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The Battle for Iraq

Iraq, the Sequel

June 17th 2014

Iraq ISIL pistol standoff

Mosul, Tikrit, Fallujah. Their names sound so familiar, because it was only a few years ago that American soldiers won those cities back from the control of Islamic extremists.

Sadly, those same cities are back in the news today, as Islamic extremists, under the banner of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, take them back from an almost nonexistent Iraqi army. Samarra’s their next target. Then, it’s only a matter of days before they move on to Baghdad. Once Baghdad falls, Iraq is gone.

In a panic, finally realizing he’s got a serious problem, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is begging the United States for military assistance to turn back the insurgents. Fortunately, President Obama has flatly dismissed sending American troops back into Iraq. Unfortunately, he’s seriously considering a range of other options, including airstrikes, which would also be a big mistake. We should not let ourselves be sucked into Iraq: The sequel. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

In Iraq, Obama Has a Choice: Bad Guys or Bad Government

June 16th 2014

Iraq ISIL double file of militants

In the fight against jihadist insurgents across the planet, the United States can offer its partners a lot of help: arms and intelligence, training for local security forces, economic aid, and in extreme cases, air strikes to take out the bad guys.

It is the allies, of course, that get to do the actual fighting and dying.

After more than a decade of conflicts in which American ground forces served in harm’s way, the United States is moving to a more hands-off approach in its fight against insurgents with ideological or operational ties to al-Qaeda. In Afghanistan, President Obama has announced a major drawdown of troops, and in Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, the United States intervenes mainly via drones or small numbers of troops training local forces. Read more ..


After the Arab Spring

Welcome to the Jihadi Spring

June 14th 2014

Syrian jihadis silhouette

The Arab Spring is over. Welcome to the Jihadi Spring.

Across a huge swath of what, up until recently, had been known as Iraq and Syria, a transnational movement of Sunni Islamic extremists has taken control. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has conquered — without much effort — Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, along with most of the province of Nineveh. It’s also taken Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown. Along the way it has ransacked banks (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars), pillaged weapon stockpiles (including the stuff we left behind for the Iraqi army), and recruited ever more fighters from Iraq, Syria, and abroad.

ISIS started out as an al-Qaeda franchise, but in 2011 it broke off to become an independent dealer of Islamist mayhem. If anything, it is more extreme than al-Qaeda — though that fine distinction probably means little to the Shiites and Christians it slaughters. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

A Statistically Tested Way to Stop Terrorism and Boost Iraq's Economy

June 13th 2014

US 10 MT departing

NBC News reports that U.S. President Barack Obama said "I don't rule out anything," and "my national security team is looking at all the options" with regard to the rapidly growing unrest in Iraq. "This is an area that we have been watching with a lot of concern," he said.

Even if The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is defeated, the problem of terrorism will not likely be solved for long, particularly if the Iraq's economy does not improve. It would be just a matter of time before other terrorists move in to take their place. History shows that past defense plans regarding Iraq have failed. These plans were based largely on conjecture, and now we have seen their outcome. The conventional military approach of fighting terrorism lacks a statistical guarantee of success of where a leader like Obama can wisely and safely assert "yes, this approach will definitely work." Read more ..


Iraq on Edge

A Last Dance for Iraq's Nouri Al-Maliki

June 12th 2014

Saddam Hussein must be laughing in his grave.

President George W. Bush celebrated Saddam’s overthrow in 2003 as the liberation of Iraqis from decades of dictatorial rule and costly warfare against Iraq’s neighbors.

But the democratically elected government that followed has failed to stabilize the country and opened the door to the expansion of a safe haven for Islamist militants so extreme that even al-Qaeda has rejected them.

This week, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), captured Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, unfurling the black flag of jihad over the corpses of Iraqi security forces and sending half a million residents fleeing in terror. Read more ..


Washington on Edge

Defeat of Majority Leader Cantor Spells Defeat for Immigration Reform

June 11th 2014

Click to select Image

The shockwaves shook Washington beginning late Tuesday and throughout the day on Wednesday.

House Majority leader Eric Cantor, the second most powerful lawmaker in the House of Representatives, lost a primary challenge to David Brat, an underfunded challenger with grassroots back from Tea Party activists.

The defeat of a high-ranking member of Congress is rare, especially in a party primary election. The fact that it was completely unexpected has put a lot of Republicans on high alert, unwilling to do anything that might spark an angry reaction from conservative activists back home.

