In the USA...United Surveillance AmericaTop White House security official fired over critical tweets
Jofi Joseph, who was involved in Iranian nuclear talks, used Twitter to insult key members of Obama administration
theguardian.com, Wednesday 23 October 2013 08.51 BST
A senior White House national security official has been fired after being unmasked as the voice behind a Twitter account that embarrassed the Obama administration by aiming stinging criticism at government figures.
As director of nuclear non-proliferation, Jofi Joseph was helping to negotiate nuclear issues with Iran. But for more than two years, he also sent hundreds of tweets, many of them containing personal insults, using the Twitter handle @NatSecWonk.
In his Twitter biography, which has been taken down, Joseph described himself as a "keen observer of the foreign policy and national security scene" who "unapologetically says what everyone else only thinks".
In one tweet, he said: "'Has shitty staff.' #ObamaInThreeWords." In another, he made fun of the choice of husband by one of Hillary Clinton's top aide, comparing their partnership unflatteringly to two senior White House officials.
"Was Huma Abedin wearing beer goggles the night she met [former congressman] Anthony Weiner? Almost as bad a pairing as Samantha Powers and Cass Sunstein ...." he wrote.
He also offered support to Republican representative Darrell Issa in his attempts to hold former secretary of state Clinton responsible for last year's attack on the US diplomatic post in Libya.
"Look, Issa is an ass, but he's on to something here with the @HillaryClinton whitewash of accountability for Benghazi," Joseph tweeted.
He lashed out at Sarah Palin "and the rest of her white trash family" and mocked the personal appearance of a number of female figures, including Senate Republican candidate Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney's wife, Ann. Joseph also used the account to hurl abuse at journalists, including Daily Beast reporter Josh Rogin, who broke the story of his sacking. "Just a hunch, but I have the sense lots of people would like to punch @joshrogin in the face," he tweeted earlier this month.
The White House has confirmed that Joseph was fired last week but has declined to comment further.
Joseph, 40, told Politico he deeply regretted his tweets.
"What started out as an intended parody account of DC culture developed over time into a series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments," he said in an email. "I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologise to everyone I insulted."
An administration official told Politico that Joseph had been about to move from White House duty to a senior role in the Pentagon
************Nothing’s changed: Both political parties aim to protect and reinforce the capitalist system
By Richard Wolff, The Guardian
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 11:41 EDT
Democrats like moderate Keynesianism. Republicans favor free markets unfettered. The crisis-ridden system is never challenged
The economic aim of both major US political parties is, in the end, the same: to protect and reinforce the capitalist system.
The Republican party does so chiefly by means of a systematic, unremitting demonization of the government. They blame it for whatever ails the capitalist economy. If unemployment grows, they point to government policies and actions, and attack particular politicians for what they did or did not do to stimulate the economy, directing criticism away from the employers who actually deprive workers of their jobs.
Republican solutions for capitalism’s ills always involve reducing the government’s demands on private capitalists – lower their taxes, deregulate their activities, and privatize government production of goods and services. Their program for the future is always: free the private capitalist system from government intervention, and you will get “prosperity” and growth.
The Democrats protect and reproduce the system by assigning to the government the task of minimizing the problems that beset capitalism. So, for example, they want the business cycles that are an inherent affliction of capitalism to be foreseen, planned for, minimized and overcome by government intervention. This is the underlying purpose of Keynesian economics and the monetary and fiscal policies it generates.
Beyond cycles, capitalism’s more long-term problems, such as tendencies to produce great inequalities of income and accumulated wealth, lead Democrats to propose very modest government redistribution programs. Minimum wages, progressive tax structures, food, housing and other subsidies, and freely-distributed public services exemplify Democrats’ Bandaids meant to protect capitalism from its own potentially self-destructive tendencies.
From the GOP, you will hear denials that such self-destructive tendencies even exist. Economic problems always reduce to pesky and unwarranted government tampering in the free market. The few Republicans who will admit that capitalism is responsible for its own ailments also see capitalism as a fully self-healing system. The best solution for capitalism’s problems, they insist, is to let the system function and correct them. Anything else will just make matters worse.
Most Democrats will paint Republicans as slavish servants of short-sighted corporations and the few whom they make rich. These, say Democrats, threaten capitalism’s survival by failing to utilize government solutions to problems that consequently become worse and increasingly dangerous, putting the whole global economy – and capitalism’s reproduction – at systemic risk.
Republicans will disregard Democratic economic policy as steps toward what they call “socialism“: socialism defined as government ownership and operation of what should be private enterprises.
