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The US and India

Narendra Modi & Barack Obama Should Make Counterterrorism Their Top Joint Security Endeavor

May 22nd 2014

Boston marathon bomb

At the top of the project should be the defeat of Lashkare-Taiba and related groups based in Pakistan before they can launch another major attack.

Almost six years ago, the city of Mumbai was attacked by 10 Pakistani terrorists in the most important terror strike since 9/11. The men who masterminded the attack are still free in Pakistan and are plotting more attacks. India and America remain at risk from them.

Years of good police work and investigation have established clearly that the plot was the joint work of LeT and the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI. In the last five years some good work has been done by India and America to bring to justice some of those involved like David Headley, the American who did the reconnaissance for the attack, and Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal who was in the Karachi control room in 2008 overseeing the massacre. Read more ..

Inside Politics

Bush's Brain Blunders

May 21st 2014

Karl Rove

As they say, politics ain’t beanbag. But there are still times when political rhetoric goes way over the line. Witness Karl Rove, the new Lee Atwater.

On May 8, appearing onstage in Los Angeles with former press secretary to President Obama Robert Gibbs, Rove suggested that Hillary Clinton might be hiding a serious health problem. As first reported by Emily Smith on the New York Post’s Page Six, Rove told his audience: “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”

Now, let’s first agree: This was no accidental, off-the-cuff remark by Rove. He did have his facts wrong: She was hospitalized for only three days, not 30. But his statement was a deliberate, well-rehearsed and carefully timed attempt to undermine Clinton’s credibility and perhaps even scare her out of running for president in 2016. Read more ..

The Edge of Healthcare

A Different Way of Thinking About Health Care

May 20th 2014


A Charleston, South Carolina man who thought he had pretty good health insurance may miss work today, as he has several times already this year, because of a hernia. He’s in constant pain and needs surgery, but he has been postponing it. It’s not because he’s afraid of hospitals or going under the knife. It’s because he can’t afford the deductible.

I heard this story last week from a relative of his, Elizabeth May, who because she lives a few miles north of the U.S.-Canadian border has never faced such a dilemma. May was astonished to learn that many Americans, her cousin included, regularly postpone needed care because their insurance plans require paying several thousand dollars out of their own pockets before their coverage kicks in.

Of course, Elizabeth May is not just some ordinary Canadian. She is a Member of Parliament representing Vancouver Island in British Columbia and leader of the Green Party. I met with her and several other so-called MPs last Wednesday in Ottawa at the request of the Canadian Health Coalition, a group that wants to maintain and expand the country’s publicly funded, universal access health care system. Read more ..

Inside Politics

Six Steps to Midterm Victory

May 19th 2014

No Obamacare

It’s now the conventional wisdom that Republicans will keep control of the House of Representatives and win the Senate in this year’s elections, but as Dick Motta once said, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

Midterm elections are tricky, especially in a president’s second term. Republicans got swept in 2006, and they’d felt they were likely to keep the House as late as September of that year. In 1998, most pundits thought that Bill Clinton’s Oval Office escapades would be enough to insure a victory for the GOP, but they actually lost seats, forcing Newt Gingrich’s resignation as Speaker.

The key to winning a midterm election is making sure that your base is energized and that your opponent’s base isn’t. Here are six steps that Republicans should take to keep the focus on President Obama — and off them. Read more ..

The Internet on Edge

Don't Delay Spectrum Auctions

May 18th 2014

Walking-Cell phone

America’s smartphone users have a simple request of the FCC: Don’t delay the spectrum auctions that will enable us to get faster, smoother, and more reliable service. The spectrum auction needs to have top priority at Thursday’s FCC Open Meeting because it’s urgently important and eminently resolvable, unlike some other issues.

The Commission is caught in a particularly intense tug-of-war among commercial interests with stakes in Internet regulation at the moment, many of whom are feverishly excited about proposed “net neutrality” rules they have yet to see.

It’s apparent that casting chum in shark-infested waters seems to the media to be a better strategy for attracting eyeballs at the moment than boring meditations on serious policy matters can ever be, but let’s deal with a grown-up issue just for a moment; the net neutrality debate has been going on for fifteen years without discernable progress, so it can wait. Read more ..

