|(Banking Reform - Monetary Reform) - '..debt is our biggest security threat..' (no replies)|| |
'Now that he is president, Trump likes to tout the fact heâs listening to Americaâs generals. Perhaps he needs to talk to General Mike Millen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Perhaps then he would see that the greatest threat America faces isnât from China, Russia, or North Korea â it is from the national debt. Until Trump reverses course on military spending, and gets tough on entitlements, his "America First" budget will only make the US worse off.'
'..a crippling national debt..'
'Under a Republican budget resolution, the national debt will explode by a third from an already staggering $19 billion to $29 trillion over the next ten years. Although counterintuitive, Democratic presidents, at least those after World War II, have reduced deficits as a portion of the value of the national economy (GDP) while Republican presidents have increased them â thus accumulating less public debt as a percentage of GDP. Yet neither political party has paid enough attention to this burgeoning national security problem.
'..World Debt Hits $152 Trillion.'
|Update (February 11, 2017) - '..ethical standards..' ('.. Dr. Bates appeared to distance himself from some of what he wrote in the blog post..') (no replies)|| |
Update February 11, 2017: 'In an interview on Monday with E&E News, Dr. Bates appeared to distance himself from some of what he wrote in the blog post, and from the way his criticisms were portrayed in the Mail on Sunday article.
Update February 09, 2017: 'Dr Batesâ main complaint is that Dr Karl and his co-authors did not follow strict procedures required for NOAAâs âoperationalâ data. It is not yet clear whether Dr Karl should have subjected his research data to the same procedures. Dr Karl, who retired from NOAA in August 2016, has not yet had the opportunity to respond fully to Dr Batesâ allegations.'
'..a failure to observe proper ethical standards..'
'Dr John Batesâs disclosures about the manipulation of data behind the âPausebusterâ paper is the biggest scientific scandal since âClimategateâ in 2009 when, as this paper reported, thousands of leaked emails revealed scientists were trying to block access to data, and using a âtrickâ to conceal embarrassing flaws in their claims about global warming.
'Whatever takes its place, said Dr Bates, âthere needs to be a fundamental change to the way NOAA deals with data so that people can check and validate scientific results. Iâm hoping that this will be a wake-up call to the climate science community â a signal that we have to put in place processes to make sure this kind of crap doesnât happen again.
Dr Bates said: âHow ironic it is that there is now this idea that Trump is going to trash climate data, when key decisions were earlier taken by someone whose responsibility it was to maintain its integrity â and failed.â '
'Dr Bates retired from NOAA at the end of last year after a 40-year career in meteorology and climate science. As recently as 2014, the Obama administration awarded him a special gold medal for his work in setting new, supposedly binding standards âto produce and preserve climate data recordsâ.
Context '..conduct more meetings on ethics .. Respectful discussion of different points of view should be encouraged.' - John Bates
Climategate: Follow the Money - By Bret Stephens
|'We have no experience in stopping a nuclear war.' - Sidney Drell (no replies)|| '..My greatest concern is the lack of public awareness about this existential threat, the absence of a vigorous public debate about the nuclear-war plans of Russia and the United States, the silent consent to the roughly fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world. These machines have been carefully and ingeniously designed to kill us. Complacency increases the odds that, some day, they will. The âTitanic Effectâ is a term used by software designers to explain how things can quietly go wrong in a complex technological system: the safer you assume the system to be, the more dangerous it is becoming.'|
'The harsh rhetoric on both sides increases the danger of miscalculations and mistakes, as do other factors. Close encounters between the military aircraft of the United States and Russia have become routine, creating the potential for an unintended conflict. Many of the nuclear-weapon systems on both sides are aging and obsolete. The personnel who operate those systems often suffer from poor morale and poor training. None of their senior officers has firsthand experience making decisions during an actual nuclear crisis. And todayâs command-and-control systems must contend with threats that barely existed during the Cold War: malware, spyware, worms, bugs, viruses, corrupted firmware, logic bombs, Trojan horses, and all the other modern tools of cyber warfare. The greatest danger is posed not by any technological innovation but by a dilemma that has haunted nuclear strategy since the first detonation of an atomic bomb: How do you prevent a nuclear attack while preserving the ability to launch one?
|'..Russia .. cyberpower proved the perfect weapon .. political sabotage..' (no replies)|| ' âWeâd have all these circular meetings,â one senior State Department official said, âin which everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didnât happen.â|
Mr. Putin, a student of martial arts, had turned two institutions at the core of American democracy â political campaigns and independent media â to his own ends..
..The Russians clearly had a more sophisticated understanding of American politics, and they were masters of âkompromat,â their term for compromising information.
..the hackings of the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon..
What seems clear is that Russian hacking, given its success, is not going to stop. Two weeks ago, the German intelligence chief, Bruno Kahl, warned that Russia might target elections in Germany next year. âThe perpetrators have an interest to delegitimize the democratic process as such,â Mr. Kahl said. Now, he added, âEurope is in the focus of these attempts of disturbance, and Germany to a particularly great extent.â '
'..the White Houseâs reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks.
Context '[Russia] may become a threat to the world. That is the worst thing that could happen to Russia.' - Yegor Gaidar
'..Russian strategy of hybrid influence and destabilization .. German Council on Foreign Relations.'
|Commentaires sur Obama. Le retour? par Lakia Groetsch||Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your website is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you've on this site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched all over the place and simply couldn't come across. What a perfect website.|
|Commentaires sur Donald Le grand gagnant par USA: LâÃ©lection prÃ©sidentielle truquÃ©e ou la rengaine de Trump et des rÃ©publicains â AF2050||[…] des argumentscomplotistes. Le milliardaire fut l’un des plus acharnÃ©s propagateurs des doutes sur la naissance de Barack Obama. Le candidat avait Ã©galement accusÃ© de fraude son principal challenger dans le camp rÃ©publicain […]|
|Commentaires sur Donald Le grand gagnant par L'Ã©lection prÃ©sidentielle truquÃ©e ou la rengaine de Trump et des rÃ©publicains â MediaVor||[…] arguments complotistes. Le milliardaire fut l’un des plus acharnés propagateurs des doutes sur la naissance de Barack Obama. Le candidat avait également accusé de fraude son principal challenger dans le camp […]|
|Introducing âG4NP in Three,â a new YouTube Series|
Google for Nonprofits (G4NP) offers nonprofit organizations across 50 countries free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Ad Grants and more. Whether youâve been using our products for years or are thinking about signing up for Google for Nonprofits, we want you to feel confident when using our products.
Thatâs why weâre excited to announce our brand new YouTube series, âG4NP in Three.â Every few weeks, weâll walk you through one of the many products we offer Â from enrollment process to optimizationâall in roughly three minutes.
What Youâll Learn
Weâll start with the basics. Weâll cover program eligibility requirements, walk through the different signup processes, and give you tips and tricks on how to best use our products. In the first few videos, weâll focus on some of our most popular products: Google Ad Grants, G Suite, and YouTube.
Meet Your Hosts
Bri and Jay are volunteers on our video production and G4NP YouTube strategy team.Â Both work in different parts of the Google organization for their core roles, but have been aligned to G4NP for over a year.Â They write, edit and star in videos to help educate the nonprofit community and, in addition to hosting, are the co-creators of the âG4NP in Threeâ series.
âAâ San Francisco native, âJay ventured to Ann Arbor, MI to get his degree at the University of Michigan. âAfter graduating, he started at Google where he currently works as a Communications Specialist in People Operations. Aside from his passion for marketing, communicationsâ,â and diversity in the workplace, Jayâs claim-to-fame is singing for President Obama at the White House.
Originally from Mountain View, California, Bri attended Chapman University. There she earned a degree in Public Relations and Advertising. After graduation, Bri started a position at Google as an Associate Account Strategist supporting our advertisers. Outside of work, Bri thoroughly enjoys knitting, hiking, and venturing off on the weekends to find the best cup of coffee in the Bay Area.The first âG4NP in Threeâ video is now live! Videos will be released every few weeks. Subscribe to Google for Nonprofits on YouTube to stay updated.
To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofitâs story. Learn more and enroll here.
|Who's a good boy?||Silas hasn't had an accident in a whole week! It's like the most exciting thing ever...|
Work is really crazy right now, I have less than 70 days left before the election which makes me nervous and excited and exhausted and relieved and terrified all at the same time. Mostly because part of thinks "holy crap there's so much to do before November!" and the other part of me thinks "thank goodness, maybe I'll be able to sleep a little bit soon" and yet another part of me thinks "ummmmm, I don't have a job starting November 10th and I haven't even thought about looking for one."
So those are the major stresses in my life right now. Not really sure what to do about them.
Last thing: Last night was the first night of the democratic national convention in Denver, and my Senator here in Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill spoke towards the end. Her kids, including her daughter Maddie (who I know!!! eeek!!) introduced her. This was the part of the convention I wanted to see. The ONE PART other than Obama's acceptance speech. And guess what? I MISSED IT. I was driving. because I work all the time. Boo. :(
|Facing Foreclosure? Then You Need to Get on Board With Obama's Mortgage Loan Modification Today||Believe it or not, you actually hold the upper hand when it comes to Mortgage Loan Modification in this situation. Your lender will have to pay a very high price to foreclose on your home. Added to this, is the mounting pressure from other companies and organizations for your lender to be more lenient with you in these hard times.|
Think of all the memories your home holds for you. Do you recall the lazy days lying around or watching the children play. Maybe you have experienced countless emotions. Whether you have been happy, sad or angry, your home is something that you don't want to lose!
Your lender is not in the business of selling homes. The additional costs and fees associated with foreclosure will leave your mortgage provider looking for other suitable solutions.
With a Mortgage Loan Modification plan, you can reduce your payments for a period of 5 years to something far more affordable. The government can even reduce your mortgage principle in that time. This is a win-win situation for both parties. You get to keep your home, lower your repayments and have your mortgage balance reduced. Your lender doesn't have to go through the effort of trying to foreclose and sell your home and still receives some form of payment from you.
However, with a solution, there is usually always another problem right around the corner. Many people in your circumstances, resort to contacting attorneys, companies and specialists in mortgage foreclosure and loan modification. The fees that you can expect to pay can be astronomical and maybe even push you into further debt.
Some Loan Modification Companies have been reported to charge anywhere between $1500 - $5000 to perform this service. So this, of course, has led the way for certain individuals to fight back and complete the Mortgage Loan Modification process on their own.
If you need a step-by-step system and don't have up to $5000 to spend on Mortgage Loan Modification fees and charges then Click Here to see what other people who have "done it themselves" have to say.
|Discover What the Obama Loan Modification Programs and the 31 Percent Rule Can Do For You||Loan Modification Programs aren't something new, but many will argue the old system wasn't structured properly to work. A recent example of this is - over half of the loans modified in the US from January to March 2008 defaulted on their modified loan before the end of the year.|
What Exactly is Loan Modification?
As you are well aware the economy has taken a huge downturn over the last couple of years. This has had an undesired effect for many homeowners. People find their loans are at risk and the possible threat of foreclosure. This is where lenders will offer lower monthly repayments and set terms and conditions on your home loan for a specified period of time. However, with no real structure in place, this was doomed to fail.
The Obama administration unveiled their new program on Wednesday 4th March 2009. This program planned to restructure home loans and save millions of Americans from foreclosure.
So What is the 31% Rule?
The program requires lenders to reduce your monthly mortgage repayments to no more than 38% of your gross monthly income. The government will then fund the remainder, to bring your payments down by a further 7%. This would mean that your monthly mortgage repayments would be no more than 31% of your total gross monthly income.
In order for your lender to achieve this, they would first need to lower the interest rate on your loan and possibly extend the term of your mortgage. They have the ability to lower the interest rate to 2% and extend your term up to 40 years. However, even after all these alterations, if you are still paying above 31% threshold, the lender can merely claim payments for your principle balance and will charge no interest.
For you to secure help to join one of these Programs, you will usually need to approach a Loan Modification Company. Although, many people have reported savings in excess of $500 per month on their mortgage payments, others have told horror stories of the fees that some of these companies charge.
|How Barack Obama's Modification of Your Mortgage Can Really Help Those Suffering Financially||The New Mortgage Loan Modification Programs were introduced by the Obama administration in March 2009. For those of you struggling to meet your monthly repayments and with the threat of possible foreclosure hanging over you, this could be just the thing you are looking for.|
With the agonizing recent recession and slump in housing prices, this has had a huge effect on millions of Americans. The Obama Loan Modification process has been introduced to help you through these hard times.
So what help is the government offering exactly?
Should you own and live in your mortgaged property and have a loan balance of below $729,750 you may be eligible. The government are looking to streamline your payments for up to five years. This may involve lowering the interest rate or extending the term of your mortgage.
For those of you suffering financial hardship and wishing to participate in this plan, you will be required to write and sign a letter stating such and if your overall debts are above 55% of your income, you will have to agree to take part in credit counseling. The final criteria to be eligible is that you must haven taken your loan out prior to January 1st 2009.
The process is a very rigorous form of verification, involving proof of ownership, proof of income and expenditure, through supplying relevant documents. Many industry experts believe that if these plans had been brought in a few years ago, then perhaps the current housing crisis could have been avoided altogether.
There are many companies who can help you through the legal and financial aspects for the Modification of your mortgage.
However, some Loan Modification Companies have been reported to charge anywhere between $1500 - $5000 to perform this service. So this, of course, has led the way for certain individuals to fight back and complete the procedures on their own. To learn how you can complete this process yourself Click Here.
|5 Top Tips To What Makes A Great Loan Modification Hardship Letter||A well thought out and well written Loan Modification Hardship Letter can be the difference between success and failure when making a loan modification application. You must remember ever since the Obama Administration announced the new Loan Modification Plans And Programs back in March 2009, the majority of lenders have been inundated with applications.|
So your letter needs to be clear, concise and if at all possible as unique as you can:-
1) Don't make excuses. Just describe in detail what the hardship is and why you are in this situation.
2) State what you have tried to do to overcome your current financial hardship.
3) You need to fully emphasize to your lender how important it is to you that you and your lender work together to resolve any problems.
4) Explain what your plans are to get yourself back on track with your mortgage repayments.
5) Don't beat around the bush. Be very clear and get to the point.
The Hardships that lenders will accept:-
- Death of a family member or the person who pays the mortgage
- Loss of your Job or Relocation
- Due to a reset variable rate your monthly mortgage repayments have increased
|Thanks For The Help Obama But Are You Willing To Pay $5000 For The Modification Of Your Mortgage?||Since the Obama Administration introduced the new Loan Modification Plans on Wednesday 4th March 2009, many people have gone about planning the changes to their mortgages.|
However, one stumbling block seems to get in everyone's way! The process of approaching your lender for the Modification of Your Mortgage usually requires a middleman. This is when the help of specialized attorneys, Loan Modification companies and professionals is required.
How much do these services cost you?
Well, you could be looking at anywhere from $1500 to $5000. Now, the way i see things, if you had that kind of money freely available you probably wouldn't need to approach your lender.
The actual plan of the Obama administration is to help out the 4 million plus Americans, who have either fallen behind with their monthly mortgage repayments or to those unfortunate enough to be facing foreclosure.
The help you will be offered is over a five year period. You mortgage principle can be reduced by up to $5000. Your interest rate can be dropped to as low as 2% and the term of your home loan can be extended up to a maximum of 40 years.
This certainly is a fantastic helping hand to those suffering financial hardship and looking to modify their mortgage repayments, but once again, you are faced with the fees and charges to get the ball rolling.
I knew it wouldn't be long before someone had to go through this whole process and then worked out a way of doing it for themselves! You are undoubtedly looking for no huge fees, no additional charges, just some guidance on how to approach the Loan Modification process. Hence the birth of the DIY Loan Modification Kit!
With the help of this kit, you can learn to:-
- Lower your interest rate and your payment
- Reduce the principal balance
- Convert to a fixed rate for peace of mind
- Have all late fees and charges removed from your record
- Stop the Foreclosure process
Click Here For More Info On The Do-It-Yourself Loan Modification Kit
What have some of the people who have used the DIY Loan Modification Kit got to say:-
"Thanks to the Do-It-Yourself Loan Modification Kit I was able to save my home! I had to stick to it for 3 months and really put my head down, but it was well worth it in the long run. I will be the first one to say it wasn't easy, but if you are struggling to make ends meet, it is definitely worth it. I ended up with a 40yr term at 4.5% reducing my mortgage over $1000 per month! I talked to a loan modification company before I chose the kit, but they wanted $3,500 upfront. I weighed my options and for only $29.95 I knew exactly what I was going to receive! And If I couldn't get the loan modification done myself at least I had peace of mind that I didn't waste $3,500."
Ted Basil, Syracuse, NY
"We have been in our home for 3 years and I think we were given the wrong mortgage. We got behind, but your kit showed us how to make our lender listen! We are now in a mortgage that we can afford. Our entire family appreciates you and the information that you provide."
Paul and Brenda Keen, Danbury, CT
"I was over $10,000 behind on my mortgage. My rate had just adjusted to 13.25%! Using your kit, I was able to negotiate the following: 13.25% adjustable rate was taken to an 8% fixed!And, get this... the lender allowed me to have the $10,000 I was behind, rolled onto the back of my loan!My new payment including taxes and insurance, is $300 less than what my previous payment was, and that's not including the taxes and insurance!!!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!"
Vivian Stephens , Dallas, TX
Click Here For More Info On The Do-It-Yourself Loan Modification Kit
|'The Carmichael Show' Takes on Black Lives Matter in a Surprising Way|
|'The Carmichael Show' Smashes Stereotypes: Defends Bush, Bashes Obama|
For all conservatives sick and tired of being trashed and talked down to by network television, boy, do I have a show for you!
|Forget the gray hair. Presidents don't really age faster|
President Barack Obama went gray during his first term in office. But, internally at least, presidents donât age any faster than other Americans â and, in fact, historically surpass average U.S. lifespans, according to a study into whether commander in chief is, literally, is a killer job.
|What Americaâs Top LGBT Leaders Think Obama Must Do Next||Barack Obama was elected to a second term as President of the United States partially because of his declared support of the LGBT community. As the president moves forward into his second term, the question rises of what the LGBT … Continue reading |
|About to retire - need answers||[+1] Question by williamJo on 01/02/15 3:21 PM Replies: 9 Views: 7,109 |
Tags: Retirement, Obamacare
Last Post by Butrflynet on 01/03/15 9:09 PM
|Resistance at Standing Rock: Dispatches from the Front Lines|
Oceti Sakowin encampment on Oct. 6, 2016. The proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux is Oceti Sakowin, (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win) meaning Seven Council Fires.
Story and Photos by John Briggs
Cool Justice Editor's Note: OK to repost, courtesy of John Briggs and The Cool Justice Report.
Corporate â Government Alliance Versus the American People
Native Americans from tribes across the country have gathered on the windswept plains of North Dakota to pray with Mother Earth to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from pumping 500,000 gallons of oil a day beneath the Missouri River. The natives know the pipeline will most certainly leak or break, as have most U.S. pipelines, fouling the water for the Great Sioux Nation and 18 million non-Natives downstream.
The standoff -- which began in April -- continues as a new U.S. administration ascends to power with a president-elect who campaigned denying human-caused climate change and threatening the Paris Climate accords. This remains the overriding reality despite a mini walk back by Donald Trump pledging an open mind to The New York Times this week.
Standing Rock illuminates the brazen alliance that has developed between corporate and government interests. Viewed from the front lines, the law has been turned into a fig leaf for repression and suppression. Only the discipline and spiritual clarity of the water protectors and the native elders has kept people from being killed or seriously injured since April when the movement began.
The fused police-DAPL force is doing everything it can to incite a violent reaction from the resisters so as to crack down, clear the camps, imprison, or even gun down the natives. More than one commentator has found the atmosphere at Standing Rock similar to what led to the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890 when 300 Sioux were murdered by government troops who mistook their prayerful Ghost Dance for a war dance.
A great deal is at issue at Standing Rock. The Sioux and their numerous native and non-native allies face a militarized force whose composition tells us something dark about the complex faÃ§ade that U.S. democracy has become and suggests the proto-fascist zombi lurking beneath. More deeply, Standing Rock also emblemizes a struggle that is taking place at this moment in human history between two distinct modes of human consciousness.
Distinct from this anthropocentric mind-set is a second, ancient and spiritual mode of awareness that understands that the earth and its landscapes are not objects; they are relationships, including the tangle of relationships that gave us birth. This ancient mode of consciousness is potential in everyone, but for most it has been buried beneath the piles of conceptual objects that we have come to believe constitute our reality.
The Indigenous Peoples gathered at Standing Rock are guided by this ancient, holistic, earth-mind consciousness, and so they understand that humans are not the most valuable living objects on the planet: we are not in control of the planet; it is not our job to manage nature; rather, our sacred task is to work with Mother Earth and other beings as members of Earthâs family. If we donât, Mother Earth will make us face this spiritual truth one way or another.
Guided by their ancient, earth-mind awareness, Native Americans have taken up a role as âwater protectors.â âMni Wiconi, Water is Lifeâ is the slogan of the Standing Rock movement.
There the protectors sing and pray in the face of physical harassment and arrests by heavily armed police fused with a corporate security force.
DAPL and their overlord company, Energy Transfer Partners, have lavished campaign contributions on politicians in North Dakota and the U.S. Congress so that they could use the stateâs eminent domain powers to force purchase of land for the pipeline all across North Dakota, beginning in the Bakken fields in the northwest corner of the state where the fracked crude oil is extracted. Similar eminent domain arrangements were achieved in other states through which the 1,200-mile line traverses before reaching a river port in Illinois. The company promised Congress and the public that the pipeline would carry oil for 100 percent domestic use only, but it is clear from reporting done by the website The Intercept that the oil will be sold on international markets.
The DAPL line, now virtually complete except for permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to fill in the link that crosses under the Missouri River, passes just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The DAPL construction runs through sacred burial and archeological grounds that the Lakota people were given free access to by treaties with the U.S. Government in the 19th Century. In mounting their resistance to the pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux have been turned into âtrespassers on their own land.â
In recent live-stream videos from the front lines, DAPL-police snipers can be seen perched on top of a sacred mound called Turtle Island, their high-powered rifle crosshairs trained on the water protectors who are standing in prayer in the frigid lake below.
North Dakota wants the federal government to pick up the tab for the massive expenditures required to keep the Native Americans under their guns. Alternatively, the CEO of Energy Transfers, Kelcy Warren, has offered to pick up the millions-of-dollars tab.
Native media have documented that DAPL has already been supplying military-style equipment, drones, armored vehicles, riot gear, water canons, concussion grenades and other armaments. The tax-payer-funded and corporate-sponsored front lines phalanx is led by the Morton County Sheriffâs Department, which has local jurisdiction, reinforced by North Dakota State Troopers, North Dakota National Guard units, sheriffs and police from six nearby statesâall interpenetrated by DAPL security (while the FBI lurks in the background). A contingent of Hennepin County, Minnesota, Sheriffsâ Deputies were recalled following protests back home. Residents in the state of Ohio are writing letters and calling legislators to express their distress that their law enforcement has been enlisted into this repressive force.
Native mediaâs live stream videos show DAPL security teams in mirror-visor helmets and black ops body armor with no identification, mingling with the police, sometimes directing them when and who to mace or pepper spray. They point out media making video for arrest. The big fossil fuel company evidently has plenty of experience dealing with protestors around the world. In their blank, reflecting visors we can see the soulless Darth Vader face of the government-corporate proto-fascist state the U.S. is becoming.
The provocations the water protectors endure take many forms. There is the psychological pressure of constant surveillance: the heavy police presence on the roads around tribal and reservation lands, the DPLA helicopter and a small plane that circle constantly above the encampments; there is the Bureau of Indian Affairs station set up on a knoll to suck out data from the cell phones of anyone in the area. There is the pepper spraying and tasing of water protectors who are praying. There is the more recent blasting of the protectors with freezing water canons in sub zero weather. There is the constant threat of weapons pointed at them. One twitching trigger finger could set off a slaughter.
The water protectors are unarmed. The resistance movement does not allow guns in the encampments. One day, at one of the front line actions, an armed man showed up with a pistol and began firing. Possibly he was paid by DAPL to create an incident. The Natives are aware of paid provocateurs or agitators passing through the camps, pulling dirty tricks, looking to start something. Antimedia reported about the man with the gun: âAccording to an official statement from the tribe, the man fired several shots from his gun before being peacefully apprehended by tribal police. Witnesses at the scene say he pointed his gun at several protesters. The man was clearly trying to provoke violence that could later be used to demonize protesters who have so far remained peaceful.â
The news site added, âThe Morton County Sheriffâs Department circulated a false report claiming the man was shot, presumably by protestersâ¦ [As images show], the man was not harmed. The Sheriffâs Department has since retracted that report. Anti-Mediaâs attempts to obtain clarifying comments from Morton County Sheriffs were ignored.â
On a hill overlooking Oceti Sakowin, the largest of the Standing Rock encampments, an old army tent houses the field office of the rotating teams of lawyers who come to Standing Rock to help out. They use donations made to the resistance to bail out protectors who have been arrested; they try to negotiate with the police so the protectors can be allowed to pray. The constant arrests on trumped-up charges are an ongoing harassmentâpeople maced or beaten, violently thrown to the ground and zip-tied. Often activists are charged with trespass and âriotâ on the Morton County Sheriffâs novel legal theory that if several people are arrested for trespass that must signify that they were engaged in a riot.
All this naturally requires court time and money to defend, incarceration in usually unpleasant conditions, including dog kennels. (Though the white allies who are arrested seem to get better treatment.)
Arrests are to be expected as a consequence of civil disobedience. But some arrests are directed at chilling speech. One lawyer who came to Standing Rock from the Oregon-based Civil Liberties Defense Center, an activist defense nonprofit primarily involved in climate protests, https://cldc.org/ told Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks Network that often after the dayâs action was over, police would stop the last cars in the caravan. They would then make âsnatch and grabâ arrests, impounding the cars of people who had come to support the water protectors but had no expectation that theyâd be arrested when the action was over and the police told them to leave. They have to pay heavy fines ($900) to get their cars back. She said the arrests and impoundment fines for their cars are unlawful. âThe intention with those types of actions is to scare out-of-towners from being comfortable coming to these actions. So theyâre trying to chill the rights of others to come and participate in these protests.â
The authorities regularly characterize the natives as terrorists, and local radio spreads false rumors of farm animals being slaughtered and stolen, reported vandalismâthe kind of thing you would expect from psychologically projected homesteader fears about savage Indians of earlier centuries.
Yes, Magazine on Oct. 31 reported: âThe county sheriff is claiming the water protectors were violent and that police were stopping a riot. But hours of live video feed from people caught in the confrontation showed instead a military-style assault on unarmed people: police beating people with batons, police with assault rifles, chemical mace, guns firing rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, tasers.â
The UN has sent human rights observers. According to Salon, Nov. 16, 2016: âThe U.N. special rapporteur said that American law enforcement officials, private security firms and the North Dakota National Guard have used unjustified force against protesters.
â âThis is a troubling response to people who are taking action to protect natural resources and ancestral territory in the face of profit-seeking activity,â [Maina] Kiai [U.N. special rapporteur] said in his statement, which was issued by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and was endorsed by several other U.N. experts.
âAt least 400 activists have been detained and often have been held in âinhuman and degrading conditions in detention,â Kiai added. Some indigenous protesters have said they were treated like animals and even held in dog kennels.
â âMarking people with numbers and detaining them in overcrowded cages, on the bare concrete floor, without being provided with medical care, amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment,â the U.N. expert said.
â âThe excessive use of State security apparatus to suppress protest against corporate activities that are alleged to violate human rights is wrong,â he continued, noting that it violates U.N. guidelines on business and human rights.
âAmnesty International USA, which has repeatedly criticized authorities for not respecting the rights of protesters, issued another statement on Tuesday noting that U.S. authorities had put up roadblocks to prevent journalists and human rights observers from documenting the protests and the official response.â
Living on Earth reporter Sandy Tolan reflected: âYou know, at times I felt I was back reporting in the West Bank, and not the Northern Plainsâ¦â
The Bundy crew was the cowboys, not the Indians
Compare the government response at Standing Rock with the response occasioned by Ammon Bundy and his gang of armed militants when they occupied Oregonâs Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for over a month in January 2016. Imagine if the Bundy gang had been pepper sprayed, beaten, hit with water cannon, tased. But the Bundy crew were taking over the refuge to proclaim their belief that public lands should be given free to the profit-making private ranching business. In other words, the Bundy crew was the cowboys, not the Indians.
The mainstream corporate media has largely ignored the stand-off at Standing Rock. Rallies have taken place around the world at places like Tokyo, Stockholm, and Auckland, but the sad truth is many foreigners have heard more about Standing Rock than Americans have. Not surprising. The news editors, working for corporate media conglomerates, choose what they believe we should know and what fits the larger corporate agenda, and so they devote massively more play to Brad Pitt, to the gossipy politics of whoâs-on-first, and to whatever the latest glittering consumer thing is than they do to climate change and issues highlighted by the poor and the powerless, like Standing Rock. What coverage that does exist is usually cursory and misleading.
Fortunately, alternative media have been on the scene and active at Standing Rock. As someone who taught journalism for more nearly 20 years, it has been refreshing for me to see what the alternative press is accomplishing.
Amy Goodman of the webcast Democracy Now brought the prayer-resistance movement to national attention over the summer. She was arrested and charged with riot in absentia for her live reports of water protectors being set upon by dogs. The charge was later dismissed in court.
Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks Network has done searching interviews and incisive commentary from the scene.
But my absolute favorite news source at Standing Rock is Myron Deweyâs Digital Smoke Signals. Dewey does updates every day, which he posts on Facebook. I highly recommend anyone who has a Facebook account to âfollowâ him. I went to Standing Rock on Oct. 4-11 with two friends and I have since been able to keep up with developments on the ground through Deweyâs Facebook broadcasts. He posts live stream unedited clips that constitute what he calls an ongoing âdocumentationâ of what is happening day-to-day at the movement.
Here is Dewey at night standing on a hillside next to the Oceti Sakowin encampment. His face appears in the glow of his screen. Then heâs panning and zooming in on a large grassfire as heâs telling us about it. His finger appears in the screen and points out where the fire started. He says the helicopter which constantly circulates over the camp suddenly disappeared 20 minutes before they saw the first flames. He zooms to the area where he and the person he is with first spotted the fire. He says, âIt looked like someone using a drip torch.â He says they called 911, but itâs been over an hour and the Morton County Fire Department hasnât shown up. He tells the people in the camp, his audience, not to worry, though. It looks like the fire was started by DAPL employees to scare them or hurt them. But the Oceti Sakowin is full of Indians who supplement their income by wild-land firefighting, work that also benefits Mother Earth; he mentions that he is himself a âhotshotâ firefighter [one of the elite crews]. He and his fellow firefighters can tell by the wind direction that the fire wonât harm the camp.
Now hereâs Dewey on a bright morning walking along the road by Oceti Sakowin. A young man appears on screen, and Dewey asks him who he is and why heâs here. Heâs from the Paiute nation. âIâm here to protect the water,â he says. Dewey asks him to sing a Paiute song. The young man closes his eyes and sings.
In another nighttime broadcast find we ourselves looking through a car windshield, headlights illuminating the highway, centerlines whizzing by. We hear voices talking in the backseat. The car drives on and on. Weâre just watching the road. Then ahead is a police roadblock. The police van looms. Dewey gets out with his camera and calls over to the officers, asks them where theyâre from, inquires about where the road blocks are, what are the open routes. At one level itâs a mundane exchange between a citizen and police, but you experience the edginess of the situation. More deeply, you feel the riskiness and pathos that is involved any human interaction. Dewey firmly exercises his right to have these protect-and-serve police respond to him civilly; he is cordial and respectful in a way that reinforces to them and to his viewers that he is after all not their enemy but a fellow human being. Dewey asks more questions and the lead officer says he doesnât want to be filmed; Dewey offers to turn his camera away from them and onto himself. The distant officers disappear from the screen and Deweyâs face fills it. The contact officer walks nearer; we can hear his voice. Dewey canât resist a joke, though. He asks the officer if heâs sure he doesnât want to become famous by putting his face on Deweyâs screen? You realize these are just guys doing their job. Dewey understands that, but he also wants to educate them about the water protectorsâ mission. He never misses an opportunity to educate his adversary, as well as his own people about the larger dimensions of the Standing Rock resistance. When he gets back in the car, someone in the back seat says âLetâs get out of here; this is enemy territory.â Dewey laughs, turning the car around, âItâs not enemy territory.â
I believe you learn more about Standing Rock by watching Deweyâs unedited video than you ever could from watching any number of dramatically produced, commercially constricted reports on CNN, complete with the drumb-drumb latest crisis theme music.
Dewey explains to his viewers that what theyâre seeing is a âdocumentationâ thatâs not edited. âItâs not scripted. Itâs not acted out.â
After a month of watching Deweyâs daily reports I realize more fully than I ever have before how ghastly and vacuous mainstream news reporting is: a production where facts have been emptied of the humanity of real encounters, replaced by the shallow performances of reporters and news sources, slick, clichÃ©d phrasing, behavior slotted into ready made categories, events analyzed and even predigested. The news about reality comes to us compartmentalized in trays like tasteless microwave dinners. Rarely is the reader or viewer allowed to simply experience the event unfolding through the reporterâs eyes or camera. The stories are crafted and slickly packaged. Their very polish and stimulating presentation sabotages their meaning and replaces it with a meaningless, artificial understanding.
Note that I am not saying that the news these days is politically biased. Some obviously is, but the left or right bias charge is a serious red herring, a mis-direction. In fact, in mainstream mediaâs very effort to appear neutral and unbiased means events are chopped up and pieced together to fit the templates of a few hackneyed forms of storytelling: the winner-loser story, the conflict story, the individual overcoming obstacles story, the facing bad choices stories, he-said, she-said stories, scandal stories, hypocrisy stories. Youâve seen them all, repeatedly.
Most of these templates come plated with a cynicism, skepticism, superiority, or sentimentality that grabs our attention by adding a dash of disgust. The current journalistic manner of telling stories reduces and dismisses the story in a way that sometimes makes the commercials and pop-up ads come as a relief. None of the common journalistic templates or attitude has much to do with real life as itâs lived in the moment. Itâs not what people really experience in their lives. Instead, itâs how theyâve been conditioned to wrap up experience afterward in a dramatized way that leaches out the nuance, that leaves out the moment-to-moment uncertainty, or as the Lakota call it, the Wakan, the deep mystery of relationships that permeates every event. And thatâs what Deweyâs broadcasts have in abundance. You get to see him interacting with the people who show up on his screen. You get to feel his humanity and the mystery of everyday relationships taking place at Standing Rock that he brings to light. Itâs certainly not dramatic or melodramatic. Itâs not interesting or stimulating in the usual way. It does seem really important.
This points to a major difference between anthropocentric prayer as most of us know it and earth-mind prayer. In the prayer that most people are familiar with, an individual seeks intercession for human needs with a transcendent being. The Native prayer is about healing not getting. The prayer is a community ceremony or song or ritual to maintain or restore the balance between and among beings, both animate and inanimate. Prayer is to all my relatives, all my relations, the birds, the water, the wind, the buffalo, my family, even those who oppose me as enemies. Mitakuye Oyasin is an important Lakota phrase that means âall my relations.â When youâre watching a Dewey update from Standing Rock youâre experiencing Mitakuye Oyasin in action. Itâs newscasting as a kind of prayer, in the earth-mind sense. Whether heâs engaging in laughter or educating about the spiritual importance of water, you can see that what heâs getting at is healing relationships. Watching and listening, you get to be part of that healing.
What Dewey does goes way beyond advocacy journalism.
Our traveling companion for our visit to Standing Rock, Lakota elder Tiokasin Ghosthorse, also provides a good way to keep up with developments through the interviews he conducts for his weekly syndicated broadcast from WPKN in Bridgeport Conn. and WBAI in New York City. On Oct. 31, 2016, Tiokasin interviewed a young man who was seized on Oct. 27 when a frontline camp was destroyed by police. Trenton Joseph Castillas Bakeberg, in the bloodline of Crazy Horse, was praying in a sweat lodge when the militarized police swept through the camp. They yanked him out of the sweat lodge and arrested him. The young water protector told Tiokasin:
âI pray that weâll be able to keep a state of prayer and peace, as we have beenâ¦ Although thereâs some people on our side are more likely to tend toward violence. But thereâs also people on our side to stop them. Donât start a fight. Thatâs what itâs all about, keeping it peaceful because the elders told us in the beginning that all it takes is one single act of violence, one person attacking a police officer and theyâll unleash the fear on all of us. This wrath that we have with our military overseas, weâre beginning to see it now in the heart of our own country. All for the greed and the corporate interests of this government. They say weâre a democracy but itâs not showing anymore. The people didnât want this pipeline, but this foreign entity that they call a corporation, Energy Transfers, is saying, we donât care. We want this money. We need this for economic stability of the country and that somehow trumps the interests of our communities and our nation as a wholeâ¦.Weâre standing up to this corporate machine with prayer and love.â
Against a heavily armed, corporatized democracy designed to ensure that only powerful business and political elites rule the land and possess the wealth of its objects, the Native-American people at Standing Rock stand in defense of Mother Earth armed with songs, prayers, and an understanding that Earthâs objects are us, and we are them. They are our relatives. It seems better armament than most of us Wasiâshu possess. Webster defines fascism as âa political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted.â Itâs an incendiary word, and readers might think ill of me for introducing it here. Certainly we are not a fascist state yet. But for the prayer-resistance at Standing Rock, the clear alliance between corporate and government interests to quell their opposition under color of the law has a fascist flavor.
It should not surprise anyone that the new US president reportedly holds stocks that directly fund the Dakota Access Pipeline and that the DAPL CEO Kelcy Warren gave the Trump campaign a substantial donation.
This is how the proto-fascism works. Ironically (or perhaps absurdly), Trump may have been elected by people hoping he would somehow counter the tightening grip of multinational corporations on their lives. One might wish for that to happen.
At a deep level, Standing Rock may suggest that such absurdities as a Trump presidency occur because our mode of consciousness is impaired or inadequate to the situation it has created on our planet at this historical time. Too many of us have gone dead to the natural world we come from. Our obsessive anthropocentric mode of consciousness has reduced nature and reality at large to a bunch of things we have names forâthings that feed our greed. Fortunately, many Indigenous people have retained an acute and ancient consciousness that we are those rocks and trees and clouds, and birds and water that we see outside our windows, and that restoring our relationships with them is incumbent on us.
John Briggs is emeritus distinguished Professor of Writing and Aesthetics from Western Connecticut State University. He was the English Departmentâs journalism coordinator for 18 years and was one of the founders of Westernâs Department of Writing, Linguistics, and Creative Process. He is the author of several well-known books on chaos theory, fractals and creativity. He lives in the hilltown of Granville, Mass., where served as a Selectman for five years and as reserve police officer for 10 years.
When people at Standing Rock talk about the black snake they mean the pipeline, referring to an old Sioux legend about a black snake that will threaten the end of the world. The Lakota prophet Black Elk said that in the seventh generation, the Sioux tribes would unite to save the world.
Media covering the Standing Rock resistance movement:
|LA GRAN "UTILIDAD" DE LA OEA...|
DecÃa en estos dÃas el dictador venezolano NicolÃ¡s Maduro que a la OEA no la quiere nadie. Â¿CÃ³mo va a ser verdad una frase de tan despreciable personaje? Â¡Tiene que estar "equivocado"! Â¡La "verdad" Ãºnicamente la dice gente inteligente y agradable! Para refutar la frase de Maduro (aunque estarÃa "refutada" por quien la dice) vamos a mostrar la inmensa utilidad de la OEA.
En los inicios de la juventud hay un idealismo que raya con la ingenuidad. Todos los reciÃ©n egresados de colegio vibran por cambiar el mundo. Saben mÃ¡s de la profesiÃ³n que piensan estudiar los que ya la estudiaron. Una Ã©poca hermosa con unas ansias de cambiar el mundo mÃ¡s fuertes que las de Putin y las de Obama... Y es aquÃ donde viene la OEA. Con el Ã¡nimo de implantar "valores democrÃ¡ticos" se crean simulaciones de la OEA. Los jÃ³venes por un instante juegan a cambiar el mundo. Los hombres de corbata y las niÃ±as de sastre. Una elegancia que eleva su "espÃritu" a la categorÃa de aquellos representantes del continente... Sin la OEA Â¿A quÃ© jugarÃan nuestros jÃ³venes?
Maduro dirÃa que podrÃan jugan a un modelo de la "Asamblea Nacional". MÃ¡s de uno elegirÃa ser Diosdado Cabello sin lugar a dudas. Pero la Asamblea Nacional Bolivariana es muy aburrida. La mayorÃa tendrÃan que gritar que estÃ¡n "rodilla en tierra" con el comandante eterno. La minorÃa bÃ¡sicamente tendrÃa que gritar que "no existen garantÃas para la oposiciÃ³n". Lo Ãºnico es que podrÃa armarse un "bochinche" y liberar aquellas bajas pasiones... Tal vez esa sea una simulaciÃ³n un poco mÃ¡s autÃ©ntica del costoso circo de la polÃtica. Pero Â¿Acaso eso eleva su noble y digno espÃritu de nuestra juventud?
La diplomacia es el arte, que requiere enorme valentÃa, de sonreirle a quien en condiciones normales querrÃas pegarle un puÃ±o. No es hipocresÃa, para nada, por el contrario se requiere una gran valentÃa para sonreÃrle a alguien que detestas. Esto es incomprensible por algunas personas sobre todo en Antioquia y la Costa Colombiana. Sin embargo, en su mayorÃa la gente en Colombia es "diplomÃ¡tica". En todo caso, mÃ¡s vale una sonrisa falsa que una guerra autÃ©ntica...
Uno de los grandes beneficios conseguidos por la diplomacia es el de la "inmunidad diplomÃ¡tica". MÃ¡s allÃ¡ de entrar a analizar tan "valiosa" instituciÃ³n en sus debidas "excepciones" es claro que esto representa un beneficio. La inmunidad diplomÃ¡tica no solamente se presenta para "misiones diplomÃ¡ticas" ante paÃses, sino para aquellas ante instituciones como la OEA o la ONU.
En un mundo donde priman principios como "la libertad de circulaciÃ³n" o la no-discriminaciÃ³n por razones de nacionalidad (leÃ¡se pasaporte) Â¿CÃ³mo se sacarÃan beneficios adicionales para personas "iguales ante la ley"? Â¡Con la inmunidad diplomÃ¡tica! Se trata de una discriminaciÃ³n positiva en razÃ³n del pasaporte, de uno especial claro estÃ¡. Siendo todos iguales ante la ley Â¿cÃ³mo podrÃamos encontrar una forma para que a alguien le dijeran "Su Excelencia"? Eso sin contar que eso facilita el trÃ¡nsito en aeropuertos demorado por medidas proteccionistas (que surgen "precisamente" como formas para facilitar la libertad de circulaciÃ³n y la no-discriminaciÃ³n) como las visas o las aduanas. Sin tantas instituciones internacionales Â¿CÃ³mo harÃa el polÃtico para incluir en la lista de su gigantesco nÃºmero de "amigos" de los beneficios del poder? Ese carrusel de roscas, beneficios y adulaciÃ³n requiere privilegios especiales...
Hay un tercer beneficio que presenta la OEA. Se trata de una OrganizaciÃ³n que no escatima en realizar toda serie de eventos, cocteles, tratos especiales, etc. Se trata de la socializaciÃ³n del mÃ¡s alto nivel. En estos eventos como "foro para la erradicaciÃ³n del hambre" se invita a "lÃderes comprometidos" a "discutirlo" en hoteles del mÃ¡s alto nivel. Se trata de eventos que sus asistentes no solamente no pasen hambre, sino que coman esquisitos manjares. Manjares que los motiven a una "reflexiÃ³n profunda" para sacar una resoluciÃ³n, declaraciÃ³n, etc., donde se diga que se quiere acabar con el hambre. Â¿CÃ³mo conseguirÃamos aquellas "valiosÃsimas" declaraciones que se dan en eventos del mÃ¡s alto nivel?
Eso sin contar con que, los organismos internacionales son buenos empleadores. Â¿QuÃ© pasarÃa con empleos como los del Secretario General, despachos, asistentes, adjuntos? No se puede negar que, en un mundo lleno de problemas econÃ³micos, se requiere resolver los problemas de empleo. Es "vital" para nuestra economÃa que haya personas encargadas de manejar varios tipos de sellos y la logÃstica que ello implica. MÃ¡s aÃºn, por su directa relaciÃ³n con emitir otras de declaraciones acerca de la importancia de acabar con el hambre. SituaciÃ³n que llevarÃ¡ a otras declaraciones sobre tan importante problema... Eso sin contar que las facultades de relaciones internacionales perderÃan inmensas "ventajas" para el mercadeo de sus programas. Â¿DÃ³nde van a trabajar sus egresados? En esta economÃa global hay que "garantizarles" un empleo...
Es asÃ como NicolÃ¡s Maduro estÃ¡ equivocado. No solamente por ser Ã©l quien lo dice, sino por la importancia de la instituciÃ³n que se trata. Sin ella Â¿QuÃ© remedarÃan los jÃ³venes para cambiar el mundo? Â¡Se perderÃan empleos, se desperdiciarÃan inmunidades diplomÃ¡ticas (que podrÃa darle a sus "amigos")! Sin la OEA y las instituciones internacionales Â¿cÃ³mo podrÃamos tener un circo donde los payasos cumplan al pie de la letra el protocolo y la etiqueta? Sin ellos no tendrÃamos quien lograra darnos pan... bueno declaraciones que harÃ¡n que este aparezca mÃ¡gicamente...
|LA FALACIA DE LO "EMPÃRICO" PRIMERA PARTE: ALGUNOS APUNTES SOBRE CO2 Y CAMBIO CLIMÃTICO|
Conversando con un amigo de mi hermano quisimos mirar las tendencias sobre el tema del "cambio climÃ¡tico" o "calentamiento global". En primer lugar, quisimos mirar en concreto las mediciones de CO2 por kilotoneladas. El Banco Mundial uno de los mayores promotores de la existencia del cambio climÃ¡tico nos trae una larga serie, de 50 aÃ±os un nÃºmero geolÃ³gicamente MUY relevante, del orden de un 1 y 7 ceros... antes o sea 0,000000011111111 de la edad de la tierra. No sabÃamos la "amplia" duraciÃ³n de los periodos geolÃ³gicos... pero hay buenas noticias, Estados Unidos ha ido disminuyendo su participaciÃ³n en las emisiones globales como lo muestra la siguiente grÃ¡fica:
La tendencia es "alentadora". Lo que no nos muestran es que sus emisiones han venido aumentando desde 1960. Tampoco nos dicen que las emisiones Chinas han aumentado su participaciÃ³n en las emisiones globales veamos las emisiones Chinas y Norteamericanas por kilotonelada en el mismo periodo de tiempo:
Y Â¿hay alguna correlaciÃ³n entre el aumento de las emisiones chinas con la economÃa norteamericana? Â¿Mano de obra "balata"? El caso es que es alentador ver que en 2009 cuando llegÃ³ el ambientalista y "Nobel" Barack Obama, las emisiones disminuyeron... tambiÃ©n habrÃan caÃdo con el petrolero Bush... venÃan cayendo con el petrolero Bush Â¿PerdÃ³n? Las crisis bajan las emisiones... Â¿QuÃ©? SÃ, las crisis bajan las emisiones. Para ponerlo un poco mÃ¡s duro, en nada impactan los polÃticos al manejo de emisiones... Â¿o si? La razÃ³n es simple, si el ciclo implica disminuciÃ³n del consumo pasan dos cosas:
Â¿Es cierto esto? Pues algo asÃ se observa en Colombia y Cuba. Por ejemplo, en Cuba la escasa industria hace que sus emisiones no estÃ©n al nivel de las colombianas o no hayan crecido lo mismo lo mismo en Colombia, la crisis del 1999 se ve reflejada en las emisiones de CO2:
Â¿Y la disparada de las emisiones en Colombia? Hasta 2004 la construcciÃ³n estuvo resentida por la crisis, a partir de 2004 se dispara, tambiÃ©n hay minerÃa que puede o debe influir al respecto. Lo que sÃ es interesante es la economÃa cubana, el comunismo parece que no hace creer las emisiones. Bueno, pero tienen a EEUU al lado Â¿no les afecta sus mediciones? ConclusiÃ³n, si es asÃ hay que disminuir el crecimiento econÃ³mico o volvernos una economÃa comunista -sin carbÃ³n o petrÃ³leo- para disminuir las emisiones... Es la conclusiÃ³n absurda y corto placista de los ambientalistas.
