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Marco Rubio To Propose Ebola Travel Ban Legislation

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 21:09
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced on Monday that he plans to introduce legislation that would temporarily ban U.S. visas for nationals from African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

Rubio said in a statement that he plans to offer the legislation when the Senate returns to work in November. The temporary ban would apply to nationals from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, and would extend to other countries where the virus has spread. The ban would remain in place until the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines that the outbreak has been contained.

“We must take any and all necessary precautions to contain this virus -- and common sense restrictions on travel from countries now confronting this epidemic is an important step,” Rubio said in a statement. “The most effective way to combat this deadly virus is to address it at its source.”

Rubio’s plan comes as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have called on President Barack Obama to impose a ban on travelers from countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. The Obama administration has said that such a ban would prevent aid workers from getting resources to affected countries. Experts have said it may make tracking the spread of the disease more difficult.

Mary Landrieu vs. Bill Cassidy Nonpartisan Candidate Guide for Louisiana Senate Race 2014

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 20:54


Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide to the Mary Landrieu vs. Bill Cassidy Senate race? One that will give you an unbiased, no-spin comparison of candidate positions on key issues? That's what our Campus Election Engagement Project guide will give you! We are a national nonpartisan initiative working with college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders to increase student participation in America's elections. For the 2014 elections we have created and distributed voter guides to campuses in more than 20 states so they can provide their communities with accurate information for informed voting. Because these guides have been so well received and are useful for all voting citizens who want to be better informed, we are also posting them here.

We developed our guides by analyzing information from trusted resources such as www.votesmart.org, www.ontheissues.org, www.ballotpedia.com, www.politifact.com, www.factcheck.org, www.vote411.org and from candidate websites, public debates and interviews, and statements in major media outlets. We also showed them to groups like campus Young Republicans and Young Democrats at the schools we work with to verify their fairness and lack of bias.

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy, with additional links at the bottom for each candidate if you'd like to dig deeper.
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Budget: Did you support raising the Federal debt ceiling with no strings attached?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Campaign Finance: Do you support the DISCLOSE Act, which would require key funders of political ads to put their names on those ads?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Campaign Finance: Do you support the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations and unions?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Unknown

Economy: Do you support raising the minimum wage?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Economy: Do you support extending unemployment benefits beyond 26 weeks?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Economy: Do you support the Dodd-Frank Act, which established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and sought to increase regulation of Wall Street corporations and other financial institutions?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Economy: Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: Yes

Education: Do you support refinancing of student loans at lower rates, paid for by increasing taxes on income over a million dollars?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: Unknown

Environment: Do you believe that human activity is a major factor contributing to climate change?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Environment: Do you support government action to limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Environment: Do you support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: Yes

Gay Marriage: Do you support gay marriage?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Gun Control: Do you support enacting more restrictive gun control legislation?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Healthcare: Do you support repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Yes. Also authored bill permitting people to keep insurance policies that didn't meet the coverage standards of the law.

Healthcare: Did you support shutting down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare in 2013?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Yes

Immigration: Do you support the D.R.E.A.M. Act, which would allow children brought into the country illegally to achieve legal status if they've graduated from high school, have a clean legal record, and attend college or serve in the military?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Immigration: Do you support the comprehensive immigration plan passed by the Senate in 2013, which includes a pathway to citizenship and increased funding for border security?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Social Issues: Should abortion be highly restricted?
Landrieu: No, although supports ban on late-term abortions
Cassidy: Yes

Social Issues: Should employers be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if they disagree with it morally?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Yes

Social Issues: Should Planned Parenthood receive public funds for non-abortion health services?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Social Security: Do you support partial privatization of Social Security?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Unknown

Taxes: Have you signed the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to oppose any tax increases to raise revenue? (The answer to this question is taken from the database of signatories of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, created by Americans for Tax Reform. Signers to the pledge promise to oppose "any and all tax increases" meant to generate additional revenue.)
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Yes

Taxes: Would you increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No. See above

Learn more about the candidates:
Landrieu: Mary Landrieu Vote Smart pages and Mary Landrieu On the Issues pages
Cassidy: Bill Cassidy Vote Smart pages and Bill Cassidy On the Issues pages

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Other senate candidates include Wayne Ables (D), Raymond Brown (D), Thomas Clements (R), Rob Maness (R), Brannon McMorris (Libertarian), Vallian Senegal (D), and William Waymire Jr. (D). Due to limited space, we can't include their positions, but invite you to check out their websites or biographical information

Seamus McCaffery, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, Suspended Over Porn Scandal

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 20:52
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday suspended one of its members over his participation in a state government pornographic email scandal that involved employees of the attorney general's office.

The court justices issued an order saying Justice Seamus McCaffery may not perform any judicial or administrative duties while the matter is reviewed by the Judicial Conduct Board, which investigates allegations of judicial misconduct. The main order also noted allegations about McCaffery's actions related to a traffic citation received by his wife, who is a lawyer, and referral fees she obtained while working for him as an administrative assistant. It also noted he "may have attempted to exert influence over a judicial assignment" in Philadelphia.

The Judicial Conduct Board was given a month to determine whether there is probable cause to file a misconduct charge against McCaffery, a Philadelphia Democrat elected to the seven-member bench in 2007.

McCaffery's lawyer, Dion Rassias, said they were confident he will be cleared and will soon return to the bench.

The court's action followed disclosures last week by Chief Justice Ronald Castille, a Republican, that McCaffery had sent or received 234 emails with sexually explicit content or pornography from late 2008 to May 2012. McCaffery apologized, calling it a lapse in judgment, but blasted Castille for "a vindictive pattern of attacks" against him.

A third justice, Michael Eakin, also a Republican, on Friday went public with a claim McCaffery had threatened to leak "inappropriate" emails Eakin had received if he didn't side with McCaffery against Castille.

McCaffery denied threatening Eakin, who reported the matter to the Judicial Conduct Board. Neither Eakin nor McCaffery participated in the court's decision.

Castille was among the four justices voting to suspend McCaffery with pay, along with Max Baer, Corry Stevens and Thomas Saylor. Justice Debra Todd dissented, saying she would have referred the matter, including the question of suspension, to the Judicial Conduct Board.

An internal review of how state prosecutors handled a child molestation case involving former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky turned up the email exchanges of pornographic images and videos. Four former employees of the prosecutors' office have left their government jobs as a result.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who promised the Sandusky review during her 2012 campaign, has said current employees of the attorney general's office also sent or received the emails and could face discipline.

Castille, responding to news reports that judges were involved, demanded any information Kane had concerning the participation of any justice, judge or district judge. Kane, a Democrat, turned over the emails linked to McCaffery, and Castille disclosed the results last Wednesday, saying no other justices were involved.

Castille said McCaffery sent most of the emails to an agent in the attorney general's office, who then forwarded them to others.

McCaffery said "coarse language and crude jokes" were simply a part of his life as a Philadelphia policeman and a Marine.

Colorado Health Officials Walk Back Proposed Weed-Edibles Ban, Hours After It Goes Public

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 20:47
Colorado health officials on Monday backtracked on their call to ban almost all recreational marijuana edibles in the state, just hours after their recommendation for such a prohibition surfaced publicly.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment backed away from its recommendation for a ban after outraged marijuana industry representatives argued that state voters made all forms of marijuana legal in 2012. The Associated Press's Kristen Wyatt reported that a Health Department official said a ban "was not our intent."

Talk of an edibles ban came as lawmakers, industry representatives and state officials on Monday discussed what should be included in a Colorado House bill that would add restrictions to the sale of edible marijuana products. Marijuana edibles -- food and beverage products infused with compounds derived from marijuana, such as THC or CBD -- have been under fire following two high-profile deaths that may have been linked to the treats.

The Health Department's recommendation "is just that, a recommendation," said Dr. Larry Wolk, the department's executive director and chief medical officer, in a statement following Monday's working group meeting. “Our recommendation does not represent the view of the governor’s office, nor was it reviewed by the governor. It was put together only in consideration of the public health challenges of underage marijuana ingestion."

The department's written suggestion, obtained by The Huffington Post, was one of several discussed during the meeting of legislators, state officials and industry representatives. But it was the only one calling for what amounted to a ban of almost all edible marijuana products. State lawmakers have proposed reducing serving sizes to 10 milligrams of THC -- about the amount in a medium-sized joint -- from 100 milligrams, requiring clearer labeling, and creating new safeguards to ensure children can't get their hands on cannabis-infused foods.

"Prohibit the production of retail edible marijuana products other than a simple lozenge/hard candy or tinctures that are plainly labeled using universal symbol(s) and that users can add to their products at home," the Health Department recommended. "Hard candy/lozenges would be manufactured in single 10 mg doses/lozenges and tinctures would be produced and labeled with dosing instructions, such as two drops equals 10 mg."

The bill requires that a working group be assembled before passage to discuss concerns, recommendations and requests regarding marijuana edibles. The working group will not draft rules. Instead, it will produce a report that includes recommendations so lawmakers can best understand the issues and the suggestions.

The Colorado Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division, which oversees the state's marijuana industry, including edibles, would make the final rules based on recommendations from the working group and state lawmakers after the 2015 legislative session.

"It is important to note that we will be collecting both supportive and dissenting opinions for each recommendation during the working group process and these opinions will be included in the Division's report to the general assembly," Natriece Bryant, communications specialist at Colorado's Department of Revenue, told HuffPost. "The Division views its primary role as a facilitator to the working group process and as drafter of the final report, it is our role, at this juncture, to ensure that all of the underlying issues and potential recommendations are identified, considered and included in the report."

"Unfortunately, this debate is often driven by a small faction of people whose goal is to reinstate the failed policy of prohibition," Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project, told HuffPost. "It’s unfortunate that so much time is being spent discussing proposed bans, when it could be spent discussing realistic approaches that could actually have the intended effect of preventing accidental and over-consumption."

Contemplating a Republican Senate

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 20:45

As frightening a prospect as it is for progressives and liberals and other assorted Democrats, it is now impossible not to contemplate what two years of a Republican-led Senate would be like. While Democrats are still putting on a brave face about their chances in the 2014 midterms ("Our ground game is going to win the day!"), the possibility of Republicans picking up the six Senate seats they now need to gain control of the chamber is very real and even (according to many election forecasters) probable. But what would this mean for President Obama's last two years in office?


