The Moderate Voice http://themoderatevoice.com An Internet hub with domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, indies, centrists, moderates, and right Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:38:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Chuck Schumer: Take two http://themoderatevoice.com/201305/chuck-schumer-take-two/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201305/chuck-schumer-take-two/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:38:45 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201305 WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles Schumer gave Democrats a talking-to about their obligation to stand up for government’s role in helping struggling middle-income Americans — and his message got swallowed up by a few paragraphs on health care. If you heard anything about his speech late last month at the National Press Club, you know he [...]

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles Schumer gave Democrats a talking-to about their obligation to stand up for government’s role in helping struggling middle-income Americans — and his message got swallowed up by a few paragraphs on health care.

If you heard anything about his speech late last month at the National Press Club, you know he said Democrats “blew the opportunity the American people gave them” in the 2008 election by putting “all of our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”

The New York Democrat noted that the Affordable Care Act “was aimed at the 36 million Americans who are not covered” and asserted that “to aim a huge change in mandate at such a small percentage of the electorate made no political sense.”

Schumer says he was surprised that nine paragraphs in a 6,600-word speech got all the attention. He shouldn’t have been.

Many supporters of the ACA — I’m one — were upset that one of the most important Democrats in Washington seemed to discount one of the party’s greatest achievements, especially since the ACA is still under relentless attack. Progressives insisted for decades that leaving so many of our fellow citizens without health insurance was both dysfunctional and immoral. To seize an opportunity to close that gap was the right thing to do.

So what was Schumer up to? I have known him for a long time and he called me this week to explain his intentions. He wanted to call attention to what he, if not the media and his critics, considered the central point: that Democrats could win in 2016 “if and only if we can convince people that government can work and help restore the middle class to prosperity.”

On health care, he avowed: “I was glad we did it, and I will be defending it tooth and nail in this Congress.” His point was that health care should have been “third and fourth” on his party’s priority list, behind additional measures to deal with a sagging economy and to offer concrete benefits to a wide swath of struggling middle- and working-class citizens.

Schumer’s list was progressive. It included a bigger and more focused economic stimulus, a minimum-wage increase, the Employee Free Choice Act to ease unionization and strengthen workers’ bargaining power, and the Equal Pay Act to end wage disparities between men and women.

Both in our conversation and in his speech, Schumer stressed what liberal economists have said for years: that because only three Senate Republicans even considered voting for the 2009 stimulus and demanded that it be reduced in size, “Democrats were unable to pass as large a stimulus as the economy required.” That’s true.

All this is about the past. It’s the core of Schumer’s argument that ought to provoke some soul-searching and action among Democrats — and Republicans, too, if they want to win the White House. Going through “another 10 years of middle-class decline” could make us “a sour, angry country.”

Here’s the heart of Schumernomics: “As technology continues to advance, automation supplants employment across a number of different industries; low-skilled and even high-skilled wage and salary workers lose their jobs to machines. Globalization, enabled by technology, allows businesses and employers to relocate to low-wage markets halfway around the globe — putting downward pressure on wages. While overall, technology has many good effects — making markets more efficient — it cannot be denied it puts a downward pressure on wages.”

The result? “Adjusted for inflation, the median income is actually $3,600 lower than in 2001.”

The other part of Schumer’s argument is that only government can take the steps needed to expand the bargaining power of the middle class and help it to “adapt to these new forces.” Schumer is unabashed in telling Democrats that they shouldn’t “run away” from a defense of government. By my count, he used the word “government” 136 times in the speech, probably a record of some kind.

Oh yes, and Americans won’t believe in government’s ability to solve these problems until they believe in its competence and see that it’s been freed from “the grips of special interests.” (The favors inserted in last week’s budget bill, by the way, won’t help on this front.)

It would be useful if supporters of the health care law called a truce on gratuitous attacks against it. But Schumer is right in identifying the biggest problem facing our country. Restoring broadly shared prosperity is not just a good political issue. It’s the cause on which every other cause depends.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne. (c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group

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Best and worst television shows of 2014 http://themoderatevoice.com/201303/best-worst-shows-2014/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201303/best-worst-shows-2014/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:15:00 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201303 A pall hung over the TV bazaar this year. There were passings both major (James Garner, Joan Rivers, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) and minor (Pugsley from The Addams Family, Reuben from The Partridge Family, the Professor from Gilligan’s Island). The medium’s Dowager Countess, Barbara Walters, stepped down from The View. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was [...]

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HOMELAND (Season 4)
A pall hung over the TV bazaar this year. There were passings both major (James Garner, Joan Rivers, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) and minor (Pugsley from The Addams Family, Reuben from The Partridge Family, the Professor from Gilligan’s Island). The medium’s Dowager Countess, Barbara Walters, stepped down from The View. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was yanked…

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America’s Drug Trade Imports More Than Just Addiction http://themoderatevoice.com/201299/americas-drug-trade-imports-just-addiction/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201299/americas-drug-trade-imports-just-addiction/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:36:51 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201299 America’s Drug Trade Imports More Than Just Addiction by Daniel Faris Drug use has been a hot topic in the U.S. for some time now. Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, and Washington, D.C. is going head-to-head with Congress over the city voters’ decision to legalize. But what isn’t often mentioned in the current national [...]

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America’s Drug Trade Imports More Than Just Addiction
by Daniel Faris

Drug use has been a hot topic in the U.S. for some time now. Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, and Washington, D.C. is going head-to-head with Congress over the city voters’ decision to legalize.

But what isn’t often mentioned in the current national debates over drug trade imports is their massive toll on the environment, which includes more than just marijuana. This isn’t about sweeping climate change or partisan politics – it’s about straightforward, demonstrable harm that the drug trade has caused to forests and water supplies across the globe. And, unfortunately, there aren’t any easy answers.

Deforestation

You’ve been hearing about the deforestation of the South American rainforest for decades now, but maybe not in regards to drug trafficking. Drug traffickers need a place to set up their operation where they will be difficult to locate, and so set about clearing forests for use as fields and for hidden runways to export their product.

As a result of the cocaine trade, deforestation in Honduras nearly tripled in 2011, growing from 75 km² to around 190 km². The rainforests of Columbia are also suffering; in Columbia, 21.5% of coca fields were made by destroying prime forests.

Also, in a drastic attempt to control, or at least contain, illegal coca fields, Peru and Uzbekistan have been using biological agents since the 1980′s. These biological agents often contribute to the pollution of ground water, and have been found to cause harm in humans and animals alike.

Deforestation causes erosion, and since the scale of deforestation from drug trafficking is so large, the soil erosion is severe. The erosion caused by deforestation leads to clogged waterways and soil that’s less than healthy for agriculture. Basically, our food supply is threatened by deforestation.

Marijuana

From smoking a single marijuana cigarette to running an entire indoor cultivation center, marijuana impacts the global environment in a number of ways.

Illegal indoor marijuana cultivation releases greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to about 3 million cars. Outside of Washington and Colorado, these operations are hidden and unregulated.

When asking tough questions regarding legalization, ask how environmental issues will be handled. If marijuana is legalized, what sort of regulations will be enforced to curb its environmental harm? Will these regulations help with deforestation and other environmental issues? Can they be enforced at all?

Prescription Drugs

Think you aren’t part of the problem? Ask yourself: how do you dispose of unused (legally prescribed) medication?

A study in South Carolina showed that out of the 128 million prescriptions filled each year in the state, 40% of the medication remains unused and is thrown out improperly. Many medications must be thrown out in a specific way; you can’t just throw them out or flush them, because both methods can result in contaminating the water supply.

Drug waste that isn’t properly disposed of can leach into local receiving waters, travel to water treatment facilities for processing, and is then redistributed to residential areas. The end result is chronic, low-level exposure to anyone that drinks the water.

The impact of this low-level exposure can be severe; it’s one way that bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, which results in some 65,000 deaths each year. The FDA has clear guidelines on how to dispose of expired or unwanted medicines. If you a really don’t want to be a part of the problem, it’s important to follow their guidelines.

Regardless of your stance on the current legalization debate, there’s no denying the environmental impacts of drug trade imports – both legal and illegal alike. Everything from cocaine to legal household medications are already causing global damage, making it clear that drug addiction hurts more than just the user; it impacts the entire planet.

Daniel Faris is a freelance blogger and journalist from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He covers political trends on Only Slightly Biased. You can also join his alter ego over at New Music Friday for discussions about progressive music, or follow him on Twitter.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Blame Game http://themoderatevoice.com/201230/blame-game/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201230/blame-game/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:58:54 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201230 Kevin Drum calls Rudy Guiliani on blaming the NYPD killings on Obama, Holder and Sharpton on Mother Jones. But I assume this means we can blame Bill O’Reilly for his 28 episodes of invective against “Tiller the Baby Killer” that eventually ended in the murder of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller by anti-abortion activist Scott [...]

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Kevin Drum calls Rudy Guiliani on blaming the NYPD killings on Obama, Holder and Sharpton on Mother Jones.

