Given the holiday, we are releasing the President’s weekly address today. In this video, President Obama calls to our attention the men and women in uniform who are away from home sacrificing time with family to protect our safety and freedom. He also talks about the progress of health care reform, the Recovery Act, and job creation to ensure that next Thanksgiving will be a brighter day.
Tag Archives: Iran
WhiteHouse.gov—In an address recorded in Seoul, South Korea, the President discusses his trip to Asia. He talks about his push to stop nuclear proliferation in North Korea, Iran, and around the world. He talks about promoting America’s principles for an open society in China while making progress on joint efforts to combat climate change. And talks in-depth about the primary objective of his trip: engaging in new markets that hold tremendous potential to spur job creation here at home.
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Despite their fevered protestations, the two are like peas in a pod. And their disease is contagious.
In popular discourse, there is a pitched fight between “progressives” and “conservatives.” On just about every issue, you see signs of the partisan sniping: health care, the economy, foreign policy, etc. But as I’ve watched the spittle fly and the rhetoric spiral ever downward, I’ve reached two conclusions. First, the fight is not between progressives and conservatives; it’s between “neo-progressives” and “neo-conservatives.” Second, neo-progressives and neo-conservatives are much closer in thinking than they care to admit.Right now you’re probably scratching your head in abject puzzlement. So let me try to explain. First up, what is a neo-progressive, anyway ? Well, we all know what a neo-con is, right? A neo-con is a person who wraps himself in the mantle of conservatism to advance policy goals — such as the “pre-emptive” war in Iraq — that are a complete perversion of conservatism. That same reasoning applies to neo-progressives: they wrap themselves in the mantle of the progressive moment to advance policy goals that are anything but. And, to the extent their goals are in fact progressive, the means by which they attempt to secure them are positively Roveian.
Let me illustrate the “similarity” point, which will also shed additional light on the first point. Take the inveighing against Wall Street and its bonus payouts.I’m not so much focusing on the merits of the issue. But only pointing out that factions on both the left and the right share an extreme distaste for the bailouts. How they get there may be substantively different — the Extreme Left is anti Big Business, and the Extreme Right is anti government meddling in Big Business — but the result is the same. Both sides hate it, and both sides resort to the worst kind of economic populism to make their criticism heard. Both are holding the pitchforks. Or instigating others to do so.
How about foreign policy as another example? It’s a matter of record that neo-cons were instrumental in launching the war in Iraq. Progressives opposed that war, and rightly so. However, a more recent incident — the voting irregularities in Iran — shows just how closely aligned the neo-cons and the neo-progressives can be.As is their wont, neo-conservatives argued for muscular rhetoric and saber-rattling against the Iranian government. That all-too-familiar drumbeat for “intervention” started up again. See, for example: “Her Name was Neda”. No surprise there, you say. But what was surprising was how closely this rhetoric was mirrored by some on the Left. They argued, just as the neo-conservatives did, that it was time for Obama to toughen his stance.
For example: Neda’s Martyrdom and the Pitfalls of Obama’s Chronic Pragmatism
Again, I’m not opining as to whether the Neda incident required greater intervention than the United States government provided. Only that conservatives and progressives found themselves in much the same place on this issue. This op-ed from June by E.J. Dionne makes the point:
The Liberals’ Iran Dilemma.
The last example is the most important one, as it pertains to the process of governing. As such, it pervades every issue.Neo-conservatives in the Bush era, led by Cheney and David Addington, were fierce advocates of the “Unitary Executive” theory: that every ounce of legislative, political, and policy power should flow from the White House. That position, and the zeal with which Cheney and his underlings acted on it, led directly to such outrages as the doctoring of intelligence for the Iraq war; the shameful outing of Valerie Plame; the Justice Department firings; and the politicization of science education. Given its shameful provenance, you would think that progressives would be the first to disavow such an approach. And, in fact, real progressives do.
But not neo-progressives. They want Obama to act just as high-handedly as Bush-Cheney did. They want all power to flow through the White House, and for Obama to ramrod through their preferred policy prescriptions already. The problem with Bush, it turns out, is not how he implemented policy but the actual policies themselves: if you just changed the policy preferences but kept the Bush method, we’d be golden!!! Oh, they don’t say it quite so blatantly, of course. They hide behind codewords like “spineless” and “gutless,” and they bemoan things like bipartisanship, a word they can barely bring themselves to say without a lip-curling sneer. But that’s what they mean.
So the next time some “progressive” says Obama needs to steamroll the conservatives already, you turn around and say “shut the f**k up, you stupid neo-progressives. We’ve had quite enough of that take-no-prisoners approach, and the adults are back in charge.” And point ’em to this excellent Dkos diary by AZDem, which makes the point that true liberals display “Niebuhrian humility”: “The Myth of Certainty” Certainty, that’s for neo-conservatives. And neo-progressives. Despite their fevered protestations, the two are like peas in a pod. And their disease is contagious, so it’s best to stay away from both types altogether. Especially during flu season.