What it would mean for Democrats in the Senate would be becoming the minority party. Harry Reid would either become the Minority Leader, or perhaps the Democratic reins would be turned over to someone else in a leadership change (Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer are the two names most often mentioned in this scenario). But this is merely the most obvious change in the way the Senate works. The big question is what rule changes and tactical changes Mitch McConnell would do once he takes over. Some of these might actually be beneficial to Democrats (McConnell has said he'd open up the "filling the tree" amendment process, for instance, which might mean even in the minority Democrats could get floor votes on their own proposals), but most of course will favor Republicans and their political agenda.


The two biggest changes in the way the Senate operates would be on presidential appointment confirmations and the legislative filibuster. The first of these would come as a result of the seething resentment Republicans still feel about Harry Reid "dropping the nuke" earlier this year (when Reid pushed through a rules change that eliminated the filibuster for all presidential appointees below Supreme Court justices). With one vote, Reid was able to deny Republicans the ability to stop nominations by filibustering all nominees (which they had been doing up to that point). It was a monumental change, and it has allowed many stalled nominees to be confirmed ever since. It will also allow a lame-duck Senate under Reid to hustle through all the nominees they possibly can, before the new Republican Senate takes office in January.


The question is what Mitch McConnell will do about this rule. Republicans hated the change, but are they really -- once gaining the majority -- going to immediately hand power back to the minority party? It would obviously be against their interests to do so, especially considering how favorable the playing field will be in 2016 for Democratic Senate candidates (in other words, McConnell will know for the next two years that a Republican Senate majority may be a very temporary situation). What is much more likely to happen is that McConnell will keep the "no filibuster" rule in place for nominees, and perhaps if Democrats do reclaim power in 2016, change the rule back in the lame-duck session as a protest (Democrats would immediately change it back again when they took power in 2017, of course).


McConnell won't have to worry about filibustering nominees, though, because Republicans will be in the majority and will thus already be able to reject any nominee they don't like. "Any nominee they don't like" is likely to quickly become "all of them," in fact. We could see two years without any new federal judges being confirmed, as well as any executive branch appointees. McConnell could easily do this -- with or without any rule change. Stalling nominees at the end of a president's term is a tactic that has been used by both parties in the past, but McConnell will likely use the tactic to the absolute extreme, by not letting anyone even get to the floor for a vote. Obama will complain loudly, but the public largely doesn't pay attention to this sort of inside-baseball thing in Washington, so McConnell will likely not even pay any sort of political price for doing so.


The other big change will be one of tactics, rather than modifying the Senate's rules. McConnell could "drop his own nuke" and change the rules for legislative filibusters -- jettisoning all filibusters for just about everything (with the only exception remaining for Supreme Court nominees). A simple majority vote would pass all legislation, if McConnell did go nuclear in this fashion. This might seem tempting indeed for Republicans with a very thin majority -- especially since it would be seen as "payback" for Reid's rule change on confirmations. But, again, McConnell knows there is a very good chance Democrats will retake the Senate in 2016, and then Republicans would have to live with not being able to filibuster bills after that point, as a direct result of their own action.


What is much more likely is that everything will magically become a budget issue. Every piece of far-out Republican legislation will be tied -- no matter how tenuously -- to the budget. This will allow the most contentious votes to be "reconciliation" votes, which cannot (by current rules) be filibustered. Remember reconciliation? Democrats used it to pass Obamacare. Republicans certainly have not forgotten this. They'll delight in adding all their pet social issues to the budget, just so they can all be voted on without the pesky Democrats being able to filibuster any of them.


Democrats, since 2010, have been rather timid in the filibuster wars. Reid knew by then that pushing through legislation by reconciliation would, in the end, not achieve much of anything -- since the new Republican House would not agree to any of it. Republicans have filibustered pretty much every piece of legislation more controversial than naming post offices ever since, and Reid has largely allowed them to get away with it. Mitch McConnell is not going to do the same thing, though. For one, he'll have a House run by his own party to work with. For another, Republicans have never been shy about abusing a parliamentary tactic and then, when the political tables are turned, using another parliamentary tactic to not allow Democrats to do the same against them. So look for the effective death of the legislative filibuster, leaving Democrats to cry in their minority wilderness.


One other background change worth mentioning is that Republicans would get control of all the Senate committees. So look for a whole lot more "oversight" hearings (think: what Darrell Issa's been doing in the House -- on steroids). But in the more immediate future, Republicans can be counted on to move quickly on a whole host of their agenda, and the first 100 days of a Republican Senate and House would likely produce all sorts of bills, as the Tea Partiers are given free rein to indulge in some pent-up frustrations. All of these bills will be in the "veto bait" category, however, since President Obama is not going to sign Tea Party fantasies into law. Once the initial wave of silly legislation abates, however, things will get much more serious for both sides.


Mitch McConnell is then going to face the same problem that John Boehner has been struggling with for the last four years: corralling members of his own party to get much of anything done. Think about it -- Boehner's House has not been able to agree on any bills on a long list of conservative issues: a Republican health care reform bill (to replace the hated Obamacare), immigration reform of any type (even just: "Seal the borders!"), and tax reform and/or entitlement reform (this list should in no way be seen as complete, as there are many other items on it). And that's just on their own issues -- the Republican House has also refused to move on any progressive issues, such as increasing the minimum wage; but this is due to ideological reasons and not due to the impossibility of Boehner herding the Tea Party cats. Pretty much every Republican agrees (for instance) that we should beef up the Mexican border, but no bill has made it through the House to do so -- even though Republicans have maintained for years that "a piecemeal approach" is the way to go (in other words: "Secure the border first, pass any other immigration reform later"). Tax reform -- lowering corporate taxes -- has also been a longtime campaign issue for Republicans, and yet Boehner's House has not managed to come up with any sort of plan that could pass even among Republicans. Mitch McConnell is going to have the same problem in the Senate, and it'll be even more acute because his majority is going to be an awfully thin one.


If Republicans wind up with 51 Senate seats next year (just for the sake of argument), then what this means is that every single Republican senator can hold the entire legislative process hostage on any bill. Remember Joe Lieberman and Max Baucus during the Obamacare debate? That's what it'd be like for Republicans. Since McConnell will need every vote to pass a Republican-only bill, even one defection will torpedo the bill's chances. This will leave McConnell at the complete whim of senators such as Ted Cruz. All the time -- on every contentious bill. Even if Republicans get more than 51 seats, it's not going to take many of them to sink a bill's chances. And there are plenty of other "does not play well with other Republicans" type of senators than just Ted Cruz. Senate Tea Partiers may end up wagging the McConnell dog in the same fashion as House Tea Partiers confound Boehner on a regular basis. This is going to make it very hard to get anything done that isn't straight out of the Tea Party playbook.


But, occasionally, things do need to get done in Congress. A Republican Senate is pretty much an iron-clad guarantee of the return of "fiscal cliffs" and "government shutdowns" and "hostage-taking" and all the rest of the budgetary games Republicans are known for playing. Some crucial piece of legislation -- a continuing resolution to keep the government afloat, or raising the debt ceiling -- will approach a deadline. The Tea Partiers will be given an opportunity for grandstanding. President Obama will stand firm. But then, eventually, a deal has to be struck.


What happens at this point is the great unknown when contemplating a Republican Senate for the next two years. The only thing that is virtually assured is that everybody who pays attention to politics is going to be massively disappointed at the end of the day. Such is the nature of compromise. The hard right is going to be apoplectic that they can't force their agenda on the president, and they have shown no tolerance for any incremental gains Republicans might make in such a situation. They'll be convinced that they could get the whole ball of wax by just holding firm enough, and they will not even be impressed with winning 80 or 90 percent of what they're demanding.


Progressives, on the other hand, are likely going to be just as disappointed. Because President Obama is going to be forced to return to how he operated at the beginning of his term -- reaching a hand out to Republicans in the hopes that some sort of middle ground can be reached. The last two years of Obama's term may wind up resembling the final years of Bill Clinton's term, when such things as welfare reform were signed by a Democratic president. Obama will be thinking about "his legacy," and will likely be mindful that "...and then for the next two years, the president vetoed everything and Washington ground to an absolute halt" is not going to be what he wants written about the end of his term by future historians. Like Clinton, Obama may get on board with some ideas that horrify progressives in his own party. One possible example of this might be entitlement reform.


There will indeed be a lot of fallout from Republicans capturing control of the Senate, if it comes to pass two weeks from now. Most of this will not be foreseen, as Republicans will be popping champagne corks without considering the fact that they are now going to be forced to govern, and Democrats will be licking their wounds and putting all their faith in Obama's veto pen -- a faith that may wind up being tragically misplaced. One way or another, two years with a Republican Senate would result in a political wild ride, that's for sure.


 


Chris Weigant blogs at:


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
Become a fan of Chris on The Huffington Post


 

‘Klinghoffer’ Protesters Flock To Met Opera House - NYTimes.com

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 20:35
As the Metropolitan Opera began its first performance of John Adams’s “The Death of Klinghoffer" on Monday night, police officers were posted inside the opera house, protesters in wheelchairs lined Columbus Avenue, and opera had become the subject of a charged debate about art and Middle East politics that reverberated from City Hall to a large rally, several hundred strong, at Lincoln Center.

Throw the Bums Out! (2.0)

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 20:01
I bet I know something about you. You're sick and tired of the idiots who run our government. How'd I know that? Because everyone is sick and tired of the idiots who run our government.

So why do we keep electing them?

That's easy: Because every election, we get the same two choices -- Idiot Republican and Idiot Democrat. And guess what? The idiot always wins!

Why do we even bother voting? Well, when you go vote, you probably don't even know anything about these idiots who are running. Neither do I. (I just got up and polled my local coffee shop to tests this assumption, and out of about 25 people, only one person, a poli-sci undergrad, knew the name of our member of Congress. Try it where you live.) But we at least know something about these idiots' idiotic parties.

So we choose the party that, sort of, maybe, best represents our values. Because voting for these parties at least lets us make a tiny political statement on certain social and cultural issues that most of us care about.

