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Tag Archive: Nancy Pelosi


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A portrait shot of Paul Ryan, looking straight ahead. He has short brown hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a red and blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background is the American flag.

……………………Paul Ryan was sworn in as speaker of the House………………..

USA TODAY

Paul Ryan was sworn in as the 54th speaker of the House. He remarked that, to him, the House represents the best of America, but that it is broken and needs fixing. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday it is time to fix a “broken” House and begin solving the nation’s problems instead of adding to them.

“The American people make this country work, and the House should work for them,” Ryan said in a speech on the House floor after his election. “What a relief it would be to the American people if we finally got our act together. What a weight off their shoulders.”

Ryan was elected the 54th speaker of the House as his colleagues looked to the Wisconsin Republican to help unite his fractious party and end the constant crises that have come to dominate the chamber in recent years.

He received 236 of the 432 votes cast. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., received 184. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., got 9 votes. A handful of other people got a total of three votes.

Read More Here

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The Hill

Pelosi warns focus on deportations a ‘gift’ to Republicans

Getty Images

Immigration reformers shifting their focus from Congress to the White House over deportations risk undermining efforts to pass a comprehensive reform bill this year, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Thursday.

Pelosi said she supports the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s calls for the administration to reduce deportations. But simultaneously taking pressure off of House Republicans, she added, is a “gift” to GOP leaders, allowing them to dodge a sensitive issue that could hurt them in the 2014 election.

“That’s a gift to the Republicans,” she said. “Because the fact is, the Republicans are never going to move unless they think there’s a price to play politically for not bringing the bill to the floor.”

Pelosi stressed that legislation remains the Democrats’ ultimate goal, and urged reformers to stay focused on Congress getting a bill.

“I see the pain and suffering of the deportations,” she said. “But the answer, the medicine for every ill in the deportations is to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Pelosi did not say that congressional Democrats or the White House should no longer consider reduced deportations. But her warning that the actions of pro-immigration groups could deliver Republicans a political benefit could raise questions about the strategy overall.

Many Democrats are calling on President Obama for reduced deportations, and Obama has asked Department of Homeland Security leaders for an across-the-board review of his deportations policies.

The move has made many critics hopeful he’ll expand the administration’s deferred action program, which allows some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as kids to remain in the United States temporarily, to a broader population.

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Pelosi: Race playing role in GOP’s reluctance to move immigration bill

Greg Nash

Issues of race have made GOP leaders reluctant to back immigration reform, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) charged Thursday.

 

The Democratic leader suggested that the Republicans would have moved a reform bill long ago if whites were the only beneficiaries.”I think race has something to do with the fact that they’re not bringing up an immigration bill,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I’ve heard them say to the Irish, ‘If it were just you, this would be easy.’ ”

The remarks came in response to a question about the often-testy relationship between congressional Republicans and the administration of President Obama, the nation’s first black president.

There’s long been grumbling among Democrats that Obama’s race has exacerbated the partisan divide between the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans, highlighted recently by a flare-up between Attorney General Eric Holder, who is black, and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

Pelosi was reluctant to say that race issues have fueled those tensions, arguing more broadly that Republicans have been “very disrespectful” of White House officials regardless of their ethnicity.

 

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Image Source  :  Wikimedia . Org
By  Poco a poco

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New York Post

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders announced last-minute agreement Wednesday to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after a partial, 16-day shutdown. Congress raced to pass the measure by day’s end.
The Dow Jones industrial average soared on the news that the threat of default was fading, flirting with a 200-point gain in morning trading.

“This is a time for reconciliation,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the agreement he had forged with the GOP leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

McConnell said that with the accord, Republicans had sealed a deal to have spending in one area of the budget decline for two years in a row, adding, “we’re not going back.”

One prominent tea party lawmaker, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said he would oppose the plan, but not seek to delay its passage.

That was a key concession that signaled a strong possibility that both houses could act by day’s end. That, in turn, would allow President Barack Obama to sign the bill into law ahead of the Thursday deadline that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had set for action to raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit.

