Archive for category National Politics
Ben Carson is one of the Tea-GOPers thinking about possibly wanting to be the Commander in Chief of our military. Let’s hope nobody else shares his views about war crimes.
Hashtag Presidents’ Day?
Source: The Daily Mirror
The Constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.
President Obama asked Congress on Wednesday for new war powers to go after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The draft resolution (PDF) asks Congress to enact a three-year Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS. The resolution notably restricts the use of American ground troops and seeks to avoid a prolonged conflict.
Obama announced his plan to launch airstrikes against ISIS back in September, and the White House’s AUMF resolution seeks to formalize the U.S. military campaign to “degrade and defeat” ISIS.
The draft AUMF has already been criticized as imprecise. For example, it defines the enemy as “ISIL [sic] or associated persons or forces.” But that would include the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels (armed by the U.S.), who routinely fight alongside ISIS. Like the 2001 AUMF (which would remain in effect), there is no geographical limitation in the new draft AUMF. Potentially it could authorize attacking Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Asked today if he agreed that language was “fuzzy,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied with a firm yes, saying it is “intentionally” fuzzy “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander-in-chief.”
I left the Army with the rank of captain, but it doesn’t take a four-star general to realize you can’t fight a war intelligently unless you know who the enemy is, and where to find them. Oh, and by the way this draft AUMF is probably a violation of the U.N. Charter – though that’s somewhat debatable.
“The devastating and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that when we give military authority to the executive, it should not be a blank check,” Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said.
“Unfortunately, the authorization proposed by the president this week is too broad. In order to ensure meaningful limits on executive branch authority, an AUMF should at a minimum contain a clear objective and geographical limitations. It should also include an enforceable ban on the deployment of ground troops with exception for only the most limited of operations, unambiguous language, and a repeal of the 2001 AUMF,” they said.
Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
Via CREDO Action:
The way the law works now, presidents can use the Antiquities Act to quickly set aside public lands for protection and conservation through national monument proclamations, instead of going through the difficult congressional process of designating a national park. In fact, it’s often the first step to creating a national park – the Grand Canyon was first proclaimed a monument under the Antiquities Act by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The power to proclaim national monuments is a presidential privilege that has literally shaped America’s landscape and its history, but Republicans in Congress now think it’s time to end all of that. Last month, Representative Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill that would strip the president of this authority. H.R.4988 (the MAST Act) would overhaul the Antiquities Act, making it nearly impossible for presidents to declare new national monuments. It’s a cynical attempt to forever block the president’s ability to protect our public lands from corporate drilling and mining.
Stop the MAST Act, it could be a big win for the Tea-GOP right-wing agenda. We can’t allow that to happen. Click the link below to sign the petition:
Stop Republicans from blocking new national parks.
The Highs and Lows of the Antiquities Act
Via Firedoglake (why does cable news ignore this?)
The United States government has been given a week to appeal or comply with a federal judge’s order to provide a justification for why approximately 2,100 photographs of torture and abuse of prisoners must remain secret.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein pointed out that the Protected National Security Documents Act of 2009 clearly says the Secretary of Defense must issue a certification for a photograph in order to keep it secret. It does not refer to photographs collectively. So, a process that attempts to justify blanket certification for secrecy is not in line with the law.
Journalist Jason Leopold reported last year that documents from the Defense Department show the photos come from “203 closed criminal investigations into detainee abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Leopold’s report suggested the soldiers had wanted to hold on to these photos as “mementos.”
The government is “required to disclose each and all the photographs responsive” to the Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),” according to the order by Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the US District Court of the Southern District of New York.
Hellerstein found that the government still had failed to justify keeping each individual photograph secret. However, the judge stayed the order for 60 days so the Solicitor General could determine whether to file an appeal.
Republicans in Congress want to work with the Obama administration to fast-track the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is the largest—and worst—trade deal you’ve never heard of, having been devised in secret by representatives of some of the world’s largest corporations.
It’s so big and has the potential to do so much damage, it’s been likened to “NAFTA on steroids.”
Once you’ve watched the video, please join the growing chorus of Americans who are saying no to fast track and the TPP by adding your name to this petition from Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America.