Pulling the party lever is a way of asserting our values. It's like saying, "Hey! There are people like me out here!"

But when it comes to issues, like jobs, that we all care and feel the same way about -- we all want more and better jobs! -- here, we are really left with no choice at all. On that issue, both the idiot parties seem totally committed to screwing the rest of us -- or at least letting us be screwed by the special interests they represent.

For example, both parties voted for NAFTA -- the free trade bill that stuck it to all North American workers. Both parties voted in exactly the same proportion. It's true, and incredible: A full 75 percent of each party voted to pass it.

More recently, when the big banks nuked the economy, both parties had exactly the same solution: Give those same big banks trillions of dollars. Not just idiotic. TOTALLY INSANE.

So how sick of this are you? I'm guessing very sick -- but I'm guessing you're also resigned to it, because you know it will never change.

But what if I told you that, because of a technical change to our political system, it is now possible to throw all the bums out in one fell swoop?

Probably you'd say, "Zack, you're a crackpot!" Right?

Fair enough. But on this topic, I'm not just any crackpot. I am a crackpot who was an insider at the creation of this fundamental change that will let us throw all of Congress out at once.

Here's the change I'm talking about: It is now possible for insurgent, anti-establishment candidates to raise a ton of money from small donors online, and to use that money, plus the Internet, plus old-fashioned organizing, to build nationwide, strong volunteer organizations -- all without any help from either of the idiot parties.

This change started way back in Jerry Brown's insurgent 1992 presidential campaign, when Brown asked America to make credit card donations through his 1-800 number. Picking up the phone was such a bother, though, so that really didn't work. In 2000, the maverick John McCain had this brief moment when it looked like he just might be able to beat the mega-corporate-funded Bush -- and so he asked his supporters to make a donation to his "Website." Most people were like, "Website?" Nevertheless, $2 million flooded in. Unfortunately it was too little too late.

In the 2004 election cycle -- the one I worked on -- Ron Paul, Howard Dean and then John Kerry defined this model. Ron Paul punched way above his weight in fundraising, but still got out-fundraised by the establishment. The insurgent Dean, however, raised tens of millions dollars, leaving the big money establishment candidates in the dust. Nothing like that had never happened before and it totally turned politics on its head.

Unfortunately, Dean's campaign forgot that, back in real life, volunteers needed to be trained how to actually win the Iowa caucuses. And then, there was that scream.

But then, John Kerry, who was an insurgent in the context of the 2004 general election, doubled his budget using Internet fundraising, raising about as much as the Mega-Corporate-Funded Bush. He also mobilized hundreds of thousands of volunteers to knock on doors. I ran online fundraising and organizing for Kerry. We raised about $125 million for Kerry. For John Frickin' Kerry! OK?

But then Obama finally took this thing all the way to victory -- raising hundreds of millions and recruiting tons of volunteers using the Internet -- as the ultimate insurgent candidate, even if, as it turned out, it was in name only. And his campaign didn't forget about the old-fashioned things like getting out the vote... and acting normal on TV.

Even though most Obama supporters are disappointed by who he turned out to be, there's no denying that he campaigned as a radical, anti-establishment outsider, with tons of biases against him, and he won with one of the strongest mandates in a long time.

So how can we use this new power to throw out all the idiots in the Congress and the White House and replace them with normal, honest smart people?

I believe we can use these same proven tactics while thinking far beyond the White House. We can recruit a great candidate for every single congressional district, for every open Senate seat -- and for the White House.

Then we can run them in a unified campaign, with all the same focused excitement that goes with an insurgent presidential campaign -- except that this will be even more exciting because we'll be campaigning to replace not one, but all of the idiots who run the government.

I realize that this idea sounds wacky the first time you hear it. Please just bear with me as I walk you through how this will work.

The first step is of course to recruit good, honest leaders for every seat in Congress plus one stately candidate for the White House. I'll admit, that's going to be a huge job -- and that this is the one part of this plan that's never been done before. But in the age of Internet organizing, it has become common for many teams in different places to work in a coordinated way on a shared project using Internet tools. I'm talking about common tools such as Google docs and discussion forums, but also custom tools made specially for doing this kind of work.

I've seen projects as big as this recruitment task carried out successfully with just those tools and some willing volunteers. I really believe we can do this.

I'm going to put the specifics of the plan to recruit the candidates in a separate article, so for now, just take a leap of faith with me that it might be possible... and sign up to help right here.

We just need one volunteer in every congressional district to start. And the first step is easy: Just get together a handful of interested people for an informational meeting that will be tied in, through your computer, to a nationally facilitated meeting. A ton of you have already done this kind of thing at a political or campaign house party. Slow and steady wins the race, so we'll give ourselves a few months to complete this first task.

If you're dreaming of an end to idiocracy, please sign up now!

Stanley Jevons goes skiing and the rebound effect gets gnarly

TreeHugger Science-Tech - Mon, 2014-10-20 08:53
Another example of how LEDs may well lead to more energy consumption, not less.

It's sixty years since the first portable transistor radio went on the market and started a revolutlon

TreeHugger Science-Tech - Mon, 2014-10-20 08:07
On October 18, 1954 the Regency TR-1 put music in your pocket for the first time.

Solar battery is powered by light and air

TreeHugger Science-Tech - Mon, 2014-10-20 07:00
Is it a solar cell? A rechargeable battery? It's both!

Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki And 2 Congressmen Plan Protest Of 'The Death of Klinghoffer' At Metropolitan Opera

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 03:42
NEW YORK (AP) — Some big-name politicians are joining Jewish protesters in a growing firestorm against an opera they say glorifies Palestinian terrorists.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Gov. George Pataki and two U.S. congressmen are among hundreds expected outside the Metropolitan Opera on Monday to protest the Met premiere of "The Death of Klinghoffer." It's based on the 1985 murder of a disabled Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, on the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship hijacked by four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front. The 69-year-old New York retiree was shot in his wheelchair and pushed overboard.

Organizers plan to bring 100 symbolic wheelchairs to the rally at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan.

The Met already has canceled its planned November movie theater and radio broadcasts of American composer John Adams' 1991 work amid pressure from Jewish groups — especially the Anti-Defamation League — whose members say the music romanticizes Klinghoffer's killers, along with the opening "Chorus of Exiled Palestinians."

Met General Manager Peter Gelb warned the broadcasts could trigger anti-Semitism overseas.

But opera expert Fred Plotkin says the work depicts the Klinghoffers as the moral backbone.

"Does this opera present the killers in a favorable light? No," he says. "Are the Klinghoffers far and away the most sympathetic characters in the opera, the ones we care about most? I believe so."

The opera has been a lightning rod since February, when it was first scheduled for this season.

The opposition is now reaching fever pitch, with word spreading that protesters may try to disrupt Monday's performance.

It's the second large New York demonstration against the work since the Met's Sept. 22 season opening night, when protesters carried signs that read "Klinghoffer Opera/Propaganda Masquerading as Art" and jeered at arriving spectators.

Plotkin notes that many "Klinghoffer" opponents have never seen the work.

The Met is advertising it with the slogan: "See it. Then decide."

"The Death of Klinghoffer" was first premiered in Brussels in 1991, with little controversy, then in various European cities as well as at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where it was greeted with both praise and anger — especially from Klinghoffer's two daughters.

"The Death of Klinghoffer" runs through Nov. 15 at the Met.

ISIS, Ukraine, the South China Sea and the End of the Era of American Power

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-10-20 01:53
A colleague called me during the run-up to the Iraq war in March 2003. It is going to be unlike anything the world has ever seen. Shock and Awe. The war will be over before it starts. An inside player in the Bush administration, he was in a position to know what was in store.

Shock and Awe is a the military doctrine that "focuses on the psychological destruction of the enemy's will to fight rather than the physical destruction of its military forces." To the Bush administration, Shock and Awe was the name for the onslaught of missiles and bombing that was to initiate the U.S. invasion and would intimidate Saddam, quickly bringing his regime into submission.

Little did we know that the opening days of the second Iraq war marked the end of the era of America as the world's dominant military power. It is not that America's military power declined, but rather the salience of that power. Since the invention of the atomic bomb, the United States has had to choose in any given military or proto-military engagement which weapons were appropriate to use and which were deemed inappropriate or disproportionate to a given conflict. While some envisioned the invention of the atomic bomb as a weapon that would make war itself unimaginable, the invention of increasingly powerful weapons has only complicated the nature of warfare for the dominant power.

In the first days of the Iraq war, the massive missile strikes were delayed in favor of a decapitation strike that failed due to faulty intelligence. Shock and awe never unfolded as the tour de force of the administration's imagination and the war that was to spark an Arab spring, with Iraqis seizing the opportunity to embrace their Jeffersonian future, was an abject failure. It plodded on for a decade until the American public had had enough. Looking back, it is apparent that the opening days of the Iraq war marked a seminal moment in American military power and foreign policy reality, but one that we have yet to discuss, to debate and to learn from as a nation.

This became vividly apparent when ISIS beheaded its first victim, an act to which many had the same immediate and visceral reaction: We should nuke them. A decade earlier, I watched the utterly barbaric video of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi beheading Nicholas Berg, and now, as then, a video of a beheading garners a response unlike any other form of intentional brutality.

Nuke them. Using nuclear weapons would of course be inconceivable. But the visceral response to the ISIS acts encapsulated the larger problem that we now face: We are unwilling to use the military capabilities that we have, and our adversaries understand this. And worse, in not using the capability at our command, we are rendered impotent, unable to respond with means at our command to those who show no such restraint.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, we have been challenged by what it means to be the dominant superpower in the world. We have deployed military assets around the world, with a specific focus on key regions. We have surrounded the Russian landmass with military assets and a coordinated defense alliance through NATO. We have built a network of bases along China's coastline from the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea. We have a network of military assets surrounding Iran. We have a network of bases in place to defend our interests in the Middle East. And we have aircraft carrier battle groups deployable across the world.