But I assume this means we can blame Bill O’Reilly for his 28 episodes of invective against “Tiller the Baby Killer” that eventually ended in the murder of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder. We can blame conservative talk radio for fueling the anti-government hysteria that led Timothy McVeigh to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City. We can blame the relentless xenophobia of Fox News for the bombing of an Islamic Center in Joplin or the massacre of Sikh worshippers by a white supremacist in Wisconsin. We can blame the NRA for the mass shootings in Newtown and Aurora. We can blame Republicans for stoking the anti-IRS paranoia that prompted Andrew Joseph Stack to crash a private plane into an IRS building in Austin, killing two people. We can blame the Christian Right for the anti-gay paranoia that led the Westboro Baptist Church to picket the funeral of Matthew Snyder, a US Marine killed in Iraq, with signs that carried their signature “God Hates Fags” slogan. We can blame Sean Hannity for his repeated support of Cliven Bundy’s “range war” against the BLM, which eventually motivated Jerad and Amanda Miller to kill five people in Las Vegas after participating in the Bundy standoff and declaring, “If they’re going to come bring violence to us, well, if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.” And, of course, we can blame Rudy Giuliani and the entire conservative movement for their virtually unanimous indifference to the state-sanctioned police killings of black suspects over minor offenses in Ferguson and Staten Island, which apparently motivated the murder of the New York police officers on Saturday.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2014/12/blame-game.html

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Newsweek Staff’s Favorite Films of 2014 http://themoderatevoice.com/201296/newsweek-staffs-favorite-films-2014/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201296/newsweek-staffs-favorite-films-2014/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 01:43:34 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201296 Life in an increasingly digitized world means, among other things, that you can stream practically any film you want online or through providers like Netflix; more and more, cinema is designed to be viewed from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy recliner. Still, the convenience is no substitute for sitting in a dark movie theater, electrified [...]

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Life in an increasingly digitized world means, among other things, that you can stream practically any film you want online or through providers like Netflix; more and more, cinema is designed to be viewed from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy recliner. Still, the convenience is no substitute for sitting in a dark movie theater, electrified by…

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Despite Problems, Santa Still on Schedule http://themoderatevoice.com/201292/despite-problems-santa-still-schedule/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201292/despite-problems-santa-still-schedule/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 23:46:30 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201292 Fortunately, no matter the myriad of problems the world faces during what should be a season of joy and peace, NORAD has informed the Defense Department that “every indication is that Santa Claus will arrive on time this year to deliver presents to the world’s estimated 1.9 billion children.” As reported here, NORAD has gone [...]

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Fortunately, no matter the myriad of problems the world faces during what should be a season of joy and peace, NORAD has informed the Defense Department that “every indication is that Santa Claus will arrive on time this year to deliver presents to the world’s estimated 1.9 billion children.”

As reported here, NORAD has gone Hi-Tech, using increasingly sophisticated sensors, tracking algorithms, models and communication systems to detect and track Santa in a timely manner and to communicate vital information to the American people — especially to the young ones.

As the magic date and hour nears and perhaps in view of recent developments, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today, “In the cyber domain, they tell me that their anti-Grinch firewall (AGFW) is up and monitoring for threats, and they are confident that the AGFW … can defeat any malicious attacks.”

Kirby also assures kids everywhere that NORAD has verified the load-bearing capacity of all rooftops that the reindeer will land on and that Aegis radars “are calibrated to track Santa and ships are standing by to conduct any lost gift rescue operations, if necessary.”

In other “domains,” Kirby confirms that NORAD’s radars can detect any and all objects traveling through North American airspace and its approaches, and that “our infrared detecting satellites are calibrated to see Rudolph’s nose.”

Finally, in the “air domain,” Kirby says that aircraft assigned to its Canadian and U.S. regions are ready to escort Santa when he enters North American airspace.

“Through our coordination with the FAA and NAV-CANADA, we can confirm that North American airspace is safe for sleigh travel,” the admiral said.

“I can tell you, it sounds to me like they are very ready for Santa,” Kirby concluded.

Source: Claudette Roulo, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

Get all breaking news on Santa at noradsanta.org.

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Wishing TMV readers a purr-fect Christmas (Photo shutterstock.com)

Lead image: Courtesy NORAD Santa Tracker

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Time for a convention of the states? http://themoderatevoice.com/201281/time-convention-states/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201281/time-convention-states/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 18:08:33 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201281 Some conservatives are calling for a convention of the states. So are some liberals. But is there too little trust left in America?

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I see some Conservatives are echoing some Liberals who’ve been saying it’s time to hold a Constitutional Convention.

Since I have for some time now believed our Constitution is functionally broken, with just about every exploitable part of the thing exploited, I think it’s a fine idea. On the other hand, this group appears to only be using their call to appeal to conservatives and conservative issues (and by “conservative” I mean Conservative in the modern American political context, not necessarily what would classically be called conservative). Doubtless, however, if they did manage this, liberals too would have their chance to give input, and would hopefully be concentrating on restoration of due process rights, limitation of corporate power and hegemony, and other items that most concern them.

I have to say that on the whole I support the effort, but I’m pessimistic at this point; the most politically active among us are now so utterly locked in the delusional “left vs. right” mold that they will instinctively reject this out of fear of what “conservatives” might do or what “liberals” might do, and won’t even think about the fact that any proposed alteration or rewriting of the Constitution would not only involve extensive debate, but would also have to be ratified, with an enormous amount of time for everyone in the country to think about what was proposed.

Meanwhile, the average citizen, who is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, neither a “Conservative” or a “Liberal” in the way they say these things among the intelligentsia, has a hard time giving a damn about any of it. So we’re locked between “liberals” vs. “conservatives” vs. everybody who no longer gives a damn.

I still vote in every election, and I still vote not just bipartisan but for a mix of third party candidates just to send a message. I’m glad I do, as I know I still have some influence; I helped get a corrupt judge off the bench near where I live for example. But I know I’m in a minority in believing I can make much difference in the grand scheme of things.

As a country, we have come to mistrust and fear not just our government, but each other, so much so that we’re terrified of even trying to alter our basic system of government–even though the Constitution itself was designed to enable us to do that very thing any time we want to.

Such is the tragedy of this era.

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Techies Join Other Liberals Who Are Not Ready For Hillary http://themoderatevoice.com/201278/techies-join-liberals-not-ready-hillary/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201278/techies-join-liberals-not-ready-hillary/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:46:44 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201278 Hillary Clinton continues to look like a strong favorite to win the 2016 Democratic nomination, but there continues to be many Democrats who hope that the party decides upon a liberal nominee. This includes the techies who helped Obama to beat her in 2008. Politico reports: Scores of the Democratic techies who helped Barack Obama [...]

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Hillary Clinton continues to look like a strong favorite to win the 2016 Democratic nomination, but there continues to be many Democrats who hope that the party decides upon a liberal nominee. This includes the techies who helped Obama to beat her in 2008. Politico reports:

Scores of the Democratic techies who helped Barack Obama defeat Hillary Clinton for the 2008 presidential nomination are now seeking alternatives to Clinton in 2016. Some are even promising the same kind of digital throw-down to sink her presumptive front-runner campaign as they did in 2008.

Clinton is still expected to be able to field a formidable tech team. But her troubles in grabbing many of the party’s young campaign innovators have a good deal to do with Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who insists she’s not running for president but who has quickly become an appealing pick for Obama alumni who built his two campaigns’ data and digital infrastructure. Earlier this month, more than 300 of Obama’s former campaign staffers, including his chief information officer and senior aides who handled email, online fundraising and field efforts, released a letter begging Warren to jump into the race.

“What we were trying to do is send a signal to the larger country but also to Sen. Warren herself to say a lot of this institutional knowledge and power that’s been built up over the last couple of years actually is with you,” Christopher Hass, an Obama 2008 and 2012 digital campaign aide, said in an interview.

“We’re not robots,” added Catherine Bracy, who led Obama’s San Francisco field office in 2012. “I think people are going to choose the candidate who inspires them the most. And for many of us that’s Elizabeth Warren.”

While Clinton’s other potential 2016 rivals will be widely outmatched on the financial front, they are hardly tech neophytes and each brings his own digital skill sets to compete on the social media battlefield and for critical early votes in Iowa and New Hampshire. After all, Bernie Sanders is arguably Congress’ biggest social media powerhouse; Martin O’Malley has governed both Baltimore and Maryland with an obsessive eye on statistics; and Jim Webb has a proven track record as a candidate willing to use progressive bloggers and viral videos to exploit his opponents’ weaknesses for advantage.

“I’d not be surprised if [Sanders] or one of the others get several bumps over the next six months,” said a senior Democratic source, noting the Vermont senator’s ability to make waves on Facebook and Twitter while Clinton at the same time would be working to define her own new narrative. “I think she’s got an enormous challenge reintroducing a brand that’s been around this long and getting people excited about it. It’s going to be tricky.”

Despite this “enormous challenge,” I doubt that very many Democrats who oppose her nomination doubt that she also has enormous advantages going into the primary race (as she did in 2008).

There have been other expressions of opposition to Clinton winning the nomination. The November issue of Harper’s ran a cover story entitled, Stop Hillary! Vote no to a Clinton dynasty. As I received it just before the 2014 primaries, I decided to hold off on discussion of the 2016 election, but it is worth quoting some portions of this article. Doug Henwood began:

What is the case for Hillary (whose quasi-official website identifies her, in bold blue letters, by her first name only, as do millions upon millions of voters)? It boils down to this: She has experience, she’s a woman, and it’s her turn. It’s hard to find any substantive political argument in her favor. She has, in the past, been associated with women’s issues, with children’s issues — but she also encouraged her husband to sign the 1996 bill that put an end to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC), which had been in effect since 1935. Indeed, longtime Clinton adviser Dick Morris, who has now morphed into a right-wing pundit, credits Hillary for backing both of Bill’s most important moves to the center: the balanced budget and welfare reform. And during her subsequent career as New York’s junior senator and as secretary of state, she has scarcely budged from the centrist sweet spot, and has become increasingly hawkish on foreign policy.