Officials said the proposal called for the Treasury to have authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government would reopen through Jan. 15.

There was no official comment from the White House, although congressional officials said administration aides had been kept fully informed of the negotiations.

In political terms, the final agreement was almost entirely along lines Obama had set when the impasse began last month. Tea party conservatives had initially demanded the defunding of the health care law as the price for providing essential federal funding.

Under a strategy set by Obama and Reid, Democrats said they would not negotiate with Republicans in exchange for performing what the White House called basic functions of keeping the government in operation and preventing Treasury from defaulting on its obligations.

A long line of polls charted a steep decline in public approval for Republicans in the course of what Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pronounced a “shameful episode” in the nation’s history.

While the emerging deal could well meet resistance from conservatives in the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, has signaled she will support the plan and her rank and file is expected to vote for it in overwhelming numbers.

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Will Boehner break the “Hastert Rule” today? The Hastert Rule explained

By | Get In Touch: @lynnsweet | lsweet@suntimes.com Sweet – October 16, 2013 9:19 am

WASHINGTON–In a 2003 speech, then Speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill.) discussed his House management guidelines that became known as “The Hastert Rule.” The rule calls for a leader not to send legislation to the House floor for a vote unless it has the support of the majority of the majority. On Wednesday, with just hours left to raise the debt ceiling or risk default, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)–who has been holding fast to the Hastert Rule–has to decide whether to break it.

My column on the role the Hastert Rule played in the runup to the partial government shutdown–Wednesday is Day 16–is HERE. Read the 2003 Hastert speech HERE.

Excerpt: Here is the Hastert Rule background and math:

At present, there are 232 Republicans and 200 Democrats, with three vacancies. If the House Democrats stick together — and so far they have — they would just have to pick off a handful of House Republicans.

While there are not many moderate Republicans — and they are drowned out by their Tea Party colleagues — there are enough to get to 217 votes to pass a bill.

But if Boehner went that route, he would violate the informal “Hastert Rule,” which calls for any legislation first mustering the support of the majority of the majority. The reality is that any measure with provisions to win the backing of 116 House Republicans will not be supported by House Democrats.

Read More Here

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The Washington Post
Shutdown Live Updates

Boehner concedes ‘we just didn’t win’

In an interview on a local radio station, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) conceded that Republicans “didn’t win” the current budget debate.

“We’ve been locked into a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” Boehner said. “We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win.”

Boehner also said he would “absolutely” allow a vote on the Senate plan even if a majority of House Republicans don’t support the bill.

“There’s no reason for our members to vote ‘no’ today,” Boehner told conservative radio host Bill Cunningham, adding that he expected the government to open again Thursday.

Listen to the  Interview Here

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McConnell’s primary foe bashes his ‘surrender’

Not surprising, but worth noting: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) primary opponent, businessman Matt Bevin, is out with a statement denouncing the deal McConnell helped craft

Here’s part of Bevin’s statement:

“McConnell just negotiated the GOP surrender to Harry Reid, leading the charge to give President Obama a blank check and lifting the debt ceiling once again without any spending reforms. Harry Reid has even praised McConnell for his ‘cooperation.’

“After falsely promising that he would fight to eliminate Obamacare ‘root and branch,’ Sen. McConnell has instead given us more spending, more borrowing, and the Obamacare train wreck with exceptions for liberal pet interests.”

Bevin’s primary challenge — which is likely to be well-funded thanks to Bevin’s personal wealth — has long hung over McConnell’s negotiations in the current budget debate. Expect Bevin to keep up this line of attack in the months ahead, as he seeks to be a formidable opponent to McConnell.

See  More  Updates Here

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Boehner urges House GOP to support Senate deal

 

Watch this video

Shutdown deal announced on Senate floor

 

By Tom Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Senate leaders on Wednesday announced a deal to end the partial government shutdown and avoid a possible U.S. default, and House Speaker John Boehner urged fellow Republicans to support it while a key GOP conservative said he wouldn’t try to block it in the Senate.