The doctrine of shock and awe--a metaphor for our ability to subdue conflicts through intimidation before they turn into full fledged wars that has been essential to our notion of military power in the world--died in Iraq. Perhaps the limits to what we were willing to do in war were first manifest in Vietnam. And perhaps it was what Ronald Reagan realized when he considered his choices in the aftermath of the bombing of the military barracks in Beirut in 1983 and chose to pull out. But in the wake of Iraq, Americans now know instinctively that, whether for moral, financial or practical reasons, we are not willing to use the military capability that we have so carefully built for so many years. We are no longer interested in pursuing military action as a solution to each new conflict that the world turns to us to solve, but having built our credibility around our military power, we have neither the capability nor the respect for alternative paths to conflict resolution. While for domestic political reasons we have been unable to have a serious national discussion about this new underlying reality, our increasing disinclination to use the military capability that constitutes so much of our identity in the world has become inherently destabilizing.

Vladimir Putin understands this. He understands that he has great latitude to pursue Russia's strategic interests in Ukraine before he will risk seeing any American military response. Xi Jingping understands this as well. He understands that China has great latitude to impose its will and territorial ambitions in the South China Sea before America will consider any serious military response.

And Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's protege, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, understands that if the world is going to wait for a committed American response to the ISIS threat in the Middle East, the world is going to have to wait a while. Baghdadi, like Putin and Xi, understands that shock and awe is only a meaningful doctrine if it is backed up by the commitment to use military force--real force, even disproportionate force, the force that makes one a superpower--on the ground.

If war is politics by other means, and we have effectively taken the use of our full military capacity off the table, it is time that we have a real discussion about the implications of this for our foreign policy and how we engage in the world. So far, Congress has been willing to seriously engage the question of where we go from here, which the Senate made clear when it refused to hold a debate on launching military strikes against ISIS.

The cornerstone of American foreign policy since the end of the Second World War has been the deployment and implicit threat of disproportionate military capacity. But now the veil has been lifted and the world knows that the days of shock and awe are behind us. In our political discourse we continue to posture as though nothing has changed. But we are only fooling ourselves, our adversaries have already figured it out.

Obama Sees An Iran Deal That Could Avoid Congress

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-19 23:20
No one knows if the Obama administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of his presidency: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon.

Early Voting Rounding the Bend

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-19 22:54
With early voting in full swing, more than 1.9 million people have cast a ballot in the 2014 midterm elections. I track early voting statistics here.

Predictably, dueling spin about early voting has emerged from the Democratic and Republican camps. Republicans point to a better showing among early voters than the 2010 election, and point to this as evidence of greater enthusiasm among their voters. Democrats counter that new Republican voter mobilization efforts have merely shifted the furniture around such that people who would have voted on Election Day are now casting an early vote.

When dueling claims were made it 2012 it was easy for me to adjudicate between the two camps. Republicans claimed that the electorate would be demographically similar to 2010 while Democrats said it would be like 2008. The early vote looked more like 2008 than 2010, so the Republican spin could be unwound.

This time both camps have truth to what they are saying. Republicans are doing much better than 2010 in key states like Iowa. Democrats are doing better, too, but they start from a higher base. While I cannot verify the claim that Democrats are mobilizing their Iowa supporters who may drop off in a midterm election, evidence from Iowa polling, from activity among persons without a party registration, and statistics from other states, support their claim.

Ultimately, these dueling arguments encapsulate a historical midterm dynamic that works against Democrats, and what they are trying to do to change it. Key Democratic constituencies -- young people, minorities, and the poor -- tend to vote at lower rates in midterm than in presidential elections. Without discontent against a Republican president to boost Democrats, as it did in 2006, the party is trying to reshape the electorate through mobilization of peripheral voters usually seen in presidential elections.

Republicans are ironically at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to voter mobilization since their supporters tend to vote at higher rates; they haven't needed it as much as the Democrats. Nevertheless, Republicans have made a sizable infrastructure investment in this election that is at least capable of mobilizing their supporters to vote early. In the coming weeks we may see clearer signals in the polls and the early vote statistics as to which effort, if either, is more successful at truly bending the electorate to their favor.

Iowa

All eyes are on Iowa, so it is appropriate to start here.

On Thursday, the number of returned ballots was 185,254, which is more than half the 349,216 returned in 2010. In 2010, this midway mark was reached on Oct, 20, 2010, which -- because the election was Nov. 2 in 2010 and is Nov. 4 in 2014 -- is in five days later than when this milestone was passed in 2014. Furthermore, the number of ballot requests on Oct. 20, 2010 was 295,838. The 2014 number as of last Friday was 347,776. In 2010, the pace of ballot returns increased as the election neared and there is no reason to suspect this will be reversed in 2014. So, if past trends hold, Iowa early voting should approach, and may exceed, 400,000 voters. The most consistent signal from Iowa is that both parties' efforts are successful at mobilizing voters. Most likely, turnout will be high.

Republicans are doing better so far in mobilizing their voters to vote early. In 2010, Democrats held a commanding 49% to 36% lead among the 133,977 voters who had cast ballots as of Oct. 15, 2010. As of last Friday, Democrats hold a narrower 43% to 40% lead among the 185,254 who have cast ballots. Republicans are doing slightly better among the 347,766 who requested ballots as of last Friday, trailing Democrats 39% to 41%. (In 2010, Democrats also led ballot requests by a narrower margin, 46% to 37%.)

On Wednesday the DSCC released internal projections claiming a 15,000 Braley vote lead among early voters. At the time, 170,275 early votes had been cast. If accurate, this would give Braley a 9 point lead among early voters. This is a little at odds with a Des Moines Register poll that found a 16 point lead among early voters, and a Quinnipiac poll that found a 14 point advantage, but this may be due to the earlier time that these polls were in the field.

The DSCC also claims 31,000 Iowa early voters have not participated in the 2010 election, and that Braley has a 10,000 vote lead among these crucial voters.

I cannot independently verify these claims. However, the polling backs up Democrat's claims (if anything, the DSCC indicates the polls are over-estimating Braley's support among early voters -- something campaigns rarely do). Furthermore, trends I noted last week persist: Republicans appear to be mobilizing registered Republicans while Democrats are mobilizing both registered Democrats and persons without a party registration. So, these claims have some validity. I can more directly assess these claims in North Carolina and Georgia, which I turn to next.

North Carolina


Democrats started strong among North Carolina mail ballots. This was unusual as Democrats in the in-person early vote and Republicans win the mail ballots. Republicans have not tried to spin North Carolina, but that may change. I noted last week that Republicans finally started showing signs of life, apparently reaping the benefits of a mail ballot application drive targeted at registered Republicans. By the end of last week, Republicans had taken a 43% to 33% lead among the 62,125 mail ballot requests and were closing in on the Democrats narrow 39.2% to 38.5% lead among returned ballots. After their shaky start, Republicans look to be on back on track to equal their 2010 45% to 35% lead among mail ballots.

Where Democrats have some hope that they are indeed reshaping the electorate in their favor is among those with a 2010 vote history. Unlike Iowa, this data is readily available for analysis. Registered Democrats hold a 41% to 33% lead among the 32% of voters who have returned ballots and do not have a record of voting in the 2010 election, while Republicans hold a 41% to 38% lead among those who do have a record. These patterns are consistent with the DSCC's Iowa claims.

While these numbers are interesting, in the big scheme they are small change. Over 90% of North Carolina voters cast their early vote in-person in 2010. We will have to wait until the end of the last week before the election -- when early voting is now scheduled to occur -- to see if the far reaching changes the Republican state government made to voting will depress (or increase) Democratic turnout.

Georgia


In-person early voting started this week in Georgia. In just one week, 72.5% of Georgia voters have cast an in-person vote, while 27.5% have cast a mail ballot (or electronic ballot for overseas and military voters).

The demographic composition of the early vote changed dramatically. Georgia does not have party registration, so I analyze race, which is recorded on the state's voter registration file. Whereas Whites were 78% of voters who cast mail ballots, they were 66% of those who voted in-person early. Whites are now 69% of early voters by both voting methods. (The voter file I have is post-2012, so I am missing race for new registrants since 2012, I suspect that these new registrants are less likely to be White, so these statistics most likely under-estimate the non-White participation.)

This is a typical pattern for states that have mixed early voting methods. Voters tend to prefer to vote an in-person vote, particularly, Democrats or groups that constitute their base.

We can also see some evidence in support of the DSCC's Iowa claim. Among the 20% of Georgia early voters without a record of voting in the 2010 election, Whites are 64%, compared to 70% with a 2010 vote history.


Florida


Florida is leading the nation in raw votes, with 891,869 returned to date. With 1.6 million mail ballots outstanding, it seems likely Florida will easily surpass the 1.3 million mail ballot cast in 2010. The change in behavior is due to a change in the law. Starting in 2012, mail ballot voters can automatically request a mail ballot for the next election. With the Obama campaign encouraging their supporters to vote a mail ballot -- out of concern for a reduction in early voting days in 2012 -- Democrats closed a 14 point Republican advantage among mail ballots in 2008 to 4 points in 2012.

Gov. Scott's campaign released a memo touting their performance among mail ballots. I cannot directly assess their claim that they are doing better percentage-wise than they did at a similar point in time as 2010. In total in 2010, registered Republicans led 52% to 34%, so far in 2014 they lead by a narrower 48% to 35%. But it seems almost assured with the large volume of mail balloting that Republicans have surpassed their 2010 raw vote tallies.

Among the 1.6 million outstanding mail ballots to be returned, registered Democrats lead 41% to 38%. It seems most likely that Democrats will start catching up in returned mail ballots; there are some developing signs late in the week that could be early indicators. If not, perhaps they will surrender their ballots and vote in-person (indeed, many of the 2012 Democratic votes were "counter votes" -- mail ballots cast in-person at an election office). Perhaps Democrats will throw their ballots away, in which case the Democrats will have to assess the failure of their mail ballot mobilization effort.

Colorado

The Colorado Secretary of State released the first day of mail ballot return statistics last week. To give some perspective, Republicans led the 1.7 million mail ballots cast in 2012 by 37% to 35%, but numerous surveys found Obama leading Colorado's early vote and Obama carried the state 51.5% to 46.1%.

