Forced birth homunculus Calvin Freiburger, who is a member of the HeartBeat Teens (which is surprisingly not a sexy boy-band), wishes to express his distaste with ladies who take their vaginas out for an evening of abortion bowling.[...]
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President Obama will address the nation tonight from Afghanistan, discussing the new strategic partnership agreement signed today between the U.S. and Afghanistan, honoring the troops that have served in the conflict, and marking the one year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.
The partnership agreement will call for Afghan forces to take over complete control of security by the end of 2014, effectively ending the war. Any U.S. forces remaining after that point will be limited to training and anti-terrorism, a category that could end up becoming a loophole.
Obama will remind the country that an additional 23,000 troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of the summer, after which Obama will be faced with another decision about drawdowns. For context, there are currently 88,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In December, 2008, there were just over 38,000 U.S. troops there.
We'll track the speech as it develops and post the remarks as prepared when they are available for posting. Watch in the video at the top of this post and join the conversation in the comment thread below.
4:28 PM PT: They put a lot of thought into the backdrop?no Mission Accomplished banners, but President Obama will be speaking in front of a flag adorned armored vehicle.
4:28 PM PT: Here's a screen capture of the staging:
4:34 PM PT: Right out of the gate, Obama makes it clear he wants this to be seen as the speech defining the end of the war in Afghanistan: "A future in which war ends," he says.
4:36 PM PT: That future will be at least 13 years after 9/11. Obama notes one of the reasons it took so long is the misguided war in Iraq. But it is now "within our reach" to defeat al Qaeda. "Tonight I would like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan."
4:36 PM PT: After this summer's drawdown of another 23,000 troops, "reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more and more of our troops coming home."
4:39 PM PT: No U.S. military bases after 2014 will remaining Afghanistan.
4:39 PM PT: The tightrope President Obama's walking:
As we move forward, some people will ask why we need a firm timeline. The answer is clear: our goal is not to build a country in America?s image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban. These objectives would require many more years, many more dollars, and many more American lives. Our goal is to destroy al Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that. Afghans want to fully assert their sovereignty and build a lasting peace. That requires a clear timeline to wind down the war.
Others will ask why we don?t leave immediately. That answer is also clear: we must give Afghanistan the opportunity to stabilize. Otherwise, our gains could be lost, and al Qaeda could establish itself once more. And as Commander-in-Chief, I refuse to let that happen.
4:42 PM PT: I've added the remarks as prepared below the fold.
4:46 PM PT: I'm not normally a sap, but the end of this speech moved me:
This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end. With faith in each other and our eyes fixed on the future, let us finish the work at hand, and forge a just and lasting peace. May God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.2.5 years?the end of 2014?is too long for me, and I think it's urgent that the drawdowns be accelerated as much as possible, but this statement?that Afghanistan where the war started and where it will end, gives me hope that finally this national nightmare will be over.
4:50 PM PT: Oh, and yeah, re: Mitt Romney. Can you imagine him pulling that off? Didn't think so. But he tried to make the most of being overshadowed by Obama by leaking the news about how he wouldn't stand up for a gay staffer who ended up resigning.
The lawyer for the man accused of killing unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin announced on Tuesday a former IRS agent has been hired to oversee his client's defense fund.
Last week, attorney Mark O'Mara revealed that his client, George Zimmerman, managed to raise more than $200,000 in just a few weeks using a crudely built website and a PayPal account to take donations for his defense in a case that has drawn international attention.
After ordering Zimmerman to shut down the first website, O'Mara set up a new one last week to begin posting updates about the case. He also said he eventually plans to use it to start taking donations again.
On Tuesday, a post appeared on the site saying the former IRS agent had been hired watch over Zimmerman's money. The post, however, did not name the ex-agent, saying only that the person currently works as an accountant overseeing bankruptcy funds.
"The fund's administrator will have sole discretion regarding the dispersal of funds, and guidelines will be put in place to define reasonable living expenses for Mr. Zimmerman and his family and to fund necessary legal expenses," it said. "Neither Mr. Zimmerman nor The O'Mara Law Group will have direct access to the funds."
The site also said the names of the donors would be kept private.
"There will be a strict level of confidentiality regarding those who donate to the George Zimmerman Defense Fund as their active donating is regarded as a private event and does not open them to public scrutiny," it said.
However, the judge presiding over the case said last week he wanted to know more about the donations and asked O'Mara to provide him with more information.
Zimmerman was charged last month with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 killing of the teen. Florida prosecutors have accused Zimmerman of following and confronting Martin because he believed the teen looked "suspicious." However, Zimmerman said Martin attacked him first and he shot him in self defense.
Pres. Obama’s secret trip to Afghanistan was kept under wraps by responsible news media and members of the White House Press Corp.
