In the USA..United Surveillance America
September 27, 2013U.S. and Iran Agree to Speed Talks to Defuse Nuclear Issue
By PETER BAKER
WASHINGTON — The long-fractured relationship between the United States and Iran took a significant turn on Friday when President Obama and President Hassan Rouhani became the first leaders of their countries to speak since the Tehran hostage crisis more than three decades ago.
In a hurriedly arranged telephone call, Mr. Obama reached Mr. Rouhani as the Iranian leader was headed to the airport to leave New York after a whirlwind news media and diplomatic blitz. The two agreed to accelerate talks aimed at defusing the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and afterward expressed optimism at the prospect of a rapprochement that would transform the Middle East.
“Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” Mr. Obama, referring to Tehran’s nuclear program, told reporters at the White House after the 15-minute phone call. “It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region.”
A Twitter account in Mr. Rouhani’s name later stated, “In regards to nuclear issue, with political will, there is a way to rapidly solve the matter.” The account added that Mr. Rouhani had told Mr. Obama, “We’re hopeful about what we will see from” the United States and other major powers “in coming weeks and months.”
The conversation was the first between Iranian and American leaders since 1979 when President Jimmy Carter spoke by telephone with Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi shortly before the shah left the country, according to Iran experts. The Islamic Revolution that toppled the shah’s government led to the seizure of the American Embassy and a 444-day hostage crisis that have left the two countries at odds with each other ever since.
Although both Republican and Democratic presidents have reached out to Tehran in the interim, contact had been reserved to letters or lower-level officials.
The call came just days after Mr. Obama had hoped to encounter Mr. Rouhani at a luncheon at the United Nations and expected to shake hands. Mr. Rouhani skipped the luncheon and later indicated it was premature to meet Mr. Obama. But a meeting on Thursday between Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran was described as constructive and led Iranian officials to contact the White House on Friday to suggest the phone call, according to American officials.
A senior Obama administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said the White House had expressed the president’s interest in meeting Mr. Rouhani to the Iranians this week but was surprised when they suggested the phone call. Mr. Obama placed the call from the Oval Office around 2:30 p.m., joined by aides and a translator.
He opened by congratulating Mr. Rouhani on his election in June and noted the history of mistrust between the two nations, but also what he called the constructive statements Mr. Rouhani had made during his stay in New York, according to the official. The bulk of the call focused on the nuclear dispute, and Mr. Obama repeated that he respected Iran’s right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but insisted on concessions to prevent development of weapons.
Mr. Obama also raised the cases of three Americans in Iran, one missing and two others detained. In a lighter moment, he apologized for New York traffic.
The call ended on a polite note, according to the official and Mr. Rouhani’s Twitter account.
“Have a nice day,” Mr. Rouhani said in English.
“Thank you,” Mr. Obama replied, and then tried a Persian farewell. “Khodahafez.”
By talking on the phone instead of in person, Mr. Rouhani avoided a politically problematic photo of himself with Mr. Obama, which could have inflamed hard-liners in Iran who were already wary of his outreach to the United States. As it was, conservative elements in Tehran tried to reinterpret his statements acknowledging the Holocaust while he was in New York.
The state news channel, the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, had not mentioned the phone call with Mr. Obama as of midnight Friday after word of it broke, and the original messages on Mr. Rouhani’s Twitter account were deleted and replaced with more anodyne comments. But Mr. Rouhani’s office announced the call in a statement carried by the Iranian state news agency.
“This voice contact has for now replaced the actual shaking of hands, but this is clearly the start of a process that could in the future lead to a face-to-face meeting between both leaders,” said Amir Mohebbian, a political adviser close to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Abbas Milani, an Iranian scholar at Stanford University, said Mr. Rouhani wanted to avoid looking as if he was making concessions. “The U.S. and the West have wisely decided to allow the regime to make its claims of victory at home, so long as they play earnest ball in meetings abroad,” Mr. Milani said. A call to a leader on the way to the airport may not be normal protocol, he added, but “in this case it was adroit policy for both sides.”
American advocates of closer relations between the two countries were optimistic. “The phone call wasn’t just history,” said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, an arms control group, who attended a dinner with Mr. Rouhani in New York. “It helped fundamentally change the course of Iranian-U.S. relations. We’re on a very different trajectory than we were even at the beginning of the week.”
But others expressed caution, arguing that Iran was reaching out only because of the sanctions that have strangled its economy.
“The economic pain now is sufficient to oblige a telephone call, though not a face-to-face meeting,” said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which supports stronger sanctions against Iran. “We will see whether the pain is sufficient for the Iranians to shut the heavy-water plant at Arak and reverse Iran’s path to a rapid breakout capacity with enriched uranium.”
Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican majority leader, criticized Mr. Obama for not pressing Iran to halt what he said was its support for terrorism and for Syria’s government. “It is particularly unfortunate that President Obama would recognize the Iranian people’s right to nuclear energy but not stand up for their right to freedom, human rights or democracy,” he said.
In announcing the call with Mr. Rouhani, Mr. Obama said that only “meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions” on the nuclear program could “bring relief” from sanctions.
“A path to a meaningful agreement will be difficult, and at this point, both sides have significant concerns that will have to be overcome,” he said. “But I believe we’ve got a responsibility to pursue diplomacy, and that we have a unique opportunity to make progress with the new leadership in Tehran.”
Recognizing the delicacy of the outreach effort, Mr. Obama made a point of trying to reassure Israel that he would not jeopardize an ally’s security. “Throughout this process, we’ll stay in close touch with our friends and allies in the region, including Israel,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is scheduled to visit Mr. Obama at the White House on Monday.
