Iraq Turmoil

Is Self-Partitioning in Iraq a Fait Accompli?


TOPSHOTS Iraqi men, who volunteered to fight against the Jihadist militants, gather around buses in Baghdad, ahead of being transported for training at Taji infantry camp on the outskirts of Baghdad, on June 16, 2014, as security forces are bolstering defenses in the capital. Western embassies began evacuating staff from Baghdad despite Iraq's claim it was repelling militants who have captured vast amounts of territory in a lightning offensive that has shaken regional stability. AFP PHOTO/SABAH ARARSABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images SABAH ARAR / AFP - Getty Images

The latest regarding the crisis in Iraq

President Obama sent a War Powers Act letter to Congress, informing it of the deployment of up to 275 U.S. forces to provide support and protection for U.S. embassy personnel in Baghdad. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports that 170 military members are already in place, and Defense officials said Obama “pegged the number at 275 to give himself a ‘little extra headroom’ in case he needs to send reinforcements.” In addition, the president also met last night with his national security team at the White House after returning from California. And there was more violence in Iraq. “Sunni insurgents pushed further into a province northeast of Baghdad, laid siege to a police station and battled pro-government Shiite militiamen in overnight clashes that left at least 44 detainees dead, Iraqi officials said Tuesday.” The question remains, however: What is the Maliki government in Iraq going to promise -- as far as political reform goes -- to meet Obama’s condition that Iraq has to take care of its political problems in order to receive U.S. assistance against the Islamic extremists battling the government? There does seem to be a growing acceptance that the self-partitioning of the country might be a fait accompli, and so the job of the Obama administration might be helping to manage that inevitability. But just because there’s a growing realization of this outcome doesn’t mean the administration is ready to admit it publicly yet.

NBC/WSJ poll comes out tomorrow morning

What does the American public think of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy? How does it view the prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl’s release? And how does it see the Tea Party after Eric Cantor’s primary loss last week? Well, tune in for the answers to these questions first thing tomorrow morning, when we unveil our latest NBC/WSJ poll.

Obama goes to Pittsburgh, then to NYC

Today, Obama heads to Pittsburgh, PA, where he’ll make remarks on the economy at 1:45 pm ET at a firm called TechShop. He’ll also take questions from the audience, so he could get a question or two about Iraq. After that, he travels to New York City, where he attends a roundtable for Senate Majority PAC, the Super PAC assisting Democrats in Senate races, and then goes to a DNC LGBT gala fundraiser, as well as another DNC function at a private residence. By the way, this is the president’s first event for Senate Majority PAC.

Rick Perry gets slammed on gay rights -- on CNBC, of all places

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is considering another presidential bid, walked into a buzzsaw of an interview on CNBC Monday, when conservative host Joe Kernen pressed him on recently comparing homosexuality to alcoholism. “I don’t think gay marriage leads to cirrhosis of the liver, or domestic violence, or DWIs… I don’t see how that’s similar,” Kernen told Perry. Kernen then asked the outgoing Texas governor if a gay person can be turned straight. Perry answered, “I don’t know. The fact is we’ll leave that to the psychologists and the doctors to decide.” Watch the whole exchange; it didn’t go well for Perry. And it’s a reminder how social conservatives now find themselves on the defensive on gay rights and gay marriage, even from the business right. Perry has tried to remake himself a bit as Mr. Job Creator, trying to poach businesses from blue states like California and New York. But his comparison of gay Americans to alcoholics might make him a non-starter in the donor community he’s been desperately courting this last year.

Wendy Davis’ struggling campaign in Texas

Speaking of Texas and the open race for Perry’s job, here is something few would have said six months ago: Wendy Davis is struggling, and she has an uphill climb to make her race against Republican Greg Abbott competitive for November, let alone getting in the range of actually winning. But that’s the reality staring at her and Texas Democrats. There’s a lot of money and not much else to the Davis campaign. Last week, Davis replaced her campaign manager. And polls since the spring all show her trailing Abbott by double digits. It was almost a year ago when Davis staged her marathon filibuster against a Texas anti-abortion abortion bill (which eventually became law) that catapulted her into the national spotlight and gave her a platform to run for Texas governor. But ask yourself: Which Democrat this cycle has a better chance of winning his or her gubernatorial race? Mary Burke in Wisconsin or Davis? Ed Fitzgerald in Ohio or Davis? Gary King in New Mexico or Davis? Vincent Sheheen in South Carolina or Davis? You get our point… All four of those Dem nominees for governor are underdogs, but not the way Davis is. More than anything else, it’s Texas’ red-state nature that is going to be very, very difficult for Davis to overcome. But it also doesn’t help that her campaign has been a bit directionless.

Hickenlooper backtracks on gun-control legislation he signed into law

While Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is leading in his bid for re-election, he found himself on the defensive -- big time -- on the gun-control legislation he signed into law last year before a sheriffs group on Friday. The dispatch from the Denver Post: “Gov. John Hickenlooper ignited a political firestorm with his comments Friday to Colorado's sheriffs, saying he was unaware they wanted to meet with him in 2013 to discuss their concerns over proposed gun laws until it was too late and he had no idea the measures would be so controversial. Hickenlooper also told the County Sheriffs of Colorado at their biannual meeting, held in Aspen, that he regretted not having all the facts when he signed the bills into law.” And check out this quote from Hickenlooper on the gun legislation he signed into law: "If we'd known that it was going to divide the state so intensely, we probably would have thought about it twice.” Wow.

Tillis suggested that African Americans and Latinos aren’t “traditional” to North Carolina?

It appears North Carolina GOP Senate nominee Thom Tillis stepped into it talking about demographics and black and Latino voters in the state back in 2012. “In [an] interview with the Carolina Business Review, Tillis, who is running to defeat incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), was asked what he thought of Hispanics not supporting Republicans. ‘When you see all of these things that have transpired, what do you think about?’ Carolina Business Review host Chris William asked Tillis,” per TPM. “In response, Tillis said that the answer had more to do with ‘demographics of the country.’ ‘If you take a look, you mentioned the Hispanic population — the African American population, there's a number of things that our party stands for that they embrace,’ Tillis said. He went on to say that Republican need to do a better job reaching out to minority voters. Tillis then said that unlike the Hispanic or black populations, which have been growing, the ‘traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable.’” Tillis’ campaign responded to TPM: “‘Traditional’ North Carolinians refers to North Carolinians who have been here for a few generations. A lot of the state's recent population growth is from people who move from other states to live, work, and settle down in North Carolina.”

McDaniel: “The only chance Cochran’s got now are fear tactics and fear mongering”

Finally, we wrote yesterday that Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) is pretty much the underdog in next week’s Senate GOP runoff, and that he’s acting like it. Well, challenger Chris McDaniel is acting like the person who’s ahead. “U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's campaigners have "pushed the panic button" and resorted to preying on Jackson Countians' fears to win votes, Republican primary runoff challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel said today during a campaign stop in Wade. ‘The only chance Cochran's got now are fear tactics and fear mongering and Democrats,’ McDaniel said to supporters at the Catfish Point restaurant.”

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