This year, Colorado is holding all-mail ballot elections. While all voters have a mail ballot, voters may still vote an in-person ballot at special polling locations starting Monday, Oct. 20. There is no real precedent for what to expect from in-person voting when a state is using all mail ballot elections, but we know in-person voting is Democrats' preferred voting method elsewhere.

With one day of reporting Republicans lead the 27,640 ballots have returned 46% to 32%. Republicans are leading as expected. Beyond that, it is a little early to make projections, especially since in-person early voting has not yet started.

South Dakota

South Dakota continues to putter along, with only 13,517 ballot returned, representing 4.2% of their 2010 total votes. This is a much slower early voting pace than other states with hotly contested Senate races. Given the high uncertainty of the three-way race, I expect voters will continue to hold their ballots so they can become more informed about their choices.

Montana

Montana leads the nation with its 77,724 returned ballots representing 21% of their 2010 total vote. A MSU-Billings poll this last week suggested the Senate race is not close, and neither is the House race. What may be happening here is the opposite of South Dakota. With uncertainty removed, people are feeling confident to cast their vote.

More

For more early voting statistics, see my early vote tracker.

This entry was edited to update South Dakota ballot statistics.

Expelled Nazis Paid Millions In Social Security

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-19 22:20
OSIJEK, Croatia (AP) — Former Auschwitz guard Jakob Denzinger lived the American dream.

His plastics company in the Rust Belt town of Akron, Ohio, thrived. By the late 1980s, he had acquired the trappings of success: a Cadillac DeVille and a Lincoln Town Car, a lakefront home, investments in oil and real estate. Then the Nazi hunters showed up.

In 1989, as the U.S. government prepared to strip him of his citizenship, Denzinger packed a pair of suitcases and fled to Germany. Denzinger later settled in this pleasant town on the Drava River, where he lives comfortably, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. He collects a Social Security payment of about $1,500 each month, nearly twice the take-home pay of an average Croatian worker.

Denzinger, 90, is among dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards who collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation found.

The payments flowed through a legal loophole that has given the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal government records.

Like Denzinger, many lied about their Nazi pasts to get into the U.S. following World War II, and eventually became American citizens.

Among those who benefited:

—armed SS troops who guarded the Nazi network of camps where millions of Jews perished.

—an SS guard who took part in the brutal liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland that killed as many as 13,000 Jews.

—a Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.

—a German rocket scientist accused of using slave labor to build the V-2 rocket that pummeled London. He later won NASA's highest honor for helping to put a man on the moon.

The AP's findings are the result of more than two years of interviews, research and analysis of records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and other sources.

The Justice Department denied using Social Security payments as a tool for removing Nazi suspects. But records show the U.S. State Department and the Social Security Administration voiced grave concerns over the methods used by the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting unit, the Office of Special Investigations.

State officials derogatorily called the practice "Nazi dumping" and claimed the OSI was bargaining with suspects so they would leave voluntarily.

Since 1979, the AP analysis found, at least 38 of 66 suspects removed from the United States kept their Social Security benefits.

Legislation that would have closed the Social Security loophole failed 15 years ago, partly due to opposition from the OSI. Since then, according to the AP's analysis, at least 10 Nazi suspects kept their benefits after leaving. The Social Security Administration confirmed payments to seven who are deceased. One living suspect was confirmed through an AP interview. Two others met the conditions to keep their benefits.

Of the 66 suspects, at least four are alive, living in Europe on U.S. Social Security.

In newly uncovered Social Security Administration records, the AP found that by March 1999, 28 suspected Nazi criminals had collected $1.5 million in Social Security payments after their removal from the U.S.

Since then, the AP estimates the amount paid out has reached into the millions. That estimate is based on the number of suspects who qualified and the three decades that have passed since the first former Nazis, Arthur Rudolph and John Avdzej, signed agreements that required them to leave the country but ensured their benefits would continue.

Long-living beneficiaries can collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments.

A single male who earned an average wage of $44,800 a year and turned 65 in 1990, the year after Denzinger did, would receive nearly $15,000 annually in Social Security benefits, according to the Urban Institute, a nonprofit public policy group in Washington. That's $375,000 over 25 years. The amounts are adjusted for inflation.

The Social Security Administration refused the AP's request for the total number of Nazi suspects who received benefits and the dollar amounts of those payments.

Spokesman William "BJ" Jarrett said the agency does not track data specific to Nazi cases. A further barrier, Jarrett said, is that there is no exception in U.S. privacy law that "allows us to disclose information because the individual is a Nazi war criminal or an accused Nazi war criminal."

The agency also declined to make the acting commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, or another senior agency official available for an interview.

The Justice Department declined the AP's request for an official to speak on the record. Spokesman Peter Carr said in an emailed statement that Social Security payments never were used as an incentive or as a threat to persuade Nazi suspects to depart voluntarily.

"The matter of Social Security benefits eligibility was raised by defense counsel, not by the department, and the department neither used retirement benefits as an inducement to leave the country and renounce citizenship nor threatened that failure to depart and renounce would jeopardize continued receipt of benefits," Carr said.

The department opposed the legislation in 1999, Carr acknowledged, because it would have undermined the OSI's mandate to remove Nazi criminals as expeditiously as possible to countries that would prosecute them.

Speed was a key factor.

Survivors of the Holocaust who made the United States their home after the war had been forced to share it with their former Nazi tormenters. That had to change, and fast, the OSI's proponents said. If suspects were to stand trial, they needed to be found and ousted while they were alive. The OSI and its backers didn't want death to cheat justice.

Yet only 10 suspects were ever prosecuted after being expelled, according to the department's own figures.

At his home in Osijek, Denzinger would not discuss his situation. "I don't want to say anything," he told the AP in German as he rested on his walker in the hallway of his apartment.

But Denzinger's son, who lives in the U.S., confirmed his father receives Social Security payments and said he deserved them. "This isn't coming out of other people's pockets," Thomas Denzinger said. "He paid into the system." Plus his father is paying 30 percent in taxes. "They should be taking out nothing," he said.

Another former Nazi camp guard, longtime Montana resident Martin Hartmann, lives in Berlin and also is collecting Social Security, according to a person with knowledge of Hartmann's finances who requested anonymity because the person did not want to be associated with Hartmann's Nazi history. Hartmann, 95, left the U.S. in 2007, just before a federal judge issued an order to revoke his citizenship.

The loophole also means new suspects, including former SS unit commander Michael Karkoc, whom the AP located last year in Minnesota, could retain benefits even if removed to another country.

German prosecutors opened an investigation after the AP uncovered documentation showing Karkoc, 95, ordered his unit to raze a Polish village during the war. Dozens of women and children were killed in the attack.

___

The American public did not become fully aware until the mid-1970s that thousands of Nazi persecutors had immigrated to the U.S. after World War II, with estimates ranging as high as 10,000. They were shocked to learn their former enemies could be living next door.

Congressional pressure led to the creation of the OSI in 1979 and it had a single purpose: track down and expel Nazis who played a role in the persecution of civilians.

But because their crimes were committed outside the U.S. and almost always against non-Americans, Nazi suspects could not be tried in U.S. courts.

The only other option available was to prove they lied to immigration authorities about what they did during the war, to strip them of their citizenships through a lengthy legal process, and then to attempt either deportation or extradition.

But almost no countries were willing to accept them through deportation, and few pressed charges that would have forced extradition.

So the Justice Department devised a strategy to overcome these difficulties, including encouraging them to leave voluntarily, which meant they would avoid the messy process of deportation but keep their retirement benefits.

The OSI regularly trumpeted its successes, and boasted in 2006 that its work had led to more Nazi expulsions from the U.S. in the previous 25 years than all other countries in the world combined.

"We really did want people to give up and go," said a senior Justice Department official, who defended the practice as a way of avoiding deportation proceedings that could last as long as 10 years.

"The goal is still to remove these people as quickly as possible, and the fact that as soon as we move to the deportation stage they run the risk of losing their benefit(s) is still an encouragement to leave," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the department's thinking on the matter.

The OSI even went so far as to encourage several suspects to use U.S. passports for legal travel to allied countries, such as Germany or Austria. Once there, they would renounce their U.S. citizenships and still be able to collect Social Security benefits. This practice became known as "Nazi dumping" within diplomatic circles and stoked outrage at the State Department and in capitals in Europe.

The path for the OSI's approach opened when Congress passed legislation making "participation in Nazi persecution" grounds for deportation. But the Social Security Act was not changed to make such crimes also grounds for the termination of benefits.

An internal memo drafted in 1984 by State Department officials discussed how deals were made behind the scenes. To get suspects to renounce citizenship, the OSI would delay legal action and "refrain from seeking in any way to limit the subject's receipt of U.S. Social Security benefits," the memo said.

The criticism triggered a bitter back-and-forth between the two agencies, with each accusing the other of being un-American. Decades later, the acrimony lingers.

"It was not upfront, it was not transparent, it was not a legitimate process," said James Hergen, a former State Department legal adviser who once described the OSI's approach as a "cynical publicity ploy." ''This was not the way America should behave. We should not be dumping our refuse, for lack of a better word, on friendly states."

Neal Sher, who was OSI's director from 1983 to 1994, said the State Department put a higher priority on diplomatic niceties than holding former members of Adolf Hitler's war machine accountable.

"State always wraps itself in the flag. Unfortunately, it's not the American flag," said Sher, recalling a complaint voiced by a former colleague.

One of the first instances of "Nazi-dumping" involved Rudolph, a celebrated rocket scientist, and set off a diplomatic firestorm.

Rudolph was brought to the U.S. after the war because of his technical brilliance. NASA awarded him a Distinguished Service Medal for achievements that included his central role in the Apollo project that put a man on the moon. Decades later he was accused of "working thousands of slave laborers to death" in the Nazi factory that built the V-2 rocket, and he faced the loss of his citizenship and deportation.

Rudolph and Avdzej, another Nazi war crimes suspect, became the first to voluntarily leave the United States under the OSI's "renunciation program." When they arrived in Germany in 1984 and forfeited their U.S. citizenships, a furious West German government filed a formal protest.