Before leaving New York, Mr. Rouhani said his government would present a plan in three weeks on how to resolve the nuclear standoff. “I expect this trip will be the first step and the beginning of constructive relations with countries of the world,” he said at a news conference.
He went on to say that he hoped the visit would also improve relations “between two great nations, Iran and the United States,” adding that the trip had exceeded his expectations.
Mr. Rouhani and his aides have been on an extraordinarily energetic campaign to prove that they are moderate and reasonable partners and to draw a stark contrast with his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But Mr. Rouhani has yet to propose anything concrete to suggest how different the Iranians really are in their approach. The first glimpse of that is due to come on Oct. 15 and 16, when Iran plans to present its own road map in Geneva.
Mr. Rouhani emphasized that his government had the authority and the will to reach a nuclear settlement within what he called “a short period of time.” But he was visibly irritated when asked whether his diplomatic blitz was merely designed to buy time with his Western interlocutors.
“We have never chosen deceit as a path,” he said. “We have never chosen secrecy.”
Thomas Erdbrink contributed reporting from Tehran, Mark Landler from Washington, and Somini Sengupta from the United Nations.
Click to watch: http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/sep/28/obama-historic-phone-call-iran-rouhani-video
******************Brian Williams' Iran propagandaThe NBC star tells his viewers that Iranian leaders are 'suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons', even though they've been saying it for years
theguardian.com, Saturday 28 September 2013 11.47 BST There is ample reason for skepticism that anything substantial will change in Iran-US relations, beginning with the fact that numerous US political and media figures are vested in the narrative that Iran is an evil threat whose desire for a peaceful resolution must not be trusted (and some hard-line factions in Iran are similarly vested in ongoing conflict).
Whatever one's views are on the prospects for improving relations, the first direct communications in more than 30 years between the leaders of those two countries is a historically significant event.
Here is what NBC News anchor Brian Williams told his viewers about this event when leading off his broadcast last night, with a particularly mocking and cynical tone used for the bolded words:
This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran - suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons!
; what they want is talks and transparency and good will. And while that would be enough to define a whole new era, skepticism is high and there's a good reason for it."
Yes, Iran's claim that they don't want nuclear weapons sure is "sudden" - if you pretend that virtually everything that they've said on that question for the past ten years does not exist. Here, for instance, is previous Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an August 13, 2011, interview:
"Q: 'Are you saying that at some point in the future you may want to acquire a nuclear deterrent, a nuclear weapon?'
"Ahmadinejad: 'Never, never. We do not want nuclear weapons. We do not seek nuclear weapons. This is an inhumane weapon. Because of our beliefs we are against that.
"Firstly, our religion says it is prohibited. We are a religious people. Secondly, nuclear weapons have no capability today. If any country tries to build a nuclear bomb, they in fact waste their money and resources and they create great danger for themselves. . . .
"Nuclear weapons are the weapons of the previous century. This century is the century of knowledge and thinking, the century of human beings, the century of culture and logic. . . . Our goal in the country and the goal of our people is peace for all. Nuclear energy for all, and nuclear weapons for none. This is our goal.
"All nuclear activities in Iran are monitored by the IAEA. There have been no documents against Iran from the agency. It's just a claim by the US that we are after nuclear weapons. But they have no evidence that Iran is diverting resources to that purpose."
In fact, the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a 2005 religious edict banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and in January of this year, Iranian official Ramin Mehmanparast declared: "There is nothing higher than the exalted supreme leader's fatwa to define the framework for our activities in the nuclear field." He added: "We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. When the highest jurist and authority in the country's leadership issues a fatwa, this will be binding for all of us to follow. So, this fatwa will be our top agenda."
The following month, Khamenei himself said: "We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don't want to build atomic weapons." The New York Times noted that "American officials say they believe that Ayatollah Khamenei exercises full control over Iran's nuclear program."
These are identical to the statements top Iranian officials have been making for years. In 2012, Khamenei "insisted his country was not seeking nuclear weapons, claiming that 'holding these arms is a sin as well as useless, harmful and dangerous.'" The following month, Iran's top leader gave what Professor Juan Cole described at the time as "a major foreign policy speech" and said:
The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous."
Can that be any more absolute? Iran's top leadership has been making similarly unambiguous statements for almost a full decade, even taking out a full page ad in the New York Times in 2005 to counter the growing clamor in the US for a military attack by proclaiming that Iran had no desire for nuclear weapons, was not pursuing them, and wanted transparency, accountability and peace - exactly what Brian Williams told his viewers last night was a "sudden" and newfound claim.
Obviously, the fact that Iran claims it does not want nuclear weapons is not proof that it is not seeking them or will not seek them at some point in the future; all government statements should be subjected to skepticism (and one can only dream of the day when US media stars subject the statements of their own government to the same skepticism accorded to those of leaders of non-allied countries). But what is true is that US intelligence agencies have repeatedly though secretly concluded that they do not believe that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, and even top Israeli military officials have expressed serious doubts that Iran is building, or will build, a nuclear weapon.
But whether Iran is sincere is an entirely separate question from the one about which Williams radically misled his viewers last night. While Iran's actual intentions regarding nuclear weapons may be debatable, the fact that they have repeatedly and over the course of many years emphatically disclaimed any interest in acquiring nuclear weapons is not debatable. It is indisputable fact that they have done exactly that. There is nothing new or "sudden" about this claim.
