Member since: Tue May 13, 2008, 03:07 AM
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Number of posts: 8,821
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There were no real surprises in the Senate vote to force construction of the 1,179-mile northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline Thursday. Sixty votes were needed and the tally of senators in favor was 62, with 36 opposed. That included all the Republicans who were present and nine Democrats, all of whom had backed the pipeline in previous votes.
Michael Bennet of Colorado,
Tom Carper of Delaware,
Bob Casey of Pennsylvania,
Joe Donnelly of Indiana,
Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota,
Joe Manchin of West Virginia,
Claire McCaskill of Missouri,
Jon Tester of Montana and
Mark Warner of Virginia.
Before the bill hits the president's desk, probably next week, the Senate version must be approved by the House or meshed with the already-passed House version. House leaders haven't decided whether to pass the Senate bill without amendment or reconcile the two bills, which would mean changes in both that would require a vote in both houses. This isn't the first time that Congress has tried to force President Obama to approve the pipeline. He overruled an attempt in 2012. The White House has indicated from the minute that the current bill was proposed last year by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Obama would veto it because it overrides presidential authority over approving international pipelines. That process has been governed by executive orders dating back to 1968 and most recently updated in 2004 by President Bush. Presidents have made decisions on pipelines, bridges and tunnels that cross international boundaries since the Grant administration. The evaluation process is delegated to the State Department. It includes an 11-volume environmental impact statement, review of more than two million public comments and reviews by eight federal agencies and departments. Those agency reviews are due to be delivered to the State Department on Monday. Evaluating them and writing a recommendation for a decision on the pipeline could take several weeks, meaning a decision might not be made until March.
Coral Davenport reports:
Advocates on both sides of the debate are urging Mr. Obama to make a decision soon, and some people familiar with Mr. Obama’s thinking say that after all the years of deliberation and delay, he could weigh in as soon as February.
Senator John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican who is a chief sponsor of the bill, said, “You’ve got Congress approving it on a bipartisan basis. All six states on the route have approved it. The Nebraska court decision is done. The American people overwhelmingly support it. The president has to consider all that when he makes his decision.”
On that point, environmentalist opponents of the pipeline agreed. “This issue is ready for a decision,” said Michael Brune, execuive director of the Sierra Club, one of the groups that has held hundreds of rallies outside the White House and around the country, urging Mr. Obama to reject the project. “After the agencies have weighed in, this issue has been examined enough and the president has everything he needs to make this decision.”
Posted by Segami | Thu Jan 29, 2015, 06:46 PM (8 replies)
I'm guessing he wasn't real pleased at reading with his morning coffee that Hillary Clinton sees no real competition in the Democratic primary:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a potential candidate for president, on Thursday expressed little faith that Hillary Clinton would be an acceptable standard-bearer in the 2016 presidential election.
"Based on her history, do I think she is going to be as bold as needs to be in addressing the major crises that we face? Probably not. I may be surprised," Sanders said in an interview with The Washington Post.
Sanders, a self-described "socialist," is considering running for president as either Democrat or an independent. Asked repeatedly about Clinton's record, he mostly declined to weigh in on specifics.
"I have no assessment," he said.
But it was clear that Sanders is not convinced Clinton, the presumed Democratic frontrunner for president, has made a forceful enough argument about how to combat income inequality, a central focus of the Vermont senator.
"Not much," responded Sanders when asked about what he has heard from Clinton on income inequality and related issues.
Pro-Clinton group Correct the Record pushed back on the former secretary of state's economic record. “Hillary Clinton has fought all her life to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed – championing equal pay for equal work, advocating for middle-class tax cuts, and pushing for a raise in the minimum wage," said spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
Posted by Segami | Thu Jan 29, 2015, 05:51 PM (21 replies)
"...Mr. Netanyahu parading himself before a foreign government in order to incite another war? The Israeli people have simply had enough, according to the polls..."
Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech before the US Congress may cost him his position as Prime Minister, it turns out. For the opposition Labor-Hatnuah alliance, called the “Zionist Camp,” the speech could not have been better timed. The coalition, running in opposition to Netanyahu’s Lukid Party, has jumped on the plan as another example of the embattled Israeli leader being, as some now call him, “the Republican Senator from the great State of Israel.” In the latest polls, we find Netanyahu’s Lukid party coming in solidly behind Zionist Camp, with the other parties all gathering small pieces of the seats left over for Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Of note, the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Lukid’s current partner in the ruling coalition, has lost so many seats in polling that it only barely qualified to even run a ticket, meaning that even if Lukid holds on to each seat it currently has, it still will lose power in the next Knesset. It is a major uphill battle for Netanyahu at this point.