Hay muchas falencias en estos temas. Uno puede preguntarse Â¿son comparables las grÃ¡ficas? Si uno es estricto no. Â¿CÃ³mo miden las emisiones de CO2 en Cuba, Colombia, EEUU y China? Las mediciones son diferentes, si en mi edificio tuviera dos barÃ³metros y los pongo en el mimo lugar es probable que den mediciones diferentes, aproximadas pero diferentes. Lo mismo si los medidores estÃ¡n a las afueras o dentro de las ciudades la cuestiÃ³n cambia, adicionalmente los vientos pueden llevar la contaminaciÃ³n hacia lugares distintos. Si es en el dÃa en una ciudad costera la brisa del mar puede sesgar el medidor hacia arriba conservando la contaminaciÃ³n en ese punto. Las temperaturas pueden cambiar el proceso de ascenso, la densidad del aire varÃa con la temperatura, el CO2 tambiÃ©n, los procesos de ascenso por convexiÃ³n variarÃ¡n de acuerdo con la latitud de la zona, la presiÃ³n, la densidad del aire, entre muchos otros.
No es igual la mediciÃ³n en zonas desÃ©rticas que no tienen vegetaciÃ³n a zonas con buena vegetaciÃ³n. No es lo mismo medir el CO2 en Cusco, PerÃº desÃ©rtico, frÃo y a 3600 msnm que en ApartadÃ³, Antioquia, Colombia altamente hÃºmedo, caliente, mucha vegetaciÃ³n y prÃ¡cticamente al nivel del mar (los dos climas mÃ¡s opuestos que conozco). Es asÃ como un medidor de emisiones de CO2 no es comparable realmente de paÃs a paÃs. Que hay cierto nivel de error de paÃs a paÃs es claro... pero Â¿cuÃ¡nto? El "generoso" Banco Mundial que "tanta riqueza nos genera" no nos regala ese dato...
Es asÃ como estos datos realmente empÃricos, tomados de una mediciÃ³n, no son comparables. No estoy criticando el empirismo como tal, estoy criticando el mal manejo que se da a lo empÃrico. Si no fuera un empirista no sabrÃa que hay diferencias en la mediciÃ³n de diferentes medidores en la misma situaciÃ³n. La idea del laboratorio que se usa en fÃsica es excelente, logra aislar diversas variables, pero tambiÃ©n tiene su error. Â¿Pero un laboratorio multivariable?
|The "Green" Jobs Canard|
For too long, politicians, environmentalists and subsidized proponents of âgreenâ jobs have been peddling the notions that âinvestingâ in green technologies is the illuminating endeavor and beneficent job creator of our time. With scant evidence, these green jobs postulates are bulwarked by so much hot air it rivals the amount of subsidized dollars used to sustain them.
The main dilemma of green jobs and investing is that they defy the reality of basic economics. Jobs are created by entrepreneurs willing to invest in capital, coupled with demand for their goods and services. The economic environment fostered by government (taxes, regulations, etc.) plays an immensely important role as well.
The experience in Europe with investment in greed jobs sheds a glaring light on the fallacious nature of the purported success of these initiatives. In Spain, which has a 20.4 percent unemployment rate, every green job created destroyed an additional 2.2 regular jobs. In addition, every âgreenâ megawatt created destroys 5.28 jobs in the rest of the economy. Aggregately, these green jobs programs killed 110,500 elsewhere in the economy.
The amount of money invested in these programs is exorbitantly costly when compared with private sector job creation. In Italy, the amount of capital invested in the creation of 1 green job was equivalent to the amount of capital invested to create 5 jobs in the rest of the economy.
The reason these programs are such colossal failures, is that government subsidies to inefficient and unsustainable green initiatives divert resources from other productive sectors of the economy and result in the loss of jobs. Price-controls and central planning have long been considered an abject failure, why do we believe that these policies are any more palatable in the energy sector of our economy?
The reason these economically suicidal green job schemes continue to seem viable is that somehow they represent drastically new technology and innovation. Itâs like a burgeoning plant, just give it a little water and it will rapidly expand, right?
Wrong. These propositions elucidate an inherent myopia within the green jobs cheerleaders. The truth is that the wind-powered electricity was commercialized in 1881 and solar power received its first patent in 1892. Mean ugly coal-fired electricity was commercialized in 1882.
The house that contains the green jobs myth has been set ablaze. Do we want the dubious distinction of running in?
|Selective Amnesia of Reaganâs Legacy|
Amazingly and audaciously, the mainstream media and liberal pundocracy has created a narrative that President Obamaâs newly found centrism is molded in the inspirational optimism of President Reagan. This narrative seems confusing, when many liberals excoriate Reaganâs economic policy as the grim reaper of capitalism coming to instill all the inequities of the free market.
Maybe It is time for President Obama to return to some of Founder's writings in order to rediscover his inner centrism. He can begin with Thomas Paine.
|200 days in: Obama still on Trump's mind - CNN|
|Trump to McConnell: 'Mitch, get back to work'||Trump slams Senate Republicans for failing to pass an Obamacare repeal plan.|
|Social Movements in the US: From the American Revolution to Obama [Audio]||Speaker(s): Professor Craig Calhoun | Professor Calhoun is a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy and economics. He took up his post as LSE Director on 1 September 2012, having left the United States where he was University Professor at New York University and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge and President of the Social Science Research Council. Professor Calhoun took a D Phil in History and Sociology at Oxford University and a Master's in Social Anthropology at Manchester. He co-founded, with Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology at LSE, the NYLON programme which brings together graduate students from New York and London for co-operative research programmes. He is the author of several books including Nations Matter, Critical Social Theory, Neither Gods Nor Emperors and most recently The Roots of Radicalism (University of Chicago Press, 2012).|
|America and the World - After the Election [Audio]||Speaker(s): Professor Anne Applebaum, Professor Craig Calhoun, Professor Michael Cox, Gideon Rachman | After a closely fought election, this highly topical LSE public debate will look ahead to Obamaâs second administration and assess the challenges it faces at home and how it is likely to address them, as well as how its relationships with Britain, Europe and the rest of the world are likely to develop. Author and Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Applebaum has taken up the post of Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at the School for 2012-13. She is the first woman to ever hold this position. Anne Applebaum is the Director of Political Studies at the Legatum Institute in London, and a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate. After graduating from Yale University, Anne Applebaum was a Marshall Scholar at both the LSE and St. Anthonyâs College Oxford. She has also lectured at Yale and Columbia Universities, amongst others. Anne Applebaumâs journalistic work focuses on US and international politics, with a particular focus on economic and political transition. Craig Calhoun is director of LSE. He is a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy and economics. He took up his post as LSE Director on 1 September 2012, having left the United States where he was University Professor at New York University and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge and President of the Social Science Research Council. Michael Cox is founding director of LSE IDEAS. `Professor Cox is a well known speaker on global affairs and has lectured in the United States, Australia, Asia, and in the EU. He has spoken on a range of contemporary global issues, though most recently he has focused on the role of the United States in the international system, the rise of Asia, and whether or not the world is now in the midst of a major power shift. Gideon Rachman became chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times in July 2006. He joined the FT after a 15-year career at The Economist, which included spells as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Washington and Bangkok. He also edited The Economistâs business and Asia sections. His particular interests include American foreign policy, the European Union and globalisation.|
|America Votes [Audio]||Speaker(s): Professor Craig Calhoun, Professor Michael Cox, Dr Pippa Malmgren, Professor Sir Robert Worcester | With just a week to go to the US presidential election, this panel of experts will assess the state of the race, look back at Barack Obamaâs first term, what a second term would bring, or what "President Romney" would mean for the US and the wider world. Craig Calhoun is director of LSE. Michael Cox is Founding co-director of LSE IDEAS. Pippa Malmgren is the president and founder of Principalis Asset Management, former financial market advisor in the White House and member of the National Economic Council. Robert Worcester was the founder of MORI and is an honorary fellow of LSE.|
|Obama After Nice Attack: We Must Not Do Terrorists' Work||Following the truck attack in Nice, France, President Obama addresses reported backlash against Muslim-Americans.|
|Obama: Nice Attack Is 'A Threat to All of Us'||President Obama delivers his first remarks on the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, France.|
|Barack Obama Plaza? The Curious Tale of How an Irish Rest Stop Was Named After a US President|
Cruising down the motorway between Dublin and Limerick, I am reminded of the building boom that overtook Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years. Before the millennium, a wide divided highway like this simply did not exist in Ireland. Somewhere near Kildare, the stand of modern industrial parks and high embankment walls lining the road give […]
|BRAIN Initiative|| President Obama recently announced a big new effort to map and understand the human brain. What are we trying to learn about our brains?
One thing we will earn is how our brains are structured, "not this well-organized hierarchical control system where everything is in order." Another is how much of mental illness is shaped by experience and society, as opposed to chemical or structural factors.
What do we already know about our brains?
12 Things We Know About How The Brain Works. And we know that unconcious processing improves decision-making. That brain structure may be linked to placebo response. And that unconcious brains can read and do math. We know a little bit more about how the brain responds to addiction. And we know that "genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms" in childhood can have permanent ill effects. We think that differences in our brain reflect political differences. But we know that a lot of pop neuroscience is bollocks.
What could we do with new information?
Could we reverse-engineer AI? Manipulate our brains, neuron-by-neuron? Make better soldiers? Or record dreams? Or activate neurons with light? Or make better, crowdsourced brain maps?
Neurotechnology, Social Control, And Revolution |
In our neuro-centric world-view, a person is equated to his brain. The neuro-discourse has penetrated all aspects of our lives from law to politics to literature to medicine to physics. As part of this neuro-revolution, huge military funding is supporting neuro-scientific research; a huge body of basic knowledge on memory, belief formation, cognition and sensory modalities has been gathered over years, with fieldslike social neuroscience, cultural neuroscience, neuroeconomics and neuromarketing has emerging to improve our lifestyle; neurotechnological know-how from wireless non invasive technologies to neuroelectronic interfaces is exponentially advancing; and neurotechnology business reports indicates the rapid increase in neurotechnological start ups and the willingness of bringing neurotechnological products to the market. In my opinion, all the aforementioned indicators indicate that neurotechnology can be potentially used to control social dynamics.
|Drink Up! Michelle Obama Partners with Big Bottled Water||Big bottled water companies partner with Michelle Obama in her new campaign to get Americans to drink more water — by just one glass more. The First Lady’s “Drink Up” campaign aims to educate Americans on the importance of drinking water for better health. In a recent press release the First Lady said, âSince we […]|
|Dear President Obama: A few tips for your upcoming trip to Ghana||Dear President Obama: I received the news of your impending trip to Ghana with a mixture of excitement, elation and crushing disappointment.Â You see, as a Ghanaian by birth, I cannot overstate the significance of my country being the location of your first trip as President of The United States of America, to Africa.Â Â Knowing|
|The travesty that is Australia's asylum seeker offshore detention policy -"If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here."|
It seems the truth will out.
After the United States completes its vetting of asylum seekers held in overseas detention by the Australian Government it is not obliged to take even one of those individuals U.S. immigration officials have examined.
In May 2017 the Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed 268 people had completed their second-stage security interview with US officials: 220 in Nauru and 48 on Manus Island.
U.S. immigration officials halted screening interviews and departed Nauru on 14 July 2017, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the US had reached its annual refugee intake cap.
However, under the original agreement once that vetting is completed Australia becomes obliged to resettle between 20 and 50 people under a U.S. "Protection Transfer Arrangement" in Costa Rica set up to resettle refugees from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Prime Minister Turnbull verbally changed that undertaking to an open-ended number of people the Trump Administration might be âvery keen on getting out of the United Statesâ.
There is no indication that the U.S. Government intends to complete its vetting of those detained on Nauru and Manus islands.
The Washington Post, 3 August 2017:
The Washington Post has obtained transcripts of two conversations President Trump had with foreign leaders: one with Mexican President Enrique PeÃ±a Nieto and another with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The transcripts were prepared by the White House but have not been released. The Post is publishing reproductions rather than original documents in order to protect sources. The reproductions below also include minor spelling and grammatical mistakes that appeared in the documentsâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦
JANUARY 28, 2017 FROM 5:05 TO 5:29 P.M. EST.
Mr. Prime Minister, how are you?
I am doing very well.
And I guess our friend Greg Norman, he is doing very well?
He is a great mutual friend yes.
Well you say hello to him. He is a very good friend. By the way thank you very much for taking the call. I really appreciate it. It is really nice.
Thank you very much. Everything is going very well. I want to congratulate you and Mike Pence on being sworn in now. I have spoken to you both now as you know. I know we are both looking to make our relationship which is very strong and intimate, stronger than ever â which I believe we can do.
I believe you and I have similar backgrounds, unusual for politicians, more businessman but I look forward to working together.
That is exactly right. We do have similar backgrounds and it seems to be working in this climate â it is a crazy climate. Let me tell you this, it is an evil time but it is a complex time because we do not have uniforms standing in front of us. Instead, we have people in disguise. It is brutal. This ISIS thing â it is something we are going to devote a lot of energy to it. I think we are going to be very successful.
Absolutely. We have, as you know, taken a very strong line on national security and border protection here and when I was speaking with Jared Kushner just the other day and one of your immigration advisors in the White House we reflected on how our policies have helped to inform your approach. We are very much of the same mind. It is very interesting to know how you prioritize the minorities in your Executive Order. This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90% of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken â I have been very open about it â is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down â the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities. We have seen that in Iraq and so from our point of view, as a final destination for refugees, that is why we prioritize. It is not a sectarian thing. It is recognition of the practical political realities. We have a similar perspective in that respect.
Do you know four years ago Malcom, I was with a man who does this for a living. He was telling me, before the migration, that if you were a Christian from Syria, you had no chance of coming to the United States. Zero. They were the ones being persecuted. When I say persecuted, I mean their heads were being chopped off. If you were a Muslim we have nothing against Muslims, but if you were a Muslim you were not persecuted at least to the extent â but if you were a Muslim from Syria that was the number one place to get into the United States from. That was the easiest thing. But if you were a Christian from Syria you have no chance of getting into the United States. I just thought it was an incredible statistic. Totally true â and you have seen the same thing. It is incredible.
Well, yes. Mr. President, can I return to the issue of the resettlement agreement that we had with the Obama administration with respect to some people on Nauru and Manus Island. I have written to you about this and Mike Pence and General Flynn spoke with Julie Bishop and my National Security Advisor yesterday. This is a very big issue for us, particularly domestically, and I do understand you are inclined to a different point of view than the Vice President.
Well, actually I just called for a total ban on Syria and from many different countries from where there is terror, and extreme vetting for everyone else â and somebody told me yesterday that close to 2,000 people are coming who are really probably troublesome. And I am saying, boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people. Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground. You know Malcom, anybody that has a problem â you remember the Mariel boat lift, where Castro let everyone out of prison and Jimmy Carter accepted them with open arms. These were brutal people. Nobody said Castro was stupid, but now what are we talking about is 2,000 people that are actually imprisoned and that would actually come into the United States. I heard about this â I have to say I love Australia; I love the people of Australia. I have so many friends from Australia, but I said â geez that is a big ask, especially in light of the fact that we are so heavily in favor, not in favor, but we have no choice but to stop things. We have to stop. We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here. We have our San Bernardinoâs, we have had the World Trade Center come down because of people that should not have been in our country, and now we are supposed to take 2,000. It sends such a bad signal. You have no idea. It is such a bad thing.
Can you hear me out Mr. President?
Yeah, go ahead.
Yes, the agreement, which the Vice President just called the Foreign Minister about less than 24 hours ago and said your Administration would be continuing, does not require you to take 2,000 people. It does not require you to take any. It requires, in return, for us to do a number of things for the United States â this is a big deal, I think we should respect deals.
Who made the deal? Obama?
Yes, but let me describe what it is. I think it is quite consistent. I think you can comply with it. It is absolutely consistent with your Executive Order so please just hear me out. The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose â 1,250 to 2,000. Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process. So that is the first thing. Secondly, the people â none of these people are from the conflict zone. They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them. They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them.
Why havenât you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?
Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people â
That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.
This is our experience.
Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries. These people are crazy to let this happen. I spoke to Merkel today, and believe me, she wishes she did not do it. Germany is a mess because of what happened.
I agree with you, letting one million Syrians walk into their country. It was one of the big factors in the Brexit vote, frankly.
Well, there could be two million people coming in Germany. Two million people. Can you believe it? It will never be the same.
I stood up at the UN in September and set up what our immigration policy was. I said that you cannot maintain popular support for immigration policy, multiculturalism, unless you can control your borders. The bottom line is that we got here. I am asking you as a very good friend. This is a big deal. It is really, really important to us that we maintain it. It does not oblige you to take one person that you do not want. As I have said, your homeland officials have visited and they have already interviewed these people. You can decide. It is at your discretion. So you have the wording in the Executive Order that enables the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State to admit people on a case by case basis in order to conform with an existing agreement. I do believe that you will never find a better friend to the United States than Australia. I say this to you sincerely that it is in the mutual interest of the United States to say, âyes, we can conform with that deal â we are not obliged to take anybody we do not want, we will go through extreme vettingâ and that way you are seen to show the respect that a trusted ally wants and deserves. We will then hold up our end of the bargain by taking in our country 31 [inaudible] that you need to move on from.
Malcom [sic], why is this so important? I do not understand. This is going to kill me. I am the worldâs greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.
With great respect, that is not right â It is not 2,000.
Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.
The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting. I think that what you could say is that the Australian government is consistent with the principles set out in the Executive Order.
No, I do not want say that. I will just have to say that unfortunately I will have to live with what was said by Obama. I will say I hate it. Look, I spoke to Putin, Merkel, Abe of Japan, to France today, and this was my most unpleasant call because I will be honest with you. I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.
I would not be so sure about that. They are basically â
Well, maybe you should let them out of prison. I am doing this because Obama made a bad deal. I am not doing this because it fits into my Executive Order. I am taking 2,000 people from Australia who are in prison and the day before I signed an Executive Order saying that we are not taking anybody in. We are not taking anybody in, those days are over.
But can I say to you, there is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal. Look, you and I have a lot of mutual friends.
Look, I do not know how you got them to sign a deal like this, but that is how they lost the election. They said I had no way to 270 and I got 306. That is why they lost the election, because of stupid deals like this. You have brokered many a stupid deal in business and I respect you, but I guarantee that you broke many a stupid deal. This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible.
Mr. President, I think this will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States. It shows that you are a committed â
Okay, this shows me to be a dope. I am not like this but, if I have to do it, I will do it but I do not like this at all. I will be honest with you. Not even a little bit. I think it is ridiculous and Obama should have never signed it. The only reason I will take them is because I have to honor a deal signed by my predecessor and it was a rotten deal. I say that it was a stupid deal like all the other deals that this country signed. You have to see what I am doing. I am unlocking deals that were made by people, these people were incompetent. I am not going to say that it fits within the realm of my Executive Order. We are going to allow 2,000 prisoners to come into our country and it is within the realm of my Executive Order? If that is the case my Executive Order does not mean anything Malcom [sic]. I look like a dope. The only way that I can do this is to say that my predecessor made a deal and I have no option then to honor the deal. I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?
That is the point I have been trying to make.
How does that help you?
Well, we assume that we will act in good faith.
Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?
Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.
Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?
Correct, we have stopped the boats.
Give them to the United States. We are like a dumping ground for the rest of the world. I have been here for a period of time, I just want this to stop. I look so foolish doing this. It [sic] know it is good for you but it is bad for me. It is horrible for me. This is what I am trying to stop. I do not want to have more San Bernardinoâs or World Trade Centers. I could name 30 others, but I do not have enough time.
These guys are not in that league. They are economic refugees.
Okay, good. Can Australia give me a guarantee that if we have any problems â you know that is what they said about the Boston bombers. They said they were wonderful young men.
They were Russians. They were not from any of these countries.
They were from wherever they were.
Please, if we can agree to stick to the deal, you have complete discretion in terms of a security assessment. The numbers are not 2,000 but 1,250 to start. Basically, we are taking people from the previous administration that they were very keen on getting out of the United States. We will take more. We will take anyone that you want us to take. The only people that we do not take are people who come by boat. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.
What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.
No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea. So what we say is, we will decide which people get to come to Australia who are refugees, economic migrants, businessmen, whatever. We decide. That is our decision. We are a generous multicultural immigration nation like the United States but the government decides, the peopleâs representatives decides. So that is the point. I am a highly transactional businessman like you and I know the deal has to work for both sides. Now Obama thought this deal worked for him and he drove a hard bargain with us â that it was agreed with Obama more than a year ago in the Oval Office, long before the election. The principles of the deal were agreed to.
I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it â START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.
You will not.
Yes, I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.
You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it.
I have no choice to say that about it. Malcom [sic], I am going to say that I have no choice but to honor my predecessorâs deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned that is enough Malcom [sic]. I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.
Do you want to talk about Syria and DPRK?
[inaudible] this is crazy.
Thank you for your commitment. It is very important to us.
It is important to you and it is embarrassing to me. It is an embarrassment to me, but at least I got you off the hook. So you put me back on the hook.
You can count on me. I will be there again and again.
I hope so. Okay, thank you Malcolm.
Okay, thank you.
END OF CALL
* My yellow highlighting.
|Obama to join ranks of our roadless forest heroes?|
Jan 13, 2009
I had the honor Monday of joining two of my heroes — former Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck and U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva from Arizona — to share with reporters what steps we would like to see the Obama Administration take to protect our nation’s roadless forests. Recent court rulings favored by President Bush and his oil-and-gas-industry cronies have inserted what we hope is just a temporary sliver into protection for areas that play a critical role in improving the quality of life for people and safeguarding habitat for wildlife.
Grijalva, chairman of the House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee, noted that our incoming president is already a champion of these values. Obama co-sponsored legislation that would permanently protect America’s unroaded forests when he was a senator and he often mentioned their importance as a presidential candidate. Now that he’s set to take office in a week, The Wilderness Society and many of our friends in the conservation community including the Pew Environment Group can move from addressing the question of whether a new president will protect these pristine forests to how he will do so.
Our immediate focus is on asking the new administration to make it a lot more difficult for the still Bush-heavy Forest Service to approve any projects that would destroy the integrity of our roadless forests. This can be accomplished by stipulating that any destructive activities such as road building, logging, oil and gas development, and mining be reviewed by an Obama appointee rather than allowing such decisions to be made by the Forest Service at the local level.
There are two other items we will work with the administration to accomplish in the short-term. (The phrase “working with the administration” is a refreshing change after the last eight years.) As we all told reporters yesterday, we would like President Obama to:
All three of the principles I’ve mentioned here are expressed in The Roosevelt Resolution, a request to help our forests that honors the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt. By clicking on the link above, you can also listen to yesterday’s press conference so that you can hear directly from the roadless rule architect, Mr. Dombeck, and one of our most courageous public lands advocates, Rep. Grijalva.
I don’t think it will take you long to discern why they’re heroes of mine, or why protecting our roadless forests is so close to all of our hearts.
|In Defense of Economic Noninterventionism|
A recent Wall Street Journal article has surprisingly good news: US companies are seeing the highest profit growth in two years with âtwo consecutive quarters of double-digit profit growth for the first time since 2011.â This surprisingly comes not from policies pursued in Washington, but the hard work of the private sector.
The fact that businesses and job creators can make such a phenomenal showing after years of regulatory uncertainty and continued political intervention reminds us of the power of the free market and that the best successes come from the work of the individuals, not collectivists in the public sector.
Perhaps the best reminding of what the last eight years brought us was President Obamaâs infamous 2012 campaign speech âIf you've got a business, you didn't build that.â Throughout the course of his administration saw a creation of routine legislative and executive actions that were designed to both micromanage business and supposedly âcreateâ jobs. Unfortunately, none of this had the intended success.
Most prominently among the actions from the executive administration while Obama was presidents include significantly increased regulations. Among these have included the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS), Dodd-Frank, the stimulus package, and, most spectacularly of all, Obamacare. All of these added a large interventions and onerous barriers in the economy that failed to achieve their stated goal.
WOTUS was probably one of the greatest power grabs by the EPA in recent history. The rule essentially sought to define ânavigable watersâ in the clean water Act which âbrought nearly half of Alaska and a total area in the lower 48 states equivalent to the size of California under the CWAâs jurisdiction.â The proposal, had it not been blocked and rescinded, would have cost thousands of dollars for permits on land that was not previously under the EPAâs jurisdiction, delayed production since a permit can take up to months, and this would have resulted in reduced development and production as well as higher prices.
Though the WOTUS rule was not fully implemented, regulations that did have a massive negative impact on the economy include the DoddâFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
As implemented, Dodd-Frank imposed various new regulations on the financial sector, including creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), designated firms as systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs), and instituted price controls on debit and credit card transactions. The result was a climate of over regulation with banks being incentivized to become as large as possible in the hopes of being bailed out while the CFPB became a revolving door for lobbyists and influence peddlers to regulate the market with little to no oversight.
Unsurprisingly, one fifth of the banks in the U.S. banks, totalling 1,708, went under between the lawâs creation and 2016, which is about one per day, and by 2015 five large banks controlled 50 percent of the banking industry.
Outside of simple regulation, there was also so called âjobs creationsâ programs that were supposed to create jobs the President did not think businesses could such as the stimulus package. The program was sold as a job creation plan that would keep unemployment below 8 percent for the low price of $830 billion.
The next four years were marked by above 8 percent unemployment while the money ended up being wasted on worthless projects, including trees in wealthy neighborhoods, a study of erectile dysfunction, and the failed company solyndra which was run by a bundler for the Obama campaign. To make matters worse, though unemployment eventually went down long after the stimulusâs implementation, the labor participation rate reached its lowest in 38 years which shows that people still werenât working.
However, the crowned jewel of overregulation and job destruction during the Obama administration was ObamaCare. Implemented to expand health insurance coverage, it has repeatedly failed to reach its goals as premiums went up, enrollment failed to reach its projections, and the legislation gave corporate welfare (including promised bailouts) to the insurance lobby. In the end, most of the coops failed and major companies pulled out of the exchanges, resulting in 1,000 counties, including five whole states, only having one insurer, a major failure in the goal of expanded coverage.
Inevitably, the phenomenal intervention in the economy by President Obama failed to achieve the job creation while it instead made made doing business that much harder. With record breaking numbers of regulations, Obama was the first President since the Great Depression to never see 3 percent GDP growth.
The Trump administration in the meantime has pursued a different approach than its predecessor. The Trump administration has seen sixteen regulations cut for every one it has created, had signed four resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn regulation within two months as President, and rolled back the clean power plan which could have cost $40 billion per year. All of this marks a significant change in policy that will greatly open up business opportunities and expand economic growth.
However, policy alone does not explain why there has been high profit growth for the last two quarters. As the Wall Street Journal article admits, health care legislation and tax reform have been stalled in the senate. This has caused a climate of uncertainty which businesses have not been happy with.
Nevertheless, they have instead moved on from Washington and instead remained focused on doing business. Political events seem to have taken a backseat to actual business as the number of S&P 500 companies have mentioned the President or his administration during conferences is down by a third as the research firm Sentieo found out. To be blunt, the involvement of Washington and government policy is not driving the current profit growth and the lack of involvement may actually be increasing it.
For a better example of how reduced involvement can improve the economy, look no further than the Depression of 1920. At the time, war time debt had exploded, unemployment peaked at 11.7 percent in 1921, and inflation rates jumped above twenty percent. It had the potential to be even more catastrophic than the Great Depression that started in 1929.
However, the policies pursued were entirely different. The federal budget was severely reduced from $18.5 billion in FY 1919 to $3.3 billion for FY 1922. Taxes at the same time were cut by about 40 percent.
As a result, unemployment dropped to 2.3 percent by 1923 and a crisis had been averted. This was accomplished not by bailouts and and overregulation but by getting the government entirely out of the way. This is a radically different approach than was pursued during the financial panic of 2008 or even the Great Depression.
Overall, there has been a repeated belief that government involvement has made economic advancement harder. As was stated by former President Reagan, âGovernment is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.â President Kennedy noted the same when he said âOur tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort â thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.â
It should come as no surprise then that business are fully prepared to run their own affairs and is best capable to address its own need, for as JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon noted, âWeâve been growing at 1.5% to 2%...because the American business sector is powerful and strong and is going to grow regardless.â
It remains the desire of others that the government should intervene in the economy to make improvements. However, this has always resulted in guaranteed failure. Be it raising the minimum wage in Seattle or increased taxation and regulations in Connecticut, the result is usually lackluster growth and decreased jobs. At the national level, Venezuelaâs nationalization and Chinaâs increased infrastructure projects have created the same results, which is to say none.
As history and current events have shown time and time again, the best results come not from government involvement and micromanagement, but from the hard work of free individuals in free markets. More and more, the adaptability of businesses to their consumerâs demands and their ability to whether adversity in the marketplace has always been more efficient than the micromanagement the state perceives. As a result, sometimes the best thing to do is to have the government do nothing so that those who can make the economy better will.
|FreedomWorks' Member of the Month for August 2017: Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)|
FreedomWorks is proud to name Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) as Member of the Month for August 2017. Rep. Franks has supported lowering taxes and voting for policies that contribute to FreedomWorksâ pro-growth agenda.
Rep. Franks currently serves on the Judiciary and Armed Services committees. Before being elected to Congress, Rep. Franks spent his time working on childrenâs issues. He served in the Arizona State Legislature and later worked with the Governor as the cabinet-level director of the Arizona Governorâs Office for Children. Rep. Franks also had a hand in state and local advocacy, founding the Arizona Family Research Institute.
With his conviction to protect the Constitution and support policies to shrink government by cutting wasteful spending and bureaucratic over-regulation, he has maintained a lifetime score of 92 percent on FreedomWorksâ Congressional Scorecard. Our scorecard is calculated by tracking the votes of members of Congress on key issues of economic freedom and individual liberty.
In the 115th Congress, Rep. Franks co-sponsored H.R. 3167, the Debt Ceiling Alternative Act, sponsored by Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). This bill would hold the federal government accountable for the money it borrows from the American people. It would take a fiscally conservative stance in response to reaching the debt ceiling by requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to issue GDP-linked bonds to pay the principal and interest on public debt.
Rep. Franks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has also held a principled stance on healthcare reform He said, "The federal government is not known for its ability to keep entitlement spending under control. ObamaCare has been the perfect example of what healthcare looks like in the hands of an unimaginably large bureaucracy. Premium cost hikes have crippled American families, Medicaid is failing those most in need, and regulation is stifling innovation.â
FreedomWorks is proud to honor Rep. Franks as Member of the Month for August 2017.
|Some Republicans Just Donât Want to Repeal ObamaCare|
FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon released the following statement about the defeat of the skinny repeal of ObamaCare:
âLast nightâs vote was a slap in the face to every conservative who has been promised that Republicans would repeal ObamaCare. Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins voted against the âskinny repealâ of ObamaCare, theoretically the least repeal that can be achieved because so many Republicans went back on their votes for a 2015-style repeal. The Republican Party has been all about ObamaCare repeal for the better part of a decade, and now we see that they have been writing checks to voters that they knew the Bank of Obama wouldnât cash. Now that President Trump would sign it, they have exposed themselves as frauds.â
|FreedomWorks Presents FreedomFraud Awards|
FreedomWorks today announced the FreedomFraud Award winners for this year: Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Utah), and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). This is the counterpart to the FreedomFighter Awards.
The FreedomFraud Awards recognize the height of political fraud by senators who voted to defend ObamaCare by voting against a bill virtually the same as one they supported less than two years ago. While protected by Barack Obamaâs veto, they supported ObamaCare and railed against it. Now that President Trump supports the bill, they have exposed themselves as political liars.
FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye delivered the awards to senatorsâ offices Friday afternoon. You can see an archived live stream here. Eligibility for the award is based purely on whether senators campaigned on repeal and voted for this bill less than two years ago and opposed it when it could have passed.
âThese people committed the greatest political fraud in American history,â said Jason Pye. âRepublican politics has focused on repealing ObamaCare for the better part of a decade. There were frequent votes to repeal ObamaCare. These senators showed great contempt for their constituents by going against everything theyâve stood for on ObamaCare repeal.â
After the 2015 bill passed, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said, âI'm for repealing this broken law and replacing it with something better that gives patients more choice, decreases costs and increases access to quality, affordable care.â
After the 2015 bill passed, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) said, âThis law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I canât watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.â
After the 2015 bill passed, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said, âI am glad that a repeal bill will finally reach the presidentâs desk.â
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, âIt is clear that any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and I will continue fighting on behalf of the people of Arizona to achieve it.â
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said, âThis DC bureaucrat-driven healthcare system will only result in limited health care choices and higher costs for Nevadans.â
Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) , âThe wisest course is to repeal Obamacare and replace it step by step with solutions that lower health care costs.â
|Six Senators Perpetrate One of the Biggest Political Frauds in American History|
FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon released the following statement after the Republican-majority Senate voted to save ObamaCare:
âOur activists have fought for the better part of a decade, led on by campaign promises and actual votes to repeal ObamaCare, to get Republican majorities in the House and Senate, as well as a Republican in the White House. Sens. Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, and Lamar Alexander each voted for the very same bill in 2015.
âWe now know that these six senators are ObamaCare repeal frauds. Even though weâre still wondering if Sen. Susan Collins is in the right party, at least she was consistent with her vote.â
Here are quotes from a few of these Senate Republicans who have heavily criticized ObamaCare and today voted to keep ObamaCare as the law of the land.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.): âThe wisest course is to repeal Obamacare and replace it step by step with solutions that lower health care costs.â
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.): âI have consistently voted to repeal and replace this disastrous health care law, and I am glad that a repeal bill will finally reach the presidentâs desk.â
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.): âThis DC bureaucrat-driven healthcare system will only result in limited health care choices and higher costs for Nevadans.â
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): âThis law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I canât watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.â
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): âIt is clear that any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and I will continue fighting on behalf of the people of Arizona to achieve it.â
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): âI'm for repealing this broken law and replacing it with something better that gives patients more choice, decreases costs and increases access to quality, affordable care.â
|Key Vote YES on the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act, Amendment 271 to H.R. 1628|
On behalf of FreedomWorksâ activist community, I urge you to contact your senators and ask them to vote YES on the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act. This language will be offered as an amendment to H.R. 1628.
This amendment is virtually identical to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill â the Restoring Americansâ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, H.R. 3762. This bill passed the Senate by a vote of 52 to 47, with only two unsurprising Republican defections.
For more than seven years, Republicans successfully campaigned on ObamaCare repeal. They made floor speeches in support of repeal, and they voted to pass a repeal bill less than two years ago. Grassroots conservative activists are not going to accept excuses if Republicans fail to pass a bill that they have passed once before.
The ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act would repeal much of ObamaCare â including the tax and cost sharing subsidies, Medicaid expansion, and the taxes that came with the law â with a two-year delay to pass a replacement. This delay provides more than ample time to reach an agreement on a replacement bill or package.
President Donald Trump has indicated that he will sign a 2015-style ObamaCare bill into law. Senate Republicans should do as they did in December 2015 and pass a bill that delivers on their frequent promises to repeal ObamaCare.
FreedomWorks will triple-weight the votes for the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act. Additionally, FreedomWorks reserves the right to retroactively key vote any amendments during the so-called âvote-a-rama.â The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes Members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty.
Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks
|Motion to Proceed: This Is a Step Forward in the Process|
FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon issued the following statement on the Senate's passing the motion to proceed on legislation related to ObamaCare:
âThis is a step forward in the process. Republicans must remember that they campaigned on ObamaCare repeal for more than seven years. The 2015 repeal bill is what conservative activists were promised, and it's what they expect.
âWe will do our best to hold wayward senators who want to defraud their constituents to their campaign promises and their voting record.â
|Capitol Hill Update: July 24, 2017|
The House and Senate are in session this week.
There are five (5) legislative days remaining for the House before the August recess and 53 legislative days remaining in the year. The Senate will supposedly work through the first two weeks of the August recess.
The FY 2018 budget resolution, dubbed "Building a Better America," was marked up and approved by the Budget Committee on Thursday in a party-line vote. The budget would reduce the budget deficit by $6.5 trillion over the ten-year budget window and eventually come into balance in FY 2027, creating a $9 billion surplus.
Perhaps one of the most important components of the budget is that it begins the reconciliation process for fundamental tax reform. There are also reconciliation instructions for 11 House committees to find roughly $200 billion savings or reforms in mandatory spending.
The FY 2018 budget resolution isn't on the calendar for the week. It's unclear if House Republican leaders will bring it to the floor.
Additionally, the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, H.R. 2997, introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) could come to the floor for a vote this week. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and reforms the United States' out of date air traffic control (ATC) system. FreedomWorks has released a key vote in support of the 21st AIRR Act.
On Monday, the House will consider 17 bills on the suspension calendar. Most of the bills on the suspension calendar related to veterans or active military issues. There are three bills on the suspension calendar that relate to small businesses and investment. The House will also consider the Intelligence Authorization Act, H.R. 3180, sponsored by Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on suspension.
There are three bills on the suspension calendar for Tuesday, including the Medicare Part B Improvement Act, H.R. 3178, sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and a yet-to-be-numbered resolution that will impose sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
The House will also consider H.J.Res. 111, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, to cancel the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) giveaway to trial lawyers. The rule put restrictions on the use of arbitration to settle disputes over consumer products. This would lead to more class-action lawsuits, benefiting trial lawyers and hurting consumers. FreedomWorks has signed a coalition letter in support of H.J.Res. 111 and will likely include the vote on our 2017 Congressional Scorecard.
For the balance of the week, the House will consider at least four more bills on the suspension calendar. The Make America Secure Appropriations Act, H.R. 3219, will also come to the floor. This is the consolidated appropriations bill, or "minibus," for the Department of Defense, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Energy and Water. Like virtually every other bill to come to the floor this year under "regular order," the Make America Secure Appropriations Act is subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments from the floor.
On Thursday at 10:00 am, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled "The Need for the Balanced Budget Amendment." The witness list for the hearing has not yet been announced. Twelve constitutional amendments have been introduced in the House that would require a balanced budget. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is the sponsor of two of them, H.J.Res. 1 and H.J.Res. 2. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the primary sponsor of H.J.Res. 15, is among the House conservatives who have introduced a balanced budget amendment.
The committee and subcommittee schedule for the week can be found here.
Presumably, the Senate will vote this week on the motion to proceed to the House-passed version of H.R. 1628. It's still unclear on what happens next. A vote to proceed to the House-passed version has always been the first step. The next step will be for an amendment to the bill that will substitute the language of either the Better Care Reconciliation Act or language similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, now called the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act. FreedomWorks' key vote on the motion to proceed applies only if the base text that will be substituted is similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill.
At least a few Senate Republicans have backed away from their votes for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, which was passed in December 2015 with the support of all but two Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins. Moderate Republicans who refuse to vote for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill have demanded $200 billion in Medicaid funding offered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get them to support the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
Some parts of the Better Care Reconciliation Act are in limbo, however, as the Senate parliamentarian has apparently ruled that provisions limiting funding for Planned Parenthood and tax credits for plans that cover abortion will require 60 votes. Other provisions that may require 60 votes include the State Innovation Waivers. Many of these provisions can be altered to make them withstand a Byrd rule challenge, as was done in 2015.
The Senate still has several nominees to consider and, on the legislative front, the FDA Reauthorization Act, S. 934; the National Defense Reauthorization Act; and the debt ceiling are among the items awaiting action.
Separately, Senate Democrats are rolling out their "better deal" economic agenda today, which is a rehashing and repackaging of virtually every leftist policy proposal in recent years. The agenda is Democrats' attempt to find a message after a string of special election losses around the country.
The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.
|Key Vote on Signatures to House Discharge Petition on 2015 Repeal Bill|
FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon released the following statement on the discharge petition by Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) to bring the 2015 bill to repeal ObamaCare to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. FreedomWorks will triple weight the signatures. The bill passed with almost unanimous support from the Republican members less than two years ago.
âWe are standing behind the members in the House and Senate who stand by their past votes on the 2015 repeal bill. They were not voting that way just to win elections. They honestly believe that ObamaCare is a scourge on our country, raising premiums and making affordable health insurance illegal.
âWe are making signatures on this discharge petition part of our 2017 FreedomWorks Scorecard, triple weighting the signatures. We never got a clean repeal vote in the House, so we are considering this one.â
|The Weekly Fix: Rules for Thee, but Not for Me|
The fix is in. Did you know, members of Congress can exclude themselves from federal laws they donât want to follow? Taxpayers are forced to play by the rules, while lawmakers in Washington get a free pass.
The Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) of 1995 was created to remedy some of these injustices. In theory, the CAA requires members of Congress to abide by some of the same employment and workplace safety laws as any other business or federal government entity.
But in reality, members of Congress continue to dodge their way around significant legislative policy.
Congress has the power to kick you off your health care plan, yet lawmakers excused themselves from the ObamaCare exchanges. Congress requires federal agencies to provide citizens with internal records, yet lawmakers exempted themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, along with numerous other record-keeping and transparency laws (including whistleblower protections).
Congress supports sending citizens to jail for insider trading, yet lawmakers are allowed to make stock trades based on non-public information. Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to protect citizens from dishonest private sector CEOs, yet lawmakers shamelessly lie about the costs of their policy agenda.
Not surprisingly, the Office of Compliance for the U.S. Congress revealed to the press that representatives often fail to produce records and information critical to investigations in a timely manner- or sometimes even at all. Compliance has no legal authority to subpoena information, leaving them at the complete mercy of legislative offices.
Why are members of Congress so tone deaf? Because they arenât living in the same reality as the rest of America. They are shielded from the consequences of their actions. Forget equal treatment under the law, the official slogan of the Legislative Branch should be: Rules for thee, but not for me.
The American people arenât being heard by government because the game is rigged. Washington isnât broken. Itâs âfixed.â
|FreedomWorks Announces FreedomFighter Award Winners|
FreedomWorks today announced the FreedomFighter Award winners for 2016. The FreedomFighter Awards recognize members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty. FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon and FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye presented the awards Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol Visitors Center. Photos of the individual presentations are available here.
Eligibility for the award is based on votes on FreedomWorksâ Congressional Scorecard. In 2016, FreedomWorks scored key votes in favor of several issues, including repeal of ObamaCare through the 2015 reconciliation bill and the override of Obamaâs veto, preventing IRS abuse and protecting free speech, protecting citizens from warrantless searches, spending cuts, and reducing regulation.
âFreedomWorks activists across the country can be proud of these membersâ votes last year. They showed a commitment to economic liberty and individual freedom,â FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon said. âWith a Republican in the White House and so many big legislative items on the to-do list in this Congress, including fundamental tax reform and reducing regulation, conservative grassroots activists are watching our scorecard to see who delivers on their campaign promises and who changes their tune.â
âThese defenders of liberty get this award to thank them for their critical votes on legislation important to our activist community,â FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye said. âThis event allows us to thank them on behalf of our activists to thank these members and encourage them to keep fighting for limited government, lower taxes, and fewer unnecessary job-killing regulations.â
FreedomFighter Award Winners for 2016 Voting Record
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) , Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.)
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Rep. RaÃºl Labrador (R-Idaho), Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.V.), Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa), Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.), Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.), Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)
|Racial Slurs and the Importance of Context||Ben Smith, whose coverage of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination deserves some sort of prize, posts an image that brought a grin to my face:|
Aside from the incongruity of Barack talking to two hasidic men, there is the use of the term in the headline ordinarily thought of as a racial slur: "schvartzer." Of course, the context here is entirely innocuous. "Schvartzer" is simply the yiddish term for black, and the headline is simply making a factual statement that Obama is the "first black presidential candidate."
And context is everything.
|More Obama-Bashing||This is classic (emphasis all mine):|
Assemblyman Dov Hikind yesterday predicted that Jewish voters would make "a mass movement toward Sen. McCain" if Barack Obama knocks Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the race in tomorrow's critical Democratic primaries.Huh? It "scares the hell" out of Hikind that Obama says you can support Israel and still be for giving up land for Israel? What world does he live in? Does he think Hillary Clinton feels otherwise?? Most US politicians would admit that any peaceful settlement would include some concession of land to the Palestinians. Does Hikind actually expect Mr. Obama to take a public position on the matter that is to the right of GWB's current position?? And then what? Flip-flop after the election to a position more in line with just about every other politician in the country?? That sounds like a super idea. And did Mr. Hikind somehow miss when Mr. Obama clearly rejected and denounced Mr. Farrakhan, and called him out for being an anti-Semite? That Mr. Hikind feels that Obama hasn't distanced himself enough from Rev. Wright, who is claimed to be close to Farrakhan, is no more than guilt by association. Is such association more or less damning than Mr. Hikind's past association with Meir Kahana's militant Jewish Defense League and various other controversial settler groups?
I would guess Mr. Hikind is simply trying to do more of the same ignorant fearmongering about Obama that we have seen recently from other members of the Jewish community.
|Local Rabbi Has it in for Barack Obama||On the heels of one local Rabbi who made what can be misconstrued as an inappropriate comment regarding Barack Obama a few weeks back, another local Rabbi really went to town on the candidate in shul today. In a diatribe that, according to my unofficial polling, many congregants present found completely improper, he went off on Obama in a completely over-the-top fashion. The Rabbi criticized Obama's position Israel, and said he surrounds himself with Sonei Yisrael (haters of Jews) and Sonei Eretz Yisrael (haters of the land of Israel). The Rabbi compared Mr. Obama to Haman, to FDR (that people loved FDR too and didn't realize what a Rasha he would turn out to be), and in what should really just invoke Godwin's Law, he actually |
Now, I don't believe at all that Obama is anti-Israel. I just don't. Aside from these compelling arguments (I, II, III), I just refuse to believe that the candidate has ulterior motives regarding Israel based solely on a whisper campaign regarding false claims about Obama being Muslim - as opposed to on his good record on Israel issues. I had a conversation with a very intelligent and well-read family member who completely believed the forwarded e-mail she received that claimed that Obama is Muslim (false), was sworn into office on a Koran (false), and she even went so far as to call me out as being "naive" for not believing those claims, and for not seeing as clearly as she does that Obama is nothing more than a Trojan horse for terrorists. It was truly painful.
But all things considered, not as painful as a religious leader making such claims from the pulpit in front of a captive shul-going audience. That's just plain wrong.
*UPDATE: Edited to concede a valued commenter's point that it was not a direct comparison between Obama and Hitler, but a reference (though clearly a reference inviting a comparison).
|Disenfranchisement in Nevada||Much is being made of the scheduling of Nevada's presidential caucuses on a Saturday, which affects observant Jews as well as Seventh Day Adventists. I can't begin to imagine a scheduling conflict like this ever occurring in a state with a sizable population of observant Jewish voters such as New York or Florida, in contrast to the state of Nevada, whose numbers of observant Jews is relatively tiny - and if it did happen in one of those states, I'm quite sure the Orthodox groups would have sued or initiated some action over being flat-out precluded from voting. The real problem here is that the caucus system of voting, in contrast to the primary system most states utilize, precludes any voting not done in person at the designated time. So whereas Sabbath-observant voters in states with Saturday primaries can either vote by absentee ballot or get to the polls after sundown, in Nevada Sabbath-observant voters are completely disenfranchised. Certainly an upsetting development for those who actually prefer to have their voice heard as citizens.|
There seem to be some other complaints about the Saturday choice for the caucuses, from casino workers who quite obviously need to be at work during the entertainment industry's peak weekend shifts. This concern led to the establishment of special voting stations to accommodate casino workers and allow them to vote. This in turn drew calls from Clinton supporters that these special voting stations unfairly favored Obama as he had been endorsed by the influential culinary workers union, many of whose members work in casinos. A lawsuit to put an end to the voting stations was filed (and lost). Interestingly, the group who mounted the failed challenge to the special voting stations is comprised of members who are least disenfranchised by the Saturday caucus - a teachers' union who generally have weekends free and clear. Obama and some of his supporters, in turn, are criticizing the Clinton camp for attempting to effectively disenfranchise voters with this legal challenge - a challenge that would seem to have had far more potential to affect the vote than the Orthodox/Seventh Day Adventist issue will have.