“We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win,” Boehner told a radio station in his home state of Ohio in reference to GOP efforts to dismantle or defund President Barack Obama’s signature health care reforms and extract deficit reduction concessions around the need to fund the government and raise the federal borrowing limit.

The Democratic-led Senate was expected to pass the agreement in a vote expected to take place by 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, followed within hours by a vote in the Republican-led House.

Both chambers will have to take special steps to get the legislation passed that quickly, raising concerns that tea party conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas would block or delay it in a final effort to include provisions intended to harm Obama’s signature health care reforms.

However, Cruz told reporters that he wouldn’t mount a filibuster or employ other procedural moves against the agreement. At the same time, he criticized his Senate colleagues for what he called their failure to listen to the American people and said the fight against Obamacare will continue.

National polls conducted since the start of the shutdown on October 1 indicate that while all sides are feeling the public’s anger over the partisan political impasse, Republicans are getting blamed more than than Democrats or Obama.

Boehner and other House Republican leaders told their caucus they would vote for the agreement at an afternoon meeting that participants said ended with a standing ovation for the embattled speaker.

“Blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us,” Boehner said in a statement. “Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue.”

News of the deal brought some relief to Wall Street as well as Washington, where the shutdown reached a 16th day with the government poised to lose its ability to borrow more money to pay bills after Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed the agreement he worked out with his GOP counterpart Mitch McConnell as “historic,” saying that “in the end, political adversaries put aside their differences.”

Obama praised Senate leaders for reaching a compromise, and urged Congress to act quickly, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“As soon as possible is essentially the recommendation we have from here,” he said.

U.S. stocks rose on the news of an agreement, with the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average jumping more than 200 points on the day.

Short-term plan

Reid said the Senate deal under discussion would reopen the government by funding it until January 15. It also would raise the debt limit until February 7 to avert a possible default on U.S. debt obligations for the first time.

It includes a provision to provide back pay to furloughed federal workers, leadership and congressional sources told CNN.

In addition, the White House supports a provision in the deal that strengthens verification measures for people getting subsidies under Obamacare, spokesman Jay Carney said.

Carney called the change “a modest adjustment,” and said it didn’t amount to “ransom” for raising the federal debt ceiling because both sides agreed to it and the White House supported it.

The Senate agreement also would set up budget negotiations between the House and Senate for a long-term spending plan.

McConnell fired an opening salvo for those talks, expected to begin soon and continue until December, when he said any ensuing budget deal should adhere to spending caps set in a 2011 law that included forced cuts known as sequestration.

“Preserving this law is critically important to the future of our country,” McConnell said of the Budget Control Act, which resulted from the previous debt ceiling crisis in Washington.

The focus on an agreement shifted to the Senate after House Republicans failed on Tuesday to come up with a plan their majority could support, stymied again by demands from tea party conservatives for outcomes unacceptable to Obama and Senate Democrats, as well as some fellow Republicans.

Cruz, despite being in the Senate, is credited with spearheading the House Republican effort to attach amendments that would dismantle or defund the health care reforms known as Obamacare to previous proposals intended to end the shutdown.

All were rejected by the Democratic-led Senate, and Obama also pledged to veto them, meaning there was no chance they ever would have succeeded.

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire called the House GOP tactic of tying Obamacare to the shutdown legislation “an ill-conceived strategy from the beginning, not a winning strategy.”

However, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa advocated continued brinksmanship to try to change Obamacare, which conservatives detest as a big-government overreach.

“If we’re not willing to take a stand now, then when will we take this stand?” he told CNN’s “New Day,” adding that if “the conservative Republican plan had been implemented five years ago, say at the inception of what is now the Obama presidency, we would have far less debt and deficit.”

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The Herman Cain Show

 

Image Credit: Nancy Pelosi via Flickr

 

Published by: Herman Cain on Sunday October 13th, 2013

 

It’s time for Republicans to stop focusing on who shut down the government and tell the real truth.

Consider the evidence!

When Vincent Gray, the Democrat mayor of Washington, D.C., appealed to Senator Harry Reid to end the shutdown because of the collateral impact it is having on people in the District of Columbia, Reid told Gray, “I’m on your side, don’t screw it up.”