African-Americans on Edge

Redeeming the Image of Black Men in the Media

May 15th 2014


High school graduation rates are at a historic all-time high. African American students are helping drive this historic trend with a 69% graduation rate—the highest graduation rate seen in years. But you wouldn’t know this by watching mainstream media outlets. Time and time again the media has painted black men in a negative light. Almost every night you can turn on the television and watch a news story about a black man shooting or robbing someone.
This was the subject of DCTV’s 25th Anniversary panel: “Changing Coverage of Black Males in the Media” coordinated by DCTV's President Nantz Rickard and ExecuitveVice President Bob Thomas, alongside their outstanding production crew.  Bringing together such an impressive and highly accomplished panel, DCTV ignited a firestorm of new thinking about the neglected recognizable achievements of many black Americans across our nation.  
Last week, I had the privilege of moderating this panel that included filmmaker, producer and director of “What Black Men Think” Janks Morton, New York Times and CNN contributor Jamal Simmons, and EZ Street of 93.9WKYS.
“If it bleeds it leads” remarked Janks Morton during our discussion. The media has an obsession with reporting on violent, specifically black, crime. Instead of focusing on the positive developments of the black community, the media loves to tell stories that grab viewer’s attention using a shock factor. The kinds of stories highlighting inner-city black crime possess this shock factor and, according to Jamal Simmons, demonstrate the prejudice that exists among many media outlets.

Inside Politics

Rove, Benghazi lift Dems

May 14th 2014

Karl Rove

With the Republican brand mired in vast public disapproval, Democrats hungry to inspire voter turnout in November, and Americans yearning for a higher standard of politics, Karl Rove suggesting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffers from brain damage was a Christmas gift to Democrats in May. Let me count the ways.

When Rove threw his spittoon at Clinton, his saliva landed on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), whom I predict will not subject his family to the toxic politics of Republicans today.

Perhaps Republicans believe Americans want to return to the politics of George W. Bush in 2000, masterminded by Rove, whose organization spread stories that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was mentally unstable because he was imprisoned as a Vietnam POW and returned home to father an illegitimate black child. Read more ..

The Race for LNG

Can America Stop Russia's Energy "Pivot" To Asia?

May 13th 2014

Natural Gas Terminal

For centuries, European royal families forged marital alliances with friends and adversaries in order to ensure security and influence. Prominent among them was Russia. In the 300 years prior to Czar Nicholas II’s 1894 marriage with Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Alexandra, almost at any point Russia was tied by marriage to its European neighbors. Today, it is no longer royal blood that solidifies Russia’s foreign relations but the energy pipelines that run the lifeblood of national economies.

Vladimir Putin’s coercion of Europe through his control over its energy supply is widely known. But post-Crimea, his energy leverage over Europe may have reached its apex. By the end of this decade, North American liquefied natural gas (LNG) will land in Europe from the West. From the east, the Trans-Anatolian and Trans Adriatic Pipelines will open a new energy corridor from the Caspian to Europe, crowding out Russia’s gas even further. To sustain Russia’s economy and to maintain its position as an energy power, Putin must extend Russia’s energy tentacles into Asia, where the thirst for oil and gas is insatiable. Read more ..

The 2016 Campaign

The Tea Party Seizes Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

May 13th 2014

What’s all the crowing about regarding North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis’ victory in the North Carolina Republican Senate primary this week? I’m talking about the crowing that this is some kind of defeat for the Tea Party.

Sure, Greg Brannon was the Tea Party candidate and endorsed by Rand Paul. And, yes, the Republican establishment big names – including, of course, Mr. Establishment, Karl Rove - came out and backed Tillis with endorsements and lots of money. Read more ..

Financing the Flames

A Wake-up Call in the Middle East

May 12th 2014

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After Israel was recently forced to suspend peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), American credibility in the Middle East took another devastating blow. The Obama administration's insistence that the PA was a legitimate peace partner crumbled following Fatah's proposed unity government with Hamas.

Now, U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk has doubled down on our failed policy and claims that Palestinian statehood must happen, either through violence or a usurping of long-standing policy by seeking recognition from the United Nations. This stance represents a monumental shift in U.S. policy and will force Israel to both withdraw to indefensible lines and accept a Palestinian state bent on Israel's destruction.

