Quote of the Day || December 18, 2014

by Keith Koffler on December 17, 2014, 10:49 pm

“Thank goodness. Obama finally gave me what every bastard wants: Legitimacy.”

- Raul Castro

A note from our attorneys: This is not a real quote

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Obama Schedule || Thursday, December 18, 2014

by Keith Koffler on December 17, 2014, 9:49 pm

2:00 pm || Meets with senior advisors

I would say that with him leaving for Hawaii Friday, it is likely President Obama will hold a press conference today. I’ll of course live stream it if it happens.

All times Eastern
Live stream of White House briefing at 12:30 pm

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Obama Visit to Cuba Appears Probable

by Keith Koffler on December 17, 2014, 5:14 pm

He didn’t exactly say it, but responses by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest to questions today about the possibility of President Obama visiting Cuba appeared designed to lay the basis for just such a visit.

Speaking at today’s briefing, Earnest pointedly declined to rule out a visit and sought to justify a possible Obama trip the Cuba even if the regime’s repressive tactics had not changed.

Said Earnest:

There’s nothing on the schedule right now. The president did hint that there will be senior government officials who will carry out the kind of work that’s indicative of two nations that are seeking to normalize their relations, so I certainly wouldn’t rule out a presidential visit.

I assume, like many Americans, he has seen that Cuba is a place where they have a beautiful climate and lots of fun things to do, so if there is an opportunity for the president to visit, he wouldn’t turn it down.

Asked if things would have to change in Cuba before Obama would visit, Earnest noted that the president visits other places with unsavory rulers, like China.

Meanwhile, following a threat by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that Congress would not fund the administration’s planned embassy in Havana, Earnest said the White House might be able to establish it without Congress.

“It’s not clear to me that additional appropriations will be necessary to establish an embassy in Cuba, principally because there is already a diplomatic presence in Cuba,” Earnest said. But Earnest didn’t rule out a future appropriations request by the administration

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Live Stream || White House Briefing – December 17, 2014

by Keith Koffler on December 17, 2014, 1:25 pm

The briefing has concluded.

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Obama Announces Normalization of Ties with Cuba

by Keith Koffler on December 17, 2014, 12:21 pm

President Obama today announced that the United States would take steps to normalize relations with Cuba, resuming trade and economic ties and opening a U.S. embassy in Havana.

Obama said the change was needed and just because the old policy of walling Cuba off had not dislodged the Castros from power.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Obama said in remarks from the White House. “These 50 years have shown that isolation does not work.”

Obama pointed to “a younger generation of Cuban Americans” who are less supportive of the old policy, and said that “neither the American nor the Cuban people are well served” by it.

The president said he would have acted sooner if not for the imprisonment in Cuba of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was released today. The United States also exchanged three Cuban spies in our custody for an American spy who had been imprisoned for years in Cuba.

Some Republicans were quick to voice their opposition.

“The President’s decision to reward the Castro regime and begin the path toward the normalization of relations with Cuba is inexplicable. Cuba’s record is clear,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“This is an incredibly bad idea,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Democrats seemed mostly supportive, except for Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who said Obama’s decision had “vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

Writing in the Weekly Standard, Elliott Abrams said America’s sudden rapprochement with its enemy will chill allies around the world, especially with respect to Iran and the possibility that Obama will try to normalize relations with the Ayatollahs.

The American collapse with respect to Cuba will have repercussions in the Middle East and elsewhere—in Asia, for the nations facing a rising China, and in Europe, for those near Putin’s newly aggressive Russia. What are American guarantees and promises worth if a fifty-year-old policy followed by Democrats like Johnson, Carter, and Clinton can be discarded overnight? In more than a few chanceries the question that will be asked as this year ends is “who is next to find that America is today more interested in propitiating its enemies than in protecting its allies?”

Updates may follow . . .

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Live Stream || Obama Announcement on Cuba

by Keith Koffler on December 17, 2014, 11:30 am

The remarks have concluded.

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AP: U.S., Cuba to Establish Diplomatic Relations

by Keith Koffler on December 17, 2014, 11:20 am

The United States and Cuba have agreed to establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, the Associated Press is reporting.

According to AP:

The announcement comes amid a series of new confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American Alan Gross, as well as a swap for a U.S. intelligence asset held in Cuba and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.

President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro were to separately address their nations around noon Wednesday. The two leaders spoke by phone for more than 45 minutes Tuesday, the first substantive presidential-level discussion between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961.

Wednesday’s announcements follow more than a year of secret talks between U.S. and Cuban officials in Canada and the Vatican. U.S. officials said Pope Francis was personally engaged in the process and sent separate letters to Obama and Castro this summer urging them to restart relations.

Obama will announce the moves at noon today from the White House. I will live stream his remarks.

According to USA Today, news of the Cuba announcement drew criticism from anti-Castro Republicans and some Democrats:

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a Democrat and the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, a Republican and a long-time critic of Cuba’s government, said the U.S. and Cuba are talking about new trade and banking ties, and the prospect of a U.S. embassy in Havana.

Rubio, a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, and other Republicans said the Obama administration should demand democratic reform in Cuba before making any concessions.

“I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship” until Cuba changes, said Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida and another prospective Republican presidential candidate.

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Reports: Obama to Announce Big Changes to U.S. Cuba Policy

December 17, 2014

President Obama has  secured the release of Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor who had been imprisoned in Cuba since 2009, and will talk about it and other major changes he is making to U.S. Cuba policy, according to reports. Obama is set to speak from the White House an noon Eastern Time. I will live […]

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The Obama Morning News || December 17, 2014

December 17, 2014

Bush to explore presidential run . . . Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday that he plans to “actively explore” a run for president, taking his most definitive step yet toward mounting a 2016 campaign. The former GOP governor also said he plans to launch a new political operation allowing him to raise money for […]

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Obama Schedule || Wednesday, December 16, 2014

December 16, 2014

4:15 pm || Delivers remarks at a Hanukkah Reception 8:00 pm || Delivers remarks at a Hanukkah Reception All times Eastern Live stream of White House briefing at 1:30 pm Don’t forget to share

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Federal Judge: Obama Immigration Order Unconstitutional

December 16, 2014

In the first court opinion on the issue, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that President Obama’s immigration actions are an unconstitutional abuse of presidential power. U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote the opinion in relation to a criminal case he was reviewing. It appears to me he was looking […]

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Levin’s Epic Rank Rips the Republican RINO Establishment

December 16, 2014

Radio talk show host Mark Levin went on an epic tear last last night, searing a verbal gash into the deserving folks who lead the Republican Party. You can listen to Levin’s criticism here. It comes at the beginning of the December 15th show. Levin says he is “an inch away” from leaving the Republicans. I don’t […]

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