Archive for the 'Election / Politicians' Category
A picture has been released of the Dear Leader shooting skeet at Camp David. In an article released on Breitbart.com entitled White House Warns: Don’t Photoshop Obama Gun Pic there is a stern warning:
“This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.” (Read more)
Joining Netanyahu in his denunciation of those pushy Americans was none other than “libertarian” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Gooberville). Fresh from a recent trip to Israel paid for by the American Family Association, a Christian fundamentalist activist group, the “libertarian” Senator and wannabe presidential candidate declared:
“’That’s an arrogant and presumptuous point of view and doesn’t further progress on anything,’ the senator said, and he returned to that view throughout the call as he discussed the location of Israel’s capital and Israeli settlements. Paul decried U.S. politicians who display ‘this flippant and arrogant’ attitude about internal Israeli affairs, saying that ‘no one can really know as much as people in the region’ about such matters. ‘It is not up to the U.S. to dictate’ to mayors and West Bank officials where housing goes, Paul added. Paul said he considers himself more pro-Israel than some pro-Israel audiences because ‘I’m for an independent, strong Israel that is not a dependent state, not a client state.’”
Siding with a foreign leader against an American President is always problematic for any US politician, but lest one think this is an example of political courage on Sen. Paul’s part, consider the context of his remarks. US military aid to Israel now exceeds $3.5 billion a year – not counting the value of special projects like the “Iron Dome” missile defense system the Senator is so enthralled by. Those billions pay for a program of systematic ethnic cleansing: Arabs are being forced off their lands, and “settlements” are being erected on the ruins of their former homes.
Surely the Senator – who, despite appearances, is no dope – knows this. And if he didn’t know it, surely he was educated on the subject in his meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas – although, oddly, in all the news reports of Paul’s trip to Israel, where hear nothing about this scheduled encounter.
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Pretending not to grasp the significance of the settlements issue, or of the larger issue of Palestine and the two-state solution, simply will not do – not for an alleged “leader” of the libertarian wing of the GOP, and certainly not for a somewhat over-eager presidential candidate who flaunts his ambitions. Since Israel could not exist – let alone bomb, invade and subjugate its Palestinian and Lebanese neighbors – without extensive US military and economic aid, it is viewed as America’s regional proxy. This is what “the people in the region” know and Sen. Paul appears not to want to know.
Paul has long since backed off his stance of wanting to end aid to Israel: he now says he would do it gradually, and would start cutting the aid budget by immediately ending it for countries “where they burn our flag,” singling out Egypt and Pakistan and specifically exempting Israel.
Previously under attack by the Israel lobby for saying US aid to Israel ought to be ended – and just because he is, after all, his father‘s son – the Israel trip was meant to make amends, and Paul earned plaudits from the Lobby in this country for his efforts.
The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin took a breather from her frantic campaign to impugn the character of Chuck Hagel to give the lesser Paul a thumbs up, having earlier contrasted him favorably with his father.
Phil Klein exulted in the birth of “Zionist non-interventionism,” which apparently means we pay the bills and don’t bother the Israelis as they ethnically cleanse Palestine of the Palestinians. Seth Lipsky, writing in the New York Post, hailed Paul’s comments as “the most supportive of Israel since Sarah Palin.”
Dave Weigel reveals more of the tortured rationalization for Paul’s conversion on the road to Jerusalem:
“I asked Paul to revisit the settlement question. Had his trip taught him anything that was being incorporated into his new thinking?
“’One question is: If I’m the mayor of Jerusalem, or if I’m looking at places in the West Bank and settlements in the West Bank, obviously there’s either advisability or inadvisability with regard to ultimately finding places to build, whether it’s antagonistic or provacative,’ said Paul. ‘Where I distinguish myself, though, is while there might be right or wrong answers to these questions, it’s not American politicians’ business to be dictating the answers. The answers need to come from the participants who live on the ground in these areas. I think it’s just presumptuous and arrogant of us to think, well, we’re going to go down to a roadmap of Jerusalem and decide where the neighborhoods can be expanded? It did influence me some that I did see the map of the neighborhoods, and I did see that there are neighborhoods being expanded in the Arab areas as well as the Jewish areas of Jerusalem, but the comments I heard from officials were: What does America want? Do they want there to be a religion test on who’s going to buy land? How would we feel in America if land that was designated for development, we said you have to prove what religion you are before you can build on the land? You can see how it’s a funny sort of bias we’re asking for, how we want them to develop the land.’”