Neither party, though, has figured out how to prevent capitalism’s business cycles. Both consistently fail to make sure that cycles they failed to prevent would be shallow and short. So, today, Republicans blame the crisis since 2007 on government over-regulation and interventions in the housing and finance markets (and they blame Democrats for championing those policies). Democrats blame the crisis on too little regulation of those markets and insufficient redistribution (and – you guessed it – they blame Republicans for opposing those government policies). In short, crises, like everything else, are just opportunities to be explained and exploited politically to advance each party’s characteristic policies and their electoral strategies.
In what were “normal times”, US capitalism would reproduce itself with nice, calm oscillations between Republican and Democratic presidencies and congresses. For the minority of Americans who legitimately cared about which party was in or out, their interests focused on issues usually disconnected from any structural debate about the capitalist economic system. These included local and regional issues, foreign policy, social issues like sexuality, access to guns, flag-burning, draft protests, and so on. Capitalism rolled along, in part, because both parties functioned as alternative cheerleaders for it, treating it as beyond criticism.
Recent political gridlock, shutdowns, etc suggest a “new normal” has arrived. Political combat between the parties has become more intense and intractable, because capitalism has changed since the 1970s. By then, the post second world war boom in western Europe, north America and Japan – and also anxieties about the USSR, China, and their allies – had lofted real wages and government-funded social services far above their levels in capitalism’s global hinterland, especially Asia, Africa and Latin America. Capitalists in western Europe, North America, and Japan were therefore eager to evade both the high wages and the taxes they faced.
Major technical breakthroughs at the time made evasion possible. The ubiquitous availability of jet travel made movement around the globe much easier, cheaper, and faster. Computer and telecommunications advances enabled enterprise headquarters to monitor, command and control production facilities anywhere on the planet. It suddenly became practical to move production and distribution sites from locations of high wages and taxes, to locations of poverty and weak government. Sharp competitors led the way as, first, manufacturing and then, service jobs were increasingly “exported” or “outsourced”. Laggards suffered and so learned the importance of following their more nimble competitors.
Most Republicans and Democrats facilitated the process by endlessly promoting “free trade” and arguing that any constraints on free enterprises’ relocations were unthinkable, inefficient and other synonyms for “really bad”. As more and more jobs left the US, and formerly prosperous cities and states entered long-term declines, the two parties blamed their favorite targets: one another.
The idea that capitalism and capitalists were the problem was something neither Democrats or Republicans allow into their debates and talking-points. Yet, it was precisely capitalists’ profit-driven, self-interested decisions to move that have caused our economic problems. And so they remain.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013
*****************Sebelius defends Obamacare website performance: ‘We’re early in the first quarter’
By Arturo Garcia
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 22:38 EDT
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterated her defense of the online sign-up process for health care under the Affordable Care Act in an interview on Tuesday with CNN host Dr. Sanjay Gupta, insisting that the problems users have reported have come early in the roll-out process.
“We’re early in the first quarter, in football terms,” Sebelius told Gupta. “We have a six-month open enrollment period, and I am confident that millions of Americans, at the end of open enrollment, March 31st, will have affordable health coverage for the first time in their lives.”
Sebelius did concede to Gupta that, since she already has a health insurance plan, she has not done more than create an account on the website, Healthcare.gov, which has been plagued with technical issues to the point that President Barack Obama issued a statement calling for an improved performance.
“Did you find it challenging?” Gupta asked Sebelius. “What did you think of it?”
“I think there certainly are some challenges,” Sebelius conceded again. “It could be smoother. It could be easier to access, and that’s really what we’re working on. Nobody said the site is working the way we want it to. Certainly the president acknowledged that yesterday.”
At the same time, Sebelius noted to Gupta that despite the online issues, anyone who manages to sign up by Dec. 15 will still have health insurance effective Jan. 1, 2014. She also told Gupta that delaying the Oct. 1 launch date was not an option even after the site crashed during a test run with only a few hundred users signed on.
“There are people in this country who have waited for decades for affordable health coverage for themselves and their families,” Sebelius argued. “People who were waiting for this to happen. And what’s clear is, we have a product. The product really works. We have created a market where there wasn’t a market.”
October 22, 2013As Drug Costs Rise, Bending the Law Is One Remedy
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Lee Higman, a 71-year-old artist from Bellevue, Idaho, who considers herself a law-abiding citizen, was shocked last month when she got a notice from the Food and Drug Administration telling her: “A mail shipment addressed to you from a foreign country is being held.”
The 90 tablets of Vagifem, prescribed by her physician, that she had ordered from a Canadian pharmacy had been impounded as an illegal drug at Los Angeles International Airport.
First marketed in 1988, Vagifem estrogen tablets are used by millions of women to relieve symptoms of menopause. There is no generic version available in the United States, and brand-name drugs are expensive here. So about five years ago, Mrs. Higman started ordering the tablets from Canada, where a year’s supply that would cost about $1,000 in the United States sells for under $100.