The purpose of the article was a response to those who see her as a liberal by looking at her career. Henwood wrote, “despite the widespread liberal fantasy of her as a progressive paragon, who will follow through exactly as Barack Obama did not. In fact, a close look at her life and career is perhaps the best antidote to all these great expectations.” He has considerable detail on her career. He wrote this on health care:

Hillary was given responsibility for running the health-care reform agenda. It was very much a New Democrat scheme. Rejecting a Canadian-style single-payer system, Hillary and her team came up with an impossibly complex arrangement called “managed competition.” Employers would be encouraged to provide health care to their workers, individuals would be assembled into cooperatives with some bargaining power, and competition among providers would keep costs down. But it was done in total secrecy, with no attempt to cultivate support in Congress or among the public for what would be a massive piece of legislation — and one vehemently opposed by the medical-industrial complex.

At a meeting with Democratic leaders in April 1993, Senator Bill Bradley suggested that she might need to compromise to get a bill passed. Hillary would have none of it: the White House would “demonize” any legislators who stood in her way. Bradley was stunned. Years later, he told Bernstein:

That was it for me in terms of Hillary Clinton. You don’t tell members of the Senate you are going to demonize them. It was obviously so basic to who she is. The arrogance. . . . The disdain.

Health-care reform was a conspicuous failure, and most of the blame has to fall on Hillary.

Hillary got Bill to agree to veto any compromise as opposed to HillaryCare in full. The result was forcing us to wait another generation before we had health care reform.

Henwood discussed the scandals which surrounded Clinton, pointing out how she responded “with lies, half-truths, and secrecy.” He described aspects of her Senate career, including her prayer breakfasts with Republicans and her support for the Iraq war:

She buddied up to John McCain and attended prayer breakfasts with right-wingers like Sam Brownback of Kansas. She befriended Republicans who had served as floor managers of her husband’s impeachment. Even Newt Gingrich has good things to say about her.

Oh, and she voted for the Iraq war, and continued to defend it long after others had thrown in the towel. She cast that vote without having read the full National Intelligence Estimate, which was far more skeptical about Iraq’s armaments than the bowdlerized version that was made public — strange behavior for someone as disciplined and thorough as Hillary. She also accused Saddam Hussein of having ties to Al Qaeda, which was closer to the Bush line than even many pro-war Democrats were willing to go. Alas, of all her senatorial accomplishments, this one arguably had the biggest impact. The rest were the legislative equivalent of being against breast cancer.

Her tenure as Secretary of State was just as hawkish:

For her own part, Hillary was less of a diplomat and more of a hawk, who had made a campaign-trail promise in 2008 to “totally obliterate” Iran in the event of an attack on Israel. Part of this may have been pure temperament, or an impulse to prove that she was tougher than a man. But she may also have been reacting against public perception of the job itself. As the feminist scholar Cynthia Enloe, who specializes in gender and militarism, told me in a 2004 interview, there’s a “long history of trying to feminize the State Department in American inner circles.” Diplomats are caricatured as upper-class pansies instead of manly warriors. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld even attempted to feminize Colin Powell, she argued, “which is pretty hard to do with somebody who has been a general.”

But the problem becomes particularly acute with a female secretary of state — and Hillary countered it with a macho eagerness to call in the U.S. Cavalry. She backed an escalation of the Afghanistan war, lobbied on behalf of a continuing military presence in Iraq, urged Obama to bomb Syria, and supported the intervention in Libya. As Michael Crowley wrote in Time, “On at least three crucial issues — Afghanistan, Libya, and the bin Laden raid — Clinton took a more aggressive line than [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates, a Bush-appointed Republican.”

Fortunately, as one diplomat put it, Obama “brought her into the administration, put her in a bubble, and ignored her.” That would also be good advice for Democrats as we go into the battle for the 2016 nomination.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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The AP’s top 10 movies of the year http://themoderatevoice.com/201276/aps-top-10-movies-year/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201276/aps-top-10-movies-year/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:31:03 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201276 The top 10 films of 2014, according to AP Film Writer Jake Coyle: 1. “Ida” – Where did this perfect little gem come from? Its director, Pawel Pawlikowski, wasn’t previously a major name in international cinema. Yet at a time when most filmmakers can’t keep their movies under two hours, Pawlikowksi plunges into Polish history [...]

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The top 10 films of 2014, according to AP Film Writer Jake Coyle: 1. “Ida” – Where did this perfect little gem come from? Its director, Pawel Pawlikowski, wasn’t previously a major name in international cinema. Yet at a time when most filmmakers can’t keep their movies under two hours, Pawlikowksi plunges into Polish history and…

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Cartoon: Clinton/Bush 2 C http://themoderatevoice.com/201274/cartoon-clintonbush-2-c/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201274/cartoon-clintonbush-2-c/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:17:17 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201274 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Slain NYPD Officers Celebrated Recent Birthday, Marriage http://themoderatevoice.com/201272/slain-nypd-officers-celebrated-recent-birthday-marriage/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201272/slain-nypd-officers-celebrated-recent-birthday-marriage/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:14:26 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201272 Slain NYPD Officers Celebrated Recent Birthday, Marriage New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, center, spoke at WoodHull Hospital after two NYPD officers were shot and killed. Reuters Murdered New York Police Department officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were both celebrating milestones in their lives at the time of their deaths. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton [...]

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Slain NYPD Officers Celebrated Recent Birthday, Marriage
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, center, spoke at WoodHull Hospital after two NYPD officers were shot and killed. Reuters Murdered New York Police Department officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were both celebrating milestones in their lives at the time of their deaths. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Liu was married two months ago and…

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Thank Ted Cruz for the Surgeon General the NRA Hates http://themoderatevoice.com/201270/thank-ted-cruz-surgeon-general-nra-hates/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201270/thank-ted-cruz-surgeon-general-nra-hates/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:06:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201270 Thank Ted Cruz for the Surgeon General the NRA Hates By Dick Polman For 500 days, President Obama’s Surgeon General nominee had languished in limbo, and with Republicans set to take over, it appeared that well-credentialed Dr. Vivek Murthy would never get confirmed. Until Ted Cruz came to the rescue! Cruz guy is so addicted [...]

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Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune


Thank Ted Cruz for the Surgeon General the NRA Hates
By Dick Polman

For 500 days, President Obama’s Surgeon General nominee had languished in limbo, and with Republicans set to take over, it appeared that well-credentialed Dr. Vivek Murthy would never get confirmed.

Until Ted Cruz came to the rescue!

Cruz guy is so addicted to grandstanding that he has no clue how to best help his own party. Sometimes it’s wisest to just stand down and shut up, but that’s not how he rolls. The events of this past weekend show us what can happen when a showhorse runs amok.

Let’s first recap the facts about Murthy. Obama’s choice for the nation’s top doc is a Yale-educated internist and Harvard Med School teacher. He’d been endorsed by the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Family Physicians, and the American Hospital Association. Plus, he has extensive experience in emergency rooms, where he has seen, first-hand, the damage of gun violence. Which is why he has said, “Guns are a health care issue.”

But statements like that angered the NRA, so for 500 days, the group’s attitude basically froze the Senate. Virtually all Republicans, in obeisance to their gun-loving masters, swore their undying opposition to Murthy. And some of the red-state Democrats lost their spines, fearing the wrath of fun-loving voters back home.

Harry Reid, mindful of the perilous math, feared putting Murthy to a vote, and with the lame-duck Democratic Senate dwindling to its final days, Murthy’s bid seemed destined to die from inaction.

In fact, Reid had a deal with Mitch McConnell to simply let the Senate clock run over the weekend without actually holding a session. Everyone would meet Monday to OK the $1-trlllion spending bill that keeps the government lights on, then bail for their holiday exits. There would’ve been no time to schedule Monday evening floor votes for Murthy, or other pending Obama nominees, the last time there would be a maximum number of Democrats in attendance.

Enter Ted Cruz and his tea-party pal, Mike Lee of Utah. Thanks to their parliamentary ineptitude, they saved the day for Murthy.

They hate the Obama executive order that protects some illegal immigrants from deportation. They felt that the Senate spending bill should have some language condemning Obama’s order. Republican leaders don’t like Obama’s order either, but they recognized that the smart move was to punt on that issue until early 2015, when they’d have majority clout. Cruz and Lee said nah, let’s do something symbolic right now.

So they kept their Senate colleagues in session on a Saturday. They tried to defund Obama’s anti-deportation order, but of course they didn’t have the votes. Then they tried for a “point of order,” a vote to condemn Obama’s order as unconstitutional. They bombed again, by a vote of 22 to 74.

But the upshot of all this weekend work is that Reid and the Democrats found themselves with ample time to get their ducks in a row for Murthy (file cloture on the nomination, line up the Democratic votes, etc.) – and schedule a floor vote for Monday afternoon. Presto. Murthy got the job, 51 to 43.