So what’s the big deal about the Cantor defeat? Plenty.

For starters, immigration reform may be a dead issue in this session of Congress.

Don’t like the current state of U.S. partisan politics? Too bad, because there’s more to come and it’s probably only going to get to worse.

Fascinated by the ongoing battle between mainstream Republicans and the Tea Party? Good, because there is plenty more to come, not just this election year but in the 2016 presidential year as well.

Immigration reform setback

The most immediate victim in the wake of Eric Cantor’s defeat may be the push for immigration reform in the House. House Republican leaders had talked about doing small bits of immigration legislation as a counter to a more sweeping bill that was passed by the Senate. But Cantor was criticized for his support for a version of the so-called Dream Act, which sets up a path to citizenship for immigrant children who were brought to the country illegally. Cantor fought back against those who saw him as too liberal on immigration reform, but it was too late. Read more ..


Israel and the Vatican

Despite His Critics, Pope Francis is Committed to Jewish/Christian Reconciliation

June 11th 2014

I strongly disagree with Caroline Glick’s conclusion in her May 27 article that Pope Francis “is leading the Catholic Church in a distressingly anti-Jewish direction.” I can understand Caroline’s distress at some of the pope’s actions and words but it is important to have balance and not draw wrong conclusions.

Pope Francis is totally committed to reconciliation between the Church and Israel. I would like to demonstrate this under five headings:

1. State of Israel:

Pope Francis in his first Encyclical in November 2013 affirmed God’s everlasting covenant with the Jews: “We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for ‘the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29).”

It is noteworthy that Pope Francis reappointed Father Raniero Cantalamessa as preacher to the papal household. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Trampling Democracy to Fight Climate Change

June 10th 2014

coal fired power plant

Republicans are calling President Barack Obama's new coal-plant regulations a "power grab." The truth is more complicated, and ominous, than that.

This isn't a case where the executive branch has simply gone beyond its authority. It's a case where officials in all three branches of government have found a way to achieve their policy goals while shielding themselves from accountability.

Congress sends bills to the president and the president signs them: That's how major policy changes are supposed to work. But Congress has never passed large-scale regulations to combat global warming. It has never even voted to authorize such regulations.

In 2007, though, the Supreme Court pretended that Congress had done so. Lawmakers had voted to fight climate change without realizing it, when they enacted the Clean Air Act. So ruled the four liberal justices on the bench at the time, plus Justice Anthony Kennedy. Read more ..


Broken Government

Obama White House Bungled Bergdahl Release from Taliban

June 9th 2014

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl during his imprisonment by Taliban of Afghanistan.

The special forces helicopter carrying Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to freedom hadn’t even touched down before efforts to undermine his credibility were underway, all with the gleeful help of the mainstream media.

Let’s establish, first of all, that the White House bungled his release. Should President Obama have notified Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and other intelligence leaders in Congress first? Are there still serious questions about why Bergdahl walked away from his base? Are critics right to question assurances that the five freed Taliban detainees released from Guantánamo Bay won’t soon be back in action?

Yes, yes and yes. But that in no way justifies the wholesale rush by Obama haters to demonize Bergdahl, which the media gleefully joined, with no regard for the facts. Read more ..


Broken Bookselling

How Much Will Boycott Cost Amazon?

June 8th 2014

Amazon box

Amazon’s e-book contract dispute with publisher Hachette has led to calls for a boycott. And funnyman, Stephen Colbert, has added his popular voice to those who want you to stop buying from Amazon.

How much will this boycott cost Amazon?

Before getting into this, let’s take a look at the dispute. Amazon is pushing Hachette for a bigger share of its e-book pie though neither side will provide details. Amazon is putting pressure on Hachette by subjecting many of its books “to artificial purchase delays, suspended pre-orders of new titles, increased prices, and no longer re-stocking existing ones,” according to Venture Capital Post.

Hachette is paying the price in the form of slumping revenue. According to the New York Times, “After several weeks, Hachette sales are now dwindling on Amazon. Since Amazon is the biggest bookseller in the country, that is seriously affecting Hachette.” Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syria Faces Dire Water Peril

June 6th 2014

Syran refugee girl in Jordan

Two reports from Beirut's Al-Akhbar point to potentially catastrophic water problems about to affect Syria.

