insurance exchanges were working ‘not too well’ or ‘not working at all,’ according to Pew [TIME]
    • Obamacare website for Spanish speakers has problems, too [National Journal]
  • “Two influential human rights groups say they have freshly documented dozens of civilian deaths in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, contradicting assertions by the Obama administration that such casualties are rare.” [WashPost]
    • “In the telling of some American officials, the C.I.A. drone campaign in Pakistan has been a triumph with few downsides: In more than 300 missile attacks there since 2008, dozens of Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and the pace of the strikes, which officials frequently describe as ‘surgical’ and ‘contained,’ has dropped sharply over the past year. But viewed from Miram Shah, the frontier Pakistani town that has become a virtual test laboratory for drone warfare, the campaign has not been the antiseptic salve portrayed in Washington…” [NYT]
  • What to Watch for in Tuesday’s Jobs Report [WSJ]
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Caves on Marriage Equality: A Change in the GOP Ranks Ahead of 2016 [BuzzFeed]
  • The Most Important Election of 2014 [Roll Call]
  • Favorable/Unfavorable Impression: 50%/48% for the President; 46%/49% for Democrats; 32%/63% for Republicans; 26%/59% for tea party movement [Washington Post-ABC poll]
969 comments
sacredh
sacredh

OT, but my 40th high school reunion was held last month. I've only been to one (the 15th). Over 1/4 of the people I graduated with have died.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Mantis posted a ThinkProgress article saying how Rand Paul's proposed amendment would make them eligible for every tax credit or other benefit ever given to anyone - an argument I dismissed as not surviving a Supreme Court hearing.  I was thinking about it and a I realized that there is a real problem: Congressional Ethics laws which *single out* Congress people's to certain rules about what they can and cannot do with their money would likely run into problems with Rand's proposed amendment, possibly allowing for Congress People to be recipients of millions of dollars of personal "gifts" with no right by the American public to learn of it.

sacredh
sacredh

OT, but we were going on an O/U on the Obamacare thread the other day for 1250. It looks like it finished at 1202. I lost.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Hey Curly. Tell us again how Obama got fooled and Assad will never destroy his chemical weapons.

Syria Chemical Weapons Destruction Proceeding On Schedule

The United Nations’ coordinator for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons on Tuesday announced that the process was going smoothly with the full cooperation of Syria, a prospect that many of the most hopeful of the deal hadn’t deemed likely.

Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag, who is acting as the go-between for the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Damascus on Monday after meeting with OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü over the weekend. “To date, the Government of Syria has fully cooperated in supporting the work of the advance team and the OPCW-UN Joint Mission,” Kaag said in a statement from Syria.

The 60-person OPCW team has been on the ground for several weeks now and began the process of destroying equipment related to Syria’s chemical weapons on October 6. “Inspections have been conducted at 17 sites,” the OPCW said in an update on its website on Monday. “At 14 sites the inspectors carried out activities related to the destruction of critical equipment to make the facilities inoperable.”

Since the deal between the United States and Russia was formalized in late September at the United Nations, there’s been an outpouring of international assistance to aid in the mission. The State Department announced on Monday that the U.S. sent ten armored car Chevrolet Suburbans to help the team conduct its inspections, bringing the total American aid to the mission to $6 million. The German military’s U.N. Training Centre has been providing simulations and exercises for OPCW members to help prepare them for working in the midst of a combat zone, while Norway has been tapped to possibly help destroy the actual chemical weapons compounds.

Even states that have backed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have proven eager to aid in ridding his regime of its weapons of mass destruction. China was quick to announce that it was recommending 10 chemical weapons experts to aid in the dismantling process as well as financial support. Russia has also reportedly offered to provide security to the inspectors as they carry out their task. The first U.N. team to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria was met with sniper fire; the current joint OPCW/U.N. mission has thus far avoided such a fate.

Despite the early successes, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power made clear at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Tuesday the enormity of the task ahead. “Make no mistake, what we are attempting is without precedent,” she said. “Never before have international experts been asked to locate, secure and destroy a vast quantity of nerve agents, toxins and other chemical arms in a country torn apart by conflict.”

Nor did Power mince words about the concerns that Syria will be unable to fulfill the provisions of the Council’s binding resolution on the topic. “The responsibility for complying with Resolution 2118 rests with Syria’s leadership, which built these weapons of mass destruction; then lied about them; then used them; then promised – under international pressure – to cooperate in eliminating them,” Power said.

The skepticism Power displayed is still far less than what some expressed when the deal between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was first announced. At the time, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) — two of the chief Republican advocates for President Obama launching military strikes against Syria — slammed the agreement as meaningless. “It requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything other than the start of a diplomatic blind alley,” the two said in a joint statement, “and the Obama administration is being led into it by Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin.”

Other Republicans at the time seemed wary of the deal, but willing to give the diplomatic option a chance. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told the New York Times that he believed that the shift from possible military intervention over the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds was a positive development. “I hope it works out,” Johnson said of Obama’s new tactic. “I truly do. If he succeeds with this framework, people have to give him credit.” None of the Republican offices contacted for comment on today’s announcement from the U.N. returned ThinkProgress’ request at the time of publication.