To the contrary, Iran has been trying to make Americans hear for years that they have no interest in nuclear weapons. Indeed, they have repeatedly made clear that they have not only banned such weapons but favor region-wide nuclear disarmament, including of Israel's vast nuclear arsenal, which actually exists. It is Israel, not Iran, which has steadfastly refused to allow inspections of its nuclear arsenal (despite UN demands they do so) or to join the NPT or other conventions designed to monitor and regulate nuclear weapons.But these facts have been excluded almost entirely from the dominant US media narrative for years. The fact that Iran, at its highest leadership levels, has repeatedly and unequivocally disavowed any interest in nuclear weapons is something that most Americans simply don't know, because the country's media stars have barely ever mentioned it. Brian Williams himself was either ignorant of this history, or chose to pretend last night that it did not happen when framing this historic event for his viewers.Whichever of those two options is true, NBC News feels free to spout such plainly false propaganda - "suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons!" - because they know they and fellow large media outlets have done such an effective job in keeping their viewers ignorant of these facts. They thus believe that they can sow doubts about Iran's intentions with little danger that their deceit will be discovered. Many NBC News viewers have likely never heard before that Iran has emphatically claimed not to want nuclear weapons and have even formally banned them, and thus are easily misled into believing Williams when he tells them that these current claims represent some "sudden", inexplicable, and bizarre reversal that are not to be trusted.
************Senate strips Obamacare defunding clause and sends spending bill to House
House conservatives may still attach measures into bill aimed at scrapping Obamacare amid government shutdown threat
Dan Roberts in Washington
theguardian.com, Friday 27 September 2013 19.09 BST
A narrow majority of Senate Republicans took steps to try to avoid a US government shutdown on Friday, voting in favour of a procedural motion that passes the vexed spending bill back to their more radical colleagues in the House of Representatives.
Only 19 Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, voted against the so-called cloture motion, which marked the last chance for Republicans to prevent Democrats from stripping out a clause that would defund the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Two subsequent Senate votes, stripping out the Obamacare threat and agreeing final passage of the so-called "clean" spending bill, were each passed along party lines by 54 to 44.
Twenty-five Republicans voted with Democrats in favour of allowing the spending authorisation bill to progress.
But Cruz predicted that his House colleagues would stand their ground against Obamacare and refuse to accept the spending bill which will now be sent back to them by the Senate.
House conservatives are threatening to try once again to attach measures aimed at scrapping Obamacare before pinging the bill back to the Senate hours before current spending authorisation expires on Monday night.
"When it comes back to this body in a few days, I very much hope we unite," said Cruz shortly before the series of Senate votes on Friday.
Watched by a number of allies from the lower chamber, including congressman Justin Amash of Michigan, Cruz succeeding in garnering support from a clutch of fellow conservative senators including Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky but fell significantly short of the 40 votes needed to block passage of the bill.
With the help of Republican leaders, Senate majority leader Harry Reid secured a total of 80 votes in favour of cloture, allowing him to stage three more straightforward majority votes that stripped out the Obamacare threat and sent the so-called continuing resolution back to the House.
The scale of the Republican split in the Senate may help moderates in the House who are urging the party to step back from its threat to shut down to the government if Obamacare is not blocked.
House speaker John Boehner has been urging colleagues to turn their fire instead on a separate budget fight over whether to extend government borrowing limits in mid-October. But many House Republicans were in uncompromising mood on Friday morning, and are threatening to attach more riders to the spending bill over the weekend.
September 28, 2013House G.O.P. to Plan Next Step as Budget Clock Runs Down
By JONATHAN WEISMAN
WASHINGTON — House Republicans will meet in a rare Saturday session as they plan their next move to keep the government open past midnight on Monday while extracting major concessions on President Obama’s health care law.
The Senate turned up the pressure on the House on Friday, passing a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government financed through Nov. 15 while leaving the health care law intact. Now, House Republicans must decide whether to accept the measure, attach minor changes to the health care law that could win Democratic support, or confront the Senate anew by again tying further government financing to a gutting of the law.
Any move short of passing the Senate bill is likely to shut down the government, at least briefly, unless it is accompanied by a measure that would finance the government for at least a few days. That would allow the Republican to keep their struggle alive.
In his Saturday radio and Internet address, the president will accuse Republicans in the House of being “more concerned with appeasing an extreme faction of their party than working to pass a budget that creates new jobs or strengthens the middle class,” according to a transcript released in advance.
“And in the next couple days, these Republicans will have to decide whether to join the Senate and keep the government open, or create a crisis that will hurt people for the sole purpose of advancing their ideological agenda,” he adds. “The American people have worked too hard to recover from crisis to see extremists in their Congress cause another one.”
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, will use the Republican radio address on Saturday to shift the debate to another important deadline, Oct. 17, when Congress must raise the government’s statutory borrowing limit or risk a potentially catastrophic default on the national debt.
“The president is now demanding that we increase the debt limit without engaging in any kind of bipartisan discussions about addressing our spending problem,” Ms. Rodgers said. “He wants to take the easy way out — exactly the kind of foolishness that got us here in the first place.”
Congressional Republicans are waging a two-front political war: one with Mr. Obama and the Democrats, the other within their own ranks.
The House Republicans’ meeting, which is to begin at noon, is intended to produce spending legislation that is coupled with Republican health care demands, and the measure would face a vote on Sunday. That would leave the Senate just one day to deal with the House legislation before much of the government closes down for lack of funds. Without unanimous support in the Senate, the rules of the chamber would never let any such measure pass that quickly.
It is unclear how the House will proceed. Divisions within the Republican caucus have prevented the leadership from presenting a united front or developing a coherent strategy that would keep the government operating and raise the debt limit while extracting demands from the Democrats. House conservatives, encouraged by hard-liners in the Senate like Ted Cruz of Texas, torpedoed a plan by the leadership to tie an increase in the debt ceiling to a laundry list of Republican priorities. They argued that the leadership was pushing legislation that contained too little deficit reduction and undermined the push to gut the health care law.
