President Obama did a round of interviews this morning with some of the morning news shows (those interviews were taped on Friday and aired extensively over the weekend) talking about Iraq. He isn't going beyond last week's announcement that he is sending 300 advisers to help the Iraqi military take on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the extremist Sunni group threatening the Nouri Maliki-led government. Some lawmakers say that's too little, while others fear it's the first step into getting the country pulled back into the morass that was the Iraq war.
Rand Paul is one of those "not willing to send my son to defend that mess," as he said yesterday on CNN, but his voice hasn't been the dominant one on those network and cable airwaves over the past week. But as a prominent 2016 presidential candidate, at least he's getting significant face time to express his more dovish point of view about the issue. More often we've been subjected to the voices of those who were very, very wrong in getting us involved in that war in the first place.
And yes, that includes Dick Cheney. The former vice president was back on the air yesterday, this time on ABC's This Week, where he was asked by anchor Jonathan Karl to refute Paul's comment (speaking for the rest of America) about why should anybody even listen to him now, considering how wrong he was about Iraq in 2002-2003?
Cheney responded that he was a strong supporter of invading Iraq back then, and he is again now, so there's "nothing to be argued there." (But that wasn't the question, Mr. Vice President.) He then said, "But if we spend our time debating what happened 11 or 12 years ago, we're going to miss the threat that is growing and that we do face." In other words, yes, I was wrong then. But now listen to what I have to say! And what is that? Well, he's warning of dire consequences for this country if we don't do something now. "The first thing we have to do is recognize we’ve got a hell of a problem, and it’s not just Iraq," he said yesterday.
The question is: Is this terrorist threat in Iraq a real threat to U.S. citizens? Cheney and his neo-con friends say yes — so did Dianne Feinstein on CNN yesterday.
But other than air strikes to chase after ISIS for the Maliki government, nothing else concrete has been formulated by much of the D.C. foreign policy establishment.
For a decidedly different range of opinions, the activist group formed in the wake of the Iraq invasion, St. Pete For Peace, is hosting a discussion on Iraq tonight. That takes place at Genaro Coffee Co., 1047 Central Ave in St Petersburg at 7:00pm.
In other news: Say what you want about him, but Rand Paul is a different type of Republican. The Kentucky freshman senator (and probable 2016 presidential contender) was on Meet The Press and CNN yesterday, and announced a bill he's introduced in the Senate that, though its chances of passage are slim, is still worthy of consideration. That bill would allow non-violent ex-felons to automatically get their voting rights back, an issue the ACLU has worked on in Florida for years.
There are 14 people on the ballot this August in Hillsborough County running for school board. On Friday we saw 10 of them in action at a Tiger Bay Forum in Tampa.
And did you know that Tampa International Airport now offers direct one-way flights to Seattle? They hadn't before this weekend, but now you can take Alaska Air in 5.5 hours, vs the usual 8-9 hour experience.