Sounds like a lot if controversy over voters' rights in Nevada - not a pretty way to start off what looks like it promises to be a contentious election season.
|By: Eric Morris||Kind of flabbergasted that someone thought a book necessary on this subject. Yes, Mr. Obama has delivered lots of pretty speeches. Now that he's in the White House and can finally make a difference, what has he done for the Gay Community? Absolutely SQUAT! At this late date he could partially redeem himself by issuing an executive order to stop discharges under DADT. But that is the absolute minimum he could and should do. A book? No! A simple fact-sheet/cautionary tale about how the gays have been screwed by lying politicians AGAIN, will do just fine.|
|Obama Fights Back||The newest fight on the political front is "the great smear," as I will call it. It started when McCain started to question Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers, who was one of the leaders of The Weathermen, a group of anti-Vietnam activist/terrorists. Of course, McCain latched on to Obama's relationship with Ayers and put out this smear ad (notice that, at no time during the ad, are there any quotes from Obama where Obama is speaking. It is narrated and they provide no visual or audio evidence of Obama's relationship or his opinion of Ayers):|
McCain, of course, bolstered his ad with an appearance on ABC. Notice especially that at the end of his lengthy questioning of Obama's relationship with Ayers that he gets all upitty: "and then to compare [Ayers] with Dr. C- Tom Colburn who spends so much of his life bringing babies into this world!.."
Why should you have paid attention to McCain's anger at Obama's "comparison" of Ayers to Coburn? Because here is what McCain is referring to. Decide for yourself whether Obama's actions were reprehensible.
At the end of Obama's Primary debate with Clinton, he says that he "can take a punch, [he's] taken some pretty good ones." And thank God Obama's finally punching back (and with quite a bit more power than McCain's smear ad, it looks like!)
More information on the Keating scandal can be found on Wikipedia and in the New York Times.
|Obama Secures Youth Vote||Obama and Biden appeared on MTV today in a very refreshing interview with Sway about Thursday's debate and what the Obama policies mean to the younger generation. Obama addressed his treatment of American voters, the problems facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and the effect of the economic bailout on our generation. It's not often that you see a politician target an audience with such success.|
Obama reigns when it comes to character. He obviously went the diplomatic route when Sway steered the questioning towards who won the debate, explaining the point wasn't to win, but rather to inform the American people of the differences between the two candidates. But even though Obama is still rowing a political boat, I believe that he's trying to arrive at a humane and decent destination.
"I think the pundits and the press, you guys are looking at tactics. What the American people are looking at is they might lose their job ... they might lose their house...What's relevant is the substance of this thing, which is people out there are hurting, and John McCain has promoted the same policies of George Bush, and people know they're not working. They understand we can't continue four more years of doing the same thing."
But the instance that I was most excited about (and I hope it excited any other half-interested person under the age of 25) was Obama's explanation of the $700 billion bailout and what is happening in the economy. My happiness came partly because I've spent most of my morning on the internet, trying desperately to figure out what exactly is going on in the economy and how it got this way. I've been reading The Guardian, a short history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an Economic Times article on the recent re-structuring of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Wikipedia pages for "bailout," the SEC, and GSEs, and I even called my father to try and understand what the fuck is happening and whether it will affect me. And after reading all of that and slowly coming to grasp just the smallest crumb of understanding, it was lovely to hear Obama's rationalization of the economic crisis:
"If the credit markets collapse, what it means is banks aren't lending businesses money. Businesses then can't invest in plants and equipment and make payroll, so they shut down. And that means the suppliers of those companies, they shut down. Over time what happens is you get the whole economy coming to a standstill. That's what happened during the Great Depression," he explained. "And at that time, it was just banks that were in charge of capital. Now you've got all different ways that money flows ... but the bottom line is, that if money freezes up, businesses can't do business, and you get an enormous contraction of an economy. And that, ultimately, will affect that 20-year-old, because that 20-year-old is going to be looking for a better job after he gets out of school. ... If our businesses aren't creating jobs, they're not creating tax revenues â now it's harder for government to finance that college education or to build that new university. So it has a ripple effect."
His explanation is a little basic, but that's actually what our generation needs. We're the ones who grew up inside a nearly virtual system of currency. Most young people have no idea how to balance a check book, let alone have a detailed understanding of how banks work or how to invest in the stock market! Obama understands this, and I think that he's being honest and straightforward about the effects of the economic crisis on our future.
The bottom line is, I trust Obama. I trust that he will bring a good change to this country. I trust that he will make decisions with his electorate's best needs at heart. I trust that he is in this presidential race to spur forth America's progress, not to make himself a powerful figure in history. I trust his judgement, I trust his humanity, I trust him.
|McCain Time Out||In recent news, Senator McCain has decided to suspend his campaign in order to focus on the recent economic crises (which, I'd like to add, has made restaurant-goers really fucking testy). Letterman railed on the guy, saying that if McCain has decided to go back to Washington, he should let Palin campaign in his stead.|
Letterman put it well when he made a comparison to footballâ if your Quarterback is out of the game, you put in your second-string quarterback. But I feel like that analogy can be applied further to the McCain campaign, 'cus the man is treating the whole process like a game. He was down in the polls (9 points in an ABC/Washington Post poll and down 6 in a Fox poll) and wanted to make it look like he's a responsible senator (FYI, he's missed 412 votes in the current congress) so what did he do? He called a fucking time out.
Obama will still be campaigning, and his camp has said that he'll still be debating (though against whom, I don't know...he'd rip Palin apart) on Friday (tomorrow! tomorrow! We'll see him! Tomorrow!). It's only a day away!
|Congress presses Obama to sell F-16 jets to Taiwan||WASHINGTON â US lawmakers across party lines stepped up pressure Thursday on President Barack Obama to sell F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan, with some accusing the administration of showing deference to China. “With over 1,600 missiles pointed directly across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan needs the me...|
|Comment on Julian Bond 1940-2015 by Mr. Militant Negro||Reblogged this on <a href="http://theobamacrat.com/2015/09/01/julian-bond-1940-2015/" rel="nofollow">The Militant Negroâ¢</a>.|
|Comment on Hillary isnât a sure thing by rikyrah||I believe the Dems can do so much better than her. I don't trust her on foreign policy or domestic policy. ANd nobody who supports her can tell me what she would have done better than President Obama. Anything that he's done that I have approved of, since 2009, foreign or domestic, I can't point to anything that would make me say, ' President Hillary would have done the same'.
In foreign policy, I KNOW that there's NOTHING President Obama did that she would have done the same. She would have done the opposite.
And, don't get me started on her domestically.
Does anyone remotely believe that the 17 million people who now have access to healthcare would have gotten it under President Hillary?
|Comment on Hillary isnât a sure thing by Jueseppi B.||Reblogged this on <a href="http://theobamacrat.com/2014/04/22/hillary-isnt-a-sure-thing/" rel="nofollow">The ObamaCratâ¢</a>.|
|Una Vez MÃ¡s la ONU Rechaza el bloqueo de los Estados Unidos contra Cuba||Por vigÃ©sima ocasiÃ³n la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas (O.N.U.) rechazÃ³ el bloqueo yanqui contra Cuba. 186 paises votaron en contra de la polÃtica hostil norteamericana que niega que sus productos|
lleguen a nuestro pequeÃ±o en dimensiÃ³n archipiÃ©lago, ni producto alguno
de cualquier paÃs que elabore cualquier naciÃ³n y que contenga algÃºn elemento
hecho en U.S.A pueda ser negociado con la Patria de JosÃ© MartÃ.
Solo Palaus, pequeÃ±o paÃs como siempre acompaÃ±Ã³ al soberbio imperio.
Y 6 abstenciones, es decir no votaron ni a favor ni en contra, 6 estados miembro de la OrganizaciÃ³n Mundial. Se lavaron las manos como Poncio
Pilatos para no caer en desgracia con los Estados Unidos.
Pero la batalla continÃºa. AquÃ seguimos: "Hasta la Victoria Siempre"
Y aunque somo pobres el corazÃ³n de los cubanos es feliz cuando puede
compartir lo que su generosidad e inteligencia crean.
Nuestros mÃ©dicos y enfermeras son los fieles acompaÃ±antes de los pueblos
en desgracia y nada piden a cambio, sino decirle a nuestro pueblo que
el dolor de los humildes, sus enfermedades y tragÃ©dias las seguiran curando
y compartiendo como el sueÃ±o luminoso de los inderrotables PrÃ³ceres que
construyen nuestro Socialismo . Son los SueÃ±os de Marti y Fidel.
Nuestro Planeta podra sobrevivir a cualquier catastrofe de la naturaleza
si todos nos unimos para salvarlo. Ojala que el anhelo de Cuba toque los
sentimientos de Barac Obama y este comprenda que la politica con la que conduce a los Estados Unidos puede cambiar a tiempo para impedir el holocausto de la Madre Tierra.
de la humanidad. El puede ser tambien un Medico SalvÃ§ebn
|El Silencio Deleznable de la Prensa Yanqui. Comentario Vick G. Miller||El Silencio Deleznable de la Prensa yanqui comprada durante el juicio y condena de nuestros Cinco HÃ©roes. Comentario Vick GÃ³mez Miller.|
La acusaciÃ³n certera de nuestro Canciller Ricardo AlarcÃ³n en el caso del juicio amaÃ±ado y carente de
La atenciÃ³n periodÃstica, comprada para guardar silencio es la infamia que vuelve a reverdecer en
OcasiÃ³n del cumplimiento de la injusta condena a RenÃ© GonzÃ¡lez , quien el prÃ³ximo siete de octubre
TendrÃ¡ que ser puesto en libertad, aunque ya Washington se prepara en aplicarle la âincapacitaciÃ³nâ consistente en tomar medidas una vez que cumpla sus tÃ©rminos en prisiÃ³n, los Cinco no estÃ©n en condiciones para acercarse adonde el gobierno sabe se encuentra el escondrijo de los verdaderos
Terroristas, que siguen siendo un ejÃ©rcito secreto de la infamia yanqui.
AlarcÃ³n insiste que a RenÃ© le quedarÃ¡n ahora tres aÃ±os de libertad supervisada, lo que constituye un riesgo para nuestro HÃ©roe y una sanciÃ³n adicional que le sigue alcanzando sin que estÃ©n excluidos
Ahora bien si esto se aplica Obama el presidente norteamericano decidirÃ¡ en que lugar se coloca.
La mafia gusano americana estÃ¡ moviendo todas sus influencias polÃticas para que como es habitual
En los Estados Unidos se siga haciendo lo que ella planifica. Porque quien ha visto que en la tierra donde
Se acoge como hÃ©roes a los verdaderos terroristas, tal es el caso de Posada Carriles y a quienes les enfrentan, les mantienen en un secreto absoluto en tanto les juzgan con perversidad y les aplican bestiales condenas.
Tal vez el mandatario de los EEUU haga realidad la dignidad que de Ã©l esperan quienes le eligieron y
Procure que la justicia enfrente a los verdaderos terroristas que asolan al paÃs y ponen en peligro la vida de sus ciudadanos.
|Mike Huckabee To Obama: Have TSA Pat Down First Family||Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Fox News personality, has dared President Obama to motorcade to Washington Reagan National Airport with the First Family and have the Obamas submit to one of those very controversial airport pat-down inspection. Huckabee made his interesting suggestion on Fox and Friends. Huckabee apparently believes that profiling would be […]|
|A Trump-era etiquette guide: How progressives can get along with Trumpists and respect themselves in the morning||George Roper, my good friend from high school, is dead now. When alive, he was often as right-wing as they comeâcomplete with a passionate anti-Obama blog. And yet George and I avoided hand-to-hand combat. Up to his death several years ago, we followed each other on Facebook. He even talked up my novel. Similarly my […]|
|Obama: Don't go out and buy guns||Since people have been purchasing guns in droves since Obama's been pres-elect, he has told people it's ridiculous to keep buying them. I personally don't trust him and will use credit cards if I have to before inauguration to buy a couple more. |
See article http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/1318968,obama-gun-sales-up-120808.article
People are stocking up on guns because they don't trust the federal government any longer. They are buying the guns for protection against the government, such as martial law or civil unrest. Obama has already spoke at length about 'flaws' the constitution has. I have no doubt he will attempt to disarm citizens. It was Jefferson who knew that citizens themselves were the only last resort in overthrowing a tyrranous government; and as our government becomes larger and more communistic, we will someday need these guns to defend ourselves.
The inauguration of presidents to 'uphold and protect the constitution' is an absolute joke. They all want to subvert it, modify it and ignore it. Just look at the patriot act.
I no longer trust my government as I once had some faith that our government was setup to protect us. I no longer believe this with the banksters running the show.
I hope you will educate yourself and make your own decisions regarding this. You will find our liberties are on the brink of being done away with.
We need to restore our republic with leaders who will actually support and defend the constitution. Otherwise our liberties are doomed.
|Quite the week||This has been a really challenging week for me personally. This past weekend with the dog bite, and my son going to the ER kind of threw me over the edge. |
Wall street also had a horrid week. Very concerning about the housing crisis, and it appears to be getting worse. Today, Indymac bank that holds over 32B in assets was taken over by the Fed. They had a liquidity crisis from the housing market crash. Chuck Schumer mentioned this bank being in trouble about a month ago, and people pulled out over 1.3B in the past 30 days. This further created the crisis. I hate to say it but these things are probably going to get much worse, and as oil climbed again to a new high today of $147, oil is increasing daily as the dollar slowly collapses. It would be nice to know when we are at the bottom of this market, but the bottom is probably still far away unfortunately. I had told my family to get their stock out about a year ago, but they did not listen.
This whole thing with Iran isn't helping either. With Americans now concerned about the economy and their assets (housing), I think Ron Paul would have a much better shot if the nomination process started today instead of six months ago. It just goes to show you how timing is so critical. Iran isn't helping things either, instability is everywhere and is completely volitale now that our economy is more global than it was in 2001 when 9/11 hit.
I have some fear about this, but I think I would be better off praying for our country and it's citizens. I have concern that things are going to get worse, especially if Barry Obama becomes president. Not that Mccain will do much good either. I think unfortunately that we are going to have to get another Jimmy Carter elected to get a Reagan. I think that the current person who could become a great leader is Bobby Jindal. He is unique, humble and is a leader.
Going to try and take it easy this weekend, sleep and rest.
|Lindsey Pelas In Lingerie Is The Crap We Missed||Lindsey Pelas in lingerie, Jaden Smith breaking boundaries, Sean Spicer dumbing it down for us, and Mad Malia Obama. It's The Crap We Missed.|
|Blog Post: DC Circ. Pauses CPP Litigation For 2 More Months||The D.C. Circuit on Tuesday postponed litigation over the validity of the Clean Power Plan for 60 more days, granting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s request for more time to review its options about what to do with the Obama-era rule.|
|Blog Post: Enviros Ask DC Circ. To Stop Delay Of Landfill Emissions Rule||The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups on Friday asked the D.C. Circuit to end the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s freeze on Obama-era regulations that limit emissions from municipal landfills, saying the agency has no valid justification for reviewing the rules.|
|Blog Post: 3 Things To Watch After DC Circ. Issues EPA Methane Mandate||Environmental groups on Monday scored another win in their battle to keep in force methane regulations for oil and gas infrastructure when the D.C. Circuit again ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lift a stay on the rule. But the war over the Trump administrationâs efforts to roll back this and other finalized Obama-era energy regulations is far from over. Here are three things to watch.|
|Gluten-Free - part 2||Para quem nÃ£o sossegou e estÃ¡ inconformado que uma pessoa nÃ£o pode beber cerveja devido a alergia a cevada. Fique calmo!|
Existem algumas alternativas para elas! :)
As cervejas feitas de arroz, sorgo, trigo sarraceno e milho sÃ£o algumas opÃ§Ãµes. (Ok, eu particularmente nunca tinha ouvido falar na palavra sorgo, que em inglÃªs Ã© sorghum e o buckwheat - trigo sarraceno).
No entanto, outro dia um amigo me apresentou 2 cervejas gluten-free feitas a partir de sorgo, a St Peters e a Red Bridge. E olha sÃ³, achei bem boa!
Gostei mais da St Peters, tem um gosto mais spicy, lembra uma pale ale, bem interessante!
JÃ¡ falei que eu adoro Pale Ale beer? hmmmmmm
E nÃ£o para por aqui, nerdando um pouco mais sobre gluten freen beer, olha que mÃ¡ximo que eu encontrei na internerd, um Gluten Free Beer Festival! ahhhhhhhhhhh O evento acontece em Chesterfield, UK.
Eu quero ir!
cheers! tim-tim! banzai!
|Obamaâs review of the RSA||President Obama delivered a speech at the Department of Justice to announce the outcomes of a broad-ranging and unprecedented review of U.S. intelligence programs. [Also read 1) The Fight Against Big, Bad Data 2) Big Data and the Future of Privacy] The review examined how, in light of new and changing technologies, we can use […]|
|Teaching English in Korea Interview||I was recently asked to provide an interview about my experience teaching in Korea, my decision to move to Korea, stereotypes of English teachers in Asia, culture shock and cultural assimilation, EPIK, and some other general stuff about my experience teaching English in Korea. I thought I would go ahead and provide the interview here. I hope you find it helpful. There may be a follow up interview in the future, if so I'll post that as well.|
----- Why did you first decide to move to Korea? Had you had previous
experience? Did you know others who had traveled to Korea before
deciding to relocate there? Please describe your decision making
My decision to come here was very circumstantial. I was working as a research scientist in the US and was dating a Canadian when my grant got canceled and I was out of work. We didn't have a good way to be together in either of our countries, and she had friends who had paid off significant portions of their student loans teaching in Korea, so we started looking into it. We considered Taiwan most seriously as an alternative, but in the end the ease of the offers in Korea -- airfare paid, apartment ready when you get here -- and the excellent pay (at that time, in 2005, the exchange rate was about 40% better than it is now) lured us here. I had one friend that had taught in Japan with JET and had a decent experience but left before the end of the year. I read a lot about teaching in Korea before I came, espeically on forums.eslcafe.com/korea, which presents a particularly negative side of teaching here, but we decided to come anyway.
----- Was the process of moving different than what you expected? What
everyday difficulties, if any, do you encounter living in a foreign
The process of moving was very easy and more-or-less what I expected. The shock of landing in a very foreign country was intense. I had never been outside of N. America before, and Korea is very different than home. Jet lag was severe, and I remember on our second night there we went out to eat, at an Italian restaurant of all places, and after being out for an hour or two, my energy just plummeted. I didn't know how I was going to make it back to the apartment. I think our minds have a filtering system that keeps us sane by blocking most of the massive amount of information that constantly surrounds us. It filters that which is the same, usual, because we don't need to be aware of that. But suddenly in a Korean city, nothing is usual, so the mind is very easily overloaded. You ask about culture shock later, but let me say here, I think there are two seperate events that are labeled as culture shock, and they are very different. There is the experience I just described, which was very intense for just a few hours on the first few nights, mostly just lasted a few days and fades away entirely with a week or two. Then there is another experience that sets in around 3 or 4 or 6 months into living in a foreign culture, when the novelty has worn off, and things get really hard. I talk about this at length in a blog post, here.
----- I know there has been a stereotype of inexperienced Americans and
Canadians going to foreign countries and working very briefly, using
the job as a means to pay for a vacation. Do you think this is still
the case? There also has been a history of foreigners being lured to
countries like Korea (or Thailand) with promises of great jobs and
money only to be met with disappointing living and working conditions.
Has this practice changed? What opinions do you have regarding
both sides of this complicated relationship between teachers and
recruiters? Do you think EPIK has changed this in Korea?
I don't know how qualified I am to speak generally about this, especially since I haven't lived in Seoul, and that's where the vast majority of foreigners are (that was even more true before the government's recent push to put native english speakers in every public school in the country). But here are some thoughts.
Yes, people use it as a way to get away from home, as an escape. The reality is that living and working here comes with a huge load of challenges. I don't want to say it's harder, that would depend on specific circumstances at home and here, but it's definitely hard. I don't know a single foreigner here that would disagree with that. And while I think Korea rightly has a reputation for being particularly difficult, I've heard similar complaints about Thailand, Japan, China, etc.. So if this job has a reputation for being an easy way to take a vacation, I think that's undeserved. I think we earn every won we make.
I had read a lot about people showing up and being given moldy, rat-filled apartments. I think that has always been a tiny, if highly vocal, minority, and even more so now as the arrangement has become more widespread and communication between foreigners living here and thinking about coming here has increased. That said, people definitely do get screwed from time to time. Hagwons, the private, after-school tutoring centers that outside of EPIK employ almost all of the foreign English teachers, are intensely for-profit, and every won saved on a foreigner is a won of profit for the owner. I worried a lot about what would happen at the end of my hagwon contract, because at the end of a contract foreigners generally receive a month's pay, a bonus month's pay called severance, approximately a month's pay from contributions the boss should have been making each month to the national pension fund that can be withdrawn as a lump sum by foreigners leaving the country, and return airfare home. That adds up to about 7 million won for most foreigners. In the end, I did get nearly everything I was owed, with a hundred thousand or two won, but I felt like if the boss had thought he could have pushed me around, he probably would have.
Recruiters are driven by profit motivation too, and they understand how few recourses a foreigner has once they have moved here. So I think it's terribly important for foreigners to get references for their recruiter and their hagwon before they sign a contract. With EPIK this is much less true because the contract is standardized and there isn't the same profit motivation present in public schools. EPIK is far from perfect, and there are plenty of complaints among my friends and I about the program, but it is much more secure than a hagwon gig.
----- Have you experienced significant "culture shock" as a foreigner in Korea?
Yes, see answer 2.
----- To what degree do you think it's important to assimilate to the
culture you are living in?
Again, I'm not sure how qualified I am, because I haven't ever assimilated into a foreign culture. Note that the vast, vast majority of foreigners living here don't assimilate to any noticeable degree. I suspect those that have would say that it's both difficult and important. I think it's particularly difficult in Korea, because Korea has a history of fending off foreign invasions (surrounded as have been, historically, by empires: Japanese, Mongolian, Chinese, etc.) and that has informed their culture around the treatment of foreigners. For a more thorough treatment of this, see Korea Unmasked, which is written by a Korean. I think xenophobia is common here, as is fetishization of foreigners. Racism is, I think, less common, but prevalent as well.
On a lighter note, learning some simple aspects of the language: the "alphabet," food, numbers, taxi directions, etc. is hugely helpful, and new arrivals should learn that stuff ASAP.
----- I know EPIK views their native English speakers as assistants to
the regular English teachers, do you think using native English
speakers is beneficial when teaching English?
It's true that we are titled Assistant Teachers. What this means in practice varies widely from province to province, county to county, school to school, and especially from elementary to middle to high schools. My understanding is that in elementary schools foreigners are often treated more like assistants, with Korean teachers planning the lessons and incorporating foreigners to degrees ranging from not at all (I had one coteacher, who I taught 4 hours a week with last semester, with whom I would literally sit in a student's chair, in front of the class, facing the class, which he taught, and often not say a word. I eventually started bringing books into class and sat there reading.) to true coteaching, where the teaching role is passed back and forth. There are also situations in elementary schools where the Korean teacher feels embarrassed about their English in front of a foreigner, or is just lazy, and has the foreigner do all of the lesson planning and teaching. This can be good for everyone, if the Korean stays engaged with the class to keep Korean norms around discipline and respect in order. If, as many do, the Korean sits silently in the back of the class or even walks out, it can be very frustrating. It is extremely difficult to teach beginners of a language without a common language, especially children, with their constantly ambling attention. This alone is sufficient for me to recommend EPIK over hagwons to incoming teachers -- in EPIK you have a coteacher, in hagwons you don't.
I think it could be valuable to use native teachers, and in many cases I think it is. But the systems to make it properly and be of real benefit to the students haven't been put in place yet. This initiative to have native English speakers in every school is very young, and they are still learning how it should be done. So, as with the example I mentioned above, it often ends up being worthless for the students, and I think very frequently is of marginal value. I think a native speaker is most valuable as a teacher to advanced language learners, and those aren't primary and secondary students in Korea. With the right sort of co-teaching, I think it can be valuable. It brings a new pedagogy to language learning in Korea, which I think is sorely needed. I think it may be most valuable in diminishing xenophobia. There are now foreigners in every town in the country, and every student will grow up knowing at least 12 different foreigners. It's an extremely expensive cultural reform, but I foresee it opening up Korea quite a bit, and Korea has been a rather closed culture. When I left Korea last time, I took a ferry over to China, and the first Chinese person that I spent any time with told me that he thought culturally, "Korea is more [traditional] Chinese than China."
----- What are some of the benefits of teaching overseas as opposed to
teaching in your home country? What are the negative aspects?
This is a huge question. I think most of the benefits come from living abroad, and after that working abroad, the actually teaching abroad, in my opinion, has marginal benefits.
For teaching, that it is easier to get into comes to mind. Anyone with a bachelors degree can get a job in Korea. It is also an easier job for most people, but this is balanced by it being harder to live and work here. The negative aspects of working here are primarily that you might not have much control over your curriculum if you teach in a public school, and you might not have much control over (or ability to communicate with) your students if you teach in a hagwon.
A lot is made about the potential to save money here, and I think it is misunderstood. A typical job here, and this includes probably 95%+ of the jobs here pays between 2.0 - 2.3 million won per month. In addition, your airfare to and from Korea is taken care of and apartment (minus utilities) is furnished and paid for. Income tax is much more progressively structured in Korea than in the US, so at these income levels, the tax rate is 3.3%, and in public schools there is a two-year exemption from even that. Health care is socialized and costs about 50,000 won/month for coverage and makes visits to the doctor/dentist/pharmacy extremely cheap. Add to that the fact that, outside of Seoul, there isn't a lot for foreigners to spend money on. Restaurants are cheap, public transportation is excellent, and most of us don't want to accumulate much stuff, because we have to get rid of it or find a way to get it home in a year or two, and desirable entertainment options are scarce. So, 2.2 million won isn't that much money (about $1600 right now) for a month's work, but some expenses are covered by employer, some are minimized by the policies of the Korean Government, and others just aren't present here.
The benefits of living and working abroad are significant, and I think under appreciated and misunderstood. Much has been made of President Obama having lived in many different cultures and his penchant for surrounding himself with advisors that have also lived in other cultures. People that have left their home for an extend period of time develop a different way of looking at the world. I think this comes from having the beliefs that are operant in your home society (which we don't notice because they are omnipresent) challenged. That leads people to have more nuanced perspectives that are less based on the beliefs that are instilled by our culture's stories. Leaving the culture you were raised in, even temporarily, is -- must be -- an eye opening experience. A friend asked me recently what made me come back to Korea when I had many grievances about my first year here. I told him that I felt like a transformation had started in my first year that I needed to continue and couldn't at home -- that by removing myself from the shared beliefs, common assumptions and homogeny of the society I grew up in, I was forced to look more closely at the people and events around me and deliver my own conclusions, because I couldn't rest on the beliefs I had picked up by osmosis at home. I also had to redefine myself, because those around me didn't see me through the same cultural lens I had always been seen. Those processes are extremely trying, and I think they are generates the culture shock that emerges after a few months of living in a foreign culture. Really living in a foreign culture is probably the only way to experience it. When one travels, one is not immersed in a culture the same way one is when they are, for example, working in a foreign culture. So that's a benefit and a negative aspect. I believe it is hugely important, and it's why I am here now in spite of the intense frustration and frequent loneliness. Well, that and student loans. And the food. And the proximity to Southeast Asia.
One last thing I'll mention is a certain sense of freedom that comes with living here. I think it is related to the redefinition I just wrote about at length, in that it comes from a lack of understanding between you and those around you, which comes from a lack of shared cultural stories/assumptions. But knowing that no one really gets you, and no one can, is frighteningly liberating. And not understanding what that 15 year old is talking about on her cellphone can be pretty nice too.
|And Now for Your Weekly Half-Assed Political Analysis...|
Apparently over the weekend, President Obama nominated someone for supreme Court Justice who looks an awful lot like Nathan Lane. (Because we donât know a whole lot about Elena Kaganâs beliefs or agenda yet, weâre resorting to playing the â_____ looks like _____!â game). Kaganâs Nathan Lane similarity excites Rickey if for no other reason than the increased possibility of next weekâs Senate hearings inexplicably erupting into Broadway show tunes.
âAnd Senators, if I may address the issue of gay rights by saying...â
I feel pretty,
Oh, so pretty,
I feel pretty and witty and bright!
And I pity...
Any girl who isn't me tonight!
Fa la la laaaa la la la laaa!
Good times. But thereâs still someone else whom Elana Kagan bears an even uncannier resemblance to. It took us a while to figure out, but then with the help of a delightfully irreverent law blog, Rickey finally placed itâ¦. The nameless albino from âThe Princess Bride!â
NO ONE WITHSTANDS THE MACHINE!
|And Now, an Impassioned Oratory from Noted Psychotic Glenn Beck||Good evening, dear sweet America. Last night I carefully explained to you how providing health care coverage to people who are uninsured is the same as pouring gasoline on them, lighting them with a match, and then pushing them down a flight of stairs. Tonight, we discuss something even more important. Something bowel-shakingly alarming. This morning, I was enjoying my customary breakfast of lard, rum, and scrambled eggs when I happened to stumble upon something very upsetting. Look at this box of eggs. Look closely.That's right people: PROGRESSIVE pastured eggs! Deviously hiding from the hormones and antibiotics that would otherwise compel them to grow up to be proud American fowl! When I saw this, I did the only responsible thing: I induced vomiting, then wrapped myself in a blanket and cried. I cried for America. Now, you might say, âHey, Glenn, whatâs the big deal here? Theyâre just eggs!â But let me tell you friends, this is a very serious threat to our way of life.|
We all know that the progressive movement is a cancer in America and that it is eating our Constitution before our eyes. Make no mistake, socialist revolutionaries lurk amongst us and with this stunning development, it is clear to me that they are now knocking at our very barnyard doors.
Who knows what tiny feathered menaces are incubating in these progressive eggs? Who can possibly hope to contain Komrade Kluck when he breaks free of his eggshell confines and recruits others to his insidious Marxist cause? Friends, we need a national chicken registry, and we need it now. We need to know the whereabouts and agendas of these clucking menaces before it is too late. Socialist fowl present a clear and present danger to our fragile republic. These subversive chicks threaten to make cuckolds of us all. Who will take a stand against rampant tyranny such as this? In these dangerous times, when will someone finally give a voice to the aggrieved white male?
Who exactly is behind this insidious plot? Why, none other than our old friend Margaret Hamburg, head of the shadowy and mysterious arm of government known as the FDA. For months, Mrs. Hamburg has refused to denounce the gender confusion caused by that rancorous beast, the Cadbury Bunny. And as if living in a world where deviant rabbits could lay eggs wasnât bad enough, now sheâs taking things to the next level: the widespread indoctrination of millions of our nationâs chicks! With this development, the Obama administration moves one step closer to realizing its horrific progressive agendaâa Prius in every garage and a Marxist chicken in every pot.
Sweet tropical Jesus, the mere thought of this scares me. And when I'm scared, I cry. I cry a lot.This crisis ruffles my feathers. It ruffles them to my very core. Has no one learned the lessons from the classic conservative literary masterpiece that is Chicken Little? It was written by Horatio Alger and tells the story of one brave young chickenâs struggle to alert his barnyard friends and family of the looming socialist menace. Sadly, nobody listens to him and then, of course, the Rapture happens.
This book won many awards and was even presented to Margaret Thatcher by President Reagan as a gift for emerging victorious over the puffin menace in the Falkland Islands War. I highly recommend it. But let me tell you, if these progressive eggs become commonplace, we may never see the likes of courageous Chicken Little ever again, and that scares me. And it should scare you, my sweet precious America. Little by little, our freedoms, the principles of capitalism, the idea that we control our own lives and make our own decisions are all being stripped from us. Tonight, I ask you to join me in this fight and rise up against our leftist chicken overlords.
Good night and good luck to us all.
And now, a word from our proud upstanding sponsors, Eztense Penis-Enhancing Pills, the Baconwave Bacon Cooker, and Cash4Gold.com!
|An N.C. Congressman Tries to Defund the Congressional Budget Office||
Possibly related: the CBO has said the GOPâs efforts to repeal Obamacare would cost tens of millions of people access to health care
On Mondayâthe same day the president attacked political rivals in a speech to Boy Scouts and the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on a health care bill that no one had actually seenâMark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus and representative of North Carolina's Eleventh Congressional District, proposed his own means of undermining democratic norms. His big idea: gut the Congressional Budget Office, the agency that has consistently projected that GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave more than twenty million Americans without coverage.â¦
|Five Things You Need to Know About the Senateâs Health Care Hail Mary||
No. 1: The Obamacare repeal isnât really a repeal
On Monday night, senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah announced that they would not support the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate's attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act. Without their votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is shy of the fifty he needs.â¦
|Hedge Fund Managers Acquitted of Criminal Charges, Now Settle Civil Charges. Is This How Obama's Task Force Will Work?||Hereâs the problem with that approach, which is evident in how failed criminal charges against Cioffi and Tannin led to civil charges and both hop-skipping out of harmâs way.|
|Comment on I HATE NIGGERS!!!!!!!!!!!! by nutjob||White people look like shit. no wonder they spend so much time in the sun trying to get a tan.
whenever i see one of them i let him have my big black fist in his face. these animals should not live among us this is our country and we will take it from them like Obama is doing and drive their ugly stink asses back to evrope to die from cystic fibrosis. and the women i love to rape their sorry asses.|
|Comment on I HATE NIGGERS!!!!!!!!!!!! by Welfare Chick||i love obama. Yea Yea Yea|
|WTF?||[+7] Discussion by blueveinedthrobber on 06/20/10 7:09 AM Replies: 20 Views: 1,501 |
Tags: Politics, Obama, Golf
Last Post by blueveinedthrobber on 06/22/10 4:44 AM
|Today the future seems brighter|
|A New Day||Here a link to a transcript of his acceptance speech.|
I'm breathing easier, you?
|6-Month Update for Trump Voters||So after six months, has he delivered what he promised you?1. He told you heâd repeal Obamacare and...|
|THE ART OF THE (TRUMP AND PUTIN) DEALSay youâre Vladimir Putin,...|
THE ART OF THE (TRUMP AND PUTIN) DEAL
Say youâre Vladimir Putin, and you did a deal with Trump last year. Whether there was such a deal isÂ being investigated.Â But if you are Putin and you did do a deal, what might Trump have agreed to do for you?Â
1. Repudiate NATO. NATO is the biggest thorn in your side â the alliance that both humiliates you and stymies your ambitions. Trump seemed intent to deliver on this during his recent European trip by bullying members about payments and seemingly not reaffirming Article 5 of the pact, which states that any attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all. (Heâs backtracked on this since then, under pressure from Congress.)
2. Antagonize Europe, especially Angela Merkel. Sheâs the strongest leader in the West other than Trump, and youâd love to drive a wedge between the United States and Germany. Your larger goal is for Europe to no longer depend on the United States, so you can increase your influence in Europe. Trump has almost delivered on this, too. Merkel is already saying Europe can no longer depend on America.
3. Take the United States out of the Paris accord on the environment. This will anger Americaâs other allies around the world and produce a wave of anti-Americanism â all to your advantage. Youâd also love for the whole Paris accord to unravel because you want the world to remain dependent on fossil fuels. Russia is the worldâs second-largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia, and biggest exporter of natural gas. And the oil and gas industry contributes about half the revenues to your domestic budget. And, hey, thereâs also all those Arctic ports that are opening up now that the earth is warming.Â Trump has delivered on this.Â
4. Embark on a new era of protectionism. Or at least anti-trade rhetoric. This will threaten the Westâs economic interdependence and loosen Americaâs economic grip on the rest of the world. Trump is on the way to delivering on this one.
5. End the economic sanctions on Russia, imposed by the United States in 2014. Oil production on land is falling so you want to tap the vast petroleum and gas reserves offshore in the Arctic. In 2011, you and ExxonMobilâs Rex Tillerson, signed a $500 billion deal to do this. But the sanctions stopped it cold. Trump has promised to lift them, but he hasnât delivered on this yet, because he has got to cope with all the suspicions in America about his deal with you. Once it dies down, heâll end the sanctions. In the meantime, heâll give you back the two compounds that were seized by the Obama administration when the U.S. intelligence discovered youâd interfered in the election.
And what might you have agreed to do for Trump in return?Â
Two things: First, youâd help him win the presidency, by hacking into Democratic Party servers, leaking the results, sending millions of fake news stories about Hillary to targeted voters, and tapping into voter lists.Â
Second, after he was elected, youâd shut up about your help so Trump wouldnât be impeached and convicted of treason.
In other words, if you did a deal, you both still have every incentive to fulfill your side of it. Thatâs the art of the deal.
|Obama et les poissons rougesÂ : comment le GIF a vaincu la vidÃ©o||ConsÃ©cration linguistique pour le GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), type de fichier d’image ou d’animation Ã©lu, en ce mois de novembre 2012, Â«Â mot de l’annÃ©eÂ Â» par le dictionnaire amÃ©ricain Oxford. Un temps considÃ©rÃ© comme vestige honteux de la prÃ©histoire d’Internet, il est revenu en grÃ¢ce via les forums, la culture Â«Â LOLÂ Â» et les mÃ¨mes, jusqu’Ã devenir [...]|
|New York's Attorney General Vows Court Action Against ACA Repeal||New Yorkâs top elected Democrats rallied against the Republican Congressâs proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying they will take legal action, if necessary, to stop it. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, speaking before a crowd of unionized health care workers at Mount Sinai hospital, says if the plans to repeal and replace Obamacare in the GOP led Senate and House do become law, he will sue on behalf of New Yorkers. âIâve developed a bit of a reputation since January as the guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government,â Schneiderman said, to cheers. âAlways on the merits, and boy, have we got a lot of merits on our side.â This is not the first time that Schneiderman has made the threat. The Attorney General said after the house passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement that court action was likely. The AG says provisions in both the Senate and House plans to defund Planned Parenthood services, âwould|
|The Gospel and Jeremiah Wright||I have avoided speaking about Barack Obama's former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for about as long as possible. There are a number of reasons for this. Foremost among them is the irritation I have felt in seeing political pundits and news personalities (most of them unbelievers), attacking a pastor for view he expressed from a pulpit in a church. Now, don't get me wrong. I disagree heartily with what the man said, whether or not it was taken out of context. But I am very uncomfortable with a pastor being criticized publicly for his views by those outside of the faith. And yet, this has become the norm in the U.S. these days - and that worries me a great deal.|
I recently wrote a comment on another man's blog about the criticism being heaped upon Wright (and consequently, Barack Obama), and pointed out that, while I am disgusted by the media's treatment of Rev. Wright, I do believe there are some upsides to the controversy, namely that it puts a spotlight on the inherent problems of Liberation Theology and its influence in the African-American church. I don't have the time, nor the patience (or really the education) to dive deeply into Liberation Theology, so let me offer a few links for further study:
An article, "What is Liberation Theology?" at GotQuestions.org
An interview with Eric Redmond, an African American Pastor in Maryland, by Albert Mohler
A partial transcript of that interview at Townhall.com entitled, "Is Jeremiah Wright Mainstream?"
Eric Redmond's post, "Jeremiah Wrightâs BLT" (Black Liberation Theology), on his blog, A Man From Issachar
Suffice to say, the problems of Liberation Theology are vast, and they are a stumbling block to the gospel. As one commenter at Townhall.com wrote:
Liberation theology creates further division.I would agree with this assessment. And since Rev. Wright resurfaced a few days ago and today was blasted by Barack Obama for remarks he made at the National Press Club Monday in Washington, I have been thinking even more about Wright and his theology. As I was considering this, I stumbled across Warren Kelly's post on Wright at his blog View From The Pew. Kelly discusses Wright's answer to a question posed to him by a moderator after his speech at the National Press Club on Monday. The moderator stated, "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me.'" Then the moderator asked, "Do you believe this? And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?" Wright replied simply, "Jesus also said, 'Other sheep have I who are not of this fold,'" seeming to indicate that indeed Muslims and those of other religions would inherit eternal life apart from a personal relationship with Christ. Sadly, applause followed his comment. Kelly noted,
Wright had what I call an Osteen moment. He had the chance to share the Gospel in front of millions. Not only that, but he had the chance to calm the fears of evangelical Christians that his church was somehow not really a Christian church. He could have done so much, but he decided not to.He then wisely observed that, "Jeremiah Wright did to Jesus exactly what the news media have been doing to him -- taken [sic] a part of a sermon, quoted it out of context, and made it sound like something that wasn't intended."
Denny Burk, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. and blogger extraordinaire picked up on the story as well and explains what Jesus was actually referring to in John chapter 10:
When Jesus says that he has âother sheep who are not of this fold,â itâs likely that he is referring to Gentiles who would later come to faith in Christ. The sheep that are following Him at that point in the narrative are Jews, but Jesus aims to have followers from among the Gentiles as well. Whoever the âother sheepâ are understood to be, they nevertheless have the characteristics of âsheep.â They listen to and follow Christ, and they are saved only by Him.Additionally, he points out that, "To say that 'other sheep' refers to unbelievers (or followers of Islam in Reverend Wrightâs case) simply runs roughshod over the plain meaning of the passage."
So, as I noted to the other blogger in my comments referred to at the start of this post, Jeremiah Wright's pulpit rhetoric doesn't really bother me - it's his misunderstanding of the Gospel and disregard for the fundamentals of the faith that worry me.
|Obama Not as "Green" as He Would Like You to Think||Future Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama might not be as "green" as he appears. And I don't mean "inexperienced." Last year Obama came under fire from conservatives for giving a series of speeches on the need to reduce carbon emissions by breaking America's addiction to SUVs, while arriving and departing in a GMC Envoy. When the story broke, Obama's press secretary, Tommy Vietor, issued a statement saying that Obama liked to roll in a Flex-Fuel SUV, which suggested that he was indeed practicing what he preached. Unfortunately for Obama, many clever conservatives did their research and found out that the GMC Envoy does not come equipped with Flex-Fuel technology.|
But now, Obama's committment to being Green is being challenged by environmentalists on both sides of the aisles (Washington Post article here). In a Grist article entitled, "Even Stevens?" reporter Amanda Griscom Little descibes the problems environmentalists have with the "Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007" co-sponsored by Obama and Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning. According to the article, "Coal-to-liquid (CTL) technology uses a highly energy-intensive process to convert coal into diesel fuel for cars or jet fuel for airplanes -- an appealing prospect to the coal industry in Obama's home state of Illinois, but not to [environmentalists] and others concerned about global warming." Little goes on to explain the problems with CTL technology:
David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center, has supported coal gasification as a viable alternative to coal-burning power plants, but explains that CTL is not as promising an alternative to conventional gasoline or biofuels. "Coal-to-liquid is, in the best-case scenario, no worse for the climate than oil-derived gasoline -- and no better," he says. The best-case scenario assumes that CTL producers find a way to capture their carbon emissions. Problem is, none of the current CTL projects actually involve carbon capture. Without that step, the climate impacts of CTL fuel are far worse than those of gasoline. According to an NRDC analysis, a 35-mpg car powered by the CTL fuel that's currently available would generate as much carbon dioxide pollution as a far less efficient 19-mpg car that runs on conventional gasoline.The Bunning-Obama bill "which would expand tax incentives for CTL and help jumpstart the industry with public-private partnerships, was first introduced by the senators in spring of last year." It appears that for Obama, regional politics trump environmentalism. It will be interesting to see how many of his Democratic collegues will support the bill and undermine the Dems climate control promises. One thing is for sure: Obama's "100 percent approval rating from the League of Conservation Voters for his environmental voting record in the Senate last year" is certain to decrease this time around.
|(RPI) Restaurant Stock Outlook â February 2013 â Zacks Analyst Interviews||The year 2012 started on a relatively positive note for U.S. restaurants. That scenario changed gradually as sales momentum slackened in the sector as the macroeconomic tension, presidential election and the “Fiscal Cliff” raised uncertainties in the market. Even this year, the industry remains on the receiving end of global economic concerns, fragile consumer confidence, a more expensive food cost environment in the U.S., a sluggish labor market, “Obamacare” and an excess of restaurants in the industry. As a result, […]|
|Obama Foundation reveals first look at the Obama Presidential Center||none|
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|Ce vorbesc Obama si Merkel despre criza din zona euro||Presedintele american, Barack Obama, a discutat vineri cu cancelarul german, Angela Merkel, despre ultimele evolutii legate de criza din zona euro, pe care o considera un risc important pentru economia americana.
"Presedintele si cancelarul au discutat despre pregatirile in vederea summitului G20...|
|Some things that piss me off||In no particular order:|
- Lawyers, they created a market for themselves with all those crazy legal terms which as a consequence requires the existence of lawyers to make the world go.
- Commercials for prescription medications, especially ones where the side effects are worse than what they cure. (Ex. "May increase chance of asthma related death" for an asthma medication)
- That Wendy's commercial where the guy is like "What would george washington have thought if he knew one of his dollars could buy a whole burger!" Ya, well back in his day the dollar was worth more. In the depression, you could buy 20 REAL burgers for a dollar.
- Swine flu. It's the freaking flu, and like what, 20 people died from it and like 200 are sick in mexico, so the world panics? Maybe if you washed your hands after taking a dump you wouldn't get the swine flu.
- XNA. People are like "DO OU USE XNA? YOU SHOULD USE XNA OMG YOUR GAME WOULD ROCK IN XNA" without really knowing what xna or c# is. Nevermind I use a mac, and XNA would tie me down to a platform which I hate, without the power of c++ and without the market penetration of flash.
- Windows and it's horrible DLL system
- Builds of software libraries where they give you the source and expect you to compile it yourself. Then you do, and the lib only works on my computer, even in release mode. What am I supposed to do? Compile the sources on install for everyone's computer? Just give me the headers and the .lib/.dll/.a/framework!
- Conservatives who are calling for an impeachment of Obama after 100 days, just because he's not on the same side as them and they're bitter for losing. Newsflash, Bush did way more questionably legal things than Obama, and yet I still didn't think he should have been impeached, despite not agreeing with him at all, and thinking he should have never been elected.
- Not having a car whilst in college really ties me to my apartment and makes me dependent on amazon for delivering food, which really sucks when I'm low and in a pinch.
- Commercials for "magic weight loss" products. Hey I got a product for you, the secret's in this pamphlet and it'll only cost you 4 easy payments of $19.95+s+h, but you get the first half of the first word for free! Excer____.
- Commercials for "magic beauty products" which are like "YOU HAVE A PIMPLE YOU UGLY BUY OUR CREAM OR YOU FAIL AT LIFE"
- Axe body spray commercials. "Hey buy our spray which smells like ass, and women will have sex with you." Unfortunately it doesn't work that way, and its sad to think people fall for this.
