Political Animal


January 06, 2013 9:55 AM Sunday Morning Reads

By Samuel Knight

-Yesterday, President Obama hinted that he might use executive power to avert a debt ceiling related default. “One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up,” he said, raising questions about the trillion dollar coin and 14th amendment solutions.

-In a rare public appearance, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad addressed supporters at the Damascus Opera House today. He proposed a resolution to Syria’s civil war in the form of a new constitution and a new cabinet. According to The New York Times, the embattled Assad “offered no new acknowledgment of the gains by the rebels fighting against him, the excesses of his government or the aspirations of the Syrian people. Mr. Assad also ruled out talks with the armed opposition and pointedly ignored its central demand that he step down, instead using much of a nearly hourlong speech to justify his harsh military crackdown.”

-The Times also profiled CIA waterboarding whistleblower and soon to be federal inmate John Kiriakou yesterday. Kiriakou, who pleaded guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, distanced himself from making value judgments about post 9/11 torture, but said we should be “having a national debate over whether we should be waterboarding.” Scott Shane, the author whose prior interviews with Kiriakou were cited by federal prosecutors in their case against the former spy, also points out that stories about Deuce Martinez, the so-called covert operative that Kiriakou was accused of outing, “were far from secret.”

-The Nation’s John Nichols put forth the idea that Paul Ryan and every other House member that voted against Superstorm Sandy aid shirked their duty to uphold the Constitution. Nichols writes that “one of the few clearly defined responsibilities of any House member, is ‘to provide for the general Welfare.’ They swear an oath to do so. And, barely hours into the new Congress, Ryan and his compatriots rejected that oath and a fundamental premise of the Constitution it supports.”

-Hockey fans out there (full disclosure: Let’s Go Caps!) will be pleased to know that the NHL looks set to return, after a labor dispute cancelled almost half the season. A tentative agreement has been reached months after the widely reviled owners locked out the players’ association (I apologize for including this in the morning’s round-up. I am overjoyed).

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • c u n d gulag on January 06, 2013 10:43 AM:

    The Cap's?!?!?!?!

    Typical, inbred DC Villager rooting - said the typical, easily gruntled, NY Rangers fan.

    Actually, the Rangers already won one Lord Stanley's Cup in my lifetime - and that's about all any of the fans can really expect - if previous experience is any guidepost.

  • Ronald on January 06, 2013 11:58 AM:

    Hockey coming back is actually good news. Not everybody likes football and basketball. Go Sabers!

    The hockey lockout was the same sort of frustration that the American people feel about Congress- multi-millionairs fighting over billions of dollars that if they all just shared like we did in kindergarten everybody would have plenty. At least the NHL managed to agree on things. (and, it is to note, that the revenue was split 50-50. Gee- an even split of revenue. What a shock.)

  • esaud on January 06, 2013 11:59 AM:

    The Kiriakou article made me really angry. This guy, one of the few who spoke out against waterboarding, is going to jail for giving the name of a CIA operative to a reporter.

    Yet Cheney & company are free, and Jose Rodriguez (i.e. the guy who destroyed the torture tapes) is writing op-eds for the WAPO.

    Ain't this banana republic we are living in just grand?

  • barkleyg on January 06, 2013 2:41 PM:

    I have been looking for THIS sentence to start off my rant
    for Hurricane Sandy, a NATIONAL disaster, and NOT a state disaster.

    "Nichols writes that “one of the few clearly defined responsibilities of any House member, is ‘to provide for the general Welfare.’"

    Buffett made a lot of money for his company( and himself) by owning the Biggest Reinsurerer in the country. Most people don't realize that even Insurance companies insure some of their liabilities. Think Loyd's Of London for the world-wide equivalent.

    The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is responsible for it's citizens, and since NO other entity can provide these "resources" quickly and without damage to itself, the FEDS are OUR Country's Reinsurer.

    As Krugman has explained way too many times to people with "No brains", the Federal Government is the Only entity that can get us to the future. This also deals with all the other BS the REPUGS keep saying about stimulus and going over the cliff.