But, despite this obvious position of strength, the Zionist Camp seems unable to fully capitalize on the situation. Instead of pushing, they seem to be holding back. They could be angling for an alliance, or waiting to pounce on Netanyahu closer to election time. In an attempt to pander to voters, Lukid added two women to their ticket in the hopes of getting more female voters to turn out. Even the usual tactic of starting a conflict with its neighbors is now backfiring, as Israeli citizens now find Lukid more likely to cause conflict than to defend themselves. Instead he is now being viewed as causing strife with Israel’s international partners. As Eytan Gilboa, a professor at Bar Ilan University who specializes in political communication and Israeli-American relations puts it:
"..It’s a huge miscalculation. People are now questioning his judgment. If the opposition would not just focus on economic and social issues, but also argue against his claims on security and foreign policy, I think this exercise might backfire...”
The perception that the Prime Minister would cause diplomatic tensions in order to pander to a base in politics is not bolstering his position as hoped. Instead, Netanyahu is finding support waning, and he is now under strong pressure to postpone, or even cancel his speech entirely. But at this point, the damage may have already become impossible for him to repair. Add to this situation, Mr. Netanyahu parading himself before a foreign government in order to incite another war? The Israeli people have simply had enough, according to the polls. A Zionist Camp coalition with the Arab List, Meretz, Kulanu and Yesh Atid, based on current polling, would be incredibly close to controlling the Knesset. The next few weeks are critical now, to see if they can indeed remove Prime Minister Netanyahu from office.
Posted by Segami | Thu Jan 29, 2015, 05:10 PM (7 replies)
Back to the drawing board boys..........
Senate Democrats, led by Iran hawk Robert Menendez of New Jersey, said Tuesday that they will give Obama two months to reach a deal on the country’s nuclear program before they vote for new sanctions. At the same time, House progressives are urging their colleagues to hold off on moving any legislation that would tighten economic penalties on Iran.
When even Sen. Menendez is backing the POTUS' approach, you know Boehner and Netanyahu's attempt to diminish the office of our chief executive has backfired! The Dems giving Obama breathing room appears to be the combination of Obama's successful SOTU and Boehner and Bibi's cheap stunt. What's more, with the Dems committing to a deadline, Bibi's speech to bring on the sanctions is already DOA.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We remain hopeful that diplomacy will succeed in reversing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon capability, in accordance with the timeline that the P5+1 and Iran negotiating teams have set for themselves: March 24, 2015 for a political framework agreement and June 30, 2015 to conclude negotiations on the technical annexes of the comprehensive deal.
Congress has always been a partner in the shared goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon capability. We remain appreciative of your leadership in seeking to protect the United States, and our allies and partners, from the threat of a nuclear Iran. For more than two decades, the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government have worked together in a bipartisan way to implement sanctions legislation that successfully ratcheted up pressure on Iran’s nuclear program. This pressure proved to be decisive in compelling Iranian leadership to enter the latest round of nuclear negotiations in September 2013.
We remain deeply skeptical that Iran is committed to making the concessions required to demonstrate to the world that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful by March 24 – the deadline agreed upon for a political framework agreement. Considering Iran’s history in nuclear negotiations and after two extensions of the Joint Plan of Action, we are concerned that Iran is intentionally extending the negotiations to improve its leverage at the negotiating table.
We are Democratic supporters of the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2015 – a bill that would impose sanctions on Iran only if Iran fails to reach a comprehensive agreement by the June 30 deadline. This bill also includes monthly waivers after June 30 to provide additional negotiating flexibility. We believe that this bill, as introduced, is reasonable and pragmatic, respects the nuclear negotiating timeline, and sends a strong signal to Iran and to the international community that endless negotiations under the interim agreement are dangerous, unacceptable, and could leave Iran with a threshold nuclear weapon capability.
In acknowledgement of your concern regarding congressional action on legislation at this moment, we will not vote for this legislation on the Senate floor before March 24. After March 24, we will only vote for this legislation on the Senate floor if Iran fails to reach agreement on a political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement. This deadline is the critical test of Iranian intentions. We expect that your Administration will consult closely with Members of Congress in the coming months, and look forward to working with you to achieve our shared goal of reversing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon capability.
