Archive for the ‘America’ Tag

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FAREED ZAKARIA, (CNN) The midterm election results were just one more reflection of the pervasive discontent in the United States these days. Two-thirds of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, and yet if one looks at the rest of the world, what’s striking is how well the United States is doing relative to other major economies.

President Obama says the United States has produced more jobs in its recovery than the rest of the industrialized world put together. Why is this? Many believe the American economy has some inherent advantages over its major competitors, a more flexible structure, stronger entrepreneurial traditions, a more demographically dynamic society.

Well, along comes a fascinating new book that says you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Peter Zeihan’s “The Accidental Super Power” begins with geography, pointing out that America is the world’s largest consumer market for a reason — rivers. Transporting goods by water, he points out, is 12 times cheaper than by land which is why civilizations have always flourished around rivers.

And America, Zeihan calculates, has more navigable waterways, 17,600 miles worth, than the rest of the world put together. By comparison, he notes, China and Germany have about 2,000 miles each, and all of the Arab world has just 120 miles of river.

But that’s just the beginning. The world’s greatest river network directly overlies the world’s largest piece of Arable land, the American Midwest, he writes. Add to this America’s many and unequal deep water ports which you need in order to get goods to and from the rest of the world. Chesapeake Bay alone boasts longer stretches of prime port property than the entire continental coast of Asia from Vladivostok to Lahore, writes Zeihan.

All of these factors combined have created the world’s largest consumer market, surplus savings and a dynamic unified economy. It’s also remarkably self-sufficient. Imports made up 17 percent of the American economy in 2012 according to the World Bank. Compare that to Germany’s 46 percent or China’s 25 percent. And this number in the U.S. will fall as America imports less and less foreign oil.

Zeihan emphasizes the degree to which America’s energy revolution has insulated it from the rest of the world. Thanks to efforts to extract shale, North America has much of the energy it needs at home. As the world gets messier, he argues, there are fewer and fewer compelling reasons for America to pay blood and treasure to stabilize it.

I’m not as sure as Zeihan that America’s advantages are simply structural. If one looks at the last five years, again in comparative terms, American public policy actually comes out looking impressive. To combat the global economic crisis of 2008, Washington acted speedily and creatively on three fronts, aggressive monetary policy, fiscal policy, and reform and recapitalization of the banking sector.

Every other rich country did less and has seen a more troubled return to normalcy.

Now since the response to the crisis, Washington has been paralyzed and polarized, but this is not the entirety of American politics. Beyond the beltway, mayors and governors are reaching across party lines partnering with the private sector and making reforms and investments for future growth.

When Tocqueville wrote about America in the 1830s he was struck by the bottom up vitality of its towns and villages. So as we approach Thanksgiving, let’s bear in mind that the genius of America is still alive, whatever most Americans might think.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1411/23/fzgps.01.html

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Stephen Colbert “Now folks, it might seem like the American people want Republicans to get something done, but don’t you fall for it.  And, that’s not just Akbar talking, that’s advice from Jabba the Rush.”

Rush Limbaugh 11-5-14 “It’s the biggest and perhaps most important mandate a political party has had in the recent era and it is very simple what that mandate is.  It is to stop Barack Obama.  Republicans were not elected to govern.”

