Donald Trump asks the question frequently, and always with a sneer: If President Barack Obama knew that Vladimir Putin had intervened in the United States’ election with the direct intention of helping Trump, why did Obama wait so long to say anything? The answer detailed in a new story from the Washington Post
turns out to be simple: First, Obama was trying to do the right things. Second, Republicans stopped that from happening.
As former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified
earlier this week, the Russian activity in the election went beyond just hacking into emails, beyond distributing those emails through Wikileaks, and beyond creating a stream of fake-news stories that were eagerly shared by alt-right websites and social media. Russia took unprecedented “active measures,” attempting to penetrate state databases and alter or delete voter roles.
It was tantamount a secret declaration of war by Russia, and the Obama administration treated it the security and care that it deserved.
Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. …
The material was so sensitive that CIA Director John Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid.
At that early stage, they couldn’t tell the full extent of the Russian operations. They didn’t know the scale of the attack. They couldn’t tell who in the United States might be cooperating with the Russians. They could only be certain about one thing.
The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.
Quietly, the intelligence community went to work as resources were dedicated to the issue and other agencies attempted to confirm or deny the information gathered by the CIA. If Obama had revealed the information, and the intelligence turned out to be false, he would certainly have been guilty of interfering with the election himself. Considering the import of the information, it was possible that simply talking about it openly could move the conflict from cyberspace to the battlefield. So Obama proceeded with caution, working to confirm the CIA’s intelligence and searching for ways to respond to Russian action. He needed to build a case that would hold up in front of both Republican leaders in Congress and the public.
It took time for other parts of the intelligence community to endorse the CIA’s view. Only in the administration’s final weeks in office did it tell the public, in a declassified report, what officials had learned from Brennan in August — that Putin was working to elect Trump.
Donald Trump throws that delay out there as not just a taunt, but proof that he is somehow “innocent.” Because if Trump had even a hint of information, he would have fired it straight out of his Twitter gun. Trump demonstrated this many times during the election and since, as repeated even the most tenuous and ludicrous rumor as if it were accepted fact.
Obama wasn’t going to do that. It wasn’t a matter of “staying classy.” It was a matter of following the law, protecting the nation, and reaching a result that was more than a revenge tweet. Obama was concerned that going public with the information in the early days invited both criticism and speculation. On the most basic leave, President Obama was simply trying to ensure that his actions didn’t make the situation worse
But as carefully and thoroughly as the intelligence community assembled a case, there was one point they couldn’t get past.
Obama instructed aides to ... seek bipartisan support from congressional leaders for a statement condemning Moscow and urging states to accept federal help.
None of that happened. Some Republican leaders in Congress put off even meeting with intelligence officials, delaying the process by weeks. Meanwhile, Jeh Johnson attempted to designate election infrastructure as “critical,” in order to give them the same protection provided to defense contractors.
Brian Kemp, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia, used the call to denounce Johnson’s proposal as an assault on state rights. “I think it was a politically calculated move by the previous administration,” Kemp said in a recent interview, adding that he remains unconvinced that Russia waged a campaign to disrupt the 2016 race. “I don’t necessarily believe that,” he said.
In short: Republicans were—and are—more concerned with hurting Obama than they were in stopping Russia. In a sense, Republicans as a group
colluded with Russia, in that they refused to take action to protect the nation against intrusion. And it wasn’t just random state level officials. When Congressional leadership finally met with the intelligence community for a briefing ...
“The Dems were, ‘Hey, we have to tell the public,’ ” recalled one participant. But Republicans resisted, arguing that to warn the public that the election was under attack would further Russia’s aim of sapping confidence in the system.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went further, officials said, voicing skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims. Through a spokeswoman, McConnell declined to comment, citing the secrecy of that meeting.
The answer to why Barack Obama didn’t speak out more strongly and more early about Russian interference for Trump, is because Republicans blazed the trail Trump is still following: They refused to cooperate, placing party above country.
CHAOS and DARKNESS vs OPTIMISM
This morning, speaking from the Roosevelt Room, the President announced that the State Department determined that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States.
Here's the full text of his remarks -- they're worth a read.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Several years ago, the State Department began a review process for the proposed construction of a pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil through our heartland to ports in the Gulf of Mexico and out into the world market.