There’s no need for me to get snarky about Cruz’s doltish handiwork, because furious Republicans are saying it better than I ever can. A small sampling:

Senator Kelly Ayotte denounced Cruz’s weekend maneuver as “ridiculous.” Senator Jeff Flake called it “counterproductive.” A Republican aide told Slate: “At some point, Cruz is going to have to stop undermining conservative victories for the sake of getting more press.” Commentator Matt Lewis in the conservative Daily Caller compared Cruz and Lee to Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell (insults don’t get harsher than that), and, referring to Cruz, he asked, “should we make a hero of the guy who wants to win the football game so much he accidentally scores a touchdown for the opposing team?”

So thanks, Ted! Vivek Murthy owes you a holiday basket.

——-

Copyright 2014 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Philadelphia. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com.

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5 Ways Marijuana Won In 2014 http://themoderatevoice.com/201268/5-ways-marijuana-won-2014/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201268/5-ways-marijuana-won-2014/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:01:58 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201268 In 2013, the U.S. polling group Gallup found that for the first time ever, the majority of Americans approved the full legalization of marijuana. Today, that rate of 58 percent has fallen to a slimmer majority of 51 percent, but the legalization boom has picked up even more steam. New Year’s Day marked the first [...]

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In 2013, the U.S. polling group Gallup found that for the first time ever, the majority of Americans approved the full legalization of marijuana. Today, that rate of 58 percent has fallen to a slimmer majority of 51 percent, but the legalization boom has picked up even more steam. New Year’s Day marked the first day…

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Right Wing Blames President Obama, Bill de Blasio, Eric Holder for Assassination of NYPD Cops http://themoderatevoice.com/201265/right-wing-blames-president-obama-bill-de-blasio-eric-holder-assassination-nypd-cops/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201265/right-wing-blames-president-obama-bill-de-blasio-eric-holder-assassination-nypd-cops/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:40:03 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201265 It’s a sad commentary when the rights of people to peacefully demonstrate against a perceived injustice have come under fire because of the actions of one person. NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed execution style by a POS named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, while they sat in their patrol car outside the Tompkins Houses [...]

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nypd

It’s a sad commentary when the rights of people to peacefully demonstrate against a perceived injustice have come under fire because of the actions of one person. NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed execution style by a POS named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, while they sat in their patrol car outside the Tompkins Houses in Brooklyn on Saturday. This is a tragedy of immense proportions and I am deeply saddened by their murders. As Adam Lanza murdered students at Sandy Hook Elementary, we were left grappling for answers. Brinsley should never have been able to get his hands on a gun, given his extensive criminal history, but he did.  Adam Lanza shot his mother first before going on a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook. Ismaaiyl Brinsley followed a slightly similar path. He shot his ex-girlfriend in Owing Mills, Md., first and headed to Brooklyn on a bus, but not before posting his intentions on Instagram. There was more to Brinsley’s actions than just revenge. There are hints that he may have had some mental health issues. Still, there is no justification for committing such a heinous act. But what we don’t need at this juncture is fingerpointing.

Ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the cops were killed because President Obama told everyone to hate cops. You will recall race relations were at its lowest levels during his tenure as New York City mayor.

We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” Giuliani said during an appearance on Fox News on Sunday. “The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don’t lead to violence, a lot of them lead to violence, all of them lead to a conclusion. The police are bad, the police are racist. That is completely wrong.”

Social media devolved into a frenzied mess Saturday night as the discourse over the senseless murder of Officers Liu and Ramos veered into ugly territory. Many boldly proclaimed Mayor Bill de Blasio, Attorney General Eric Holder and Rev. Al Sharpton have blood on their hands. Fox News personality Sean Hannity tweetedLast weekend. “What do we want “DEAD COPS” when do we want it “NOW”. Innocent cops killed today. If you chanted U have blood on your hands!” Former New York governor David Pataki, who is said to be eyeing a 2016 presidential run, quickly tweeted, “Sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder & #mayordeblasio.” “Clueless” actress Stacey Dash, now a regular on Fox News for her “conservative” views, was blasted by Black Twitter for tweeting “these murders are the natural result of the #jihad on cops that @TheRevAl & @DeBlasioNYC has called for. They should be held accountable.” Really? A jihad on cops? That is clearly an inflammatory statement to make. The freak-out spilled over into Sunday with Al Sharpton trending on Twitter as he seemed to scramble to defuse any verbal attacks coming his way. He claimed he has received numerous death threats.

Had foot soldiers like Rep. John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Johnnie Carr, actor Harry Belafonte and many others decided not to use their right to protest racial discrimination and injustices, we would have never moved beyond the ugly days of Jim Crow in America. To blame protesters, who are calling for an overhaul of policing in this country, for the officers’ deaths, is disingenous to everything America stands for. We have to find common ground. Fast. Stacey Dash carelessly tweeting there is a jihad on cops is meant to inflame tensions and blame law-abiding protesters. In case she hasn’t noticed, had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others shied away from protests, then she probably wouldn’t be on Fox News at this juncture, unless of course, she denied her heritage and pulled a Peola from the “Imitation of Life.”

In the aftermath of the Staten Island grand jury clearing officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, tempers flared between the New York Police Department officers and Mayor Bill de Blasio. He should have handled it a lot better. On Saturday, some of the officers turned their backs on him as he made his way through the crowd for a press conference about the assassination of the officers. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton needs to defuse the escalating tensions between the mayor and the police. It doesn’t help that Pat Lynch, the head of New York’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, told the mayor he wasn’t welcome at the funerals of any fallen officers, continued his dangerous rhetoric by saying “blood is on the hands” of de Blasio. He said, “There’s blood on many hands tonight — those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protests that try to tear down what New York City police officers did every day.” In other words, there should be no protests for perceived injustices. That’s the America Pat Lynch wants to see. The reality is, the NYPD also has blood on its hands. Sean Bell was riddled with bullets for no reason. An unarmed Amadou Diallo died in a hail of bullets.

Police commissioner Bill Bratton must either step down, or find a way to get his boss and the police on common ground. Clearly the NYPD has had troubled history with the black community that has resulted in millions paid out to settle police brutality claims. Mayor de Blasio needs to find balance between having the back of the police force and meeting the demands of the citizenry of New York City. I think both men have the capacity to turn this around and they should. Either that or Bill de Blasio will be a one-term mayor.

The fingerpointing, posturing and conflation of what led to the assassination of the two officers is bordering on lunacy. It’s clear that Bill de Blasio and Bill Bratton have dropped the ball. The mayor needs to reassure residents of New York City that they have a right to peacefully protest. He should also reach out to the police department. He can’t appeal to one side and ignore the other. The police, including Pat Lynch, should also recognize that using the words of a dying man, “I can’t breathe,” to mock peaceful protesters who were excercising their democratic right to protest, really sow seeds of discord and foment unrest. Pat Lynch doesn’t have to resort to bullying and seemingly racist rhetoric to defend his officers.

I will also admonish those in various predominantly black communities across the U.S. who seek to do damage, to rob and kill innocent people. Black-on-black crime is at the heart of any discussion on how to deal with the police. A high crime rate was what brought Officers Liu and Ramos to the Bedford-Stuyvesant area yesterday. We are destroying our communities and each other in the process. How do you explain Demario Bailey being murdered in cold blood over a jacket? How many more mothers have to cry out in pain over their sons being gunned down in their communities? Police brutality isn’t the only issue we should have a frank discussion about.  We have to admit our culpability in many confrontations with police. The same level of outrage that is being displayed over the police shooting deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, should also be displayed in dealing crime in predominantly black communities.

In closing, I found it reprehensible that people would celebrate the murders of two officers who were doing their jobs — protecting the community.  The fact is we all deserve better than this. A bullied mayor, an obnoxious and out-of-control union boss, an incompetent police commissioner, a sharply divided citizenry and two dead cops are a recipe for disaster. It’s a powder-keg waiting to explode. We should demand better. Instead of simply saying #BlackLivesMatter, we should be saying #AllLivesMatter, whether you are black, white, Asian, gay or straight, young, old, a cop or a civilian….

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

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Two NYPD Officers Murdered in Brooklyn/ UPDATED: De Blasio, mayor, Spurned After http://themoderatevoice.com/201260/two-nypd-officers-murdered-brooklyn/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201260/two-nypd-officers-murdered-brooklyn/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 01:32:35 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201260 UPDATE: It appears to be shaping up that Bill de Blasio, current mayor of New York City, is disliked intensely by many in NYPD, in their opinion after De Blasio did not stand up for law and order nor unequivocally for police officers assaulted during protests [despite clear videos of same], for backslapping, ignoring questions [...]

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UPDATE: It appears to be shaping up that Bill de Blasio, current mayor of New York City, is disliked intensely by many in NYPD, in their opinion

after De Blasio did not stand up for law and order

nor unequivocally for police officers assaulted during protests [despite clear videos of same],

for backslapping, ignoring questions he’s ‘uncomfortable’ answering that are seemingly germaine to the lead up to the assassinations of police officers,

for acting without gravitas around serious issues, appearing in the opinions of many in NY, not to grasp how to run a large city by making alliances with all,

for what has been reported by city newspaper, that is, for including his kids and wife in city business meetings,

and also reported, his two kids mysteriously pulling down two highly sought after and scarce internships at city hall,

and more. Much more that seemingly gives the appearance of conflicts that ought not be in an ethnical and well run government.