The lesser concerns Aleppo, where mortar shells and barrel bombs have slackened off but Islamist rebels have shut down the city's potable water supply, forcing Aleppan residents in government-controlled areas to depend on wells and trucks for limited, contaminated, and expensive water. Lines of women and children "have become ubiquitous in front of mosque fountains and government wells in order to fill small containers such as cooking pots, teapots and plastic bottles as well as small barrels," the paper reports. According to an official at the Syrian Red Crescent, "The situation signals a humanitarian and health disaster." Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

A Economics Lesson for Obama and Hollande

June 5th 2014

President Obama continues his European tour today with a stop in Paris. As he and French President Francois Hollande discuss options to resolve the ongoing crisis in Russia, the weakness of the Obama administration on the global stage contrasts strikingly with the bravery shown by the D-Day soldiers, whose heroic actions 70 years ago on the Normandy beaches we commemorate this week.

But the most striking portrait of this Franco-American summit could be of two world leaders whose pretensions to economic knowledge vastly exceed their capacity to make smart policy choices. Take for instance Hollande’s decision to pass massive tax increases upon taking office two years ago. Last week, France’s Court of Auditors revealed that those tax increases raised only about half of their expected revenue, leaving a 14 billion euro shortfall in the French budget. Read more ..


Significant Lives

A Song of Hope and Prayer: A Tribute to the Un-caged Soul of Maya Angelou

June 3rd 2014

Armstrong_Williams

I first met Maya Angelou over twenty-seven years ago when she became a client of B&C Associates International public relations firm in High Point, North Carolina in 1986. I had worked at the firm in my early days as Vice President for Government and International affairs and served as Ms. Angelou’s publicist for several years. I enjoyed the honor and privilege of travelling the country with her extensively. In the course of spending time together we developed a close bond of friendship and that bond remained intact until the time she died early last week.

Maya Angelou is a towering figure of the civil rights era, a literary giant, and in recent years, an elder states-woman among the current generation of world leaders.  As Poet Laureate of the United States she spoke movingly about a land inhabited once by dinosaurs whose brittle bones became the foundation of the inclusive nation and society that we now inhabit. Her expansive gaze touched upon the original names of indigenous people who had roamed the land before America was born, and helped reconcile their legacies with the more recent migrants; those who came to escape oppression in Europe or those dragged in chains from Africa, and subsequently freed.

Angelou’s wise message was one of inclusiveness and transcendence.  She did not shy away from the controversies of our Nation’s founding moments. She confronted them head on, and yet found a way to weave them into a call to unity and purpose. Read more ..


Europe on Edge

European Borderlands Still Roiling

June 3rd 2014

Russian tourists in eastern Ukraine

A borderland is a region where history is constant: Everything is in flux. The countries we are visiting on this trip (Turkey, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Poland) occupy the borderland between Islam, Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. Roman Catholic Hapsburg Austria struggled with the Islamic Ottoman Empire for centuries, with the Ottomans extending northwest until a climactic battle in Vienna in 1683. Beginning in the 18th century, Orthodox Russia expanded from the east, through Belarus and Ukraine. For more than two centuries, the belt of countries stretching from the Baltic to the Black seas was the borderland over which three empires fought.

There have been endless permutations here. The Cold War was the last clear-cut confrontation, pitting Russia against a Western Europe backed -- and to a great extent dominated -- by the United States. This belt of countries was firmly if informally within the Soviet empire. Now they are sovereign again. My interest in the region is to understand more clearly how the next iteration of regional geopolitics will play out. Read more ..


Broken Government

The Republicans and their Games about the Environment

June 2nd 2014

President Obama’s plan to reduce carbon gas coming from the nation’s coal plants is to be announced Monday. Cue the predictable attacks from Congress’ rightwing.

Already The New York Times reports that Republicans “say that Mr. Obama will be using his executive authority as a back door to force through an inflammatory cap-and-trade policy he could not get through Congress.”

The new Environmental Protection Agency regulations come weeks after the Senate defeat of a much smaller effort at passing a bill to spur the use of energy efficient, “smart meter” heating and cooling systems.

Republicans refused to vote for that simple idea unless they could use it as a springboard to open a debate on the Keystone XL pipeline. They hoped to open a split between some conservative Senate Democrats and the president. They also wanted a separate debate on halting the president from using his executive powers to limit carbon emissions. Read more ..