During the peace talks, the Obama administration's messaging campaign was a coordinated attempt to paint Israel as obstinate and highlighted settlements that put Israel on the defensive. Meanwhile, the impression was given that the PA acted as a sympathetic partner despite its long-standing history of anti-Semitic and violent rhetoric and actions.

The Palestinians assisted the Nazis during World War II, sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, joined the Muslim Brotherhood in fighting proxy wars within Israel and abroad, purchased illegal weapons from Iran, and now has officially joined with the designated terrorist organization Hamas. Yet, the Obama administration continues to argue that the PA is the only party interested in a peaceful Palestinian state that stands side-by-side with Israel. Read more ..

America on Edge

The Wider Implications of Donald Sterling and His Racist Rants

May 11th 2014

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As the sad and distressing saga of Donald Sterling and his racial rants continues to unfold, the impact of his abhorrent misconduct on Jewish communities in Los Angeles, Israel and around the world mandates close examination.

Relations between American Jews and their African American counterparts should be probed with even more delicate precision.

There is little which can be added to the volumes of articles, columns, broadcasts and other media releases which have berated Sterling’s comments incessantly since the story first broke.

However, there is a noteworthy excerpt in Sterling’s conversation with his alleged mistress which sets it apart from other remarks which were, in and of themselves, brazenly demeaning towards blacks. Read more ..

America and Israel

Obama Revives the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory

May 9th 2014

When a man or woman is mugged on the street or afflicted by disease, the right response is never to pretend everything is fine and nothing has happened.

But if you’re a really cool guy like the president of the United States or one of his top advisors or the Secretary of State who wants to become president of the U.S., then it is perfectly okay to act cool and go into pretend-and-deny mode. It also helps if the media clean up after you.

If Jimmy Carter were as cool as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he would have pretended that Iranian militants had not attacked a U.S. embassy to kidnap its staff. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Getting to the Truth about Benghazi: Find those Responsible

May 9th 2014

What a contrast between events on two different dates of Sept. 11.

On Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists killed 3,000 people, Republicans and Democrats together cried out: “Let’s get the bastards who did this to us.” On Sept. 11, 2012, when terrorists killed four Americans, Republicans immediately cried out: “Let’s find a way to blame President Obama.”

Indeed, on that night in 2012 when the attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, was still underway — before we even knew Ambassador Christopher Stevens was one of the four victims — GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney accused Obama of sympathizing with those who carried out the attack. And Republicans, with full-time support of Fox News, have disgracefully made a cheap, partisan political football out of Benghazi ever since. Read more ..

The Way We Are

You Might be a Racist

May 7th 2014

Times Square-Crowd

Last week’s column delved into the challenges that pollsters face when defining and measuring racism. It’s not easy. So we are staying on task. The principal problem is that racism lies so deep in some Americans’ psyches that even they don’t know it’s there and most certainly won’t admit it. They may recognize that social mores reject racism and therefore tell inquiring researchers they aren’t racist, even as it lurks below the surface.

Some say that every single American is racist, depending on how you define it. We certainly aren’t color and race blind. So if your definition of racism implies racial consciousness, it probably afflicts all. Yet a more practical definition of racism, for the political pollster, probably includes some sort of overt negativity or malevolence for people of a different race. But even that is hard to measure. Retired NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ruminated on this in a column for Time magazine this week. He even offered some practical and novel advice for those who want to identify racists. Read more ..

Philippines on Edge

Journalists Give their Lives as Witnesses to the Truth in The Phillipines

May 6th 2014

The Philippines is quickly becoming the killing fields for journalists, reporters, and writers with 14 killed in 2013; ten of them by suspected assassination squads. According to the International News Safety Institute (INSI) based in the UK, this makes the Philippines the third most dangerous place in the world for news reporters after Syria and Iraq.

Four died on the job during the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) that hit Tacloban with full force last November 8, 2013. I write this on International Day for Press Freedom on May 3 and can say that the Philippines is becoming one of the most dangerous places for writers and journalists in the world. It's frightening to learn that 1054 journalists have been killed worldwide since 1992, and 76 of them were cut down by gunfire or stabbed to death in the Philippines. Read more ..