There is also not so distant thunder about a particular councilwoman who is said to have demanded to address one of the PD precincts in order to act as a scold to the officers last week for being ‘insensitive,’ demanding they who are trained in law enforcement– and she isnt– to act according to her demands. This story may continue to grow.

There are calls for De Blasio to resign, which some say he sniggered and scoffed at, and apparently doesnt take seriously. Police officers turned their backs to De Blasio as he came through a hallway with a huge entourage of a long line of ‘his people’ on his way to the Chief of NYPD’s press conference. The officers’ message to De Blasio is ‘you are a disgrace.’

Once at the Chief’s press conference, in contrast to the quiet sincerity of the Chief, De Blasio spoke hackneyed words, reading off a paper by rote, giving the impression he was seemingly ill prepared, insincere, and didnt know what to say to lead, having lost his usual ‘take nothing too seriously’ gab. Some say he is not in any way mayor-ly and did not reassure the citizenry, and has no leadership plan to protect officers or the citizens from further violence, that instead he used the tired trope that ‘this is all about the ‘families who lost the two officers,’ and as the leader of Gotham, one of the most ddeply diverse and populated and financially and culturally important cities in the world, said he didnt want to say anymore.

Indeed it is about the families, of course it is, and the Chief of NY Police said so with sincerity and gravitas compared to De Blasio. But also in a city of millions, it seems to escape De Blasio that it is also about the huge number of New Yorkers who have suffered the horrors of the rampant violence of the bombings of the Trade Towers, the loss of near 3000 innocent souls, and the equally horrific loss of over 350 NYPD and NYFD who had rushed to rescue others…

and as a result of a longer memory that De Blasio apparently has, the last thing New Yorkers need is a mayor who cannot speak to all the people with a real solid plan and reassurances and accountability –in a timely manner–about protecting them from further violence. Given De Blasio has purposely chosen not to support NYPD, he may have little to reassure anyone about, given the first wall of defense against harms, are the 35,000 NYPD.

Last week, with a strong sense of lack of safety because of De Blasio’s lack of support for NYPD, a petition began to circulate in the NYPD of those 35,000 officers, averring that the signatories did not want De Blasio to attend any police officer’s funeral. The implication was that since De Blasio seems more intent on vacationing and having a good old time schmoozing with detractors instead of leading his police commissioner and himself to cogently address the NYPD officers in alliances and issues, that De Blasio put officers in danger, and he cannot be accorded the honor of standing with and for any fallen officer… as the NYPD felt it would be De Blasio grandstanding once again, because it served him cheaply to be politic.

Some feel De Blasio mistook his own sense of ‘charm’ for actual expertise in running a city and that he actually has no idea how to deal with firemen, police, contractors, unions and more, that are all a part of the huge densely populated land of New York City and surrounds.

The coming week is Christmas with Hanukkah just ending. It may be one of the toughest holiday seasons ever in NYC only topped forever by the first and second and third and fourth and onward Christmastimes after 9-11. We shall see.

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Earlier over the newswires within minutes of the officers being murdered…
shutterstock_155289302

Alleged gunman, Ismayyil Brinsley, made his murderous intentions known to kill two cops [on Instagram] a few hours before carrying through. There will be more forthcoming as the fog clears. One officer was on force for a short time, the other for several years. Officer Wenjian Liu, 32, was married two months ago. and Officer Rafael Ramos, age 40, a father of two young sons, were shot at close range –in the head– in ambush while they were in their clearly marked blue and white patrol car. The murders took place in Bedford Sty.

Brinsley fled into a subway station where he shot himself. He was transported to the hospital. He did not survive.

It is said that Ismayyil Brinsley shot another person in Baltimore before traveling to New York today: his girlfriend. She appears to have survived.

Many protesters in past days were involved in shouting “What do we want?” The answer to same was: “Dead cops.”

No comment at this time. But, yes, later.

Read more here.

Below are the two images from Instagram [since taken down] allegedly put up by the suspect.
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Before the images on Instagram were taken down, using timeline back to earlier, there were many “likes” on Ismayyil’s instagram murder threats to kill police officers.

There is also, it is said, blood on his pants in the photo he took of himself and his shoe. His Instagram posts said today he was going to ‘give pigs wing’s and literally said he was going to take out two in order to pay back the death of one.

Just this, for all families, may they be mightily comforted.

For all law-abiding protesters, citizens, and law officers;
may you all be held in the arms of safety and clear minds.

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Read more reaction from weblogs HERE

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Ferguson Prosecutor Admits To Allowing Testimony From People Who Were Clearly Lying http://themoderatevoice.com/201259/ferguson-prosecutor-admits-allowing-testimony-people-clearly-lying/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201259/ferguson-prosecutor-admits-allowing-testimony-people-clearly-lying/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 20:55:36 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201259 We have already seen many signs that the grand jury investigation in Ferguson was handled improperly, with the prosecutor essentially acting as the defense for Darren Wilson. There were also irregularities in how the evidence was handled. Wilson was allowed to present his case without undergoing cross examination, despite his testimony being contradicted by physical [...]

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We have already seen many signs that the grand jury investigation in Ferguson was handled improperly, with the prosecutor essentially acting as the defense for Darren Wilson. There were also irregularities in how the evidence was handled. Wilson was allowed to present his case without undergoing cross examination, despite his testimony being contradicted by physical evidence and some of the witnesses. Now prosecutor Robert McCulloch has admitted in an interview (video above) that he allowed people to testify who were clearly lying. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

Certain witnesses who spoke before the grand jury investigating the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown told obvious lies under oath, St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said Friday.

“Clearly some were not telling the truth,” he said during an interview on KTRS 550. He added that he’s not planning to pursue charges against any lying witnesses.

In his first extensive interview since the grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, McCulloch said he had no regrets about letting grand jury members hear from non-credible witnesses.

“Early on I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything would be presented to the grand jury,” McCulloch said. He added that he would’ve been criticized no matter his decision.

During the interview, McCulloch referenced a woman who claimed to have seen the shooting.

This “lady clearly wasn’t present,” McCulloch said. “She recounted a story right out of the newspaper,” backing up Wilson’s version of events.

The criticism of that witness fits the questions surrounding Sandra McElroy, also known as Witness 40.

McElroy, who’s admitted to using racial slurs and trying to raise money for Wilson, testified that she saw the entire shooting unfold, and that Brown charged the officer shortly before he was killed — a detail that has proven controversial because of conflicting reports.

Investigators picked apart McElroy’s story, saying she could not have left the apartment complex in the way she described.

She also gave conflicting accounts of why she was at the scene of the shooting that day and admitted that she has short-term memory problems from a head-on collision that left her with a traumatic brain injury.

Previously it was not believed that McCulloch would face any legal consequences for his actions to keep Wilson from being tried. Maybe this will change in light of his admission that he used testimony from people who were lying. Buzzfeed pointed out that McCulloch’s use of a witness who “clearly wasn’t present” might also be a violation of both professional ethics and the law:

McCulloch’s acknowledgment that he knew some of the witness accounts were untrue raises ethical questions about his office’s presentation to the grand jury.

According to Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct, RULE 4-3.3, “A lawyer shall not knowingly offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false.”

The law also says that a lawyer “may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter, that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.”

“A lawyer should not present testimony that he believes to be false,” Steven Lubet, a law professor at Northwestern University, told BuzzFeed News. “That is especially true in a proceeding that lacks all of the usual safeguards, such as opposing counsel and a judge.”

I’m sure there will be more legal opinions to come regarding McCulloch’s actions.

Following the release of the grand jury decision in Ferguson there have been multiple media reports of other acts of excessive violence by police officers, such as the killing of Eric Garner. You would think that police officers would be more cautious following these negative media reports, but there was yet another incident. The New York Daily News reports:

Internal Affairs is investigating the circumstances of an arrest, captured on video, that shows a plainclothes cop repeatedly punching a teen suspect in the body as three uniformed cops were trying to subdue and handcuff him, police said.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Islamic terrorism strikes not only in Israel (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/201257/islamic-terrorism-strikes-not-israel-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201257/islamic-terrorism-strikes-not-israel-guest-voice/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:23:23 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201257 Islamic terrorism strikes not only in Israel By Dorothea Shefer-Vanson MEVASSERET ZION, Israel — Are we going to have to cut ourselves off from the news and other media, in order to hold on to our mental equanimity? This week has been particularly hard for consumers of the news media, like myself. Many people thought [...]

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shutterstock_153912218

Islamic terrorism strikes not only in Israel
By Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

MEVASSERET ZION, Israel — Are we going to have to cut ourselves off from the news and other media, in order to hold on to our mental equanimity? This week has been particularly hard for consumers of the news media, like myself. Many people thought that the evil that threatened the world had been eradicated with Hitler’s defeat, but it seems that we were mistaken.

Over one hundred and thirty schoolchildren massacred in Pakistan in the name of a creed that calls itself a religion of peace. A lone gunman holds forty people hostage in a Sydney café, also in the name of that religion. Speaking after the event, and the deaths of two of the hostages, the Australian Prime Minister labeled it a ‘death cult.’ Perhaps it is, but if only all those terrorists would take his word for it and simply bump themselves off the world would undoubtedly be a better place. Sadly, their cult glorifies the deaths of others, the ‘unbelievers,’ rather than their own, though they’re prepared to die if it involves the deaths of those who do not share their beliefs.