Obama and Putin

Obama-Putin Kool-Aid

June 1st 2014

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin meeting

Media coverage regarding America's response to Putin's takeover of Crimea demonstrates the success of the Obama administration's propaganda maxim blaming successive American administrations for atrocities at home and abroad. Some of our pundits apparently have drunk what might be called the Obama Kool-Aid, i.e. apologies for the United States' mostly fabricated evil past, as hav been offered since the beginning of the first Obama administration. 

Accordingly, we have no enemies, only disagreements that could be resolved by giving in to our contenders. Thus Russia, Iran, and even al-Qaeda will eventually leave the "nineteenth-century," "medieval" and "Cold War" past and come around to the administration's worldview of equally respected and pacific states Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama's Empty Foreign Policy Vision

May 30th 2014

Click to select Image

It was billed as President Obama's comeback speech on foreign policy, a response to mounting criticism — both foreign and domestic — that his international leadership has been a failure. A "big picture" address, it would outline the president's foreign policy vision as it stands five-and-a-half years since he entered the White House.

Yet the commencement address yesterday at West Point failed to deliver on either count. Instead, it reinforced the impression of a lackluster commander-in-chief with an empty foreign policy vision.
In many respects this was a highly defensive speech, one that will do little to allay growing fears, both at home and abroad, that American leadership is in decline on the world stage. It was delivered by a president seemingly obsessed with image and public perception, rather than the long-term strength of America's foreign and security policy. Read more ..


The Way We Are

The Symbolism of Cliven Bundy, States' Rights and Slavery

May 29th 2014

America is a land of stories. We love to use stories about individuals to extract general principals about society as a whole. The story of Cliven Bundy is no exception. His story about an armed standoff versus the Federal Government this past April was illustrative to many of the principles that we are a government of the people, that individual rights are sacrosanct, and that states have the right to decide how to govern the lands and people within their territories. But the story didn’t end there unfortunately.

Given the bully pulpit for the first time in his life, Mr. Bundy foolishly squandered his opportunity to have America hear his story. Instead, he launched into a misguided and racist diatribe about African Americans, stating that he believed the fact that “they never learned to pick cotton,” accounted for the social ills of single motherhood and high black male incarceration rates. He went on to speculate, “I’ve wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family…?” The entirety of his rant has been relentlessly reported, and the real principles undergirding his story have been lost in the ensuing media feeding frenzy. Read more ..


The Cyber Edge

Cybersecurity: America’s Achilles’ Heel

May 28th 2014

NYSkyline

The Cybersecurity Framework, which was announced on February 12, 2014, by President Obama, has very little new to offer to the private sector. It’s only a guide to how everyone should be conceptualizing and communicating about cybersecurity concerns.

The report comes a year after the president first announced his Executive Order on “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” in his 2013 State of the Union address.

This framework is said to increase the cooperation between the government and the private sector. However, it fails to take the overall responsibility for addressing the vulnerabilities of the U.S. national security and economy to cybercrime, cybermanipulation of markets, denials of service, and theft of intellectual property. Read more ..


The Race for Alt Energy

Hard Truths, Difficult Choices: Recommendations to the G-7 on Bolstering Energy Security

May 28th 2014

Better Place EV charging

In advance of next week's G-7 meeting in Brussels aimed at seeking ways to strengthen Europe's energy security, Dr. Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS), and a member of ACD's Board of Advisors, "calls on Europe to strike a better balance between environmental and energy security strategies, adopting a more positive sentiment toward currently rejected sources of base load electricity like coal, nuclear power and unconventional gas," said IAGS' press release. 

  

"Dr. Luft also argues that while diversifying the European electricity sector away from Russian natural gas is a worthy goal, diversification of transit routes, especially lessening the dependence on Ukraine, which has proven to be an unreliable transit country, should be of higher priority. He also calls for a grand bargain with Turkey, one which on the one hand supports Turkey's aspirations to become a land bridge for Caspian and East Mediterranean energy while on the other persuades Turkey to facilitate the transit of LNG tankers through the Bosporus.

Read more ..

Romania on Edge

The Stakes for the United States in Romania's Borderlands

May 27th 2014

Click to select Image

I arrived in Bucharest, Romania, the day after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be here in a few weeks. The talk in Bucharest, not only among the leadership but also among the public, is about Ukraine. Concerns are palpable, and they are not only about the Russians. They are also about NATO, the European Union, the United States and whether they will all support Romania if it resists Russia. The other side of the equation, of course, is whether Romania will do the things it must do in order to make outside support effective. Biden left Romania with a sense that the United States is in the game. But this is not a region that trusts easily. The first step was easy. The rest become harder. Read more ..