Translation: We are going to hold out until we get everything we want and give up nothing to the Republicans.

The Democrats want to increase the debt ceiling with no conditions so they can continue to spend this nation into oblivion. Over the last four years, the ratio of increased national debt to economic growth has been 2-to-1.

Democrats want to continue to impose the ObamaCare disaster on the nation despite the negative cost to people, businesses and lost jobs. They don’t care.

ObamaCare has driven health insurance rates up for most Americans when the promise was that rates would go down. ObamaCare has caused health insurance to be unaffordable for millions of people when previously they had insurance. And ObamaCare has caused millions of people to lose their doctors when the promise was that they could keep their doctors.

 

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House Leaders Express Their Support for Syria Strike

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

President Obama, flanked by Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Nancy Pelosi, met with Congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — President Obama won the support on Tuesday of Republican and Democratic leaders in the House for an attack on Syria, giving him a foundation to win broader approval for military action from a Congress that still harbors deep reservations.

Tracking the Syrian Crisis

The Times is providing updates, analysis and public reaction from around the world.

Speaker John A. Boehner, who with other Congressional leaders met Mr. Obama in the Oval Office, said afterward that he would “support the president’s call to action,” an endorsement quickly echoed by the House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia.

On Tuesday evening, Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed on the wording of a resolution that would give Mr. Obama the authority to carry out a strike against Syria, for a period of 60 days, with one 30-day extension. A committee vote on the measure could come as early as Wednesday.

Uncertainties abound, particularly in the House, where the imprimatur of the Republican leadership does not guarantee approval by rebellious rank and file, and where vocal factions in both parties are opposed to anything that could entangle the nation in another messy conflict in the Middle East.

Still, the expressions of support from top Republicans who rarely agree with Mr. Obama on anything suggest the White House may be on firmer footing than seemed the case on Saturday, when the president abruptly halted his plans for action in the face of growing protests from Congress.

Mr. Obama is now headed to Sweden and Russia, where he will try to shore up an international coalition to punish Syria for a chemical weapons attack and will probably encounter some of the same debates that are cleaving the Capitol.

Before his departure, the White House intensified what has become the most extraordinary lobbying campaign of Mr. Obama’s presidency as it deployed members of his war council and enlisted political alumni of his 2008 campaign to press the argument with the public.

“This is not the time for armchair isolationism,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, who answered sharp questions and defended the administration’s strategy for Syria in nearly four hours of sometimes sharp exchanges before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Kerry stirred some confusion about the potential scope of American military involvement when he tried to carve out an exception to a proposed Congressional prohibition on the use of ground troops in Syria — something Mr. Obama and other officials have long ruled out as a general principle.

If Syria were to fall into complete chaos and if the chemical weapons of President Bashar al-Assad’s government there were at risk of falling into the hands of a militant group like Al Nusra, Mr. Kerry said, “I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.”

Later, under questioning by Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ranking Republican, Mr. Kerry walked back his comment, insisting that he had only been speaking about a hypothetical case. “Let’s shut that door now as tight as we can,” Mr. Kerry said, without quite doing so. “There will not be American boots on the ground with respect to the civil war.”

The Senate resolution — released on Tuesday night by Mr. Corker and the committee’s chairman, Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey — would limit the president’s options and prohibit the use of ground forces. Any strike, it says, should be “tailored” to only deter Syria from using chemical weapons again and to cripple its capacity to do so.

The resolution would prohibit “boots on the ground” and require “the Obama administration to submit their broader plan for Syria,” Mr. Corker said in a statement.

Mr. Menendez added, “We have an obligation to act.”

In one of the most heated moments of the hearing earlier, Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, said that Mr. Obama might go through with an attack if Congress failed to authorize it. Mr. Kerry said that he did not know what Mr. Obama would decide but that the president had the authority to do so under the Constitution.

