March 11th, 2014
Washington (CNN) -- The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee suggested Tuesday the CIA violated federal law by secretly pulling classified documents from her panel's computers during a staff probe of the spy agency's controversial detention and interrogation program.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said CIA Director John Brennan told her in January that agency personnel searched the computers because they believed the panel's investigators might have had gained access to materials on an internal review they were not authorized to see.
"The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the internal review or how we obtained it," Feinstein said in blistering remarks on the Senate floor. "Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee's computer."
Feinstein said that she had "grave concerns" the search may have violated federal law.
Brennan disputed Feinstein's claims.
"As far as the allegations of CIA hacking into Senate computers -- nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn't do that. I mean that's, that's, that's just beyond the scope of reason," Brennan told the Council on Foreign Relations.
He also said that the CIA believes in congressional oversight and often has "spirited" conversations about agency techniques.
"We have made mistakes. More than a few. And we have tried mightily to learn from them," Brennan said.
His remarks come a week after Brennan said in a statement that that he was "deeply dismayed" that some members of the Senate have made "spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts."
The Justice Department is looking at whether to launch an investigation of the matter involving the committee's review of millions of documents at a Virginia facility and counterclaims by the CIA about Intelligence Committee staffers gaining access to things they shouldn't have seen.
Feinstein said in her remarks that committee staff "did not hack into CIA computers to obtain these documents, as has been suggested in the press."
She said the documents were identified through a search tool provided by the CIA in order to select specific material.
this is just another revelation showing how much power the executive branch has amassed for itself. not only does it spy on every single american without probable cause or court-issued warrants, but is now likely in the business of spying on the legislative branch of government.
not only have civil rights been abrogated, but now so too is the system of checks and balances.
March 10th, 2014
This is becoming a fascinating match. Mayor De Blasio is starting to have an impact on the city, and the Governor is pushing back. Carl Campanile reports in the New York Post:
GOP brass: Cuomo backs charter schools evicted by de Blasio
|Gov. Cuomo told business leaders that the state would step in to pay the rent of city charter schools denied free space under a crackdown by Mayor De Blasio, according to two sources. They said the governor pledged to support legislation that would give charters extra money to lease new facilities if they get the boot from city buildings.|
Other reports are surfacing that De Blasio's aggressive/progressive ideology is starting to have an effect. NY Post columnist Michael Goodwin, certainly no friend of the mayor, sums it up:
De Blasio’s anti-rich policies are driving wealthy people out of NYC
[5th paragraph] One friend says 10 wealthy people have told him they are leaving and another says disgusted New Yorkers bought $1 billion in residential property in Florida since the November election. The Sunshine State confers an automatic tax cut of about 12 percent because it has no city or state income tax, nor does it have an inheritance tax.
Beyond taxes, the mayor’s open hostility is a factor. His insulting treatment of former Mayor Bloomberg at the inauguration remains a cloud over him. As one affluent woman, a self-described liberal, told me, “De Blasio hates me, so I hate him.” She doesn’t personally know him, but draws her conclusion from his words and deeds.
|As Bloomberg often noted, about 5,000 very wealthy families paid 30 percent of the city’s income tax. Losing even a few of them means significantly less money for filling potholes and hiring cops.|
Why Bill de Blasio's Tax Hike Won't Cause the Wealthy to Flee New York
|Conservative opposition to New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthy is built largely on scare tactics. A growing chorus warns that looming tax hikes will scare away the rich and what’s left of the middle class, bringing back the economic and fiscal distress of the bad ol' days.|
|The basic fact is that it is not taxes but other, more compelling and substantial factors that are drawing more and more high-skilled, productive and, yes, rich people to places like New York City, Los Angeles, the Silicon Valley and San Francisco.|
The reality is that de Blasio’s modest tax hike will do nothing to alter the fundamental factors that draw and keep rich people in New York City. As Christopher Caldwell of the Financial Times put it:
Half a percentage point on the taxes of about 40,000 rich New Yorkers sounds far too low to provoke a rush to the exits. If you move, do not expect to replace that former member of the Vienna Philharmonic who is teaching your daughter the oboe, your jogging route around the Central Park reservoir or your sake-tasting club. New York is just different.The much more likely outcome is that rich people will continue to pour into de Blasio's New York City.
