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I am 100% in for Bernie Sanders' campaign for the Democratic Party nomination, and for president. For the longest time, Bernie Sanders has represented my viewpoint on policy and my viewpoint on good governance and ethical politics. I am ecstatic that he is running for president.

A wonderful validation of the trust and hope I put in Senator Sanders is the way he's conducted himself since his announcement. Watch the interview with Wolf Blitzer, or read any interview in print done since the announcement. He is actually staying true to his ideals and his character. He is NOT running as the anti-Hillary, although many might want that. Hillary may or may not win, and may or may not be the best representative of the Democratic Party platform. But Bernie Sanders is NOT trying to tear down Hillary Clinton to scrape off a few percentage points. He detests negative ads and negative politics, and he's not doing it.

He is running a positive campaign as an advocate for us. Not as a man trying to claw his way to the top of a political pile, but as a positive advocate.

What he's doing is more transformative and more meaningful, and will have far more impact on the overall debate than some nonsensical celebrity cage match with Hillary Clinton. He is representing the views of millions of working and middle class Americans, and injecting a viable and tested set of policies and viewpoints into the national debate. He is doing so in a purely positive manner, in a way that is not against any one persona but instead for the people he represents.

I understand that many people, dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton as a candidate -- and dissatisfied with the dubious donors behind her, and the half-measure and sometimes retrograde policies and questionable voting history that she embodies -- will be very quick to try to transform their support for Bernie Sanders into an anti-Hillary campaign. This is understandable. But I really think that misses his rationale for running, and misses the real opportunity of his campaign for the nomination. A sensible, grounded, positive voice for the working and middle classes of this country.

I will be voting for a Democrat in November 2016. I will be voting for Bernie Sanders for as long as he's listed on the ballot. I hope others will join this campaign and donate to it to keep their advocate in action.

http://www.berniesanders.com

Discuss

Ummm...

Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels. Though we have often seen the world and some of our challenges quite differently, and advocated different responses now and in the past, what comes through clearly in this new book is a conviction that we, and President Obama, share: a belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.

There really is no viable alternative. No other nation can bring together the necessary coalitions and provide the necessary capabilities to meet today’s complex global threats. But this leadership is not a birthright; it is a responsibility that must be assumed with determination and humility by each generation.

[...]

This isn’t just idealism. For an international order to take hold and last, Kissinger argues, it must relate “power to legitimacy.” To that end, Kissinger, the famous realist, sounds surprisingly idealistic. Even when there are tensions between our values and other objectives, America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the sources of legitimacy, not governments alone. If our might helps secure the balance of power that underpins the international order, our values and principles help make it acceptable and attractive to others.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Well, I know who I won't be supporting in the Democratic primary now! I get that there's some degree of political calculus here -- you've got to get the the "serious thinkers" in the beltway, in the military industry, and in the media to view your foreign policy as "serious". But Kissinger went about American exceptionalism all wrong (it's possible to do it right...attacking ISIS is a good example), and led the United States' foreign policy during an era of coup-making, election-undoing, leader-assassinating madness on the world stage. And he usually failed to boot!

He's not a friend of the United States. He's not a friend of the Democratic Party. He's not a friend of what the future of our country should be.

Stop talking about the value of democracy in one sentence, and lauding Kissinger's commitment to democracy in the next. It shows a lack of understanding of democracy. And to even introduce the word "legitimacy" into the conversation? Good grief!

Best of luck in 2016 if you win the Democratic primary, Mrs Clinton. But I hope you don't, now. No more stupid wars, no more endless undemocratic wars to send "freedom" to people who choose a different path.

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http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/...

http://www.bbc.com/...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

http://www.newyorker.com/...

The USA should hit ISIS hard, now. It shouldn't wait for American troops in Irbil to be threatened.

Literal genocide is on the horizon according to ISIS' own statements, and horrific crimes supported and defended by no nation state on Earth have already taken place and ISIS has not denied them, but instead bragged about them through video evidence and proclamations. This is not "Saddam gassed his own people". This is "we, ISIS, proclaim we are going to kill a lot of people unless..."

Every country on Earth is aghast at the actions of ISIS, at this point. The United States is in a position many of those countries are not in -- for reasons of military strength and history (as terrible as that history is) -- to act militarily in Iraq's territory.