Read More Here

Multimedia

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US draft resolution allows Obama 90 days for military action against Syria

Senate foreign relations committee agrees on attacks while ruling out ground troops as president’s push for action against Assad regime gathers momentum in Congress

US secretary of state John Kerry, flanked by General Martin Dempsey and Chuck Hagel

US secretary of state John Kerry, flanked by joint chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey and defence secretary Chuck Hagel, testifies at the Senate foreign relations committee where he won backing for attacks against the Syrian regime. Photograph: Corbis

US senators will begin a series of votes on Wednesday to authorise a 90-day window for US military action against Syria, as the Obama administration‘s campaign to win over sceptics in Congress gained momentum.

A new draft resolution was agreed by leaders of the Senate foreign relations committee after secretary of state John Kerry pressed a forceful case for striking against the Assad regime. Earlier, Barack Obama secured the backing of the Republican leadership at a key White House meeting.

The president headed for Europe on Tuesday night for what promised to be a testy meeting of the G20 group of industrialised nations. After a short visit to Sweden, Obama will travel to St Petersburg in Russia where the host of the G20, Vladimir Putin, is likely to give the US a rough ride over its plans for air strikes against Syria.

In Washington, key members of Congress swung behind the administration on Tuesday. At the senate foreign relations committee, Kerry and the defence secretary Chuck Hagel were pressed hard to clarify the role of ground forces, but got an otherwise sympathetic reception.

In the evening, details emerged of the committee’s revisions to a the White House’s proposals for a military authorisation. They set a window limited to 60 days for military action – during which Obama could order the limited, tailored strikes he has foreshadowed – while allowing for a single 30-day extension subject to conditions. Democrat committee chairman Bob Menendez and his Republican counterpart Bob Corker also added a provision banning any use of US armed forces on the ground in Syria.

Committee members are now expected to begin “marking up” the resolution – voting on specific amendments – following a further classified briefing on Wednesday morning. The House of Representatives, where Obama is likely to get a rougher ride, begins its deliberations with a public hearing on Wednesday. Full votes before the Senate and House are expected on Monday.

Sceptical Republicans appeared to have been won over by tougher rhetoric from the White House. For the first time, Obama portrayed his plans for US military action in Syria as part of a broader strategy to topple Bashar al-Assad. While stressing that Washington’s primary goal remained “limited and proportional” attacks to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and deter their future use, the president hinted at a long-term mission that may ultimately bring about a change of regime.

Link to video: Obama: Syria military strikes will be ‘limited, proportional’ “It also fits into a broader strategy that can bring about over time the kind of strengthening of the opposition and the diplomatic, economic and political pressure required – so that ultimately we have a transition that can bring peace and stability, not only to Syria but to the region,” Obama told senior members of Congress at a White House meeting earlier on Tuesday.

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(Photo: David Burnett/Contact Press Images)For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of the U.S. government are turning Uncle Sam into Big Brother.

Now what?

Continuing to expose and denounce the assaults on civil liberties is essential. So is supporting Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers—past, present and future. But those vital efforts are far from sufficient.

At the core of the surveillance state is the hollowness of its democratic pretenses. Only with authentic democracy can we save ourselves from devastating evisceration of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

For a moment, walk a mile in the iron-heeled shoes of the military-industrial-digital complex. Its leaders don’t like clarity about what they’re doing, and they certainly don’t like being exposed or denounced—but right now the surveillance state is in no danger of losing what it needs to keep going: power.

The huge digi-tech firms and the government have become mutual tools for gaining humungous profits and tightening political control. The partnerships are deeply enmeshed in military and surveillance realms, whether cruise missiles and drones or vast metadata records and capacities to squirrel away trillions of emails.

At the core of the surveillance state is the hollowness of its democratic pretenses. Only with authentic democracy can we save ourselves from devastating evisceration of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

The enormous corporate leverage over government policies doesn’t change the fact that the nexus of the surveillance state—and the only organization with enough potential torque to reverse its anti-democratic trajectory—is government itself.

The necessity is to subdue the corporate-military forces that have so extensively hijacked the government. To do that, we’ll need to accomplish what progressives are currently ill-positioned for: democratic mobilization to challenge the surveillance state’s hold on power.