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sacredh
sacredh

@Sue_N, honestly, I was glad someplace on earth came up.

sacredh
sacredh

@Sue_N, we both landed on the left coast. surprise, surprise. 

sacredh
sacredh

@Sue_N, i clicked on "Take The Test" but nothing happens. 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@sacredh I've never been to any of my hs reunions. There were more than 500 people in my class, and the only ones I'd care to see again are always on the "lost contact with" list. I feel closer to the 30+ folks in hubby's class, so we go to his instead.

sacredh
sacredh

I tried a half dozen times to post this link until I figured out that the KIan in the link was sending it to hell.

sacredh
sacredh

@forgottenlord, they're not satisified with blatant fleecing. They want the fleecings to continue behind closed doors too. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@forgottenlord  

We have a problem in that the makeup of the Supreme Court has spawned Citizens' United, a truly horrible decision likely to be a watershed event if we can't stem the tide of money in politics.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@mantisdragon91 I'm hoping that when Rafael runs for president, he lets his father speak freely and often. That should terrify the independents.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@sacredh

I'm mystified. The most uninhibited state is Pennsylvania. That's right next door to you.

The egg shouldn't fall that far from the tree, should it?

sacredh
sacredh

@Sue_N, like I've said before, I live in a conservative, rural area. There were only 51 people in my graduating glass. As a bit of fun trivia, 35 of them had tried weed by the time they graduated. How many of them tried it first with me? 35.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@MrObvious

They seem a little anemic lately.  They tire easily.  Must be all that raging they're doing.  The snarl at flowers, they snarl at the sunrise, the snarl at the sunset, and they snarl when the flowers die.

The even snarl at the thought of snarling.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb @mantisdragon91 That report like most stuff on Free Bacon is Garbage. Assad would never release chems into Hezbollah's hands. He know that they would use them on Israel,  who would quickly figure out where they came from and respond accordingly. He maybe a tyrant, be he isn't stupid or suicidal.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@TyPollard @mantisdragon91 

Hard to say. One is about the truth and the other is absolutely politically neutral independence. I mean it's the same right? Plus colli info is more condensed into 'third grade' as standard indication of maximum truth.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@collioure

So Mantis's evidence and argument is an actual article.  I doubt you've got evidence but you must at least have a complex argument explaining why the UN would be of the opinion that Syria is cooperating when it's not.  What is it?

MementoMori
MementoMori

@collioure @mantisdragon91  And you're short-sighted.

By "naive", I'm going to assume you believe the Syrian regime is secretly hiding chem weapons and has no intention of destroying all of their stockpile.

Ok, lets say you're right.

What happens if Syria ever attempts to use their secret stash of hidden chem weapons?

I'll tell you - a near unified UN and all it's allies come down on Syria like the wrath of multiple gods because Syria lied to everyone. That's how politics works, or in other words, "you are so naive" to believe that it's only their word that matters when it comes to enforcement going forward.


fitty_three
fitty_three

@collioure 

Shorter @collioure  

"Don't believe anything you hear except me and FUX. 

Everyone knows that Obama is a stinker, and if you don't take my word for it, you're stupid."

sacredh
sacredh

@fitty_three, I live in a tri-state area. Believe me, a 5 mile drive is like night and day. You can be in a fairly liberal area and five miles away it's Deliverance. Banjoes, rotten teeth and all.

sacredh
sacredh

@Sue_N, I think you're right. There's no place like home. Here's something that has always made me laugh. Most of my friends are conservatives. I've also had mostly the same friends for decades. If I make a friend, it's usually for the long haul. Out of all of my friends, not one of their children has ever NOT gotten along with me. I've know my boss for almost 30 years. When his daughter was 5, she wanted to marry me.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@fitty_three @MrObvious 

Unfortunate for them there are no polls ambiguous enough that are a toss between one party over the other. They're all pretty brutal in assigning guilt for actions despite Medias attempt to control the narrative and it's clear how much contempt most people have for the teabillies.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@collioure

The resolution has a fixed length to complete it's work.  Syria has 9 months.

And most analysts believe that Russia is just as interested as the US to have Syria drop its Chemical Weapons because they have the same terrorist concerns the US has - arguably even moreso.  With terrorists having controlled parts of the country at various times and with Jihadists regularly showing up in Chechnya as fighters (including the elder Tsarnarev brother and 13 of the 19 hijackers), they likely have even greater concerns than the US of terrorists getting their hands on Syrian chemical weapons.  Russia doesn't want the US to invade - they want Assad to remain in power - but that doesn't mean they blindly support Assad in everything.

collioure
collioure

@forgottenlord 

 This is going to go on for a long while.  The process will be strung out.

 And Russia will never agree to punish Syria, its client

MementoMori
MementoMori

@collioure @MementoMori @mantisdragon91 

Veto violations of their own rules? Even for Putin, that's a tough dance to pull off. And even if he tries, Syria will still be a rogue state to the rest of the word.

Again, it's all about the politics of blowback. The truth has little place in politics. Unfortunately. Repercussions, however, do.

collioure
collioure

@MementoMori @collioure @mantisdragon91  

You're on the right track.

Syria is not going to give everything up. 

This process takes months and years, and there's no enforcement mechanism.

Meanwhile the war may end, more major events may take the world stage . . .