This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision.
This morning, I also had the opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada. And while he expressed his disappointment, given Canada’s position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change, should provide the basis for even closer coordination between our countries going forward. And in the coming weeks, senior members of my team will be engaging with theirs in order to help deepen that cooperation.
Now, for years, the Keystone Pipeline has occupied what I, frankly, consider an overinflated role in our political discourse. It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter. And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.
To illustrate this, let me briefly comment on some of the reasons why the State Department rejected this pipeline.
First: The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy. So if Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it. If they want to do it, what we should be doing is passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan that, in the short term, could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would, and in the long run would benefit our economy and our workers for decades to come.
Our businesses created 268,000 new jobs last month. They’ve created 13.5 million new jobs over the past 68 straight months -- the longest streak on record. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent. This Congress should pass a serious infrastructure plan, and keep those jobs coming. That would make a difference. The pipeline would not have made a serious impact on those numbers and on the American people’s prospects for the future.
Second: The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling -- steadily. The national average gas price is down about 77 cents over a year ago. It’s down a dollar over two years ago. It’s down $1.27 over three years ago. Today, in 41 states, drivers can find at least one gas station selling gas for less than two bucks a gallon. So while our politics have been consumed by a debate over whether or not this pipeline would create jobs and lower gas prices, we’ve gone ahead and created jobs and lowered gas prices.
Third: Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security. What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world. Three years ago, I set a goal to cut our oil imports in half by 2020. Between producing more oil here at home, and using less oil throughout our economy, we met that goal last year -- five years early. In fact, for the first time in two decades, the United States of America now produces more oil than we buy from other countries.
Now, the truth is, the United States will continue to rely on oil and gas as we transition -- as we must transition -- to a clean energy economy. That transition will take some time. But it’s also going more quickly than many anticipated. Think about it. Since I took office, we’ve doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025; tripled the power we generate from the wind; multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over. Our biggest and most successful businesses are going all-in on clean energy. And thanks in part to the investments we’ve made, there are already parts of America where clean power from the wind or the sun is finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.
The point is the old rules said we couldn’t promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time. The old rules said we couldn’t transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers. But this is America, and we have come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules, so that today, homegrown American energy is booming, energy prices are falling, and over the past decade, even as our economy has continued to grow, America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.
Today, the United States of America is leading on climate change with our investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. America is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants that will protect our air so that our kids can breathe. America is leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like China to encourage and announce new commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In part because of that American leadership, more than 150 nations representing nearly 90 percent of global emissions have put forward plans to cut pollution.
America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that’s the biggest risk we face -- not acting.
Today, we’re continuing to lead by example. Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.
As long as I’m President of the United States, America is going to hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world. And three weeks from now, I look forward to joining my fellow world leaders in Paris, where we’ve got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.
If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now. Not later. Not someday. Right here, right now. And I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish together. I’m optimistic because our own country proves, every day -- one step at a time -- that not only do we have the power to combat this threat, we can do it while creating new jobs, while growing our economy, while saving money, while helping consumers, and most of all, leaving our kids a cleaner, safer planet at the same time.
That’s what our own ingenuity and action can do. That's what we can accomplish. And America is prepared to show the rest of the world the way forward.
Thank you very much.
-- President Barack Obama
Watch the President deliver his statement here
Learn more about the President's Climate Action Plan here
to get the facts on how the President is combating climate change in the United States and mobilizing the world to take action.
by Colin Taylor
• August 25, 2015
Recent events have set off a wave of anti-Confederate iconoclasm that has been sweeping the South, encouraging people to relinquish symbols of the past and reconsider their ‘heritage’ of treason and racism. In the spirit of moving forward instead of clinging to what once was, the Riveria Beach City Council has voted to rename “Old Dixie Highway” to the “President Barack Obama Highway.
“Dixie” was a common nickname for the region in South which would eventually secede from the Union and fight the Civil War over the right to own slaves. Thus, the name “Old Dixie” is about as blatant an appeal to the old order of white supremacy as one could get; the highway itself used to be the dividing border between black and white neighborhoods during the segregation era. “You have the chance to right the wrong and make a new chapter” said one woman on name change proposal.