These days, progressives are way too deferential and nice to elected Democrats who should be confronted for their active or passive complicity with abysmal policies of the Obama White House. An example is Al Franken, senator from Minnesota, who declared his support for the NSA surveillance program last month: “I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people.”

The right-wing Tea Party types realized years ago what progressive activists and groups are much less likely to face—that namby-pamby “lobbying” gets much weaker results than identifying crucial issues and making clear a willingness to mount primary challenges.

Progressives should be turning up the heat and building electoral capacities. But right now, many Democrats in Congress are cakewalking toward re-election in progressive districts where they should be on the defensive for their anemic “opposition” to—or outright support for—NSA surveillance.

Meanwhile, such officials with national profiles should encounter progressive pushback wherever they go. A step in that direction will happen just north of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend, when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appears as guest of honor to raise money for the party (up to $32,400 per couple) at a Marin County reception. There will also be a different kind of reception that Pelosi hadn’t been counting on—a picket line challenging her steadfast support for NSA surveillance.

In the first days of this week, upwards of 20,000 people responded to a RootsAction.org action alert by sending their senators and representative an email urging an end to the “Insider Threat Program”—the creepily Orwellian concoction that, as McClatchy news service revealed last month, “requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.”

Messages to Congress members, vocal protests and many other forms of public outcry are important—but they should lay the groundwork for much stronger actions to wrest control of the government away from the military-industrial-digital complex. That may seem impossible, but it’s certainly imperative: if we’re going to prevent the destruction of civil liberties. In the long run, denunciations of the surveillance state will mean little unless we can build the political capacity to end it.

 

 

For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of the U.S. government are turning Uncle Sam into Big Brother.

Now what?

Continuing to expose and denounce the assaults on civil liberties is essential. So is supporting Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers — past, present and future. But those vital efforts are far from sufficient.

For a moment, walk a mile in the iron-heeled shoes of the military-industrial-digital complex. Its leaders don’t like clarity about what they’re doing, and they certainly don’t like being exposed or denounced — but right now the surveillance state is in no danger of losing what it needs to keep going: power.

The huge digi-tech firms and the government have become mutual tools for gaining humungous profits and tightening political control. The partnerships are deeply enmeshed in military and surveillance realms, whether cruise missiles and drones or vast metadata records and capacities to squirrel away trillions of emails.

At the core of the surveillance state is the hollowness of its democratic pretenses. Only with authentic democracy can we save ourselves from devastating evisceration of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

The enormous corporate leverage over government policies doesn’t change the fact that the nexus of the surveillance state — and the only organization with enough potential torque to reverse its anti-democratic trajectory — is government itself.

The necessity is to subdue the corporate-military forces that have so extensively hijacked the government. To do that, we’ll need to accomplish what progressives are currently ill-positioned for: democratic mobilization to challenge the surveillance state’s hold on power.

These days, progressives are way too deferential and nice to elected Democrats who should be confronted for their active or passive complicity with abysmal policies of the Obama White House. An example is Al Franken, senator from Minnesota, who declared his support for the NSA surveillance program last month: “I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people.”

The right-wing Tea Party types realized years ago what progressive activists and groups are much less likely to face — that namby-pamby “lobbying” gets much weaker results than identifying crucial issues and making clear a willingness to mount primary challenges.

Progressives should be turning up the heat and building electoral capacities. But right now, many Democrats in Congress are cakewalking toward re-election in progressive districts where they should be on the defensive for their anemic “opposition” to — or outright support for — NSA surveillance.

Meanwhile, such officials with national profiles should encounter progressive pushback wherever they go. A step in that direction will happen just north of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend, when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appears as guest of honor to raise money for the party (up to $32,400 per couple) at a Marin County reception. There will also be a different kind of reception that Pelosi hadn’t been counting on — a picket line challenging her steadfast support for NSA surveillance.

In the first days of this week, upwards of 20,000 people responded to a RootsAction.org action alert by sending their senators and representative an email urging an end to the Insider Threat Program — the creepily Orwellian concoction that, as McClatchy news service revealed last month, “requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.”