Of course, not all adherents of Islam follow its extremist version, and thank goodness for that, but the minority that does casts a dark shadow over the entire global civilization, and that is what is so depressing.

A friend who attends a clinic at the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus told me that when waiting for the bus she always stands together with the Muslim women (many Arabs go to that hospital for treatment), feeling that any terrorist who decides on the spur of the moment to ram his (or her) car into the people waiting at the stop will not aim at their co-religionists. She may have a point.

Israelis continue to go about their daily lives, possibly deceived by the sunshine and a sense of false confidence. The people who tend to be targets for knifings, axings and other acts of aggression tend to be easily identifiable as Jews – ultra-orthodox men, soldiers, settlers in the West Bank. The feeling that at all times one has to be on one’s guard is not a comfortable one, but in Israel we have learned to live with that kind of situation on a daily basis.

But Australia? Why there? It’s far away from the Middle East and all its troubles, and if anywhere in the world ever seemed safe from the scourge of Islamic terrorism it was there. Now the Australian authorities are calling the perpetrator ‘a disturbed individual.’ However, he posted the Islamic flag and creed on the window of the café which was the site of his attack. Disturbed?

Or perhaps just a believer? I’m prepared to go along with the idea that all terrorists are disturbed individuals, but it would require an awful lot of psychologists to sort that one out.

In an extended essay, John Gray recently wrote in the Guardian newspaper that it is futile to seek to eradicate what Western leaders naively term ‘the forces of evil,’ as cruelty and conflict are basic human traits, and when one such movement is suppressed it will generally be replaced by another. When repressive regimes such as those of Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein are overthrown they tend to be replaced by anarchy. Reluctantly, I have to agree with him, especially when the photograph at the top of his article shows the good-looking, innocent faces of a group of German boys belonging to the Hitler Youth movement in 1939. If the entire German nation could happily support a movement as evil and oppressive as Nazism why should we be surprised to find less-educated and uncultured individuals in other parts of the world subscribing to similar ideologies?

The bottom line seems to be that an ideology that preaches the superiority of one individual, nation or creed over another seems to sanction actions that are perceived as abhorrent and savage by people brought up to believe in equality, liberty and the eventual triumph of good over evil. The thought that the former may eventually overcome and overthrow the latter is one that is both depressing and possibly naïve.
*
Shefer-Vanson is an author and freelance writer based in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion, Israel. She can be reached at at dorothea.shefer@sdjewishworld.com. This article is reprinted from San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Mike Peters Guest Cartoon: North Korea and the Movies http://themoderatevoice.com/201255/mike-peters-guest-cartoon-north-korea-movies/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201255/mike-peters-guest-cartoon-north-korea-movies/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:03:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201255 North Korea and the Movies by Mike Peters OF RELATED INTEREST: –Sony exec fires back at President Obama –Hackers to Sony: We’ll stand down if you never release the movie –Hollywood Cowardice: George Clooney Explains Why Sony Stood Alone In North Korean Cyberterror Attack –Obama Could Hit China to Punish North Korea Mike Peters is [...]

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North Korea and the Movies
by Mike Peters

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OF RELATED INTEREST:
Sony exec fires back at President Obama
Hackers to Sony: We’ll stand down if you never release the movie
Hollywood Cowardice: George Clooney Explains Why Sony Stood Alone In North Korean Cyberterror Attack
Obama Could Hit China to Punish North Korea

Mike Peters
is recognized as one of our nation’s most prominent cartoon artists for his outstanding work as both a political and comic strip cartoonist. His favorite expression “WHAT A HOOT” certainly sums up his outlook on his life and work which are inexorably entwined. Mike’s warm, easygoing and zany demeanor is evidence that his personality matches his creative talents. As so eloquently phrased by a colleague — “Mike is the Peter Pan of the cartooning world; he’s boyishly charming, good with a rapier and doesn’t spend a lot of time on the ground. And he doesn’t seem to want to grow up”.

The Comic Strip Mother Goose & Grimm appears in over 800 newspapers worldwide and consistently places in the top 10 most popular ratings. Licensees distribute Grimmy products all over the world, and the Grimmy TV show continues to air in several countries. Mother Goose & Grimm is included in the Toon Lagoon theme park at Universal Studios that opened in July 1999.

This copyrighted cartoon is licensed to be run on TMV and is from his website. Reproduction elsewhere is strictly prohibited.

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2016 Presidential Campaign Already Boring http://themoderatevoice.com/201246/2016-presidential-campaign-already-boring/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201246/2016-presidential-campaign-already-boring/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:02:17 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201246 2016 Presidential Campaign Already Boring By Jason Stanford The 2016 presidential campaign has barely started, and I’m already bored. On one hand, everyone’s ready for Hillary, but she doesn’t seem all that eager for everyone. She’s scheduled two paid speeches for early next year, which means she won’t be kicking off her campaign until the [...]

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2016 Presidential Campaign Already Boring
By Jason Stanford

The 2016 presidential campaign has barely started, and I’m already bored.

On one hand, everyone’s ready for Hillary, but she doesn’t seem all that eager for everyone. She’s scheduled two paid speeches for early next year, which means she won’t be kicking off her campaign until the spring. This is seen in DC as alternately smart politics and evidence that she’s floundering.

Holding off is undoubtedly good tactics, but while Democrats are waiting for Hillary they’re not talking about America, and that’s a shame. There’s plenty of time for her to lay out a reason to run for president, but when the frontrunner doesn’t enter the race it leaves all the others stretching at the starting line, waiting for the starting gun. And voters learn nothing about how Democrats would lead this county.

On the other hand, approximately 17,000 Republicans are visiting Iowa and pretending that they’re not running for president yet. And if you thought the clown car primary from 2012 was fun—we’ll always have Uzbekibekibekistanstan—then the 2016 Republican primary should be a rare case when the sequel is better than the original.

We’ve got Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who signed a letter to a Jewish constituent, “Thank you, and Molotov,” which could either have been an autocorrect mistake or a frat-guy joke. And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is having a prayer rally with a group that blames Hurricane Katrina on legal abortion, guys kissing each other, and naked ladies on the Internet.

And for fans of hand buzzers, whoopee cushions, and toy snakes popping out of peanut brittle cans, we’ve got Texas Gov. Rick Perry, bless his heart. The inside word was that he was studying up on foreign policy and stuff since the last time when he looked in the debates like he was roller skating on ice. This time, we were told, he’d be the kind of candidate who could unite subjects and verbs in agreement and not get lost in the middle of sentences.

But you can’t keep a good man down. Recently he told a visiting reporter that a 2016 campaign would not be predicated on his mastery of the word-a-day calendar he got for Christmas last year.

“Running for the presidency’s not an IQ test,” he said. “It is a test of an individual’s resolve. It’s a test of an individual’s philosophy. It’s a test of an individual’s life’s experiences.”

The belief that an American president’s belief system should benefit from book learnin’ is elitist snobbery. Simple bull-headed stick-to-itiveness is good enough for Perry, which is good considering he got a C in animal husbandry in college even though he grew up on a farm.

Add in Dr. Ben Carson, the Tea Party darling who blamed Ferguson on feminism, and you’ve the makings of a sitcom where everyone plays the wacky neighbor. And we haven’t even mentioned Ted Cruz yet.

Alas, it may never come to pass. Republican donors don’t like it when their candidates make their party look stupid by running for president on a platform of “oops” and sweater vests. (Yes, Rick Santorum is back for another round, too.) So they’re holding what amounts to a super-secret primary to pick an establishment candidate from among Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Chris Christie. We know Bush and Christie are serious about running for president because they’ve been very public about losing weight recently. Also, Jeb now admits he’s “actively” exploring the race, which for my money beats the heck out of passive exploration.

This is a pity. Selfishly, I liked the 2012 Republican Primary. The debates were good theater. Any show in which Newt Gingrich plays the wizened elder statesman is going to be must-see TV. But the primary was most revealing because the candidates were forced to publicly draw contrasts with each other. We didn’t get a generic Republican foisted on us. Instead, Republicans got to examine a variety of candidates, and then they chose the generic Republican.

That’s the problem with anointing a winner in primaries before they’ve even begun. If Republican donors choose a nominee and Hillary is never challenged, then Americans are cut out of a very important and entertaining discussion. And that’s boring.

—–

© Copyright 2014 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Jason Stanford is a regular contributor to the Austin American-Statesman, a Democratic consultant and a Truman National Security Project partner. You can email him at stanford@oppresearch.com and follow him on Twitter @JasStanford.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Sony hacking may cast pall over Oscars (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/201252/sony-hacking-may-cast-pall-oscars-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201252/sony-hacking-may-cast-pall-oscars-guest-voice/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:01:55 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201252 Sony hacking may cast pall over Oscars By Dan Bloom CHIAYI CITY, Taiwan — The Oscars telecast on February 22 is most likely to be a toned-down event from the usual fare in the wake of the massive international hacking of the Sony Picture Entertainment computer system. Whereas past Oscars presented millions of TV viewers [...]

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Sony hacking may cast pall over Oscars
By Dan Bloom

CHIAYI CITY, Taiwan — The Oscars telecast on February 22 is most likely to be a toned-down event from the usual fare in the wake of the massive international hacking of the Sony Picture Entertainment computer system.

