Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

What in the world is going on in Turkey?

June 24, 2013

Turkey demosFour weeks ago a small group of environmentally-minded Turks staged a demonstration, or an occupation, of tiny Gezi park in Istanbul, where the government had stated its intent to build a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks to house a shopping mall.

The government responded by attacking the protesters violently with water cannon and tear gas. The disproportionate attack on the peaceful protesters crystallized widespread hostility to the government of Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdoğan (pronounced ER-duh-wan). The protests grew and spread all over Turkey, and everywhere the protesters were met by violent police action. So far five have died, and the protests have died down.

Erdoğan blames the trouble on outsiders, including CNN and the “interest lobby,” and has called out his supporters into massive counter demonstrations.

Erdoğan was first elected to head the government in 2002, with 34% of the vote. He was reelected in 2007 with 46%, and again in 2011 with just under 50% of the votes cast. He is a practicing Muslim—rare for a Turkish leader—and has steadily moved to make Turkish society more congenial to pious Muslims. He wants to amend the Constitution to allow women to wear headscarves in public buildings (now forbidden), and has had laws passed that allow early religious instruction in elementary school, limit the sale of alcohol, and has proposed bans on abortion and even on kissing in public.

Some fear Erdoğan’s goal is to introduce Sharia law, a la Iran or Saudi Arabia, while others (including The Economist) call him a “moderate Islamist” and believe his intent is simply to (more…)

Zero Dark Thirty: Did torture lead us to Osama bin Laden?

December 21, 2012

zero-dark-thirty-2012-img02See Zero Dark Thirty. It’s a terrific yarn about the search for Osama bin Laden and about the remarkable raid that killed him. Jessica Chastain is perfect as the real-life CIA agent assigned to the case as a rookie. She starts, sensibly enough, with little confidence, but steadily grows into a single-minded pain-in-the-ass who won’t let anybody, up to the director, get in the way of her search. When the CIA director is finally told that the Agency is “60 per cent confident” of bin Laden’s hiding place, Chastain shouts from the back row, “It’s 100 per cent certain.”

The movie starts with a CIA agent torturing a detainee, with Chastain looking on nervously. There is a strong implication that torture produced information that had an important role in finding UBL, as bin Laden is known in the film.

Now there is a firestorm swirling around the movie, with senators knowledgeable in intelligence arguing that torture played no part in finding UBL, and the neocons and the right arguing that of course it did.

So did it?

The film’s director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal issued this statement:

“This was a 10-year intelligence operation brought to the screen in a two-and-a-half-hour film. We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden. The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible (more…)

America at our best: John McCain. America at our worst: Michele Bachmann and her four Congressional lap dogs

July 18, 2012

Americans welcome people who are different. They enrich our culture. They bring new energy to our society. They do us proud as a melting pot of cultures.

Americans shun people who are different. They debase our culture. They take our jobs. They seduce our children. They talk like foreigners.

So it was with Germans and Irish in the early 1800s. So it was with Jews and Chinese in the late 1800s. Italians in the early 1900s. Africans forever. And so it is with Muslims today.

At our best we befriend the stranger and his children, we treat them kindly, we hire them, and we defend them. At our worst we demean them, discriminate against them, exploit them, and attack them.

America at our worst is five House Republicans, led by Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who have accused countless American Muslims who work for the U.S. government of being secret agents (more…)

Republican legislators abandon any pretense of to ethical behavior: House pretends to repeal Obamacare for the 33rd time, Senate renounces its Constitutional role to advise and consent

July 12, 2012

House and Senate Republicans have forfeited any claim to ethical behavior. They were sent to Washington to do the people’s business; they make a mockery of their oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” and to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office.”

Congressional Republicans are doing anything BUT “well and faithfully discharging the duties” of their offices. They have now voted 33 times to repeal or defund all or part of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). Yesterday every one of the House Republicans voted for repeal, along with five Democrats. Before any of the hours of sham debate and the wall-to-wall press and TV coverage, every last one of them knew that their vote would have no effect. None. Nowhere. Never.

For to repeal the ACA, they well knew, after the bill passes the House it would have to be passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, then signed by President Obama. Did any of them expect that the President would sign repeal of his (for better or worse) signature legislation?

 Meanwhile, the Senate Republicans are keeping pace with their House colleagues’ renunciation of their Constitutional oath. (more…)

Obama’s an ethical hero for creating a virtual Dream Act to give a million young Americans a path to a productive life, free from fear of deportation

June 17, 2012

 

Joanne ____ is one of America’s twelve million illegal immigrants. She was brought to the United States from Mexico as a baby by her parents.  She has a younger sister and brother who are American citizens because they were born in the United States. Her sister is in her last year at Harvard; her brother is in high school.

Five years ago alumni of the North Hollywood High School Class of 1957 decided, as part of their 50th reunion, to give a scholarship to a deserving senior. The school’s top choice was Joanne, and so she was awarded the scholarship. With that financial help and her own tenacity and hard work Joanne got her degree from the California State University, Northridge, a year ago. She’s spent much of the past year looking for work, but it’s been a hopeless case because she can’t produce the necessary papers.

Until yesterday, when President Obama announced that the United States would no longer consider deporting people like Joanne—people who had been brought here illegally as children, earned a high school diploma or GED, or served in the military, and had behaved well—had what we would call a record of good citizenship, were they citizens. Moreover the government will give them permits to work in the US for two years, renewable indefinitely.