“The price went up. And we’d lost a lot on the stock market, and we’re living on fixed incomes,” Mrs. Higman, who is an artist, said in an interview. She and her husband, a writer, are covered by Medicare. In an e-mail to the Food and Drug Administration, she sought the release of the package, explaining, “When it became economically imperative I ordered it from Canada, a country with strict drug requirements.”
The high price of many prescription drugs in the United States has left millions of Americans telling white lies and committing fraud and other crimes to get their medicines. In response to a New York Times article about the costs, hundreds of readers shared their strategies, like having a physician prescribe twice the needed dose and cutting pills in half, or “borrowing” medicines from a friend or relative with better insurance coverage. But an increasingly popular — though generally illegal — route is buying the drugs from overseas.
The Canadian International Pharmacy Association, a 10-year-old group, said its members fill prescriptions for one million Americans each year. “It’s the Americans who are seeking us out,” said Tim Smith, the group’s general manager. “Clearly there’s a need.”
In surveys from 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2 percent of adults and about 5 percent of the uninsured said they had bought prescription drugs from other countries. The figures most likely underestimated the practice because people may be reluctant to admit to doing something illegal, even though the law is rarely enforced in such cases.
The Food and Drug Administration says on its Web site that “in most circumstances it is illegal to import drugs into the U.S. for personal use” because the agency cannot guarantee they are safe and effective. The government also prohibits “reimportation” of drugs made in the United States because it cannot guarantee the medications were not tampered with or stored improperly.
The agency said it does not track the volume of such imports. However, it “typically does not object” to people buying imported medicine for personal use “under certain circumstances,” the agency said. Those include using the drug to treat a serious condition for which an effective alternative is unavailable in the United States and purchasing less than a three-month supply. But those ambiguous edicts have left patients wary.
Dr. Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist and health care advocate in North Carolina, said he has saved thousands of dollars buying medicines from overseas in the past decade. “It may be technically illegal, but I don’t think anyone would ever get prosecuted,” he said, adding that such laws reflected “protectionism” for drug makers. Although the Obama administration initially proposed allowing some importation of drugs, the idea was dropped from the Affordable Care Act after intense opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.
Mr. Smith, of the Canadian pharmacy group, said members follow strict pharmacy and prescription protocols and dispense only medicines approved by Health Canada, which regulates them. Members also broker purchases from licensed pharmacies in other countries, like Britain and Australia, which may further reduce the costs. Package inserts in foreign languages must be translated into English.
He acknowledged that consumers must take care to ensure an online pharmacy is legitimate, noting that in 2011 his association sent hundreds of cease-and-desist letters to Web sites — some of which were not based in Canada and were not even pharmacies — that were fraudulently using the group’s certification seal.
Dr. Barrett said he uses Web sites like PharmacyChecker.com to screen online pharmacies and prefers products from English-speaking countries.
Some purchases from overseas pharmacies are identical to products sold in the United States. When a Food and Drug Administration compliance officer told Mrs. Higman that her order of Vagifem was held because it was an “unapproved” drug, she responded, “This drug might come from Turkey, however, it is in the same box, the same packaging, the same labels, the same manufacturer, Nordisk, as the outrageously priced Vagifem in the United States.”
Identical drugs sold in other countries may have different package inserts, slight variations in dose or different brand names. But that is frequently a function of patent law and business decisions by drug makers, rather than medical efficacy.
Diana Simonson, 42, a freelance computer programmer in Glens Falls, N.Y., said she started ordering her inhalers from Canada after she nearly died of an asthma attack in the United States, where she cannot afford her preventive treatments.
For decades, she was able to control her asthma with a steroid inhaler. But it was banned a few years ago because it contained a propellant that was deemed environmentally harmful. The replacement product cost $250 a month. “That was like another car payment — I couldn’t do it,” said Ms. Simonson, who has a high-deductible insurance policy through the Freelancers Union.
With an income of about $35,000 and a child to raise, she tried to do without. But at an air show with her 7-year-old son, she became so short of breath that she had to be rushed by ambulance to an emergency room.
The inhalers she gets from Canada every three months are the same brand, and by the same manufacturer, that she used to buy in the United States. But often they are produced in a third country, like Turkey or Malaysia.
Kristen Bailey of Colorado started ordering medicine by mail from India when she was given a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease after graduating from college in 2011 with no insurance. Her medicine retails for tens of thousands of dollars in the United States.
The process is simpler for patients who live near the border. Joshua Kalish, 70, of Silver City, N.M., said that before he was eligible for Medicare, he drove to Mexico to fill his prescriptions, calling it a “common practice.”
Mrs. Higman said she is also heading for the border. Despite her pleas, the Food and Drug Administration told her that her Vagifem tablets would be returned to Canada or destroyed.