This is a chance to act, in a real and justifiable way, on the side of righteousness and democracy, and in a case where the world could be brought together instead of divided by American military action. This is one of the rare instances where pacifism fails because pacifism has no role in the goals of ISIS and there isn't a realpolitik conflict resolvable through shared interests of nation-states, only unchecked and open-faced horror.

I hope President Obama immediately reconsiders his tepid red line of an attack on Irbil, and uses our military to target and destroy ISIS before they fulfill their stated goal in Iraq, or are dispersed to fulfill those goals elsewhere. I hope he brings other countries of a diverse and potentially non-allied nature on board with any military action.

This isn't Iraq War III. This would be preventing another history-haunting instance of the United States not doing something the world actually wanted it to do. It would be a missed opportunity to save innocent lives and unify the world, if briefly.

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I don't see an asterisk anywhere!
I'd love to write more, but good writing is about necessity, and there's little more to say to make the point.
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Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 06:32 PM PDT

Ukraine: Open Thread

by Addison

I guess it just seems odd to me that we have dozens of open threads handed off, one person to another, when a natural disaster strikes or when Syria threatens to boil over. But in this instance -- in what is widely considered the most serious "Cold War" resurgence in nearly 25 years -- it's a haphazard war of competing diaries. A little weird, right?

So, this is an experiment in a foreign policy "crisis" open thread.

If you have an opinion or viewpoint to share on the subject, go ahead. If not, don't. If this is superfluous and not at all in-demand by the community, it will disappear away quickly enough. But putting an "open thread" style venue out there seems like it might be useful, given the highly divergent opinions on the subject.

[Edit: I want to be clear I have an opinion on this stuff! I don't want to have that hidden at all, and I'll express my opinion in the comments. But it's also worth having a neutral starting-off point. And I hope that a diary such as this -- or another when the time is right -- can provide that]

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Short diary, should perhaps be a comment (most of it was a comment!), but whatever...I have a quick point/clarification to make -- one seemingly lacking for the current conversation -- that I think most people agree with!

I just want to say that the filibuster as it existed was not actually undemocratic. It sort of flew in the face of "majority rule", but in the end it was really just a Senate rule. And I generally liked it in practice, even though it allowed (let's say) 48 Senators to undo the will of 52 on certain topics.

But when it's (a) abused to the extent that one 5-year period can see as many filibuster uses as the previous few decades and (b) tied to issues totally separate from the nomination and approval process -- it's time for that rule to go.

The rule was in place to protect the rights of the Congressional minority in appointments. It did that for decades, and that's a good thing.

Then this new crop of legislators came in and used it, baldly and without disguise, as a substitute for being able to legislate competently.

If the current Congress would learn how to actually pass laws in the United States, I'll be more than happy to go back to the old filibuster rule.

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(This is a repost of a diary I wrote in April 2012, and then reposted in December 2012. It's sadly still relevant (again),  even though Social Security shouldn't be a part of the fiscal/budget negotiations at all, since the program has nothing to do with annual budget deficits nor the national debt...IT'S A TIMELESS TOPIC, APPARENTLY)

We can fund Social Security, truly strengthen it; the solution is well-known and fleshed out.

We don't need to cut benefits for anyone.

We don't need to cap benefits for anyone.

From "Social Security: Raising or Eliminating the Taxable Earnings Base", a report issued by the Congressional Research Service:

Option 2: Cover All Earnings and Pay Higher Benefits

If the earnings base was completely eliminated for both employers and employees so that all earnings were taxed, 95% of the projected financial shortfall in the Social Security program would be eliminated. To achieve solvency for the full 75-year projection period under this option, the total payroll tax rate would have to be raised by an additional 0.1 percentage points (from 12.4% to 12.5%) or other policy changes would have to be made to cover the shortfall.

Under this scenario high earners would pay higher taxes but also receive higher benefits. However, the net benefit to the Trust Funds is positive as $5 in additional revenue would provide only $1 in additional benefits (on average over their 75-year valuation period). Annual Social Security benefit payments would be much higher than today’s maximum of $25,440. A worker who paid taxes on earnings of $400,000 each year would get a benefit of approximately $6,000 a month or $72,000 a year—a replacement rate of 18%—while someone with lifetime earnings of $1 million a year would get a monthly Social Security benefit of approximately $13,500 a month or $162,000 a year—a replacement rate of 16.2%.

