"Today's SCOTUS decision is encouraging for all who believe in the checks and balances enshrined in our nation's constitution," is Darrell Issa's message following the Supreme Court's unanimous (9-0) decision cutting back the power of the White House to temporarily fill senior government posts when facing partisan opposition in Congress. The White House spokesman said President Obama was "deeply disappointed" and is 'reviewing' the decision. Simply put, President Obama used the recess appointment power to make an end run around a Senate that refused to confirm controversial nominees - thanks to this unanimous SCOTUS decision, that use of the power is all but dead.
It has been a while since Obama and Putin held one of their signature phone conversations purely for public theater and photo-op purposes. Moments ago, we learned that following weeks of silence, the world leaders had spoken earlier today, when first the Kremlin, the the White House, released details of the just conducted phone conversation.Topics discussed: Ukraine, Iraq, Syria. Also on the docket: the usual threats by Obama in the form of "costs." No comment on today's disastrous performance by John Kerry in Egypt. Probably better that way.
Iraq Update: Air Force Runs Out Of Missiles, ISIS Controls The Border; Shiite Clerics Threaten US TroopsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/22/2014 19:07 -0400
Now that the Iraq proxy war scene is set, and as we reported on Friday, Prime Minister Maliki has become a pawn in yet another middle-east war between the west and the petrodollar (with both Saudi Arabia and the US making it clear Maliki has to go) and Russia (with Putin expressing his full support for the prime minister), events will likely unfold at an even faster pace. Sure enough, even this otherwise quiet weekend, in which the world is supposed to put wars on the backburner and focus on the world cup, is chock-full of Iraq news upates. Let's begin.
In a video leaked by someone who happened to be working out at the same hotel gym as President Obama, the world got a peak into the exercise routine of the most powerful man on earth. The President is surrounded by some of the best and smartest advisors in the country, but apparently none of them is a personal trainer, as his approach and technique leave a lot to be desired. But he is in luck, we're here to help...
While President Obama proclaimed "it is not the place for the United States to choose Iraq’s leaders," it appears that Iraq's current prime minister Maliki's days are numbered. At least three people, who like Mr. Maliki are all members of the Shiite majority, have emerged as possible candidates to take over, but as NY Times makes clear, they face an uphill battle as any prospective successor must convince Iraq’s Sunni Muslims and its ethnic Kurds that he can hold Iraq together, as well as vanquish a Sunni-led insurgency. The Sunnis are adamant that change is needed, "we will not allow a third term for the prime minister; they must change him if they want things to calm down," but it is the statement from the top Shiite cleric that it is time for a new government that likely put the final nail in Maliki's coffin. The only problem... his replacements are far from angelic reformers.
Moments ago, president Obama announced what was informally known for days but only today was officially disclose to the public: namely that he’s sending up to 300 American troops to Iraq in the wake of escalating chaos in that nation. Actually: correction, make that "military advisors." Please don't call them troops because otherwise the US public may realize that Obama has just become only the third president in as many decades to launch his own private Iraq war. As Politico succinctly summarizes, "It’s a politically uncomfortable move for a president who won election in large part due to his opposition to the Iraq War and who has touted the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq in 2011 as one of the key achievements of his presidency."
UPDATE: Delayed Until 1315ET
"Boots on the ground" or no boots-on-the-ground? Airstrikes or no airstrikes? Maliki "in" or "out"? ISIS Sanctions? Red lines? YouTube clips? President Obama has his hands full dealing with this self-created SNAFU... but we are sure this press conference will clear it all up (likely as Yellen noted yesterday, it's just "noise")...
She came, she spoke, and she sent stocks to a new all time high. That is perhaps the simplest summary of what Janet Yellen did yesterday when, as a result of her droning monotone, she managed to put the VIX literally to sleep, which closed at the lowest since 2007 and the resulting surge in the S&P was a fresh record high, because despite the "concerns" Fed member have about record high complacency, all they are doing is adding to it. And now that apparently the Fed has a market "valuation" department, and Yellen can issue fairness opinions on whether the S&P is overvalued, the only question is whether today, as a follow through to yesterday's "buy everything, preferably on leverage, sincerely - the Fed" ramp, the VIX will drop to single digits today.
Yellen has got to be the most dovish Fed chairperson going into the most important policy initiative withdrawal phase ever to be recorded since the inception of the Federal Reserve!
You name the Obama administration scandal/screw-up and Hillary Clinton is distancing herself from it as she prepares to run in 2016 on a clean slate of 'well, I would have done it better/different'. As Reuters reports, recent interviews on Fox and CNN show her claiming she tried but failed to persuade Obama to arm the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; that NSA spying was "absolutely uncalled for"; and that "changes need to be made at the IRS" seemingly disagreeing with Obama's claims that it was a "phony scandal." With friends (party colleagues) like this, who needs enemies.
The Army general who oversaw the U.S. military’s surge of troops into Iraq in 2007 issued a stark warning Wednesday on any further military action. As WaPo reports, Retired Gen. David Petraeus says a number of preconditions should be met before Washington intervenes in the growing crisis - the United States should not offer military support unless Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (whoc has stated "it's too late fort regret," is able to adjust political conditions there so that his Shiite-led government is seen as fair and representative throughout the country. The bottom line, he warns, "this cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight. It has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists."
The world is a very complicated place, and the Middle East is a particularly difficult region to try to get your head around. Between decades of colonialism, gigantic oil reserves, governments that are essentially feudal kingdoms, and the never-ending and always shifting Western government propaganda that often changes the targets of demonization on a whim, it’s no wonder people are so confused. The following provides a perspective based on what we have seen so far, and more importantly, ask readers to ask their own set of questions. What is happening is very bad, and it is the direct result of the idiotic children calling the foreign policy shots in Washington D.C. Ever since 9/11, everything about the status quo’s decision making has been irrational and dangerous.
With Hillary Clinton still plagued by relentless confrontations about her role in the Benghazi fiasco, which apparently are "making a difference", and certainly distracting from Obama's otherwise impeccable domestic (and foreign) reign, it was about time the US finally exposed a much more "appropriate" scapegoat for the public anger surrounding the events in Libya on September 11, 2011. Which is precisely what it did earlier today, when it was revealed not only who it believes the "mastermind" of the Benghazi attack is, but that the person in question, Ahmed Khatallah, had been captured.
Quite frankly where do you start? We are sure there will be congratulations for the capture of the Benghazi ringleader (an interestingly timed distraction) but what the President will be asked (if we have a press corps) are: why Iraq wasn't his fault, how 275 boots on the ground are not really boots on the ground, will the US partner with Iran to 'fix' Iraq, and what about new reports of Syria using chlorine gas? Not to mention lost IRS emails, the VA debacle, government-sponsored civilian deaths in GM cars, and of course, how Seattle raising minimum wages will increase jobs?
The situation in Iraq is serious, and is probably going to get worse before it gets better. The potential for this recent action to morph into a regional conflict is very high. That means that oil could go a lot higher, and if it does, we can expect the odds of a global economic recession and an attendant financial crisis to go up considerably from here. Before we dive into what's actually happening over there right now, we need to begin with a longer and deeper historical context of the region, which is essential to understanding pretty much everything in the Middle East. The western press likes to report on things as if they suddenly occur for no discernible reason, context-free and unconnected to our actions and activities over there. But the story of the Middle East is a story of intense external meddling -- especially by the US, recently.