Republicans are split between moderates who are searching for fig-leaf concession to keep the government open and conservatives who will accept nothing less than a one-year delay in the health care law. Enrollment in the law’s new insurance exchanges begins on Tuesday.
“I’ve been very clear,” said Representative Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania. “I do not support shutting the government down. I do not support default — under any circumstances.”
House conservatives insist that Democrats will give in to their demands rather than defend a health care law that the Republicans say is unpopular with voters in both parties. Sixty-one House Republicans introduced legislation on Friday evening to delay the law, the Affordable Care Act, for one year, and they said they would attach the measure to the Senate spending bill. That voting bloc is large enough to dictate the debate if its members can stick together.
“The Democrats realize that we need to delay Obamacare by one year because it’s not ready for prime time,” said Representative Raúl Labrador, Republican of Idaho. “It’s not ready for action,”
But even in the conservative ranks, there is little agreement about the demands that should be made to keep the government open. Social conservatives are seeking to attach language to the next version of a stopgap spending bill that would allow employers and health care providers to opt out of the requirement that insurance policies cover contraception. Representative Chris Smith, Republican of New Jersey, said it “would be unconscionable” to vote for even a short-term spending measure without it.
That has left Senate Democrats exasperated. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, took a hard line on Friday, saying he would not accept any changes to the health care law, no matter how minor, if they were the price to prevent a government shutdown. He backed that up by announcing that the Senate would meet again on Monday, on the eve of the shutdown, and allow the House to struggle through the weekend.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said there could be no negotiations until House Republicans united around a position.
“They don’t yet,” he said.
**************What happens if the U.S. government shuts down?
By Agence France-Presse
Friday, September 27, 2013 13:44 EDT
A US government shutdown is looming. Congress is struggling to pass a stopgap budget measure that would keep the doors open beyond the fiscal year, which ends at midnight September 30.
But with congressional bickering in full swing, and the deadline less than four days away, there is increasing anxiety about who and what will be affected.
During the previous two shutdowns, for six days in November 1995 and 21 days from December that year into early 1996, some 800,000 federal employees were ordered to stay home, according to a congressional report.
Here is a snapshot of what is likely to occur in the event Congress can not agree on a federal spending bill by October 1.
WHITE HOUSE and CONGRESS: These facilities will remain open, although both are likely to furlough some staff. The State Department has said it will temporarily furlough non-essential staff too.
PENTAGON: Military personnel will remain on duty, although the Department of Defense says there may be delays in their paycheck processing. More than half of the department’s 800,000 civilian employees are expected to be furloughed, and the Pentagon has warned of likely “hardships” for many workers.
NATIONAL SECURITY: Such services will remain operational, such as US border patrol and airport screeners. Personnel who are deemed to “protect life and property,” such as emergency service providers like disaster response teams, would stay on duty.
MEDICAL RESEARCH: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) could be severely impacted. It would not be allowed to begin new clinical trials or see new patients.
MUSEUMS and PARKS: The Smithsonian museums and all 368 sites in the National Park Service system would close. Seven million tourists were affected during the last shutdown.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: EPA administrator Gina McCarthy warned that the agency “effectively shuts down.” That means virtually no one monitoring or enforcing air and water quality or oil pollution regulations.
POSTAL SERVICE: Since the US Postal Service has its own independent sources of funding, it remains open, as does the Federal Reserve.
SOCIAL SECURITY: Most entitlement programs will continue, although there will be hiccups. Social Security checks will be mailed, but Social Security offices will close. Military veterans will receive their benefits as well, but disability claims will be backlogged. Veterans hospitals will remain open.
WASHINGTON: Congress is granted exclusive jurisdiction over the US capital, and during the 1995-96 shutdown, the city was the focus of embarrassment as it halted its trash collection. Now, Mayor Vincent Gray says he will declare all city employees as “essential personnel” in the event of a shutdown, and use a contingency cash reserve fund to pay wages.
ECONOMY: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that a temporary shutdown would “shatter our economy.” That may be hyperbole, but the impact could well be significant. According to Macroeconomic Advisers, the effect on fourth-quarter GDP grown of a two-week shutdown beginning October 1 would be 0.3 percentage points.
************Harry Reid Warns Boehner Get Some Courage because, ‘We’re not going to be extorted.’
By: Jason Easley
Sep. 27th, 2013
Sen. Harry Reid slammed John Boehner and warned him that the Senate is not going to be extorted. He told Boehner to get some courage and pass the Senate bill, or the government will shutdown.
The bill we just passed. The bill would pass the House overwhelmingly if the Speaker had the courage to bring it to the floor and let 435 members of the House of Representatives vote. I think they should think very carefully this weekend about their next step. Any bill that continues to play political games would force a government shutdown. They need to accept what we just passed. To be absolutely clear, we are going to accept nothing as it relates to Obamacare. There’s a time and place for everything, and this is not that time or place.
We’re not going to be extorted. The country’s not going to be extorted. We’re not going to negotiate with a gun to our heads. We are not going to allow the Republicans to say give us what we want or the economy is going to close. Think about that. It’s no way to govern, and it has to end.
On the Senate floor the Sen. Reid warned House Republicans that the clock is ticking, “I want everyone to listen and to hear: The United States Senate has acted. This is the only legislation that can avert a government shutdown, and that time is ticking as we speak.”
Ted Cruz’s scheme was designed to fracture the Democrats by applying pressure to red state Democrats who are up for reelection next year. His plan has failed miserably. Democrats are standing together, so Cruz has moved on to leading a House rebellion against Boehner. Meanwhile, Reid is letting the Speaker know that he has one way out of this. He needs to allow a vote on the Senate bill. If Boehner allows a vote on Senate bill, it will definitely pass.
Democrats aren’t going to help Boehner.