Amid State Department objections, the OSI came up with a "new scheme," said an internal memo, obtained by the AP, to then-Secretary of State George Shultz. The difficulty in finding cooperative countries, according to the May 1987 memo written by senior State Department officials, "has led OSI to resort to bargains with Nazi persecutors which permit their voluntary departure from the U.S."

Another diplomatic uproar ensued when Austrian authorities learned about a deal with Martin Bartesch, a former SS guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Prisoners were forced to work at Mauthausen as slave laborers. At least 95,000 died from gunfire, gassings or starvation.

Unlike most guards against whom little incriminating evidence survived, captured Nazi records used by American prosecutors showed that Bartesch shot and killed a French Jew at the camp in 1943. Bartesch's family denied he had done anything wrong at Mauthausen.

In 1987, Bartesch landed, unannounced, at the airport in Vienna. Two days later, under the terms of the deal, his U.S. citizenship was revoked.

The Romanian-born Bartesch, who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1955, was suddenly stateless — and Austria's problem. The fallout forced U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese to apologize to the Austrian interior minister and assure him Austria would not be blindsided again.

Bartesch received Social Security benefits in Austria until he died in 1989.

The State Department continued to protest the arrangement, but to no avail.

"Everybody knew there was no profit in opposing it. It was professional suicide," remembered Hergen. "Why would the White House want to be tagged with stopping the deportation of these Nazi monsters? You were the devil if you opposed it."

The year before Bartesch died, Congress amended U.S. law so that individuals deported for aiding in the Nazi persecution also would lose their Social Security benefits. But if a Nazi suspect left before a final deportation order was issued, the benefits could continue.

____

The Clinton administration in 1997 began internal discussions over whether to terminate benefits to Nazi suspects when they were stripped of their citizenship, which is called denaturalization, instead of when they were deported. That would have lowered the threshold for terminating a suspect's benefits.

The acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration at the time, John Callahan, initiated the debate. "Social Security benefits cannot, and should not, be used as a bargaining tool," Callahan wrote in an April 1997 memo to Clinton's domestic policy chief.

Callahan did not respond to the AP's requests for comment.

Elena Kagan, then a top deputy in the domestic policy office and now a U.S. Supreme Court justice, seemed unmoved by Callahan's plea. "This is a pretty snotty letter," Kagan jotted in the margin of the memo.

The Justice Department supported the proposal, albeit tepidly, the records show.

But working behind the scenes, a pair of influential Jewish groups succeeded in getting the White House to back down. The World Jewish Congress and the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors threatened to publicly accuse the administration of being soft on Nazi prosecutions if it went forward.

Sher, the former OSI chief, boosted the hand the Jewish groups were playing. After a stint with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he was now representing the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors.

The groups argued closing the loophole would result in greater leniency for Nazi suspects. Federal judges hearing the denaturalization cases, they said, would not see perpetrators of the Holocaust before them, but feeble old men who were on the verge of not only losing their citizenships, but their Social Security too. That would undercut the primary goal of getting suspects out of the U.S. and to countries willing to prosecute them.

Inside the Clinton White House, senior aides found this logic hard to grasp. But it was a fight they did not want.

The arguments for preserving the loophole do "not sound fully compelling, EXCEPT that it is impossible to ignore who is raising the concern," a White House staffer wrote in a memo to Kagan. The groups promised to "protest vociferously," it added. The proposal was shelved.

Two years later, in 1999, U.S. Rep. Bob Franks, a Republican from New Jersey, introduced legislation to cut off benefits for any Nazi persecutor who left the country voluntarily, whether they were U.S. citizens or not.

This time, the Justice Department's stance was unequivocal. The bill, it said, would undercut the OSI's mission.

Sher defended the department's stance. Six years to 10 years in litigation costs could be saved if suspects left voluntarily, he said. During that time, they would continue to receive retirement benefits as well as Medicare, Sher said.

Not all Jewish groups favored keeping the loophole.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, who still heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center he founded in 1977, wanted it shut. There was "no will" in Europe to prosecute Nazi suspects, he said, and the benefits they collected allowed them to live in relative comfort.

"Someone receiving an American pension could live very well in Europe or wherever they settled," Hier said. "We, in effect, were rewarding them. It didn't make any sense."

Despite attracting nearly 50 co-sponsors, the Franks bill failed to pass after running into opposition similar to what the Clinton White House faced. Franks died in 2010.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, a senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in an AP interview she plans to introduce legislation to close the loophole.

"It's absolutely outrageous that Nazi war criminals are continuing to receive Social Security benefits when they have been outlawed from our country for many, many, many years," said Maloney, a co-sponsor of the Franks legislation.

_____

Many of the former Nazis who came to the U.S. after World War II blended in just as Hartmann and Denzinger did. They worked, raised their families, paid their taxes. They said little about what they did during the war.

American immigration law barred entry to members of Hitler's Nazi party, the fanatical SS units, and anyone else tied to a group considered hostile to the U.S. The rules were amended in the early 1950s. The list of banned organizations was dropped and the focus shifted to keeping out individuals who "personally advocated or assisted in the persecution of any person or group of persons because of race, religion or national origin."

The SS units responsible for guarding the Nazi death and concentration camps were called Totenkopf, or Death's Head, and their troops wore a silver skull-and-crossbones on their uniform collars. They were still generally refused entry after the change. But other SS members designated primarily for combat roles were more likely to be let in.

Many got around the restrictions by simply lying about their service in the SS, only to be found decades later by OSI. Others such as Rudolph, whose skills as a rocket scientist trumped what officials knew about his background, were intentionally allowed in.

In addition to Denzinger and Hartmann, Peter Mueller, 90, a former guard at the Natzweiler camp in France, lives in a nursing home in Worms, Germany. Wasyl Lytwyn, 93, who served in the SS Trawniki unit that took part in the destruction of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, is believed to be living in Ukraine.

Lytwyn's 1995 settlement agreement stipulates that his Social Security benefits would not be affected by leaving. Mueller would have been eligible for benefits based on the circumstances of his departure, but the Social Security Administration would neither confirm nor deny whether he was receiving payments.

Hartmann, the former Nazi SS guard living in Berlin, volunteered for the SS in 1943 and was assigned to the Death's Head unit guarding Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp on the outskirts of the Nazi capital.

Prisoners at Sachsenhausen were forced into slave labor, tortured and subjected to horrific medical experiments that included sterilizations, castrations and injecting infectious material into a prisoner's body, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. An estimated 30,000 prisoners died of starvation, disease, exhaustion or were murdered.

After the war, Hartmann, his wife and son first settled in Mankato, Minnesota. The family then moved to Helena, Montana, where he worked at the local newspaper, The Independent Record, as a typesetter. He was granted U.S. citizenship in 1961.

When the news broke about Hartmann in 2007, Nathan Gasch, an Auschwitz survivor and Hartmann's neighbor in a quiet Arizona retirement community called Leisure World, told reporters of an unnerving visit to Hartmann's home. There, on the wall, was a picture of Hartmann dressed in an SS uniform and wearing a Nazi cap. Gasch did not notify the authorities. "I just let it go," said Gasch, who died last year.

Hartmann secured his departure deal in 2007 after reaching an agreement with the OSI in which he acknowledged lying about his Nazi past when he immigrated to the United States in 1955. As part of a settlement reached in U.S. District Court in Washington, the Romanian-born Hartmann agreed to leave the U.S. at his own expense.

The court's ruling was based on information provided by the OSI. But the AP uncovered documents through a FOIA request to the National Archives that showed Hartmann did tell American authorities, when he was applying to immigrate, about his service in the SS and as a camp guard at Sachsenhausen.

Carr, the Justice Department spokesman, did not specify in an email Wednesday whether the documents were turned over to Hartmann. He said Hartmann admitted making misrepresentations about being at Sachsenhausen. Even if he hadn't, Carr wrote, his citizenship still would be revoked because of the SS connection.

___

Denzinger was born in Cepin, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), a town outside Osijek with a large population of ethnic Germans. In 1942, at age 18, he began serving in one of the Death's Head battalions.

His first posting was to Mauthausen, where he trained to be an armed camp guard. He was subsequently stationed in several other camps, including Sachsenhausen and the Auschwitz death camp complex in occupied-Poland where the Holocaust Museum estimates nearly a million Jews were killed.

On his immigration visa and, later, his application for U.S. citizenship, Denzinger omitted any references to the SS or death camps, writing only that he served in the German army.

His citizenship was revoked by a federal judge in November 1989, a few months after he fled.

Thomas Denzinger said his father did not want to put his family through a long and public legal proceeding.

"He's made a new life for himself over there," he said. "But he's angry. He claims he was drafted into the army and he did as he was told. You do as you are told or they line you up against a wall and shoot you. You don't have any choice."

Croatian authorities this year opened an investigation of Denzinger's World War II service. They would not comment on the inquiry while it is ongoing.

In Osijek, a town of baroque spires and cobblestone squares, Denzinger occupies the entire second floor of his riverfront building, and has a live-in helper to attend to his needs.

He spends tranquil days gazing out at the marina from his spacious apartment, and has a routine of riverside strolls and turkey cutlets and Cokes at his favorite Italian restaurant, where he's known as a generous tipper.

And the former Auschwitz guard has meticulously choreographed another departure.

His gravestone — including a photograph of himself wearing a suit and tie — is already in place in Cepin's Catholic Cemetery about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from his apartment.

The black marble slab is polished to a high gloss in the third row of the cemetery, not far from the chapel. It is engraved with an epitaph from his "loved ones": "Proud that we had you; happy that we were with you; eternally sad that we lost you."

___

Herschaft reported from New York and Lardner from Washington.

___

Associated Press writers Gene Johnson in Seattle; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington; Darko Bandic in Osijek; Monika Scislowska in Warsaw; and Eric Tucker and Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington contributed to this report.

____

Contact the AP's Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations@ap.org or the AP in Germany at APBerlin@ap.org.

Follow Rising on Twitter at http://twitter.com/davidrising and Herschaft at http://twitter.com/HerschaftAP and Lardner at http://twitter.com/rplardner

U.S. Air Drops Arms To Kurdish Forces Fighting ISIS In Kobani

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-19 22:16
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military said Sunday it had airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish forces defending the Syrian city of Kobani against Islamic State militants.