To tide her over, she has spent $233 for two months of Vagifem at a local pharmacy. “Fortunately my children and grandchildren live in Seattle, so the next time we go over there, I’ll take a little trip up to Vancouver, British Columbia, to buy my medicine,” she said. “I’ll save enough money to get room service in a five-star hotel there and still have enough left to claim I saved a couple of bucks.”
**************Democrats, It’s Time to Say I’m Done With Out of Control Republicans
By: Sarah Jones
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013, 7:48 pm
No, no, no, these glitches are the biggest deal of all big deals like EVER in the history of presidential fails! This will be remembered for decades!!!!!! Forget Katrina, hello FAIL WHALE glitch: President tries to save lives of Americans, some minor tech delays keep them from enrolling long before coverage actually starts so there’s no loss here just some irritation but…
OH MY GOD FIRE EVERYONE because REPUBLICANS ARE SO MUCH BETTER WHEN THEY AREN’T DRIVING US OVER A CLIFF, DESTROYING THE ECONOMY, INVADING THE WRONG COUNTRY, OUTTING A CIA AGENT, USING THE DOJ FOR ILLEGALLY POLITICAL PURPOSES, GIVING UP ON FINDING OSAMA BIN LADEN AND SHUTTING DOWN GOVERNMENT FOR THE SECOND TIME IN 20 YEARS OUT OF SHEER PETTINESS.
Reince tweeted yesterday, “Rose Garden infomercial (minus real info), brutal press briefing from @PressSec…does WH win worst Monday in DC? #trainwreck #FireSebelius” because you know if you add a hashtag your totally irrelevant and delusional thoughts, they immediately catch fire. The entire country can be heard dropping their demands for jobs and healthcare, and instead focusing on how Kathleen Sebelius should be fired over a glitch in a website.
All of those Republicans who swore we needed to invade Iraq though? They’re all good. Mistakes happen, you see. God forgives Republicans, but glitches we cannot tolerate. Commence witch hunt against Kathleen Sebelius. Yes, there is an “investigation” and please do not tell me this is not what you paid for when you didn’t vote for these people. It’s not as if Republicans can pass legislation. Doing so might actually help people and they’ve sworn off doing anything positive for five years now.
So Reince thought if he called Obama President Sham Wow, he’d really make a mark because oh yeah, that hurts:
#PresidentShamWow: the flaws aren’t just in your website…they’re in the law itself. http://t.co/U3XTM2aacP
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) October 22, 2013
Apparently you need to be Republican to get these borrowed “jokes”, and by Republican, I mean totally lacking in any sense of irony or humor, causing said person to mistake dense, juvenile, preschool level taunting for wit. Like some never ending national nightmare, Republicans haven’t stopped cheering the death of the uninsured – they’ve just moved on to mocking the person who saved the uninsured. If you feel sick it’s because we (as in, humans with a conscience) find this stunning lack of morality repugnant, as a warning sign against soulless predators.
Senator Dick Durbin left a disturbing note on his Facebook page:
“Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans. But in a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.’ What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?” — Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
The rudeness toward this president is astonishing in its boldness. The good news is that Republicans must not really believe that Obama is Hitler, contrary to the posters in their campaign offices, or they would never say these things about or to him. But these are folks who are still making watermelon “jokes” about Obama. Snicker. Yes, it’s all so cute and funny when an entire party is less cultured than children.
Senator Durbin is probably referring to the meeting that only House leadership attended. That is 18 members who were at the meeting — and you will see certain names repeated on the list of attendees to the GOP-promise-to-destroy-Obama meeting of 2009.
Remember Robert Draper’s book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives”, revealing the GOP meeting to destroy Obama as he celebrated his first term inauguration? “As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.”
This kills the media narrative that Obama somehow did something to hurt the GOP’s feelings and that is why they have been such tyrant babies. No, they have behaved like nihilistic babies because that is what they have become, per their own choice.
Sam Stein at Huffington Post reveals the guest list that night:
According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.
For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.
The above rudeness, ‘I cannot even stand to look at you’, was delivered by someone who was at the 2009 meeting centered around destroying this President, after five years of outrageously destructive behavior. This tells you everything you need to know about Republicans.
And these are the people the press thinks Obama should “bring along” to meet in the “middle”, eh? Yes, haven’t you heard, President Obama is to blame for Republican extremism. Somehow by getting elected, he really upset them and forced them into devoting their entire careers to destroying him and American under him because petty revenge for two lost elections is “leading”, mainstream media style.
Meanwhile Republicans can’t stop mocking this President, who cared enough about the millions of uninsured to spend all of his political capital passing the Affordable Care Act, thereby saving untold number of lives, because the website has some glitches. Their President lied us into a war that killed hundreds of thousands (nearly half a million Iraqis died from war related causes), and they haven’t “fixed” that or even apologized for it. But they mock this President over “glitches”.