This will result in no additional taxes for the majority of Americans, a small tax increase for many, and a few (~5%) with a substantially higher tax burden (with correspondingly higher Social Security benefits paid out to them, I'll add):
If the base were removed, the majority of beneficiaries would pay no additional taxes compared with current law, as fewer than 8% of workers are projected to earn above the taxable wage base each year. Examining the impact on individuals receiving Social Security benefits in 2035, roughly one in five beneficiaries (21%) would have paid any additional taxes over their lifetimes compared with current law (Figure 3). For most of these affected individuals, the increase would be moderate. Roughly 16% of all beneficiaries would see their lifetime tax payments increase by less than 10%. However, 3% of all beneficiaries would have their tax payments increase by 10% to 19%, and 2% would have tax increases of 20% or more.
Of course this is precisely the reason this proposal is not "Very Serious" -- it requires a sizable tax increase on the rich and inexplicably "voodoo economics" is still the default economic theory of journalists and politicians in this country.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it, and maybe even agreed that this is a solution with some potential for funding Social Security. Now all you need to do is get hired by the New York Times or elected to Congress...

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Over the next week we will see various fictional "moderate" Republicans attempt to flee the consequences of their party's catastrophic actions. "It wasn't me", they will cry, "I am appalled", they will plead.

They are lying. They were part of this debacle from the beginning. They only bailed out at the end, without substantive votes or action or consequence. Just to save their hides.

Look at the unanimous GOP votes, if you want. There were MANY. Look at the chances they had to prove their "moderate" status. They didn't. They just looked at the most extreme members of their party and said, "okay, me too, I'm a coward, I'll vote for it".

Cowards are the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy. They can be funny, they can be villainous. But the end of the play doesn't bring anything good for them. Because no one roots for someone who does something wrong for the wrong reasons.

The whole Republican party did this to the country. They voted unanimously time and time against to do it. They thought their "id", the Tea Party, would be contained. They made a mistake. It was hubris...and now we're on to Greek tragedy.

Take every unanimous vote this GOP House has had. Take every appeasement of its radicals who are attempting to destroy the American economy. They will try to break free of it, when they're running for re-election. They can't break free of it, if it's clear enough how much they contributed to it. Which they did.

It's proper governance, in 2015, if you want it.

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So, another telling sign that Republican Ted Cruz's antics (even though they're clearly supported by Republican Party, as we can see by the GOP's real-world actions) are viewed as electorally toxic, even by the most radical of Republicans running for office:

In an effort to maybe have a chance of getting elected, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli ran out of a conservative fundraising gala early last night so that he could avoid being photographed with Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cuccinelli and Cruz signed on to headline the Family Foundation gala, literally titled, “Senator Ted Cruz – This American Moment,” before Cruz went off the rails wasting everyone's time with a fake filibuster and helping to shut down the government.

According to Politico, Cuccinelli made a few short remarks, not mentioning Cruz's name once, then left the event before Cruz got up to speak.

Does anyone honestly think, even though Ken ran away from Cruz so they couldn't be photographed together, that Cuccinelli wouldn't throw Virginia into the same financial hell-hole that Cruz is tossing the country into? They're cut from the same nihilistic cloth. They have the same ideas, and the same methods.

Ken Cuccinelli would jump at the chance to wreck Virginia through Cruz-esque shenanigans. We know it, he knows it, Virginia knows it.

Run the ad! Ken and Ted's Awkward Gala!

http://gawker.com/...

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Following the proven, evidence-based revelation of the GOP plot for a shutdown in this letter:

[The plot] articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government. http://www.nytimes.com/...
...and John Boehner whining that the president won't pay the ransom determined by the above plot refuses to have a clean debt ceiling bill:
"We're not going to pass a clean debt limit increase," Boehner said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." http://www.washingtonpost.com/...
...we finally have it straight from the elephant's mouth that this whole thing is a charade designed to defund Obamacare -- default and economic collapse be damned.

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley this morning, Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) finally admitted what has been long suspected: he, and the Republicans following him and preventing a clean vote, are playing politics with the debt ceiling.

“The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executive," Cruz said.

He listed three objectives as Republicans approach the debt ceiling.

"No. 1, we should look for some significant structural plan and reduce government spending. No. 2, we should avoid new taxes, and No. 3, we should look for ways to mitigate the harm from Obamacare."

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/...