Inside Politics

The Hillary-Industrial Complex

May 26th 2014

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is in a pickle. She’s a shoo-in for her party’s presidential nomination because of Barack Obama’s failures. But those failures might keep her from getting the job. Her husband’s “law of politics” is that elections are always about the future, but she’s stuck in the past.

In 2008, Obama pandered to liberal hopes while Clinton appealed to their good sense. Obama promised miracles and magic. Clinton promised more homework.

“Cynicism” was Obama’s real opponent, he explained. And he used Clinton as a stand-in for it. She played her part, pointing out that the Civil Rights Act got through Congress because of LBJ’s hard work, not Martin Luther King’s speeches. She insisted that politics was toil, not performance art.

And, as we have learned from a president who so often thinks giving a speech is a substitute for solving a problem, she had the better argument. One need only look at the reaction from Democrats to President Obama’s handling of the VA scandal to see that even they would trade some inspirational claptrap for a bit more old-fashioned competence. That attitude helps Clinton immensely. Burned by disappointment, many liberals want to vote with their heads, not their hearts, this time around. Read more ..


Broken Bookselling

Amazon Has Gone too Far in its Extortion of Book Industry

May 25th 2014

Amazon box

Because it was Apple (AAPL) that got sued for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, not Amazon (AMZN), the federal judge who decided the case last July was able to ignore the facts on the ground: Namely, that: Amazon had monopoly control of the e-book market; Amazon kept competitors at bay by pricing publishers' bestselling e-books below cost; Amazon ruthlessly enforced its control. When challenged in 2010 by Macmillan, one of the bigfive publishers, Amazon simply pulled the "buy" button off Macmillan's books.

Apple tried to raise these facts in its defense, but U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, in the ruling that found that Apple had conspired with five publishers to raise the price of e-books, dismissed them in two sentences: "If Apple is suggesting that Amazon was engaging in illegal, monopolistic practices, and that Apple's combination with the Publisher Defendants to deprive a monopolist of some of its market power is pro-competitive and healthy for our economy, it is wrong. Another company's alleged violation of antitrust laws is not an excuse for engaging in your own violations of law." (U.S.A. v. Apple: Opinion and Order) Read more ..


The Defense Edge

Military Cuts Send the Wrong Signal to America’s Enemies

May 24th 2014

US Attack Helicopters

Carl von Clausewitz, the imposing German general whose theories about war remain influential nearly 200 years after his death, observed that “public opinion is won through great victories and the occupation of the enemy’s capital.” Not anymore. For one thing, it’s hard to determine what “great victories” look like these days. We may have gotten rid of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, but three years later, Jeh Johnson, the secretary of homeland security, is telling us that the profusion of jihadi fighters in Syria means that “Syria has become a matter of homeland security.” In other words, what happens in the killing fields of the Middle East has consequences at home.

Meanwhile, military planners, with one eye on the experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq, are increasingly wary of the political costs of putting boots on the ground. After 9/11, military spending surged from 3.5 percent of GDP in 2001 to 5.7 percent in 2011. Many Americans now believe that it’s time to rein in such profligacy and to spend our money on domestic concerns. The palpable sense of “war fatigue” stretches all the way from the left of the Democratic Party to the Senator Rand Paul wing of the GOP. Read more ..


Venezuela After Chavez

Venezuelan Sanctions: A Response To Assistant Secretary Of State Roberta Jacobson

May 23rd 2014

Nicolas Maduro

On May 8, while Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela was arresting 240 student protestors.
 
In fact, since the beginning of the dialogue, the government has arrested more than 500 protestors. Protests in Venezuela have been going on for the last four months due to shortage of basic goods, a spectacularly high crime rate, a 57% inflation rate and an increasing oppressive government.  Since the protests began in February, both houses of Congress have sponsored bi-partisan legislation to promote human rights in Venezuela and to sanction specific individuals in the Venezuelan government responsible for repression and violation of human rights in Venezuela as well as the torture and murder of at least forty one protestors. The irony here is that while members of the Foreign Affairs Committees in both houses of the United States Congress see a need for sanctions Ms. Jacobson continues to advocate for a dialogue between the two sides (the government and the opposition).
Read more ..

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

Surgeons

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

Armstrong_Williams

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.
Read more ..

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 ..



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