De Blasio explained the connection between taxes and opportunity quite simply in his election-night victory speech. “When we call on the wealthiest among us to pay just a little more in taxes to fund universal pre-K and after-school programs, we aren’t threatening anyone’s success,” he told the crowd. “We are asking those who have done very well to ensure that every child has the same opportunity to do just as well as they have. That’s how we all rise together.”
Conservatives need a new mantra that goes beyond out-of-date scare mongering about taxes on the wealthy. Urbanists of all stripes must instead work to understand the real reasons cities are back and the new kinds of problems their increasing riches bring.
Florida doesn't have as much snow either. The wealthy spending money for a southern cabana may be content to be snowbirds, but it would surprise me if a number of them did not switch their official residence to a less expensive locale. Time will tell.
March 7th, 2014
Wait a minute...
When is the USA giving Hawaii back its sovereignty?
The USA's crimes against national sovereignty are so numerous and so recent
that the larynx it should have to call for justice has been surgically excised.
The Washington hypocrites: "Hey! No fair taking a page from our playbook!!"
By: Norm dePlume
March 6th, 2014
This could change everything.
Got your attention yet?
It's untraceable. It's digital. It's decentralized.
March 4th, 2014
"As they visit Kiev this week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State John Kerry are being reminded that their countries signed a 1994 treaty guaranteeing Ukraine’s 'independence and sovereignty'."
I haven't heard much at all about this, here in France24 by Thomas Hubert.
As they visit Kiev this week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State John Kerry are being reminded that their countries signed a 1994 treaty guaranteeing Ukraine’s "independence and sovereignty".
Comments from US and British officials on Ukraine are under particular scrutiny as both countries signed the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine and Russia in 1994, affirming “their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine”.
The pro-European leaders of last month’s Ukrainian revolution have invoked the 20-year-old pact to lobby the US and the UK for support. Russian President “Vladimir Putin is fully conscious that by declaring war (on Ukraine), he is also declaring war on the guarantors of our security, the United States and Britain,” former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said in a statement on her website on Monday.
Under the treaty, the signatories offered Ukraine “security assurances” in exchange for its adhesion to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, whereby Kiev handed over its nuclear warheads to Moscow in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Yet according to Stephen MacFarlane, a professor of international relations specialised on the former Soviet Union at St Anne’s College, Oxford, Ukrainian leaders are also preparing for a scenario under which US and British involvement would remain verbal.
Despite Yulia Tymoshenko’s “war on the United States and Britain” rhetoric, the Budapest Memorandum offers no guarantee of intervention. “It gives signatories justification if they take action, but it does not force anyone to act in Ukraine,” Stephen MacFarlane told FRANCE 24. “[US Secretary of State John] Kerry’s harsh remarks on what is going on in Ukraine indicate a degree of resolve, but at the end of the day, what can you do?”
It seems so; this treaty can be safely set aside, at least according to Stephen MacFarlene.
The treaty is HERE.
March 3rd, 2014
She recently attended a medical seminar in San Diego. She told me about a speech that two Obamacare people gave.
She said the speech drew a huge crowd. Her gues was there were 500 people in the lecture hall.
And that, by what she could tell, that the only pro Obamacare people in the hall were the ones giving the speech.
After the speech, they opened the floor to questions, and every question started out with the serious ramifications to care that they are already seeing in their hospitals.
After a few questions, the speakers cut off the discussion and left. My daughter felt that the crowd was in no mood to listen to them, and they sensed it as well.
This seminar included doctors, specialists, anesthesiologists, nurses, etc., and when my daughter wasn't at a scheduled event, the subject of Obamacare came up.
One big thing, it seems. Hospitals fear they will not be paid for caring for chronically sick patients because Obamacare only pays for results. So, rather than go thru extraordinary measures to save someone's life, they figure that the person is just shit outta luck.
Some personnel she talked to believed it was happening at their hospitals already.