That is all for now
|Foto Obama pada Masa Muda|
|Central Falls Mayor Diossa Calls for More Syrian Refugees||Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, a Democrat, has joined mayors from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and 14 other cities in saying they are ready and willing to accept even more refugees than the Obama administration has proposed. In a letter to the president, the mayors said, ``We will welcome the Syrian families to make homes and new lives in our cities.ââ ``Indeed, we are writing to say that we stand ready to work with your administration to do much more and to urge you to increase still further the number of Syrian refugees the United States the United States will accept for resettlement,ââ the letter stated. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake all signed the letter. ``We have taken in refugees, and will help make room for thousands more,ââ stated the letter. ``This is because the U.S. has developed a robust screening and background check that assures us that|
|Comment on Pres. Barack Obama â Editor of the Harvard Law Review â Has No Law License??? by deucedeuce22oz||I personally think it's ridiculous to make someone pay $50/month to keep their licenses. That's extortion. Not all people can afford that and it violates the Rights of the people that aren't wealthy. It sounds like a "rich persons club" and if you're not still wealthy after spending countless thousands on school than you can't be in their little club. No wonder we have so many corrupt lawyers that let the courts violate the people. The only lawyers that still have jobs are the dishonest ones that extort their own clients... (except for the ones that get busted like the evil obamas).|
|Comment on Pres. Barack Obama â Editor of the Harvard Law Review â Has No Law License??? by rcarson79||Reblogged this on <a href="http://challengeinlife.com/2016/01/09/pres-barack-obama-editor-of-the-harvard-law-review-has-no-law-license/" rel="nofollow">Challenge In Life</a>.|
|Comment on Pres. Barack Obama â Editor of the Harvard Law Review â Has No Law License??? by I Knew THE OBAMAâS BOTH LOST THEIR LAW LICENSESâ¦ But I Didnât Know Why Until READ THIS! | Sheep Media||[…] 3. Facts.Source:Â https://jdlong.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/pres-barack-obama-editor-of-the-Harvard-law-review-has-no-law… […]|
|The Next Israel-Hezbollah Conflict||During the Obama years, concerns about Israelâs security situation focused on the Iranian nuclear|
|Outward Expressions of Grattitude||Last night I watched a Ted Talk on Positive Psychology delivered by Shawn Achor.|
I was struck by the bit at the end, the five things you can do for twenty-one days to increase your positivity.
(It's not that I'm relentlessly negative, far from it, but like anyone, I could always take being MOAR positive.)
So the five things are:
In thinking about an "outward expression of three new things" for which I am grateful, this blog is the place that came to mind as a place to put those thoughts.
I haven't written here in a long time.
Recently, I've realized I miss it. I like to write.
So anyway, I'll put them here. No one is watching this spot anymore anyway.
Three things that happened in the last 24 hours for which I am extremely grateful.
2. President Obama Eulogizes The Reverend Clementa Pinckney in Charleston, South Carolina with Amazing Grace.
|Post on the Animalistic Black (M)Other||This week, my work the animalistic black mother will appear on Performing Humanity: Humans and Animals in the Early Modern World. In my post, I compare the depiction of black women in Early Modern travel narratives to the rhetoric surrounding contemporary black mothers, and, specifically, the most prominent black mother in the US, Michelle Obama. Check it out!|
|"Matriarchy" and the Contemporary Black Family||For all of you who are wondering where I've been, I'm back to let you that the last few weeks have brought some exciting changes in my life. Not only are we selling our house and moving into a beautiful new home (hopefully within the month of December because it is dang hard to keep a house clean enough to show with an 19-month-old and a 7 1/2-year-old--this situation does not accentuate my better nature!!), but I have also been assigned three new classes for the Spring semester. I am thrilled to be teaching two sections of a "Reading and Writing about Literature" class, an introductory course in the English major, and a colloquium for the Honors College. Because the theme of my colloq so well matches the focus of this blog, I thought that I'd share my syllabus and schedule with you, my loyal followers. |
I've entitled the course "'Matriarchy' and the Contemporary Black Family." As the syllabus demonstrates, we're taking as a springboard the US Department of Labor's Moynihan report of 1965 which--although likely well-intentioned--propelled the myth of the black matriarch into the forefront of the American consciousness. The report attributed the "pathology" of the black family to its "matriarchal" nature, pointing out that many black families were headed by women who oftentimes ran the home and at the same time financially supported the men in their families. The report was meant to convey the necessity of creating more jobs for black men, but many have claimed that it blamed the victims, the women who were--and had been for centuries--keeping it all together in the face of greatly oppressive social and political circumstances. The matriarch myth has stayed with us and has played out in complicated social scripts as well as in popular culture representations of black women.
This course will therefore investigate "matriarchy," past and present. It starts with "The Articulation of the Matriarch Myth" in 1965 and then jumps back to slavery to explore what I am calling, facetiously, "The Rise of the Matriarch" from slavery times up to the 1960s or so. This portion of the course will examine the historical circumstances that positioned the black woman as so central to the black family and also media representations of this positioning, such as in Amos and Andy, for instance. Next, we will move to "Disciplining the 'Matriarch,'" which will cover the ways that both black men and mainstream America have endeavored to punish black women for their deviance and powers of emasculation in movements such as Black Power and Reaganism. In addition to the listed readings, in these weeks we will view an episode of Sanford and Son, Boyz in the Hood and a documentary on hip-hop music. The fourth unit in the course is "Michelle Obama in the Context of 'Matriarchy'" and will explore Obama's portrayal in the media as an emasculating matriarch and the ways that she has negotiated this stereotype. Finally, in "Making Sense of the 'Matriarch,'" we will try to reckon with the legacy of the matriarch myth for us today.
I am proud of this course because my conception of the overall narrative arch of the story of the matriarch has been affirmed by the readings that I've found. Like me, many critics and theorists that I'm including in the course trace the myth of matriarchy to Moynihan, and, together, they present a complex and rich understanding of the significance of his report. In other words, the readings build on each other and complicate each other. It is awesome to see the course come together like this!!
Please take a look at the tentative syllabus that I've posted below! I'd love to hear your suggestions about how I can make this semester an even richer experience for my students as we work together to understand black "matriarchy."
âMatriarchyâ and the Contemporary Black Family
Name: Dr. Andrea Powell Wolfe
Office: RB 297
Office Hours: Tuesday 2-3 and 3:30-5, Thursday 2-2:45, and by appointment
Title: HONRS 390: Honors Colloquium
Semester: Spring 2011
Location: Honors House
Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-10:45
Credit Hours: 3
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. (any edition)
Williams, Sherley Anne. Dessa Rose: A Novel. (any edition)
Readings for the course are listed on the schedule below. In addition to the two books that Iâm asking you to borrow or purchase, I will also provide some handouts in hard copy. You will access the majority of the readings for this course, however, either on the World Wide Web, through Blackboard, or via Electronic Course Reserves. In order to locate readings stored in the Electronic Course Reserves, log in to CardCat and then select âCourse Reservesâ from the menu bar.
This course will constitute a semester-long interrogation of the term âmatriarchyâ as it has been used over the course of decades to describe the make-up of the black American family. Grounded in an awareness of âmatriarchyâ as a terrible misnomer in this context, the course will explore ways that the classification of the black family as âmatriarchalâ has reinforced oppressive cultural and political conditions for black Americans. We will endeavor to recognize the widespread abuse and subjugation of black women over time and still celebrate the strength of black mothers who have nurtured children and maintained families in the most dire of circumstances throughout American history. We will discuss ways that black men have reacted to the labeling of their families as âmatriarchal.â Perhaps most importantly, we will attempt to uncover how the stereotype of âthe matriarchâ continues to play out in contemporary media representations of black womanhood and how it has played out in social scripts surrounding even our current First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Paper #1 100 points
Paper #2 100 points
Paper #3 100 points
Final Exam 200 points
Participation 20 points per class
Quizzes 10 points each
Assignment sheets for each paper will be posted in the âAssignmentsâ area in Blackboard. In general, these assignments will ask you to use textual evidence to support thoughtful and sophisticated claims regarding âmatriarchyâ and the black family. Papers will be 4-5 pages (1400-1750 words) in length and will be due to my email before class on the days noted on the course schedule. Late papers will lose 10 points per day late (including weekends).
The final exam will be comprehensive and will consist of short essay questions. In order to prepare for the exam, you will need to read carefully, participate attentively in class, and take good notes throughout the semester.
Quizzes over reading notes and class notes may be given without advanced notice. You are always welcome to use written or typed notes for quizzes. Quizzes cannot be made-up.
Your active and thoughtful participation in this course is absolutely critical to its success! Because discussion is such a big part of the Honors Colloquium experience, you will earn daily participation points for coming to class and engaging in meaningful discussion. Part of participation is also preparation to learn and interact in the classroom. This means that you must bring the appropriate reading(s) to class every day, either in hard copy or in electronic form on your laptop. Participation scores will be posted in the grade book in Blackboard after every class.
Because I want to give you the opportunity to make up points that you might lose due to necessary absences, I will allow you to complete two extra credit assignments throughout the semester for a total of 40 points in extra credit. For each extra credit assignment, you will choose a full-length book (either critical or literary) or a film (either documentary or fictional) to review for extra credit. I will be happy to recommend texts that might match your personal interests, and, even if you do not need suggestions from me, I ask that you allow me to âapproveâ your selections before you begin working on these assignments. Each review should be 3-pages (1050 words) in length and should analyze the representation of black motherhood in the text that you have chosen.
You will lose all daily participation points when you miss class. While one or two absences may not affect your overall grade in the class, making a habit of missing class will most certainly negatively impact your grade. Any requests for a waiver of the penalty for missing class must be made before the absence for which you seek to be excused.
Classroom Behavior Policy
It is my goal to foster a classroom environment in which every student feels comfortable contributing to discussion. Though we will not always agree with one another, we must listen to one another with respect. Furthermore, you are never required to agree with me or with a text we are discussing; disagreement is a valuable part of the thinking process. I will not tolerate disruptive behaviors such as reading newspapers, talking on cell phones, texting, emailing, or sleeping in class. Behaviors like these will cause you to lose participation points for that day. In order to promote engaged discussion, I may ask you to close your laptop at times during class.
In order to protect the integrity of the university and of students who work hard, I take academic dishonesty seriously. The intentional or unintentional use of anotherâs writing without giving proper credit or any credit is theft and the use of a previously written paper for a current course without approval of the instructor is dishonesty. These types of actions undermine the educational process and may be cause for course failure or expulsion from Ball State University.
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible
I am happy to meet with students about drafts, assignment questions, additional discussions of a text, and absence policies, etc. during office hours or by appointment. I also encourage you to visit a writing tutor at The Writing Center to work on your papers at any stage in the writing process.
Syllabus Information Disclaimer
Parts of the syllabus and the course, including the schedule and assignments, are subject to change to meet the needs of students in the course.
Articulating the Matriarch Stereotype
Tuesday, January 11 Introductions
Thursday, January 13 Readings Due: Syllabus; Daniel P. Moynihan, US Department of Labor, âThe Negro Family: The Case for National Actionâ, Chapters II-IV
Tuesday, January 18 Reading Due: Hortense Spillers, âMamaâs Baby, Papaâs Maybe: An American Grammar Bookâ in Blackboard
The Rise of the âMatriarchâ
Thursday, January 20 Reading Due: Deborah Gray White, âJezebel and Mammy: The Mythology of Female Slaveryâ on Reserve
Tuesday, January 25 Reading Due: Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Chapters I-XIV
Thursday, January 27 Reading Due: Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Chapters XV-XXXIII
Tuesday, February 1 Reading Due: Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Chapters XXXIV-XLI; Stephanie Li, âMotherhood as Resistance in Harriet Jacobsâs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girlâ in Blackboard
Thursday, February 3 Reading Due: Deborah Gray White, âFrom Slavery to Freedomâ handout
Tuesday, February 8 Reading Due: YouTube videos, âScarlett Dresses for the Barbequeâ, âMammyâGone with the Windâ; Maria St. John, ââIt Ainât Fittinâ: Cinematic and Fantasmatic Contours of Mammy in Gone with the Wind and Beyondâ in Blackboard
Thursday, February 10 Reading Due: George Kirby, âAmos and Andy: Anatomy of a Controversyâ
Tuesday, February 15 Reading Due: Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, Acts I-2
Thursday, February 17 Reading Due: Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, Act 3; Ellen Silber, âSeasoned with Quiet Strength: Black Womanhood in Lorraine Hansberryâs A Raisin in the Sun (1959)â in Blackboard
Disciplining the âMatriarchâ
Tuesday, February 22 Assignment Due: Paper #1
Thursday, February 24 Reading Due: bell hooks, âThe Imperialism of Patriarchyâ on Reserve
Tuesday, March 1 Reading Due: Amiri Baraka, â20-Century Fox,â âNewshit,â âSong,â âLady Bug,â âA Poem for Black Hearts,â âBlack Art,â âFor a Lady I Know,â âCivil Rights Poem,â âBeautiful Black Women . . .,â âBludoo Baby Want Money and Alligator Got it to Give,â âLeroy,â and âWho Will Survive Americaâ handout; Daniel Matlin, ââLift Up Yr Selfâ: Reinterpreting Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones), Black Power, and the Uplift Traditionâ in Blackboard
Thursday, March 3 Reading Due: Hortense Spillers, âInterstices: A Small Drama of Wordsâ on Reserve
Tuesday, March 8 No Class; Spring Break
Thursday, March 10 No Class; Spring Break
Tuesday, March 15 Reading Due: Herman Gray, âReaganism and the Sign of Blacknessâ on Reserve
Thursday, March 17 Reading Due: Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose, âPrologueâ and âThe Darkeyâ
Tuesday, March 22 Reading Due: Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose, âThe Wenchâ and âThe Negressâ
Thursday, March 24 Reading Due: Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose, âEpilogueâ; Ashraf H. Rushdy, âReading Mammy: The Subject of Relation in Sherley Anne Williamsâ Dessa Roseâ in Blackboard
Tuesday, March 29 Reading Due: Linda M. Burton and M. Belinda Tucker, âRomantic Unions in an Era of Uncertainty: A Post-Moynihan Perspective on African American Women and Marriageâ in Blackboard
Thursday, March 31 Reading Due: âBetween Apocalypse and Redemption: John Singletonâs Boyz in the Hoodâ in Blackboard
Tuesday, April 5 Reading Due: Mark Anthony Neal, âBaby Mama (Drama) and Baby Daddy (Trauma): Post-Soul Gender Politicsâ on Reserve
Michelle Obama in the Context of âMatriarchyâ
Thursday, April 7 Assignment Due: Paper #2
Tuesday, April 12 Reading Due: Mosheh Oinounou and Bonney Kapp, âMichelle Obama Takes Heat for Saying Sheâs âProud of My Countryâ for the First Timeâ; Fox News, âOutraged Liberals: Stop Picking on Obamaâs Baby Mama!â; Marcus Baram, âRusty DePass, South Carolina GOP Activist, Says Escaped Gorilla Was Ancestor of Michelle Obamaâ; The Paparazzis, âComedian Jay Mohr disrespects Michelle Obamaâ; Alicia Shepard, âJuan Williams, NPR and Fox Newsâ
Thursday, April 14 Reading Due: Fight the Smears, âThe Truth about Michelleâ; Lois Romano, âVoices of Power: White House Social Secretary DesirÃ©e Rogers,â Chapter 3; The White House, âFirst Lady Michelle Obamaâ
Tuesday, April 19 Reading Due: The Huffington Post, âUp In Arms: Michelle Obamaâs Sleeveless Style Sparks Controversyâ; Wendy Donahue, âSome harrumph over Michelle Obamaâs sleeveless dressâ; Bonnie Fuller, âMichelle Obamaâs Sleevegate: Why Canât America Handle Her Bare Arms?â; Madison Park, âHow to get Michelle Obamaâs toned armsâ; Andrea Sachs, âMichelle Obamaâs Fashion Statementâ; Danny Shea, âNew York Magazine Blog Takes Down Michelle Obama Booty Postâ; Gina, âAnother âBootyâ Post: âThat Siteâ Puts the Marginalization and Dehumanization of First Lady Michelle Obama Up for Voteâ; Erin Aubry Kaplan, âThe Michelle Obama Hair Challengeâ
Thursday, April 21 Reading Due: The White House Organic Farm Project, âAbout TheWhoFarmâ; Michelle Obama, âRemarks by the First Lady to Unity Health Care Centerâ; Sesame Street, âSesame Street: Michelle Obama and ElmoâHealthy Habitsâ; AOL Health, âFirst Lady Michelle Obama Answers Your Questions on Letâs Move!â
Tuesday, April 26 Reading Due: Patricia Yaeger, âCircum-Atlantic Superabundance: Milk as World-Making in Alice Randall and Kara Walkerâ in Blackboard; Kara Walker, âI Dream of Michelle Obamaâ
Tuesday, April 26 Reading Due: Andrea Powell Wolfe, âMichelle Obama and the Historical Positioning of the Black Mother within the Nationâ in Blackboard; Ann Ducille, âMarriage, Family, and Other âPeculiar Institutionsâ in African-American Literary Historyâ in Blackboard
Making Sense of âMatriarchyâ
Thursday, April 28 Assignment Due: Paper #3
Thursday, May 5 Final Exam at 9:45-11:45
|Obama Dragon Ball Z||Obama Dragon Ball Z komik bir tÄ±klama ve puan etkileÅimli oyunudur. Obama’nÄ±n Planet Earth’Ã¼ korkunÃ§ Dondurucu ve kÄ±kÄ±rdaklarÄ±ndan kurtarmasÄ±na yardÄ±mcÄ± olun!|
|The Beckoning of Nuclear War|
SUBHEAD: A glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to our "national security" managers.
By John Pilger on 4 August 2017 for JohnPilger.com -
[IB Publisher's note: As much as Trump may not wish a nuclear exchange with Russia, he seems quite amenable to turning North Korea into an ashtray. World War III may begin in Guam and relay to Hawaii on its way to the US mainland. Here in Hawaii it may mean Duck and Cover!]
Image above: Detail of original paperback cover of Nevil Shute's 1957 novel "On the Beach". From (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/267542034087528868).
In Nevil Shute's book "On the Beach" the US submarine captain says;
"We've all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you're never ready, because you don't know when it's coming. Well, now we do know and there's nothing to be done about it."
He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
These two lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on the cover said the same.
Published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece. At first the language suggests a genteel relic; yet nothing I have read on nuclear war is as unyielding in its warning. No book is more urgent.
Some readers will remember the black and white Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck as the US Navy commander who takes his submarine to Australia to await the silent, formless spectre descending on the last of the living world.
I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the US Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world's second most lethal nuclear power. There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder.
The "sanctions" are aimed at Europe, too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. In what passed for debate on Capitol Hill, the more garrulous senators left no doubt that the embargo was designed to force Europe to import expensive American gas.
Their main aim seems to be war - real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-5 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.
The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies - the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indo-China, which President Reagan called "a noble cause" and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an "exceptional people"He was not referring to the Vietnamese.
Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. "Listen up," he said. "We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom."
At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.
A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls "an eternal present".
Harold Pinter described this as "manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."
Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously "the left" are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.
Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for "liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics", wrote Luciana Bohne memorably. The obsession with Trump the man - not Trump as a symptom and caricature of an enduring system - beckons great danger for all of us.
While they pursue their fossilised anti-Russia agendas, narcissistic media such as the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardian suppress the essence of the most important political story of our time as they warmonger on a scale I cannot remember in my lifetime.
On 3 August, in contrast to the acreage the Guardian has given to drivel that the Russians conspired with Trump (reminiscent of the far-right smearing of John Kennedy as a "Soviet agent"), the paper buried, on page 16, news that the President of the United States was forced to sign a Congressional bill declaring economic war on Russia. Unlike every other Trump signing, this was conducted in virtual secrecy and attached with a caveat from Trump himself that it was "clearly unconstitutional".
A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.
This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the "national security" managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them "the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today".
They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to instal an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia's "borderland" - the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people. Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation.
In response, "partnership" is a word used incessantly by Vladimir Putin - anything, it seems, that might halt an evangelical drive to war in the United States. Incredulity in Russia may have now turned to fear and perhaps a certain resolution. The Russians almost certainly have war-gamed nuclear counter strikes. Air-raid drills are not uncommon. Their history tells them to get ready.
The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The US has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China's economic lifelines.
The admiral commanding the US Pacific fleet said that, "if required", he would nuke China. That he would say such a thing publicly in the current perfidious atmosphere begins to make fact of Nevil Shute's fiction.
None of this is considered news. No connection is made as the bloodfest of Passchendaele a century ago is remembered. Honest reporting is no longer welcome in much of the media. Windbags, known as pundits, dominate: editors are infotainment or party line managers. Where there was once sub-editing, there is the liberation of axe-grinding clichÃ©s. Those journalists who do not comply are defenestrated.
The urgency has plenty of precedents. In my film, The Coming War on China, John Bordne, a member of a US Air Force missile combat crew based in Okinawa, Japan, describes how in 1962 - during the Cuban missile crisis - he and his colleagues were "told to launch all the missiles" from their silos.
Nuclear armed, the missiles were aimed at both China and Russia. A junior officer questioned this, and the order was eventually rescinded - but only after they were issued with service revolvers and ordered to shoot at others in a missile crew if they did not "stand down".
At the height of the Cold War, the anti-communist hysteria in the United States was such that US officials who were on official business in China were accused of treason and sacked. In 1957 - the year Shute wrote On the Beach - no official in the State Department could speak the language of the world's most populous nation. Mandarin speakers were purged under strictures now echoed in the Congressional bill that has just passed, aimed at Russia.
The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms "left" and "right" are meaningless. Most of America's modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.
When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America's longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings - murder - by drones.
In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the "reluctant liberal warrior", dropped 26,171 bombs - three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. Having pledged to help "rid the world" of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War.
Trump is a wimp by comparison. It was Obama - with his secretary of state Hillary Clinton at his side - who destroyed Libya as a modern state and launched the human stampede to Europe. At home, immigration groups knew him as the "deporter-in-chief".
One of Obama's last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.
Buried in the detail was the establishment of a "Center for Information Analysis and Response". This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an "official narrative of facts" that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war - if we allow it.
Video above: "On the Beach" the complete 1959 movie from Nevil Shute's novel. From (https://youtu.be/Ue8hC5qqMt4).
|Standing Rock lawsuit update|
SUBHEAD: Army Corps of Engineers sent back to analyze the environmental justice of the Dakota Access pipeline.
By Yessenia Funes on 3 August 2017 for Yes Magazine -
Image above: More than 380 tribes around the world came forward to stand with the water protectors. Photo by Vlad Tchompalov.From original article.
On July 27, 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers for authorizing the construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline. Just over a year later, the project has been completed and carries crude oil from North Dakotaâs Bakken oil fields to an export terminal in Illinois. The case is still pending, and continues to be the tribeâs last hope to protect its water and land.
The lawsuit alleged that authorization of the pipeline violated the Clean Water Act, Rivers and Harbors Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to adequately conduct an efficient environmental assessment and skipping an environmental impact statement (EIS) altogether.
âIf history is to repeat itself, it doesnât look good for us,â says Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II. âBut that doesnât mean we donât have hope.â
The lawsuit has now been joined by the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Yankton and Oglala Sioux tribes, but at its heart, the case remains the same since its initial filing, said lead attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the Standing Rock Sioux on behalf of nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice.
Heâs been arguing that the $3.8 billion energy project ignores treaty rights and needs further environmental review. The goal is that U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg will rule in favor of an EIS and pause pipeline operations indefinitely, and, ultimately, stop them completely.
In December, pipeline opponents almost secured the EIS under former President Barack Obama when the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would prepare the statement and not permit the pipeline to cross beneath the Lake Oahe crossing on the Missouri River, an area of cultural, religious, and spiritual significance to the tribe.
It was a near victory. With the EIS secured, the court shelved the lawsuit, but there was more bubbling beneath the surface. Dakota Access launched a counter lawsuit once the Obama administration requested the EIS, and Donald Trumpâs presidential inauguration loomed on the horizon. The lawyers, the tribe, and even the court knew the situation could change drastically.
âThe court was pretty explicit that this could be undone,â Hasselman said. And it was.
Trump rescinded the EIS and issued the final easement across Lake Oahe in February. Immediately, the attorneys amended their initial complaint to include the final easement. Things moved along quickly from there, Hasselman explained. For the first time, the tribe had something concrete to contest, not something they were asking the courts to prevent.
âWe were finally able to put those environmental review issues and treaty issues up front and center,â Hasselman said. Until then, the case was essentially in âpause mode.â
Then in June, Judge Boasberg found that the Corps had not sufficiently considered the pipelineâs environmental effects or environmental justice impacts when issuing its permit, and remanded the case back to the EIS process to reconsider its analysis. This is the first time Earthjustice is aware of such an environmental justice ruling.
Boasbergâs recent decision offers DAPLâs opponents hope, but a favorable outcome is anything but assured. A pipeline has never before been stopped with a lawsuit, Hasselman said. âThe legal and regulatory infrastructure is badly broken.
You just donât have the big overarching federal permits for a crude oil pipeline that you have in a lot of other contexts.â Unlike natural gas pipelines, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates a pipelineâs terms and conditions of transport, but not its actual construction and operation.
Earthjustice didnât take up the case because it believed the court held the answer but, rather, because it recognized the political power such a case could build. To that end, it has surpassed expectations.
âWhat I had in mind was substantially more modest than what happened,â Hasselman said. He had hoped that 50 people would show up to court and theyâd end up on the evening news. He wasnât expecting the iconic fight for indigenous sovereignty that Standing Rock has become.
The Dakota Access pipeline is now a matter of global interest. More than 380 tribes around the worldâfrom New Zealandâs MÄori to the Ecuadorian Amazonâs Kichwaâcame forward to stand with the water protectors. âThatâs a very significant time in history: when the tribes come together collectively and unite and say, Enough is enough,â Archambault said.
The tribeâs effort became a movement with the support of spirit and prayer camps outside the reservationâincluding the Sacred Stone and Oceti Sakowin campsâand a 1,500-mile run to Washington, D.C., in which about 30 Native American youth delivered a petition with more than 140,000 signatures to the Army Corps headquarters demanding it halt the pipelineâs construction.
Although this attention hasnât influenced the lawsuit, Hasselman said, it legitimized the movement. Once the world set its eyes on Standing Rock, it could no longer ignore that the historic violent treatment of indigenous people isnât a thing of the pastâit continues today.
Now? Hasselman thinks they have a shot. âWe have an uphill struggle in persuading the court to shut down the pipeline while the remand process is underway, and we have an uphill struggle persuading the Army Corps to do a legitimate and appropriate analysis on remand, but weâre all working 24/7 to make that happen,â he said.
Judge Boasberg is set to decide in September whether to pause pipeline operations while the Corps continues its review, and court proceedings are ongoing as both parties make their arguments. Until then, the tribe will see its challengers in court.
Ea O Ka Aina: DAPL battle not over 6/15/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Defense contractors fought NoDAPL 5/27/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Tribes divest DAPL Bankers 2/13/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Veterans defending NoDAPL 2/11/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Army Corps okays DAPL Easement 2/8/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Trump orders go on DAPL EIS 2/3/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Water Protectors pipeline resistance 2/1/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Force a full EIS on DAPL 1/27/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Missile launcher at Standing Rock 1/19/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Lockdown at Trans-Pecos Pipeline 1/10/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Standing Rock has changed us 12/9/16
Ea O Ka Aina: As Standing Rock celebrates... 12/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Army Corps denies easement 12/4/16
Ea O Ka Aina: My Whole Heart is With You 12/2/16
Ea O Ka Aina: The Loving Containment of Courage 12/1/16
Ea O Ka Aina: The Beginning is Near 12/1/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Feds to shutdown NoDAPL Camp 11/25/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL people are going to die 11/23/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Hundreds of vets to join NoDAPL 11/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama must support Standing Rock 11/21/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Trump's pro oil stance vs NoDaPL 11/15/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai NoDAPL Demonstration 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama to Betray Standing Rock 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Trump impact on Standing Rock 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Ann Wright on Standing Rock 11/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Turning Point at Standing Rock 11/6/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Jackson Browne vs DAPL owner 11/5/16
Democracy Now: Boycott of DAPL Owner's Music Festival
Ea O Ka Aina: World responds to NoDAPL protests 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL victory that was missed 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: DAPL hid discovery of Sioux artifacts 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Dakota Access Pipeline will leak 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Route of the Dakota Access Pipeline 11/4/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Sanders calls for stopping DAPL 11/4/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama hints at DAPL rerouting 11/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: New military attack on NODAPL 11/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: How to Support NoDAPL 11/3/16
Unicorn Riot: Tweets from NoDAPL 11/2/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Standing Rock & the Ballot Box 10/31/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL reclaim new frontline 10/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: How far will North Dakota go? 10/23/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Amy Goodman "riot" charge dropped 10/17/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Amy Goodwin to face "Riot Charge" 10/16/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Shutdown of all tar sand pipelines 10/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Why Standing Rock is test for Oabama 10/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Why we are Singing for Water 10/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Labor's Dakota Access Pipeline Crisis 10/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Standing Firm for Standing Rock 10/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Contact bankers behind DAPL 9/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL demo at Enbridge Inc 9/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Militarized Police raid NoDAPL 9/28/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Stop funding of Dakota Access Pipeline 9/27/16
Ea O Ka Aina: UN experts to US, "Stop DAPL Now!" 9/27/16
Ea O Ka Aina: No DAPL solidarity grows 9/21/16
Ea O Ka Aina: This is how we should be living 9/16/16
Ea O Ka Aina: 'Natural Capital' replacing 'Nature' 9/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: The Big Difference at Standing Rock 9/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Jill Stein joins Standing Rock Sioux 9/10/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Pipeline temporarily halted 9/6/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Native Americans attacked with dogs 9/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Mni Wiconi! Water is Life! 9/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Sioux can stop the Pipeline 8/28/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Officials cut water to Sioux 8/23/16
|Sinclair Broadcasting is Trump TV|
SUBHEAD: The owner of the most TV stations dumps Fox News to become Trump's mouthpiece.with Jared Kushner for âgoodâ coverage of the Trump Administration, which seems to have paid off.
By Staff on 30 July 2017 for Common Dreams -
Image above: The Sinclair Broadcasting cut a biased deal with Jared Kushner and the Trump campaign. Now the Trump FCC is paying back the favor. From original article.
âItâs unheard of to have one company pushing one specific agenda reaching so many people and doing it in a way designed to evade local inputâ
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, the Sinclair Broadcasting group cut a deal
Politico reported last December:
Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audienceâââaround 250,000 viewers[sic]â than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000.
With Fox News suffering several major setbacks in the past year, Sinclair Broadcasting is making moves to become the new giant of right-wing media. Many are now calling Sinclair 'Trump TV.'
David D. Smith built Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. into the largest owner of television stations in the U.S. after taking over his father's television company (with his brothers) in the late 1980's.
With David as president and CEO, the Sinclair Broadcast Group blossomed to 59 stations in less than a decade. By 2014, that number had nearly tripled to 162. Smith stepped down earlier this year and became executive chairman.
The Smith family has heavily funded conservative Republican candidates. David Smith's Cape Elizabeth, Maine summer home, just 5 miles down the coast from Common Dreams' Portland office, regularly serves as a meeting place for right-wing politicians like Trump's HUD Secretary Ben Carson and conservative commentator Armstrong Williams.
Journalist David Zurawik, who has covered local television for roughly thirty years, is speaking out against Sinclair Broadcasting Group. In a recent segment on CNN on Sunday, Zurawik said:
âThey come as close to classic propaganda as I think Iâve seen in thirty years of covering local television or national television. Theyâre outrageous! Whatever the White House says, you know, President Trump believes there was voter fraud and he sets up this commission to get data from the states and the states rightfully push back because itâs very intrusive data â Boris Ephsteynâs piece on it ends with, the states should cooperate with President Trump.âAnd John Oliver took aim at the Sinclair Broadcasting group earlier this month, examining the far right stationâs ownership of many local TV news stations:
âNational cable news gets a lot of attention with their big budgets and their fancy graphics packages. Meanwhile, local news often has to do a lot more with a lot less.âThe Sinclair Broadcasting group has close ties to the Trump administration and is forcing local stations to air pro-Trump news segments. Trumpâs FCC chairman, Ajit Pai rolled back a key Obama administration regulation that had prevented Sinclair from further expansion. The green light from the Trump administration allowed Sinclair to purchase 42 more local stations from the Tribune Media company, extending its reach to 72 percent of American households.
Oliver went on to show clips of broadcaster Mark Hyman railing against âpolitical correctness and multiculturalismâ.
âHyman is a commentator and former executive at Sinclair Broadcast Group, and Sinclair may be the most influential media company youâve never heard of. Not only are they the largest owner of local TV stations in the country, they could soon get even bigger.âOliver's footage then showed multiple Sinclair broadcasters in different locales introduce a report about Michael Flynn, Trumpâs former national security adviser, by downplaying the investigation as just a âpersonal vendettaâ against Flynn.
They are called âmust-runs,â and they are sent every day to all the local stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting â video reports that are centrally produced by the company. Station managers around the country must work them into the broadcast over a period of 24 or 48 hours.
Today, the Portland Press Herald (Maine) reported:
Marc McCutcheon of South Portland was watching WGMEâs evening newscast as he has for half a century when something came on that shocked him..
|Fascism and the Denial of Truth|
SUBHEAD: Party polarization and gridlock in the US have created unsolved issues amenable to a Trump demagogue.
By Thomas Scott on 30 July 2017 for Truth Out -
Image above: Cover art for song release of "Demagogue" by Franz Ferdinand. From (https://rateyourmusic.com/release/single/franz-ferdinand/demagogue/).
What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they? These are the questions that the New York Times posed to Henry A. Wallace, Franklin Roosevelt's vice president, in April 1944.
In response, Wallace wrote "The Danger of American Fascism," an essay in which he suggested that the number of American fascists and the threat they posed were directly connected to how fascism was defined.
Wallace pointed out that several personality traits characterized fascist belief, arguing that a fascist is;
"one whose lust for money and power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends."Wallace also claimed that fascists "always and everywhere can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power."
Fascists are "easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact" (my italics), he contended.
Moreover, Wallace noted that fascists "pay lip service to democracy and the common welfare" and they "surreptitiously evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion."
Finally, Wallace identified that fascists' primary objective was to "capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they keep the common man in eternal subjection."
Wallace was writing in the context of an existential threat to democracy posed by Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan.
However, his essay is prescient in that he identified the existence of a domestic form of American fascism that emerged from the political context of enlightened thought, rule of law and limited government. Wallace drew a clear distinction between European fascism and the kind of fascism found in the United States.
Rather than resort to overt violence, American fascists would "poison the channels of public information," Wallace reasoned. Likewise, he argued that American fascism was generally inert, not having reached the level of overt threat that it had reached in Europe.
Despite this, Wallace argued that American fascism had the potential to become dangerous to democracy under that appropriate context; one in which a "purposeful coalition" emerges based on "demagoguery."
British historian Karl Polanyi has written in his seminal book, The Great Transformation, that fascism can emerge in a society in reaction to "unsolved national issues."
Party polarization and gridlock in the US have created unsolved issues concerning health care, immigration reform and the "war on terror." These volatile issues, in turn, have created the perfect political context for a demagogue to emerge in the United States.
With the election of Donald Trump, the purposeful coalition Wallace feared may have evolved. Trump is the first US president who has been seriously associated with fascist ideology.
His coalition of white supremacists, xenophobes, plutocratic oligarchs and disaffected members of the working class have aligned with the mainstream Republican Party.
The coalition's political philosophy, rooted in reactionary populism and "American First" sloganeering, has quickly led to the United States' systematic withdrawal from global leadership.
Coupled with a disdain for multilateral collaboration, a rejection of globalization, and a focus on militarism and economic nationalism, Trumpism has taken the country down the perilous path of national chauvinism reminiscent of previous fascist states like Spain under Franco, Portugal under Salazar, or Peronist Argentina.
Unlike past Republican and Democratic presidents, Trump has disregarded long-standing traditions related to political protocol and decorum in the realm of political communication. He routinely makes unsubstantiated claims about political rivals, questioning their veracity and ethics.
Trump's claim that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones during the 2016 campaign and that Obama refused to take action regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as Trump's incendiary tweets about federal judges who ruled against his executive orders on immigration, suggest a sense of paranoia commonly associated with autocrats.
Trump has demonstrated a fundamental ignorance of democratic institutions associated with the rule of law, checks and balances, and the separation of powers.
Common to autocratic leaders, Trump sees executive power as absolute and seems confounded when the legislative or judicial branches of government question his decisions.
Trump has seemed willing to ignore norms that are fundamentally aligned with US democracy: equality before the law, freedom of the press, individual rights, due process and inclusiveness.
Typical of all autocratic leaders, Trump has a deep-seated distrust of the media. Calling journalists "enemies of the people," Trump's incessant claims that media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post create "fake news" is a common attribute of authoritarian regimes.
In response to investigative reports that are critical of his administration, Trump engages in systematic tactics of disinformation. Trump has refined the art of evasion through communicating a multiplicity of falsehoods as a means of obfuscating charges of abuse of power and political misconduct.
The biggest dilemma for an autocrat is confronting the truth. Systematic strategies to implant misinformation have historically provided significant political dividends for demagogues.
From Trump's earliest forays in national politics, the truth was his biggest enemy.
Trump discovered in the 2016 campaign that the perpetuation of lies and deceit could be converted into political capital. Lying on issues actually generated support from Trump's political base, many of whom were low-information voters.
The hope by many that Trump would conform to traditional political norms once elected proved to be a chimera. Trump has obliterated the Orwellian dictum that lies are truth; in Trump's worldview, truth does not exist. It is seen as a political liability.
As president, the debasement of truth has become an important political strategy shaping much of his communication to the American public.
Purposeful deceit has become one of the primary means by which Trump energizes and excites his supporters. It is the catalyst that drives their emotional connection to Trump, who is insistent on "telling it like it is" and fighting for "the people" as a challenge to the political elite.
For Trump, facts mean nothing. They are contrary to the desires of his political base. Connecting to his base is visceral; intellectualism is the antithesis of Trump's immediate political objectives.
By denying the existence of truth-based politics, Trump solidifies his populist vision and perpetuates one of fascism's greatest mechanisms for acquiring absolute power: the force of emotion conquering the force of reason.
As Timothy Snyder states in his insightful book On Tyranny, "To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.
If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so."
Seen in this light, empirical evidence based on scientific investigation is superfluous; public policy is only useful when it is connected to human emotion and desire.
This is all that matters in Trump's vision for the US. As such, facts and scientific research are a ruse, a tool of the elite designed to consolidate power over "the people" and discredit Trump's "America First" policies.
Truth is a necessity for democracy because citizens depend on truth-based decision-making to achieve reasoned judgments about public policy. In the Trump administration, the eradication of fact-based communication has normalized the denial of truth.
As a result, democracy is clearly under siege. Henry Giroux makes an excellent argument when he writes, "normalization is code for retreat from any sense of moral or political responsibility, and it should be viewed as an act of political complicity with authoritarianism and condemned outright."
All Americans should take heed of this point. History has provided ample evidence of how institutional and civic complicity with autocratic rule erodes democracy.
However, history has also demonstrated how engaged citizens can mobilize to resist this erosion.
]As Snyder argues, in order to confront autocracy, citizens need to become aware that democracy can disappear and mobilize to stop such a disastrous turn of events. In the age of Trump, there is no time for complacency.
|Senator Cornhole Does The Wall Street Shuffle||It comes as no surprise to some of us that Texas' junior U.S. senator, John "Cornhole" Cornyn, is one of Congress' most servile right-wingers. But just how servile Sen. Cornhole is to the "repeal the New Deal" crowd on Wall Street wasn't quite apparent until the past week.|
In an e-mail to Texas MoveOn members, MoveOn Executive Director Justin Ruben of Austin wrote:
You're not going to believe this.
In the midst of an economic crisis caused largely by Wall Street greed, our senator skipped this week's vote on the stimulus plan so he could meet with â- wait for it â- Republican donors from Wall Street.
Sen. John Cornyn wasn't just fiddling while Rome burned -â he was actually hanging out with the arsonists.
He showed us that congressional Republicans aren't fighting for their constituents who got laid off or watched their retirement savings disappear or lost their health coverage. They're just looking out for their big-money corporate friends.
Ruben went on to say that MoveOn mounted a radio ad campaign that has aired in a few Texas markets -- it's surprising that they could find any in this state -- and solicited for contributions to help fund the campaign. If you're interested in helping, visit MoveOn.org.
For more details on the kind of right-wing pond scum Sen. Cornhole was cavorting with Monday, instead of being in Washington for the cloture vote on the stimulus package, here's a link to Ben Smith's blog on Politico.
I have no doubt about how Sen. Cornhole would have voted had he been there -- against anything President Barack Obama advocates. But the point is, he was elected to represent Texans, not the Wall Street high-finance goons who are largely responsible for the nation's economic debacle.
Here's your special Valentine, Texans, direct from loving Sen. Cornhole his own self. Just goes to show that being a right-wing Republican means never having to say you're sorry.
But I'll say it -- Sen. Cornhole, you're sorry.
|The New Anti-Americans||Just objecting to President Obama's plan for saving the economy and the world is not enough to be anti-American. Even publicly hoping, as Rush Limpballs does, that President Obama fails in everything he does is not enough to be anti-American.|
No, to be one of the New Anti-Americans, you must combine strong dissent toward our new President with a long record of condemning as anti-American all those who dissented against War Criminal, Constitution-Shredder and Traitor George W. Bush.
For all of us who spent the last eight years enduring verbal and even physical attacks because we dared to express our anti-war, anti-torture, pro-Constitution, anti-bush patriotism, Blue Girl has a rant that will make your heart soar.
I remember being one of the people who opposed this war from the outset. I remember a squareheaded asshole with a buzz cut pushing his bumper up against mine and trying to push me into traffic a few days before the war started because I had bumper stickers on my truck that said "No War On Iraq" and "Get Afghanistan Right" - when he sped away I saw his..."This time, Anti-War is Anti-American."
Read the whole thing.
Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.
|The Other Great Emancipator||Four thousand miles away from a tiny log cabin in the Kentucky woods, another Great Emancipator was born 200 years ago today.|
Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, corrected a 250-year-old injustice and set the nation on the path to the Inaguration of President Barack Obama.
But Charles Darwin freed human minds from the tyranny of religion, crowned two centuries of the Enlightenment, and ushered in the era of scientific reason.
So celebrate Darwin Day, and rejoice that our new President's vow to restore the primacy of science and facts honors both Great Emancipators.
|Fantasy Obama||The Rude Pundit on how Fantasy Obama would conduct tonight's press conference on the stimulus bill.|
As always, it's brilliant, dead-on and X-rated.
UPDATE, 5:30 a.m. Blue Girl live-blogged the press conference, and has has the full transcript as a bonus.
|New GOP Rules for Discussing the President||We're still trying to get used to the idea of Democratic nominee Barack Obama actually being President of the United States.|
To help us get acclimated, the wingnut freakazoids have kindly provided criticism that follows the new GOP Rules for Discussing the President. Steve Benen explains.
DEPT. OF POTS AND KETTLES.... Either the president's conservative critics have very short memories, or they assume we do.
|Judo the Anti-Choice Thugs: Pledge a Picket||Want an easy way to make freakazoid heads explode? Plus support an outrageously courageous woman providing unique health services to women in dangerous territory?|
Then pledge a picket!
Dr. Susan Wicklund, whose 2008 book This Common Secret, detailed her life as an abortion provider, has just opened a clinic in Livingston, Montana. Even before it opened on February 2nd, the clinic was being picketed by opponents of abortion rights. In the mail below, Wicklund's co-author, Montana writer Alan Kesselheim, explains how you can turn their protests peacefully against them. (I've pledged $1 per picketer. That puts me in a slightly weird position: Do I hope lots show up so the clinic gets plenty of cash, or few show up so that I can save mine?)
(Details after the jump.)
Dear Friends of Dr. Susan Wicklund:
I LOVE THIS! Go ahead, assholes: every day you picket that legal and necessary abortion clinic puts more money in the pockets of abortionists. Keep protesting. Bring all your friends and family, drag in strangers.
Make. My. Day.
Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic.
|Is A Capitalist Meltdown Upon Us?||I'll only be 53 on my next birthday in late July, yet it already seems like I've lived a tiring amount of history. Only 20 years ago, the world saw the meltdown of Soviet-style communism -- and many observers, largely neo-conservatives, interpreted that as an ideological culmination, "the end of history." There was even an influential book written with that title. (Does anyone remember that author now? And, does he want to remember that book? Yeah, I know -- Francis Fukuyama.)|
It appears that reversals of fortune can happen quickly. Now it looks like the allegedly venerable ideology of "free-market" capitalism is on the ropes, and in serious danger of going down. Who would have thought it?
Die-hard Marxists did. I've never been one of them, even as a long-ago radical all of 23 years old. I still know three people who have continued to call themselves Marxists in total defiance of dismissal or ridicule, and they are probably gloating a lot now. The economic train wreck they kept dogmatically predicting finally seems to be in front of us.
But even as America sleepwalked through our Second Gilded Age (circa 1981-2005), I grew skeptical of the Marxist vision. "Historical inevitability" always sounded like a religious tenet, without the pure superstition; and Marxism itself, a sort of quasi-religion for embittered atheists.
We should be as cautious about awarding hard-line socialists a victory here, as much as "we" (in the editorial sense) should have checked for our wallets the minute Reagan started talking about trickle-down and Phil Gramm started talking about deregulation. The past century should have taught us that the answer lies in between.
Starting with the excesses of laissez-faire: America has, for the past 30-ish years, seen the roller-coaster ride that happens with that sort of economic policy. An elite grows very rich, a minority near the bottom slips much further down, and most people tend to stagnate in the middle.
There are cycles of boom and bust. The booms are good for most people, but especially good for a few. The latter group inevitably forms a "Why Should I Have To Pay Taxes?" lobby and gets bonanzas from lawmakers eager to please. And since these are the people of ostentation and material success, their influence is great among fashionable "thinkers" of the day.
Now the big bust is upon us. It's a bit like 1933 all over again -- not as grim or total in devastation, but it's likely to get worse. President Barack Obama has warned us that this is so.
But history, with its entire lesson, should be heeded, and it seems like Obama is one who will do so.
There were very good reasons for the meltdown of the Soviet empire 20 years ago. Contrary to right-wing mythology, Reagan and his military buildup had little to do with it. Post-Soviet Russian economists recall the problems as internal, and any intellectually honest person knew what they were. There's no need for me to recite the litany here -- Americans heard it all for decades.
But, let's face it, die-hard socialists out there -- state-run enterprises have a poor track record. The employees seem to lack incentives to produce. Cooperatives tend to degenerate into personal conflict, power struggles and chaos. And as for the concentration of power in the hands of "vanguard revolutionaries" -- the horrors and enormities of that have been abundant just in the past century.
I don't think it's hard to argue for a sense of balance and measure. In America, it seems like the compromising wheeler-dealers -- the FDRs, the Trumans, the LBJs, the Ted Kennedys -- got more done for working Americans than any of our homegrown radicals ever did.
But there is little doubt that there's been a sea change, and it's been back toward socialist thinking. The Nobel Prize committees have not been known for their sympathy toward socialist-leaning economists, yet Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz has more or less come out in favor of the nationalization of U.S. banks. That would be a major step toward socialism of some fashion. Why not? We've just given the bastards $700 billion in taxpayer money to keep them in business. Here's a link to the interview with Stiglitz.
And, it appears that such state power would be the only thing to force the shameless swine who run these enterprises to behave themselves. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., made a speech on the Senate floor about the Wall Street oinkers who had themselves awarded $18.4 billion in bonuses while their enterprises got in on the aforementioned $700 billion, because of reckless and disastrous mismanagement. Here's another link to reports on this issue, and to a video of McCaskill's speech. Be patient, the video seems very rough.
So, what should be the ultimate American destination, in an era of "capitalist" meltdown? The Swedes, with a hybrid socialist-capitalist system, don't seem to do badly, with avowed Socialists predominantly in power since 1929. Their booms are smaller, but so are their busts. Their people don't live in fear of homelessness or inability to afford basic health care. Right-wing humorist P.J. O'Rourke, when asked about the Swedes' seeming happiness with their stable system, said that they are all insane -- but that their insanity is distributed equally among the people.