In effect the President granted by executive action much of what the Dream Act—stymied only by an especially ugly Republican filibuster (more…)

Marco Rubio courageously and compassionately supports DREAM Act II

April 21, 2012

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a darling of the Republican right, so much so that many pundits have tagged him as a front runner for the #2 spot on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. If Romney were to choose Rubio, goes the reasoning, it would solidify his position with the party base that has always mistrusted him. And as a bonus, Cuban-American Rubio might help Romney with the growing numbers of Latino voters who have been turned off by his unbending anti-immigrant position.

Immigration is the one issue on which Romney and the right are together: seal the borders and hunt down and deport everybody who isn’t here legally, all 12,000,000 of them.

Rubio showed he’s not one who goes along to get along, in all likelihood forsaking any chance at the VP spot on the Romney ticket. He just announced his sponsorship of a modified version of the DREAM Act, which would allow children of illegal immigrants to obtain legal status in the United States.

Some on the Left have rejected Rubio’s proposal as a betrayal of American values, but chalk that up to hyper-partisanship. Rubio clearly wants to help young people, brought here illegally when they were small children, to stay in America legally and to get an education and a job.

Rubio’s is a story of courage and compassion, and of a too-rare politician who rejects ideology in favor of solving a serious national problem. Hooray.

 


 

“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” President Obama’s leadership in the face of tragedy

March 23, 2012

When tragedy strikes Americans turn for solace and wisdom to their President. When Challenger blew up Ronald Reagan comforted and inspired us. When the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed Bill Clinton grieved with us. When Congresswoman Gabby Gifford was gunned down along with nine others President Obama helped the whole nation understand.

Now America is riveted on the killing of 17-year old Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch person. The killer has not been arrested a month after the shooting, and the media are in World War III mode. Protests spread, and a million people have signed a partition calling for the shooter’s arrest.

President Obama addressed the nation today. He first explained that, as head of the Executive Branch he has to take care not to prejudice any investigation. He can’t call it the murder it appears to be. Instead he calls it a tragedy, and says how it relates to him:

“But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

Mitt Romney: Liar, liar, pants on fire. Said he didn’t care about poor people, now brushes it off as “I misspoke”

February 3, 2012

Mitt Romney said he’s not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And if the safety net needs repair he’ll fix it.

This proves he doesn’t care. If he thinks the safety net is OK he’s out of touch, and his out-of-touchness proves his lack of concern.

The safety net leaves millions of minimum- or low-wage earners without enough to feed, clothe, and shelter their families, leaves them dependent on emergency room visits for any medical care, and—if they’ve been unemployed for a long time—facing termination of their unemployment checks. And candidate Romney, along with nearly unanimous Republican Senators and members of Congress, are reflexively opposed to “fixing” the safety net.

But appearing so heartless can be costly to a Presidential candidate. So Romney tried to lie his way out of it, saying he misspoke. But he didn’t misspeak. Misspeaking is when I call my granddaughter by her sister’s name. Misspeaking is when John McCain tells a Romney gathering that he’s confident that President Obama will cure the nation’s ills. Misspeaking is not saying something, then when challenged explaining what you said. He didn’t misspeak.

The interview that got Romney into this mess went like this:

The candidate told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on Wednesday that he’s “not concerned about the very poor,” explaining that he’s concerned about the middle class (more…)

Pass the Dream Act, give Luis Luna and 300,000 like him a chance at citizenship. Obama and Gingrich favor, Romney opposes

January 19, 2012

Luis Luna, 20, was an illegal immigrant, smuggled here from Mexico at 3. The LA Times tells his story. Luis did well in school, graduated, got engaged to his high school sweetheart, got a job, then got pulled over while on the way to work for a broken headlight. He had no driver’s license, Immigration was called in, and Luis was deported to Mexico.

He tried to get back by riding the undercarriage of a boxcar, scant inches above the train roadbed, until the train stopped at a U.S. border checkpoint, where a German Shepherd sniffed him out, sank his teeth into Luis’s ribcage, and dragged him out. Luis is now homeless in Nogales, hoping to find a way legally to return to his girlfriend-now-wife, his family, friends, and the only life he’s ever known.

Luis’s tragedy could have been precluded under the Dream Act, which would provide temporary residency and a possible path to citizenship to Luis and hundreds of thousands like him who were brought here as small children and have played by the rules ever since.

President Obama supports the Dream Act, which passed the House last year but failed to get the 60 votes needed to avert a filibuster in the Senate. Mitt Romney says he would veto it, Newt Gingrich says he supports it—a principled position that is costing him dearly with Republican primary voters.

Blame the Bill of Rights, not the Roberts Court, for allowing corporations undue influence on elections

January 5, 2012

 

Millions of Americans, especially on the Left, are scornful of the ruling of the Supreme Court in 2010 regarding Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that ruling the Court overturned the provision of McCain-Feingold barring corporations and unions from paying for political ads made independently of candidate campaigns.

The ruling opened the door to unlimited expenditures by corporations and unions on behalf of candidates for office. It’s opened the floodgates to anonymous negative ads, and the Left is in high dudgeon.They have mischaracterized the Court’s ruling as “corporations are people and have the rights of people.” This piece of fiction has been enshrined in the dogma of the Left by Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Rachel Maddow.

What nonsense!


As much as one may hate the result of the Court’s ruling, one can’t get beyond the Court’s reasoning: The First Amendment to the Constitution is pretty straightforward:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble (more…)


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