March 3rd, 2014
There's a fallacy afoot in the efforts to blame President Obama for the crisis in the Ukraine. It goes like this: because American's hand on the global tiller is unsteady and President Obama failed to enforce his "red line" in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin feels empowered to threaten and perhaps make war with the Ukraine because he does not fear repercussions. Moreover, by letting Russia invent the solution to Syria's transgression, Putin has earned some political capital that he feels he can spend. There's a veneer of plausibility on these allegations. The President's refusal to endorse some type of kinetic, military punishment against Bashir Assad stands as a moral failure to many, and could conceivably have furhter opened the aperture for murderous misbehavior by other tyrants. And Russia enjoyed its (rare) moment in the sun as the international peace-broker.
But the "if we had only done this" school of foreign policy can easily hang itself by its own noose. The reason why President Obama did not intervene in Syria have more to do with domestic and international norms collected after the disaster of the Iraq War. For the sake of argument, it is more plausible to assume that Americans would be less opposed to military action in Middle Eastern counties if the torment of Iraq were not on their minds. Also plausible: had the military not learned about modern Middle Eastern adventurism and had generals not developed their own (probably correct) biases against one-off "signaling" military strikes outside the realm of counter-terrorism, Obama's military advisers might well have forecast different outcomes had he decided to punish Assad by, say, airstrikes against the command and control structure, or by a bigger commitment to Syrian rebels.
One undeniable truth: Iraq weakened the U.S. more than anything done since. Maybe Obama overlearned its lessons; maybe we all have. But nothing empowered Vladimir Putin more than America's squandering of moral standing in the early part of this century.
I also find the Ukraine and Syria to be different genotypically and phenotypically. Syria was never part of the Soviet empire. The Ukraine was a critical part of it. There is no equivalent Crimean problem in Syria; the duly, if unappealingly elected President of the Ukraine, has asked for Russia's help here. (Yes, we might think that Viktor Yanukovych's election was not legitimate, but that is not a very solid principle upon which to base a recognition of legitimacy; if it were, America really should never attend U.N. generally assemblies and ought to withdraw from half of the treaties it has negotiated.) Crimea has also directly appealed for Russia's military assistance.
None of this is to say that Putin faces a clear path forward. Any post-Sochi halo will disappear the moment Russian troops kill innocent Ukrainians. The West will regroup against Russia for the duration of the conflict. Putin's domestic political standing is at stake, too. War would be disastrous, but Russians don't want to lose the Ukraine to the West, and they are particularly protective of ethnic Russians in the Crimea. What I don't know, in other words, is whether the United States's protests would have mattered any more to Putin if Obama had somehow used the U.S. military to punish Syria.
the author is right to connect our painful experience in iraq as a factor influencing our country's decisions. while obama has not shied away from actively using the military, he has chosen to stay far away from getting embroiled in nation-building or anything of the sort. and to that end, the author is dead-ass wrong in suggesting that we had to attack assad to defend some moral high-ground, which doesn't exist. (besides the fact that we would've only strengthened ISIS by attacking assad.)
all said, russia's choice to invade and potentially annex a portion of ukraine cannot go without consequence. be it missile defense in poland/georgia, admission of new states into NATO, removal from international forums (ex. G8), etc...
March 3rd, 2014
Personally, I don't because she still seems to be vibrant & "all together"
However, Reagans age & McCains age were a big part of the debate. Will the questions of Hillarys age be viewed the same as it was for Reagan & McCain, or will it be viewed because of the gender?
Will questions about her health be brought up (remember the concussion that was pretty serious) or the "she was too distraught to appear on the Sunday shows" that Susan Rice appeared on instead,, then raising the question of toughness to be POTUS?
There again, I believe she's tough enough. Are these legitimate questions that are sure to come up?
August 4th, 2013
The best argument against politics is the results. Our values are reflected in our culture and in our politics. Those values lead to certain results. The following are lists that I think demonstrate the values and results of the politics of my state, Alabama, and other states with similar political cultures. All these lists come from wikipedia.org except where noted.
(image from wikimedia: poverty rate)
July 31st, 2013
I put together this little trip down memory lane mostly through articles that appeared on Reuters news services on various dates staring in March of 2011 and running through July 2013.
The midterm elections of 2010 saw a rise in the Tea party Movement and takeover of the House by Republicans. The United States was due to hit the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011, which was perfect timing for an absurd showdown that put US credit in danger for the sake of extracting political concessions on spending.