They call for the firing of Sebelius over “glitches” but killing hundreds of thousands and losing millions of dollars in Iraq, a country we never should have invaded in the first place, a country we only invaded because we were deliberately lied to and great effort was put into distorting intelligence and cheery picking it to make a case for weapons of mass destruction and mushroom clouds, was no biggie.
Not a word about Mitt Romney’s epic ORCA failure because that would just be mean, and as you can see, Republicans haven’t got much left but dreams of website glitches bringing down a massively popular president and magically redoing the 2012 election and all of the GOP’s behavior since. But of course, Mitt Romney is allowed “glitches” since he is white, rich and straight.
Yes, I went there. I’ve lived in the South and I know sugary, smug racial privilege when I see it. Republicans are out of control, and I’m done pretending this is a political discussion. It’s clear that they are suffering from a party-wide mental illness and are a danger to this country. Pundits and reporters who don’t call this out are guilty of enabling the impending destruction and they’d better hope it’s not as ugly as it appears it will be.
****************Never Have Republicans Been More Disliked Than Right Now as GOP Unfavorables Hit 64%
By: Jason Easley
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013, 9:30 am
The latest CNN/ORC poll finds that the Republican Party has never been more disliked than right now. The government shutdown fallout continues as 64% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the GOP.
The CNN poll shows that the Republican Party has been badly damaged by their government shutdown. Speaker of the House John Boehner’s unfavorable rating has gone from 48% to 55% in less than a month. Mitch McConnell’s unfavorable rating increased from 39% to 42%. Ted Cruz’s unfavorable rating grew from 36% to 42%. John McCain’s unfavorable rating stayed unchanged at 42%. The real damage occurred to the Republican Party itself. The unfavorable rating of the Republican Party has reached its highest level ever in the history of the question. The Republican Party’s unfavorable rating has been steadily increasing since March of this year. The GOP’s unfavorable rating has increased from 59% to 64%. Only 30% of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of the Republican Party.
This poll also revealed that both parties aren’t being blamed for the government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s unfavorable rating fell 5 points from 45% to 40%. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi’s unfavorable rating fell from 51% to 47%, and the Democratic Party’s unfavorable rating fell from 52% to 51%.
The message is simple. Republican unfavorable ratings all went up due to the shutdown. Democratic unfavorable ratings went down. It’s clear where the American people have decided to place the blame. What these numbers mean for the Republican Party is that the government shutdown isn’t gone and forgotten. Republicans have been obsessed with coming up with a magic tweak that will allow them to win elections with the same ideas that they are losing with right now. The government shutdown has pushed the Republican Party beyond needing a rebrand.
Republicans don’t need to repaint the party house. They need to burn it down and start over. The idea that there was no political harm caused by the shutdown is absurd.
Since CNN began asking the question nearly 22 years ago, the Republican Party has never been as unpopular as they are right now. The havoc that Republicans unleashed on the American people during the month of October is not going to be soon gone or forgotten.
*****************Ted Cruz: Has the Tea Party ‘Golden Boy’ gone too far this time?
By: Dennis S
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013, 9:24 pm
Texas Senator Ted (Rafael Edward) Cruz has often been depicted on this site and other venues where progressive pundits ply their craft, as a blithering buffoon emerging from a political clown car leaning so far to the right that it’s bumpers scrape the roadway. Well, he is that, but he’s also a man of parts who, if he was a progressive Democrat, would be in the very Shelby, Palin, Gingrich, Huckabee and Trump crosshairs as the president. In other words Cruz would be targeted by the same birther crowd that’s convinced that Barack Obama is a Kenyan interloper without portfolio of a legitimate birth certificate and a MUSLIM to boot and hangs with COMMIES.
Work with me here. Cruz was born elsewhere and not elsewhere in America, but elsewhere in the cold confines of neighboring Canada. If I may borrow liberally from Wiki and its sources, Rafael came to be in Calgary, Alberta some 42 years ago. Pop was Cuban and not a citizen at the time; mom was an Irish/Italian from Wilmington and was an American citizen. So there’s a similarity with Obama insofar as one parent was an American citizen, another parent was a citizen of another country. It is a fact that even if both parents of the president were non-citizens, as long as Barack was born in the U.S. he’s one of us by golly.
Another interesting intersection in their backgrounds is a connection with COMMIES. Obama’s alleged connection was more direct as he was accused (falsely) of being best buds (he wasn’t) with left-wing radical and self-described Commie bomb-thrower, Bill Ayres who was behind the Weatherman anti-Vietnam radicals. Padre Cruz was a freedom fighter with the COMMIE revolutionary, Fidel Castro.