Colbert “Thank you.  Republicans were not elected to govern.  Their one job is to stop Obama.  But folks, there’s an even more urgent reason to do nothing.  According to a new editorial by the National Review called The Governing Trap, ‘if voters come to believe that a Republican Congress and a Democratic President are doing a fine job of governing together, why wouldn’t they vote to continue the arrangement in 2016?’.  Yes, they you will be trapped together for another four years doing a competent job of governing.  Who wants that? (everyone but cable news)  The point is, anything the Republicans accomplish at all no matter how insignificant, could lead to President Hillary Clinton.  Besides, nobody likes people who actually govern.  I mean look at Obama.  He turned the economy around and gave millions of people health care.  What an asshole.  And, as the National Review points out, not only would governing be too effective, it would also be completely ineffective because ‘If Republicans proclaim that they have to govern now that they run Congress, they maximize the incentive for the Democrats to filibuster everything they can.’. Yes, and filibustering everything you can is cowardly (as of last Tuesday).  And, what is worse folks, ‘A prove-you-can-govern strategy will inevitably divide the party on the same tea party-vs-establishment lines that Republicans have just succeeded in overcoming’.  That’s right.  If Republicans do anything it will start the infighting.  Think about it.  The Beatles never would have broken up if they never released any records.  Instead of making the mistake of doing things now The National Review says the GOP should focus on the future by ‘building the case for Republican governance after 2016’, and explaining ‘what the Republicans would do if they had the White House’.  Yes, it’s time to show the American people that Republicans are capable of bold, decisive action, sometime later.  Then, Republicans will be able to take back the White House, and when they finally have control of the Presidency, and both houses of Congress, at last it will be time to govern, is what they want you to think.  But, that’s just another trap.  Because, the GOP can’t act until they’ve secured an all Republican Supreme Court, 50 Republican Governors, 50 Republican state legislatures, and an all Republican prom committee.  And, even then even when there are no Democrats left anywhere, they still should not govern because then another Republican could run against them in the primary and they’d be wide open to attack on their voting record if they have one.  Of course, refusing to govern at all might eventually become hard to sell to the American people, so they might have to wait until there isn’t an America anymore.  And, if they refuse the responsibility to govern, well, that will be right around the corner.”

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/full-episodes/jhvbbh/november-10–2014—andy-cohen

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Bill Maher “New rule, when it comes to being baited into going to war, America has to try a little harder to not be so bleeping easy!  Just a few months ago, polls showed Americans were sick of war.  They’d had enough.  They were anxious to stay out of the Middle-East.  Then they saw two beheadings and overnight they were like, oh war, we can’t stay mad at you.  You know, conservatives love to vilify anyone who doesn’t want to immediately throw down as appeasers, but when you’re dealing with terrorists who’s aim is to bait us into overreaction, and you oblige them, aren’t you the appeaser?”

 

 

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As anger erupted again on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a human rights team from Amnesty International worked on the ground in the US for the first time ever.

Confrontation flared up after an autopsy found that Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was fatally shot by an officer on 9 August, had suffered at six bullet wounds including one in the top of his head.

Eye-witnesses report seeing police, with no visible ID badges, hurling tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and threatening members of the press in another night of demonstrations.

Amnesty International, said it would be observing police and protester activity and gathering testimonies as well as training local activists “on methods of non-violent protest” in an “unprecedented” move by the campaigners.

Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director, Steven W Hawkins said that the “people of Ferguson have the right to protest peacefully the lack of accountability for Michael Brown’s shooting”.

Jasmine Heiss, one of the 13-strong team sent by Amnesty, told Buzzfeed that the limits placed on the organisation’s access to post-curfew areas was indicative of “the overall lack of transparency in this investigation”.

“Law enforcement, from the FBI to state and local police, are obligated to respect and uphold the human rights of our communities,” Mr Hawkins said in a statement on 14 August.

“The US cannot continue to allow those obligated and duty-bound to protect to become those who their community fears most,” said Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W. Hawkins.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/michael-brown-shooting-amnesty-international-sends-team-within-us-for-first-time-as-national-guard-deployed-9675149.html

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. Let me read you something from a well-known analyst of American foreign policy. He wrote, “Because of unsure and indecisive leadership in the field of foreign policy, questions have been raised on all sides.” The right added that the administration is, “plagued by a Hamlet-like psychosis which seems to paralyze it every time decisive action is required.”

Is this one of the many recent critiques of Barack Obama’s foreign policy? Actually, it is Richard Nixon writing about President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

Criticizing presidents for weakness is a standard trope in Washington because the world is a messy place, and when bad things happen, Washington and the president can easily be blamed for them. But to determine what America and Obama should be doing, let’s first try to understand the nature of the world and the dangers within it. From 1947 until 1990, the United States faced a mortal threat, an enemy that was strategic, political, military and ideological. Washington had to keep together an alliance that faced up to the foe and persuade countries in the middle not to give in. This meant that concerns about resolve and credibility were paramount. But the world today looks very different, far more peaceful and stable than at any point in several centuries.