Vote 2016

Nervous Democrats are on Thin Ice

May 5th 2014

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Amid a torrent of fresh and frightening polling, Democrats are clinging to some comforting silver linings: flush war chests, a few strong individual polls, a robust gender gap. But it will be months before we know if they are kittens balancing on branches or cats with nine lives.

In recent weeks, as Republicans have increased their list of targets to win back the six seats they need to control the U.S. Senate, Democrats have cheered the fact that two polls show Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas well ahead of their competitors in the midterm races. Republicans questioned the credibility of the polls, but the Democrats were just thrilled not to be trailing their likely opponents. Read more ..

America on Edge

The Dividends of Racial Politics

May 3rd 2014

Star Parker right crop

Suddenly we can’t seem to get race out of the news.

Congressman Paul Ryan’s tour around America’s cities, trying to get a handle on America’s persistent problems with poverty, turns into a racial incident, as a member of the Congressional Black Caucus calls remarks he made in a radio interview “a thinly veiled racial attack that cannot be tolerated.”

A simpleton law-breaking rancher in Nevada, egged on by reporters, says stupid things about black Americans, and suddenly he becomes a national figure with serious views about race.

And then a sleazy billionaire octogenarian, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, with a long history of racially charged remarks, some of which having resulted in lawsuits, becomes front page news when his equally sleazy young black Latina mistress surreptitiously records a private spat between them in which he makes tasteless comments about blacks. Read more ..

American Jewry on Edge

Conference of Presidents Had Good Reasons to Reject the Extremist Group J-Street’s Bid

May 2nd 2014

There were very good reasons why the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (the Conference) clearly voted against the membership application of J-Street, an extremist group whose activities are hostile to Israel.

The key stated missions of the Conference are “mobilizing support to halt Iran’s nuclear program,” “counter[ing] the global campaign to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people,” “bolster[ing] Israel’s security” and combating terrorism and anti-Semitism.  J-Street’s actions are clearly at odds with these policies.

J-Street lobbies against sanctions and against military action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  J-Street works closely with NIAC (National Iranian American Council), a notorious apparent agent of the Iranian regime.  NIAC board member Genevieve Lynch is a significant J-Street donor.  J-Street brings to its conferences and college campuses leading NIAC pro-Iranian regime speakers, including NIAC head and leading Iran apologist Trita Parsi, and Hillary Mann Leverett, who, during a J-Street event condemned as “fundamentally racist” anyone who did not “trust” the Iranian regime.  J-Street likewise urges U.S. Congresspersons to simply “believe in Iran.” Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Can Barack Obama Get Back into the Groove?

May 2nd 2014

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It’s been more than a year since President Obama saw his approval rating hit 50 percent, and his still-souring numbers have Democrats fretting about his toxic effect in November.

Party strategists say the solution is for the White House to shake up a messaging campaign that’s grown stagnant if he hopes to rebuild his flagging approval rating before the midterm elections.

One year and one week ago was last time the RealClearPolitics polling average put the president at 50 percent, and it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Obama since then. The botched rollout of ObamaCare, the government shutdown, an ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the fading glow of his reelection have each taken their toll on the president’s ratings, leaving Obama mired in the low 40s. Read more ..

Israelis and Palestinians

The Zero-Sum Game for Palestinians' Suffering and Sympathy for Suffering

May 1st 2014

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For Palestinians, suffering -- and sympathy for suffering -- is a zero-sum game. Sympathy used up on the Holocaust means less for Palestinians in the territories. Even among Palestinian groups, while thousands suffer and die in Syria -- most heinously starved in the Yarmouk refugee camp -- Israelis joined relief efforts while Abu Mazen and Ismail Haniya have said hardly a word, lest it detract from the sympathy needed to support Fatah and Hamas.

What accounts for Abu Mazen's denunciation of the Holocaust as "the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era"? First, it was designed to keep the sympathies of Secretary Kerry. It worked; although Abbas has done everything he could think of to scuttle the "peace talks," Kerry still sees hope -- and money -- in the pipeline. Second, it was to continue to appropriate Jewish history and Jewish suffering for the purpose of increasing sympathy for the Palestinians. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Imagining a World Without America

April 30th 2014

"You’ve been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.”