Whether it’s revisionist history to now claim that Rafael was a mere 14-year-old lad charging up the hill with the rebel leader and thereafter renouncing Castro and becoming disenchanted (Fidel suppressed dissent don’t you know) with the cigar puffing bearded one, I don’t know. But historical accuracy notwithstanding, the elder Cruz fought along side communists. Can you imagine what the right would do with that indisputable fact had Ted Cruz taken the more reasonable path to the Democratic Party?
In any event, Papa Cruz emigrated to Texas and earned a degree in math. He later started an oil-related business and took up residence in Canada. He and the Mrs. were living and working there when Cruz was born in December of 1970. The father didn’t become a U.S. citizen until 2005.
The last coincidental tie between Cruz and Obama takes us to the editorial offices of the Harvard Law Review. Yes, Cruz was the so-called “primary” editor of the same publication that Obama edited, presumably as THE editor.
Now that it’s been established that the two political foes are, in many respects, comrades in arms so to speak, let’s see what makes Cruz tick. Dumb he’s not. Misguided from his early teens, yes; but anything but dumb. He was valedictorian of his high school graduating class. While still in high school he joined a group called the “Free Market Education Foundation” where his brain was filled with the ‘mush’ (as Rush would say) of Friedman and Hayek economics. He never recovered. From there he matriculated to Princeton, graduating cum laude and winning the “American Debating Championship” whatever that is. He packed his bags for Harvard Law and upped his cum laude one rung to magna cum laude.
I’m not going to track all the stops Cruz made on his way to filibuster infamy; suffice to say they were the right ones in every sense of the word. A clerkship for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a quicky stop at a hot shot law firm where he served as attorney for John Boehner’s lawsuit against fellow Representative, Democrat, Jim McDermott over releasing a tape of a Boehner phone conversation. Then after working with the Bush-Cheney campaign team for a couple of years, it was a full swan dive into the Texas political pool.
Cruz was the nation’s youngest Solicitor General, a position he occupied from 2003-2008. He returned to private law practice with an eye toward the U.S. Senate. He won that seat when the sketchy incumbent, Kay Bailey Hutchison, decided to hang ‘em up. No telling what was behind that move. Cruz cruised to victory over a hapless Democrat by 16 percentage points.
For some reason he made an immediate impact on the Senate, the House and the country in general. With the extreme right-wing Tea Party line as his political balancing pole, he navigated the critical issues of the budget and ACA like a veteran wirewalker navigates a wire he’s conquered for a decade. Only Cruz had just arrived and was saying all the right things to get his face and voice on both the right and left Media outlets; incessantly, repeatedly and relentlessly. He’s not particularly telegenic or, dare I say, sexy; the kind of guy who stops your wife in her tracks in front of the TV, suddenly interested in debt ceilings for the first time in her life. No, that’s not Cruz. What he does have going for him is the residue from his national debating championship. He’s glib and clever and he can talk forever, or at least 22 hours as we painfully discovered.
Speaking of pain, Cruz might just be easing into the political version of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). You probably know it by its more common reference of a staph infection. Maybe all his ugly babble has started crawling across the skin of not only his detractors, but possibly his supporters as well. 22-hour theatrics will pretty much tell you that Cruz is one infection that is immune to the antibiotic of reasonable limitations. That’s why Cruz will never be president. He’s human MRSA capable of spreading his radical infection throughout the land.
Even the National Chamber of Commerce is telling him in a nice way to shut his pie-hole. The U.S. News and World Report quoted Chamber President Tom Donahue as telling Cruz, through the media, to “sit down and shut up” after Cruz was “credited” with being a driving force behind the 16-day federal government shutdown and credit default flirtation.
More disturbing to Cruz’ Tea Party minions were subsequent statements about ACA. While still critical of certain aspects of health care reform, the Chamber president still made nice about the necessity of lowering health care cost and getting results rather than “political grandstanding.” Ouch! It gets worse. Apparently the chamber has taken to reading tea leaves and not Tea Party leaves in revealing that some of their campaign millions are going to Democrats in the next election.
Talk about a safe falling from the 14th floor. Will the bright young solicitor get the drift or will his extremism throw him under the bus?
*****************Chris Matthews mocks GOP poll plunge: Their name is worse than ‘Mud,’ it’s ‘Ted Cruz’
By Arturo Garcia
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 21:44 EDT
MSNBC host Chris Matthews picked apart the Republican Party’s continued slide in the polls on Tuesday, tying it to Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz, who he described as the “Mrs. O’Leary’s cow” of the political tumult now associated with the GOP.
“I always tell people that they will only get one reputation in life,” Matthews said. “Someone should have told the Republicans that. Today, their name is ‘Mud.’ Actually, it’s worse: it’s ‘Ted Cruz.’”
Matthews pointed to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll saying the 16-day government shutdown did more damage to Republicans than it did Democrats, leaving the GOP with a favorable impression among just 32 percent of the public, an all-time low.