It's a funny line. But there's nothing funny about facing a mortgage foreclosure, or about the welfare rolls shrinking even as joblessness is rapidly expanding. With a growing U.S. underclass, it may be time to take a second look at the socialist mind-set -- despite the old Marxist baggage. Nobody requires us to go to extremes.
Crossposted at Manifesto Joe.
|One Click to Reach Your Elected Officials||Want to demand your House representative or Senators take action, but don't know how to get an email address for them quickly? Rejoice! The Nation brings you the one-click Congress.|
Just fill in your zip code, and the site immediately reveals your President, Senators and House Representative, with links to each one's email. You can click on one of The Nation's suggested email topics, like Hold War Criminals Responsible, or compose your own.
Use it tonight to tell Congress to pass the stimulus bill President Obama needs to save the country and the world.
|A Tale of Three Prayer Breakfasts||Three years ago, in 2006, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher's "Prayer Breakfast" was an orgy of sectarian bigotry, a greasy "fuck you" to everyone who didn't share the speakers' narrow conservative Southern Baptism, an object lesson in why combining religion and government is history's worst idea.|
This year, on the same day that invitations to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's "Prayer Breakfast" landed in state employees' email inboxes, The Economist brings us the latest lesson from President Obama, this one on how to do a "Prayer Breakfast" right, if you must do one at all.
I think the final proof that Barack Obama plans once and for all to elevate respect for Americans who don't practice a religion came at this morning's National Prayer Breakfast:There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where weâre going next â and some subscribe to no faith at all...
A notable repetitionânot just once, rote, but twice, to let you know he means it.
Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....
|"Are These Folks Serious?"||From the Huffington Post, "President Barack Obama says the time for talk on an economic recovery package is over and "the time for action is now." "|
Speaking at the Energy Department, Obama made a fresh plea for the stimulus plan that the Senate is debating. He cited the latest bad economic news of jobless claims as another reason for quick action.
|Why the Senate Must Pass the Stimulus Bill||First, check out USAToday's interactive map of how President Obama's stimulus bill will help your state.|
Then, watch TPM's interview with an expert who explodes the repug lies about the bill containing too much spending.
There is so much fog and uncertainty -- much of it intentionally injected into the debate -- about the different moving parts of the Stimulus Bill. But some of the broad outlines are arresting and straightforward.
And finally, read Bob Herbert on the danger of not putting enough money into infrastructure projects immediately.
We have infrastructure spending in the Democrats' proposed stimulus package that, while admirable, is far too meager to have much of an impact on the nation's overall infrastructure requirements or the demand for the creation of jobs.
And if you're still not persuaded, consider this: Mitch McConnell would give his left nut to kill the stimulus. What more reason do you need to support it?
Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.
|Strong Unions = Strong Economy||The key component to the repugs' three-decade War on the Middle Class is the destruction of unions.|
It's no coincidence that the strongest middle-class economy in American history co-existed with the strongest union membership. From World War II to the late seventies, more than a third of workers in the U.S. belonged to a union. That membership assured them the decent wage and benefits that allowed one salary to support a family in middle-class comfort: a house and yard in the suburbs, two cars, nice vacations, college education for 2.5 kids.
But an economy that expands the middle class contracts the rich. Corporate CEOs were only 10 or 20 times richer than their workers, instead of 100 or 1,000 times richer as they became after the repugs broke the back of unions.
Last week, President Obama took several long strides toward restoring a union-strong economy.
President Barack Obama signed a series of executive orders Friday that he said should "level the playing field" for labor unions in their struggles with management.
If you need more ammunition to refute the union-bashers, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich at TPMCafe explains Why We Need Stronger Unions and How to Get Them.
Why is this recession so deep, and what can be done to reverse it?
Read the whole thing.
Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....
|Progressive Progress in the Economic Stimulus||As the Senate girds for battle over the repug-sabotaged economic stimulus, Talking Points Memo brings us a reminder of the progressive priorities that made it into the House bill and deserve saving in the Senate.|
The Congressional Progressive Caucus just released a memo that offers a worthy counterpoint to our discussions today about the Republicans' baldly misleading message on the stimulus.
These are, of course, just a downpayment on the long list of repairs to the New Deal and Great Society needed after three decades of repug destruction.
But if these provisions remain in the final bill and President Obama signs it by Darwin Day, then I'd say we're well on our way to recovery.
|Some Bucking Up For Us Hand-Wringers||Bob Cesca at HuffPo reminds us that the repug rejection of the stimulus bill isn't the first time Barack Obama has seemed defeated, only to come roaring back in victory, and it probably won't be the last.|
There's a killer web graphic that was created back in the post-Republican Convention days while everyone was writing spasmodic, breathless "Obama should [fill in the blank]" blog entries and "Oh crap! We're gonna lose!" newspaper columns.
Read the whole thing.
|President Obama Makes His First Bill A Great One||As Salon's Joan Walsh recommends, watch this all the way to the end. This is what classy looks like.|
|President Obama Is Too Nice to Kentucky||President Barack Obama is a much better person than I could ever be. If the Democratic governor of a Democratic-registered state that had nevertheless voted overwhelmingly for my republican opponent in the last election begged me for help to get his backward state out of an emergency they had basically created themselves, I would not have been this nice:|
President Barack Obama last night approved Gov. Steve Beshear's request for an emergency Presidential Disaster Declaration that will expedite assistance to people in need across the commonwealth.
No, indeedy, I would not have been nice at all. I would have said something like this:
"Well, Steve, I see the mess you're in and it certainly is a nasty one. But I notice Kentucky had almost exactly the same mess six years ago, and its Democratic leaders made all kinds of promises about burying power lines to make sure this never happened again. Kentucky didn't keep a single fucking one of those promises, did it, Steve? Nope, it sure didn't. And here you are, in a shit hole any idiot could have predicted would happen again with the next ice storm.
"I really would like to help you, Steve, but I've got these Congressional republicans, including four house members and two Senators with KY next to their names, raking me over the coals for wanting to give money to people who don't deserve it. You know, people who promise to do better but don't, people who waste the opportunities they're given to improve themselves. I would just have a hard time explaining to Mitch and Jimbo and Eddie and Hal and Geoff and Brent why I'm helping that notorious welfare queen Kentucky when we all know she's never going to change her behavior.
"And even if I didn't care what the republicans thought, I've got the actual Democratic majority in Congress that would throw a hissy fit if I gave federal emergency status to a state the majority of whose registered Democrats voted just three months ago to re-elect the obstructionist, evil republican minority leader in the Senate.
"So you have my sympathy, Steve, but my hands are tied. See if you can't get your state to sit up straight and fly right for a while, and maybe elect a few actual Democratic candidates next year, then we'll see about letting you have a little money. Until then, you're on your own."
As a Kentuckian with no electricity since Tuesday and no hope of getting any in the foreseeable future, I am grateful that President Obama did not turn his back on the sure-to-be-ungrateful Commonwealth. But I wish he had found some way of using the Declaration to cudgel some sense into our state's so-called leaders.
Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....
|State of the Union Watch Party||Join fellow LBJ and Texas alumni on January 20th to watch President Obama address Congress. We will be joined by special guest, former Clinton Press Secretary,Â Mike McCurry, who will give remarks about what it was like to work on a State of the Union speech and answer questions. This event is being supported in part … Continue reading |
|The Presidential State Car - Obama's Whip||Just so everyone knows, I was away on vacation for the last week and a half, hence no updates during that time. But I did gather some material for a few new posts, so the wait will be worth it, I promise! Today I want to talk about the car used by the President of the United States. Why? Because I saw him in Manhattan, that's why! |
It was pretty crazy. Michelle and I were walking up 42nd Street after taking a look at the UN Building when some police cars started circling the block at 2nd Avenue. We weren't too sure what was going on, but I did learn that the NYPD owned a tow truck (taking up the caboose of the lights and sirens parade). We were also aware fairly quickly that something unusual was happening, as traffic on the streets started to clear out and police officers started blocking intersections.
We hunkered down at 42nd and 3rd Ave, and no sooner had we made that decision that the Presidential motorcade came peeling in up 3rd Ave and stopped in front of the Gap store. There were a few black SUVs and two massive limos with flags crowning the front fenders and the Presidential Seal on the doors. The emblem on the grill was Cadillac, but these were not your typical DTS coachwork limousines.
The limos were just huge, sat high and boxy with big rubber. I couldn't make out what model they were supposed to be. I thought they would just modify a regular car, but after seeing these I did a little bit of research. Turns out these things are custom built by GM. They used to modify production cars, but they couldn't handle the extra weight of everything needed to keep the President safe and were constantly breaking down.
Here are some figures (most of the actual details are classified):
- Weighs an estimated 15,000lbs
- Gets about 3-4 MPG
- Costs over a $1M each
- Armour plating on the doors is 8 inches thick
If you want to read more about the presidential cars, here's a link to a fairly informative article from Autoweek.com.
Once the cars pulled up, the entourage whisked Obama into the Gap store. I found out later that he was there to promote the Gap's recent pledge to raise the minimum wage of their employees to $10/hour. Here's an article that documented his visit.
While he was in the shop I took a video of the goings on outside.
You can see from my vantage point that getting a good line of sight on the President was pretty difficult (probably a good thing from a safety perspective). However, you can get a pretty good look at all the cars and staff required to transport the president. As you can imagine, it's quite the spectacle.
We did manage to get a glimpse of him getting into the store and I was able to see him through the heavily tinted windows of his car as he waved to the crowed during his escape.
Afterwards we continued on with our day in a state of shock. What are the odds that the President would roll up to the same intersection as us at pretty much the exact same time? Well apparently the odds were 100% that day.
|The Last Marriage Equality Watch â April 30th|
“…I may yet live to see gay marriage become a reality in the United States in my lifetime. And wouldn’t that be something.” Those were the words I wrote when we first started Marriage Equality Watch back in January 2008: before Prop 8, before President Obama was elected, before Mark and I were married, when […]
|Malala Yousafzai and the Missing Brown Savior Complex||On October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman accosted a bus carrying 15 year-old Malala Yousafzai and her schoolmates, and coldly shot them at close range. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan not only claimed responsibility for the blatant assassination attempt of the teenage education activist, but as it emerged that Malala would survive the attack, the movement also reiterated its desire to kill her. Miraculously through the efforts of friends and family, the local community in Swat Valley where she is from and where she was shot, and the Pakistani army that airlifted her to Peshawar, Malala Yousafzai survived (as did the other victims). Given the seriousness of her condition, it was imperative she was treated by the best doctors, and a generous gesture by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi allowed her to be flown by air ambulance to England for major surgery. Fast forward just one year later, Malala has recovered and is even more emphatic in her message against the Taliban, promoting the empowerment of young women like her across Pakistan, and all around the world. And expectedly, the global media, including The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, have been celebrating her courage (perhaps caught in the moment of it all).|
Great story, right? And what could be wrong about the alleged 'overexposure' of a young girl expressing words of peace and fighting for girls' education against a religious patriarchy? Apparently a lot. In fact, in Pakistan and in her hometown, her global coronation is treated with derision: "Malala is spoiling Pakistan's name around the world." Others have more sinister accusations of a CIA conspiracy involving both Malala and the gunman, claiming the entire affair is a Western plot. Yet, in recent days, an article written by a blogger in July on Huffington Post has been making the rounds on social media, entitled, "Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex." It argues, "Please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala."
The truth is there is no white savior coming for Pakistan or for any Muslim country, the vast majority of which are characterised by pernicious politics, inequitable economics, and irrational intolerance. Lecturing the chattering classes about geopolitical realties and distributing treatises on Western imperialism won't change anything. Fundamentally it will only be the indigenous leadership - helped or not helped by outsiders - that will drive change. Yet, when leaders do emerge, it seems that the local media (and now social media) are pre-occupied with tearing them down rather than building them up. People instead squander their energy on misguided diatribes, as the case of Malala has unfortunately shown. The real reason that the 'white savior complex' even is relevant is that we fail to champion the very 'brown saviors' in our midst.
Malala Yousafzai was thrust into the spotlight after her initial attack, which was so jarring that all Pakistani leaders came out in strong condemnation. Then Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari - himself a questionable character to say the least - labelling the attack as one against "all civilized people." Prior to the attack, Malala had rose to prominence as an activist, encouraged by her father, for girls education and against the policies and values of the Taliban, which was why she was targeted in the first place. Without picking up a gun, her message was considered a threat to their movement, which is amazing in it of itself. Yet, it was on July 12 earlier this year, speaking on her birthday to the United Nations that Malala brought tears to the eyes of millions of people around the world. Having remarkably recovered from her wounds (and having undergone partial facial reconstruction), and still facing death threats, Malala stood steadfast in front of a global audience, and spoke with fortitude and confidence: "The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions but nothing changed in my life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born."
It was such a powerful moment, that almost every international news outlet carried the speech of this young woman live across the world. And for the first time in a long time, the Pakistani and Muslim in the spotlight was not an extremist but someone standing up to extremism. The plaudits continued to come, especially in the last few weeks, as Malala released a book about her experience and was awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize from the European Union. In fact, she was the rumored favorite for the Nobel Peace Prize, which in the end was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in a surprise but perhaps deserving win. Of course, the Western media in particular have a penchant for over-hyping (if not over-milking) and over-sensationalizing such stories of heroism. And it will be very difficult for Malala to not only live up to such hype but also to prevent the perception that she is over-shadowing other deserving heroes. Yet, is that not the story of all figures of change who inspire us? Was Nelson Mandela really the only Black leader in South Africa's prisons? Was Martin Luther King Jr. the only individual marching in the South? Was Aung San Suu Kyi the only fighter for freedom in Burma?
It does seem increasingly, however, that Malala is a leader denied a strong constituency back home. It is easy to dismiss the allegations that she is a CIA agent - although the photo-op with the Obama's won't help - as well as the gloating of Taliban supporters after she was not awarded the Nobel Prize. Yet it is harder to dismiss the cacophony of criticism in Pakistan, in Swat Valley, and on the social media pages of Pakistanis, and for that matter, Muslims from around the world. As one government official said: "Everyone knows about Malala, but they do not want to affiliate with her." The primary complaints include the following:
As with most disinformation campaigns, this one is based on kernels of truth. For starters, the world does neglect the stories of deserving others. One such example would be of the tour-de-force Pakistani social worker Parveen Rehman who was shot dead in Karachi earlier this year. Additionally, it has been the Western media that has largely driven the popular support for Malala globally; that, however, has to be attributed to the dismal failure of the Pakistani media to not do so instead (in my humble opinion). Finally, and the most valid critique is that the story of Malala should not negate the very pivotal role the United States and the West has played and continues to play in creating the current perilous conditions in Pakistan and in contributing to the deaths of innocents there, and in other countries.
Firstly, U.S. policy has been heavily involved in the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan, which it tacitly supported alongside Saudi Arabia and Pakistan's intelligence service in the mid-1990s. Moreover, the United States and Saudi Arabia (and some other Western and Muslim powers) cooperated to support radical jihadism (even printing textbooks to that effect for Afghanistan) and Islamism as a bulwark against the Soviet Union and communism. In fact, Israel also supported the radical group Hamas as a counterweight to the secular Fatah movement of then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Yes, the world was and is screwed up, and the powers of the world have much complicity in that.
Secondly, and more importantly, the military operations carried out by the U.S. in particular in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq have led to thousands of deaths of innocent people in recent years. These actions have largely gone unpunished and the victims have been forgotten. Certainly it is not just the Taliban that are killing and the world cannot dispense justice selectively.
Does saying all of that make Malala Yousafzai any less of a hero (or heroine)? Is her courage dimmed by the crimes of others? Is her movement for the empowerment of young girls in Pakistan any less important? Of course not. Criticisms of the West will bring no one closer to emancipation. And it cannot mask the very pure fact that today's purveyors of disaster and death in the world also include Muslims.
Who bombed the church in Peshawar slaughtering 85 worshippers? Who attacked Westgate Mall in Nairobi killing dozens of innocents? Who murders dozens of men, women and children in Iraq every week? When a Muslim rises up - a so-called brown savior - to fight such crimes and the movements behind them, we should put him or her on our shoulders and not try to chase that person into the darkness. There is no shame in admitting Brown and Muslim guilt in the world's crimes, and it does not negate the wider reality and context around the violence that does occur. In fact, our fear of partial guilt in particular should not misguidedly cause us to throw out the very sparse examples of (counter-) leadership in Muslim countries that emerge and strike fear in the heart of radical extremists.
It has become far too easy on all sides to blame the other rather than introspect inward. Above all, instead of blaming the West for its 'white savior complex' maybe it's time to develop our own brown savior complex to save ourselves from ourselves.
|Waiting for Obama: The Arab World and Intervention|
|10 Questions on the Conflict in Syria||A potential military strike by Western powers on Syria now appears to be a fait accompli and is being touted as long overdue. Given the spiralling humanitarian disaster that has overtaken the country during the last two years of conflict, continued inaction appears to be an untenable reality. The death toll is now well over 100,000 (although the proportion of civilians to combatants is unclear). There are 2 million refugees, half of whom are children, and over 4 million more internally displaced persons (IDPs), amounting to a quarter of the country's overall population. Yet, it was the apparent chemical weapons attack in the suburbs around Damascus known as Ghouta last week that has served as the impetus for international military intervention into the conflict. Amidst the rhetoric and war rehearsals, clarity on what is really happening seems to be cast aside in the media, in favor of faux-spontaneous leaks, retired generals, and trumpeters of past wars. Here are ten questions to try to set the record straight.|
1. Were chemical weapons used in Syria?
When the initial attack unfolded last Wednesday, August 21 in the suburbs in Damascus known as Ghouta (near the town/suburb of Jobar), news quickly spread to local, regional and international media. Claims were made of hundreds of deaths, with some activists claiming the death toll was 1,300. Moreover, the Government of Syria immediately denied responsibility and has continued to do so. However, the attack did unfold amidst a series of army strikes on Jobar, which is a rebel-held area, and has been for quite some time. The Government conversely claimed to find chemical weapons supplies in tunnels in the same area, and it is alleged that some Hezbollah fighters were also exposed to chemical toxins.
A week on, it appears incontrovertible that chemical weapons were used, not just from YouTube videos but also from visits by independent journalists, and of course by a report by MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res that has documented at least 355 deaths from local hospitals. It is likely that the chemical agent used was a neurotoxin or nerve gas, most likely sarin gas. What is still not clear, is how they were delivered (i.e. in what form and carried on what type of weapon) and from where.
It should also be kept in mind that this was not the first attack that has been alleged. There have been numerous claims by rebels, and counter-claims by the government on the use of chemical weapons in the conflict. Here's a map of those events. In fact, this is precisely why the team of UN inspectors had arrived in the country, the day before this latest incident (and massacre) took place. In fact, what is interesting is that their investigation of other sites has now been put on the back-burner due to the latest developments.
2. Do we know who actually used the chemical weapons?
The United States, United Kingdom, and France have all stated they are certain that the Government of Syria has undertaken the attack last week. On the U.S. side, at the forefront of the rhetoric has been Vice President Biden - who has said there is 'no doubt' - and Secretary of State John Kerry, who made an evocative plea for action several days ago. Of course, the next speech is the most important, and it would be one made by President Barack Obama. In light of this certainty, it would be difficult to question the attribution of blame. A leak from the US government also claims to have intercepted a murky call between commanders in the Syrian army that supposedly is evidence of culpability on the Syrian side.
There is tremendous reason to doubt U.S. claims. Firstly, it should not be forgotten that then Secretary of State Colin Powell presented ironclad evidence to the United Nations Security Council of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that Saddam Hussein possessed, a finding that was later proven to be utterly false, but which was the basis of a war that continues until today. Secondly, the U.S. claimed that there was incontrovertible proof that the Government of Syria was responsible for earlier chemical attacks this year, but that finding has been contested, and some experts apportioned blame to the rebels fighting the government. And finally, in this case, no evidence has been presented, as of yet to make such a determination, at least not conclusively.
Does that mean the Assad and his regime are not responsible? No. It is very likely given the ongoing military operations in the same area that the Syrian government launched such an attack. Yet, more evidence needs to be presented to make a definitive conclusion. The other scenarios that could be possible are:
- Extremists groups like Jubhat al-Nusra, who have previously seized advanced weaponry and possibly chemical weapons from Syrian army bases and positions, were attempting to use them on Syrian soldiers (or conversely to cast blame on the Syrian army);
- The Government of Syria inadvertently hit a stockpile of sarin gas releasing the toxins (although unclear if this would lead to the effects that we've seen); or
- Rogue elements within the chain of command used chemical weapons intentionally or inadvertently.
Russia, Iran and China have of course cast doubt on western claims but that is to be expected.
3. What would be the basis or justification for US intervention?
The U.S. intervention would likely be on the basis of Obama's previously stated red line on Syria, which would be the mass use/movement of chemical weapons. It is not in fact about humanitarian intervention and the Responsibility to Protect framework, developed in the 1990s to prevent genocide and mass civilian deaths. If it was, then the humanitarian case for intervention has been present for some time, and other massacres by the Syrian regime, such as in Houla in 2012, would have provided sufficient pretext. Obviously, the U.S. and other Western powers, and regional countries, have their own interests at play that are much more geopolitical in nature, but the justification or casus belli being offered is around the issue of chemical weapons, and chemical weapons alone.
4. Will anybody else be involved in the military strikes besides the US and will this affect whether they are 'legal'?
Given Russian and Chinese opposition, and a likely veto of any resolution by the United Nations Security Council supporting such a military strike on Syria - especially in light of the intervention in Libya, which Russia regretted supporting - a 'coalition of the willing' will need to be developed. This coalition would be broader than the Iraq War in 2003, and would be similar to the coalition carrying out the strikes against Serb positions vis-a-vis Kosovo in 1999. While the U.S., U.K. and France will likely lead an effort, Turkey would also be critical as a staging ground (as it borders Syria from the North), and thus there will be an attempt to launch such an attack under the auspices of NATO. Despite its reluctance, Jordan, given its reliance on the U.S. and Saudi Arabia politically and economically, will have no choice but to support . The two other neighbours of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are squarely against any military strike. And of course, the other neighbor - Israel - would sit this one out but would provide intelligence to the U.S. and other parties on Syrian positions, given that it has already undertaken a number of air strikes on Syria in the past two years.
Further afield, it is likely the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) will support military intervention, with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates possibly sending fighter jets to participate in a strike to give it regional cover and credibility. Finally, while many groups within the Arab and Muslim world, and the 'left' of the West, will oppose military intervention, many others will support it, because of the spiralling humanitarian situation in Syria.
Technically speaking if the military intervention is not sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, and there is no imminent threat that the U.S. and other parties can point to towards its own territory or its assets, it would be illegal under international law. However, that has not stopped NATO or other countries (i.e. Russia in Georgia) form undertaking military action in the past. And before the Iraq War, some scholars claimed that while such an attack would be illegal it would be legitimate, and demonstrated retroactively to be legal. Given the state of world affairs, 'legality' is likely not a determining factor for a strike on Syria.
5. Are we seeing a repeat of Iraq in 2003?
No. The situation today with Syria is different than it was in 2003 in Iraq, for many reasons, despite some passing similarities. In Iraq, the U.S. claimed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction while in Syria, we already know Bashar al-Assad possesses chemical weapons, and the question is whether he used them (small aside, it was released this week that thirty years ago, the U.S. obstructed a UN investigation when it knew Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons). In Iraq, the U.S. alleged that Saddam Hussein had links with Al Qaeda (and related groups), while in Syria, Bashar al Assad is widely acknowledged to be fighting Al Qaeda (and related groups) in addition to the 'Free Syrian Army' (and in addition to crushing peaceful demonstrators). In Iraq, there was no active state of conflict that was leading to a spiralling humanitarian catastrophe (and the potential use of WMDs), while in Syria there is not just a violent conflict, but also WMDs have been used by somebody (even if the culprit is not yet clear).
What should be noted, however, is that both Iraq in 2003 and Syria in 2013, are in complex environments, and any removal of government or sustained military intervention would have dramatic unforeseen consequences. It seems like the media debate in the U.S. is also similarly anaemic (but slightly better) this time around.
6. What is the real motivation for the United States and other powers?
As with all things in this world when it comes to international relations, the primary interest is not humanitarian but geopolitical. This is not absolute, however, and it could be argued that Turkey has been insisting on humanitarian intervention from an early stage. However, the regimes (not peoples) in the Gulf, most notably Saudi Arabia, are exclusively concerned with dislodging Syria from the Iranian orbit, and severing connections between Syria and Hezbollah. Humanitarian concerns are a by-product. And for the United States, something similar is at play. As noted above, if this was about humanitarian concerns, action would have been taken long before 100,000 deaths had occurred.
For the U.S. it has been looking for regime change in Syria for a while. However, these strikes if they occur, will be about sending a message and asserting America's position in the Middle East, given the red line that Obama drew. Ultimately, it may tip the scales in the rebels favour or improve the U.S.'s negotiating position vis-a-vis Iran. The chemical weapons attack in a morbid way, opened a door of opportunity for Western powers (with GCC support) to do something limited without a full-scale intervention.
7. Will military intervention solve the Syrian conflict?
No. Military intervention no matter how small or how big will not solve the Syrian conflict. In fact, it could very much exacerbate the situation on the ground even further (if that can be imagined). What is being reported currently is that the U.S. and allies will undertake a series of 'surgical strikes', a euphemism for a large-scale assault on key military and strategic installations, such as army positions, air bases, radar installations, communications infrastructure, supply routes, and, where appropriate, power stations (among other targets). More than anything this will be intended to send a message to the regime and weaken its capabilities. Yet, it would not be a fatal blow. And it would not necessarily tip the scales in favor of the rebels. It may in fact mobilize certain parties to support the regime, if there are civilian casualties from the intervention.
The solution to the Syrian situation has to be political, if it is going to lead to stability or peace. Yet, if the military intervention escalated and led to the removal of the Syrian regime, that would still not be the end of the conflict. After the Soviets were booted out of Afghanistan, the country devolved into a civil war for five years until the rise of the Taliban in 1996. Somalia has only recently stabilised (somewhat), more than 20 years after the assassination of its leader, President Siad Barre. And neighboring Lebanon, took 15 years of conflict (1975-1990) to reach an end, which was brought about by ironically Syrian military intervention (which committed its own crimes), that produced a - audible gasp - political settlement.
8. What could potentially go wrong?
Everything. The potential for disaster following military intervention in any country is great (see Black Hawk Down, Iraq, Afghanistan and the list goes on). Yet, in Syria it could be apocalyptic. Here is a list of what that could entail:
- Chemical weapons are used by Syria against its neighbors such as Jordan and Turkey, or U.S. military positions in those countries;
- U.S. planes/helicopters are shot down leading to an escalation of U.S. involvement requiring boots on the ground;
- Syria sends a volley of missiles into Tel Aviv and other places in Israel, leading to a regional war;
- Proxy forces of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, launch a sustained campaign against Israel/U.S. interests, including attacks embassies within Lebanon/Palestine/Israel but also in other countries, in the short and medium-term;
- Al Qaeda forces in the region, while opposing the Assad regime, oppose U.S. intervention especially if there are masses of civilian casualties, and use it as a pretext for attacks in places such as Yemen;
- Russia objects to the U.S. strike, and mobilizes warships to the Mediterranean, leading to a standoff with Europe and the U.S.;
- Negotiations with Iran, still in embryonic stages are suspended irrevocably;
- Six party talks with North Korea are suspended by Russia, China, and North Korea irrevocably;
- The Syrian regime goes all out in its conflict and begins to bomb with even more abandon civilian areas controlled by rebels, leading to thousands of casualties, and counter-massacres by enraged rebel fighters;
- The Syrian regime is removed by force from power by the intervention, leading to a power vacuum sinking the country further into civil war for over a decade of even more violent strife and a possible Al Qaeda style government;
- Tensions rise in the Middle East, especially in places of sectarian division (i.e. Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia, and Iraq) leading to civil strife and attacks on governments, and counter-attacks on populations; and
- World War 3.
9. What could potentially go right?
It may seem that what is written above is slightly alarmist and that's true. Many things can go wrong (most of which, to be honest, are hard to predict as they will be unforeseen consequences or as Donald Rumsfeld, ironically calls them, unknown unknowns). However, the U.S.-led strikes could be quite effective. Firstly, if they are limited in scope, they can be completed in one day, reducing the risk for a military entanglement and civilian casualties. Secondly, if they are from the air, there is limited risk for casualties on the side of the intervening forces. Thirdly, an attack that is forceful and hits Syrian military positions, will send a message to Assad that there is a limit to what he can do, which thus far has not been the case, and may entice him to reach a political settlement. Fourthly, it is unlikely that the Syrian regime would retaliate, for a short strike on positions, against Israel, knowing that they cannot afford to fight a war on so many fronts (and thus far they have yet to retaliate to any Israel air strike). Finally, the systematic destruction of Assad's air capabilities could be instrumental in limiting civilian casualties by the regime in the future.
All of this is one possibility of what could occur.
10. Let's cut to the chase - should I support or not support military intervention?
There is no clearcut answer. Ultimately, military intervention should not be supported as a solution to the Syrian conflict. It is not, and whether we like it or not, a political solution/settlement is the only way the current situation moves towards peace and stability. The U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban. The Vietnamese negotiated with the U.S. The Lebanese negotiated with each other. The Dayton Accords to end the Bosnian War were signed with Slobodan Milosevic. It may not be easy, it may be unlikely, and it will not work perfectly, but political discussions involving all parties is the only way to find a real solution.
That being said, if a case is made with overwhelming evidence by independent parties (not U.S. conjecture) that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime, then military intervention on a limited scale, and for a period of 1-2 days only, should be undertaken, ideally with UN support - and if not with broad support of half of the members, i.e. 90, of the UN General Assembly to demonstrate legitimacy - against military targets only, which will both send a message about the use of these weapons and damage the capabilities of Assad.
What is clear is that whatever happens, there are no clear answers with regards to the conflict in Syria.
|The Middle Eastâs New Divide: Muslim Versus Muslim|
This article appears on Al-Monitor.com, where you can find the full version.
On June 8, a devastating clash between residents and militia members erupted at the headquarters of the Libya Shield Brigade in Benghazi, Libya, leaving dozens dead and scores more injured. Meanwhile, the next day on the Sunday talk show circuit in the United States, amid continued partisan discussion of the September 2012 consulate attack in Benghazi, there was scant mention of the major clash from the day before. The disconnect exemplified the chasm between the new battle lines on the ground across the Middle East and the political discourse a world away.
For much of the last decade, most have digested the narrative of a Muslim-West divide. It was so pervasive that newly elected US President Barack Obama, portrayed as a symbolic messiah bridging two worlds, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize before even completing a year of his term. Twelve years after the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks, much of the discussion about the "Muslim world" has internalized this language, and why not? The conflict between the Palestinians and US-supported Israel remains unresolved, US drone strikes continue unabated in Pakistan and Yemen and terrorist attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing are still occurring in deadly fashion.
These days, however, one is more likely to see the burning of a Syrian government flag than an American flag amid the worldâs deadliest ongoing conflict, for which the United States is criticized primarily for not intervening. One is more likely to see Iraqis killed in a terrorist attack than Americans. In fact, in recent years approximately 90% of terrorism-related fatalities have been Muslim. One is more likely to see the demonization of a Shiite than a Jew by an extremist Muslim ideologue. The battle lines have shifted from Islam versus the West to Muslim versus Muslim, and it is time for politicians and pundits in the United States and the Middle East alike to catch up.
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/new-middle-east-muslim-versus-muslim.html#ixzz2c5fRQCzj
|In Egypt, is the only way forward out of the question?||It was clear that this would be no ordinary Friday (on July 5), given all the recent events the past week in Egypt. The holy Muslim day has served, for all sides, as a critical time to mobilize demonstrations. Yesterday was no different. Masses of supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, gathered outside the Rabaa al-Adawiyah Mosque in Nasr City, an area in Cairo just several kilometres from the famed Tahrir Square. Their chants grew louder throughout the day, with a series of speeches by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, culminating in the fiery (oral) missive by the Supreme Guide of the movement, Mohammed Badie. It was a day of "rejection," called for by supporters of Morsi, and the rejection was vociferous and real. That rejection and its swell of supporters, later in the evening, marched down the October 6 Bridge towards Tahrir Square. Already earlier in the day, unarmed demonstrators from the pro-Morsi camp had been shot dead (as seen in this graphic video here) when coming too close to military positions. By nightfall, the two camps - the pro-Tamarod (or rebellion) groups in Tahrir & the pro-Morsi demonstrators - were in full-fledged street battles, not just in Cairo but in Alexandria and other cities as well, leaving 30 people dead.|
If there's a lesson (for post-revolutionary contexts) to be taken from the past week it is that 'impatience' is not a virtue. The military takeover of the Egyptian government - albeit fuelled by a legitimate and popular uprising - did not resolve anything but it definitely made things worse. Instead of hitting the reset button, Friday's clashes have shown that Pandora's Box is now wide open. In the midst of growing uncertainty, there would appear to be only one way forward and that is the immediate return to democratic legitimacy, whether through the re-running of a presidential election or a referendum on Mohammad Morsi. Everything else is a red herring, including discussion on whether what transpired in the last few days was a military coup.
There is no question that the movement to oust President Morsi was a popular uprising. Driven by deep frustration from political overreach (by Morsi) starting in November 2012 and exacerbated by worsening living conditions, millions of people joined the Tamarod movement, culminating in the Tahrir protests that coincided with Morsi's one year mark in office (more on this is available in a previous post). Yet, two things should have been clear: 1) Removing an elected President, no matter how unpopular, is not easy; and 2) There was a popular base that still supported President Morsi. On Friday, the latter disenfranchised group, perhaps the same that saw "their" democratically elected parliament invalidated back in September 2012 by the courts, now saw "their" democratically elected President overthrown. Add to that, the Constitution that was passed with 64% support of the vote was essentially also declared null and void by the armed forces, to be re-drafted or amended by a select committee.
To believe that an 85 year old movement - the Muslim Brotherhood - flanked by its supporters and with the winds of at least electoral legitimacy in their sails, would take these developments lying down, would have been naive. And if the face of this change for all intents and purposes was the very armed forces that have essentially dominated Egypt since 1952, than certainly it would raise the spectre of forceful if not violent resistance. Thus, what has unfolded so far in Egypt on Friday is completely expected and moreover, is a reaction that will only deepen and grow. Furthermore, there is an absence of a 'neutral' authority, as the military appears to have chosen one side in this clash of camps, especially as it is arresting leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in the interim.
And so we arrive at the inevitable question: How bad can it really get? Despite the fact that the Brotherhood was ruling 'non-inclusively' and without an effective plan for the government, there is no basis to argue that what has replaced it is anymore inclusive (in fact likely the opposite) and has any clearer plan or set of policies for the country. The country is divided and there is no broader political or democratic legitimacy for the military transition, beyond the assumption that it represented the popular will; but can the latter be proved? We hear numbers such as 33 million bandied about but not only are these figures not based on any tangible scientific analysis (see Wired for how to measure people in Tahrir Square) but they are assuredly less 'legitimate' than an actual vote.
With both sides claiming popular support and the cringe-inducing word (thanks to Morsi's speech), 'legitimacy, the clashes that began Friday will not end and if anything, they will escalate (or become something even more dangerous if driven underground). There are 93 million people in Egypt, and each confrontation will lead to more deaths, more 'martyrs', and more outraged friends, supporters, and families. Each week that passes will only deepen the divide and the division, ultimately rooting out the basis for any coexistence in the near-term. Civil disobedience, will turn into civil strife, and civil strife could turn into, yes, civil war (a distant but real possibility). There are multiple videos emerging of salafi-jihadi style groups seeking to exploit this moment, and resort to outright violence against the governing authorities. While naysayers may be right that Egypt will not turn into Syria tomorrow, each day that passes without resolution, the disintegration of the state becomes an evermore possible scenario. And if that happens, the consequences will be unimaginable.
There then appears to be only one way forward and that is the immediate (or urgent) return to a democratic process. While there are some who have cheerleaded the military takeover and the appointment of Adly Mansour, not only does this not have broad-based (mind universal) support within Egypt, but the continuation of this process in its current form, will only destabilize the country further. Given that the unquestioned return of Mohammed Morsi to the presidency would also only inflame tensions within the previous opposition, the only way forward is to hold a referendum with the following question:
1) Do you support Mohammed Morsi finishing his full-term as President of Egypt?
It is a direct question on the mood in Egypt, and the answer given, while not quelling all unrest, would provide the legitimacy to any transitional period that would follow (that is if the people answered no). With this referendum in tow, the country could move towards new presidential elections under a carefully managed process or continue with Morsi's presidency, with guarantees that he would govern much more inclusively (if the answer is yes). Yet, who will press for this type of solution, both internally and externally? On an international level, thus far, the U.S. has appeared "aloof", the Europeans "ineffective," and the Arab states mostly partisan. And while the African Union, which has dealt with such situations previously and has come out strongly on the current situation, likely has less influence in Egypt. Thus the reality should dawn on all Egyptians and all political forces within the country that there will be no basis for compromise or true salvation, if it does not emanate from within Egypt itself.
There will be many analyses made in the coming days around definitions and comparisons. Yet, fundamentally, Egypt is not Iran in 1980 or Algeria in 1991 or Turkey in 1997. It is Egypt in 2013, as hollow as that sounds - but that is the truth through which everything flows. And any resolution that emerges, must come from within the forces of Egypt in 2013. With Nelson Mandela, appearing to be on his deathbed (and our prayers with him), it is worth heeding, in closing, some of his words of wisdom, in this crisis:
"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."
|Another Coup for the Outgoing Emir of Qatar||In July 2010, the (now outgoing) Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, traveled to South Lebanon to bask in the gratitude for his country's largesse in supporting reconstruction following the Israeli bombardment just four years earlier. The $300 million (and beyond) committed by the Gulf state was very much appreciated by the Shiite armed movement Hezbollah, who ensured billboards in the South and on Airport Road in Beirut were decorated with notes of thanks to the Emir. It was a conspicuous visit because Qatar had stood out amongst the GCC in taking a strong if not controversial stand. Hand-in-hand with Hezbollah, the Emir, was not apparently one of the "half-men" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pointed to in the Gulf during the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war. In fact, the Emir and Assad were quite close, if not close friends, and were frequently in touch. |
Yusuf al-Qaradawi who recently called for a Sunni-led jihad, and allying almost openly with Muslim Brotherhood movements in the region (which brought criticism from people as far afield as Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef), has increasingly prompted the question: Has the politically adept Qatar lost its touch?
Once again, however, the Emir of Qatar (who I'll refer to by his initials HBK) shocked the region with another unprecedented move - this time the transfer of power to his 33-year old son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (the 'new Emir'). In doing so, HBK put Qatar back on the political front-foot and raised the pressure on regional allies. And in typical style, he added another deft touch in his address to the nation with a quote (and the only quote outside from scripture) from Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph in Islam and the first Imam of the Shi'a Muslims: 'Teach your children other than that what you were taught; as they are created for a time other than yours."
It was nearly 18 years to the day, on June 27, 1995 [although official Qatari sites list his 'start-date' as June 26] that the outgoing Emir, HBK, came to power in a bloodless coup with the aid of his current outgoing Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamid bin Jassim al-Thani (HBJ) and other figures. He dislodged his father, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, at the time, under largely benign circumstances but also as Qatar was starting to truly increase its economic base. When HBK took the reigns, the country was bit-player on the regional scene, with a GDP of $8bn. Today, the country is a regional powerhouse, punching far above its weight with a GDP in upwards of $170bn. The transformation, after HBK's rise, began in a number of areas:
Yet, while the transformation of Qatar happened on several levels - and Sheikha Moza led a number of key initiatives that have separately built up the profile of the country - the Prime Minister & Emir particularly forged a formidable political duo, implementing a plan for political leadership which led to alternating reactions of admiration and consternation in the region. HBK & HBJ became in recent years, the guiding and influencing force on a number of key regional files. It was a strategy of multi-faceted engagement and relevance, often replete with paradoxes, that even until now has confounded observers and analysts, who were always late to the party in understanding and engaging with Qatar.
For example, while condemning Al Jazeera Arabic for links to Al Qaeda, the U.S. government in September 2002 began moving its Central Command (CENTCOM) Headquarters in part to Doha. Qatar maintained an Israeli trade office since the late 1990s (closing intermittently during the Intifada and in 2009 during the Gaza War), while also building up relations with Hamas throughout the 2000s. The country maintained strong links within the GCC, and also with Sunni allies such as leader of the Future Party Saad Hariri, but in 2008 it was their ties with Hezbollah that allowed them to forge the Doha Agreement, averting what could have been a dark period of civil strife in Lebanon. There was no end to the political engagement: peace talks on Darfur, engagement with the Taliban, mediation between Chad and Sudan, and the list goes on.
On the political level, while the period prior to the Arab awakening was characterized by engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders, in early 2011, it seemed that Qatar was starting to play a much more partisan role. Previous allies such as Syria's Assad, and Libya's Gaddhafi fell by the wayside very quickly, with Qatar in fact leading efforts in the fight to topple both dictators. And in other 'revolutionary' environments such as Egypt and Tunisia, where the ruling parties are Islamist, Qatar has become the political football for its perceived support for Islamist movements. Critics ask why figures like Qaradawi (mentioned above) are based in Qatar? Why was the state mosque in Doha named after the founder of Wahhabism, the particularly conservative brand of Islam, in 2011? And why has a station like Al Jazeera portrayed only one side of the story, often with an 'Islamic' bent, the last two years especially?
Yet, the criticism has only grown commensurate with the prominence of Qatar in the region. On one hand, the policies of Qatar were simply part of its strategy of engagement in the region, to demonstrate leadership but also fundamentally relevance - important for a small country that previously lived in the shadow of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Arab uprisings and subsequent rise of Islamist movements in the region was a tremendous opportunity for Qatar to provide indispensable leadership. Yet, leadership and unique prominence, has consequences, and it is likely that the inflection point of a transfer of power, provides a moment for reflection, especially as the region comes to terms with its new (and oft-changing) dynamics. What was immensely popular in late 2011 no longer is definitively so. For example, in Egypt, President Morsi's approval rating has notably dropped from 70% to 40%.
Thus, the transfer of power to a new ruler, in Sheikh Tamim, means that Qatar can assess its strategic position and alignment. Perhaps, the country could benefit from a broader engagement given rising divisions in the region, and once again capture the role of lead mediator? Domestically, Sheikh Tamim will play close attention to catalyzing the role of his generation in the country's leadership. After all, Qatar had yet to enact the legislative or Shura Council that HBK promised when he rose to power, and enshrined in the Constitution ratified 9 years ago. The first step will be the announcement of a new cabinet that will replace what is increasingly seen as a gentrified political elite with new or younger faces. It is also expected that there may be a rise in salaries of Qataris employed in the public sector, at a smaller scale, however, to a similar announcement in 2011. Most important, however, will be a new dialogue and series of consultations that the new Emir will have with Qatari citizens, whose expectations have risen with new-found wealth and prosperity. In particular, with 70% of Qataris under the age of 30, engaging youth will be a priority. Do they feel included in the governance of the country and its institutions? Are there sufficient opportunities for employment and growth? And do public services meet their expectations?
As Sheikh Tamim assesses the domestic situation, he does have a strong ally in his mother, Sheikha Moza, and the institutions she leads that address youth, health and education. And he will rely on experienced hands like Sheikh Abdullah al-Thani to evaluate macro-projects like the Qatar World Cup preparations and the development of the national railways. Yet, both on the national and international fronts, the new Emir is not without experience or preparation. While observers were caught off-guard, it is thought HBK had planned for this day far ahead of time. The ascension of the Crown Prince to the leadership, began in earnest over the past two years. In fact, when significant announcements like the salary increase from 2011 were made, it was from Sheikh Tamim's office. He was also front and center, for example, when the move was made to shift Hamas headquarters out of Syria. And the then Crown Prince had been taking an increasing "foreign affairs role" amidst the Arab uprisings.
While the policies that Qatar will follow will likely be unchanged in the short-term, we will have to wait and see what path the new Emir forges in the long-term. Yet, his father has assured that he enters on the political front-foot. Even in his departure, the outgoing Emir left as he came in - with a coup. Upending traditions in the region, he ensured that he would leave the scene at the ripe (for the GCC) age of 61, leaving power to his son who is only 33. This is next to countries such as Saudi Arabia, where the King is 91 (if not older) and where power has never been transferred to the 'next generation', passed instead from brother-to-brother among the descendents of King Abdelaziz (since his death in 1953). Or take Bahrain, where the Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman, has helmed the government for over four decades without interruption.
Certainly, the move by HBK has not ushered in a democracy in Qatar; it is still an authoritarian state. And the ascension of Sheikh Tamim does not automatically assuage any of the concerns (real or perceived) ranging from migrant rights to nepotism to regional interference. Nevertheless, in its own way, Qatar has provided the region with a new revolutionary moment. Now we wait to see how the day-after, always the hard part, plays out.
|For President Obama on Day One: A New âNew Beginningâ||On Day One: A New âNew Beginningâ |
âA New Beginning.â Yet, as he begins a second term it is clear that this new beginning needs to be reinvigorated in both style and substance. That initial speech, while poignant then, today rings hollow. If indeed President Obama and the administration are to achieve a definitive step change in relations with Muslim communities, there must be a renewed effort for honest dialogue, robust development initiatives, and tangible shifts in policy.
At the onset of the Iraq War in 2003, President George W. Bush had abysmal numbers in many Muslim-majority countries. While 59 percent of Nigerians, 56 percent of Jordanians, and 46 percent of Pakistanis held confidence in Osama bin Ladenâs leadership, Bush was polling in the single digits in the same countries. By 2008, in countries like Jordan and Turkey, nearly 90 percent of people had âlittle or no confidenceâ in President Bush.
So when a young Kenyan-American Senator with Muslim roots, Barack Obama, emerged on the political scene, he was a welcome sight in even unsavory and sharply antagonistic corners of the Muslim world. In the midst of the political campaign even Hamas seemingly endorsed him saying, âActually, we like Mr. Obama.â Winning over Hamas never was (nor should it have been) a litmus test, but when President Barack Obama was elected, there was near universal euphoria across Muslim communities.
Early on, Obama and others in the Administration acknowledged the challenge in meeting these expectations. Even before he was inaugurated, the Administration was already planning to mark this ânew beginning.â Going into the heart of Cairo to engage university students in an honest speech about a real change in relations between the U.S. and Muslims was indeed something to be commended. Subsequent to the speech, the White House created a position on the National Security Council for Global Engagement, and the State Department launched a number of partnership initiatives. In the fall of 2009, D.C. played host to the Presidential Summit of Entrepreneurship that brought together 250 delegates from over 50 (mostly Muslim) countries.
Then the situation started to become more difficult. There are no easy answers in the complex geopolitical relations in the wider Middle East and beyond. When the Green Movement in Iran demanded democratic change, the Obama administration had to contemplate whether it was for engagement with âregimesâ or engagement with âpeoples.â One of the Presidentâs early visits was to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah prior to his Cairo speech, during which he said in reference to fundamental liberties, âThey are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.â But during his visit with the King, there was deafening silence on this point. The advent of the Arab Spring made these dilemmas even sharper. Support democracy in Tunisia and Egypt at the last minute. Push democracy by force in Libya. Half-heartedly support it in Yemen. Remain frozen on Syria. Tacitly oppose it everywhere else.
While Obama has grappled with difficult decisions, as any President would, he also shirked following up on critical points he made during his speech in Cairo. For example, he declared, âI have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.â Guantanamo Bay remains open, almost glaringly so. And while, torture has allegedly stopped being an officially sanctioned practice, summary executions and civilian casualties by drone strikes have dramatically increased in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa. The latter have led directly to animus towards Obama from within many Muslim countries.