Shorter Sen. Paul: Who cares about “right” and “wrong”? Let the Israelis go wild with our tax dollars.
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Having been granted observer status by an overwhelming vote of the General Assembly – with even America’s European allies deserting Washington – why shouldn’t the Palestinians participate in the UN? Sen. Paul and his flock of “born again” Israel Firsters don’t want that to happen because it recognizes the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood – and delegitimizes the occupation. There are many humanitarian services the deprived and long-suffering people of Palestine might enjoy as a result, but the petty cruelty of “born again” Rand would deny them even that.
So the Senator did go see Abbas, and took the opportunity to threaten him with sanctions – and to demand that he drop the “no more settlements” precondition for resuming the peace process. Of course, not even that kind of servility to the Greater Israel lobby will satisfy the Jonathan Tobins of this world, but no one can say Sen. Paul didn’t try. (Read more)
Adam Kokesh tries to question soldier about Constitution:
Rapper Lupe Fiasco Raps anti-Obama lyrics, thrown off stage
Rapper Lupe Fiasco was thrown offstage and escorted off the premises of a Washington, D.C. concert hall during a pre-inauguration concert Sunday night, after going on an anti-war, anti-Obama rant, according to concertgoers.
Josh Rogin, a reporter with Foreign Policy magazine, tweeted late Sunday, “Lupe Fiasco just got thrown off stage here at the Hamilton Live after he went on an anti-Obama diatribe mid set.”
“So Lupe played one anti-war song for 30 min and said he didn’t vote for Obama,” he continued, ”and eventually was told to move on to the next song…Lupe refused to move to the next song so a team of security guards came on stage and told him to go.” (Read more)
Justin Amash is a new Representative inspired into politics by Ron Paul.
In the wake of waves created by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash’s vote for House Speaker, the West Michigan Republican guided through two rule changes aiming to make legislation easier for the public and Congress to understand.
The rule changes require Congress to include more context with new legislation. Scattered references to old bills, amendments and other changes often make new laws difficult to digest. (Read more)
Outraged by her desire to confiscate and ban guns, someone took the domain name http://senatorfeinstein.com/ and posted a video demonstrating her outrageous hypocrisy. The website owner promises more to come.
The National Jewish Democratic Council lashed out Friday over the recent appointment of Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky to the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, citing his “deeply disturbing record when it comes to the US-Israel relationship.”
In a statement released Friday by the NJDC, its president David Harris said that Paul’s “membership in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should be raising red flags and provoking severe concern across the pro-Israel community.” Harris also hit out at the GOP, calling its decision to place Paul on the panel “simply outrageous.”
“The overwhelmingly pro-Israel American public deserves much better than a radical ideologue on the Senate’s primary diplomatic committee who has demonstrated a singular obsession with slashing aid to the Jewish state,” the NJDC chief added.
Paul, one of four new Republicans on the committee whose appointments were first reported Thursday by Foreign Policy magazine, has recently reached out to the pro-Israel community and is slated this month to visit Israel accompanied by Christian Zionists.
Unlike his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a perennial presidential contender who has laced his arguments against assistance for Israel with harsh criticisms of the Jewish state, the younger Paul casts his opposition to assistance as a matter of independence for Israel from undue American influence.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a fierce opponent of US foreign aid who is being touted already as a likely 2016 presidential candidate, is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday for his first-ever visit.
Paul is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Monday, the senator’s 50th birthday. (Read more)
Bill Schickel, the co-chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, on Saturday blasted the dominance of Ron Paul supporters within the state party.
“The words are fine about reaching out and opening the doors of our party, but when are our chair, our executive director, our communications director, our finance director are all from the Campaign for Liberty that sends a message that is disenfranchising to many, many of our Republicans,” he told GOP central committee members. “So, that is one of the reasons I am running, to bring all of these groups together.” (Read more)
To this day, many people identify mid-2008 as the time they realized what type of politician Barack Obama actually is. Six months before, when seeking the Democratic nomination, then-Sen. Obama unambiguously vowed that he would filibuster “any bill” that retroactively immunized the telecom industry for having participated in the illegal Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program.
But in July 2008, once he had secured the nomination, a bill came before the Senate that did exactly that – the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 – and Obama not only failed to filibuster as promised, but far worse, he voted against the filibuster brought by other Senators, and then voted in favor of enacting the bill itself. That blatant, unblinking violation of his own clear promise – actively supporting a bill he had sworn months earlier he would block from a vote – caused a serious rift even in the middle of an election year between Obama and his own supporters.