Whereas past Oscars presented millions of TV viewers worldwide with ribald jokes and trendy selfies by the likes of actors and comics like such as Billy Crystal and Ellen DeGeneres, the upcoming Oscars show in Hollywood will not be as extravagant and fun as years gone by.

In the Bloom family home in the 1950s and 1960s, we all gathered in the “den” of our one-story home in western Massachusetts and watched the famous actors and actresses of the day come up to the stage to receive their awards and give their acceptance speeches.

Mom and Dad on the sofa in the back of the den, and my brother and sisters sitting on the floor in front of the TV set, we all watched with not only rapt attention but also rapt anticipation. The stage sets were gorgeous, the songs sung live were wonderful to listen to and the jokes came at us one by one all through the three to four hour show.

For me, the most important part of the Oscars every year, then and now, were the acceptance speeches. If there were 50 acceptance speeches, one or two always stood out where the actor or actress threw away their prepared speech and delivered an impromptu, ad-libbed speech with an emotional heft that went above the third floor balcony of the Hollywood hall where the show was being staged. The speeches, the speeches, that is what I always tuned in for, and still do.

And the jokes. If nothing else, the Oscars telecast is a four hour joke-a-thon that gently sheds light on the culture at large across America. Jewish jokes, Italian jokes, African American jokes, feminist jokes, gay jokes, cross-cultural and international jokes. The show was always one long comedy show, linked by the usual award presentations and speeches.

But this coming Oscars show, the entire telecast will be presented and viewed, sad to say, in the tragic shadows of the massive hack attack on SONY. There won’t be as many jokes as in previous years and the presenters will carry grave, serious faces rather than the usual comic turns and pratfalls.

I mean, how does one laugh after one of Hollywood’s major studioes was brought to its knees by an illegal hack from the depths of some rogue computer soldiers? Sure, Neil Patrick Harris will do his best as host, and the writing team, led by Greg Berlanti as head writer, with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron producing the entire 240-minute shindig.

Yes, the 87th annual Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, February 22, 2015, on ABC-TV and be seen by millions of movie fans across the world. But this upcoming show won’t be the Oscars we are used to.

Instead, in the wake of what happened at SONY at the tail end of 2014, the upcoming telecast will be a somber, quiet affair that does its best to tip-toe around the very sensitive issues that have disrupted the usual Hollywood chatter as never before.

Or will the presenters and the host get right into the fray and speak directly about the hack heard round the world?

The Jewish trio of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and and Dan Sterling that created the ill-fated and controversial SONY comedy ‘The Interview will be watching, too. But will any of them be seated in the audience that night? Stay tuned.

Bloom, based in Taiwan, is a freelance writer and inveterate web surfer. This column is reprinted from San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association.

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

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Discovery’s Eaten Alive: We were all rooting for the big snake (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/201244/discoverys-eaten-alive-rooting-big-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201244/discoverys-eaten-alive-rooting-big-guest-voice/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:00:26 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201244 A divided nation has finally united, if only for a while. Everywhere you go, Americans are speaking out in a singular chorus of indignation and outrage. Social media is seething with denunciations of brazen deception and cruelty. What in the world happened that has suddenly brought us all together? It’s simple: Some bonehead tried to [...]

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A divided nation has finally united, if only for a while. Everywhere you go, Americans are speaking out in a singular chorus of indignation and outrage. Social media is seething with denunciations of brazen deception and cruelty. What in the world happened that has suddenly brought us all together? It’s simple: Some bonehead tried to get…

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Marco Rubio, Rand Paul trade shots over Cuba on TV, Twitter, Facebook http://themoderatevoice.com/201247/marco-rubio-rand-paul-trade-shots-cuba-tv-twitter-facebook/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201247/marco-rubio-rand-paul-trade-shots-cuba-tv-twitter-facebook/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 04:03:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201247 MIAMI—As they jockey for possible presidential bids, Republican senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are taking aim at each other on TV, Twitter and Facebook over Cuba policy. Rubio, a Cuba hardliner from West Miami, has attacked President Barack Obama’s effort to re-establish ties with Cuba. The pugnacious Kentuckian thinks the president made the right [...]

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MIAMI—As they jockey for possible presidential bids, Republican senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are taking aim at each other on TV, Twitter and Facebook over Cuba policy. Rubio, a Cuba hardliner from West Miami, has attacked President Barack Obama’s effort to re-establish ties with Cuba. The pugnacious Kentuckian thinks the president made the right move.…

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Cartoon: Kim is coming to town http://themoderatevoice.com/201241/cartoon-kim-coming-town/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201241/cartoon-kim-coming-town/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:49:33 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201241 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Bill Schorr, Cagle Cartoons

Bill Schorr, Cagle Cartoons

See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Obama: Sony ‘Made A Mistake’ By Canceling ‘The Interview’ http://themoderatevoice.com/201239/obama-sony-made-mistake-canceling-interview/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201239/obama-sony-made-mistake-canceling-interview/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:46:12 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201239 U.S. President Obama said Sony Pictures Entertainment made a mistake by canceling the release of “The Interview,” the film widely believed to have inspired the vast hack that crippled the studio and leaked embarrassing emails from its executives. His remarks came days after Sony canceled the planned Christmas Day release of the film, in which [...]

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U.S. President Obama said Sony Pictures Entertainment made a mistake by canceling the release of “The Interview,” the film widely believed to have inspired the vast hack that crippled the studio and leaked embarrassing emails from its executives. His remarks came days after Sony canceled the planned Christmas Day release of the film, in which bumbling…

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Cartoon: Kim jong-no fun http://themoderatevoice.com/201237/cartoon-kim-jong-no-fun/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201237/cartoon-kim-jong-no-fun/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:37:00 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201237 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Obama’s response to the midterms http://themoderatevoice.com/201233/obamas-response-midterms/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201233/obamas-response-midterms/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:31:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201233 Obama’s response to the midterms: Pretty spectacular. Certainly the President’s month post-defeat contrasts with the negativism and in-fighting of the “winners.” Kevin Drum lays out 37 days of hard work at the White House. *November 10: Surprised everyone by announcing his support for strong net neutrality. *November 11: Concluded a climate deal with China that [...]

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Obama’s response to the midterms:

Pretty spectacular. Certainly the President’s month post-defeat contrasts with the negativism and in-fighting of the “winners.”

Kevin Drum lays out 37 days of hard work at the White House.

*November 10: Surprised everyone by announcing his support for strong net neutrality.

*November 11: Concluded a climate deal with China that was not only important in its own right, but has since been widely credited with jumpstarting progress at the Lima talks last week.

*November 20: Issued an executive order protecting millions of undocumented workers from the threat of deportation.

*November 26: Signed off on an important new EPA rule significantly limiting ozone emissions.

*December 15: Took a quiet victory lap as Western financial sanctions considerably sharpened the pain of Vladimir Putin’s imploding economy.

*December 16: Got nearly everything he wanted during the lame duck congressional session, and more. Democrats confirmed all important pending nominees, and then got Republican consent to several dozen lesser ones as well.

*December 17: Announced a historic renormalization of relations with Cuba.

I guess you can add to that a non-event: In its second year, Obamacare signups are going smoothly and ahead of target. Am I missing anything beyond that? Maybe. It’s been quite the whirlwind month for our bored, exhausted, disengaged president, hasn’t it? …Drum,MoJo

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

By The Official White House Photostream (P060809PS-0350) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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FBI Officially Blames North Korea For Sony Hack http://themoderatevoice.com/201232/fbi-officially-blames-north-korea-sony-hack/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201232/fbi-officially-blames-north-korea-sony-hack/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:46:11 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201232 The US Government has officially blamed North Korea for the Sony hack. Hardly a surprise but it is now formally announced. President Obama has said we will “respond” to the incident though it is unclear what that response will be. The incident led to the virtual cancellation of the Sony film “The Interview” and is [...]

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The US Government has officially blamed North Korea for the Sony hack.

Hardly a surprise but it is now formally announced.

President Obama has said we will “respond” to the incident though it is unclear what that response will be.

The incident led to the virtual cancellation of the Sony film “The Interview” and is seen by some as the first major strike in the cyber wars of the future.

It is something that an idiot like Kim Jong Un can impact things in this way.

I prefer the days of his dad…. he’s so lonely.

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Polls Show Public Support for Torture http://themoderatevoice.com/201067/polls-show-public-support-torture/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201067/polls-show-public-support-torture/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:19:25 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201067 Kevin Drum shares a discouraging fact on Mother Jones. This is the most discouraging part of the whole torture debate. It’s one thing to learn that Dick Cheney is every bit the vicious wretch we all thought he was. But time after time since 9/11, polls have shown that the American public is basically on [...]

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Kevin Drum shares a discouraging fact on Mother Jones.

This is the most discouraging part of the whole torture debate. It’s one thing to learn that Dick Cheney is every bit the vicious wretch we all thought he was. But time after time since 9/11, polls have shown that the American public is basically on his side. As a nation, we simply don’t believe that a comprehensive program of state-sanctioned torture is wrong. On the contrary: we think it’s just fine as long as it’s done to other people. If we’re a Christian nation, as we’re so often reminded, we’re still an Old Testament one.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2014/12/polls-show-public-support-for-torture.html

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Reasons Why Torture Does Not Work http://themoderatevoice.com/201228/reasons-torture-not-work/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201228/reasons-torture-not-work/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:27:25 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201228 One major finding of the recent bipartisan Senate report on torture was that torture used in the United States post 9/11 did not produce any useful intelligence. The same lack of efficacy was seen by every other country which tried to use torture, even in cases such as Nazi Germany and North Vietnam, which are [...]