Messages to Congress members, vocal protests and many other forms of public outcry are important — but they should lay the groundwork for much stronger actions to wrest control of the government away from the military-industrial-digital complex. That may seem impossible, but it’s certainly imperative: if we’re going to prevent the destruction of civil liberties. In the long run, denunciations of the surveillance state will mean little unless we can build the political capacity to end it.

Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.organd founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books includeWar Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and “Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State“.

Reason.com

 

Overruling the Obama Administration a Federal Judge Allows Suit Against NSA Spying to Go Forward

EyeofSauron

Shirtigo

 

 

A federal judge in San Francisco is permitting the case Jewel v. NSA filed on behalf of AT&T customers by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to go forward despite the objections of that the lawsuit runs afoul of the “state secrets privilege” according to Obama administration lawyers. As CNET reports:

A federal judge ruled today that a long-standing lawsuit alleging illegal surveillance by the National Security Agency may continue despite the Obama administration’s objections.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco rejected the administration’s claim that the lawsuit could not proceed because it might reveal “state secrets” and endanger national security.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed the lawsuit, called Jewel v. NSA, in 2008 to challenge a NSA’s warrantless surveillance program that vacuumed up Americans’ confidential electronic communications. It alleges (PDF) that the NSA “intentionally and willfully caused” or directed AT&T to permit access to its fiber links in violation of federal wiretapping laws and the U.S. Constitution.

“One small step for the case, one giant leap for the Constitutional rights of mankind,” EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl wrote on Twitter this afternoon.

In its lawsuit the EFF asserts:

 

Read More Here

 

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New CongressHouse Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, enters the House of Representatives chamber, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, after surviving a roll call vote in the newly convened 113th Congress. He is escorted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration’s “We the People” petition page on whitehouse.gov collects signatures on petitions posted, with the idea that those that have 25,000 or more signatures will get an official response.

But the future of the petition proposing to cut the pay of members of Congress to $75,000 a year for three years to cut the national deficit is uncertain, even if it has received 31,579 signatures since it was created on Christmas Day and as of the time this story was posted.

Two days after Christmas, President Barack Obama signed an executive order ending the pay freeze on federal workers, including representatives in the House and senators, effective Jan. 1, 2013 – the same day the U.S. government technically fell over the so-called fiscal cliff because Congress could not reach a legislative solution.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

Read and Sign Petition Here

obama winksPresident Barack Obama winks as he arrives to make a statement regarding the passage of the fiscal cliff bill at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – Are Democrats done raising taxes on the American people?

“No,” says House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“We can raise more revenue,” says Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

And Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.) says “there are still deductions, credits, special treatments under the tax code which ought to be looked at very carefully.”

The three Democrats took similar questions about additional tax hikes on different Sunday talk shows.

Interviewed Friday by Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Pelosi was asked if the “revenue side” of the fiscal cliff is finished. Revenue means higher taxes to Democrats.

“No, no, it is not,” Pelosi replied. “I mean, the president had said originally he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue. He took it down to $1.2 as a compromise. In this legislation (fiscal cliff) we had $620 billion, very significant, high-end tax — changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent. But that is not enough on the revenue side.”

“Are you talking about more taxes?” Schieffer asked Pelosi.

“We’re talking about looking at the tax code, putting everything on the table from the standpoint of closing loopholes — and we know that we can do that — special subsidies for big oil, for example, $38 billion right there.

“But again, not to take things in isolation, just to say, OK, well, how much more revenue can we get as we go forward?”

 

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Politics, Legislation and Economy News

Obama, Boehner launch second effort to reach grand bargain to cut deficit

By Alexander Bolton
The Hill

As the talks begin formally at the White House on Friday, lawmakers and special-interest groups are scrambling to figure out who else will be in the room and how to influence the outcome.

Obama will host Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) at 10:15 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room. Senior congressional aides, however, describe it as more of a photo-op than a substantive bargaining session.Informal talks are already under way, behind the scenes, between White House officials and congressional staff, according to a senior Senate aide. Obama has also called the Democratic leaders of the Senate and House to organize strategy.

A senior House Democratic aide said Obama and Pelosi have spoken three times since the election.