He is going to have to bring the Senate bill up for a vote all on his own. The only way Boehner gets out of this mess is to stand up to tea party extremists by allow by allowing the House vote on the Senate bill. If he refuses to do this, the government will shutdown. The economic and political fallout will be on the Republicans, and their House majority may be in jeopardy.
**************Chaos in The GOP as Ted Cruz is Leading a House Rebellion Against John Boehner
By: Jason Easley
Sep. 27th, 2013
National Review Online has the details of Cruz advising the House Republicans:
On a Thursday conference call, a group of House conservatives consulted with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas about how to respond to the leadership’s fiscal strategy. Sources who were on the call say Cruz strongly advised them to oppose it, and hours later, Speaker John Boehner’s plan fizzled.
It’s the latest example of Cruz leading the House’s right flank.
The private call came together after Boehner unveiled his strategy at a Republican conference meeting earlier this week. Boehner’s plan — to focus on a debt-limit package, rather than a drawn-out CR battle — made many conservatives uneasy. As they mulled a response, they reached out to Cruz.
On the call, Cruz told them that Boehner was making a mistake, and urged his friends to fight until the end on the CR. The group agreed, and they complained that Boehner’s shift to the debt limit was a diversion. Senator Mike Lee of Utah joined Cruz on the call, and both senators said they’d stand with House conservatives as they opposed the leadership.
Later Thursday, Cruz met again with House conservatives at a venue near the Capitol. According to one House member, the bicameral bloc talked deep into the night about the CR and how to pressure Boehner. At the top of the agenda: making a one-year delay of Obamacare a requirement for government funding, and to accept nothing less, should the defunding effort continue to unravel. There is fear the Boehner is resistant to making that demand as part of a CR, and conservatives discussed ways to force his hand.
The House Republican leadership has no power over their own caucus. Anything Speaker John Boehner says is meaningless, because a number of House Republicans are taking their orders from Ted Cruz.
This showdown is not about Obama and the Democrats versus the Republicans. It’s Ted Cruz versus John Boehner.
As Cruz and Boehner fight it out, the Speaker may have to turn to President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the House Democrats to avoid a crisis. Boehner may have to give up a lot and deliver a handful of votes if he expects the Democrats to once again save him from his own party. However, it looks like the White House and Rep. Pelosi are content to let Boehner sleep in the bed that he has made. There are no talks public or private talks going on between Boehner and the White House.
The congressional Republicans have moved beyond dysfunction, and are steamrolling towards destruction.
What this means in terms of government shutdown is that it looks very, very likely that there will be no agreement to avoid it. Boehner will probably have to send the same bill back to the Senate that they just rejected.
Foolish House Republicans are being led on a suicide mission by a man who is risking nothing. It is full on civil war now, and Ted Cruz is out to destroy the Republican Party.
*************Republican Fascists Will Stop at Nothing Less Than Ending Our Representative Democracy
Sep. 27th, 2013
America’s government is far from perfect, but it worked relatively well until 2009 when Republicans’ raison d’être became neutering the legally elected government at all costs to punish the electorate for choosing an African American man as President. Throughout the President’s tenure, Republicans fabricated one phony debt crisis after another to cripple the government’s ability to operate and keep the economy stagnating regardless the damage to the people. In fact, it is safe to say obstructing governance, and democracy, has been the Republicans’ only goal for four straight years.
Now that the government is due to run out of operating funds and hit its debt limit, Republicans have created another crisis over funding the government, paying the nation’s debt, and a three year-old health law they claim is an existential threat to the nation. However, the looming threat of a government shutdown and credit default Republicans promise are not about spending, debt and deficit, or even the Affordable Care Act; it is about ending the nation’s representative democracy and ushering in fascism and rule by oligarchy.
After the 2008 election Republicans acted as if they won control of Congress and the White House, and attempted to thwart President Obama and Democrats attempt to govern the nation. They have persisted in that vein throughout the President’s tenure and it drove credit rating agency S&P to downgrade America’s credit because “Republican political brinkmanship had shown evidence of America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable.” When Republicans revealed their ransom demands to raise the debt ceiling on Wednesday, they exposed their disregard for democracy and revealed their only goal is fundamentally transforming the way America is governed; even if they have to decimate the economy to achieve their goal.
It is obvious that Republicans reject the results of the last election or they would not threaten to rule by destroying the nation’s economy. Americans should not underestimate the Republicans’ threat because there is just enough support for a default that analysts including Chris Krueger from Guggenheim Partners, warned on Wednesday that “there is a 40% chance of a credit default scenario as a result of the looming fight over raising the debt ceiling.” Krueger did not inspire confidence that Republicans will pull back their threat because he continued that “the path forward on the debt ceiling remains a total mystery and our 60% probability that the U.S. will not enter into default is based on nothing more than blind faith.” Krueger’s blind faith aside, there are an overwhelming number of Republican and teabag voters supporting a default, and enough congressional Republicans willing to vote against raising the debt limit that the 40% figure is a serious threat to the nation’s economy. Crashing the economy may seem risky for demanding enactment of their agenda, but Republicans are intent on satisfying their wealth donors’ vision for America.
The Republican list of demands for raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with the nation’s debt, and everything to do with implementing every single Republican legislative proposal for the past two years and the RNC platform voters rejected last November. Whether it is eliminating the EPA’s regulatory oversight, “repealing Obamacare,” eliminating the financial reform law, tax reform according to the Ryan budget, raiding federal employee’s pensions, or approving the Keystone XL pipeline, the ransom demands are a reiteration of Willard Romney’s first day to-do list had he won the presidency. The ransom demands represent the nation’s agenda if Republicans ran the government, but since they are not in charge they have made blowing up the economy a “valid legislative strategy” to rule unchallenged and contrary to the will of the voters.