This is mainly for the record. If/when default happens, or the shutdown stretches into another month -- the GOP owns this debacle. They wanted it, they plotted how to make it happen, they made it happen, they failed to solve it through a simple clean CR, they extended it, and finally they outright admitted it: shutdown and default is the GOP economic platform.

The media ought to remember the above information. It's straight from the mouths of Republicans and it admits this is their plan and their desire.

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So, we're here again. The President refused to listen to my advice back in May back when BenghaziTM flared up. But now there's this shutdown crisis, and the debt ceiling crisis to follow. Given Rep. Marlin Stutzman's statement that:

We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is...
...I think it's clear that the time has finally come for my grand bargain. So, I'm reposting my diary of May 15, 2013.

I know what you're thinking: "Don't give in to the GOP's attacks, don't give an inch..."

Believe me: I, too, wish it weren't so. President Obama wasn't actually involved in any of the "scandals", the administration has already released the full set of Benghazi "talking point" emails and the president has accepted the resignation of the acting IRS director. Over the last 5 years the President has done a fine job even without placing a guinea pig on his head. So why bother? It won't placate the Republicans. Well, because it's not about the Republicans anymore. After this latest flurry of mendacious attacks he needs to regain the trust of the American people. And what better way than going to the nearest DC pet shop, purchasing a guinea pig, and putting it on his head?

And those of you following the various storylines over the past few days may wonder: isn't there a better way. No, no there is not. Regardless of the facts, at this point a Cavia porcellus on the president's cranium is the best -- nay, the only -- way left to reconnect with the voters. Yes, yes, it's true that guinea pigs are neither pigs nor from Guinea. But this is the situation we find ourselves in, and the president must recognize the reality of the situation.

At a certain point you wonder about this guy's ego. Guinea pigs are only 1.5 to 2.5 pounds, on average, he could easily bear it. Would he look ridiculous with a guinea pig on his head? Yes. But isn't that a small price to pay? A small price to pay for what, you ask? I don't know. For something...something worth a guinea pig on his head.

Look: I do not like that the situation demands that he put a medium-sized South American rodent atop his cranium. Obama's head looks perfectly fine as it is, as we all know. But sport a cavy atop his noggin' he must.

It's time that he does the right thing. Put a guinea pig on your head, Mr. Obama, and let's move on.

Update: Still nothing from the White House.

Poll

Should President Obama put a guinea pig on his head to end the government shutdown?

72%18 votes
28%7 votes

| 25 votes | Vote | Results

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I can't believe this even needs saying, but across the spectrum of cable and print news there seems to be an increasing reluctance -- brought about by a perhaps well-intentioned, doubtlessly intense PR campaign -- to use the word "coup" in reference to today's (yesterday's, depending on where you are) events in Egypt. The word itself is becoming a hot potato.

A quick and decisive extra-legal seizure of governmental power by a relatively small but highly organized group of political or military leaders, typically by means of the unexpected arrest or assassination of the incumbent chief executive and his principal supporters within the government. http://www.auburn.edu/...
Overall, the Western media has been anti-Morsi, and so perhaps more willing to agree to the terms that their "side's" linguistic demands.
a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially : the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group. http://www.merriam-webster.com/...
However, this was a coup, under no definition is it NOT a coup. That a segment (as yet undetermined except in Cairo via protester counts) of the population is in favor of the coup does not make it a non-coup. Even if a majority favors a coup, it is still a coup. Morsi was properly elected, he later abused his power tremendously, but as the military came in and swept him aside without legal standing or authority...it's still a coup. Maybe it's a good coup!? It's still a coup.
The sudden overthrow of a government, differing from a revolution by being carried out by a small group of people who replace only the leading figures. http://en.wiktionary.org/...
The people were in the street, yes. Many people! The overthrow of the government was not by the people. It was by the army. So, it's a coup.
Coup d'état (ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː; plural: coups d'état), also known as a coup, a putsch, or an overthrow, is the sudden deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to depose the extant government and replace it with another body, civil or military. A coup d'état is considered successful when the usurpers establish their dominance. http://en.wikipedia.org/...
A coup's outcome doesn't make it not a coup. A coup can end in any sort of government. Even some civilian guy only two days into his job can be made president, and it's still a coup!
a sudden and decisive action in politics, esp. one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/...
You may like the outcome. It's still a coup. You may regret the legal consequences if it's a coup. It's still a coup. Why is it a coup? It's the definition of a coup. If it's not a coup, a coup isn't a coup.
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