Media Matters: Trans-Pacific Partnership Barely Noticed By Weeknight News Over The Past 18 Months
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
Internet users haven’t won yet. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated that he plans to reclassify consumer broadband Internet as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. However, this by itself does not guarantee the preservation of net neutrality.
[A]dvocates say that Title II authority won’t mean much unless the FCC creates enforceable rules and doesn’t allow loopholes.
“Right now, the big carriers are simply looking for a loophole,” said Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who advises major tech companies and supports net neutrality. He noted that there are multiple loopholes — like writing exceptions for mobile or specialized services — that could undermine the whole FCC rule. “They only need one,” he said.
…”Title II is necessary but not sufficient,” said Evan Engstrom, policy director at Engine, which advocates for startups. “We hope the FCC gets it right right away and comes out with a proposal that includes bright-line rules.”
Meanwhile, Tea-GOP members of Congress have introduced legislation to take away the FCC’s authority to save net neutrality.
In a Wired op-ed, Wheeler said he is proposing the FCC use its authority under Title II of the Communications Act to protect consumer broadband Internet. This move will allow the FCC to stop Internet service providers from charging content providers like Netflix more money for reliable Internet access.
“Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC,” he wrote.
Think Progress: Conservatives Do Their Best To Bash Net Neutrality
The future of Utah public lands?
Speaking Thursday at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, former Arizona Governor and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt slammed Utah’s illegal and unconstitutional attempt to steal 31 million acres of our public lands. The federal government ignored Governor Herbert’s December 31 deadline to close down land management agency offices and turn over control to the state.
“Our public land heritage really is under attack,” said Babbitt, speaking at a Conservation Alliance event. “We’ve really got a crowd of uninformed, misguided politicians who are attempting to dismantle or abolish public lands and the agencies that administer them.”
“The sponsors of this are fronting for the oil and gas, coal and tar sands industry,” he said…
“Public lands belong to all Americans,” he added. “They are used for energy production right now in a careful, responsible way. But for whatever reason, Utah politicians are saying we have to do it faster and do more, cast off environmental regulations and put all our heritage at risk.”
…Babbitt cautioned Westerners Thursday against dismissing today’s land transfer movement as just another retread of past Sagebrush Rebellions.
“This is different,” Babbitt said. “The money is coming nationally, from the fossil fuel industry, and married to the ideology that is being pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council and others, who are wrapping this into broad-scale attack against the federal government.”
The Utah legislature has appropriated $2 million of OUR money to sue the federal government in support of their insane ALEC-inspired raid on our national forests, national wildlife refuges, and BLM public lands.
Utah is lone cowboy trying to wrangle public lands
Despite numerous invitations from Utah lawmakers, no other states have signed on.
Via Media Matters:
Senator Ernst’s response to the President Obama’s State of the Union address focused on the Tea-GOP position that Congress should refuse to “pay for more government spending” and ought to “cut wasteful spending.”
Ernst’s Family Farm Benefited From Substantial Farm Subsidies. Ernst’s family farm in Red Oak, Iowa received over $460,000 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2006. Family members received conservation payments, commodity subsidies, and agricultural aid. [The District Sentinel, 1/12/15]
Federal farm subsidies amount to some $30 billion annually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends about $14 billion a year on crop insurance alone. Unlike direct farm aid payments, which are capped at $40,000 per farm, there is no limit on crop insurance subsidies. The names of those receiving payouts from the program are kept secret – but it’s a safe bet that nearly all of them are millionaires or corporations. Some recipients of farm subsidies are members of Congress and their families, including Tea-GOPers who voted to cut food stamps.
In 2011, the median income of commercial farm households — those deriving more than half their income from farming — was $84,649, almost 70 percent higher than that of the typical American household. Farm equity ended 2012 at $2.5 trillion, up 37 percent since the start of the recession in December 2007 — compared with a less than 1 percent gain in net worth for all U.S. households over the same period.
Time series of five-year global temperature averages, mapped from 1880 to 2014, as estimated by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.
The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
In an independent analysis of the raw data, also released Friday, NOAA scientists also found 2014 to be the warmest on record.
While scientists expect temperatures to fluctuate from year to year, the average temperature of the planet as a whole has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since 1880. This trend is largely driven by increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.