The New York Post and Drudge could have cared less, with Drudge swapping links to keep the leak alive, while putting Pres. Obama’s life in danger.
Everyone has their priorities.
Zeke Miller of Buzzfeed has the incredible tick-tock and the story.
Excerpts from prepared remarks by Pres. Obama, which he will make tonight:
?Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.
As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.?
?My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm?s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.
This future is only within reach because of our men and women in uniform. Time and again, they have answered the call to serve in distant and dangerous places. In an age when so many institutions have come up short, these Americans stood tall. They met their responsibilities to one another, and the flag they serve under. I just met with some of them, and told them that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder. In their faces, we see what is best in ourselves and our country.?
?As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America. An America where our children live free from fear, and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.?
?This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.?
Republicans are freaking out because the Obama campaign is using the word 'forward' in its ads, and apparently the far right Republicans controlling the GOP are convinced that only marxists use the word "forward."
You know who else used the word "forward" in a presidential campaign ad? Ronald Reagan: Full text of the famous Reagan ad:
"It's morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country's history. With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980, nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes, more than at any time in the past four years. This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married, and with inflation at less than half of what it was just four years ago, they can look forward with confidence to the future. It's morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?Forward? Try 'morning in Moscow.'
Fla. State Sen. Chris Smith wasn't happy with Governor Rick Scott's task force to review the state's 'Kill At Will'/'Stand Your Ground' law, which received national attention in the wake of the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin. So he created his own task force.
Scott's official state version of the task force was filled with legislators who voted in favor of the law in the first place and failed to include people affected by the law or who might seriously question it. Smith saw through the governor's ruse and created his own task force, which released a report on the law that is sharply critical of the law. Smith's task force was much broader than the governor's, including law enforcement, state prosecutors, public and private defense attorneys, and other legal experts
In the years since passage of the drastic revisions to Chapter 776 of the Florida Statute regarding the use of force in self-defense, Floridians have grappled with the tragic consequences of a arguably, ambiguous law which has shown demonstrable confusion within and among police departments, prosecuting offices and the courts. While commonly referred to as the ?Stand Your Ground? law, the statutes have not simply helped law abiding citizens protect themselves from attack, but instead, have often been used as cover for the perpetrators of crimes. Each day that goes by without legislative action places innocent lives at stake. While the focus on public safety and the previously well-established principles of self defense are paramount to the Task Force?s review, the evaluation is also concerned with preventing operation of a system tantamount to lawlessness, where any person can, within a matter of seconds, render himself investigator, judge, jury and executioner, all in one. In a civilized society, governing institutions must provide all Floridians with grounds for confidence in the justice system.
The task force unanimously approved the following recommendations:
A majority of the task force also recommended:
Some on the task force also favored full repeal of the law.
The full report can be found on FloridaStandYourGround.org.
In March, Vice President Joe Biden floated a tax proposal known as the global minimum tax while campaigning in Iowa. The proposal, a feature of President Obama’s budget aimed at companies that use offshore tax havens to reduce the amount they pay in income taxes, would force multinational corporations based in the United States to pay a minimum tax rate, thereby adding trillions in lost revenue that is shifted to individual taxpayers and small businesses.
At the time, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney slammed Biden’s proposal. “Instead of promoting pro-growth tax policies that provide businesses with the economic freedom to grow and prosper, he is backing a ?global tax? that would harm American competitiveness,” Romney said. At a campaign stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire yesterday, however, Romney feigned ignorance of the proposal:
ROMNEY: And the vice president says he wants to do a global tax on multinationals. Not sure what that is, but it doesn’t sound very good.
Under the global tax plan, the 26 corporations that haven’t paid taxes in the last four years would actually have to pay taxes. So would Apple, which used offshore tax havens to dodge $2.4 billion in taxes last year. Romney’s plan, by contrast, would cut corporate taxes and the tax on profits corporations bring from overseas. His justification: America’s high corporate tax rate hurts competitiveness, and the lower repatriation rate will boost job growth. In reality, American corporations pay one of the world’s lowest tax rates, and the last repatriation holiday was a complete failure.
It’s no secret why Romney doesn’t want to talk about the global minimum tax. While his plan would provide a massive giveaway to American corporations, the plan Biden floated would actually raise corporate tax revenues — something a vast majority of Americans support.
Jeremy Hooper points out that almost all of the top donors supporting North Carolina’s discriminatory Amendment One, which limits what relationships the state can recognize, are from radically conservative religiously-affiliated groups. It’s true that opponents of the measure have raised twice as much money, but it’s telling that they have raised four times as much money from individual donors. Over 70 percent of Vote FOR Marriage NC’s campaign fundraising has comes from Religious Right institutional support. By contrast, about 62 percent of Protect All NC Families? fundraising has come from individual donors.