A senior House Republican aide, however, said Obama’s staff has not begun any informal talks with Boehner’s staff.

Congressional leadership aides say Obama and Boehner will pick up where they left off in the summer of 2011, when they almost sealed a deal to cut hundreds of billions from Medicare and Medicaid and raise nearly $800 billion in new tax revenues.

Obama and Boehner will lead the talks, but there will be more input from other congressional leaders this time compared to last year, when reports of the concessions Obama made to Boehner in private caught Democrats by surprise.

Reid confronted Jack Lew, then the White House budget director, in July of 2011 about why he had been kept in the dark about hundreds of billions of dollars in proposed cuts.

“I’m the Senate majority leader — why don’t I know about this deal?” Reid demanded as soon as Lew walked into a meeting with Senate Democrats.

Congressional Democrats are pressing for more access to the talks.

“I think everybody operates under the assumption that Speaker Boehner will need Democratic help on any proposal to get it out of the House,” said a Democratic aide. “I would think House Republicans would very much want House Democratic leadership at the table when any deal gets cut.”

Senior congressional aides say there is no fixed negotiating group, such as a Gang of Six or a Committee of 12, as in past negotiations. The cast of participants will fluctuate as various players bid for their priorities. Yet the ultimate deciders will be Obama and Boehner.

Republicans think Obama will be able to bring his party along to support any deal he signs off on, while Democrats say the House GOP conference, dominated by conservatives, will prove the biggest obstacle to passing a grand bargain through Congress.

“The only way we’re going to solve this present crisis and get past the political stalemate is for the president himself to lead,” McConnell said Thursday. “He’s the only one who can lead the members of his own party to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do.”

“I think Pelosi and Reid will go along with whatever the White House delivers. It’s what Boehner can deliver” that will determine what gets through Congress, said a Republican senator.

Republican senators predict members of their conference will sign off on any deal Boehner can move through the House.

“We’re going to have to get something that the president will sign and that the House will pass. And I think that [if] you get that, it will then ultimately have enough votes to pass in the Senate,” Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, said in an MSNBC interview.

Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) said McConnell would be Boehner’s “wingman” in the talks.

Some Democrats worry about the prospect of letting Obama and his senior advisers hash out a deal with Boehner on their own. They remember the steep cuts he reportedly agreed to in 2011 and the deal he struck with McConnell in December of 2010 to extend virtually all the Bush-era tax rates.

House Democrats are demanding that Pelosi not be shut out of the talks, as she was in December of 2010, the last time the Bush tax cuts were due to expire.

“She’s the Democratic leader of the House and I think she has to be at the table. Absolutely,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and a Pelosi ally. “I’d expect she’d want to be at the table. She better be.”

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means panel, said Pelosi’s participation is “vital.”

He said Democratic members of the Ways and Means panel would work closely with Pelosi.

Pelosi said in a statement Thursday that “House Democrats will act as partners in an effort to reach an agreement.”

Senate sources see the active involvement of Pelosi and Reid as intended to keep Obama from drifting too far toward accepting Republican demands on cutting Medicare and other safety-net programs.

During the last round of talks with Boehner, Obama’s representatives agreed to cut $250 billion from Medicare over the next decade and use a new formula to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits, according to The New York Times.

Reid has insisted Social Security stay off the bargaining table.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Reid’s deputy, told reporters Wednesday that any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff must increase tax rates on families earning more than $250,000 annually.

Obama will press congressional leaders Friday not to let disagreements over taxing the wealthy or reforming safety-net programs imperil a deal to extend current tax rates for middle-income families.

“The president will also reiterate that he wants to work with leaders in both parties to achieve a significant, balanced deficit-reduction plan that puts our nation on a sustainable fiscal path,” said a White House official.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, thinks Obama will drive a harder bargain with Republicans this December.

“I’m absolutely convinced that this time there will be a different end to this movie because the president has been absolutely clear that if we want to be serious about reducing the deficit, we’ve got to ask very wealthy people to contribute,” he said during a recent C-SPAN “Newsmakers” interview.