Then there was the line in the speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: âThe United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlementsâ¦The settlements must stop.â Of course, they did not. In fact, in February 2011 the U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution that called on Israel to simply âcease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory.â Out of 15 countries on the Security Council, the U.S. was the lone dissent (and of course the fatal one). This is not to mention that the U.S. also stood against 95 percent of the worldâs population in voting against recognizing Palestinian statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in November.
There were other elements of the âNew Beginningâ that were promised, particularly around education and entrepreneurship. It is true that the U.S. has now (co-)organized three global entrepreneurship summits, in D.C., Istanbul, and Dubai, the latter being held in 2012. Yet, it is also clear that beyond the pomp of a summit, the once-robust programmatic initiatives that have come out have been weaker. Leadership changes within internal initiatives, as well as those with partners, have meant stalled if not stagnant programming. The idea of connecting entrepreneurs between the Muslim world and the West is a mutually beneficial and powerful concept, but it has not translated into the impact it should have by now. In the last summit in Dubai, it was as if the institutional memory from three years ago was lost, and everything was starting again.
All this being said, there still exists the perception that relations have improved between the U.S. and Muslim communities. However, since 2009 and Obamaâs inauguration, positive views have been on a steady decline in Muslim countries, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project. In 2009, 33 percent of respondents held confidence in Obama; that number slipped to 24 percent in 2012. In 2009, 25 percent of respondents held a favorable view of the U.S.; that figure dropped to 15 percent in 2012. Finally, approval of Obamaâs âinternational policiesâ fell from 34 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2012. Without a substantive shift, these numbers will continue to decline, further cementing the reality that there never was a new beginning.
Can things be turned around, given the current state of affairs? It would be misleadingly Pollyannaish to think that President Obama could snap his fingers and magically change opinion towards him from Muslim countries. Moreover, there are certain political realities that will remain. The U.S. will continue to be an ally of Israel. The U.S. will continue to fight terrorism. And the U.S. will not be able to fund new Marshall plans in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, there is a lot that can and should be done.
At the outset, President Obama needs to re-launch a dialogue with the Muslim world. At the beginning of his first term he went to Cairo to give a speech. Perhaps he should go to Cairo in 2013 to have a conversation. In fact, since becoming president, Obama has visited only the country of his upbringing, Indonesia, apart from the initial trips to Saudi Arabia and Egypt (in addition to cloak-and-dagger visits to Afghanistan), within the Muslim world. Instead of distant speeches and dispatched drones, the Administration would be served by a President who is more engaged with his audience, through visits as well as frank and honest dialogue during those trips.
Although the U.S. will not reverse decades of support for Israel, it need not ally with the most extreme policies of the Israeli government. Continuing to be the lone voice at the United Nations and international community defending illegal Israeli practices is a sharp blow to many efforts of the Obama administration. There is no third-term, and the President should stop pandering to contrived political interests in Washington D.C. There are enough Jewish supporters, lobby groups, and intelligentsia, who would support a more moderate and principled set of policies towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Israel is, of course, not the only foreign policy issue that should be of concern. The U.S., while acting in its national interest, should remain consistent in its language and support for key principles of human rights. It is when it becomes caught in naked hypocrisy that support for the Administration falls, whether in Bahrain in 2011 or Egypt in 2012, and a range of countries, perhaps, in 2013.
Finally, initiatives that can make an impact on tackling the economic despair for young people, like the 100 million youth who will enter the labor market over the next decade in the Arab world, need to be prioritized. There needs to be sufficient attention and support for the global entrepreneurship program that can truly support the emerging and exciting entrepreneurial energy in places like Amman and Ramallah, Karachi and Kuala Lumpur. The U.S. has the best soft-power in this area, from the start-up scene in Silicon Valley to MIT Labs, yet it is hardly deployed, even though the White House calls entrepreneurship, âa critical pillar of U.S. global engagement.â
There is a tremendous opportunity in President Obamaâs second term to catalytically shift relations with Muslim communities and turn potential adversaries into allies. If the status quo, however, is maintained in policy and practice, this opportunity will be lost.
This article originally appeared in the print edition of the Diplomatic Courier, in the January/February 2013 issue. It can be accessed online at: http://www.diplomaticourier.com/news/regions/middle-east/1315-on-day-one-a-new-new-beginning.
|On Identity & Post-Identity: Reflections of a Brown Man (Part 1)...||This post comprises a set of reflections peppered with professional musings about geopolitics and the world around us. |
Brownness it seems is an odd curse in our world. There are entire industries dedicated to de-browning people. Literally. The leading products are those from our friends at Fair & Lovely, who politely inform us that our skin could get in the way of a dream job. There are also more 'intimate' concerns as well (for down there that is). Estimates are that the global skin whitening market reaches upwards of $18 billion in just Asia alone. Yet, it's not just an Asian (West or South) trend, our darker shaded brethren also partake in the habit. The Economist reported that a whopping 77% of Nigerian women use some form of skin-lightening product. And why not - from your personal life to your professional life, there are countless studies that shows being a little lighter and whiter can make your days brighter. In Mexico, it appears that dark skin can limit your socio-economic status. Nevertheless, who wants to live a life not comfortable in your own skin?
I think I've always been comfortable with 'brown' even if others have always been ambivalent about the term (and my own level of comfort with it). UPS' branded slogan, "What can brown do for you" was my slogan when I ran for student government at the Kennedy School of Government (n.b. never run for government at a school of government). This was to the chagrin of some of my latino-associated 'browns'. You see, 'brown' is an amorphous word that can encompass a range of individuals from across the religious, ethnic, and racial spectrum. Hispanic. Latino. Indian. Pakistani. Middle Eastern (Arab to Persian). Even Black. From there. Originally from there. Kind of from there. It's a catch-all term that belies ascription or description. It is a self-definition. There is much more of a tendency of society, Eastern & Western, global and local, to avoid the obvious or conversely assume while oblivious. It is why, the term Black when entering into popular consciousness is still uncomfortable in contemporary American society, even though many feel that it is the term that refers most closely to their being.
Our mass media culture is much more comfortable failing to acknowledge difference or accentuating it without understanding it. President Barack Obama is an African-American - even though he is half-white, raised by White grandparents in White America. Everything else is too complicated. The world looks for static and stereotyped identities when the truth is our own sense of self is much more fluid and dynamic. 'Brown' is at once simple and sophomoric while at the same time nebulous and nuanced. I've found that whether you like it or not, others will seek to define you along the lines they would like you to fit within - it's your choice, however, to live inside or outside those lines.
Growing up in the West, you are automatically attuned to your racial identity. In Canada you are a jigsaw piece to a mosaic multicultural puzzle. What exotic element do you represent? In Vancouver over 50% of respondents identify themselves as non-white. There, 'brown' is part of the visible majority (visible in being dark I guess) rather than a visible minority. In the U.S. you are expected to blend into some type of melting pot. There, across the nation, over half of children born in the country are born to ethnic and visible minorities.
Some people run from their background. It's an immigrant story not just specific to the brown-folk. Afshin turns into Sean, Mohammed into Mo, and the list goes on. That well integrated Muslim may be shaving, but he mysteriously disappears around prayer time on Fridays. I once had a friend who thought that 'Mosque' was the name of some club I went to every week. True story (actually true). One of the key things is to not speak like your parents, depending, of course, on how your parents speak. In my case, at 12, I still had trouble pronouncing the letter 'V'. For whatever reason, I would also mix up my 'Vs' and 'Ws' - being from West Vancouver, it was a bit of a problem.
Yet, as much as there are people trying to wash the brown away, there are others who soak in it. They bask in the familiarity of their likeness. Other brown-folk get the jokes. The inside jokes. About why the house may smell like curry spices. That at least one relative is an illegal immigrant. That you don't understand why white people can't dance (although your Bollywood numbers would cause you to question your own moves).
And all the while, whatever the second-generation immigrant choice, the society around you has already made its own decisions. For the former group, one day they'll walk into a room and realize: we're brown. It may be that your true name will be discovered. Once, when I came to my grade 7 science class, my teacher excitedly looked at me claiming he had seen my namesake in the movies over the weekend. He had just watched the Lion King and pointed at me saying 'Rafiki'. The fact that I actually do have East African roots, and relatives who live in Kenya was not known to him; he was just amused by the exoticism of the phonetic connection. It happens to the best of those hiding in plain sight, when they are asked to speak for a 'group'. You can run all you want but you are always an outsider to some people. After 9/11 all types of brown people who had never even contemplated their brownness were swept up - literally and figuratively - in the hysteria.
Yet, even the latter group, that seeks to withdraw into a bubbled existence of sameness, realizes the folly of that path. Going back to Mumbai. Or Baghdad. Or Cairo. Or Karachi. It's much more going until returning than going back. The first thing that normally happens is your language is bit off. That Hindi isn't really that good. You never quite mastered how to read Arabic. And there's that aunt who's kind of laughing at the fact that you aren't really brown anymore but white. What? Exactly.
Neither here nor there is the place of the East-West hybridity that is many of us today. You can be confused. And the world around you will be confused. Living in Dubai and working in the wider Middle East (another strange term of history) has only heightened the absurdity of dissonance for me. While in the West, your compatriots may give you the colour-blind benefit of the doubt, there ain't no leniency back East. The moment I get into a cab, the fellow brown driver (Nepali, Indian or Pakistani) tries to make the 'original' connection. But it's worse with your socio-economic classmates. With the cavalry of cacophonous colours collecting in the city, disaggregating the rainbow appears to be priority number one. There is no priority for understanding complex identities. As if you could wash the colour away with one generation (even if that was not what you were trying to do)? In Canada or the U.S., I'm a hyphenated identity or a misunderstood one, but in Dubai, I'm - Indian or Pakistani. Is it worth it to confuse people? To tell them your father is from Uganda - ah but he's not Black! Or that you are born in Canada - but you're not White! Or that you feel connection to India as much as Pakistan - but you're Muslim!
Being 'brown' really is a euphemism for what is really our ability to define our own identity. I'm Brown not Indian or Ugandan or Pakistani or Muslim or Eastern or Western. There's more to that identity than just pronouns and assumptions. And while people may feel it's inventive or counter-cultural, is it more so than the modern form of nationality? Until 1945, there was no such thing as the United Nations and most the developing world was the 'third world' under colonial rule. India and Pakistan didn't exist when my father's family immigrated in the late 1800s and early 1900s to East Africa - it was British India. Canada itself only became a country in 1867. There's a myth that migration is new and borders old. It's the other way around.
So then, what is my identity? How can you embrace a multitude of discrete faces without becoming unrecognizable? And can society and the world accept what confounds conventions?
These are some of the questions that I'll address in subsequent posts in the coming days. Yet, one thing I'll say:
Each of us has a multitude of identities we are always balancing that weave together to form our individual tapestries. We are a blend of ethnicity and language, religion and philosophy. Our parents and grandparents often have varying geographical roots and in our lives so far we've traversed many more. Where we settle isn't always where we started. For me, finding how this comes together becomes important for understanding my own individiual path. Yet, for society, and especially transitional societies, understanding this complexity of identity becomes formative in building stable nations in the 21st century.
|America is not No. 1 in religious diversity||Forgive President Obama his misstatement that America has one of the world's largest populations of Muslims. He was only reflecting a larger lack of knowledge of world religion that has allowed some in the fields of religion, academics and the media to promote the ethnocentric idea that the United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world. The problem is, like many other claims of American triumphalism from the left or the right, it is just not true.
|Mid-Year Review: Executions, New Death Sentences Remain Near Historic Lows in First Half of 2017|
As we reach the mid-point of the year, executions and new death sentences are on pace to remainÂ near historic lows in 2017, continuing the long-term historic decline in capital punishment across the United States. As of June 30, six states have carried outÂ 13 executions, withÂ 30 other executions that had been scheduled for that periodÂ halted by judicial stays or injunctions, gubernatorial reprieves or commutation, or rescheduled. By contrast, at the midpoint of 2016, five states had carried out 14 executions, and 25 otherÂ executions had been halted. 12 executions are currently scheduled for the rest of 2017, with 8 others already halted, and several more death warrants are expected to be issued. Depending on whether Ohio carries out the five executions pending between now and December, DPIC anticipates a slight increase in executions in the U.S. fromÂ 2016's 26-year low. However, even with the spate of four executions carried out in Arkansas from April 20-27âthat state's first executions since 2005âthere will likely be fewer executions in 2017 thanÂ in any other year since 1990. New death sentences also remain near historically low levels. DPIC has confirmed at least 16 new death sentences so far in 2017, a pace very close to the record-low 31 new death sentences imposed in 2016. Florida's abandonment of non-unanimous jury recommendations of death and Alabama's repeal of judicial override of jury recommendations for life are expected to substantially reduce the number of new death sentences in those states. The death sentences of nearly 100 Florida death-row prisoners have been overturned as a result of the state supreme court's declaration than non-unanimous death sentences are unconstitutional, and courts in Delaware and Connecticut have continued emptying those state's death rows after their death penalty statutes were declared unconstitutional. Three people have been exonerated from death row in 2017âIsaiah McCoy in Delaware, Rodricus Crawford in Louisiana, and Ralph Daniel Wright, Jr. in Floridaâbringing the number of death-row exonerations in the U.S. since 1973 to 159. There have also been three grants of clemency in the first half of 2017, bringing the national total since 1976 to 283.Â President Barack Obama granted clemency to federal death-row prisonerÂ Abelardo Arboleda Ortiz and military death-row prisoner Dwight Loving, and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe granted clemency to Ivan Teleguz. All three are now serving sentences of life without parole. The U.S. Supreme Court has issued three significant decisions in 2017 in favor of death-row prisoners. On February 22, in Buck v. Davis, the Court granted relief to Duane Buck due to racially biased testimony on the issue of future dangerousness. A month later, in Moore v. Texas, the Court unanimously struck down Texas' outlier practice for determining intellectual disability in capital cases. In McWilliams v. Dunn, the Court found on June 19 that James McWilliams' constitutional rights were violated when Alabama failed to provide him assistance of an independent mental-health expert. The Court ruled against Texas death-row prisoner Erick Davila on June 26.
Other states that have carried out executions so far in 2017Â are Texas (4), Alabama (2), Georgia (1), Missouri (1), and Virginia (1).
|An Essay From A Guest|
I gotta be honest with you and admit upfront that something unexpected came up today so I wonât be able to write as long of a blog post as I would have liked to. Obviously, âsomething came upâ can be interpreted as either writerâs block, me going back to my lazy ways, me getting an opportunity to play free golf and taking it, etc. Regardless of what I tell you the real reason is, I know that you will all most likely think the truth is one of those aforementioned excuses, so I might as well not even try to explain myself and just move on (also, Iâm not saying the real reason isnât one of the aforementioned excuses).
Having said that, Nut Up or Shut Up Week is still rolling on. Since I promised you five blog posts in five days and since I never go back on my promises (except for the times that I do), Iâve got no choice but to deliver a blog post today come hell or high water.
(By the way, hell and high water seem like two drastically different things. Donât get me wrong â floods can be devastating, but the phrase âhigh waterâ doesnât necessarily mean a flood. All âhigh waterâ really means is that a couple of roads are closed throughout the town and that bag of Doritos you left in your basement might be a little soggy now cause some water is leaking in. It sucks, sure, but really it only marginally sucks when compared to eternal damnation, so maybe the phrase should be changed to âcome hell or apocalypseâ, âcome hell or the plagueâ, âcome hell or famineâ, or any of the other countless alternatives that are better than âcome hell or high water.â)
Anyway, because I guaranteed a blog post today and because I canât really carve a huge block of time out of my day today like I typically do when I write these things, Iâm going to turn todayâs post over to a guest blogger. And by âguest bloggerâ, I mean that Iâm going to copy and paste an essay that was written by Kosta Koufos using my computer when he and I were teammates at Ohio State and that Iâve had saved on my computer for all these years.
Kosta, you might remember, was at Ohio State for one year before he went to the NBA and bounced around a few teams until landing with the Denver Nuggets (who he now plays for). During his one year at OSU (my sophomore year), he was asked to write an essay that compared Johnny Cashâs version of âHurtâ to the original version by Nine Inch Nails for one of his classes, and for whatever reason he used my computer to do so. After he finished writing the essay, I obviously saved it and planned on using it in my book somehow, but in the end there wasnât any real purpose for it or natural place to put it so I left it out of the book (plus itâs not terrible enough to be really all that funny or entertaining).
Since Iâve saved it for so long and have never done anything with it (and since I never got to make fun of Kosta on the blog because he left for the NBA before I started my blog), I figured Iâd finally publish it. So if you have ever found yourself wondering what a McDonaldâs All-American has to say about the two most popular versions of âHurtâ, today is your lucky day. I should mention that I opened the document, hit CTRL + A to copy every last word he wrote, and then opened this blog post and hit CTRL + V to paste it all, so please donât accuse me of cutting stuff out or changing words around or anything like that. Also, I swear that every bit of this was really written by Kosta when he was a freshman at OSU. I had nothing to do with it other than copying it onto this blog (youâll soon see that I couldnât have written it because itâs not bad enough â had I written it as Kosta, I admittedly would have gone over the top and tried to make him look really stupid). Anyway, here it is:
Donât forget Iâm planning on doing a mailbag post on Friday and the length of the post depends exclusively on how many emails I get. While Iâd really appreciate it if nobody sent me an email for the mailbag so that I wouldnât have to write anything, I think it would be better for everyone involved if the exact opposite of this happened, so get to it.
Also, after asking for some more examples of activities/hobbies/things that make people look like douches if they arenât very good at them but conversely make them look like grade A badasses if they are good at them, the Trillion Man March stepped to the plate. Here are a handful of my favorite additions to the list that you all sent in:
Astronauts (From Shelby)
âA kid at space camp is ripe for a beating. But an astronaut - well - he's on the moon. (Or at least he was before Obama defunded NASA.)â
Farmers (Also from Shelby)
âMy aunt has a veggie garden in the back of her house. She likes to grow zucchinis. Her tomatoes are actually pretty good; but when she starts going off about how her veggie garden is doing - well....
On the other hand, we all depend on real farmers.â
Facial Hair (From Chris)
âIf you aren't very manly and can't grow a real beard then keep your facial hair clean shaven and stop looking like such a dirt ball, unless of course you are a dirt ball and that's just how you roll. People trying to grow a beard who clearly cannot just look like a 9th grade guy trying to impress the new slut in school because he got pubes on his face before anyone else. On the contrary, having an impressive beard can be one of the most badass additions to a man's look.â
Wrapping a Chipotle Burrito (From Griffith)
âI had a very poorly wrapped burrito today at Chiptole. All my chicken, rice, and corn proceeded to fall out almost immediately after I picked up the burrito. On the contrary, when I receive a well-wrapped burrito, it's the greatest thing of all time. That's where my connection to your post comes in, when someone wraps the burrito (not trying to be racist but it's usually somebody white) and it's done poorly, the whole Chipotle experience is almost ruined. On the other hand, when someone (again not trying to be racist but it's usually one of the Mexican employees) wraps the burrito really well, that's what makes Chipotle so awesome and I have the utmost respect for that employee. The 2.7 second super-wrap. Few things rival it.â
Personally, I think a sloppy Chipotle burrito still beats the hell out of most anything else so itâs not exactly terrible to me and probably doesnât qualify for my list, but I included Griffithâs submission on here because I wanted to reward thinking outside the box (plus, obviously not everyone is exactly like me and some of you might have your day ruined when you get a poorly wrapped burrito, so it might qualify for your list).
Also, I loved Griffithâs disclaimer that heâs not trying to be racist, as though anybody in their right mind would think heâs racist for suggesting that Mexicans are better at wrapping burritos than whites. Remember, Griffith â 1) itâs impossible to be racist against whites (regardless of your own race), and 2) itâs not racist if itâs a compliment.
Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,
Club Trillion Founder
|VA's Inspector General Finds Faked Data At Hospitals Across U.S.||President Obama addressed the annual convention of the American Legion in North Carolina with a raft of new proposals for vets. The speech comes as the inspector general at the Veterans Affairs Department is releasing a report on the scandal over phony wait times at the Phoenix VA hospital. |
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|Obama Taps Former Procter & Gamble Chief To Helm VA|
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President Obama has decided on his choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has nominated Robert McDonald, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble.
|Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Resigns||Transcript |
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Good morning, let's hear more now about the resignation of Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. President Obama says he accepted that resignation a short time ago at the White House. He had just finished making a statement after the two men held a short private meeting.
|VA Secretary Apologizes For 'Indefensible' Treatment Delays||Transcript |
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And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Eric Shinseki, the embattled secretary of Veterans Affairs, meets this hour with President Obama at the White House. Now, earlier today, Shinseki spoke at a conference on homeless veterans, and addressed what he called the elephant in the room.
|After A Long Wait, 24 Models In Heroism Get Their Due||Transcript |
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And I'm Audie Cornish.
On today's program, in interviews and stories from NPR reporters, we're following events in Crimea, as well as the continuing search for Malaysian Air Flight 370.
SIEGEL: Right now, a story about honor delayed but, in the end, not denied. This afternoon, President Barack Obama awarded 24 Americans the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest decoration for valor. And this is a unique group.
|The Business of Rejecting iPhone Apps||Despite a technical framework to deploy streaming video on the new 3GS, who's really blocking the apps from the store - AT&T or Apple?|
After a protracted discovery phase, mobile has finally found it's place in the world, and it's not janky flip phone games or ringtones, rather rapid content delivery. The lone video of the Virginia Tech shootings was caught on a video-enabled phone. Michael Jackson's death brought Twitter to its knees (twice). The first images of the plane crash in the Hudson were posted to TwitPic. In each of these instances the first, if not only, media capture around these events came not from news vans, but citizen journalists. They didn't do it for money or fame, but to simply share what was happening in the world.
Sensing this emerging wave of mobile content, a company called qik (thanks to killer coworker @stevenmaguire for sharing) developed an application to access the video fed from mobile phones and stream it live through their site at qik. Simply point, shoot and stream.
Consider the alternative for web streaming: the copious effort required to take an HVX on-site, plug in to a laptop and then rely on available wifi, PCS mobile card or a hardwire, then connect to your streaming server of choice. Or. or, you could just launch the qik app and hit stream from your iPhone 3GS, already connected to 3G or wifi and be ready to go. But, you can't do that because the app has been rejected. Great app that truly supports and benefits the larger community, no malicious code or porn, so why was it rejected?
There's no doubt the heart of the issue with qik is predicated on bandwidth. As noted in the above video, XM/Sirius, SlingPlayer and Skype all faced repeated rejections over streaming bandwidth concerns. When it comes to bandwidth it's easy to blame AT&T, but they don't own the app store. That's Apple. So why would Apple reject an app on bandwidth? That really doesn't seem like the kind application facet they should worry about. Moreover, it positively stresses to their carrier partners that there needs to be continual upgrades to the networks as they have no intent on pulling back.
As a young Barak Obama requests above (Ed. note: not really Barak Obama) sign the petition (link below) and help empower the next wave of mobile content, in real-time, streaming video.
Sign the Twitition
p.s. priceless introduction of date, time, newsie front page info a la Dr. Emmit Brown.
p.p.s. Want to buy that unbelievably awesome iPhone lens/mic attachment that also looks like a Sony camera and Xbox controller GOT.IT. ON.? Pre-order: http://www.wantowle.com/Want.html
|Who Will Permanently Fill the DHS Secretary Job?||
Patrick McHugh August 9, 2017 - 5:08pm Dan Cadman
In a July 31 blog, I commented on the shift of Secretary John Kelly from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to White House chief of staff, noting that this leaves behind his second-in-command, Elaine Duke, to act in his stead â something that concerns me insofar as Duke is a veteran Obama State Department employee with a background in management, not operational matters.
|After Low-Key Lobbying Effort, Trump Says He Was 'Let Down' By Senators||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypALjI7MEWI Blindsided by the latest collapse of a Republican health care bill, President Trump took to Twitter to voice his frustration. Trump complained of being "let down" by a handful of Republican lawmakers. And he insisted that the fight over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is not over. Trump had just finished discussing health care with seven Republican lawmakers over dinner Monday when Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas â who were not at the meeting â announced they would be voting against the measure to repeal and replace Obamacare. With two other Republican senators already on record in opposition, the Monday-night development effectively killed the Senate bill. Trump acknowledged he was caught off guard by the latest GOP defections. "For seven years, I've been hearing repeal and replace from Congress," Trump said. "And then when we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, they don't take advantage of it. So|
|Amid Gathering Of World Leaders, Trump's Meeting With Putin Stands Out||President Trump arrives in Poland on Wednesday afternoon. Over the next few days, he'll be attending a Group of 20 summit and meeting with a wide array of world leaders. It's likely none of those meetings will be more closely scrutinized than Trump's first face-to-face sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump has often said he would like to see closer ties between the U.S. and Russia. But that has been complicated by Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Throughout the campaign, Trump routinely praised Putin as a strong leader, often contrasting him with then-President Barack Obama. "I think in terms of leadership, he's getting an A, and our president is not doing so well," Trump told Bill O'Reilly of Fox News in 2015. Now that Trump is in office, national security adviser H.R. McMaster says, he has pursued a two-track approach with Russia: looking for areas in which the two countries can cooperate, while confronting the Russians for their bad behavior|
|GOP Senators Postpone Vote On Health Care Bill||Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: And let's bring another voice now into the conversation. NPR's White House correspondent Scott Horsley has been covering this debate for years and years and years... SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: (Laughter). INSKEEP: ...And is here with us and has been listening to Matt Schlapp. Scott, what did you hear there that was noteworthy? HORSLEY: Well, he is right that Republicans have spent more time demonizing Obamacare than they have really selling their own plan. And part of the challenge is philosophically, the Republicans, at least in Congress, envision a health care system where the government plays a smaller role, where there is more consumer skin in the game, that is, consumers bear more of the responsibility. They feel like that'll inject market forces and help to keep costs down. But you have a president, Donald Trump, who has been marketing great care at low costs for everyone. Everyone's going to be taken care of. So there is a|
|GOP Sen. Susan Collins Firmly Opposes Senate Health Care Bill||Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Congressional forecasters say a Senate bill that aims to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. That's only slightly fewer than a House version that passed last month. This forecast comes as Senate Republican leaders press for a vote on the bill later this week, and it has already led one Republican senator to firmly oppose the bill. NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now. And, Scott, these numbers come from the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan bean counters on Capitol Hill. So where do they think these coverage reductions are coming from? SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Ari, the biggest drop would be in Medicaid. Remember, Obamacare expanded Medicaid. This bill would shrink it. And the forecasters anticipate by 2026 you would have 15 million fewer Americans getting their coverage through that safety net program. They're also anticipating a drop of about 7 million people getting coverage|
|How The Senate Health Care Bill Could Disrupt The Insurance Market||Senate Republicans have little margin for error as they prepare for a vote this coming week on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act . Some lawmakers are already raising concerns that the bill could aggravate the problem of healthy people going without insurance, driving up costs for everyone else. "If you can get insurance after you get sick, you will," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told NBC's Today Show . "And without the individual mandate, that sort of adverse selection, the death spiral, the elevated premiums, all of that that's going on gets worse under this bill." The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, tried to address that problem by requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. But that so-called "individual mandate" is one of the least popular provisions of the law. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his colleagues are determined to get rid of it. "We agreed on the need to free Americans from Obamacare's mandate so|
|John F Kennedy International Airport : Gulf oil spill: Obama lands for a third visit - Los Angeles Times (blog)||John F Kennedy International Airport : Gulf oil spill: Obama lands for a third visit - Los Angeles Times (blog)|
|Can You Hear Me Now?: Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act||On December 16, 2016, President Obama signed the HEAR Act into law, establishing a uniform statute of limitations to govern claims seeking recovery of Nazi-confiscated art. Confiscation of art by the Nazis during World War II has been described as the âgreatest displacement of art in human history.â Almost twenty percent of all European art...… Continue Reading|
|China en VS stoppen import en export van ivoor|
september 26, 2015
China en de Verenigde Staten gaan op korte termijn de import en export van ivoor aan banden leggen. Dat hebben de leiders van de twee landen gisteravond in Washington bekendgemaakt. In de verklaring spreken de president van China Xi Jinping en zijn Amerikaanse college Barack Obama daarnaast uit dat de landen ‘op korte termijn aanzienlijke stappen zullen zetten om de binnenlandse handel in ivoor te stoppen’.
|President Barack Obama Took Over 'The Colbert Report' Last Night||"Stephen, you've been taking a lot of shots at my job, I decided I'm going to go ahead and take a shot at yours."
'The Colbert Report' host Stephen Colbert has been teasing his biggest show ever for awhile now, including a stopover in Washington, D.C. and a long-form chat with President Barack Obama, but even he can't possibly have foreseen how that event would turn out. Essentially, it resulted in the talk show host losing his job...to President Obama, who swept on to stage and hijacked the show from an aghast -- but totally willing -- Colbert, only to put his own spin on what it means to host a political chat show. Does Colbert have something to worry about? We vote yes.
|Update on Kathy's Surgery!|
Dear Family and Friends,
Most of you know our friend Kathy went in for a surgical
procedure for a Butt Lift using the Obama Care Medical Plan
through her new state run insurance exchange.
She did not have the most pleasant experience. She should have
left well enough alone.
We wanted to show you how it turned out. We hope this makes
you aware of the quality of care you will receive from the
Affordable Healthcare Act (Obama Care)
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE . . do not get a Butt Lift using the
Obama Care Medical Plan. The Obama care qualified doctor
was a 3rd year med student from another country making
12 bucks an hour.
Kathy regrets her decision, I think we all will regret Obama care.
See image below:
|Gillibrand says she's optimistic fiscal cliff can be avoided|
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is optimistic that the President Barack Obama and leadership of the House of Representatives will cut a deal to prevent the so-called "fiscal cliff." New York's junior senator predicted there would be progress soon during a visit to Syracuse Friday.
|Visualizing Health Policy: U.S. Public Opinion on Health Care Reform, 2017||This slideshow supports a Visualizing Health Policy infographic with JAMA, spotlighting public opinion on health reform in the United States as of 2017, including priorities and views of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and its provisions.|
|Visualizing Health Policy: U.S. Public Opinion on Health Care Reform, 2017||This Visualizing Health Policy infographic with JAMA spotlights public opinion on health reform in the United States as of 2017, including priorities and views of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and its provisions.|
|House rejects effort to ban illegal immigrants from military service||In a break from previous votes on the issue, the House on Thursday rejected two GOP proposals to prevent the Obama administration from enlisting young illegal immigrants to serve in the military. More than 30 Republicans with more centrist views on immigration joined all Democrats in opposing the two amendments offered to a Defense Department spending bill. The amendments failed narrowly with votes of 207-214 and 210-211, respectively.|
|Close Call: The Secret Service Just Caught Him Trying To Pull His Own Head Off?||Â Looks like we narrowly avoided tragedy this morning. According to a White House press release, the Secret Service just discovered President Barack Obama trying to pull his own head off, but they managed to stop him before he succeeded. Wow. This could have been really bad.According to the White House, several Secret Service agents walked into the Lincoln Bedroom at approximately 6:45 a.m. and discovered President Obama standing alone in the middle of the room with his hands wrapped around his head and trying with considerable effort to remove it from his body.The agents who witnessed the scene said that...|
|Mark Steyn: âThere are three kinds of leakâ¦â||Mark Steyn writes:What we are witnessing is a slow-motion coup against a duly elected government by people determined to use whatever they have to hand – national-security leaks by the permanent bureaucracy, money-no-object fishing expeditions by hopelessly conflicted prosecutors, domestic surveillance of political opponents by Obama officials, and indifference to most of the preceding by […]|
Kathy Shaidle's NEW book, Confessions of a Failed Slut, is available HERE.
|Lines of Tribe ?||"The lines of Tribe shall dissolve", President Obama, Inaugural Address|
|Get on Board, or Get Out of the Way||14th, 1984, aid, amendment, bush, campaign, channel, clear, Clinton, cnn, communications, compel,, consolidation, corporation, crisis, depression, disinformation, economic, economics, fiscal, fo,, freedom, George, germany, Government, hitler, homeless, inauguration, industrial, iraq, Israel, lakota, lakotah, libertarian, liberty, means, Media, military, monetary, murdock, news, obama, of, of state, orwell, orwellian, palestine, palestinian, policy, poverty, president, propaganda, rate, recession, republic, rockets, russell, secretary, Sioux, soldiers, sovereign, Sovereigns, sovereignty, time, toady, Tribe, USA, veterans, vets, w., war, warner, zionism, zionist, obama, president, whitehouse, white, house|
|Mark Steyn talks about Justin Trudeauâs âRolling Stoneâ cover & more||
Kathy Shaidle's NEW book, Confessions of a Failed Slut, is available HERE.
|My Interviews on the Inaugural Speech|
Yesterday was the 2013 Inauguration of President Obama for his second term in office. I was asked by two local news affiliates to give my thoughts on President Obama's Inaugural speech and what it meant for LGBT Americans. I am always surprised when I am just going about my business and my cell phone rings and a reporter either wants to do a TV interview or asks for a quote. I feel very comfortable speaking so it's not that. It's just still a surprise that I am a someone in the community given the opportunity to share my thoughts.
The first clip is from NBC affiliate KPNK Channel 12 News in Phoenix. I was lucky to have my partner and son join me in this one.
The second is from KTVK Channel 3 in Phoenix
|President Barack Obama 2013 Inauguration Speech|
Today President Barack Obama gave what will be known as a historic speech as far as LGBT Americans are concerned. It was the first time the word gay was used in an inaugural speech and it was used to speak about the need for equality. I was happy that my daughter was there in D.C. to hear her President speak so positively about her family. It was an amazing speech that drew on the fact that it was given on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and made comparison to the civil rights struggles, women's rights and rights for gay Americans. It will be exciting to see how this sets up the State of the Union address and this coming session of Congress. While I believe the President will not do the work for us, he may be willing to be a more active advocate for us. But, I do believe that this President likes to see the American people involved in the process. He wants to see us use our voices and do everything we can to be heard and help to move our elected officials to take action. We must continue to lead this fight. However, the President is clearly in our corner.
Watch the President's speech. Full transcript follows the video
Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional â what makes us American â is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
For more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life's worst hazards and misfortune.
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society's ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today's world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we'll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America's possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it â so long as we seize it together.
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other â through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security â these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries â we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure â our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully â not because we are naÃ¯ve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice â not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths â that all of us are created equal â is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law â for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.
That is our generation's task â to make these words, these rights, these values â of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness â real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time â but it does require us to act in our time.
For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today's victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction â and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.
You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country's course.
You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time â not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.
Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.
|Moving Marriage Equality Video with President Obama|
This morning I was lucky enough to spend sometime on twitter and happened to catch something that set a great tone for the day. Legalizelove.com has released a very moving video supporting marriage equality. Great shots of various couples in wedding gear but the kicker is the use of President Obama's voice throughout the video. It is really something else to have a President that will speak not just to the LGBT community but will really speak for us as well.
Watch the video here:
LegalizeLove.com: Obama & Gay Couples "Speak with One Voice" On Gay Marriage from LegalizeLove.com on Vimeo.
|Congratulations Mary Cheney, I Guess|
I usually get a warm fuzzy feeling when I hear about a lesbian couple that has been together for 20 years and have two children together getting married. However, when I heard about such a story today I got very mixed feelings. The couple is Mary Cheney and Heather Poe. Mary Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President, Dick Cheney. The former Vice President has always supported his daughter and today was no different. The statement released about the wedding can be found here.
The dilemma I have is not that she is Dick Cheney's daughter. After all he came out in favor of marriage equality before Obama did. My issue is with Mary Cheney and her role in supporting President George W. Bush in the 2004 campaign. During the 2000 presidential campaign, a group called the Republican Unity Coalition was formed. This was a type of gay/straight alliance, if you will, for the Republican Party with notable names on its board like President Gerald Ford and U.S. Senators. The group believed that the Republican Party needed to have a big umbrella that could reach out to non-traditional Republicans. The group even submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Lawrence vs. Texas case, which overturned sodomy laws.
This all happened while Mary Cheney was on the Board. However, she resigned from the board to become the director of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney 2004 Presidential re-election campaign. This is where my issue starts. Up until this point Mary Cheney had been working to make a difference for LGBT individuals. However, the 2004 campaign is when things shifted massively for LGBT individuals. This is when the Bush/Cheney team decided to use LGBT issues as a wedge issue by encouraging anti-LGBT marriage amendments to increase voter turnout.
While I understand a daughter supporting her father, I absolutely can't understand this. Prior to that election only 5 states had any type of constitutional amendment regarding same-sex marriage or civil unions. In that election cycle alone 13 states passed some kind of constitutional amendment. Not only did she stay to work on the campaign but many sources say she was a key player in the campaign. Also, because of Bush calling for the Federal Marriage Amendment as part of this election strategy, the Republican Unity Coalition basically disbanded. Leaving a void of any leadership speaking out for the position that sexual orientation should be a non-issue for the Republican Party. We all know that without these leaders the Republican Party has embraced the religious right and made LGBT issues a key part of fundraising.
In 2006, eight more states passed constitutional amendments of some kind against same-sex relationship recognition. It was at this time that Virginia, the state Mary Cheney lives in, passed one of the strictest bans in the country. The amendment in Virginia bans marriage, civil unions and any other contract that might resemble marriage (domestic partnership). The trend continued until we currently have 31 states with a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.
So while Mary and her partner got married in Washington D.C., her marriage is not recognized when she heads back home. Just like the majority of same-sex couples in the country. I hope she recognizes the irony of that. That she her marriage is worthless when she crosses a state line in part because of a campaign strategy she was a part of.
I hope she had a nice day celebrating with her family. The piece of paper she has is worthless. At least the domestic partnership paper I have is recognized where I live and I go to sleep every night knowing that I have not done anything to undermine the equality of my family.
|Perspective||say that he supports marriage equality. Some say the President came forward a day too late. We won't know if it would have made a difference or not. However, for some the perspective is a state lost. For others the perspective is a country won. What all agree on is that the President did a historic thing in coming out in favor of marriage equality. From some people's perspective his actions might even be considered heroic|
Go to today. I helped put together an event for the Human Rights Campaign to benefit the Maryland Marriage Fund to help keep marriage equality in that state. Governor Martin O'Malley was the special guest at the event. Governor O'Malley was able to show incredible leadership in helping to bring marriage equality to his state. Now that its there, he is continuing to lead the fight against a ballot measure to remove it. His conviction to make sure the LGBT community in his state is shown the same dignity and freedoms as anyone else is truly inspiring. I would guess that the perspective of many in the LGBT community in Maryland is that he is a hero.
The person that introduced the Governor was former Arizona State Senator and current candidate for Congress in Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema has been a leader in the LGBT community for years and is known for having led the only successful campaign to defeat an anti-LGBT marriage amendment in the country. Her ability to make things happen for the LGBT community in Arizona has been remarkable. I have had the pleasure to work with her on many projects over the years and for me personally, she is a hero. That is my perspective.
So why would someone from Arizona host an event like this? Why send money in a very important election year out of the state? Perspective. It is not likely that Arizona will repeal its constitutional ban on gay marriage. The only way Arizonan's are going to see marriage equality is by enough states having it that the Federal government takes action and the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed. So from our perspective here this is how we bring marriage equality to our state - one state at a time across the country.
So my perspective of heroes this week have been of President Obama, Governor O'Malley and Congressional Candidate Kyrsten Sinema. So it surprised me when I received this post on my Facebook
Perspective. One never knows who is watching and the impact your words and actions have on them. This is not the first time someone has shared this type of sentiment with me. However, each time it catches me off guard. I mean come on, who am I? I am not the President or a Governor. How can I possibly be a hero? Perspective. You see most of the time when I hear this it comes from our youth. While I know that the time I give is not only for myself but to make a difference in the lives of many others, I forget that people actually get that too. I gotta say - it makes all the defeats and struggles worth it. To know that I am giving our youth inspiration and hope is a very humbling experience. It also fuels me to keep going.
The funny thing is from my perspective the youth today are heroes. They are so brave to come out or to be an ally for their friends that do. I can't wait for today's youth to be in the lead and take this fight for equality to a whole other level.
A lot has happened in the last two days. I think I have a new perspective on a few things.
|My Time as an HRC Board Member Comes to an End|
During my time on the Board, our committee received awards for our accomplishments by HRC national and by the LGBT community in Arizona. While these awards are always nice, what meant event more to me were the individuals that came to me and thanked me for making a difference. These were small but powerful moments. Moments I don't usually handle well. I usually just shrug it off and say, "Oh it's no big deal" or just wave my hand in dismissal and move on to the next point of order. Eventually, I learned to pause and say, "Your welcome, there is lots more to do, I could use some help so let me know if you want to be on the team." I'm not into taking credit, I'm in to building a team and creating coalitions so more work can get done quicker. However, I learned that sometimes it was important to others for them to say thanks, for them to acknowledge the progress. I understand this. There have been many people I have been able to thank for their work and their sacrifices for LGBT equality. It just took me awhile, about 8 years, to realize I am also one of those people.
In my final weekend as a Board of Governor I spent my time working on a bullying issue at a local school, running an HRC booth at a festival, and watching President Obama speech at the HRC National Dinner on the computer. I honestly couldn't think of a better way to finish out this time. I love working booths at these events. I enjoy sharing the mission of HRC and educating people on the issues. I love working with new volunteers and seeing so many people from our community. The energy at the booth for me is addicting and it's always hard for me to leave. Yesterday though I wanted to leave. I wanted to make sure I was home and ready to see President Obama address the 3,000 attendees at the HRC National Dinner. My daughter was sitting next to me when the live feed started. She saw the HRC logos and Joe Salmonese take the stage. She went back to watching her show as she is used to seeing HRC stuff on my computer. Then Joe introduced the President. Her attention instantly turned back to my screen. She asked, "Mom were you there when President Obama spoke?" I smiled and said, "This is happening in D.C. right now. Instead of being there I get to be here and watch it with you." She smiled leaned on my shoulder and we watched our President speak. I won't say the 9 year old really stayed focused on my screen for the whole time. However, the fact that she knows what HRC is, that I meet and work with elected officials, that the reason I go to meetings and give up some family time is so that our family can one day be treated equal means a lot to me.
So my title has gone from HRC Board of Governor, Steering Committee Co-Chair, Area Representative, Political Co-Chair to just HRC Political Co-Chair. So what are my plans now?
There is lots more to do, I could use some help so let me know if you want to be on the team.
Titles mean nothing. Actions mean everything.
|In HRC Speech, Obama Says, "I'm Going to Continue To Fight Alongside You"||Last night, President Obama spoke at the Human Rights Campaign's Annual Gala Dinner. While many people have been critical of President Obama and feel he has not done enough for the LGBT community, the fact is he has done more for our community than any other President. HRC endorsed President Obama for the 2012 election a few months ago. While some felt this was too early, I personally don't see an issue with it. Clearly, his record shows he is a strong supporter of LGBT rights. Besides, what are they supposed to do = endorse Michelle Bachmann? One highlight of the speech was when President Obama called out the Republican Presidential hopefuls for ignoring a recent incident at one of their debates. A gay soldier sent in a video question asking if they planned to undo Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Members of the audience booed the soldier. The Republicans made no mention of it. In his speech last night the President made this comment on the incident, "We donât believe in the kind of smallness that says itâs okay for a stage full of political leadersâââone of whom could end up being the President of the United Statesâââbeing silent when an American soldier is booed. We donât believe in that. We donât believe in standing silent when that happens. We donât believe in them being silent since. You want to be Commander-âin-âChief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when itâs not politically convenient." Here is the full video of the speech. The written transcript follows the video.|
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Remarks by the President at the Human Rights Campaign's Annual National Dinner
Washington Convention Center
7:26 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. It is great to be back. (Applause.) I see a lot of friends in the house. I appreciate the chance to join you tonight. I also took a trip out to California last week, where I held some productive bilateral talks with your leader, Lady Gaga. (Laughter.) She was wearing 16-inch heels. (Laughter.) She was eight feet tall. (Laughter.) It was a little intimidating.
Now, I donât want to give a long speech. Cyndi Lauper is in the house. I canât compete with that. (Applause.) But I wanted to come here tonight, first of all, to personally thank Joe for his outstanding years of leadership at HRC. (Applause.) What he has accomplished at the helm of this organization has been remarkable, and I want to thank all of you for the support that youâve shown this organization and for your commitment to a simple idea: Every single American -- gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender -- every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. Itâs a pretty simple proposition. (Applause.)
Now, I donât have to tell you that we have a ways to go in that struggle. I donât have to tell you how many are still denied their basic rights -- Americans who are still made to feel like second-class citizens, who have to live a lie to keep their jobs, or who are afraid to walk the street, or down the hall at school. Many of you have devoted your lives to the cause of equality. So you know what we have to do; weâve got more work ahead of us.
But we can also be proud of the progress weâve made these past two and a half years. Think about it. (Applause.) Two years ago, I stood at this podium, in this room, before many of you, and I made a pledge. I said I would never counsel patience; that it wasnât right to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for others to tell African Americans to be patient in the fight for equal rights a half century ago. (Applause.) But what I also said, that while it might take time â- more time than anyone would like -â we are going to make progress; we are going to succeed; we are going to build a more perfect union.
And so, letâs see what happened. I met with Judy Shepard. I promised her we would pass a hate crimes bill named for her son, Matthew. And with the help of my dear friend Ted Kennedy we got it done. Because it should never be dangerous -- (applause) -- you should never have to look over your shoulder -- to be gay in the United States of America. Thatâs why we got it done. (Applause.)
I met with Janice Langbehn, who was barred from the bedside of the woman she loved as she lay dying. And I told her that we were going to put a stop to this discrimination. And you know what? We got it done. I issued an order so that any hospital in America that accepts Medicare or Medicaid -â and that means just about every hospital -â has to treat gay partners just as they do straight partners. Because nobody should have to produce a legal contract to hold the hand of the person that they love. We got that done. (Applause.)
I said that we would lift that HIV travel ban -- we got that done. (Applause.) We put in place the first comprehensive national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. (Applause.)
Many questioned whether weâd succeed in repealing âdonât ask, donât tell.â And, yes, it took two years to get the repeal through Congress. (Applause.) We had to hold a coalition together. We had to keep up the pressure. We took some flak along the way. (Applause.) But with the help of HRC, we got it done. And âdonât ask, donât tellâ is history. (Applause.) And all over the world, there are men and women serving this country just as they always have -- with honor and courage and discipline and valor. We got it done. (Applause.) We got that done. All around the world, youâve got gays and lesbians who are serving, and the only difference is now they can put up a family photo. (Laughter.) No one has to live a lie to serve the country they love.
I vowed to keep up the fight against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Thereâs a bill to repeal this discriminatory law in Congress, and I want to see that passed. But until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. I believe the law runs counter to the Constitution, and itâs time for it to end once and for all. It should join âdonât ask, donât tellâ in the history books. (Applause.)
So, yes, we have more work to do. And after so many years -- even decades -- of inaction youâve got every right to push against the slow pace of change. But make no mistake -- I want people to feel encouraged here -- we are making change. Weâre making real and lasting change. We can be proud of the progress weâve already made.
And Iâm going to continue to fight alongside you. And I donât just mean in your role, by the way, as advocates for equality. Youâre also moms and dads who care about the schools your children go to. (Applause.) Youâre also students figuring out how to pay for college. Youâre also folks who are worried about the economy and whether or not your partner or husband or wife will be able to find a job. And youâre Americans who want this country to succeed and prosper, and who are tired of the gridlock and the vicious partisanship, and are sick of the Washington games. Those are your fights, too, HRC. (Applause.)
So Iâm going to need your help. I need your help to fight for equality, to pass a repeal of DOMA, to pass an inclusive employment non-discrimination bill so that being gay is never again a fireable offense in America. (Applause.) And I donât have to tell you, there are those who don't want to just stand in our way but want to turn the clock back; who want to return to the days when gay people couldnât serve their country openly; who reject the progress that weâve made; who, as we speak, are looking to enshrine discrimination into state laws and constitutions -- efforts that weâve got to work hard to oppose, because thatâs not what America should be about.
