Friday, May 17, 2013

Last Call For Syria

Meanwhile, in news that actually does matter, Syria is reaching something of a breaking point.

After more than two years of conflict, Syria is breaking up. A constellation of armed groups battling to advance their own agendas are effectively creating the outlines of separate armed fiefs. As the war expands in scope and brutality, its biggest casualty appears to be the integrity of the Syrian state. 

On Thursday, President Obama met in Washington with the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and once again pressed the idea of a top-down diplomatic solution. That approach depends on the rebels and the government agreeing to meet at a peace conference that was announced last week by the United States and Russia. 

“We’re going to keep increasing the pressure on the Assad regime and working with the Syrian opposition,” Mr. Obama said. “We are going to keep working for a Syria that is free of Assad’s tyranny.” 

But as evidence of massacres and chemical weapons mounts, experts and Syrians themselves say the American focus on change at the top ignores the deep fractures the war has caused in Syrian society. Increasingly, it appears Syria is so badly shattered that no single authority is likely to be able to pull it back together any time soon

There's a cheery and altogether too real sentiment.  Syria as a country may be effectively done.  That kind of crackup on land bordering Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and of course Israel will not be pretty.

We'll see.

Umbrella (Poutrage) Corporation

This is now the new "Obama scandal" according to Daily Caller:

Umbrellas.  No, seriously.

The commander in chief of the American armed forces today forced a violation of Marine Corps regulations, so he wouldn’t get wet.

According to Marine Corps regulation MCO P1020.34F of the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations chapter 3, a male Marine is not allowed to carry an umbrella while in uniform. There is no provision in the Marine Corps uniform regulation guidelines that allows a male Marine to carry an umbrella.

Except for the fact that HE'S THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, you morons.

Did you know that the U.S. Marine Corps has a policy on umbrella holding? Uniform regulations state that a male Marine can’t hold an umbrella (ella, ella) while wearing his uniform, presumably because he can't salute at the same time. President Obama probably didn't know this when he asked two Marines to hold bumbershoots over him and Turkey's prime minister during a press conference Thursday. Seeing a Marine with this particular accessory is "extremely rare," Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Greg Wolf explained, but because the president's the commander in chief of the Armed Forces, if he says "hold my umbrella," it's permissible. Some people weren't happy, including Sarah Palin, who tweeted, "Mr. President ... most Americans hold their own umbrellas." [Source]

You mean like this, Sarah?

Into each life, a little moose crap must fall.

Feeding You A Load

Yeah, I can understand member of the press being upset at the White House over the Associated Press subpoenas.  But the only thing guaranteed to piss off a reporter more than picking on them through the courts is making them look like chumps by feeding them false info.

CBS News White House reporter Major Garrett took the GOP to task last night.

On Friday, Republicans leaked what they said was a quote from Rhodes: "We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don't want to undermine the FBI investigation."

But it turns out that in the actual email, Rhodes did not mention the State Department.

It read: "We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation."

Republicans also provided what they said was a quote from an email written by State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland.

The Republican version quotes Nuland discussing, "The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency (CIA) about al-Qaeda's presence and activities of al-Qaeda."

The actual email from Nuland says: "The penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings."

The CIA agreed with the concerns raised by the State Department and revised the talking points to make them less specific than the CIA's original version, eliminating references to al Qaeda and affiliates and earlier security warnings. There is no evidence that the White House orchestrated the changes.

Keep in mind this never happens.  This is Garrett putting his career on the line and becoming persona non grata among the GOP by specifically calling out Republicans as liars over this.  Normally what you would see is "sources".  But Garrett uses "Republicans" here several times.

Josh Marshall is also surprised.

Generally, once partisan, tendentious sources leak information that turns out to be wrong, nothing’s ever done about it. That’s for many reasons, some good or somewhat understandable, mostly bad. But on CBS Evening News tonight, Major Garrett did something I don’t feel like I’ve seen in a really long time or maybe ever on a network news cast. He basically said straight out: Republicans told us these were the quotes, that wasn’t true.

Kevin Drum goes a bit further:

So here's what happened. Republicans in Congress saw copies of these emails two months ago and did nothing with them. It was obvious that they showed little more than routine interagency haggling. Then, riding high after last week's Benghazi hearings, someone got the bright idea of leaking two isolated tidbits and mischaracterizing them in an effort to make the State Department look bad. Apparently they figured it was a twofer: they could stick a shiv into the belly of the White House and they could then badger them to release the entire email chain, knowing they never would.

But it was typical GOP overreach. To their surprise, the White House took Republicans up on their demand to make the entire email chain public, thus making it clear to the press that they had been burned. And now reporters are letting us all know who was behind it.

This is where things get really, really interesting. We'll see if the rest of the press picks up on this or not...


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