Friday, August 29, 2014

The Tan Suit also said some important things about some stuff....

President Obama gave a press conference today.

The Washington Post said
Obama wore a tan suit while talking about Ukraine, and political Twitter promptly went nuts.

Yes the suit was different, and Twitter did go a little nuts, and the article highlights some of the fun.  But as always we were not just making fun of the suit. 

@philipaklein  made a "bypass Congress" joke
This is what happens when Obama bypasses Congress to purchase a suit.

@john_dingell  didn't know what all the fuss was about
I see no problem with the suit.

We also asked some tough questions. The Tan Suit said some important things.

The media likes to distract us.  We cannot let them do that.  The policy is too important.  We can have our fun and then must get back to work.

Here are some of the issues raised by the speech.

Washington Post

"We don't have a strategy yet"
President Obama made bluntly clear Thursday why he has not yet implemented a comprehensive U.S. response to the Islamist insurgency that is rapidly spreading across the Middle East.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said
 Our allies in the Middle East are nervous
When a superpower, the superpower, is reluctant in developing policy, it’s not only about leadership, it’s about having a coherent approach to crises,” said another regional official.
“The ball is in the U.S. court,” said a third.
Senior officials from four Middle Eastern states spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid public indications of disquiet with Obama.
Some Arab states are not that worried about ISIS (since many of them fund ISIS against Iran-backed Syria and the Assad regime), and some of our allies in Europe are not eager to join another "coalition of the willing" due to the debacle that was the previous Iraq War.
Two U.S. allies in the Arab world – Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – have shown their priorities by carrying out airstrikes not against ISIS but against targets in a different war zone: Libya. And for Persian Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, some analysts argue, ISIS is scary, but the far more mainstream Muslim Brotherhood is still considered a broader, long-term political threat to the region’s kings and autocrats.
The real way to defeat ISIS is to persuade our "allies" in the region to stop funding them.  They deny funding ISIS directly, but experts point to indirect funding as well as supporting fundamentalism as fueling the rise and growth of ISIS.
Tarek Masoud, who teaches at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and has written extensively about Islamist movements, said the Jordanians are “spooked” by ISIS and that the Egyptians would be game for any action that weakens Islamists, the arch-enemies of the military regime in Cairo. Still, he said, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar were far more crucial to any anti-ISIS effort.

“I can see the three tightening up controls on fund raising for ISIS,”
It has also been argued by some that Assad himself let radical groups grow as a way to prove that he is necessary in power to keep radical groups at bay.
The least useful way is to pretend that there is no dilemma, and that, whatever each might say, the interests of Assad and ISIS are aligned. The basis for this argument is that Assad has, in the course of the war, strategically picked his battles with various rebel factions, first going after the ones that he believed to be domestic political threats, which in turn allowed ISISto grow stronger. (Another theory is that Assad wanted ISIS to be powerful because it made the opposition as a whole look bad.) But at best this is a short-term perspective. Assad and many in his circle are Alawites, whom ISIS regards as apostates; the group is a real threat to Assad and to his base.  
Here is Lawrence Wright documenting the birth and growth of ISIS
In 2000, Zarqawi, a Jordanian who had been a convicted thief and sex criminal before turning to radical Islam, created his own group, drawing from his country and the region known in Arabic as al-Sham, or the Levant—that is, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. He called his force at that time the Army of the Sham.
Zarqawi had a different goal in mind. He hoped to provoke an Islamic civil war, and, for his purposes, there was no better venue than the fractured state of Iraq, which sits astride the Sunni-Shiite fault line.
Kerry is going back to the Middle East after the NATO summit next week
Next week, he said, he will consult NATO allies on larger plans for Syria, Iraq and the Islamic State at an alliance summit in Wales, Obama said. Immediately afterward, he is sending Secretary of State John F. Kerry to the region to meet with Middle Eastern leaders.
Obama's contentious relationship with Congress (yes the Republicans are also to blame) is affecting the Contitution (see Executive Orders and War Powers Act)
He rejected criticism from some lawmakers for not seeking congressional approval for the limited Iraq operation. “As commander in chief, I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently,” Obama said.
Congress is divided, but not clearly on bipartisan lines
This time, with the midterm elections just over two months away, lawmakers may be even less inclined to take a politically risky vote on military action.
“I see no reason to come to Congress because, if he does, it'll just become a circus,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said this week.
Still, some lawmakers are calling for Obama to put military action in Syria to a vote. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, a frequent critic of the administration’s foreign policy, has said Congress should “certainly” authorize such steps. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat and White House ally, has also called for a vote on the president’s broader strategy for going after the Islamic State.

Read more here:
Again, the media is playing partisanship, but it's not about "it's nice to be asked to go to war" it's the law after 60 days (the President is given some authority to start on his own under Article 2 of the Constitution
Unlike the partisan lines along which they have split on other issues, Congress has been divided on Syria, with many Democrats opposed to any return to war in the Middle East. Some Republicans have shared that concern, while others have pressed for more military action.

But both Republicans and Democrats agree that they want to be asked.
Obama did not call Russian invasion an invasion
Although he said he expected to impose additional sanctions, he declined to call Russia’s latest moves an invasion, as Ukraine and others have, saying they were “not really a shift” but just “a little more overt” form of longstanding Russian violations of Ukrainian sovereignty.
 So in the end yes Obama wore a tan suit that looked a little weird.  Twitter erupted just like it does over everything that happens anywhere, no matter how trivial or important.  We can have our fun, but we must also not allow the media to distract us.  We must pay attention to the policies as well.

I sent out some thoughts as well

We don't have a strategy

this statement must have Republicans screaming "Benghazi" at their TVs
here  and here  (and some on the right did take notice @slone)
It is not just part of my responsibility, but it is a sacred duty for me as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people.  And that requires me to act fast, based on information I receive, if an embassy of ours or a consulate of ours is being threatened.

(Not a tweet) 
So our strategy is not to defeat ISIL? (emphasis mine)
in some of the media reports the suggestion seems to have been that we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL, and the suggestion, I guess, has been that we’ll start moving forward imminently and somehow Congress -- still out of town -- is going to be left in the dark.  That’s not what’s going to happen.

Here are just a few of the tweets I saw today.

Something missing from Obama's speech....Pakistan
Not one comment or question to Obama today on Pakistan, where elected gov asked army to step into political crisis NYT

@bungdan wrote
As soon as we have an Iraqi government in place, the likelihood of Iraqi forces being more effective significantly increases." - Obama today
@emptywheel responded
@bungdan One of those details no one will notice bc of the suit.

Marcy Wheeler @emptywheel also noticed that the tan suit would distract some journalists from covering the important issues
Tan suit: A good way to distract journalists from turning Constitution into "making sure their voices are heard."

There was also the #NoStrategyEmptySuit hashtag

There were also many tweets complaining that news coverage was about the suit, and mocking the criticizm of Obama but not other presidents.

You actually *didn't* have to run an article about the tan suit.
 And several "how dare a President wear a tan suit" outrage clarifications

Breaking News: a non black president has worn a tan suit and everyone was okay with it.


WHAT KIND OF PRESIDENT WEARS A TAN SUIT?!?!?! (or does he not count because he was never ELECTED…?) #TanSuitGate


And with almost everything Obama does or doesn't do, there's Jimmy Carter

And finally, there was this non-tan suit gem

A message from the State Department

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