United States Senator
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
United States Senator
Gary C. Peters
United States Senator
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator
Benjamin L. Cardin
United States Senator
Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator
Joe Manchin III
United States Senator
United States Senator
United States Senator
Posted by Segami | Tue Jan 27, 2015, 07:38 PM (11 replies)
A lot has changed in the five-plus years since then- Rep. Bart Stupak forced a vote on an anti-choice amendment that nearly derailed the passage of the Affordable Care Act. If you weren't following the ins-and-outs of the health care reform debate back in 2009, Stupak, a Democrat, wanted language added to the ACA that would prohibit the use of federal funds from paying for abortions—even though the notorious Hyde Amendment had already done so for decades. Democrats held a wide majority in Congress at the time, but Stupak's retrograde amendment passed the House because 64 Democrats joined with all 176 Republicans to vote in favor of it. However, the amendment ultimately did not become law because there was insufficient support for it in the Senate—though President Obama did sign an executive order that purported to restrict abortion funding in order to placate Stupak's junta. The amendment also didn't save many Democratic hides the next year. As Ron Elving at NPR recounts, 2010's gigantic GOP tsunami, fueled by deep economic unease, swept out most of the Blue Doggish Democrats who had represented more conservative turf and had sided with Stupak. Those same trends have continued in the years since then, leaving just 12 Democrats in the House today who voted for the Stupak amendment. Below is the complete list, along with the percentage of the vote Obama took in each district in 2012:
Colin Peterson MN-07 44
Jim Cooper TN-05 56
Dan Lipinski IL-03 56
Stephen Lynch MA-08 58
Sanford Bishop GA-02 59
Jim Costa CA-16 59
Henry Cuellar TX-28 60
Jim Langevin RI-02 60
Tim Ryan OH-13 63
Richard Neal MA-01 64
Marcy Kaptur OH-09 68
Mike Doyle PA-14 68
In addition, Joe Donnelly now represents Indiana in the Senate. Back in 2009, most of the Stupak faction came from red districts. But except for Donnelly and Peterson, everyone above now holds a blue seat, and many are ardent Catholics who represent pro-labor Rust Belt turf. This is a phenomenon that mirrors the changes in the Democratic Party as a whole. As recently as 2010, Democrats sat in dozens of districts that historically had given their presidential vote to Republican candidates. Now, as the party's caucus has shrunk, only five members currently serve districts won by Mitt Romney. The country is simply more polarized than it once was, and the partisan realignment that began under Nixon is now all but complete. So if there's a silver lining to the Democrats' electoral woes in recent years, it's that our congressional caucus is much more progressive than it ever was. Indeed, last week, as Elving points out, just three Democrats—Cuellar, Lipinski, and Peterson—voted with the GOP on another anti-abortion measure. We have a long and difficult road back to the majority, particularly given Republican gerrymandering and our own terrible turnout in midterm elections. But when the Democrats do retake the House, it won't happen because of those old Blue Dog districts—our future lies in moderate suburban districts and areas with heavy minority growth. And when that day comes, it'll also mean that rebellions like Stupak's will be a thing of the past.
Posted by Segami | Mon Jan 26, 2015, 06:34 PM (7 replies)
The White House is rightly apoplectic about Netanyahu’s address to Congress, but will Obama or Hillary sack up and let the Israelis know that it’s time for a new PM?
How far does Bibi Netanyahu think he can push Barack Obama before the president says “enough”? Think back to 2010, when Israel announced plans to build new settlements while Joe Biden was visiting the country. Even Hillary Clinton called that one “insulting.” There were other little digs, but then the WTF moment came when Netanyahu basically endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012, you will recall, inviting Romney and Sheldon Adelson over to Israel that summer. After Obama won, both sides assured their publics that all was still smelling of roses. We all knew those assurances were false, but at least they bothered to make them. But now, in the wake of the prime minister’s scandalous acceptance of Speaker John Boehner’s scandalous invitation to speak before Congress without even giving the White House notification, the false assurances are fewer and even more half-hearted. And into the mix we’re getting background statements like this one, from an Obama official last Friday: “We thought we’ve seen everything. But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.” The administration isn’t the only party here that’s steamed. As Josh Marshall noted Sunday, no less a figure than Michael Oren—the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, who was appointed by Netanyahu—thinks the speech should be canceled. Dianne Feinstein, one of the AIPAC-iest senators in Washington for many long years, says the speech—about Iran’s nuclear ambitions—is actually having the effect of making congressional Democrats lean against a new, tougher Iran-sanctions bill. Obama has said he’d veto it. Most Democrats, like most Republicans but to a lesser degree, side with Israel over Obama. But maybe not now.
