One continuing theme was the fundamental weakness of Russia, despite Putin’s cocky attempt at “redux” that seeks to reassert Soviet-era prerogatives. One presenter described Russia’s demographic disaster: a shrinking population; a chronic health crisis that puts Russia between Tanzania and Angola in male life expectancy; a dearth of entrepreneurship, so that the nation ranks below Alabama in patents awarded over the past 10 years.
Given these devastating numbers, noted a panelist, it’s clear that Russia is in decline. The question is whether Russia will experience a sudden decline or a gradual one. The consensus was that U.S. interests wouldn’t be served by fast decline and the resulting instability.
Continue reading via Crafting a strategy for deterring Putin – The Washington Post.
Obamacare is fading as a cudgel against Democrats in key battleground races that’ll decide control of the Senate, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg News.
Since the law’s botched rollout last fall, Republicans have been licking their chops over the prospect of riding Obamacare failures to victory in the 2014 elections. But now that the law has recovered and is providing insurance coverage to millions of Americans, issue ads involving the health care law are slowly disappearing in key states like North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas.
In North Carolina, Obamacare was mentioned in 54 percent of issue ads in April; it fell to 27 percent in July, per data from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.
In Louisiana, Obamacare fell to 41 percent of top five issue ads in July; in Arkansas it dropped to 23 percent, according to CMAG. The issue dominated the airwaves in both states in April.
Democrats in these Republican-leaning states — Sens. Kay Hagan (NC), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Mark Pryor (AR) all of whom voted for Obamacare — are considered among the most vulnerable this fall. That remains the case whether or not the law is an effective weapon for Republicans. But even as Democratic senators refrain from touting it, due to its popularity with conservative voters, Republican strategists are realizing that the issue won’t carry them to victory in the midterm elections.
Via TPM GOP Attacks On Obamacare Fizzle In Key Senate Races.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which came under fire earlier this year for a deceptive series of fake Democratic candidate websites that it later changed after public outcry, has launched a new set of deceptive websites, this time designed to look like local news sources.
The NRCC has created about two dozen of these new faux news sites targeting Democrats, both challengers and incumbents, and is promoting them across the country with localized Google search ads.
The NRCC’s single-page sites are designed to appear to be a local news portal, with logos like “North County Update” or “Central Valley Update.” The articles begin in the impartial voice of a political fact-checking site, hoping to lure in readers. “We’ll take a look at her record and let you decide,” starts one. Then they gradually morph into more biting language. At the very bottom, in a box, is the disclaimer that the NRCC paid for the site.
Democrats say it’s telling that Republicans are repeatedly resorting to deceptive tactics to push their political agenda. “These sites say more about the NRCC’s own toxicity and desperation than anything else,” said Ryan Rudominer, a Democratic strategist who previously worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The NRCC’s online push comes despite the blowback the committee received for the look-alike Democratic sites, which prompted a complaint from a watchdog group to the Federal Election Commission. Under public pressure, the NRCC changed the design of those sites to make it clearer that contributors were sending their money to the House GOP campaign arm and not the Democratic candidates whose pictures appeared on the page.
Continue reading: NRCC Launches Fake News Sites to Attack Democratic Candidates – NationalJournal.com.
When President Barack Obama told donors on Monday night to help Democrats because “we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments” he may or may not have been talking about his own final years in office.
But he was right that several justices are statistically likely to retire in the coming years. None of them have revealed plans to step down, and if all of them stick around through the end of Obama’s term, the 2016 presidential election could lead to a cataclysmic reshaping of the Supreme Court, and with it the country.
As of Election Day in 2016, three of the nine justices will be more than 80 years old. A fourth will be 78.
The average retirement age for a Supreme Court justice is 78.7, according to a 2006 study by the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
“Appointments to the Supreme Court are always extraordinary consequential. But certainly under the circumstances, considering the age of a number of justices and the 5-4 splits in so many cases, it’s now more important than ever,” said Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, a progressive legal advocacy group.
Control of the Senate — up for grabs in 2014 and again in 2016 — will also play a crucial role as the majority party has effective veto power over any nominee. That’s why Obama urged a fundraiser for Senate Democrats’ campaign arm to keep the chamber in his party’s hands.
Continue reading The Enormous, Unbelievable Stakes For The Supreme Court In 2016.
The fog of war, the ADHD of cable news and the smears of Russian propaganda have combined to obscure some important good news in this dismal summer. In the historic fight over the future of democracy in Ukraine, Kyiv is winning and the Kremlin is losing. That is good news for Ukrainians, but also for Europeans, for the rest of the world—and ultimately for Russians, too.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria have taught us that even in conflicts where it is easy to spot the villain, virtuous actors can be much harder to find, and effective virtuous actors can be rarer still. That’s why the early success of the new Ukraine is so significant.
Of course, it’s also true that at every stage in this crisis, Ukraine’s democratic victories have had the perverse consequence of escalating pressure from the Kremlin. That pattern has now led to possibly as many as 45,000 Russian troops once again massed on Ukraine’s border, as Moscow considers how to check the success of the Ukrainian military in re-establishing control over the eastern Donbass region where Russian-backed fighters have been trying and failing for months to create a breakaway republic. NATO and Ukraine’s leaders are warning there’s a significantly heightened threat of Russian invasion.
Continue reading Ukraine Is Winning the War – Chrystia Freeland – POLITICO Magazine.