Related article: Obama and the Left’s Old Schism
posted by GeoT
QUETTA, Pakistan – Pakistani police arrested 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers Monday for illegally entering the country, amid tensions over a recent suicide attack that Tehran alleges was carried out by militants backed by Pakistani intelligence officials.
The 11 officers were taken into custody in Mashkel, close to the countries’ border in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, police officer Dadur Raman said. He said officers were interrogating the men and had seized two vehicles.
Another security official said the guards had no travel documents.
“We need to probe that,” said Murtaza Baig, a spokesman for the paramilitary border force.
Ties between Pakistan and Iran have been strained since an Oct. 18 suicide attack killed 15 members of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, including five senior commanders, and at least 27 others in the town of Pishin on the Iranian side of the border.
Iranian officials blamed the Sunni rebel group known as Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, in the attack. Iran’s president and the Guard chief have since publicly accused Pakistan’s intelligence service of supporting Jundallah.
Pakistan’s president met with Iran’s interior minister in Islamabad on Sunday to discuss the attack.
President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to cooperate in capturing any attackers and said those behind the blasts “were the enemies of both countries.”
Other Pakistani officials have denied Iranian charges that the leader of Jundallah, Abdulmalik Rigi, is in Pakistan, saying he is in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been accused of past and ongoing support of militant activities in two of its other neighboring countries, Afghanistan and India, greatly complicating relations with both of them. Tensions with another regional power would only add to the problems facing the country as it battles al-Qaida and the Taliban within its borders.
“Everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to look to the future not the past, trying to heal the wounds,”
VIENNA – Iranian negotiators on Wednesday agreed to consider a draft deal that — if accepted by the Tehran leadership — would delay its ability to make nuclear weapons by sending most of the material it would need to Russia for processing, diplomats said Wednesday.International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed that representatives of Iran and its three interlocutors — the U.S., Russia and France — had accepted the draft, which still has to be finalized by the four nations’ capitals. ElBaradei said he hoped that would occur by Friday.
“I have circulated a draft agreement that in my judgment reflects a balanced approach to how to move forward,” ElBaradei told reporters, suggesting that all four parties had worked hard to overcome differences exacerbated by suspicions that Iran may be interested in nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its activities are peaceful and meant only to generate energy.
“Everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to look at the future not at the past, trying to heal the wounds,” ElBaradei said. “I very much hope that people see the big picture, see that this agreement could open the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the International community.”
Full story here:
Video: Sec. Clinton: Iran’s Nuke Program of Serious Concern
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Top Iranian negotiator praises plan to ship uranium abroad
Is the U.S. Stepping Up Preparations for a Possible Attack?
By JONATHAN KARL
The Pentagon is always making plans, but based on a little-noticed funding request recently sent to Congress, the answer to that question appears to be yes.Back in October 2007, ABC News reported that the Pentagon had asked Congress for $88 million in the emergency Iraq/Afghanistan war funding request to develop a gargantuan bunker-busting bomb called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP).
Now the Pentagon is shifting spending from other programs to fast forward the development and procurement of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. The Pentagon comptroller sent a request to shift the funds to the House and Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees over the summer.
‘Urgent Operational Need’
The notification was tucked inside a 93-page “reprogramming” request that included a couple hundred other more mundane items.
Why now? The notification says simply, “The Department has an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high threat environments. The MOP is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON.” It further states that the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).
Full story: Here
posted by GeoT
Scott Ritter talks about the possible scenarios unfolding in the Middle East as the Obama administration, along with Russia, China, France, Germany and the U.K. engage Iran on it’s nuclear program during talks in Geneva…
Op-Ed By Scott Ritter:
Keeping Iran honest
Iran’s secret nuclear plant will spark a new round of IAEA inspections and lead to a period of even greater transparency… “Rather than representing the tip of the iceberg in terms of uncovering a covert nuclear weapons capability, the emergence of the existence of the Qom enrichment facility could very well mark the initiation of a period of even greater transparency on the part of Iran, leading to its full adoption and implementation of the IAEA additional protocol. This, more than anything, should be the desired outcome of the “Qom declaration”.
Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998. He is author of Iraq Confidential and Target Iran and the forthcoming Dangerous Ground: America’s Failed Arms Control Policy from FDR to Obama.
Related Stories: Head of UN nuclear watchdog sees Iran cooperation
WhiteHouse.gov—In this week’s address, President Barack Obama spoke of how the rising costs of health care are stifling America’s small businesses, and how reform will strengthen these businesses and the economy. Small businesses create roughly half of all new jobs, but they also pay up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses. Too many have been forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, shed jobs, or shut their doors entirely. Health insurance reform is integral to laying a new foundation for our economy so that small businesses can grow and create new jobs.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
October 3, 2009
When I took office eight months ago, our nation was in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we’d seen in generations. While I was confident that our economy would recover, we know that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession. Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process.