Critically, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 did much more than shield lawbreaking telecoms from all forms of legal accountability. Jointly written by Dick Cheney and then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, it also legalized vast new, sweeping and almost certainly unconstitutional forms of warrantless government eavesdropping.
In doing so, the new 2008 law gutted the 30-year-old FISA statute that had been enacted to prevent the decades of severe spying abuses discovered by the mid-1970s Church Committee: by simply barring the government from eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without first obtaining a warrant from a court. Worst of all, the 2008 law legalized most of what Democrats had spent years pretending was such a scandal: the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program secretly implemented by George Bush after the 9/11 attack. In other words, the warrantless eavesdropping “scandal” that led to a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times reporters who revealed it ended not with investigations or prosecutions for those who illegally spied on Americans, but with the Congressional GOP joining with key Democrats (including Obama) to legalize most of what Bush and Cheney had done. Ever since, the Obama DOJ has invoked secrecy and standing doctrines to prevent any courts from ruling on whether the warrantless eavesdropping powers granted by the 2008 law violate the Constitution.
The 2008 FISA law provided that it would expire in four years unless renewed. Yesterday, the Senate debated its renewal. Several Senators – Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon along with Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul – each attempted to attach amendments to the law simply to provide some modest amounts of transparency and oversight to ensure that the government’s warrantless eavesdropping powers were constrained and checked from abuse.
Just consider how modest these amendments were. Along with Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, Sen. Wyden has spent two years warning Americans that the government’s eavesdropping powers are being interpreted (by secret court decisions and the Executive Branch) far more broadly than they would ever suspect, and that, as a result, these eavesdropping powers are being applied far more invasively and extensively than is commonly understood.
As a result, Wyden yesterday had two amendments: one that would simply require the NSA to give a general estimate of how many Americans are having their communications intercepted under this law (information the NSA has steadfastly refused to provide), and another which would state that the NSA is barred from eavesdropping on Americans on US soil without a warrant. Merkley’s amendment would compel the public release of secret judicial rulings from the FISA court which purport to interpret the scope of the eavesdropping law on the ground that “secret law is inconsistent with democratic governance”; the Obama administration has refused to release a single such opinion even though the court, “on at least one occasion”, found that the government was violating the Fourth Amendment in how it was using the law to eavesdrop on Americans.
But the Obama White House opposed all amendments, demanding a “clean” renewal of the law without any oversight or transparency reforms. Earlier this month, the GOP-led House complied by passing a reform-free version of the law’s renewal, and sent the bill Obama wanted to the Senate, where it was debated yesterday afternoon.
The Democratic Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, took the lead in attacking Wyden, Merkley, Udall and Paul with the most foul Cheneyite accusations, and demanded renewal of the FISA law without any reforms. And then predictably, in virtually identical 37-54 votes, Feinstein and her conservative-Democratic comrades joined with virtually the entire GOP caucus (except for three Senators: Paul, Mike Lee and Dean Heller) to reject each one of the proposed amendments and thus give Obama exactly what he demanded: reform-free renewal of the law (while a few Democratic Senators have displayed genuine, sustained commitment to these issues, most Democrats who voted against FISA renewal yesterday did so symbolically and half-heartedly, knowing and not caring that they would lose as evidenced by the lack of an attempted filibuster).
In other words, Obama successfully relied on Senate Republicans (the ones his supporters depict as the Root of All Evil) along with a dozen of the most militaristic Democrats to ensure that he can continue to eavesdrop on Americans without any warrants, transparency or real oversight. That’s the standard coalition that has spent the last four years extending Bush/Cheney theories, eroding core liberties and entrenching endless militarism: Obama + the GOP caucus + Feinstein-type Democrats. As Michelle Richardson, the ACLU’s legislative counsel, put it to the Huffington Post: “I bet [Bush] is laughing his ass off.” (Read more)
the neocons have a big problem: the American people are not only sick of war, they are sick of the neocons. The same people who told them Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction” stashed beneath his palace, who told them the Iraqis would greet us with showers of rose petals instead of bullets, who reassured them that the war would somehow pay for itself with Iraq’s oil revenues, who insisted Gen. Shinseki was wrong when he said it would take hundreds of thousands of US soldiers to occupy Iraq — these very same people, who should have been long ago discredited and relegated to the Index of Proscribed Pundits, are back retailing the same tired old canards, only this time directed at Iran. Their problem is that nobody believes them — except, of course, in Washington, D.C., world capital of criminal cluelessness.