Weâre not about restricting rights and restricting opportunity. Weâre about opening up rights and opening up opportunity -- (applause) -- and treating each other generously and with love and respect. (Applause.)
And together, we also have to keep sending a message to every young person in this country who might feel alone or afraid because theyâre gay or transgender -- who may be getting picked on or pushed around because theyâre different. Weâve got to make sure they know that there are adults they can talk to; that they are never alone; that there is a whole world waiting for them filled with possibility. Thatâs why we held a summit at the White House on bullying. Thatâs why weâre going to continue to focus on this issue. (Applause.) This isnât just âkids being kids.â Itâs wrong. Itâs destructive. Itâs never acceptable. And I want all those kids to know that the President and the First Lady is standing right by them every inch of the way. (Applause.) I want them to know that we love them and care about them, and theyâre not by themselves. Thatâs what I want them to know. (Applause.)
Now, I also need your help in the broader fight to get this economy back on track. You may have heard, I introduced a bill called the American Jobs Act. (Applause.) Itâs been almost three weeks since I sent it up to Congress. Thatâs three weeks longer than it should have taken to pass this common-sense bill. (Applause.) This is a bill filled with ideas that both parties have supported -- tax breaks for companies that hire veterans; road projects; school renovations; putting construction crews back to work rebuilding America; tax cuts for middle-class families so they can make ends meet and spend a little more at local stores and restaurants that need the business.
Now, you may have heard me say this a few times before -- Iâll say it again: Pass the bill. (Applause.) Enough gridlock. Enough delay. Enough politics. Pass this bill. Put this country back to work. (Applause.) HRC, you know how Congress works. Iâm counting on you to have my back. Go out there and get them to pass this bill. (Applause.) Letâs put America back to work.
Now, ultimately, these debates weâre having are about more than just politics; theyâre more about -- theyâre about more than the polls and the pundits, and whoâs up and whoâs down. This is a contest of values. Thatâs whatâs at stake here. This is a fundamental debate about who we are as a nation.
I donât believe -- we donât believe -- in a small America, where we let our roads crumble, we let our schools fall apart, where we stand by while teachers are laid off and science labs are shut down, and kids are dropping out.
We believe in a big America, an America that invests in the future -- that invests in schools and highways and research and technology -- the things that have helped make our economy the envy of the world.
We donât believe in a small America, where we meet our fiscal responsibilities by abdicating every other responsibility we have, and where we just divvy up the government as tax breaks for those who need them the least, where we abandon the commitment weâve made to seniors though Medicare and Social Security, and we say to somebody looking for work, or a student who needs a college loan, or a middle-class family with a child whoâs disabled, that âYouâre on your own.â Thatâs not who we are.
We believe in a big America, an America where everybody has got a fair shot, and everyone pays their fair share. An America where we value success and the idea that anyone can make it in this country. But also an America that does -- in which everyone does their part -- including the wealthiest Americans, including the biggest corporations -- to deal with the deficits that threaten our future. (Applause.)
We donât believe in a small America. We donât believe in the kind of smallness that says itâs okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the President of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed. (Applause.) We donât believe in that. We donât believe in standing silent when that happens. (Applause.) We donât believe in them being silent since. (Applause.) You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when itâs not politically convenient. (Applause.)
We donât believe in a small America. We believe in a big America -- a tolerant America, a just America, an equal America -- that values the service of every patriot. (Applause.) We believe in an America where weâre all in it together, and we see the good in one another, and we live up to a creed that is as old as our founding: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. And that includes everybody. Thatâs what we believe. Thatâs what weâre going to be fighting for. (Applause.)
I am confident thatâs what the American people believe in. (Applause.) Iâm confident because of the changes weâve achieved these past two and a half years -â the progress that some folks said was impossible. (Applause.) And Iâm hopeful -- I am hopeful --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fired up!
THE PRESIDENT: Iâm fired up, too. (Laughter.) I am hopeful -- (applause) -- I am hopeful -- I am still hopeful, because of a deeper shift that weâre seeing; a transformation not only written into our laws, but woven into the fabric of our society.
Itâs progress led not by Washington but by ordinary citizens, who are propelled not just by politics but by love and friendship and a sense of mutual regard. (Applause.) Itâs playing out in legislatures like New York, and courtrooms and in the ballot box. But itâs also happening around water coolers and at the Thanksgiving table, and on Facebook and Twitter, and at PTA meetings and potluck dinners, and church socials and VFW Halls.
It happens when a father realizes he doesnât just love his daughter, but also her wife. (Applause.) It happens when a soldier tells his unit that heâs gay, and they tell him they knew it all along and they didnât care, because he was the toughest guy in the unit. (Applause.) It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person know theyâre not alone, and things will get better. It happens when people look past their ultimately minor differences to see themselves in the hopes and struggles of their fellow human beings. Thatâs where change is happening. (Applause.)
And thatâs not just the story of the gay rights movement. Thatâs the story of America -- (applause) -- the slow, inexorable march towards a more perfect union. (Applause.) You are contributing to that story, and Iâm confident we can continue to write another chapter together.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
7:45 P.M. EDT
|Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Certified|
Today, President Obama signed the certification that will lead to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" finally being gone on September 20, 2011. Some were not happy with the delay in certification, however, for a change like this in the military I am very satisfied with 7 months.
There has been a lot of information coming from the White House today and I wanted to share some of that.
First is the press release from President Obama.
Next is an email sent by the President to organizations like HRC and individuals who worked hard to make this victory possible.
I said to her, âI promise you I will.â
A few weeks later, after a struggle that lasted almost two decades, I signed a law to repeal this policy. I signed it with absolute confidence in our men and women in uniform, in their professionalism and in their capacity to adapt to this change, just as they have adapted and grown stronger with other changes throughout our history. And I signed this repeal knowing that our military would be stronger â and our nation safer â for the service of patriotic gay men and women who would no longer have to live a lie in order to defend the country they love.
Today, in accordance with this law, I signed the certification that will end âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ once and for all. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also have certified that the military is ready for the repeal. Sixty days from now, on September 20th, the repeal will be complete and gay men and women will be able to serve their country openly.
On that day, Iâll be thinking of the young woman I met in Afghanistan. And Iâll be thinking of the countless others like her, straight and gay alike, who love this nation and the ideals for which it was founded, and who have signed up to serve so that we might all live in freedom and uphold this simple creed: we are all created equal.
Thank you for helping to make this victory for our country possible.
Finally I wanted to include a copy of the actual certification document
This is a great day. The end to this awful law finally has an expiration date.
|My Letter from Senator McCain|
I recently emailed Sen. McCain and asked him to support the Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I know of two other constituents that support this - Cindy McCain and Meghan McCain. Since these two constituents are family and can't seem to sway him on this I know it's a long shot. Plus this is not the first time I have engaged the Senator on this issue. I have met with his D.C. staff in the past to discuss this issue on several occasions. I have also called his office and sent other emails on numerous occasions over the years.
Today I got a response from Sen. McCain.
There was no surprises in this response. Still hard to read. Still hurtful. In no way surprising.
In the future Senator McCain will get another email from me asking him to support the repeal of DOMA. It won't surprise him. It may annoy him that I didn't seem to hear his answer.
|Mitt Romney: 20 Things You Never Knew!! â¦â¦..(Allegedly!)||
Mitt Romney: 20 Things You Never Knew...
|Obama to Sell Southern Whites in Africa||
Obama to Sell Southern Whites in Africa
|House GOP divided on immigration but united against Senate, Obama||By Frank Thorp, Luke Russert and Carrie Dann, NBC News Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:54 PM EDT NBCNews.com House Republicans huddled behind closed doors Wednesday in a long-awaited âspecial conferenceâ to discuss tactics, air grievances and plot the way forward â or out of â the national debate over comprehensive immigration reform. While the âlivelyâ […]|
|Barack Obama||Barack Obama
By: Heather Lahr WagnerÂ
On February 10, 2007, a crowd of more than 15,000 people gathered outside the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. The Capitol, chosen as the backdrop for this gathering, is rich in historical connections. Although the building is a reconstruction, it was on this site that Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous âHouse Dividedâ speech in 1858,|
|Federal Judge Orders State Dept To Search Hillary Aidesâ Accounts For Benghazi Records||Obama appointee dings State Department over incomplete search|
|State Dept. Told To Release New Benghazi Emails From Hillaryâs Server||'Still trying to provide cover for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama'|
|With Cameras Banned in the Supreme Court, Undercover Video Emerges|
People are discovering a recently-posted YouTube video that apparently shows both a portion of the oral argument in a campaign finance case in October 2013 and Wednesday's interruption of an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The first half of the video says that it is shows the argument is in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, a case argued on Oct. 8, 2013 which challenges the constitutionality of federal limits on contributions to non-candidate political committees. The date stamp on part of the video matches the date that the case was argued. While the audio of the Justices and lawyers speaking can be heard, its impossible to make out the words. The scene, however, is clearly the courtroom of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The video then cuts to the interruption, during the Feb. 26, 2014 argument in Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness, No. 12-1184, a patent case. This half of video shows Kai Newkirk, a member of the group 99Rise -- which takes credit for the interruption in a press releaseÂ -- interrupting the argument to state that the court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) should be overturned, and that the contribution limits at issue in McCutcheon should be upheld. The video also shows Newkirk being removed from the courtroom.Â (He was subsequently arrested and charged under 40 U.S.C. Â§ 6134, which makes it illegal to "make a harangue or oration, or utter loud, threatening, or abusive language in the Supreme Court Building or grounds.")
Both portions of the video are jumpy and haphazard, and were apparently shot with hidden cameras in violation of the the court's strict prohibition on cameras in the courtroom. The video acknowledges this, beginning with the text, "What you're about to see have never been seen before. This is video from inside the chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court. Under their arcane rules, no one is allowed to record the proceedings. Not even C-SPAN ... (sic) in the year 2014." Other videos uploaded by the same YouTube user show what appear to be the full videos shot during the Octane Fitness argument. From the datestamps, it appears that three separate cameras were used. None of the words said in the videos are discernible, except for Newkirk's statement. A 23-minute video of the McCutcheon argument is also posted.
There has been growing pressure for the Supreme Court -- which controls it own rules -- to allow still and video cameras to cover its proceedings, including in an ad campaign launched last week. But there has been little movement on the issue, with federal trial courts conducting a second "trial" of cameras in selected courtrooms. When an attorney was indirectly tweeting from an overflow room at the court during oral arguments in the 2012 case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the court asked her to stop.Â
The new videos may be less remarkable for what they show, than that they exist at all.Â They demonstrate that not everyone is prepared to wait for the Court to reform its own procedures. It will be interesting to see how the Court reacts.
Eric P. Robinson is co-director of the Program in Press, Law and Democracy at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. He has taught media law and ethics at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Baruch College, and the University of Nevada, Reno, where he was also Deputy Director of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Courts and Media. He has also been aÂ staff attorney at the Media Law Resource Center and a legal fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In addition to his posts here, he maintains his own blog at bloglawonline.com.
|Digging for our credibility||In the ongoing discussion on the Obama education speech, one JEA member suggested the press provided too much of a platform for fringe opinions instead of balanced reporting. While that may be, I’d like to suggest something H. L. Hall always stresses as important: digging. All too often, in commercial media and in scholastic media […]|
|Comment on Obamacare and Lower-Income Workers by david doon||The key to this health care working if for the middle income earners being insured.Keep up the good fight.|
|Snowden not a whistleblower, risked US national security: White House|
Washington: Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor who leaked classified government documents is not a whistleblower, but someone who risked national security and American lives, the White House said, dimming his hopes of a presidential pardon from Barack Obama before he demits office.
"There actually is a specific process that is well-established and well-protected that allows whistleblowers to raise concerns that they have, particularly when it relates to confidential or classified information, to do so in a way that protects the national security secrets of the US. That is not what Snowden did," Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
"Edward Snowden is not a whistleblower," Earnest said.
"His conduct put American lives at risk and it risked American national security. That is why the policy of the Obama administration is that Snowden should return to the US and face the very serious charges that he is facing," he told reporters yesterday.
Snowden, 33, is accused of violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property for leaking sensitive data to the media about National Security Agency's internet and phone surveillance.
He faces at least 30 years in jail in the US, and has been living in exile at an undisclosed location in Russia since June 2013. His residency permit expires next year.
Earnest maintained the long-held position of the US government that Snowden will be "afforded the rights that are due to every American citizen in our criminal justice system."
"But we believe that he should return to the United States and face those charges," he said, adding that there is no communication between Snowden and the US president.
"I'm not aware of any conversations or any communications between Snowden and the president," he said.
Snowden, on the other hand, argues that though he leaked secret data, the information have benefited the public as they led to a improvement in privacy protection laws.
Snowden has asked Obama for clemency in an interview with a UK newspaper, saying: "If not for these disclosures, if not for these revelations, we would be worse off."
"Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing. But that is perhaps why the pardon power exists - for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things," he said.
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|Moscow says new US national security strategy is anti-Russian|
Moscow: Russia`s federal Security Council on Wednesday criticised as "anti-Russian" the new US national security strategy, which lists Moscow`s aggression in its neighbouring Ukraine among most pressing threats.
The Security Council also repeated an assertion Washington might try to engineer political change in Russia using the same tactics of mass protest the Kremlin says it applied to topple a pro-Russian president in Kiev last year.
President Barack Obama released Washington`s updated national security strategy on Feb.6, renewing his commitment to work to isolate Russia over its support for separatist rebels fighting Kiev troops in east Ukraine.
The Russian council said the update, unlike the previous 2010 version, "has an openly anti-Russian line and creates a negative image of our country." It said the implementation of the new US strategy would pose a threat to Russia.
"In the long-term, the United States along with its allies will continue to push for political and economic isolation of Russia," it said.
Ties between Moscow and Washington are at their lowest since the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine, where the West accuses Russia of driving a separatist rebellion to destabilise the former Soviet republic and boost its influence there.
Moscow has sided with the rebels but denies direct military involvement despite mounting evidence on the ground.Â
Moscow says its aim is to protect the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Ukraine from nationalists who took over in Kiev after the former president and Kremlin ally, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted in street protests in February, 2014.
Moscow accuses the United States of masterminding what it calls a coup in Kiev, on the lines of other uprisings in ex-Soviet states dubbed "colour revolutions".
"There is high probability of applying in regard to Russia the improved technology of `colour revolutions` that will be used ever more widely to remove political authorities disliked by the United States."Â
The Russian foreign ministry criticised Western nuclear arms policy.
Moscow said at the weekend Danish warships would become targets for its nuclear weapons should the country join a NATO missile defence it argues could undermine its nuclear capabilities.
"In our view, the United States and other NATO members should have long abandoned the pernicious one-sided steps in the missile defence field. They wouldn`t have to worry about the consequences then," the Russian ministry said in a statement.
|US national security team briefs Obama on Ukraine|
Washington: The White House says President Barack Obama is getting regular updates on the situation in Ukraine.
Obama`s national security team is discussing Ukraine at a White House meeting today, the eve of a vote on whether Ukraine`s Russia-leaning Crimea region should secede and seek annexation by Moscow.
Obama and the leaders of other Western nations have denounced the vote as illegal and say they won`t recognise the results.
Earlier today at the United Nations, Russia vetoed a US-sponsored resolution declaring Sunday`s referendum illegal.
Crimea became a flashpoint after Ukraine`s pro-Russia president fled the country last month after months of anti-government protests.
Russia refuses to recognise Ukraine`s new government and has effectively taken control of the Crimea region.
|Fat Americans pose a threat to national security: Generals|
Washington: Increasing rates of obesity among young Americans could undermine the future of the US military, with potential recruits increasingly too fat to serve, two retired generals said on Friday.
Obesity disqualified more potential recruits for military service than any other medical factor, the two former commanders wrote in the Washington Post.
The two generals urged Congress to adopt legislation that would ensure better nutrition in schools, offering children more vegetables, fruits and whole grains while cutting back on foods with high sugar, sodium and fat content.
"We consider this problem so serious from a national security perspective that we have joined more than 130 other retired generals, admirals and senior military leaders in calling on Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation," wrote the commanders, part of a non-profit group called "Mission: Readiness."
The warning came amid growing concern that childhood obesity has turned into an "epidemic," affecting a staggering one in three American youngsters.
A study released in March warned more American children are becoming extremely obese at a younger age, putting them at risk of dying decades younger than normal-weight children and of suffering old-age illnesses in their 20s.
The US military also faces a problem with troops already serving who are overweight, with some soldiers losing out on promotions because of their failure to meet fitness standards.
Although the military enjoyed record-breaking recruitment levels last year, officials say the growing problem of obesity could present a serious problem for recruitment efforts over time.
The two retired generals endorsed a plan by President Barack Obama`s administration to increase funding by one billion dollars a year over ten years for child nutrition programs.
Investing in nutrition made sense as the country was already spending 75 billion dollars a year on medical costs associated with obesity, they said.
Citing figures from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the commentary said the proportion of potential recruits who flunked their physical tests because they were overweight has jumped nearly 70 percent since 1995.
Shalikashvili, who led the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997, and Shelton, who held the same post from 1997 to 2001, cited school lunch legislation passed in 1946 as a model.
Military leaders at the time recognized that poor nutrition reduced the pool of qualified candidates for the armed forces, they said.
"We must act, as we did after World War II, to ensure that our children can one day defend our country, if need be."
|Fat Americans pose a threat to national security: Generals|
Washington: Increasing rates of obesity among young Americans could undermine the future of the US military, with potential recruits increasingly too fat to serve, two retired generals said on Friday.
"Obesity rates threaten the overall health of America and the future strength of our military," generals John Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton, both former chairs of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a commentary.
Obesity disqualified more potential recruits for military service than any other medical factor, the two former commanders wrote in the Washington Post.
The two generals urged Congress to adopt legislation that would ensure better nutrition in schools, offering children more vegetables, fruits and whole grains while cutting back on foods with high sugar, sodium and fat content.
"We consider this problem so serious from a national security perspective that we have joined more than 130 other retired generals, admirals and senior military leaders in calling on Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation," wrote the commanders, part of a non-profit group called "Mission: Readiness."
The warning came amid growing concern that childhood obesity has turned into an "epidemic," affecting a staggering one in three American youngsters.
A study released in March warned more American children are becoming extremely obese at a younger age, putting them at risk of dying decades younger than normal-weight children and of suffering old-age illnesses in their 20s.
The US military also faces a problem with troops already serving who are overweight, with some soldiers losing out on promotions because of their failure to meet fitness standards.
Although the military enjoyed record-breaking recruitment levels last year, officials say the growing problem of obesity could present a serious problem for recruitment efforts over time.
The two retired generals endorsed a plan by President Barack Obama`s administration to increase funding by one billion dollars a year over ten years for child nutrition programs.
Investing in nutrition made sense as the country was already spending 75 billion dollars a year on medical costs associated with obesity, they said.
Citing figures from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the commentary said the proportion of potential recruits who flunked their physical tests because they were overweight has jumped nearly 70 percent since 1995.
Shalikashvili, who led the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997, and Shelton, who held the same post from 1997 to 2001, cited school lunch legislation passed in 1946 as a model.
Military leaders at the time recognized that poor nutrition reduced the pool of qualified candidates for the armed forces, they said.
"We must act, as we did after World War II, to ensure that our children can one day defend our country, if need be."
Fat Americans pose a threat to national security: Generals
|Michelle Obamaâs Speech brings in widespread internet attention from Twitter, Reddit, Facebook|
As politics gets heated up in anticipation for the Election on November 6th, we witnessed a great surge from Michelle Obama's emotionally charged yet positive speech about what it means to be a hard working American. The First Lady was able to get Twitter talking about her speech at 28,000 tweets per minute.
The twitter blog talks about the impressive numbers:
|Freedom of Speech and Expression|
While we still have it, we should uphold it, whether we share the same views or even like what one has to say. Unfortunately, it is true, and I've read it in several political blogs as well as in several books, one being "The Post-American Presidency" ~ The Obama Administrations War on America.
|NAACP report documents racist current in Tea Party|
You imply that I am calling you personally a racist because I have written about the racist strand in the Tea Party. You really need to read more carefully.
The recent NAACP report meticulously documents this racist current. I suggest you read it. A summary and links can be found at http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/politics/4957-naacp-relea...
Earlier this week, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights announced their intent to release a report entitled, Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size, Scope, and Focus of its National Factions.
|Supervisor Sophie Maxwellâs Barack Obama Handbag â For The Win||TweetHere’s San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell TCB (Taking Care of Business) on a weekend trying to sort through issues relating to Speaker of the the House Nancy Pelosi and the Golden Gate Bridge. But what’s this – a vibrant Barack Obama leather handbag? Let’s take a closer look: Is that a Coach Leatherware brass grommet? […]|
|Obamaâs birthday gives uber-objective media a chance to show how much heâs missed||Like this, but worse|
|Paul Krugman serves up more proof Nobel Prize needs âcomedyâ category||Obama the Honest|
|Time for a Brighter Theme?||I changed the website theme a few years ago, but now that President Obama’s days are numbered, it might be time to change things up a bit with a new website visual theme. Donald Trump won the election. That fact doesn’t thrill me, other than that it means Hillary Clinton lost, but I’m cautioiusly optimistic […]|
|Telepolis berichtet Ã¼ber Liberale MÃ¤nner in der FDP â News vom 26. Juli 2017||1. Auf Telepolis berichtet Peter MÃ¼hlbauer unter freundlicher Verlinkung von Genderama Ã¼ber die Liberalen MÃ¤nner in der FDP und stellt ihre Positionen vor. Anders als etwa Heide Oestreich in der "taz" gelingt ihm dies ohne hÃ¤mische Abwertung. Und er fÃ¼gt weitere interessante Informationen hinzu, die dieser Tage bereits in der Online-MÃ¤nnerszene diskutiert wurden: |
Inwieweit [die Positionen der Liberalen MÃ¤nner] Aufnahme in die offiziellen Positionen der FDP finden, hÃ¤ngt davon ab, ob sich ihre Vertreter auf Parteitagen durchsetzen - was wiederum damit zusammenhÃ¤ngt, wie viele Personen es dort gibt, die damit nur schwer kompatible Positionen vertreten. Am explizitesten macht das die von Matteo MÃ¼ller, Benjamin Brandstetter und RenÃ© Oehler ins Leben gerufene und am Wochenende Ã¼ber Soziale Medien bekannt gewordene Gruppe der "Progressiven" in der FDP, die zwar angibt, die Liberalen nicht "spalten" zu wollen, aber mit Gendersternchen und einem Ã¤hnlichem Duktus operiert wie vor fÃ¼nf Jahren die "progressive" Peer Group in der Piratenpartei (...).
Wie schwer vereinbar sind diese beiden Positionen in der FDP? Mit Gendersternchen dÃ¼rften es die sogenannten "Progressiven" im liberalen Lager ohnehin schwer haben; bei anderen Themen lieÃe sich womÃ¶glich ein Konsens finden. Solange die Genderstudien sich in einem Zustand befinden, in dem auch dezidiert Linke wegen der Wissenschaftsferne dieses Fachs dessen Abschaffung fordern, geht hier wohl wenig. Aber was wÃ¤re, wenn sich dieser Bereich irgendwann ernstzunehmender Wissenschaft annÃ¤hert, statt lediglich feministische Ideologeme beispielsweise vom TÃ¤ter Mann und Opfer Frau stÃ¼tzen zu wollen?
Immerhin wÃ¤re ein echter Konflikt zwischen BefÃ¼rwortern und Gegnern der Genderstudien im Vergleich zu dem, was aktuell stattfindet, bereits ein Schritt nach vorne. Denn bisher sieht es so aus, dass das eine Lager Kritik an verschiedenen Aspektenen dieses Bereichs Ã¤uÃert und das andere Lager sich einbunkert und "Nazis!" brÃ¼llt.
2. Selbst das feministisch orientierte Magazin "ze.tt" sieht den Online-Pranger, den Andreas Kemper & Co. fÃ¼r die Heinrich-BÃ¶ll-Stiftung erstellt haben, skeptisch:
Klickt man auf die EintrÃ¤ge im Wiki, fÃ¤llt eines sofort ins Auge: Sie sind auf das fÃ¼r die BÃ¶ll-Stiftung scheinbar NÃ¶tigste reduziert. So steht unter [Frauke] Petry neben eines sehr kurzen Abrisses ihrer TÃ¤tigkeit nur, und wirklich nur, das: "Wie Andreas Kemper auf seinem Blog berichtete, teilte Frauke Petry wÃ¤hrend der Leipziger Buchmesse 2014 in einem Interview mit der Jungen Freiheit mit, die AfD sei nicht mehr vorrangig eine Anti-Euro-Partei, sondern eine Familienpartei, und Familienpolitik, so Petry, sei BevÃ¶lkerungspolitik". Da bietet das tatsÃ¤chliche Wikipedia sicherlich mehr Informationen Ã¼ber die Politikerin.
Hier findet man den vollstÃ¤ndigen Artikel von Milena Zwerenz.
Seit ich Andreas Kempers VerÃ¶ffentlichungen beobachte, bin ich dabei in der weit Ã¼berwiegenden Mehrzahl auf nichts anderes als persÃ¶nliche Denunziation gestoÃen. So etwas lÃ¤sst sich heutzutage offenbar bereits als "Forschung" verkaufen. Daraus ein GeschÃ¤ftsmodell samt Reklame fÃ¼r das eigene Blog zu machen ist zwar in seiner Dreistigkeit fast schon bewundernswert. Aber wenn selbst das eigene Lager vor dem kruden Schwarz-WeiÃ-Denken zurÃ¼ckschreckt, das diese VerÃ¶ffentlichungen zeigen, sollte man sich vielleicht doch mal den einen oder anderen Gedanken mehr machen, ob man im Eifer der Begeisterung fÃ¼r die eigene Ansicht wirklich noch das Richtige tut.
Derweil beschÃ¤ftigt sich auf den Seiten der "Welt" auch Henryk Broder mit dem grÃ¼nen Online-Pranger. Broder findet ihn ganz unterhaltsam,
bis das AmÃ¼sement Ã¼ber dieses skurrile Dossier der Erkenntnis weicht, womit man es zu tun hat: einer Massendenunziation von Menschen, die nichts anderes verbrochen haben, als in Fragen von Ehe, Familie und Moral anderer Meinung zu sein als die Verfasser der Liste, die ihre Meinung fÃ¼r die einzig richtige und zulÃ¤ssige halten.
Dies sei nicht die Aufgabe einer aus Steuermitteln bezahlten politischen Stiftung, erklÃ¤rt Broder, was fÃ¼r ihn die Frage aufwirft, ob die die Heinrich-BÃ¶ll-Stiftung hier bereits am Rande der LegalitÃ¤t operiere. "Vom Progressiven zum TotalitÃ¤ren", urteilt Broder jedenfalls, "ist es oft nur ein kurzer Weg."
3. In der Frankfurter Allgemeinen blickt Don Alphonso auf eine andere Hetzjagd zurÃ¼ck, bei der die Meute Ã¼berzeugt davon war, dass der Verfolgte zu den BÃ¶sen gehÃ¶rte und deshalb alles verdiente, was er erleiden musste â den Fall Paul NungeÃers, der von dem "MatratzenmÃ¤dchen" Emma Sulkowicz offenbar fÃ¤lschlich der Vergewaltigung bezichtigt wurde. Ein Auszug aus Don Alphonsos Text:
Clinton, Obama, Gillibrand, fast die gesamte feministische Szene, der hasserfÃ¼llte Mob, die amerikanischen Medien und die Deutschen, die kritiklos abgeschrieben haben, was dort stand, und die weitgehend ignorierten, dass der Betroffene von den VorwÃ¼rfen freigesprochen wurde, obwohl die UniversitÃ¤ten scharf gegen jeden Vergewaltigungsverdacht vorgehen mÃ¼ssen, weil ihnen von der Obama-Administration unter Verweis auf Title IX der Entzug staatlicher Gelder angedroht wurde: Sie alle sind bis auf die Knochen blamiert. Die gefeierte feministische Kunstaktion ist nun etwas, das sich nicht wiederholen wird, und die frÃ¼here Heldin Emma SÃºlkowicz verweigert auf Medienanfragen bislang jeden Kommentar.
Die folgenden AbsÃ¤tze von Don Alphonsos Artikel handeln von dem Aufruhr gegen die aktuelle US-Bildungsministerin, nachdem die sich unter anderem mit MÃ¤nnerrechtlern getroffen hatte, um eine LÃ¶sung fÃ¼r die wachsende Misere an amerkanischen UniversitÃ¤ten zu finden. (Genderama berichtete.)
Nach diesem und anderen Artikeln gegen feministische Vorverurteilungen ist es wirklich ein Wunder, wie schon einige anmerkten, dass Don Alphonso in der Schwarzen Liste des grÃ¼nen Genderlagers nicht gefÃ¼hrt wird. Warum Henning von Bargen und Andreas Kemper in diesem Fall nicht ebenfalls lÃ¤ngst "Kreuzigt ihn!!" geschrieen haben, wird man mir mal in einer ruhigeren Stunde erklÃ¤ren mÃ¼ssen.
Ãbrigens hat Don Alphonso auf Twitter eine berechtigte Frage zu dem Pranger der GrÃ¼nen gestellt.
4. In einem aktuellen Beitrag des FOCUS kommt ein Business-Experte zu Wort: "Die Frauenquote ist nur was fÃ¼r Kontrollfreaks".
5. Eine neue englischsprachige Website soll MÃ¤nnerrechtler ("Mens Human Rights Activists") miteinander in Verbindung bringen.
6. Die UniversitÃ¤t Princeton verfÃ¼gt jetzt Ã¼ber einen "Men's Engagement Manager". Yeah, werden jetzt einige sagen, endlich gibt es fÃ¼r diese Minderheit auf dem Campus auch einen FÃ¼rsprecher! Diese Vermutung wÃ¤re natÃ¼rlich grundnaiv; der "Men's Engagement Manager" ist fÃ¼r ganz andere Dinge da.
7. Die Website "Whisper" hat Aussagen von Frauen zusammengestellt, die erklÃ¤ren, warum MÃ¤nner bei Verabredungen bezahlen sollen. FÃ¼r alle, die eine zu hohe Meinung vom weiblichen Geschlecht haben, sollte das ein wirksames Gegengift sein. (Und natÃ¼rlich haben wir in dieser Reihe auch die typische Feministin, die dann an althergebrachten Geschlechterrollen festhalten will, wenn es ihr nÃ¼tzt.)
8. Auf den Seiten des populÃ¤rwissenschaftlichen Magazins Psychology Today erklÃ¤rt der Professor fÃ¼r Sozialpsychologie Lee Jussim, warum es keineswegs "Sexismus" zu verschulden ist, dass es so wenige Frauen in naturwissenschaftlichen und technischen FÃ¤chern gibt.
9. Die Abneigung dagegen, auch Frauen fÃ¼r ein Verbrechen angemessen zu bestrafen, wird immer bizarrer:
A woman who admitted she pulled the plug from her fiancÃ©âs kayak and was "euphoric" as she watched him drown in the frigid Hudson River dodged murder and manslaughter raps Monday, taking a plea deal for the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Die New York Post berichtet.
10. Die aktuellen Staffeln von "Game of Thrones" werden wegen ihrer "starken Frauenfiguren" von Feministinnen gefeiert. Das ist mehr als grotesk:
Game of Thrones is ripe with undeniably cool, badass women. Cersei blew up thousands of her citizens without a second thought. Brienne took on the Hound in single combat, and won. Daenarys has freed whole cities, acquired three dragons, and gained the Dothraki army by burning the other Khals to death. Arya murdered the entire Frey house in one sweep. (...) What each of these women have in common, what binds them together perhaps even more than their shared gender, what makes them cool, is their penchant and tolerance for a certain amount of brutality. Whether their cruelty is seemingly justified (Arya, Brienne) or solely for personal gain (Cersei, Ellaria), whether they physically engage in this violence themselves (again, Arya and Brienne) or merely commission others to do it for them (Cersei, Dany, Sansa), these women aren't afraid to raze, torture, manipulate, and murder in order to achieve their goals.
Diese Beobachtung Jordan Petersons trifft. In einer geistig gesunden Welt lÃ¤ge hier die Frage nahe, ob G.R.R.Martin mit den aktuellen Staffeln nicht schlicht den Feminismus und seine rasende Aggression persiflieren mÃ¶chte, was jene Feministinnen auch noch feiern, die zu blÃ¶d sind, Blutdurst und Massenmord problematisch zu finden, solange diese Dinge von Frauen ausgehen. Die Aussage von "Game of Thrones" kÃ¶nnte ja gerade sein, dass die feministisch gefeierten Figuren wie Arya und Daenerys, sobald sie in eine Machtposition gelangen, sich umstandslos zu Grausamkeit und Metzeleien hinreiÃen lassen, was aber von kaum einem Zuschauer kritisch gesehen wird, denn das sind ja die weiblichen "Heldinnen" und "Vorbilder". Leider sieht Peterson stattdessen als Hauptproblem, dass Frauen "traditionell mÃ¤nnliches Verhalten" wie beispielsweise "BrutalitÃ¤t" Ã¼bernÃ¤hmen, und diese Imitation von MÃ¤nnern sei ja nun wirklich problematisch.
11. In einem aktuellen Interview sprach sich die bekannte Serienschauspielerin Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men", "The West Wing" etc.) fÃ¼r mÃ¤nnerfeindliche Darstellungen in TV-Serien aus. Die Publizistin Laura Perrins bezieht dagegen Stellung. Ein Auszug:
Misandry is quite nasty and not necessary for female equality or emancipation. Is this what we have to do now â portray men as "gross, weird, nerdy or evil suppressors", in order to make ourselves feel good, because if that is the feminist deal then Iâm out. This is why I have been out for many years.
|Gehen schwarze Nazi-Soldatinnen nicht doch ein bisschen weit? â News vom 22. Juli 2017||1. Immer wieder war in diesem Blog Thema, wie unser Rechtsystem MÃ¤nner fÃ¼r dasselbe Vergehen hÃ¤rter bestraft als Frauen. Aber selten wird dies anhand eines konkreten Falls so plastisch: Ein PÃ¤rchen hat Sex auf einem Alsterdampfer und muss nun wegen "Erregung Ã¶ffentlichen Ãrgernisses" insgesamt 2600 Euro Strafe zahlen. Und zwar der Mann 2100 Euro und die Frau 500 Euro. Warum? Weil die Frau gerade Mutter geworden ist und auf die Richterin einen "ganz vernÃ¼nftigen Eindruck" machte. |
2. Zwei Nachrichten aus den USA, die Genderama vor einigen Tagen meldete, werden inzwischen auch in deutschsprachigen Leitmedien erwÃ¤hnt.
"Keine Vergewaltigung auf der Matratze" titelt "Die Zeit" zum Fall Paul NungeÃer aus Berlin und Emma Sulkowicz.
Dazu, dass die Erziehungsministerin der USA auch Gruppen einlud, die faire Verfahren fÃ¼r Beschuldigte sexueller Gewalt fordern, fÃ¤llt der "SÃ¼ddeutschen" in ihrem unnachahmlichem Stil natÃ¼rlich nur folgende Ãberschrift ein: "Trumps Bildungsministerin verunsichert Opfer sexueller Gewalt".
Ãber eine derartige Idiotie ist selbst die feministische New York Times inzwischen hinaus. "Betsy DeVos Is Right: Sexual Assault Policy Is Broken" betitelt das Blatt einen Artikel der mÃ¤nnerfreundlichen Equity-Feministin Cathy Young. Und der Boston Globe ist in seiner Schlagzeile nicht weniger deutlich: "Will Betsy DeVos fix Obamaâs toxic campus sexual assault policy?"
3. In einem Urteil, das als "wegweisend" bezeichnet wird, hat das Oberste Gericht Israels gerade ein MÃ¤nner diskriminierendes Gesetz gekippt: Jetzt mÃ¼ssen auch Frauen Unterhalt fÃ¼r Kinder zahlen. Zumindest wenn die Kinder im Alter zwischen 6 und 15 Jahren sind und ihre Mutter mehr verdient als ihr Vater.
4. Die Post. Einer meiner Leser schreibt mir zu den Schwarzen Listen, die die GrÃ¼nen Ã¼ber Feminismuskritiker angelegt haben: "Ein solcher Pranger existierte ja schon des Ã¶fteren. Das kann tatsÃ¤chlich Konsequenzen haben, wenn auch anders als vom Betreiber beabsichtigt. Als Ex-Hannoveraner bin ich vor einigen Jahren Ã¼ber diese KuriositÃ¤t gestolpert:
Die Geschichte der Sammlung Sprengel beginnt im SpÃ¤tsommer 1937 unter den seltsamsten und denkwÃ¼rdigsten UmstÃ¤nden, die je einen Sammler zum Sammeln motiviert haben, Bernhard Sprengel besuchte in MÃ¼nchen die Ausstellung "Entartete Kunst", mit der die Machthaber des Dritten Reichs die moderne Kunst dem Spott und Hohn der Masse Ã¼berantworten wollten, indem sie die aus den deutschen Museen geraubten Werke der Ãffentlichkeit ... prÃ¤sentierten. "Trotz schlechter HÃ¤ngung wirkte die 'Entartete Kunst' auf meine Frau und mich wie eine Fanfare. FÃ¼r mich, der ich bisher nur der Musik wirklich verhaftet war und bildende Kunst mehr im VorÃ¼bergehen ... betrachtet hatte, war dieses die erste wirklich zÃ¼ndende Begegnung. So fÃ¼hrte unser Weg fast zwangslÃ¤ufig zu GÃ¼nther Franke in der Brienner StraÃe, der uns im âHinterstÃ¼bchenâ die ersten beiden Aquarelle von Emil Nolde verkaufte."
"Parallelen zu Agent*in mÃ¶glich?" fragt mein Leser. "Ich wÃ¼rde es den Machern wÃ¼nschen."
Ein anderer Leser macht mich darauf aufmerksam, dass der ebenfalls auf diesen Schwarzen Listen gefÃ¼hrte Professor Aigner anscheinend selbst Mitglied der GrÃ¼nen ist. Der feministische Verfolgungseifer erwischt einmal mehr die eigenen Leute â wÃ¤hrend er dem tatsÃ¤chlichen politischen Gegner nur hilft, wie Lucas Schoppe anmerkt:
Diese Plattform richtet sich gegen demokratische Akteure von links bis konservativ, weil es nur denen schaden kann, mit Rechtsradikalen in einen Topf geworfen zu werden. Den Typen vom rechten Rand hingegen wird eine solche Gemeinsamkeit eher nÃ¼tzen â was die Verantwortlichen der Plattform billigend in kauf nehmen. Die EinschÃ¼chterung demokratischer Kritiker ist ihnen offenbar wichtiger als eine gemeinsame Kritik von RechtsauÃen-Positionen.
Und auf Facebook teilt Milosz Matuschek der Heinrich-BÃ¶ll-Stiftung mit:
Eine Prangerseite ist einer politischen Stiftung nicht wÃ¼rdig, schon gar nicht, wenn sie nach einem Mann benannt ist, der Dissidenten bei sich aufnahm. Bereue gerade nicht, bei euch als Vertrauensdozent aufgehÃ¶rt zu haben.
Matuschek hat Recht. Heinrich BÃ¶ll war eines meiner Themen im mÃ¼ndlichen Examen. Er trat immer wieder fÃ¼r die politisch Ausgegrenzten ein. Und deshalb wÃ¼rde er sich im Grab herumdrehen, wenn er wÃ¼sste, was eine nach ihm benannte Stiftung heute fabriziert.
5. Mehr Post. Ein anderer Leser bezieht sich auf eine Meldung Ã¼ber einen "sexistischen" Werbespot der Firma Audi, der in China fÃ¼r einen Aufschrei sorgte, und merkt dazu an:
Inhalt des Spots: Kurz bevor sich ein Brautpaar das Ja-Wort gibt, stÃ¼rmt die kÃ¼nftige Schwiegermutter der Braut nach vorne und begutachtet (wie auf einem Viehmarkt) das Gebiss der Frau, die Ohren, die Nase. Kurzzeitig scheint sie zufriedengestellt, da fÃ¤llt ihr Blick auf das Dekollete und der Zuschauer kann erahnen, was jetzt folgen wÃ¼rde, wenn nicht ein Schnitt erfolgte und es dann um Autos ginge.
6. Ein weiterer Leser kommentiert die auf Genderama verlinkte Satiremeldung, der zufolge Christopher Nolan dafÃ¼r kritisiert worden sei, bei seiner Verfilmung der Schlacht um DÃ¼nkirchen nur weiÃe MÃ¤nner zu zeigen:
Bei deiner heutigen Presseschau konnte ich bei dem Beitrag Ã¼ber zu wenige Frauen in DÃ¼nkirchen nicht soo sehr schmunzeln.
Wie man Ã¼ber das verlinkte Youtube-Video erfÃ¤hrt, kann man bei "Call of Duty" hingegen jetzt auch schwarze Frauen als Soldatinnen der nationalsozialistischen Armee spielen. Wegen "Diversity" und so.
"ScheiÃ auf den Realismus, wir fÃ¼gen Soldatinnen hinzu, weil das lÃ¤ngst Ã¼berfÃ¤llig ist", hatte die Spieleentwicklerin Amandine Coget schon vor einem Jahr dazu erklÃ¤rt.
Mein Leser kommentiert weiter:
Nun also treibt man das ins Extreme. Es ist ja nicht so, dass hier Alternate-Reality-Spiele verkauft werden. Dann kÃ¶nnte man ja ein Auge zudrÃ¼cken.
WÃ¤hrend sie das tatsÃ¤chliche Verrecken an der Front noch immer weit Ã¼berwiegend den "unterdrÃ¼ckerischen" MÃ¤nnern Ã¼berlassen, fordern Feministinnen, dass sie im harmlosen Spiel die PlÃ¤tze dieser MÃ¤nner einnehmen dÃ¼rfen, "weil das lÃ¤ngst Ã¼berfÃ¤llig ist". Viel schÃ¶ner kann man eigentlich nicht ausdrÃ¼cken, was eine feministische Geisteshaltung heutzutage ausmacht.
|Berating Bigotry: Religious And Policy Groups Respond To Bachmannâs Anti-Muslim Hysteria||Rob Boston|
A wide swath of the American religious and non-religious community believes Michele Bachmann is all wet.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmannâs efforts to stir up an anti-Muslim witch hunt have sparked a bit of a pushback, to put it mildly.
As you might recall, Bachmann (R-Minn.) and four other House members (Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Thomas J. Rooney of Florida and Lynn A. Westmoreland of Georgia) sent letters to the inspector general offices of the State, Justice and Homeland Security departments, demanding an investigation into the infiltration of our government by the Muslim Brotherhood.
This claim of an imminent takeover of the federal government by the Muslim Brotherhood is the latest conspiracy theory to be spat out of the far right-wing âhate-Muslims-hate-Obamaâ 24/7 nutcase cyclorama. It is getting traction only because we live in an era where, thanks to the Internet and Fox News, any crank with a modem is suddenly a media figure.
Seeing an opportunity to slam Obama and Muslims, Bachmann, a Religious Right favorite and erstwhile presidential candidate, latched onto this like a pit bull on a postal carrier and hasnât looked back.
But the unfantastic five made a big mistake: They fingered Huma Abedin, a top deputy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as key to the conspiracy. Abedin, who is Muslim, is supposedly neck-deep in this thing because three of her family members are allegedly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. Among them is her father, who has been dead for 20 years.
All of this craziness was too much for U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who stood up on the Senate floor and blasted the anti-Abedin crusade in strong language. McCain noted that he has worked with Abedin, considers her a friend and assailed those who question her patriotism.
Shortly after that, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that he doesnât know Abedin personally but added, â[F]rom everything that I do know of her she has a sterling character. Accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.â
Even Ed Rollins, a GOP strategist who managed Bachmannâs presidential campaign, let her have it. Rollins wrote a column stating, âI am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy levelâ¦.Shame on you, Michele!â
The Gang of Five responded by doubling down and insisting that they are right. Gohmert derided McCain and other critics as ânumb-nuts.â (Keep it classy, Louie!) As for Abedin, she received at least one death threat.
Iâm pleased to say that opposition to Bachmannâs xenophobia is spreading beyond the political world. Yesterday, 42 religious and public policy organizations, including Americans United, signed a joint letter to Bachmann and the other four representatives letting them know that this type of religious bigotry has no place in the United States.
âFar from supporting the safety of our country, these accusations distract us from examining legitimate threats using proven, evidence-based security strategies,â asserts the letter, which was organized by the Interfaith Alliance. âMoreover, we know all too well the danger of casting suspicion on loyal and innocent Americans simply because they hold particular beliefs.
âWe will not stand idly by and allow our country to revive federal investigations into innocent individuals based on their religious adherence. We will continue to speak out in support of people of all faiths and no faith, and the religious freedom of all Americans to practice â or choose not to practice â a religion without fear of criticism or suspicion.â
The range of signatories is impressive and includes groups that often donât see eye to eye on other issues. Religious groups signing on include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Hindu American Foundation, American Baptist Churches USA, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the United Church of Christ.
Secular and public policy groups signing on include the American Humanist Association, American Atheists, the Center for Inquiry, the Secular Coalition for America, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers and the NAACP.
Iâve worked here a long time and donât know that Iâve ever before seen a letter endorsed by both the Catholic bishops and American Atheists. I think itâs safe to say that a wide swath of the American religious and non-religious community believes the Bachmann gang is all wet.
Of course, the Religious Right is still in Bachmannâs corner. The Family Research Council (FRC) has issued a prayer alert asking its supports to rally around the âvigilantâ lawmaker who, they say, is merely asking questions.
Let the FRC stand with Bachmann â and with the anti-American values she represents. As the new letter indicates, much of the rest of the religious and secular community in America has seen her bigotry and repudiated it.
|Obama seeks tax on banks; calls bonuses obscene - Forbes.com|
|Tampa Bay Times: The unvarnished truth about climate change ... by gimleteye|
Tweet by Neil deGrasse Tysonâ @neiltyson 2h2 hours ago
Odd. No one is in denial of Americaâs Aug 21 total solar eclipse. Like Climate Change, methods & tools of science predict it.
Another in a string of excellent OPED's pointing out that Republicans and President Trump are on the far, dark side of history when it comes to climate change denialism. Clearly, GOP campaign contributors know that climate change is real. Oh, there are some who are so convinced -- by virtue of ideology or wealth -- that "the weather is always changing". They refuse to read or to understand the science.
So be it. The rest of America must begin to understand that the refusal to ACT NOW on climate change is a dismal expression of mankind's worst instincts: to selfishness, greed, and the accumulation of unlimited power.
Voters need to elevate the response to climate change to the first order of priority in selecting candidates for public office. There is no time to wait.
Editorial: The unvarnished truth about climate change
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 4:43pm
The latest federal report on the Earth's warming climate doesn't mince words about the disturbing trends, man's contributions or the dangers that millions across the globe already face, especially in low-lying coastal areas in Florida and elsewhere. It is yet another call to action for federal, state and local officials â and they all have a role to play in curbing emissions of heat-trapping gases, shoring up infrastructure, improving flood control and finding more efficient ways for societies to grow and manage their populations.
Drafted by scientists at 13 federal agencies, the report cited the warming trend as "global, long term and unambiguous." Global temperatures have increased by about 1.6 degrees over the past 150 years, the study found, and thousands of studies have created "many lines of evidence" to conclude that human activity is primarily behind the changing climate. The authors found it "extremely likely" that most of the warming since 1951 was caused by humans, and that even if emissions were to cease, existing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would cause temperatures to increase at least a half-degree Fahrenheit over this century.
The report, by 30 lead authors representing agencies such as NASA, federal laboratories, the private sector and universities, is part of the National Climate Assessment. That is a congressionally mandated analysis that seeks to build on the existing science and provide a snapshot of the current state of climate change. It found an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, and warming in the Arctic at twice the rate of the global average â a phenomenon that could impact sea levels, the weather and other patterns in the lower 48 states. One-third of the sea level rise since 1880 has occurred since 1990, and coastal communities from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic are at increasing risk of routine flooding, saltwater intrusion into the drinking water supply and the collapse of roads, utilities and other vital infrastructure. That puts Florida's east and west coastlines at risk, yet Gov. Rick Scott's administration has been less aggressive than local governments in South Florida and Tampa Bay in addressing the challenges.