Matthews also mocked former Vice President Dick Cheney (R) for a Fox News interview in which he argued that the real “extremist” in Washington politics is not the Tea Party, but President Barack Obama, arguing that Cheney was only saying so to boster his daughter Liz Cheney’s own political ambitions.
“I don’t believe a word he said,” Matthews told MSNBC contributor and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D). “He’s the most hawkish guy, and all those Tea Partiers are anti-hawkish. He’s a big government guy, he’s establishment, he’s been in leadership his whole life, and now he’s portraying himself as some soddie buster from out there in Wyoming with a pitchfork.”
October 22, 2013Koch Brother Wages 12-Year Fight Over Wind Farm
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
OSTERVILLE, Mass. — If the vast wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound is ever built, William I. Koch will have a spectacular view of it.
Of course, that is the last thing he wants. Mr. Koch, a billionaire industrialist who made his fortune in fossil fuels and whose better-known brothers underwrite conservative political causes, has been fighting the wind farm, called Cape Wind, for more than a decade, donating about $5 million and leading an adversarial group against it. He believes that Cape Wind’s 130 industrial turbines would not only create what he calls “visual pollution” but also increase the cost of electricity for everyone.
Now, as if placing a bet on the outcome of the battle, Mr. Koch, 73, who has owned an exclusive summer compound here for years, has acquired an even grander one — Rachel Mellon’s 26-acre waterfront estate in the gated community of Oyster Harbors, for $19.5 million. He has also bought the nearby 12-plus-acre Dupont estate. All of this adds up to a prime perch over Nantucket Sound.
“I love the area,” Mr. Koch said in an e-mail. “The ability to acquire a special property where I can create a family compound for my children and extended family was and is very meaningful to me.” (His current home, in the same gated community, is on the market for $15 million.)
At one time, Cape Wind — which would produce 75 percent of the power for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket — was expected to be the first offshore wind farm in the country, and supporters hoped it would serve as a catalyst for other offshore wind projects like those that ring Europe. But after more than a dozen years, the $2.6 billion proposal remains on the drawing board, thanks in large part to the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, of which Mr. Koch is chairman.
Still, Jim Gordon, Cape Wind’s developer, who has spent $70 million of his own money on the project since 2001, vows that it will go forward. He said that he would qualify for certain federal tax credits by the end of the year and that the necessary financing would be in place, but he declined to disclose details, saying he did not want to give Mr. Koch a “road map” of his plans.
“This is a very sophisticated adversary,” Mr. Gordon said. “Koch has already spent a decade trying to push us off the path toward a better energy future.”
The two men have circled each other for a decade in an escalating test of wills. Mr. Gordon has tried unsuccessfully to enlist Mr. Koch, who once financed green energy plants, in his cause; Mr. Koch has successfully delayed Cape Wind for years by tying it up in court. A few lawsuits, some of them backed by the Nantucket Sound alliance, remain to be settled.
Audra Parker, chief executive of the alliance, is skeptical that Mr. Gordon can move ahead. His plans, she said, are “built on a house of cards.”
Mr. Gordon, for his part, contends that Mr. Koch “lives in a billionaire bubble” and that his efforts to block Cape Wind are self-defeating because climate change is already assaulting Cape Cod.
“Their beach is eroding, houses are falling into the sea, the ocean is getting warmer, lobsters are migrating away,” Mr. Gordon said in an interview in his Boston office. “It’s just sad that somebody who has the means to spend millions of dollars can hold something up that’s going to produce a lot of benefits for Massachusetts and this region.”
Mr. Koch is not the only opponent of Cape Wind. The late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, whose Hyannis family compound also looked out on Nantucket Sound, opposed the project too, as do many fishermen and business owners on the Cape who worry it will hurt their livelihoods. Hundreds of people have made donations to the alliance; Mr. Koch’s $5 million in contributions account for only part of the $30 million raised.
But he is one of the few wealthy homeowners here who has taken a public role in the fight. And his ties to the fossil-fuel industry, and the fact that he is a Koch brother, make him a convenient target for pro-wind supporters.
Major environmental groups support the wind farm as a necessary step toward reducing carbon emissions, and they are furious with Mr. Koch. But when he was warned last year that environmentalists were going to start attacking him and try to stop his other projects, he said he welcomed the fight.
“The environmentalists are already after me,” he told CommonWealth magazine in April. “I’ve had the Turkish government after me, I’ve had the I.R.S. after me and I’ve had a $50-billion-a-year corporation after me. I’ve had the Turkish mafia after me, so bring it on, baby.”
Combative, flamboyant and litigious, Mr. Koch does not shy away from public scrapes. He has been involved in dozens of lawsuits over the years, including a tangled case against his own brothers that went on for two decades and that Forbes called “perhaps the nastiest family feud in American business history.”