The United States faces no enemy anywhere on the scale of Soviet Russia. America’s military spending is about that of the next 14 countries combined, most of which are treaty allies of Washington.

The countries that have been aggressive or acted as Washington’s adversaries are facing a tough environment. Look at Russia, China and Iran. In this context, what is needed from Washington is not another heroic exertion of American military power but rather a sustained effort to engage with allies, isolate enemies, support free markets and Democratic values and push these positive trends forward.

The Obama administration is, in fact, deeply internationalist, building on alliances in Europe and Asia, working with institutions like the IMF and U.N., isolating adversaries and strengthening the international order that has proved so beneficial to the United States and the world since 1945.

All the while it has fought al Qaeda and its allies ferociously. But the administration has been disciplined about the use of force and understandably so. An America that exaggerates threats, overreacts to problems and intervenes unilaterally would produce the very damage to its credibility that people are worried about.

After all, just six years ago, America’s closest allies were distancing themselves from Washington because it was seen as aggressive, expansionist and militaristic.

Obama is battling a knee-jerk sentiment in Washington that the only kind of international leadership that means anything is the use of military force.

“Just because we have the best hammer does not mean every problem is a nail,” he said in his speech at West Point. A similar sentiment was expressed in the farewell address of President Eisenhower, a strong leader who refused to intervene in the Suez crisis, the French collapse in Vietnam, two Taiwan Straits confrontations and the Hungarian uprising of 1956.

At the time many critics blasted the president for his passivity and wished that he would be more interventionist. A Democratic Advisory Council headed by Dean Acheson called Eisenhower’s foreign policy, quote, “weak, vacillating and tardy.” But Eisenhower kept his powder dry, confident that force was not the only way to show strength. He told his speechwriter, I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion and conciliation and education and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know or believe in or will practice.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1406/01/fzgps.01.html

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The conservative attorney and birther who called for a coup against President Barack Obama earlier this month has scheduled what he’s describing as a “day of reckoning.”

Larry Klayman wrote Monday in Renew America that he’s established Nov. 19 as the date that Obama will be forced to answer for his “criminality” and “Muslim, socialist, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-white, pro-illegal immigrant, pro-radical gay and lesbian agenda.”

Klayman said he hopes his supporters will “descend on Washington, D.C., en masse, and demand that [Obama] leave town and resign from office if he does not want to face prison time.”

As he did earlier this month when he first floated his coup proposal, Klayman invoked the example of Egyptians toppling President Mohammed Morsi.

“We must act now. Our Founding Fathers pledged their sacred honor, fortunes, and lives to form a new nation under God. They knew that the odds of defeating the British were not great, save for His Divine grace and intervention. Now, 237 years after they signed the Declaration of Independence in my native city of Philadelphia, the nation has come full circle to the tyranny that has been imposed by a new despot, one far more evil than King George III. King George III may have been a greedy “control freak,” but at least he was a Christian. The United States is being run by a Muslim bent on furthering an Islamic caliphate who seeks to destroy our spirituality and the body politic of our Judeo-Christian roots.

Life is not easy. It requires risk and sacrifice. If as a nation we want to restore our freedom, and we are on the verge of being enslaved under Obama’s socialist Muslim inclinations, we must take our fight to a new level. Tea partiers, bikers, construction workers, police officers, school teachers, farmers, truckers, clergy, housewives, husbands, students, doctors, lawyers and all elements of our society who see our nation slipping away into the abyss, must now stand tall and descend on the capital, much like the Egyptians recently did in ousting another radical Muslim, their then president Mohammed Morsi. If the Egyptians can seek to rid their country of the poison of the Muslim Brotherhood without any real history of democracy, then we Americans, who know what democracy is and have practiced it prior to the ascension of the great usurper, can and must succeed.”