What Americans are witnessing from Republicans and Koch teabagger extremists is an attempted bloodless (for now) coup d’état with the full faith and credit of the United States the price to pay for adhering to the Constitution’s mandate for running the government. Republicans are mesmerized by nihilists in the extremist conservative movement who believe that America’s form of government, and its Constitution, are worthless and so detestable that they have to be destroyed to give wealthy oligarchs power to dictate which laws are enacted according to their fascist vision. Boehner said as much a couple of months ago when he told an interviewer that Republicans primary goal is repealing laws their corporate donors oppose, and the list of ransom demands represent policies Wall Street and the Koch fascists lust for in their “fundamentally transformed” vision of America.
The Koch brothers, ALEC, and libertarian wing of the party have long plotted to dismantle the government departments they regard as standing in their way of controlling the course of the nation, and they found willing assistance from ignorant racists in the teabagger movement to support the fascist takeover. In 1944, Henry A. Wallace defined an American fascist as one who puts money and power ahead of human beings and uses demagogues and stooges as fronts for the power behind the scenes. In 2013, stooges and demagogues are the likes of Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee who are fronts for Wall Street and the Koch brothers who are calling the shots behind the scenes.
Republicans, Wall Street, and the Koch brothers lost the last two Presidential elections, and for the President’s first term they behaved like petulant little brats who took their basketball and stopped the game because they were losing. Now, Republicans and their wealthy backers are willing to puncture the ball, blow up the basketball court, and gun down innocent bystanders on their way home to pout if they lose the debt limit game. It is not governance; it is a group of angry losers willing to destroy the nation’s economy because the other side won the last election and the voters retained the President who demands the nation be governed according to the Constitution and not the libertarian vision of a transformed America controlled by a fascist regime.
The current debt limit and funding crisis are about subverting democracy and ushering in fascism under cover of “protecting Americans from Obamacare” and “reforming successful government programs,” and have nothing to do with governing according to the Constitution. Republicans, or the Koch brothers, are not running the government, but one would not know it based on their threat to enact their platform or cause a devastating credit default. America has functioned as a representative democracy for 226 years, but Republicans refuse to accept the voters will and appear ready to crash the economy unless their party platform is enacted under duress. President Obama said, “If we continue to set a precedent in which a president — any president, a Republican president, a Democratic president — where the opposing party controls the House of Representatives, if that president is in a situation in which each time the United States is called upon to pay its bills the other party can simply sit there and say, ‘Well, we’re not gonna pay the bills unless you give us what we want,’ that changes the constitutional structure of this government entirely.”
The President is right, and hopefully he understands that Republicans and their fascist supporters want to change the structure of this government from the constitutionally mandated representative democracy to fascism by oligarchs. With a 40% chance of Republicans following through on their threat of a credit default, one hopes the President has a plan to save the economy because with only a 60% chance America resolves its debt obligation unscathed, it will take more than blind faith to hope America survives.
***********Obama Stands Tall and Says No To Every Single Thing That Republicans Are Demanding
By: Jason Easley
Sep. 27th, 2013
President Obama looked the House Republicans threatening our economy in the eye today, and responded with a big fat no to every single demand that they are making.
Video begins at 32:00 mark:
The president began by announcing that he spoke to the Iranian president on the phone. This is the first phone conversation between the leaders of the two countries since 1979. Obama also talked about a UN resolution on Syria.
Obama then moved on to Congress. He said that Congress is responsible for passing a budget and paying our bills. He praised the Senate for their CR vote, and told the House that it is up to them to do the same. He said, “This debate isn’t really about deficits.” The president pointed out that our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years. He said House Republicans are so concerned with appeasing the tea party that they are threatening to shutdown the government unless he guts or delays the ACA.
The president repeated, “That’s not going to happen.”
Obama said that if House Republicans have an ideas for improving healthcare, he is happy to work with them, but he made it clear that he will not be moved by threats of a government shutdown. The president said, “Any Republican in Congress who is currently watching, I encourage you to think about who you are hurting.” Obama used the words of Republican senators and governors to tell the House to knock it off, and get this done.
President Obama said not raising the debt ceiling would be worse than a government shutdown. It would be an economic shutdown. The president warned that a default would have a destabilizing effect on the world economy.
Obama said, “Nobody gets to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States just to extract some political concessions.”
He said that he will not set that precedent, “That is not how our constitutional system is designed. We’re not going to do it.”
The president’s message to House Republicans was, “Do not shut down the government. Do not shutdown our economy. Pass a budget. Pay our bills on time.” The president added later, “Do not threaten to burn the house down because you haven’t gotten 100% of what you want.”
President Obama has made his position clear. He is not going to negotiate. He will not respond to House Republican threats, and they are not going to get what they want. If Obama sounded like he was scolding misbehaving children, it’s because he was. House Republicans are throwing a tantrum and making demands. The President of the United States has to be the adult in the room who lays out the boundaries and says no.
If the Republican plan was to scare Obama into getting what they want, it’s not working. They are the ones who should be scared. Should the economy be thrown into recession again, it will be the names of House Republicans on the ballot next year. Obama isn’t running. He can afford to play hardball. It’s obvious that House Republicans continue to misjudge the toughness of this president. They keep threatening him, but Obama never blinks.
This is not going to end well for the House Republicans. Obama’s no will never turn to yes, and the clock is ticking towards a government shutdown.
Your move, Ted Cruz.
************As The Republican Party Goes Up in Flames Fox News Blames Obama
By: Jason Easley
Sep. 27th, 2013
As the Republican Party self destructs before our eyes, Fox News is stomping their feet and blaming Obama for polarizing America.
The Republican Party has completely fallen apart over Obamacare. Republicans are being consumed by their own polarization, and Fox News trotted out Bill O’Reilly to blame Obama.
O’REILLY: “Talking Points” does not believe that Fox News, the media or any other entity is polarizing America. It’s the Obama administration driving that. The President was elected to change America. That’s what he said he would do. And he has largely kept that promise. This country is now much different than it was in 2008.
The problem is the country is weaker. And the economy is still problematic. Wages for working Americans have actually gone down on President Obama’s watch.
So it’s not the media, Fox News or anybody else that’s creating division its politics. There are millions of Americans who still like President Obama, but his job approval rating is falling fast — 43 percent in the latest CBS News/”New York Times” poll. Fox News is set up to report that kind of information and analyze why it’s happening and we do. Unlike some other networks, FNC encourages robust debate from all kinds of people.
As you may know there is an intense debate right now over how Republicans are handling Obamacare. Some FNC commentators side with Senator Ted Cruz who wants to just blow it up. Others like Charles Krauthammer, Brit Hume, Bernie Goldberg say that allowing Obamacare to fail is the best course of action if you want to roll back the entire nanny state. That debate is healthy, and it’s going on right here.
O’Reilly was responding to Bill Clinton calling out Fox News and the media for polarizing the country, but his rebuttal was completely detached from the real world. Fox News has whipped up polarization since before Barack Obama took office. Immediately after the president took office, Glenn Beck drove the racist narrative that is prevalent in conservative circles today. The Fox News agenda has always been to polarize and divide. Fox tries to divide the media into two camps, Fox News and liberal bias. They have tried to polarize the country based on political affiliation, religion, race, gender, and sex.
Unfortunately for them, their campaign of polarization was too effective. The divides that are ripping the Republican Party into pieces and threatening the economy were caused by Fox News. FNC got in bed with the Kochs and gave the AstroTurf tea party endless promotion. Fox News shamelessly campaigned on the air for Ted Cruz and other tea party champions. This is all coming back to bite them, and they are blaming President Obama.
The Republican Party is collapsing in on itself, and much of the internal fighting was promoted by Fox News.
Fox News makes a lot of money by polarizing America. The Republican Party is going up in flames in part because of Fox News. Blaming President Obama for what they have sown is typical behavior from the unaccountable and irresponsible conservative media.
It wasn’t Obama who polarized America. Fox News, you built that.
**************Fox News Humiliates Itself Trying to Respond To Obama Calling Out Their ACA Lies
By: Jason Easley
Sep. 26th, 2013
In response to President Obama calling out their ACA lies, Fox News responded by proving the president right in the most humiliating way possible.
But we need you to spread the word. But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you talk to somebody who says, well, I don’t know, I was watching FOX News and they said this was horrible — (laughter) — you can say, you know what, don’t take my word for it, go on the website. See for yourself what the prices are. See for yourself what the choices are. Then make up your own mind.
That’s all I’m asking. Make up your own mind. I promise you, if you go on the website and it turns out you’re going to save $100, $200, $300 a month on your insurance, or you’ll be able to buy insurance for the first time, even if you didn’t vote for me — (laughter) — I’ll bet you’ll sign up for that health care plan.
In response, Fox News exec Neil Cavuto did the verbal equivalent of throwing up on himself:
Mr. President, tell that to tens of thousands of retirees at IBM and Time Warner and dozens of others, who’ve been dumped from their coverage and told to find their own coverage.
Fox News didn’t break that news to them, Mr. President.
Their companies did.
Fox News didn’t push more of those firms to hire part-time workers.
Your healthcare law did.
Fox News didn’t incentivize fast food restaurants to scale back their benefits.
Your healthcare law did.
Fox News didn’t make doctors want to opt out.
Your healthcare law did.
Fox News didn’t make insurance premiums sky rocket.
Your healthcare law did.
Just like Fox News didn’t grant hundreds of exemptions to companies that needed them.
And Fox News didn’t delay one key provision after another, including online enrollment for those small business exchanges.
Just like it wasn’t Fox News that said we had to pass this to see what was in this.
Or was that Nancy Pelosi? Sometimes I’m confused.
But of this I am not.
Fox News didn’t re-do basic math.
Sir, you did.
Fox News didn’t say you can cover 30 million more Americans and not see a hit in premiums.
Fox News didn’t say you could throw in those with pre-existing conditions and not have to pay for it.
Fox News didn’t all but say you could get something for nothing.
Fox News didn’t come back years later and say, oh yea, we did raise some taxes.
Here’s where you are right about Fox News, however, Mr. President.
We can do math. And did.
You cannot. And did not.
We said it, and proved it.
You didn’t. And we’re all suffering for it.
Take it from the numbers guy at Fox.
Numbers don’t lie.
The number of Americans working part-time and nervous.
The number of retirees days away from being dumped on exchanges and anxious.
The number of company bosses with any news to pass along on those exchanges, but still clueless.
The number of doctors who want out.
The number of congressmen now opting out.
No, Mr. President, none of those numbers lie.
But with all due respect sir, I can only conclude you do know; I know you hate us at Fox.
But please take a look in a mirror, and fast.
You think we’re the skunk at your picnic.
But that doesn’t mean we’re the ones that stink.
Because that smell isn’t coming from the folks reporting on your law.
Mr. President, that smell is your law.
Cavuto is the numbers guy at Fox News, in the same way that Paul Ryan is the numbers guy in the Republican Party. They’re both clueless. There were three things missing from Cavuto’s little rant. 1). Facts 2). Data 3). Truth.
Neil Cavuto didn’t get to be an executive at Fox News by not knowing the style. Cavuto sounded tough. He sounded like he was taking on the president, but he was lying. His words were empty. He had no data to back up his claims. Everything he said was a Republican talking point, and absolutely none of it can be proven with facts. Fox News embarrassed itself, and demonstrated how weak the argument against the ACA has become.