And we’ve certainly made progress on this front since the period last winter when we were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. But yesterday’s report on September job losses was a sobering reminder that progress comes in fits and starts, and that we will need to grind out this recovery step by step.
That’s why I’m working closely with my economic team to explore additional options to promote job creation. And I won’t let up until those who seek jobs can find them; until businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; and until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes.
It won’t be easy. It will require us to lay a new foundation for our economy – one that gives our workers the skills and education they need to compete; that invests in renewable energy and the jobs of the future; and that makes health care affordable for families and businesses – particularly small businesses, many of which have been overwhelmed by rising health care costs.
This is something I hear about from entrepreneurs I meet – people who’ve got a good idea, and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business. But many can’t take that leap because they can’t afford to lose the health insurance they have at their current job.
I hear about it from small business owners who want to grow their companies and hire more people, but they can’t, because they can barely afford to insure the employees they have. One small business owner wrote to me that health care costs are – and I quote – “stifling my business growth.” He said that the money he wanted to use for research and development, and to expand his operations, has instead been “thrown into the pocket of healthcare insurance carriers.”
These small businesses are the mom and pop stores and restaurants, beauty shops and construction companies that support families and sustain communities. They’re the small startups with big ideas, hoping to be the next Google, or Apple, or HP. Altogether, they create roughly half of all new jobs.
And right now, they are paying up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses because they have higher administrative costs and less bargaining power. Many have been forced to cut benefits or drop coverage. Some have shed jobs or shut their doors entirely. And recent studies show that if we fail to act now, employers will pay six percent more to insure their employees next year – and more than twice as much over the next decade.
Rising health care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month.
So we know that reforming our health insurance system will be a critical step in rebuilding our economy so that our entrepreneurs can pursue the American Dream again, and our small businesses can grow and expand and create new jobs again.
That is precisely what the reform legislation before Congress right now will do. Under these proposals, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange, a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now.
Small businesses won’t be required to cover their employees, but many that do will receive a tax credit to help them pay for it. If a small business chooses not to provide coverage, its employees will receive tax credits to help them purchase health insurance on their own through the insurance exchange.
And no matter how you get your insurance, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. They won’t be able to drop your coverage if you get too sick, or lose your job, or change jobs. And we’ll limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay out of your own pocket.
By now, the urgency of these reforms is abundantly clear. And after long hours of thoughtful deliberation and tough negotiation, the Senate Finance Committee – the final congressional committee involved in shaping health care legislation – has finished the process of crafting their reform proposal.
As we move forward in the coming weeks, I understand that members of Congress from both parties will want to engage in a vigorous debate and contribute their own ideas. And I welcome those contributions. I welcome any sincere attempts to improve legislation before it reaches my desk. But what I will not accept are attempts to stall, or drag our feet. I will not accept partisan efforts to block reform at any cost.
Instead, I expect us to move forward with a spirit of civility, a seriousness of purpose, and a willingness to compromise that characterizes our democratic process at its very best. If we do that, I am confident that we will pass reform this year, and help ensure that our entrepreneurs, our businesses, and our economy can thrive in the years ahead. Thank you.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – The head of the U.N. nuclear agency arrived in Iran on Saturday for talks on a timetable for inspectors to visit a newly disclosed unfinished nuclear enrichment plant, state radio reported.
A senior Iranian nuclear official told Reuters that ElBaradei would discuss plans to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit the site, as demanded by world powers. He said ElBaradei would not visit any nuclear site.
Iran agreed with six powers in Geneva on Thursday to allow IAEA inspectors unfettered access to the plant, near the Shi’ite holy city of Qom, but did not set a time frame.
posted by GeoT
**44-Update** Iran Agrees To Send Most Of Its Uranium To Russia
Iran’s agreement in principle to export most of its enriched uranium for processing — if it happens — would represent a major accomplishment for the West, reducing Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon quickly and buying more time for negotiations to bear fruit.
President Barack Obama’s strategy of engaging Iran finally got under way in earnest on Thursday with a positive response from Tehran to at least some of the concerns about its nuclear program. At a meeting in Geneva with officials from Western powers, Russia and China, Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili agreed to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect a hitherto secret uranium-enrichment facility under construction near Qum. President Obama and his allies expressed grave concern last week about the site after revelations of its existence, and they made the demand for its inspection a key benchmark of Iran’s willingness to cooperate in resolving questions about its nuclear intent.European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana announced that Iran had agreed to inspections at the site “in the next couple of weeks” and hailed the talks as “the start of what we hope will be an intensive process.” Further talks are expected to be held later this month.
Obama later called the talks a “constructive beginning” but insisted that Iran follow up with “constructive action” to prove its stated commitment to confine itself to peaceful nuclear development. “We’re not interested in talking for the sake of talking,” he said. “Pledges of cooperation must be fulfilled.”
Complete Story: Here
From AP Video: