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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: War

More deadly violence in Syria draws another White House warning; Sudan is warned as well

Syria AnkaraProtestBuirnbashalassadpic6-11AdemAltanAFPGty


Statement by the Press Secretary on Continued Violence in Syria

The United States strongly condemns the Syrian government’s outrageous use of violence across Syria today and particularly in the northwestern region. 

There must be an immediate end to the brutality and violence. We regret the loss of life and extend our condolences to all those who have suffered.  Earlier this week, we urged the Syrian government to exercise maximum restraint and not to respond to its own reported losses through additional civilian casualties.  The Syrian government is leading Syria on a dangerous path. 

For that reason, it is critical that all Syrians remain united, work to prevent sectarian conflict, and pursue their aspirations peacefully.  We stand by the Syrian people who have shown their courage in demanding dignity and the transition to democracy that they deserve. 

Syrian security forces continue to shoot, assault, and arrest demonstrators and political prisoners remain detained.  It’s this kind of appalling violence that leads the United States to support a UN Security Council Resolution condemning the Syrian government’s actions and calling for an immediate halt to the violence and abuse of basic human rights.     ####


Statement by the Press Secretary on Violence in Southern Kordofan, Sudan

The United States is deeply concerned by ongoing developments in Southern Kordofan, Sudan. Fighting between....

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Breaking Urgent Flash Really Rush: Mitt Romney is running for president, again, still

Republican Mitt Romney Announce his presidential candidacy in Stratham NH 6-2-11

Mitt Romney announced today what most sentient Americans have known since August of 2008, the former Massachusetts governor is running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

This became quickly obvious long ago when John McCain's Hail Sarah pass was ruined by McCain's own backbiting staff and then completely blown up by the Wall Street meltdown, not to mention eight years of accumulating anger over George W. Bush policies and his lazy decision to keep Dick Cheney as political partner, instead of grooming a young heir apparent for four years.

So, with no Hillary Clinton pantsuits to mock, the country was doomed by its own self-proclaimed progressive news media to focus on the credentials of the female GOP candidate -- the important stuff, you know, her frameless glasses, alleged wardrobe desires, whether her hair was up or down on any given day, and, of course, red shoes or not. What deleterious impacts her political ambitions had on her poor, oddly-named children. And the possible divorce there rumored by no one trustworthy.

Instead of superficial campaign stuff like the Real Good Talker's blank resume, absence of reform credentials, bald ambition and Chicago machine heritage.

According to Republican tradition, next year's nomination should go to....

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Obama's job approval among the military is even worse than among civilians

Obama greets US troops in Afghanistan

Some ominous political news for President Obama the day after he chose Memorial Day to name a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

With just 15 months until the 2012 presidential election, Obama's overall job approval among Americans has sunk back down into the 40s.

But now a new poll of nearly a quarter-million Americans finds the commander-in-chief's job approval is even worse among members of the military, present and past.

A new Gallup poll finds that slightly more than a third of those military members (37%) approve of their commander's overall job from January of last year through April  2011.

This compares to Obama's 48% approval among nonmilitary Americans during the same period, Gallup reported.general martin Dempsey 5-11

The disapproval gap crosses all age groups. Men, especially veterans over 40, tend to disapprove of Obama more than women.

This would seem to indicate failure of this president's major public relations effort to be seen supporting veterans' affairs. On the Monday holiday the president did some business.

Obama announced he'd changed his mind about having Gen. Martin Dempsey (photo, right) as Army chief of staff. The veteran of two command cycles in Iraq had taken the top Army job less than two months ago.

Obama named him the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to replace Admiral Mike Mullen, who retires this fall. The president also visited Arlington National Cemetery for the traditional holiday wreath-laying and then got in some more golf.

The president, his new chairman and new secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, have some challenges to address. Although the emphasis in Iraq has been on drawdown, nearly 50,000 U.S. troops remain there.

In Afghanistan results have been mixed, despite Obama ordering two troop surges and putting Gen. David Petraeus in command. Petraeus, who has called Afghanistan progress "fragile," is returning to replace Panetta as president george w bush greets u.s. troops in koreahead of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Then there is Obama's newest war in Libya, where allied air attacks have degraded Col. Kadafi's military, but not sufficiently to tip the balance to the untrained rebels.

Polls now show a majority of Americans do not feel the nation's longest war in Afghanistan has been worth the costs in money or lives.

Nearly 1,600 Americans have lost their lives there, including seven the other day in a single suicide bomb attack.

Last month a Gallup poll found only 41% of Americans approved of Obama's overal job performance as president. That is the fourth time he has reached that level of approval, the lowest he has incurred since taking office on Jan. 20, 2009, when his approval was 69%.


Gallup poll on standing of Republican presidential candidates

Killing Osama bin Laden: Why did Obama's poll boost sink so quickly?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Pete Souza / White House (Obama greets U.S. troops in Afghanistan); Master Sgt. Toby M. Valadie / USAF (Dempsey); Eric Draper / White House (President George W. Bush greets U.S. troops in South Korea).

Sunday shows: Pawlenty, Cantor, Nixon, Chiarelli to appear as guests

Republican Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty

ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour: Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), Mort Zuckerman and Doug Imbruce, with George Will, Ed Gillespie, Jonathan Karl and Donna Brazile

Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt": Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.)

CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Mo.)

CNN Fareed Zakaria "GPS": Thomas Hoenig and Prince al-Waleed bin Talal

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley: Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Tim Tetz, Paul Rieckhoff, Dale Beatty, Nixon and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Fox News Channel "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Reps. Allen West (R-Fla.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), with Bill Kristol, Byron York, Nina Easton, and Juan Williams

NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), with Alex Castellanos, Ruth Marcus and Harold Ford Jr.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Minnesota's Republican former governor, Tim Pawlenty. Credit: Olivier Douliery / MCT

ICYMI: Presidents Medvedev, Sarkozy and Obama speak out on Nagorna-Karabakh, finally

Dmitry Medvedev Nicolas Sarkozy and Obama at the Group of 8 in France 5-26-11


Joint Statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as provided by Barack Obama, president of the United States of America, Dmitry Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation, and Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the French Republic, at the Deauville G-8 Summit

We, the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chair countries -- France, the Russian Federation and the United States of America -- are convinced the time has arrived for all the sides to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to take a decisive step towards a peaceful settlement.

We reiterate that only a negotiated settlement can lead to peace, stability and reconciliation, opening opportunities for regional development and cooperation. The use of force created the current situation of confrontation and instability. 

Its use again would only bring more suffering and devastation, and would be condemned by the international community. We strongly urge the leaders of the sides to prepare their populations for peace, not war.

As a result of efforts by the parties and the co-chair countries at all levels, significant progress has been made. 

The latest version of the Basic Principles, as discussed in Sochi on March 5, lays a just and balanced foundation for the drafting of a comprehensive peace settlement. This document, based on the Helsinki Final Act and elements outlined in our joint declarations in L’Aquila in July 2009 and Muskoka in June 2010, provides a way for all sides to move beyond the unacceptable status quo.

We therefore call upon the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to demonstrate their political will by finalizing the Basic Principles during their upcoming summit in June. 

Further delay would only call into question the commitment of the sides to reach an agreement. 

Once an agreement has been reached, we stand ready to witness the formal acceptance of these Principles, to assist in the drafting of the peace agreement, and then to support its implementation with our international partners.   


The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as everyone remembers, began in 1988 and lasted until 1994. Ensuing peace talks have now lasted nearly three times as long as the fighting. More details here.


Photo: Presidents Obama, Medvedev and Sarkozy wave friendly-like in Deauville, France. Credit: EPA / Peer Grimm

How President Obama barely beat the deadline to sign the Patriot Act extension -- without picking up a pen

Declaration of Independence Signing John Trumbull painting who do you suppose got to keep the historic feather?

Because extending certain provisions of the Patriot Act before they expired at midnight last night was deemed so essential to national security, the extension legislation was, of course, left until the last minutes, thanks to the political paragons of Congress.

Republicans wanted a permanent extension. Democrats didn't.

They settled on June 1, 2015.

After a feud about guns, the four-year Patriot Act Sunset Extensions of 2011 passed in the Senate Thursday 72-23.

Then, with barely 300 minutes to spare, the House passed the same measure, 250-153. Our colleague Lisa Mascaro carefully chronicles some of the bill's provisions, what all the government spooks can peek into now still with secret federal court approval.

Phew, that was close! Law-abiding terrorists were just waiting for midnight (Eastern Daylight) to start plotting on the phone.Obama Signature

But, wait! The Patriot Act extension couldn't become law until it was signed by the president.

And if this is Friday, Obama must be off on another foreign trip somewhere. Sure enough, they found him 3,719 miles away toughing out a couple of days with other G-8 leaders in the French resort of Deauville.

According to aides, Obama had to be awakened early Friday, which was after the deadline by French beach resort time.

The commander-in-chief reportedly reviewed the provisions carefully and ordered his signature affixed to said bill.

Wait! What? The president of the United States didn't actually sign it himself??

Remember, back in 2009 when Obama was so excited about the economic stimulus bill that didn't really work as well as Joe Biden promised everybody? And so Obama flew Air Force One out to Denver with the legislation to personally sign it there, for some reason?

Well, here's one of the dirty not-so-little secrets of American politics. Yes, the....

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Don't tell Obama, but Prime Minister Netanyahu got 2 dozen standing O's from Congress for this

Israeli prime minister benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of congress 5-24-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Speech to a Joint Session of Congress

I am deeply honored by your warm welcome. And I am deeply honored that you have given me the opportunity to address Congress a second time. Mr. Vice President, do you remember the time we were the new kids in town?

And I do see a lot of old friends here. And I do see a lot of new friends of Israel here. Democrats and Republicans alike.

Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel. We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism. Congratulations America, Congratulations, Mr. President. You got bin Laden. Good riddance!
In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.

My friends, you don’t need to do nation building in Israel. We’re already built. You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it. You don’t need to send American troops to defend Israel. We defend ourselves. You’ve been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own. Thank you all, and thank you President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to Israel’s security. I know economic times are tough. I deeply appreciate this.

Support for Israel’s security is a wise investment in our common future.  For an epic battle is....

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No laughing here over Obama's latest travel gaffe

Obama Signature with the Wrong Date 5-24-11

Just watch, sometime soon -- maybe even this morning -- some lamestream journalist will start collecting all the gaffes from President Obama's latest foreign jaunt.

The funniest so far was his not knowing what day or year it was in London on Tuesday when he signed the guest book at Westminster Abbey. Obama reportedly asked someone nearby what the date was and they told him "May 24," assuming incorrectly that the leader of the free world would know what year it was (2011).

Instead, Obama wrote in his leftist scrawl "24 May 2008."

Understandable in a way. Those were heady days back then when the ex-state senator was not crawling along with approval ratings in the 40s and he was fixing to tie up the Democratic nomination and make Oprah Winfrey cry off her false eyelashes in Denver.

Although, to be accurate, on May 24 2008 Hillary Clinton had yet to ....

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How Hannah Thoreson handled Mitch Daniels' disappointing dropout decision

Hannah Thoreson with Mitch Daniels 5-11

The media spotlight has moved on from Indianapolis now, after Gov. Mitch Daniels aborted his anticipated campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in a Saturday midnight email that shocked supporters across the country.

Daniels acknowledged that his family was opposed to the grinding run, so he dropped it.

Now most of the attention focuses on Newt Gingrich's campaign here and Tim Pawlenty's newly announced bid here and Jon Huntsman's informal campaign swing through New Hampshire.

But little noticed as the political parade marches toward the state fairs this summer and the Iowa caucuses and primaries next winter are the newly abandoned supporters of Daniels.

"Well," said Max Eden, head of the Student Initiative to Draft Daniels, "the rapture took Mitch from 2012. His better angels had the last word, and he put his family first. His choice attests to half the reason why students at 65 colleges rallied to urge him to run: He is a good man."

Among those students is Hannah Thoreson, a 21-year-old physics major at ....

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Doomsday May 21 end of the world rapture judgment day; Questions before The End

end of the world may 21st

End of the World May 21? May 21 Judgment Day? The Rapture? Doomsday?

Whatever you call it. Likely very few people believe the world is really going to end Saturday (Pacific time). It simply can't. We just mailed the mortgage check. Planted a tree. Made a college housing deposit.

And what apocalypse arranger would dare interfere with the Real Good Talker's weekend golf game?

Obama has so much yet undone. He's not quite finished demolishing America's longstanding relationship with Israel. There are numerous taxes yet unraised. Several billion dollars left to spend. Still a few Harvard alums who don't work for the federal government.barack Obama awaits a white house signal

And think of all those speeches Obama's still got left in him: "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Please be seated. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." Oratorical skills like that don't come along just every milennium.

Looking at the grim week Newt Gingrich just had, however, we are inclined to be careful about dismissing the possibility of earthly life winding down this weekend.

Not to mention Air Force One's missed landing in Hartford. That colossal planet-sized storm currently enveloping Saturn. Forecasters' prediction of 10 behemoth hurricanes this year. The Lakers' playoff plop. Saturday's Iceland volcano eruption.

Maybe Rev. Huckabee knew something about this weekend when he announced against a presidential run last weekend.

You'll notice too, that just to be on the safe side, Tim Pawlenty scheduled his presidential campaign announcement for Monday -- as you'd expect from a stingy Republican.

That way if everything does end here in the next few hours, he won't have to pay for all the signs, risers and audio equipment, which will be vaporized along with the NFL season, which is dying anyway.

Doomsday will also leave some important questions unanswered:

Would Sarah Palin have really tried to run this time? What new way can Joe Biden screw up verbally? What is Steadman's commitment problem anyway? Do frequent flyer miles carry over to the hereafter? Do they have Daylight Time there or is Hell like Arizona -- because I already changed my watch?

Who gets the last Tweet? Will Facebook add another Relationship choice: Called Up? (Sent Down?)

What were the creative guys thinking (or smoking) when they settled on selling that erectile dysfunction drug with a man and a woman in separate bathtubs on the front lawn? (And what do you suppose future archaeologists will think about 21st century human sacrifices when they dig up that petrified scene?)

Of course, everyone being summoned somewhere wouldn't be all bad:

A permanent recess for those congressional clowns. Bedbugs and Bill Maher would probably survive somehow. But at least no more Charlie Sheen and Joy Behar. Traffic might be more manageable, in a Mad Max kind of way. And, finally, a permanent end to venti price hikes at Starbucks.

See you Monday. Maybe.

(UPDATE: Saturday 6:02 p.m. Pacific: Well, so far so good. We're still here and no reported probl.....

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pete Souza / White House


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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