The findings contradict the talking points of the Trump administration, which has openly questioned the science behind climate change and the degree that humans contribute to it, and which has moved to reverse the clean-air initiatives of the Obama White House. The unpublished analysis was made available to the New York Times days before Sunday's deadline for the 13 federal agencies to approve the report. Making the report public at least forces the Trump administration to explain why it does or does not stand behind the science.
This national assessment lays a foundation for securing federal funding and regulatory direction on climate policy, and it offers state and local governments the technical assistance they need to incorporate the impact of climate change into their planning for infrastructure, land use and other long-term issues. States and cities, though, cannot cede all responsibility to the federal government. Studies show Florida, for example, has invested trillions of dollars in infrastructure with virtually no consideration given to rising sea levels. Rising seas could swell Tampa Bay up to 19 inches over the next quarter-century, putting tens of thousands of residents at risk. The federal study is another wake-up call about a threat that is real, here and more pressing by the day.
Editorial: The unvarnished truth about climate change 08/09/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 9, 2017 4:48pm]
|An Adult Conversation About Medicare For All ... by gimleteye|
NOTE: What the hell is going on with Republicans in Congress? The GOP is spending itself on health care like waves on a beach; a great surge then slide back out to sea.
GOP leadership believes that its base is motivated by only one idea: overthrow Obamacare. What was a popular net to corral voters turns out to be much less popular, and not at all effective, as a matter of protecting people, jobs, family and income.
It would be far better for sober adults in the GOP majority in Congress to look at the outcomes of health care in the U.S. As Dr. Carol Paris and many others report: the United States lags health care metrics compared to nearly every other industrialized nation. "Compared to ten other wealthy countries, the U.S. ranks dead last for life expectancy, and access to care. We even have the lowest number of hospital beds per capita, a way that health experts measure the capacity of a nationâs health system. Itâs as if our system was designed to deny care."
The only metric where U.S. health care exceeds beyond imagination: empowering and enriching intermediaries in the health care supply chain.
I understand that this point grossly simplifies a massively complex process, but if other Western nations can effectively institute a single-payer system, why can't we?
Friday, July 28, 2017
by Common Dreams
It's Time for the Adults in This Nation To Talk Seriously About Medicare for All
Today, we breathe a quick sigh a relief. But we cannot celebrate a return to the failed status quo.
by Dr. Carol Paris
Ruby Partin, 63, and her adoptive son Timothy Huff, 5, wait for a free clinic to open in the early morning of July 22, 2017 in Wise, Virginia. Hundreds of Appalachia residents waited through the night for the annual Remote Area Medical (RAM), clinic for dental, vision and medical services held at the Wise County Fairgrounds in western Virginia. The county is one of the poorest in the state, with high number of unemployed and underinsured residents. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)
Hundreds of people slept overnight in cars, or camped for days in a field. They told stories of yanking out their own teeth with pliers, of reusing insulin syringes until they broke in their arm, of chronic pain so debilitating they could hardly care for their own children. At daybreak, they lined up for several more hours outside a white tent, waiting for their chance to visit a doctor. For many, this was the first health care provider theyâve seen in years.
Is this a place torn by war, famine or natural disaster? No, this charity medical clinic was last weekend in southwest Virginia, in the wealthiest country in the world, where we spend nearly three times as much money on health care as other similar countries.
"Itâs as if our system was designed to deny care."
And what do we get for our money? The very definition of health care rationing: 28 million Americans without insurance, and millions more insured, but avoiding treatment because of sky-high deductibles and co-pays. Compared to ten other wealthy countries, the U.S. ranks dead last for life expectancy, and access to care. We even have the lowest number of hospital beds per capita, a way that health experts measure the capacity of a nationâs health system. Itâs as if our system was designed to deny care.
America does hit the top of the list in some areas. Compared to other nations, American doctors and patients waste the most hours on billing and insurance claims. We have the highest rate of infant mortality, and the highest percentage of avoidable deathsâpatients who die from complications or conditions that could have been avoided with timely care.
Clearly, this system is broken. Like a cracked pipe, money gushes into our health care system but steadily leaks out. Money is siphoned into the advertising budgets of insurance companies and the army of corporate bureaucrats working to deny claims. Even more dollars are soaked up by the pockets of insurance CEOs who have collectively earned $9.8 billion since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. Nearly a third of our health care dollars go to something other than health care.
President Trump recognized votersâ frustration and campaigned on a promise of more coverage, better benefits, and lower costs. We couldnât agree more with these goals. However, instead of trying to fix our broken system, GOP leaders are acting more like toddlers, mid-tantrum, smashing our health system into smaller and smaller pieces, threatening to push even more Americansâthe most vulnerable among usâthrough the cracks. Last night, a few Senate Republicans stood up and acted like adults, putting an end to this dangerous game.
Today, we breathe a quick sigh of relief. But we cannot celebrate a return to the status quo, a system that rations health care based on income and allows 18,000 Americans to die each year unnecessarily.
Where do we go from here?
Republicans had eight years to come up with a plan that achieves more coverage, better benefits and lower costs. Have our elected leaders simply run out of ideas?
"The good news is that we already have a proven model for health financing that is popular among both patients and physicians."
The good news is that we already have a proven model for health financing that is popular among both patients and physicians. It provides medically-necessary care to the oldest and sickest Americans with a fraction of the overhead of private insurance. Itâs called Medicare, and I can tell you as a physician that it has worked pretty darn well for more than 50 years.
Not only do we have a model, we have a bill that would expand Medicare to cover everyone and improve it to include prescriptions, dental, vision, and long-term care. Itâs called H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, a single-payer plan that would provide comprehensive care to everyone living in the U.S. The bill would yield about $500 billion annually in administrative savings while covering the 28 million currently uninsured. Medicare for all is gaining steam with a record 115 co-sponsors, a majority of House Democrats.
Now that Republican senators have finally worn themselves out, Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to file his own single-payer Medicare for all bill. Senators from both parties will be asked to choose a side: Do you support the current system of health care rationing, medical bankruptcies and unnecessary deaths; or a program proven to work both here and in every other developed country?
A majority of Americans now believe that health care is a human right, and that it is our government's responsibility to achieve universal coverage. Weâve tried everything else except Medicare for all. What are we waiting for?
|Kid in popemobile gets âtop prizeâ at White House||View image | gettyimages.com Fron AP: A toddler dressed like the pope and pushed along in a popemobile got the top prize at President Barack Obamaâs White House Halloween. Upon seeing the costume, Obama turned to the news media and declared âtop prize.â Read more and see more pictures.Â |
|Obama vs Romney â Decide Who Wins!||Click on each state in the map with your predictions, and the running total at the bottom will tell you who wins! You can also cycle through the results of elections 1789-2008, which is entertaining if you read the little election facts at the bottom of each map. Personally, it kind of reminded me of […]|
|Obama & Clinton: Chris Hayes Nails the Difference||In last night’s MSNBC coverage of the Democratic Convention, Chris Hayes drew this contrast between Clinton compromises and Obama compromises. It’s definitely worth a watch. Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy And there’s some truth.|
|Birth Certificate vs. Tax Returns||Do you think the Obama campaign is drawing inspiration for their “where are the tax returns?” push from the birth certificate debacle? It’s been interesting watching and listening to this developing over the weekend. I’m hearing questions and comments about Mitt Romney’s tax returns that sound a whole lot familiar to anyone who followed the […]|
|Watch: Stephen Colbert Interviews Gay Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes About His New Project âJumoâ||Last night, Stephen Colbert interviewed gay Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes about the personal fortune he made from Facebook, his work for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and his new project, Jumo, which helps people connect with non-profit organizations, learn their stories, and volunteer or donate. Watch, AFTER THE JUMP… The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm […]|
|Kerry Eleveld interviews Hillary Clinton||The Obama administration floodgates seem to have opened wide, in terms of press availabilities with the gay media. Feeling your way through an interview with one of the worldâs most powerful women is more art than science. Marriage seemed like the place to start, since Clinton had been caught off guard by a recent inquiry […]|
|Donald Trump dice no recibirÃ¡ un dÃ³lar de su salario como presidente. Â¿SerÃ¡ que va a mantener su promesa?||El republicano electo, Donald Trump, afirmÃ³ antes de su victoria que no tomarÃa âni un dÃ³lar del salario presidencialâ. Una promesa que muchos se preguntan si se empeÃ±arÃ¡ en mantener, ahora que reemplazarÃ¡ a Barak Obama. De hecho, las preguntas no han parado de llegarle desde que se anunciaran los resultados de la elecciÃ³n. El […]|
|Kat Blaque's Tweets Sum Up How We Feel About Trump's Trans Military Ban|| |
The trans activist and YouTuber made a good point about the military.#ActivismKatBlaque#Transgender#LGBTRaffy Ermac
In a series of tweets from earlier this morning, President Donald Trump announced that transgender people are now going to be banned from serving in the United States military.Â
As The Advocate points out, under a previous policy announced by Ash Carter (defense secretary under President Obama), trans people were able to serve openly and have access to insurance coverage for transition-related medical procedures since last year. But with Trump's new plans, that policy is now being completely reversed. And rightfully, people everywhere are upset about it.
Trans activist and YouTuberÂ Kat Blaque took to Twitter to point out that while it's extremely bigoted and discriminatory to ban people from an institution based on their gender identity, that doesn't necessarily translate into support for the military and war.
So what are your thoughts on the news of Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the military? Contribute to the conversation in the comments and on Twitter.0
Kat Blaque's Tweets Sum Up How We Feel About Trump's Trans Military Ban0
|What Does Victory Look Like in Afghanistan?|
What Does Victory Look Like in Afghanistan?
More U.S. troops are likely headed back to Afghanistan soon, while the Trump Administration is also now considering withdrawal. Before either option––or anything in between––is considered, the U.S. needs to decide what version of victory it wants before it can decide on a strategy.
One of the most shocking statements I’ve heard on Afghanistan in sometime was that the official U.S. policy is to force the Taliban into a negotiated settlement. This statement came from a highly respected scholar of U.S. foreign policy and military strategy. I wondered what veterans like myself should think of such a policy. Almost 17 years of fighting, over 2,000 killed, and countless others wounded or otherwise affected, and our strategy is now to accept peace with the Taliban and see them holding legislative seats in Kabul and contributing to governing Afghanistan?
To be fair, the statement above was somewhat of a misstatement. What he intended to say was that this is the actual policy being pursued by the U.S., if unofficially and inconsistently. It is an unofficial policy because it would be highly unpopular with the domestic audience in the U.S., and it is inconsistent because presidents have been unwilling to commit the political capital necessary to sustain such a policy. Since a possible troop increase was announced in June, journalists and analysts (and Trump’s advisors) have been debating the strategy to which the U.S. should commit itself. However, these debates often consider strategies in isolation, and this is a mistake. Strategies must be judged relative to the realistic alternatives. This article categorizes the most common recent arguments, considers their limitations, and makes an argument for the least bad option, a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.
MILITARY ENGAGEMENT WITHOUT A COHERENT POLICY SHAPING THE STRATEGY BY WHICH THE CAMPAIGN IS CARRIED OUT IS LITTLE MORE THAN ORGANIZED SLAUGHTER.
One potential strategy considers the possibility of a post-World War II arrangement, leaving a permanent contingent of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to keep the Taliban and others at bay and influence other countries with interests in Central Asia. Unsurprisingly, many considering this possibility find the prospect unsustainable and possibly unachievable.
Another strategy considers the complex regional dynamics of the situation and suggests increasingly forceful engagement with neighboring countries, specifically Pakistan. Use of Pakistani territory sustains and strengthens Taliban operations in Afghanistan and the Pakistanis have been notoriously difficult partners for the U.S. and others.
Still another approach considers the folly of sending more troops before a coherent strategy, or even policy, has been agreed upon. Almost 200 years ago, Clausewitz asserted, “War is a mere continuation of policy by other means.” Military engagement without a coherent policy shaping the strategy by which the campaign is carried out is little more than organized slaughter.
A final take on the situation defines victory as an Afghanistan fully restored via so-called nation-building. This argument suggests less reliance on the military and more on civilians and the State Department. Others, like Gary Dempsey, argue the costs so greatly outweigh the benefits that the U.S. should simply cut its losses and withdraw. Withdrawal arguments usually suggest that after ground forces have left the U.S. should send targeted operations into Afghanistan whenever violent non-state actors set up shop again, but this assumes the political will and legal justifications will hold indefinitely––which isn’t a safe assumption.
The problem with all of the above arguments is that they only consider one possible form of victory, or take the form of victory as a given. This can be effective when advocating for certain policies, but it also comes with significant limitations. As an alternative, I will present a variety of potential victories––each different in some critical way––and assess the prospects for achieving each and what they mean for U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR A TOTAL VICTORY?
It is first necessary to assess the most common assumption for victory and the current state of that possibility. The early stages of the war in Afghanistan were entirely directed at removing the Taliban from power and going after al Qaeda's central structure. This gave Operation Enduring Freedom a specific counterterrorism focus. Therefore, the early objectives necessary for victory were limited: end or degrade al Qaeda and the Taliban. This mission was accomplished, and surprisingly quickly. However, the mission then shifted from counterterrorism to ambitious state-building as the security situation deteriorated and the Taliban began to push back into the country from their sanctuary in Pakistan. NATO troops pushed out from Kabul and sought to extend the new central government’s authority throughout the country.
ASSUMING ANOTHER MILITARY VICTORY OVER THE TALIBAN COULD BE ACHIEVED, THE AFGHAN GOVERNMENT WOULD STILL NEED TO ESTABLISH CONTROL OVER A TERRITORY THAT FEW CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE EVER BEEN ABLE TO CONTROL SINCE MODERN AFGHANISTAN WAS FOUNDED AROUND 1747.
If we assume these more ambitious statebuilding objectives to be the standard by which victory is now measured, each of the following would have to happen before that victory could be considered won: the Taliban would have to be beaten back militarily, the Afghan government would need to establish control over the overwhelming majority of the country, and the U.S. would have no more than a small contingent of trainers and advisors on the ground. Given the length of the effort in Afghanistan thus far, it’s inconsistent progress, and the present trend, this outcome seems unlikely.
Assuming another military victory over the Taliban could be achieved, the Afghan government would still need to establish control over a territory that few central governments have ever been able to control since modern Afghanistan was founded around 1747. Afghan expert Thomas Barfield argues that attempts to extend control over the whole of Afghanistan like other modern states do is a fundamental flaw in U.S. strategy and is simply not possible in a country like Afghanistan. Instead, Barfield has suggested a “Swiss cheese” model should be used. That is, control the vital areas (the population centers) that can be controlled and ignore the areas that cannot. Unfortunately, this isn’t even a realistic model for Afghanistan today, since the holes in government control would undoubtedly be used as safe-havens for any number of armed anti-government and anti-U.S. groups operating in the country. Such a strategy can only work if sustainable and enforceable treaties can be negotiated with the various armed groups.
An Afghan farmer works in a poppy field on the outskirts of Jalalabad, the capital city of Nangarhar province. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty)
Furthermore, even if the government were able to reestablish control over all its territory, the government has a myriad of high-grade issues that significantly inhibit the its ability to exercise and maintain control and authority over said territory. Corruptioninhibits the government’s ability to deliver goods and services. Opium continues to flourish in Afghanistan and fund numerous individuals and organizations beyond the control of the central government, criminal and otherwise. Afghanistan’s relationship with its neighbors is complicated, and contributes to the instability. Afghanistan is also plagued by a persistently weak economy that is unlikely to improve to a sufficient level to contribute to stability or even pay the government's bills without foreign aid.
This path to victory also hopes the Afghan government can be encouraged to reform; it cannot. For many non-trivial reasons, it is unreasonable to expect the Afghan government to make the necessary reforms, even if pressured by the U.S. or the international community. Several scholarly articles attempt to explain this phenomenon. Generally speaking, it is clear the interests of the Afghan government will always diverge from those of the U.S. government. Afghan officials will be more interested in crushing coup attempts before they happen or paying off their political rivals; reforming government agencies, especially in the security sector, is more likely to encourage coups and embolden their enemies. No one should hope for government reforms as the path to peace in Afghanistan.
In sum, this vision of victory is unrealistic. Too many variables are too unlikely to be achieved for any reasonable person to think that all of them can be achieved, and at a reasonable cost.
CAN THE TALIBAN BE BEATEN (AGAIN) MILITARILY?
Taliban defeat on the battlefield is given special consideration here. Some might assume victory over the Taliban today should be as easy as it was in 2001. However, the posture and disposition of the Taliban today is very different than it was in 2001. They have been contesting and controlling territory, and that territory could be retaken if subjected to an effort similar to the one in 2001. However, their underground networks and sanctuary support are much more robust than they were. When pushed back from their territory in 2001, it took the Taliban about five years to build the infrastructure of insurgency and push back into Afghanistan. Today, the Taliban wouldn’t skip a beat if denied their territory.
Therefore, all of the issues mentioned in the above section would have to be remedied before the highest possible version of victory could be achieved, and this assumed the Taliban could be defeated anew, which also doesn’t seem likely. A series of unlikely conditions are necessary to sustainably defeat the Taliban. First, total cooperation with Pakistan, who would need to establish control over their own western provinces where these groups are currently afforded safe-haven, would be necessary. Second, Afghanistan would need a robust and functioning security apparatus, which it doesn’t have. Emphasis has been placed on building the Afghan military, but militaries are better at taking and holding territory than they are at defeating insurgencies, which is only step one in a campaign against the Taliban. Furthermore, evidence suggests that terrorist groups are mostly defeated by police and intelligence forces of local governments, not militaries.
An Afghan soldier during an anti-Taliban operation in eastern Kunar provice. (AFP/BBC)
There is a surprisingly positive trend in the use of Afghan police and intelligence forces to pressure and dismantle the Taliban. Increases in Afghan National Army regular forces have essentially flat-lined. On the other hand, the Afghan government plans to increase the number of special forces commandos exponentially, as shown in the chart below.Commandos have the tools and training to effectively go after non-state actors like the Taliban, but there are still significant barriers to defeating the Taliban via these means. First, the feasibility and effectiveness of doubling the size of commando forces isn’t certain. New recruits are drawn from conventional forces, so current special forces capabilities wouldn’t necessarily be reduced. However, whether they’re able to effectively train, equip, and support such a large force remains to be seen. Second, the Taliban would still be able to launch attacks from Pakistan; Afghanistan would still need to improve policing capabilities; and social and economic conditions would need to improve so unemployed youth couldn’t be convinced or paid to carry out attacks for the Taliban.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that the vast increase in commando power will go unnoticed by successive governments. As explained above, corrupt governments tend to weaken their military to hedge against coups.
WHAT DOES A MITIGATED SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?
With a long list of limitations preventing more ambitious victories, it is important to consider what lesser forms of success might look like and whether they are worth pursuing. A mitigated success would at least contain but not defeat the Taliban and focus on areas of higher strategic value, disregarding areas of lesser strategic value (as in the Barfield Strategy). This version of victory would even allow the Taliban to rule certain areas, or establish a power-sharing agreement in those areas not vital to the Government of Afghanistan. Such an approach could achieve core U.S. national interests at lower costs. For example, this would eliminate Afghanistan as a terrorist safe haven, and if Afghanistan were to revert to a safe haven in the future, the circumstance could be addressed more easily in these circumstances. Furthermore, with no powerful armed group opposing it, the Afghan government would be much less likely to collapse and potentially destabilize Pakistan, which is important for keeping nuclear weapons from proliferating into non-state hands.
Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned to Kabul on May 4 after signing a peace deal with the Afghan government. (Reuters/Parwiz)
This strategy would solve one of the weaknesses in Barfield’s strategy by establishing peace with armed groups in exchange for control of their local areas, but how likely is it these armed groups will successfully reintegrate into the legitimate political process? Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the violent political party Hezb-i-Islami, recently attempted this exact transition. There are also reasons to believe some within the Taliban organization are at least willing to consider what is being offered in negotiations. This is perhaps why the members of ISIS in Afghanistan are mostly disaffected Taliban members. There is no way to know for sure why the former Taliban members defected, but several factors indicate that a willingness to negotiate for peace was important.
IF THE TALIBAN ARE TO BE INTEGRATED INTO THE POLITICAL PROCESS, BOTH THEY AND THE AFGHAN PEOPLE WILL NEED TO FIND A PATH TO RECONCILIATION.
The Taliban have attempted negotiations several times since 2001. Taliban leader Mullah Omar died in April of 2013, but top commanders kept it a secret. Writing under Mullah Omar’s name, these top commanders struck a conciliatory tone, advocating for an inclusive Islamic government in Afghanistan. In October 2014, five to six top commanders of the Taliban defected and subsequently pledged loyalty to ISIS. Predictably, the Taliban command claimed they were expelled from the group. Nine months later, the Taliban called for peace talks again. Therefore it seems reasonable that some attribute the rise of ISIS in Afghanistan to disgruntled former Taliban hardliners, and a willingness to negotiate is a likely source of these sentiments.
As is clear by the many failed attempts by the Taliban to negotiate peace, there are limitations to the feasibility of this move for many of the violent groups that forms its ranks. Consider some analogous circumstances. The most powerful violent insurgency group in Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), recently negotiated a peace deal with the government. Successfully transitioning to peace will be difficult, as many Colombians are still scarred from the violence they carried. Similarly, the Basque Homeland and Liberty (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or ETA) separatist in Spain is attempting the same move, and the legacy of their violence is also an issue. Likewise, many Afghans remember the part Hekmatyar took in the shelling of Kabul during the civil war following the withdrawal of Soviet forces. Many Afghans will not soon forget the pain suffered at the hands of the various violent groups that fall under the aegis of the Taliban.
If the Taliban are to be integrated into the political process, both they and the Afghan people will need to find a path to reconciliation. It is theoretically possible to achieve a deal without this reconciliation, but whatever peace is achieved without it may be tenuous at best. Again, analogy might be useful. Rwanda is engaging in a justice and reconciliation process to deal with the legacies of their genocide. South Africa set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with the legacies of apartheid. Alternatively, Indonesia has set up no such commission or process, and their resultant peace has been much more tenuous and fragile.
It is also important to consider domestic opinion in the U.S., where the divergence between its interest and that of Afghanistan is perhaps clearest. Even if the Government of Afghanistan could reconcile with the Taliban, precarious as this would be given the support the U.S. must provide to sustain it, any negotiated settlement would be hugely unpopular domestically. Many would see it as surrendering to the enemy, leaving open a cynical but clear political opportunity. The unpopularity of working with the Taliban was on full display when the Obama Administration announced a prisoner swap with the Taliban that retrieved captured U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. It is unlikely current or future U.S. presidents will be willing to expend the political capital necessary to make a negotiated settlement with the Taliban possible, especially considering the uncertainty of success.
IS A MITIGATED FAILURE WORTH CONSIDERING?
Considering all of the limitations of the above strategic alternatives, it should be considered what a mitigated failure would look like. A mitigated failure would probably include some or all of the following outcomes. First, traditionally Pashtun lands would be conceded to the Taliban, and the central government would maintain a tenuous control over other territories. The Taliban are strongest in Pashtun regions, but they have shown an ability to reach beyond these areas. Regions under strong Taliban control would be relatively peaceful, but fighting would remain intense in disputed areas. Pakistan would be keen to avoid this, much like the Turks wanting to resist an independent Kurdish state.
Pakistan’s position in Afghanistan has always been to maintain as much influence over their neighbor as possible. Prior to 9/11, the intelligence and military establishment in Pakistan had established close ties with Mullah Omar and the Taliban. However, Pakistan post 9/11 has been forced to align reluctantly against the Taliban. The Taliban now has bases of operation in Pakistan and it is not certain that a peaceful relationship could be established if they gain some control in Afghanistan at the expense of the government. The possibility of the Taliban gaining power in Afghanistan and looking for more influence east of the Durand Line is too great a risk.
WHAT DOES ABJECT FAILURE LOOK LIKE, AND HOW IS IT AVOIDED?
That leaves one final possibility: abject failure. This could happen if the international community loses patience with Afghanistan and cuts its losses, like the Trump Administration is perhaps considering. This certainly wouldn’t be the first time Afghanistan has been cut loose; there has been a pattern of countless such abandonments throughout history, like the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. Importantly, though, the international community has always decided to return. Afghanistan’s strategic importance to the rest of the world is significant, and modern forms of terrorism have compounded the effects of this strategic importance. This significance is evident in the many times that multiple empires have attempted to conquer it. Afghanistan is at the crossroads of the Middle East, Southern Asia, and Central Asia, and it continues to be a vital transit area for land-based commerce and gas and oil pipelines. There is no doubt that cutting strategic losses today might result in a strategic need to return a few decades, or even a few years, later.
Previous attempts to define victory in Afghanistan, and therefore advocate a strategy, have often considered various types of victory in isolation. However, the ideal end state for Afghanistan should be considered relative to the alternatives. A total victory is ideal, but needs to solve numerous enormous problems resulting from seemingly endless systemic conflicts. It would also require the greatest degree of political will sustained over the long-term. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the Taliban can be beaten militarily like they were in 2001. The government of Afghanistan and its allies could regain lost territory, but it is already a robust insurgency and terrorist organization; and these types of movements are rarely defeated militarily. Abject failure would be cost efficient in the short-term, but the resultant problems would increase costs over the long-term and would undermine U.S. national interests. A mitigated failure would likely have all the negative costs of abject failure, but with greater U.S. losses on the path to failure. Ultimately, total victory is ideal but highly unlikely. Abject and mitigated failures have long-term costs and endanger U.S. national interests. This leaves us with mitigated success and a negotiated settlement with the Taliban as the most prudent option.
A negotiated settlement would come with high political costs to whichever U.S. president decided to pursue it. However, these political costs would be lower than those required for a total victory. Furthermore, negotiations have mostly failed because there is no concerted effort or strategy to achieve it, just periodic opportunism. There’s no doubt this strategy would be highly unpopular and downright offensive to many Americans––especially veterans of the war. However, the question shouldn’t only be about its popularity; it should also be about its feasibility to bring about the end of America’s longest war.
The path of least resistance in Afghanistan is to contain the Taliban over the long-term. This starts with a continued focus on the building of commando and police capacity while reducing resources for the conventional Afghan National Army, because the Taliban are the problem rather than external invasion. The maintenance of a strategic alliance with the government of Afghanistan to deter foreign military interventions will allow the central government to focus on internal state building and reconciliation. The encouragement of smaller insurgent groups to negotiate transitions into the political process will enable reconciliation. Finally, seeking avenues to allow for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, and integration into the political process if necessary, are critical.
The other victories mentioned above are certainly possible, but not at acceptable costs. A total victory––while appealing––would require extensive resources, in both blood and treasure, expended over an indeterminate amount of time. In 2012, a majority of Americans wanted to speed up the pace of the 2014 withdrawal. When the war started in 2001, about 90% of Americans said starting the war was not a mistake. Today, that number has decreased by about 40 points. No politician will have the political capital to commit the resources to a total victory. Other types of victories are more ideal and would be more popular, and despite the sentiment against the option, a negotiated settlement is not only more likely to happen in our lifetime, it’s also the most feasible outcome for success.
Adam Wunische is a U.S. Army veteran who has deployed twice to Afghanistan. He is also a PhD student at Boston College and a contributing analyst at Wikistrat
|Creating A 12 To 24-Month Policy Bridge For A New Afghanistan Strategy|
Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve
3:52 PM 08/04/2017
Up until now his advisors have offered President Trump two choices for failure in Afghanistan, one quick, withdrawal, and one slow, a continuation of the failed strategy of the last sixteen years.
By now it should be apparent to all knowledgeable people that U.S. objectives cannot be achieved in land-locked Afghanistan where Pakistan, whose Afghanistan objectives differ from ours, controls the supply of our troops and the battle tempo through its support of the Taliban and Haqqani network.
An alternative is to provide the President with a 12 to 24-month plan that bridges the gap between the present untenable strategy to a longer term solution.
That is, rather than tweak the current strategy, begin to address the core problem, a strategic environment that has made success of the current strategy impossible.
Within the next two years, the Trump Administration should formulate a strategy that exploits Pakistan’s pain points, one which carves out roles for the Department of Defense, Department of State and Congress.
While preventing a further deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan, different permutations and degrees of the following actions should be pursued, both as short term leverage against Pakistan and, ideally, to create a regional strategic environment more conducive to U.S. interests. That is, it is not the Taliban and the Haqqani network that need to be brought to the negotiating table, but Pakistan.
Foreign aid to Pakistan – reduce it to a trickle. Even Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States says that a tougher approach needs to be adopted toward his country: “The Bush administration gave Pakistan $12.4 billion in aid, and the Obama administration forked over $21 billion. These incentives did not make Pakistan more amenable to cutting off support for the Afghan Taliban.”Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status – cancel all or part of it. As a MNNA country, approved by President George W. Bush in 2004, Pakistan became “eligible for priority delivery of defense material, an expedited arms sale process, and a U.S. loan guarantee program, which backs up loans issued by private banks to finance arms exports. It can also stockpile U.S. military hardware, participate in defense research and development programs, and be sold more sophisticated weaponry.”Declaration of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism – advance the House bill through Congress. On September 20, 2016, Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02), the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, along with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), introduced H.R.6069, the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act. According to Chairman Poe: “Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years. From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror.”Durand Line – Pakistan depends on it – question its legitimacy. The Durand Line is the arbitrary 1896 border drawn between Afghanistan and Pakistan by British Diplomat Sir Mortimer Durand. Pashtun lands have been artificially divided and Pakistan is using its Pashtun population as Taliban cannon fodder.China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – undermine it. Pakistan has significant economic incentive to exclude western countries from maintaining any influence in Afghanistan. It is called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones. CPEC is an infrastructure project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea. Gwadar is a potential Chinese naval base at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which will complement another Chinese naval base in Djibouti at the mouth of the Red Sea creating two critical strategic choke points.Ethnic separatism – encourage it – Pakistan is the Yugoslavia of South Asia. Probably the greatest of all potential Pakistani pain points is ethnic separatism. Pakistan was founded on the religion of Islam and is composed primarily of five ethnic groups that never coexisted, the Bengalis, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch. Pakistan’s Islamic nationalism program was specifically designed to suppress ethnic separatism, an effort that eventually led to the proliferation of Islamic terrorist groups within its borders and their use as instruments of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Exploitation of ethnic separatism within Pakistan, such as in Balochistan, remains an option. That is, fight an insurgency with an insurgency.
A longer term solution for Afghanistan was described previously in the Daily Caller, one based on counterterrorism rather than counterinsurgency, providing a cost-effective, flexible and “conditions-based” strategy advocated by retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely in a Diana West article.
“Such a strategy, Vallely explained, relies on ‘the maximum use of unconventional forces,’ such as Navy SEALS and other special forces, who can be deployed as needed from what are known in military parlance as ‘lily pads’ — outposts or jumping-off points in friendly countries (Israel, Northern Kurdistan, India, Philippines, Italy, Djibouti … ) and from U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. Such strike groups generally include eight to 10 vessels ‘with more fire power,’ the general noted, ‘than most nations.’ These lily pads become ‘bases we can launch from any time we want to,’ eliminating the need for massive land bases such as Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, by now a small city of 20,000 American personnel who continuously need to be supplied and secured at enormous expense.”
In terms of Afghanistan strategy, it is time to build a bridge to somewhere.
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. He receives email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Monday morning. 9:30 am. Washington, D.C. Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his attorney Larry Klayman will face off in a Preliminary Injunction hearing in D.C.âs U.S. District Court. Arpaio filed suit on December 6th, citing that President Obamaâs plan to grant Amnesty to 4.7 million illegal immigrants as a violation of the Constitution. Upon filing the […]
The post Immigration Showdown! Obama vs. Sheriff Joe Hearing Set appeared first on Liberty News Now.
|Obama Sued over Amnesty Plans|
Joining forces with notorious Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, public interest attorney Larry Klayman has filed suit against President Obama to halt his immigration plans. The case, Arpaio v Obama (14-cv-1966), was filed by Klayman in Washington, D.C. Obama announced on November 20th that under his own authority, he would grant amnesty to 4.7 million illegal […]
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|By: alex mckeithen||an excellent and much needed forum to display ideas/design/art concerning hot topics...
the 'gun' and 'obama' collections show wide diversity â keep the topics coming!|
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|Obama Speaks Up On New Trumpcare Healthcare Bill|
The recent GOP health care bill has unmuted former President Barack Obama, who before now has not commented on the Donald Trump presidency, or any of Trump previous allegations. The reason Obama is coming out now is to speak against the current released GOP health care bill.
Barack Obama and Donald Trump disagree over the cost and insurance rates of the new health care bill for Americans. This also includes argument over the world mean.
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In a long Facebook post by Obama, the rushed-through Republican health care bill "would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it," he then added "Small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."
Trump during his interview with his favourite TV cable network, Fox and friends,Â confirmed that he also denounces the GOP health care bill, and said he had told that "I want to see a (health care) bill with heart."
According to Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price while speaking to CNN, said that the goal of the new Trumpcare goal is to decrease premiums, even though few republicans believes this is not feasible under their new proposed plan.
Read Obama write up here;
Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, thatâs what we need to do today.
I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure whatâs really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.
We didnât fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain â we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.
Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones â a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.
And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women canât be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parentsâ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition â we made that a thing of the past.
We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.
At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts â and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.
That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that thereâs a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, itâs to make peopleâs lives better, not worse.
But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. Thatâs not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to Americaâs doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. Itâs a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.
Simply put, if thereâs a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family â this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.
I hope our Senators ask themselves â what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their childâs cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?
To put the American people through that pain â while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return â thatâs tough to fathom. But itâs whatâs at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.
That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe thatâs what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that itâs possible â if you are willing to make a difference again. If youâre willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.
After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. Itâs about the character of our country â who we are, and who we aspire to be. And thatâs always worth fighting for.
|Donald Trump Told The Russians Israel Was Able To Hack ISIS Computers|
Donald Trump leaked a classified Intel about ISIS to the Russians when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyakvisited visited the White House. According to New York times, Donald Trump told the Russians some classified information that was obtained by Israel after it hacked into a ISIS cell of bombmakers based in Syria.
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According to a U.S official, the Intel that was gathered allowed the U.S to learn that ISISÂ was working on explosives that could fool airport security by passing as a laptop battery. The information prompted a ban of laptops from all Muslim countries coming to the United States and Britain.
The information was classified, and was shared by Israel to the United States, and was not supposed to be shared around, but Donald Trump leaked this information when the Russian diplomats came to the White House, which could then be leaked to Iran.
There has been close working relationship between the U.S and Israeli intelligence agencies, allowing for sharing of information,Â including the disclosure of sources and methods. The cooperation had yielded great result including the disruption of Iran nuclear program.
The American officials under former President Obama warned the Israeli intelligence to be careful of the information they shared with Donald Trump.
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|Bombshell In President Trump Administration As James Comey Release Opening Statement Of His Testimony|
In few hours to his testimony in the US senate, James Comey has opening statement has been posted online.
Read the former FBI director, James Comey statement here;
Statement for the Record
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017
Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee.
Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.
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January 6 Briefing
I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.
The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.
The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI's counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI's leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.
It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau's goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves "turning" the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.
Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will "open an investigation" on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.
In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI's leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President Elect Trump's reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.
I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) -- once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months -- three in person and six on the phone.
January 27 Dinner
The President and I had dinner on Friday, January 27 at 6:30 pm in the Green Room at the White House. He had called me at lunchtime that day and invited me to dinner that night, saying he was going to invite my whole family, but decided to have just me this time, with the whole family coming the next time. It was unclear from the conversation who else would be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others.
It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.
The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away.
My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI's traditionally independent status in the executive branch.
I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not "reliable" in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody's side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.
A few moments later, the President said, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty." I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because "problems" come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.
Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, "I need loyalty." I replied, "You will always get honesty from me." He paused and then said, "That's what I want, honest loyalty." I paused, and then said, "You will get that from me." As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase "honest loyalty" differently, but I decided it wouldn't be productive to push it further. The term -- honest loyalty -- had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.
During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn't happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren't, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.
As was my practice for conversations with President Trump, I wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately afterwards and shared it with the senior leadership team of the FBI.
February 14 Oval Office Meeting
On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism briefing of the President. He sat behind the desk and a group of us sat in a semi-circle of about six chairs facing him on the other side of the desk. The Vice President, Deputy Director of the CIA, Director of the National CounterTerrorism Center, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and I were in the semi-circle of chairs. I was directly facing the President, sitting between the Deputy CIA Director and the Director of NCTC. There were quite a few others in the room, sitting behind us on couches and chairs.
The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me.
When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, "I want to talk about Mike Flynn." Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn't done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.
The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information -- a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.
The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, "He is a good guy and has been through a lot." He repeated that Flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go." I replied only that "he is a good guy." (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would "let this go."
The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.
I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn's departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI's role as an independent investigative agency.
The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President's request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General's role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members -- or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them -- aware of the President's request.
Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President's concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened -- him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind -- was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasons discussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI's potential investigation of General Flynn.
March 30 Phone Call
On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as "a cloud" that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to "lift the cloud." I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn't find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.
Then the President asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week -- at which I had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. I explained the demands from the leadership of both parties in Congress for more information, and that Senator Grassley had even held up the confirmation of the Deputy Attorney General until we briefed him in detail on the investigation. I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, "We need to get that fact out." (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)
The President went on to say that if there were some "satellite" associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn't done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren't investigating him.
In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn't brought up "the McCabe thing" because I had said McCabe was honorable, although McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe's wife) campaign money. Although I didn't understand why the President was bringing this up, I repeated that Mr. McCabe was an honorable person.
He finished by stressing "the cloud" that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn't being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.
Immediately after that conversation, I called Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (AG Sessions had by then recused himself on all Russia-related matters), to report the substance of the call from the President, and said I would await his guidance. I did not hear back from him before the President called me again two weeks later.
April 11 Phone Call
On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I "get out" that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that "the cloud" was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.
He said he would do that and added, "Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know." I did not reply or ask him what he meant by "that thing." I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.
That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.
|New Netflix Instant Releases: December 2016||As a special gift to you this holiday season, Netflix is bringing Captain America: Civil War to Instant (on Christmas, no less), allowing you to stream and repeat to your heart’s desire. That’s not all, of course, as the streaming service is adding several new and classic titles in December, including Netflix Originals like Fuller House Season 2, the first season of the Guillermo del Toro-produced animated series Trollhunters, and the young Barack Obama-goes-to-college movie Barry (the trailer for that one just dropped this morning).
|Susan Rice Drops NK Bombshellâ¦ This Is What Obama Planned|
If you want to know how the world has managed to become soÂ royally screwed-up that North Korea now possesses the capability to fire aÂ miniaturized nuclear warhead at us, you need to look to the past — namely, to the Obama administration. Take former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, for instance, who pennedÂ a column for The…
The post Susan Rice Drops NK Bombshell… This Is What Obama Planned appeared first on Conservative Tribune.
|The Lost Benefits Of Cause Marketing|
At the 2008 DNC Convention in Denver, Barack Obama officially became the Democratsâ nominee for president and he electrified an 85,000 plus crowd at Invesco Field with his acceptance speech. It was a moment of historic significance reminiscent of the precedent setting âI Have A Dreamâ speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall 45 years ago. That history, both past and present, was recognized by radio as 38 Clear Channel stations from multiple formats joined forces with the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial for the âBuild The Dreamâ Radiothon. It was especially symbolic, indeed significant, that Barack Obamaâs historic speech coincided with the 45th anniversary Dr. Kingâs âI Have A Dream Speech.â In-sync with the mood of the day, the âBuild The Dreamâ Radiothon not only celebrated the legacy of Dr. King, but it also amplified the reflections and hopes of many leading up to Barackâs historic night.
As a part of your pre-Fall Book planning, make sure your checklist includes reevaluating or reestablishing your stationâs cause marketing programs. The tremendous goodwill and exposure gained from your station participating in a good cause marketing campaign is priceless - and oftentimes free â if youâre willing to commit innovative ideas and people power to the cause.
|Video: Watch Obamaâs full remarks on immigration||See the full video of President Obama’s remarks discussing his executive action on immigration and read the transcript below. THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, tonight, Iâd like to talk with you about immigration. For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over|
|Cruz invokes oratory of Cicero against Obamaâs immigration order||If Sen. Ted Cruzâs speech had a familiar ring Thursday when he attacked President Obamaâs executive order on immigration, itâs because the words were adapted from Ciceroâs famous oratory against the Cataline conspiracy in Rome some 2,000 years ago. The Texas Republican, a former college thespian, has never been lacking for theatricality, first evidenced by|
|Comment on MEN â For A Good Time Call Part 2 (Luke Adams & Tobias) by Clinton Obama||reuploaded video..please try again...thanks|
|Comment on ColbysCrew â Taking Care of My Buddy (Colby Jansen & Jonah Fontana) by Clinton Obama||you are right... i totally forgot about those links...added...|
|Comment on WilliamHiggins â Bradley Cook and Erik Drda Raw by Clinton Obama||Fixed...|
|Why I celebrate College Signing Day|
I grew up as a first-generation American living on welfare and food stamps with a single mother in Hellâs Kitchen, New York. For most of my life, college seemed out of reachâno one in my family or neighborhood had gone, so it was hard to imagine that Iâd ever get there. The day I committed to going to college was the day my life changed. It opened many doors and opportunities, and I made lifelong friends (and learned a few important lessons) along the way. Now Iâve dedicated my career at Google to helping educators use technology to give students more opportunities.
Â Though it didnât have an official name when I was in school, College Signing Day marks the day when high school seniors commit to attending a four-year university, professional training program or community college. This College Signing Day, I'm joining Michelle Obama to celebrate this moment and the students whose lives are about to change with their decision to go to college.
Â Attending college was a huge milestone for me, but it was accompanied by fear and anxiety. I was entering the unfamiliar and unknown, and my mind filled with dread and doubt. Who was going to help me? If I take out student loans, will I ever make enough money to pay those loans back? What if I'm not smart enough? What if I donât make any friends?
Â These reservations are intensified for students who are growing up the way I grew up. You don't know many individuals who went to college, so you donât have anyone to turn Â turn to for guidance or to help you build the confidence and mindset you need to succeed in college. But I was a stubborn kid (and am now a stubborn adult) and refused to accept expectations for kids like meâthat we were destined to a life of crime or poverty. I wanted to prove the stereotypes wrong, which is why I committed to attending SUNY Brockport.
Â For students who are the first in their family to attend college, celebrating College Signing Day is critical. We tell students the most important thing they can do for their future is to focus on their education. We tell them how higher education will give them the perspective and tools theyâll use for the rest of their lives. When these students get into college, itâs an enormous accomplishmentâand we need to show them itâs worth celebrating.
Â Though these students may not have grown up around college graduates, theyâll soon be surrounded by a community of educators, counselors, students and alumni who can help them through the college experience. This communityâcombined that with the love and support of families and communities back homeâis critical to the success of college-bound students.
Â Google has done a lot of work to expand opportunities for students at every step of their education (so that they can eventually make it to College Signing Day!). Through Google.org weâve committed $50 million toward supporting nonprofits that are working to close global education gaps. Weâve built products and toolsâlike Classroom and Chromebooksâdesigned to make teaching and learning more effective and engaging. And weâve also created programs that give every student the tools to become the creators, not just the consumers, of technology. Â
A critical component of this commitment is ensuring that every student also has a pathway to pursue their higher education, whether thatâs through scholarships, mentors or interning with us at Google. In partnership with Reach Higher (part of the Better Make Room initiative), weâve also created a series of Google Expeditions for students to virtually visit college campuses. This opens up opportunities for students who donât have the means to travel to for college visitsâthey can check out residence halls, classrooms, and even financial aid offices before ever stepping foot on campus. Colleges interested in creating their own Expedition can sign up via this form.
For more information on College Signing Day and to access a toolkit to help teachers, counselors, and community organizations host a celebration in their community, visit www.bettermakeroom.org.
|Comment on Manuel Rios and Rhys Jagger (Condom Free) â BelAmi by Clinton Obama||We found the cause...thanks|
Ending Solitary for Juveniles: A Goal Grows Closer A nationwide shift toward abolishing solitary confinement for juveniles, which began to take shape in 2016 after former President Barack Obama banned the practice in federal prisons, has surged ahead in recent months, with a half-dozen states either prohibiting or strictly limiting its use in their youth […]
|Akte Ebola ungelÃ¶st||Laut WHO fielen im Jahre 2014 mehr als 11.000 Menschen dem Ebolavirus zum Opfer. PrÃ¤sident Obama warnte vor weiteren hunderttausenden Toten, sollte man nicht mit geballter Kraft der amerikanischen SeuchenschutzbehÃ¶rde CDC die Epidemie schnellstens unter Kontrolle bringen. MilitÃ¤rische Kommandoposten wurden in den betroffenen LÃ¤ndern Guinea, Liberia und Sierra Leone errichtet. Hans U. P. Tolzin hat |
|Comment on Obama The Dictator â âMy Militaryâ by invar||Marxists and Fascists are not all that different.
|Comment on Obama The Dictator â âMy Militaryâ by Betty Fernau||What do you think about Trump saying "my military" yesterday?|
|Comment on Obama Government Lists 72 Types of Americans It Considers âExtremists / Potential Terroristsâ by Bruc||As Thomas Jefferson said so eloquently - How I fear for my country when I recall that God is just.|
|Comment on Obama and American Christians Now Say There Are Many Paths To Salvation by ProudPilgrim||"I Am the Way, theTruth and the Life. No man (human) comes to the Father( jHVW not allah or satan) but by (or through) Me." There is only one narrow path that l ads to salvation (eternity with God and the first reserection). Wide is theroad or path that leads to desstructio (separation from God - the second death) and many there be thereon (most unfortunately). Narrow is the path that leads to salvation and few there are that find it (find Him- Yeshua, Yashuah, Jesus, the aegerlasting Father, the Prince of Peace and King of kings. Choose today whom you will serve. As for me and my house we will and do serve Adonai - the LORD-JHVW. The only true God- Father, Son and Holyspirit. There is none beside Him "I Am" JHVW.
Allah is also Baal, Bielzibob and the fallon star and his false prophet mohammid. Repent today and make Jesus you Adonai and Yeshua. With all my love America.|
|Honor The Victims Not The Cowards Of 9-11|
I prefer to call them and all who support their cause in one way or another, nothing but cowards.
Even today their actions and those of their supporters remain despicable to me. Hiding behind tolerance and religious freedom, those like President Obama who should defend the honor and respect of the 9-11 victims are nothing more than shameless cowards.
Why are we as people afraid to stand up for what is right?
I suggest it is a lack of leadership from the Oval Office right on down. It is amazing that we are afraid of the cowards and will not stand up as nation against dishonoring those that were murdered on 9-11.
Although I do not condone the burning of any books, I applaud Pastor Terry Jones for taking a stand on issue. If the President had half the backbone of Pastor Jones, this issue would not have become politicized.
If Muslims can become outraged by Pastor Jones plan then so should we about their plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero.
Only then can we begin to be tolerant of each other because their memory and sacrifice lives on in my heart and that of a few other proud Americans.
|Is President Obama, Just Plain Arrogant Or Stupid?|
In agreeing with The New York Landmarks Preservation Commission that unanimously approved an Islamic culture centre and mosque near ground zero, Mr Obama again shows much he is out of touch with the American people.
In a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll, 70 percent of Americans opposed the planned construction of a mosque near ground zero.
Mr. Obama claims he is defending the rights of religious freedom, BULLSHIT. What he is defending is the rights of those that stood silent in the aftermath or maybe even before over 3000 people were murdered September 11th, 2001.
From Illegal Immigration to this issue you seem more than willing to defend everyone except Americans.