Washington is different from the rest of the country — and I’m not just talking about real estate values. In the Real America, nobody believes you can spend more than you can take in — in Washington, however, spending more than you take in is not only possible, it’s mandatory. Outside the Beltway, ordinary Americans want to subject the Pentagon to radical spending cuts, and would prefer not to have to cut Grandma’s Social Security so that the military contractors who contribute so much to our incumbent politicians have plenty of tax dollars to spend on presents this Christmas: in Washington, however, real defense cuts are “off the table.” Out in the heartland, the very idea of another war horrifies ordinary folks — in Washington, it gives them a hard-on.
This is the Great Divide, and it is this great yawning chasm that has given the neocons their power: for while a malignant dwarf like Bill Kristol, the little Lenin of the neocons, may inspire revulsion in the average American, in Washington he’s a respected and powerful figure, one whose lust for combat — albeit from a safe distance — counts for much in determining what course our foreign policy will take. In such a town, David “Axis of Evil” Frum, who has “spent his career,” as conservative columnist Timothy Carney put it, “singing odes to war and purging those who wanted peace,” is considered a “moderate” — because he’s calling for tax hikes in order to pay for his favorite pastime.
If we allowed the soldiers in the field to vote on who should be the next Secretary of Defense, President Obama’s first choice, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel — a Vietnam veteran and the recipient of two Purple Hearts, whose work at the Veterans Administration during the Reagan years endeared him to vets — would win hands down. In Washington, however, as the Washington Post averred, he’s outside the “mainstream,” a “fringe” character who’s well to the “left” of our bipartisan let’s-go-to-war-at-the-drop-of-a-hat “consensus.”
It’s a sad commentary on the Washingtonian mindset that a foreign policy “realist” like Hagel is considered the 21st century equivalent of Abbie Hoffman, but these people live in a bubble where the outdated “left-right” paradigm still dictates our political choices. Yet the majority of Republicans out in the country support Hagel’s basic position — caution, retrenchment, paring down the Pentagon — the very stances Hagel is being pilloried for by the likes of Lindsey Graham.
That Washington is America’s Bizarro World was vividly dramatized when Sen. Dan Coates attacked Hagel for — wait for it — being “disrespectful of the military“! What this can mean when applied to a two-time winner of the Purple Heart, a Vietnam vet who was severely wounded in action and spent his entire time at the VA fighting for vets, is beyond me — but, then again, I don’t live inside the Beltway.
We know what this is about: it’s about the fanatic supporters of Israel’s current extremist government demanding absolute fealty to Tel Aviv. The “Emergency Committee for Israel” is running television ads in the Washington, D.C. area screeching that “Hagel is not an option.” They get to determine what America’s options are, don’tcha know — and that’s been true for too long. (Read more)
Adding to the general confusion about exactly what they stand for, the Log Cabin Republicans took out a full-page ad in Thursday’s New York Times, urging President Obama to reconsider his possible selection of Republican Chuck Hagel for the position of Secretary of Defense.
The gay Republican group, which by association and voting behavior accepts the GOP’s default position that (openly) gay people are second-class citizens not deserving of the same civil rights as “normal” human beings, is apparently miffed that Hagel — in time-honored Republican tradition — made a homophobic remark in 1998 about James C. Hormel, President Bill Clinton’s choice for ambassador to Luxembourg, calling him “openly aggressively gay.”
Hagel has since apologized for what he termed the “insensitive” comment, adding that it does “not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.”
His apology was accepted by the Human Rights Campaign, who referred to him as an “ally.”
But the selectively indignant group doesn’t stop there… it ups the ante by throwing in some foreign policy concerns — “Chuck Hagel: Wrong on gay rights, wrong on Iran, wrong on Israel,” reads the ad. “Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary. Help us create a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party.”
Conservatives believe Hagel has not pledged sufficient allegiance to Israel, pointing to his assertion that there is a powerful “Jewish lobby” that intimidates legislators. (While few would contend that AIPAC is not a powerful lobby, the preferred term — says the suddenly-all-for-political-correctness crowd — is “pro-Israel” lobby.) “I’m a United States senator.” he reasoned. “I’m not an Israeli senator.” [emphasis added] (Read more)
Men with honor have no place in politics.