Yes, yes, it’s not as if Obama is totally blameless here—right after he was first elected, he tried to pressure Netanyahu hard on settlements, and he quickly learned that on the issue of Israel, he wasn’t going to be bringing much change to Washington at all. But that’s now six years ago. Bibi has been kicking sand in the administration’s face ever since. So maybe change is finally coming to Washington on this issue—but it’s Netanyahu who is forcing the change, through his obnoxious behavior. But the question remains: What price can the administration make Netanyahu pay? That’s less clear, alas. It does, however, have some options. First, as pertains to the upcoming Israeli election: Obviously, Obama wants Netanyahu to lose. But equally obviously, he and his administration can’t do or say anything that appears to “meddle” directly in the election. A) that would be as bad as what Netanyahu did in 2012, and B) it would almost surely invite a pro-Bibi backlash among swing voters in Israel and help him coast to reelection. But if this controversy builds, as it’s sure to, and if Netanyahu stands pat and delivers the address, as he vowed Sunday he would, maybe the main thing the administration has to do is stay out of the way. A few more rebukes from a few more Feinstein types will certainly send the message to voters in Israel that their sitting prime minister has placed in grave jeopardy the one global relationship that keeps their country alive. Administration officials can, of course, privately prod such types to criticize Bibi, provided news of their efforts doesn’t leak.
If the winds are blowing in an anti-Bibi direction as the March 17 vote approaches (the polls right now are close and somewhat contradictory), then it will be up to administration spokesman Josh Earnest to let himself be asked about the election and to choose his words very carefully as he somehow conveys the message that if Israeli voters will be doing their country a big favor if they dump Netanyahu. There are ways. Hillary Clinton could play a pivotal role here if she chooses to. To my knowledge she hasn’t spoken publicly thus far on the Bibi speech. If she were to go public and say something, anything, even one of those understated-isn’t-the-word-for-it adjectives of which she’s so fond, she would be reminding Israelis: Oh yeah, she’s likely to be the next president, so it’s not just Obama’s remaining two years we need to worry about, but maybe the next ten, and if she’s had it with Bibi, maybe we really should switch gears. It’s worth remembering here that her husband helped knock Netanyahu out in 1999, when Clintonista James Carville advised Ehud Barak’s winning campaign. There are other pressure points beyond the election. Europe is stiffening sanctions against Israel, as Ha’aretz reported last November. The normal role of the United States here would be to talk quietly to its European allies and say, “go easy here and there.” Maybe we’d be less inclined to do that now. Down the road, there’s the question—never discussed here in the States, but mentioned several times to me when I was in Israel last fall—of the UN veto. Forty-plus times since 1972, the United States has blocked UN measures that would have either sanctioned Israel or expressed support for the Palestinian statehood cause. For the United States to stop that practice would be, as a well-informed friend of mine put it, “the nuclear button.” I wouldn’t look for that anytime soon, but if Netanyahu is reelected and the obstreperous behavior continues, some kind of change in our Middle East posture at the UN seems hardly out of the question.
Posted by Segami | Mon Jan 26, 2015, 01:20 PM (7 replies)
A former Israeli ambassador to the United States said Saturday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should cancel his upcoming March address to Congress on Iran at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner's request.
Member of Kulanu and Israel's former ambassador in Washington Michael Oren has called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel his planned address to Congress.
"The behavior over the last few days created the impression of a cynical political move, and it could hurt our attempts to act against Iran," said Oren.
"It's advisable to cancel the speech to Congress so as not to cause a rift with the American government. Much responsibility and reasoned political behavior are needed to guard interests in the White House."
The White House has called Netanyahu address at Boehner's request, done without consultation with the Obama administration, a breach of diplomatic protocol. President Barack Obama will not meet with Netanyahu when he visits, with the White House citing the March 17 Israeli elections. Oren was tabbed late last year to run for a seat in the Israeli legislature with the centrist Kulanu Party in the March elections. He had been appointed as ambassador to the United States by Netanyahu, who leads the right-wing Likud Party, in 2009. He served in the post until 2013.
Posted by Segami | Sat Jan 24, 2015, 08:58 PM (8 replies)
IF BIBI Netanyahu Speaks To Congress, It Should Be (a) At A Better Time & (b) By Presidential Invite
I'm not big on e-petitions, but I signed this one urging my congressman to make a fuss about the GOP scumnuts' invitation to Bibi Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.
"We're committed to Israel's future. Making Israel a partisan issue weakens the US-Israel relationship and undermines vital American diplomatic leadership."