The airdrops Sunday were the first of their kind and followed weeks of U.S. and coalition airstrikes in and near Kobani, near the Turkish border. The U.S. said earlier Sunday that it had launched 11 airstrikes overnight in the Kobani area. In a statement Sunday night, U.S. Central Command said U.S. C-130 cargo planes made multiple drops of arms and supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq. It said they were intended to enable continued resistance to Islamic State efforts to take full control of Kobani.

The airdrops are almost certain to anger the Turkish government, which has said it would oppose any U.S. arms transfers to the Kurdish rebels in Syria. Turkey views the main Kurdish group in Syria as an extension of the Turkish Kurd group known as the PKK, which has waged a 30-year insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terror group by the U.S. and by NATO.

President Barack Obama called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday to discuss the situation in Syria and notify him of the plan to make airdrops Sunday, one administration official told reporters. He would not describe Erdogan's reaction but said U.S. officials are clear about Turkey's opposition to any moves that help Kurdish forces that Turkey views as an enemy.

In a written statement, Central Command said its forces have conducted more than 135 airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Kobani.

Using an acronym for the Islamic State group, Central Command said, "Combined with continued resistance to ISIL on the ground, indications are that these strikes have slowed ISIL advances into the city, killed hundreds of their fighters and destroyed or damaged scores of pieces of ISIL combat equipment and fighting positions."

In a conference call with reporters after Central Command announced the airdrops, senior administration officials said three C-130 planes dropped 27 bundles of small arms, ammunition and medical supplies.

One official said that while the results of the mission are still being assessed, it appeared that "the vast majority" of the supplies reached the intended Kurdish fighters. That official also said the C-130s encountered no resistance from the ground in Syria during their flights in and out of Syrian airspace. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House.

One of the administration officials said the airdrops should be seen as a humanitarian move. He said U.S. officials believe that if Kobani were to fall, the Islamic State militants would massacre Kurds in the town.

Another administration official said "you might see more" U.S. resupply missions to benefit the Kurdish fighters in Kobani in the days ahead. Yet another administration official said a land route to resupply the Kurds had been under discussion but would require Turkish cooperation. He said talks on resupply needs and means would continue.

'Homeland' Season 4, Episode 4 Recap: Iron in the Fire

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-19 21:57
Some people stay up all night to get lucky, Carrie Mathison stays up all night to familiarize herself with ISI agents. Redmond catches Carrie in her late-night research and somehow telepathically knows who she's looking for -- the man Quinn spotted in Sandy's bludgeoning video. He gives her the tip off that the man's name is Farhad Ghazi. Redmond leaves after imparting his wisdom and Carrie prints the man's file... let the wild goose chase begin.

Checking in on Aayan, he has gone back to his girlfriend's house to retrieve the bag he's left with her, only to find out that her father has found it and destroyed the vials it contained. In addition, the father has called the medical school Aayan attends and reported him for stealing medicine. Aayan is now sans family, sans medicine vials, and possibly up for expulsion. Things aren't going particularly well in his world.



Saul's still in Islamabad and Carrie catches him as he's leaving to chat. She briefs him on Farhad Ghazi and how he helped orchestrate Sandy's death. In addition, she asks him to connect with an Intelligence contact of his in Islamabad because she needs intel on Ghazi. Saul advises Carrie to tell Langley and the White House about what she's learned but Carrie shoots that idea down right quick. In her typical crazy Carrie ranting about how "this is huge!," Saul tells her that he's spoken with Quinn and, yet again, they're all worried about her. Carrie says she wants everyone to mind their own business. Aw, Carrie girl, you know that's never going to happen.

Meanwhile, Redmond has a tail on Carrie who proves to not be that great at his job because Carrie's very good at being elusive. Though the tail has lost Carrie's location, Redmond gives him other duties by making him find out where Carrie obtained the screenshot image of Ghazi.

Quinn arrives in Islamabad and meets with Fara at the office. He moves into a desk while Fara gives him the lowdown on what they've learned about Ghazi. They continue with their chatter but are interrupted when Aayan arrives to speak with the absent Carrie. Fara goes down to greet him and, though he tries to flee at the sight of her, she convinces him to stay and wait for Carrie's imminent arrival. Carrie sweeps into the office in her usual frenzied way, bypassing Quinn, and heading straight in to talk to Aayan. Aayan is intent on getting the hell out of Pakistan (umm... can we blame him?!) and Carrie says she can get him to London if he tells his story. In addition to leaving, he asks Carrie for 80,000 rupees -- nearly 500 pounds -- and won't tell her what he needs it for so she declines the request. Frustrated, Aayan makes a move to leave and Carrie stops in his tracks with the photo of Ghazi. She knows that's the man that threatened him and informs him that he's in a lot more trouble than he knows. Aayan breaks down crying and, weirdly enough, Carrie consoles him. Carries asks him what's going on and, again, he still won't tell her why he needs the money but he does say that he knows it will help. Carrie relents and gets the money from petty cash. She tells Aayan she wants to send someone with him and he insists he must do whatever he needs to do alone. Carrie gives him the money, with a skeptical smile, and asks him to return as soon as he's done with his business. She has Fara and Max tail him. Quinn questions Carrie on her ability to get Aayan to a new medical school and to safety in London, but she's more focused on just getting Aayan out of harm's way in Pakistan at the moment. She fills Quinn in on the threats Aayan's had in the past week and the two make moves to join Max and Fara.



In the interim, a Pakistani woman shanghai's Aayan's professor, Professor Boyd, after his class dismisses. Boyd was working with Sandy and this woman is intent on keeping that relationship alive posthumously. Oh, and she makes mention that the professor has been leaking documents from the ambassador's office. Hmm... curious.

While Carrie has her team staking out Ghazi's apartment, Saul meets with an ex-general from the Pakistani military, an old friend of his, named Bunny. The two eat, drink, and chat about terrorist attacks. After a semi-heated argument about whether or not 9/11 was a hoax (was anyone else getting really aggravated at this or was that just me?), Saul cuts to the chase and asks Bunny if he can speak with a friend of his from ISI. Bunny tries to deter him but Saul is Saul and he is unwavering in his attempts to get what he needs. He calmly insists and alludes to an old debt Bunny seems to owe him and after more banter, Bunny concedes without words.

After night has fallen, Quinn breaks into Ghazi's apartment and taps into his phone. While the tap is going through, Ghazi's phone rings and wakes him up, all while Quinn is in the other room hiding. *HOLDING MY BREATH* The call was from a friend asking Ghazi to come party with him and after Ghazi declines and returns to bed, Quinn escapes unharmed. *EXHALE*

Well, it's finally been confirmed: Aayan's professor, Professor Boyd, is in fact married to Martha Boyd, the American ambassador in Pakistan (aka Carrie's new bestie). Professor Boyd concocts an elaborate lie to get back to the States because he realizes the gravity of his situation now that Sandy is dead. In his relaying to Martha that he got his old job back at GW, we find out that he lost it because he plagiarized an entire chapter in a book he wrote and, as such, the couple has been following Martha in her work ever since. We also learn they have a son named Toby and that the marriage as a whole has a pretty rocky foundation. He tells Martha that he's leaving in a week for the States and he leaves the office in a huff. Poor Martha.

Carrie and Quinn share an intimate moment during the stakeout of Ghazi. They talk of Quinn wanting to leave the agency and all the lives he's taken. The scene is a fantastic juxtaposition of Quinn's humanity and Carrie's lack thereof. Carrie can only ever look at the bigger picture, which is a good and bad thing, whereas Quinn has examined the individual stories of the people he's killed and, in doing so, he can never go back to helping the larger cause. Unless it's for Carrie because... love.

Fara and Max have followed Aayan to a teaching hospital. Fara looks on as Aayan gives a nurse some money and they wait for her to return. The woman doesn't reemerge from the hospital until the following morning and Aayan has camped out where she left him. She hands off an orange bag full of medicine to Aayan and the two part ways. Fara and Max follow Aayan as he drives away.



Saul meets with a member of the ISI and asks him about Sandy's death. The man is extremely cold and essentially refuses to give Saul any valuable information. Saul questions him about the ISI operative on the ground that day and who gave the order to kill just Sandy, not Quinn or Carrie. The man shows interest in how Saul knew there was an operative present but rebuffs everything else. The entire meeting folds when the man says that he agreed to a chat not an interrogation. He leaves and Saul is exasperated.

Aayan, Fara, and Max are respectively stuck in a chaotic traffic jam and Aayan leaves his vehicle with his bag. Leaving Max, Fara also sets out on foot to follow him. She loses him briefly but catches him just as he's giving the bag to Haissam Haqqani. UGH AAYAN WHY WHY WHY WHY. Also: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? HOW IS HAISSAM HAQQANI ALIVE?

The stakeout continues and Carrie tells the team that she's heard from Saul so they need to be extra "on it" today. She also thanks Quinn for coming to Islamabad because of their conversation the night before. They watch as Ghazi gets a call that prompts him to pack his things and go, to which Carrie says means they need to grab him now. The rest of the team thinks she's nuts (because she is...) and as Quinn's attempts to stop her from going into a potentially really harmful situation, Fara calls to tell them that she's seen Haissam Haqqani and that he's alive. Carrie is flabbergasted at the whole situation and, after watching the video Fara sent over, she's in full-fledged panic.



Quinn and Carrie realize that Sandy's death makes much more sense now. Sandy was killed to protect Haqqani, who was clearly not at the wedding they bombed at all. The ISI wanted the CIA to stop hunting Haqqani so they made everyone believe he was dead, but the issue now is not what the ISI wanted... it's why.

Professor Boyd is packing up his office in Pakistan when he is greeted by the Pakistani woman and two accomplices. The woman refuses to let Boyd leave by blackmailing him. She tells him she will send a package to D.C. that implicates him in all the documents he stole from his wife, accompanied by a timeline -- a package that will have him arrested for treason and his wife removed from her post. Unable to refuse compliance, Boyd is wordless. The woman makes a deal with the terrified Boyd and says that if he does what she asks, she will let him go without anyone knowing what he has done.