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One major finding of the recent bipartisan Senate report on torture was that torture used in the United States post 9/11 did not produce any useful intelligence. The same lack of efficacy was seen by every other country which tried to use torture, even in cases such as Nazi Germany and North Vietnam, which are often claimed by supports of the use of torture as examples of torture working. The only examples of torture working come from watching Jack Bauer on 24 or from watching Fox “News”–both of which are fictional sources.

Ryan Cooper has a good summary of the reasons torture does not work, and never has, at The Week. He began:

In the wake of the Senate report cataloging a whole lot of torture committed by the CIA, Dick Cheney has been reduced to arguing that torturing people — even innocent ones — is worth doing if you eventually get good results. The ends justify the means.

I can see why he makes this argument — he’s simply got no other option. It is now obvious that what the CIA did was illegal, brutal torture. Claims that it kept the nation safe are all that Cheney has left.

But Cheney is wrong: torture doesn’t work and never has.

I have referenced the work Torture and Democracy, by Darius Rejali of Reed College, many times in the past. It is widely agreed to be a benchmark work on torture — perhaps the most thorough investigation and analysis of the subject available. Here’s what Rejali says, to put this question to rest for all time.

Over 12 years of research, Rejali examined the use of torture in the U.S., Great Britain, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, South Vietnam, and Korea. He looked at torture inflicted during the French-Algerian War, as well as at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay. His research found that there is no record of any successful use of torture to gather intelligence, not even in totalitarian states.

The full article is worth reading as it contains many of the usual reasons discussed, such as the livelihood of receiving false information, along with reasons based upon the nature of pain:

Causing someone pain is not like turning a dial on a stove. Greater damage to the body often translates as less pain, since the body, in shock, shuts down the pain system (as victims of car accidents or shootings can often attest). Going too far, too fast with torture can simply desensitize people or cause them to black out. Furthermore, different people have different thresholds for pain, and they use certain types of pain to mask other ones. As a result, even with technological assistance, it is simply impossible to torture in any scientific, reproducible way.

Torturers understand this, and so are drawn to two blunt techniques: 1) apply maximum allowable pain, so as to push past all limits and 2) vary the torture methods widely to exploit as many phobias and specific weaknesses as possible. One perverse result of this is that there will be constant pressure to ignore limits set by the law in favor of a maximum diversity of pain.

Cooper also discussed additional problems with torture such as that  “torture badly corrodes organizations that practice it”, ” torture directly undermines traditional intelligence-gathering” and that “what little information is produced under torture is extremely unreliable.”

Detainees with a score to settle may falsely rat out old enemies, hoping they will be tortured instead. Detainees with no information will sometimes try to appease their torturers with lies, making interrogators waste time and effort chasing false leads. The CIA did just this, in fact. The Senate report documents at least one instance in which the CIA tortured a detainee, who gave them bad information, which led to more innocent people being detained.

Even when prisoners say true things, the interrogators very often do not believe them. This happened to John McCain when he was tortured in North Vietnam. Formal studies show that torturers cannot reliably distinguish truth from falsehood.

He also addressed the “ticking time bomb” scenarios often raised by supporters of torture:

That brings us to the ticking time bomb thought experiment, where someone is known to have information about an imminent attack but will not talk. This is the centerpiece of the pro-torture case. Setting aside the fact that this sort of situation is extraordinarily rare, there is no reason to think time-limited, high-pressure torture would be any more successful than in other circumstances. On the contrary, all the problems with torture identified above are made worse by a time constraint: the techniques are limited, as slow ones must be ruled out; pain must be applied more quickly, thus increasing the risk of blackouts, desensitization, or memory damage; and time wasted chasing false leads becomes an even greater loss.

As with so many Republican views, the facts do not support their policies, but this does not affect their views because they choose their positions based upon ideological and philosophical reasons, and then try to twist the facts to support their views. Their support for torture, despite all the evidence that it does not work, certainly does say something about their character.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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A win for the Cuban People http://themoderatevoice.com/201222/win-cuban-people/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201222/win-cuban-people/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:26:13 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201222 WASHINGTON — President Obama’s historic opening to Cuba is long overdue — and has a chance of hastening the Castro dictatorship’s demise. Critics of the accord should explain why they believe a policy that has failed miserably for half a century could ever work. What is it about Cuba that makes reasonable people take leave [...]

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WASHINGTON — President Obama’s historic opening to Cuba is long overdue — and has a chance of hastening the Castro dictatorship’s demise. Critics of the accord should explain why they believe a policy that has failed miserably for half a century could ever work.

What is it about Cuba that makes reasonable people take leave of their senses? The United States maintained full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, hardly a couple of peaceniks, opened the door to China. History argues powerfully for engagement as the best way to deal with repressive, adversarial regimes. Yet hard-liners insist Cuba must be treated differently.

Visiting the island might change some minds. I went to Cuba 10 times between 2000 and 2004 while researching a book, “Last Dance in Havana.” Each trip gave me more regard for the Cuban people — and less for the Castro regime.

The Cubans I met were energetic, ambitious, well-educated — and thoroughly stifled by a gerontocratic government that ruled through a combination of calibrated repression, impenetrable bureaucracy and tropical whimsy. What was permissible today might be outlawed tomorrow. I remember once reading a decree listing hundreds of occupations that citizens had briefly been permitted to practice as entrepreneurs — working for themselves, not the state — but that were again being put off-limits. Among them was “birthday party clown.”

Cuba is much poorer than it should be, given its abundant human capital. This is almost entirely due to abysmal economic theory and management; communism, as the rest of the world has realized, is no way to create wealth. But antagonistic U.S. policy has provided the Castro brothers with a convenient scapegoat — and a rationale for repression.

One afternoon, back when Fidel Castro was still large and in charge, I heard The Bearded One speak to a Havana auditorium filled with young athletes. Amid what was basically an extemporaneous paean to patriotism and physical fitness, he worked in boilerplate references to the bloqueo, or blockade — the U.S. trade embargo — and the relentless “aggression” of the hegemonic great power to the north.

For more than 50 years, the Castro government has told Cubans that such luxuries as freedom of expression and assembly unfortunately cannot be granted because of the constant threat from the United States, which sought to destroy the Cuban revolution and erase its accomplishments in areas such as education, medicine and sports.

I’ve met few Cubans who swallowed this line uncritically. But I’ve met many, including bitter critics of the regime, who believed U.S. policy was counterproductive if only because it gave the Castros a nominal reason for clinging to power.

If he follows through on Wednesday’s agreement to establish full diplomatic relations, President Raul Castro will essentially be abandoning this time-tested line of argument. Which suggests he must be pretty desperate.

Indeed, the Cuban economy is so moribund that the government has been forced to permit a once-unthinkable expansion of the private-sector economy. Cubans can now legally buy and sell property, and entrepreneurship — while still limited — is encouraged. The reforms may be tentative and half-baked but they reflect a grudging acknowledgement that socialist principles won’t put food on the table.

This desperation is why Obama won a deal so lopsided in favor of the United States. He released three Cuban spies who have already served long terms in prison. In return, Cuba released Alan Gross — who never should have been arrested or imprisoned in the first place — and Rolando Sarraf Trujillo who spied for the United States inside Cuba, plus a reported 53 political prisoners who have been languishing in Cuban jails.

Establishing full diplomatic relations should be seen as a U.S. gain, not a giveaway. As we have learned from experience with the rest of the erstwhile communist world, anything that gives Cubans more exposure to American values and ideals is for the good. Vocal opponents of the Castro regime should be pressing Congress to completely lift the travel ban and the trade embargo. Fill Havana’s hotels with sales reps and property developers; flood Varadero’s beaches with sun-seeking U.S. tourists.

None of this is a “lifeline” to the Cuban Communist Party, which is no more likely to be overthrown anytime soon than the Chinese version. The agreement should properly be seen as leverage that can, and I believe will, move the Cuban regime toward deeper and more meaningful reforms. History will record this as a very bad week for the Castro brothers and a very good week for the Cuban people.

Eugene Robinson’s email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com. (c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group

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Who’ll stand up to the hackers? Weak-kneed Sony wrong to cancel release of The Interview http://themoderatevoice.com/201224/wholl-stand-hackers-weak-kneed-sony-wrong-cancel-release-interview/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201224/wholl-stand-hackers-weak-kneed-sony-wrong-cancel-release-interview/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:13:15 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201224 It took 50 years for the U.S. government to normalize relations with Cuba’s Communist government. The corporate world moves much faster, as demonstrated Wednesday when Sony and the Canadian movie chain Cineplex joined other big business champions around the world in “normalizing” relations with North Korea. In North Korea, the normal Communist way of achieving [...]

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It took 50 years for the U.S. government to normalize relations with Cuba’s Communist government. The corporate world moves much faster, as demonstrated Wednesday when Sony and the Canadian movie chain Cineplex joined other big business champions around the world in “normalizing” relations with North Korea. In North Korea, the normal Communist way of achieving objectives…

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Cartoon: Cuba Policy http://themoderatevoice.com/201218/201218/ http://themoderatevoice.com/201218/201218/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:57:36 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=201218 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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