-- J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, in a letter to potential petition signers
Until proper banners can be printed up for display in both houses of Congress, I think the leadership in each should arrange with artisic members of their caucus to provide a supply of bedsheets to be hung in their chambers emblazoned with the increasingly well-earned call to arms:
"THE CRACKPOT 114TH --
AMERICA'S THUG CONGRESS
While the nutters bask in the glow of attention rarely paid to the criminally insane, it would be easy just to take each new manifestation of their psychosis and scumbaggery in stride. But I don't think we can automatically let go of the concept of "going too far," and there's a case to be made that the invitation by House Speaker "Sunny John" Boehner to Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress is a case in point. Of course the GOP congressional scumnuts are thrilled with the opportunity to simultaneously bash the president while glorifying their own stinking selves, throw a monkey wrench into our foreign-policy-making apparatus, make our difficult relations with Iran even more difficult, and exalt -- and help reelect -- a despicable homocidal thug. However, while these may all be beautiful outcomes for the scumnuts, there may be other, more important considerations. J Street is kinder than I would be to the idea of a thug like Bibi addressing Congress.
Israel's leader addressing America's legislators is great. As a pro-Israel organization which works to strengthen the deep ties of friendship and strategic alliance between the United States and Israel, we're grateful for the high honor of seeing an Israeli Prime Minister invited to address the US Congress.
The man is a disgrace -- a disgrace to Israel, to Jews everywhere, a disgrace to the human genome. Of course I don't suppose the J Street folks can say that. What they do say, though, is that "the timing here couldn't be worse." Per J Street founder-president Jeremy Ben-Ami's letter:
Here's what's wrong with Bibi coming to Congress on March 1:
* Traditionally, the executive branch -- President Obama -- leads on foreign policy. Boehner inviting a foreign leader, even a close ally, without even a simple "heads-up" to the president or his Democratic counterparts is a serious breach of standards.
* This invitation looks like a thinly-veiled attempt to scuttle the critical negotiations taking place right now aimed at ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. Bibi and Obama disagree on how to deal with Iran, and that's fair. But a foreign leader lobbying Congress (from the same spot where the President delivered his State of the Union address just days ago!) is inappropriate.
* This also looks like an attempt by some Republican power players to influence Israel's upcoming election, and that's just not something that democratic allies should ever do. Political leaders and pundits in Israel are already in an uproar.
"This is not the time," the J Streeters sum up, "for this politically motivated speech." So J Street has gotten up a petition for us to sign and send to our Democratic members of Congress.
Speaker Boehner's decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress--weeks before Israeli elections and without consulting the President--is a serious breach of protocol. The leaders of any American ally should be welcomed by Congress--but the timing of this invitation is unnacceptable. I'm urging you to express your disapproval of this shocking stunt to Speaker Boehner and demand that he postpone the invitation, in consultation with the White House, until after Israeli elections.
Posted by Segami | Fri Jan 23, 2015, 09:58 PM (1 replies)
Just before she heads to Iowa for the first major conservative showcase of the 2016 election cycle, Sarah Palin said “of course” she’s interested in the 2016 presidential election.
“Yeah, I mean, of course, when you have a servant’s heart, when you know that there is opportunity to do all you can to put yourself forward in the name of offering service, anybody would be interested,” Palin told ABC News' Neal Karlinsky while serving wild boar chili to the homeless in Las Vegas Thursday.
When asked again if she could be “possibly” interested in a presidential campaign, she answered, “We definitely had enough of seeing that -- America has had enough of seeing that -- sign on the Oval Office door saying, 'No Girls Allowed.' I know that.”
While serving up bowls to those gathered in line, the former Alaska governor clarified, “It doesn’t necessarily have to be me, though, but no, America is definitely ready for real change.
Posted by Segami | Fri Jan 23, 2015, 09:21 PM (28 replies)
A photo of Sarah Palin was posted to Facebook on Friday showing the former Republican vice presidential nominee holding a sign that read "Fuc_ You Michael Moore."
Palin was pictured alongside two men, one of whom appears to be Sgt. Dakota Meyers, a Medal of Honor recipient, and the person who apparently posted the image. Meyers posted the image with the caption "Here's a tribute to you Michael Moore. Share it and make it trending #michaelmoore." Both instances of the letter "o" in Moore were replaced with what appeared to be crosshairs in the handmade sign shown in the photo. Michael Moore has received criticism from conservatives for his scathing comments on "American Sniper" a movie based on the autobiography of former Navy SEAL and sniper Chris Kyle. Mediaite received the photo on Friday via a tip, which Editor in Chief Andrew Kirell shared on Twitter:
Posted by Segami | Fri Jan 23, 2015, 08:35 PM (119 replies)