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/conservative-attorney-larry-klayman-sets-date-for-coup-against-obama

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Jay Leno “Secretary of State John Kerry said that Arab countries have offered to pay the entire cost of unseating Syria’s president, if we take the lead militarily. They will pay for the whole thing. See, this is how global politics works. We invade Syria, to get money from Saudi Arabia, that they got from us, from putting their oil in our Japanese cars, so we can pay back China all the money we owe them.”

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Sandra Day O’Connor “The more I read and the more I listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance….Less than 1/3 of eighth graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and it’s right there in the name.”

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3036697/#52967458

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Matt Taibbi “This “let’s blow up the American credit rating” ploy impressed hardcore anti-spending types in the same way. It was crazy, but maybe only slightly more crazy than both of the parties have consistently been for most of the last 20 years, when the two sides have continually failed to hammer out workable budgets and instead have mostly just let the national airplane fly mindlessly forward using the laziness-enabling autopilot mechanism of a continuing resolutions, or CRs. Despite the fact that working out budgets is mostly what we hire members of Congress to do, they seem to have a terrible time doing it on time, and instead routinely rely upon the CR process (in which the two sides basically agree to put things off until later) to keep funding levels static for some ludicrously short-term period like six months.

The failure to work out sensible budgets makes it impossible for government agencies to make long-term plans, and instead leaves them scrambling to spend money in the short term. It’s an incredibly stupid way of doing business and if these people weren’t on television so often, ranting and raving like baseball managers arguing a safe call at the plate and playing to the home crowd by pointing fingers at the other side, they would probably just do what members of Congress traditionally did in the pre-mass-media age, which is quietly and (mostly) sensibly work things out, getting as much as they could for their own constituents without crossing the line into antipatriotic acts of self-destruction – like a national default, for instance.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/sequestration-cuts-crisis-makes-me-want-to-strangle-both-sides-20130226#ixzz2MIN3gZ00

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From the Feb. 21, 2013, edition of “Viewpoint.”

John Fugelsang:

I was watching Fox News yesterday, because I’m a thinker. And I happened to be watching Megyn Kelly when I heard some alarming news about the folks at Al Jazeera America — the people who just bought this channel.

[From Fox]: “There’s a real anti-American bias there and yet they’re about to infiltrate America. … They’re expanding to eight cities, one of them being Detroit, Mich. Detroit, Mich., is a large ex-pat community of Muslim Americans where sleeper cells have been detected.”

Ah, Megyn Kelly. How can someone so smart and so pretty have a show that’s so stupid and so ugly.

But if this little bit of TV gold illustrates something, it’s why Fox News is truly a mecca for people who hate Mecca.

So let’s get a few things straight. First, Ms. Daftari, right there, the correspondent, complained that Qatari petro-dollars are funding this here network. Well, I gotta say I love it when the people who brought us George W. Bush warn us of the evils of oil money. So I could tell you about all the petro-chemical dollars Fox News boss Rupert Murdoch makes from his many investments, but I don’t want to upset him because I don’t feel like getting my phone hacked.

So I’ll just mention a name you don’t hear too often on Fox, that of Saudi Arabian Prince Walid bin Talal. He is the second-largest shareholder in News Corp. — the number two guy at Fox News — and where do you think he got his money?

And it’s true, as contributor Lisa Daftari just pointed out, that there are many Muslims in the state of Michigan. They’re not sleeper cells. They’re hardworking people who came to America to escape oppression and seek a better life — even if that life includes being slapped in the face by ignorant race-baiting McCarthyite neo-cons like Ms. Daftari on Fox News.

So now, let us move, if you will, on to Al Jazeera America. The parent company is headquartered in Doha, Qatar, or Qatar, depending on how ignorant you are.

John Fugelsang: What do you call it, Dean?

Dean Obeidallah: Either way I’ve heard it.

John Fugelsang: It’s good to have a Muslim friend around.

Now, Fox News viewers may be shocked to learn this, but Qatar is in fact an important American ally. During the beginning of the so-called War on Terror they offered the U.S. and its allies use of their air base, and America currently has three bases there. President George Bush visited Qatar in 2003 — or, if you’re Megyn Kelly, infiltrated it.