So said George Bailey’s guardian angel, Clarence, in the 1946 classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Bailey, contemplating suicide, wishes he’d never been born. To demonstrate the value of the life he would so quickly trade away, the angel lets him see what the world would be like if he’d never existed.

Of course, without the influence of one good and virtuous man, George Bailey’s flawed but lovely little town full of oddballs turns into a nightmarish Babylon called “Pottersville,” run by a sadistic miser and populated by drunks, hookers, and toughs. At the end (spoiler alert, as if you’ve never seen it), George realizes that his problems are trivial and his life is indeed wonderful. He returns to face his responsibilities, come what may.

It’s not a “great gift,” but we’re now getting a chance to see what the world would be like without America. Read more ..

The Edge of Intolerance

Rancher Bundy is No Patriot

April 28th 2014

Tea Party demonstator at Supreme Court

Nothing demonstrates the ignorance and danger of the Tea Party movement more than its leaders’ immediate, knee-jerk embrace of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

No sooner had armed vigilantes around the country rushed to Bundy’s side than Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) defended him. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) called him and his armed thugs “patriots.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) praised his resistance to federal authority. Sean Hannity and other Fox News hosts extolled him as a “folk hero” and the poster boy of standing up to a “government gone wild.” At which point, all this praise having obviously gone to his head, Bundy compared himself to Rosa Parks. Read more ..

Broken Government

Fannie, Freddie Overhaul Must Eliminate Conflicts of Interest

April 27th 2014

Home Foreclosure

There is a glaring problem with proposals to dismantle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and “bring private capital back” to the mortgage market: Investors got mugged once and are not likely to walk down the same alley again.

From 2002 to 2006, Wall Street banks overtook Fannie and Freddie and issued the majority of mortgage-backed securities. The market for “private-label” mortgage-backed securities, the securities issued by Wall Street banks, collapsed in 2007 and remains comatose. In 2013, Fannie and Freddie issued 99 percent of new mortgage-backed securities.

The unchallenged assumption in Washington is that the overhaul of the housing finance system should drastically reduce the role of government and revive the private-label mortgage-backed securities market. Investors are not likely to buy new mortgage-backed securities from Wall Street banks if the new securities are like the old ones. Read more ..

The Battle for Venezuela

Standing Up for Human Rights and Democracy in Venezuela

April 26th 2014

Venezuela protests

Many events have occurred since protests broke out in Venezuela several weeks ago, including the killing of 25 people by the government’s paramilitary. In addition, more than 1,000 people were arrested and others simply disappeared.

Contrary to the Venezuelan president’s pronouncements, this protest movement is composed mostly of  young people, not of  fascists or the old “oligarchy”. They are not rich and they are not spoiled. These are young people who see no future in a Venezuela that is turning more totalitarian and more repressive as time goes by. 

These street mobilizations represent a social movement that could not find in the political system any expression. They are not demanding more food, salary increases, or personal advantage. They are fighting for their freedom and for their dignity. The slogan “Give me liberty or give me death” becomes very much a reality as these protestors find the status –quo in Venezuela increasingly unbearable. Read more ..

After the Mideast Peace Process

The Trap of Even-Handedness in the Mideast

April 25th 2014

It is clear that by the end of the month the Obama-Kerry peace initiative will be declared a failure. While the efforts may have been sincere, the lack of historical understanding and reading of the signs doomed these efforts from the beginning.

Historically, what is prevalent among American foreign policy makers is the view that both parties in the negotiations, Israelis and Palestinians, are equal; ergo, they are equally responsible and equally to blame. In itself this is a flawed reading of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Instead, one must start with the fact that the majority of the Arab-Muslim world has always seen the Jewish state as an abomination. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

Anti-Semitism from Ukraine to the U.S.

April 24th 2014

Holocaust survivor

Few recent news articles captured more attention than reports that Jews in Ukraine were being ordered to register. Then it turned out that the pamphlets ordering Jews to register might be something of a hoax or a political stunt.Either

way, it appears that Ukrainian Jews are being treated as pawns. Moreover, the story would not have gotten such play if it hadn’t hit a nerve.