    Stimulus is needed when "private industry" doesn't have the capabilities to do it itself. What company is going to build a new "power grid", or all the needed repairs to our infrastructure? They have NO desire, nor, most importantly, the finances to advance such large projects.

    The physical cliff BS. Home interest rates are at 60 year lows, and the FED is now borrowing at less than 1% interest, all since the credit downgrade. Repugs are crying
    that our debt to Gross is too high, comparing them to Spain, Greece, and just this week, one IDIOT put Japan in the equation.

    Spain and Greece are like states(except California) compared to Countries in the world financial markets, and are Totally False Equivalents. The IDIOT who mentioned Japan" Japan has a debt to Gross of over 2 to 1, and I think it is closer to 3 to 1. Their stock market was up over 255(?) this year.

    The problem in America is that total IDIOTS run the House; morons who think running a Federal Government budget is the same as a household budget. You can;t get MORE Stupid than that, and these are the SCHMUCKS ( INSULT to Yiddish)who are trying to destroy our nation.

    Favorite statement of the 2012 campaign. " A Federal Budget is a MORAL Statement. If this needs explaining.....

  • schtick on January 06, 2013 2:56 PM:

    What can you expect from a bunch of idiots that put their pledge to Grover over their oath of office? Someone tell me why they bother to take the oath of office or better yet, why aren't they called out about it? It would be impeachment for any dem doing that crap.

  • exlibra on January 06, 2013 2:57 PM:

    What esaud said, @11:59. I read that article last night, and shook with fury at the injustice.

  • Keith M Ellis on January 06, 2013 6:43 PM:

    "Scott Shane, the author whose prior interviews with Kiriakou were cited by federal prosecutors in their case against the former spy, also points out that stories about Deuce Martinez, the so-called covert operative that Kiriakou was accused of outing, were far from secret.'"

    That's no more a credible defense than when Cheney's people defended themselves on this basis regarding Valerie Plame. I'm as upset at the inconsistency as anyone else, but in the direction that someone should have been prosecuted regarding Plame, not that Kiriakou shouldn't have been prosecuted because none of Cheney's people weren't.

    However, there is the very important distinction between the two cases that Plame's name and covert status was leaked to the press for the purposes of publicly outing her (and she was) while, in contrast, Kiriakou provided the name only as a possible inside source for a journalist to use for the story, and that covert agent wasn't actually publicly compromised (not that it matters in some respects practically, as they probably had to act as if the agent had been fully compromised). And, in the wider context, I feel certain that insiders have given names of covert agents to journalists before as possible sources. Kiriakou's primary mistake (in a practical sense) was disclosing this name in an email to the journalist.

    What he should have done was tell the journalist that he had a possible source the journo could use, then contact that person himself, ask about it, and then the covert agent could have themselves contacted the journalist.

    All that said, the article makes clear that Kiriakou is well aware that he should never have disclosed the name at all. Even if others knew, or that person would contact the journalist directly, this kind of secrecy is important to follow to the letter simply because it's difficult to maintain in the best of circumstances and any sort of laxity invites disaster. Kiriakou was himself was a covert operative and understands that lives depend upon this. He screwed up.

    He should be punished. The injustice is that others, who've behaved worse and with worse motives, have not been punished — especially if it's because they've been protected by powerful people or if only the politically inconvenient (as Kiriakou is) are so punished while those who are politically convenient are not.

  • mudwall jackson on January 06, 2013 7:01 PM:

    sorry, the proper chant is, "let's go pens!"

    glad hockey is back.

  • chikin on January 06, 2013 7:49 PM:

    As an expatriate Canadian living in Texas, I'm overjoyed for hockey to be back, but as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I'm concerned what effect this will have on their current season-long unbeaten streak.

  • G.Kerby on January 07, 2013 2:11 PM:

    With the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, I may never see Lord Stanley's Cup in Detroit again, but it has been raised 7 times in my lifetime, though I was too young to remember the 1st 4 ...