Fara wrestles with the concept that Aayan isn't going to get the safe haven in London he was promised (because, you know, his uncle is a jihadist) but agrees nonetheless to bring him to Carrie once he returns to the office, as he said he would. Fara arrives in the middle of the night with Aayan in tow at Carrie's safe house. Aayan thinks they will leave for London immediately but Carrie says it will take at least 2-3 days despite the fact that we know she has no intention of letting him leave. The two awkwardly make up the couch together so Aayan has somewhere to sleep and Carrie attempts to assuage his fears by being incredibly flirtatious. The flirting works and Aayan lets his guard down. He tells Carrie that he was kicked out of his medical school for stealing medicines, which he insists he did not do. They talk briefly about his chances of getting into medical school in England but that all stops when Carrie just decides she's going to mack on Aayan. The two start intensely making out and Carrie quickly mounts him as the groping continues. Homegirl is clearly in the mood to get it and, apparently, she's really into guys who are double-crossers. I have so many questions. Is Aayan this season's Brody? Will Carrie ever get with a dude that isn't doing shady business on the side? Has Carrie always had cougar tendencies?? I hope we get some answers as the season continues, but at least one thing is clear: Carrie's consistently batshit crazy.




Keep up with "Homeland" recaps here every week. "Homeland" airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

A Revolt Against Austerity?

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-19 21:56

There was a bit of good news from Europe last week. Two of the nations that desperately need some respite from austerity essentially told German Chancellor Merkel to stuff it.



France, under pressure from Germany and the European Union to meet the E.U.'s straightjacket requirement of deficits of no more than three percent of GDP (whether or not depression looms) informed the E.U. that they will not hit this target until 2017. The government of President Francois Hollande, under fire for failing to ignite a recovery, now plans economic stimulus measures -- and the target be damned. Under E.U. rules, France can be fined up to 0.2 percent of its GDP. The French seem to be saying, "So sue us!"



Italy, under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, has followed suit, with a budget that plans cuts in labor taxes. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank is in open rebellion against the German austerity-mongers. The ECB would like to pursue a policy more like that of the Federal Reserve, giving direct support to government bonds to keep interest rates low. But the Merkel government remains adamantly opposed. Even the International Monetary Fund, traditionally the citadel of fiscal orthodoxy, has warned that Europe's recovery policy is too tight, not too loose.



But even if a few more member governments of the E.U. decide to face down Mrs. Merkel, the trouble with these green shoots is that they are far too feeble. With the bond market determining interest rates and serving as Merkel's enforcer, dissenting governments like France and Italy dare not venture very far lest they face higher interest costs. The money markets are already punishing the long-suffering Greeks once again by demanding higher interest rates to purchase their bonds.



The European Central Bank, though more pro-growth than the German government or the EU's bureaucrats, tempers its call for easier money with demands for "structural reforms" that are a polite euphemism for reduced social protections.



Common-sense calls for a shared assumption of part of Europe's sovereign debt are going nowhere. Likewise proposals for a significant increase in public investment funds. As long as these larger forces dominate Europe's economic policy, Europe's stagnation is likely to continue.



Last fall, there was an interesting debate about whether the economies of the U.S. and Europe were in a period of what economists call "secular stagnation." The term means that the economy gets stuck in an equilibrium well below its potential. Economists such as Larry Summers and Paul Krugman considered whether the post-collapse stagnation revealed perhaps that the economy had become dependent on consumer borrowing and bubbles, or whether technology and changing demographics might be implicated.



Similar worries were voiced in economists in the late 1930s, when the Great Crash was already a decade old yet the economy seemed stubbornly unable to reach its potential and unemployment remained very high. Then World War II intervened.



The government borrowed money at levels previously unthinkable. Government spending recapitalized U.S. industry, and put people back to work. "Secular stagnation" vanished overnight. Oh, and the government also leashed the private money market for the duration of the war and several years beyond -- the Federal Reserve simply bought bonds in the quantity necessary to keep interest rates (and war finance costs) extremely low.



Ever since the great experiment of the Good War as an accidental recovery program, economists should understand that "secular stagnation" is never something that must be lived with. It is optional. Public investment and the leasing of private speculative finance are always available as a road not taken. But World War II as a public investment led recovery program is typically treated as an anomaly, not as an alternative path.



Neither in Europe nor in the U.S. are the political stars in alignment for the recovery led by social investment -- that our economies on both sides of the Atlantic need. Barring a much more robust political revolt, stagnation and human suffering are likely to continue -- and continue to be political gifts to the far right.



This is the tyranny of orthodox thinking and of governments still in thrall to the financial industry -- fully six years after the collapse should have discredited such thinking. It is encouraging that there are some stirrings of dissent, but they need to imagine on a much grander scale.



Robert Kuttner's new book is Debtors' Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. He is co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior Fellow at Demos, and teaches at Brandeis University's Heller School.



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Here Are 5 Takeaways From The Harper's Anti-Clinton Story

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-19 21:00
In the November issue of Harper’s magazine, Doug Henwood argues that Hillary Clinton, if elected president, would do little to assuage liberals' disappointment in President Barack Obama. This is how Henwood sums up the case for Hillary’s candidacy in 2016: “She has experience, she’s a woman, and it’s her turn.” But, he says, “it’s hard to find any political substance in her favor.”

Tracing Clinton’s life from her upbringing to her time at the State Department, Henwood portrays her as a pragmatic politician motivated more by ambition than by principle. Here are five key takeaways from Henwood’s piece:

1. Hillary Clinton didn’t do much during her time in the U.S. Senate.

Relying on records collected by former Clinton adviser Dick Morris, Henwood argues that the legislation Clinton passed during her first five years in the Senate had little substance. The vast majority of bills, according to Henwood, were purely symbolic or would have passed without Clinton’s support. Clinton did work to extend unemployment benefits for 9/11 responders, but Haywood cites Steven Brill's book, The Rebuilding and Defending of America in the September 12 Era, to make the case that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was actually responsible for pushing the legislation through.

Even though she didn’t have much of a legislative impact in the Senate, Clinton did spend a lot of time befriending Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who could potentially support her in a presidential campaign, Henwood says.

Clinton’s most substantial legislative accomplishment, Henwood says, is her support for the Iraq War. The rest of her accomplishments in the Senate “were the legislative equivalent of being against breast cancer.”

2. Hillary Clinton is a hawk.

In addition to her support for the Iraq War, Henwood notes, Clinton also linked Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Such an accusation “was closer to the Bush line than even many pro-war Democrats were willing to go,” he writes.

The article goes on to say that during her time at the State Department, Clinton had a “macho eagerness” to call in the U.S. cavalry in foreign affairs. Quoting Time writer Michael Crowley, Henwood writes that, “On at least three crucial issues -- Afghanistan, Libya, and the bin Laden raid -- Clinton took a more aggressive line than [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates, a Bush-appointed Republican.”

3. Hillary Clinton is ambitious.

Shortly after Bill Clinton graduated Yale Law School, Hillary was already telling colleagues that he was going to be president. Henwood also says Clinton’s private slogan for her and her husband was “eight years of Bill, eight years of Hill.”

4. Hillary Clinton is not idealistic.

At Wellesley College, Clinton wrote her senior thesis on Saul Alinsky’s community organizing tactics, but later found them to be “too idealistic and simplistic,” according to Bill Clinton’s biographer David Maraniss. In her thesis, Clinton doubted the effectiveness of welfare programs, writing that they "neither redeveloped poverty areas nor even catalyzed the poor into helping themselves.” When Clinton turned down a job offer from Alinsky after college, Alinsky reportedly told her that she wouldn’t change the world by going to law school. Clinton told him that she disagreed.

5. Hillary Clinton has no problem representing the rich.

When she worked for the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, she represented business owners who were upset over a ballot measure in Little Rock pushed by community organizers that would have raised electricity rates on businesses and lowered them on residents. Clinton played a crucial part in developing the legal argument that the higher electricity rates would be an “unconstitutional taking of property,” Henwood says, noting that similar arguments are now frequently used against regulation.

John Kerry Seeks Asia's Help In Anti-ISIS Push

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-10-19 20:21

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Indonesia for a brief visit aimed at building Asian support for the fights against Islamic State extremists and the deadly Ebola virus.


Highlighting the Obama administration's commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, Kerry led the U.S. delegation to the inauguration of new Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, a reformer who won hotly contested elections in July.


Kerry arrived in the capital, Jakarta, on Monday after more than 26 hours of trans-oceanic flights that began Saturday in his hometown of Boston, where he held two days of talks with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi.


In addition to attending Widodo's inauguration, Kerry plans separate meetings in Jakarta with senior officials from Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore before leaving Indonesia for Germany on Tuesday.


The U.S. has high hopes that Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, as well as its predominantly Muslim neighbors Malaysia and Brunei can play a significant role in combatting Islamist extremism and blunting propaganda from the militants now threatening Syria and Iraq.


Officials traveling with Kerry said preventing extremist recruitment in Southeast Asia is a main non-military priority of the coalition the U.S. is assembling to combat the Islamic State group.


The U.S. is looking for these countries "to do more and cooperate more" to keep extremist proselytizing out of their territories, rebut extremist ideologies, prevent the flow of foreign fighters and crack down on terrorist financing, the officials said.


On Ebola, Kerry will ask nations to boost their contributions to the global effort to stop the spread of the virus, the officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to preview Kerry's discussions by name.


The officials said another reason Kerry was making the very short trip to Indonesia is to underscore the administration's so-called "pivot" or "re-balance" to Asia, home to most of the world's fastest growing economies. Kerry has made eight trips to Asia in the last 20 months and President Barack Obama will be heading to China, Myanmar and Australia next month.


U.S. relations with China have been prickly, to say the least, over the last several months, most recently over the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Hong and U.S. accusations of Chinese cyber-spying.


At the same time, several southeast Asian countries whose officials Kerry will see in Jakarta — notably the Philippines and Brunei — are involved in disputes with China in the South China Sea, where tensions have been rising over competing claims to potentially oil-rich territories. Those disputes, and the U.S. desire to see them resolved peacefully, were a focus of Kerry's discussions with Yang in Boston.


Meanwhile, the U.S. is in trade negotiations with Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia, among others, and hoping to conclude an agreement on its proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership in the coming months.