Ukraine has lately seen a string of anti-Semitic vandalism. The Holocaust Memorial in Sevastopol, which had previously been vandalized by neo-Nazis, was recently spray-painted with a hammer and sickle. In Dnepropetrovsk, swastikas were sprayed on the tomb of the late Lubavicher Rebbe Menahem Mendel Schneerson’s brother, Dov Ber Schneerson.  There has also been a recent stabbing and the attempted arson of two synagogues, one last week in Nikolayev. But the problem is not limited to Ukraine. Read more ..

Broken Government

Detroit Should Sell Some Paintings and Balance its Books

April 23rd 2014

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As the prospect draws closer of a state bailout of Detroit at the expense of other critical needs, voters might want to examine more closely politicians’ skittishness toward selling off city assets. In particular, artwork owned by the city’s museum, an institution sustained by tax dollars (including a regional property tax favored by many of those same politicians in 2010).

Lawmakers should reject a bailout and instead insist that Detroit — whose problems are the product of its own fiscal malpractice — take responsibility for cleaning itself up. It is fundamentally unfair to make other Michigan residents pay for such infamous mismanagement. If avoiding this inequity requires the city to sell some assets, including paintings from the museum, so be it. Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

Don’t Send America’s Natural Gas to Ukraine

April 22nd 2014

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given a boost to those calling for the United States to expedite natural gas exports to help allies overseas. In this thinking, American gas exports — in the form of liquefied natural gas, or LNG — are not only a boon to the domestic economy but also a potent geopolitical tool to be wielded against the Kremlin.
Never mind that the United States won’t have its first LNG export terminal in operation until late 2015 at the very earliest; that all of its approved gas exports are already committed to long-term contracts; and that Ukraine does not even have a single terminal for receiving LNG.

Even without the newly concocted geopolitical rationale for exports, though, Washington seems favorably disposed to permitting much of America’s surplus gas to migrate overseas. Since the beginning of the shale gas revolution, which kicked off in 2005, the U.S. Department of Energy has approved six LNG export terminals with a combined export capacity of 8.5 billion cubic feet a day, and more projects are in the works. Read more ..

Vote 2014

There's Still Hope for Democrats in 2014

April 22nd 2014

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Is there anyway Democrats can win the 17 seats they need to capture the House majority this November?

In one word: Yes.

Democrats picked up 8 seats two years ago despite widespread predictions of losses. They lost 12 seats in 2012 by less than five percentage points and another 18 seats by less than 10 percentage points.

Also keep in mind that every poll shows the public agrees with Democrats on the big issues – gay marriage, pay equity for women, immigration, gun control and budget cuts.

Meanwhile, the GOP brand remains unpopular. The biggest advantage for House Democrats is that they are running against Republicans. That party’s good name suffered from last fall’s government shutdown, a strategy of obstruction that has paralyzed the Congress, and the recent vote in support of a budget that privatizes Medicare. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Obama's Unfulfilled Wishes for Peace in the Mideast

April 21st 2014

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Early on March 4, the Israeli Defense Forces intercepted a shipment of Syrian-made M-302 rockets with a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles). The missiles, which apparently went through Iraqi airspace to Iran and then by ship to the Red Sea, were likely headed to Sudan. From there, they would have gone by truck through the (mostly unguarded) Sinai to Gaza, from which they would have been capable of reaching nearly all of Israel.

That makes this a very bad week for the annual "Obama slashes Israeli missile defense programs and Congress puts the money back" dance. For years, the Obama Administration has sent a budget to Capitol Hill that included steep reductions in prior year spending for cooperative U.S.-Israel missile defense programs. Congress complains loudly then puts in the money it believes the programs merit. With the release of the budget figures two years ago, Defense News noted: Read more ..

Broken Economy

How to Get Americans to Save More at Tax Time

April 20th 2014


The worst of the recent economic crisis seems to be behind us, and although slow, the recovery is underway and Americans are feeling more optimistic about the future. For most, the lesson learned during the crisis was that they didn't have enough savings to weather a financial storm without sacrifice, worry, and sleepless nights. Saving money is a difficult challenge for people at all income levels, and especially for those with the least. With little disposable income, even the small amounts these households try to put into savings are often diverted by unexpected needs and routine price increases in goods and services.