As the data comes in, these bogus claims are falling apart. In their response, Fox News proved Obama right. These critics have nothing but distorted talking points and empty scare tactics on their side.
The only thing that smells here is the BS that is another Fox News fail.
**************Bill Clinton Calls Out Fox News for Polarizing America
By: Jason Easley
Sep. 26th, 2013
President Clinton is calling out the psychological tactics that are being used by Fox News to polarize and divide the American people.
Transcript via CNN:
CLINTON: And I worry about that and I worry that — I use to worry that CNN was going to do – lose too many viewers because …
MORGAN: I’m not in favor of that , Mr. President, we are …
CLINTON: No, no, let me — let me …
MORGAN: … storming ahead.
CLINTON: Obviously, — yes you’re doing better but — you’re more entertaining now which is good. But, but, but you became more entertaining without becoming more extreme which is important. I mean — it’s because people are wired when they see all this conflict to get in to their fray so that — and you know what it takes, you got to have 800,000 viewers in a cable show to breakeven, and if you get more than that your profits go up.
So, the good news about the media today is that we have more sources of information than ever before; the bad news is we are all of us prone only to go to the places we agree with. So, MSNBC has — has grown because they have …
MORGAN: We don’t mention that in — I’m sorry it’s a …
CLINTON: And Fox News had this big base and I know it’s very carefully done psychologically and substantively. And we just — everything is serving to polarize the country. The problem is if you look around the world, the places where people worked together, they’re doing well. The places where people fight all the time, they’re not doing very well. It’s not rocket science, so why would you keep doing something that doesn’t work? Because even in a Democracy, people constantly vote for that which they claim to hate.
So, here is one new test, the next test which would have a big impact on changing America, if we could get the voter turn out in midterm elections, the next one is in 2014 to equal the voter turn out in presidential elections we would at least stop having two different Americas vote in off years. And that would create a clear signal that Americans want us to build a dynamic vital center. And they don’t get that signal now; you can just cast the politicians if they think they are voting in a way that will be rewarded, that the public has to send a different set of signals. And I believe we can do that.
President Clinton slightly mentioned MSNBC, but let’s face it. The real problem is Fox News. MSNBC has a small audience compared to Fox News, and more importantly, MSNBC has no power within the Democratic Party. Fox News’ opposition to Ted Cruz’s fake filibuster highlighted the fact that Fox is part of the Republican Party. Fox News does the bidding of the Republican Party. Fox News is more important to the Republican Party in terms of messaging than Rush Limbaugh or any talk radio host. Fox has given the GOP a direct pipeline with which to directly influence 2-3 million Republicans a day.
The psychological element that President Clinton mentioned revolves around the conditioning tactics that Fox uses to keep their audience only watching their channel. Fox News has brainwashed their viewers into believing that the the only truth in media can be found on their network. Fox routinely exploits the Republican myth of liberal media bias, and their message is that no other non-conservative outlet can be trusted. The idea behind the propaganda is that if it isn’t Fox or FNC approved, it is lying to their viewers.
It is a self reinforcing cycle. Fox News puts out the Republican message, when is the fed back to Republican elected officials through Fox News viewers. This is the bubble effect that causes the belief among Republicans that the country hates President Obama as much as they do. It is also the fuel behind the House Republicans refusing to do anything but repeal Obamacare.
Political polarization is worse than it has ever been in part because of Fox News, and their business model. President Clinton was correct. The country will never be able to work together unless we all can agree on problems and facts. As long as polarization is lucrative, don’t expect the corporate media to encourage bipartisanship anytime soon. However, one of the vital steps that will have to occur before the country can grow as one is that people will have to turn off Fox News.
**************Afraid of No Man or Their Money, Obama Takes Down The Koch Brothers
By: Jason Easley
Sep. 26th, 2013
Charles and David Koch may own the Republican Party, but during his speech on the ACA, President Obama showed today that he owns the Kochs.
THE PRESIDENT: Look, part of the reason I need your help to make this law work is because there are so many people out there working to make it fail. One of the biggest newspapers in the country recently published an editorial I thought was pretty good. They said, the Republicans in Congress are poisoning Obamacare, then trying to claim it’s sick. (Laughter.) That’s exactly what’s been happening.
I mean, they have tried to put up every conceivable roadblock. They cut funding for efforts to educate people about what’s in the law. Some of them said if their constituents called them, we won’t even try to explain to them what’s in the law. They actually opened up an investigation into people who try to help churches and charities understand how to help people sign up for the law.
Some of the tea party’s biggest donors — some of the wealthiest men in America — are funding a cynical ad campaign trying to convince young people not to buy health care at all. I mean, think about it. These are billionaires several times over. You know they’ve got good health care.
AUDIENCE: Right! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: But they are actually spending money on television, trying to convince young people that if you’ve got the choice between getting affordable health care or going without health care, you should choose not having any health care. Now, do you think if you get sick or you get hurt, and you get stuck with a massive bill, these same folks, they’re going to help you out?
THE PRESIDENT: Are they going to pay for your health care?
THE PRESIDENT: It is interesting, though, how over the last couple years, the Republican Party has just spun itself up around this issue. And the fact is the Republicans’ biggest fear at this point is not that the Affordable Care Act will fail. What they’re worried about is it’s going to succeed. (Applause.) I mean, think about it. If it was as bad as they said it was going to be, then they could just go ahead and let it happen and then everybody would hate it so much, and then everybody would vote to repeal it, and that would be the end of it.
While Republican shudder at the very thought of crossing the Koch brothers, the president called out their ef