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YesterdayPresident Obama spoke about much-needed reforms to how the NSA and other intelligence agencies target, gather, store, sift through, and disseminate “intelligence” information. As president, he can issue executive orders which must be obeyed by those within his chain of command, and that gives him significant power to change the way things are done.
That’s very nice, but those executive orders are NOT laws, and they can be set aside faster than the blink of an eye by this president or any president in the future.
The Constitution that President Obama mentions in his speech, which guarantees our freedoms, created three branches of government, a balance of powers, to protect those freedoms, and those branches have not been doing much since 2001. Meanwhile, the executive branch has been going wild.
by: William Bole on January 17th, 2014 | Comments Off
Picture a world where politics is not so polarized. Imagine that the American people are flat out in favor of a plan that could lift more than a million of their neighbors out of poverty. And they’re arriving at this position not out of narrow self-interests—most Americans aren’t poor—but for essentially moral reasons. Actually, not much imagination is required. At least not when it comes to public opinion on a perennial issue: the minimum wage.
For decades, polling has shown support for a higher minimum wage ranging somewhere between unambiguous and unbelievable. In November, a Gallup survey found that 76 percent of the people would vote for a hypothetical national referendum lifting the bottom wage to $9 an hour. That’s $1.75 more than the current federal minimum; it would also be more than any increase ever passed by Congress. Last summer, a less independent poll conducted by Democratic-leaning Hart Research Associates found eight in ten Americans flocking behind a $10.10 per-hour minimum wage.
Try to identify a considerable subgroup of American opinion that’s content with the $7.25 regime. You’d think, for example, that self-identified Republicans would want to either freeze the wage or tamp it down. You would be mistaken, according to the Gallup breakdown: Republicans favored the $1.75 hike by an unmistakable 58-39 percent margin. Meanwhile, in a previous Gallup poll, the support among self-identified “moderates” was rather immoderate (75 percent).
It’s Friday and things seem to be breaking our way. According to National Journal, Majority Leader Harry Reed is strongly resisting demands from AIPAC Senators to bring its sanctions bill to the floor for a vote. John McCain says that the game will be to get Jews to put the pressure on their senators and, if Reed resists, to keep bringing the bill up and forcing Reed to block it. That way the Democrats will be exposed as anti-Israel and the Republicans will benefit in November. AIPAC and its deputy, Chuck Schumer, are giving Reed the same message: if we don’t do this, AIPAC donors will boycott us and will lose our majority. But Reed is good at standing up to special interest pressure. So the old boxer may very well stand tough. We’ll see. But so far, so good. Especially with some in the media finally addressing AIPAC’s bum rush to war.
This week, something unprecedented has occurred: politicians, mainstream media outlets, and political satirists have uniquely joined forces to identify AIPAC – and the ‘pro-Israel’ lobby – as the political force threatening the Obama administration’s historic, diplomatic breakthrough with Iran.
Jon Stewart did so. The New York Times, in an extremely rare moment of candor, did so. Even Diane Feinstein, in a double-take-worthy address on the Senate floor, did so.
How has this happened? How has such seeming synchronicity occurred when just last week, mentioning AIPAC as an influential lobby would likely earn one shouts of anti-Semitism?
What’s happened is that the Israel lobby, and AIPAC specifically, has wildly overplayed its hand in a country where Americans back President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran by a 2-1 margin.
So much so that, for the first time I can remember, the Israel lobby is being being publicly singled out by both staunch allies and critics for trying to push the United States toward a war Israel’s leaders want, but a war Americans don’t.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Jon Stewart highlighted AIPAC’s influence over those senators who are supporting a sanctions bill which could railroad the White House’s agreement with Iran. However, when Jon Stewart mockingly yells, “The Senators from the Great State of Israel are against [Obama's diplomacy]” while an AIPAC logo appears in the background, it’s more that noteworthy.
It’s evidence of a potential sea change.
It has started. The media is waking up to the AIPAC crusade to get us into a war with Iran.
Last night Chris Hayes, the very young, very brilliant, MSNBC reporter called out both AIPAC and the 16 Democrats backing its Iran war bill with a directness never before seen on that station or anywhere else on television. Watch it here. Best part: when he reminds Cory Booker and the others of the last time Democrats (like Hillary Clinton) voted for a war because they were afraid not to: Iraq. But watch the video. It’s brilliant and trenchant.
Credit: Creative Commons
On Sunday, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany (known as the P5+1) reached full agreement with Iran on the next steps in the process of freezing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.
This is great news.
Nonetheless, Democrats in Congress are moving to terminate the agreement by imposing new sanctions on Iran despite our government’s signed promise to lift sanctions. They are joining the Republicans who, as on health care, will sabotage anything the President supports.
What is a hero? In our violence-ready culture, a hero can mean many things. Fire fighters, soldiers, teachers, even volunteers – all have been called heroes many a time, and with full confidence. Wherever there’s tragedy, there are always heroes. We applaud them, pray for them, give them the best of wishes and accolades. When a hero loses his or her life saving someone, we feel their family’s pain, shed tears for them, wish there had been another way. But last week in Pakistan, a young hero – a child himself – gave up his life in a manner that made his family and his nation proud.
Last week, I wrote about how, due to my writing on the issue of boycotts and Israel, I was asked by a prominent Jewish organization (Hillel) to publish a favorable political statement before being allowed into its building to speak about my book, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?
Despite my discomfort with such a problematic request, I published it. For I thought, If there are places where talking about reconciliation and understanding might be meaningful and important, this is one of them.
The statement I made affirmed my desire, as a progressive Zionist, for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while acknowledging the legitimacy of economic sanctions against Israel as a nonviolent form of opposition. I made this statement, even though its focus has little to do with the focus of my book.
Despite this, and our prior agreement regarding the statement, I’ve come to learn that I have been barred from speaking. And so, this is now my story – a story tragically being replicated far too often today in America as Jewish institutions decide not just what may, and may not, be discussed with regard to Israel, but who may discuss such issues as well.
by: Timothy Villareal on January 10th, 2014 | Comments Off
In Part Two of this Q & A with Coleen Rowley, the former FBI agent discusses bureaucratic arrogance, psychopathic leadership, and why strict adherence to just war doctrine, not “humanitarian” intervention, will lead to a safer world. In addition, Rowley offers her thoughts on the U.S. response to the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, AIPAC’s political influence in Washington, among other issues.
Coleen Rowley, in our last session we discussed the need to have a more frank public discourse about the moral implications of the for-pay soldiery. I’d like to start off the second part of this interview by asking you about the other end of the military spectrum: how our democracy and our security are affected by power-hungry generals.
The 2000 film about the Cuban Missile Crisis, 13 Days starring Kevin Costner, dramatically depicted President Kennedy’s struggle to get control of the U.S. military’s top brass, particularly General Curtis LeMay who was intent on dragging our country into war with Cuba. This struggle between democratically-elected presidents and military generals, a struggle literally over our national destiny, does not appear to be letting up.
For example, in his new memoir to be released next week, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is reported to describe President Obama’s deep-seated distrust of the military’s top brass over the war in Afghanistan.
One great thing about watching history unfold is that it’s so full of surprises.
The United States and Iran suddenly “find themselves on the same side of a range of regional issues” in the Mideast, the New York Times reports. “‘The Americans are confessing Iran stands for peace and stability in this region,’ said Hamid Reza Tarraghi, a hard-line political analyst, with views close to those of Iran’s leaders.”And a slim majority of Americans favor a negotiated settlement with Iran about its nuclear program.
Who would have thunk it?