And you know who else has infiltrated Qatar? Texas A&M University. They’ve got a campus there, just like Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown and Northwestern. Thus combining two things Fox News hates — Muslims and education.

Now, my experience with Al Jazeera America so far has been very limited. The ones I’ve met have been extremely nice people and I say same pretty edgy things on this show and no one from Al Jazeera America has ever tried to curtail my First Amendment rights. So while John Boehner and congressional Republicans try to obstruct any economic progress because they’re afraid it might make Barack Obama look good, Al Jazeera America is doing something the GOP seemingly can’t do — they’re creating lots and lots of jobs. For Americans.

They’re not here to push an anti-American bias, they’re here because they want to do news. And I’m not a journalist — although I play one on TV — but they do news very well. It was a Republican, Colin Powell, who told my former boss Mr. Gore that Al Jazeera was one of the news networks he watched and trusted.

Now. I don’t think the people who run Fox are bigots. They’re business people. Business people who pay on-camera people to smear Muslim people so bigoted viewing people can please the rating people.

Stupid talk for stupid racists by very smart executives. And if that’s the kind of programming Fox wants, I get it. I’m a capitalist. But I have a Muslim cousin, a Jewish sister-in-law, an atheist brother and an ex-nun mother. So I don’t get to hate on anybody.

http://current.com/shows/viewpoint/videos/john-fugelsang-defends-al-jazeera-america-from-fox-news-bigotry/

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John Fugelsang:

Today we got to watch the John Brennan confirmation hearings for CIA director, and I gotta say Mr. Brennan came off as the most thoughtful, soft-spoken, reflective man who could also kill you with his bare hands.

John Brennan was kind of like all the members of the Fantastic Four rolled into one — he looks kind of like “The Thing,” he talks like Reed Richards, he can easily set things on fire halfway across the world and he knows how to make CIA docs invisible.

Now, I know that the media’s been trumpeting that drone bombings enjoy widespread support. But so does Honey Boo Boo, and that doesn’t make it right.

Of course, drone warfare is preferable to putting U.S. troops in harm’s way. And it’s the future of warfare, whether we like it or not. Personally, I think anybody who wants to send machines into battle for us needs to watch the first three “Terminator” films.

But I was surprised that no one asked Mr. Brennan about how drone bombs don’t just kill America haters — they create new ones.

I was surprised no one asked him why all adult males are considered combatants and that’s how they keep the civilian death casualties numbers so low.

I was surprised no one asked him about the CIA’s new definition of the word “imminent” for all those imminent threats. Turns out, all they have to do is think you might be a threat one day. Nothing like a little pre-emptive Bush/Cheney nostalgia — forgive us our trespasses as we trespass against those we think might one day trespass against us.

But I guess I was most surprised by Mr. Brennan’s unwillingness to say if waterboarding was torture. He said, “I can’t say if it’s torture, I’m not a lawyer.” The only thing we learned for sure today was that John Brennan should’ve coached Chuck Hagel.

Now, to his credit Mr. Brennan was totally against waterboarding — but is OK with killing Americans for stuff they haven’t done yet because they’re an imminent threat that’s not necessarily imminent. That’s a Jersey thing.

A lot of Democrats will be upset by any criticism of President Obama, but I gotta say, some of us criticize him because we care about his legacy, and even the most hardcore down-the-line Obama defender has to acknowledge it’s a bit screwy to have policies in a world like this where he gets to keep the Nobel Peace Prize but Milli Vanilli had to give the Grammy back.

See, what most Americans don’t know — or don’t think about — won’t hurt them. In fact, I’m pretty sure you could open a waterboarding salon for the housewives of Beverly Hills as long as you told them it was good for the pores.

It’s a certainty, my friends, that Mr. Brennan will be confirmed. I hope he will keep America safe, change the policies that keep America hated and prevent people from wanting to kill Americans — because that’s the only way a so-called war on terror will or can ever be won.

http://current.com/shows/viewpoint/videos/john-fugelsang-on-why-john-brennan-is-like-all-the-members-of-the-fantastic-four-rolled-into-one/