Joe Jervis notes that Phil Drake, the third’s most generous donor, owns a conservative Christian radio station and bookstore. AMDG Medical is not a religious organization, but it is known to have Catholic ties in its other giving. And the National Organization for Marriage is religious in everything but name, run almost entirely by Catholic Right figures with daily blog posts defending against “attacks” on Christianity. The American Family Association makes no effort to downplay its radically conservative, anti-LGBT religious mission.
Add to this context the fact that all of Vote FOR Marriage NC’s ads have included references to “Biblical” marriage, and it’s clear that the entire Amendment One campaign is about writing far-right religious dogma into North Carolina’s constitution. Watch two of the campaign’s recent ads:
I could not stomach watching this abomination, much less writing about it. Fortunately, David Atkins did it for me.
Proud American torturer Jose Rodriguez proudly admitted his crimes on 60 Minutes last night:
See? The fact that there wasn't an attack proves that there was probably a ticking time bomb that was prevented. Even though no ticking time bomb was ever found. That's totally reasonable.
Not that the ticking time bomb defense ever has merit as a basis for legal precedent. It's one of the most infuriatingly stupid premises ever devised to permit codified totalitarian action. Why? First of all, because the ticking time bomb scenario is incredibly improbable, one only ever seen in cheesy Hollywood movies and right-wing fantasy television shows. But second, because if such a scenario really ever did implausibly happen, that's what prosecutorial discretion is for. It's often said that hard cases make for bad law, and if ever there was a circumstance in which that saying applied, it's this one. In the incredibly unlikely event that a nuclear attack were about to go off in minutes and a suspect in custody had the information to disarm the bomb, I imagine that any number of things would probably be done to attempt compliance and few people would bat an eye--if the truth about what happened ever even came out. Nobody would prosecute the people involved, and few but the most ardent civil libertarians would care.
What one doesn't do under any circumstance is codify torture into law in order to justify an impossibly implausible scenario. And one doesn't engage in torture, "legal" or illegal, on suspects who may or may not have information on a potential attack that may or may not be in process.
This has been probably the most chilling aspect of the new civil liberties regime over the last 12 years: it's not just what has been done in our name--that's bad enough--but that what was done has been justified so openly. It's not as if the American government hasn't since its inception done some truly awful things in its past by people who justified to themselves, like Mr. Rodriguez, that they were doing it all for flag and country. But at least in the past such people had enough shame to know they should at least keep it under wraps and classified. J. Edgar Hoover, terrible as he was, at least knew better than to proudly make public his operations.
But when torture becomes a matter of national public policy and men like Mr. Rodriguez proclaim it proudly on national television rather than from behind cell bars, we have a different order of problem entirely. And the onus for that problem lies not just with our elected officials, but with all of us as a society. After all, once it's on 60 Minutes it's not as if we can turn our heads and pretend we didn't know.
Mitt Romney accomplished a rare political feat when he hired Richard Grenell to serve as his foreign policy spokesman: He managed to provoke politicos of all ideological stripes. Liberals were up in arms over Grenell'simpolitic tweets (more than 800 of which he has deleted) haranguing female politicians and journalists, among others. The press corps was equally disturbed, as reporters recalled stories of Grenell's ill temperament during his time as a U.N. spokesperson. Yet it was a separate character trait that appears to have doomed Grenell by riling up social conservatives: He?s gay. The National Review disparaged Romney's appointment, with one writer suggesting that Grenell was "a man with questionable judgment" for supporting same-sex marriage. The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer said that "Romney stepped on a landmine by appointing Richard Grenell, an out, loud and proud homosexual."
This afternoon?less than two weeks after Grenell?s hiring?The Washington Post broke the newsthat Grenell had resigned ?in the wake of a full-court press by anti-gay conservatives.? Romney?s response avoided any mention of the controversy: ?We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons,? the campaign said in a statement. No doubt they were crushed by the news. The episode was, as Jonathan Chait wrote, another sign of how deeply "Romney remains beholden to his base." Even with Rick Santorum finished and Newt Gingrich exiting tomorrow, Romney has shown no inclination to back away from his extreme deference to social conservatives. During a debate in January, Romney proudly touted his willingness to hire people of all sexual orientations as governor of Massachusetts. In his presidential campaign, he's apparently just as willing to let them go.
"We got him."
?President Obama one year ago today in the Situation Room as Osama bin Laden's death was confirmed
The steady march toward marriage equality is poised for a setback in North Carolina next week. Voters in the state will decide the fate of a constitutional amendment that would ban both same-sex marriage and civil unions. Momentum had appeared to be on the side of the opposition, but a new PPP poll has support for the amendment holding steady at 55 percent. The survey found that a majority of North Carolinians support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples, but are unaware of the implications of the amendment.