Reactions have been mixed, to say the least, and depending on who you ask. “There might soon be a place where Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. meet — and it won’t be just in the hearts of Americans who revere both men” gushed the Palm Beach Post. “I think that the name should stay Old Dixie cause that’s a landmark, it’s history. It was there when we came, it has been here for years and I think we should leave it there” remarked one woman who chose to remain unidentified.And then…there’s this:
Despite the above ignorance, this is truly a progressive step forward for Riviera County. America needs to be looking forward, not back. What’s done is done, and we still have yet to heal the racial wounds from that era. Renaming the highway that once literally divided black and white neighborhoods after our nation’s first black President and one of the most accomplished Presidents in our nation’s history is a very fitting way to make a positive change.
Published: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
What is going on in the Florida Legislature right now is morally and fiscally indefensible and threatens the well-being of Florida and its people.
It isn't complicated but has been made so by ideologues with power. The state has more than 800,000 people who are uninsured because they do not qualify for Medicaid or cannot afford insurance. The federal government has a contract with Florida, as with other states, to provide what is known as Low Income Pool funds to pay for hospital charity care when the poor go to an emergency room.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration told states the LIP money would be going away and urged them to replace it with a Medicaid expansion plan. So far 28 states have done so. The idea is it is more efficient medically and economically to provide regular health care to the poor somewhere besides a hospital emergency room.
The Florida Senate understood. So did Florida's major business groups, hospitals organizations and voters. A Senate Medicaid expansion plan calls for recipients to be working or in school and pay a small monthly premium. The plan, approved by Washington, would provide more care at less cost - saving an estimated $1.7 billion over five years - and create tens of thousands of jobs and pump tens of billions of dollars into Florida's economy over the next decade.
The Florida House leadership, however, has opted to play politics. Anything tied to Obamacare is anathema. From the start, Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt island, and his lieutenants have stubbornly refused to even discuss Medicaid expansion. At all. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott, who should be providing leadership toward compromise, is only exacerbating an already horrible situation. Not only is he opposing Medicaid expansion - after he was for it - he is suing the federal government for the LIP money, a case he is almost sure to lose on our dime. Scott says he does not trust the feds to provide the Medicaid expansion money - even though it is codified in the ACA law - but instead is demanding the feds keep the LIP money flowing. His stance is weak and hurts Florida and its residents.
But the damage does not stop there. Now the House and the Senate cannot complete a state budget - their singular constitutionally required task - by the end of the legislative session Friday. Their budgets are $4 billion apart, largely because of the health care impasse, and new funding for education, mental health care and new prison guards as well as some modest tax cuts are all at serious risk.
All so Scott, Crisafulli and Co. can make some ideologically driven political point that ultimately hurts real people.
Thank goodness for the adults in the Florida Senate. What Scott and the House membership are doing is endangering the health and well-being of Florida, which, contrary to the governor's economic hosannas, is still limping out of the recession.
Giving poor people access to health care while at the same time saving the state money and boosting its economy is good public policy.
Refusing to even discuss it is simply morally and fiscally indefensible.
Use this link to watch the President's address and read more about the history of that day:
The YouTube Presidential Interview
Let’s face it: the first "social media president" is no stranger to connecting to the country via YouTube.
ICYMI: President Obama sits down with Bethany Mota, Hank Green and GloZell.
Use this link if the one up there doesn't work. Or copy and paste it.
Daily Kos memberTHU DEC 25, 2014 AT 10:28 AM PST
Chief White House photographer Pete Souza posted a photo to Instagram today showing the president donning a tiara alongside a group of Girl Scouts from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The photo, from the annual White House Science Fair, was taken in May.What a delightful, sweet picture. This is a man very secure within himself. Humble with a good sense of humor. This is a man who's made up his mind to enjoy his final years in office and not give a rat's ass what anyone thinks.I love this comment from someone on Huffington Post:
Sometimes you see a photo and just know. This is a man with daughters. The kind of man who probably let his nails be polished and has had many a cup of imaginary tea, while in the company of teddy bears. I understand he plays basketball as well.It's predictable what the ugly, joyless responses from the right wingers will be. But, I'm not going to give a rat's ass. Haters gonna hate.