For many households, the biggest lump sum of money they receive all year comes in the form of their income tax refund check. While savvy economists and accountants caution any refund indicates a person's withholding rate should be adjusted, for many households getting a refund is preferable to getting hit with a big bill at tax time. More importantly, these tax refunds can provide a unique opportunity for tax filers to save money and build financial security. Read more ..

Edge of Human Rights

Passover Prayers for Captive Alan Gross

April 19th 2014

I never met Alan Gross. But on Monday night, when I gather with 700 other American Jews in Phoenix to celebrate the Passover Seder, his plight will be one of the hot-button issues, along with the post-mortem on Secretary of State John Kerry’s Mideast peace talks and Iran’s imminent nuclear breakout.

That’s because it is increasingly clear that Gross, an American, is caught in a no-man’s land between the U.S. and Havana, a hostage to the Cuban authorities’ desperate desire to free five of their freedom fighter/terrorists from U.S. custody.

Gross, 64, was not convicted of espionage, but of bringing computers and satellite phones paid for by a grant from a U.S. agency to a Jewish group serving the tiny Jewish community in the communist island nation 90 miles from Florida. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Obama Must Defend NATO's Real Red Lines From Putin's Aggression in Ukraine

April 18th 2014

Vladimir Putin sunglasses

Last week masked men, in camouflage garb with no insignia, dressed and equipped like Russian special forces, started taking over police stations and other government buildings in the Donets basin in eastern Ukraine. They appeared to be working in tandem with local militias in defying the Ukrainian government.

This week the Ukraine government has responded by sending in military forces to counter these actions. There has been shooting and violence. But Ukraine's military doesn't seem capable of asserting control.

So Vladimir Putin's Russia, with some 40,000 troops massed just outside Ukraine, seems to have taken effective control of a significant chunk of that country -- or at least denying effective control to the Ukraine government.

Whether Putin will follow up with an explicit occupation and annexation, as he did with Crimea, is unclear. Polling and previous referendum results suggest much less support for absorption into Russia in eastern Ukraine than in Crimea. Read more ..

Inside Politics

Rand Paul’s Putin Problem

April 17th 2014

Rand Paul

If former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton runs against Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for president in November 2016, and Russian strongman-for-life Vladimir Putin remains in power, Clinton could win a victory approaching a 50-state landslide, including reluctant support from many conservatives and Republicans alarmed by Paul’s policies on national security.

As Republicans engage in presidential debates during the primary season and the party nominees square off in presidential debates in the fall of 2016, there will be an empty but crucial chair in the debates for Putin.

Rand Paul has a Vladimir Putin problem, a national security problem, a presidential stature problem and a commander in chief problem. Paul began his short national career by staking out nonintervention positions so extreme that reasonable people might worry Paul as president would be the Neville Chamberlain appeaser of our time, guaranteeing a green light for aggression to bad guys such as Bashar Assad as he mass murders Syrians and Putin as he bullies and bludgeons Ukraine.

Apparently realizing that his earlier isolationist philosophy had poorly positioned him in a dangerous world, Paul has shape-shifted to a new opportunism of incoherence and vacillation. One moment Paul says he might support a military attack against Iran. Then he implies he might accept a nuclear-armed Iran and follow a policy of containment. Then he says he won’t tell us what policy he prefers, comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. Read more ..

Vote 2016

Looking Ahead to the Real Debate between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush

April 16th 2014

Hillary Clinton

This past Sunday I joined a panel of distinguished pundits on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” and to the surprise of no viewers we spent a considerable amount of time discussing the prospects of a presidential race between Hillary Clinton, former secretary of State and former first lady, and Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and brother to former President George W. Bush, in 2016. A debate ensued about how each candidate might overcome or utilize their respective last names to their advantage.

