Ukraine’s Drama, Obama’s Weakness

Comments 1 Protesters defend their barricades in front of riot policemen on Independence Square in Kiev. (Vasily Maximov / AFP / Getty Images / December 10, 2013) Also See more stories X By John Bolton December 12, 2013 Ukraine’s civil conflict strikes many Americans as a distant and unimportant dispute, one hardly connected to their daily lives. Such a lack of interest in international affairs is understandable, perhaps, because of the focus on economic recovery since 2008, but it’s badly misplaced given the stakes involved, not just in eastern and central Europe but around the world. More alarming, and far less justifiable, as a cause for such inattention is the failure of America’s national political leadership. President Obama ‘s inattention to national security distinguishes him from his predecessors, Republican and Democrat alike, since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Source: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-bolton-ukraine-obama-security-20131212,0,2182232.story

Photographer: Mrs. Obama not upset over selfie

Medicare currently spends about $50 billion a year on prescription drugs. According to economist Dean Baker, Americans spend roughly 10 times more than they need to on prescription drugs as a result of our unique intellectual property standards. These savings for the government, of course, would come from the pockets of major pharmaceutical companies, currently among the most profitable corporations the world has ever known. They also exercise tremendous clout inside the Beltway. President Barack Obama even guaranteed drug companies more restrictive — and lucrative — intellectual property standards in order to garner their support for the Affordable Care Act. Offshore Tax Havens The U.S.
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/obama-republicans-budget-deal_n_4424833.html

Obama, Top Republicans Back Modest Budget Deal

I’m a German-Colombian based in India, so I don’t feel too bad I didn’t recognize her! At the time, I thought it must have been one of Obama’s many staffers. “Anyway, suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the U.S. visit the site president. I captured the scene reflexively.” Schmidt also pointed out that this was a memorial service, not a funeral: “All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honor their departed leader.
Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/12/11/obama-barack-michelle-david-cameron-helle-thorning-schmidt/3985867/

Obama’s relentlessly pragmatic diplomacy

During the Clinton years, when officials emphasized the importance of memos by marking them “top secret,” he would scrawl the word “embarrassing” on the top in green marker, recalled a former colleague. “John is an extremely straight shooter,” said Neera Tanden, president of the center Podesta founded and a former Obama administration official. “It’s a good thing for the president to expand his circle to include someone like him, who is going to be honest and frank.” White House aides downplayed the possibility of tension with McDonough, saying he had advocated hiring Podesta, who had brought him on as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and had unofficially advised him during his years at the White House. His addition to the staff also adds a senior presence to the White House at a time when Obama is anticipating the departure of longtime advisor Pete Rouse , who was formerly the acting chief of staff. Also this week, McDonough recruited Phil Schiliro, the White House’s former top liaison to Congress, to return to Washington. Schiliro, a longtime aide to Rep.
Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-shakeup-20131211,0,4894381.story

Key Clinton aide joins Obama’s team of White House advisors

And he warns that President Bashar al-Assads Alawite-led army will never suppress al-Qaeda: As the United States learned in Iraq, he argues, the best weapon against the Sunni insurgency fomented by al-Qaeda is a Sunni counterinsurgency. Egypt is another area where I get dizzy trying to follow administration policy. The United States remained supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood government long after most Egyptians had rejected it last summer; after months of waffling, the United States recently seems to have made the realist decision to work with Egypts friends in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to stabilize its economy and, if possible, push it back toward civilian government. The 2013 realpolitik tour continues here in the oil kingdoms of the Gulf. The Saudis and Emiratis were so upset by Obamas opening to Iran and dithering on Syria that they threatened a revolt from decades of alliance with the United States. Though Obama seems more than fed up with hectoring from Saudi Arabia, he again opted for the conciliatory, diplomatic approach.
Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-obamas-relentlessly-pragmatic-diplomacy/2013/12/11/cfa54768-61e4-11e3-8beb-3f9a9942850f_story.html

Obama IRS Choice Poised to Win Approval for Thankless Job

Obama said on MSNBC Dec. 5 that IRS officials were trying to streamline what is a difficult law, and offered the IRS controversy as an example of an issue that gets attention to the exclusion of agencies that are working well. Republicans, who describe what happened as targeting of Obamas political opponents, used Koskinens confirmation hearing to criticize proposed IRS rules that would change the definition of political spending for social welfare groups organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code . Groups using that status such as Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which backs Republicans, and the League of Conservation Voters , which supported many Democrats, spent millions of dollars on the 2012 elections without disclosing their donors. The IRS hasnt said how much political involvement would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the groups.
Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-12/obama-irs-choice-poised-to-win-approval-for-thankless-job.html

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