Like his brothers David and Charles, who own Koch Industries Inc., Bill Koch is a billionaire, though not on the same order of magnitude. Forbes listed him in September as the 122nd richest person in the United States, with a net worth of $3.8 billion; his brothers are tied for fourth, with a net worth of $36 billion each.
David and Charles Koch, who are more conservative, use their money to promote political movements like the Tea Party, to back a libertarian social agenda and to protect their extensive fossil fuel holdings; Bill spends his on an array of passions, including sailing (he won the America’s Cup in 1992) and collecting wine, art (a wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is named for him) and Western memorabilia (he bought a ghost town in Colorado and is converting it into an authentic frontier settlement).
But Bill Koch, who founded Oxbow, a fossil-fuel-based company, three decades ago, has also been stepping up his political donations. He is spending millions to beat back environmental regulations and giving more than ever to like-minded politicians. He told CommonWealth magazine that he wanted to help elect people “who understand how foolhardy alternative energy is.”
His political contributions are generally less ideological than those of his brothers and are focused chiefly on advancing his business interests. Last year, Oxbow donated its largest amount ever, $4.35 million, to so-called super political action committees, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
Mr. Koch has donated to both Democrats and Republicans; the determining factor, he said, is whether they support policies that will benefit Oxbow. Recently, most of his recipients have been Republicans, including many House leaders who are seeking re-election next year.
Some say his protection of his fossil fuel interests goes hand-in-hand with his opposition to Cape Wind.
“No renewable energy resource holds as much potential as offshore wind to displace many, many, many gigawatts of dirty, carbon-intensive resources,” said Sue Reid, vice president and director of the Massachusetts office of the Conservation Law Foundation, which supports Cape Wind.
Mr. Koch has said that the most persuasive arguments against Cape Wind are economic, arguing that the project relies on government subsidies that could vanish tomorrow and that it would raise the cost of electricity, not lower it.
That point was bolstered last month by news that the biggest utilities in Massachusetts had signed contracts to buy land-based wind power from Maine and New Hampshire for 8 cents per kilowatt-hour; Cape Wind, by comparison, has contracts with those same utilities to start at 19 cents per kilowatt-hour, with built-in escalation clauses of 3.5 percent a year. Ms. Parker of the Nantucket Sound alliance called this news “the death knell for Cape Wind.”
But Mr. Gordon, the Cape Wind developer, said that his offshore turbines would produce power more consistently, at peak demand, than those in Maine and New Hampshire, and that he would be delivering power reliably to “the fastest-growing electric load demand center in New England.”
And, he said, he was confident that Cape Wind would one day be up and running.
Mr. Koch was just as certain that it would never be built. “I am equally confident,” he said in his e-mail, “that the project’s lack of merit will result in its demise.”
******************Boston Marathon bombing suspect linked to triple murder case
Tamerlan Tsarnaev took part in 2011 homicide in which three men's throats were cut, according to man later killed by police
Associated Press in Boston
theguardian.com, Wednesday 23 October 2013 09.38 BST
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was named as a participant in an earlier triple homicide by a man who was shot to death while being questioned by authorities, according to a filing by federal prosecutors in the case against his brother, surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
According to the filing on Monday, Ibragim Todashev told investigators Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was shot dead by police shortly after the bombing, took part in a triple murder in Waltham on 11 September 2011.
In that case, three men were found in an apartment with their throats cut and their bodies reportedly covered with marijuana. One of the victims was a boxer and friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Todashev, a 27-year-old martial arts fighter, was fatally shot at his Orlando home during a meeting with an FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers in May, according to authorities. He had turned violent while being questioned, they said.
The filing is the prosecutors' attempt to block Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from getting certain information from authorities, including investigative documents associated with the Waltham killings.
"The government has already disclosed to Tsarnaev that, according to Todashev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in the Waltham triple homicide," prosecutors wrote.
According to prosecutors, the investigation into the 2011 murders is reason not to allow Dzhokhar Tsarnaev access to documents.
"Any benefit to Tsarnaev of knowing more about the precise 'nature and extent' of his brother's involvement does not outweigh the potential harm of exposing details of an ongoing investigation into an extremely serious crime, especially at this stage of the proceeding," prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors also said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was not entitled to the information because his brother's criminal history would be relevant only at a possible future sentencing hearing, if at all.
A phone message left for a spokeswoman for the US attorney's office was not immediately returned on Tuesday night. A message left for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's federal public defender was also not immediately returned.
Authorities allege that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, and 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechens from Russia, planned and carried out the twin bombings near the finishing line of the marathon on 15 April. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured in the attack.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction and 16 other charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a gun battle with police as authorities closed in on the brothers several days after the bombings.