The one thing that I know — and I’m sure Secretary Clinton knows — is that come 2016, the voters will not really be looking for an election to rehash old debates. It is not going to be about former President Bill Clinton’s record, just as it is not going to be about Bush 43’s record. Frankly, as highly regarded as Bill Clinton’s presidency was, it was better than you think. Similarly, the way we loathed George W. Bush’s time in office, it was worse than you think.

Any long discussions of these issues will turn voters away in droves. Believe it or not, given the trauma of the finance-induced horrific recession, voters are going to be looking for an election about their lives and about their futures. The truth of the matter is that there is an actual shovel-ready message for Secretary Clinton on how we can make Washington work to rebuild America’s devastated middle class. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Lost in Big Data: Digital Zombies

April 15th 2014

cloud computing

The Internet-of-Things (IoT) is what gets everyone excited these days, with double digit market growth expectations for an industry that could see tens of billions of connected nodes in the shape of remote sensors, actuators or wearable and mobile devices. The latest estimates from market research firm IHS Technology hint at over 6 billion Internet-enabled devices to be produced in 2014 alone, with another 19.42 billion such devices literally flooding the planet between 2015 and 2017.

From whatever angle you look at it, it is a promising market for providers or low-power microcontrollers, sensors, RF modules of many sorts, GPS chips, energy harvesting units, supercapacitors and batteries just to name a few of the component categories that will invariably find their way to landfills if not decommissioned properly or lost in nature. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

CVS Caremark Pulling Tobacco Products - A Public Health Game-Changer

April 15th 2014

cigarette in ashtray

For the past 30 years, I've fought for lung health with the American Lung Association. Our organization has been a leader in the battle against tobacco, which is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the U.S. Over the years, this battle has experienced dramatic highs and disappointing lows. 

CVS Caremark’s recent announcement that they will no longer sell tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy locations represents a great milestone in efforts to move toward becoming a healthier, smokefree nation.

CVS Caremark took a bold step in making the health and well-being of current and future customers and employees a top priority. We at the American Lung Association commend the company’s leaders for their decision and urge more retailers to follow CVS Caremark’s brave lead, and help eliminate tobacco-caused deaths and disease by pulling tobacco products from their own shelves  Read more ..

Israelis and Palestinians

The Peace Process Is Dead. Let It Lie Down

April 14th 2014

Obama meets Abbas

The April 29th deadline has not yet been reached, but it may be said with confidence that the initiative by Secretary of State John Kerry to revive the ‘peace process’ between Israelis and Palestinians has already reached its final destination: failure.

 The failure of this initiative was obvious from the beginning.  To everyone except, apparently, Kerry himself.  This reality lent an element of low farce to the entire proceedings.

 By now, it should really be obvious to any serious observer that there is no chance that the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process will produce a comprehensive peace between the two sides.

There are two core reasons for this.  One of them is of long-standing, the other is a development of the last decade. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Discussing Race is a Necessary Discussion

April 14th 2014

Mitch Landrieu, the white liberal Democratic mayor of 60- percent-black New Orleans, had this to say about white conservative Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) trouble after Ryan spoke out about the “inner city” culture that does not value work:

“So, Paul Ryan said something people took issue with and it became a huge battle. It was not a thoughtful [debate]…it all got to be about condemnation. ‘I condemn him for saying this.’ ‘No I condemn you because he did not say that... And all this yelling across headlines. No wonder people who want to be thoughtful [are afraid to say anything about real problems.] They want to say ‘I think this, I don’t really know how to say this, but I want to deal with the issue and get past race.’” Read more ..

Broken Government

The Art of Compromise

April 13th 2014


Last week, as Republicans questioned the administration’s new ObamaCare enrollment numbers and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attacked the Koch brothers on the Senate floor, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) celebrated a triumph, when a bill he has been working on with Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) for two years passed out of the Senate Finance Committee unanimously. The idea of his legislation — giving startup companies access to the research and development tax credit — getting approved made Coons “so excited I can hardly stand it,” he said before the vote.

While gridlock and partisanship go into overdrive in an election year, Coons is continuing his quiet mission that has made him fourth among all senators writing bipartisan bills, according to govtrack.us, the government transparency website. In only three years, Coons has doggedly built working relationships resulting in cowritten and cointroduced bills with nearly half the Senate Republican Conference. Read more ..

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